Author's note: Hello there!!! Sorry for taking so long. Again I was having a 'writers block'. I couldn't think of anything worth reading so I waited. I have to confess that this chapter didn't turn out the way I wanted but I decided to post it anyway.

I want to thank you all for reading and for your words. I hope this one won't suck too much... lol


Chapter Five

Some Kinda of Madness

An unknown heavy feeling hung in the air just like gray clouds stuck up in the sky on a rainy day. And though the wind blew gently its touch felt cold to the skin and brought the bitter taste of his actions back to his troubled mind...

"Where were you? I've been trying to reach all day long. I've called your cel, your father's house..." Natalie's concerned voice came up behind as soon as he reached his mother's house.

Eli only lifted his eyes and looked at his fiancé; his expression was dark and sad. "Sorry." He mumbled.

"What happened?"

Before Eli answered he needed to take a deep breath. So much had assailed his mind after Jessie's revelation and shame could not leave him. Eli drove through the city not knowing where he was heading; he simply drove. He thought that maybe he would be able to get rid off the guilt and shame that stung inside of him. Grace's angry eyes haunted him and Jessie's tears tormented him.

Natalie stood there waiting for him to speak, her inquiring eyes on him. "Jessie and I..." Eli stopped and for a second his sister's words echoed in his ears like she was standing right there in front of him, talking. "Well... we sort of... had this big fight this morning."

"Sorry to hear that. But how bad was it? I mean... You disappeared!" Natalie closed the distance between them and sat at the end of the couch – her action implying for him to do the same.

"It was bad... really bad, actually." Eli bitterly chuckled then he went on. Predicting Natalie wouldn't settle for his previous answer, he half-lied. "I totally blew it off with her, Nat... I misjudged her acts... twisted everything around... barely allowed her to talk and ended up hurting her really bad... Katie and Jessie... well, things between them are... quite tough right now."

Natalie quietly nodded her understanding, apparently buying his explanation.

"I felt horrible, Nat. That's why I didn't answer the phone. I wanted to clear my head before going to her again." He supplied his story, displaying an embarrassed smile.

Natalie warmly smiled at him. Her arm rested on his shoulder as she pressed her forehead against his. "I'm sure she'll understand, honey... Don't worry." With those words she kissed his lips briefly.

Deep inside Eli knew things between him and Jessie would be alright again, but he also knew there was more to the whole story than she was telling him and when the time was right he would have to step up and probably face everything he'd been running away from...

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"Thanks for staying with us today, Grace." Jessie tiredly uttered as they finished climbing the stairs to the attic.

Grace tossed her purse on the bed then she sat down. "It was nothing."

Both girls fell in silence. Grace went after Jessie because she knew what Eli had done; the thought of Jessie having to go through another quimeo session with Katie all by herself worried her. Grace knew her stepsister was going to need someone at her side.

As the silence lingered Grace felt the urge to speak but found herself with nothing to say. She still had to get used to what was happening and then finally be able to act more naturally. Jessie could feel Grace's eyes on her.

"Grace..." Jessie began but paused also unsure of what to say.

Grace smiled at her, standing. "I'm going to talk to my mother... You know... catch up a little."

"Okay!" Jessie grinned at her stepsister and before Grace could leave the room she spoke again in a soft voice. "Thanks again!"

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"Mom!" Grace called as she made her way downstairs.

"In the kitchen!" She heard Lily's voice in reply. "Where were you honey? I thought you'd spend the day with us."

Grace grabbed a carrot and put it in her mouth. She kissed her mother before answering. "I went out with Jessie and Katie."

"Oh... Yes... The surprise!" Lily made a face and Grace had to disguise her true feelings regarding her mother's remark and almost failed at that task; Lily noticed her daughter's eyes had clouded. "Did I say something wrong?"

"Why?"

"Nothing... It's just... well... You seemed a little..." Lily searched the right words to express her thoughts but Grace jumped in not letting her mother take any conclusions.

"Where's Andy? I haven't heard anything cracking, no shrieks... nothing's burned..." Grace changed the subject and had to chuckle as she described her little sister's routine of 'disasters'.

"Jake has her." Lily answered turning the oven on. "Everybody needs a rest sometime and that includes me... And Tiffany said Maddie begged her to pick up Andy so they could spend the day together."

Grace softly smiled as she heard her mother talking of her two sisters.

--- Grace --- With a gentle smile plastered on her lips she talked; her eyes far away, lost in thought. "When you're a kid everything is so much... simpler... easier... I remember believing I was able to do anything... That I was like this... this princess and my dad... my dad, he was a super-hero or something..." Suddenly her face fell and sadness crept on drawing little frowns on her forehead. "Then I grew up and... well... it turned out I was not a princess and my dad was far from being a super-hero... Actually, he was far from being anything super..." She bitterly scoffed as all kind of problems rapidly crossed her mind. "I just hope Maddie and Andy..." Words got choked on her throat. "I just want them not to completely lose this, this fantasy... You know... I just want them to live a dream life." --- Grace ---

"Is everything alright, honey?" Lily's voice forced Grace to come back to the present.

"What?" She puzzled, blinking a few times.

Grace saw Lily's questioning eyes on her and a small smile across her face. Lily tucked a piece of her behind Grace's ear before she spoke again. "You seem distant. Is there something you want to tell me?"

"Why you keep me asking me that?" Grace's attitude towards her mother changed. She became more defensive when speaking.

Lily's face twisted a little; she thought about Grace and Eli's sudden arrival, all the secret involving the so-called surprise they were supposedly throwing for Katie. Her kids were acting very suspiciously and she wanted to know what was really going on. "Gracie..." Lily whispered and placed her hand over her daughter's.

"Mom..." Grace began and Lily gazed into her eyes, expecting to hear the truth this time. "You worry too much."

Lily heavily sighed as Grace's hand slipped away from her touch. Grace began to walk out but was stopped by the sound of her mother's voice.

"Have you met Natalie?"

Grace felt chills running down her spine at the sound of that name. Her back was to her mother so Lily could not read what her eyes were saying. "Ye.. yeah... I met her... Uh... two days ago." Grace stammered a little.

"Mmmm..."

"She seems... terrific... I think Eli made a good choice." Grace forced out a lie, faking enthusiasm. "I'm gonna take a shower now."

"Okay, sweetie."

Lily watched Grace trudge out of the kitchen and for the first time started to believe she was on the right path to discover the truth her kids were hiding...

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The first hours of the evening went by quickly. Rick got back home and soon dinner was served; Lily was the only one to join him at the table. Questions were asked and uncertain answers were given. He was informed that Eli was also in town and this time Rick was the one to start wondering...

"Did he tell you why he was here?" Rick asked while pulling down the covers.

Lily was in the bathroom brushing her teeth; she emptied her mouth. "Honestly... He didn't really tell me."

"Did you ask him?"

Lily snorted after whipping her mouth. "Yes and..." She hesitated, mutely cursing herself for being so naive earlier that day. Rick eyed her, waiting for her to finish what she was saying. "... and no."

Rick frowned and more question marks seemed to flash on his face as he stared at her. "When Eli came this morning I did ask him why he was here but... I... I ended up answering for him. So..."

"What, Lil?"

"Well... I assumed he was here because he needed to get some things done for the wedding." She continued and the two hoped into bed.

Rick pulled up covers over them; his wife's words still didn't make sense to him. "And he denied it?"

"No, he didn't. But..." Lily wrinkled her nose as she thought over her brief conversation with Grace. "I don't know, Rick... Something tells me Grace and Eli are here for a very specific reason. And it has nothing to do with a surprise for Katie or Eli's wedding."

The certain his Lily's voice ignited Rick's concern and now he also started to question everything, though he chose to do it silently. "Are sure, Lily? I mean... How can you be so sure? They haven't said anything."

"Exactly!" She exclaimed still trying to figure how to put all the events together, like they were pieces of a puzzle. "It's not what they're saying, Rick. It's what they're not!"

"Eli's with Karen, right?"

"I guess, so." She nodded.

Rick moved on the bed and had his head on his left hand, using his elbow as support. "She didn't mention anything to me. She didn't call me to tell me he was there. And that's not like her."

"Maybe she planned on doing it but forgot. Karen is a very busy woman, Rick. And besides, she must think you already knew." Lily assumed turning to face him on the bed.

Rick switched position and laid his head on the pillow. "I'll call her in the morning."

"Don't, Rick." Lily was almost unable to believe she had just said uttered that. "Let's wait. If you talk to her, she'll go to Eli. You know Karen... and if that happens they know we suspect something's wrong, and I don't want that."

Rick only nodded in agreement and listened a little more. "If I am right, which I probably am, they're going to slip up at some point and when it happens there's no way they'll lie about it."

"If you say so..." Rick simply sighed.

Both, Rick and Lily were concerned but knew there was no use in keep trying to figure things out on their own and not even being certain if their suspicious were true. It was time to turn off the lights and put that day and its events to sleep, at least for the time being...

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Morning started out as usual, Lily hurrying to finish breakfast in time and not be late for work; Rick acting around as calm as one can be then taking Andy to kinder-garden and Jessie yelling at Zoe to hurry up or else they would be late. Grace watched all of them with the slightest of the smiles on her face, and as she watched them she missed being part of that frenetic routine, but never regretting the decision to leave to New York.

"Bye!" Grace heard each member of her family say their good byes.

Seconds later the house was soundless. Quietness had settled down and Grace instantly fell in deep thought. Memories rushed through her mind; she felt like flashbacks of her life were being displayed in front of her very eyes.

"My phone..."

Grace jumped up in her chair and her cheeks almost lost their natural color. "Mom!" She exclaimed as Lily blazed into the house, searching every corner for her cel phone. "You startled me!!"

"Sorry, honey!" Her voice echoed as she reentered the kitchen. "I left my phone here. Did you see it?"

Grace frowned and her eyes scanned the place. Lily was confusedly searching around until she heard Grace calling her. "Mom?" Lily didn't answer at first; she kept on searching so Grace had to call again. "Mother?" Her voice sounded playful when she spoke.

Lily looked over her shoulders and saw Grace holding machine in her hand. "Thank you, honey!" Lily took the phone from Grace's hand and left again.

Grace saw the door close behind her mother's back and sighed heavily. She knew that being nostalgic wasn't going to help or change anything. In fact, it would only bring back memories she'd rather forget. Reasoning to herself, Grace left the kitchen and as she reached the top of the stairs her ears picked up the sound of the door being opened.

"What did you leave behind this time, mom?" Grace jokingly stated and started making her way down again; she was stopped in mid-walk when her eyes met a familiar face.

They stared at each for a few seconds, neither one of them wanting to be the first to break. His eyes held something she couldn't instantly recognize. She quietly finished to step down and now was facing him.

"What do you want?" Her voice was harsh and a little cold.

"Has Jess left yet?" His eyes were no longer on hers.

Her face was deformed with frowns of concern when she heard him asking for his sister. "Why do you ask? You want to accuse her again? Yell at her, maybe? Or simply play the old selfish part of yours? Because if that's why you're here, I might as well tell you t..."

"Grace!" He warned aloud, forcing her to stop. "Just stop it!"

She glared at him and silenced herself, although he didn't intimidate her. Grace held his stare and her eyes had fire in them.

"I didn't come here for this." Eli spoke again; his voice softening as the seconds got ticked down.

He ran his hand through his spiky hair and began to pace around. Grace observed him and as he kept on walking in circles she couldn't help but wonder how could he still have the same hair cut. A silly thought considering the seriousness of the situation, but that same thought made Grace remember the Eli she used to know. In those few minutes she thought of the Eli she used to run to in the middle of the night when she felt the sky was about to come crashing down on her. She remembered not always having to explain the reason why she had knocked on his door so late at night; they simply sat in silence and she knew he somehow understood.

--- Grace --- Her face was up and suddenly her head fell; her all over her face as her voice came out. "It seemed like it was so long ago... when... I mean..." She hesitated and lifted her eyes and only displayed a sad look ahead. --- Grace ---

"Is she okay?" Eli lowly asked, his eyes looking out the window and his back facing Grace.

Grace circled the couch and let her body use it as support. "How do you think she is? The love of her life is dying... And when she called her brother to come here so she could have some support... what does he do? He accuses her... Oh yeah, Eli... She's terrific."

At the sound of those words Eli had no choice but turn around and look at her. Grace's frowns were cast away by the guilt and sadness she saw on his face; even her semi-aggressive composure had relaxed a little.

"I deserve that." He admitted lowering his eyes. Eli took a few steps and used the opposite side of the couch as a seat. "But what did you expect me to think, Grace? You said it yourself, you were in my place when you came here."

It was Grace's turn to look down. Even she wanted to deny it, she had also jumped into conclusions.

"I didn't mean to say those things. If only I knew... I..." Eli wanted to let Grace know how truly sorry he was, he wanted to open up to her and let her know exactly what was in his heart but it was something he could not do, so he settled for half the truth.

"I was afraid th..."

"Afraid? Of what, Eli?" Grace inquired sternly.

--- Eli --- The colorless surroundings seemed to fit his feelings as he sat on the stool. His eyes looking everywhere but straight ahead. He bitterly scoffed. "How can she ask something like that after... after everything?" --- Eli ---

Realizing he wasn't going to answer Grace kept pushing him; she knew he would eventually crack or leave, or even both of them. "What were you afraid of, Eli? Tell me!"

"I already told you, Grace. I didn't come here to fight."

"So why did you come here for? Haven't you caused enough damage?"

Eli felt the urge to lose his temper and yell at her but knew it would be good for nothing. He stood and began to leave.

"Where are you going?" She could not believe he was going to walk out and not be completely honest with her. She shook her head in disbelief. "Go! I mean, you're very good at it! Runaway, Eli! Go back to that fiancé of yours! Go!"

Eli stopped after unlocking the front door; his hand held the door opened when he bitterly spoke again. "Tell Jessie I am truly sorry... and I love her."

With those words he closed the door behind. Grace watched him leave and hated herself for being a coward. She didn't want to face the truth inside her and it killed her little by little. Out of the sudden she snapped out, ran upstairs and quickly came down; she had her car keys and her purse when she left.

Eli was driving, he kept the speed a little under because he had too much going on inside his head, everything was normal until he heard someone honking over and over again. He checked the mirrors to see what was going and realized the traffic was as normal as it could be, shaking his head he decided to pay no mind to the outside world. The sound of the horn kept on blaring a few blocks ahead and it wasn't until he stopped at the red sign and the sound of the horn blared right next to his car that he knew it was meant for him.

Grace motioned for him to pull over but he refused to do it; he drove instead. She went after him, still honking the horn. Eli knew she wasn't going to stop following him until he pulled over and listened to whatever she had to say.

They drove for a few more blocks until they found a safe place to stop the cars.

"What the hell do you want, Grace?" Eli angrily yelled at her when he got out of his car.

Grace stepped out of her own car and her features had changed. "We need to stop doing this... We can't keep on being so selfish and stupid, Eli... She needs us right now."

Eli breathed deeply. "She won't talk to me... Not after what happened."

"No. Eli, listen... She will... Just come tonight or I don't know, surprise her in college, but just do something..." Grace's voice had so much fear in it that Eli almost didn't believe it was the same Grace that was confronting him minutes ago. "Eli there's a reason why she wanted you here... She needs you. Don't let her fool you... Don't let my stupid words stop you to be there for her."

Grace's words lingered in the air as the two stood next to their cars. Eli knew Grace was right, he knew that he need to get over himself and do the right thing this time. Put himself in second and someone else first.

"Listen, Eli..." Grace closed the distance between them forcing him to look straight into her eyes. "I was angry at you. I wanted to hate you for what you did to Jessie... but mostly... I wanted to hate you for what you did to me."

Eli's eyes widened at those words. "I didn't do anything to you, Grace."

She quietly nodded and felt tears beginning to form in back of her eyes. "Yeah, you did." She weakly got out and Eli didn't need much more than that to know what she was talking about.

She looked away, turning her face to the other side so Eli couldn't see the wet glimmer in her eyes but he recognized what she was doing and reached out taking her hand in his. Grace glanced at their hands then back to his eyes, she saw him ending the space left between them and in a blink of an eye her arms flung in the air then suddenly around him. Eli closed his eyes when the warmth of her body touched his the he clutched tightly at her.

"I hate this." She spoke, her voice coming out muffled because she had her face buried on his chest. "How can we be so..."

"Shh..." He whispered and felt her tightening her grip at him. "I'm so sorry, Grace."

As he spoke again Grace slowing began to loose her arms and pull back. She look up at him and saw honesty shining through his eyes. "Me too..."

There was no other word after that, and there was no need for words anymore. Both, Grace and Eli knew that it wasn't about them anymore, that they needed to walk past their feelings and be strong for Jessie, because even though the girl was hiding behind a mask of strength, they knew there was no way to escape from the time this mask was going to fall...


TBC