NOTE: Thank you so much for the positive support from those who have read this story. I really appreciate the reviews of quality that I have received as opposed to a massive quantity. I'm aware that not many people still care about the series but I am continuing this fic for a sense of closure for myself and those other people who were shocked at the abrupt ending of the series. Cheers!
The Louisiana sun burned hotly through the windshield as Wayne's car rolled up in front of Rosemere. Sam and Cael both got out of the car as soon as their father put the expensive car in park. Di Di remained motionless in the passenger seat, eyes not moving from her notebook in her lap. She had an English test today. All the words on her page were muddled together; swimming in circles to form lines and lines of gibberish. She had tossed and turned in her sleep the night before, not able to close her eyes.
"You alright, Di?" came her father's worried voice. He knew his only daughter took a lot of the family's problems onto her own shoulders and carried an emotional burden with her constantly. He reached out to touch the shoulder of her white polo lightly; the sudden contact making her jerk.
"What? Yea…I'm fine, Dad…Have a good day…" she muttered before sliding out of the car. She pulled her satchel backpack from the floor of the car and onto her shoulder before heading swiftly up the elegant walk to the large front doors of the school.
The bell buzzed loudly in her ear signaling the end of the period and the last scrambling pen strokes of her peers against their test booklets. Di Di hadn't written a single word, let alone two essays in her blue book. As her classmates exited, their chatter buzzing in her ears, she remained in her chair.
Her mind should have been swimming with Edith Wharton's elegant characters or the suspenseful, perfectly placed words of Richard Matheson. Instead all she could think of was that night in the car, driving away from the bar. The fact that Cael was back. The fact that her whole world had changed; again.
Fiddling with her necklace she rose to her feet and met her teacher at his desk, mumbling about family problems and hard times at home, gently placing her clean test sheet and booklet on his desk. He nodded knowingly and ushered Di Di out, suggested a trip to the counselor's office, all the while remarking how he would hardly let this slide with any other student but her. Because Di Di Rich was a star student. Di Di Rich didn't fail tests and certainly didn't hand one back blank. She had been on the top of the world until Cael had left.
The thing about the Malloys is that they only work completely when the five of them are united. When Dahlia had been in prison they had managed to scrape by. But it was only because they had to. Di Di firmly believed that the only way they had been able to stay so long in Edenfalls was because they worked best together. Without Cael and Dahlia, their work had grown sloppy. Wayne, Sam and Di Di were forced to resort to cleaning the pockets of drunken assholes and bimbos at local bars all around the state. Wayne was getting deeper and deeper into shit at Panco and even Sam had stopped losing the will to fight for their new identity. Cael was always the rock while Dahlia brought the heart. They reminded the others of what it truly means to be a traveller.
The second bell sounded and Di Di realized she was suddenly alone in the echoic halls of the high school wing. She walked slowly to her locker, opened it and placed her notebook inside, staring blankly at her other books. Closing the metal door slowly she jumped at the sight of her brother next to her, flicking idly through his phone as if waiting for her to speak.
"Why aren't you in class? You know how much it took Dad to get you back in here?" she asked him seriously. Her brother had taken the heat for the incident and then gone missing for months. Wayne had managed to convince the school board that Cael had been in a juvenile correctional facility during that time and that he was a changed young man. A hefty donation from the Riches in the name of Panco didn't hurt the situation either.
"Oh, lighten up Di. They never work on anything the day after the break," his new accent still bleeding into his words. His smile was broad was he slid his phone into his back pocket. "Want to go for a ride? " he added, shaking the keys to Brent's Mercedes in her face.
"Brent gave you his car?" Di Di scoffed, applying chapstick to her lips and checking the time on her watch. "Well it is already one and I only have gym and French left," she reasoned, shrugging her backpack onto her shoulder. The day was already a waste after the English test. At least now she would have time to study for her scheduled make-up tomorrow.
Cael smiled and held out a strong hand to his sister, practically dragging her out into the hot parking lot. He beeped the car and slid into the driver's seat, rolling down the windows to let the trapped heat escape.
"How exactly is Brent going to get home?" Di Di asked suspiciously as she fiddled with the radio.
"He's not. His family is staying an extra week in Costa Rica. I dropped the car here last night so Da wouldn't see," he explained easily, turning the dial on the radio to let the rock music blare out the open windows.
Di Di quickly adjusted it, giving her brother a warning look. "Well I suppose we can swing by later and get Sam. It will save Mom the trip." Their father had been staying late at the office for a while now. Sometimes Di Di didn't see him till the next morning when he quietly dropped them off at school. Things were getting worse and worse at Panco and it seemed like their time in Edenfalls was drawing to an end.
Cael pulled onto the highway and pushed the little car as fast as it would go, towering over the speed limit. Di Di placed a hand softly on her brother's, as if to say 'This isn't our car so if we get pulled over, you have to talk your way out of it'. He reduced his speed by ten and soon they were in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by open land, the coast in sight. He pulled off a numbered exit and parked on the gritty, light gray gravel. Di Di shuddered to think what kind of fit Brent would have if he saw the current location of his car.
They sat together on a large rock down near the water. The dark stone burned their palms as they leaned back and listened to the soft sound of the water and the gulls calling out to each other as they circled above the water. Di Di closed her eyes and let the sun warm her bare legs and arms, wiggling her toes out of her flats.
"How much longer do you think we will stay here?" Cael asked simply, lighting a cigarette with a pack of matches he had found in Brent's car. He blew a perfect ring away from his sister, angling his body so the smoke wouldn't blow towards her.
"In Edenfalls? Depends what happens at work with Dad," Di Di responded, opening her eyes. "We won't have much time to prepare if our cover is blown," she added somberly. She didn't want to leave their life here. Picking up and starting again would just be too hard. But she knew if that's what it came to to protect her family, she would support them no matter what.
Then it hit her. Maybe Cael thought she would stay behind if the family ever had to leave. She looked over to her brother who was nervously chain-smoking. Was this what he was worried about? That his leaving had somehow made the rest of the family long to split up?
Reaching out, Di Di touched her brother's free hand gently, "I would never stay behind if Mom and Dad decided we needed to leave," she told him with assurance.
Cael looked at her in a way he hadn't since he'd been back. He had put up this wall of strength and maturity. Now she saw her old brother. Her best friend. The innocence and fear that he used to show whenever the family would go through tough times. Especially before Sam was born. He was afraid and she could see it even with his newfound guard up.
"I…I should have never left…to do that…to leave you and Sam like that…to set that example for him…" he struggled, and as he did so she could see the tears in his eyes. She didn't know he had struggled so much with this decision.
Di Di leaned in and kissed him lightly on the cheek and pulled away as he slid his lips over hers. "Cael…" she warned. Her eyes were shut lightly and fluttered open to look him in the eye.
Di Di Rich looked down at her watch and saw it was nearly four. Their brother would be done with French club and was waiting. They rose, headed back to the car and sat in silence for the ride, letting the music fill the empty space.
Meanwhile, Di Di Malloy watched out the window, thinking of what dangerously could have been on the rocky levee with a stolen car and unspoken feelings.