Get a Grip

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            A few shrieks rang from the kitchen as the shattering of plates echoed off the freshly bleached walls.

            “Will you get a grip?” Nathan snapped, turning around in dismay to see fine china all over the ground. A fiery spark burst out of annoyance on the shoulder of his expensive business suit. Nathan extinguished it and made sure it hadn’t made a visible mark.

            “Sorry!” the maids quickly apologized as they bustled about like bees in frenzy.

            Lily, who was trotting about the striding legs, accidentally stumbled into the pâtissier. The poor man almost fell into the coffee cake he was icing.

            “Hey!” Nathan yelled, angry he had to baby sit the stupid indenture, “go play somewhere else! Angela, Jessica, get her out of here!”

            The confused girl fled the room with her caretakers.

            “What’s going on?” Lily asked as they guided her to her room.

            “Mr. and Mrs. Walker will be staying here for a while, and they should be showing up in about half an hour,” Angela said gently.

            “And so everyone’s tidying up and preparing dinner,” Jessica finished.

            “No,” Lily corrected, here eyebrows furrowing. “According to the letter, they’re supposed to be here in two hours.”

            Angela and Jessica looked at each other. “Well, you see…” Jessica said almost apologetically. “Master Nathan’s parents are a bit…”

            The trees outside swayed violently to and fro as the sound of a chopper fell upon the mansion.

            Brook burst out of a room somewhere down the hall, dictionary on her head falling to the ground with a thud.

            Nathan flew up the stairs as he adjusted his tie, not stopping as he grabbed her flushed hand. The two of them sprinted to the roof.

            Lily looked on at her two favorite people in the world scale a flight of stairs and felt a strong pride rise in her chest. The look in their eyes; maybe, one day, she’d be determined, hard working, and wonderful enough to have it, too.

***

            Nathan stopped running as the two of them reached the ornate rooftop door that shone ominously in the dim luminosity of lamp. He clenched his hand tighter around Brook’s fingers. She stopped reaching for the handle and turned around.

            “What’s wrong?” she asked, panicking and thinking she’d forgotten something.

            “Listen, before we go out there, you need to know something,” he said, stepping forward so their noses were centimeters apart. He reached out and caressing her cheek with his free hand.

            Brook started ever so slightly, the feeling of his touch shooting electricity to the very roots of her meticulously styled hair.

            Her heartbeat, which was already thumping like a drum, accelerated to the tattoo of galloping horses. The sound of blood rushing flooded Brook’s ears as she found her fingers intertwining with Nathan’s.

            “No matter what happens,” Nathan vowed quietly, “I’ve got your back. I don’t care what anyone says; I’ll protect you.”

            Brook felt herself relaxing under his earnest gaze and stepping forward, closing the distance between them. She was just about to bury her face in his chest and cling onto him like a lifeline when the door yanked open.

            Bright light poured into the room and scattered their shadows. Brook quickly stepped back from Nathan and looked at her parents-in-law.

            “Well, sorry to break it to you, but there’s only so much you can do, Nathan,” Mrs. Walker sneered in the doorway. She looked Brook up and down with a critical eye. It rested upon their tightly intertwined fingers.

            Mr. Walker also caught this and his face immediately grew sourer, but Brook stood her ground when their eyes met.

            That’s right, she suddenly remembered as she stared right back at him. The whole reason I’m here right now… how did I forget what I told myself the day Number 12 died?

            I swore that, no matter what, she thought, I’d stay alive. Not just for me, but for everything I’ve ever loved.

            Which, Brook admitted to her embarrassment as she tightened her grip on Nathan’s hand, has grown so much.

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