Riley stepped out of his room when he heard an unusual sound coming from his brother’s room. Knocking softly he called “Aaron are you alright?”
“Go away” he sniffed.
Turning he took a couple of steps towards the stairs before stopping and retracing his steps. “Not until I’m sure you’re alright.” After a moment of silence and what sounded like muffled sobs the door opened.
“I said to go away” he shouted in Riley’s face.
Any other time Riley would have backed off but his brother’s red swollen eyes had him stepping forward. “You’ve been crying, what happened?”
Ducking his head Aaron squeezed his eyes shut. “Raven broke up with me” his sentence ended on a sob.
“What? Why” he demanded forcing his way into his brother’s room and sitting on the bed. It was strange to see his older brother in such a state. He always thought of him as too tough to cry. He looked up to him, kind of like a dad figure since their father walked out on them.
“I’m pregnant” he sobbed, “I told him and he accused me of cheating.”
Pulling him close Riley just held him unsure what else he could do. It felt strange being the one comforting his brother in such a way. He couldn’t remember the last time Aaron had been this vulnerable. He was a little blown away with the idea that his older brother was pregnant. “Does mom know” he asked.
Sniffing his head moving against Riley’s shoulder. “She walked in on me taking the test. I hadn’t thought I was. I mean I’d been feeling sick and moody but I didn’t really believe I was.”
Rubbing his back Riley let him talk. “Did you know it was a possibility that you could get pregnant?”
He shrugged “I guess. I mean I haven’t had the test to know for sure. It’s not like we have the money for that. I thought we were being careful.”
“I thought you always topped.”
Grunting in surprise he nodded “usually except once. I guess that was enough.”
“You know you can count on me and mom to help you” he said “you’re not in this alone.”
“I know” he sniffed “all my plans are ruined now.”
“What plans” Riley asked curious. “It’s not like you were going to college. You just wanted off the island.”
“You think you’re pretty smart” he sniffed wiping his eyes dry.
“I have my moments” he chuckled softly getting up. “You can always go to the community college on the island. Me and mom could watch the baby.”
“I guess” he sighed “I wish…”
“That Raven hadn’t reacted the way he did to the news” Riley finished for him. “I bet he apologizes in a day or two. I’m sure it was just shock and he’ll regret what he said.”
“You think so” he asked hope lighting up his eyes.
“Yeah” he nodded hoping he wasn’t giving him false hope. “You’re my brother. I know you’d never cheat on him.”
“Enough about me” he said trying to smile “have you asked Unity to the summer social yet?”
“Do you think I should” he asked “she’s pretty sick…”
“I think it’ll give her something to look forward to” he assured him.
Temperance bounced a little on the bed causing Unity to smile up at her. “Since when did you become a morning person she grumbled sitting up.
“It’s not morning” Temperance corrected “it’s almost noon.”
“Did my mom send you in her to wake me up” she asked covering her mouth to muffle a yawn.
“You missed breakfast,” she said as if that explained everything.
“I’m not hungry” she said curling up on her side
“You have to eat if you want to get better” Temperance said pretending not to notice her best friend close closer her eyes and ignore her.
“I’m not going to get better” she mumbled hugging her herself.
“Not talking like that” she huffed.
“How else am I supposed to talk” she demanded, glaring at her friend. “I’m dying. I’m never going to college or go on a date. I’ll never know what it feels like to be kissed.”
“What about Riley” Temperance demanded “I bet he’d kiss you.”
“I don’t want a pity kiss” she mumbled.
“It wouldn’t be a pity kiss” she insisted adjusting her position on the bed.
The door opened as a nurse walked in carrying a tra. “Make sure she eats” the nurse admonished Temperance.
“Yes ma’am” she said with mock seriousness making Unity giggle. Turning she made a face at the tray “I’d be on a permanent diet if I had to eat this.”
“Hey! How is that supposed to encourage me to eat if you’re not willing to eat it” Unity demanded.
“Sorry” she pushed the tray towards her friend. “Eat. It’s more edible than it looks.”
Taking a tentative bite “eew if anything it’s less edible than it looks.”
“Really” Temperance asked.
“Yeah” she giggled “want a taste?”
“No thanks” she wrinkled her nose at it.
After several minutes of silence Unity let her spoon drop onto the tray. “I don’t think the nurse meant you had to watch me eat and count how many times I chewed.”
“I wasn’t” she protested “I was just thinking.”
“Good to know you can” Unity teased “want to share?”
“I was thinking about the summer social. It’d be nice if you were home in time for that.”
“I…don’t…know” she pushed the plate away “It’d be nice to see everyone.”
“It’s the highlight of the summer” Temperance enthused. “It wouldn’t be the same without you.”
“Every dance needs an awkward wallflower” she said picking at her fingers.
“That won’t be you” she assured her friend.
“Stuck in here it’s not like I’d be able to get a date. That is if I was able to go at all.”
“Of course you will” Temperance enthused “you’ll probably have a date before me.”
“Not likely” she lay down eyes growing heavy “you should call him. Ask him if he doesn’t ask you first. Will’s crazy about you.”
“You think so” she asked cheeks burning.
Before Unity could think of something else to say the door opened and her parents walked in. Her dad inspected the partially eaten food before sitting down in the chair next to the bed. While her mother stood awkwardly by the door like she wasn’t sure what to say.
Smiling at the girls Charity sighed “Temperance I need to tell you something.”
“Are my parents mad at me” she asked expecting this conversation sooner or later.
“What do you think” Charity have her a stern look.
“Yes” she mumbled. Taking Unity’s hand “I had to come though.”
Putting a gentle hand the girls shoulder she nodded “I know. What you did was dangerous. You have to see why your parents are upset right? So many things could have gone wrong.”
“I know I’ll be grounded for life when I get home.” Hanging her head she sighed mournfully. She hated when her parents were mad at her.
“I wouldn’t worry too much about that” Charity said motioning for her to sit down. “They’re glad that you’re helping cheer Unity up. She’s less depressed now. With any disease attitude is everything. She’s starting to respond to treatments again.”
“But I have to go home, don’t I,” she asked.
Taking her hand Charity took a deep breath. “No they want you to stay here for the rest of the summer.” She watched as a brilliant smile spread across her face. Now she had to extinguish it.
“I knew there was a catch” she sighed noticing the expression on the older woman’s face. “I guess I won’t be going to the summer social now.”
Shaking her head Charity couldn’t help but smile at the woeful look of regret in the girls eyes. “I wish that was it.”
Giving her a curious look Temperance asked “did something happen to my grandparents? I know they’re old … they’re both in their sixties.”
“They’re disappointed not to be seeing you” Charity said “but that’s not what I have to tell you. Something did happen while you were gone.” Squeezing her hand finding it difficult to find the words.
“My parents” asked voice quivering “they didn’t get into an accident did they? They’re not putting Christopher in charge are they? He’s great and all but he’s super bossy….”
Charity let her ramble for a bit as she figured out what to say next. When her words dwindled Charity squeezed her hand again “Christopher isn’t in charge. He’s” her voice faltered blinking back tears.
“What happened” she demanded “is he alright?” She got up fumbling for her phone.
Gently Charity reached for the phone taking it from her. “You can call later.”
“So he’s alright” she asked.
“He’s” she inhaled deeply “was assaulted on the beach.”
“What” she jumped to the feet “who would do something like that to him?” She ran from the room crying.
Following her Charity sat her down, telling her everything she knew. “He’s alright physically but he’s not himself.”
“I should have been there” she cried “I could help.”
“No sweetie” she pulled the girl close stroking her hair. “You’re right where you below. Right now your parents need to focus on Christopher and helping him through this.”
Nodding Temperance drew in a ragged breath. “Have they caught the guy yet?”
“Not yet” she hugged the girl close “the police are still looking for him.”
Several minutes later Charity left her sitting staring at her feet. Once she left Temperance pulled her phone out. It felt like an uncomfortable weight in her hand. How many times had she ignored Benjamin’s calls? It all made sense now why he’d been calling. She was the worst daughter / sister ever sitting here thinking everything was fine and it wasn’t.
How could she be so heartless? When did she become so self absorbed? She had always scoffed at anyone who said she was. Maybe they were right? Starting from now on she was going to be more observant and aware of others.
Looking at her phone she’d start now. She owed someone an apology. Well tow actually one to Riley and one to Will. She knew Will had talked Riley into going to the mainland. No doubt bribing him with the knowledge that it would impress Unity. There was no doubt he had feelings for her. They were probably both in trouble because of her now too.
Taking a deep breath she made her first call. “Will” she said when someone answered. “Please don’t hang up” she cried fearing that he wouldn’t want to talk to her.
“Why would I do that?” he asked curiously.
“Because you should be mad at me.”
“Why” he asked increasing her confusion.
“Well because” her free hand curled into a tight fist. “I got you and Riley in trouble. Of course you’d be mad at me.”
“You did no such thing” he protested “I’m the one who suggested it.”
“You wouldn’t have gone to the mainland if it weren’t for me” she insisted.
He laughed in her ear “Riley and I had been planning on going anyway. You should be mad at me. I’m the one who convinced Riley into taking you. I was the one who suggested it.”
“Oh” she giggled “that does make a difference.”
“I hope you’re not mad at me though” he enthused “I kind of like you.”
“You do” she asked astonished
“Why else would I do all of that for you?”
“Well … um … I guess it’s true then. Love makes you crazy.”
“I never said I love you” he protested.
“Like then” she corrected herself.
“We’re too young to know if we’re in love” he protested.
“I know” she rolled her eyes “you don’t have to spell it out. It was just an expression.”
“Sorry” he mumbled.
“Hey I was wondering if you’d do me a favor” she cried changing the subject.
“What kind of favor” he asked somewhat guarded.
“Would you send me anything you can about what happened to my brother” she asked “no one is telling me much and they won’t let me come home.”
“I’ll see what I can find,” he promised. “It’s kind of scary that something like that could happen here on the island; especially to your brother. He looks like he can take care of himself.
“I know” she agreed. It was the culmination of all of her parents fears. “I better go before Unity starts wondering what happened to me. Tell everyone hi for me and tell Riley I’m sorry.”
He was going to say it wasn’t necessary but she had already disconnected before he could get the words out. Shrugging he decided to see what he could find out about that night Christopher was assaulted. It had been the hot topic for days but now it had died down because of no news on the Police finding the guy who did it.