Army of Angels
Suddenly I feel very depressed.
I have lost all interest in what else is going on or has gone on. I have not stopped crying all night and I am not sure that my head can take much more and especially no more bomb shells!! Forrest said they will tell me everything else tomorrow, because there is a lot more to come apparently, and I did not argue with him, really I am not sure I want to know!!
Not being able to get both Cinnamon and Mace out of my head, is driving me crazy, they both keep whirring around constantly making it very hard for me to sleep. I thought I had been hard done by, but in the grand scheme of things, I guess I am the lucky one.
Forrest has left the hospital for the night, he has been dragged away by both Atlas and Turmeric to get some sleep. It amuses me that everyone now seems to be so tight, it's almost like I've got an army of angels buzzing around me. Even Forrest seems to be feeling for Mace, which is something that I never expected.
I did not really want Forrest to go and leave me alone, but I had to let him. He is exhausted and emotionally drained, he has spent the last two weeks constantly camped out at the hospital with me, a little like how Bay did with Slate, and the last thing I need right now is Forrest making himself ill or cracking up on me!!
I am trying to sleep, but it is not happening, so I just lie there, eyes closes while my mind runs riot, really wishing that I could be with Mace right now. So emotionally mashed I find myself wanting and needing both Forrest and Mace, which is also frying my brain. I thought once Forrest was back in my life, I would not give Mace a second thought, but I was wrong. The thought of Mace lying alone next door, having to deal with what has happened to him alone, is killing me. I just want to crawl out of my bed and into his.
I hear the door open so I open my eyes to see who has just entered the room, expecting it to be one of the night nurses, but am surprised to see that it is Mango. He explains that he is on call and has just had to come in to oversee a surgical case, so he thought he would pop in and see how I am. He sits down in the chair by my bed.
"Are you struggling to sleep?" he asks and I tell him that I am. "Maybe we should move Slate into your room, that boy hardly seems to sleep either. It is a little cramped next door and I guess you could do with the company." he smiles at me "It would do you two good to spend some time together."
I am a little confused by him saying that next door is cramped. Surely there is only Mace and Slate in there. Gravel is in ICU, how is it cramped?! I frown at him for a moment before I ask him, how can it be cramped with only Mace and Slate in there. He pulls a face, I think I can see that he has slipped up and said something that he probably shouldn't have done.
"Oh, there is three of them in there." he says awkwardly "Just a policeman who got caught in the crossfire, he was also shot in the shoulder. He is fine, but there is no need for you to worry about him for now." he smiles at me
"Shouldn't he be up and out with just a shoulder wound?" I frown at him and he laughs at me.
"Nothing get's past you does it!!" he laughs at me for a moment. "Normally yes, but he is a type 1 diabetic and getting on in years, and he has had a slight wound infection so we've kept him in just to be on the safe side." he smiles then says quickly almost like he is trying to change the subject. "I will get Slate moved across for you tomorrow! He will keep you company."
"I hear you have been assigned as Gravel's doctor!" I snigger at him as he pulls a face "So what did El's bullet do to him? Lots of damage I hope, so that he is suffering like the rest of us!! Please tell me she got him somewhere good!! I know she wouldn't have hit his heart, because he has not got one!!" He laughs at me for a moment.
"The bullet went through his back, puncturing his lung and he suffered a traumatic pneumothorax. He is on the mend now, his lung is healing nicely and there should be no permanent problems in the future, he will end up with just a scar." He rolls his eyes "Typical of Gravel, while he comes out of it unscathed, everyone else gets to suffer for the rest of their lives, those that were lucky to keep them!!" he looks angry for a moment "I was hopping mad when they assigned me as his doctor, I would rather be strangling him than treating him!!" I laugh at the look on Mango's face "You know I'm apposed to violence and murder, but for him I could quite easily make an exception!!"
I ask him about Coral, somebody else I have not even thought about since I woke up. He tells me that she is very head shot at the moment, she is struggling to take it all in, especially the murders that Gravel has committed and his 'other woman'. Mango thinks that she can now see the mistakes she has made, she is wishing she had never messed about with Gravel or broke up with Slate.
"I'm sorry, and I'm not being funny Mango, but I want Coral keeping away from Slate!!" he raises his eyebrows at me. I know that he hoped Coral would come to her senses and Slate and Coral would get back together, especially because of the babies, but I think it has gone a little too far for that now. I smile at him "She has already done a number on him once, obviously she did not love him enough, if she ever did, and I don't want her messing him about, thinking she can go back to Slate now Gravel is out of the picture!! He has had enough to contend with already without her trying to worm her way back in and messing him and his head about again, besides I think you can see what is going on with Slate and Bay!"
"I know!! I don't like what you are saying but I completely understand where you are coming from!!" he mumbles miserably "Thanks for getting her out of there like you did!! I don't know what we would have done if anything had happened to her!! We have had enough loss lately!!"
"Mango, I'm sorry about Cinnamon!!"
He looks miserable and looks like he is starting to get upset. I know that he was probably close to Cinnamon like the rest of the extended family children. Cinnamon fading must be hard on them all on top of the loss of Honey and the baby, one of his Grandchildren.
I laugh and try to lighten the mood as I tell him I had to look after our Grandchildren, I have had no experience of being a Dad, so I'm looking forward to Slate's babies arriving and tell him he might have to fight me to get near them. He laughs at me before he pulls a face and asks me if I know that Gravel's 'other woman' is pregnant and is apparently saying it is Gravel's baby. I tell him that I did know and explain to him the conversation me and Gravel had a few hours before it all kicked off. I think on top of his Slate secret that is what had totally unhinged him and pushed him over the edge. Not knowing if Tarragon is telling him the truth and her disappearance. Mace being her brother, that is why Gravel set about him, he thought that Mace knew where she was and possibly had something to do with her disappearance. I did not realize that him having fertility problems was screwing his head up so much.
Mango tells me that he has had a poke around in Gravel's and Tarragon's medical records, particularly her maternity notes, as he gives me a mischievous smirk, because I know as well as he does, he should not have done, especially Tarragons. He says that the baby is due a month a head of Coral's twins and it is going to be very interesting if it does turn out to be Gravels, the chances of which he can see from his medical records is virtually nil. We both kind of dismiss the possibility of her baby being Gravels, and I doubt I will even give it another thought, more inclined to think that she is probably not being truthful about her bed partners.
"Talking about medical records, obviously being your surgeon, I've had to have a good scan through your medical records." he raises his eyebrows at me "I didn't know you was born with FAS, it's no wander you have such a problem with alcohol."
"WHAT?!" I frown at him as he frowns at me.
"Didn't you know?" I shake my head in confusion. "I am surprised!! Sorry I thought you would have known!" he starts to laugh "The very first thing I did when I became a doctor was scan my own medical records from birth, maybe you should have a look at your records, they makes very interesting reading and I think you Mr have nine lives." he laughs
"I've never looked at my own medical records." I frown at him "Mango tell me what is in them."
"You arrived in March when you weren't due until May. Your premature birth was put down to your Mothers serious alcohol addiction. You was transferred to Raspberry Hill General for the first six months of your life, they were better equipped to deal with your critical condition, being premature, showing signs of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome as well as withdrawal symptoms, you was actually born with alcohol addiction."
"Hell, I didn't even know I was premature!!"
"You are very lucky mate to come out of it so well!! I think you know what FAS can do to a child!!"
I laugh and say I could not have had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome when I was born, because I have no signs of it whatsoever other than the alcohol addiction. I do not have any brain damage, deformities or disabilities, quite the opposite.
"Your FAS thankfully was very mild!! You do have signs of it and you don't even realize it, your low nose bridge was the only marked physical deformity."
As soon as he mentions this, I automatically touch my none existent nose bridge, something that has always aggravated me, but also something that I have never really thought about properly.
"Your premature birth, low birth weight and slow development, and you are a little on the short side." He laughs "You have always had behaviour problems, impulsive behaviour, drug and alcohol addiction." we both laugh "Apparently you was a very niggly and hyperactive child with sleep deprivation and personality problems." he smiles at me "I think you was very lucky because according to your records, your Mother was not drinking heavily until she was further on into the pregnancy, or I dread to think how you might have turned out!!" he frowns at me "I am actually surprised that you were so close to your Mother considering the start that you had, social services were involved and your Father obtained a court order and she had all her rights to you removed and was not allowed any contact with you for the first year of your life."
"WHAT?! You are joking right!!"
"No Granite!! I'll get you a computer brought in so you can look through your records, you seriously need to read through them for yourself!" he smiles at me. "You can also speak to my Dad, I noticed he was one of the doctors around at the time while you were being treated here. I have asked him and he remembers your birth, being a close friend of your parents at the time."
Mango's pager starts to bleep, he rolls his eyes as he checks it then excuses himself and leaves the room because he has an emergency to attend to. Being left alone again my brain instantly starts running riot again, now I have just been given something else to think about!!!
I lie there for a while going out of my mind, unable to stop my mind from thinking about Cinnamon and Mace again. I now also have what Mango has just told me really bugging me, why would my parents not even tell me I was a premature baby? I need some company or something to do, but I do not even have a book to read, which might occupy my mind, I do not want to be alone right now.
I get out of bed slowly. It takes me a while and I have to sit on the edge of the bed for a while and wait for my dizzy head to stop spinning. I feel really weak and unsteady as I stand myself up. I have to stand there for a while to let a dizzy spell pass, then I start to shuffle carefully towards the door. I do not like how unsteady I feel on my feet and as I am walking I can feel the stitches in my stomach pulling and the whole of that area of my body feels very tender and sore, there is a burning sensation that I do not like. I know I should not really be out of bed yet, especially being alone, but when have I ever done what I am supposed to do!! I laugh to myself thinking I now have an excuse for why I have always been a disobedient rebellious git!!
When I get outside the door I hold onto it tightly, as I wobble a little, shocked and distracted by the two armed policeman that are sat opposite my room talking. They do not have just ordinary hand held guns, they look more like sniper rifles. I notice there are another pair sat a little further down the corridor outside the door next door. I glance in the direction of the nurses station and notice it is unoccupied, which is a good thing because they would probably make me get back into bed. Both of the nearby officers jump up and one of them grabs my arm to steady me.
"Sir, I am sorry, but you really need to be staying in your room!" he says to me quietly. Sir!! That makes me laugh.
"I am just going next door, no big drama!" I smile at the officer who is helping to hold me up. "My Son is next door." One of the officers frowns at the other. "Slate Rock is my son and I live with Mace Brownie, so I am no threat to them. I am Granite Rock."
"This is one of Stones lads, the one DI Rock shot." The two officers stare at each other for a moment. "As he is one of Stones lads, I guess it won't hurt him to visit." the other officers says to the one that is frowning, which has me frowning at them now.
One of Stone's lads, what does he mean by that?! I do not bother to ask as both of the officers take an arm each and help me to walk down the corridor to the next door. They let go of me at the door and I stand and watch them go and sit down with the other two officers, all four of them sit there quietly staring at me. Very strange!!
I push the door open and walk in. The light is on but only very dimly, and all I can hear is snoring. This makes me laugh. I glance over at Slate, where some of the noise is coming from, who is curled up in a tight ball on top of his bed fast asleep. I glance over at the other bed where most of the snoring seems to be coming from, but I can not really see who is in that bed, the blanket seems to be well up over his head. I glance at the third bed and I see Mace, who is awake and just lay there staring at me wide eyed.
"Gran what the hell are you doing here?!" he sounds surprised, shocked even.
"I thought I would sneak out and see you!"
I mumble quietly as I walk gingerly over to his bed, which takes a while. I am a little confused when he starts to tell me I need to turn round and go back to my own room and that I should not be in here.
"At least try to sound like you are pleased to see me!! If you are worried about Forrest, he isn't going to divorce me for coming to see you!!!" I laugh at him quietly as I get up to his bed, trust his to be the furthest away from the door.
"Of course I am pleased to see you, and it isn't Forrest!! Should you even be out of bed? You are going to hurt yourself!! You have been through a lot, I was scared you were not going to make it!!" he starts to look upset.
"I am fine, you don't get rid of my that easily" I smirk at him "and no I should not really be out of bed, but when did I ever do as I am told?"
Mace laughs at me for a moment, then his face drops back to a miserable expression. I stare down at him, I can see he has dark rings round his eyes, I do not doubt that he has been doing a lot of crying. I do not know how he is going to cope without his legs. I run my hand gently over his bold head making sure I avoid the tender looking scars on his scalp.
"It suits you! You should keep it like this." I smile at him as he pulls a face. "Seriously, it suits you better! I like this a lot better than the stupid hair cut you usually have!!"
I kiss his head then sit down on his bed, relieved to be getting off my unsteady legs.
"So ... Mace Brownie!" I laugh at him
Mace instantly starts to cry.
"I'm sorry!! I didn't want to lie to you!"
"Gravel. I know!! You had no choice!!" he goes quiet for a while and turns his head away from me almost like he can not face me.
"Gran my legs ... what am I going to do??!!"
Mace starts to sob. I climb onto the bed with him, there is not a lot of room and I do not have the strength to move him over a little, so I hang onto him so that I do not fall off the bed. I lie down with him.
"Don't worry you will be fine!!" I tell him but he starts to shake his head. "I will look after you! I am not going to just dump you and walk away if that is what you think!! We will work it out somehow!!"
He turns his head to look at me, he pulls mine towards him and he starts kissing me. I kiss him back but feel guilty for doing it, because I know that I should not be kissing him. However, I let him carry on, not wanting to upset him anymore by pulling away. It is not like this is the first time that I have been kissing him when I do not really want to. I hope I did not just give him the wrong idea by just telling him that I am not going to just dump him.
As we continue to kiss each other, I let my mind switch off and forget myself after a while, I have got my eyes closes and it almost feels like we are at home. Then something hits me, after kissing Forrest earlier, my head suddenly is in turmoil. The way Mace is making me feel when I am kissing him. I feel the sparks flying and I am started to get turned on. This scares me, when Forrest did nothing for me.
I never imagined that I would be kissing Mace like this again, and while I don't want this kiss to stop, I remember that Slate is in the room. I break the kiss and lie my head on his shoulder and wrap my arms around him.
He lies there crying while I hold him and I end up cry with him.
I wake up with a start hearing somebody laughing quietly and Forrest's voice, even though he is almost talking in whispers. I can feel myself wrapped around Mace's warm body and I dare not even open my eyes. I am so busted, I never meant to fall asleep with him.
"Wake up!! Granite has sneaked in here while you were asleep!" I hear Forrest say and I know that he is not speaking to me, he sounds like he is over the other side of the room.
"We need to get you out of here before he wakes up and sees you!"
I hear someone laughing quietly.
"Slate take him into my office quickly. I will send someone to come and fetch you both when the coast is clear! I hope you are going to give those officers outside a rollicking for letting him come in here!!"
I just lie there listening, keeping my eyes shut and pretending to still be asleep. As much as I want to open them and see who else is in the room with Forrest and Slate, I want to prolong the rollicking that I now expect will be coming from Forrest. It is pretty obvious that they are up to something and trying to hide someone from me, but who?!
"I knew I should have chained Granite to his bed!! He always has to be a rebel!! It is just a good job he came in here while it was dark and did not spot you, or he would have had the shock of his life!!"
Forrest starts laughing quietly and I hear Slate along with somebody else laughing with him. I am glad he is laughing because I am now expecting him to kick off royal style at me when we are alone, I am awake and facing him. I am lay here in Mace's bed, my head on Maces shoulder, my hand on his chest and my legs wrapped around Mace's, while Mace has his arm around me. I seriously never planned for this to happen!! We both must have cried ourselves to sleep. Mace is still asleep.
"Go!! Hurry in case he wakes up!" I hear shuffling, the door opens and closes and it goes quiet.
Suddenly Forrest kisses my face.
"Wake up baby, you have been busted!!" he laughs quietly as he starts to tickle my side and face. I can not believe he is appearing to be so calm about this. "Granite wake up!!" he says as he gently shakes me.
I open my eyes and just stare up at him, lying perfectly still while I am holding my breath waiting for him to shout, but he doesn't, he just stands there laughing instead.
"You are so busted!!" he continues to laugh
"I'm sorry!!" I cringe as he stops laughing and his face is now wearing a serious expression.
"While this is probably what Mace needed, that is the first time I have seen him with even half a smile on his face." he stares at Maces sleeping face for a moment "It is definitely not what your body needs right now!! Are you stupid!! Please tell me you didn't walk here on your own!!" I nod my head sheepishly "You wait until Mango finds out you have been walk abouts already!! You should know better Gran!! You don't get to be Head of Neurology in that hospital of yours, by being this stupid!!"
"I know!! I'm sorry!!"
I tell him that I was going crazy in my room, unable to sleep. I find myself telling him a white lie to try and soften the blow, and say I came in here to talk to Slate but he was asleep. Mace was awake when I came in and he got all upset and I couldn't just leave him sobbing his heart out. He reminds me I have a phone, I should have used it instead of getting out of bed and risking doing myself even more internal damage, as well as the possibility that I might have passed out or fallen being unsupervised. He says something that confuses me then, that it has only been days since I was last in theatre and the last thing I should be doing is walking about right now. I lose my temper then.
"What do you mean?! It has only been DAYS since my last surgery?" I almost yell at him as I raise my head up off Mace's shoulder. "Forrest, this is your fault, you are too busy trying to hide everything from me, you are forgetting, as the patient, I have a right to know exactly what has been happening to me!!" I snap at him "As far as I am aware it has been over a week since I had the transplant and was in theatre!! So what other surgery have I been having that you have omitted to tell me about? You need to let me see my damn notes!!"
"Gran?" Mace wakes up because of my shouting, he puts his hand on my face as he lifts his head to look at me and kisses my cheek. "Baby why are you shouting?" I just freeze there and close my eyes. Great! Just great!! Kiss me in front of Forrest why don't you!! Forrest ignores Mace which surprises me.
"I'm sorry, you had a random internal bleed after we thought everything was on the mend, I should have told you, but with everything else going on ..."
"Which means Dr Rock ..." I say to him sarcastically which makes him raise his eyebrows at me "You are obviously letting 'everything else' distract you from your job!! If I HAD known all the facts, I would NOT have gone walk about, so don't come moaning at me when you lot are obviously not doing your job properly!!" I snap at him.
"Gran I'm sorry!!" he mumbles
"Hell, you are all making a right hash of babying me!!" he rolls his eyes at me.
I laugh for a moment because I am getting sick of all the stupidity. I need them to tell me what is going on before they drive me insane with it!!
"So, come on, who was the guy that Slate just smuggled out of here to hide out in your office until I am back in my room? I take it, he is the policeman who Mango has told me got shot in the shoulder. Does he also happen to be the mystery guy who turned up to stop Gravel shooting me? So WHO is he?"
I notice Mace and Forrest exchange a look, I frown at the pair of them. I am guessing that Mace is in on all this stupidity as well!! Neither of them answer my question.
I don't get a chance to say anything when the door opens and Turmeric walks in. He stands there laughing at me and Mace. I glance at the clock on the wall, it is 4am, I wander why they are both here at this time in the morning.
"Anyone would think you two have just got out of the same bed!" I laugh sarcastically "You two have been attached at the hip since I woke up, and here you are together again, it's 4am in the morning for Berry's sake!!" I snap at Turmeric "And WHY are you walking around here like you have done nothing and are suddenly everyone's best mate!? You should be locked up with Gravel!!" I glare at Turmeric, then Forrest "You lot need to start talking, and tell me what is going on around here, because I am seriously starting to lose my temper!!"
"Don't look at T like that, he actually has not done anything, it is not what you think!!" Forrest smiles at me "I'll get you back to your room then we will tell you."
I tell them they can just do it here, but they say it is best I go back to my own room. I forget, I bet the mystery man needs to get back to his bed. I am quickly bundled into a wheelchair and being pushed back into my own room. Mace says something strange before I am wheeled out through the door. He tells me not to hate him, which I find very strange!! Turmeric goes to tell Slate and the mystery man it is safe to go back to their room, while Forrest helps me to get back into bed.
I am still waiting for a mouthful from Forrest for sneaking out and falling asleep with Mace, now that we are alone, but I do not get one. I really don't understand why he is being so calm about everything. I think if the tables were turned I might find myself kicking off. As soon as he has got me settled back into bed, he doesn't say anything he just sits on the bed and starts kissing me. All this kissing is frying my brain, both Mace and Forrest. It now has my mind in a totally unexpected turmoil, especially when I can't help but think, right now, I would much rather be kissing Mace!
Turmeric returns after telling Slate the coast is clear, I actually thought he might bring Slate back with him but he doesn't. Forrest sits down in one of the chairs next to Turmeric and they exchange a nervously glance before Forrest starts talking.
"It turns out that your brother is the west coast Kingpin." my eyes widen "Gravel has been hiding behind his police badge while he has been running the criminal underground in this whole area for a lot of years, along with the help of Fudge, Mace's Father, and now Tarragon, Mace's sister. He muscled in onto the Brownies patch using his police badge and took over. Tarragon is now safely locked up in custody, she is probably looking at as much time as Gravel." he smiles at me
"SHUT UP!! You are talking shit!!" I laugh at him
"Honestly!! You need to talk to Mace. Mace has now spilled everything, he knows who their mob are and all about their criminal activities - he's blown the whole thing apart by talking."
I lie their staring with my eyes wide, I am not sure that I can believe what I am hearing. I knew Gravel was a bent copper, but not to that extreme!!
"The police are rounding up their 'mob' and making sure there is nobody left out there who can cause any more trouble to us. Hense all the armed police everywhere!!" he smiles at me when I just lie there looking at him blankly. "It is Mace and our whole family that the police are worried about mainly because of Mace being the one who has basically grassed them up." he rolls his eyes at me "You know, when you was running with the Brownies, it was actually Gravel who was the 'hidden one' pulling all your strings and getting all your drugs, only Fudge knew who the actual Kingpin was. That is why Gravel had so much control over the Brownie brothers, and it has come out now that Gravel was the one who ordered them to be finished off inside. Everything you told Gravel when you asked for his help, he already knew, he just used you as an escape goat to play his game with you, to keep you away from the baby, as well as clear out the Brownie brothers. There has been a hell of a lot of stuff going on, more than any of us even realized."
"I don't believe it!!"
"Straight up!! Mace has spilled his guts and told them everything he knows about Gravel and Tarrogan's criminal activities, which is a lot. Mace is now helping the police and has had to turn his own sister in to keep all the rest of us safe. Although he might not have helped himself very much, he's admitted that he was the one who did the drug running for Gravel, but he was forced too so I don't know if that is going to help him."
"I feel sick, Mace is never going to last in prison, it was bad enough before but now he's paralysed!! They will finish him off straight away, especially now he has grassed up Gravel's mob!!" I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes.
"You don't need to get upset or worry about Mace being in prison, he is going to be shipped out, probably to Orange Falls, away from everyone who can get at him, he will be protected." he looks sheepishly "The North East Chief Constable has got his back!!"
"What the hell does the North East Chief Constable have to do with all this?"
"Errm he is Mace's Father in Law, but we will tell you about him later!!" he glances at Turmeric quickly before he continues the conversation without giving me a chance to say anything. "Your brother is sitting on an absolute fortune, and when I say millions I am not just talking a few. He has hidden a lot of it under Slates name, but Slate has signed it over to the police because we don't want his dirty drugs and blood money!! The police have seized all Gravel's assets, they have taken the house and everything!! Thankfully they let us get all of yours, Maces, Corals and Slates stuff out of the house first." I smile at him "You won't believe what is coming out about Gravels activities, the hits he pinned on Mace was only a small part of it!!" he looks nervously at Turmeric for a moment.
I stare at Turmeric for a moment.
"I want to know who that mystery man was and why you have not been locked up?" I ask Turmeric who frowns at me for a moment "You and Mace were both working for Gravel!! I know Mace was being held to ransom, he had no choice but to play me, so what was your excuse T?"
"I am really not what you think!! I am not a criminal, I have a completely clean record and definitely was not running in his world or working for him!! Gravel was playing me just as much as he was playing you!!"
He looks at Forrest who tells him to just go ahead and tell me everything. So he starts to explain that he did not realize there was anything dodgy going on until Mace turned up on my doorstep. That is when he should and normally would have spoken out, but Gravel and Mace both convinced him that he was better keeping my mouth shut. He did not even realize the full extent of what was going on either, he thought it was just one of Gravels jealousy games, and Mace because he loves me and did not want to lose you. However, at the same time, they managed to fool him into thinking they were only thinking about my feelings. They started playing on Forrest, Turmeric knew exactly how I felt about Forrest, like they all did because I never shut up talking about him or how I felt.
"I did not know or had never met Forrest at that point. Gravel and Mace were telling me that Forrest was happily moved on and in love with somebody else. I knew that was what you was the most scared of and if you found out it would destroy you. So I sat back and said nothing, thinking I was doing the best thing for you. I am sorry, I helped them to stop you from going home, I should have known that Gravel at least was lying to me about Forrest!!"
"So why did you just leave after our argument and the last two years while you have been sitting on Forrest, you knew the truth then, so why didn't you speak out and tell us?" I frown at him
"Gravel made me come to Sugar Valley after I told him what Mace had done to me, he told me he would fade Mace if I didn't. I know Gravel went out there and gave Mace and Atlas a battering, Atlas told me." he looks gloomily at the floor "That is when Gravel started to get nasty with me!! When I confronted him, he started threatening me, with his gun and something else." he looks embarrassed for a moment "I did something when I was younger, Gravel made it all go away so that Dad wouldn't find out or I wouldn't get locked up for it ... Dad would have gone BALLISTIC at me for breaking the law. He started saying he would tell Dad and my brother who is also a policeman, he said that he could make it all come back, he could even arrest me for it himself. For the past two years he has been bullying and blackmailing me just like he was Mace."
"So suddenly you have a Dad and a brother, when you have always told me you are an orphan!!" I frown at him "So how many more lies have you told me? How do you even know Gravel and Mace anyway? It is pretty obvious now that you already did before you even landed on my doorstep!! WHY Did you come to sit on me in the first place, I am sure it is not because he asked you too!! So why T? "
He says he will start at the beginning and begins telling me that he was actually born in Raspberry Hill and not Orange Falls like he's always told me. He moved out to Mint Valley because of a job transfer about five years before he met me just after his marriage broke down he needed to get away and make a fresh start. He says that our meeting was genuinely purely by accident. He asks me if I remember how we met. I laugh at him and tell him of course I do because it's not something that is easily forgotten, for me at least.
I had been living in Mint for a while and I had gone to watch a game with a few of my mates from the hospital. Turmeric had been at the same match and was sitting in the next seat to me. I don't get over excited during games not even when they score because I am not really a big fan of football. Turmeric had jumped up when a goal was scored, drink in hand. I was sat laughing at Turmeric and his mate, who were jumping around like idiots with excitement, until he stumbled and he spilled his drink all over me. A whole pint of beer. It nearly knocked me sick just smelling the alcohol that he had tipped all over me.
I was angry because all I could smell was alcohol and I knew I had to get away and get out of my clothes straight away, before it set off my addiction again. Turmeric had felt so bad for drowning me he offered to miss the rest of the game and take me to his so I could take a shower and he said he would lend me some clothes. Turmeric lived right opposite the stadium. I took him up on his offer, even though I didn't know him, because the quicker I could remove the smell of alcohol from myself the better. The next day I returned his clothes and we were never really apart after that. We became best mates and when I moved to Cherry he got a transfer and came with me. I did ask him to live with me quite a few times, but he always refused and I could not understand why. After a disastrous marriage he has relationship hangups, so it was never like he had a girlfriend for more than a few days most of the time, he only uses women for sex.
"I nearly crapped myself that day, while we were walking out of the stadium, when you told me your name and I realized who you were." I frown at him
He tells me that he thought that he was going completely mad at first, what are the chances that he would bump into me of all people!! He might have thought that I was just another Granite Rock, but my skin, hair and eyes told him that it was me. He had Gravel send him a photograph of me. so that he could make sure and confirm that it really was me and not just his imagination!!
"We genuinely did meet by accident in Mint, none of us even knew you was out there until I bumped into you!!" he smiles at me "It might even have been my fault that Gravel found out where you were, I'm not sure if he actually knew at that point or not."
He tells me then that he has known about both me and Gravel for all of his life, and he met Gravel for the first time when he was in his early twenties. He has heard a lot about me over the years and Gravel has never painted a very good picture of me, which really doesn't surprise me. They thought I was some drunken, junkie criminal, and an evil, nasty thug to hear Gravel talking. Turmeric says that he hung around me out of curiosity, because I was nothing like what Gravel had described, and the more he got to know me the more he liked me and our friendship was genuine. Even though he wanted to, he could never live with me when I asked him to, because he was too scared that I might get too close and suss him out. He thinks it might even have been his fault that Gravel sent Mace out to him, he had mentioned to him about me being restless, at the time I kept saying I wanted to go home. Turmeric said he spoke to Gravel quite often about me but him knowing Gravel was kept a secret for a few reasons. It was never because he was working for him, like I think, because he wasn't!!
"However, our meeting in Mint, was not actually the first time we have ever met." he smiles at me "We have met in Raspberry Hill a few times."
I frown at him because Raspberry Hill is not really a town I've spent any time in, only when I have been jumping on and off a plane. Turmeric hands me an old photograph then. I stare at it, my mind does not take in the whole photograph properly, because all I can see on that photograph at first is my Father, who's face I really do not want to be looking at, because it is so much like Gravel's. I frown at Turmeric for a moment wandering why he would even have a photograph of my Father. It takes a while for the two toddlers in the picture to register with me, I can see one of those toddlers being me. I frown at the other toddler because I know it would not be Gravel.
"I can see that is me, but who is the other boy?" I frown at Turmeric
"That is me." Turmeric smiles at me.
"How can it be, that boy looks bigger and older than me!" he laughs at me for a moment.
"Well I would, you were very small for your age, I have been told because of the problems you had when you was a premature baby."
"How the hell would you even know that when I have only just found that out about myself tonight!!?" I frown at him
"I have always known it, my Dad told me." I really frown at him now "We only actually saw each other twice apparently when we were kids, that was one of those times, but I don't actually remember it myself or you. I only know because of that photograph and what I've been told" he takes off his hat then "You are a year older than me and my hair and eye colour might give you a clue. You were in too much of a tizzy the day we met at the game, to notice my hair and eye colour, but after that I started to dye my hair and wear contacts when I was in Mint and Cherry, so you wouldn't notice and work it out."
I stare at his hair now and realise that is what has been bugging me about him since I woke up, it is a lot lighter than how I am used to seeing it . His hair and eyes are now exactly the same shades of brown as mine. No!
I stare down at the photograph again.
"Shale Rock is my Dad too, I am your half brother." I stare at him wide eyed, then look at Forrest who smiles and nods his head. "That photograph was taken when Dad brought you to our house in Raspberry Hill."
"WHY THE HELL have you never told me T?"
"I couldn't!! I was always too scared to for a few reasons!! Your Mother knew about us, I remember her coming round quite a few times over the years and kicking off at my Mother. My Mother has told me the last time she saw you was when your Mother came round going mental because Dad had brought you to visit us, she kicked off at Dad and took you away. My Mother said you never came again after that. Gravel has known about us since he was about twenty, but our existence has always been hidden from you." I ask him why, this both shocks, confuses as well as makes me angry. "Over the years both Dad and Gravel have kind of brainwashed us where you were concerned. Dad used to tell us how you and he didn't get on, how you hated him because you was all your Mother and they had a very bad marriage. He said that you always saw only the good in her, never the bad, he was the bad one in your eyes and he could never get close to you, mainly because you would never let him. That is all Dad ever used to say about you, but Gravel used to tell us most of the stuff, and of course most of it was lies layed on really thickly. Like how you two did not get on either and you hating him because he was Dad's favourite, he always used to tell us if we were anything to do with Dad, you wouldn't want to know us. He made you out to be the violent drunk, the junkie criminal, he really made you out to be quite horrible and unapproachable, so none of us bothered to have anything to do with you, we were too scared too, not that we really could. We did not know if you would be loyal and keep Dad's secret, not even Dad thought you would."
I interrupt him then because he is really bugging me with something he keeps saying, and I ask him why he keeps saying us? we? He is talking in plural. He looks at Forrest nervously for a moment.
"There are seven of us altogether, including you and Gravel." he says quietly
"WHAT THE F***?!"
"Yeah we knew you would be shocked!! You have four brothers and a sister that you never knew about." I just stare at him wide eyed. I look at Forrest who is just sat there laughing with amusement at the expression on my face.
"Granite you are the oldest, then it is me, Thyme is 3 years younger than you, Gravel was actually Dad's fourth child. Then there is the twins, Silt and Shale, the four of us have the same Mother and lastly our baby sister Tamarin, who has a different Mother." he looks at Forrest for a moment before he looks at me sheepishly "You can meet them if you like, Thyme, Silt and Shale are next door with Mace."
"Why are they next door with Mace?" I frown at him eventually after I've just lay there numb with shock. I feel like I'm having a panic attack, It is hard enough getting my head around Turmeric being my brother and being right under my nose for ten years. I seriously can't get my head around there being seven of us and five of them even existing. Just knowing that three of them are just next door sends my head into a right tizzy.
"This is the first thing that I'm not looking forward to telling you." he glances at Forrest "Mace is also family ... he is our brother in law, Jasmine who you saw earlier is your neice, she is your sister's child."
Turmeric didn't even give me time to process what he has just said properly as the alarm bells in my head start to ring quite loudly. The name Tamarin Brownie is now stuck in my throat and almost choking me!! I didn't take any notice of him saying Tamarin when he first said her name. I know what has happened to Mace's wife!! My Sister!! Mace is my brother in law!! What the hell!!
"I had a right go at Gravel for sending Mace to you, and an even bigger go at Mace, when I found out that you two were 'at it' because of Tamarin obviously!!" he pulls a face at me "It was wrong on just more than one level and Mace knew exactly what he was doing and who you were!! He never loved her, not like he loves you, and even though he ended up having to tell me what Gravel was doing and holding over him, I wanted him to tell someone, even you, but he was too scared too. Now you might understand, all the arguments going on between me and Mace in Cherry that you used to walk in on that we would never tell you about!!"
I just stare at him numbly, this is all getting a little too much and coming too quickly for me to deal with. How does all this go on under my nose and I do not even realize! Have I been walking around with my eyes closed not to see all this?!
"We were expecting a reaction from you when I told you our sisters name I think you know what has happened to Tamarin Brownie. El told us you knew about Tamarin's body being found in the lake."
I start choking. I think that is when it hit me properly for the first time, Gravel has murdered his own sister, just like he was prepared to do the same to me!! What kind of Berry Hole is he really!!??
Turmeric tells me that Gravel has always been VERY jealous of Tamarin in particular, because she was Dad's little princess and he thinks that part of the reason that he was messing with Mace so much is because he knew it would get to Tamarin. Tamarin idolized Mace, it nearly broke her when Mace disappeared without a word. Hearing this really does not make me feel very good!!
"After you Dad has told us all he ever wanted was a little girl. Six boys later he was over the moon when Tamarin arrived and he doted on her and has always spoiled her rotten. It did not bother any of us, because we all spoiled her being so much older and she being the baby, but not Gravel, he hated her with a passion. Gravel thought he should be Dad's favourite and was always very nasty and spiteful with Tamarin, but none of us ever though he would go as far as to murder her ... or you!!"
He starts to tell me that Gravel has always been the thorn in every ones side, he has always been the one causing all the trouble between them and he was always very jealous of us all, especially me and Tamarin, for a lot of reasons but what ate him up the most, and it is the stupidest thing, the fact that he classes himself as being the odd one out. He is the only one of us that didn't have our Dad's colouring, they are all pure brown berry's, all of us have all of Dad's colouring including me, while Gravel doesn't and is so obviously the mixed one. It even wound Gravel up that Silt and Thyme both have Granite as their middle name.
"Gravel has also always been very jealous of the fact that Dad chose to take me and Thyme with him, but he left you and Gravel behind, even though he knows the reason why Dad had no choice but to do that" I frown at him and ask him what he means by that. I see him pull a face at Forrest.
"Now this is where I need you to listen and not interrupt or ask any questions until I've finished because this really won't make any sense to you, but I need to explain." Turmeric says to me while he and Forrest exchange a long awkward look. He takes a deep breath before he starts to speak again.
He tells me that our Dad was living a double life, which I kind of suspected anyway so it was no real surprise to me. He had two houses, two women and two sets of children. Me and Gravel in Sugar Valley and Turmeric and Thyme in Raspberry Hill, the only difference being he had a bad relationship with our Mother but a good relationship with theirs. The only reason he stayed with my Mother was because of me. This makes me really laugh for a moment but Turmeric ignores me.
Turmeric continues to tell me then that something happened when he was eleven that he didn't understand at the time, virtually over night they packed up and moved to Orange Falls and Dad's name changed to Marble Stone, they were not allowed to even speak the name Shale Rock. This straight away is not making any sense to me, our Dad faded when he was eleven, when I was twelve!!! I go to say something but Forrest puts his hand over my mouth and tells me just to listen.
Turmeric carries on talking and says that he and Thyme have always had their mothers maiden name which they have kept, and when he was fifteen Dad married his Mom and the twins arrived shortly after, so they have the surname Stone. The surname Stone then rings a bell in my head and I don't know why. Turmeric tells me that his Mother faded when the twins were toddlers, she was in a car accident, hit by a drunk driver while she was on her way to picking up Thyme and himself from school, luckily the twins were at home with Dad, because they would have been in the car and faded with her because the car rolled and was a total mess. He says then Tamarins Mother appeared on the scene years later and she moved in with them, Tamarin arrived straight away, but they never got married, she faded about seven years ago, she had a stroke.
Forrest suddenly pulls his chair up to the bed and starts to stroke my face, which means he thinks that whatever Turmeric is trying to tell me is going to upset me. I am confused, what Turmeric is telling me just does not make any sense at all!! My Dad faded when I was twelve, so how can any of what Turmeric is saying be real.
"Gravel appeared on Dad's doorstep and in our life when he was in his early twenties, he got into some classified police files that he should not have done, and he has made Dad's and our lives hell ever since!!" he looks at me awkwardly "I think you might guess what I am trying to tell you."
"That is all shit T because my Dad faded when I was 12 years old."
"That's the thing Granite ... he did not ... he is still alive Granite."
"WHAT?!" I yell "NO!! HE FADED!! When I was 12 years old!! I went to his funeral!! He has a grave stone in the cemetery!!"
"Tamarin was two years younger than Mace, I was 17 nearly 18 when she was born, so you would have been 18 nearly 19. She was actually born on the same day as you and Forrest got married!!" he starts laughing "Dad thought that was highly hilarious!"
"NO!! I don't believe it!!"
"Gran, he is telling you the truth! I've seen and spoken to him, Shale Rock is alive and kicking alright!!" Forrest smiles at me as he continues to stroke my face. "The mystery man who turned up and tried to stop Gravel from pulling the trigger, it was your Dad. I recognized him straight away and if you had turned round to look at him, you would have done too!! He ended up getting shot himself, but it is nothing serious, he's being kept in a little longer than normal because of his age and a slight infection." I lie there shaking my head violently because I don't want to believe it "Your Dad is actually the one we had to sneak out of the room next door earlier. We did not want you seeing him before you were told about him still being here."
I start to crack up
"How? Why? I don't understand, He faded!! Dad can't be alive ... !!! " I start to sob
"I'm sorry Gran he is!!" Forrest mumbles into my hair as he holds me.
"I don't get it, why? Why did he just leave and let me think he had faded?"
"Granite, Dad wants to explain that to you himself." Turmeric mumbles quietly.
Army of Angels - The Script