By: Rosa Swann
It seems that when one secret is uncovered, more start to come out…
I never considered our lives to be particularly eventful. Sure, our family setups were a little unconventional, especially with so many people in our close circle running their own companies and all, but there was never much drama going on. Until this year, it seems.
While we worried about me mating Seb, him being pregnant and trying to figure out where to go from here, it seems that we weren’t the only one struggling. Seb’s younger brother, Dan, just dropped a massive bomb of a secret on us, leaving all of us reeling. How are we going to fix this now?
I thought that the only thing I had to worry about this weekend was our families finding out that I’m pregnant. My biggest fear was their anger or disapproval. But it seems that that should have been the least of my worries.
Dan has been acting strange ever since the summer, and he just told us why. He’d been cheating his way through school all of last year, and he’s failed all of his tests this year. His solution? He’s going to leave as soon as he turns eighteen, which is only two weeks away. So he won’t have to explain to our parents or the school what’s going on. Because if word gets out that he’s been cheating, there will be grave consequences.
I can’t let him do this. I can’t. But it means that I have to make some hard choices, if I want to keep my family together. And it means keeping even more secrets from our parents…
If you don’t want to buy through any of the international stores, this story is also available in the Netherlands and Belgium as part of Blossoming of Fate Collection 1. This features the first four novellas of the series and is available in ebook or paperback.
Destin is holding me tightly as I try to process what Dan just told us. The only reason that he was able to pass his classes last year was that he cheated on his tests.
He apparently stole my old tests, learned the answers to each of the questions and then only had to adapt his own answers if a teacher swapped out a couple of words or values in them. While I don’t approve of what he did, I can’t deny that it was inventive.
But only learning what will be asked on a test is not a good way to understand the concepts underlying the things that will be asked on the test.
Sure, you’ll be able to get a good grade, at first, but every time you don’t understand a concept that will be relied on later in the year, you fall further behind. And the longer you do this, the harder it will be to catch up. Which is where Dan is now at.
I wish Dan had said something sooner. I wish he’d told me that he was struggling last year. I could have helped him out. I could have done something to help him, but now it’s too late for that. It’s too late.
The only way he can ‘catch up’ now is if he retakes both last year and this year, there’s no other way.
If the school finds out that he’s been cheating, he’ll be kicked out and I have no clue if he’ll be able to get into another school. And if our parents find out… Fuck.
I thought that telling them about my pregnancy was bad, but this is… Fucking hell. They’re definitely not going to like this.
The front door opens, and quiet footsteps make their way over to the kitchen. I look up from Destin’s arms, not wanting him to let me go, but also curious who of our siblings has returned.
Leon, Maddy and Destin’s younger brother, looks at his older siblings and me, his gaze dark as he frowns. “Is Dan really leaving?”
The kitchen is silent, and I nod. “I think he’s planning to, yes. Why?”
He thinks for a moment, staring out the kitchen window, where the sun is finally rising over the fields. “He’s been acting weird all year. But I didn’t think he’d do something so drastic. I just thought he was…”
Leon shrugs. “You know… Alpha stuff. That he’s too good to hang out with us Omegas or…” His voice goes quiet. “I just thought it was because he was growing away from us…”
My heart tightens at the tone of his voice, how sad he sounds. The three of them have basically grown up together, just like Destin and I have, so much so that we tend to call them ‘the three’.
But I also understand his thinking, why he’d think that Dan might want to distinguish himself from the two Omegas.
It’s not uncommon, especially in the final year of secondary school when you’re trying to figure out what kind of future you want. It’s normal to go in different directions, even Destin and I did it.
With Destin already knowing he’d be staying here, he still supported me every step of the way while I was choosing the university I wanted to attend and he came with me to every university that I visited. So, Leon thinking that that’s what was going on with Dan is not out of the ordinary.
Maddy breaks the quiet as she lets out a loud yawn and starts digging around the fridge before finishing setting up the pot of coffee that Dan had started.
“I think it’s a good idea to have breakfast before we make any more decisions. If we’re not going to involve our parents right now, we’re going to have to come up with another plan. That is, if we don’t want Dan to suddenly be gone in two weeks time.” Her voice is sad and low, her back stiff as she leans on the counter.
I still can’t wrap my head around the idea that he might suddenly be gone. It just… it doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel like this could be real, but from the look in Dan’s eyes, it’s real.
I nod and slowly untangle myself from Destin’s embrace. “I’ll go find the twins. No use letting them stay out there in the cold.”
Destin steps towards the door. “I’ll go with you.”
I shake my head. “No. You stay here. I’ll go find them.” Then I turn to Leon. “Any idea where they are?”
Leon pulls up one of his shoulders, looking almost lost. “Mikey is hiding in the kitchen of the cafe. I heard Dan run outside, but I have no idea where he is.”
“Thanks.” When I’m about to pass him, I put my hand on his shoulder. “Thanks for looking out for them.”
He gives me a crooked smile. “We’re basically family. If we weren’t before, we definitely are now.” He smirks and I sigh, wanting to roll my eyes at his smart words, but instead, I grab a jacket and put on a pair of boots. Let’s see where my siblings are.
And let’s see if this rift between them can be solved, because I have no idea how else we’ll get through this…
As Leon said, I find Mikey in the kitchen. He’s sitting at the table in the back, sorting napkins by theme and colour. There are some bunched up napkins next to him and his movements are choppy, angry, upset. He doesn’t look up when I come over, just keeps going.
“I’m sorry you had to hear that.” I keep my voice low and he stills, before giving a terse nod. “Are you okay?”
He shakes his head and he puts the napkins down, folding his hands into his lap, hanging his head. “How could he not tell me he was going to leave?” His voice is uneven and then breaks.
He angrily grabs one of the bunched up napkins, wiping at his eyes. “I just can’t believe it. I can’t believe he’d decide something like that and not tell me.”
“I know.” I step closer and reach out, putting my hand on his arm. I want to hold him, comfort him, but I don’t know if I’m the right person for that right now.
“Did he explain why?” Now I’m closer to him, I see how pale Mikey is.
Like what just happened has taken all the energy from him and my heart hurts in worry. What’s going on with my brothers? What am I missing now I’m no longer living here?
I keep my voice soft and low. “Yeah.”
“It’s because of school, isn’t it? Because he’s failing his classes?” Mikey turns to me, putting his hand over mine, his eyes red, filled with tears. “It’s kind of hard not to notice when I’m right next to him.”
“He said that he’s convinced that he won’t be able to catch up. That it’s better if he leaves.” Which is… Good enough of an explanation. It’s not up to me to tell Mikey what’s really going on, Dan can do that himself. “I’m going to look for him. You should go upstairs, the coffee should be ready by now.”
Mikey stands up, taking a quick step to keep his balance and then takes a long breath. “I’ll come with you.”
“Are you sure?” I frown at him. I don’t want to have to break up a fight between them.
“Yeah.” Mikey looks unhappy, but also really sad, and tired. “I know that he hates that I supposedly follow him around all the time. But he’s my brother, my twin, my other half. I can’t just let him get to me with those words. I know that he’s frustrated, he…”
Then Mikey meets my eyes, the pain in them having deepened.
“I guess it’s better if I get used to putting some distance between us, treat him like a brother and not always presume that we’re the same. But that also means being willing to kick his ass when he’s acting up and planning to do something he shouldn’t be doing.” Mikey gives me a slight smile.
“I guess.” I squeeze his arm softly and he follows me out of the kitchen. He grabs a jacket that hangs on a hook next to the kitchen door and wraps it around himself as he shivers.
“That kitchen is a lot warmer when we’re actually working in it.” He looks over the garden that stretches out behind the cafe, his eyes on the slowly brightening sky. “I heard him run in the direction of the orchard.”
We start walking towards the orchard and then to the little hidden area at the back, since that’s the most logical place for Dan to hide out.
I want to ask Mikey all sorts of things, about Dan but also about himself. Worried that Dan isn’t the only one with problems. Worried that I might also be missing something going on with my other sibling.
“Stop looking at me like that.” Mikey gives me a soft smile. “I’m fine, really. I should probably not have gone along with Dan and skip classes, but I’ll be fine. I’ll make up for the missed tests somehow. I’m just…”
He sighs, his shoulders sagging. “I’m worried about Dan.”
I nod. Not really convinced, but I guess that we’re better off dealing with one problem at a time. Right now, that’s Dan.
As we reach the gate to the closed-off area at the back of the orchard, I don’t see anyone, and, for a couple of moments, I worry that Dan is not here.
Until I step inside and find Dan sitting against a tree, out of sight of the gate, his head in his hands, his shoulders hunched.
Mikey immediately goes over to his brother, kneeling down and putting his hand on Dan’s back, before he takes his jacket off and puts it around Dan’s shoulders.
“We should go back inside. It’s way too cold out here. What if you catch a cold?” Mikey’s voice is soft, his hand on Dan’s back again.
Dan tries to swat Mikey’s hand away and I take a step forward, ready to break them up, but Mikey grabs Dan’s wrist and holds on.
A couple of times, it seems like Dan will be able to shake him off, but Mikey keeps holding on tightly, though it doesn’t seem easy.
“Leave me alone,” Dan growls. “Just, leave.”
“I thought you wanted to apologise to me for saying that you hate having me around. Or maybe for planning to abandon me.” Mikey’s voice is filled with tears and Dan nearly curls in on himself, flinching at the words.
Then Mikey’s voice turns cold, distant. “Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I was wrong in thinking that the way you looked at me meant that you regretted your words.” Mikey pulls his hand back and gets up, his eyes still on his brother as he starts to move away.
As soon as Mikey moves, Dan’s hand shoots out and he grabs hold of Mikey’s jeans. He looks up, seeing something in Mikey’s eyes that surprises him, and his voice comes out rough. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for… For saying those things. I don’t hate you. I couldn’t.”
He meets my eyes, all fight in him suddenly gone. “I’m sorry to you too. I just… I don’t know what to do.”
I nod, going over to them, wrapping one arm around Mikey and then I put my other hand on Dan’s head. “We’ll figure it out. But running away is not going solve anything.”
“But it might be the only way out.” Dan’s voice breaks and he takes a deep breath. “Please. Let me go if it’s… Let me go if that’s the only way out. Please… I can’t stay if…”
I look at Mikey, whose open and lost gaze breaks my heart, and I pull him closer against me. My voice croaks, but I push the words out. “As long as you promise not to leave without telling us well in advance when and to where you’ll be leaving. And today’s announcement doesn’t count. Promise to tell us at least a couple of days before you leave, and how we’ll be able to contact you. Promise.”
Under my hand, Dan nods. “I promise. I don’t want to leave, but I don’t see another way out.”
I guess that’s all I can get from him right now. We’ll have to come up with a really good plan as to what to do next. Because this is a serious situation and I have no clue how to even start solving it.
Damn… I thought that Dan was just acting up because it’s their last year of secondary school, or that it was Mikey or Leon who was the one in real trouble, and Dan was only making a mess of it on their behalf. But I never thought that it could be this bad.