Because of Low (Page 52)

What the crap did that mean? I stared up at her and she smirked then walked out of the room. I guess she thought that was supposed to be deep and meaningful. It was probably the lyrics from some God awful boy band song.

"Amanda," my dad said warmly and pulled Amanda into his arms. He patted her head and kissed her temple and whispered something to her. She nodded and his eyes raised to meet mine. "Marcus. I’m glad you came." I wasn’t.

But obviously Amanda needed this. I nodded and followed her inside.

"MARTUS," A loud squeal startled me and I looked down to see Larissa running toward me with her arms up in the air, grinning. Two little teeth flashed at me. I picked her up and she smelled just like I remembered.

"How’s my princess? I see you got two teeth." She pointed at her new teeth, "Two teef," she agreed and placed a wet kiss on my mouth.

"Martus come pay," she’d added a few new words to her vocabulary. I sat her down and held her hand.

"You lead the way," I told her and she pulled me along behind her toward the living room where toys of all kinds were scattered around the floor. I quickly scanned the room and Tawny was nowhere to be found. Letting out a sigh of relief I sat down where Larissa demanded and she pulled a bucket of bright pink blocks toward me.

"Pinses bocks," she explained pointing to the picture of Cinderel a on one of the blocks.

"My favorite kind," I assured her and she giggled happily waiting for me to build her a tower of blocks to knock down.

"She’s mentioned you several times," my father said as he walked into the room. I didn’t look up at him. Nor did I respond. I came here for two reasons. My sisters, both of them.

Amanda sank down on the ground on the other side of Larissa.

"Larissa, this is Manda," I said as she studied Amanda.

"Mana," she repeated. Amanda beamed at her and nodded.

"Yes, and it’s very nice to meet you Larissa. Can I play too?"

Larissa grinned brightly. Amanda had said her favorite word.

"Mana pay too," she pushed some blocks toward Amanda.

Amanda eagerly started stacking them. Larissa had that effect on people. She was hard to resist. Much like her Aunt. Aw, damn.

Larissa was studying me and I watched as her small smile faded and she looked back at dad then at me.

"I ‘ont my Lowlow," she whispered as tears filled her eyes.

Dad immediately walked over and picked her up.

"Hey, don’t cry sweetheart. You have Marcus here to play with you and Amanda. Remember I told you Lowlow would be coming tomorrow to see you. Okay," his voice was so gentle. Had he talked to us like that once? It was hard to see my dad as being soft hearted and loving. Larissa sniffed and nodded her head.

"Down," Larissa demanded and Dad put her back where she’d been sitting.

Larissa smiled tearily up at me. "Lowlow come too." My chest hurt so bad I was having trouble breathing. Would it ever get easier seeing Larissa? Would memories of Will ow always haunt me and rip me apart all over again?

I cleared my throat and nodded.

"Can you show me your other toys?" Amanda asked. She knew I was having a hard time and she was trying to distract Larissa from anymore comments about her beloved aunt. Larissa stood up nodding and held out her hand to Amanda. "Come see."

Amanda happily followed the little chubby blond out of the room. It was like Amanda finally had a real baby doll to play with. She’d always wanted a little sister. Guess she finally got one.

I was alone with my father. Shit.

"You have any plans for the summer?" he asked picking a very neutral topic.

"Online courses," I replied, standing up and walking over to the large windows overlooking the gulf.

"You trying to hurry up and finish?"

"No. I’m making up for lost time." He didn’t deserve anymore of an explanation. He’d opted out of my life.

Turning around before he could say anymore I asked,

"Where’s the wife?"

"I asked her to let me do this alone."

"Why? Afraid I’ll hurt her feelings?"

My father shook his head, "No, I just didn’t want her here while I visited with my kids."

"I’m only here for Amanda."

"And Larissa. I’m not a fool son. I see the way you look at her. You may not want to care about her but you do." No reason to lie. "I cared about Larissa before I knew.

She’s a baby. None of this is her fault."

"And she’s your sister."

"And she’s my sister," I agreed. No point in arguing. It was the truth.

"Have you spoken to Will ow since…" he didn’t finish. He didn’t need to.

didn’t need to.

"No."

He didn’t have a response for that. I started to go find the girls when his voice stopped me. "She didn’t know." I froze.

"She was devastated. She’d just figured it out. She was there, at the house, having a complete emotional breakdown when you walked in."

I swallowed hard. Did I want to hear this?

"She stripped me bare by listing every person I’d hurt with my actions. She pointed out every sin I’d committed and she praised the one person who’d been left to pick up the pieces. She praised him rather passionately. How he’d been the one to hold the family I’d betrayed together. She also told me how much she loved him and how my actions and her sister’s actions were going to be the reason she lost him."

I grabbed hold of the chair beside me. My knees went weak. The ache from hearing Larissa ask for Will ow was nothing compared to the pain searing through my chest.

The things I’d said. Oh, God no.

"She’s been left her whole life. She’s a good girl. Larissa adores her. Where her sister lacks in many honorable traits Will ow seems to have them in abundance." I’d left her.