Chapter 5 - The Adopted Brother


It was already eight when I made it home. I probably would have stayed out longer if my parents hadn't kept calling or texting me about coming home for dinner. Evidently, my surprising visit was no longer a surprise. The whole city knew I was here, and it was confirmed since Jaylen didn’t know how to keep his big mouth shut.

Looking at the matte black G-Wagon outside, I can guarantee that he’s also here. Just my luck. The first night back, not only did I see him with Alicia and now I have to sleep in the same house as him as well. Let’s pray he goes back to his house sometime within these two weeks.

My heart couldn’t even handle five minutes around him. I doubt it’ll survive two weeks. I barely noticed dad watching me if it wasn’t for his huge shadow blocking the porch light from my view. Mustering the courage and a smile, I got out of the car, running to his open arms.

While Jaylen was a momma’s boy, I was a daddy’s girl. I would say I loved my parents equally, but dad had a little bit more love from me that I would never admit. I might have looked more like ma but everything else was a carbon copy of my dad. Even though our personalities and attitudes were similar, we never clashed. If anything, they brought us closer.

He always told me how he had wanted a son because he couldn’t handle a miniature version of ma. Luckily for him, I was nothing like my mother, I was everything like him. Ma still got the physical daughter she wanted, and he got the miniature version of himself through that same daughter.

Growing up, I always thought that one of the reasons ma was ecstatic beyond the moon about having an adopted son was because she thought that eventually, I would start acting like the daughter she wished for. No such luck, I was still part of the boys.

“Hey baby girl”

“Hey Pa, I missed you.”

“I missed you too. Welcome back”

“you make it seem like I haven’t been back for ages.”

“According to this old man’s heart, you haven’t”

It was always the same joke, but coming from pa, it was heartwarmingly funny. Getting my luggage from the trunk, he tells me all about his struggles to cook me my welcoming meal. We laughed cause we both knew he loved every moment of it.

Pa got my luggage out of the trunk and held my hand with his free hand, giving it a gentle squeeze before leading me to the house. I know it’s his way of comforting me, but for what?

He couldn’t possibly know the reason for my reluctance. I shook off the thought and went with the safest assumption. He has probably seen the tabloids and heard the gossip of this so-called engagement, or maybe he thinks I’m stressed out about work like I’ve been claiming. I know I’m lying to myself, but right now the lie is my safest bet.

I can hear ma and Jaylen laughing on the back patio soon as we got into the house. Contemplating if I should go up to my room first, ask dad for the guest room or go to the back patio to see ma. Thank goodness dad made the decision for me, even if it wasn’t the one I was leaning towards.

“Let’s get you settled to your room first. Might want to wash up and brush your teeth before facing your mother” he winked.

Yup. Pa was definitely my favorite. We made it upstairs to my room, ran to the shower before dad could even put the luggage down. I could hear him laughing before closing the door behind him. I took my time taking a shower and brushing my teeth. No need to rush, Pa probably already told me something along the lines that I spill something on myself, or I was feeling sticky from my travels and needed to shower.

Taking the time to process and plan out how I’m bout to get through these next two weeks. I could handle ma, but can I handle being around Jaylen? The answer was no, it’s been no for the past decades but right now I don’t have a choice.

I just need to get through these two weeks, and I’ll be back on a plane to Clearwater in no time. I can do this! It’s already been five years without him and so much has changed. He’s dating Alicia now and even if he wasn’t, it’s not like he could or would even want to date me, I should be fine. At least that’s what I tell myself.

Dressed in a black Pajama tank top, matching shorts with a grey cardigan, and a pair of knee-length socks, I made my way down the stairs. I could hear them discussing some business matter with the Montgomery’s as I got closer to the screened patio. Not given much thought since the family business had nothing to do with me, I opened the screen.

However, from ma’s reaction when she saw me, made me second guess my decision. She knew I was here, so why did she look so shocked? And why did her pitch go up a few octaves when addressing me, signaling that she was either worried, lying, or hiding something?

We haven’t talked about much for her to have lied to me, and if she did, I would have already picked up on it. So, what had her worried, or worse, what was she hiding?

Glancing over at dad, he only smiled. Something was up but what?

Deciding to let it go and just get the night over with, I hugged ma and sat in the empty seat. I could sense their eyes on me, studying me. Five years ago, I probably would have been curious and drill them about what they had going on, but I had my problems and none of them had to do with their business.

We ate while catching up on trivial matters. Every now and then my parents would refer to some embarrassing childhood memories of Jaylen and me. At the end of each, mom made sure to comment on just how close we used to be.

Yeah, a little too close. I could sense Jaylen staring at me, but I couldn’t meet his gaze. I couldn’t fall into those wondering blue eyes and fall into the abyss only to drown.