So sorry for the delay and here we go, this is the last chapter in this story and then we move on to Book Two, which fair warning, will not pick up where this one left off but instead will go back in time again. You’ll see what I mean
Thank you all for your wonderful feedback, I'm glad you enjoyed the story and I think you'll like the next one even more since I and my betas did
. Anyways, enjoy, and I will post the first chapter of Tread the Brink of Dreams not this Saturday, but next Saturday.
Chapter Thirteen: Butterfly Wings
Still July 14th, 1999
Philip looked up in surprise when both of his children, Michael and his sister, and another boy he did not know; all came trooping into his home office. Then he noticed the bruise marring Raelyn’s cheek, and the furious expression on Michael’s face, and realized why they were here. If only they had come to him sooner.
Standing up he came around the desk and lightly touched Raelyn’s chin, tilting it so he could see the black eye forming under the yellow glow from his desk lamp. He turned to give Michael his best intimidating lawyer glare and ignored the way the boy was growling under his breath at seeing him touch his sister. “Hank did this?” He said, more statement than question, and at Michael’s nod he continued. “You’re not going back there.” That time there was not even a hint of a question in his flat tone.
“No.” It was Raelyn and she stepped back away from him slightly, trying to smile and failing as she took her brother’s hand. “We’re not.”
“You can stay with us.” He started to say, Isabel nodding fiercely and wrapping her arm around the shorter girl, looking sad and happy at the same time, but Michael shook his head.
“We want to try the emancipation thing you suggested, get our own place.”
Philip opened his mouth to protest, wanting to help them, feeling guilty for not stepping in sooner, and knowing how hard it would be on their own, but the look on Raelyn’s face stopped him.
“We’ll come to you if we need anything, I promise.” The girl said softly and he ignored the protest on his own daughter’s face to nod his acquiescence. Maybe they needed the independence, to move on from whatever that sorry excuse for a man put them through.
Later that night…
Diane walked into her husband’s office after ordering pizza for the kids and found him leaning on the desk, head in his hands and his shoulders stiff with tension. When she started to rub them he shuddered lightly and spoke, his voice muffled. “I should have got them out years ago. They didn’t say anything but this wasn’t the first time. As soon as Max and Izzy started talking about them in the third grade we should have just paid Hank off and adopted them too.”
“Yes we should have.” Diane said pragmatically as her thumbs dug in to work out the knots of tension just above his shoulder blades. “But we didn’t and we can help them now, better than anyone else could. You get the appointment with the judge and I’ll talk to our accountant about setting aside some monthly funds. They’ll never accept help from us outright but if we say its financial assistance from the state for emancipated minors I think they’ll take it.”
For the first time since he had seen the bruise on Raelyn’s face Philip felt his spirits lift and he turned in his chair to pull Diane onto his lap and kiss her soundly. “You are brilliant.”
Diane laughed and kissed him back. “I know. Now put a smile on and go get some pizza.”
July 22nd, 1999
The appointment with the judge had gone smoothly. Both Lyn and Michael already had sources of income, she through her tutoring at the school and him through his job at the grocery store, so they could mostly prove financial independence although Lyn was searching for a job that would make steadier money.
The abuse was all the reason they needed to leave without the consent of their guardian, and Philip and Diane’s standing in the community made them perfect advocates. The official paperwork would not come through for another week and they were staying with the Evan’s until then, but they could start apartment hunting right away.
There were not many housing options in Roswell that they could afford and they quickly found and signed for a small two bedroom apartment in the heart of town. Until they turned eighteen Diane had told them that their rent would be partially paid for by the government, and that they would each receive a monthly allowance though they were expected to obtain employment.
The Evan’s had given them an advance on their first checks as they waited for the paperwork to go through and Lyn used hers to purchase furnishings for the apartment; Isabel, Alex, and her making the rounds of the few thrift stores in town and in nearby Albuquerque. They managed to find a few things that with the help of a little alien magic would do quite nicely.
Michael was not too keen on the idea of letting Isabel help with decorating but Lyn had made it quite clear he had no say in anything but his bedroom, and that she would not let the other girl do anything too damaging to his manly image.
In the end Michael quite liked the deep chocolate carpet, cream walls, and the alien repaired coffee colored leather couch. He used his money to pay for the TV and some groceries, since they knew better than to accept Diane’s offer to cook for them and had foisted her off with the protestation that she had already helped them too much.
The feeling of independence was heady and despite the cost, he found himself glad that they had gotten out when they did. If they had lived with Hank longer someone would have ended up dead; it was better that way.
It would be harder to balance school and work, even taking into consideration the fact that they needed less sleep than most people, but seeing the fear fade from Lyn’s eyes and feeling his own constant tension start to dissipate was entirely worth it.
August 1st, 1999
Isabel threw them a celebration party when they officially moved into their new apartment. Alex was the only guest who was not family but it still felt like too many people in one small space for Michael although he could tell Raelyn loved it. A tiny, highly repressed part of him had briefly wished that he could have told Isabel or Alex to invite Liz and maybe her sister, but the rest of him knew that it would have caused more issues than he wanted to deal with right then.
Just because he had stubbornly decided that he would talk to the girl, Max be hanged, did not mean he had to get all sappy and invite her to his housewarming party. Just the thought of those words made him shudder and he quickly turned his thoughts in another, if less happier direction.
He was still reeling from finding out that Hank had been hitting Raelyn for years, and that she had been hiding it from him so he would not do anything to the creep. The thought of him doing to her some of the things he had done to Michael, or worse, woke him every night with nightmares he could not hide from his telepathic sister.
The fact that she would not talk to him about them, just gave him fresh hot coffee in the morning, proved more than anything that his nightmares were probably close enough to the truth to make him want to go hunt Hank down and bury him, preferably alive.
Philip had told him that he called the Sheriff the night after they showed up but Hank had taken the trailer and left. The Sheriff had not wanted to pursue him, saying it was good riddance of bad trash.
It made Michael glad that he had snuck out the night before and grabbed his sketchbook and Lyn’s camera along with whatever personal belongings he could carry. It also made him furious that Hank had not been there so he had not had a chance to give the man a taste of his own medicine before he left.
Max was helping Isabel hang some of Raelyn’s photos that she had bought frames for, and Lyn was curled up on the couch with Alex, talking in low tones. The boy had a million questions about what they could do and where they came from.
It would have bothered Michael more if he was not so aware of just how much more Lyn smiled when Alex was around. He had a feeling he would need to talk with the other boy soon about not breaking his sister’s heart when he finally got around to telling her how he felt.
Michael scratched his eyebrow and turned to grab another soda from the fridge, he must be getting soft.
September 18th, 1999
Summer was almost over and Isabel had dragged Lyn shopping for new outfits, Alex was hanging out with Liz and her sister, and her brother was with Max somewhere. Raelyn was getting very sick of the mall and when Isabel gestured to one more shop despite the multiple bags dangling from both of their arms she dug in her heels.
“Enough Isabel, I’m tired and hungry, can we at least get lunch before we go…” She glanced at the very pink shop and blushed, “Lingerie shopping?”
Isabel gave a long suffering sigh but nodded, “Fine, let’s eat, but we are getting you some sexy under things missy.” She said with a warm glare, and then her lips turned up into a smirk, “I’m sure Alex would appreciate you shopping there.”
“Izzy!” Lyn gasped and blushed furiously.
The statuesque blond just laughed and linked her arm through the petite redhead’s. “Like I haven’t noticed the way you look at him. Now come on, I want some egg rolls.”
Raelyn just sputtered for a moment but let herself be dragged along and by the time they reached the food court had managed to convince herself that Isabel was insane because there was no way she could feel that way about Alex; Alex who only saw her as one of his girls.
Then all thoughts of anything were pushed away when they sat down at one of the faintly sticky red tables and felt a wash of power flow through them. Their eyes met as the bond crackled with energy and they could both feel each other’s dread, something had just happened, something huge.
Michael watched Liz whisper and giggle with her sister and their friend Maria after scamming a customer and his gut clenched when he realized that Max was staring at her too, the other boy completely oblivious to his companion’s shared fascination for the brunette.
He dragged his eyes away when he heard the arguing in the corner, the sounds of two men yelling grating on his nerves as something he had not had to listen to since they left the trailer park. When the gun came out he froze, time slowing down as they struggled, and then a bullet flew through the air to hit the tender flesh of Liz Parker’s stomach.
His heart stopped.
Frantic thoughts of healing, of calling 911, of doing anything but sitting there, unable to move flashed through his mind, and then Max leapt to his feet, ready to charge in like a white knight on his damn stallion.
Michael grabbed his arm but let go a moment later, not because of Max’s frantic words or the passion in his eyes, but because he could not bear the thought of Liz Parker not being there for him to watch.
Max placed his hand on her stomach and he held back the customers, unable to look behind him for fear that his brother succeeded as well as fear that he did not. Everything was going to change.
The state of New Mexico does not actually provide any financial aid for emancipated minors; if you can’t prove you can make it on your own you don’t get emancipated. They could have applied for welfare or food stamps but I thought what the Evans’ did fit a little better.