Chapter 5 - Part 2

When Jessica arrived back at the house, Myles was drinking a beer, with his feet propped up against the coffee table. 


“How was it?” he asked.


She dropped her keys on the table before dropping to sit beside him. She was tired and emotionally wrung out.


“I miss him.” She propped her feet up as well and looked up at the ceiling, still trying to sort out how she felt about the visit to Dylan’s grave and her unplanned encounter with Karsyn.


“We all do.” He drank his beer quietly beside her while she stared unseeing at the white ceiling.


“Did you ever think about selling the house and moving somewhere else?” she asked, turning her heard to watch his profile while he tipped the beer bottle back. There were so many memories here. The driveway where they had scraped their knees trying to perfect tricks on their skateboards. The endless hours they had all spent in the pool through the summers. There wasn’t a part of the house that didn’t hold some memory that was now tinged with sadness.


He stilled. “No.”


Being in the same house where they had grown up held memories that only reminded them of their loss daily. If he moved, he could start over, a clean slate. There wouldn’t be a living memory of Dylan in every corner.


“Why?” she asked, pushing the subject. She wasn’t sure that if she were in his shoes she would have stayed, but as the past had shown she wasn’t as strong as he was. The grief had taken its toll and she had taken the coward’s way out. At the time it had seemed like the only option, and it was only now that she realized it hadn’t been.


He sighed. “Being here reminds me of him. If I close my eyes I can feel and hear him, like he’s still here. He didn’t die. He’s just not here for now.”


She swallowed hard. His words revealed his ongoing struggle with the grief of losing a close sibling.


 “Doesn’t it make it more difficult?” she said with a frown. In the short time she’d been there, she had been wading through all the turmoil of the memories that had been stirred up.


He turned to face her. “If I stay here, I remember the things we did. I can remember the sound of his voice, the way he laughed and the way he slammed the doors when he lost his temper. It helps him live on in me.”


She digested his words, feeling the same memories tug at her heart.


“And it helps when I miss him, which is pretty much all the time.” He paused. “I’m scared one day I won’t remember his voice or his laughter. What if I forget those things? I don’t want him to just be some gravestone with some deep sentences of loss.”


She reached out and covered his hand with hers. “I get it.”


Even if they couldn’t remember the sound of his voice, they would never forget the impact he’d had on their lives in the things he did when he was alive—and the actions that had led to his death.


Their eyes held and she felt a pull to him. It was a foreign feeling that sparked in her chest as she gazed into his eyes. Confused, she removed her hand and sat up.


“I want to be able to think back and remember him fondly, but all I feel is a suffocating sadness.”


He let out an emotional breath. “We all feel that.”


They stared at each other for a while, and she knew it was time to change the subject. 


“I saw Karsyn.” 


“At the grave?” he asked, sounding subdued.


She nodded, grasping her hands together. “Yeah.”


He shifted in his seat. “How’d it go?”


She shrugged. “We didn’t talk long. He asked how I was. That kind of thing.”


“The fact you talked is a good sign.”


She frowned. “Why?”


“He was so mad for a long time. He was so determined to cut the both of you from his life, I didn’t think he would ever let either of you back in.” 


That made two of them. 


“Just because he talked to me doesn’t mean he’s ready to make peace.” She wanted more than that, so much more.


“I know my brother.” Somewhere, the hope she would be able to rekindle whatever she had shared with Karsyn rose to the surface. “Just give him time.”


She shrugged. “Maybe.” It had been almost two years. Maybe she didn’t have any more time to give him; perhaps it was time to put it to bed and let it go. Some things just weren’t meant to be.


At one stage she had been close to Dylan and Myles. Karsyn had been the one she had loved like no other. He had been her first love, and she had never felt her heart stutter and skip a beat until his eyes had met eyes. For her it had been love at first sight. 


And now… She still loved Karsyn, even if he didn’t return those feelings. Dylan was gone. She wasn’t as close to Myles as she had once been, but she had sought his help above others when she’d needed someone. That meant something to her. It proved that deep down inside she knew she could still rely on him. She wanted to rebuild their friendship back to what it had been.


“So, what made you realize Charlie wasn’t the one?” he asked, his voice gravelly.


Before the loss of Dylan, she had been idealistic in her views on life. She had firmly believed in one true love and the forever type of love that lasted a lifetime through to kids and then grandchildren. Dylan’s passing had changed all of that for her. Those were things she no longer believed in, and it had been her own survival that had led her to Charlie.


“Charlie was there for me when I was drowning in the pain of losing Dylan.” Her voice was hoarse with memories that still had the ability to take her breath away. “He pulled me out of it, and I’ll always be grateful because I don’t know what I would have done if he hadn’t.”


He regarded her silently, like he was seeing a piece of her that he hadn’t seen before. “I didn’t realize. Why didn’t you say anything?”


She nodded. She had never told anyone how bad it had been for her. “You were barely hanging on yourself. I didn’t want to burden you with more.”


“I’m stronger than I look,” he whispered.


“I’m not.” She attempted to smile as her throat burned.


“Come here,” he murmured, and when she leaned into him, he put his arm around her shoulder and hugged her close. “Then I’m glad he was there to help.” He paused. “For a long time, I thought he had betrayed his best friend, but maybe it wasn’t as clear cut as that.”


Although she had never revealed the true events that had led to their split, it wouldn’t be difficult for people to link it to Charlie. 


That’s probably how most had viewed what had happened, but Charlie had saved her by stepping in when she had been spiraling out of control. When no one else saw what was happening to her, he had.


She put her arms around Myles’ waist and hugged him close. She felt his strength and she held on to it, not wanting to face the possibility that she would lose him when he discovered the truth of what she had kept from him.


It wasn’t just the grief that had caused her life to spiral out of control—it had been the guilt that had torn her apart.


Feeling emotionally strung out, she pushed all thoughts from her mind and stayed in Myles’ arms, enjoying the closeness of someone who understood part of the pain she felt. 


She didn’t allow herself to think about her earlier meeting with Karsyn either. It brought up many memories she didn’t want to think about, much less face.


For the moment she just wanted quiet, a break from the sadness and guilt. When she was ready, she would do the right thing and tell the brothers about her secret. Then she would have to hope they would be able to forgive her, even when she couldn’t forgive herself.