The youth bolted straight up, hitting his head against the overhead locker, but didn’t seem to care when he took a very quick step back, his pupils dilated as if he’d found a rattle snake on the place of his brother. He grabbed his chest under his large scarf and leaned back closer, ignoring the worried looks from his younger brothers. He knelt next to them and this time there was nothing left of the cocky young man when he gasped and demanded. “Seriously?”
“This is not the place to discuss this.” Reed reminded Joshua, but he knew the statement held little over his younger brother.
“And you’re taking it this easy?” He demanded, leaning over Roy, who clenched to his water, balancing it out of the way of bangles clinking against them.
It wasn’t what he wanted to admit, but it slipped out. Maybe he’d thought he’d asked something else? He’d made a mistake, he realized, seeing the curiosity peak in the youth’s eyes. His breathing hitched and he felt the panic rising his temperature, which pushed his breathing offbeat.
“Could you go back to your seat, please? We’re entering some bad weather.” The blond stewardess asked politely as she tried to get past his big figure. Joshua wasn’t much smaller than his older brothers, but his youth gave him still the fragility closer to a teenager.
“Yeah, sorry.” Joshua pulled away from the woman’s path and watched while she disappeared behind the curtains on the back of the cabin.
The word did nothing to quince his appetite, Reed knew it, and instead of leaving, Joshua leaned on his side against the chair and made himself comfortable.
This was definitely creating fuss, he frowned, concentrating on his breathing.
“I was too little back then.” He heard his brother explain to the shocked teacher between them. “So they didn’t tell us much, but as I gather there was this girl in high school bro got all worked up for, you know? Wait, you’ve been in that school for a while, right? You know what happened?”
Roy hastily shook his head, betraying himself and Reed let out a loud agonized moan. The man was too obvious. In truth, the fact that he’d managed to keep his relationship with Tomas quiet up until now was becoming more and more closer to a miracle the longer time he spent with him.
“I see.” Joshua’s fingers on the back of the seat crunched loudly as they sank into the fabric. “So what is this?” He asked, darting his eyes between Reed and Roy.
“I will not repeat, please go back to your seat!” The stewardess was losing her patience after she was forced to press herself past him again.
“When did she return?” Joshua muttered, but let himself be herded back towards his seat, leaving them alone.
Reed packed up the newspaper and left it resting on his knees before turning his full attention to the clouds outside his window. What was it? Good question, one he had no answer to. Why couldn’t he let it be?
He ignored others throughout the rest of the flight and also the taxi ride to their hotel on the opposite of the small island. Although it took more than an hour to get there by boat, it was still visible from the fourth floor of the hotel they settled in. There was no way they’d fit on the island and it being the peak of tourist season, there were no free houses on it. Neither were there many free rooms left in the small town in the port, so he got to share it with Roy.
By the time they’d reached the soar, he was close to screaming and inwardly he’d been doing it since he’d seen the article in the magazine. Roy was a nice man, funny, capable of dealing with his family despite the first shock of seeing the whole punch. Too nice. There was not a single thing wrong with him to ease his need to lash out.
Joshua took him under his wing the moment they landed, spreading his large hands gracelessly over the older man’s shoulders and demanded with quirky smile some juicy story about his brother he wasn’t already aware off.
That gave Reed some much needed space. After they’d gotten to the hotel next to the sea, he’d excused himself immediately and changed his business outfit for casual before heading out on excuse of saying hi to some new friends he’d made when he was on Drasan. The space left from him was again filled by Joshua and for once Reed was happy for it. He couldn’t decide if the boy did it because of his interest in Roy or he could sense the uneasiness growing in Reed.
He sat on the stones on the beach, watching the tiny lights flickering on the other shore when the night time came, imagining people talking on their balconies and in their kitchens, doors open. Just like the first week they’d been there – trusting the safety the island offered and letting in the aromas from the blooms outside. He missed those scents, the saltiness mixed with jasmines and daisies surrounding the houses.
He tried to make sense of the mess inside him, mesmerized by the lights. He shouldn’t be here. In all the logic he possessed, he knew he should be far away on the other side in Monfort and try overcome the despair meeting with Valerie had left in him. It frightened him how easily he’d let the old feelings return and overtake the part of his life he’d thought he’d gotten back over years of therapy. Now he was sitting in the dark beach and all he could see were the images from the magazine taken by Garret.
He knew he blew his chances, when he’d left Valerie on the beach, but he could not accept her marriage to Tomas. To have the woman so close for the rest of his life, Tomas between them stabbed him each time he let the idea take root in his slogged brain.
The lights went out on the island, leaving the small island in complete darkness and he checked his phone. It was slightly past midnight. A beginning to a new day. Wednesday.