Family Reunion

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"Miss him much?" Kate asks, entering the aisle that I'm currently in, reading a Nora Roberts book. I look up from the first page, and raise an eyebrow.
"Do you always have to greet me with the same question?" I say, shutting the book and taking out another from the large, wooden shelf.
"Well, yeah." Kate nods her head. "So, do you?"
"Of course I do and you know that, as well as I do." I shrug my shoulders. "But we talk everyday, every afternoon and every night. I think that leaves no space for missing someone." I'm lying, and I know Kate knows it. Talking to someone on Face-time, doesn't compare to the feeling one gets when they're with said person. At least I don't get the same feeling.
"Liam's...talked to me, as well. A lot, in fact." Kate says, hesitantly. I look up from the cover of the book and stare at her. I just stare. We've talked about Liam and I found out that he and Kate are highly interested in each other. However, this is wrong because he has a girlfriend. Kate told me that they spent a night together doing nothing, but kissing and talking. I didn't think that they were talking to each other after Liam left. Today, I'm learning otherwise.
"Kate we've-"
"I know, Mus! I know. But I can't help myself, M. He's...he kept calling me and I ignored the guy for a few days. But, come on, how long can I ignore his calls?" Kate places her hands on her hips and shifts her weight to the right foot.
"Until he stops calling." I state, matter-of-factly. "Kate, he's cheating! How do you know he'll be loyal to you in the future, if he can't be loyal to his girlfriend right now?" I place the two books in my right hand and slide out another.
"Oh, please!" Kate huffs and flicks her wrist. "He's not a bad guy."
"He might not be, but he sure as hell isn't a faithful guy." My eyes scan the book in my left hand. "These should do," I murmur to myself. I walk past Kate toward the long line of black tables.
"Mus, come on, be fair." Kate says, following me.
"Be fair?" I turn on my heels, looking at her incredulously. "Be fair? Kate, you and Liam are not being fair to the poor girl who is dating him, quite unfortunate for her." I scoff. "Kate, imagine if Ben - your ex - was cheating on you. Wouldn't you hate the girl who tempted him more than you?" Kate crosses her arms across her chest and stares at me. I know I'm hurting her, but I need to do this ruthlessly. I talked to her sweetly and tried to make her understand. However, she didn't get me, so this is Plan B. "You're that girl for Liam's girlfriend. Kate, you should be ashamed of yourself. I'm disgusted in you and disappointed. If Liam had a backbone and if he really cared about you and wanted to give this relationship a try, he'd break up with his girlfriend. Since I don't see the news of his breakup all over the tabloids and internet, I don't think he has a backbone. A man who cheats once will cheat a thousand times, and can never be trusted. Don't make the same mistake that I made, Kate. Don't do it." I shake my head languidly. "Don't do it."
"Mus..." Kate waves her hand in front of her face, and turns around. She sniffs, as she runs down the aisle and toward the exit. I know she's crying and I know I've upset her, but this is for the best. It's in her best interests to face the truth now rather than later. I made the mistake of trusting a guy who cheated once, and he did it again. After that, mama's words sank in that once a man cheats, he's always a cheater. Heartbreak once isn't as tough as another heartbreak from the same man. It's the worst feeling in the world when you give into his promises and believe him and then he cheats on you again, breaking every goddamn promise that he made. I don't want Kate to date, or even think about dating such a man. As sad as it is, Liam is that kind of a guy. He is cheating now, even though Kate and Liam are only kissing and thinking about a relationship. And he will cheat again, when they're dating.
"Honey, are you okay?" I look up to find Ms. Cassidy smiling at me, with concern in her eyes.
"Yes, thank you. I was just about to check out." I say, holding up the three books. The concern vanishes from her eyes, and her face relaxes, increasing the width of her smile.
"Okay, hope to see you again tomorrow." Ms. Cassidy says, always the sweet one.
"Of course. Three books are a night's deal for me." I wink at her, and head toward the exit, where I can check-out the books. Ms. Cassidy laughs. I check my watch to find that it's already six in the evening. Harry's call will be coming at any time.
I glance at my phone again. It's nine at night and I still haven't gotten a call from Harry. He doesn't have to call you every night. The highly annoying person in my head says. Pouting, I throw my head back and stare up at the ceiling. Suddenly, the bell rings, making me sit up.
"Coming!" I yell, as the person outside rings the bell persistently. I squint my eyes and take a look through the peephole. My eyes widen, and hastily I unlock the door. I yank the door open, making it slam against the wall.
"Rayan!" I yell, throwing myself at my younger, twelve year old step-brother. I wrap my arms around him, and as usual, he doesn't wrap his arms around me.
"Apps, don't hug me!" Rayan says, as I step back. I scowl and place my hands on my hips.
"Don't call me Apps, Rayan!" I scold him, spoiling his hair by passing my hand through it. "And I will hug you because I'm your sister."
"Please don't. At least not in public," Ryan looks at me pleadingly. God, this kid and his reputation. I don't even know what reputation he cares so much about. My eyes land on Amaan - my other, 14 year old step brother - who is lugging a suitcase up the driveway.
"Amaan!" I exclaim, and he looks up, grinning.
"Apps!" Amaan yells, dropping the suitcase and rushing into my open arms. He doesn't care about what other people think, nor does he care about his reputation. Amaan is a loving boy, who always puts family before friends, and other commitments.
"God, it's been so long since I hugged you boys." I say, pulling back and passing my hand over Amaan's buzz-cut. "Who're you here with?"
"Mom," Rayan says. "She's just paying the cab driver and trying to contact her friend. We were supposed to stay at her friend's house, but she isn't picking up mom's calls and neither is she home. Sucks for you cause we're staying with you, Apps." I grin at him and punch his shoulder.
"Doesn't suck for me. I'm very happy, Rayan. Get your fat ass in." Rayan makes his way into the house and Amaan and I make our way down the drive, toward the gate. Rayan has always been one to put his feet up and relax. Amaan, however, is always willing to help people, even strangers.
"I'll go help Sophia and you can lug that suitcase in." I say, looking at the brown suitcase that's lying on its side in the driveway. Sophia, my step-mother, who has always treated me like her own. Never once has she made me feel like I'm not her daughter. Sophia's nothing like Cinderella's step-mother.
"Okay," Amaan says. "Got lots of presents for you, Apps."
"So this is your way of paying to stay at my house?" I tease him. Amaan smiles and shakes his head.
"I'll pay you with hugs, many sloppy kisses on the cheek and long nights filled with us chatting."
"Whoa, I'm obliged." As I step out of the gate, Sophia's eyes land on me and her face stretches into one of her heart-warming grins.
"Mus!" Sophia exclaims, as I rush into her arms. "You seem to have grown taller, Mus. Oh, you're squeezing me to death."
"Sorry." I step back and take the handle of the suitcase that's in her right hand. "I'm so happy that your friend isn't home and nor is she answering your calls because now you get to stay here. I mean it in the nicest possible way."
"I know." Sophia laughs, as we head into the driveway. "I'm happy, too. But, Amaan and Rayan are more excited."
"They might be, but Rayan still has an issue with hugs and kisses." Sophia roles her eyes and nods her head.
"The things I have to do to receive a proper hug from that kid." Suddenly, the smile disappears from Sophia's face. "Mus, please talk to him. I can tell that something is going on in his head. However, he won't tell me and since you're very close to him, I know he'll tell you, if you ask." I nod my head.
"I'll talk to him tomorrow." Rayan and Amaan have always been my brothers, and friends. But more than that, I see them like my own kids because of our age difference. They both share everything with me, every week on Face-time.
"Come on, guys!" Rayan yells from the front door. "We need to open presents and talk!" Sophia and I laugh.
"Tonight's going to be a long night." Sophia says, as she hauls the suitcase up the front steps.

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