Kellis won. I am not going anywhere. She said that it was just as likely that the threat would just follow me wherever I went—and I’d be alone. Not worth it, she said.
Usually, I can outwait and out silent Kellis when we argue. Not this time.
The two of us tend to argue quite a bit. So do Kellis and Ambrea. And Riv and Kellis. Well, I think you can see the pattern. But I understand why Kellis is a little bit bossy, even at our advanced ages.
Kellis is afraid of just about everything. That comes out by her trying to control us.
She thinks I don’t know, that none of us do—but I can feel her fear sometimes, when I get close enough to her.
She wasn’t always this way; it started when we lost Mama and Daddy. That’s when everything changed for all of us.
For one thing, our parents’ creditors showed up the very next day, demanding their share of our parents’ estate. We hadn’t even realized they were in debt. Theo intervened for me after I begged him for help, buying us a two-month window to get everything together.
Kellis had her own place in town near the police station then, too. She moved in with Ambrea and the rest of us a week later. Alleah was such a sickly little babe; it took all six of us to keep watch over her. Day and night. We were consumed with paying off the debts and keeping Alleah alive.
Those were some of the darkest days of my life.
We almost lost her. I adore that little girl so much.
I hadn’t exactly liked the idea of going off alone somewhere, anyway.
Mak told us that he was staying the night with us. There is a small guest room near the rear of our home. It was next to the smaller room that served as Alaun’s office. There is one of those fold up Murphy beds in the guest room. I needed a few moments to myself, so I took over the task of making up the bed for him. It took a few minutes. We tend to use the room as a type of home office in general.
He caught me in the hallway when I was done. Everyone else was starting to come in from their jobs. They were full of questions—it was hard to miss the jagged, baseball-sized hole in our front door.
Kellis caught them in the living room; I could hear them out there. Could hear the questions.
I just stared at Mak, unsure what to say right now.
One large male hand rose; he cupped my cheek. “I will find them, Jume. You have my promise.”
“I…for how long? How long can I live afraid?”
He shook his head as his hand fell away. Then those hard arms were around me like they had been when we danced. He pulled me close.
I rested my cheek over his heart.
“I don’t know. All I know is that I am here. Now. And I will always protect you; as long as I am able.”
I just nodded. “Thank you.”
“It’ll be ok, Jume. It’ll be ok.”
I just wish I could believe him.