I woke up with a strange feeling in my stomach. I got out of the bed and went to the bathroom. I was so glad I am first to wake up because that meant that there would be hot water for me. I love my siblings, but after Mariana and Jesus, there is no hope for hot shower. When I got downstairs, Stef was already making breakfast and coffee. I took a cup of coffee and took my usual seat. I would sometimes glance on my left and see an empty chair where Brandon often sat.
''Is he ever coming back?''
''Sure! As soon as he realized how hard life can be and that he needs to work hard to have something in life. He will come back to us as soon as it stops being sweet.''
I didn't really agree, but nodded. It was better to pretend than to say what I really think. I knew, no I believed something happened between Stef and Brandon and that it was the reason he would not come home any time soon. Stef sometimes didn't realize how her actions hurt people around her. Before the conversation could go any further, the others came down and after breakfast we went to school. AJ was waiting for me and we got in together. He kissed me and with the corner of my eye I saw Brandon coming. I still felt uncomfortable kissing anyone in front of him. It somehow felt like I was cheating. I know he was my brother now and I know he lived with his girlfriend, but I simply felt like cheater whenever I kissed someone in front of him. I tried so hard to deny my feelings for him, but as time went on, I was sure they grew stronger instead of the opposite. AJ was a nice distraction. I really liked him and I felt comfortable with him, but feeling couldn't compare to what I felt for Brandon. Those two were completely different things. Every day, I would wake up with that feeling of emptiness and guilt because he was not there and family slowly falling apart. Moms were angry at him for moving out, for giving his money to Courtney and I felt bad for him. I missed him, but part of me envied him for being on his own. He had somewhere to escape. I lived trapped with the memories of him and the past. I was so nervous about my senior project and I felt bad for not being able to help Kyle that I ditched AJ as soon as school ended and went home to work on it. Jesus and Mariana were not at home and Jude was at his new friend's house, so I had entire house just for myself. I loved working in silence and without any disturbance. In our home time when no one was there was a luxury and I wanted to take advantage of it. I put the pictures I made on my bed and started selecting them. Some were very good, but couldn't fit the story and some were too personal to end up on the board. I opened the box with old photographs and took one with my mom, Jude and Donald. I wanted to start from there; after all it was my first home. I put that picture on the board and glued it. Next picture was foster home with the Evans family. They were ok, but they had to move away and couldn't take us with them. Living with them was nice and Jude and I were safe and I could even say we were loved. After them, there was Johns family. They kept us for the check. That is the place where trouble started. My foster dad was looking at me and my foster mom was jealous. She would beat me when she noticed her husband spent too much time looking at me. Bill got us out of that home when he realized I was telling the truth. After that home, we lived with two ok families, but they had to give us up for some reason. And after that I ended up with the Olmsted's and that was the time I didn't want to relive. And then there were Fosters. I found one of the group photos we took for some Christmas card and placed it on the board. Between our photographs I found few with Robert, Sofia and Jill and envelope with pictures for Idyllwild. I looked at how happy and proud they all were. I looked at Stef and Mike grinning and hugging Brandon. I looked at his picture with Jude, Mariana and Jesus and in the end; I looked at two of us. I remembered how proud I was at him for taking that risk and playing his music and winning that competition. I felt those feelings again remembering that day. Thinking about that day, led me to think about that night and the way it changed everything for me. I stopped being damaged girl and I was loved for all I am and it felt amazing. I wanted to feel that again. I needed to feel like that again. I knew that sleeping with Brandon now would be insane. If they had problem with it before the adoption, I can only imagine how crazy they would turn if we did it now… And now he lived with his girlfriend and it was complicated. I was not sure if he even loved me anymore. Since he moved out, he turned very cold and distant. I was not sure what to think anymore. And I had a boyfriend. I had someone who cared about me, who loved me and who was ready to be there for me. AJ insinuated that he is ready to wait for me to be ready and that he wants something more to happen under my circumstances and lead. I was ready now. I had to be ready. This case of my ex foster brother and feeling stuck with my senior project, I picked up my back pack and went to Mike's place. I knew he and Stef worked the afternoon shift so AJ was home alone. He opened the door and I kissed him.
I smiled at him.
''Take me to bed.''
And he did. We went to his room and unlike with Wyatt I didn't have many doubts about this. I couldn't compare it to Brandon, because…it was Brandon and nothing will ever compare. Aside from being in love with him, he was the first person I had sex with after what happened with Liam and it was huge thing for me. Even after all the trouble it caused, I don't regret it. I could never regret sleeping with him. AJ was very patient with me and he took things very slow. It felt nice, but something was missing. It was not as intense as it was with Brandon and it didn't feel like the world would end if he doesn't make love to me. We were too busy to hear someone was in the apartment. His room door opened and there were Mike and Brandon. I wanted to die. Brandon's eyes were full of tears and he didn't say anything. He just walked away and Mike felt very unpleasant. When he closed the room door, I got dressed very fast.
''What have I done?! Oh, my God! He will never forgive me… He will hate me forever…''
''Mike? He would be cool after few days…. Don't worry.''
AJ tried to reassure me that everything would be ok. I couldn't listen to that. It would not. Brandon will be hurt. I knew that pain very well. I feel it every time he is with her and I know…I know he is sleeping with her and it hurts like someone stabbed me in the heart and keeps twisting the knife. It hurts more than Lue, more than him saying he doesn't trust me or anything that happened between us.
''I have to go! I have to talk to him.''
'''We will do it together…''
He got dressed too and we left the room. I searched for Brandon and he was not there anymore. Mike was in the kitchen eating a cookie and staring at one spot.
''I have to go! I really have to go!''
''You said you wanted to talk to Mike…''
''A minute ago… You believed he would hate you and that you have to talk to him…''
AJ believed I spoke about Mike. He was so wrong. I didn't have time to explain.
''I have to go… See you later.''
I run out of the house and didn't see Brandon. I took the bus to the beach and found him at our spot. He was there with the bottle of alcohol. I just took a seat beside him.
''Why are you here? Why aren't you with him?''
''I had to talk to you.''
''I have nothing to say to you.''
''But I do.''
He got up and started shouting at me.
''I don't care anymore what you have to say. I am so tired of what Callie has to say, because she usually takes it all back.''
''That's not fair.''
''Life is not fair!''
''What do you want now?!''
''There is nothing to talk about. You have it all now. You have a picture perfect family, you have boyfriend they like and you can finally have sex without feeling bad or ashamed.''
''It's not like that.''
''It's not? Oh, what did I miss? Moms danced with AJ at the party. I know he comes often to the family dinners and even if they learn what happened today, he will not get any of the crap I got!''
''What are you talking about?''
''You know what I am talking about! Moms compared me to Liam, Mariana said she is disgusted by what we did and let's not start on what Jude might say if he ever learns. My dad said it was wrong and I can't take it anymore. I am sick and tired of being a villain.''
''You are not!''
''In the eyes of our family, I am the bad guy who forced you into something you didn't want. I'm sorry, but I don't remember that night that way. I remember it was something you wanted as well.''
''I did… I did want it for such a long time… Even before Daphne's apartment. I could never regret you. You saved me Brandon Foster and that is a huge deal to me. No one has a right to say something bad about us and what happened. Even your moms. That was one of the best nights in my life and I was so happy.''
''Who cares about that? They made up their minds. What matters is that Brandon is a maniac who forced you to have sex. And as usual, Callie is the victim of the circumstances.''
I took my phone and sent a message to our entire family for the emergency meeting. I got Brandon's keys from his pocked and he looked at me in shock.
''This ends today. Mike is picking us up and we are going to talk to Stef and Lena and everyone.''
''It ends today… Let's go home.''
''Yes, because there is a lot of things to clear.''
Mike got to the beach and beside in the car I saw very confused AJ. Brandon and I got into the car and there was a lot of tension. You could pretty much cut it with a knife. We got out of the car and Stef was standing at the porch with a very confused face.
''What is going on?''
''We will talk in a minute.''
We got in and Mariana and Jude were sitting in the living room. Lena looked worried.
''What is happening?''
''I think it is about the fact I caught Callie and AJ having sex.''
''A family meeting because of sex?''
I finally spoke.
''Yes, but not what you think….''
I turned towards Stef and Lena ready to tell them all the things I believed they should know, but even before I spoke, there was the phone. Jesus got injured working on the robot and we all had to go to the hospital. I asked Mike to drop us off to the beach to pick up Brandon's car and AJ sort of invited himself to come with us. There was very awkward silence in the car. I had to do something to make it less uncomfortable.
''What do you think happened?''
''No idea. I just know that Mariana and Emma were on his ass about that robot and he probably wanted to finish as soon as possible.''
''I hope it's nothing serious.''
''Me to… I am sort of sick of hospitals.''
''I hear you…''
The rest of the ride was silent. I was driving, since Brandon had a drink at the beach. I was nervous because I was not very comfortable driving, especially with AJ and Brandon in the car few hours after Brandon saw us in bed. When we got to the hospital, everyone was already there. Doctor told us that it was nothing serious, but they have to keep him for observation. He hit his head and because of that, he had to spend a night. Aside from the hand injury, he also broke his arm. That would stop him from working with the girls and they needed someone else to do his job. Stef and Lena went to find a doctor and Jude and Mariana went to get something to eat. I stayed with Brandon, Mike and AJ. There was very unpleasant silence and I couldn't take it anymore.
''Will someone say something? This is awkward.''
''I agree. It is very awkward. ''
''Can we get past this?''
Brandon got up.
''I need some air.''
He went out and I had to keep myself from going after him. Moms came and told us that we could all go home and that they would stay with Jesus. Mike said he would take us home and he promised to Stef and Lena he will make sure we are ok. In front of the hospital, I found Brandon sitting on the wall.
''Hey, we are leaving now. I should give you your keys back.''
He took them and nodded.
''See you tomorrow.''
I came back to Mike's car and got in. Everybody was silent during the ride and I find it this time more pleasant than before. I was trapped in my mind, thinking about what Brandon told me and how could I point out that moms were wrong. I had to talk to them as soon as possible. When we got to the house, Mariana and Jude rushed in and AJ kept me behind.
''Hey, are you ok?''
I was not…
''Yes… I just don't like hospitals. They always get to me.''
He hugged me and kissed me.
''It will be ok… I love you…''
I smiled and mumbled.
I rushed in and went to the room. Mariana was there with a very corious smile.
''So, you and AJ?''
''What about us?''
''You had sex…''
''I don't want to talk about it.''
''Why? We can finally talk about it… It's not Brandon and creepy…''
I picked up my phone from the bed and went to Brandon's room. Since he moved out, it was my place to think and have some privacy. I took a seat in the window seat and just looked outside. There was a knock at the door and Mariana came in.
''I am sorry.''
I didn't know what to say to her.
''I see that something is bothering you.''
''Mike and Brandon saw us.''
''They saw me and AJ having sex.''
Mariana giggled. I shoot her a very sharp look and she stopped.
''Are you ashamed of it? Mike will be fine.''
I took a breath.
''Yeh…He will be… And moms know now…So…''
''It will be ok. As long as you use protection. They like AJ, so don't worry…''
''Oh, I know they like him... I know that pretty well.''
''Callie, what is really the matter?''
''You are not telling me everything… You know you can tell me anything.''
''You know I can't…''
She turned toward the door and she almost left the room when she came back and locked the door.
''It's not about Mike…It's about Brandon seeing you having sex with AJ.''
I don't know why…I just started crying..
''Mariana, can you please just…''
I wanted her to leave me alone. I was not ready to talk.
Instead of leaving, she sat beside me and held me. As soon as she hugged me, I started crying like a baby. I couldn't stop.
''Shhhh…. It's ok…It will be ok…''
''No! Nothing will be ok… He hates me now! I ruined everything…''
She moved away from me and looked at me a bit scared.
''Are you sorry?''
''For sleeping with AJ?''
Before we could finish the conversation, we heard Jude in the hallway looking for us. Mariana got up and wiped her eyes.
''I'll deal with him. You calm down. You look like a mess…''
''You are welcome.''
Mariana went out and Jude told her he was hungry. They ordered pizza and called me when it arrived. Jude got us the plates and we ate in the living room watching some crazy TV show Mariana loves.
''So, how is the project going?''
''Can I see it?''
''I am not done yet. But as soon as I finish, you will.''
After we were done, I cleared the table and took boxes to take them to the trash. I opened the gate and saw a person there.
''Brandon! What are you doing here?''
''I was thinking.''
''By the trash?''
''It's a quiet place and no one comes here.''
''What is going on?''
''Courtney's husband is suing for custody…''
''I'm so sorry…''
''And he will get him.''
''How do you know?''
''He is living with his parents, in a garage apartment, but still with them…He has way more money than we do. His mom is not working so she can take care of the kid… And Court has no chance.''
''Courts often lean toward mothers.''
''This mother works as a waitress, has no home of her own and lives with me.''
''Hm… Living with a high school boy might be a problem.''
''Thank you Callie.''
''I am just being honest. If you really want to help her, move out. Come back home.''
''I can't abandon her. She needs me.''
''Your family needs you too B.''
''No, they don't. Mom can't wait for me to come home so she could make that smug face and say ''I told you so.'' I have nothing to come back to Callie.''
I took his hand and squeezed it. I gave him a look that said more than any word could come back for me. He had to. This house was not the same without him.
''I have to go home… Thank you for listening.''
''Any time…You know that.''
He nodded and left. When I came back to the house and noticed that Mariana and Jude were still watching tv unaware that I was not in the room for almost an hour. I told them that I would be going upstairs. I spent some time in Brandon's room and after some time I got ready to go to bed. It was a long day and I just wanted it to end.