Chapter 13, Little Brother
[BY BLAKE BOWMEN]
I never thought a prison could be so homely.
The sun comes streaming in from my window and uncomfortable with the heat on me, I’m forced to wake up. Grudgingly, I open my eyes and blankly stare at the rest of the room. It’s been a few days since I’ve been held here, but I still always wake up with the mindset that I need to get Owen his medication. The room is in shades of blue and brown and yet it feels unbelievably warm. With a sigh, I sit up in the bed and take the glass of water next to me. My throat is dry. It feels like I’ve been shouting for someone in my dreams.
A little more awake, I get up from the large bed and walk over to the ensuite. I shower and get dressed in the clothes I’ve been left with. Dark jeans and a leather jacket. Feels like the old days...
There’s a predictable knock on the door as soon as I’m done dressing. It’s like Kyle has hidden cameras in this room or something. “Little Brother, May I come in?” Southern Sterling’s leader asks cheerfully.
He asks every morning like I have a choice. “You’re the one with the key to the door,” I grumble as I make my way to the bed and slump down. These morning visits are getting on my nerves.
There’s a chuckle from the other side of the oak door before I hear a click and Kyle peers inside. He looks way too jovial for an upper-gang leader. More so, the co-leader to the largest upper-gang in the country.
“Good Morning, Blakey,” Kyle smiles. He’s also wearing a leather jacket, but the white shirt underneath has yellow paint. For the first time though, his loose-fitting pants don’t have any paint - maybe he noticed how I glare at the paint stains. However, his black boots are still guilty of some white paint by the soles.
“I’m not acknowledging you until I can be sure Owen is safe,” I say bluntly.
Kyle comes strolling in, but he loses the smile on his face when he closes the door. Usually, he’d start blabbering about nonsense and ask me how I’m doing or if I’m comfortable. For the whole hour that he’d talk my ears off, I’d just glare at the specks of paint on his clothes, but today... Today he’s unusually grave at the mention of my friend.
“I... I was actually going to bring Owen over today... I fetched him back at the mansion - even though he put up a fight, I made sure not to hurt him,” Kyle starts.
“But?” I ask.
“But it seems that the North kidnapped him... I’m actually on my way to Jane right now so we can figure out a way to get him back safely-”
“YOU LEAVE HIM ALONE!” I yell. Fuming with anger, I clench my fists tightly to keep my mind off of the urge to punch Kyle in the face. “Owen wasn’t kidnapped. He was rescued. So if you so much as even think of going to take him away from his friends...” I stare at Kyle with murder in my eyes, “I’ll kill you.”
“I’M NOT YOUR BROTHER!”
My sudden outburst has Kyle frozen in place. He stares at me like he doesn’t recognize the person in front of him. Good. I hope this heartless son of a bitch realizes what he did when he faked his death... I hope he can see the monster he created when he made his fifteen-year-old brother take over an entire upper-gang. This, Kyle, is what happens when you force someone into a life that they never even wanted. It’s time you deal with the consequences.
And yet... In a matter of seconds, the tables turn and I find that I’m in fact the one that’s frozen...
All it takes is one teardrop from Kyle.
“I hate what we’ve become,” Kyle whispers - a lonely tear sliding down his cheek before he smiles sadly and wipes it away. “Don’t you think I wish we were just normal brothers born in a normal world?”
He’s... He’s crying... I’ve only once seen him cry and... Does it still break my heart?
“Don’t you dare pretend to be the one who got hurt here... I’m the one that should be crying! I’m the one who’s the victim! I should be sad!” I exclaim but somehow the words don’t have as much of a punch to them.
Completely ignoring everything I’ve just said, Kyle walks over to hug me. “I’m not crying for myself,” he whispers into the back of my neck, “I wouldn’t dare to feel sorry for myself. I’m the one that chose this. I’m crying for you, Little brother.”
I’m too shocked to push him away... This stirs up so many memories... How many times after I woke up from the sound of gunshots did Kyle come to hold me like this when we were kids?
“Owen isn’t safe with the North...” Kyle says, “I know they have the best intentions, but they’re in my way. And once the North falls, Owen will most likely be in the line of fire.” He finally pulls away and genuine remorse is in his silver eyes. “I’m going to go speak with Jane now. I’d ask you to come along as my brother, but I already know the answer...”
Kyle turns away and I almost let him leave.
But then I remember who I am.
I am Blake Bowmen. Ex-leader of the West. And I won’t lose my family again.
“Wait!” I call out and grab Kyle’s arm.
Silver eyes glance back at me.
“I’m coming with, Brother.”
No matter how many times I see it, I still feel a shiver of disgust crawl all over me when I see Jane’s mansion... The grey stone walls... The impressive pillars... The dozens of cars always parked in front of it... You’d never guess that such a lavish estate would be the home of a complete psychopath. Jane Marigold is an irredeemable monster. Hell would be too good a place for her.
“You still with me?” Kyle asks as he turns around to make sure I’m following him up the steps leading to the guarded front door.
I smile shyly. “Yeah I’m with you. I just hate this place,” I reply.
The guards immediately bow at the sight of us before opening the door. Being the Co-leader to the largest upper gang in the country ought to provoke such a reaction. But still, Kyle being the man that he is, wastes no time in telling the guards to straighten up and relax. He pats them on the shoulder and greets everyone by hand with a warm smile before entering the house. I glance at the guards as I pass them and the smiles on their faces are unmistakable. Kyle really is a great leader...
He could make people follow him into hell itself - and not a single person would lose their smile. Not even as they burned to ash.
Kyle and I reach the foyer - the space as grand as ever with Jane’s steel and glass desk perched atop some steps just like I remember. However, the psychopath of a queen isn’t at her throne... There’s plenty of gang members hanging around and everyone who sees us immediately either bows or goes to shake Kyle’s hand.
“Where’s Jane?” Kyle asks a man he greets.
“Uh, she just went to the basement. She said she might-”
“Kyle Bowmen! You’re here?” Jane says by way of greeting as she rounds the corner. Her usually immaculately styled hair, is slightly disheveled - a loose strand tucked behind her ear and neither is she wearing a blazer like she usually does. It’s just a loose-fitting blouse and some ironed pants. Is the witch finally losing it?
“Ah, yes. Sorry for arriving unannounced, but I ran into trouble last night,” Kyle says.
“You too?” Jane asks.
Kyle frowns at the words. “I think we should maybe discuss this somewhere more private... You have a study don’t you?”
“Of course,” Jane answers before she leads us away.
To be honest, I’m surprised she hasn’t really acknowledged me yet. I haven’t heard a sadistic comment from her and it makes me feel uneasy. Jane might really be going off the deep end... I mean, I know she has always had a couple of screws loose, but at least she still kind of had enough grip on her screws to make decisions and pick up on subtle things. But today... it’s like she’s completely lost all her screws.
This could be an opportunity...
I follow Jane and Kyle into the study and close the door behind me.
“I thought you wanted to talk in private. Why’s Blake joining us?” Jane asks - finally realizing that I’m here.
“He’s my little brother. I have nothing to hide from him,” Kyle says simply.
“Can you really trust him? Your little brother was brainwashed by my cousin,” Jane says. She walks over to the leather chairs in the corner of the study and plops down before motioning for us to sit across from her. I go to take a seat, but Kyle stays standing as he strolls around the room - observing the bookshelf built into the wall.
“Of course I trust my brother,” Kyle says without a hint of doubt.
Jane eyes him wearily while he has his back turned. “Well anyway, the North infiltrated the celebratory party last night. The one you didn’t even bother to show up for. And they got away.,” Jane sighs.
Kyle lets his fingers slide over the spines of the books on the shelf. “Yes, I would’ve made an appearance at the end, but Xavier infiltrated the South and stole Owen from where I safely kept him in a warehouse. It’s part of why I’m here,” he says mindlessly as he pulls a book from the shelf. “This is one of my favorites,” he comments. I have to angle my head to see the title on the cover of the book, but when I do, I roll my eyes. The Great Gatsby.
“And what’s the other part?” Jane asks - kicking her feet up onto the coffee table as she sits back. Her heels are wet for some reason. And now that I’m really looking, her pants are a little wet as well. Was she on her knees on wet floor? That’s really disturbing.
Kyle pages through the book as he answers, “Since the wedding is next week and we’ll eliminate the North, we should probably start preparing for what comes after. I want to have a secure estate built as a base of operations for Southern Sterling. I’m thinking of having it built close to my own home. I’d love to move all our warehouses underground since things will get risky after the North is out of the way. The authorities won’t be able to ignore us anymore. No matter how many friends we plant in the police force.”
“And you want me to help provide funds?”
“No of course not. I’ll pay for everything regarding our base and the warehouses. I will just need you to expand Sterling’s side of things. The international gathering of the underworld is coming up in a few months and by then I want us to have this country’s crime organizations under control. We’re already the largest upper-gang in the country, but because of the North’s defiance, we won’t have any of the other upper gangs submit to us. We’ll be meeting powerful organizations at that international gather. Mexico’s drug cartel, Japan’s Yakuza, India’s D Company, South Africa’s numbers gang and Italy’s mafia. If we don’t unite this country’s upper-gangs, my plans might fail,” Kyle explains.
“So to stand on equal footing with the international community, we have to unite the country? And to do that we need to wipe out the North?” Jane asks.
Kyle looks up from the book. “Yes,” he answers seriously.
I’m about to ask Kyle why he needs all this power, but a sudden knock on the door stops me. “Miss Marigold? Stephan has returned and he has news!” a voice says on the other side.
Kyle cocks his head at Jane.
“He’s our spy,” Jane explains before she turns to the door. “Come in!”
In comes, two men escorting a pale beat-up guy. He has blood on his shirt, but still falls to his knees when he sees Jane. “Please protect my wife from the North!” he pleads. His eyes are to the floor so he can’t see the sadistic smile on Jane’s face.
“Of course. As long as you have information. What took you so long?” Jane says.
The man looks up with tears in his eyes. “I was captured by the Northern scum, but they let me go and I have the information you need!”
Kyle closes the book he was scanning through and steps closer to the man - kneeling down and lifting his face to meet his eyes. “Why would they let a spy go?” he asks. He scans the man’s expression as if he could read his thoughts. Maybe he can... That would explain how Kyle always seems to know what’s in a person’s heart.
“The... The blonde lady... Amber Marigold. She...” there’s a pause from the man like he’s ashamed of the words leaving him. “She was really kind...”
I find my heart warming up at the words. Of course she is... Amber has always been warm, but...
Kyle smiles thoughtfully at the man. “How did a silly girl like that control an upper gang?” he asks more to himself before he sighs and addresses the man again. “And what did you find out?”
“The wedding... It really is going to be held at Isabella’s,” the man cries.