Just as Ryan thinks he's about to get his chance with Ben, drama strikes in the shape of Abby! Why is she upset? What can they do to help? See what's going on in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!
In Pieces #20 (6.4)
“Abby, what’s wrong?” Ryan asked. His question was immediately echoed by Ben, who was already moving toward the distraught girl. Ryan quickly followed in his wake.
Abby seemed surprised to see them. Maybe she’d assumed everyone was in bed by now. She swiped at her cheeks, but said nothing. Ryan thought he heard her sniffle. Maybe she was trying to pull herself together before she said anything. Or maybe she just didn’t want them to know what was going on. When she did speak, it was in her usual calm voice.
“I didn’t know you guys were still out here,” she said, which was not an answer at all. “Sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt anything. I’ll just go back in.”
Before Ryan could think how to respond, Abby had quickly spun back toward the house. She reached for the door, but at the sound of Ben’s voice she drew up short.
“Don’t go, Abby,” Ben said.
Abby froze. She took a deep breath then turned back toward them . “Did you need me for something, Ben?” she asked softly. “I was just about to go to bed. We have a lot to do tomorrow, don’t we?”
Ryan noticed she didn’t look at Ben, even though she was speaking to him, her gaze seemingly fixed on the distant stars.
“Did something happen to upset you?” Ben persisted, despite Abby’s obvious reluctance to discuss whatever had driven her outside at that time of night, in that condition.
“Nothing worth talking about,” she said lightly. “I just went downstairs to get a drink of water and I thought I saw something, that’s all.”
“What did you think you saw?” Ryan asked. He had the feeling she wasn’t being strictly honest with them. That whatever had upset her was something they needed to know about, maybe to resolve.
“Was it something or someone?” Ben asked.
“Maybe both, who knows?” Abby shrugged. “I hear these old Southern mansions are haunted, you know?” She raised her chin, staring at Ben almost defiantly, as if daring him to prove otherwise.
“So you think you saw a ghost?” Ben never paused.
“There are ghosts and there are ghosts,” she said enigmatically.
“How long since you’ve talked to Brandon?” Ben asked. Ryan couldn’t help but notice that Abby flinched at his question.
“A while,” she replied evasively. “We’ve both been busy.”
Who’s Brandon? Ryan wondered.
Perhaps it was the power of suggestion, but Ryan thought he saw a shadow move inside the house. He released an involuntary gasp, just as the door opened, and a figure emerged. With a sigh of relief, he realized this was no ghost, just Abby’s twin, Aiden.
“Abs, I was looking for you. Are you all right? What’s going on here?” His words were directed toward his sister, but his accusatory glance was for Ben and Ryan.
“I’m all right, there’s no need to worry.” Abby assured him as she touched his arm lightly. “Just had a slight scare, that’s all. Nothing to make a fuss about.”
“If you say so.”
Ryan didn’t think Aiden sounded convinced, but whatever Aiden was really thinking, he was keeping it to himself, at least in front of them. Hopefully, Abby would confide in her brother, even if she didn’t want to tell Ben and him what was bothering her. Ryan wasn’t really buying her sketchy ghost sighting. But unless she chose to break her silence, he realized they would likely never know the true story.
“We were just going in too,” Ben said. The twins seemed startled, as if they’d forgotten they weren’t alone. Ben’s words werethe signal to head inside.
The house was eerily silent around them as they ascended the stairs to the second floor. At the end of the hall, Abby retreated quickly into their shared room, without a word. Aiden lingered for a moment. “See you guys tomorrow,” he said. “Thanks for looking out for Abby.” Then he too disappeared, closing the door behind him.
What had they actually done for her, though? Ryan felt as though he’d stepped into the middle of a scene out of a soap opera, with no clue as to what was going on, or how everyone related to everyone else.
He followed Ben into their room, which was just next door. Ben switched on a small lamp on the table between the two beds.
The sound of running water came from the bathroom they shared with Deacon and Keanu, as well as muffled sounds and moans. Looked like someone was having a good time.
An unexpected wave of shyness flowed through Ryan. He busied himself with cleaning off the bed, moving his stuff to the floor for now. He could finish unpacking tomorrow, it was too late now. He just wanted to crawl into bed and get some sleep, although paradoxically he wasn’t sure he’d be able to, every nerve ending on fire with the excitement of the day and being with Ben again.
But most of all he was afraid if he went to bed and closed his eyes, Ben might disappear before he got up. How silly was that?
Once the bed was clean, he set his laptop beside the head of the bed, in its case, where he could easily reach it if he needed it, then took a seat on the bed.
“Bathroom’s occupied, guess we’ll have to undress here,” Ben said. “I can step out, if you want…”
Ryan appreciated Ben’s thoughtfulness, but it wasn’t like they hadn’t undressed in front of each other, many times. Just not recently.
Ryan knew what he wanted more than anything. He wanted the closeness and warmth they’d once shared, and he was fairly sure if he said something, Ben would admit he wanted it too. So why not just come out and say what he wanted?
A light knock interrupted him. Cameron poked his head in.
“Ben, can I get a moment of your time, please?”
to be continued
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