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57. Burying The Past

“Well?” he asked, not looking up from his papers.

“Nothing new, sir. Her routine is always the same. She goes from her house to the university and back again, twice a week she takes her guitar and French lessons, every Saturday she goes out with her friends and on Sundays she visits the cemetery” the man reported for the hundredth time.

“I see. You can go. I’ll be expecting your next report by the end of next week”

“Yes, sir” the man replied nodding respectfully and turned to leave.

Yet, instead of doing just that, he stood hesitantly by the door, holding the knob tightly without twisting it.

“Is there anything else I should know?” Gage inquired, still not gracing the man with a glance.

“No, sir” he replied shifting slightly from foot to foot. “But I was just wondering if there is any point in keep following that girl around. Her life is not in immediate danger and she never strays from her schedule. It’s a waste of your money, sir”

“You are talkative today” Gage commented dryly, finally lifting his gaze, obviously displeased.

“I apologize, sir”

“I don’t give a shit about your apologies or your opinion for that matter. I can spend my money however I please and I want you to continue doing what I pay you for. I don’t care if her routine bores you and I don’t have to explain my reasons to you. Now go”

This time, the man did not hesitate at all to leave his office and Gage let out a frustrated breath. If he did not have to busy himself with sorting out the all the mess Theo’s suicide and criminal activities exposure caused, he wouldn’t have to tolerate an idiot questioning his orders.

He would follow the girl himself, which would be wrong in so many ways, but he preferred to not acknowledge that.

But even so, he had managed to keep tabs on her amidst this chaos.

When he had sent her off that day, he had made up his mind that it was the last time they interacted. He still believed it was all for the better, yet he couldn’t stop himself from observing her life even from afar. Not when he had come to so much power after Theo’s convenient demise.

After he stood for a few moments, watching her heading towards the gas station, he had driven back to the mansion. As he had done before, he left the car in the woods and continued on foot.

He had gone straight to the devil’s bedroom. The door was locked. He had knocked. He had received no answer.

However, he was still alive. He could hear him muttering and dragging things around. Later, he would learn that it was Kendra’s body. At that time, he had let him be. It was more convenient that way for he had other work to do.

When Theo had met the girl’s parents in that charity event and even before that, it had become clear that he needed a plan to protect both himself and the girl if push came to shove. Maybe, subconsciously, Kendra’s words had done the trick and some thoughts had started forming in his head.

The devil made him do his biding under the threat that he would be pinned as a criminal and would be locked away for life due to proven insanity. The only way to avoid that was to find evidence that linked him to everything. Surprisingly, this wasn’t very hard since he was smart enough to keep those girls’ personal items. Their passports were especially useful. The final stamps on them indicated the last destination they had traveled too and he was able to track his brother’s presence in all of the places the girls had been.

This was enough to establish a connection between him and them. Some girls even had taken pictures of Theo without him noticing and that was a more condemning evidence.

Gage had been collecting patiently those things for more than a couple years, careful not to leave his own fingerprints on those girls’ belongings. He collected and he waited to see if they could ever help him break free of Theo’s blackmail. Deep down, he knew that as long as the devil was alive all these items would only serve in incriminating himself.

A serial killer who keeps trophies from his victims. That was what he would be called if he played his cards wrong.

Now that his brother had locked himself in his bedroom, with his lover’s body to keep him occupied, it was his only perfect chance to set the scene. His gut told him that he would never come out again but that didn’t mean he could work at his leisure.

He started with planting the evidence in Theo’s study, in a way it wouldn’t be obvious it was done on purpose. Then, he went up to his room and gathered everything that would betray his relatively recent presence there. He was careful not to swipe any of the natural formed dust away and only removed a few selected items.

Then he took a stroll to the rest of the house just to make sure everything was as it should.

Finally, he was done and had returned outside the locked door where he knocked a couple of times more. When Theo bellowed for him to “go away” and “leave him the fuck alone” he had done just that.

He had returned to his place and had waited. When the date of Theo’s supposed return had passed, he filed a missing person’s report in the police, asking to keep the search a secret due to their family name. To make it all more convincing, not only he called Theo’s phone several times prior to his report so it would appear on the records but tried to help the police in their search.

Everything was done with calculation and without the slightest exaggeration on his part. He had even explained to the officers, way before that public statement, that his relationship with his brother was not a very close one, making sure to hint subtly that Theo always felt a bit threatened by him, even when he left to join the Army.

Gage had never thought himself as much of an actor, but his life depended on this performance. Besides, living next to the devil for so long had taught him a thing or two about deceiving even when using the truth.

When he decided it was time to return to the mansion, he alerted the police and they escorted him there.

The moment he broke down the bedroom door, an overwhelming smell of decay engulfed him. Both bodies were on the bed half naked and on advanced stage of decomposition. The police officers visibly gagged on the sight, but Gage remained composed gazing at Theo’s decaying body where the gunshot would on his head could still be seen. Even if wasn’t, the dried pool of blood around his skull was a telltale sign of what had happened in this room.

He verified both his brother’s and Kendra’s identities and walked out of the bedroom. He wasn’t sad on his brother’s demise. He wasn’t happy either. He felt nothing. Nothing but the need to start a life of his own, using the parts of the past that suited him.

He always thought that he wanted to have nothing to do with his father’s wealth. His mind was now changed. Money –along with his name- meant power and he knew that he had to become powerful enough if he was to have a future. Besides, all that Theo had done was achieved through this wealth. A wealth that was never meant to be his, but Gage’s.

Gage, finally, found that he was ready to accept his heritage since he could completely use it to his benefit. After all, his late brother had done half the job for him. The same scheme that was supposed to get Gage in the mental asylum would be used in reverse to establish his authority in the world his father had introduced him in his childhood.

This was easier than he had imagined because he had never estimated the power of being the firstborn son correctly. He used to scoff at that, but the shareholders didn’t. Theo was never liked as he came to know after his death. They tolerated him because his father was forced to impose him on them when Gage stepped down. However, they never really approved of the second born, half-brother, especially when he started throwing money around after his failed engagement to Kendra Fox.

They almost begged Gage to take over, telling him it was his birthright. They looked up to him to save them and he did just that. Within three months the loss was contained and it took another three to start gaining again.

Was he happy about it?

He didn’t particularly care. It was enough that he was safe and to ensure this on the long run, he made sure that his medical examination from the army, describing the true reasons of his discharge, were permanently destroyed.

That did make him feel much better and it was when he really buried his past.

Except for the girl.

He had her followed 24/7, making sure she got on with her life. True to the promise he had given himself, he had never contacted her again in any way and neither did she. He was certain that she remembered where his place was, however he hadn’t changed his location to avoid her. Gage could bet that she was still scared enough of him as to not spring herself on him. That gave him equal amounts of pleasure and hurt.

He told himself that he was better off without her and yet, only minutes ago, he disregarded the idea of stopping his spies from shadowing her.

Gage couldn’t completely let go of the girl as much as a part of himself urged him to do just that, reasoning that apparently, she had already forgotten all about him.

Well, he wasn’t a forgetful man. Never had been.

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