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The Scars of Your Love

Chapter Thirteen

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Startled, I spun around in my heels to find that Frankie was standing behind me. His hair was all messed up and his posture was lifeless and languid.
"What?" I questioned.
"Why didn't you tell me?" His words were like knives flung at me, using the strength of the wind to multiply their impact.
Frozen in mid-step, my eyes widened. Oh my God, did he know about Taylor?
"Tell you what?" I said cautiously.
Holding up his fists, Frankie shook his head. "Why'd you hide this, Lex?" He went on, moving towards me.
"Franks—" I broke, taking a step to him.
He shook his head, dodging away from me. "Demi's dead?" He shot.
First—and I’ll hate myself for this forever—relief washed over me. Because I was wrong, Frankie didn’t know about Taylor. My dirty little secret was still safe. And then I remembered and this time it felt all the worse. Slamming into my body at full force, icy pain shot through my heart and spread all over my body. I struggled to suck in a breath and that's when it hit me:
Oh God...We never told Frankie.
I'd been so focused on finding Joe—on Kevin and Kohl—on escaping—on Taylor—that I'd forgotten that we hadn’t thought of what to tell Frankie. Falling to my knees, I reached out to grab him but he shook me off. " You're right—you're right!" I hurriedly spilled out, self-disgust crawling through my veins and underneath my skin. "I should've told you, Frankie. I'm sorry." I started crying again and suddenly I wasn't just talking to him anymore. "I'm so sorry."
Stone-faced for a moment as he channeled his inner-Joe with a concentration that scared me, he finally reached out and hugged me. "She was my friend too." He said, finally losing the coldness. Frankie paused for a moment. "They were my parents too."
Shocked, I pulled away to look at him. "What?" I gasped, wiping at my tears.
"Mamma and Dad," Frankie went on trying to look stone-faced but his lip quivered. "They weren't just yours or Joe's or Kevin's or Nick's. They're mine too." He paused for a moment and in that moment he lost his coldness and became a ten year old boy who was lost, confused and angry. "Even if I don't remember." “
My lips trembled and I pulled him closer to me. "I'm so sorry, Frankie." I whispered once more.
“Tell me about them,” he said after almost twenty minutes had passed.
I wiped at my eyes but turned to look at him. “Who?”
“Mamma and Dad.” He said staring back at me with this heartbroken yet hungry look on his face. We didn’t like to talk about them that much because it was too painful but I think we had all forgotten about how Frankie had hardly any memories of them. About how he would miss them most of all for he had no memories to immortalize them in.
“Okay...” I nodded trying to think. “Well, they had names in Italian for us all.”
“They did?” he questioned. “Like what?”
I smiled and leaned against the wall with my arm around him. “Well, mine was Alessia Skye and Nick’s was Nicolo.”
“What was Joe’s?” Frankie wanted to know.
I started to laugh. “His was Giuseppe but they called him Peppe.”
Peppe?” Frankie burst out into laughter.
I joined in with his laughter but it sounded like glass breaking. “Yep.”
“What about Kevin’s?” he questioned.
“His was Paolo because he was named after Dad and there’s no way to say Kevin in Italian. And your’s was—”
“Wait,” he stopped me, looking shocked. “I had one too?”
“Of course,” I told him feeling sick to my stomach. This was only making me feel worse. How long had Frankie had this hunger inside of him to know our parents, to share in our memories of them but kept silent so we wouldn’t have painful memories? But why should he have to sacrifice? There’s a saying that says you can’t miss what you never had but I can’t think of who it’s worse for; Frankie who knows about Mamma and Daddy but can’t remember them or me and the rest of the boys who can? “They were given to us all at birth.” I explained.
Something in his eyes shifted and they began unseeing. “What was it?”
I closed my eyes before answering slowly. “Franco.”
My little brother was silent for a long moment. “They sure liked o-names.” He said finally.
Keeping my eyes closed, I nodded. “Yeah...they did.”
We were both silent for a while before he asked another question. “How did they meet?”
“Well, when Dad and Brendan were in college, they were roommates. And back then Brendan was dating Bliss and Bliss had a friend named Denise that they decided to fix them up together.”
“Was it love at first sight?”
Love at first sight...It was strange hearing my little brother say those words but I shook my head. “No. Mamma doesn-” I paused to correct myself.”-didn’t believe in love at first sight. That was something she fiercely believed in. But whenever she wasn’t around Dad would always admit that her beauty was what drew him to her in the first place but he fell in love with who she was.”
His palms squeezed into little fists. “Why did they have to die? Why did Demi die? Why does anyone have to die?”
Swallowing hard, I felt tears well up in my eyes and eyed the wall. “I don’t know, Frankie.” I answered. “I don’t know.”
We sat out in the lobby in silence until the assembly was over. I wasn’t sure where we were going to go once they asked everyone to leave campus since Kevin and Nick had taken our ride with them and the last thing I wanted was go back to Brendan’s. It wasn’t like I didn’t love it but the beach castle was made of cold stone and stood solitary above the beach. Nick was gone, Brendan had been nowhere to be found this morning, and I couldn’t stand to go back to a cold and empty house. Not now. Not in this start.
But then somehow Lilith managed to show up at Galaxy and after an enormous argument with a couple of teachers managed to get what she had come for; Frankie in me. In the car she didn’t speak to either of us and Frankie and I chose not to speak to each other either. Lilith, who had stolen Brendan away from Bliss liked us just as much as we liked her. Behind her back Frankie and I liked to call her "the queen of demons" because her name was the same as the first woman on Earth—before Eve—the one who got kicked out and started having demon babies, which describes Lilith perfectly.
Sighing, I leaned my head against the cool glass of the window watching the world roll by as we passed. My thoughts turned back to Taylor’s visit and I thought about my panic attack. One of my thoughts from the moment slipped into my mind once more.
Tell me how I’m supposed to breathe with no air.
My brain turned the phrase over inside me over and over again. ‘Tell me: how am I supposed to breathe-with no air?’ My hands started digging into my bag before I even realized what was going on. It wasn’t until I pulled out the music and lyrics book my mother had given me so long ago before I realized what I was wanted to do. In cursive in black ink on the creamy white of the pages, I spoke the song to the page:
Tell me how I'm supposed to breathe with no air.
Biting my lip, I stared down at the words with such an intensity they started swimming before my eyes. Then my hand reached down and I was writing again.
If I should die before I awake it's because you took my oxygen air breath away. Losing you is like: Living in a world with no air.
But how
do you expect me
to live alone with just me?
because my world revolved revolves around you
it’s so hard for me to breathe.
Tell me how I’m supposed to breathe with no air.
I can’t live, I can’t breathe with no air.
x x x x x x x

Eventually the car ride ended and we were at the place I didn’t want to be. Even more so with Lilith of all people. But after walking into the living room where I froze in my tracks, I realized that I was wrong. The living room was filled with people. Brendan was there, and so was Bliss surprisingly. Then there was Big Rob, who had driven all of us to school this morning and Gabby standing in the corner. And my brothers manager and publicist, Johnny Wright, PJ Bianco and my agent, Laney Caudwell and publicist, Clarke Caraway. "Umm," I began, confused beyond repair. "What's going on?"
“Alexie, Frankie, where are your brothers?” Brendan asked stepping forward and staring at each of us in turn with something serious in his face.
Frankie and I exchanged a look. In the car I decided to tell him what was going on. We were supposed to be a family and our parents who normally would’ve played the adult roles weren’t around anymore. None of us were like other normal people our age, so I decided Frankie deserved to know a little about what was going on. So I told him that Joe had disappeared and Nick and Joe went looking for him. "Well, um, they're out,” Frankie said trying to not to eye me.
Lilith rolled her eyes, snuffing out her cigarette. "Obviously." She snapped.
"Lilith," Brendan began warningly. I could see Bliss giving Lilith the Stank eye which I will admit, I kind of appreciated.
"Brendan, it’s obvious these children have little respect for you. They belittle you, manipulate you and don't know when to pay respect where it’s due." Lilith looked down at me, her eyes narrowing like a snake stalking out its prey before it makes its move. "She knows where they are, I'm sure of it."
My jaw clenched and I wanted to make a smart retort back but my parents had taught me better than that. So instead I stayed quiet.
“Why do you need to know in the first place?” Bliss wanted to know. “They are all adults.”
“No, they are not.” Lilith snapped, her eyes latching onto Bliss with a ugly look on her face. “We’re responsible for them.”
Okay, because it isn’t like Joe and Kevin aren’t legally adults, I thought but didn’t say out loud.
Bliss laughed with no humor in her voice. “No, you're not. We are responsible for them. It was my name and Brendan’s that Paul and Denise signed responsibility over, not you, Lilith.”
“As Brendan’s wife I do.” Lilith retorted.
My eyes widened in shock. I could not believe she had really just said that. As much as I loved my godfather it wasn’t a secret that he met Lilith while he and Bliss were still married. So is it much of a coincidence that two years later he’s getting divorced and marrying her? But still to throw that in Bliss’ face? I heard Bliss hiss as everyone else in the room held their breath in anticipation. I glanced down at Frankie who was watching what was unfolding with big eyes.
“Okay, maybe we should get back to the point— “ I interrupted eyeing everyone meaningfully before motioning towards Frankie. “Why do you want to know where the guys are anyway?”
“That is a need to know basis,” Lilith retorted sharply.
I inhaled so fast, a hissing sound came out of me and I rolled my eyes. “Because why?” I wanted to know looking at Bliss and Brendan for answers. I know that you're supposed to give respect to elders but Lilith was making me want to do something unthinkable to her-slapping an adult. “They are my family first and for most. I don’t want to be mean and play that card but-” I didn’t even get to finish because Bliss shook her head and interrupted me.
“No, Alexie, you're right. You have the right to know.” She turned around and picked up the remote to the TV while Lilith gave her a dirty look (even though Bliss had lived in this house for far longer and before Lilith ever existed on our radar). She un-paused what was on the screen and a news anchor appeared solemn and cold staring straight at us.
“After the nineteen year old singer’s death was announced this morning, a video of Lovato singing a song for her unfinished album was leaked out on the Internet with a purpose...” The video of Demi standing in the middle of a studio started playing.
“The space in between us Starts to feel like we're worlds apart. Like I'm going crazy And you say it's raining in your heart. You're telling me nobody's there to dry up the flood. Oh, but that's just crazy 'Cause, baby, I told ya, I'm here for good. “My love's like a star, yeah, You can't always see me But you know that I'm always there. When you see one shining Take it as mine and remember I'm always near. If you see a comet, baby, I'm on it Making my way back home. Just follow the glow, yeah, It won't be long, just know that you're not alone.
“I try to build the walls to keep you safe When I'm not around. But as soon as I'm away from you, You say they come tumbling down. But it's not about the time That we don't get to spend together. It's about how strong our love is When I'm gone and it feels like forever.”
“What is this?” I questioned, my voice coming out in a whisper.
Brendan exchanged a look with Bliss that I didn’t understand before he turned to look at me solemnly. “A song from Demi’s unreleased album got leaked out by someone in her record company,” Brendan explained. “They’re saying she dedicated it to Joe.”
Oh, God. I thought. This song was the most heartbreaking thing ever. Part of it sounded like she was promising that she would love him forever and they’d be together forever or almost like she knew that she was going to die. My eyes welled up with tears. But of course she didn’t know what was in store for her. Which just made it all the worse.
“You say the time away makes your heart grow numb. But I can't stay just to prove you wrong. Oh, look at how far we've come Don't you know, don't you know that you're the one? Oh, you're not alone. You're not alone, oh. You're not alone, oh. You're not alone, oh. Know that you're not alone. You're not. “My love's like a star, yeah, You can't always see me But you know that I'm always there. Know that I'm always there. When you see one shining Take it as mine and remember I'm always near, yeah. If you see a comet, baby, I'm on it Making my way back home. Making my way back to you Just follow the glow, yeah It won't be long just know that you're not alone. Yeah-yeah, yeah, oh, oh.”
The song faded out and feeling—actually I didn’t know what I was feeling—I whipped around to face Bliss and Brendan because I knew that this song-oh, God the power this song would have... “This is why you were looking for Kevin and Nick aren’t you? Because you think Joe’s seen this video and he’s- “ I meant to say drinking again’ but I couldn’t as a lump barged into my throat blocking my speech. “he’s-”
From my side, Frankie slipped his hand in mine and squeezing tightly turning the tips of my fingers from white to blue. I swallowed and sniffled and sucked down a lungful of air and tried to exhale. “You think he’s going to start drinking again.”
Brendan and Bliss exchanged another look I didn’t understand.
“Stop doing that!” I cried my frustration level rising. I was so sick of people treating me different just because I was the only girl and because I was younger then everyone but Frankie.