If Arthur MacRelland could have bought the rain for this day, he would have. That's why today it felt especially appropriate for a funeral – for his funeral.
I sat across from my aunt and my cousin as the limo pulled away from the cemetery. It wasn't one of those rented limos either; this one actually belonged to my cousin's family.
Aunt Maries's phone buzzed, interrupting the awkward quiet. She recrossed her legs and flipped it open.
Arthur MacRelland II looked at me and rolled his eyes. Rex, as everyone called him, was tall, pale, and handsome. He'd always seemed a lot older than me though less than a year separated us.
"No. No. I ordered thirty dozen red chrysanthemums, but it doesn't matter… They were supposed to bring them around at 10:30… For Christ's sake, De Milo! Today is my husband's funeral. Please don't call me again. Thanks… You too. Bye.
"I'm so sorry, Vivian dear," she said to me as she pressed the end call button, dropping her cell into her black Valentino clutch. "You know that it would mean a lot to Arthur to know that you were here."
"No problem," I said with difficulty. I was sitting on my hands to keep from fidgeting. Rex looked at me with a mix of weariness and amusement. He knew I'd rather be anywhere but here.
Within a few minutes, the limo was passing through the wrought-iron gate that led to the MacRelland's palatial colonial style house at the top of the hill. It parked on the circular drive and the chauffeur hopped out and came around to open the door. Marie, Rex, and I piled out of the car and stood beneath the chauffeur's umbrella as the rest of the funeral procession began to park behind us. My mother jumped out of her Rolls, red hair flaming against the gloomy surroundings.
"Hello, Vivi," she called with a little wave.
Aunt Marie turned up her nose. She detested her sister-in-law; thus, I got her spot in the family car. Lucky me.
"Come on," said Rex, offering me his arm. I took it, and together we hurried up the front steps and beneath the second story's wraparound porch. Marie allowed the doorman to escort her to the door so that she did not get rained upon. As Rex and I walked into the foyer, I heard her warmly greeting each guest as they passed, and yet somehow missing my mother. I dropped my cousin's arm and sank into a couch.
Rex continued walking, all the way to the bar on the far end of the room. I watched as he had the bartender make him a drink. Rex took the glass and drained it in a single movement. Leaning against the bar, he nodded for the man to make him another one.
"Rex," I said.
"It's my house. I can do whatever the hell I want."
"It's not that," I said, nodding back at the guests filing through the door, talking amongst themselves.
Rex grabbed the second gin and tonic and left the room. With a sigh, I sunk deeper into the cushions. Guests were starting to come into the living room, murmuring condolences at me as they passed by. I wasn't sure whether to smile or try to look more upset. In the end, I settled on only nodding, leaving my face to do as it wished. Within the confines of my black pencil skirt, one of my knees bounced with anxiety. I swept my hands down my thighs, stilling my nerves.
My father moved awkwardly through the throng towards the sofa I was slouching into. "How are you?" he asked. He looked as uncomfortable as I felt, though for a different reason. For my father, an extreme introvert, this must be torture. Being around people usually wasn't a problem for me; it was just these particular people. I hadn't seen my aunt and uncle in six years before today, and Uncle Arthur had been in a casket.
"I'm fine, Dad," I sighed.
"And your aunt and cousin?"
"They're fine too."
"Yes, well… good."
"Look, why don't you take a walk around," I suggested, taking pity on him. "It will give you something to do."
My dad brightened immediately. "Capital idea, Vivian. Why don't you accompany me?"
"Its okay. I'm waiting for someone."
"Come on dear. You know Rex is… busy. He isn't the same person as the boy you grew up around."
I blinked, surprised at his response.
"That's not who I…" I started and then trailed off. I shook my head to clear it, trying to get a coherent thought out. "But anyways, I guess I will come with you."
At that moment, the doorbell rang. I leaned sideways slightly on the couch to get a better view of the entryway. One of the maids opened the door, revealing a sodden, dark skinned teenager standing on the porch. The maid looked a little taken aback.
"Marcus!" I said, jumping up.
"Hey, Vee. Sorry, I forgot my umbrella." He pushed his fingers sheepishly through his drenched hair as though trying to wring it out.
"No, its fine. Come on in. Um…" Awkwardly, I trailed off as Marie entered the foyer.
"Hello, Marcus. How are you?"
"Fine, ma'am. I'm terribly sorry about all this."
My aunt waved his sympathies away. "Really dear, Arthur had stage four cancer. He had to die eventually."
Marcus and I looked at each other, disconcerted and astonished, as Marie snapped for a caterer's attention.
"Will you grab me a towel from the bathroom down the hall?"
The round-faced woman nodded and scurried away as Marie turned to Marc and I. "If you'll excuse me a moment," she said, drifting away.
"I'm glad you came," I said to Marcus when we were alone again.
"Me too. I wouldn't be here if I hadn't known you were going to come too."
"Forced to come's more like it." I hesitated. "Listen to us. Wouldn't Rex just be so happy if he could hear what we were saying?"
Marcus coughed meaningfully and nodded towards the reception. From across the room, Rex had spotted us and was heading in our direction.
"Hey guys," he said. "Go for a swim on the way here, Marc?"
"I didn't have an umbrella," said my friend with a shrug. "And I had to park a block down the street. How many people came?"
"About eighty, mostly from my dad's work."
Marcus nodded. I took Rex's hand in mine. His expression was distinctly careworn, yet only his eyes showed his grief. He was much too prideful to let anyone see what it cost him to hold everything together.
From within the living room, Marie lifted her wine glass and gave it a sharp tap with a silver spoon.
"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for coming. I know Arthur would have appreciated you being here very much. I just have a few things to say to you all very quickly.
"First, as you know, my husband was a very caring person. He treasured his bonds with each of you until the day he died. He used to say that personal connections were more important for success than anything else in the world, including smarts, charm, or business skills. I believe this is a lesson Arthur would have wanted each of you to remember.
"Family was also very important to my husband. The family he had at work as well as his family at home."
My mother stopped whispering to her friends and turned towards Marie, an expectant, almost hopeful look on her face.
"Despite the hardships of his life as a business owner and his struggle with the cancer that ultimately took his life, he remained in close contact with his sister, Shannon, and her family," Marie continued, "close contact that we hope to continue to share. In addition, Arthur was an active participant in the life of his son."
What BS, I thought, confused. He never talked to my mother after we moved away.
Now people started to turn towards us. They smiled sadly at Rex, whose hand was clenching into a fist with my throbbing fingers inside.
"Arthur was always there to watch little Rex's baseball games and school events," Marie continued. "Why, I remember the one time he missed anything. Our son was graduating from fifth grade and Arthur had a client emergency and couldn't be there. Afterwards, he put all his work on hold to take Rex for a three week vacation in the Bahamas, just the two of them, to make up for it."
"Lastly and above all, Arthur valued hard work…"
"I can't do this," Rex said in a low voice. "I need to get out of here."
"What?" I asked.
"You heard me. Let's get out of here. Now."
I glanced back into the reception. No one was paying any attention to us at the moment. My father was nowhere to be seen; my mother engaged by Aunt Marie's words.
"Okay," I said. "Where do you want to go?"
"I don't care."
I took one last quick look at the living room. It was doubtless that people would notice our absence in a minute or two, but the choice between leaving with my cousin or staying in the reception full of fake, greedy people was not a choice at all.
"Wait," said Marcus. "I don't see you can just leave."
"Well, it wasn't your uncle who…"
"Just died," Rex said, and though I was going to say something else I held it back.
"And you're coming too."
Rex's jaw tightened perceptibly. Marcus, too, looked uncomfortable. "What do you want me to do with this?" he asked stiffly, holding out the towel the caterer had brought him during Marie's speech. I took it from him when Rex didn't move and dumped it into an oversized urn by the door.
"Come on, guys. We haven't seen each other in six years. Can't you just…"
Rex held up his hand, stopping me from finishing, and wordlessly leaned over to pick up three umbrellas from the coat rack. He handed one to me and the other to Marcus, who took it and grudgingly followed us out onto the porch.
"I know how I'm going to get my car out," Rex said, narrowing his eyes at the cars that blocked off the garage doors.
"We can take mine," Marcus offered.
Rex didn't look pleased, but he didn't argue. Umbrellas open against the downpour, we made our way down the long drive and onto the street where Marcus's ancient Volvo waited.
"Where are we going anyway?" Marc asked as he fished the keys out of his pocket and got into the driver seat.
"There's an old coffee shop down the road," Rex said. He opened up the passenger side door for me.
"You should have shotgun," I contended. "It's your dad's funeral today."
"Get in, Vivian," he said, not looking at Marcus. Something in his tone stopped me from arguing further, and I dropped into the front seat. Rex got into the back and slid to the middle. It was a little comical to see him folded into the narrow space, his legs jammed up against the consol. Marc forced his key into the ignition and the car started with a choked growl.
"Why'd you want to leave so badly all of a sudden, Rex?" I asked. "I mean, I know that story your mom told must have been embarrassing and all but still..."
"Fifth grade," he said dully.
"The year Lilith died," Marcus answered, taking his deep brown eyes off the road for a second to meet mine.
"Oh." We fell silent. I remembered suddenly another stormy day just like this in a town only a few miles north of here, another car, this one going way too fast, speeding down a road out in front of a school. I shut my eyes tightly, willing the memory away.
Marcus drove very slowly and carefully into town. Within a minute, we had pulled up in a grimy old shopping center. The Starbucks was tucked away into the furthest corner, squeezed between an empty nail salon and a dented and rusting dumpster.
Marcus pulled his car into a parking spot outside the coffee shop. We got out and ran though the rain to the front door. I expected it to be nicer inside, but it was, if anything, even shabbier. The interior was dimly lit, and there were only seven or eight tables. It didn't seem like the quintessential Rex hangout.
"Large espresso," Rex told or, rather, commanded the girl behind the counter. "Make sure it's hot."
The girl, overworked with brown hair pulled back into a messy pony, eyed Rex wearily. I stepped up beside him and ordered a chocolate frappe. Marcus got a green tea. We collected our drinks and sat at a table in the back corner, Rex and I facing the rain pounding against the shop windows.
"How's boarding school, Vee?" Marc asked.
"It's so-so," I said, drawing my eyes away from his dark lips, pursed as he blew on his tea to cool it. "Not any more exciting than regular school, just with people who seem more annoying because you're around them longer. Well not everyone…"
Marcus's features seemed to harden somewhat, his eyes flicking away from mine and then back.
"What does that mean?"
"Nothing… it's just, well, there's this guy."
"Are you two kids going out?" Rex asked when it became apparent Marcus wasn't going to.
"We have been, off and on. Currently on." I twisted the ring he, Brandon, had given me around my finger as I spoke.
Rex smirked over the flask of whiskey he was surreptitiously tipping into his coffee. "Well Vivian, I must say that I'm surprised. I thought we were the only ones in the world capable of tolerating you."
I rolled my eyes and punched him on the arm. "Looks like you were wrong, douche bag," I said.
Rex threw a salt packet at me. Clearly, the alcohol was taking effect.
"Anyways," Marcus interjected in a slightly louder than usual voice. "I'm glad to see that neither of you have changed. Though I kinda hoped you might learn to work out your conflicts nonviolently."
"Do you remember that time we egged my tutor?" I asked, leaning forward. "We stole all of the eggs that that chef was using to make your dad's birthday cake, Rex, and the three of us threw them out my bedroom window. Professor Gigahutzen was so mad."
Both boys smiled. It was the first one I'd seen on Rex's face in over six years, yet it only served to contrast how low I was suddenly feeling.
"Why haven't we done anything like that since? Why did it take us so long to see each other again?"
Their expressions beseeched me to stop, but I couldn't.
"We shouldn't have gone our separate ways afterwards. I know that it was a horrible thing, but not talking about it only made it worse."
"Do you even remember what happened, Vivian?" Rex asked cautiously.
Again, the scene played out before my eyes. I went back through my memory, trying to piece everything together. The weeks after the accident were a blur: the funeral, going to court, moving away; a new town, new house, everything. Remembering the accident itself was even harder.
"There was car crash," I said with difficultly. "Lilith was in the middle of the road. The driver couldn't do anything because of the rain."
"He could have been going slower," Rex growled.
"I still don't understand why I had to move away or why we haven't talked. I only live two states away, I could have come visit."
"My mother hates your mother, remember?" Rex stated wryly.
"I think it had more to do with her court case," Marcus said in a quiet voice.
Rex was clenching his hands into fists again.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
He struggled with the words. "They thought there might be some evidence… something you knew that could help with the case…"
"You really don't remember anything, do you?" Rex's voice was low and, as before, sardonic, yet it belied his pain.
Slowly, I shook my head. My cousin responded by slamming the flat of his palm down on the table, making Marcus and I jump.
"I need something stronger to drink. I wonder…"
"One of the teachers thought they saw Rex yelling something to my sister before she ran into the street," Marcus said simply. I knew this, or, rather, I'd known it.
"I don't remember," I muttered, gazing into Marcus's wide, deep eyes.
I'd been walking next to Rex, holding an umbrella as the rain came down in sheets. The public elementary school across the street had just let out on the last day of school. All of the little boys and girls were pouring out onto the front lawn, and there was Lilith, shivering in the rain without an umbrella or coat. 'Lilith, you can have my jacket,' Rex had called, shrugging one shoulder out of his navy uniform blazer. Lilith glanced back at her teacher and then ran across the street, just as the silver sports car turned the corner and hydroplaned across the road.
My stomach lurched painfully, drawing me back to the present.
"I'm so sorry," I rasped out, though I wasn't sure who I was apologizing to: Marcus or Rex.
"Vivian? You look sick."
"You called for her," I said regaining my voice. "You called for her and she was hit by that car and she died."
Rex went deathly pale.
"Is that true?" Marc asked him.
"I meant to give my best friend's little sister my jacket," Rex said in a hollow voice. "Trust me when I say there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about it."
"Oh my god." Marcus's features were distorted into a mask of shock. He didn't look angry, not yet. My own heart felt like someone had driven an ice pick through it. I couldn't look at his face any longer, not even into those deep brown eyes that had pulled me from the depths of forgetting.
"I need a second," I said, standing up. I walked unsteadily over to the counter.
"Can I help you?" the cashier asked.
I didn't answer her, just stared up at the menu, trying to figure things out. How could I have forgotten that day? What would have happened to Rex if I had told anyone what he'd done? How much responsibility did he have for her death?
"Hey, there are other people in line," the girl told me.
"Yes… can I just have a regular coffee?"
I registered that she was still looking at me like I was some kind of freak, but I didn't care. I paid for my drink, grabbed it, and walked back to our table. I dropped into the nearest empty chair, the one next to Marcus.
"That vacation to the Bahamas," I ventured after a long moment where no one spoke, "that wasn't because your dad missed graduation was it?"
Slowly Rex shook his head. "It was to protect me."
"What about after you came back?"
"My parents alienated our family from yours. You moved away. That's all there was to it."
"You're saying they covered for you, so that you wouldn't get in trouble," Marcus stated.
Rex stood up. "I think we should be getting back, don't you?"
"Rex, wait," I said.
Marcus got to his feet too. "That's a good idea."
Unhappily, I picked up my coffee and followed them out into the rainy late afternoon. The car ride back to the MacRelland's mansion passed in silence. At the top of the drive, Rex got out, enviably steady. I was shaking and I hadn't had a drop to drink.
"Thanks for the ride, Marc," he said. "Vivian, you coming?" Without waiting for my response he turned and strode up the steps.
I shifted towards Marc. He sat with his fingers tight around the steering wheel. We were both quiet.
"You're handling this really well, you know that," I told him.
"I'm trying." His fingers loosened from around the wheel and he turned towards me. "So, I'll be seeing you again soon?" he asked.
I nodded. "Definitely."
"You'd better go. I would hate for your family to wonder what happened to you, especially if Rex-."
"I know." I undid my seat belt and started to get out of the car.
It hardly seemed fair that Rex and I would go back into our lives with the luxury of forgetting, while Marcus would drive home to Greybrook, the place where the three of us had grown up and where his youngest sister had been killed.
I pulled the door shut and dropped back into the seat.
"What is it?" Marcus asked.
"I'm coming with you. I mean, I'd like to if you don't mind driving me."
"I don't mind. But how are you going to get back?"
"I'll take the bus or something."
"You'd take a bus?"
"Yes, peasant. Yes, I would."
"What are you going to tell your parents?" Marc asked, his tired smile disappearing.
"I'll call my mom and explain that my friend had a family emergency and that I'm going with him to Greybrook. That's the truth, isn't it?"
Marcus smiled faintly again and I pulled my phone out of my jacket pocket. I saw I had a text from Brandon, but I pressed the 'ignore' button and dialed my mom's number. It went straight to voicemail, which was fine with me. As Marcus started up the car and pulled away, I quickly explained to her what I had just told him I'd say.
"So, tell me about your life before we got back into all of this," I asked after I'd finished.
"It was pretty uncomplicated," Marcus said, turning on the radio. The low pounding of the bass was calming somehow. "I went to school, played football, studied on the weekends. You?"
I flushed, thinking back on the six years of social hell, late night parties, and the off-and-on boyfriend that made up boarding school.
"Um, pretty much the same. But I didn't know you played football."
"Running back," he said proudly.
"Nice. Well, what about Rex?" I asked. "Do you guys see each other ever?"
Marc shrugged. "Not really."
We lapsed into silence for a second.
"Its not him I'm mad at," he said bitterly. "Its just this whole damn situation."
"If he'd wanted to give her his jacket, he should have run across the street himself. Maybe that way… Wait, I'm sorry, that was a terrible thing to say."
"Its fine," I said. "She was your sister; you have to think that."
Marcus smiled at me wanly.
"So what about the rest of your family?" I asked quickly. "You never said how they were doing."
We talked about these sort of things for the remainder of the drive, carefully avoiding Rex, the accident, and its aftermath. I relaxed into the conversation, listening as he shared his life with me, slowly getting to know him again. I told him about my time away at school too, until the inevitable came up.
"You said you had a boyfriend," Marc said finally as he pulled off the highway twenty minutes later. I hadn't realized how much I was dreading for him to ask until now.
"Yeah, I do."
"And is it too insensitive for me to ask-."
"His name's Brandon. We've been going out for about a year and a half, off and on like I said. We're happy, even though… well, what couple doesn't have some fights?"
"Right," Marcus said, looking almost pained by the tightness of his jaw. I could say that I didn't understand why this was so difficult for us both. I could pretend that I saw him the way I did when we were kids and that I thought he saw me that way too.
Pretending and forgetting: both illusions that we construct for ourselves so that we can control our lives, making them supposedly better and easier. But the these things end up controlling us, the same way money and the importance of keeping up appearances do, and in the same ways that they controlled our parents.
Well, not anymore.
"Can you pull over to the school?" I asked.
Without giving any sign he'd heard me, Marcus made the turn down the busy, rain slicked road. He drove into the elementary school's back parking lot and turned off the ignition. The windshield wipers froze mid swipe and the windshield was immediately dotted by a hundred pinpricks of rain.
"If you want to get out…" Marc began at the same time I was already opening my door. He reached behind him for an umbrella from the back seat and offered it to me.
"Thanks," I said. I opened it up and climbed out of the car. A moment later Marc was beside me. We walked towards the front of the old school building, probably empty except perhaps for the janitor. It was the weekend, during a cold, rainy early fall.
I found myself shivering as we neared the road. It was like I was expecting to see it the way it had been, as full of glass as the air was full of screams. We stopped on the edge of the lawn, just out of reach of the spray that was thrown up as a car passed by every couple of seconds. Marcus stood close to me, beneath the place where our umbrellas touched.
"What are we here for?" he asked.
"I dunno. For me, some kind of closure, I guess."
"I drive by here a few times a week, Vee," he said gently. "And I'm not sure it brought about any sort of closure. Hell, right now I'm not sure there is such a thing."
I dropped my hand to my side, letting it brush against his. Marcus turned his face towards me, though I kept looking out into the rain.
"I can't believe my uncle was buried today," I mused wonderingly, "and I'm out here. Its weird that his death could make me feel as though Lilith just died too."
"He was your family. Maybe I ought to drive you back."
"No, no. It's fine. I want to stay."
"Are you sure?"
"I-." My phone buzzed, cutting me off. "I'd rather be here with you than anywhere else," I finished as I fished it out of my pocket.
Rex, read the phone screen. Accept call? I pressed the yes button.
"Vivian, where are you?" Rex asked angrily. "I thought you were right behind me."
"I'm with Marcus. At the school in Greybrook."
"Stay right there, I'm coming to get you."
"Who do you think you are? My father?" I half shouted back. Not that my father would ever act like that.
I slowly lowered the phone from my ear. "He's coming to get me," I said.
"Did he sound angry?"
"What a hypocrite."
Marcus took a deep breath. "Maybe its perverse of me," he said, "but I always wondered what happened to the driver. You know." He nodded towards the road.
"I'm not sure. I think he was charged with manslaughter."
"Do you think they would have charged Rex with anything?"
"I don't know. I don't think so."
"It kills me that we're just dealing with this now. My sister died six years ago. I shouldn't just now figure out that my childhood best friend was part of the reason why. Maybe a big part, I'm not sure. That shouldn't matter. And then the fact that your parents made you move away to protect everyone from the truth. The fact that we haven't seen or really talked to each other in six years…"
I smiled weakly at him. He was so impassioned, it made me feel somehow less empty. "I've missed you," I said honestly.
His shoulder brushed mine as he turned. "Come on," he said. "Call Rex back and tell him we're meeting him half way."
"Okay," I said. I took out my phone and found his number.
"Do you want to meet us halfway?" I asked. "At Laurel Park maybe?"
"Sure," he answered with the slightest hint of a slur.
I opened up the car door and sat down. Marc frowned at me and took the wheel in both hands before letting go to turn the key, looking at me quizzically all the while.
"Um, Rex, do you really think you should be driving?"
"I'm fine," he growled. That definitely sounded like his normal self.
"Alright, please be careful."
He hung up again.
The rain turned to a quiet drizzle as we pulled out of the parking lot and drove away. Marc and I were both quiet. I didn't want to say what I was thinking, about how ironic it would be if Rex got into a car accident today. To distract myself, I read the text Brandon had sent me earlier.
Miss u, Viv, it read. Why'd u go to a funeral? Who's the stiff anyway?
With a sigh, I dropped my phone into my lap. "I hate him sometimes."
"Who, Rex?" Marcus asked.
"Brandon. Actually, maybe both Rex and Brandon." I paused, agitated. "He thinks he so funny. Everything is one huge joke to him."
"I assume we're talking about Brandon still."
"Yes… look, I'm sorry. I should stop complaining."
"No, you're fine. I've missed you for six years, occasional complaints and all. I want to hear everything you have to say."
"Thanks, Marcus," I said.
"No problem," he responded with a good-natured smile.
"I should text him back," I said, looking down at my phone. "Let him know that…" but I couldn't follow that line of thought to its end. "Lets talk about something else."
"Okay," Marc agreed. "You haven't said yet how much you're going to visit us up here."
"Whenever I can, hopefully lots. I'm just worried…"
"It isn't going to be like it was before, Vivian. We'll keep in touch."
"I know," I said. But I wanted more; it was frustrating. "Is it this difficult for everyone to leave old friends?" I asked bitterly.
"I wouldn't know; I'm not everyone," said Marc. He cracked a smile. "Come on, I'm doing my best to cheer you up."
I smiled back at him, surprising myself by how easy it was.
"Don't worry," he said reassuringly. "We'll figure everything out. So will Rex."
"I hope you're right."
Marcus pulled onto Laurel Street, a quiet lane on the very outskirts of town, and stopped in front of a playground.
"I guess Rex isn't here yet," I said, looking around the empty parking lot.
"No, but it's stopped raining."
I unbuckled my seatbelt and jumped out of the car. "You'll push me on the swings wont you?" I asked.
"Of course I will."
We walked out across the mulched yard, past a rain-slicked jungle gym and the slide that used to seem so tall when I was little. I shook the water off the swing before sitting down and pushing off with my feet. Marcus caught my shoulders when I swung backwards and propelled me forwards. Back and forth.
The momentary peace was disturbed by the sound of screeching breaks as a red Mercedes whipped into the parking lot.
"Oh my god, that's Rex," I said, bringing my feet down to slow myself to a stop. "At least he made it here alive."
Marcus wrapped his fingers around the swing's chains and we watched Rex climb out of his car.
"Vivian, come on. Get in," he shouted, striding towards us.
"Whoa, calm down," I protested. Marc stepped proactively in front of me and Rex shoved him hard in the chest, knocking him back a step.
"Out of the way!"
"You're dead drunk, Rex," I said, disgusted. The second the words left my mouth I realized what I'd said. "Oh, I'm so sorry!"
Rex ignored me and pushed Marcus again.
"I'm not going to fight you," Marcus said levelly.
"Oh, yeah?" Rex asked. And he unloaded a punch into Marcus's jaw. I screamed, grabbing hold of Rex's wrist with both my hands. He shoved me off and I fell unto the muddy ground.
"You bastard," Rex seethed, gripping Marc by the throat. "How dare you bring her back here!"
Marc knocked Rex's hand away though his eyes stayed locked on my cousin's "It wasn't your fault, man." His voice was quiet but firm.
"I don't know what the hell you're talking about," Rex snarled, his face mere inches from Marc's.
"It wasn't, I swear."
Rex turned his back to us. "Shut up," he slurred.
Marcus looked at me, cupping his jaw in one hand. I pulled myself upright using the swing's chains and walked over to where Rex stood, his shoulders shaking. Standing on my tiptoes, I wrapped my arms around them. My heart was hammering so hard I wondered if he could feel it.
I pecked Rex's damp cheek before stepping away. Marcus offered me his hand and I took it. Together we walked away, leaving Rex alone under the stormy grey sky.