The storm had woken him the distant rumble of thunder and the eerie howling of the wind. Rain hadn’t yet reached the manor, but the sound was still enough to wake the young boy. He hated storms.
He glanced over at the other bed in the room, not surprised to see his twin brother still fast asleep, snoring slightly as a result from his latest cold.
Thunder rumbled outside, louder this time, causing the boy to jump; whimpering quietly. Normally he’d go over and curl up beside his brother during a storm, but their mother always warned him to keep his distance when his brother was unwell, not wanting them both sick.
…” He whimpered as he slid out of bed, pulling on a dressing gown over his pyjamas before quietly slipping out of the bedroom and into the dark hallway.
He kept one hand on the wall as he slowly walked, trailing his fingers along it, searching for the door to his parents’ bedroom. He froze for a few seconds when he thought he heard a noise coming from downstairs, before moving again; assuming it was one of the family’s friends who lived in the house with them. He continued down the hall, letting out a small sigh of relief when his fingers reached the wooden frame of his parents’ door, quickly making his way over to the handle to let himself in.
“Mama…” He mumbled, speaking English this time as he hurried over to the bed, scrambling up and over his father’s empty spot and over to where his mother was laying.
“Artemis, what are you doing up?” She asked as she rolled over to look at the younger of her twin sons.
Before Artemis could answer, thunder rumbled outside again, making him jump, covering his face with his hands as lightning flashed, the young boy whimpering as it lit up the room.
“Don’t like it mére
“It’s okay amour
, it’s just a storm; it’ll pass soon.” His mother said as she hugged him close, running her fingers through his blonde hair. “The thunder cannot hurt you; it’s just noisy is all.”
Seeing that Artemis wasn’t going to calm down anytime soon, she started humming, the tune one her own mother had often used to calm her down; not having been a fan of storms herself when she was a child. She smiled softly when she saw Artemis had calmed down after a few minutes, gently kissing his head before speaking.
“Why don’t we go downstairs and see if your papa’s done working yet?”
,” She smiled. She’d been teaching the twins to speak French as well as English, having grown up in France before her family had moved to America. “He and Vincent have been working a lot lately while I’ve been busy looking after your brother.”
“Don’t like it when Jacen is sick…”
“Artemis Jakob Westmore.” His mother frowned, shaking her head. “What have I told you about that? You call your brother by his first name.”
“But he told me not to call him Forrest…” Artemis mumbled, pouting as he looked up at her.
“You know how your brother gets when he’s sick Arty; he’s stubborn, like your father.” She sighed as she got up, carrying Artemis with her as she headed out of the room.
On the way down the hall, they stopped to check on Forrest, the twins’ mother putting a hand to his head, brushing his dark hair off his face before gently resting it against his forehead.
“His fever’s gone down.” She smiled.
“He better now?”
“Not just yet Arty, but he should be in a couple of days.”
Artemis nodded, wrapping his arms around his mother’s neck as she lifted him again, standing hugging him close for a minute as the sudden sound of thunder reminded him of the storm outside. Once he was calm again, his mother carried him back out into the hall and downstairs, heading for the room the Westmore family had set up as an office. Before they reached the room though, a tall, dark haired man stumbled towards them out of another room, one hand pressed to his side.
“Jakob?” Artemis’ mother said, worried by the sight. “What happened, are you-?”
“They…they’re here …” He panted. “You…you need to get the boys out…”
“Jakob no, we can stop them; Vincent can help…”
“No! Take the boys Anastasia. They know it was us…”
“Anastasia, please…” The head of the Westmore family said softly, a pleading look in his dark eyes. “You need to get them out; Vincent and I will keep them busy.”
Before Anastasia could respond, the sound of something being smashed in another room was heard, causing Artemis to jump, clinging tightly to her.
, what’s going on?” Artemis asked nervously, burying his face in her hair when he heard another smash, followed by the sound of the Westmore’s friend and employee Vincent yelling at someone. “I’m scared…”
“I know Arty, I know,” His mother said softly, hugging him close. “It’ll be okay.”
“Anastasia…take the boys.” Jakob said, almost pleading with his wife now, nervously glancing over his shoulder as he heard footsteps heading their way. “Go!”
Nodding, Anastasia tried not to panic as she quickly turned to head back the other way, forcing herself not to stop and turn back when she heard voices, knowing she’d put Artemis in danger if she did. She hadn’t gotten far down the hall though when the sound of a gun was heard going off behind them.
“Papa!” Artemis cried out, having chosen to look over his mother’s shoulder at the wrong moment, watching in horror as his father collapsed, his blood soaking the carpet.
“Shh, it’s okay Arty…it’s okay…” His mother tried to reassure him, gently putting a hand on his head, making him bury his face back against her shoulder so he couldn’t see. She was trying to stop herself from panicking, knowing it wouldn’t help her son.
“No it’s not! We have to go help papa…” Artemis cried out after lifting his head again, reaching one hand out over his mother’s shoulder. “Papa!”
~~~To be continued~~~