Chapter Twenty-Eight

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He was still wearing his suit as he pulled up outside of Leigh's apartment building and it suddenly felt as if that day- which was supposed to be filled with magic and family- had turned into a living nightmare. As he stepped down from his truck Brett glanced up and noticed the lights were still switched on in Leigh's apartment but he knew that it didn't really matter if they were on or off because he would still knock. It was important he spoke to her. Brett approached the door and buzzed for her apartment but no answer came on the end of the line. He waited a few seconds before trying again and on the third time a sleepy voice answered. "Who is it?" Ali's voice sounded scattered across the intercom.

"It's Brett. Can I come up? I need to speak to Leigh," he said and held his breath hoping Ali would allow him up.

Without word of answer the door buzzed and Brett entered. As he climbed the stairs he processed in his mind the words he would say to Leigh when he saw her. He wasn't sure what he would say but knew exactly where he needed to start- he needed to make sure she was okay. He was beginning to feel a little guilty for not being there when Leigh needed him and wished he knew that she was feeling under the weather but he couldn't change that now. All he could do was try to be there for her. But it wasn't just that, Brett needed her and it had taken him a long time to realise just how much.

When he reached the apartment Ali was standing at the open door with a robe around her shoulders and a confused expression spread across her face. "Everythin' okay?" She asked.

"Yeah...where's Leigh?"

"She's in bed, said she's not feeling well. She came home really pale and her eyes were really red so she headed straight in there and hasn't some out since."

"Do you mind if I come in? I need to talk to her," he asked and Alli stepped to the side.

Brett approached Leigh's bedroom door which was closed but before he could knock gently and step inside Ali called out to him. "If she's asleep, let her sleep she's been having a lot of late nights recently."

"She has?" He asked and stepped a little closer to Ali hoping to keep their conversation quieter.

"Between you and me, she's been really stressed but won't talk to me about it."

He gave Ali a quick nod before turning and tapping his knuckles against the wooden door. When he received no answer Brett twisted the door knob expecting to see Leigh laying in her bed tucked up with a thick duvet around her body but he didn't. The bed was still made- he suspected it had been since that morning- and immediately he felt as though something wasn't quite right.

"Leigh..." He called out into the dimly lit room but there was no reply. He marched from Leigh's room down the hallway. "Where is she?" He burst into Ali's room without knocking.

"She's in her room," Ali stated with slight confusion.

"No she's not."

"The bathroom?" She suggested.

"Door's open, she's not in there."

"I'm really sorry, Brett but I have no idea."

"If she calls let me know," he said and scribbled his phone number onto a small notepad on her desk and left the apartment with concern and worry setting in.

As he made his way back to the farm he had forgotten the party was still in full swing and felt guilty that he didn't want to return and celebrate love when his was no where to be found. All he wanted was to congratulate his sister and brother-in-law, give his mother a kiss on the cheek to tell her how much he loved her and crash into his bed. He wanted to sleep until morning so that Leigh's response would come quicker- at least that's what he hoped would happen. But she wasn't answering her phone and that only made him more concerned for her safety but it comforted him knowing this wasn't her first time going off the grid. It had been a couple of hours since she left so even if Brett wanted to, he couldn't contact the police as they wouldn't take him seriously.

When he returned back to the party his mood was only slightly lifted as he saw his younger brother up on the dance floor with their four year old niece seemingly having a good time. Seeing his family enjoying themselves was enough to put his fears to the side for a few moments and focus on the present and the day that they would all remember for the rest of their lives. But the secret he'd been keeping for many years was beginning to eat him up inside because now he knew it wasn't only him who knew about his addiction. Jamie knew of Brett's past gambling but he'd assured his brother it was a one time thing he did for a bit of fun. Jamie saw no reason to question him and like everything, that conversation was quickly forgotten. But now that demon in his life had come back to haunt him in the form of another demon; Alexis. He didn't know how or when she and her father found out about his gambling problem but he suspected they had known for sometime and was allowing Brett's issue to grow into more than just a few thousand and then they would grasp their opportunity with both hands to tear his family legacy apart.

As the evening progressed the number of guests slowly began to decrease until the only people left were the Donne family. In breaking tradition Harry and Annalise had planned to set off on their honeymoon that following day as they were making it a trip for the family rather than one just for the couple. They thought it unfair to whisk Becca to a hotel late at night in preparation for their departure the following day and so decided to stay the night at the farm and leave in the morning. As Becca slept in Jamie's arms he carried her to the door where Brett gave her a kiss on her head and whispered that he loved her. He watched his brother carry her to the house with Maggie and then turned to his sister and brother-in-law who were opening their gifts. They received various gifts, most of which could easily be shipped back to England where they lived but they mostly received money.

"You got many more to open?" Brett asked.

"Just a few," Annalise said as she pointed to the small pile of cards.

Jamie entered a moment later with a card of his own in hand. "I forgot to give this to you earlier," he said as he slipped the card onto the table. "Leigh asked me to give this to you before she left."

As Harry opened the card a small audible gasp sounded from his lips and he removed the money from inside and showed it to his wife.

"That's from Leigh?" She asked a little confused. Harry nodded and handed it to her. "Thats two-thousand-five-hundred dollars..."

Brett moved closer to peer over his sister's shoulder at the small stack of money she had placed on the table and he couldn't believe the amount of money Leigh could simply give away. He realised through her selfless act that she was a better person than he ever had been and that was why he needed to talk to her so desperately- he needed her advice.

Brett headed back to his apartment above the garage after saying goodnight to his family.With each step bringing him close to the top Brett felt as though he was falling further and further into the depths of something he couldn't control. He striped out of his suit and as he hung his blazer on the back of a chair he stared into the mirror which hung on the wall. His eyes had dark circles around them and the shadow of his facial hair beginning to grow showed him just how sick and tired he was of the life he was living- the life he had created for himself.

Dressed now in only a pair of shorts Brett headed towards his bed and carefully removed the single rose that was laid in the centre and placed it onto the table knowing that in the morning it wouldn't look as fresh and healthy as it did. He took the bottle of wine and the cooler it was placed in, along with the two glasses and placed them onto the counter. He slipped his tired body into the crisp sheets and snuggled into the middle. He had wished she would be lying beside him right then and that they would joined by something more than just friendship. Brett had hoped as the clock struck midnight and a new day dawned that he would have been able to call Leigh his girlfriend but now, something he had been planning for weeks seemed to just fade away. Brett knew that sleep wouldn't find him that night but that didn't mean he wouldn't try and dream of a world in which he hadn't ruined everything. 

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