The sight that greeted me when I got inside hit me like a physical blow. Pho's hand was around Aina's waist, and he kissed her in a way that was distinctly more than a brother. I gasped, causing both of them to wheel round to face me.
.Pho let out a feral growl and pulled Ania closer, pure hatred etched on his face. I took a half-step away from my little brother before I collected myself. Glancing at Aina, fear and confusion were fighting for dominance on her face.
"What are you doing home so early?" he asked suspiously, glaring. Shaken, I met his blazing gaze. I could feel my eyes wide with shock and for once, my collected nature had deserted me.
"I got a text from Ania..." My voice trailed off as things began to click into place. My mind began to grind back into action. Pho's face fell into a clever grin, causing a sinking feeling in my stomach.
Are you really this afraid of your little brother?
Aina was trying to pull away from Pho but he had her clamped to his side, possessively. As though I was trying to hurt her.
"Really," he purred. "Tell me than Cira...What did the message say?" There was a tone of what could only be described as pure evil in his voice.
"She...uh...she said that you were acting funny that's all," The fact that this was my little brother completely disarmed me, leaving me totally defenceless. Pho raised a brow but kept that smile on his face.
"I was acting...funny?" he asked, in a parody of my tone. "Well?" he demanded. "Ask Ania yourself, she just got scared a bit." His powerful eyes looked to his twin and his smile spread. Ania gave him a weak smile back and nodded, almost on cue.
"He just scared me Cira...nothing more." I met Aina's eyes, silently pleading for her support, but Pho turned his gaze back to me in truimph. Aina dropped her eyes to the floor.
"There Cira, all better. Now Ania why don't you go to your room and get dressed. We have to get ready for bed." My temper flared with his patronizing tone but I suppressed it. He's your little brother Cira. His hand squeezed hers and his lips quickly kissed her cheeks. My stomach flipped uneasily with the way she took this willingly. What has he done to her? With Ania gone, Pho squared up to me, secure in his power.
"Why did you come out of the bathroom with her?! What did you do?" I hissed, wary of upsetting Aina but determined to get to the bottom of the matter.
"She asked me to scrub her back and I did, like a good brother would! Now Cira you hardly have room to question me when your snogging that Dan kid from school. I know. I watch how you both stare at each other...the way he stares at you. Did you know that I heard him talking abou you once?" His reference to my relationship with Damien took me aback. How did he know about that?! I searched his face carefully, but it was an impassive mask of smug dominance.
"What did you hear?" I was aware that he was probably lying, especially when he smirked. I felt panicked and completely on the back foot.
"I heard he's just playing goody boy to you, being nice so that he can get you in his car and-" I choked, feeling tears well up. I shook my head rapidly, trying to escape his words but they wound their way past, into my mind like poison vines.
"I was going to tell you," he said in his own version of a sympathetic tone "but you just had to prey on me and Ania. Pushing your own insecurities on us? Shame Shame Cira." He hugged me tightly, patting me on the shoulder as he withdrew to Aina's room. I stood frozen, my mind screaming rejection.
"Nighty Night, Cira." Pho called, laughter in his voice. I felt my knees buckle.
After an indeterminable time, I got to my feet and made it to my room, collapsing onto my bed. My phone buzzed urgently. Damien's name flashed up on the screen. Closing my eyes, I dropped the phone, feeling tears leak out the corner of each eye.
A while later, there was a knock at the front door. Since our parents were still out, I cleared my expression the best I could and answered it, still dressed in the black jeans and tank top I worked in.
"Damien." I stepped back, letting him in. He went to put his arms around me, but I evaded him.
"Cira?" He looked at me, hurt. "What is it?"
I shook my head, upset. "You should go."
He put a hand on each of my shoulders, looking into my eyes. I tried looking away but failed. "I won't leave until I know whats happened, Cira. I care a lot about you and something has clearly happened. Is it the twins-?"
"No." I said, stepping away. "Damien, why are you here? Are you only out to use me or...?" I couldn't finish my sentence.
"Cira, who gave you that idea?" His face softened, stepping towards me. "Look at me. If I was just out to use you, why would I have bothered coming over? Or calling?"
I looked up then and saw the genuine hurt on his face and his desire to comfort me. I stepped close to him and he pulled me into a tight hug. I buried my face in his neck as he kissed the top of my head.
"It's okay.." he murmured.
Unheard by either of us, a dark chuckle issued from the shadows at the top of the stairs.