Chapter 32, I Did Something Good
[BY JANE D’LOGIRAM]
I failed... Today was supposed to be the day where I finally got rid of my cousin and claimed Sterling without any threats. But I failed...
No. Kyle failed. I knew using Blake as a means to figure out the true location of Amber’s wedding would be a mistake. That guy is as trustworthy as he is honest. Which is not at all. If only we decided to split our forces... But Amber knew us too well. She knew Kyle wasn’t as good and honest as he claimed to be and she knew I wouldn’t split our forces because I want to see her die in front of me. If I was okay with just her death, she would’ve been dead a long time ago, but no, I have to see it for myself. I don’t want her getting raised from the dead again.
“Jane... Let’s talk this through,” Kyle sighs. He knows I want blood. I want Blake Bowmen’s blood to spill and spill until there is nothing left.
“There’s nothing to discuss. You can keep him in East-wing’s cells for the night, but I want him dead by sunrise,” I explain. I’m quite firm about this.
Kyle leans back in his seat. We’re currently in my private office where my co-leader is slumped in the expensive leather chair. My office is nothing like the one he has at his personal estate in the South. Where his office is littered with paint and paper, mine is minimalistic. Monotones of grey are all I have to offer with a glass desk and leather seats. I have various books on my shelves, but I don’t really bother with reading them unless they’re manuals. There’s no point in indulging in fiction. A waste of time really.
“Jane... Blake did nothing wrong. He said it was at Isabella’s and he was. The fault lays with me for not trusting him,” Kyle explains - rubbing at his temples as though it could remove his current headache.
“You can deceive with the truth too, Kyle. It does not matter if Blake was honest. He conspired with my cousin and I told you that if I don’t get blood on my hands today, I’m killing that brother of yours,” I press.
“Blake can still be useful. I’m sure Amber wants him back...”
“SHE FUCKING SACRIFICED HIM, YOU IDIOT!” I yell. In a fit of rage, I push everything on my desk to the floor - papers flying and glass ornaments breaking. The ticking becomes unbearable. I breathe heavily while Kyle simply stares. “You and my cousin are much more alike than you think,” I say a tad bit more calmly, “You both claim to be noble, but you won’t hesitate to play the game. At the end of the day, pawns are just pawns and as long as you win, it doesn’t matter how many pieces you must sacrifice. I’m done with people underestimating my cousin. She can be just as ruthless as the rest of us and if she accepts that dark part of herself... If she sheds her kindness, Kyle... It will be us that have to run for our lives.”
Silence follows next. I regain control and fall into my leather chair. Kyle seems to take in my words at the very least.
“The international gathering is next week,” Kyle finally says. “I’m sure the North will attend. And I think I should be the one to go. I know that if you go, there would be blood and unfortunately, we really can’t afford to piss-off the international community. Besides, someone has to stay behind to keep things in order here.”
“We can’t afford the North to gain support from the international community! We already have ties with the Cartels thanks to your Bowmen blood, but the Mafia could go either way and the Yakuza are as unpredictable as they are plenty,” I explain. It’s not that I have a problem with staying behind. I have enough sense in me to know that Kyle is right. I just don’t trust Kyle to handle this alone.
My co-leader nods. “I understand,” he says, “And I have two plans. The first is to turn everyone against the North. It’ll be hard since almost everyone owes Xavier Money, but I could try to spin a story of Xavier betraying his contract with Sterling. It could be tempting for everyone to turn against him since that would mean forgetting the debt they owe Xavier. The second plan is to take the North down from the inside. I could pretend to gain their trust and then make them distrust each other in the process. I think Jaaco already has some trust with Amber so I can use that. I’ll take our inner-gang as well as Myra with. I only need five people for this.”
I contemplate his ideas. “It’s not bad... I quite like making the North fall from the inside. If you could create distrust between Amber and Xavier... Ruining their love for each other would make the whole gang crumble.”
“Exactly,” Kyle smirks. “Love triangles are infamous for bringing down gangs in Tygerwell.”
“Well then, I believe we can agree on our plan,” I say, “But I still want Blake to die.”
“No, no, we can use Blake. I have a plan for my brother,” Kyle insists.
I think about it for a minute. “Fine, you can use your brother but as soon as he’s done his job, he still gets the knife.”
“Deal,” Kyle says.
“I’m not letting this go, Bowmen,” I warn.
If Kyle tries to double-cross me... He’ll quickly learn why Sterling is the biggest gang in the country.
“I know,” Kyle says.
And our meeting is dismissed.
I instinctively head towards the West-wing of the mansion. There’s something that’s been bothering me ever since I returned. Something I need to get off my chest. If I was smart, I’d just keep the information to myself, but... I really want to see his reaction.
Just when I’m about to open the door that leads down to the basement, the door opens from the other side first. I take a step back in surprise, but regain myself when I notice it’s just one of Southern Sterling’s members.
“Oh, Miss D’logiram! Sorry for that,” the guy apologizes.
“What were you doing down there?” I ask. The guy looks nervous and even though he’s two steps below me, we’re the same height. Tall people annoy me. Especially tall people that are younger. I can already tell by his unkempt hair and wrinkled grey jacket that this guy’s barely out of high school. His brown eyes are too bright with life under those dark lashes of his.
“Oh well, I was assigned to give Sean, uh, I mean the prisoner, a bath,” he explains.
“Oh... I thought Bill was in charge of that,” I say with a pointed look at the guard by the door. Bill starts sweating and I roll my eyes at the large man.
“Ah, yeah, but I was asked to do it tonight. Though I don’t really mind it as much. I’d do it again,” the tall kid replies.
“Was he not difficult?” I ask. Sean always got more bruises after being given a bath by the guards since he struggles so much. It’s annoying to have a simple bathtub hurt him more than I can.
“Hmm... Maybe a little? But not really,” the tall kid says.
“What’s your name?”
“Chad,” I repeat. “From now on you’ll be in charge of taking care of this prisoner,” I instruct.
“No problem,” Chad smiles.
“You’re dismissed,” I say and walk past him. Chad closes the door behind me and leaves. I feel a little off about this Chad fellow, but he’s the first person to refer to Sean by his name instead of just prisoner. His positivity annoys me, but he seems like he’ll take better care of Sean than any of the other guards.
I descend the stairs and find myself a little surprised when I spot Sean. He’s tied to the pillar in the middle of the room, but this time there’s definitely something different about him. His clothes are the same as usual - a grey hoodie with comfortable pants, but his demeanor has definitely changed. Instead of caving into himself or laying on the ground like a corpse, Sean is propped up against the pillar - almost relaxed. He doesn’t seem to notice me, but unlike the dead expression he usually wears, he looks at the ground as though... As though he heard something funny, but can’t bring himself to laugh out loud just yet.
“Sean?” I call and he looks up - immediately losing that curious expression.
“You seem different today,” I comment.
“Do you want to have a go at torturing me again? You might get the result you want this time,” Sean comments a bit too cheerfully for me to be comfortable. Seriously... why’s he in such a good mood? I mean, he still looks depressed compared to the average person, but at least he doesn’t look completely dead as usual.
Urgh... It doesn’t count if he suggests getting tortured.
“Your beloved Amber is dead and yet you’re in such a good mood,” I say without thinking. Why am I lying? I didn’t mean to lie just now.
Sean doesn’t take the bait and keeps his attitude up. “I don’t believe you,” he says.
“You don’t want to believe me. You’re in denial. You knew she’d die today,” I continue to lie.
“No...” Sean says - a little more cold this time.
I pretend to pick a speck of dust from my blazer. “In her final moments... She tried to protect her friends. She failed of course, but I guess it was the thought that counts,” I sigh.
Sean immediately loses his positive attitude and as expected, crumbles into himself. “No...” he whispers, “I refuse to believe your plan worked. She wouldn’t get killed by someone like you.”
Someone like me? Oh... of course. I almost forgot that I’m the monster of this story.
“I have her body upstairs if you wanted to see it. She had the best expression when I killed her,” I laugh. Seriously.... What’s going on? I can’t stop myself... I’m hurting him, but... I didn’t plan on doing this. I’m speaking without meaning to. I stop laughing when tears swarm Sean’s eyes. He’s crying already? He barely flinches when I torture him but Amber’s death will bring up all these emotions?
“Why did you do it?” Sean demands. He’s shaking with tears and I feel nauseous looking at him. “Why did you have to kill her? Why are you such a monster!? She was good and kind and she really cared! It didn’t have to be like this. She wouldn’t have taken your gang if you just left her alone! She never did anything to hurt you!”
“Hey, calm down. You’re shaking!” I order. He’ll get another fever if this keeps up and his health is too poor for me to risk him getting sick right now. He’s not eating enough to get better.
“Just kill me. Just end it. I don’t want to see another day in a world as fucked up as this one! A world where people just kill each other without reason!” Sean cries.
He’s hysteric... How... How do I stop this? He’s shaking so hard, he’ll bruise himself on the floor and against that pillar. I have to get him to calm down or he’ll seriously get hurt!
“I lied! She’s not actually dead!” I admit when it gets too much. “We failed. You were right. Amber outsmarted us.”
Sean’s tears don’t stop. “Are you just saying that to make me feel better?” he asks in quaking sobs. His body is still shivering out of his control.
“No,” I admit honestly, “I wanted to make you cry so I lied about Amber dying.”
“Why what?” I ask.
There’s a moment of silence... And in that silence, Sean’s body slowly stops shaking. I’m not sure how long it takes him to calm down, but when he looks up again, Sean looks at me in a way nobody ever has. Not hate, but... something colder... Indifference. “Why did you stop? It was working,” he asks.
Don’t look at me like that, I want to tell him. Hate me. Despise me, but don’t look at me like you don’t care... Hate is the best I can have, but at least it is something to make you think about me. This... This indifference is what scares me more than any curse wished upon me.
“Because... I didn’t like seeing you cry,” I admit not only to Sean, but myself.
And for the first time, I feel vulnerable...
“You’re crazy,” Sean says without care - most likely drained from crying so much.
“Probably,” I laugh nervously, “I didn’t take my medication this morning.”
Sean doesn’t reply to that and instead lets out a heavy breath before falling to the floor - going back to that corpse state of his. I really shouldn’t have lied about Amber... Why did I do that? What did I expect was going to happen? All I did was hurt him...
“Hey, you’re still just skin and bones. Don’t you like what the chef prepares for you? I could replace the chef-”
“The food is fine. I just can’t keep any of it down. Being tied up like this prevents me from sleeping properly and I vomit from lack of sleep,” Sean says - he looks over at me from under those bangs of his and I kind of feel my cheeks warm at making eye contact like this.
“Oh, well, your leg is broken and there are guards so I don’t see a problem in untying you,” I say and nervously walk over. I crouch over Sean and untie him - my hand accidentally touching his hand. Feeling a little awkward, I step back. “There. You can sleep a little better now. Just don’t try to escape or hurt yourself,” I tell him.
Sean doesn’t say anything and instead turns away from me - to his side where he makes himself comfortable on the cement floor. He has his head resting on his arm.
I should question him to find information on Amber, but... he seems tired.
Not wanting to disturb him anymore, I start walking up the stairs again - taking the rope with me. What surprises me though, is Sean’s voice right before I get to the door.
“Hey, Jane,” he calls.
“Yes?” I ask and spin around. He still has his back facing me so I have no idea what kind of expression he’s wearing.
“Thanks for telling me the truth. About Amber I mean,” he says.
I don’t know why, but a weird kind of warmth flashes through me at his words. I did something right! I got thanked for doing something! This is the second time anyone has ever thanked me! The only other time was...
Thank you Jane... Thank you my sweet Jane for making it end. Mother is proud of you. I’m sorry about telling you the truth...
I leave Sean without another word, but by the time I leave the basement and enter my room, I feel hot tears running down my cheeks. I close my door with my back and slide to my bedroom floor.
“I did something good...” I whisper to myself. “It feels so nice...”
But that feeling doesn’t last... I take the medication I missed this morning and by the time I get into bed, my head is filled with unbearable ticking and a nightmare I can’t ever seem to remember.
Amber Marigold has to die.