Rylie stood outside the house for what seemed like forever. It was definitely the Hemmings house because it was the nicest one in the neighborhood. She feared if Luke was behind those doors. Even if he wasn't, she was sure Liz would notify her of where he currently resigned.
Her hands shook as she gathered the courage to push the doorbell. She heard a low ringing from inside, and subtle footsteps.
Rylie rubbed her hands together, trying to calm her nerves. Anything could happen.
The door swung open, and a tall man who looked nearly exactly like Luke stood in the doorway. He leaned against the doorframe, and smiled warmly at Rylie. He were a hanus green sweater, Rylie noticed, and she tried to hide her grimace of disgust. His eyes were the same shade of blue as Luke's and his hair was a light blonde.
"Is this the Hemmings household?" Rylie asked in an almost childish voice. He towered over her, making her feel smaller than she already was. She knew he was Luke's brother, but she still asked to clarify.
Luke's brother rolled his eyes. "Another fan..." he mumbled under his breath.
"No." Rylie waved her hands up in protest, making sure he didn't close the door. "I'm not a fan...well I am...but- I mean." she rambled on, unable to form a coherent sentence. Her mind was a jumble of odd scenarios and intricate statements. She sighed, and shook, relieving herself of her nerves, and focusing on the matter at hand. "I'm the co-songwriter and pianist for One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer."
Luke's brother nodded absentmindedly, and scanned her body up and down. A smirk played across his lips, and he couldn't have been more obvious in checking her out.
Rylie crossed her arms over her body, feeling awkward and self-conscious. She cleared her throat loudly.
His brother met her eyes, and laughed. "Yea, um, I'm Ben." he held out his hand, and Rylie slowly reached to shake it.
It was scary how much they resembled each other. She couldn't help but stare at his face, and compare the two.
"I'm Rylie." she said back.
Ben nodded, and flashed a cheeky grin before widening the door, and motioning her to come in.
Rylie thought horrid thoughts as she crossed the threshold. An aroma of cherry blossom hit her nose, and she glanced around the welcoming hallway. It was very modern, and pictures of the family hung on the wall. On the far end of the hallway, there was an opening, most likely leading into the living room. There was loud chattering coming from it, and Rylie hoped his entire family wasn't there with him.
"I assume you're here to aid in our investigation." Ben said, snapping her out of her thoughts. She turned to him as he closed the door, and stepped in front of her.
"What?" Rylie asked, confusion clear in her voice. Investigation?
Ben nodded, and shot her a peculiar look like she oblivious. He smiled, and shook his head, laughing at her.
It really pissed Rylie off. What was with that family?
He ignored her question, and walked down to the end of the hallway, assuming she would follow.
Rylie wanted to turn back and run. She always wanted to run away. Unfortunately, she had to suck up the apprehension and go get her man back. It couldn't be that bad. She had to think positive, and know everything would be okay. She needed him more than life itself, and she would always need him. He had to know that and forgive her like she forgave him.
She took quiet steps following Ben, and as she passed the archway, a blur of people appeared before her eyes.
It took her aback, and she stopped midway in step, and stood wide eyed at the people. It was like the entire population of Australia was in that living room.
She cursed under her breath, and scanned the crowd, only to not spot Luke at all. It was all a waste.
Ben walked over to a large, leather couch in the midst of the room, and huddled around everyone else who seemed to be looking at some map on the coffee table.
No one even noticed her presence as their eyes stayed glued to the giant paper.
"Maybe we should call the police or something?" some girl asked.
"If we don't know, they won't know." Rylie immediately recognized the woman who said that. She pictured her tear- stained face under the black umbrella as she embraced her son in a loving and condoled hug. It was Luke's mom. Her blond hair was pulled back in a messy ponytail, and her lips pursed nervously as her eyes scanned the map in dismay.
Rylie wanted to say something to show she was there too, but she was terrified to be in front of his entire family. She hadn't met them yet, and Luke and her had only talked about it once. They were making plans for her to meet him in Australia a day after Christmas before the whole dreadful situation happened.
"Hello." Her voice squeaked. She had expected to sound confident, but at the very last second, her voice cracked with a shaking hesitant tone.
No one noticed, and Rylie started to grow impatient.
"Hello!" she said louder, trying not to sound like an agitated snob.
Everyone stopped talking simultaneously, and glanced up at her with a mixture of blue, green, and brown eyes. Mostly blue.
Rylie bit down on her lip, and looked down at her shoes, not expecting so much attention. She wasn't normally shy, but this was the family to her, hopefully one day, husband. They should not have been exchanging first impressions like that. "Um...hi." she pulled her hand up in a small, half hearted wave, and felt her cheeks flush with red.
Everyone gave her stunning and uneasy looks. Even the small child playing with blocks on the floor looked up at her with a dumbfounded expression.
Rylie wanted to go hide in a corner, and cry. Why did they look so disapprovingly at her?
Luke's mom, Liz, was the first one to speak. She cringed her nose at Rylie, and strained her eyes in an evil expression. "You're the girl from the funeral." she stated. Her voice was filled with loathe, and the words made Rylie feel so disconsolate inside. She didn't even know this woman.
"That's Rylie?" the girl next to her asked in utter shock. She widened her eyes for a split second, but soon joined Liz and the other in a gut-wrenching stare that bore into Rylie's soul, making her feel so unwanted.
Rylie gulped nervously, and was lost for words. She tried to move her feet, but they were planted firm in the wood of the floor. She wanted to look down, and stop meeting the hateful eyes of Luke's family, but her eyes were frozen too.
"I'm sorry, guys." Ben turned to his family. "I didn't realize she was the girl."
What was going on? Why did Rylie feel like she was on the cover of an 'America's Most Wanted' poster? She bit down hard on her lip, instantly feeling warm blood fill her mouth.
"I..." Rylie tried to break the downcast mood in the room, but the eyes all on her made her stammer in fright. This was one of the most horrible events of her life. She ranked it up in the top with Luke using her and Michael dying. It was sickening the disgusted looks everyone gave her, and she was left to question why. She had done nothing to anyone in that room.
It then occurred to Rylie why she was so hated. Luke. What she did to Luke made everyone follow behind him in mutilated anger. Sometimes you may have resentment towards someone just because your family does. Rylie shuttered at the thoughts of what Luke must have told them to make her a target.
"Why are you in my home?" Liz growled, her eyes alive with a delirious expression.
Rylie's voice was small as she looked down at her worn hands. "I'm here for Luke..."
"Luke?" Liz questioned her, and laughed at the statement. "My son? You broke his heart at that funeral, and now you're here for him?"
Rylie nodded. "I-"
"No." Liz silenced her, and everyone listened in to what she would say. "He came home from that funeral, and locked his room. He cried for 2 days straight. He didn't eat. I don't think he slept. You destroyed my son! He loves you so much, and you just slept with his dead friend, and told him you didn't love him when he needed you most!" Everyone nodded in hate at her, and the little girl on the floor got up in fright to run over to her mother.
Ben looked at Rylie with an almost apologetic expression like she didn't deserve the words she was getting. It made Rylie feel slightly better, but still. She was appalled at what they were saying. She was trying to do what was best for him. At the time, she was only thinking of him, and sure she messed up, but she was there to make things right. It's not like he's completely innocent. He had as much fault as her, if not more. Did they even know about what he did?
"I messed up, but he shouldn't have done what he did in the first place." Rylie defended herself with the little argument she had. No matter the people, she would not let them stomp all over her. She had enough crushing under the soles of a foot by her mother.
"What did he do?" the man sitting next to the lady on the couch spoke up. He looked like Luke and Ben, only buffer. Rylie automatically assumed that was the other brother. What was his name? Luke had told her once. Jack?
Jack held the small child in his arms, and gently rubbed her back as he asked that question.
"You don't know?" Rylie was surprised. She had thought Luke wouldn't completely make her the bad guy. Sure his story was different from hers, but he ruined the relationship in the beginning. Rylie tried not to blame him immediately. Maybe he was too distressed to explain himself. Rylie would have been too.
The people in the room keened in, obviously oblivious to Luke's actions. Even Liz listened for an explanation.
Rylie took a breath,relieved the looks changed from hateful to curious. She tried to think of a way to explain it without making Luke sound horrible. She didn't want him to magically appear somewhere and be judged by his family. "For the 3 months we were together...he had made an agreement...with my dad, "Rylie paused, realizing how hard it was to talk about, "to get close to me, so I would show him this song. Paul agreed that if he got the song, he would make 5 Seconds of Summer famous off of it." she shuttered at the memory of seeing them exchanging it. It was a horrible time for her.
The silence in the room was unusual to her ears. Mouths gaped open, and eyebrows were knitted in confusion.
"But he was so heartbroken!" Liz commented. "We all assumed you had broken his heart when he got here."
"Guilt." Rylie shrugged. That was probably the main reason. "I know he loves me, and he wanted to back out of the deal, but I'm telling you this because you need to stop looking at me like the enemy. In that cemetery, I was only thinking about him."
Liz looked down at her lap, and was silenced in awestruck. A man standing behind the couch gripped her shoulder soothingly. He had been silent the entire time.
Rylie squinted at him, and instantly knew it was Luke's father. She remembered him telling her once that his mom and dad got back together after the abusive boyfriend. She was happy they found each other.
Luke's father's forehead crinkled together in thought, and Rylie smiled at the thought of Luke. His did the same thing, and she always thought it was so cute.
"He's been going through so much lately." Luke's dad said.
Rylie finally asked what she had been meaning to the past 10 minutes. "Where is he?"
Liz let out a sharp sob, catching her off guard. Everyone shifted in his or her seats uncomfortably, like it was an awful question to ask.
"He's gone." Ben said, his tone of voice serious for the first time since she met him.
Jack, the other brother, nodded, and spoke while looking at his daughter. He smiled and tugged at her cheeks. "Mum went to bring him some dinner, and when we finally got the door open, he was gone. The window was wide open."
Rylie's slumped her shoulders in worry and disappointment. She was so close. So close to seeing him, and he ran off. Who knows where he was! If she lost him too, she couldn't handle the pain. They had to find him. "He's missing?"
Liz nodded. "We have looked everywhere!"
"How long was this?" Rylie asked, trying to get all the details. Maybe she could figure it out. Maybe it was a place he wanted her to find him. Maybe seemed to be the only word in anybody's head.
Rylie racked her brain of any place. Nobody seemed to give her the dirty looks anymore since she explained the whole story, and she was filled with relief hoping the family was accepting her. "I have to go." she covered her mouth as she tried to hold back a sob. The tears were coming; they were filled with anxious nervousness of where he could be and what he was doing. Why was it a constant struggle for them to find each other again? She was so close, and he slipped through her fingers. If she wouldn't have waited an extra day; if she would have just left yesterday, maybe she would have made it in time to see him and fix his broken heart.
She turned on her heel, and began to leave the room.
"I'm sorry." Liz spoke behind her, and Rylie craned her neck to offer a small smile Liz's way.
"It's okay." Liz was the bigger person to apologize for being so judgmental. Rylie wasn't mad. She would've done the same thing if she saw the girl that broke her son's heart one day.
Rylie left the house quickly, and made her way to the sidewalk. She stopped, and looked around the neighborhood. She rubbed her arms for warmth, and pushed a strand of hair behind her ears. Another mission: she had to find Luke. "Where are you?" she called into the blue sky.