I was lying sprawled on the couch in the living room for the whole day. Eugenie brought me two huge pillows, a fluffy comforter and a plush blanket in which I literally sank. I was more than comfortable and additionally, I felt a bit of excitement because of being in the living room, not in my boring bedroom. I was napping and watching Netflix in rotation.
When Eugenie asked what I'd like to eat, I wanted to answer her that I don't have the appetite because really, after all these things that happened to me I wasn't hungry at all but in this house I lost the right to reject meals. A strict look that Will shot me forced me to agree to have a portion of pancakes with cheese and mushrooms. He watched me chewing them till the last bite. Eugenie also fed me with tons of fruit and she reminded me to drink a lot of water.
But such blissful laziness meant also a lot of time for analyzing and I surely had a lot of stuff to think about. Especially after my conversation with Will in the car that happened when we were coming back from that nasty cabin.
In the beginning, I was quiet and just stared at the road in front of me, even though in my head I had a lethal mixture consisted of all those things that had happened to me lately. I urgently needed some explanations. I was cautious with questioning Will though because I knew how reluctant his usual answers were but finally, I decided that minding the circumstances I deserved to know at least some part of the truth.
"Who..." I cleared my throat because my voice turned out to be very hoarse, "Who was this man?"
Will kept looking at the road and didn't answer me for a while. His expression didn't change as if he didn't hear me but eventually, he spoke.
"We don't know."
I gazed at my hands and tried again.
"So how did you find him?"
I could see that Will tensed up a little as always when I was talking about uncomfortable for him topics. He was gripping the steering wheel tighter than usual. But he replied, coldly and without looking at me.
"He was wounded, he couldn't have run away far. And we have many, many friends here around. After all, it's our area."
"Your area?" I repeated, frowning.
He just nodded, not willing to explain any further. I had lots of questions, I just had no idea which one should I ask first so Will's curt answers would make some sense. For a while, I was fighting with my thoughts until I gave up.
I sighed deeply and leaned my head back, looking up, at a ceiling in the car. My brother peeked at me. I closed my eyes and when I opened them again, I looked at him. He was focused back on the driving.
"Will... what happened yesterday?" I asked in a tired, defeated and begging voice.
He took one of his hands off of the wheel and rubbed his face with it. He was tired too.
"A man who attacked you wanted to start a war against our family," He said and seeing my confusion, he remembered that he has to explain every single detail to me so he added, "When I say 'family' I mean not only you and the boys but also our whole business and people who work for us."
"Okay..." I tried to at least sound as if I was following him so he will continue.
"He wanted to weaken Vince and he knew that the only way to do it is to hurt the people he cares about the most. That's why he was so happy when he found out that he managed to catch his little sister."
"I don't understand why..."
"Tony is Tony and although it's obvious that Vince loves him, you are that lost baby sister he lately reunited with. You're the one he's responsible for. You are a little girl, young and innocent. If something happened to you..." Will stopped and shook his head while his face darkened.
I wasn't so convinced about my value in Vince's eyes, especially when compared to Tony. I didn't believe that I could ever mean to my brothers more than one of them. I didn't argue though. There were more important things to discuss now.
"How do you know all of it?"
"From you," He answered and generously explained again, "When Tony was being taken to the ambulance, he had time to tell me only that the man is bald and wounded. We tracked him and we were almost sure it was him. Almost. That's why we needed you to confirm his identity. We had an idea what his motive could be but Vince asked you some questions to put all the pieces together. Your words basically just confirmed what we were already thinking. "
I gaped at the dashboard again, my mind working intensively.
"But how could you even have any idea what was all of this about?" I whispered.
"We... we just did, Hailie," Will sighed.
"After everything that happened I have right to know the details," I growled, getting annoyed a bit.
"I don't care what you think you have right to. I'll tell you just how much I decide you should know."
A sharpness in his voice just made me angrier.
"Some guy almost shot me and I want to know what is it about!"
I raised my voice but I wasn't yelling.
"Change your tone," Will also raised his voice a bit and he was much more impressive while doing so than me. That's when I noticed that we just parked in the garage too.
"I don't give a shit about my tone."
I was almost shaking with irritation.
"And thanks to that you won't get any more explanations," My brother growled in a low voice.
"Whatever, you wouldn't tell me anyway."
After these words, I opened the door and jumped out of the car, wincing and gasping when immediately I felt pain in my leg.
"For fuck's sake!" Will hissed and I heard him slamming the door at his side. He came to me while I was trying to get to the house as fast as I could. I tried not to limp but it wasn't easy. Will caught me in a second and yanked my arm to stop me. I gave him an annoyed look but his furious face curbed my temper a bit.
"Are you trying to make me angry by hurting yourself? Is that what you're doing?"
"Let me go, I want to get some rest!" I tried to break free from his grip with no success.
"Keep on throwing a tantrum and you'll be back in the hospital faster than you think," He threatened.
I got silent out of outrage. Will nodded, boring into me.
"Yes. I'll take you there myself."
"Whatever," I mumbled, rolling my eyes. I was so mad that I made sure that my attitude shows how impatient I am and that I don't want to continue this conversation. Will didn't appreciate it because he pursed his lips and was glaring at me clearly unhappy.
He'd never before been so irritated with me.
"As you wish," He said shortly and started to drag me back to the car. I tried to resist but I couldn't do much. Anger on my face was quickly replaced with fear when Will opened the car's door and turned to me to help me get in.
I opened my mouth, surprised. Wasn't he joking?
"No!" I protested when he lifted me. He wanted to put me on the passenger's seat but I hugged him tightly, wrapping my arms around his neck, "No, no, no, Will!"
"Will you be good?" He asked quietly, his lips next to my ear. I pressed my forehead to his shoulder to avoid looking into his eyes. I nodded. My anger was stifled with fear and tiredness and maybe it was also started because of it? I knew one thing. My brothers hardly ever made empty promises and I didn't want to risk and test Will. I didn't want to go back to the hospital. Even if it was only a threat.
I felt relief when I heard Will closing the door and I didn't say anything when he headed home, still carrying me. He treated me like a little child but this one time I didn't mind. I was so overwhelmed with all the things that I needed to be babied a bit.
Then Eugenie rushed towards us, appearing out of nowhere and this is how I landed on the couch in the living room.
"Tony carries a gun to school?" I asked when she left to make some food for me and Will was covering the windows so the sun wouldn't reflect on the tv screen.
He turned around and scowled at me, not especially excited with the fact that I still tried to keep on with my interview but he answered.
"He shouldn't have. Vince forbade him. It turned out it was a good thing that he didn't listen to him."
"And... and was it Tony who... shot this boy?"
I felt shivers running through my spine at the memory of this pale face, bulging eyes, and a hole with blood in his cheek...
"You understand why he did it?"
I nodded. I didn't blame Tony but I wanted explanations.
"You were in danger."
"Why didn't he kill the bald guy, the one that was threatening to us?" I questioned, trying to logically put all the pieces together.
"I don't know. He shot him at his wrist and knee, just how Vince taught him."
I felt shivers again, this time at the imagination of Vince teaching Tony how to shoot precisely.
"Why actually at the wrist and knee?"
Will smiled slightly and gently stroke my head.
"How do you think?"
"... so he would drop the gun and... not be able to run away?" I deducted after a moment and my eyes widened out of amazement at Tony's craft.
"He did drop the gun and ran away but limping. We found him very easily. Thanks to that he's alive, now Vince can... talk with him," Will clarified.
I raised myself on my elbows to sit, excited that finally, I'm getting to understand some things. But I needed more information.
"But then why he had to kill that boy? He didn't do anything."
Will didn't share my enthusiasm. He tried to speak carefully so he wouldn't say too much.
"He didn't hold you at the gunpoint but it didn't mean that he did nothing bad. The only mercy he deserved was a quick death. His bald colleague won't have so much luck."
He said too much anyway because he saw my open mouth and he immediately cleared his throat and stood up.
"You have nothing to worry about, Hailie, everything's going to be fine. Tony will wake up soon and everything will be normal again."
He left me with those words and I heard enough to have what to think about.
Of course, the things that happened were too serious for my mind not to suffer. Till the end of the day, I stayed at the couch and I was feeling quite well because Eugenie was checking on me every moment and Will also came to see how I was doing a few times. However, most of the time he spent in Vince's office doing God knows what.
But when in the evening I transported myself to my bedroom, suddenly it turned out that I cannot fall asleep. Not because I slept a lot during the day. It's just when I was laying in the darkness I started to see things I didn't really want to watch.
For example, this bald man, after he managed to escape from the cabin, he was walking around my room with his shiny gun in his hand, repeating that he was lucky today.
Or this young guy with messy hair and bulging eyes was laying in the corner of my room and when I noticed him, he started getting up slowly. Then I also saw that hole in his cheek. He headed toward me, groaning...
That's when I gave up and sprang out of my bed. I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs but I couldn't and only tears managed to roll down my cheeks. I stormed out to the corridor, not even peeking back behind me. To my misfortune, it was even darker there than in my room.
Blindly, I moved toward Will's bedroom. I didn't care what he'd think about me, I needed comfort. I knocked at his door a few times, each one more and more impatient. I was really afraid. I didn't even dare to turn around. I almost felt someone's breath on my neck. Finally, when something tickled my arm, I just caught the doorknob and charged into my brother's room.
... Just to see that he wasn't here. His huge bed was made neatly and the thing that I felt on my arm was just strands of my hair. However, my heart was still pounding heavily. It was still dark everywhere around and now I was scared to go out of the room.
Where was Will anyway? Was he still in the forbidden corridor? It was the last place I wanted to look for him, especially at this moment. What if he's not home? What if I'm alone? It was very late...
Finally, frightened and crying, I peeked out of Will's bedroom. It was still too dark to see anything particular but my eyes got used to the blackness around and now I could distinguish shapes. It looked that the corridor was empty. Shall I go downstairs? There I could turn on the lights and wait out this terrible night. I wanted to turn them on also here and on the stairs. Where was the switch again?
With tiny steps, I was getting closer to those stairs, carefully watching and listening to everything around. In the middle of the way my heart almost dropped because I thought I saw something again. In front of me, far away, at the end of the corridor. I speed up immediately, watching the thing. It was just a lamp but I, being oversensitive, saw this pale face in a white lampshade.
At this moment something caught my shoulder and this time that surely wasn't my hair. I screamed as loud as I could and almost got a heart attack.
"Hailie, Hailie, hey, easy..." Dylan's voice started to calm me down. He rubbed my arms and was looking at me shocked while I was wailing and choking with my tears. I felt such a great relief at his sight! Too great. I couldn't bear it.
Dylan leaned towards me and placed his two fingers under my chin to force me to look at him. With his other hand, he grabbed my wrist.
"Hailie, look at me and take a deep breath. Together with me. Come on," He spoke in a soothing and confident voice that convinced me to follow his instructions. Firstly, I wasn't really successful in controlling my breathing but soon it started to slow down and I was only hiccuping from time to time.
"Now tell me, what happened and why are you wandering around the house in darkness instead of being in your bed?"
I wasn't in the mood to explain it but Dylan was waiting for an answer and was rushing me with his gaze so I motivated myself to reply to him.
"I-I had a b-bad dream..." I stuttered, not feeling like going into details.
Dylan was staring at me for one more short moment.
"Come, I'll take you to your bed," He offered and wrapped his arm around my shoulders, forcing me to move but I did what I could to stop him.
He raised his eyebrows.
"It's the middle of the night. You have to go to sleep."
"Please, Dylan, I don't want to..." I cried, desperately grasping his blouse when he pulled me again toward my room.
My brother was watching me and the miserable state I was in and then he sighed deeply, raising his eyes.
"Come," He muttered and when he saw that I open my mouth to protest, he added, "Come with me."
I trusted him and he led me to his bedroom. I'd never been here before. I was living so many months with my brothers and almost never visited their rooms. The one that was Dylan's I've seen only a few times when the door was open or I needed something from him and had a peek.
This time I came inside. Dylan turned on a night lamp, so it gave out a dim light. He let me go and moved towards his closet, taking off his clothes until he had only his boxers on and then he quickly put on some baggy T-shirt. Half of a year ago, I'd blushed at the sight but now I was completely used to it. Dylan and the twins were very often walking around our house with absolutely minimum of the clothes on them. Sometimes I was thinking that if I wasn't living with them, they wouldn't care to put anything on at all while home.
"Lay down," He said, motioning his head toward the bed.
I stared at him surprised. Was he really offering me to sleep in bed with him?
"Or you lay down here or you go back to your bedroom. Quick, before I change my mind."
It worked so I immediately climbed on the mattress, taking off the bedspread from my side.
"How's your leg?" He asked, watching how carefully I pulled it behind me under the comforter.
I shrugged. It was hurting. I strained it a bit running away from ghosts.
Dylan disappeared in his bathroom and I relaxed in his bed. I knew he was there, I could hear him, so I wasn't that scared anymore.
I was already half-asleep when he came back and laid next to me. I felt his eyes on me so I lifted my lids a little and shared a look with him.
"Will said you bruised yourself," He muttered quietly.
"Mhm," I whispered and closed my eyes back again, wanting to sleep but I reached my hand blindly to uncover myself and pull up my pajamas. I didn't even have to look at the bruise. I knew it was there. Huge and ugly.
I heard Dylan inhales deeply and then he slowly breathed out. I put my pajamas back down and placed my hand under my cheek, ready to finally have a good sleep. I just felt my brother covers me with a comforter and then I heard a quiet click of a lamp when he turned it off.
I was warm and cozy and, what's most important, I wasn't afraid anymore. Not with Dylan next to me. He most likely had a gun somewhere close at hand. It was the first time such thought was calming me.
Falling asleep with him I felt... safe. And I had no more bad dreams that night.