All the time he knew.
Of course, he had cameras there. And apparently a guard closely watching a transmit from them as well. If Vince wanted to catch me red-handed, he could do that. Then why he didn't?
Not being able to move, I waited for the video to finish. Vince politely took the iPad out of my hands as soon as the camera captured my escape. He put it aside. I looked down on my hands unable to react in any way.
"I'm all ears." Vince said.
"I..." I started but had completely no idea what to say.
My brother waited patiently. I'd give anything to get some more space between us. He intimidated me with this closeness, but on my other side the couch was ending and I sat squeezed between him and a huge cushion.
"I felt sick." I blurted out and he raised his eyebrows.
"What kind of explanation is it?" he asked and I could sense slight irritation in his voice. He didn't like being told bullshit.
"My phone died and I felt ill and no one was around, so that's why I went there." I cleared out, gathering my thoughts.
"That's why you hid behind the couch?"
"Well... when I was already there, I changed my mind... I thought that maybe I shouldn't have come there." I confessed and that part sounded believable. Probably because it was the truth.
"You shouldn't have." Vince admitted coldly. "At the same time, Dylan was in the garage and Tony in his bedroom. If you were looking for them, you'd find them. I don't understand why your first choice was my office, especially that I made it clear that I don't want to see you there."
"I... I... don't know." I stuttered, playing with my fingers.
If I could turn back time, I would never put myself in this position.
"Especially that you were well enough to jump behind the furniture." he added.
"I don't know why I did it, I'm sorry..." I mumbled and my eyes got teary. Don't cry in front of him, Hailie!
There's been a moment of silence and I really hoped that it was it, that Vince'd let go. He'd take my phone or tell me to turn off the tv. End of story. But it wasn't all.
"Would you like to tell me about something else?"
That question, that asked in a cold and calm voice question expressed a lot. The warning behind it was so powerful and clear that I shivered. I knew what it was about and Vince knew it as well. Now I was the one who had to say it out loud.
Should I confess or play the fool? I wasn't good at the latter one. On the other hand, I wasn't sure what was my daily limit of confessions.
"Hailie, I don't have the whole day." he said when I was taking time with my answer.
"What do you want to know?" I asked elusively. I almost decided to admit the truth about Dylan's gun, but I had absolutely no idea how to put it in words.
"If you would like to tell me about something else." he repeated, not making my job easier.
I took a deep breath and nodded, not daring to look into his eyes.
And I told him. I told him about that the day when Mona and Audrey visited me, we sneaked into Dylan's bedroom. I lied that we chose it randomly and went there together. I didn't want to set Mona up.
"It was just a play, we didn't mean anything bad, really. But then we found on the bed this... the... um... gun or...and..." I stopped.
"It was laying under the fucking pillow, so you had to poke around all nicely, hm?" growled Dylan from behind of my back. I turned my head around, scared of his furious tone. He also looked quite furious. Just as if for all those passed days he pretended that everything was fine and now he could finally get rid of his anger. He came closer to the couch and now stood in front of me and Vince. He folded his arms on his chest and fixed his glare at me.
I gulped and dropped my look.
"I'm sorry, I regret it." I whispered.
"Sorry doesn't cut it, Hailie. Firstly, you sneaked into my bedroom without permission, what pissed me off itself. Secondly, you found a gun, which is my possession and you just took it. What the fuck were you thinking, huh?!" Dylan yelled and I dreamed about the cushions to just swallow me inside.
"I don't know why I took it." I mumbled.
"You don't know? Don't give me that bullshit! You have no right to touch my stuff and you better remember it. Especially fucking guns! Do you at least know how to use them? Do you? That's what I fucking thought! It's not a toy for stupid children! The fuck, it's been a while since someone pissed me off like this... You're lucky you're my sister because I swear..."
"Dylan. Enough." Vince broke in calmly.
Dylan was fuming. He'd had to look forward to yelling at me like that. Me, on the other hand, wasn't taking it too well. Tears were running down my cheeks and I wasn't even trying to hide anymore that I was crying in front of my brothers. I've always been rather sensitive and didn't like people screaming at me. Especially so loudly and vulgarly. Especially when it was my older brother, who I was afraid of. Especially when I knew that he was a bit right.
"Hailie, the thing you've done was unbelievably stupid. Look at me now." commended Vince. It was amazing how much self-control he had while Dylan just exploded like a bomb. I raised my watery eyes at my oldest brother. "If you ever find a gun in this house, and I'm not going to pretend that it's not likely to happen no matter how hard we'll try to prevent it, you are not allowed to touch it nor even look at it. You will leave it where it is and inform one of us, understood?"
I nodded, sniffing.
"Yes, understood." I mumbled barely audibly.
"You mustn't go to the working wing nor the bedrooms which are mine or the rest of your brothers. Is it clear?"
"Hailie, I don't like to repeat myself, so keep that in mind. If you're not going to follow those simple rules, I'll make sure someone will do it for you. And you seem to be too old for having a nanny, aren't you?"
"Yes" I confirmed, avoiding his look.
"You are not allowed to invite your friends over anymore, at least until I change my mind. At school, during lunch break, you'll sit at your brothers' table for the whole next week."
"Those are not negotiations, Hailie." he cut me off. "You are also grounded till the end of the month."
Now I raised at him my puffy eyes, worried.
"What about New Year's Eve?" I asked pleadingly, afraid of missing all the fun I'd had already planned with my friends.
"We'll see." he answered me mercifully.
I wasn't relieved. It was mid of December so my grounding will last not that much, but soon there is going to be Christmas break. There'll be some days free from school and I won't be allowed to enjoy them properly by going out to the cinema, having pizza or even just hang out in the mall with my friends to feel some Christmas atmosphere. That was cruel.
Of course, I knew that Vince won't let it slide.
Dylan left, giving me the last annoyed look. Vincent got up and I, although my poor state, decided to ask him a question that has been bothering me.
"Why did you come to talk to me about that all only now?"
Vince looked down at me and the first time today he smiled slightly with one corner of his mouth. He also shrugged and answered just before he left the living room.
"I was curious about what you'd do. And you deserved to be punished with some stress."