Liam 26, Zack 21, Lexie/Cory/James 54, August/Beau/Briar 71 (RIP Siobhan and Seth! 😥 )
“So…it’s yours. Your dad set it all up. All you have to do is sign the papers.” Some suave guy with only a jacket on and no shirt under it met us at the weirdest house in Oasis Springs.
But it fit Liam to a tee.
“Hey, Zack,” Liam said, “don’t be pressured. We can keep looking. I can understand if you don’t want to take a gift from Dad.”
I looked at my brother.
Was he serious?
My mind flew back to the day that changed all our lives. When reality struck me. I was just a stupid kid, not really understanding anything except my baby sister was gone.
I’ll never forget my mother screaming, just wailing at her gravesight. And Liam…her death crushed him like it was his kid who’d died.
It was like I was a person on the sidelines of a bad movie, watching all the drama. I was so helpless. I felt like shit. I loved Brandy. I missed her so badly that it sometimes made my stomach sick. But what made it worse was Mom and Dad always fighting, hollering at each other for the stupidest crap.
I could tell they hated each other.
And as a kid, I worried they were going to split.
Didn’t take long. Mom told me to pack up my stuff, said we’re moving out. I had no say in it. A part of me was relieved because I needed my brother. I was so lonely in that huge mansion with no one to hang out with on top of that hill. It was like a golden prison to a kid.
But a part of me was screaming inside. I didn’t want my parents to divorce. I knew I’d miss my dad. Miss my family being together. I cracked apart in so many ways, I didn’t think I’d ever be happy again.
Thank God for Liam, though. After that, he was always there for me. Whenever I wanted to talk about things, anything, he’d listen.
And he gave me the love I didn’t get from either of my parents.
Over time, I thought of him as my father, not my real dad. Hell, we’d see him only a few times a year. But Liam made sure to spend time with me.
Teaching me how to fish, play basketball, talk to me about girls.
Next thing that happened, Mom got married to Cory. And then got pregnant right away with twins–Kadence and Kaylin.
She whisked us out of the home we grew up in to another house. One for her new family.
Liam and I shared a room. I didn’t care about it. Never felt like my house. I didn’t even have a say in the decorations. I just lived there.
A warm body in the house.
Dad’s movie was a ginormous hit. Everyone knew it would be. He wanted Liam and me to come to his premiere but Liam refused and I couldn’t go without him.
When we went to see a different movie, I saw Dad’s face on billboards. It was so weird.
Liam just stared at the Robotron poster with a sad look on his face.
He hated the movie and refused to see it. I hated watching Liam die a little each day being without Brandy. He never could forgive himself for not moving to Del Sol Valley. If he had, he believed Brandy would still be with us. But that wasn’t true. On that horrible day, Brandy was supposed to be napping. Liam wouldn’t have known. She slipped out of the house to the backyard, we believe looking for her toy stuffed animal–her favorite. It had blown into the pool somehow and we think she wanted to retrieve it, but…
God, I hated thinking about it.
I tried to tell Liam he couldn’t have saved her but he thinks he would have heard the back door. There was no talking him out of it.
After everything that happened, it didn’t help that Mom blossomed as a mother and doted on her new kids and husband.
It was like Liam and I were accidents. And with Brandy gone, she wanted to forget and make a fresh start.
She loved us, but there was a huge difference in her happiness when she was with them. As they say, actions speak louder than words. But I couldn’t blame her or Cory and I certainly couldn’t blame my little brother and sister. Cory was her soulmate. It was so apparent. But for me and Liam, it just sucked.
At least Liam had Ginny during that hard transition. They were inseparable and I was happy for him.
But it was liked his life was cursed or something.
Two years into college, Liam and Ginny were undergrad archaeology students, going to Brindleton Bay University so he could stay with me while I was in high school. He’d told me they’d planned on getting married right after they graduated college and both decided to go to the renown University of Archaeology in Oasis Springs for their graduate work.
They fed off each other, always studying, going on digs with her parents. I was honestly so stoked for him.
And then, Dad was up for an award. It was at the same time Ginny decided to go on an exploration with her parents in Sulani. Liam wanted to come but in the end, he did what he always did–family first.
Then tragedy struck. Ginny and her parents went on a hike near a volcano but were never heard from again.
People surmised they must have gotten lost in the thick jungle–or maybe went on a dive and got caught in the current. Liam always believed she’d come back to him. But after six years passed, he finally said his good byes to her officially.
It crushed me to watch him in pain. But I was going to be there for him just like he was always there for me.
After that day at the volcano, I’d never seen him smile. Not really.
Losing Ginny consumed whatever was left in him after Brandy had died. He was an empty shell of his former self from then on.
It tore me apart to watch him. I wanted to take his pain away. He didn’t deserve this.
He’d do anything for anyone. And he loved his family. Why did this have to happen?
Swallowing down a lump in my throat, I shook my head.
In the end, Dad became one of the hottest blockbuster stars in our nation.
He had so much money, he bought us this house. I knew he did it for Liam. It was an archaeologist’s dream. Liam wanted us to live in a house together until I found someone to share my life with one day.
I was a senior in college, going to Oasis Springs University down the road from the place he got his pHD and worked now– The University of Archaeology.
How could I say no?
I clasped my hands together and said, “Let’s do this.”
The rare grin on his face made me so glad about my decision.
He clapped me on the back and squeezed, saying, “Thanks, man. I owe you.”
I chuckled. “No, Liam. You don’t owe me a thing.”