As soon as I got home, I dragged Tom into the living room with Luther. Ever since he moved in, he's been causing trouble between me and Luther. It was stressing us out. We were fighting with the insurance company over the green screen. They were saying it was my fault even though Tom had been the one who pushed me.
"Is this about the screen?" Tom demanded, crossing his arms as he sat on the couch. "I don't have any money and you can bet your ass Dad won't pop for it."
"No, it's not," I snapped and pulled the brochure out of the bag. "It's about this."
Carol had emailed me a brochure so I printed it out before I got home. He glared at me and took it. Luther and I stood in front of him, crossing our arms, too.
"'Stevens Rehab Center'," he read and laughed. "Are you serious?"
"Dead serious," I said. "We've given you every single chance we can. I can't do any more for you, Tom. It's time you get your shit together." I pointed at the brochure. "It's either this or prison. Which do you want to do?"
He glared at the two of us. He opened the brochure and read about it. I stood my ground. Carol had already given me the okay for a discount and it was completely affordable. I couldn't force him to do this but it was time to give him the final ultimatum.
"A pool," he muttered.
"Open 24 hours," I said with a nod. "There's a gym, too."
He bit his lip. "How long?"
"Two years," I answered.
Tom sighed. "You really want me to do this, don't you?"
"Despite our differences, I love you, Tom," I whispered. "I always have and always will. You need this."
He glanced at Luther who hadn't said anything.
"This is between you and your brother," Luther said. "I think you should take it, though."
"Dad's not going to pay for it."
"I am," I said immediately. "Please, Tom. You're killing yourself."
To my surprise, he started to cry. He put his hands over his face and I stared in shock. I had no idea what to do and I glanced at Luther. He jerked his head and I sat beside Tom, putting an arm around him awkwardly. He sobbed into my chest. I sighed and shut my eyes tightly.
Two days later, we were on our way to the rehab center with Mirela and Luther. Luther had come along to look around the property for good shots and, though she said it was to give a report on the website, I knew Mirela had come for me. I gripped the steering wheel. I was scared and Tom had thrown up twice already. I had taken the meth and cocaine from him the second he stepped into our apartment. I had been giving it to him in small doses, though, knowing it wasn't safe to make him go cold turkey. Now, though, that was about to change for him.
We pulled into the parking lot and I looked around. It really was a nice place. It was out in the country on 20 acres of land. There was a tennis court, a basketball court, and a corral for riding horses. Carol said horses were good for therapy. The center itself was huge. Mirela led the way in and I put my arm around Tom's shaking shoulders.
Our father was furious when he found out I was doing this. He threatened to write me off as his son but I didn't care. I didn't need him.
The main entrance was large with two staircases that curved up to the upper floors. To the right was a cafeteria and to the left was a convenience store that sold cigarettes and gum more than anything else. Mirela walked up to the front desk and asked for Carol. She stood beside us and smiled at me while we waited.
A thin woman with grey hair and tired green eyes came down and hugged Mirela tightly. She smiled at me and Tom and shook our hands.
"Thanks for doing this," I said.
"Are you Thomss?" she asked and my brother nodded, his face pale.
"C-Call me Tom," he whispered.
She smiled kindly. "Tom it is. Would you like a tour while I talk with your brother?"
"Sure," he muttered.
A man in casual clothing walked over and held out his hand.
"Mitchell," he said. "I'll be showing you around. Follow me."
Tom looked at me and I nodded encouragingly. Mitchell led Tom into the cafeteria while we followed Carol to her office on the second floor. I was glad to see the center didn't scream of hospital.
Her office was small compared to everything else. She sat down behind a desk and I sat in the only chair. I ran a hand over my eyes. Mirela put her hands on my shoulders.
"I know this is hard," Carol said. I didn't answer. "Confronting a family member then making this choice is- It can feel like you're betraying them."
"He agreed to come," I whispered and she looked surprised. "I wasn't going to make him. It would just make him bitter and he wouldn't want to get better."
"What's the addiction again?" she asked, getting a pen out.
"Meth and cocaine," I said. "I took it from him but I didn't want him to go cold turkey so I...."
"You didn't do anything wrong," she said quickly. "How long has he been addicted?"
"And your parents took care of him?"
"No. I did until he turned 18 then fell off the radar for two years. He came back claiming he went straight." I shook my head sadly. "I guess he was lying."
"He probably tried," she assured me, patting my hand. "It's hard for them to bounce back without help, though."
I just nodded and we went over the rest of the information before she finished typing something.
"Did you bring his clothing and the few belongings he can have?"
"Yeah, it's out in the car," I said. "My business partner, Luther, is looking around and snapping some pics to find good places to take your pictures."
"Thank you so much for doing this," she said. "Other photographers just charge so much."
"Anything to help my brother," I said and Mirela squeezed my shoulders.
"Mirela will add a link on our website that will direct people to yours so you can get the recognition you deserve." She stood up. "I wish I could do more but now it's up to Tom."
I nodded and shook her hand. "I'll consult with Luther when we get back to the studio and we'll decide the best date and time. You have a large facility so we may do a couple days."
"That's fine," she said. She hugged Mirela and whispered something in her ear. "And I'll have them send you the pictures so you can put them up?" she asked.
"Yes ma'am," Mirela said.
We went back downstairs and Luther was looking at the convenience store. He shook Carol's hand with a grin and introduced himself.
"You have a wonderful facility, Mrs. Stevens," he said. "Did Caleb tell you the way everything's going to go?"
"Yes," she said. In the cafeteria, we heard shouting. She sighed. "Another fight. I have to go. It was great meeting you gentlemen. Tom should be done with his tour and then you can say goodbye."
I nodded mutely, suddenly feeling ill, and we waited. I bit my lower lip until it bled and Mirela held my hand. Tom came downstairs ten minutes later, laughing with Mitchell. That was a good sign. We took him out to the car and Mirela immediately got in the back seat.
I sighed. "Tom, I know you're upset, but this is-"
Tom hugged me tightly. "Thank you," he said, crying again. "This-This is what I need. I know it. They have a good place and I think-I think I'll be good here."
"I'll visit when I can. I'll be back later to take pictures and we can grab some food and you can show me your favorite spots."
We hugged one more time and I gripped him tightly, squeezing my eyes shut. I sighed and then handed him his luggage.
"Be good," I whispered.
"Thank Mirela for me again," he whispered, shouldering his duffel bag.
"I will. Goodbye, Tom."
"Bye, Cale," he said.
He smiled, his lips trembling, and followed Mitchell back into the center. Luther and I got in the front seats and I pulled out of the parking lot.