Written by Princess Juliet
The bond they share( brothers)
Atarah awoke with a start. Disoriented by the unfamiliar surroundings in the pale light of dawn, it took a few moments to realise the arm holding her close and the warmth caressing her back were more solid than a dream.
The warm, steady breath gently lifting her hair from the back of her neck came from no apparition of the night. She held her breath, not wishing to awaken Jayden this early in the morn.
More importantly, she had no wish to awaken him before she cleared the fog clouding her thoughts.
�What have I done?� As the events of the previous day and night unfolded in her mind, Atarah swallowed her groan of dismay. After vowing not to, she�d spend the night at his place. Worst still, she couldn’t seem to control her feelings towards him and this terrified her.
�Gosh! What madness had bedevilled me, causing me to love him this much?�
A few more moments of quiet, a few more slowly paced heartbeats and then perhaps she�d be ready to face the day. Perhaps…..
�You are awake?� His soft whispering voice interrupted her confused thoughts, startling her a bit and she could only nod her head in response and clasp his arm tighter about her.
Jayden chuckled and rose up on one elbow, kissing her temple. �Did you sleep well?� He touched her hair and trailed a finger down her neck, between the swell of her brea$t, and rested his hand on her waist.
�Yes,� Atarah answered without looking at him and Jayden let out a deep sigh, pulling his arm free. �Where are you, Tarah?� He could sense her nervousness and wanted to know what was going on in her mind.
She closed her eyes and swallowed hard before turning over onto her back and smiling at his dishevelled hair and sleep-heavy eyes. �I�m right here, baby.� She tried to act normal, pretending she was alright but Jayden was no fool, he saw the hidden sadness her face expressed.
�You seemed to be far away,� He gently brushed a stray strand of soft hair away from her cheek and she smiled faintly, drowning in his love more and more. �What worries you this morning, Princess?�
�Worries me?� Atarah shrugged, feigning ignorance. �Nothing of any great importance, nothing at all.�
�I doubt that. What?� Jayden insisted on knowing and she was left with no option but to speak her mind.
�I want to return home today.�Her voice was so low Jayden wasn�t sure he had heard her right. For a moment he continued to stare at her, and then he climbed out of bed and started into the bathroom.
�You are spending the weekend with me and that is final.� He said, his tone leaving no room for argument and Atarah was speechless for a long minute. When she finally regained her composure, she reluctantly rose to her feet and went into the bathroom to join him. There, she brushed her teeth silently, watching him in the sink mirror as he took his bath, admiring his perfect body structure, drooling over the man that had become her boyfriend.
Jayden scoffed at this and turned his head away slightly. �My little pervert.� He muttered under his breath.
�Can I bathe with you?� Atarah asked as she took off the only clothing on her, a big t-shirt
Jayden shook his head slightly and stepped out of the bathtub. �I�m already done, miss.� Reaching for his towel, he wrapped it around his waist and smirked at her before leaving the room. �Meet me downstairs in the dining room when you are done dressing.�His words singed her ears.
�What?� Atarah nearly choked on her own snicker. �Join your downstairs! No……..that is not possible…..I mean, you know I cannot do that right?� She protested nervously but was met with a stony and exasperating silence. Jayden had deliberately ignored her complaints.
�D**n him, d**n that annoying boy.�She gnawed on her lower lip, cursing under her breath as she stepped into the bathtub and took a quick bath.
When she returned to the room, Jayden was no longer there and this infuriated her even more. �How can he be so mean!� She marched to her suitcase, took out a short blue gown along with her undies and hurriedly changed into it.
�Phew!� She put on her flip-flop slippers, then braced herself against the dresser and looked in the mirror, talking to herself. �You can do this, Tarah.� With her heart in her throat and a silent prayer on her tongue, she slowly walked out of the room and climbed down the stairs and stopped in midstep, frozen in shock when she got to the sitting room.
The whole family were seated around the dinner table and eating breakfast in silence. �Oh no!� She turned around to run but Jayden�s voice stopped her.
�Come join us, princess.� And she walked over to the dining in a trance-like state and sat down awkwardly beside him. Jayden’s hands found hers under the table and he squeezed it gently, assuring her. She smiled at him and mumbled something she hoped sounded like a greeting.
�Morning ma�am,� The maid standing beside her responded and stepped forward to attend to her but Trent waved her off with his hand, telling her to step aside.
�I�ll do it myself,� He said gently and they all paused eating, his wife and his sons and stared at him.
�What did you say?� Mary�s voice rose in shock and Trent glanced at her. �I said I�ll serve her myself.� A sly glint came to his eyes then, as if he was about to do something mischievous and Jayden didn�t fail to notice that.
�And why, if I may ask?� He glowered and glared at his father.
Trent laughed at his question and then laughed more at the outrage evident on his face. �Chillax son, I just want to apologise for my rude behaviour yesterday.� He rose to his feet and dished out a large helping of macaroni cheese on Atarah�s plate.
Drenched in the appetizing aroma, her stomach clenched with hunger and her mouth became a reservoir of eager saliva. Trent dished out more and more helpings onto her plate and only then did it struck her that he was actually mocking her.
�This….is…more….than….enough…for…me, sir.� She was half afraid to speak, fearful that a quake in her voice would expose her trepidation. Trent nodded and passed her a smile before sitting back down on the chair. �Don�t blame me, I was thinking a wretch like you has never eaten such a sumptuous meal before.� He mumbled these words so no one else would hear but unfortunately, Greg who was sitting beside him did. He glanced at his father and scoffed silently. �Can we just eat silently and in peace, please?�
�Of course, yes,� Trent smiled lightly at him, �but what to do? Your poor father is so curious to know one or two things about Joan……�
�It is Atarah,� Jayden cut him off abruptly and he looked at his son, his smile more of a smirk. �Oh! So she changed her name, but why?� He shifted his attention back to Atarah and she flinched meeting his gaze, his eyes had the blankness of someone half asleep. He looked so scary, completely terrifying. �Or is it because you ran away from the hospital after receiving treatment?� He made no attempt to hide the disgust in his eyes.
�That’s enough, dad.� Jayden banged his fist down on the table, his head threatening to explode in anger but Atarah nudged his arm gently, telling him to calm down.
�I don�t know anything about that sir, but I will ask my mother once I get home.�She gave Trent a response.
�Your mother?� He gritted his teeth in silent fury. �Where is she?� He demanded and Mary paused abruptly, dropping the cutlery on her plate with a soft clatter. Greg gasped and turned to her. �What is wrong, mum?� He asked in a whisper, noticing her shaky hands but Mary shook her head slightly and smiled at him.
Trent swallowed down his frustration. Inwardly, he was seething. �Is your mum aware of the fact that you are dating my son? Tell me, does she know he is screwing you?� He yelled at her and that was it, Atarah couldn’t take the insults any longer. She sprang to her feet like a robot and forced herself to speak through lips suddenly pale. �Thanks so much for the meal, sir.� With that, she ran across the room and up the stairs, sobbing softly.
Jayden�s heart skipped a beat, �D**n! Not again.� With a jolt, he leapt to his feet and ran after her. �Please…..Tarah,� He called out to her but she completely ignored him and ran into his room slamming the door shut. �I can�t…..I can�t….. stay….here…… any longer.� In her confused state of mind, she frantically began to throw her things into her suitcase, her mind was a jumbled-up mess and she couldn’t think of what to do. �No, I can’t.�She screamed at the weird voices in her head telling her to stay and that was the exact moment Jayden stepped into the room, looking so disoriented.
�What are you trying to do, Tarah?� His eyes slowly went to her suitcase and then wandered up to her face.
�I�m going home.�Came Atarah�s response as she zipped up the bag in a huff.
�But why?� While his voice was soft and steady, his thinned lip, furrowed brow and narrowed eyes gave the lie to his outward calmness, �Is it because of my dad�s ranting? No, Tarah, that doesn’t mean a thing.� Moving closer, he tried to drag the suitcase out of her hold but Atarah struggled with all of her might to get free. �Please let me go.� She screamed piercingly and he gazed down at her, noticing for the first time that she was worn out. �Please…Jayden,� Her eyes silently pleaded with him, �do not try to stop me.� The agitation she felt was extremely great, and the tears rolled down her face, shattering Jayden’s heart into pieces.
It took a few moments, but he nodded his head in consent.
�I will drive you home.� He grunted, picked up her suitcase and stormed out of the room, boiling with rage.
Atarah’s face fell, and in bitter disappointment, she walked behind him through the door, down the stairs and outside to his car, acutely aware of the fact that his parents were watching them. �To hell with them!� She opened the door in a huff and climbed into the passenger seat beside Jayden. �Let’s go.�
Jayden nodded absentmindedly, his mind obviously on other things. And when he started the car, he drove out through the gate and sped off the highway leading to her house.
By the time they arrived at the farmhouse, it was almost mid-morning. Atarah mumbled a quick �thank you� and began to open the door when Jayden caught her arm and pulled her closer towards him until their lips were almost touching.
�I�m sorry…�He whispered softly and Atarah swallowed hard, not knowing what to say or how to respond.
�…..and I promise I�ll make it up to you somehow.�The sincerity in his voice brought tears to her eyes and she melted completely.
�I love you, Tarah.� He gently wiped the tears from her face and before she could respond, lifted her chin and kissed her, the feel of her soft lips against his both infuriating and placating.
The passion brought a moan to her lips and he smiled in satisfaction, breaking the kiss. Atarah was disappointed, she continued to stare at his lips without moving. �Go on in, your mum is waiting.� Jayden gently tweaked her nose and only then did she notice her mother standing outside the house, watching them.
She smiled at him and leaned over the back seat to grab her suitcase before stepping out of the car and slamming the door shut. �Goodbye, babe.�She blew him a goodbye kiss.
Jayden honked the car horn in response and made a quick u-turn and sped off down the dirt road heading to the highway. Atarah let out a big sigh as she watched his car fishtail on the hilly path.
�What made you change your mind?� Maria chose at that moment to approach her and Atarah slowly turned her eyes to her.
�I mean, you said it yourself that you wanted to spend the weekend at his place, that you wanted to be with him and not me, that you wanted to……..�Her voice trailed off as she noticed the profound sadness in her daughter�s eyes and she caught her breath in a startled gasp. �What happened to you, Tarah?�
�You happened, mum,� Atarah pinned her with a cold and accusing stare and her mother flinched at the cutting acidity in her voice. �You and your stupid lies happened to me.� She yelled and with that, walked past her to the sitting room, dragging her suitcase along with her.
Maria was confused. She followed behind her daughter like a lost puppy, her heart pounding so hard in her chest. �What are you talking about?� She asked, her voice barely a whisper. �Please, talk to me.�
A bitter smile lit Atarah�s face as she turned around and looked at her. �Who are you, mum?� She threw a question back at her and Maria�s face paled at her words. �What exactly did you do to the Hobsons?� Atarah went on, �Why do they hate me so much?� Her hand dropped to her side and her eyes flashed with anger. �Tell me, why did you sneak me out of the hospital twelve years ago? hun! What in the world are you afraid of?� This was the exact question she�d wanted to ask as she was completely lost.
Maria pondered the questions carefully, wondering why she had asked them. Except for the widening of her eyes and the thinning of her lips, she gave no outward show of emotion. �I did what I did…….�
�To protect me. Oh yeah!� Atarah rolled her eyes in mock exasperation and marched into her room angrily, vowing never to forgive her mother for all the pain she�d caused her.
Greg was so furious at the way Atarah was been humiliated that he couldn’t stop thinking about it for hours. He paced up and down his room, looked out of the window at the bright sunlight, stood up, sat down and stood up again.
He was very restless and his mind was clouded with confusing thoughts, his brain struggling to connect the dots, solve the mystery puzzle in his head and understand his parent’s fears and concerns but it was a vain effort. D**n!
Unable to control his emotions, he stormed out of the room and walked down the passageway to his mother’s room. Without knocking, he barged through the door and found her sitting in front of the mirror, dolling herself up.
�It is you, right?� He glared at her accusingly and Mary paused in surprise, watching him in the mirror.
�It�s you who turned dad�s mind against Joanna.� And she laughed at her son’s innocence and foolishness.
�And why would I do that?� She sounded so incredulous as if she couldn’t believe what her ears had heard.
�Because you hate her mum.� Greg’s response made her stop laughing and she jerked her head around to look at him. �What?�
�Not only her, but her mother also.�He lowered his gaze and stared into her sea-blue eyes. She stared back at him. Confident. Proud. Not even a small smile of warmth across her face. �I�ve seen the way you bullied her in the past, I have seen the way you look down on her. Gosh, mum! Can�t you just put everything behind you? it is Jayden we are talking about here, your son. That girl gives him peace, she makes him happy, for crying out loud.
�What if she does?� Mary rose to her feet and glared at him, her visage angry and impatient. �Tell me! His happiness? How is that gonna help me lay my hand on the hospital documents, how is his happiness gonna help me change your father�s will?�
�Like seriously!� Greg made no effort to conceal his disappointment and she smiled a faintly wicked smile.
�I don�t care about Jayden, neither do I care about his happiness,� She confessed. Greg closed his eyes. The pain behind her word tore his heart.
�All I care about is you. Your happiness, your growth, your success����
�Isn�t that why you forced me into an engagement with Nancy?� He cut her off abruptly, disdain in his voice, �so that I can inherit her father�s hospital after the marriage?� He withered her in derision.
�The Garcia�s hospital isn�t enough.� Mary waved his words aside nonchalantly, �Hobsons is bigger, better and more famous.�
�But it belongs to Jayden, mum.� Greg almost cried out in frustration. Jeez! He couldn�t understand his mother�s greed. �It�s a promise that dad made to his late mum, to build an empire, a hospital for their little son, remember?�
�I don�t care,� Mary yelled hysterically and Greg heard the edge of desperation in her voice.
He opened his mouth, but before he could say anything, the door creaked open and Jayden�s head popped into the room.
�Hey bro,� He looked from his brother to his stepmother, wondering why they were looking so tense and distraught, �did I interrupt anything?�
�I�ve searched all over the house for you.�
�Oh!� Greg gave his mother a long stern look, silently warning her and then walked over to Jayden, closing the door behind them.
�How is Tarah?� He asked concernedly and Jayden let out a deep sigh before answering. �She is fine.�
Greg’s chuckle was low and soft. �And still angry with you, right?�
�Not really,� Jayden ran his hand through his hair, then shrugged his shoulder, �I somehow managed to calm her down.�
�Oh!� Greg nodded his head slowly and stared in the middle distance, not knowing what else to say. There was a moment of awkward silence between them until Jayden cleared his throat and said. �I�m sorry for the heavy punches.�
Greg tilted his head back and laughed heartily.
�And thanks for standing up for me.� Jayden was serious this time around and Greg looked at him with a warm smile.
�I�ll do that over and over again and never get tired.� He patted his younger brother’s shoulder gently and Jayden was too stunned to say anything.
�Because we are brothers,� Greg concluded and he wasn’t joking. He meant everything he�d said.