Read Her Charming Secret Online
Authors: Sam Ayers
“Youz can’t catzh mi,” Pierre laughed.
Aiden remembered that something exactly like this happened eight years ago. Aubrey gave up and sat down.
“I’m tired, grandpa. I can’t run,” she groaned and plopped down. Aiden immediately walked towards her and picked her up.
“Aidey,” she squealed and hugged him tightly.
“Hey, angel. No more running around. Time to go to bed,” he said, carrying her upstairs.
“Aidey, where are we going?” asked Aubrey, her hands fiddling with his hair.
“I’m going to read, and you are going to bed,” he smiled.
“Noooo . . . nooo . . . don’t wanna sleep now!” She wriggled in his arms.
“But you must, Aubrey. We are going to the lake house. We need to pack tomorrow, so now you are going to bed.”
She pouted, and then nodded, “Okay, Aidey. But you have to read me a story!”
“Sure, angel. You know that new one we bought? Written by your favorite author Jo Winters?”
She nodded happily because she loved Jo’s stories.
“Do you want to meet her?” Aiden raised his eyebrow.
“How? She is not writing her name in the books now,” Aubrey said. She shook her head before continuing, “I don’t know if she will meet me.”
“What if she wants to meet you? And she will write her name in your book,” he smiled.
Aubrey bounced in his arms, causing him to almost drop her. “Yay! Yes, I wanna!!!”
“Okay, so if you want to meet her, you need to go to bed first.”
“Okey!” She squealed excitedly and jumped out of his arms before running towards her room. In a minute she came back with a pillow in her hand and ran towards Aiden’s room. He followed her to see her jumping on the bed.
“Hey, bro!” Aiden turned around to see Ashton standing near the doorway.
“Hey, Ash! Wassup?”
“I need some advice,” Ashton replied and plopped down on the couch.
“Sure, what is it?” Aiden looked at his brother, who had a confused expression on his face.
“So Alex planned to dress up as a vampire at Gabe’s bachelor party.”
“What?” Aiden cried in surprise.
“Yay! A vampire!” Aubrey screeched and jumped higher on the bed.
“Yeah, didn’t you know?” Ashton raised his eyebrow. Both Aiden and Aubrey shook their heads.
“So, is it okay if I become a werewolf?”
“Are you kidding me? Are you planning to wear a werewolf costume?” Aiden shook his head, wondering if something was wrong with Alex and Ashton or was it just the crazy gene.
“No no, I can’t get a costume anywhere. I decided to attend the party without a shirt. You know, just shorts would do. It will make me look . . . err . . . hot!”
Aiden stared at him in shock, but little Aubrey, who was still jumping, said, “Can I be a princess? Then Alex and Ash can be my vampire and wolfy man.”
Ashton grinned at Aiden. “See? Even Aubrey agrees it’s a good idea.”
“Okay, kids, listen.” Aiden got up and looked at them. “You be a werewolf if you want. And Aubrey, you can be a princess. But I don’t want anyone to force me to be either a moronic zombie or a lazy prince. You hear me?”
“Aye Aye, Captain,” Ashton saluted and Aubrey did the same.
“Are you going to be a captain, Aidey?” asked Aubrey innocently.
“No, Aubrey. Aidey will be Aidey. No Zombie, no Prince or Captain,” he stated.
She pouted and plopped on the bed. Then she brightened, saying, “So you will wear your busy men clothes?”
“My what?” he asked, confused.
“She means your suits,” Ashton explained.
Aiden laughed and nodded. “Sure, Auby. I’ll wear my suit.”
With the vampire and werewolf craziness not ending, Aiden finally decided to go to bed.
The only thing hindering this from being an absolutely lovely day was the feeling that when he was on the date with Jo, there had been someone there, taking photographs of them. He couldn’t shake off the feeling that they had been followed, but with the amount of tourists with cameras it had been impossible to be completely sure.
“Could someone have followed us?” he asked himself.
No, that’s not possible
, he thought. No one knew that they were going to Niagara Falls. Putting all his thoughts aside, he closed his eyes, drifting into a fitful sleep.
- Chapter 22 -
A deep, searing pain started to engulf me, slowly ripping me apart. It felt like an invisible force was tugging at me from all corners, stretching me too thin. Cut, bruised and broken, I prayed for a reprieve from this agony. Groaning and screaming with anguish, I writhed about on the bed. Deep sleep finally claimed me, a sense of calm settling over my turbulence. I knew that Adele was nearby, taking away my pain while giving me comfort, even if it was for just a minute.
Nightmares filled with voices claimed me, and I cried out. A minute later, I felt her calling me to her, guiding me to peace, sometimes just with her voice and sometimes by lightly touching my arm. Groggy, I slowly awoke to a buzzing near the bed I was lying in. There was an IV in my arm, and looking around, I saw that my whole family was here. The minute they saw me, hope filled their faces and my mother walked closer to sit in the chair next to my bed.
“Aiden, my baby, you’re awake! How do you feel?”
I opened my mouth to reply, but my voice wasn’t audible. Had I lost my voice?! When I didn’t reply, she looked at Dad with a sad expression. He came closer, placing his hand on her shoulder.
“I’m here, guys, can’t you hear me?”
Still no luck. Only one person caught my faint voice that was a mere whisper. Adele came to the other side of the bed and held my hand.
“I can hear you,” she whispered, barely audible to anyone but me.
I moved my hand to her face. How can this be possible? She was fifteen, but she looked older. I looked around and saw Ashton standing next to Uncle Will, a little taller now. Alex was nowhere to be seen. A toddler stood near dad, looking at me with curiosity, holding his leg tightly. Dad bent down and picked her up before moving closer.
“Aiey,” she called.
I turned around and saw Adele’s expression, mine reflecting hers perfectly. Curiosity – lots of questions popping in my head. “Who is she?” I asked Adele.
Her face fell. “No . . .” she whispered in shock. I didn’t know why, but my head hurt and I was drifting off into the darkness of sleep again.
* * *
I woke up screaming, holding the sheets tightly. Part of my memory came back. But what good did it do?!
This was the worst spasm I had in weeks. It was exactly one week since I had woken up from the coma. I got up to call someone for help, but fell back down. My legs weren’t supporting me. Pain ripped through my body as if tons of metal had collided at top speed with me, all over again.
“Aiden!” Adele yelled as she came to me. “You’re alright, everything is fine.” She pulled me closer and hugged me tightly, slowly helping me back to my feet.
“It’s getting worse, Adele,” I cried. “I can’t hold on much longer.”
“You will be just fine. You need to fight this!”
Aiden woke up with a jolt. He was completely drenched in sweat. Another nightmare, parts of his memories. The pain, the fear and the betrayal. Betrayal was a new experience, but when did that happen to him? He pinched himself to make sure he was actually awake this time, instead of being in another part of the loop of dark memories.
He turned around to see little Aubrey still sleeping peacefully while holding onto his arm tightly. He slowly pulled his arm out of her grip and got up to see Ashton sleeping in the other bed, the bedding messed up with his foot sticking out from under the comforter near the pillow and his mop of auburn hair at the foot of the bed. He looked at him with a smile on his face as Ashton grumbled before shuffling a little so his head was back on bed and the only part of him visible was the one foot still propped on his pillow; the rest of him was lost under his sea blue comforter.
Aiden walked towards the bathroom to freshen up. He was out in ten minutes and went downstairs to see Adele sitting in the living room.
“Couldn’t sleep?” she asked him, concerned.
He shook his head and made his way to the couch she was sitting on.
“Bad dream?” she asked when he sat next to her.
“Memories, I guess.” He sighed. “We need to leave in an hour. Are you ready?”
“No! I’m scared.” Adele looked at her brother, who was smiling now.
She groaned and swatted Aiden on the arm, her expression stating all too clearly that that was the last thing on her mind. She leaned over and rested her head on Aiden’s shoulder. Smiling, she started talking about their childhood and Alex’s pranks and Aiden and her getting caught as well. The mood relaxed as they sat there, talking about anything and everything. Adelynn walked down the stairs a little while later to see her kids chatting happily.
“Hi there, my cute little babies,” Adelynn called cheerfully.
“Not a baby,” the twins said simultaneously.
“My cute babies,” Adelynn cooed and hugged them both before placing a kiss on their cheeks. “Look at you two, all grown up,” she said, her face portraying her happiness and sadness all at once as she faced Adele and said, “And now you are leaving Momma.”
Adele pouted. “I’m not leaving you guys. Remember, Gabe is human and he isn’t taking me to Mars.”
“Nice one!” Aiden chuckled and gave her a high five.
“Alright, Aiden, I want you to take my car and your siblings to the lake house,” Adelynn said to Aiden. “Your dad and I will join you later.”
“You have a date with daddy, don’t you?” Adele giggled, raising her eyebrow.
“What? I don’t get some alone time with my hubby?” Lynn chuckled as Nick walked towards her.
“Ah! Perfect,” he said, wrapping his arms around her waist and giving her a small peck on the lips. “Aiden, park your car in the garage. Lynn’s Mercedes will be big enough for the four of you.”
Aiden nodded. “We’ll just keep the bags in the car then?”
“Yes, but come back soon. It’s breakfast time.” Lynn smiled as she went to the kitchen, pulling Nicholas along with her.
He waved his kids off with a huge grin on his face. The twins shook their head at their father’s antics and walked upstairs to get the bags from their rooms. Grabbing their own bags as well as Ashton’s and Aubrey’s, they made their way to the car. Once the entire luggage was secured in the trunk of their mother’s car, they stood next to it, chatting.
Ashton walked downstairs to see his parents making out in the kitchen. He groaned and stepped out to see the twins standing near the car. Both looked tense and he had an inkling why.
“I know why you guys are so down,” he called, walking towards them. “Is it because Alex plans to be a vampire at the wedding?”
“Wait, what?” Adele asked, horror etched on her face at the thought.
“Calm down, Twin. He’s going to dress up as a vampire at Gabe’s bachelor party,” Aiden explained. “And this kid here wants to be a werewolf.”
“You both have decided to destroy my wedding!” Adele groaned, glaring at her younger brother. “Gabe will run away before I walk down that aisle.”
“I won’t let that happen,” Aiden assured her. She huffed uncertainly, but relented. Catastrophe averted, they made their way back in for breakfast.
Aubrey was already downstairs, seated next to her dad, happily munching her toast.
“Aidey!” she called eagerly when he walked in.
“Good morning, angel! You are up already?” He smiled, placing a soft kiss on her brow and he joined her.
The invitation cards had already arrived from the printer, and Pierre had taken off to France to invite his friends to the wedding. He caught a flight back to Paris the earlier night, but Danielle didn’t go with him this time. She was already at the lake house with Abigail; she had wanted to see the arrangements personally, making sure that everything was perfect for her granddaughter’s wedding. Aiden guessed that Alex would be there too. After breakfast, they left to join their grandmother at the lake house.
Adele sat next to Aiden in the passenger seat, so Ashton and Aubrey had no choice but to sit at the back. Adele turned around to see Ashton playing a game on his phone. She groaned when she saw him not wearing a seatbelt.
“Ashton Reid! Seat belt. Now!” she warned in a grave tone. That tone of voice usually meant you did what she said or you would feel pain, so Ashton, having enough self-preservation, hurriedly put on his seat belt. The weather was nice and sunny, a huge contrast from the cold of the previous night. With the morning sun streaming through the open windows and the air warm against their skin, the journey had become a lot more enjoyable. Traffic was light, and they managed to reach the lake house pretty soon.
The minute the car stopped, Aubrey got down and ran towards her grandmother. Aiden smirked as his suspicion was confirmed when he saw Alex lurking behind Abigail. He couldn’t help but admire the setting around him. Fairy lights hung from the branches and flowers covered every available surface in a beautiful symphony of colors and nature. The chairs, covered in white satin with a single rose intertwined at top, were artistically placed along the aisle near the lake. The aisle itself was covered with flowers, the blooms mixed and matched to make an enchanting arch under which the happy couple would say their vows. Graceful drapes covered the area near the tables where the reception would be held, giving the area a surreal atmosphere. The table, chairs, aisle, every element had been carefully thought and placed, and he admired Abigail for the amazing job she had done. She had turned a beautiful lake house property into an ethereal wedding venue and they were all amazed with the result.
Aiden turned around to see Adele walking away towards the house. Ashton was standing with Alex, both of them busily arguing about something. Alex waved to Aiden when he saw him. Aiden waved back and walked inside. Adelynn and Nicholas hadn’t arrived yet, so Aiden and Aubrey spent some time with their grandmother, who was telling them about her own wedding. It was funny to hear that Pierre proposed to her with a cat. He gave her his pet and said that he loved her more than his cat. It was an unusual proposal, and they were both rolling in laughter as Danielle did a very apt impersonation of Pierre, “Imagine my surprise when he says
, ‘Thiz iz mi catz, mi loveli french catz. I love thiz catz more zan anyone in ze world but you I lovez now, more zan even mi catz. So you muzt marryz me, for I givez you mi catz.’
Aiden chuckled and smiled at the thought that his grandmother remembered exactly how Pierre had proposed to her even though it was years ago. He wanted that sort of love – unconditional and forever, and he hoped that he had found it in Jo.
Aiden decided to check on Ashton and Alex. He didn’t trust them enough to not start a silly fight right before the wedding. When he came out, he saw Ashton running towards the house.
“Where are you going?” Aiden asked. “And where is Alex?”
“Am I the only one who can smell the amazing aroma of grandma’s brownies? Alex is going to get pizza. He forced Abigail to join him. I’m going in. Bye,” he said and jogged off.
Adele sat on the deck, her legs barely touching the water below. The water wasn’t too cold or warm, and moved pleasantly over her toes. She heard a noise and quickly turned around to see Aiden walking towards her. He was wearing dark blue shorts and a black tee just like her, but she had a black-and-blue checkered flannel shirt on too.
“Hey, Twin,” he said smiling cheerfully. Aiden only called her ‘Twin’ when he was extremely happy or concerned.
“Hey,” she grinned. “Come sit here.” She patted the wood, asking him to join her. He removed his flip-flops and sat down. His feet sunk into the water, way deeper than hers because he was taller.
“Need some alone time?” Aiden raised his eyebrow.
“No, just thinking about stuff. I feel so nervous. What if I mess up? What if I trip while walking down the aisle? What if Gabe runs away?” Adele sighed deeply.
“I highly doubt that you would trip; I see no stones on the aisle. And Gabe loves you, so he will neither run away nor let you fall while he is there,” he teased her, looking towards the aisle. She mock-punched his arm.
“Aren’t you excited?” Adele grinned. Aiden had changed so much recently; he was much more relaxed and open, and it felt good that she got her brother back the way he was before the accident. “You know what they say, ‘He who returns from a journey, is not the same as he who left’. Did something happen to you?”
“Jo happened!” He smiled a secretive smile. “I can’t believe how perfect it is with her. I was wondering if it would be alright to propose to her.”
“You want to get married?” Adele shrieked.
“That bad, huh? You kinda inspired me, Twin,” he winked at her.
“It’s not a bad thing.” She chuckled. “It’s scary, but I think you’ll survive. When do you plan to ask her?”
“At the wedding.”
“Your wedding, genius.”
“Seriously? That’s gonna be awesome!” Adele shrieked again, hugging her brother tightly.
“The water feels so good. I think I’m going to swim for a while,” Aiden said, looking down at the ripples caused by the movement of their feet. “Join me!”