Chapter 12: Gut Feelings

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Everything was going as well as could be expected. There was no impending doom feeling anymore, at least for me, and I was trying to make sure that Lani would feel the same way soon. I knew that this process could take some time. She'd been so scared Marie would find them for four years and now that it was all over and she'd never be able to do so again, it was understandable to feel like something else was waiting to go wrong. Marie was going to jail for a year and a half since she skipped out on her Parole Officer. My parents refused to press charges purely because she hadn't stolen anything, and she was still Lani's mother. After Lani's talk with her mother at my parent's house, they'd come to some sort of agreement. Marie wouldn't bother them again unless they reached out to her. If, and only if, they decided to reach out, then she could respond accordingly. But it would only ever be on their terms, never Marie's. If she wanted to see them, Lani said that it would only happen if she felt Gideon and Iris felt safe. And if they wanted to. So far, Iris was the only one speaking her mind on the matter: she never wanted to see Marie again. Gideon, though, had been sulking around their apartment like some emo kid with no black outfits to wear. He refused to talk about anything that had happened the night of Willow's party and Willow had said he'd just gone into his room after we'd left for my parent's house. In fact, the kid barely spoke at all. It was like he'd just shut down. Lani even said he was barely playing his games either. Games that we both knew he was addicted to.

"You have to talk to him." Lani pleaded with me.

"I think he needs his sister more than he needs his sister's boyfriend." I told her, smiling wryly at her. She rolled her eyes at me in an overly exaggerated manor. Man I loved her.

"Xavier, you're the closest thing he has to a brother. He'll listen to you. Besides, I've tried talking to him, and he just...stares at the wall. Even Iris tried talking to him, and usually he tells her everything."

"Are you sure Iris just isn't telling you?"

"I suppose it's possible, but I asked her if he'd talked to her, not about what. She said he barely spoke to her since that night too. About anything."

"She wouldn't lie about something like that?" I asked.

"I doubt it. We're all too worried about him." She sighed and snuggled in closer to my side. I loved being able to hold her, kiss her, see her, talk to her, everything. We were a real couple now, and I couldn't imagine a time when we weren't. It was an odd feeling, but it was...well, practically magical. Being with her was magical. I didn't really know how else to describe it. She made me feel whole and loved. She made me a better person; she made me want to be a better person. My family adored her; they already considered her a sister and another daughter. And while we'd really only been together for about month or so now, I knew she was it for me. I couldn't imagine my life without her in it, and I could see that she felt the same way. We just fit, like two puzzle pieces finally finding where it belonged.

"Do you think he's just upset about Marie finding you?" I asked her, resting my cheek on her head, breathing in her lavender and vanilla scent that still distracted me. She was distracting. Everything she said and everything she did; the way she spoke, the way her fingers seemed to move with each word, the way she would bite her lip when she was in deep thought. The way she would seem to look through you, like she could see right into your heart and soul.

"I think there's more going on, but I know that's part of it." She said now, pulling me out of my thoughts of her intoxicating smell and her. "If you talked to him, I'm sure he would tell you, or at the very least listen to you."

"He really sees me like a brother?" I asked, amazed. Of course, I'd spent quite a lot of time at Lani's apartment as we tended to meet there more often than anywhere else. I loved her siblings almost as much as I loved Lani, but that didn't mean they felt they could come to me with anything they needed to talk about. They absolutely could, of course, there was no way I would turn them away, but I wasn't sure how they felt. The fact that Lani sounded so seemed almost unreal.

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