Gage felt as if he'd been put through the riggers. He was safe now. He wanted to forget Halie. He had too. There was no point thinking she was the one. It was done. She was back home. He guessed. At least, no one really knew what happened. Evidently.
And he was pleased to be back home, there was Ren. He knew now, she would be the only mother he'd ever know. Tears burned his eyes, thinking how he'd been so awful to her.
She was the best. She'd always taken care of him even if he'd been fowl a good bit of it. Somehow, she was patience and kind. There was an inner beauty about her that none could ever offer. After all, she'd let him back in. She must have loved him.
She didn't ask about the Halie situation. But she was bound to know. She knew everything about him.
He didn't think of her as an enabler. She wasn't. She kept at him with the school work and getting him to volunteer. She really was expecting the best out of him. Now he wanted to hug her as if it was only her he genuinely loved.
Gage could even see himself doing it. Hearing her tell him, she'd make it official. He'd be her son. He was her son. It was her. She'd just mysteriously found him. Had to have him back in her life. He dreamed it. It was real. It had to be.
But he wouldn't let the hot tears shed down his face. He gave her a cold look and ran up the stairs to his room and flopped the backpack on his bed. He was so behind in everything at school.
He hadn't cared in juvie. He'd been sullen and did very little with his studies. But now he felt the need to catch up. Make her proud, somehow. Funny, how he could never do anything for himself, but for other people.
Before he could get out his books, he thought of Halie and how she'd made him think of Ren now. Why, he didn't know. Maybe it was her smile. She had one of those young faces. Maybe ageless. A lot like Ren. Maybe she was just young at heart.
He heard Ren coming, he opened a book and acted as if he were reading.
"Someone was by today. Looking for you." She leaned against the doorway.
"Who?" Gage looked over his shoulder. He hoped it wasn't Halie's brother.
"He says he's your brother, and he wants to meet you."
"Brother?" Gage winced. "I don't have a brother?" He shook his head, no. First thing he thought was some bully from juvie. What did he have in mind? Shoot him. Shoot the whole house up.
It was a grim thought. He guessed it would have happened already if it were true. "So who is he?" Gage sighed, as if he wondered if this brother had any money. Maybe there was money in this.