• 15 •
– Anna’s POV –
His tone is breathless. His words are breathless. My name is breathless. I am breathless.
I’d heard him on the phone. I’d heard him at school. Not in person. Not face-to-face. Over the phone. It sounds and looks so surreal in real life. I can’t believe he is here.
At first happiness and rejoice flooded through me. I could feel it course through my veins and rush in my blood. My heart leapt at the sight of my older brother. But then anger and pain struck it down when it was jumping mid-air. It landed in my chest with a clenching thud, going back to the dark and emotionless pit of emptiness.
I hear footsteps trotting down the stairs to follow after me, and I don’t have to look back to know it’s Hayley and Nico. They stop just right behind me, saying nothing.
Red quickly flashes in front of my vision, and my hands curl at my sides. I feel my arms shake. “What the f*** are you doing here?”
He slowly steps inside, hands up in defense. “Anna, please just let me-“
“There is nothing to explain,” I seethe. My eyes shift to the ground, bouncing all over it in anxiety. “You-You just left me! You left me with him! You knew what he’d done to me!” My voice cracks. “Why did you leave?”
His eyes flash in pain and he stares at me in grief, guilt, and regret. “I couldn’t stay. My boss got me caught up in some things that I couldn’t escape. It was for your own good. You have to believe that I was protecting you.”
“Protecting me?!” I ask, bitter amusement stretched along my face. “Ha! You left me with a monster! He did inexplicable things to me after you were gone, Dakota! It got worse!”
I am exploding. I am doing exactly what I told myself not to do if I ever so happened to encounter my brother again. Everything I kept contained and calm on the inside came rushing out in a tornado storm of disaster and destruction. I hurt so bad, and I want him to just understand how I feel.
“Anna, I’m so so sorry. But you need to listen to what I have to say. You can still hate me if you want after, but you have to let me tell you. Please,” Dakota begs, almost looking as if he may cry. It’s been so long since he’s seen me. I know he didn’t want me to react like this at his return. But I believe he anticipated I’d react this way anyway.
His eyes glance behind me at the two people standing there. First on Hayley, and then on Nico, to whom his eyes light up.
My eyes widen.
“Dude, what the hell did you do?” Nico growls, stepping in front of me. He looks s***. “What did you do to Anna?”
“You know each other?!” I screech.
What a small world, really.
They seem to ignore me, and Dakota chokes on his words, surprised to see Nico here apparently.
“I-I…she’s my sister.”
“No,” I growl. “I’m not actually.”
“Anna don’t say that. You need to let me talk.”
“I refuse to be related to you. Blood doesn’t connect the bond.”
“Everyone shut up for a second!” Hayley yells, breaking the arguing- at least arguing on my side.
She steps in the middle, looking overwhelmed and stressed. “Are you two brother and sister or not? At least by blood, Anna.” She shoots me a pointed look when I pry my lips open, and I snap them shut, looking at the ground. I clench my jaw angrily, not wanting to admit it.
“Okay,” she sighs. “Now we can start having a real conversation. Let’s start with, why is this Dakota guy in our house?”
I cross my arms and send daggers through his skull. “My guess is as good as yours.”
Dakota sighs. “Can we just all go sit somewhere? This is going to be a long talk.”
Nico nods his head toward the living room. “Over here.”
We all walk over to the couches and recliners, taking a spot. Dakota sits on a two person loveseat, and I take a position farthest away from, in a one-seated recliner. Nico and Hayley cuddle up on the largest couch.
“Okay,” Dakota says, leaning forward on his knees with his elbows. His hands clasp in front of him, dangling in between his legs. “To explain to you guys, I am here to talk to my sister about personal matters.” He looks at Nico and Hayley. Then to me. “Anna, I know Nico because we work for the same guy.”
My heart thumps in my chest loudly, and I try my best to breathe. I want to tell him that his boss is also my forever person, but don’t. He doesn’t need to know anything about me.
Does Aiden know Dakota’s my brother? Did he just never tell me when we spent those two days together? I hold back a scoff. He probably did. The mother trucker is untrustworthy, as I assumed. I mean, of course he’s untrustworthy. If he’s sleeping with another girl named Amanda, that should prove it.
Hayley’s eyes widen and she looks at me, thinking the same thing. I glare and shake my head. He doesn’t need to know. She gulps but nods reluctantly, leaning back into Nico. He also takes the message.
“So what? You said he had requirements that meant you had to leave as a result?” I deadpan.
Dakota nods grimly. “I’ll explain that to you. It might not make you like me anymore or heal our relationship, but I’m hoping it at least gives you a reason as to why I just up and left.”
I purse my lips. “You’re right. It isn’t going to fix anything…but I do want a reason.”
He nods and then sighs in relief. “Thank you for wanting to listen to me. Now that I left, I can start sealing the cracks in-“
“You didn’t leave,” Nico scoffs. “You betrayed Aiden. You were fired, and you’re going to have to watch your back.”
Dakota glares at him, face looking extremely similar to mine when I do. “I did what I had to do to get out of there. Anna is my priority.”
Psh. Is he serious? If I were his priority, I would’ve never gone through any of that trouble. Any of that torment.
“There could’ve been another way to see your sister,” Hayley says quietly, kind of angry. “You didn’t have to be disloyal to Aiden.”
“You have no idea, Hayley. So just shut up, alright?” Dakota growls.
Nico immediately stands up, eyes dark. “Do not talk to her like that. Especially **** in front of me.” His tone is menacing, so much more different than what I’m used to hearing. My eyes widen a fracture, but I regain composure instantly. Woah.
Dakota takes a deep breath. “Look, there was no other way to see Anna. They don’t just let people leave the…job.” He glances at me hesitantly, and I give him a weird look. “I had to get fired to leave.”
“But giving important information to Vlad?!” Nico shouts. “That was our main s*** to protect, apart from her.” He nods toward me, which makes me even more confused. “You couldn’t of found another way to get him to fire you?! Or maybe tell him the truth?!”
“If I told him the truth, he wouldn’t of let me go!” Dakota barks. “And if I wasn’t let go, I couldn’t of been here right now!”
“Well maybe that would be for the better,” I growl, stopping this fight before it could escalate. Dakota turns to me. “You need to leave. Now. You and I will meet up somewhere, but I can’t stand to be around you right now. All this is too much to take in, and I’m out of the loop!”
Dakota stares at me, angry face changing to sullen. “Anna, wait. I’m sor-“
“Go. Leave your number on the table,” I state, not looking him in the eye.
There’s a silence that falls over everyone before Dakota complies, writing his number out on a piece of notebook paper taken from the coffee table notepad. He slams it on the tabletop, making me flinch, and then storms out of the house. The door shuts loudly, causing vibration.
And at the same time, thunder rumbles the sky.
I sigh and look out the window. It’s been thundering with storms for awhile, but not in the nights for a bit. Not since a few days ago. I really wasn’t looking forward to being left in my room.
“Anna,” Hayley says quietly, coming over to me. “Are you alright?”
I nod. “I’m fine. But I need to know one thing, Nico.”
He looks at me, without changing his neutral expression, arms crossed. He’s silently urging me to continue.
“What kind of work are you and Dakota involved in?”
He glances at the ground, not wanting to answer. And he doesn’t. Not for awhile. All you can hear is the clashing storm outside, meaning Nico was most likely to stay here tonight with Hayley like he always does. Meaning, in turn, we have plenty of time.
“It’s dangerous stuff. Illegal stuff,” Hayley answers. Nico gives her a look, and she holds up a ****er. “But it’s for you to ask Aiden, alright? Just know that it’s his commands to keep you protected at all times.”
That explains why Nico was saying that they needed to “protect me.”
“Wait.” I face my foster sister. “Are you involved too?”
Her eyes widen. “What?! Oh, God no.” She laughs. “I just am obligated to know everything that goes on, since Nico’s my soulmate.”
I breathe a breath of relief and nod, turning away again. This was so much to take in, but I didn’t want to ask anymore. I just don’t want to know any more. If I do, then someone could hurt me. Say I do know too much.
But plot twist: if someone does happen to get me, I can say I don’t.
I jump and curl into myself even further, as if to hide away from the sky. I keep tossing and turning, afraid that if one part of my back is exposed, the lightning could sneak up behind me and take me away. My eyes are wide and I shake, trembling nervous sounds from my throat.
I can hear the faint murmurs of conversation across the hall, meaning Hayley and Nico have yet to fall asleep. So I can’t whimper or cry like I usually do. I have to hold it all in as to keep them from trying to check on me.
“Shut up, sky,” I whisper, closing my eyes softly. A single tear slips from my right eyelid. “Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.”
My door creaks open and I freeze, keeping my back turned. I keep my eyes closed and quickly wipe away the tear, trying my best to conceal my rapid heartbeat. I steady my breathing, ignoring the insane sounds and flashing lights in the night outside my window.
I wait for Hayley to whisper if I’m okay. I wait for Ms. Morgan to tell me goodnight. I wait for Nico to ask me if I’ve got any condoms for him to use. But nothing. No whispering. No concern.
The bed dips beside me, and my eyes snap open. I don’t turn around yet, but my breathing picks up again. Who is it? Why is he/she laying down in my bed next to me?
I tremble due to the thunder, my muscles having intense convulsions.
Suddenly the mystery person pulls me into him/her, and the familiar pine scent enters my senses. It smells just like his room.
“Shh. It’s alright. I’m here. I got you.”
Shivers run down my arms and spine and back entirely. I’m only in a black lacy bra and underwear. It’s silky and comfortable to sleep in. And I feel that he is merely naked as well, only boxers covering our first layer of skin from touching. My cheeks burn, completely on fire.
Thunder rolls in again, but he distracts me by hugging me closer. His nose dips down to my hair and inhales deeply.
His next words sound so promising. They sounds exactly like Dakota’s before he left me that night. In fact, they are the exact words he said that night.
“Go to sleep, Dimples. I won’t leave you.”
I’ve got an ass ton of tests incoming for the next three weeks for school and for my head. I’ll try to update as much as I can. <3