Beau told me Ethan wanted to meet me down by the docks. A part of me didn't trust Ethan. It was all too strange how Daniel found out about me as well as Amber saying they were friends. I tried not to let on how I felt, but maybe he could tell I was acting differently. And then there was the fiasco with Beau melting down about Briar. I truly hoped he wasn't going to snitch on us.
Quietly, I padded toward him, shoes digging into the sand. "Hey, dude. What's up? Beau said you wanted to talk?"
Turning around, he said, "Yeah...what's this about me being friends with Daniel? Beau told me you were worried I'd spill about you and Briar. Are you crazy, man?
"I mean...I thought we were friends."
This surprised me. "B-But Amber said you two were friends, so...and then I got busted up by Daniel right after I told you I was the one who jumped him. What am I supposed to think?"
"You think I told Daniel? I'd never do that to you. That's so messed up. And I don't know where Amber comes off thinking I'm friends with him. Yeah, we talk, but we don't hang out. God...I'm actually pissed at you right now."
"Hey, look, I'm sorry. I guess it was just all bad timing. I believe you. It didn't make sense that you would do something like that to me."
Lifting the side of his mouth, he said, "Well, okay...just as long as I know we're cool. Don't ever think I'd turn on you. For the record, I hate Daniel Fortner. I hate all of them. They're one of the reasons my old man hurt my mom."
We both turned toward the crackling fire. I felt its soothing warmth ripple up my arms. The Windenburg sun was setting as the air grew cooler. I wished I was wearing a jacket.
"So...like are you with Briar now, dude?" Ethan asked.
I shook my head, gazing into the heat. "How can we be? Daniel would never put up with that. He messed her up when she tried to break up the last time. She has to get away from him somehow."
Ethan scratched the back of his head nervously. "Yeah...the guy's a freak. Someone needs to take him out or our whole town is going to go to hell fast."
"He did say something weird to me when I was wailing on him. He was begging me to leave him alone...that he'd pay some boss man money he owed."
"Really? Wow...that's news."
"Yeah...Daniel sounded really scared like I was a hitman about to kill him or something."
"Maybe Daniel Fortner isn't as invincible as he thinks," Ethan said with a laugh.
"Yeah, I wish. One of the guys who put a gun to my head is a policeman. A detective. It's just so messed up. There's no way out unless Briar can leave Brindleton Bay."
Placing his arm around me, Ethan said, "Bide your time, August. Maybe that bossman will come through for you and then you won't have to worry about anything."
I snorted. "Sounds like I have better odds of winning the lottery."
"You never know, bro...stranger things have happened."
It was our last night in Windenburg. My last night with August. We both decided not to see each other once we got home until I could get out of Brindleton Bay. It was too dangerous. And a part of me felt guilty as I watched my poor brother so hurt at the thought of seeing us together. Was I being too selfish? I knew Beau's feelings and still, I fell in love with the one person my twin loved.
Was I the reason August was holding himself back from Beau?
Beau thought so. And I agreed. It wasn't fair to my brother and in some ways, it wasn't fair to me. What if August did love my brother, too? I saw how tender August was with him when they both didn't know I was looking. And because I was so helpless right now with my situation with Daniel, August might have mixed up his feelings for me with the desire to protect me. I needed to end it for good. It was too dangerous for him anyway. And if I somehow escaped Daniel on my own and August was still not with my brother, I'd make my way back to him. Untethered. Free.
As the crisp breeze floated through my hair, I wrapped my arms around August's waist, laying my head on his back. I didn't want to ever let go. I loved him so much. But..."Hey, August, we need to talk."
"What more is there to talk about? I don't want to waste our last night on sad stuff, babe. It'll all work out. You'll see."
Turning him around, I said, "No...I mean, I've been thinking about everything, and I just believe we shouldn't see each other anymore. For good."
"Briar...what are you doing? Are you scared I might screw up and get us in trouble with Daniel? I won't. I promise you that. You're too important to me. I can wait until graduation."
My throat closed up just thinking about what I was doing. I covered my face, trying to hold back tears. "I...um...I can't see you anymore. I don't know what I want...and being with you just complicates things. I feel so scared and out of control." I hated lying to him. I wanted to take him in my arms again and make love under the stars. He was so precious to me.
"I know you're frightened, Briar, but you'll see. Everything will be okay."
I had to be strong. This was good for him. For my brother. For me.
I raised my voice, trying to show anger that I didn't feel. "No, August. I mean it. I...I don't want to see you anymore. It's over. I shouldn't have cheated on Daniel. I'm such a fool."
"Y-You don't mean that...you're just scared..."
I couldn't take looking at his hurt face. I turned from him, covering my face, wet with tears. "I do mean it, August. Just..." I swallowed. "Just leave me alone!"
I ran away from him like the coward I was. Things would get better. I'd force myself to make Daniel happy all the while plotting for a way to escape.
Next update is on Wednesday, January 17th
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