My nephews crash against my legs the moment I walk in the door, screaming at each other to prove who missed me most. Annie smiles at them, tote bag slung over her shoulder as I usher her into the living room. I stop in the doorway that separates the living room from the front room, swallowing hard at the sight of Karissa. She is chattering away with my mom about baby stuff. Baby stuff. My mother doesn't even notice me standing, nor does she hear the boys yelling out my name. Karissa kind of notices, but her full attention is on whatever my mom is telling her. Sabrina notices me and then smiles when she sees Annie.
"I didn't know you were bringing a friend," she says, standing from the couch to come greet us.
"I needed someone to keep me company while I watch these troublemakers," I say, placing my hands on both my nephews' heads, messing with their thick, black hair. "Besides, I didn't think you would mind."
"Oh, I don't mind at all . . . I'm just surprised. Sorry doll, I am being so rude right now. I'm Sabrina, Eric's older and wiser sister."
"Annie," she says, smiling as she shakes my sister's hand. "Wait . . . I knew you looked familiar! Didn't you audition for 'So You Wanna Sing' some years back?"
"At least three times before Gil and I gave up," Sabrina waves her hand in the air. "A year later after the last audition, I found out I was pregnant. Oh! Come meet Karissa, Annie."
With a startled look on her face, Annie is whisked away to join the conversation. I sigh, rubbing my eyes as I turn my attention to my nephews, who are both pulling at my shirt.
"Uncle Eric! Uncle Eric!" Ethan shouts, jumping up and down.
"Did you bring us something fun?!" Micah asks, grinning up at me.
"I forgot!" I say with a fake gasp.
"What do you mean, you forgot?" Ethan asks as he stops jumping, his eyes turning glassy.
"We are going to get it together," I reply, lowering my voice as I put my finger to my lips. "It's our secret, alright? You cannot tell your mom what we plan to do. Pinky-promise?"
Both boys nod as they each wrap their little fingers around mine. They run to the center of the room to continue whatever game they were playing for they heard me coming in. I look around the living room, deliberately ignoring my sister's stares. I go to join the boys, sitting on the floor with my back to my mom and the girls. Micah looks up from his truck, over my shoulder to where Annie is sitting, before tugging at my shirt.
"Is she your girlfriend?" he asks in a hushed voice.
"What makes you ask that?" I whisper back, surprised at his question.
"Uncle Jacks calls Karissa his girlfriend," Ethan replies, pretending to smash his truck into Micah's leg.
"Hey!" Micah shouts slapping Ethan, hard, in the face.
"Whoa, where did you two learn to hit?" I ask, raising my voice a little bit. "I thought your mom and dad told you no hitting."
Micah immediately starts to cry, covering his eyes as the tears start to come out. Ethan just crosses his arms and glares at his brother. I turn away, trying to hide my amusement. Sabrina would kill me if I laugh instead of scold. I remember being in a similar predicament with Jacks, when we were younger. Gil and Sabrina were both doing homework while watching us until Mom and Dad got home from work. I was the one crying, Jacks was the one who started it. Jacks always started the fights.
I catch Annie watching me with her lips pressed in a thin line, as if she is trying not to smile. My eyes grow wide as I motion to the boys with my head. She claps a hand over her mouth and looks away. Sabrina is completely oblivious, as is my mother and Karissa. I shake my head and turn back to Micah, who is really pouring it on.
"Alright," I say, pulling him into my lap. "That's enough buddy. Do you feel bad? Is that why you're crying?"
Micah sniffles, "Yes," he replies, nodding as he continues to rub his eyes.
"If he tells you he is sorry for smashing his truck on your leg, will you say sorry for hitting him?"
Another sniffle and a nod.
"Ethan," I say, looking at him. "What do you say?"
"Sorry," he says, his expression softening.
"I'm sorry too," Micah says, wiping his nose on his sleeve.
"Okay," I say, setting Micah back on the floor. "Let's try to keep the game from becoming a boxing match, alright? I'll be right back."
I pushing myself to my feet and, as subtly as possible, and I motion for Annie to follow. I leave the room and go to the kitchen. Annie appears a few seconds later.
"I knew your sister looked familiar," she says with a smile. "Funny story . . . Are you okay?"
"Tell me your funny story," I change the subject as I open the fridge for a soda.
Annie arches her eyebrow, but proceeds to explain why my sister is familiar.
"I was with a friend at the auditions," she says, leaning against the counter. "I saw your sister and . . . Gil, is that his name? She looked extremely nervous. He was holding her hand and then kissed away her worry. I started to laugh because I thought it was cute. They turned around and we started talking. Gil introduced them and asked my name. I must have scowled when I answered 'Farrah'. I told them how I got the name and ranted about how the kids at school made fun of me, calling me 'Ferret'. Sabrina was appalled that anyone would make fun of such a unique and beautiful name. When she called my name beautiful, I smiled. No one, outside of my parents, ever said they liked my name. Then Gil launched into me about this old children's book and . . . He said, 'Moral of the story is don't let others tell you about your imperfection, because you are perfect just the way you are'. I have not complained about the name in a long time, but legally, now, I am Annie."
I start to smile as I take a swig of my drink. Sounds like something Gil would say.
"Gil has a way of making people see how much they are worth," I say, nodding. "And Farrah is a beautiful name. It matches your super power."
Annie looks at me for a moment as she slowly starts to blush. I said her name is beautiful, which it is . . . Did I just say something I meant?
YOU ARE READING
Superpower (A Trigger Novel)Romance
Eric Dominguez is a star soccer player at Adelphi University. His twin brother, Jacks, is living his life to the fullest, down to the fact that he is expecting a baby with his girl, Karissa, Eric's high school crush. Eric is still a little bitter to...