I shake my head. “Who gives a shit what they think?”
“Me. I do. I’m always looked down upon. They’re practically creaming their panties over the fact that you show up and I loved knowing you didn’t give a shit about them. You came there for me.” She pulls me to her and lifts up on tiptoe so she can kiss my cheek. “Letting everyone know you’re mine makes me feel good.”
I feel exactly the same way. I entwine my fingers through hers, and we walk toward my truck quietly, my mind racing. How do I tell her I want her in my life for always? Should I even bring it up or would I scare the crap out of her? The last thing I want to do is put pressure on her.
But I don’t want to lose Fable either.
I hit the keyless remote and the doors unlock, both of us slipping inside the truck’s cab. Fable pulls her cell out of her pocket, a little gasp escaping her as she hits a button on the screen to make a call.
“Where are you?” she asks the moment whoever is on the other end answers. “What do you mean the place is empty?”
I watch her, see the worry and concern wash over her face, the way she white-knuckle grips the phone as she holds it to her ear. My skin prickles with uncertainty and I’m curious as hell over what’s happening and who she’s talking to.
Knowing whatever it is, it can’t be good.
“I’ll be right there. Yeah, I’m with Drew. I’ll have him drive me straight over, okay? So don’t leave.” She pauses. “Ten minutes, tops. Stop panicking, Owen. We’ll be there.” She ends the call and turns to look at me, her eyes wide with fear. “Owen’s at the apartment. He says it’s empty.”
I frown. “What do you mean, it’s empty?”
“Like almost everything is gone except some of our personal stuff. The furniture, all our things, the food in the kitchen, it’s all gone.” She nibbles on her lower lip, lost in thought.
“Were you guys robbed?” I could hardly wrap my head around what she said. It made no sense.
“No, no way.” She shakes her head and laughs, though she’s definitely not amused. More like she sounds distraught. “I think—I think my mom did it. I bet she packed up all her shit, had her loser boyfriend help her and moved everything out without telling us.”
I grimace as I pull out of the parking lot and turn toward Fable’s place. “Who the hell does that sort of thing?”
“My mother.” She leans her head back against the headrest and sighs. “I told you how I wanted to move out and take Owen with me, but I hadn’t gathered up the courage to tell her yet. Guess she took care of that, didn’t she?”
“But what you’re saying, it’s like she…abandoned you.”
“She abandoned us both a long time ago. I’ve come to terms with it. Owen hasn’t. He still believes our mom loves us and wants to take care of us. He’s young, he’ll figure it out someday.”
The bitterness in Fable’s voice makes me hurt for her. We both come from really screwed-up situations. With parents who don’t seem to give a shit about us, but in radically different ways. I wish I could help heal her heart. She may say the way her mother treats her and Owen doesn’t bother her, but I know she has to be lying. It probably hurts like hell.
My father’s indifference and neglect hurts me to do this day. My mom’s death—I sometimes feel like she abandoned me, and it wasn’t even her fault. That’s how irrational my thinking is.
And I can’t even go into what Adele’s done to me. I’m completely f**ked from the mind games she played on me for far too long.
The moment we pull into a parking slot, Fable’s already out of the truck, running toward her apartment building. I follow behind her, taking a little more time, only because I want her to get in a few private moments with her brother first.
When I finally walk into the apartment, I’m shocked. The place is literally empty. No furniture remains in the living room. The table and chairs are gone from the small dining nook. Every cabinet door is hanging open in the kitchen.
Owen and Fable are leaning against the kitchen counter. She has her arms around him and his face his pressed against her shoulder. Tears are streaming down her face but she doesn’t look sad.
She looks majorly pissed.
“I hate her,” she says vehemently. “I can’t believe she would do this. She took my bed, Drew. She took Owen’s too. And all the furniture in our rooms. It’s like they dumped out all our stuff that was in the drawers and left everything in a pile on our floor.”
“How could she have done this, hauled everything out of here so fast?” I glance around the empty room, amazed that everything’s gone. I’ve only been inside her apartment once but I remember it crammed packed with a bunch of stuff.
“She has friends. Or I’m sure her loser boyfriend has a ton of friends. I bet they plied them with beer and they hauled everything out as fast as they could.” She shakes her head. “Owen and I both left before six.”
And it’s past eleven now. “So they had at least five hours.”
“It’s amazing how fast you can work when you need to.” Her mouth screws up into an angry twist.
My arms literally ache to comfort her. Pull her into a hug and tell her everything’s going to be okay. But she’s too busy taking care of her brother and right now he’s her number one priority.
Feeling helpless, I walk down the hall and glance into Fable’s room. There’s nothing but a pile of clothes and miscellaneous stuff lying in the floor as she mentioned. Same with Owen’s room, though his is an incredible mess. Her mom’s room is completely empty.
This is truly some of the craziest shit I’ve ever seen.
An idea comes over me so perfect I stride back into the living area, excited to tell her. It’s the perfect solution to their now very major problem.
“I want you to move in with me.”
True love isn’t easy, but it must be fought for. Once you find it, it can never be replaced. – Unknown
Shock washes over me at Drew’s words. “You can’t be serious.” Owen pulls out of my embrace, his body stiff. His eyes are swollen and his cheeks red from the crying. He was in a total state of panic when he called. So freaked out over what Mom did, I could hardly understand him at first.
“I’m dead serious.” Drew takes a few steps toward me but stops just before he reaches me. He can probably feel Owen’s animosity. It’s rolling off him in huge waves. “I have the space. Owen can even have his own room.”
“Where will Fabes sleep?” Owen asks, his look pointed, his expression fiercely protective.
I rest my hand on his tense arm. “Stop. He’s trying to be nice.”
“Or he’s just using you for free sex. Maybe make you his little woman once you move in with him and not let you go anywhere or do anything. Don’t do it. I don’t want to move in with him,” Owen says vehemently.
I don’t quite understand Owen’s hostility. Though maybe it all stems from when I was an emotional wreck after I came back from Carmel and Drew ditched me. He’s run before…
Just like Mom.
I’m tempted, though. So, so tempted to say yes. But I need to prove my independence, not move from my mom’s to Drew’s without every experiencing time living on my own.
“You don’t have to make the decision now,” Drew says softly, his gaze pleading. “But you don’t want to stay the night here. The place is empty. There’s no bed to sleep on.”
He’s right. Even though I know Mom is responsible for taking everything and we weren’t robbed or anything crazy, I’d feel creepy staying the night here. The apartment feels too hollow. Almost violated.
“I don’t want to stay here,” I murmur to Owen, grabbing his hand and squeezing it. “Besides, we have nowhere else to go. His apartment is nice and he has a spare bedroom.”
“I’m sure his apartment is badass. I still don’t want to stay there,” Owen retorts. He’s so angry, so hurt by what she’s done to us, my heart breaks for him.
“Come on. Do this for me.” Owen glances up, his gaze meeting mine. “I love him,” I whisper. “He’d do anything to help me. To help us. I know it.”
Owen rolls his eyes and yanks his hand from mine. “Fine. We’ll stay there. But I refuse to move in with him, Fabes. You hardly know his ass.”
“Owen, stop.” I can’t put up with his attitude right now. Drew’s being nothing but kind and generous. Owen’s probably using his rudeness as a defense mechanism to cope or whatever, but I don’t want to deal. I can hardly wrap my head around what our mother has done to us.
Her mental abandonment has scarred me for life. Her physical abandonment will probably f**k up Owen’s head forever.
I hate her. So much I can hardly see straight, let alone think rationally.
At this very moment, I need Drew’s support more than ever.
* * * *
We get Owen settled first. Drew has a futon in his spare room, which he must use as an office, if the desk and computer are any indication. I help Drew make the futon into a bed, spreading out the extra blankets while Drew goes and grabs some pillows. It feels very domesticated and sweet and I know I could get used to this.
But I refuse to let myself. I can’t get all sappy and silly now. My brother needs me. I need to be strong and figure out what the hell I’m going to do next.
“Do you need anything?” I ask Owen when he walks into the room, his expression defiant. “A glass of water or maybe some Tylenol?” He’d cried on the drive over to Drew’s house, sniffling in the backseat of Drew’s extended cab. I wanted to comfort him so badly but knew he would refuse it.
“Something to eat maybe?” Drew suggests as he walks into the room with three fluffy pillows.
“I’m fine,” Owen says sullenly. I send him a pointed look and he adds a muttered thank-you to appease me.
“Do you want to talk?” I ask him quietly, both of us stepping out of the way so Drew can dump the pillows on the futon.
Owen shakes his head. “I’d rather be alone, Fabes. I just want to fall asleep and forget this ever happened.”
“It’ll just be there ready to face you again once you wake up,” I remind him. We can’t avoid this, even though I’d love to. But it’s staring me right in the face. I need to figure out what to do, where to go next.
“Thanks for the slap of reality.” He sighs and shakes his head. “I know you’re mad at her. But…I’m not. I’m worried about her. She won’t answer your calls and that sucks.”
I’d tried to call her at the apartment and on the way over to Drew’s. Went straight to voice mail. I left her a text. No reply and that was over an hour ago.
The woman is doing everything in her power to avoid us. There’s nothing we can do about it either.
“She’s fine.” I wave a hand. I have no doubt in my mind she’s perfectly safe. Probably chugging a beer and laughing her ass off how she pulled one over on us. “She’ll answer tomorrow, I’m sure of it.