K I E R O N ' S P. O. V
- 24 years of age
"Dad, I'm gay." No that's not it.
I breathe in again to try and loosen my taunt muscles. Everything about me screams rigid right now, tense, and I need to be comfortable and loose.
More like my brother Kai.
I crack a smile this time and say it again, "Well dad, I'm gay!"
No, definitely not it.
"I like boys dad...men, not boys, you sound fucking weird Kieron." I take another breath. "I'm gay, and I'm happy about it? Shit no."
My phone buzzes. I quickly grab it before it vibrates off my mattress.
Great, my little sister. Maybe she can offer up some advice, just like Kai did and Kalen...they want to show their support to me and hey, I love that but I'm not openly gay right now.
I'm still figuring things out so when Kai comes home with a literal rainbow flag wrapped around his body, my insecurities inside scream at me.
My parents don't know, and it times to tell them. Even though their 19 year old daughter is currently in another country, pregnant and she doesn't know who the father is.
"Kieron! Guess what she kicked! She kicked me, at first I was a little scared because it was a really strange feeling and I thought crap, I'm in labour but being five months pregnant and in labour doesn't sound great, so when the doctor said it was just baby kicks I thought my heart was going to explode out of my chest and...crap, I'm rambling sorry, sorry. I'm here for you. Kai told me you're planning to tell them today and I just wanted to offer some support, advice?"
I'm smiling even though she can see me, and I barely crack a smile. "It's fine Kiwi, and I'm so happy for you. I can't believe my little niece is kicking already."
"I know she's getting bigger, which means she's getting bigger but hey, there's a plus side to being totally alone in a foreign country." She's too much like Kai, mimicking the way he tries to hide his own fear and sadness beneath laughter.
"I can fly out if you want. Wait it out until the birth."
"No way, you've got work to deal with and Aaron or Tristan they might...it's just better not to risk it."
"Hang on I'm gonna switch to FaceTime." I quickly end the call only to press FaceTime and her beautiful face pops up.
I plaster on a smile, but it fades at the thick bags that underline her bloodshot eyes. She's not okay.
"I just finished season three yesterday. What a fucking joke? Chuck slept with Jenny? She's like his sister or something and then he fucked up the proposal and gets shot. Jesus, it's so stupid."
A genuine smile grows. "But you like it?" She sings. "I told you gossip girl was amazing."
"Yeah, yeah." I've secretly been bingeing it every other night and yes, I'm Chair shipper.
"Wait until season five, your heads gonna hurt."
I groan. "Can't wait,"
Kiara sighs on the other side, already in bed even though in Italy it should only be eight. "Do you know what you're gonna say?"
"No fucking clue. Maybe I should just give it some more time?"
"No. You should to tell them now. I know how long you've struggled with this but you're finally happy and you've accepted your sexuality. Now it's time for them to do the same to support you."
"He kicked you out of the house because you were dating Aaron." Our father did the unthinkable in disowning Kiara, his literal mafia princess.
It's a day that still haunts are family and even though she's forgiven him, I think a part of me, never will.
"Your sexuality isn't a bad thing. Being gay is something celebrate, it's your identity. What I did...it could be classed as betrayal and I wasn't exactly the best daughter either. I chose Aaron, and I chose wrong because he hurt me just like dad said he would."
"No look, I'm fine. You tell them and then text me everything. I'm tired so I'm gonna go to sleep."
"Okay, I love you."
"Love you too big bro." I end the call and stare at myself in the mirror again.
"Mom, dad can I talk to you?"
My brothers have already cleared out the house. Kalen leaving to meet up with Tessa whilst Kai is probably out finding a quick fuck.
"Sure Kieron, what's wrong?" I'm so alike my father it's like our mind are in-tuned with each other. Except for this.
"I have something you both need to know, something I've been struggling with for a while now but I've finally accepted and I'm happy."
My mother frowns quizzically, her head already reaching out to comfort me. "Sweetheart, what is it? You can tell us anything."
I look to my father, who shifts uncomfortably within his seat. Does he already know? Does he sense where I'm going?
I choose to sound him out, and focus on my mom instead. "I'm gay mom. I think I've known for a while now and I've just started to accept it, because pretending to live a lie...I just can't do that anymore."
I remember the moment I knew.
It was in the hospital. My little sister was fighting for her life and selfishly, I thought about my own death. What people would think what people would say and I would die carrying this huge part of myself no-one else knew but me.
Gradually, I opened up to my siblings. Weirdly I told Kai first, but with each acceptance and support, I became more myself, became happier.
I simply nod, watching her eyes brim to the top with tears. Fuck. She hates me, she's upset because of who I am. Something I can't change about myself, nor do I ever want to.
"Oh my baby," My mom hugs me in an instant, squashing the distance between us. "I'm so proud of you."
"Wait, you knew?"
Brushing her tears away, she reaching up to stroke my cheek. "Of course I knew, I'm your mother, but you had to come to the conclusion yourself and I thought you knew I would always accept you Kieron. No matter what, you are my son. I love you."
Fuck. Tears breach me, threatening to overspill like a dam.
I stare at my dad over her shoulder as she squeezes me tight. "Dad?" He hasn't said anything yet, just stared straight through me and then...slowly, he rises up in his chair.
"Come here son." I walk into his open hands. Both of us sobbing into each other's shirts.
"I was scared." I admit, pulling away to wipe my face. "I was so scared you wouldn't...that you would think..."
My dad flinches at the accusation. "Kieron I know I'm harsh at times but I would never think less of you, never treat you different because of who you are."
Who I am.
"To be honest, I was terrified you were telling us you wanted to step down as heir."
He laughs. "I know, I know but I was fucking terrified you didn't want it anymore but this, Kieron, this is you. I would never hold that against you." As he hugs me again, I can't help but think over his words.
Step down as heir? Was that even a choice?
I'm supposed to be their perfect son. The leader of the family, the one who will take over the Romano empire. Being gay shouldn't stop that, but figuring out my sexuality just makes me wonder what else I've been wrong about my whole life.
Do I even want to be a leader? A mafia boss? Or is it just what I've been told to always want?
K I E R O N ' S P. O. V
- 26 years of age
- events of Chained Princess
My brother is dead, and this day marks that.
I keep expecting him to magically pop out and yell surprise. For the whole thing to have been a gimmick and he's falling onto his ass in laughter whilst the rest of curse at him for tricking us.
That's what used to happen as kids. I'd always hated his practical jokes, was furious at him for things that made him happy.
Now I'd give anything for this to be home. A sick joke, mind that, but I wouldn't be angry.
I would hug him, fearful to let him go, and smile. I would fucking smile just to see a glimpse of my brother.
Me, the man who's labelled grouchy by my niece. I would smile for him.
"No, no," Tessa bawls into my chest as people start to leave the graveyard and head back to the house.
My shirt is drenched in her tears, as she drowns in her own grief. "Tessa," I murmur, shielding her from the watchful eyes of people around us.
They stare at her with pity. The grieving pregnant woman, widowed at 21.
Others stare at us with confusion, intrigue because I'm her brother in law and she's clinging onto me like I'm her lifeline.
My heated glare is enough that they look away. I don't care what other people think, but I know Tessa would be devastated knowing some believe were together.
Even my though my brother's body has just put in the ground. Even though it's only been month.
I notice my sister hovering by one of the hired cars. Her heavy gaze is filled with concern for her best friend, but right now their friendship is hanging by strands, thin ones, and if she comes over here...
I shake my head and motion that I've got this. She spares me a grateful smile, a small one barely dim, that flickers the moment Anastasia begins to scream again, kicking against her mother.
It's almost as if she sense the grief, the thick wallowing pain we're all suffering from without Kalen.
I fight the urge to help my sister. Kai swoops in to take her, trying to make her laugh, but even my brother that manages a smile in the darkest of times can't do it.
"We should go."
Tessa hiccups, pulling away from my chest. "But..but leaving means...it means he's gone. He's really gone."
"He was gone a long time ago Tess, that was only his body. It wasn't our Kalen, it wasn't my brother or your husband. It was just a body."
She nods, mostly to herself. "I know, I know. I just don't want to let him go."
"Kalen exists in here." I gently touch her stomach, my niece or nephew kicks in response, and we both share a smile. "See, that's Kalen's kid alright."
She laughs quietly, tears still leaking from her eyes. "It'll never stop hurting, will it?" I notice the way she fists her wedding ring in her palm.
"It'll get better." I don't know if that's true, I hope it is for her sake, but selfishly for myself too, because I don't know how to go on living after today.
I help her up to the car. Her parents offer to take her and Tessa's sinks into her mother's hold enough that I can let her go.
I focus on my own mother now.
Slowly I approach her. She's sitting on the grass, staring at out at the mass of graves before us.
More than a hundred bodies here, a hundred souls that linger and my brother's burns the brightest of them all.
"We gotta leave Ma,"
We're the hosts.
It's such a shit tradition, to have a wake after burying someone you love. To be burdened with the responsibility of ensuring everyone has food and drinks and people are paid and to sit there as people you barely know say how sorry they are.
My mom prides herself on being the best host and a good host is always there at least half an hour before an event starts, she says.
Now, she's just sitting here. Pale as a ghost, despite the faint makeup Kiara applied this morning.
My mother loves deeply, and we've always been her drive, her fuel to keep going. Now she has less of that and I'm scared for her.
"Just a few more minutes. A few more minutes with your brother." She says it as thought she can feel him. His presence warm and strong that will just fade if we leave.
I find Kai and Kiara watching us, mournful over our mother, because we all know she'll never be the same again.
I've got this, I mouth and they reluctantly climb in the car, driving away to leave just us.
My dad is dealing with the payments. He's shed tears for Kalen but here he's all business.
People like to say I'm just like him. I'm not.
The way I feel, the way I love, I received from my mom. I can't control my emotions as well as him, and right now, I let tears stream freely, resting my head on my mom's shoulder as she strokes my hair like I'm seven again.
Like this a nightmare that I'm going to wake up from eventually, but every time I open my eyes all I see is death.
Now I think, I think about what my brother used to say. It's your life Kieron, not our dad's, and in the end you'll be the one bearing the regrets.
I want to be more like my brother. He was going to leave all of this behind, he was going to be happy and he didn't fear it because he just knew it was what he wanted.
Since I came out, I've done nothing about it. I've not chased my desire, I've not taken any risks. I've worked and come home and worked and come home, and I thought it was enough.
I thought I wanted all of it, the empire.
But deep down, I know I don't.
"Mom," She hums silently, turning towards me. "I don't want this life mom. I can't be the great leader I know you raised me to be, I just can't do it."
Her hand stretches out to cup my cheek, and a smile blossoms, one strong enough to light up her eyes. "I know Kieron, and that's okay. I didn't raise you to be a great leader, only a great man and that you've already become."