My Rainy Days are Yours, If You Want Them

The purr of Sean’s motor sounds as I tighten the last bolt. The heavy repeat of his engine and crunch of gravel help detract from the noise that’s been echoing in my head for the last twelve fucking hours.

It shouldn’t surprise me anymore—laying witness to acts of disgusting, power-drunk men in a position of so much authority that they become bored.

Once that happens, they start testing the limits to see just how much they can get away with. And they do, drumming up and living out the sickest of fantasies—most involving preying on the weak and defenseless.

So, no, while it shouldn’t surprise me—no matter how hard I try—I can’t ever find a place inside myself to fully numb to it. I’m not a praying man, but as of late, I find myself begging for that numb every fucking day.

Relieved Sean’s here to distract me, I peer at him around the hood of the Mazda I’ve been working on since I gave up the possibility of sleep. He saunters toward the bay with a relaxed posture to envy and a shit-eating grin on his face. “Get that piece running?” Stupid question. “Not a stupid question,” he quips, tossing his cigarette down before grinding it out with the heel of his boot.

“If you managed the unmanageable, I would go so far as to call it miraculous.” Unlocking the hood prop, I drop it down as he situates himself behind the wheel to get his answer. Rounding the car, I move to the other side of the driver’s door where he sits in the shredded pleather seat, one boot planted on the garage floor.

Plucking my shop towel from my jeans, I wipe my fingers clean as he turns the key, and the ancient car instantly sparks to life. Grinning, he lifts his chin toward me.

“You’d be a half-decent mechanic if you were a little less scary and more conversational.” I roll my eyes as he continues. “That’s what, three or four sentences and no reply?” He jests, killing the engine before climbing out and snapping the door shut. “I rest my case.” He scrutinizes me. “Where did you go last night?”

I shrug. “A drive.” “Yeah? See anyone?” I jerk my chin. “Isolation isn’t always good in your case. My door is only feet away from yours.” “Wasn’t in the mood to talk.” “Yeah, toddlers behave the same way when they get upset.”

He reads my posture and sighs. “Going to be that kind of day, huh?” He shakes his head in irritation. The truth behind this rare friction between us is that Sean believes he wants to know what’s circulating in my head. For me to air my shit out so he can pick it apart because he thinks he might be able to help.

But because I know him just as well, letting him in on the secrets I’m guarding would only tear his insides to a near irreparable state and leave him in the same predicament I’m currently in. For now—until I can unleash on those responsible for how I’m feeling—I’m stuck in the most hellacious type of prison.

For now. But soon . . . “What, man? What?” Sean asks, sensing my struggle against the leash that continues to tighten as I fight against it by the day. He fishes out another cigarette. “Come on, man. Give me something.”

The flick of his Zippo calms me a little. The familiar sound reminds me that I am not alone in this and never have been. “You may think you’re locked up tight enough, Dom, but it’s starting to leak everywhere. You are making this,” he gestures between us, “hard already. If you keep a lid on what’s important now, you’ll make what’s coming impossible.”

I don’t bother defending myself because the situation is what’s impossible. Rarely do I ever sit on secrets with Sean, but I can’t utter a single word because if I do, curiosity will get the best of him. He’ll demand to lay witness to what I have. Once that happens, no one will be able to stop things from going into motion.

Sean doesn’t have the kind of control needed to keep himself in check—not when it comes to this. It’s getting more unbearable for me as every second ticks by. Something I’ve repeatedly failed to make my brother understand. Every time Tobias dismisses me, he fails us . . . them—all of us. At one point, I prided myself on being the one capable of gaining access to anything I desired.

Now it feels like a fucking curse—with a weight I’ll never be able to lift. I just have to hold on a little longer. Just a little longer, and then I can serve up what I’ve been bottling up for the last few months since I started my task list. A list that—for all intents and purposes—pivoted in a major fucking way as soon as I figured out how to tap into what’s been hidden beneath a veil of dentist-whitened smiles and fake patriotic lifestyles.

Lives masterfully manufactured to resemble the increasingly elusive American dream. When in reality, I’m laying witness to the hobbies and favorite pastimes of fucking monsters. The evidence I’m gathering against the powers that be would take down our fragile ecosystem in less than a day.

What’s whirring around in my psyche is equivalent to the magnitude of ten atom bombs, and I can’t utter a fucking word. Not yet. “Hungry?” Sean asks, knowing he’s not getting anywhere.

Have I eaten? Am I hungry? “Fuck, man. Two words. Give me two more words, or I can’t leave you like this.” He exhales a stream of smoke. “The hostility is rolling off you.” Swallowing my response, I step away from his unwavering intrusion. As it stands, I can’t make a move without the support of my brother.

Sean breaks up my struggle with a hint of hope as he glances at the plastic clock hanging past my shoulder. “Shit, rain check. I’m going to be late if I don’t get going.” The plan. We have a plan. The last leg of it starts today with his return to Horner Tech. As soon as said plan is executed, nothing and no one will stop me from flipping the overly-polished table to expose the filth beneath.

As if privy to that thought, Sean flips his keys into his palm and pushes off the car.

As he readies to leave, I find myself wishing he would stay for no other reason than to distract me. Needing company is not me. Never been me. But right now, I need . . . something. “Orientation?” “That’s one word,” he quips, his eyes calculating. He doesn’t trust me alone with my thoughts. I’m not sure I can trust my own much longer. “Give me one more, Dom.” “Ready?”

Bass thrums through the speaker on my windowsill, filtering down into the backyard of our new townhouse, where twenty or so of our most trusted loiter below. Entering my password, I hope to buy another hour from joining them before I’m summoned. I’m nowhere near the type of headspace needed to entertain, and I quickly dive in to avoid it when my burner rattles with a response to a text I sent from the garage hours ago.

His replies are becoming more delayed with each passing day.

You good?

B: Define Good.

His response has me grinning, which feels foreign and has it dissolving as quickly as it came.

When I figure it out, Big B, I’ll let you know. Making a list.

B: Checking it twice?

Yeah, call me Santa, and everyone on it has been naughty. When can we talk?

B: Don’t move.

Translation—my leash remains.

Like I said, we need to fucking talk. A conversation. It’s important.

B: Patience.

That I don’t have. Not anymore. B: You never did. Can’t get away now. Can’t or won’t? B: Wait for me. You don’t know what you’re asking. B: Not asking. “Motherfucker,” I grit out, tossing the burner on my desk. Screen blinking for a command, I decide to forgo the rabbit hole I’ve been deep diving in.

Just as I find a little reprieve in milder, more mindless work, Tyler barks my name before opening my bedroom door. “By all means, come in,” I snap, regretting the fact that though we’re grown men, our ambitious plans for the next few months made it a no-brainer to room together temporarily.

A decision I’m regretting with the traffic downstairs thanks to Sean and the constant interruptions by both since we moved in. “Pretty sure you want to hear this,” Tyler supplies. “We have company.” “Pretty sure I gathered that,” I jerk my chin toward the speaker streaming my playlist more in an effort to drown said company out.

“Not that kind of company,” he counters, leaning against my door frame. Rolling back in my desk chair, I grab my stash box and unload a few supplies. “Yeah? Enlighten me.” Tyler stalks further into the room, coming close to hovering above where I sit, his hesitance speaking volumes as he starts to preface his news with caution.

“Look, man, whatever shit you have going on—” “Already had this speech today,” I interject, plucking out a blunt paper. “I don’t think you’re in the headspace to handle it.” “Then why bother knocking?” Summoning some patience, I start to unroll the wrap. “Out with it. I’m good.” “You’re not fucking good, and until you come clean with what’s going on, we can’t help you.”

“I already reached out to France,” I relay to kill the interrogation.

He knows if I went to my brother, it’s nothing he can help me with, and with that understanding, he switches gears. “Sean brought back a new employee from the plant.” “Good on him,” I sprinkle shredded bud into the prepped paper. “Blonde or—” “Cecelia,” he interjects, weighing my reaction through the few tense seconds that follow.

I school my expression through the adrenaline spike, and he continues as I hit my keyboard. “So, we can handle this one of two ways. I can go feel her out, or you can. But either way, this greatly complicates shit.”

Already logged into her email, I scan the last one sent from Roman yesterday morning. It’s filled with everything from his gate code to his house staff schedule, giving her full access.

Though his mansion sits off a private road, and only the front is gated, it was erected like a fortress—especially in the way that the trees surrounding the property were cut back far enough that anyone who attempted to get in would be spotted by his meticulously placed security cameras.

Through a strange fucking twist of fate, we own adjoining land, which grants us backyard access, but the house itself is too far away from any decent cover to get in and out without tipping him off.

Any attempt to mic that house would raise flags we don’t want raised. I have zero doubt that Roman designed it that way. Though we had every intention of tapping the house, we abandoned those plans after the dust settled on construction.

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