“Don't worry, Nick,” I reassured my brother, “I'll get him there. He'll see her again. And then it'll be up to him where this all goes.” We hung up and I stuck my phone in my back jeans pocket before walking up the stairs towards Joe's room in our parents' house. I knocked on his door as soon as I got to it. When I didn't hear an answer, I tested the knob. It turned, so I slowly entered the room. It was more of a mess then I remembered. But of course, 6 months ago and before it would have been Lanie who would have cleaned it for him since Joe was always messy. I pushed a pile of clothes away from the door on the floor with my foot. I could hear him in the bathroom, so I wandered around until I stopped at his dresser. I saw a piece of paper that I could tell had been folded and unfolded dozens and dozens of times. I picked it up and opened it, soon realizing it was Lanie's 'good-bye' letter. I could tell that this letter had been held and stared at a lot, but I set it down, went over to and knocked on the bathroom door. I heard my brother mutter, “Come in,” so I opened the door and walked in.
“Joe? You ok?” I asked him. He didn't answer from where he was perched on the edge of the tub, so I put the toilet seat down, perched on the edge of it and continued, “What's wrong?”
“I don't know, Kylie, I really don't know.”
“You miss her, don't you?”
“I guess so, but now I'm mad too.”
“Mad? But why?”
“Cause she left. She left without any explanation. The note she left, she told me to 'take care of her heart' because she was 'leaving it with me'. But if she really loved me, she wouldn't leave. You're her best friend, do you know why she left?”
“Actually, yes, but I can't tell you. Before you start hating me too, it's not because I don't want to. I do, but it's not my secret to tell. If anyone's going to tell you, it has to be Lanie,” I took a slight risk saying her name out loud.
“I'm not mad at you. I believe that you want to tell me.”
“You've been in the house too long. Come out with me.”
It took some convincing, but, finally I got him to agree to come with me. While he was picking through his closet for something nicer than sweatpants and the old sweatshirt he was wearing, I started to pick up some of the things on his floor and tried to clean his room up a little. We got into my car and began to just drive through town, but before we started out I sent Nick a quick text, saying,
'Convinced Joe to get out of the house. Where r u?' Not 5 minutes later, he sent back,
'On flight now. 45 min out. I'll text again when we r landing.'
Before I truly knew what was going on, Nick had me sitting on an airplane flying back to Dallas. Part of me feels relieved and excited to see Joe again, but part is scared. I have no idea how he'll react to me coming back and what he'll say when he realizes that I'm pregnant. My face must have been showing some of that fear, cause he soon looked straight at me and said,
“Lanie, are you ok? You look terrified.”
“I am, Nick. I'm terrified how Joe'll react when he sees me. And what our families will say when they realize I left because I'm pregnant.”
“You're going to be ok. Even if Joe won't accept it, which I haven't given up on, you know that Kylie and I are on your side. We'll both stand by you through everything.”
I rested my head on his shoulder as I tried to relax. I tucked my hands up inside the sleeves of the oversized sweatshirt I was wearing. It was the only thing of Joe's I'd taken with me when I left. I always wore it when I tried to make it not so obvious that I was pregnant.
I finally managed to fall asleep for a little while, until Nick was waking me up telling me that we were landing in Dallas. As soon as I heard him say it, the butterflies started to grow again in my stomach. As we were landing, he called ahead, to Kylie, I'm assuming, to let her know that we were almost there. I pulled off the oversized sweatshirt, put it back in my carry-on bag and put on another top that suited my expanding belly better. Once we got off the plane, I realized what Nick had been trying to organize. Not only did I see Kylie, but apparently part of the plan was to bring Joe to the airport. From where we were I knew he couldn't see me yet, but that would soon change. He turned to say something to his sister and she must have seen me and said something back to him causing him to turn his head back. Now he was looking straight at me. I could see the look of shock on his face as he continued to just stare at me.