Her Stepbrother, Her Hero(10)

By: Terry Towers



“NO! STOP!” he shouted out in his sleep.

She sat frozen watching him a moment, her brow furrowing, unsure of what to do. Deciding to wake him she leaned over him and gave his shoulders a gentle shake. “Tony… Anthony.” It didn’t seem to wake him; his thrashing became more intense.

Beginning to panic, Gabriella grabbed him more solidly in her hands, shaking him violently. “TONY!”

Suddenly, Anthony’s eyes sprang open. Gabriella screamed as his hand shot up, grasping her throat and threw her back onto the bed. He quickly straddled her, his hand tightening on her throat, beginning to cut off her air supply. Gasping for breath she clawed at his hand grasping her throat, staring up into vacant eyes.

What’s going on? Oh dear god, what’s wrong with him? This was the first time in her lifetime she’d felt fearful for her life.

And just as suddenly as he sprang into action, the vacant look in his eyes began to clear. “Oh fuck…” He immediately released her throat and slid from her. “Oh fuck me. Oh fuck. Gabriella. Gabriella, I’m so fucking sorry.”

Gasping for breath and still in shock, Gabriella didn’t know what to say. She couldn’t answer, just stare up at him.

Anthony sat up straight on the bed and clasped his hands behind his neck, lowering his head and closing his eyes. “I’m sorry. God, I’m so sorry.”

Gabriella slowly emerged from her state of shock and sat up. Should she touch him? Comfort him? A part of her was scared to touch him again, but she powered through her fear, got to her knees and hugged him from behind, pressing her forehead to the back of his shoulder.

“Are you okay?”

Anthony huffed. “I nearly kill you and you’re asking if I’m okay?”

“What happened?”

He shook his head. “I don’t know. I just –” he sighed. “I don’t know.”

“Do you have nightmares like that often?”

He was silent for so long she didn’t think he was going to answer. Finally he said, “Yes. Every night.”

“What are the nightmares of?”

“I don’t remember.”

She didn’t believe him, but didn’t press it. Whatever it was, it was blatantly obvious it wasn’t pleasant.

“How long have you been having them?”

“A while.”

She sighed, tightening her arms around his torso and placing a kiss onto his shoulder.

He pulled out of her embrace and turned to face her. “I think I should sleep in another room.”

“No.” Shaking her head she took his hands in hers. “Stay. It’ll be fine.”

Anthony looked unconvinced. “I could have killed you. I mean. Jesus. If I –” He visibly shuddered.

“You didn’t. And, I startled you. I’ll know better next time.” There was a part of her that was a little timid, but she refused to give in to that fear. She suspected he needed her and she wouldn’t turn him away.

“Gabby…”

“Tony,” she countered.

After a moment of looking into each other’s eyes he conceded. Lying back onto the mattress, he pulled her down to him. “I’m so sorry.”

“Nothing to be sorry about.” She snuggled against him and closed her eyes. God, what did he go through? She couldn’t help but wonder; her ponderings kept her awake for most of the night.



~*~ TT ~*~



“Gabriella! Wake up! Gabriella.” Gabby groaned as she felt herself being pulled away from her slumber to the sound of her mother’s voice.

“Mom? What are…?” she asked, her eyes still shut.

“We’re home early.”

The events of the previous night came to mind and her eyes sprang open. Anthony? She looked around the room, but he was nowhere to be found. Where was he? Why didn’t he wake her up? Realizing she was still naked she pulled the blanket up to her chin, hoping her mother didn’t question her lack of pajamas. Rubbing the sleep from her eyes she looked up at her mother, waiting for the reason for being woken so early.

“We’re having breakfast. I thought it would be nice to have the family together for breakfast, since it’s been so many years.”

She sighed. “Sure, Mom. Ummm. Just give me a minute.”

“Of course, dear. Try to be down in five minutes.” Her mother turned and left, leaving her alone to get dressed.

They weren’t supposed to be back for another day or two. She had to admit she was slightly disappointed; after the previous evening she was hoping for a little more alone time with Anthony.

Once her door was closed, Gabriella slid from the bed and made her way to her closet. She still kept clothes at her parents’ house, just in case. Pulling it open she grabbed a pair of tight-fitting black yoga pants with a pink stripe running down the side and matching form-fitting t-shirt. Taking a brush to her hair, she gave herself an inspection in her vanity mirror, applying some gloss to her lips.

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