The door burst open and my brother, Daniel, burst into the house. He seemed really pissed off.
Shortly after he walked in, my parents followed. They weren't any happier than Daniel was.
"I can't believe this! I thought we raised you better than this!" Mom yelled, slamming her keys on the counter.
I sat up on the couch, watching them quietly. It surprised me how they didn't wake up Gale.
"You sure did a great job." Daniel said, rolling his eyes.
"And what is that supposed to mean?" Mom asked, crossing her arms over her chest.
"Are you that stupid? Your daughter's a teenage mother and you just picked me up from the police department. Ever thought of paying more attention?"
Dad grabbed Daniel's wrist and yanked him closer. "Don't speak to your mother that way."
"You aren't off the hook either, dad." He growled, pulling away from dad harshly.
"Get back here!" Dad yelled.
"We aren't done talking to you!" Mom yelled, tears in her eyes.
"I don't give two shits! You're horrible parents." He yelled, storming up the steps.
I sunk down on the couch, hoping my parents would go to their room and leave me alone. Leave me to cry.
Gale started crying in my arms.
I held him close and went to my room quickly, wishing my face could be hidden just as my parents saw me. So they wouldn't see how hurt I was. How much I had disappointed them.
Did they hate me, too?
I shut my bedroom door softly and walked over to the crib in the corner. Gale had stopped crying by then and was just watching things. Watching me.
I sighed and carried him to my bed. I sat down, pulling my legs under me, on my bed.
Gale squirmed out of my arms and sat on my lap, playing with one of his toys.
Not even seeing him happy like this could bring me out of the crappy mood I had plummeted to.
Two quick knocks hit the door before it opened a crack. Daniel peeked in, scaring me. I jumped, causing Gale to look over in the doorway. He smiled.
I hated that. Hated that he didn't hate Daniel. He was too young to understand what happened. I knew that. But I wanted him to believe what I did. That Daniel was a jerk.
"Steph, can I come in?" He asked, sticking his head in.
I rolled my eyes and didn't look at him. I didn't care if he saw me crying. He should feel bad. I just didn't want to see him upset and let him off the hook. Maybe that's what he wanted.
He sighed. "I didn't know you were downstairs."
"You still said it." I growled.
"I didn't mean it. I was just... mad." He said, shutting the door behind him.
"You know I couldn't help what happened." I said, wiping my eyes dry.
He sat down beside me and hugged me. I wasn't mad anymore. I was just upset. "I'm sorry. I still am."
I looked down at Gale. He was quiet, playing with his toys as if he was afraid to make any noise. "He's a great kid. And he loves you. Don't make him think you don't love him back."
Daniel picked Gale up and moved him between us. Gale whined until he was sitting back on my bed again. "Of course I love him. I-I was only trying to make mom mad."
"You were already doing a good job." I mumbled.
Mom was always mad and I felt like she was never happy anymore. We let her down. I knew she didn't plan for any of this to happen but it did anyway. She keeps blaming herself. And it isn't her fault.
He rolled his eyes. "Whatever."
"So, what did you do this time?"
He shrugged like it was no big deal. "I was with a friend who stole something at the mall."
"A friend?" I asked, looking at him. Most likely, he did it. He was always doing stuff that was illegal.
"Yeah. A friend. Wasn't me this time."
"And you still got busted? How did that happen?"
"An accessory. I might as well have seen him kill someone for all the cops cared." He said, rolling his eyes. "They went overboard. It wasn't that big a deal. He returned it. That should've been the end."
"Mall cops hold grudges, Dan." I said, trying not to smile.
"They just hate me. They always have."
"Maybe its because you're always getting caught doing something stupid and illegal."
"Don't knock it til you try it." He said, smiling.
I rolled my eyes. "You're setting such a horrible example for Gale. If he turns out like you, I'll kill you."
Daniel laughed. "Oh, come on. He knows better."
"He's only two! What makes you think he knows right from wrong better than you?" I asked, crossing my arms over my chest.
"Well, he seems to love you more than I love mom. If that's not something then I don't know what else would be."
"I highly doubt that's true."
"Oh, it is. You heard it all. I don't know when I'll say anything to her."
"You have to, Dan. It's hurting her. A lot worse than you think." I said, getting to my feet.
"I don't care." He said in a monotone voice.
"Mom does." I said, crossing my arms over my chest.
"I don't care if she does or not. I'm done." He growled, leaning back against the pillows on my bed.
"She loves you, Daniel. The least you can do is apologize."
"For what? I didn't do anything!" He yelled.
Gale whimpered a little and reached out for me. I sighed and took him in my arms. "You hurt mom, a lot. And now you're scaring Gale. Is that what you want to live with?"
"I didn't mean to scare him, Steph. Do you really think I would do that to him?"
"You just did." I said quietly, hoping he wasn't totally pissed off.
He sighed. "I'm sorry. Really."