Whisper Of Love (Whisper Lake #1)

By: Melanie Shawn

Before she’d even made it out into the hall, he yelled, “Shut the door!”

She did.

And then she leaned back against it as tears formed in her eyes. She and KJ used to be so close. They’d had a secret handshake and shared inside jokes. She used to be the person he’d come to with any problems he had. Now, their relationship was combative and distant. She’d been told, by more than one person, kids take out their anger on the person they feel the safest with. If that was the case, KJ must feel really safe with her.

She sniffed as she took in a deep breath and tried to pull herself together. It was becoming glaringly obvious that she was doing a horrible job raising the twins and she was letting down her hero, her brother Patrick.

Growing up, neither of them knew who their father, or fathers, were. Their mother was an alcoholic who’d been in and out of jail for DUIs multiple times before she’d wrapped her car around a pole and died. Ali was twelve at the time and Patrick was eighteen. He’d petitioned the court and with the help of some influential members in the Whisper Lake community, he was able to gain custody of his sister. She’d only had to spend a year in foster care, but it had been a nightmare. She wasn’t sure she would’ve survived if she’d had to be there until she’d turned eighteen.

So, three years later when Patrick’s girlfriend took off and left him and their twins before their first birthday, Ali had been more than happy to step up and help take care of the boys. Patrick didn’t like to ask for help, but she pitched in any way she could.

She’d loved being an aunt. She was a kickass aunt. She could’ve won awards for her aunting.

When she turned eighteen and her brother had asked her to be the twin’s legal guardian if anything should happen to him she hadn’t hesitated, but she’d never thought she’d be called on to actually do it. When he’d told her that he would also be leaving her their grandfather’s house and business Whisper Lake Rentals, she’d said great, never in a million years thinking either would come to pass.

In her eyes, her brother was invincible. He was larger than life. He was her hero. But she found out that brain aneurisms didn’t care about any of that.

It had been eighteen months, three days, and seven hours since her brother’s tragic and sudden death. She missed him so much her body physically ached. Her grief often caused flu-like symptoms that seemed so real she’d been to see Dr. Williams on several occasions, only to be told that she needed rest, which she interpreted as him telling her, “It’s in your head.”

Ali felt so lost, so scared, and so alone without Patrick in this world.

She closed her eyes and tried to hear his voice, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t. For as long as she could remember, whenever she was scared or nervous, or overwhelmed, he’d look her straight in the eye and say, “You got this.” Whether it was being afraid to fall asleep because she was having nightmares, facing a bully at school, or even being taken away by a social worker after being told her mother was dead, all her brother had to do was lock eyes with her and say, “You got this” and she believed him.

Whenever Patrick said that phrase she was instantly infused with confidence. Whatever she was facing suddenly wasn’t as terrifying. For the first few months after his death, all she’d had to do was close her eyes and she could see and hear him saying those three magic words. Lately, though, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t.

The dryer buzzed loudly downstairs and she pushed off the wall, wiped her tear-stained cheeks, and put one foot in front of the other, just like she’d been doing for the past year and a half.

As she started down the stairs, she saw her other nephew, Patrick Benjamin Walsh Jr. sitting at the kitchen table reading The Lord of the Rings.

When the twins were born, Patrick named his first born after himself and when KJ showed up ten minutes later he named him after his best friend Kade. The boys were called Ricky and KJ so as not to confuse them with Patrick and Kade version 1.0.

Ricky had always taken after Patrick and had grown to be the spitting image of him with his huge hazel eyes and light brown hair. Every day he looked more and more like his dad. Luckily, he had his dad’s temperament as well. He was calm, hardworking, always ready to help if anyone needed him, and a frequent flyer on the honor roll.

In a strange, and in her opinion cruel, twist of fate, KJ had taken after his namesake as well. From his dark hair and green eyes to his rebellious attitude; his affinity for all things sports-related and total lack of interest in school.

The two of them reminded Ali so much of her brother and Kade at their age. Tears started to threaten her eyes again, but she sniffed them back.

“Hey, Ricky!” she greeted him sounding as chipper and upbeat as she could.

“Hey,” he answered, his focus still on his book.

She grabbed a pair of KJ’s shoes that had been left in the middle of the kitchen floor. She couldn’t count the number of times she’d asked him to clean up after himself, especially his shoes since his size thirteens were a serious tripping hazard, but it was like talking to a brick wall. She set them in a cubby off of the mudroom and saw Ricky’s science project sitting on the folding card table.