Chapter 11: Fighting the Past

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"Don't you dare bring your father into this." She sneered. "He left, I didn't."

"You did!" I yelled clenching my fists in anger and pain and sorrow. I felt Xavier's hand wrap around my right hand and slowly unclench it so he could entwine our fingers again. Feeling his hand in mine gave me the willpower to calm down a bit. "You did. The moment he left, so did you. Maybe not physically, but you left. The woman who actually cared about her children and herself and the people around her. You stopped being our mother." For a moment, Marie and I just stared at each other. We looked so similar, her bright silver-blue eyes were the only indicator now, but when I was younger—when she was younger—she had long auburn hair, just like I do. I'd always wanted to be just like her when I was younger. She'd been so strong, capable, loving, caring, and generous. In some way, I hoped I had become like that, like the woman I used to know.

"Everyone leaves eventually, Lani." Marie said this softly, like I had broken her.

"Maybe if you push them away." I sighed, glancing at Xavier. "Stop pushing us away." As if those had been the magic words, she dropped the money on the floor and flopped into Mr. Hayes' office rolling chair. I let out a breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding and squeezed Xavier's hand. He pulled me into him, resting his cheek on the top of my head as we all just stood in silence.

Then the police arrived.

It turned out that Marie wasn't allowed out of Boston unless she'd requested so with her Parole Officer

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It turned out that Marie wasn't allowed out of Boston unless she'd requested so with her Parole Officer. Apparently six months after we'd 'disappeared' she'd robbed a bank because Chester—her old boss—had fired and dumped her. She'd been the only one caught and wouldn't give up any of her partners. She'd gotten three years of jail time but had gotten out a year early for good behavior, on the condition that she had a parole officer and she was limited to where she could go. All of this had only made her anger with my siblings and me fester and grow. She would be going back to jail, though to finish her last year. And, depending on the Hayes and their desire to press charges her sentence could grow. Xavier kept telling me they would never press charges against my mother, but I honestly wouldn't be upset if they did. Who could blame them? She was a thief and a liar and a conwoman. I was surprised she didn't have a knife or gun or some other weapon on her when the police had arrested her. She hadn't even tried to fight them. She'd even looked somewhat...apologetic when she'd passed me as they'd walked her out of the Hayes' house. I hoped that was true, and that I hadn't imagined it. That after all this time, my mother was finally going to heal. We could all finally move on with our lives.

And yet, after all of this, after accepting that Xavier wasn't going anywhere, that we loved each other, after my mother found us and tried to tear everything apart, I felt stuck. Like this was as far as I would ever be able to go in my life, always within a problem that seemed never ending and then when it did...well something else would come. I couldn't shake the feeling that I still needed to look over my shoulder every day like I was some fugitive. Willow thought I was just being ridiculous and overthinking everything. And Xavier...well he agreed with Willow, but he understood my thought process.

"For four years you were so afraid your mother would find you and the twins and take them away. It's understandable to still have that fear even though Marie is behind bars." Xavier said now, trying to reassure me, but it wasn't working. I just couldn't shake it.

"I know that it seems illogical to still feel this way, Xavier, but I just...my gut is telling me there's something else coming." While Xavier tried to reassure me again, and I knew he would always support me and help me and tell me what I needed to hear, I'd just become so frustrated with this entire situation. I couldn't live like this, in a constant fear of the future, or my past. What if something else bad happened to me or my siblings or anyone I cared about and loved? Would this always be how things would go? No one would believe me when I said there was something coming, but I always trusted my gut. I even said as much to Xavier, hoping he would see what I was saying.

"I believe you, Lani, but I'm just worried that it's just fear of the future." He said. I'd had the same thought, but had quickly dismissed it. I couldn't wait to graduate and then start earning my Master's degree and get a job working in my field. I was excited for the twins as they'd be turning 15 soon and they'd be half a year closer to getting their driver's license as in the state of California you had to be 15 ½. I was excited for Xavier and me because we were finally together and I wanted to see what the future brought for us. I was excited for Willow's future as she would also be going for a Master's Degree after we graduated in May, and she'd been working so hard for her future. "You can be excited for it and fear it." He said as if he could read my mind.

"Xavier," I sighed snuggling into his side and entwining our fingers again. I loved doing that, feeling his fingers, his hand, in mine like a glove. Feeling his heat and strength always made me feel better. I hoped that I had the same effect on him. "I'm not afraid for the future," I looked up at him then as he looked down, for a moment I was completely distracted by how close his mouth was to mine.

"Lani." He whispered, trying to get me to focus. I laughed and cleared my throat.

"I'm not afraid of the future." I repeated. "But, I just...before Marie had come I'd felt like something was...wrong. Then when you'd come that night I'd told you about her and we'd kissed...and we'd decided to try to be together...well" I shrugged. "I thought I figured out why I felt like something was wrong because for a bit that feeling had gone away. But then at Willow's party...before everything happened I just..." how could explain this?

"You felt the storm." He said, immediately understanding without me needing to say anything.

"You understand what I'm trying to say?" I asked anyway.

"I do. And I believe you when you say something is coming, but Lani, we can't prepare for everything. This feeling you have isn't going to tell us what is coming. This is something we just have to wait out." He said this softly, reassuringly as he pulled me closer and kissed my forehead. I loved when he did that, pulled me closer and kissed me. I felt so safe and warm and loved.

"You're right, I know. I just can't help but worry." I whispered against his neck, where his chocolatey smell seemed to be the strongest. I breathed him in, closing my eyes and snuggling in more. "Man you smell good." I heard and felt him chuckle and kiss my head again.

"So do you." He said and I smiled against him.

I wished I could have stayed that happy and content.     

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