23. A Father's Will
“You haven’t seen him in days?”
“I haven’t spoken to him at all,” I answered Nazanin, taking another bite out of my Greek salad. I told Nazanin everything from Don’s true parentage to Crey ending up in the hospital. Of course, I couldn’t go into detail of the more behind the scenes situations surrounding the club—more so that they had a giant target on their backs. And that the same gang that killed Marcus might be after me too.
Even though I longed to see him, a part of me understood his distance. He needed space to think alone, to comprehend his entire reality. The life he once knew was no longer in existence. He needed to know how to navigate the situation, especially with his new relationship with Muerte.
Nazanin frowned in concentration. Something was playing in her mind and I waited patiently. She took a long, drawn sip of her soda.
“Why hasn’t he?” Nazanin asked. “I mean, you’d think he’d want his, what do they say, old lady to help him through it all?”
“I guess he wants to process it all by himself,” I shrugged and took another bike. “It was a lot to take in, even for me. Imagine finding out that your whole life was a lie? That your father wasn’t actually your father but your uncle? That your ‘uncle’ is your father?”
Even saying it out loud caused my head to throb.
“Well, when you put it like that,” Nazanin said, her face scrunching up in fascinated disgust. “Is that, like… incest?”
“If he had a sibling through Mateo, then yeah,”
“And he does have a sibling—oh!” Nazanin winced before correcting herself. “Had a sibling...”
“Marcus,” I said with a nod. “Although, he grew up believing that he was his cousin. But to find out he was your brother after his death…”
That must be torture.
“He can never reconcile with him on that matter,” Nazanin finished for me. “You think their bond would’ve been stronger?”
I paused, my fork suspended mid-air as I truly thought about it. Come to think of it, I’d not been around often whenever Don and Marcus interacted. I couldn’t say much about their relationship. Don did seem upset about his passing but not inconsolable. Almost like an acknowledgement that you knew this person and cannot believe you wouldn’t see them again. And he did say he found Muerte’s letter in Marcus’ room, meaning Marcus knew all along but never told Don.
So no… they weren’t close.
“Maybe,” I whispered thoughtfully and took another bite of my salad. “Or it could’ve caused a bigger divide between them.”
As ever, it was hot in Miami. I couldn’t complain because it was the perfect day to laze in the garden. Grabbing my glass of water, I took a long sip before playing it under the shade, away from the sun’s heat. For the next few minutes, Naz and I ate our meal. That was until a knock caught our attention. I glanced up to see Melanie standing on the opposite side of the glass door. She had an almost indistinguishable smile with a large white envelope in one hand. I thought it was nothing at first but then I looked a little closer. My name was scrawled across the width of the envelope.
I gestured for Melanie to come out. She did while letting out a rush of air.
“Well, damn if it ain’t hotter than hell itself,” she said, shading her eyes from the sun with one hand. “Nazanin, can I have a word with Vanessa please?”
Naz’s gaze shifted between me and Melanie. “Yeah.”
Grabbing her food and drink, Naz was up and into the building before Melanie could a seat. I watched her play with the envelope. Tired of waiting for her to speak, I went first.
She wasn’t quick to respond. Melanie’s brows were furrowed, the corners of her lips tight with tension as she tried to find the right words to her answer.
“To be honest, I’m not sure,” she said, almost in a whisper as if speaking to herself. I raised one brow, confused and she quickly explained. “I didn’t even know about this until yesterday morning. Literally.”
“What is it?” I asked again, my curiosity peaked.
“You know your parents left you a will,”
“Yeah. Some of the money is for college,” I responded.
“They also left you this,” she said while sliding the envelope across the table and towards me. “Well, your father since he wrote the letter.”
With a quick glance at the envelope, I asked. “Did you read it?”
“No,” she said and added. “But there’s something else in the will I never took note off. I just assumed that most of their assets will go to you. All but one property.”
“Who has it gone to?”
I froze to ice at the sound of his name. Don’s father’s name. Or uncle? Whatever.
Mirroring Melanie’s frown, I said. “I’m confused.”
“So am I,” Melanie admitted. “The lawyer came yesterday and gave me that envelope, saying your father wanted you to read it before your twentieth birthday. He also talked about a property Mateo inherited, something I never knew. According to your father’s wishes, we were never supposed to know.”
“Like ever?” I asked, surprised by this revelation.
“Well, it seems it wasn’t important enough to be mentioned.”
I let my fingers graze my written name. It was almost as if I could feel my father’s hand, his pen, writing across the envelope. I wondered what he wrote but more so, why he wrote. Was this done years before or…
No, that can’t be.
“Can I have a moment alone, please? Tell Naz I’ll be in soon,”
“Sure,” Melanie responded, rising to her feet. “Let me know what’s written, okay?”
Opening the letters, I nodded. Melanie’s presence faded and soon, I heard the door open and close. I was completely alone. Free to digest whatever my father had written. As if the envelope was wrapping paper, I opened it carefully. I placed the envelope under my cup so the wind wouldn’t whisk it away. There was nothing too fancy with the letter itself. It was just a white sheet of paper, translucent enough that I could the see the familiar scrawl belonging to my dad.
Blinking away the tears pooling my eyes, I took in a deep breath. Without hesitation, I unfolded the letter and read my father’s last words.
Although in the end, I was more confused than ever.