Eight months later…
It’s funny how people say we don’t change. We are who we are since birth until we die. But I know for a fact I’ve changed. I’m different. I’m not the same girl who I was eight months ago. I often wonder if she still exists somewhere deep within me. But as time passes, she seems more and more distant. As if she simply were a memory of an old friend I used to know. I’m scared that one day she’ll be gone forever, and all that will remain is this shell of a person I am today.
I spent the better part of last year living in London with my older brother Leo and his family. I just couldn’t stay in Madrid after what happened. I couldn’t face my parents, Nico, and especially not Adrian. So with the excuse of failing my last two classes of high school, I told everybody I wasn’t ready for college and needed some time for myself.
Luckily, my parents agreed and I was able to complete the courses online in London. It took me three months, but at least I was able to officially graduate high school. Yay for me. My university also didn’t have a problem with me deferring one semester. Honestly, I was surprised they didn’t revoke my acceptance letter with such horrid grades during my senior year and was grateful I would be getting a second chance.
I would like to say that I spent the last months soul searching and finding myself, but that never happened. I really just spent most of my days ignoring emails and phone calls from back home and helping my sister-in-law Mia around the house with my adorable nephews. Honestly, I think they might have been the ones to save me without even knowing it. At least they kept me human.
But that is all behind me now and it’s time to get my life back in order. I couldn’t stay away forever and needed to resume my life. If nothing else, I just need to complete my college education and then I can start a new life somewhere else, far away from everybody, and I will never have to think about what happened again.
As I pay the taxi and make my way towards the imposing iron gates of the house I grew up in, I can’t help a shudder from wracking my body. Of course, my parents are in the middle of a trip to god knows where so they wouldn’t be home. Nico had offered to pick me up at the airport, but I told him not to worry about it. Last thing I wanted was to be stuck in a silent car ride with him where he would try to pry endless answers out of me.
What I didn’t expect was for him to be waiting on the doorstep for me. It looks like he has been sitting there a while too, as it takes him some time to stand up and stretch out his big legs. I didn’t think it would be possible for him to get any bigger, but he looks absolutely massive.
He comes towards me rather quickly, but then stops a few steps before he reaches me. Eight months is really a long time, and it feels like an eternity has passed before seeing my twin. His eyes are full of concern and worry, his expression cautious as he hesitates before me.
My throat immediately thickens and my eyes become teary. It feels like we are strangers and it terrifies me. Will anything ever be the same?
Nico surprises me by closing the distance between us and wrapping his muscled arms around me, hugging me silently. God, I really missed him so much. If I’m not careful, I will end up having a full-blown meltdown right in front of him.
“I’m so glad you’re back, sis,” he whispers. “Don’t ever do that to me again.”
I sniffle and nod at him as we separate. “I’ll try not to,” I whisper back.
“Good. You look like shit, by the way.”
I manage to chuckle. I know I look like shit. “Thanks for reminding me.”
“I was always the better looking one of the two of us, but damn princess. It’s not even a competition now,” he says nudging me.
“Ha, ha. Are you going to help me with my bags or what?”
“Yeah, let’s get you inside.”
And just like that, things seem to be fine between us and I feel a little better. Just a little bit.
He leads the way towards my room and I think I just might die of a panic attack. He settles my suitcases down in my old room as I look around and notice nothing has been moved from its place.
“You should thank Carmen later. I know for a fact she was in here for hours, fixing up your closet and such. Apparently, you left quite a mess in here,” Nico tells me.
I already feel a bit guilty leaving my room the way I did. All I remember is picking up two suitcases and frantically shoving the first things I could find inside. I didn’t even bother picking anything up or checking to see what I had left behind.
“Oh, she didn’t have to do that,” I respond. Now there’s no way I can move to another room as I had originally planned.
Nico sits on my bed and it makes me feel more at ease, just seeing him there as if it were an everyday occurrence. He’s looking at me strangely though, as if trying to figure out if I’m really here to stay.
“I really missed you, Sofia. Like probably more than what’s considered normal. It pretty much sucked here the entire time you were gone,” he says quietly.
His words mean a lot to me, as he’s not one to usually engage in a heart to heart conversation. If he does, he usually tacks on a joke at the end or makes some type of random comment to smooth it over, but this time he just said what he wanted to say and nothing else.
“I missed you too, Nico. I’m sorry I was gone for so long.”
He nods at me, and I can’t help but notice he looks hurt. He never once said anything to me like that, but I can see it in his eyes. I know what he’s feeling because I felt exactly the same at not having my twin by my side. I just wish I hadn’t been the one to cause all this.
“Um, so I’ll let you settle in. I have a few friends over. I left them in the game room a while ago, so I better check on them. You should come down once you’re done.”
I idly wonder if Adrian is one of his friends with him, but I don’t dare ask him. “Okay,” I tell him, knowing there’s no way in hell I’m going down there.
He gives me another tight hug and before I know it, I’m left alone in my room. It’s a room that should feel familiar and safe as it’s the same one I’ve lived in for eighteen years, but it feels the complete opposite to me. It’s foreign and unsettling. It’s at this moment where I almost regret coming back here again, but I remind myself for the millionth time that I’m a new person and that person is meant to be strong.
I quickly unzip my suitcases and start unpacking my clothes, putting my shirts back on the empty hangers and folding my jeans in place inside the drawers of my closet. At least this will make the decision seem a bit more permanent.
I can’t believe I start classes again tomorrow. It’ll be the first day of the spring semester, but it certainly doesn’t feel like spring as it’s the middle of January. At least they say the weather can only get better from here. I feel so unprepared though. I remember I haven’t even printed out my schedule and I barely know what classes I’ll be taking. I don’t even have a map of the campus, but hopefully Nico can show me around. I hope it’s not too complicated.
Once I’m finished unpacking, I settle my suitcases against the wall and set up my laptop at my desk. I wait for the Mac to connect to the Internet, but I’m prompted with a sign that says incorrect password. I secretly curse at Nico. He would always make a point of switching it all the time, as if someone was going to infiltrate our network. The closest house to us is at least five minutes away, so unless it’s the Spanish government, I see no point in being so paranoid about it.
I certainly don’t want to go down there, but I really need to get my things in order for tomorrow. I open the door to my bedroom, stepping out towards the hallway, and immediately smack against a warm, sweaty body and helplessly fall to the floor.
“Holy shit! Princess? Are you okay?”
I look up and to my absolute horror, Adrian is crouched over me, his brown eyes piercing into mine as he picks me up from the ground. I think all the air got knocked out of my body as I feel my heart contracting painfully against my chest.
I don’t know how but suddenly I’m on my feet and I’m staring right at his naked torso. More specifically, at his six pack where my vision decides to wander. Every single dent and curvature of his muscles seem to flex in front of me as drops of moisture make their way towards the loose gym shorts encasing his hips.
Why must he torture me by not wearing a goddamn shirt? I shake my head and attempt to look up towards his face, but of course this causes me to lose my balance and I stumble against the wall.
“Easy there,” he says steadying my shoulders.
I shut my eyes closed as my head is literally spinning and cover my face with my hands in embarrassment.
“Sofia, are you alright? I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you …”
“I’m fine,” I lie, waving him off. Jesus, kill me now.
Next thing I know I’m being picked up and somehow end up sitting against the headboard of my bed. I open my eyes and his worried expression fills my view. God, he’s even more beautiful than I remembered. I realize it’s been a long eight months since I’ve physically seen his face and not just in my dreams.
“Sofia …” he prompts again. All I see are his lips moving, but I don’t seem to hear the words. I wonder what it would be like to kiss him for what must be the millionth time. I open my mouth to tell him exactly that, but my brain has a different idea and decides to shut down.
“Dammit Nico, I already told you. I was coming back from the gym and ran into her by accident. She passed out cold when I brought her to the bed.”
“Shut up, she’s moving now.”
“Princess? Can you hear me?” A warm hand tugs my hand and I feel another colder one on my shoulder.
I open my eyes and see both Nico and Adrian hovering over me. To my utter disappointment, Adrian is now wearing a white t-shirt and Nico doesn’t look very happy.
Shit. Please don’t tell me I passed out. “What happened?” I manage to say.
Neither of them answers my obvious question and Nico is suddenly shoving a bottle of water in my face. “Drink this.”
I grab the bottle from him hesitantly, but take some long sips from it.
“When was the last time you ate, Sofia?” Nico asks harshly.
“This morning. Lay off,” I immediately respond defensively. I knew it was a matter of time before he brought this up. I’m still trying to gain back the 15 pounds I lost since he last saw me.
“A piece of lettuce? You need to fucking eat,” he barks back.
I really only ate a banana, but I’m not about to tell him that. I’ve simply lost my appetite and I find it especially difficult to eat in the morning as I usually wake up feeling nauseous. When I don’t answer after a few minutes, he jumps off the bed and storms out of the room, muttering something about me needing some nutrients under his breath.
I turn to look at Adrian to see if he shares the same judgment, but his expression is unreadable and he’s incredibly quiet. We stare at each other for what seems like forever until I can’t take it anymore and look away.
He backs away from me and the warm feeling from my hand disappears. It isn’t until then that I realize he was holding it this entire time.
“You okay?” he asks me after clearing his throat.
“Yeah,” I nearly whisper.
When I turn to look at him, his gaze is traveling down my body in what must only be disapproval.
He shakes his head and says, “I’m really sorry, Sofia. I didn’t mean to knock you over like that.”
“It’s fine,” I assure him. “I didn’t see you either.”
“I was just on my way to my room, and I didn’t even know …”
“What do you mean your room?” I interrupt him. Am I missing something? I look around just to make sure we are still, in fact, in my house.
“Nico didn’t tell you?” he asks incredibly.
“Tell me what?”
He sighs and looks at me nervously. “Of course. He didn’t even bother telling me you were coming back today so why would he even ...” he trails off.
“Just tell me, Adrian. I think I can handle it.”
His expression tells me he doesn’t believe me. In fact, he’s looking at me as if I’m going to break any second and I hate it. I don’t want to be that girl. At least not to him.
“I live here now.”
I try to process his words as he says them. I literally feel all the color draining from my face and I think I just might faint all over again.