Mirela jumped to her feet and I quickly walked in front of her. I walked over slowly and quietly. Mirela was following and I tried not to laugh at her choice of a weapon: her stool. I got on the right side of the door and she got on the left. I nodded once but, before we could move, the door was thrown open and the burglar used it to hit me in the nose. I swore loudly and stumbled back.
A person in black went running but Mirela threw the stool at their back. They landed with a yell, dropping a bag, and she put her foot on their book. I ran over, ignoring my bloody nose, and flipped on the studio half of the building's lights. The person was swearing and trying to get Mirela's foot off of them.
"Get off of me, bitch!"
It was a man. I jerked my head to the side and Mirela moved. I grabbed the man by his blond hair and lifted him. He yelled in pain but I didn't let him go. I glared as he smirked at me.
"What the hell!?" I yelled, pushing him away from me.
"Just wanted to see if you still had your reflexes," Tom said with a grin.
"Call the cops, Mirela," I said wearily.
"Already on it," she said. "Hello? Hi, I need to report a burglary."
Tom's eyes widened. "You're seriously calling the cops on me?"
I picked up his bag and looked in. I glared at him.
"Considering you've got some of my most expensive makeup and jewelry in here, yeah I am! Why are you here!?"
He shrugged. "Heard you got yourself an investor. I figured you could afford to lose a few things."
"You were supposed to stop doing this, Tom!" I yelled, pushing him again.
He stumbled but glared at me. "I've got bills to pay, man. Not all of us got to get cushy jobs."
I rolled my eyes. "Don't pull that shit on me. You had the same opportunities I had."
"College just wasn't for me."
"You only have yourself to blame for that," I snapped. I heard the sirens. "And for this."
His eyes went to Mirela. "This your new squeeze?"
"No. Back off," I warned when he smirked at her. "I really wish you hadn't done this, Tom."
He shrugged as the police came in. "And I really wish you hadn't called the cops."
He sighed and let them put him in handcuffs. Mirela passed me some tissues and I watched sadly as the police took Tom back to the elevator. When they were gone, I kicked the stool and it flew into the wall, scratching it. I ran a hand through my hair, dabbing at the blood.
"Oh no," Mirela gasped.
"What?" I snapped and turned. "That fucker!"
The green screen was completely trashed. I sat down and pulled on my hair. I heard Mirela talking to someone but I barely listened, stuffing more tissues into my nose to stem the blood.
"Fuck, shit, bastard, fuck, fuck, FUCK!"
"Who was that?" Mirela whispered.
I squeezed my eyes shut. "My brother."
Luther showed up five minutes later and yelled. "Oh great! Who did it!?"
"It was Tom," I said. "We were editing the pictures and heard him trip in the ladies' dressing room."
"I'll show you," Mirela said and picked up the bag.
"Mirela, I think you should go home," Luther said quietly. "I'll call you tomorrow."
"Okay," she muttered. "Caleb, I-"
"Just go," I said and heard her leave.
Luther sat beside me and I glared at the floor. We sat in silence for a while.
"We don't have the money to replace that screen, Luther," I said through clenched teeth.
"We'll call the insurance company," he said. "They'll help us."
"I'm the one that tripped into it when he hit me with the door."
"It was the result of assault, then. I'm sure they'll cover for it."
"I hope you're right," I sighed. "Do you want to see the edits since you're here?"
"Sure. Um... why is the wall scratched?"
I laughed humorlessly. "Mirela threw the stool at him and I kicked it."
Luther chuckled, picking it up and following me to the computer room.
"Are things awkward like you thought they would be?"
"Not really," I answered. "I mean, I couldn't look her in the fucking face but she seemed normal. I went to Starbucks. She was there crying."
"Do you think it was about the shoot?"
"No," I said. "She was staring out the window and I had been trying to get her attention for at least a minute. It was probably her father or something."
"Her father's dead?" he asked and I nodded. "That sucks.... These edits are a good start, though. Who picked the backdrops?"
"We both did. The outfits suggested a more intimate setting so the park and the restaurant were tossed out."
"What about the gazebo?" he asked.
"I liked the hotel room and she liked the idea of the fireplace."
"It does give it a good ambience," he agreed.
I looked sadly at the green screen. "I thought he went straight, Luther," I whispered.
"So did I. Are you going to tell your mom?"
"No," I said immediately. "It'll break her heart. She's convinced he's straight."
"What about your dad?"
"He'll probably be the one Tom calls to bail him out. He and Mom don't talk much anymore so she won't hear about it from him."
"Don't feel guilty," Luther said. "It's not your fault."
I ran a hand through my hair. "I should've done more after the divorce. I was so caught up in everything, though, that-"
"Exactly," Luther interrupted. "You had your own life and problems to face. He didn't confront his demons like you did, Caleb."
I snorted. "I haven't confronted all of my demons, Lu," I said, staring at the closeup of Mirela and I kissing.
"At least you're not drinking anymore," he whispered.
I toyed with the mouse. "Do you think I should put Tom in rehab? I know he's still using."
"He's not your responsibility, Caleb."
"I'm his older brother."
"He's 21 now. He's made his choice about what he wants to be."
I squeezed my eyes shut. "I'm an awful brother."
Luther gripped my shoulder. "No, you're not."
"I told Mirela to call the cops on him!"
"You had to, Caleb!" he said. "How else is he going to learn?"
My phone rang and I shook my head.
"It's my dad," I sighed.
"You fine with locking up?"
"Yeah. See you in a few."
He left and I answered my phone.
"Hey, Pops," I said.
"You called the cops on him!?"
"What would you have done?" I asked, trying to keep my voice even.
"Given him a chance!"
"I gave him a chance! I've given him a shit load of chances! This is the fifth time he's tried to rob us!"
"He's lost, Caleb. You need to help him."
"Why the hell should I help him?" I snapped. "You're his father! I can't be expected to keep raising him!"
"Do you know how large his bail was!? He was high!"
"I know! I could tell. Look, put him in rehab. Please."
"No. You're going to take him on at your studio."
"Absolutely not," I said. "You are his father! Not me! I had to raise him since we were kids because you were too drunk and lazy to do it yourself! You have a chance to make up for that! I know you've been wanting to! You take care of him! I have my own shit to deal with now that he's pulled this shit! He's caused huge damage to the studio!"
"What did he do?"
"Pushed me with the door into the green screen and it ripped," I snapped.
"Well, you should have been prepared!"
"Take care of him, Dad," I said and hung up.
I put my head in my hands.