Chapter 15.

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Archer was up and out of his seat without a word a second after I'd finished speaking, jumping across the front counter to sprint to the kitchen. 

 Every single pair of eyes at the table were on me, each expression on their faces more worried than the next. 

 "Hadley," Victoria snapped. "What happened?"

"Uhm..." I trailed off, biting my lip. 

 I couldn't exactly say I knew what the protocol was for this situation. So I settled for not saying anything at all. But I must have not done a very good job at pretending that nothing was wrong, because Vittorio, Sophia, Karin, and Victoria all looked over at Regina's empty place at the table.

 "I'll be right back," I blurted out before dashing my way behind the front counter to the kitchen. 

  I walked hesitantly towards the place where I'd seen Regina crouched on the floor earlier, crying into her hands, not wanting to mess the situation up even more. When I found Archer, he was bent down on the floor beside his mother, and he was gently gripping her face in his hands, speaking to her in a soft, soothing voice I'd never heard before.

 "Mom, listen to me. Dad's not coming back. He's in prison. Chris is dead. Snap out of it."

 He kept repeating those words over and over again, trying to calm Regina down, but it wasn't working. Regina was slumped against Archer, crying her heart out onto his shoulder, and I don't think I'd ever seen someone cry like that before. 

 It took me a moment to realize that traitor tears were streaking down my cheeks as I watched the heartbreaking display before me. 

 "What's going on?"

 I quickly stepped out of the way as Vittorio marched into the kitchen, closely followed by Karin and Victoria. 

 "Archer, what happened?" Vittorio demanded of Archer, bending down beside him. 

"I don't know," Archer said, his hazel eyes wide. "She hasn't had a flashback like this in years. Something must've set her off, but I can't think of what it could have been."

 "Is she still taking her medication?" Karin asked, her hands at her face.

"No," Archer answered. "Her doctor figured that she'd be fine without it. I'm telling you, she hasn't had a flashback in at least two years."

 "Come on," Vittorio sighed. "We need to get her upstairs."

Archer slid out of the way while Vittorio scooped Regina up into his arms and stood, making his way for the stairs that lead up to the apartment upstairs.

 Karin immediately followed after her brother, Victoria close on her heels, and a moment later, they both disappeared out of sight. 

 I looked towards Archer, feeling more than helpless, hoping he was going to say at least something that would stop me from freaking out. 

 "Stay here," he finally said after a moment of tense silence. "With the kids."

"Archer, I can - " 

 "Just do it, Hadley."

There was something in Archer's voice that I didn't know how to describe. He sounded desperate, flustered, and just a little scared all together. 

 I gave a nod, staring at my shoes. "Okay."

I turned and left the kitchen before either of us had the chance to say anything else. I wasn't so sure if that would complicate things even more, if I saw a look like that on his face again. 

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