Cody has shared with Paisley and Kai that TJ and JT’s dad is abusive, and hits their mother. She offers to talk to them about her own abuse.
Cody absorbed all this quietly, nodding while he thought. “Okay. Yes. I want you to talk to them. But Kai, you have to keep TJ from hitting me.”
His older brother chuckled. “No problem, Cody. I’ll run interference while Paisley talks.”
“Thank you,” Cody said quietly as the Jeep pulled into their driveway. He scurried off before the others could respond.
Kai helped Paisley out of the Jeep and held her close a moment. “Thank you.”
“I hope we can help. No one should be in that sort of situation. You can’t believe how helpless you feel.”
“No, I can’t. I never understood how a woman could stay with someone who beat them.”
Paisley stiffened, her chin rising defiantly. “Do you think we’re weak? Or that we love them so much we can’t see their faults?”
“No. I think you get in over your heads. You’re so afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing, you do nothing because, you can’t see an escape. But you escaped, Paisley. You got away and the twins’ mom needs to know that.”
“We’ll talk to them as soon as we can,” he said softly.
Conversation stopped while he kissed her.
Since it was late, Paisley spent the night once more. Nina was asleep, but Brad was still up. He wanted to hear about Cody and Marianna’s first date.
“Sounds like you did okay,” he told his son, ruffling his hair. “You keep being polite and gentlemanly, you’ll go far.”
“Ed’s a good guy,” Kai explained. “He just wants his sister to be treated right.”
“That’s what I want to do,” Cody said, rather exasperated. “Why won’t anyone believe me?”
“I believe you,” Paisley said, giving him a hug. “You’re a great guy,” she said, kissing his cheek. “Marianna is very lucky to have you.”
“Thanks.” His dark eyes glittered happily. Touching his cheek, he went upstairs whistling.
The following day, cleanup began at the pool. The insurance adjuster managed to find time to come see them.
“Could have been worse,” he said as he eyed the damage to the pool house. “Thank God no one was hurt. This is messy, but it’s just stuff.”
“Agreed,” Brad said. He’d taken the day off to deal with the adjuster and other details. “More bad weather is coming,” he said, eyeing the sky. “Have you heard a report?”
“They said on the news the storm makes landfall tomorrow night. They expected it to hit at Gulf Shores, Alabama, but it’s turned east. They think it will make landfall between Panama City and Port St. Joe,” the adjuster replied. “I’m gonna get some pictures, then you can get on with the cleanup. The processing could take some time, what with all the damage around the county. I’ll do my best.”
“That’s all we can expect,” Brad replied. “Thank you.”
After the adjuster left, they worked a while longer on cleaning up the rest of the glass in the pool house. Kai’s tower was unsalvageable, so they took it apart and put it in the dumpster along with the other trash.
Damage to the main building was minimal. With luck, they would be able to open it the following day. Brad, Cody and Kai erected a fence between the building and the pool. The area was unsafe and they didn’t want any children wandering in there accidentally. That accomplished, they headed home.
Paisley had spent the day cleaning the house. Nina was better, but felt traumatized by her experience. Tempest had stayed close to her all day. For some reason, her daughter’s presence calmed her more than anything. The two young women had fixed a nice meal, but it wasn’t quite ready.
The men went to clean up, arriving in the dining room as the timer went off in the kitchen. The boys helped serve while Brad helped Nina get settled. The meal was a bit more subdued than some. Nina didn’t feel much like laughing. She was so deep into her sullen mood, it was hard to shake her free. They tried, but it was obvious she wasn’t interested in leaving her sorrows behind.
“It’s just something she’ll have to snap out of,” Brad said. “I set up an appointment with a counselor. I think she needs to speak to someone. The idea that she could have been in the pool house—that freaked her out.”
“I’d never let that happen,” Kai said.
“I know. But she’s caught up in the what if scenario. She’s second guessed her actions and is over thinking it.” He shook his head. “It’s going to take some time for her to get past this.”
“Meanwhile, she’ll go back to work, won’t she?” Kai asked, alarmed.
“I don’t know. I hope so.” Brad sighed. “We’ll figure something out.” He said goodnight and went to bed.
Everyone opted for an early night. Kai’s sleep schedule had been so bizarre lately, he was exhausted. He gave Paisley a goodnight kiss, yawned and went to his room. She watched him with concern, which Cody didn’t miss.
“He’s okay,” Cody assured her. “Things aren’t usually this hectic.”
“I feel like it’s my fault everything is falling apart. Since I came into your lives, it’s been nothing but chaos.”
Cody chuckled. “That’s coincidence, Paisley. For my brother, you’re everything that’s right with his life.”
© 2019 Dellani Oakes