Chapter 4: This is me

It was a shock to see my father after 2 months, since my mom fell ill he either stayed at the hospital with her or he was busying himself with work, he only ever went in the house to get a change of clothes and he assured that we were fast asleep by then. I don't know why but a part of me already considered him dead, i know he went through a lot but she's also our mother and he didn't have to act as if he were the only one who's hurting. It isn't fair, our mother fell ill and where was our father? He disappeared, always with our mother. Don't get me wrong , I like it that he loves our mom so much but I just wish that he remembers to live, for us.

I couldn't move, he was here and i had a hunch as to why. It wasn't a good reason and i dreaded that i even thought about it but he's expression only encouraged my suspicions. After a few moments of shocked silence, he went inside the house and silently made his way to the couch. He flopped down and buried his face in his hands. None of us knew what to do. A while later we heard him sobbing softly and Alex, being the mature guy that he was, sat next to him and patted his back comfortingly. What he said next confirmed my hunch. In a voice that was so soft it could barely pass as a whisper he said "Even before her breathe left her, she was still smiling." After that it was like a dam broke inside him, he broke down. He cried on Alex and we just stood there like a bunch of statues.

My mind was whirring, somewhere deep down i knew this would eventually happen but not this soon. We were only starting out again and i seriously thought that the doctors would be able to do something. My mind couldn't process anything, i couldn't feel my legs and i didn't know what to do. Everything seemed so unreal, i felt like i was watching a movie. That i was only peeking through someone Else's life, someone i never even met and yet i could feel that i was till a part of it. I was too engulfed in my thoughts that i didn't even feel the tears start, big hot tears started to roll down my cheek and suddenly i had to get away, i had to run away far from here. Somewhere where i can be alone and feel comforted at the same time, we were only new here and i didn't where that place could be but my legs wouldn't stay on its place. So, i ran. Not knowing where i was going just trusting my feet and not caring where i was gonna end up.

I ran through the door and i heard Austin yell my name but i couldn't stop. My tears where blurring my vision and when i got out the house the night air bit my skin. It was beginning to get cold but i couldn't care less, i ran for minutes that seemed like hours until my feet stopped and i sat down unable to stop crying. After a few minutes i got around to stopping my tears and realized that i was in that place again, the place i found. It was already dark and from where i was standing the city seemed so full of life, there were lights everywhere and people got on with there lives oblivious to what happened in mine. They didn't know that my life crumbled to pieces and I'm sure they also had they're own problems to deal with.

My optimistic side started to kick in, death is a part of life and sooner or later (preferably later) even i will be dead and when that time comes I'll see my mom again, someday we'll become whole again but for now i know that she wouldn't like to see us crumble to pieces. She'd like to see us live our life to the fullest and with that thought in mind i started walking back to our house. When i got to our house i breathe deeply before going inside. I didn't know who was still awake but judging from the lack of lights I'd bet that they were all sound asleep. so, i quietly got inside the house and opened the lights. I almost jumped when i saw Austin sitting on the couch looking like a very angry father. He was facing me, his eyes staring intently at me, his brow furrowed in concentration and his lips forming a thin line. In short, he wasn't happy. He remained like that for what felt like eternity until i couldn't take it anymore.

"What?" i asked.

"Where were you? Do you know what time it is? We were so worried and you even left your phone behind. How would we know if you were safe?" he said in a tone that reminded me a lot of mom and i couldn't help but smile .

"Why are you smiling? Do you think it's funny?" he said, he's brow furrowing in confusion.

"I'm sorry, it's just that you reminded me of mom just a second ago and I couldn't help but smile." I replied

He walked towards me then shook me by the shoulders, he looked at me with his hazel eyes and said. "Please don't ever do that again, You're the only sister we have and I'm pretty sure mom would get mad if we didn't look after you properly. If something were to happen to you, None of us would know what to do"

I didn't know how to respond to that, I think he said that because I look like my mom so much –except my hair because i always dye it black- but whatever his reason I was touched. I never knew that they actually worry about me from time to time. I guess i was just too wrapped up in my own little world that I didn't notice how they felt about the things I did. I smiled and tried to pat him in the head – which was hard being that I'm smaller than him by at least 3 inches- but i kinda succeeded in doing so.

I looked up at him and said "Don't worry I won't make you worry anymore, I promise." I smiled and went up to have some sleep. I guess somewhere in the middle of my crying i fell asleep because the next thing i knew i was already dreaming. In my dream i was in an open field, i was about 8 years old and my hair was starting to change from black to dark red until eventually it will lighten up a bit and become the same shade's as my mother's. I was crying and suddenly my mom appeared on the other side of the field. She was wearing an ensemble that was all white, a white hat, white dress, white sandals. The only other color she wore was gold-her wedding ring- she looked at me and smiled.

She crossed the field and walked over to me, she touched my head and i looked up my emerald green eyes met with hers and she told me. "shhh, Don't cry my darling everything's going to be fine." And my 8-year old self answered "but mommy my hair's changing color, I'm going to die." And i cried again. She lifted my chin up and made me look at her "Oh baby, You're not going to die. When i was your age i went through that too and besides mommy's going to protect you from any harm." Then she went to comb my long tri-colored hair, i noticed that the comb she used was the comb my grandma gave her for her birthday. My grandma said it was a heirloom, the comb was pretty. It was white, had baby blue colored crystals and floral designs engraved to it.

I hugged her and when i stopped, i was shocked to see that my 8-year old self transformed to the current me except my hiar wasn't dyed black anymore it was back to it's original color and we both stood up. My eyes were still wet and i watched my mom gaze at me lovingly. Without wanting to my dream self said "but you're already gone, how will you protect me?" she just smiled at me and said "Don't worry, I will always be here for you and your brothers. You've grown to be a blossoming flower my love and I'm sure that many others will be there to protect you. Promise me you won't let my death be the cause of our family breaking up." She said, her eyes glassy as tears threatened to come out her eyes.

Before i knew it tears were springing back into my eyes and i told her "Mom, before i promise. Can i ask you a question? Are you happy?" she breathe a sigh of relief and said "Yes, I am. And I will be waiting for all of you." She smiled and moved to hug me. I cherished the moment even if i knew this was only a dream, i inhaled her scent, the feel of her body, her warmth, everything and i said "I promise mom, I love you."

I woke up with tears still streaming my eyes and my bedroom with a little sun streaming through the curtains. I was going to rub my eyes when i felt that i was holding onto something and to my surprise it was the comb. I placed the comb in my one of my cabinets located in my nightstand and told myself that I'd buy a cute box to place it in. I didn't know how to feel, scared or happy but someway i felt so light that a smile found it's way into my lips and into my heart. My mom was happy and that was all that mattered, she still wanted us to be a family and she wanted me to make sure of that.

I jumped out of bed and opened the curtains wide letting the sunlight brighten up my room. I didn't need to open my lights since it was a very suny day, though it was highly unusual since it was the middle of November and it was supposed to be a little chilly, i didn't care. I wasn't confused anymore and i knew what i had to do, i had to let my family know that my mom wants us to be happy and live. For her and for us.

I was about to go in the bathroom for a shower when i noticed something in my full length mirror. I stepped back and looked at myself carefully, to my shock i found that my hair which i just dyed and cut was now long, wavy and has returned to its original color. Red. I rubbed my eyes and looked again thinking it might just be a trick my eyes were playing on me but when i looked again it was still the same. I saw a girl with long wavy red hair, with unexpectedly green eyes who stood wearing what i wore when i went to sleep. My curiosity striked me. Is this girl really me? I tried and waved at the mirror and to my dismay it waved the same time i did. Somehow i can't help but think that she looked a lot like someone i know. I tried to place her and a few minutes later it struck me like a lightning bolt. She looked like my mother in her teenage years, she could pass for a twin. No, my mind thought, not she, I. I look like my mother, a lot – like a lot, a lot- i could basically pass for her twin. It never occurred to me like this since i always dyed my hair black partly because my original red hair stood out too much and i didn't want the attention partly because my father and brothers always mistook me for my mother.

Ever since i was 10 I've begged my mother to dye my hair black and she agreed every time because i wouldn't take any kind of picture with my red hair. It's not that i thought it was ugly, it was actually pretty, It's just that I didn't want to stand out, I didn't want to draw attention to myself and I was scared. I was scared of being bullied because i was different- i never saw anyone with red hair like the shade of my red hair-, i was scared that they'd brand me as weird but right now looking at myself I've decided. I won't be scared anymore, I won't care anymore because I love the way I look and that's that.

I went out of my room and headed straight for the bathroom when i noticed that the shower was on. I thought it was one of my brothers or maybe my father so i went in anyway. I was in for a surprise when a stranger got of the shower wearing a towel that only hid the lower part of his body. The blood instantly rushed to my face and I screamed. The guy was shocked by my reaction that he hugged me and covered my mouth with his hand and i did what i knew was normal i struggled. A little fact escaped my mind though, he just finished showering and he was only wearing a towel, just like that the towel came off and i just noticed that i was partially wet. Since he was taller and stronger than me I was forced to extend my arm and find anything that I can hit him with thankfully I found a blower and like i said before, I hit him with it.

He was forced to let go of me and the moment he did I ran downstairs and screamed my head off. I was surprised to see my brothers with a few of their friends in the living room talking but of course I caught their attention immediately.

"Hey! Aly? Woah, nice hair!" Austin greeted me with a confused smirk pasted on his face.

I suddenly became self-conscious. I was only wearing a short that could practically pass for underwear, my blue spaghetti tank top and nothing else. I was just thankful that my hair was now long enough to hide at least half of my body. I instantly ran upstairs only to come back down and excuse Alex from the bunch. I was uncomfortable in doing so since almost half of their friends were drooling and other were making remarks that no girl would be happy about. I practically dragged Alex into my bedroom because I didn't want to see the stranger again. I let him sit on the bed and it took a minute or so to collect myself. After my thoughts were running back on track i talked with Alex.

"When will mom's funeral be?" I asked softly.

"Dad's the one who's planning it but I think we'll have to go later. May i just ask when did you decide to go back to your original hair color?" he asked, obviously intrigued by the sudden change.

I can't help but smile. " I didn't – I said- Mom did." He was obviously confused with my answer since his brow was know beginning to knit and i laughed. He was shocked by my reaction and told me that nothing was funny and demanded to know why i was laughing. When i finally caught my breath, i told him that Mom was the one who changed my hair color back to the way it was before. He didn't seem pleased with my answer since he stood and was about to walk away. I caught his wrist and guided him back to the bed promising that i'll try and explain.

"You see -i started- I dreamt about her, the dream went like this. I was about eight years old and I was crying since my hair started to change it's color and i thought i was going to die. Mom was there and she comforted me, she combed my hair and i stopped crying. When i looked back i was the current me, my hair was red, just like mom's shade, and she told me that I'd already blossomed, she told me that many others would want to protect me and that she was happy. She also made me promise that i won't ever allow our family to break up because of this incident and I did." I finished a little breathlessly

It showed the Alex was hesitant to believe me after all he was logical, rational and scientific but he shocked me when he smiled and patted me reassuringly.

"You b..believe me?" I stuttered

He smiled and said "Yes, It's only logical that you would be special to her in a way we aren't. For one you're the only girl and not only that, you resemble her so much. You're connected to her in a way we never were, Don't get me wrong I'm not saying the she loves you more because she doesn't. She loves us all It's just that you're so much like her that I'm not so shocked she visited you in a form of a dream." He smiled in a way that suggested he knew something I would never know but I didn't mind that so much since he clearly knew things that a normal person wouldn't know.

He hugged me tightly and held me an arm's length away. He looked in my eyes and he held a very soft expression then he whispered to me "You're now the only family jewel we have and jewels need to be protected." Then he let go of me and stood. He was about to exit my room when i remembered.

"Hey,Alex. Who's the stranger in the shower earlier? He gave me quite a scare you know." I asked like it was no big deal.

Alex smirked and said "Why don't you wash up, come down and see for yourself?" he said in a menacingly sweet voice.

"okay..." i answered. Then he left and i was left alone in my room. I decided to do what Alex said and headed for the bathroom. I checked the inside and sure enough the stranger already left. I locked the door and proceeded to take a bath. In the middle of taking a bath i wondered, what did Alex mean by what he said? And i remembered another thing what did the girl from school mean about what she said? I still had 5 days left before i went to school because by tomorrow I'll know the results of my entrance exam. I wasn't really worried since the cover of the entrance exam was the topics i practically knew by heart but what really intrigues me was that pretty blonde, why did she say that? What am i good enough for? I was about to drift off into my own thoughts when someone knocked on the door.

"You didn't even welcome me home?" said the voice on the other side of the door. I distinctively know who the owner of the voice was, I shut the shower off as fast as i could and grabbed a towel . Changed into the clothes that i picked and opened the door with a wide grin pasted on my face. If Austin was the jock type, Alex was the smart one, Axel was the disturbed type the Alan was the fatherly type. Besides the fact that he resembles our Dad very much, he's attitude is like a Dad's too.

He opened his arms offering me a hug and I practically hurled myself to him. I miss him so much, I didn't even remember the last time I saw him but then again I didn't really remember a lot of things. I was so happy that I forgot all about my questions for a while. I looked up at him and saw him looking down at me with caring eyes.

"You've been through a lot haven't you?" He asked. I released him from my hug and stepped back a little. I just nodded to his question and he said, "I'm sorry I haven't been here earlier, I've been so busy I didn't even know what's happening anymore. Are you okay?" he asked again.

I smiled my brightest smile and said "It still hurts but I'm getting over it." I answered and it wasn't a lie. For once i wasn't lying about my feelings because that's what i really felt. I knew now that everything's going to be okay. We'll be happy again and I'll be able to find someone else, Someone who won't hurt me like Travis did.

I looked at Alan and was shocked by his reaction when he actually took in what I looked like. His expression looked like a cross between a shocked duck and an awed monkey. He tried to speak but no sound came out and I heard someone coming up the stairs as it turned out it was Austin and he said.

"Our sister became really beautiful. She really blossomed didn't she?" then she looked at Alan.

Alan nodded and replied "You took the words right out of my mouth bro." Then bumped his fist with Austin's.

"Aww. Knock it off will you? Nothing changed that much so you can now stop over acting." I told them. Sure my hair was different but that's the only thing that changed and in my vocabulary that isn't much. I went to my room to fix my still wet hair. I sat in front of my desk and proceeded to blow dry my hair, I used the comb that may mom gave me and hummed the song that she hummed to me as a lullaby. After the song was finished I noticed that my hair was already dry so I put the comb back where I put it and went downstairs to eat.

To my surprise the only people who were still in the living were my brothers. Wondering as to where the other guests were i asked them, they told me those were their college buddies and that they already took off because unlike them they weren't excused in class for a week. I went straight to the kitchen and was about to fix myself some cereal when a sizzling caught my attention, after that I smelled it. The heavenly smell of perfectly cooked bacon mixed with the scent of ham. I followed the smell and it lead me to what we'd like to call "the dirty kitchen" of course that name is only metaphorical since the kitchen wasn't dirty.

My eyes were closed that time because like i said i followed it by smell, My mouth was watering and I was about to open my eyes when i heard someone say. "You've got to open your eyes a little soon or else I might not resist the temptation of kissing you" I jerked my eyes open only to see the stranger from before shirtless –what's with the lack of shirts around this guy?- and had a confident smirk pasted on his handsome face. Now that I think about it he looks kind-of familiar, I know I saw him before I just didn't know where. I didn't notice that I was completely staring at him when he smiled and said "Enjoying the view?" the blood went to my face and I said, "who are you? And what are you doing here?"

He just smiled and said nothing. We stood there for a couple of seconds and I couldn't help but to notice that he wasn't just handsome, he was beyond that. He had a well built body but not the type of body a wrestler has. He had well defined abs, his skin looked tan and smooth. His face was a different matter though, he has jet black hair, piercing blue eyes and lips that looked kissable. Before i knew it i was staring at his lips and walking towards him, if Axel hadn't coughed I don't know what i could've done.

I excused myself and went inside, my appetite was gone so I went to the living room. In the living room I spotted Austin,Alex and Alan talking in hushed tones. When Austin saw me he cleared his throat and the whispering stopped, Something was happening here and I wanted to know what. I crossed my arms below my chest and did my signature move, I raised one brow up, and stared at them but they wouldn't budge so i decided to break the silence.

"So, you guys care to let me in on your little secret there? And would any of you be so kind as to inform who's our mystery visitor?" I asked then in a tone that was clearly saying I was annoyed

"Aww. Sis, don't be so uptight. We're not hiding anything and I think Alex would be the one who'd like to introduce our "Mystery Guest" as you called him" Austin answered with an undeniable smirk on his face. I turned to Alex and waited for an explanation, what they were talking about earlier was none of my business and if they won't tell me i won't force them. Alex smiled and shouted "NATE!"

After a while the stranger came and smiled at me. He then said "You called?" looking at Alex.

Alex looked at me then smiled his mischievous smile. "Aly this is Nate, Nate my sister Aly. Nate here is one my buddies in the University and He's staying with us. He's been here before you and he's one of my closest friends so don't give him a hard time Aly." He finished.

Nate walked towards me then said "Nathan Zach Miller is my full name but you can call me Nate for short." He smiled then offered a hand for me to shake. I looked at it, smiled and shook it.

"I'm Alissa May Ashford and since you're close with Alex I'll let you call me Aly nice to meet you Nate and I hope we don't bring this house down." I smiled then went upstairs straight to my bedroom. I finally knew why Nate seemed so familiar, He was the drunken guy who kissed me on the street, he was the one I smacked with my books and he was the one who was lying on the street. Ughhhh. Just my luck he had to be one of my brother's closest friend.

A/N: Finally finished chapter 4! Sorry for the super long wait and I hope you like this Chapter. I'm going to try and start on Chapter 5 but don't expect it anytime soon. Thanks for reading!