My brother, Darius, and I were watching an old spy film where one of the special agents was interrogating a suspect. The dude reminded me of Daniel. I was picturing me one day interrogating him for all the crimes he'd committed. Then finally getting to take Briar in my arms and marry her. We'd ride off into the sunset, have four kids, and live happily ever after.
Unfortunately, my kid brother interrupted my awesome daydream.
"I love this part, Auggie," Darius said, eyes wide. "If I was that murderer guy, I'd spill my guts before I'd ever piss my pants like him."
I laughed. "Me, too, squirt."
Suddenly, Mom sat down next to us with a perplexed look on her face. "Have either of you two seen my large butcher's knife? It's gone. And the cook said she remembers putting it in the block before she left on Friday."
Darius waggled his eyebrows. "Hmm...sounds like we have a mystery afoot. I believe it's up to Detective Darius to figure this out!"
Mom flipped her hand. "Darius, come on. No time for games. Janessa needs it to make our supper. She's cutting up the meat."
I smirked. That kid was always getting into some kind of trouble. He said he wanted to become a spy, too, so he was always playing gags and starting "mysteries" then suddenly solving them in a miraculous turn of events. "Come on, squirt, fess up. Hear that? It's my stomach growling. I don't want to have to wait on dinner for you to solve this lame mystery."
"Yes, Darius," Mom added. "Enough is enough!"
"Pshaw," Darius scoffed. "I didn't take your old knife. Why would I?"
I shook my head. "Looks like we're going vegetarian style then, Mom."
My mother blew out a breath. "And I was looking forward to this recipe, too. We don't have anything else in the house to make. Ah well...guess I'll have to tell Janessa we're eating out tonight. I wonder if Dad used it as a tool in his shed again. That man."
I made a mental note to thank Dad. I didn't really like Janessa's cooking. She was a good friend of Mom's who needed the money, but her food was way too spicy for me.
The weekend before graduation, Wilder Roberts threw a huge bash for all of us on his yacht. I'd never seen a boat this huge. It even contained bedrooms on the bottom floor just like a mini cruise ship.
"Ready to rock and roll?" Ethan asked, laughing. "I'm so done with school. Two more days and we're free."
"I know, right?" I said. I could feel the vibrations of the rap beat from the d j booth inside. "I'm so ready."
I tried to convince Ethan to come with Beau and me to San Myshuno next fall, but he said he's got to stay here with his mom. Said he might enlist in the army like his brother did. I'd hate it if he did. It would mean we wouldn't see him much anymore. Boy, a year sure did fly by fast. And to think how close I'd gotten to so many people. Ethan, Amber, Etoile, Chase, and Manuel. And of course, Beau and Briar.
Briar...I hated how I felt just thinking of her name.
As the music pulsed all around me, I was slapped with an eyefull of Daniel mugging down on Briar.
"Well, shit," Ethan said. "Looks like Daniel and Briar came early. Hey, bro, there's another d j booth downstairs. Let's go."
My stomach pitched like I was going to puke. I had to get out of there. "Yeah...let's."
But instead of following him, I saw a bar outside and somehow drifted over to it and mechanically ordered a beer. The crisp, ocean air was good for me to clear my thoughts.
Taking a long pull on the bottle, I tried to think of something other than bashing in Daniel's smug skull.
I mean, who sits there and makes out in front of everyone on the dance floor like that?
The image of him doing what he wanted with her in his bed flashed in my mind. I raked my fingers through my hair and closed my eyes, feeling the anger pulsing. "God...why is this so hard? I've got to get over her. Somehow."
The bastard knew exactly what he was doing--sending me a clear message on who won. Who always wins. Why did it seem like evil people continually got ahead in this world? It wasn't fucking fair.
I felt a slap on my shoulders and I flinched. "There you are, August. Why didn't you tell us you were getting drinks? I want one, too, you know."
I knew Beau was just trying to lighten my mood. But it wasn't working.
"It's a free country. Go ahead and order one."
He massaged my muscles. "God you're salty. But I'll forgive you." He kept on rubbing my shoulders which, I'm not going to lie, felt damn good at that moment.
"Sorry for being a dick," I said, lamely.
Ethan jumped over to us and ruffled my hair. "Who's being a dick? Is that my lovey wuvvy, August?"
"I dink it is..." Beau joined in on the baby talk. Both of them patted and pulled me like I was five years old.
"Cut it out!" I cried, trying to get them off me, but this just made them worse.
"Aw...don't be like that," Ethan said. "This is our night."
"Yeah," Beau added. "Time to party, bro. Can't be out here sulking like this."
"Look, guys, I know what you're trying to do, but...I just need a minute to myself. Okay?"
Ethan lurched his head, acting hurt. Blinking and pulling a face, he said in a falsetto voice, "What about me, August? Don't you care? I mean, I've been looking forward to tonight for like my whole life and you're just ruining things."
"What about me, too?" Beau said. "You promised me a dance. You shouldn't go back on your word."
Grabbing a beer, Ethan slapped Beau on the head and said, "He's mine. Get your own August."
"Whoa, dude, you wanna a piece of me?" Beau pretended to weave like a boxer.
I rolled my eyes. "Okay, okay!" I yelled before they threw a mock punch and accidentally hit me instead. "Just get a fucking drink and sit here with me. God, you guys are needy."
Ethan nodded to the bartender to grab a beer for Beau then we all sat there together not saying anything--just drinking.
Finally, Ethan said, "I'm sorry, bro. I wish things were different."
And then like the rush of mud during a flood, I unloaded. "Why do people like him even deserve someone like Briar? It's like he can get away with literal murder and fucking take the sweetest girl on the planet. He beats her up, does who knows what crimes on the side, then comes out of it all with everything. No repercussions. No remorse for his actions. I can't take it. I swear, I might lose it if I have to see him for another minute."
Beau squeezed my shoulders, trying to release my anger. I had such great friends. I didn't know what I'd do without either one of them.
After a few beers, we decided to get away from that scene and head downstairs to the other d j booth. We danced our asses off for a long time until I got really tired. Seeing Wilder, I walked over to him and said, "Hey, thanks for throwing this party. It's amazing."
"You're quite welcome, mate. I've always wanted an excuse to borrow my parent's yacht. Doesn't get used much during the year as it is."
"So, this isn't your boat then," I said, putting my hands in my hip pockets.
"Lord no," he exclaimed. "I'd shit golden bricks if I was that rich. My parents don't believe in coddling me. I make all my own money and live in a simple flat on the east end of town."
This shocked me. The way he dressed and always showed up with a different girl whenever I saw him made me think he was rich as fuck.
I nodded. "Me, too. My parents aren't as rich as yours but we have a little money because of my grandfather. I don't get any of it. Well, not until they die, and I'll be an old fart by that time." I shrugged.
"I believe it's good to make our own way in the world, you know?" Wilder said, turning toward me. "Otherwise, we might get a bit spoiled and rot clean away."
He jerked his head toward someone on the dance floor.
I spotted who he was indicating.
Rotten to the core.
Daniel was flirting with some redhaired chick. The bastard. I wondered where Briar went.
"Some people don't know how to live in the world with honor," Wilder went on. "They take as they like and leave everyone else to clean up their messes."
Pasting on that famous Wilder Robert's smile, he said, "But I'm being quite boring at the moment and that won't do. Let me get you a proper drink. What'll you have, mate? Bourbon? Scotch? Oh, I've got a right snappy blue label for you. I'll just be a sec."
After I drank the smoothest scotch I'd ever tasted, I had him make me another but it seemed to go straight to my head. Switching to beer, I stumbled to the couch.
"Man...what was in those drinks?" I whispered. "Strong as hell." I tried to shake it off, but my eyes grew heavy until I couldn't lift them any more.
I decided to catch a few winks. The room I was in was quiet and I drifted off quickly.
I had no clue how long I was out, but something woke me. I heard crying.
"Huh?" I mumbled, still woozy.
Beau stumbled into the room, bawling.
My heart felt as if it'd stopped beating. "My God, Beau. What's wrong?"
Pain etching his face as tears streamed down his cheeks, he mouthed something but I couldn't make it out.
"God, Beau, what? You're freaking me out!" I was so scared just looking at him. My mind whirled to so many horrible things that I didn't want to think about.
Gripping my face, he squeaked out, "Briar. S-She's gone. She's dead."
"What?" I whispered, not believing anything I was hearing. "How? What happened?"
"S-She...jumped. Off the deck. It happened so fast. She drowned."
"Who saw this? Why didn't someone save her? What the hell?" My body felt as if it was hemorraging. This could not be real.
Beau sniffed, shaking his head. "She was with Etoile and Amber and...I don't know, they lost track of her...then some girl screamed. Gabby, I think, and...she was just gone. Wilder called the Coast Guard. They've been searching for her body for hours, but...the water is so cold out this deep..."
Beau broke down, crying in my ear.
A sudden shockwave of pain ripped through me. "No...this can't be true."
"My twin. She's gone. My beautiful sister."
Overwhelmed with grief, my knees buckled.
"It can't be true," I whispered. "Briar can't be gone."
Next update is on Monday, January 29th
Sorry, guys, I'll have to leave you with this for a while. I am going out of town all next week. As I don't like updating on the weekends, the next update will be the following Monday once I get back. But it'll be worth the wait. I promise!
Thanks for reading!!!
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