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I woke up in Chris’s arms and remembered last night. He offered to sleep on the couch but when I came in and told him I was too upset to sleep he came into my room and embraced me. He whispered sweet, gentle words about how my life would get better soon to try to get me to sleep and I guess he ended up sleeping too. I slowly lifted from his embrace but stopped when his eyes flew open, “Morning.” I whispered and he smiled.
“Feeling any better?”
I sighed, “Somewhat,” I replied, “Do you want some coffee?”
“Sure,” He replied and then followed me out of the bedroom. I went to the kitchen as he sat on my couch, “Good morning, Lulu,” He praised the cat as she purred. I brought him a cup of coffee while holding onto my own cup. He smiled to me as he accepted it, “We haven’t talked in a few months, Raven,” He informed me and I nodded as I sat on the other side of Lulu who sat next to him, “So can I ask about the face wound? Is it new?”
I looked to Lulu and brushed her, “It happened yesterday.”
“Who gave it to you? One of your students or one of your band mates?”
I shook my head, “Evan gave it to me when I made him mad.”
“What made him so mad that he attacked you? He hasn’t attacked you since he was put in the hospital.”
“He was upset because I had not seen him in a while and he was afraid I was going to turn out like my brother or mom and was going to leave him,” I whispered, “And I guess he’ll think the same thing about our dad too, now that he has left us also.”
“But he didn’t choose to leave like your mom and brother.”
I sighed, “Evan won’t understand. Lately he has gotten so bad he actually forgot who his doctor was.”
“Seems as if god will not give you a break.”
I nodded, “I must’ve really pissed ‘im off,” I said with a slight smile, “but I still have my friends.”
He nodded, “You will always have me and Lulu.”
I broadened the smile, “I know and I can never thank you enough for staying at my side.”
“I never want to leave your side, Raven.” He whispered but I looked up when there was a knock at the door. I stood and went to the door to see Kevin.
“Kevin? What are you doing here?” I asked and he smiled.
“I thought I’d come see how you were. Besides, the other guys are worried and they want a full report on how you’re holding up since they can’t come see you while they have to be at work.”
I sighed, “I’m fine, Kevin. You should go home.”
“Come on teach, let me in.” He said with a childish smile and I sighed as I opened the door wider. He quickly came in and knelt down to pet Lulu as she came over to him, “Hey Lulu!” He called as he picked up the cat, but then froze as he saw Chris, “Who’re you? I’ve never seen you before.”
I came over to Kevin and lightly hit his shoulder, “That’s not the way to greet someone, Kevin. Geez.”
“Oh? Is this one of your students or is it a fan, Raven?” Chris said as he stood. He came over to Kevin and shook his hand, “I’m Christopher Hayes. I was Raven’s neighbor, childhood friend, and the doctor that was watching over her father.”
“I’m Kevin Rig, one of Rave’s students and a fan.”
Chris smiled towards me, “You must be very kind to your students if they come to check on you all the time.”
I sighed, “He’s more of the band’s lackey that comes to do stuff the guys can’t. He was asked to come over by Ash.”
“Ah, yes,” Chris replied, “Ash was one of the boys that’s in your band now and went to our school. Wasn’t he a year younger than you and the others in the band?”
I nodded, “That’s him.”
Chris smiled, “Is he still madly in love with you like he was in high school? Wasn’t he the one who always followed you to and from school and called you constantly?”
I let out a laugh, “Yea, but he’s mellowed out a bit.”
“You always seem to attract the hearts of every man you encounter, but it is probably much worse now that you are wearing society’s definition of ‘normal clothes’.”
I sighed, “It wasn’t all that bad, but once the band started making the first album it got worse.”
He nodded, “Yes, but I can understand why. When you gave me the CD of you guys practicing I was in awe,” He put his hand on my shoulder, “But don’t think for one moment that I didn’t notice who that song ‘Up and Gone’ was talking about.”
“Who’s it written about?” Kevin asked as he looked to me.
“It is about what Raven went through when her brother got up and left her, right?” Chris asked me.
I nodded, “You know me too well,” I whispered but then turned to Kevin, “Did Ash say if he had contacted those singers I had told him about?”
He shook his head, “And I don’t think he will ever call them.”
“What do you mean?”
He sighed, “None of the guys will call them, teach, and I wouldn’t if I was them either.”
I frowned, “So you want Released Reality to just stop making music? Is that what you’re saying?”
“You’re band is breaking up?” Chris asked as he put his hand on my shoulder again, “Why would you stop your band? That is all you want to do in life, isn’t it?”
I sighed, “The band isn’t breaking up, I’m just leaving.”
“Why?” Chris asked as I looked away.
“The band is going on a year world tour soon and teach can’t go cause she doesn’t want to leave her brother,” Kevin replied, “But the rest of the band doesn’t wanna play music if she’s not singing.”
Chris sighed, “Evan would not want to stand between you and your dream, Raven. When we used to be best friends all he would talk about was how your band would someday become famous and you would get the life he always wanted for you.”
I pulled away from Chris, “But that was then, and this is now. Eli was still here and so was dad. Now both are gone and never coming back and have caused him to become a completely different person. He needs me here with him, no matter how much I want to go. He raised me and gave up private school in order to stay with me so I owe him this much.”
“I’m sure if you explained the situation to him he would understand. No matter how messed up he is, he’s still your brother and still wants the best for you.”
“So attacking me is what he thinks is best for me?” I asked in a hiss, “He’s nothing like he used to be! He doesn’t even remember who you are!”
“It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t remember me, Raven, it matters if he still cares about you.” Chris whispered and I had to look away because I wished it were that simple. I wish I could go with my band and not anger Evan, but that could never happen.

Four days later I went to visit Evan before my dad’s funeral was going to happen. When I got there Evan was sleeping but his eyes opened as the door was unlocked. He looked to me and gave me a kind smile that hurt, “You’re here, Raven!” He said with warmth, but suddenly froze, “Who hurt you? Is it one of those guys in your band? I’ll kill whoever did that to you!” I put my hand over the four small lines on my cheek and smiled towards him.
“Oh, no. I was scratched by my friend’s cat. He didn’t mean to hurt me and it’s not that bad,” I whispered as I came to his side. I sat in the chair next to his bed, “So how are you feeling?”
He sighed, “Well the doctor here has decided that I have a split personality because I can’t remember the past week,” His face suddenly whitened, “Did you by chance come last week? Cause one of the nurses said I was very violent towards anyone who came near me, but I cannot remember.”
I smiled and shook my head, “No, but I was informed that you were not having a good week.”
He let out a sigh of relief, “Good, of all people, I would not want to hurt my precious sister.”
I felt a strain on my heart, “Well I need to get going. I have a meeting and just wanted to stop by before I went.”
He nodded, “Have a good meeting, Raven,” He took my hand in his and pulled me to his face. He kissed my forehead and then hugged me, “I love you.” He whispered and then let go. I smiled before leaving the room quickly. I ran to my car and cried for about 30 minutes. I then made my way to my father’s funeral at the church he used to go to. When I walked in I saw a lot of familiar family and friend’s faces. Many people came up and greeted me before telling me they were sorry for my loss. I thanked each of them before excusing myself. When I finally got to the front of the church I saw my father in his open casket. The pale face I had come to know stung me and the guilt that Evan was not at my side ached in the back of my mind. I looked up when a hand was set on my shoulder and nearly froze. My heart tried to jump out of my mouth as I gulped it back down before turning fully to the man. His black hair and brown eyes seared my soul and heart at the same time in a nauseating pain.
“Never thought I’d see you again,” I hissed as I crossed my arms over my chest and held myself tightly, “What do you want? Money? Cause the old man can’t give it to you anymore and Evan and I don’t have any.”
“Is that any way to treat your older brother?” He asked as his hand squeezed my shoulder and my body flinched, “I know you have missed me terribly so don’t try to deny it.”
I quickly shoved his hand from me as I tried to stop my speeding heart, “I certainly did not miss you, Eli,” I hissed, “Why would I miss someone who wanted to leave me? That would be as foolish as missing mom being here for this, which could not happen. She chose to leave us, and so did you. There’s no difference,” I looked to my father’s face, “And you left him right as he started becoming sick. I don’t miss you, I hate you. You caused the rest of us so much pain. I had to watch you hurt dad and Evan but having you back with us would be worse.”
“That’s harsh.”
I bit my lip, “Life is harsh.”
He nodded, “So how is my little brother? I have not seen him here. I should say hello to him too.”
I whipped around and grabbed Eli’s blazer in my hand, “Don’t go anywhere near Evan, you ass hole,” I hissed under my breath so no one would look to see me almost strangling my brother, “If you go anywhere near him I will never forgive you!”
He smiled towards me, “Do you care about him that much, Raven? He’s uneducated and naïve.”
I pushed him away, “Shut up. You have no idea about us and you have no right to say anything.”
“I may not know a lot about Evan, but I have a pretty good idea about you, Raven,” He smiled in an evil way, “You killed dad, didn’t you? You let him die.”
I looked away from him as I heard my name. I smiled towards Chris as he came over and kissed my cheek, “How ya’ doin’?” He asked but then stared at my brother, “Oh, Elijah. I did not recognize you. How long has it been? Five years?”
Eli frowned towards Chris and stared at Chris’s arm that went around my hips, “Not long enough, obviously,” He hissed, “So you’re still hung up on my sister?”
Chris frowned, “What if I am? How does that have anything to do with a deserter like you?”
“You have no idea what you’re talkin’ ‘bout doc.”
Chris’s arm tightened around me, “While you’ve been gone I have stayed with your two siblings so I certainly do know what I’m talkin’ about. The question is if you do.”
Eli made a move towards Chris, “Stay outta this, Chris.”
I took a few steps away from the two men, who froze when I did, to pick up my neighbor’s child as she ran to me, “Raven!” She hollered as I picked her up. I kissed the girl’s cheek as she hugged me. I looked to the single father as he gave me a shy, sad smile.
“How are you holding up, Raven?” He asked as he took my hand in his and I sighed.
“I’m alright.”
“Lily was determined to come see you when I found out, but I thought you might need some time without an annoying little child attached to you so I forced her not to go over to your apartment.”
I squeezed the little girl to me, “How could I ever be annoyed with Lily?”
“Raven, where’s Evan? I want to see him too!”
I sighed, “I didn’t think it was a good idea if he came.”
“I’m sure he would be very upset if he was told, but my sister said he has been having troubles with anger lately and lashed out at you,” He touched my cheek, “I can’t believe he did that. For the five years we’ve known you and Evan he has never become this bad.”
“Excuse me, why does your sister know Evan?” Eli asked.
“She works at the hospital he is stationed at,” Frank replied, “But how did you know Raven’s father?”
Eli smiled, “I am his eldest son.”
Frank looked to me, “You never mentioned you had an older brother, Raven. I thought it had just been you, your father, and Evan since you were young.”
I nodded, “Frank, let me introduce you to Christopher Hayes. He is Evan’s best friend, our childhood neighbor, and was my father’s doctor. Chris, this is Frank Howard. He and his daughter Lily live in the apartment next to me.”
“It’s nice to meet you.” Chris said as he shook Frank’s hand.
“Same.” Frank replied but then took Lily from me, “Well we should go.” He whispered and then took Lily away with him. I looked to the priest as he announced we would now be going to burry my dad. I followed the priest as the crowd followed me to the large hole made in the earth. I watched as my father was buried but all I could think about was Evan. A few minutes into the service Chris put his hand on my shoulder and I looked to him.
“You can cry, you know.”
I sighed, “I don’t need to.”
“Then why do you look so sad?”
I squeezed his hand that was on my shoulder, “Did I make a mistake not bringing Evan with me?”
He sighed, “I can’t say if it is right or not. He is not the man he used to be so I’m not sure.”
I looked away from him, “He told me he hated our father so I thought it would be best if he did not come, but now that I’m here without him I feel like I was wrong.”
“Will you tell him?”
I shook my head, “He shouldn’t know.”
“Will you tell him about your feelings towards your band?”
“No, he has enough to worry about. I don’t want to add.”
He hugged me from behind, “Well I’m here for you in his place. I know if he was himself right now he would be here at your side watching and protecting you.”
I leaned back on him, “I know,” I whispered, “Thanks.” We were quiet for the rest of the funeral and did not move even after the crowd had left. All that was left was Chris, Eli, and me. I looked to my purse as it vibrated and took out my phone, “Hello?”
“Hey Rave! So do ya’ want us to pick you up or will you meet us there?” Sly asked and I snapped back into reality.
“Um, when does the concert start?”
“In an hour.”
“Then I’ll meet ya’ guys there. I’m still at school so I won’t get home in time to catch a ride with you.”
“Okay, see ya’ there.” Sly said and I hung up. I pulled from Chris and he let go.
“I gotta get goin’.”
“Do you have a concert tonight?”
I nodded, “It’s my last. I’m announcing that I am leaving the band at the concert tonight.”
“But you still have time before the band leaves. Why stop right now?”
I sighed, “Its better I don’t attach myself even further with the band and the fans,” I whispered but then kissed his cheek, “I’ll see ya’ around Chris.” I added before walking to my car. I went home and quickly changed into my purple dress, my red contacts, red hair extensions, cross necklace, flower leggings that were torn up, and platform boots. I quickly drove to the gig and was allowed in by security into the back. I went to the stage and saw the guys sitting and talking, but they stopped when I walked up. I smiled slightly towards them and then went over to their huddle with my guitar on my back, “Ready to kick some ass?” I asked with a strained voice.
“Let’s do it.” Dwayne replied and I nodded. I got positioned before the announcer opened the curtains and told the crowd that we were here. When the crowd cheered I felt myself crumbling inside. This was the last time I would ever be Rave Life, the lead singer of Released Reality. This was the last time I would hear the crowd cheer, the last time I would sing, and the last time I would play my guitar. I smiled towards the crowd as they quieted down.
“Thank you all for comin’ out tonight!” I called and they cheered. When they calmed down I let out a breath, “For this being my last concert as the lead singer of Released Reality we want to give you the best concert we ever have!” I called and before anyone could comply with my announcement I looked to Dwayne who looked away from me with sadness and quickly started playing. Once it was my turn I sang and played with all my heart to the crowd. They seemed to react to my voice even more than usual and I felt as though I would break down if I stopped singing. When the last song was over I waited for the curtains to close before I dropped down to the ground and burst into tears. Ash quickly came to me and embraced me. I could not stop myself from hugging him back and crying harder. I did not look up until I felt a very terrifying man nearby and sure enough my brother walked over to me.
“You have improved a lot since we were children at singing. I was almost captivated by your voice,” He stared at Ash, “Evan wants to talk to you. I told him everything and he wants to talk to you now.”
I quickly pulled from Ash and ran over to Eli. I grabbed his shirt and pulled up, “I told you not to go anywhere near Evan!” I hissed, “Do you hate me so much that you have to ruin everything even if it does not concern you?”
He smiled, “If you quit this band you will marry Chris, right? Or will you choose one of these hooligans to tie you down? Either way you will marry and I cannot have that happen.”
I shoved him away, “Never come in my sight again, Eli! Or I swear I will kill you!”
He let out a laugh, “Haven’t you already killed enough people by existing? First you kill Evan so that he is a mental basket case and now you’ve killed dad. Are you gonna add me to the list?”
I looked to a security guard, “Security! Remove this man!” I hissed and the large man quickly came over. Eli threw his hands over his head to show he was surrendering.
“Don’t bother, I’m leaving,” He said and then took a few steps away before turning back to me, “See ya’ around sis.” He added before leaving the area. I quickly went to my car before the guys could ask me anything and drove over to the hospital. When I came in the nurse gave me a concerned look.
“Miss Patrice, you should not see your brother right now. He had to be sedated a few moments ago because he tried to attack his doctor and a nurse.”
I sighed, “Alright, well can I please speak with the doctor?”
She nodded, “Of course. I will go get him. Please have a seat and I will bring him to you shortly.” She left and came back a few moments later with the dark haired, dark skinned doctor.
“How may I help you, Miss Patrice?”
“I want to transfer Evan.”
“Is there any reason?”
I nodded, “I will be moving and as his caretaker I need to move him closer to where I am going.”
“Alright, well I will get the forms ready and call you when they are done. When will you be moving?”
“As soon as possible.” I whispered before getting up and leaving. I went to my apartment and quickly fell asleep after throwing my cloths, contacts, and hair extensions in the trash.
I woke up and immediately made my way to the high school I used to work at. The principal greeted me kindly and then led me into his office, “I was surprised to hear from you, Miss Patrice.”
I sighed, “Well, sir, I was wondering if you could possibly help me receive a teaching job near Dallas. I want to move closer to my brother that is very ill.”
“I’m sure I can.” He said and then picked up a phone. By lunch he had already gotten me a job in Coppell, Texas at the high school. When I left the school I already had the job waiting for me at the end of the summer. I went back home in order to call a moving company and fed Lulu. A week later I put the last box outside of my door and looked back into the empty apartment. I sighed before picking up the crate that held Lulu and turned to the movers. They picked up the last box I had just set down as I brought Lulu to my car. I drove to the animal shelter and dropped her off before heading to the airport. I looked to my phone as it rang and quickly threw it in the next trash can I passed before going to my flight.
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