I walked slowly down the stairs, rubbing the inside of my palm with my thumb nervously. The boys had dispersed back into various rooms, the blaring of the television coming from the living room.
Swallowing, I walked in, blinking heavily. Zane was lying sprawled out on the sofa, nudging the side of Ade’s head with his toe. I smiled weakly, just taking them in. I would miss this; seeing them having a laugh. Watching them banter away without caring about who was watching. It was nice. They always seemed happy these days.
I left the room before they noticed I was there. It would be better that way. The more people I said goodbye to, the more would realise exactly what I was going to do. A lump rose in my throat, as I realised that the likelihood of seeing anyone in this house again was remote.
Rosie was lying upstairs in her cot, a note pinned to the bars for Cal, explaining everything. I couldn’t say goodbye to him; it would be hard enough saying it subtly to Radleigh. Cal would just push me over the edge.
Quietly, I made my way through the kitchen, searching for my brother (the nice one, at least). He was sitting at the table, his head rested on his arms as he dozed. It seemed cruel to wake him, but I couldn’t not say something; I didn’t know how long it would be until I saw him again.
“Radleigh?” I mumbled, standing over him. He didn’t respond, his gentle breaths making his hair flutter. I smiled faintly, watching the delicate strands float upwards and then fall back down to his face. When we were younger, I used to be jealous of Radleigh’s hair. I loved the way it shone in the light, the way it looked like someone had set fire to his head, the way it stuck up no matter what the hell he did to it.
Radleigh Knight got the best hair in the family, I think. Actually, I think he got the best of everything. He was kind, loyal and he was named after a handbag. He was twice the man Jase was, and he always would be.
As much as he didn’t want to think about it, Radleigh would make a nice mate for someone. And it wasn’t just because I was biased; he was lovely. And I knew, deep down, that he find someone that deserved him. Just as long as he didn’t get hung up on not being tied down by mates and kids, he would be fine.
“Radleigh,” I breathed. He stirred, looking up at me through bleary blue eyes.
“Wha’?” he asked, blinking heavily. Suddenly, tears started to stream down my face at the thought of leaving, and I threw my arms around him. Taken by surprise, he awkwardly started to pat my back, which just made me sob into his shoulder.
“Um, Annie? If this is somethin’ t’do wi’ baby hormones, y’need tae talk tae someone else, because it’s all fair game tae me,” he said, looking around fearfully. I laughed, only for it to come out choked and pain-ridden.
“Aye, I know,” I mumbled, breaking away from him. “Sorry.” I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand. He smiled lightly, the freckles on his face becoming more apparent with the upwards curve of his lips.
“Maybe y’need some kip, Ans,” he suggested, getting to his feet. “Y’know, y’shouldn’t worry about Dante an’ that; dad’s gonnae make sure he doesn’t get Rosie.”
He towered over me, his lopsided grin reminding me of when we were younger. When the hell had Radleigh gotten so tall? What had happened to the time where we had been about the same height? Memories, that’s all they were; distant memories in a time that didn’t seem to exist anymore.
“Yeah, Radleigh, I know. Maybe kip’s not such a bad idea.” I swallowed, turning away from him and walking back towards the door.
“Night, Annie,” he mumbled sleepily. I turned back, staring at the back of his head.