Until You

By: Penelope Douglas

It was a bitch to deal with, and he was probably patting himself on the back that he’d called it.

“You know…” he started, letting out a sigh. “I’ve kept my mouth shut, but—”

“Then keep it shut.”

Madoc swung the flashlight out from under the hood, and I jerked backwards, out of the way, as he flung it across the room where it shattered against a wall.

Jesus Christ!

His usual relaxed demeanor was replaced with rage. His eyes were sharp, and his breaths were fast.

Madoc was mad, and I knew I’d gone too far.

Clenching my teeth, I leaned back down, my hands on the car, and braced myself for his meltdown. They came rarely, which gave them more impact.

“You’re sinking, man!” he shouted. “You don’t go to class, you’re pissing off everyone, we’re constantly in fights with random shitheads, and I’ve got the cuts and bruises to prove it. What the fuck?” Every word crowded the room. There was meaning and truth to everything he was saying, but I didn’t want to face it.

Everything felt wrong.

I was hungry, just not for food. I wanted to laugh, but nothing was funny. All of my regular thrills didn’t get my heart racing anymore. Even my own neighborhood, which usually brought me comfort with its familiarity and clean cut lawns, felt barren and void of life.

I was crammed in a fucking jar, suffocating with everything I wanted but nothing that gave me air.

“She’ll be back in eight months.” Madoc’s quiet voice crawled into my thoughts, and I blinked, taking a moment to realize he was talking about Tate.

I shook my head.


Why would he say that?

This wasn’t about her. I. Did. Not. Need. Her.

I tightened my fist around the wrench and straightened my back, wanting to stuff his own words back down his throat.

His gaze dropped to my right hand that held the tool and then back up to my face. “What?” he challenged. “What do you think you’re going to do?”

I wanted to hit something. Anything. Even my best friend.

My ringer broke the stalemate as it vibrated in my pocket. I dug out my cell, keeping my eyes on my friend.

“What?” I snapped into the phone.

“Hey man, I’ve been trying to reach you all day,” my brother, Jax, said, a little muffled.

My breathing wasn’t slowing down, and my brother didn’t need me like this. “I can’t talk right now.”

“Fine,” he barked. “Screw you then.” And he hung up.

Goddamn, son of a mother fucking bitch.

I squeezed the phone, wanting it to break.

My eyes snapped up to Madoc who shook his head, threw the shop cloth onto the work bench, and walked out of the garage.

“Shit,” I hissed, dialing Jax’s number.

If I needed to be level for anyone, it was my brother. He needed me. After I’d gotten away from my father two summers ago, I’d reported the abuse. My brother’s, not mine. He was taken out of that house and put into foster care, since his mother couldn’t be found.

I was all he had.

“I’m sorry,” I blurted out, not even waiting for him to say ‘hello’ when he picked up. “I’m here. What’s wrong?”

“Pick me up, will you?”

Yeah, not with the spark plugs yanked out of my car. But Madoc was still here with his car, probably. “Where are you?” I asked.

“The hospital.”

“Excuse me, can I help you?” a nurse called behind me as I barged through the double swinging doors. I was sure I was supposed to check in with her, but she could shove her clipboard up her ass. I needed to find my brother.

My palms were sweaty, and I had no idea what had happened. He’d hung up after telling me where to find him.

I’d left him alone—and hurt—once before. Never again.

“Slow down, man,” Madoc chimed in behind me. “This will go a lot faster if we just ask someone where he is.” I hadn’t even noticed that he’d followed me in.

My shoes squeaked on the linoleum as I jetted down the corridors, flinging back curtain after curtain until I finally found my brother.

He sat on a bed, long legs dangling off the side and his hand on his forehead. I reached for his ponytail and yanked his head back to look at his face.

“Ow, shit!” he grunted.

I could’ve been gentler, I guess.

He squinted up at the fluorescent lighting as I took in the stitches on his eyebrow.

“Mr. Trent!” a woman’s voice barked behind me, but I wasn’t sure if it was to me or Jax since we both shared our father’s name.

“What the hell happened to him?” I wasn’t asking Jax. Others were to blame.

My brother was just a kid, and while he was only a little over a year younger than me, he was still younger.

And he’d had a life of shit.

His mother was Native American and barely legal when she’d gotten pregnant with him. While he sported our father’s azure blue eyes, the rest of his looks came from her.

His hair was probably black, but it looked a shade lighter and fell halfway down his back. Certain pieces were braided and then everything was brought back to a ponytail mid-skull. His skin was a couple of shades darker than mine, and everything was overshadowed by his bright smile.

A woman behind me cleared her throat. “We don’t know what happened to him,” she snapped. “He won’t tell us.”