1. A Whisper Among the Shadows

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“Wait! Stop!”

Fifteen-year-old Brianna O’Connor’s lung burned as she and her siblings chased after the bug, its figure growing further and further away by the second. The small group was forced to stop at the curb, or else they’d get hit by a passer-by car.

“Damn it, Bri! We missed it!” Brianna’s brother—Bradly—groaned, stomping his foot in anger.

Brianna huffed, her messy scarlet curls briefly lifting from over her eyes. “We wouldn’t have missed it if you weren’t flirting with that Teacher’s Assistant!”

The whole reason the group was late to catch the bus

Color bloomed in Bradly’s ochre cheeks. “I was not!”

Brianna rolled her eyes. “Right, so your eyes just so happened to fasten upon her ass when she dropped that pen?”

“You owe us three dollars,” a small voice said between the feuding siblings. “Maman said you’re not supposed to curse.

Brianna and Bradly looked down to see a pair of hazel-colored eyes staring back up at them. Timothy—one of the younger siblings—was the one who had spoken; while his twin and older sister Fíadh watched the speeding cars.

“Right. Je suis désolé,” Bradly apologized. “I didn’t mean too.”

Brianna rolled her eyes and turned to watch the setting sun. “Guys, it’s getting dark. We don’t have time to wait for the next bus. It’ll be pitch black by the time it comes.”

That wasn’t exactly true. Already the night lights of Miami were beginning to flicker on, before long the club-goers and rich elite would hit the streets; ready to party until sunrise.

Bradly rubbed his chin. “I don’t like us walking at night… It’s not safe.”

“All the more reason for us to get our ass’s in gear and get the hell outta here,” Brianna replied.

“Five dollars,” Timothy said.

“I’ll write you a check,” Brianna said, bending down to pick up Fíadh, putting the little girl on her back.

Together, the four siblings hurried down the streets, attempting to dodge the speeding cars, and avoiding pedestrians. By the time Brianna and her siblings reached their apartment all were sweaty and tired, panting heavily and their calves aching. Bradly was the first to the door and saw the pink piece of paper, the seventeen-year-old snatching the eviction notice from the door and stuffing it into his pocket. He threw a glance to Brianna as he unlocked the door, the group hurrying to get inside as the streetlights began to get inside.

The two-bedroom apartment was dark, the air was stale, and since the air conditioner wasn’t on than space was almost twice as hot than outside. Brianna put her little sister down and turned on a light, grateful that it was still working for now.

“Why don’t you guys got to get cleaned up for dinner?” Brianna said to the Twins. “Bradly and I will see what Maman has left us to eat.”

Timothy nodded and took Fíadh’s hand, the two of them skipping into the back bedrooms to bathe and change.

“Let me see it,” Brianna said, holding out her hand.

Bradly took the eviction notice out from his pocket and gave it to her; Brianna’s eyes scanning over the contents before she groaned.

“I thought they said that we had until the 3rd….”

Bradly crossed his arms. “We’re already three months behind…”

“And Mom’s minimal payments aren’t doing anything but filling in a widening hole,” Brianna sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. “Let me think… let me think… When are we going to have to have the money?”

Bradly read over the paper again. “According to this… we have until tomorrow.”

Brianna bit her thumb. “Let me see what I can do… Can you watch over the Twins for a sec?”

“Of course,” Bradly said, turning to look in the refrigerator. “We have Macaroni au Gratin with grilled chicken, I’ll see what I can make out of that.”

Brianna nodded, giving him a quick peck on the cheek before running to her bedroom. Taking out her laptop, Brianna looked through a series of websites before stopping on DeviantArt, a website that specialized in online digital design. She clicked to log in and swiftly went to her message, her heart soaring when Brianna she had an offer for her latest piece. A person wanted to buy what Brianna had called A Whisper Among the Shadows, in which a ghostly woman in white walked among a dark forest, glowing fish fluttering in the air around her.

Brianna’s asking price was $600.00, but the person was offering $550.00. Normally, Brianna would decline at anyone trying to haggle, as her prices were non-negotiable. After all, Brianna had spent countless hours both painting the picture using her Wacom Tablet, while using pictures she had bought from other digital art creators on DeviantArt. It was also a professional-looking piece, in fact, most professional artists charged $800.00 minimum, others charging thousands.

But Brianna couldn’t afford to be picky. Her family needed that money, so she accepted the offer and within moments it was in her PayPal account. Brianna smashed the button on her laptop for the money to get into her Capital One account the next day, before hurrying back to the kitchen.

Timothy and Fíadh were happily munching on the dinner created for them, Bradly struggling to pull back his little sister’s wild cinnamon-colored curls so that he could braid it. When he heard Brianna, the eldest son looked up, breathing a sigh of relief when she gave him a small nod. The first problem was averted, now would come the most difficult part: convincing their mother to accept it.

Together, Bradly and Brianna put their younger siblings to bed before going downstairs to clean up. Their mother would be getting off from work at the hospital soon, and they had to figure out how to explain to her where they got the money.

“I say we just tell her,” Brianna said, plopping down on the couch. “I don’t understand why she’s so damn stubborn.”

“Well that’s the pot calling the kettle black,” Bradly replied with a chuckle.

“What? I’m nothing like her!” Brianna protested.

“Right…” Bradly said, rolling his eyes. “Look, Maman’s not stubborn… much. I mean she is but not to your extent. She’s more-so prideful. You know how hard she took His disappearance…”

“You mean Him abandoning us?” Brianna grumbled, hating it whenever Bradly mentioned their father. “Because you know that’s what He did.”

Bradly frowned. “Bri, Père didn’t abandon us… I refuse to believe the dad we all loved would just up and leave.”

Brianna crossed her arms and slumped deeper into her chair. She hated to talk about her father, she hated thinking about her father, she hated her father. No, that was too strong a word. Brianna never hated anyone, she strongly-disliked people, but hate was too strong an emotion. Still, the knowledge that her father had just up and abandoned them stung after all these years.

“He didn’t even bother to stick around after the Twin’s were born,” Brianna whispered, looking to her older brother. “Do you think… he was ashamed of us? I mean, we were a secret, remember?”

“We don’t know that for sure,” Bradly replied, trying to not show his own inner pain. “But that’s not important. Right now, we’re going to have to figure out how to tell Maman about this money.”

“What money?” a feminine voice said as the front door opened.

Brianna and Bradly turned to look at their mother, Nicolette Laurens-O’Connor, enter the apartment.

✵✵✵

AUTHOR’S NOTE

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed the chapter. Please like, comment, and share! I’d love to hear what you guys thought of the chapter & predictions of future chapters!

Rae

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