All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
The Loyalties We Bear
Cierra curled her knees towards her chest, nestled against the arm of the sofa. She slumped to avoid the sunlight reflecting off the TV screen. Her gaze drifted from her still phone, faced down on the coffee table, to the old black and white film Finn threw on earlier, to the living room window, where light streamed in, down to the space between them. She kneaded the blanket with her hands, fingers sliding over frayed edges. A sigh slipped past her lips.
"It's been two weeks since we hung out and you're already this antsy to get out and do something?" Finn teased. He scrubbed the cloth over the grip of his pistol, elbows resting on his knees. Gun oil smeared the inside of his wrist.
Cierra sank into the sofa cushion, ignoring the nausea in her stomach and the ache in her back. "'M fine."
"Sure," Finn chuckled, glancing up at the screen. He reloaded the magazine, slammed it in with the heel of his palm. He lifted it up and aimed at the wall, moving his hand up and down to test the weight, the aim, to familiarize himself with it. He tucked his pistol in its holster and left it on the table. He stood up and stretched his arms over his head. "Want a drink?"
"Nah," Cierra leaned forward, reaching for her phone.
"Hey!" Finn chided, clicking his tongue. "No phones, c'mon, one night of peace won't kill you."
"Just because you're off duty doesn't mean I am," Cierra sulked, rolling her eyes. She sat back and held her hands up in surrender.
Finn flicked his gaze from her hands, to her phone, to finally meeting her eyes. "How long's the hair dye--"
"Jeez, Finn, told you it hasn't washed out yet. Leave it alone. 'S for a job," Cierra sighed. She swept her hair over her shoulders, combing her fingers through strands of gradient purple. She turned back to the TV and exhaled, glancing between the screen and Finn. "You watching anymore?"
Cierra reached for the remote and shut the TV off. The room fell dark. Only sunlight from the setting sun illuminated the walls.
Finn stood near the window, forearm resting against the glass. His shadow stretched along the carpeted flooring. Sunlight mingled with his streaks of blond hair and turned his brown eyes into an amber gold.
Cierra glanced out of the window and turned away, blinking until the spots in her vision vanished. "So... now what?"
"Sunset's really nice today. Anyway, I was clearing out some of Mom's old books. Guess what I found!"
"Her old dessert recipes."
Finn tore his gaze away from the window and tilted his head at her. A slight grin played on his lips. "Yeah, fruit tarts and cream cheese frosting. How'd you know?"
Cierra shrugged, throwing the blanket off her legs. She moved around on the couch, uncurling until she took up most of the space, head pillowed on the arm. She flashed him a smirk. "Really? You have to ask?"
Finn turned back to the window with a chuckle. "Something's missing from the recipe, I can't remember what. Do you think you could take a look--"
"Lemon zest, dunno how much."
Finn snapped his fingers. "Makes sense. She always forgot until the last minute. Figures she'd forget to write it in." He laughed to himself, staring out of the window with his memories and a smile.
Cierra got up and wandered around the living room in uneven ovals, dragging her feet on the carpet. Finn raked his hands through his hair with a sigh. Cierra came to a stop near the corner of the coffee table, hands in the pocket of her hoodie. "So--"
They paused, shared a look and turned away, laughing under their breaths.
Cierra recovered first. "I know you didn't demand a hangout to talk about Mom, so... what gives, Finn?"
"Can't I just want to talk and catch up?"
"Since when have we ever needed to talk?"
"Since when have we ever ragged on talking as a way of connection?"
Cierra glared at him.
She conceded with a shrug. Cierra picked at her cuticles, scraping residues of black nail polish away, "dunno, we always seemed to pick up where we left off."
Finn drummed his fingers against the window, shaking his head to himself. He shrugged, shifting his weight from foot to foot. "I miss--"
Cierra's phone blared, vibrating against the glass of the coffee table. She winced.
Finn scowled at the device. "Do. Not. Answer."
"I don't get that option, Finn. You know that as well as I do," Cierra sighed. She shuffled around the table, reaching for her phone.
Finn darted forward and snatched it out of her hands. "No! You promised!"
"Finn!" Cierra snapped. "Why are you being so unreasonable!"
"One evening! You promised--"
"No, I said I'd try! Don't put words in my mouth!" Cierra retorted. "Give me back my phone, I need it, it's work!"
Finn paused. Then, he burst into roaring laughter. He staggered back, flinging a hand out on the windowsill to steady himself. "Work," he sneered, "is that what we're calling it now?"
Cierra shut her mouth and recoiled. She gritted her teeth. She needed that phone. "Finnegan," she huffed.
"You think I don't know?" His lips curled into an ugly, twisted grin. He let out another breathless laugh. "I thought the rumors were false, but they're not, are they... Nightwalker?"
Cierra hesitated, eyes narrowing, hand still outstretched for the phone. She fought the instinct to step back. Instead, she squared her shoulders. "Just give me the damn phone, Finn."
"Unbelievable! You're not even upset! You're just annoyed because you really thought I wouldn't figure it out!" He slammed her phone down on the table, running his hands through his hair. "Why?"
Cierra shook her head. "Don't ask questions you don't want answered."
Finn sucked in a ragged breath and put his head between his knees. "If you aren't careful, your warrant could end up on my desk. Then what? Ever think about that?"
Cierra looked at the carpet and shrugged. She looked away as Finn staggered to the sofa, squinting at the dying sunshine.
Finn snapped his head up, eyes glazed over and glassy. "This isn't a game, Ci! People just don't wake up on the wrong side of the law! Please, I can get you out. You'll get yourself killed--"
Cierra gaze a slight shake of her head, cutting him off. "No." She approached Finn with open palms. She smiled sadly. "Isn't it poetic? Me and you, just like when we were kids. chasing each other 'round the playground." She reached down.
Finn scrambled for his pistol, throwing the holster away.
Her mouth fell open. She froze. Her brow furrowed as she blinked, struggling for words, unable to comprehend. Their heavy breaths reverberated in the silence. She sank her teeth into her bottom lip, staring down the barrel of the pistol. The dregs of light vanished from the room as the sun finally dipped beneath the horizon. He pulled a gun on her. "You pulled a gun on me."
Finn's eyes widened. His eyes darted between his hands and her face. "I thought you were going to take it--"
"Why would I!" He pulled a gun on her. "My phone's right there--"
"I'm a cop! If I lose my--"
"You pulled a gun on me--"
"I'm your sister!"
Finn fell silent, lips forming unspoken words. His voice failed.
Cierra held her hands up to stop him. She picked her phone up and scrolled through the missed messages. "I don't want to hear it. I'm done. I can't do this now. I'm late for a job."
"You're not listening--"
"I said no--"
Cierra shook her head and stormed out of the living room. Finn followed behind her. She yanked her boots on by the front door, not bothering to lace them up. She tucked her phone in her pocket and sidestepped around Finn. She grabbed a pen and an old receipt, flipping it over to write on the back. "'M writing down an address and a date. Check it out with your cop buddies, might be a good raid. Don't wait up," she tossed the pen on the counter and wrapped her fingers around the doorknob.
Finn slammed his palm against the door, forcing it shut. "Don't go. Don't step out of this apartment right now, I swear to God, I'll--"
"You'll what?" Cierra challenged. She faced him, silver gaze hardening to stone. "Arrest me? Pull another gun on me?"
Finn flinched, hand falling away from the door.
"That's what I thought," Cierra taunted. She yanked the door open and stepped out. Finn slammed it shut behind her. Cierra scrubbed a hand over her face, blinking tears back. Her chest ached.
The lock slid in place, echoing in the vacant hallway.