2. The Cost of Secrecy

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In less than fifteen minutes Brianna and her brother had to explain to their mother about them missing their bus, the eviction notice, and Brianna selling her art to get the money.

Nicolette listened in stony silence, and once her children were done, she pinched the bridge of her nose. “I didn’t know that they would act so soon… They said that they’d give me another day or two to get the money.”

“It doesn’t matter anymore though,” Brianna said. “Tomorrow the money will be in my account and…”

Nicolette held up her hand. “We aren’t going to use that money, Brianna.”

Bradly and Brianna looked at each other, confused, then back to their mother. “What? Why?”

“We just aren’t, alright?” Nicolette said. “I get paid Friday and I’ll make a payment then.”

Brianna frowned. “You… You aren’t making any sense. Maman, I’ll have the money tomorrow, and we can use it!”

“It’s not your job to take care of us, Brianna,” Nicolette countered. “I’m the mother here, thus it’s my job. I don’t care what you do with that money, but I’m not taking it.”

“That’s straight-up bullshit!” Brianna exclaimed.

Nicolette’s dark-brown eyes narrowed. “I will not tolerate you using such language, Brianna. Go to your room and do not come out until you learn some manners.”

Brianna grit her teeth, balling her fists as she glared at her mother. “Why do you have to be so damn stubborn? I have the money to help us, and you won’t take it because you didn’t make it?”

“I don’t have to justify myself to you, Brianna,” Nicolette said, pointing down the hall. “Now go!”

Brianna stomped down the hallway to her bedroom and slammed the door shut, falling onto her bed with a loud scream of defiance.

Bradly turned to his mother and crossed his arms, frowning, but then he sighed. “It’s much more than she thinks, it’s it?”

“We’re so many months behind, they won’t even accept any type of payment unless it’s the complete amount,” Nicolette whispered, collapsing into a chair.

“And the amount is…?”

“$8,745.29.”

Bradly’s stomach flipped. Housing in Miami was expensive, even cheap housing. Neither of them had almost $9,000 just laying around.

“So, what’s the plan then?” Bradly asked. “Should I begin packing up our things.”

Nicolette’s lip trembled, tears sliding down her cheeks. “I don’t know, Brad. God, I really don’t know. I never thought the hole would get this deep but…”

Bradly wrapped his arms around his mother. “It’s alright, Maman, it’ll be alright. We’ll figure it out, don’t worry.”

Maman nodded, wiping her tears. “Y-You’re right. I guess… I should apologize to Brianna, shouldn’t I?”

Bradly shook his head. “Let me talk to her, although I believe it’s best, we all get a good night’s sleep. We can talk tomorrow.”

Nicolette patted the cheek of her eldest son and nodded. Since the disappearance of her husband, Nicolette has worked as a night nurse at the local hospital, it didn’t pay much but it put food on the table. Still, Nicolette knew she had to be strong, she had to be strong for her children.

✵✵✵

BANG! BANG! BANG!

Brianna woke with a start to the sound of heavy knocking upon their door following by the yelling of her mother.

“I’ll get you the money!” Nicolette was saying. “Please, don’t do this!”

Groggily, Brianna rubbed the sleep from her eyes as she rose from her bed, opening the door to find Police Officers in the living room. Along with the officer’s was the weasel-faced leasing lady that Brianna never really liked, as all the woman seemed to care about was money.

“I’m sorry ma’am,” one of the Officer’s was saying. “We have our orders.”

“Bri?” Little Timothy yawned, appearing at Brianna’s side, rubbing his eyes. “What’s going on?”

“I don’t know, Tommy,” Brianna whispered. “Go find Fí.”

Timothy nodded and went to find his twin sister while Brianna walked to a living room that was in chaos.

Nicolette stood in the middle of a small circle of police officer’s, the men holding pink papers in their hands as they argued with her. “You can’t do this,” Nicolette hissed. “You can’t just put us on the streets!”

“I’m sorry Ma’am,” the Officer was saying, holding up his hands in surrender. “I’m only following the law. You’re behind in your rent, the leasing office has tried to work with you, but you’ve fallen behind even doing that. So, you’re being evicted, I’m sorry but my hands are tied.”

Brianna could see tears in her mother’s eyes as Nicolette pleaded with the men, her own stomach clenching. They had nowhere to go, no family to turn to, no friends to lean on. They were alone in this world.

“Can we at least take this outside?” Nicolette asked the Officers. “I don’t… I don’t want my children to see this.”

The Officer’s looked at each other a moment, then the Leasing Lady before nodding, all of them walking outside so that they could speak with a distraught Nicolette. Brianna and Bradly hurried to the nearest window to watch, the elder siblings not knowing what to do or say. They hadn’t ever been homeless before, but the thought terrified them.

Then, something strange happened.

A well-dressed man in a suit and tie appeared, seemingly out of thin air. The Man approached Nicolette and the Officer’s with a calm dementor and began to talk to them, then took out something from his coat pocket. It looked to be some type of paper which the Man wrote on, ripped off, then handed to the Officers. The Officer’s looked at the paper, their jaws dropping as the Leasing Lady snatched the paper and tucked it into her pocket, flouncing off.

“What do you think just happened?” Bradly whispered.

Brianna watched her mother give the Man a puzzled look after he said something, before nodding for him to follow her into the house. “I don’t know, but I have a feeling we’re about to find out.”

This man must be some type of millionaire, Brianna thought as he stepped into their small apartment after their mother. If so… what is he doing here?

A heavy silence rested upon the room as they surveyed each other, no one knowing what to say.

“Mom?” Bradly said, finally breaking the silence. “Who is this man, what does he want with us?”

Nicolette cleared her throat. “Brianna, Bradly, this is Mr. Coldwell, he works for your father.”

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