I didn't sleep that night. I didn't sleep because Cynthia woke up every hour on the hour with bad dreams and nightmares. She woke up screaming and she shook a lot. I didn't sleep the whole night because I was afraid that I wouldn't be there to protect her when she did wake up, screaming.
Instead, I brewed some tea and sat in my bed silently watching her. I did my best to stay awake. I completed homework that wasn't due until next week, I folded my laundry, I hung her gown up in my closet and I meditated.
10 a.m. came immediately and I hurried to get myself into the shower. I was so tired that I couldn't even stand, so I sat in my shower and hung my head low. I was so tired that I wanted to go to sleep in the shower. I didn't want to go to this gala nor did I want to get ready for it. I wanted to stay in the shower all day long and get pruney and sleep. I could make this my home, right?
But I knew that I couldn't do that to Cynthia. She needed me and that meant that I had to be there. And if that meant going another night without getting any rest then I could definitely do that for her.
I got out of the shower and sat down on the toilet and took a few deep breaths. Before I could even get comfortable, my phone began buzzing on the counter. I sighed and picked it up.
"I will be over shortly." That was Sam's voice from the other end.
"Wait, what time is it?"
"It's just now eleven."
I sighed and leaned back in the toilet. "I was in the shower for an hour."
"I always questioned how people could do that," I rambled on. "How they could stay in the shower for that long, but I just did it and I have to say that I am very impressed with myself."
"You must really not be you."
I shrugged and stood up to make my way over to my sink. "Cynthia stayed over last night. She was having nightmares so bad that I was afraid to sleep. So I stayed awake."
"The entire night?!" Sam screamed on the phone.
I nodded to no one but myself. "The entire night."
"Briana, that's not healthy. If anyone needs a good night's rest, it's you. Why is she over there in the first place?"
I began to relay the whole story from the phone call to me leaving Cynthia's house and to her staying up all night. I could hear Sam's gasps as I told her that I came face to face with Clay and her brother. The whole night seemed unreal, but it happened nonetheless. Cynthia was still in my room asleep and her brother and Clay were still assholes.
"I can't believe you went there without backup."
"I can't believe anything that goes on in my life," I muttered. "But it happens daily."
"Don't worry, we'll get things ready and squared away. And when you come over, you have to get a nap in before you go crazy. I know how you are when you're running on like three hours of sleep so I don't really want to see what it's like when you've had absolutely no sleep."
Sam and I hung up with her giving me instructions on what kind of jewelry and shoes to bring for today. I dried my body, brushed my teeth and then walked back into my room to get clothing and check on Cynthia.
Only to find out that my room was empty.
My eyes bulged as I looked around. Her suitcase was still laying on the side of my bed and her dress was hanging on the back of my closet door.
I didn't even think about it. With my towel tightly wrapped around my body, I slid some sandals that were by my dresser on and ran out of my room. I looked both ways down the hallway and silently whispered her name, but there was no answer. I padded down the stairs and that's when I heard voices coming from the kitchen. I walked towards there and noticed my father making himself and Cynthia coffee. She was in her pajamas and he was in a business suit.
"Your father and I played golf for years together," my dad said as he sat with a warm mug in front of Cynthia. He glanced up and noticed me. "Good morning Briana."
Cynthia turned and glared at me. "Good morning. Sorry, I would have waited for you, but you were in the shower for ages and your dad cooked breakfast."
That's when the aroma of the kitchen filled my nose. Everything had been cleaned and placed in the dishwasher, but the smell still lingered.
"I placed you a plate in the microwave," my dad said. He took a sip of his coffee and eyed me as he did so. He knew something.
"I'm done in the shower Cynthia," I said. "You can run up and get a quick one in."
"Yeah if there's any hot water left," she scoffed. She turned back to my dad. "It's nice to meet you Mr. Wilkens. I'll have to ask my dad more about his old college buddies."
"You can call me Charles."
Cynthia smiled, grabbed her cup of coffee and then turned to me. "I'll be done by the time you get finished with breakfast." And she disappeared around the corner.
I glanced at my dad who had gone to get my plate of food out of the microwave. He sat it down in front of me and it was still warm. "Sit." I abided by his rules and sat down on a barstool. He reached in a drawer and pulled a fork out and handed it to me. "Eat."
I grabbed the fork and looked down at the plate of food. Bacon, eggs, hashbrown and pancakes. The pancakes had a little bowl of syrup next to them just like I liked. I looked back at my dad and he was observing me.
"It's just for the weekend, dad. She will be gone Sunday before my shift at the library."
"She's not my concern." I bit into some eggs and studied him. "Her father is."
"Sounds like you both knew each other well."
"We went to the same college; we were roommates."
I coughed on my eggs and looked back up at him. "What? You were roomies with one of the richest men in our conjoining towns?"
My dad nodded and sipped his coffee. "We were very good friends in college and some after that." A bitter look spread across his face and he sat his coffee cup down slowly. As I placed a piece of bacon in my mouth, he rounded the table and sat down beside me. "You need to steer clear of that man. The only thing that happens around him is trouble."
"You don't have to tell me twice, dad."
"Briana." I glared at him and his stern face. "I wouldn't tell you anything unless I knew what I was talking about so believe me when I say that about Aiden Roswell. You stay away from him."
I nodded slowly and he released his gaze from me. "I'll be at work until the evening time and then somewhere after that. Please be safe with this girl's weekend." I nodded. He leaned over and kissed the side of my forehead and then disappeared.
I turned back to my food and felt too sick to even finish it. Something had happened between my father and Aiden and I had to figure out what it was.
Cynthia was out of the shower by the time that I made my way upstairs. She already placed her clothes on and was towel-drying her hair. She turned and smiled at me as I walked into the room.
"How are you and your father so nice? He made me breakfast and coffee which were so amazing. It's like living at a hotel or something."
I smiled and walked towards my vanity. "He's great. He's my best friend."
"If you don't mind me asking, what happened to your mother?"
I stopped in my tracks and caught my breath. It wasn't a question that I usually got asked or that I answered. My mother. I continue to forget that most people actually have their mother in their lives. I had gone all of my life without her. My father assumed both roles. He was always there even when work was stressful. He had my grandmother for help, but most of it was him. He was there for dance recitals, school plays and any sport that I wanted to participate in. He was my mom and dad.
"She's dead," I responded almost immediately. I grabbed my underwear and slid them on under my towel and then placed a bralette over my head as my towel began to fall.
I shrugged as I placed some jeans on and a loose t-shirt. "Thirteen years ago. Car crash." I placed on some shoes and grabbed an overnight bag. "I don't talk about her much." I placed my make-up, hair products, jewelry and heels in the bag.
"I'm very sorry," Cynthia said. I looked at her and she was staring at me, hard. "I... I'm really sorry."
I shook my head. "It was thirteen years ago." Before Cynthia could respond, my phone buzzed and it was a text from Sam. She was here. "Time to go." She stood from the bed. "Don't forget your dress."
Sam and Cynthia exchanged greetings as we got into the car and took off. I leaned my arm against the car door and leaned my head on it. I was very tired. No sleep was killing me and for some odd reason, it made me crave coffee. Oh, the irony.
"My aunt has the dresses nailed perfectly. She wants you to try it on, of course to see if there is anything that doesn't add up. Angie came over yesterday and did her fitting and ugh, it was adorable."
"Your aunt makes dresses?" Cynthia chimed in from the back.
Sam smiled. "She does. She lives in California and she came to visit my mom for the weekend. It was rare and unexpected, but she's here so whatever." Sam turned back to me. "Would you like to nap before the fitting or after?"
I shook my head. "This car ride nap is the only nap that I need. I'll be fine."
"I'll be fine Sam. Now study the road instead of studying me please."
Sam huffed and tightened her grip on the steering wheel. An awkward silence erupted in the car and I didn't really care. All I could think was how tired I was and asking myself how I would get through this day without having a breakdown.
It was about another ten minutes before Sam's car stopped. It jerked me awake, making my arm fall from the arm rest and my head jolt forward. I sighed and looked at Sam who had a smirk on her face.
"That's what you get for being moody and mean." She unbuckled her seat belt to get out. I clenched my jaw and followed in suit. Cynthia grabbed her dress while Sam grabbed her bag and I grabbed my own and we walked towards Sam's magnificent house.
Inside, the house was warm and smelled of chamomile tea and snickerdoodle cookies. As I closed the door and stepped further inside, I heard laughter and snorts coming from the living room area.
"Sean and James are here too." I crinkled my eyebrows together as Sam took the bag I was holding and Cynthia's dress. "Don't ask me. Just know that I was awoken this morning with donuts and apple juice courtesy of the both of them. Now they're in there bonding with Brad."
"Andrea?" I asked.
"Still asleep, thank goodness. My mother went to the fabric store with my aunt which means they'll be gone for a while so she left Brad in charge of us. Can you believe that?"
She turned and walked up her stairs. I turned to Cynthia and smiled. "You're a people person, right?"
Cynthia raised an eyebrow as I escorted her towards the living room and dining room area. Upon us entering, James and Sean had their eyes on us and so did Brad. It was awkward until Sean stood and smiled.
"There's our gala girl," he muttered. He leaned over and kissed my forehead. I raised an eyebrow, trying to figure out why he and James were in such a good mood. He turned to Cynthia. "And you must be Cynthia." He held out his hand to grasp hers, but she stood stiff.
I looked over at Cynthia and she was as pale as a ghost as she looked at Sean's hand. It was as if she had registered it, but she wasn't in the right mind to actually shake his hand. I glanced at Sean and the smile that he had was starting to falter. I smiled at him.
"She's just a bit tired." I looked at Cynthia and placed an arm around her shoulders. "Right Cyn?" The color began to come back in her skin and she glared up at me. Her eyes were nervous and I could feel her shaking a bit.
The room had gotten quiet with James, Brad and Sean glaring at Cynthia and I like we were two helpless women. Cynthia nodded some and then looked back at Sean before she looked at me. "I'll just go and lay down on the couch if that's okay."
Brad nodded. "Of course."
Cynthia looked at me, smiled and then turned and walked slowly towards the living room. I sighed and watched her as she laid down on the couch and turned to face from us. She brought her knees up to her chest and placed an arm under her head.
I looked back at the men and they were all staring at me. I crossed my arms and sighed. "Mind if I sit?" I pointed at the chair beside James and he nodded. Sean and I both sat down and the dining room erupted in silence.
Brad looked back and forth from us to where Cynthia went to go lay down. He leaned over to me. "She's okay, right?"
I nodded. "Of course. We just had a long night." I smiled some. "You know how girl's weekends are." Brad wasn't buying any of it, but he nodded and stood up.
"I'm going to go talk to Samantha about my leaving." He looked over at Sean and James. "It was nice to get to know you both. Sammy has some great friends." He looked over at me. "And I already knew you were great after the incident earlier this week."
As soon as Brad was out of earshot, James and Sean became alert.
"Did something happen?" James asked.
"Do I smell bad? Is that why she didn't want to shake my hand or anything because I swear I showered."
"Lower your voices," I whispered. "And stop asking me questions right now." James and Sean shut their mouths and listened. "Men our age scare her. I met this Clay character and he has to be like three years older than us so she's scared by you two." I looked back over at the couch and noticed Cynthia was still in the same position that she was in earlier. "So you're just going to have to go slow with her and let her try and trust you."
They both nodded.
"I didn't really think she would have been with you now," James blurted.
I sighed and leaned back in my seat. "Neither did I, but that's a long story. But here's an even longer story: my dad knows Aiden Roswell. They were roommates in high school."
"Roommates? Then they must have been pretty close."
"Why hadn't your dad told you that?" Sean asked.
I shrugged. "He never had a reason to, but he knows that there's something wrong with Aiden and he told me to steer clear. Now why would he say that if there wasn't something that needed to be looked in to?"
Sean and James both got quiet and looked at me and then over to where sleeping Cynthia was. James looked back at me.
"What do you think we are getting ourselves into?"
I shook my head and shrugged. "Something that we can't get out of now."
I'm back. It's been forever, I know. School has been taking over my life, but just know that I will keep you guys updated on this story. I have not given up. If there is anything else that you guys would like to see or read, let me know! Thanks for sticking with me.
Miha: Thanks for sticking with me! I have not given up on this story at all and I'm so freaking glad you liked the last chapter and I hope this chapter is good as well. It's sort of a filler chapter, but it's leading us up to the gala and all the drama that the gala is holding. So just be prepared.
Butterfly: Thank you! I wish I was as brave as Briana sometimes. I don't think I could have done that.
Jasmine Charms: I love starting slow with my characters because I like to see what angle will be good for them to head to. I am also very lovey-dovey and I'm so torn between her and Mike and her with Ethan. So crazy! It would be kind of hard for Mike and Briana to do a lot of things that her and Ethan could do because they have history and most of is good, but the ending is bad so it's crazzzzzyyy. Thank you for reading!! Thought you had given up on this story!
Anonymous: Thank you for the help on the story! Cynthia could use a lot of down time since she's been going through a rough time.
Lin: So in love with Scandal! Anything Shonda Rhimes does is perfect. HTGAWM is amazing and I am so in love with Grey's Anatomy it hurts.