Episode 47

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Cole and I were in the living room

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Cole and I were in the living room. We were on the phone with Hannah. She was still working on getting Alastair a hammock.

Alastair's brother came in and brought him into his room.

"Did they just get home?" Hannah asked. "Ran! How did it go out there today?"

He came out and got a washcloth out of the hall closet.

"I don't think he heard you," I said.

Cole added, "Give him a minute."

Alastair's brother took a long breath and plopped on the couch. "Did you guys say something?"

"What happened?" Hannah asked.

"Oh, you guys were on the phone?" he asked.

I still couldn't hear the mysterious "En".

Alastair's brother looked even paler than he usually did. "Gracious, Kayleigh, En. I know you were a direct kid, but seriously?"

"What did he say?" Cole asked.

"He was wondering if Star got overloaded," Alastair's brother replied.

Hannah cut in here. "Take a deep breath, Ran. Take it slow and start from the beginning, okay?"

He did as he was asked. "I used the money you gave me to take Star to get shoes."

"Did you manage to find any?" she asked.

"En" chimed in again.

"No!" Alastair's brother's cheeks were red like my favorite pasta sauce. "It was the lighting..."

Cole raised an eyebrow. "What about the lighting?"

"Star has always been a sensitive kid," Hannah replied.

"Certain types of lighting, crowds, sudden noises. They can send him into a nasty meltdown."

My jaw dropped. "Seriously? He seemed fine at the ball last year..."

Cole and I exchanged glances. "Sweet Minicha! The ball is only a few weeks away!"

"What...?" Alastair's brother looked at us like we grew second heads.

"Oh, is it? Call me again if you need a hand sorting out what you want to do with that."

His brother asked, "What's this ball they're talking about?"

"Oh, it's just a Nachimian holiday." Hannah's voice went up. "Not something you need to worry about, Ran."

He furrowed his brows. "Okay..."

"Besides the lighting, how did it go?" Hannah asked.

"En" chimed in again.

"Shut it, you!" Hannah snapped.

His brother took a long breath. "It went alright, all things considered. I let him buy two of the same pair, cuz I didn't want him to spiral into a meltdown. This lady that works there give me a third pair free. They're like the ones he liked but the stripe was a different color."

"En" piped up again.

"Yeah, it was." Hannah sighed. "Did you see the price tag on them or no?"

He nodded. "I'll text you that later." He sat up. "Why were you guys on the phone, anyway?"

"I wanted to double check how big their backyard was. I should have it ready by tomorrow or the next day."

He let out a sigh at those words. He must've been worried about his little brother.

"Call me if you need anything."

He nodded.

"He knows," I said.

"I'll help you with the ball another day if you want."

I smiled. "Thanks."

I hung up.

Alastair's brother leaned back on the couch. He had bags under his eyes. Was that trip that taxing for him?

Cole joined him on the couch. "Did you get any sleep last night?"

"Yeah... A few hours. I got antsy after Star fell asleep last night. I managed cuz I had to, but I'm not meant to be cooped up inside."

"Are you gonna go lie down then?"

He shut his eyes. "I'm staying right here."

"Why?" Cole asked.

"When Star gets like his is now, every little thing startles him. I don't wanna make it worse."

I raised an eyebrow. "Won't he freak out if you're not there when he wakes up? Since we found you in that barn, he's been glued to your side."

"It'll be a couple hours 'til he wakes up. Since he was bordering on a migraine, he'll probably doze off when that happens."

Cole smiled. "Why don't you sleep in my room then?"

"Don't you have a bunch of painting stuff in your room?" he asked.

"I do, but there's enough space to sleep in there." Cole winked. "Plus, it's closer to his room than this place is."

His big eyes shook. "You sure?"

I squeezed his hand. "Some nights, we doze off in my room together after a long day."

"If you guys need the house to yourselves, we can crash at my place, too," Cole added.

"Star wouldn't want you guys to do that for him, even if he needed it."

I nodded. "But it's alright if that's what you both need. Cole and I are catering a dinner party tonight. We're probably not getting home 'til one in the morning, anyway."

Cole kept his smile, but I saw him flinch for a split second.

I wasn't quite looking forward to it, either. I was happy to be cooking for others, and Cole got to caricature a bunch of people, but it would still be a late night for us. Being up late was different depending on if you were out or not...

Cole pulled him up. "Come on. It's alright."

"Take good care of your brother for us, alright?" I winked. "It's hard to do that if you're tired or don't feel good, either."

"Okay..."

"I'll make you guys food before we leave, so you have one less thing to worry about."

He let Cole lead him into his room. "Thanks..."

I peeked inside. Cole needed to clean his room... He had pencils and markers and paint brushes all over the place. You could tell he went to town when he worked in there.


***


Thoughts? Theories? Predictions?

~Shino out!

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