It felt like I had just barely put my head on the pillow when I heard a bang on my door. Pop barged in before I had a chance to stop him.
"Leigh, my boy," he said, producing a chocolate muffin and dropping it on me. "I bought that at the airport for whoever would need it more. I never expected it to be you."
I sat and began to unpeel the muffin from its wrapper as he plopped onto the foot of my bed. "How did you know?"
"Just the way she looked when I said his name." Pop put a hand on my shoulder. "What happened? When I spoke to you yesterday it sounded like it was all going so well between you."
"I thought it was. But she and Noah met properly last night. I guess they just clicked."
"Noah's never clicked with another human in his life," said Pop in amazement.
I shrugged. "I guess there's a first time for everything."
"Well, you really have only two choices," said Pop, with typical frankness. "You can vow to hate them both and mooch around here like a sulky teenager until we grow so sick of you we box you up and send you to Antarctica. Or the outback. Or Florida."
"Or?" I said, smiling despite myself.
"Or you can take the high road. You can do the harder thing and be genuinely happy for your brother. After all, let's face it; neither of us ever thought he could find someone who might actually like him back."
I twisted about, annoyed and frustrated. "I don't want to be noble. I want to be sulky."
"I know," said Pop gently. "It won't be easy. But you'll always be able to find someone special."
"Keira is special, Pop." I realised with horror that hot tears of self-pity lurked just behind my eyes. Pop stared out the window as I fought for control of my emotions.
"I know she's special, Leigh. She's just not yours." He patted my back as he left my room.
I wiped my eyes and checked the clock. I had run out of time for sleep and sulking; work awaited me. Stuffing the muffin in my mouth, I headed down to my clinic to open up.
Over the course of my very busy day, I concluded a few things. First, Noah had never talked about, expressed interest in or even seemed remotely conscious of girls. Because of his faith, deep down I always thought he might end up checking into a monastery, reading and praying to his heart's content. Yet, the night before, he wasn't just talking about Keira, he was smitten with her. I wasn't a martyr; my every instinct was screaming at me to fight for Keira, to hold her and tell her what I was feeling. But I loved my brother. I couldn't attempt to steal the only thing that had made him happy in a long time.
The other aspect to my problem was Keira. I had seen her face that morning when I landed. For a moment, her smile lit up my world. Then she realised I wasn't Noah, and I knew: she was smitten too. I couldn't fight against what she wanted. It would be pointless and painful to everyone involved.
I made my choice. I swallowed it all; my pride, my feelings, my hurt and my aching heart. I pushed everything as far down inside me as I could and vowed to be a good brother to Noah and a good friend to Keira. Nothing more.
That night I flew until my wings ached and I couldn't feel anything anymore. If anyone who saw me thought that I was crying, I would have simply said it was the wind causing my eyes to tear.
One of the things that frustrates me about this story is inconsistent chapter lengths - I'm pretty good now at churning out 3000-4000 words every time I write a chapter, but back when I wrote this story, I was all over the place! I'm going to post two chapters in a row to make up for this measly one - even though doing that affects the book's rankings. I don't care about rankings as a point of pride, but they help others to find my work, so if you would, please, click me a vote before you move on!
And quickly, answer me this in the comments - musical theater lovers - what's your favourite musical right now? I won't say 'favourite ever' because we all know that's an impossible call to make ;) I'm loving Hamilton right now - you?
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If you had wings... If you could fly... How would it affect your life? Your love? Your freedom? Keira has wings, and she is alone. The city girl hides her wings from the world, believing she is a freak, haunted by strange men in suits who const...