Siblings with Benefits Ch. 39bylovecraft68©
Authors Note; Well Dark days has come to a close, and as expected I think I lost a few along the way. Ch.37 especially was a bit twisted. I received many e-mails complimenting 38 and telling me they were in tears at points. Not that I want people to be upset, but that was pretty much the point. Well all I can say is this chapter should much easier to read after all that gloom.Again a thank you to Sydney Blake for once more taking time away from her own work to ehlp me out with SWB. Now onto my dedication. This chapter goes out to Klaxx. Klaxx’s first words to me back in ch 6 was ‘I hate almost everything about this series.’ Followed by titling his comment to ch.9 ‘I hate you”. Klaxx has sent me several very interesting e-mails explaining why he loves/hates/loves SWB and myself as well. He has a great dark sense of humor and I have learned to gage my success by how much he hates me. Well Klaxx this one if for you, and all I can say is that after this I hope you truly despise me! Lovecraft68
With the image of holding my sobbing brother in my arms etched in my mind, I lowered the journal. There had been many times throughout my reading that I had been fighting back tears, but now, I could fight them no more. Resting my head on my chin, I let the tears run freely down my cheeks while thinking of how close I had been of robbing myself of the wonder life I now had. More than that, how close I had come to hurting those who loved me most.
Despite the horrible events that I had just relived, these were not tears of sorrow, but of gratitude. I had kept my promise to my brother, and a week later, entered the Johnson clinic. I had walked into that clinic a shell of a person, weighing barely ninety pounds, my body wracked with the painful cravings for heroin, and plagued by the guilt of all I had done to my family. Six months later, I emerged a beautiful, healthy woman with a new lease on life, and with that guilt replaced by the confidence of knowing that there were people who loved me, no matter what I had done.
On the heels of those feelings was the startling revelation that, indeed, my brother had made love to me back then, but, for whatever reason, I had blocked it out. In fact, I had not even had the vague image of that night until I had been crying to Mark on his balcony that I had never been made love to. I wondered if my brother remembered it, or if he had blocked much of that terrible time, as well. He usually recalled everything, but maybe he had just never seen it that way.
Thinking of Mark, I felt the tears begin anew. My brother had saved my life, driving into one of the worst neighborhoods in the country, hell-bent on leaving with his sister. Then, he not only nursed me back to some form of health, but he showed me how much he needed me. He had seen me at my absolute worst, literally on the verge of death. Yet, as horrible as I looked, he showed his love for me, made me feel desirable, and ultimately gave me a reason to fight.
Leaning back on the pillows, I glanced at the journal again. There wasn’t a lot left in it to read, and the next entry, I didn’t need to look at. I knew that one well; it was the Friday morning that Mark took me to see my parents. I still looked pretty rough, but at least the sores were gone from my face, and I had regained some color. I also wore jeans and a loose sweatshirt,to conceal how painfully thin I was. Mark was going to call first, then, on a whim, he looked at me with a smile and asked if I wanted it to be a surprise. I liked that idea, so we drove over, got out of the car, and stood on the porch. Mark called the house, then handed me the phone. Mom answered, and I asked if she wanted to see me.
She answered, “Yes, of course! When are you coming by?”
I laughed. “Look out on the porch.”
A moment later, the door flew open, and my mother threw herself into me so hard that, had Mark not been standing behind me, she might have taken us both down the stairs. Neither of us could get anything out other than tears as we stood there hugging, each trying to squeeze the other harder.
Finally, Mom stepped back a little and looked at me. “You look thin.”
I nodded. “I’ve been sick, but I’m better now, and I’ll be even better soon.”
Mom’s reply was cut off by the sound of the porch door opening, and I looked up to see my father coming out.
Mom stepped back, and I looked at my father longingly. I’d missed him so much but knew how disgusted he had been with me. Dad came up to us, and I started to say that I missed him. All that ended up coming out was a startled yelp as Dad not only took me into his arms, but lifted me off my feet, crushing me to him. Sobbing with joy, I wrapped my arms around his shoulders, holding him tightly and telling him how much I’d missed him. Lowering me back to my feet, but still holding onto me for dear life, Dad whispered in my ear, “I love you!” His voice was choked with emotion, and I could feel his tears on my cheek as he held my face to his.
I started to pull away, but was stopped by Mom’s throwing her arms around both of us and dragging us down to her height for a hug. I had my head down between both of theirs, reveling in being this close to them after all this time. I looked up to see Mark standing a couple of feet away, watching us. Seeing me looking, he put his hands out as if saying, “See?” Mom lifted her head and, seeing Mark, put her arm out to him. My brother smiled and shook his head.
Then my father leaned over and, moving quicker than I thought he could, lunged towards my brother. Catching Mark by surprise, he caught his arm and yanked him into us, yelling, “Get over here, you stubborn asshole!” I laughed delightedly as Mark staggered into us, and my father threw his arm around his neck. I felt Mark slide his arm around my shoulders, and the four of us stayed huddled together for awhile. As I stood there, tears of joy flowing down my cheeks, Mom looked at me, and, reaching out, touched the locket around my neck. I put my hand over hers and as our eyes met, Mom whispered, “Welcome home, baby.”
I smiled through my tears at that memory and felt another wave of gratitude wash over me. Truly, I had been one of the fortunate ones. So many others in my situation either didn’t have someone like my brother, or, if they did, managed to succeed where I hadn’t, and run from them. As I wiped my eyes with a tissue, I looked at the book in my hand and found myself thinking of Tony.
Unfortunately,his sister, Julie, despite his best efforts, was one of the ones who didn’t make it.
Making good on my promise, I kept in touch with Tony, calling him twice from Mark’s place, then several times from the clinic. Each time we spoke, he sounded thrilled to hear from me, but when I asked about Julie, he would quietly say that she was getting worse. The last time I called from the clinic, he told me that she had run away from him. When I got out, I didn’t have the time to go see him as I wanted too, but I sent him a few pictures of me. Although there had never been anything sexual between us, I hadn’t been able to resist sending him a snapshot of myself in a red string bikini. Of course, I didn’t tell him that it was my brother who took the picture while we went away for a weekend, or that Mark had spent quite a bit of time enjoying his sister’s once again beautiful body.
Six months after I had been released from the clinic, Tony called me at Mom’s to tell me that Julie was dead. He had found her again, and they had been staying in a small apartment over the Y, where he had been working. “I came home from work to find her in bed. The needle was still hanging from her arm.” We talked for hours, sharing both tears and, near the end, a few laughs at some of Julie’s more outrageous adventures. Finally,he reluctantly confessed, “I know it sounds terrible, but I feel relief. For the first time in years, I can go to bed and not have my last thoughts be of wondering where she is and if she’s okay.”
“When is the funeral?” I asked him. “Mark and I will be there.”
Tony grew quiet then. “Megan, I hate to ask this, but do you think Mark could help me out with the funeral? I have nothing, my family has nothing.” He began to break down into tears. “My sister’s going to end up in a potter’s field without even so much as a marker.”
“Don’t worry. I’m sure Mark will do something.” When I hung up, I called my brother and told him what was going on.
We left for New York early the next morning. We picked Tony up at his apartment and drove to a funeral home that Mark had found online. As soon as we pulled up, Tony shook his head. “This is one of the best in the city! I can’t afford anything, never mind something like this!” Ignoring him, Mark got out of the car, and we all went inside to talk to the director. As we sat down, Tony began to lose it. “I don’t know why I’m here! I have nothing!”
At that point, my brother, in one of the most amazing acts of generosity that I have ever seen, produced his American Express card and told the director he wanted the best of everything. Tony began to protest, but Mark, as well as the funeral director, ignored him, especially when my brother went all in on a beautiful, rose-colored marble tombstone.
We stayed in New York until the funeral, which was small, but the room and service were beautiful. Tony had more family than I thought, and I met his parents, who had somehow heard all about me.
During the funeral, Mark and I sat in the back, holding hands, and I couldn’t stop crying. Looking at Julie lying in that coffin and knowing that, had it not been for Tony and my brother, it would have been me was beyond humbling. I looked up at one point and was shocked to see tears on my brother’s face. When I squeezed his hand, he looked up at me and simply said, “I used to have nightmares about this.” He kissed my cheek and added, “I’m so grateful for you.”
After the funeral and the small gathering at Tony’s parents’ place afterwards, Mark and I took him out for coffee, and we talked for awhile. Once again, my brother offered Tony a chance to come down to Providence where he could help him get a job and start over. Tony declined.“I have a chance to get a job at a local gym. They offered a few months ago, but the hours were crazy, and I was taking care of Julie.”
Just before we left to go back to Rhode Island, Tony took my brother’s hand and told him that somehow, he would repay him. Shaking his head, Mark, his voice uncharacteristically full of emotion, said quietly, “You don’t understand, Tony; this is me, repaying you for helping my sister.” Reaching out, Mark put his arm around my shoulder. “And it’s still nowhere near enough.”
The last time I had talked to Tony was almost a year ago. He was doing well for himself, not only making decent money as a personal trainer, but going to school to obtain a degree so he could become an addiction counselor.
Glancing at the clock, I was surprised to see it was four-thirty. I’d been reading for over an hour-and-a-half. My flight was at six, meaning I would have to leave for Green in half an hour.
As if that thought had summoned her, there was a knock on my door, and Mom called softly, “Honey, you awake?”
“Yeah, I’m up.”
The door opened and, poking her head in, Mom asked, “You get any rest?”
I shrugged.“A little, I guess.” I still had the half of the journal in my hand and, lifting it, said, “Been reading.”
“Oh,” Mom said, pointing at the journal, “then I’m glad I didn’t toss that out.” She started to leave, and then she snapped her fingers and said, “By the way, when I picked that up, there was an envelope that was stuck to a page that fell out. I stuck it in the back. Anyway, we need to leave by five, hon.”
“Yeah, I’ll be ready soon.”
When mom left, I flipped to the back of the journal, curious about this envelope. As Mom had said, there it was, between the last page and back cover. Removing it, I turned it over in my hand. There was nothing written on either side, but it was sealed, and I could feel something inside of it. After carefully tearing the corner, I slipped my long fingernail inside and opened it. I pulled out a piece of yellow notebook paper that had something folded inside of it.
Un-wrapping the yellow paper, I saw writing on the inside of it. Inside of the paper were two smaller envelopes. Before I turned them over to see the front, I looked at the note written on the paper. The ink was faded, and the penmanship was terrible, but, after looking more closely, I realized with a start that it was my writing and that it was the letter I had written to Tony, thanking him for all he had done, and telling him goodbye, as well as asking him to mail the two letters that were in my journal. Dropping the paper, I flipped the envelopes over.
“Oh, my God,” I whispered as I saw the first one was addressed to my mother.
Sliding it to the side, I looked at the one underneath. It was to my brother. As I stared at the letter, I recalled leaving the note to Tony on my journal with the letters. When Mark had come to get me, we had been walking out of the room when he had made a comment about not leaving the journal around. I hadn’t seen him actually pick it up. Mark must have slipped the papers into the back of it.
I had written in it a few times at Mark’s house. Then I put the journal away for good. At some point, I must have placed all this in the envelope, but for the life of me, I couldn’t recall doing so. No, that wasn’t true! I did do it! I was supposed to attend a Samhain ceremony and had put them in the envelope to burn as a way of releasing the painful memories of my past. I never made the ceremony, and soon after, I left for Chicago, leaving the journal in my old closet.
Putting the letter to Mom down, I opened the letter I had written to my brother and began to read it. As I did, my eyes welled up again. The first part of the letter was a goodbye.
As I continued, my tears subsided and I had an overwhelming feeling that I was meant to read this--the second half of the letter was my confession to my brother that I was in love with him and always had been. I had wanted him to know how I felt! Unable to read the last few lines, I slid the letter into the envelope and sat there, shaking my head. Had I not called Tommy to try to help Tony, the only way my brother would have ever known how I felt about him would be by reading this letter. My brother would have found out that I loved him, only to then realize that I was dead. In my sick diseased mind it had never occurred to me how terribly selfish of an act that was. It would have made my death even more devastating to him.
But on Saturday night, Mark had proclaimed that same love for me, giving me the opportunity to say what I had written years ago. I’d had a chance to look into my brother’s gorgeous eyes and give him the one thing that he longed for! The one thing that even he couldn’t forcibly take: the heart of his sister. I was ready to tell him when there was nothing left, but when it came down to it now, when there was a chance at an amazing life together, I had hesitated! Worse, I had turned it into a game, wondering if he had meant it, then, when presented with another chance just hours ago, I had managed a weak “yes.”
Looking at the clock, I saw it was quarter to five. I had to get dressed and go. Mark had said that he would come see me in Chicago. Maybe we could talk then. By then, he would have calmed down and…
I shook my head. That was a selfish thought and, sad to say, one of many that I’d had where Mark was concerned. I had just spent the last hour reading about how my brother went to hell and back to save my life. The last entry I read was about me promising my brother to never leave him again. But then what did I do? Within a year, I ran to Chicago! I had always thought that Mark had been okay with my leaving, knowing it was best for me. Today, however, he admitted how badly he missed me and how he regretted that he couldn’t be involved in my new and successful life. That he had been there for the bad, and, when I ran from the bad, I also ran from him.
I stopped at that last thought. My heart was pounding. Just as I had described in my journal on that day that I thought the answer was to kill myself, I felt a moment of clarity come over me. I suddenly recalled the real reason that I had gone to Chicago with Betty. It hadn’t been just to leave the past behind, but to try to…
I took another look at the clock and saw it was now five of. I thought of Walsh, and the potential to become famous, to be set up for life. That image was replaced by that of my brother, his face over mine, his golden-green eyes looking into mine as he whispered, “I love you Megan, I love you so much.”
“Fuck it!” I swore aloud.
Getting up from the bed, I went over to the suitcase and hurriedly tossed on a plain white sundress and sandals, pulled my hair into a ponytail, and grabbed my purse and cell phone. I was at the door when I glanced back at the bed and saw the letters lying in open view. Running over I first hid the letter to Mom back in the journal; I did not want her to see that! Then I picked up the letter to my brother and shoved it into my purse. I walked out the door just in time to almost knock Mom over as she was getting ready to knock.
She stared at me with a confused expression on her face. “Where’s your bag, hon?”
“I…” I hesitated. I had no car. I needed a car. “Mom can I borrow your car?”
“Borrow?” Mom looked more confused. “Megan, we’re taking you to the airport.”
“I’m not going,” I told her. “I…I been thinking of what you said and I…” I felt like rolling my eyes as even at this point I still needed to lie. “I’m going to go back and tell him how I feel I…”
“What about your meeting with that--”
“This is more important than money,” I answered.
Mom nodded approvingly. “Yes, it is Megan, there will be another chance to make it big, but true love only comes around once in a lifetime.”
“If it’s not too late,” I sighed.
“Seems like they’ve waited awhile. I’m sure there’s still a chance.”
I nodded, “I hope you’re right, but can I take the car?”
“Of course, on, come on down, I’ll get you the keys.”
I followed her downstairs and into the kitchen, where mom took the keys from the peg next to the door. When she put them in my hand, something occurred to me.
“Umm, if things go okay, I might, umm…” I hesitated.
With a laugh, Mom waved her hand at me.“If you’re trying to tell me that you might not be bringing the car back tonight, that’s fine. If I need to run some errands in the morning, I’ll get your father to cart me around.” She smiled. “He’ll love it; it’ll give him something to bitch about.”
As I drove my mother’s small, blue Honda Accent down the highway, I took a deep breath, pulled out my cell, and dialed Royce.
He must have been sitting on the phone, because it barely finished the first ring when he answered.“Why, hello, my future superstar! You on your way to the airport?”
“I don’t like the sound of that, sweetie. Where are you?”
“Royce, I’m not coming down. Tell Walsh to cancel the plane.”
“What?” Royce exclaimed. “Megan, tell me you’re fucking with me. That plane is on its way from New York now.”
“Then he can have it turn around and go straight to Chicago. I’m not joking Royce. I can’t make it.”
“Are you out of your mind?” he demanded. “This is Albert Walsh! You blow him off, you don’t get a second chance! We talked about this, you may not get…”
“Listen to me, Royce. My family needs me.” Not a lie, really. After all, Mark was my brother. “And they’re more important than Walsh!”
“Megan, don’t do this to me…”
“You know what, Royce? Give me his fucking number and I’ll call him!” I snapped. “You remember one thing, Albert Walsh came looking for me, and if he wants me that bad, he can wait a couple of damn days.”