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My Heart Skips A Beat

Chapter 29

“So, tell us about Anna!” My mum said. I had been home for all of 20 minutes and she was already begging for details.
“Anna. Um, she’s amazing. She’s home in New York, which is um, sort of stressful. But, yeah, she’s good.”
“Why stressful?” Mum asked, sipping her glass of wine.
“Just, all of this nonsense with her parents, and she called me the other night from this party that some girl she used to know had invited her to and apparently all anyone wanted to talk to her about was, well…me. I feel sort of terrible about it.” It may seem strange, but I always felt better knowing my mum’s opinion on things like this. She was really smart and levelheaded and I did trust her. So, that’s why I was explaining all of this to her; because god knows I could never figure out what to do about it myself.
“Have you talked to her about it?” She asked. We were sitting around our kitchen table, just chatting until my stepdad Robin got home with the takeout.
“Well, sort of. I called her later and it seemed to only have gotten worse. I dunno, sometimes I wonder why she puts up with all of this.”
“Well, she loves you.” My mum said, as if it was the simplest thing in the world.
“I hope so…” I knew I was acting crazy, but I couldn’t help but wonder if one day she was just going to get tired of all of it and just give up on us. Her life would be so much easier if she did.
Even the thought of that scared me, and I don’t know what I would do, how I would be able to let her go.
“Harry, don’t act silly. You know she loves you. I’ve never even met the girl and I can see that she loves you! I can also see that you love her, which is something I’ve never seen on you before.” She smiled over the rim of her cup, giving me this look that I wasn’t sure what to make of.
“Mum, please.” I said, scoffing.
“I’m happy for you, love! I just wish you would bring her round here at some point.”
“She’s still in school so it’s a bit difficult, but I will, I promise. She actually really wants to meet you.” I said. Which was true, Anna had told me she really wanted to meet my family.
“Well then what are we waiting for!?” She asked, throwing her hands above her head.
“We’ll make a plan of it then, when she gets home.”
“Alright, perfect.” She seemed pleased with herself.
Robin came through the door, carrying two large paper bags.
“The pack mule has returned!” He joked, walking into the tiny kitchen and dropping the bags onto the table where we sat.
“Where’s Gemma?” He asked.
“She’s at Annabell’s house for the night.” My mum said, beginning to take item after item out of the bag.
“So how’s that girl of yours?” Robin asked. I laughed, looking over to my mother.
“I just asked the same question and didn’t get much more than a grunt.”
“Mum! There just isn’t a lot to report in on.”
“Well, how’s she handling um, the…rumors?” Robin asked. Up until now we hadn’t talked about the stories that were plastered all over the country. We all knew it was rubbish, but it hadn’t even been mentioned until now.
“Well that’s sort of what I’m worried about.” I mumbled. “How bad is it?” I asked hesitantly. I had tried my very best to stay away from it all for the past few days; because I knew if I read it, not only would I be giving those arses who write the articles exactly what they want, but there is a strong possibility that I would go, find them, and beat the hell out of each of them.
“They’re vultures, that’s nothing new. I just can’t believe some of the things they’ll say. Keep her away from it as best you can, Harry. It’s all you can do to help.” I nodded, wishing there were something more. Something that would make it all go away. All I can hope for is that by the time Anna gets back, it’ll have died down a bit.

It was Saturday morning, finally.
I was sitting on my bed, flipping through channels, when I heard the sound of the front door opening. I ran out, just in time to see Max stepping through the door, suitcase in hand.
“Max!” I squealed, running over to him. He engulfed me into a hug, picking me up a few inches from the ground.
“I missed you so much!” I said. He smelled the same; like aftershave, fluid for negatives in his darkroom, and cigarettes (which he told me he only smoked when he was really stressed with school. I’ve always tried to get him to quit).
“I missed you too, sis.” He laughed, putting my feet back on the ground. “Where’s mom?”
“Where do you think?” I asked, giving him a very ‘duh’ look.
Long lunch and shopping with the girls” he said in a mock-girly voice. I just laughed and nodded. “Whatever, I’d rather hang out with you anyway.”
We spent the next few hours eating whatever junk food we could find in the kitchen (which wasn’t much), watching TV, and talking about everything we’d missed out on in each other’s lives over the past few months.
“So, you’ve avoided it enough, tell me about this guy.” He finally said.
“I’m not avoiding it… It’s just… a REALLY long story.”
“Well, if you haven’t noticed, we’ve got plenty of time.”
So I told him everything. I started form the night we met, to the time at the bungalow (keeping it strictly PG – rated) and the pictures that were leaked, to the Oliver kiss, to Harry’s ‘love’ confession on national TV, to the entire Poppy – related drama, and all the way up to the holiday party.
“Damn.” He finally said.
“Yeah.” I nodded. It wasn’t until saying it all out loud that I realized how much I had been through in just a few short months. “Now it’s your turn. What have you been up to Mr. Big shot LA photographer?” I joked, shoving him a little.
“Um, yeah…well, I uh. Okay, you cannot tell mom this, okay?”
“Of course.”
“I sort of was asked to leave school for a little bit.”
“What?! WHY?”
“Um, a few friends and I got into a little trouble and so they suspended us.”
“For how long?”
“3 months…”
“MAX! Oh my god, what the hell did you do?!”
“It doesn’t really matter. It’s just; you CAN’T tell mom, or anyone. I’m serious.” He looked at me with a straight face.
“Yeah, okay. Fine.”
“Anna!?” We heard the front door open and then slam.
“Um, yeah mom, we’re in here!” I called. I heard the click-clack of her heels on the hardwood floor coming towards us, and finally she appeared in the archway, shopping bags in hand.
“Hey mom.” Max said, getting up to give her a hug and a peck on the cheek.
“When did you get home?”
“Not too long ago.” He said, slumping back into the seat next to mine.
“Well, I’m so glad you both are here now. I wished I had planned better but I actually have a dinner reservation.”
“Nah, it’s fine mom. We actually have plans tonight too.” I turned towards Max, giving him an ‘Um, we do?’ look. He just nodded as if to say ‘play long’.
“Oh well, that works out perfectly! We can all have a nice brunch together tomorrow then!” She said, clapping her hands together.
“Sounds great.” Max said in a tone that only I could tell was slightly sarcastic.
“Wonderful. Well, I’m going to go get ready.” She said, waltzing out of the room, the sound of her heels echoing as it slowly disappeared into her bedroom at the end of the hallway.
“So, we have plans?” I asked, eyeing my brother; who happened to have a devilish grin on his face. “Oh, yes we do.”

And he hadn’t been kidding. It was almost midnight and I had somehow found myself at some SoHo loft party. I wasn’t exactly sure whose loft we were even at. Not that it mattered to Max.
I knew my brother had this side to him; this crazy, impulsive, partying side. It was something that made him, him. But at times like this, when I was surrounded by drunk college students, I was starting to get a little pissed.
“Max, don’t you think we should get going?” I asked, grabbing at his arm to try and get his attention.
“It’s fine, Anna. Just a little longer.” He responded, barely looking in my direction.
“I just – Mom’s gonna be so mad if we come home this late and you’re DRUNK. Do you really want to deal with that?”
“It’s FINE, Anna. Just calm down.” He said, a bit more edge to his voice. I was actually a little surprised by it. Max usually never talked to me like that.
“I’m gonna go get you some water.” I think I heard him mumble a ‘whatever’ but I wasn’t even sure. The thumping music made it pretty hard to hear anything.
I returned, finally able to find an unused cup.
“Here, drink this.” I shoved the cup at him, which he was quick to refuse. “Max, come on, please?” I was practically begging at this point, but he just shrugged me off, going back to whatever conversation he had been having.
I didn’t want to be here, I really didn’t. Ever since I got home, it seemed like every time I went out it was to somewhere I really didn’t want to be, and this time, leaving seemed to be the only option.
So, I did.

December 23rd came much quicker than I had expected. It was really starting to feel like Christmas in my house; My mum cooking 24/7, we had decorated our Christmas tree, Gemma and I were spending the days watching movies and eating everything in sight… all in all, things were pretty good.
The only thing is, I hadn’t really heard from Anna much, and if I was being honest, I was a little worried about her. Maybe it was just the time difference that made things difficult, but I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something else going on. I did the math, realizing that if it was 5 PM here, it was noon in New York.
That seemed like an appropriate time to call.;
“Hello?” Anna’s voice sounded flustered.
“Hey, it’s me. I haven’t talked to you in a while and I was jus-“
“Harry, I’m so sorry, can I call you back? I’m – we’re – there’s sort of an emergency.”
“Is everything alright?” I asked suddenly nervous.
“Yeah. Well, no, not really. We can’t find my brother.”

I had gone home last night and gone right to sleep, not wanting to deal with the millions of questions my mother was sure to have about where Max was, where we had went, and why I wasn’t with him.
Then, I woke up the next morning to find out he had never came home. I called him over and over, no answer. My mom was freaking out, calling my dad and yelling at him over the phone to ‘Get on a flight back here right now to help us find OUR son’. I felt dizzy, like everything was moving too quickly and I couldn’t keep up. I had wanted to talk to Harry when he called more than anything. Just the sound of his voice was soothing, but I needed to find Max. I just had to.
“What do you mean you can’t find him, what happened?” Harry had asked.
“I, um – can I just, call you back in a little? I’m so sorry, I’ll explain everything.” He agreed and I hung up, wishing that he were here to comfort me, tell me that everything was okay.
But he wasn’t here, and everything wasn’t okay.
“Where the HELL did you go last night?” my mother asked sternly.
“Max wanted to go to some party, so we did. I tried to get him to come home but he didn’t want to, so I left.”
“You left him?!”
“Mom, he’s an adult. It’s not my job to look after him, he made that very clear.”
“Well we both know that that’s not true.” She mumbled under her breath, stomping into the foyer to answer the door where had someone had been knocking for a few moments.
“Mrs. Grayson?” An authoritative voice said.
“It’s Parks, Ashley Parks.” My mom corrected. I knew how much she hated it when people used her old last name. Changing it had been the first thing she did when my parents split up.
“I’m sorry, Miss. Parks. Can we um, talk to you for a few moments? It’s about your son.” I felt my heart beat increase as she let the two men in police uniforms into our house. I stood off to the side but I was listening intensely to every word.
“Where is he? Is he okay?” My mother said frantically, begging for answers.
“Please, Miss. Parks, we need you to calm down.” One of the men said.
“I’m not going to calm down until you tell me where my son is!” She said, raising her voice.
“MOM!” I said, stepping into the room. “ – Let them talk!” I said, moving my attention to the two police officers.
“Miss Parks, we’re very sorry to be the ones to deliver the news, but your son OD’d last night. He was found this morning and brought to the hospital in critical condition. He’s living, but has several injuries, we aren’t sure from what. We have a car downstairs ready to bring you to him now.”


@notarealhipster Who do you imagine anna as?


I'm from the US, outside of Philly :)
Where are you from? My side of the pond (United States) or the other one?
I love this story it's my favorite one I've read so far! :)