Miss Perfect and Her Brothers (Part I&II)

Part II: Chapter 7

"Will!" I shouted to the phone not caring about the exaggerated excitement in my voice.

I was clutching a brick-sized cell phone with a protruding antenna with both hands. My father gave it to me when I caught him in the kitchen, having a talk with my beloved brother. My eyes lit up like gold when he asked if I would like to exchange a few words with William for a moment.

His laughter sounded on the phone.

"Hey, baby. How are you doing? How is your vacation?"

"Oh Will! It's so beautiful. It would be so cool if you were here!" I called out honestly and he laughed again.

"Do the guys treat you well?"

"No, they're terrible."

"Should I talk to them?"

"No, because they will be worse."

"They won't, I will take care of it," he assured me.

"No, Will, please. They'll be mad at me for snitching."

"I won't tell them that you snitched on them."

"They'll know anyway. I can handle it, really," I convinced him, truly full of faith in my own words. Will probably sensed it because he let it go.

We talked for a while about the little things, but he also asked, very gently, about father. I was glad that the man, handing me the phone, left me in the kitchen alone and did not stress me with his presence. On the other hand, I couldn't be sure that he wasn't eavesdropping, so just in case I lowered my voice when I told Will about how confused I was that one of my parents was alive.

I didn't blame him for lying anymore because I knew that concealing this secret was not his decision. In general, the whole situation was so complicated that I no longer knew who I was angry at, whom I felt sorry for, and whom to forgive.

One thing was certain - talking to Will gave me energy and made my day. I was sad when I finally had to give the phone back to my father.

A month's trip sounds like a fairly solid vacation, but the truth was that day by day, time was literally flying. For most of it, I was sunbathing, covered with a thick layer of sunscreen, I swam a little, read a lot. In the big short, I lounged around like never before. The boys came up with more creative entertainments, but they refused to involve me in most of them. Like their stupid climbing or diving. Once they also went parachuting. When they got water scooters out of nowhere, Shane was the only one who took pity on me and gave me a ride once or twice, still getting rid of me too quickly.

There were also moments when we had fun together. For example, when we built a great sandcastle. It sounds like fun for children, but it took us all day and the effect was really impressive. Our creation ended up being so big that three people could easily fit inside. Of course, the guys worked in their own style, sipping a cool beer and teasing me a bit. Tony also built a princess out of the sand and focused on shaping her breasts precisely.

We also watched a lot of movies together. We spent most of the evenings sprawled on the couch and I had to timidly admit that I loved those moments. I usually landed somewhere between the guys, as the middle seat was usually the least comfortable, but I dealt with it by sitting there with my private blanket and pillow. Besides, although I would sooner cut myself than said it out loud, I had nothing against being surrounded on both sides by my brothers who, especially in the evenings and in the presence of my father, behaved quite tolerably. I didn't even care anymore that they were eating all my popcorn or that they were teasingly threatening to send me to bed every now and then, knowing very well how annoyed I was when they treated me like a child.

And sometimes they were really terrible, especially during meals. They also told my father that I had fainted and he got so worried that he didn't even stop them too much when they were attacking me so that I would eat more ...

It was one of our last days on the island. A month flew by and I couldn't believe that it was almost half of the holidays behind me. We watched a movie and it was raining outside. Throughout our trip, we had quite a lot of rainy days, more than I would have expected, but they rather gave comfort and a break between the heat, so neither of us complained about it. Especially having a house furnished so luxuriously and cozily. It turned out that inside we even had a sauna and another jacuzzi, in which I spent half of the stay.

The movie we put on today was extremely bad and we were distracting ourselves a lot. At some point, my father got up to bring another beer from the fridge for the boys and himself, and seconds later the two main characters on the screen threw off their clothes. I was cheering on their love, so I enjoyed this turn of events but my eyes quickly met darkness.
Dylan's big and heavy paw covered them.

"Hey!" I screamed, clenching my fingers on it.

"It's an adult scene," my brother murmured and the twins snorted in amusement.

Seriously, Dylan?

I sank my fingernails into the back of his hand so that he finally took it away with a hiss.

"Seen worse," I reminded him bitterly.

I knew that when you start with him, the first reasonable thing to do was to get away from him immediately as far as possible, and only then it was time to congratulate yourself on the smart remark, so that was what I did. I lunged in the opposite direction to him, but he grabbed the back of my top and pulled me back to him. I grasped Shane's legs. He was sitting next to me and didn't even lift a finger to stop or help me. I jumped off the couch, ready to run when Dylan leaned after me again and pinched me on my side, which made me squeak loudly and laugh ... Well, I couldn't do anything, it was my ticklish spot.

Dylan quickly picked it up and pinched me again and then again. I screamed because it was getting unbearable and I did my best to get away from him. I got free when my father entered the living room, carrying cold bottles in his hands. Dylan leaned over me even more, and I screamed louder and, without thinking much, used my father as a shield.
"Dad!" I cried out pleadingly but in a laughing voice, grabbing his shirt and hiding behind his back from my diabolical brother.

The man staggered and the bottles rattled as they bumped against each other, but he immediately controlled it, focusing more on me. 

And my stomach clenched painfully and cold chills flooded in me. In an instant, I also froze and felt my muscles tighten. I let go of my father's T-shirt. I wasn't laughing anymore. I took a small step back to move away from the broad back of the man I had used as a protection a second ago.

He was just turning towards me, so I panicked and stepped back even more.

"I need to go to the bathroom," I said quietly and, avoiding any glances (especially this particular one), I turned on my heel and left the room hurriedly.

In the toilet, I closed the door and stared at the mirror. I wanted to hit my face or hurt myself, just to silence the embarrassment I felt. Eventually, I stuck my nails into my hair and yelled out noiselessly.
Oh God, dear God, I'm so pathetic. How pathetic I am! And what a rage I felt! At myself. Because I'm so pathetic.

"Dad," I repeated in a contemptuous whisper when I looked at my reflection again. I shook my head. Throughout the trip, the whole damn trip, I did what I could to avoid addressing him directly. I wasn't even happy to call him a father only in my thoughts. But here we go. I cheerfully exclaimed "dad" to him. I'm fucked up.

You are not. Maybe he didn't hear.

You are. Of course, he heard. Everyone heard it.

I didn't want to go back there. Yes, maybe I liked him a little. Maybe he was sometimes funny and very nice to me. But I was still not sure about my feelings towards him. I didn't forgive him. I wasn't ready to call him "dad". And now he probably thought I was.

Finally, I put myself together and decided to pretend that nothing had happened. Nobody commented on it, but I was a thousand percent sure that even if my brothers didn't somehow notice my scream, the father himself certainly did. After all, I was making a mental note each time he called me a daughter.
For the rest of my stay, I was very careful not to show him more affection, even though he was as nice to me as usual. I regretted it the penultimate day when he visited me in my room where I was kneeling on the floor next to my half-packed suitcase. I realized then that this man would soon disappear from my life again. Even worse, I understood how much I didn't want it.

"Ready to go back?" he said sounding casual, looking down at me with a suspiciously forced smile.

I raised my head to answer him that yes, or almost, or just shrug my shoulders, but when I looked into his eyes I somehow felt the need to cry and I shook my head.

What can I say, I got used to this man, to have him around me and to him defending me from my malicious brothers and that he called me a princess from time to time. He appeared in my life so unexpectedly and now what, he was about to orphan me again? As much as I didn't want to see him at first, now I didn't want him to leave again.

He stopped smiling at the sight of a tear that ran down my cheek.
"Hey, hey ..." he muttered softly and bent towards me to catch me under my elbows and help me to stand up on my feet with the greatest delicacy. I staggered a little and felt another tear making its way down my cheek, but before it could reach even half of it, my father wiped it with his thumb. I looked at the floor, avoiding his gaze, too ashamed by my own state.

"What's happening?" he asked quietly and with obvious concern when suddenly ten times more tears appeared in my eyes and there was no way to control them anymore.

His hand ran over my shoulder, then gently flicked my braid behind my back, brushed my chin and stroked my head. He apparently didn't know what to do or how to calm me down. I think I started crying even more because of that.

"Hailie!" he gasped, finally cupping my face with both his hands and forcing me to make eye contact. He had a thick wrinkle between his eyebrows, and his eyes stared at me in terror, as if at least I was bleeding to death in front of him.
Finally, I shook my head, doing my best to control my shaking lower lip.

"Why ..." I started in a thin voice, but I choked and stopped.

"Hey!" he called out, a little more resolutely as if calling me to order.

I tried again.

"Why did you even show up in my life if now you are leaving me again?"

He stared at me for the longest seconds of my life and I could swear that his dark eyes became a bit glassy too but suddenly he trapped me in a bear hug so I couldn't see anything else.

From what Vince once told me, my father was not the most emotional person in the world, and yet no one has ever held me as tightly in their arms as he did now. I had the impression that he would crush my bones at any moment. I didn't even mind it that much. I felt no pain. On the contrary, I needed it. I needed to be hugged like never before.

"I'm sorry, dear child, but I wanted to meet you so badly. I am sorry if it was selfish of me. I promise you that if you agree, it's not the last time we see each other."
I wanted to tell him that at the moment I don't agree but my heart reacted inversely, inflating with hope.

"I couldn't wish for a more perfect daughter," he murmured into my ear.

I stood in the middle of the bedroom, entwined with his arms, for about ten minutes. It was almost as if he was trying to compensate me for all the fatherly hugs I had missed in my almost sixteen years old life.

That evening I sat down next to him to watch the movie. I did it for the first time and apparently it gave him a lot of pleasure. Same for me, because for the first time no one teased me. Nobody covered my eyes or pinched me. We all ate together a delicious dinner and seeing the amused faces of my brothers, I understood that they also were enjoying the last moments with their father.

When the next day we stood on the beach and only a few steps separated us from hopping on a motorboat, which was supposed to take us ashore, I got affectionate again. My father kissed my forehead and whispered another compliment. He said I was beautiful and strong and so smart... Then he hugged the boys - each one separately - patting them on the back. Their embraces were different. Less sensitive and somehow stiffer. Each of my brothers was looking in a different direction, apparently not very fond of farewells. My heart trembled.
After all, it's not just me saying goodbye to my father...

Finally, the man grabbed the wrists of standing the closest to him me and Tony. He pulled us closer so that together with Dylan and Shane, we were all in a tight circle. I felt strange because I was the smallest one.

Father took a moment to look at each one of us deeply in the eyes. I almost swallowed because suddenly the vibe got serious.

"Look after each other, kids. Vincent and William too. There is no stronger person than the one behind whom the family stands. Especially siblings. Always remember that, now that you are finally reunited."

When I was taking my seat on the motorboat, I couldn't look away from my father standing on the shore of the fabulous beach, in a white, unbuttoned shirt and jeans shorts. He watched us, but if he had any emotions, he hid them well, because he put on sunglasses and a cigar in his mouth. He had one hand in his pocket, and absolutely nothing else could be read from his person.

His words, however, were in my mind throughout the entire journey back. The guys were probably more used to hearing such wise words from our father because they didn't look like they had any special reflections on this subject. However, I was silent, constantly analyzing my father's last statement. As an only child raised by a single mother, I had a unique relationship with her and the fact that we loved each other very much was as obvious to me as that two and two equals four. However, now I had siblings and older, not very expansive brothers who could have a neutral attitude towards me, who might not even accept me as a full sister, because in the end we only had a common father. And yet I was able to point a few important moments in which they proved that the bonds that my father spoke about are indeed very important to them, not only in theory.
And for me? I felt stupid now because I found out that I was just realizing what all this talk about the family really meant. It amazed me that my brothers, though often annoying, unfair,  and mean suddenly became the most important people in my life and I blinked as I drew such conclusions. I didn't think I would ever love them so honestly and despite all their flaws.

Our travel back home was very fast. Much faster than a trip to Thailand. I sadly said goodbye to this beautiful country and my carefree stay in it. I also clung to the thought that this is not the last time I see my father.

The same man who took us to the airport a month ago now picked us up. We entered a familiar garage, where all these beautiful rides were proudly presented. I got out of the car after my brothers and, ignoring my suitcases, I immediately headed towards inside of our house, dreaming of sleeping in my own comfortable bed. The door I was heading to suddenly opened and I stopped, staring at Will, who stood in it.
"Welcome home," he said, his light eyes smiling at me. The corners of his mouth also raised and his arms spread. He was wearing a gray T-shirt and sweatpants. It was very late, so apparently he had to wait for our arrival. And he could have been having a nice sleep right now...

I literally melted at the sight of him. Will was perfect in every way. Even if he weren't - even if he were ugly, neglected and toothless - I would fall into his arms, just as I did now. Because he was a wonderful brother who genuinely enjoyed seeing me, not caring about the fact that everyone already knows about his soft spot for me.

"I missed you, little one," he whispered in my hair, stroking my back.

With blissful satisfaction, I smelled his familiar, pleasant scent into my lungs, which was a mix of washing powder and Christmas. Like, you know, mandarines, a warm fireplace, and a live Christmas tree.

My perfect hug with Will was slightly disturbed by Tony, who passed by us and poked his older brother's side. Will reached over and squeezed his shoulder. Then I realized that this was their way of saying hello. As if they couldn't forget about their alpha male nature for a moment... I squeezed Will even more. Well, I wasn't going to let go of the opportunity to show my feelings and cuddle.
Will walked me to my bedroom, with me still stuck to his side. He embraced me with his arm and told me various nice things, such as the fact that he missed me in this big house. He also admired how tanned I got and asked me for a beautiful smile. I gave it to him immediately.

I don't remember very well, but I think Will stayed with me in the bedroom until I fell asleep, though it must have happened very quickly. I woke up again at a strange time in the middle of the day and groaned loudly at the thought that I had to struggle with jet-lag once again.

I went down to the kitchen for breakfast, dinner or lunch. Anything to eat, because I was hungry, and I wanted to see Will again. He didn't let me down. He was sitting at the table, doing something on his computer, but I liked to think in my head that he was definitely waiting for me.

Eugenie also appeared and hugged me and served me a casserole with spinach and potatoes. I missed the classic flavors a little after those fancy Thai dishes, so I enjoyed eating it. I also continued on telling Will a lot about my holidays. I loved his reactions because he seemed to really listen to me with honest interest as if he indeed wanted to know everything I was saying to him.
Later, he had something to do, and I sat on the couch in the living room, finding myself missing this house too. I think I really got used to my new life. After all, it will be almost a year since I lived here. A year since my mother's death.

I was sad and to cheer up, I put on Friends on Netflix and focused on my phone gallery, wondering which photo from vacation would enrich my Instagram the best. I had quite a few of them, although it was not easy to ask my brothers to take them. I was also very selective about the content on my social media. I haven't uploaded anything in there for months, and I haven't been active there for all my stay in Thailand. I didn't have the internet there. Apparently it was safer this way. For our father.

I also send a long message to my friends that summarized my trip. I spend a few hours on my phone, and finally, someone decided to interrupt me.

"Good afternoon, Hailie."

I raised my head, turned it and lowered the phone at the same time.
And he stood behind and looked down at me.

Oh my god, Vincent.

Tall, in dark, elegant clothes. With this hair perfectly combed back. A mesmerizing look.

At the sight of him, my heart stopped first. It was a bit like I forgot that he lives here and that I am formally under his care. Deep down, however, I remembered this well and was just waiting for him to find me. It turned out that I missed him too because before I could think, I got up on my knees on the couch and embraced him.

Hugging Vincent is like going outside to have fun in the snow without a jacket. It's nice for a moment, but you start to freeze very soon.

I let go of him when the only act of affection I got in return was his hand on my shoulder. However, he didn't discourage me. It was just that I liked to cuddle and he didn't and I was going to learn to respect it.

"How's your holiday?" he asked, going around the couch and sitting on it, near me. He leaned a little towards me, one of his hands resting on the back of the couch, and the other just brushed some invisible crumb from his pants. He crossed his legs. Oh, how much grace he had in him! His resemblance to our father suddenly hit me.
I dropped my eyes at the thought of our shared parent.

I don't know if I wanted to talk to him about it. Probably not. Even with Will, it was difficult. And it was way harder to open up to Vince. Just sitting next to him was somehow stressful. That's why I almost got a heart attack when in a moment, I found out that I would spend the next two days only in his company.

I hope you had a happy Easter, guys, and that you spent it as normal as possible. Also, stay safe and healthy. Best wishes!❤️