Truth Be Told
My mouth falls open. I stand staring at my sister until my eyes water and I realize I forgot to blink, and to breathe. “Wait,” I murmur finally. “What do you mean?”
My sister seems to have eased slightly after getting the dreadful words out. She sits down on the chair against the door and rests her elbows on the arms. “Mom was talking about you,” she says as she returns my stare. “She said you were just as powerful and successful as Reid, you just hadn’t had the chance to prove it because you were inactive for so long.
“When I picked up the phone, Mr. Knox said something about how girls can’t be as powerful as boys. I wanted to yell but I was shut up with mom’s response. She said “if you’re trying to make your genetics sound superior, remember that my Gen and your Reid share the same father.”
My breath catches and my eyes meet Reid’s across the room. “But,” he swallows, “how….?”
Katherine shakes her head. “He was being super sexist so I hung up the phone and called you.”
Esmera pushes herself away from the desk she was leaning against. “So you two are half siblings,” she says slowly. “Gen’s birthday was just a week ago, and Reid’s is in a few more weeks. That means Marcos fathered both of you within a month of each other.”
“I know Thalia is my mom,” I cry suddenly, feeling defensive for some reason. “I look just like her.”
“It explains your green eyes though.” Reid interjects quietly. His eyes meet mine again. “I always thought you had the same dark eyes as my father.”
“Who was your mom,” Esmera asks her boyfriend. “You said she died when you were a baby but you never said much else.”
Reid shrugs. “That’s all I know. She died and left me with Marcos. He was heartbroken but he never seemed to actually be heartbroken over her. Maybe it was that he cheated on either Thalia or my mom.”
Katherine nods. “I think he cheated on your mom with mine. I mean, she named her Genevieve DeVall, and that’s the only name that has ever been on her birth certificate, so she must have been married to dad before Gen was born.”
“Or,” I say, “She got pregnant with me, then met dad and they got married. Mom wouldn’t cheat.”
My sister nods in agreement.
Esmera frowns. “I don’t think we should just assume all these things.”
“She’s right,” Reid says as he stares at the floor. “We need solid answers.”
I swallow past the lump in my throat. “For eighteen years she’s been lying to me…”
“To both of us,” Katherine agrees. Then her eyes widen and she jumps forward to take my hand. "But that doesn't change anything about our relationship. You're still my sister."
“I was lied to too,” Reid says. “Don’t forget that my father never told me I had a half sister either, let alone that she is my best friend.”
Esmera puts an arm around my shoulders, then pulls Reid in. Katherine joins us as we all embrace in a group hug. Esmera is the one who speaks. “We will find answers, I promise.”
“Where do we start though?” I ask.
“The source,” Reid sighs. “We talk to our parents - each of us,” his eyes linger on Esmera. “Maybe one of them will crack, or someone outside this knows something.”
His girlfriend nods. “I’ll ask my mom, but she won’t be so happy to talk about Marcos. I could ask my dad too, but he’s more likely to yell at me for fraternizing with the enemy.” She rolls her eyes, making us all laugh uneasily.
“I’ll talk to my dad,” Reid half-groans. “It’s been a long time since our last yelling match and we are due for a new one. May as well be a productive one where I’m the one on offense for once.”
“I’ll ask dad,” Katherine offers.
“No,” I sigh. “I need to talk to them at the same time. They won’t get mad at me.”
My sister puts her hand on my arm. “I’ll be right there beside you.”
Her statement makes me tear up a little, resulting in another group hug.
I get home late in the night to find that my parents are not home. Collectively, Genevieve, Katherine, and Reid agreed they would wait until the following morning to talk to their parents about the issue.
After making myself dinner of leftover lasagna, I hurry up to my room to get a start on my homework. A folded note sits atop my backpack. I smile; mom must have realized they would be gone when I returned home and left an explanation.
Look who the evil one is now. My eyes widen as I read the note. This is definitely not from my mom. The CAA has killed innocent people. Coleman, Frederick. There is no greater evil than that. -R
My breath wheezes as I reach blindly for my phone. The ink on the paper is already beginning to fade and I snap a picture just before it disappears completely. Looking at the photo on my phone, the letters are just dark enough to read.
For a moment I consider dusting for fingerprints. Then I remember that this is an agent, not a mortal. Agents are trained from the moment they can walk to carry everything out quickly, quietly, and without leaving a single trace.
My mind races as I try to figure out how I can possibly find the culprit of these notes. I think about setting up a camera, or telling my parents, Reid, Genevieve... Every idea I have, I rejects because of some aspect or another.
First things first, I tell myself, slowing my thoughts and tossing the now empty note in the garbage. The sibling issue, then the note investigation.
I sit down at my computer and begin looking up names. First I search for Genevieve but her name only brings her swimming awards and a small mention in the paper for her volunteer work during a flood last year. Reid's name only brings up school awards in England. The search for Marcos brings up absolutely nothing, and Thalia brings up a single recipe for English muffins.
Finally giving up, I fall into my bed and go to sleep.
In the morning I wake up to the smell of bacon. My nose seems to pull me out of bed and I wander downstairs to find my dad standing at the stove. Pancakes are cooking in front of him, a carton of eggs ready beside him, and bacon sizzling at the back of the stove. “Smells good,” I sigh, sliding into one of the chairs at the island.
My dad glances over at me after flipping a pancake. “How was your sleep?”
“Fine,” I answer. “I didn’t know you were coming home today.”
“Last night, actually,” he answers. “I have some business in town.”
I frown. “What kind of business?”
He doesn’t answer.
“Dad,” I say uneasily, “are you planning on killing another agent?”
He turns suddenly, pancakes forgotten. Obviously mom didn’t tell him that I knew about the retaliation. “You were never supposed to find out we killed even one.”
I glare. “I don’t live under a rock, dad. I have friends, and a boyfriend.”
“You’re still dating that Knox boy, aren’t you?” He returns to flipping pancakes with a disgusted gaze at me.
I roll my eyes. This is the perfect opportunity to ask about Genevieve and Reid being related. “I found something else out from that Knox boy.” I say, mocking his rude name for Reid.
“And what’s that?” He practically growls.
“Genevieve and him are half siblings,” I answer as though this wasn’t earth shattering news.
Dad stops and turns to frown at me. “Genevieve is a BAA agent?”
Okay…So obviously they have some pretty tight records if mom and dad didn’t even know that. “Yeah,” I answer cautiously. “She and Kat are both agents. Reid knew them before they moved here. They’ve been inactive for years. But,” I add quickly, recognizing the dark expression on my father’s face. “None of them are sabotaging us.”
I keep my expression blank through the lie; obviously I cannot tell him that Reid was my saboteur.
“You cannot see them anymore, Esmera,” dad barks. He drops the spatula in his outburst and it clatters to the floor.
The sound attracts the attention of my mom as she comes downstairs. “What is going on in here?”
“Did you know that our daughter has been fraternizing with the enemy?” Dad demands. I could have mouthed the words as he said them; that is how predictable he is.
“I know she is dating Reid,” she answers. Then mom turns and gives me an I-thought-we-silently-agreed-we-weren’t-going-to-tell-him look. “I know Genevieve is a BAA agent, but I didn’t think it was necessary to say she was fraternizing, or call them enemies exactly.”
“Of course she is!” Dad cries. “She is practically giving our secrets away.”
“Hey,” I exclaim, offended, “I don’t tell them anything. We are trying to find out information for us. Not for our parents to use against the other Association. Reid just told me that BAA agents are being murdered, and I want answers for that. But I also want to know about what you two might know about Gen and Reid being related.”
“Related?” Mom gasps. “How?”
I shrug. “Apparently Kat heard her parents talking to Reid’s dad about how Genevieve and Reid are both his kids. They’re half siblings.”
My mom looks appalled. “Every time I think I’ve had it all figured out…”
“This isn’t helping anything!” Dad raises his voice over his wife’s. “Esmera, you are forbidden from ever seeing any of the three again. Silvanna, a word, please.”
“I think you can say anything you want to right here, Brian,” mom counters. “Esmera has already proven that she will find out about everything sooner or later.”
Dad levels a look at her but begins speaking. “We had an agreement that we would tell one another everything to keep our relationship out of these situations. This would have been information that should have been reported to me immediately since it regards our daughter’s safety.”
“In case you’ve forgotten,” mom fires back, “this is a family matter. Not a CAA matter. That means you are not my superior. You are my husband now, not someone in a position to force me to comply to any of your rules.”
I barely manage to keep my jaw from dropping.
Dad’s face is becoming red, creeping into his light brown hair. “It concerns her safety, Silvanna.”
“I am her parent too,” she answers calmly now, “I am the one that has been living in this house with her twenty four seven for the past fifteen years. I know she is smarter than you make her out to be. She knows how to take care of herself. I trust her judgement.”
“Fine,” dad barks. “Have it your way. If you say she won’t be hurt by these people, you say it. I’ll be going back to the Association now.” He storms from the room, breakfast forgotten.
Mom turns and takes my hands in hers. “He’ll cool down, honey,” she says soothingly. “You know he will. Just give him some time.” She bends to retrieve the spatula from the floor.
“Do you guys know anything about Gen and Reid?” I ask half heartedly.
She shakes her head sadly. “If they were members of our association we likely would but since they’re BAA… We know nothing. Although I remember hearing something about a scandal between Shane DeVall and Thalessa Knox, though I have no idea of that would be related. ”
Dejectedly, I eat my breakfast.
Katherine and I meet in her bedroom to work out a strategy before our parents wake up. “Are we sure we have our tactic?” I ask nervously.
Katherine nods. “It’s all we have. We don’t want them to feel like we’re interrogating them, but they need to know we mean business.”
I nod and hold up the note that my sister wrote. With a single piece of tape, we tack it onto the inside of our parents’ bedroom door. Then we wait in the living room for them to wake up.
Five minutes after we turn on the TV, I hear dad yawn. Their bedroom is right next to the living room, separated by a single thin wall. Before long, my parents exit the room, mom clasping the note in her hand. “What’s this?” She asks.
“Family meeting?” Dad frowns. “What’s going on?”
Katherine looks to me to begin.
“Mom,” I begin, my eyes lingering on the woman a moment longer than they do on dad. “Dad - uh, I need some answers.”
The tone of my voice causes both of them to take their seats across from us. Beside me, Katherine puts her hand on my back for reassurance.
“What answers?” Dad asks.
“Kat found something out,” I start and cough when my voice cracks. “She said something about me and Reid.”
Mom and dad exchange a glance. “When?”
“Yesterday,” Katherine answers. “I eavesdropped on your phone call with Mr. Knox.”
“Before you get mad,” I hurry to speak before either parent has the chance. “Know that you don’t get to be mad. I do.”
“Gen,” mom reaches for my hand but I pull away.
I look at the man I have called “dad” since I could talk. “You’re not my biological father.”
He closes his eyes and then looks down at his hands. “No.”
“How are Reid and I brother and sister?” I ask.
Mom is crying now too and she tries to speak but realizes she cannot.
Dad places a hand on hers. “You two have the same father - his father.”
“But you and mom have been married…” I shake my head.
Dad nods. “We have been married since you were one, Genevieve.”
Mom finally finds her voice as she dabs her eyes with a tissue. “Reid’s father and I were married first. When he found out I was pregnant with you, he was really happy. I don’t know what happened.
“Two months later he came home and told me he did something really bad. He admitted that he’d been having an affair with a woman named Thalessa for the past year. They had been careful about keeping it quiet and never thought… He had come home to tell me that he had gotten her pregnant as well. He begged for my forgiveness but I would not take it. I was in love with him, but I would not stay with an unfaithful man. He asked if I would terminate the baby but I refused. He said Thalessa also refused. She was just in love with him as I was. We finally were legally divorced at the end of December.
“When you were born, I was alone and afraid. You know my parents died when I was only nineteen on a mission so I did not have their support to care for you. Luckily, Luka found me.” She sniffles loudly and twines her fingers with my dad’s. “He and I started dating soon after you were two months old. He loved you like his own daughter and I fell in love again. We were married the next year, and had Katherine when you were three.”
I sit quietly for a minute, absorbing the information. Then anger flares inside my chest and I grip the edge of the couch. “How could neither of you have ever told me?” I demand coldly. The first tear escapes, leaving a wet track down my cheek.
“We were ordered not to,” mom answers.
My voice is nothing but a whisper through my tears. “By who?”
“Shane DeVall,” she answers.
Katherine leans forward. “Who’s Shane DeVall? Is he a relative?”
“He’s your uncle,” dad says sadly. Then his eyes shift to me. “My brother. And yours and Reid’s father.”
“You’re lying,” I glare at my father. I stand in front of where he sits in the study chair in front of me.
“I’m not,” he answers calmly, “I married Thalia almost twenty three years ago.”
“You loved her.” I mean to ask this but it comes out as more of a disbelieving accusation.
“Yes,” he answers. “Why is that so hard to understand? I still love Thalia and I wish we were still married.”
“Then what happened?” I demand. “Why are Genevieve and I the same age?”
Dad sighs. “Sit down and I’ll tell you all the little details.”
I take a seat on in the chair opposite the desk and cross my arms. Little does he know, my phone is recording this session so that he cannot deny any of his words later.
Dad leans back and looks at the ceiling as though trying to remember. “We were trying for a child the entire time we were together but she kept losing it. It was heartbreaking to watch her struggle to keep a baby. I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but I began seeing another woman named Thalessa every now and then. It began as a friendship and slowly became intimate, an affair if you want the technical term. She helped me through the grief of losing my own children over and over again.
“Then, in July, Thalia told me she was pregnant again. This time, when she had the ultrasound, the baby was healthy and already two months along. It was longer than any of the other babies had lasted already and I had a feeling that this one would survive. The same night, Thalessa called me to tell me she was pregnant with my child as well. It took me a week to decide to admit everything to Thalia. She was heartbroken and refused to forgive me for the affair that had lasted almost three years. She filed for divorce and we were legally split at the end of December.
“Genevieve was born in February and Thalia refused to let me see her. Then she began seeing Luka and I was no longer needed. I was satisfied knowing that Luka would take good care of her and I made sure they fell in love. It was the best thing I could do for her and my daughter, even if I was not in the picture.
“In March you and your brother were born. Thalessa hadn’t told me she was having a boy, let alone twins. She also hadn't told me that only one of you was healthy. Ryan died soon after birth but you were strong and healthy. But that's nothing I haven't already told you.
"At the time, you have to understand that I was in great grief over not getting to see my daughter. Then Thalessa told me we would have to get married because she loved me and Thalia would never love me again. I was outraged and we got into a fight. I took you and left.”
I frown, feeling as though the man is hiding something. “What happened to Thalessa? You couldn’t have just taken us without her fighting.”
“Oh, she fought,” his expression grows dark. “Right until the end.”
“The end…?” My eyes grow wide. “You killed her!”
My father shrugs. “It was necessary. I tried to reason with her for almost a year but she wouldn't have it. She was threatening to ruin my reputation by revealing the affair, and the children.”
“So you killed her to preserve your image,” I spit. “Noble.”
“She was nothing anyway, Reid,” he continues as though he truly believes he did no wrong. “She had no family left, she was mentally and emotionally unstable, and she was not a strong agent. I did her a favor.”
I stand up so suddenly that my chair falls over backwards. “Nothing gives you the right to kill an innocent person,” I shout. “That was my mother!”
My father rises slowly and meets my eyes. “She was nothing but a whore.”
My jaw drops. Shaking with fury, my fist comes down hard on the desk between us. So hard, in fact, that the wood cracks. “How dare you!”
“That is mahogany,” dad murmurs.
This only makes me more angry. “I can’t believe you kept so much from me! This was something I should have known a long time ago. Genevieve and I should not have been kept in the dark.”
My father picks an invisible bit of dust off the desk. His eyes remain on the crack. “I ordered Thalia to keep it from everyone because I did not want anyone to know. It would ruin my reputation.”
I howl in outrage. “Everything you do is without a care for anyone else! You don’t do anything unless there’s some way it benefits you.”
“Believe me, Reid-”
“Believe you?” I shriek. “How the hell can I ever believe you again? At this point I’m convinced that nothing you have ever said is true. For all I know, Ryan might have died at your hand too!”
My father stiffens. “Ryan was a weak infant. I did everything I could to keep him alive but I don't think he had the Assassin blood. Now I wonder if I was wrong to take you at all.”
My jaw drops and I feel as though the floor might collapse underneath me. “You... You wish you didn't have me?”
He remains silent. Finally, the man turns away to face the window.
When he turns back around, I am no longer in the room. I am not even inside the house; by that evening, I am across town sitting on the floor of the Mortman House. I sit in a blanket of my salty tears, an overnight bag beside me filled with all the clothes I could fit into it.