Misperception (Finnegan Brothers Book 3)

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Misperception

Finnegan Brothers 3

By Morgan Black

 

Misperception

Published By Metamorphosis Books

Copyright © 2014 Morgan Black

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places or events are entirely the work of the author. Any resemblance to actual persons, events, or places is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. Please purchase only authorized editions and do not participate in piracy of copyrighted materials.

Cover art by Cover Up Designs

 

1

 

I sprinted through the night until I came upon a couple from the party.

“What happened?” I gasped through rushed breaths. “Why is everyone standing around?”

The girl looked at me, annoyed. “Because there’s a guy on the roof?”

“What?” I looked past them and saw Zoe and Blake. I ran to them.

“What the hell is going on? And why is some asshat on your roof?”

Blake looked at me. “Where have you been?”

I tried to smooth down my hair. “Doesn’t matter. What is going on?”

Zoe began, “Well, see…”

“Lena!” I heard my name and spun around to see who it was. My eyes flew to the roof. I shut them in frustration.

“Tell me I don’t see Slade on the roof. Tell me I don’t.”

Zoe set her lips into a thin line. “You do.”

“What in the absolute hell is he doing up there?”

Blake rolled his eyes. “We don’t know and he’s refusing to come down. He says he’ll only talk to you.”

I heard him scream for me again.

I sighed. “Slade, what the hell are you doing up there? Get down here!”

“Not until everyone knows the truth.”

I turned back to Zoe and Blake. “He’s drunk.”

Zoe nodded. “He’s three drinks past drunk.”

I tossed my head back. “Fuck.”

Slade started yelling again. “Lena, Lena we need to tell them the truth.”

I spun around. “Slade, shut up.” People stared at me wide eyed. They looked uncomfortable. I hated being embarrassed. I hated Slade for making me feel this way.

He yelled again. “Lena, come on.”

“Slade, shut the fuck up.” I couldn’t think, all those eyes looking at me. Judging me.

Blake shook his head. “I’m out of here.”

“What?”

“You’re here, you can handle him on your own. You’re the only one he wants to talk to anyway.”

He turned away. “Blake,” I pleaded but he ignored me.

He stopped at a group of people and whispered in a blonde girl’s ear. She smiled flirtatiously and he put his hand on her lower back as he led her toward the front of the house. It was a gentle touch; he knew her well. Awesome—another Finnegan brother getting laid.

“Lena.” I heard my name again but this time it came from another man’s lips.

Micah.

“What’s going on here? Who is that on the roof?”

Shit. How was I going to explain my way out of this one?

“Lena?”

“Micah, hi,” I breathed. “I don’t know what’s going on really. Slade is an old friend. And he’s up there for God knows what reason. Mostly because he’s drunk. I’m so sorry.”

I moved over to him and touched his chest. He looked more put together than I did. I’m sure I looked like a mess. As I put my hands on his chest I thought back to his naked body on mine only minutes before. Why had I come back to this disaster that was my life? Why hadn’t I stayed in Micah’s arms, where it was safe? Where I was safe?

Slade started yelling again. “Lena! Lena, I need you.” It almost sounded like he was pleading with me. Like he needed the truth to come out because it was bursting out of his body. Traveling like poison through his veins. But I didn't have anything to say to him. If he wanted everyone to know that I slept with him, then this was certainly one way to do it.

“Slade! You need to stop. You need to get the hell off the roof and knock this ‘I’m a victim’ shit off.” Micah stood behind me protectively. I could feel his presence and it gave me confidence. His protective instinct was rolling off him in waves, just another wonderful quality about a good man. I wasn't used to those, not since Blake. And Blake had just left me here to deal with his drunk brother. Some man he was.

Zoe looked back and forth at us, seeming to assess the situation. I wanted to say her ability to size up and deescalate a situation was just a unique skill of hers, but I knew it was something that she learned from the Army. “Micah, why don't I show you to your car? The situation isn’t really something you need to be involved in. Slade is just drunk. We'll take him home as soon as he gets down and this will all be forgotten, right?” She eyed him carefully, daring him to disagree.

Micah looked at Zoe and then back at me. “If that's what Lena wants…”

I nodded my head vigorously. “It's what I want, Micah. Listen, I'm really sorry our night ended like this. I'll make it up to you, I promise.”

He shot Slade one more nasty glare up on the roof. “Text me when you're home.”

I nodded again, “Of course I will.” I landed a quick kiss on his cheek before Zoe led him away. She tossed me a look over her shoulder and I mouthed ‘thank you’ to her. She smiled back.

The party started to return to normal after somebody had turned music way up so that you could hardly hear Slade’s yells anymore. I walked up to the edge of the house so that I could get a better look at him. He had a mark on his face and was still holding a beer bottle. It almost looked like he had been in a fight. “Slade, you have to come down.”

He moved over to the edge of the roof and sat down with his legs dangling over the edge. I could almost touch his boots. “I saw you watching us. I know that you saw me and Adriana.” Well shit. I could feel the heat rise in my cheeks and was glad the night masked my embarrassment. He continued, “But there is something you don't know.”

I tried to talk calmly to him almost like he was an injured animal. I hoped it would bring him down. “What do I not know? Tell me, I'm listening.”

He looked away for a moment and I thought that he would slump over at any second. That would be really bad for two reasons. One, because he would fall off the roof and break his neck and two, he would fall off the roof on to me and I would also be dead. But instead he just shrugged his shoulders like he still had some ownership over his faculties. “The whole time I was fucking her I wanted it to be you. I even said your name.” He shook his head back and forth, clearly disgusted with himself. I didn't react, hoping that it would continue to calm him down, but he kept going. “I said your fucking name, Lena. I could have any girl in the world and yet I want you! Why the hell is that? Why do you still have this hold on me after all this time?”

Now it was my turn to look away. “I don't know.” I looked back up at him and his eyes met mine, “It was only one night, Slade. I don't know why you keep thinking about it as more than that. I never loved you, and I never will. I loved Blake, and it killed me to hurt him. And what you and I did, it can't be erased. So we're stuck with the consequences of our actions.” It was like suddenly a switch had gone off my brain. I had to live with the consequences of my actions. If that meant that Blake wouldn't help me out with his brother standing on the roof, then I had to deal with that. It was time to accept it and move on. “We have to move on, Slade. Both of us. It's not right to keep reliving it, it just hurts Blake even more.”

He laughed and took a swig out of his bottle, which looked nearly empty in the moonlight. “It's always you, Lena, always thinking about Blake. Do you ever think about yourself? Do you not love me because of him? Or do you not love me because you don't care about me?”

I knew the answer in my heart. “I don't love you because I just don't. I care about you, but I don't have feelings for you in that way. Sometimes people just have sex, Slade—you should know that better than anyone.”

He laughed again. “Of course I should know that better than anyone. I've slept with almost every girl at this party.” Then he started yelling again, “Including you!” He attempted to stand up, but when he reached for the shingles to pull himself back onto his feet, the bottle slipped from his grasp. He turned to grab it as it fell off the roof, landing only inches from my feet. As he twisted his body to maintain his grasp on the shingles, he lost his footing and my eyes became wide with fear as I backed up, knowing I couldn’t catch him. I heard a girl scream behind me as I looked at the crumpled figure that was Slade Finnegan on the stone patio. My hand covered my mouth in horror. He wasn’t moving. I moved closer and I could hear him crying. I reached out to him and just as my finger brushed against his jacket he shook me off though I knew he was hurt. “Zoe! Zoe where are you?”

I heard the girl behind me again, “He jumped! I saw him jump!”

I shook my head and yelled back, “He didn't jump, you idiot, he fell. Has anybody seen Zoe?”

Just as I turned around to call for Clara to look for her, Zoe rushed my side.

“Is he okay?”

I turned looked at her. “I don't know.”

She tried to talk to him and stroked his bicep as he cried in a crumpled heap. “Slade, are you okay? Is anything broken?”

He looked up at her and wiped his face. “No, I'm fine. I just need to go home.”

Zoe looked over her shoulder and nodded to two of the guys Slade had been talking to earlier in the evening. “Pick him up and take him home. Make sure he's okay before you leave.”

One of the guys grabbed him from under the armpit and practically lifted him up by himself. “You got it.” He gave me a nasty glare as he pulled Slade away.

I was still kneeling on the ground as they dragged his body away, completely unsure of what to do with myself. He hadn't jumped, he had slipped, but it was still my fault. I looked at Zoe shaking her head. “Girl, you have got to get these guys off of you. They go crazy when you're around.”

I closed my eyes. “You and I both know that Slade was crazy the whole time.”

She chewed on her lower lip and sat back cross-legged on the ground. “You know he's been like this ever since the accident.”

My head snapped up the word accident. I hadn’t heard anything about that. “What accident?”

Zoe started to pick some dirt from underneath her nails. “It was maybe two years ago? He'd been dating this girl named Megan. She was pretty and a real badass. Totally Slade’s type, nothing like you.” Wow, that was a relief. “She liked to ride motorcycles with him, but then one night… I don't know, the story was that she got hit by a drunk driver and she wasn't wearing a helmet. She didn't even make it to the hospital. Slade saw the whole thing. He's never really gotten over it.”

I was shocked. No one had ever said anything to me about this. Why had another secret been kept hidden from me?

“Oh my God, that's awful. Why didn't anybody tell me?”

Zoe shrugged, still not making eye contact with me. “You weren’t around. And I was leaving on a tour, it just didn't seem like the right time. But after tonight—I don't know, Lena. I think he might need some help.”

I didn't really have anything to say. “Yeah maybe.” It was all I could come up with. Slade did need help, but was I the right person to give it to him? I didn't think so.

 

2

I decided the next morning I would call Blake and ask for help with his brother. I had to assume that he didn't know how bad it was, or he would've gotten him help already. I waited anxiously as the phone rang, but he picked up quickly. “Hi Blake, it's Lena.”

“A little early in the morning for you, isn't it? Especially after a party as dramatic as last night was.”

“Very funny. I can't believe you just left me there to deal with him.”

“Left you there? You left me four years ago. I've been dealing with him being a jackass ever since. Scratch that; I was dealing with him being a jackass before that too. So what? I wanted a night off. I deserve it. I'm tired of dealing with his antics all the time.”

I sighed thinking about what I was about to say. “But don't you think there could be a reason for him acting so inappropriately? Zoe told me about Megan. Why didn’t you tell me his girlfriend was killed?”

There was silence at the other end of the line. I felt like time stood still until he began speaking again. “It wasn't my news to share.” I could hear guilt in his voice.

“But Blake, he really needs help. Zoe said his drinking has gotten out of control since she died. What does your family think?”

“They think that he's an adult, and that he should handle this himself. He's never done anything that stupid before. Last night was the worst I've ever seen him.”

“You need to talk to your family, something needs to be done about him. He needs your help, Blake.”

“Thanks for your concern. I don't know, I’ll talk to them. But you know Slade will not want to have any part of that.”

“He might, if it came from you. You’re his brother, his best friend. He trusts you, he’ll listen to you.”

“I'll try, okay?” I could hear frustration in his voice, but I knew that meant he might really be hearing me.

“Okay.”

“So what does your new boyfriend think about our little town from last night?” I could hear the smile in his voice.

“He wasn't super impressed; I’m still doing damage control on that one.” I texted Micah when I got home the night before but he hadn't responded. I texted him again this morning but still there was radio silence. I was hoping he wasn't completely done with me, but after last night who could blame him?

“I guess that's what small towns are like though, right? Everybody in everybody else's business.”

“Something like that.”

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