Family Comes First Ch. 01


All characters in this story are over eighteen years of age.


Its two in the morning and I’m alone in my car. Imagine Dragons is playing on the radio, but it does nothing to stop the tears from stinging my eyes. My heart is pounding in my chest and I can’t breathe. My hands curl around the steering hard enough that my knuckles go white.

Deep breathes. Inhale and exhale. I count back from five in my head and try to calm my anxiety. But it doesn’t do anything for the spike in the back of my head from the shots I drank with Brett. I thought everything was going perfect. Hell, I thought our night was going to turn into something beautiful. Then she dumped me. Just like that, my fiancé and girlfriend of four years dumped me.

My stomach twists in knots just thinking about it and I blink hard. A lone tear streams down my cheek. I check my phone, but there’s no texts. When Brett says she’s done with something, she’s done. Including me. I’ve been outside this bar for the past hour trying to collect myself and every time I just about have my put together again after Brett tore me apart, I crumble and the tears come again.

I can’t come home to Ainsley like this. She’s my twin sister. One look and she’ll see the pain in my eyes. Its like some sort of twin telepathy. No matter how hard I’ll try to mask it, she’ll see my pain and she’ll ask questions, questions that I don’t want to answer.

I fall back in the driver’s seat and sigh. My throat is hoarse and my head is throbbing. Maybe I’ll just sleep here tonight and tell Ainsley I slept over at Parker’s after what happened with Brett. Hell, I would go Parker’s right now if I could, but that bastard is out of town with his girlfriend, and without my best friend, I’m officially alone. There’s no one else, but Ainsley.

I thumb through my contacts until I find her number and stop just above it. I chew my lip and go for the one under it, my older sister, Ashley. The phone rings and I pray she’ll answer. She’s probably at a party right now getting smashed like I should be. But after the fifth ring it goes to voicemail and I give up. I throw my phone into the passenger seat and turn the keys in the ignition. There’s no point in trying to hide. Either way, Ainsley will see me eventually and one look, she’ll know everything. She’s probably in her room right now, watching Endless Love or the Notebook, waiting for me to call in case I need her like I did last month.

I sigh and pull out of the parking lot. Fuck, she’s too good for me. Hell, Ainsley is too good for our family. She’s too damn innocent to all the bullshit that goes on. I just hope it can stay like that for a little longer before we graduate high school and college starts. One more summer. One more summer like we had when we were younger. That’s all I’m asking for before its too late.

I count the streetlights as they pass through the windshield. Thunder booms above in the sky and lighting flashes, sparking the cumulus clouds above in a flicker of bright white before going dark manisa escort again. Sleet starts to fall and pounds my car. The weatherman said things were going to rough tonight, but he never said anything like this. Not even close.

I switch on my wipers and slow to five miles below the speed limit. I turn into the suburb of Palm Springs in Paradise, Louisiana. Long shadows stretch from the stucco houses lining the curb and give ghastly appeal to the thunderstorm raging above in the heavens.

I think of Ainsley and shudder. She shouldn’t be home alone in something like this. There should be someone with her. At that moment, my phone rings and the cabin of my truck is lit up as Ainsley’s number flashes on the screen. I lean to the passenger seat and answer.

“Jason?” Ainsley’s voice is weak.

“Ans, are you okay?”

She draws a shaky breath. “No. The power went out here. I’m lighting a few candles, but I’m worried. There was a tornado warning being played before everything went dark.”

“Are you okay?” My worries over Brett fade to the back of my conscious. Ainsley is all that matters.

“No. I mean kind of. I-” A clap of thunder echoes in the distance. Ainsley screams and I jam on the breaks. “Just, can you come home…please?”

“I’m coming home now. Do you want me to keep talking to you until I get here? I’m almost home.”

“Yes,” she echoes.

“Well, what are you doing now?”

“Lighting candles.”

I laugh. “Don’t light too many of them. You’ll burn the house down.”

I swear I can hear her mocking me on the other side. “Ha-ha. Very funny, mister.”

A few moments later, my headlights pierce the downpour and shine on the driveway to the side of our house. Its two stories, tan brown, just like the rest. The lone willow tree outside is wiping under the influence of the wind. The rain is coming down harder now, pounding against the roof of my car. I park next to Ainsley’s Jetta in front of the garage and kill the engine.

“I just saw a pair of headlights from the window,” Ainsley says. “Is that you?”

“Yeah that’s me, Ans. I’ll be inside in a second, alright?”

I end the call and pull the keys from the ignition. The Aeropostale jacket I brought with me is soaked as soon as I step out of my truck. The front door opens and Ainsley steps onto the covered porch with an umbrella in one hand and a flashlight in the other.

“Jason!” Her voice is drowned out in the wind. It only comes as an echo to me. I can barely make out her silhouette in the pounding rain racing toward me. Before I know it, Ainsley has her arms around me and she’s holding me tightly, pressing her chest into mine. Water cascades over the umbrella atop of us and slides off the sides.

Ainsley takes a step back and gasps. “Jason, you’re soaked. Are you okay?”

I try for a smile, but it falls to a frown. I shake my head and sigh.

Ainsley is quiet for a moment. The only sound comes from the thunder cracking above us and the rain coming kütahya escort down in sheets on the ground.

“Where’s Brett?” Ainsley asks.

I shake my head. Tears are brimming behind my eyes. I blink hard and sigh again. I don’t want to talk about it. If I start talking, the tears will come and I can’t cry in front of Ainsley. I can’t do that to her.

“Jason…” Ainsley lifts my chin to look her in the eye. They’re a deep green like flecks of gold. Her black hair is plastered to her cheeks and forehead. “What happened?”

I draw a shaky breath. “She broke up with me.”

Her lips press together in a hard line. I know what she’s thinking. We were engaged. She was my high school sweetheart. I was supposed to marry that girl.

“Come on.” Ainsley reaches for my hand and I let her take it. She leads me inside and closes the door behind us. Another clap of thunder breaks in the distance. Ainsley takes a step back and looks at me. There’s candles everywhere, spread throughout the house. In the dim light her ivory skin is almost glowing and her eyes are a deeper shade of green.

“I’m so sorry, Jason.” She runs a finger across my cheek. I shiver. Her touch sends sparks through my body.

“God, Jason, I’m so sorry,” she repeats. She moves closer and this time I’m acutely aware of her breasts pressing into my chest as she hugs me. I hug her back and take a deep breath. Her hair smells like honeysuckle.

She steps back. Ainsley is shaking her head, blinking hard. “Dammit. This isn’t supposed to happen, not to you, Jason. What happened?”

I swallow. “A lot. A lot happened, Ans.”

“Well, do you want to talk about it?”

I start to shake my head at her, but its like she can read me. She can see through all of it. She lifts a hand to my cheek and holds my gaze.


“Okay,” I sigh.

She gives me a small smile and slips her hand in mine. I can’t help but notice the terrycloth shorts and white t-shirt she’s wearing. They’re both wet from standing outside in the rain with me, clinging to her lithe frame. My eyes dart to the straps of her bra contrasting from her t-shirt and I look away. Brothers aren’t supposed to notice things like that. They aren’t supposed to think of their sister that way, especially when she’s your twin.

Ainsley leads me back to her room and sits cross legged on her bed. She motions for me to sit across from her and I do, leaving a small bit of space between us. Its quiet for a moment as she studies me, her eyes drifting across my body.

“Jason, you’re soaked.”

“And so are you.”

She smirks. “Fair enough. So…” She draws a shaky breath. “What happened.”


She grabs my hands and squeezes. “Jason, you can talk to me, remember?” I nod. “Now what happened?”

My jaw clenches and I swallow. The words are stuck in my throat, struggling to get out. I start to talk and one by one, they slip out until I’m telling her everything, our trip to the bar, all the shots we had, and how malatya escort she broke up with me because I wasn’t enough.

“That’s all she gave me before she left me there. She just said I wasn’t enough.” I sigh. Tears burn my eyes. “I just thought after everything, after four years, we were supposed to get married and go to college. I don’t know where I went wrong, Ans. Where did I mess up?”

I look up to her, searching for answers in her face. Her eyes are large and honest, appraising mine with a remorse that makes my heart break even more.

“You didn’t do anything wrong, Jason. Its her fault. She’s the one who messed up. You were too good for her anyway. You need someone who’s worthy of having you, not just some stupid cheerleader. I still think you only went out with her because you were on the football team.”

“What?” I laugh. Its bitter and short. “Ans, that was never the reason. I really thought she was a good person.”

“Come on, Cole. You were quarterback. You could have had any girl you wanted, including Carrie.”

“Yeah and Carrie was your best friend. Like in hell I would do that to you. Its not about having anyone you want anyway. Its about finding the right girl, the one who can make you laugh when you want to cry, who picks you up when you are down, and can be there for you, even when the rest of your world is falling down. That’s what I want, Ans. Not just a stupid fling. And I thought I had that.” I can’t help the tear that slips down my cheek.

Ainsley has a faraway look in her eyes. She gives me a small smile, but its pained. She’s brushes away the tear with her thumb and chews her lip.

“You’re too good for all of this, Jason.” She blinks. “I just wish things didn’t have to be like this.”

“Like what?”

“Its nothing.”

I take her hands in mine and squeeze them like she did to me. “Ans…what is it?”

She swallows audibly. “Jason…”

“What is it?” I squeeze her hands again. “You can tell me, Ans.”

Tears well in Ainsley’s eyes. Without a word, she falls into my embrace and I hug her tight. She grips me back.

“I wish it didn’t have to be like this,” she says between sobs.

“Like what?” I frown. “Ans, what’s wrong?”

“Everything is wrong.”


“Everything…why does it have to be like this?” She crying into the crook of my neck and its tearing my apart. Brett may have torn my heart into a thousand pieces, but seeing Ainsley like this is too much. I cup her face in my hands and life it to mine. She sniffles and I brush a tear away with my finger. Its quiet for a moment and only the rain hitting the window can be heard.

“Ans,” I ask slowly. “What is wrong?”

She sniffles. Ainsley holds my gaze with an intensity I’ve never felt before. The candles around us cast shadows over her face that flicker, giving warmth to her features and make my heart flutter.

“What is it, Ans?”

Ainsley closes her eyes and another tear slides down her cheek. When she blinks, there’s a pained sweetness to them, like she’s looking at me, but not actually seeing me as she does.

“Us,” she says. “It shouldn’t be like this.”

Ainsley takes a shaky breath and slips her hands around mine cupping her face.

“I love you, Jason,” she whispers.

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