I struggged to get up as my vision was blurry and my legs weak. I breathed in and out and pushed myself up with every thing within me.
“Take it easy” I heard Ryan’s voice as he helped me get back in bed.
“You need to rest because you inhaled a lot of smoke” he continued stroking my hair.
“What happened?” I asked as not only my visions were blurry but my memory too. “Your house caught on fire so the neighbours helped you guys out” he explained and it hit me, my grandma and gramps were in the house too. “What about my grandma and gramps?” I asked agitated.
“Aaliyah you need to rest okay?” He avoided my eyes and totally ignored my question.
“Don’t give me that crap, where is my grandma” I tried standing up but my legs were too weak.
“Please stop fighting the treatment and just rest” he pulled me back into the bed. “Please tell me, are they okay?” A drop of tear rolled down my cheeks because Ryan’s quietness and him not wanting to say anything already passed a message. “Aaliyah…”
“No! God why?” I screamed knowing from his facial expressions that my suspicions were real.
“I’m sorry” he pulled me into his chest as my face rested on his chest.
“This can’t be Lord, I’ve only knew You for five seconds and this happens” I started doubting if He really exist for him to let this happen to me. “I’m sorry” Ryan played with my hair as I angrily got away from him.
“It’s all your fault, it’s all your fault, if I hadn’t met you my life wouldn’t be like this” I punched him with every strength I had and yelled my lungs out till the doctors rushed in trying to tame me as Ryan sat there quiet, I guess he was hurt. The doctors gave me a sedative and I drifted off to sleep slowly. .
Her words hurt me and seeing her like this killed me, it’s my fault, if I wasn’t after what my mom kept for me, Grandma and Gramps would still be alive now. I killed them and Len warned me, he told me this mission was dangerous but my curiosity got the best of me, now see I’ve lost two people already.
“Ryan, is she okay?” Michael placed his hands on my shoulders and I shook my head negatively.
“Don’t worry man, she’d be fine” he encouraged me.
“It’s my fault, I killed them” I ran my hands through my hair as tears rolled down my eyes.
“Ryan you did nothing okay? So stop beating yourself about it and I’m sorry this
happened but we need to focus on catching them before this happens to anyone
else” he advised and I nod painfully.
“Do you think it’s the Johes?” He asked.
“I think it’s my dad, I guess he knows I’m on to him and he is trying to send a message but why Aaliyah? Why?” I felt pain as I remembered grandma esthy smile while she made dinner and how gramps would always join her sometimes and Aaliyah would giggle all day and call her grandparents adorable. I remembered it all and tears formed in my eyes again thinking about the fact that they are gone, just like that!
“it’s not your fault man”
“I’m going to make them pay” I swore.
“Let’s start from here then” Michael showed me the map.
“I found the location where your mom kept the evidence” he continued.
“How are we even sure they are evidence? I’d deal with this later, right now I just need to be by Aaliyah’s side” I sighed as Michael understood and left.
“What happened?” Harvey dashed into the room as I sat watching Aaliyah sleep. “Her house was on fire and her grandparents died through the process” “Oh no” Harvey moved two steps back with his hands on his head.
“My father did this right?” He asked.
“Honestly man, I don’t know” I tell him and we remained silent for a while as I saw Aaliyah parents rushing into room.
“What happened to my baby?” Her mom asked looking really worried.
I explained everything to her and she yelled at the part when I said Gramps and Grandma are gone. I thought she heard but maybe the neighbours were wise enough not to tell her till she came here.
“My parents are gone?” Her father asked as he seemed torn.
“Can you please give our family a moment” she said with so much tears rushing down her cheeks.
“Sure” Harvey and I left the room. I called Michael so we could investigate and
also find that evidence since Aaliyah’s parents are here already, it’s time to go find
out what my mom hid from us.
Michael and I walked through the woods following the map, I told Harvey to stay behind and call if Aaliyah woke up and wanted to see, I doubt that she would want to see me but still.
“Look, it’s here” Michael pointed to a log on wood on the floor.
“So are we suppose to push the wood aside and find what we are looking for?” I rolled my eyes because I was tired of this game my mom was playing. We managed to push the wood aside which was exhausting by the way but now we get to find what was inside. We saw a vault and glanced at each other before picking it up and opening it and with excitement I picked it up knowing this was the end to my father’s shady business
“Seriously a note?” I picked up a small note that was inside the vault.
“Let’s see what’s in it” Michael didn’t give up but I did because how can a small note incriminate a boss like my father. I opened the note and the content was shocking.
“Hello my son, I know you might feel very lonely now but just know I’m watching
over you as the stars watch over the earth and I know we might be apart now but I
promise we’d be together again, stronger together but divided we fall” I read out
and was totally pissed that I came all the way to Brooks for this, Aaliyah lost her
grandparents just so my mom could tell me how much she cares and watches over
me. I’m not going to forgive her for this.
“So that’s it” Michael shrugged.
“I guess so” I sighed as my phone started ringing and it was Harvey.
“Hello” I said.
“Hey any updates?”
“Dead end, what about Aaliyah?” I asked.
“She is up and she escaped, that’s why I’m calling you” he said and I sighed.
“Be there in a jiffy” I hanged up and glanced at Michael as he seemed tired and
unhappy that this was just a dead end.
I stood in the middle of the living room which was burnt to ashes including our mini chairs, Gramps loved that so much, he’d sit on it and read The Bible giggling with grandma.
“Is this what they get for serving You? For doing everything just to please You?” I yelled angrily.
“They died in a painful way, through fire. Answer me!” I yelled talking to no one in particular. I glanced through the window and a memory flashed in, it was blur but I could see someone smile at me in the fire. I can’t remember what happened but this memory made my brain hurt as I held my head. “Hey, hey, are you okay” I felt Ryan’s hand on me.
“Get your hands off me you pest, you destroy everything you touch, I was kidnapped twice because of you and now just take a look around, you destroyed my childhood” I pushed his hands off.
“Twice?” He arched his brow and I almost forgot I haven’t told him Tasha kidnapped me too.
“Nevermind just get out, I don’t want to see you anymore” I yelled as I broke down in tears, he tried coming closer but I’d yell anytime he came close. Soon my parents rushed in and told him to give me some space for now.
“Just give her some space, she’d come around” I heard my mom say as Ryan nods and left. My dad took a tour around the house, he was obviously hurting and it was Ryan’s fault.
“Baby” my mom approached me and I cried in her arms.
“I killed them mom” I finally admitted to myself.
“What? Baby you didn’t do anything” my mom cuddled me.
“I did, if I hadn’t come to Brooks with that piece of gabbage…”
“Ryan” my mom interrupted.
“Ryan” I repeated as I burst out in tears. I had blamed it on Ryan so I could live with myself. I needed someone to point fingers at so I’d say he killed my grandparents and not me.
“Oh baby, it’s okay, God knows best” she held me and her words infuriated me. “So best is grandma and gramps dying? That’s His best? Then I don’t want to ever see His worst” I groaned and cried bitterly.
“Trust me, things may seem bad but God knows why He let this happen, maybe if He had let them stay on earth longer than this, the devil would have claimed their souls so He took them and He wanted to use this situation to draw you closer to him.” my mom explained and I frowned.
“So He just took them to save them and save me too” I air quoted the save and my mom pulled me in for a hug.
“You need some spiritual growth baby, trust me” she said and I sobbed on her
I got home really hurt that Aaliyah pushed me away. I tossed the car key aside and lay on the couch as Michael happily walked towards me. “What?” I tried being a killjoy but his smile wouldn’t fade.
“…watching you like the stars… Stronger together, divided we fall…” Michael quoted words from my mothers note.
“Man these are all encrypted words” he smiled.
“And how do you know that?”
“I’ve worked as an investigator for years to know an encrypted note when I see one” he obviously bragged.
“Guess my mom is a fan of encrypted notes” I sighed.
“So how do we decipher them?” I asked and he smiled.
“Len’s” we said at the same time.
We got to Len’s pawn slash discovery shop and he was happy to see us.
“Hey guess you found it” he beamed with smile.
“You knew didn’t you?” I asked and he nods.
“Just wanted you to find it yourself so you’d be ready for what’s coming” he said.
“What’s coming?” Michael asked puzzled as so do I.
“Just give me the note” Len said and I hesitated.
“Why should I trust you?”
“Because I’ve got the answer you are looking for” he pointed out and I gave him the note.
“Okay just give me a minute” he went into his inner chamber and then spent some
minutes before coming out with a phone.
“Here” he handed it over.
“What am I supposed to do with a phone” I rolled my eyes.
“Just put it to your ear” he said and I hesitated but did it anyways.
“Hello, Ryan?” The voice looked very familiar.
“Mom” I called out.
“She is alive?” Michael eyes were wide opened.
MARRIED AND STILL SINGLE