"GIVE ME ONE GOOD REASON WHY I SHOULD?" I asked, staring into the eyes of my blood father- blood, but a stranger to me.
Tobias raised a brow, as if the question confused him. "Those reasons should not warrant your hesitation, daughter. You know why you must take my hand. You don't belong with them. You belong at our side. With your true family."
"Family?" I raised my voice and stood up from my chair, jarring the man in front of me to retreat a step as I continued. He was cautious. Good. "You speak of family as if you know what it means. You don't. If you did I wouldn't have spent three years in a mental institution because people believed I killed my mother. I was thirteen. I didn't have your protection. I faced all of it on my own while the world hated me. Where were you then?"
"In a coma," he replied smoothly. "Recovering from the several bullets your mother put inside me many years ago when we were young. I was not at fault for what happened to your mother. Frankly I do not believe it was accidential. Had I known what she was planning that night things would have gone differently, but luckily your brother was there to stop your mother before you died."
A knot of emotions got stuck in my throat. "Died?"
Monster stepped towards me then and a weird epression overtook his face. "Don't you remember?"
I retreated from him, confused. "Remember what?"
"Fuck!" Monster turned to his father. "He wiped her memories. That motherfucker has gone too far this time. I am going to kill him personally when I see him again."
Tobias put a hand on his son. "Relax. That is talk for another time. Right now we only have five minutes before the police enter the building." He looked down at me. "I wasn't there for you for sixteen years. But I have the chance now to resurrect the past mistakes that have lead us here."
I stared up at him, brow raised. "You lead us here. Not your mistakes. What happened in the past was beacause you deserved it."
He shrugged. "Perhaps. But now I know the mistakes now are not based on the present. The past has returned and I have to protect what is mine. That includes you and your brother. Your mother will be looking for you to finish what she started, and that is to kill the children we brought into this world because I was not killed all those years ago. To keep you away from me she will do anything."
I couldn't trust that. Mom loved me. Why would she want to kill me?
"The choice is yours to decide. I will not pressure you, but I will not give up on you so easily either. I have the chance to protect you now. I have every intention to do so now that you can accept what has now been revealed. You are my daughter."
"You expect me to believe that?"
He stared deep into my eyes. "I expect you to believe the words of your father."
I shook my head. "You are not my father. You're a murderer. You killed an innocent boy and girl-"
"Innocent?" Tobias shook his head. "No one is innocent, my little rose. As for the murder accusation; I did not kill Charlotte Moon or Jonah Treehouse. Their deaths were not in my control, nor did I want their blood on my hands. We had to implicate someone to infiltrate the academy, but that was all we excogitated for work we put together before you arrived in Seattle to live with Morris."
"So you admit you had a part in their death?"
Monster sighed heavy before he said, "No. Cassidy has an idle hand. She killed him a year before we discovered you came to Washigton and enrolled in Raven Oak Prep. His death was not calculated. It was just our luck you did, and that Cassidy was a psychotic loon. Not that I am defending what she has done, but Jonah was the key to access to Raven Oak Prep."
"But why? Why work with her?"
Monster looked to his father, as if asking for permission. Tobias gulped the last of his wine glass. "She has connections I need, but I promise she will be dispensed when this is all over."
None of that information made me feel any better.
"If you are trying to convince me you are not insane, it's a poor execution done on your part." I held my stomache to the bile threatening to escape.
Tobias watched me carefully as I took all of it in. "You should not feel sympathy for someone you did not know. His death was put to use. You should be pleased he died and enabled you to understand where you come from."
"I'm not!" I shouted. "You killed someone's son. Daughter. Someone's child. What kind of person are you to think that is okay?"
"Obviously your family is deranged," Ridley said, his voice down the table reminding I was not alone. He cut eyes to me. "Must run in the family."
Ouch. Grudgy, much?
"Not the time to be an asshole, Ridley," Beau hissed.
"This is the Seattle police department. We have surrounded the building. We advise you let the hostages go, and come out with your hands behind your head!"
Monster went to the tall window, drew back the thick Victorian curtain, and observed the scene below. Flashes of red and blue danced across his reflection, the half moon bright against the stark sky. His jawline clenched, I noticed, and rapidly he shut the curtain once again to inform Tobias, "Kieran and the Sparrows have arrived."
My father smiled, a secretive curve of his lips that told me he had expected them to come. "So they have. It appears our time has come to an end." He turned towards me and inquisition showed in his gaze. "The decision is yours to make, daughter. What will it be?"
"I repeat. This is the Seattle police department. We have the building surrounded and advise you let the hostage and come out with your hands behind your head. We will be authorized to use deadly force if you do not comply!"
Monster joined our father, watching me expectantly. "Come with us, little rose. We can make you happy. These people will only hurt you if you stay."
He could not be more wrong. He already hurt me when he showed his true colors.
I shook my head.
"I won't be an accomplice to your sick delusions," I said and removed the necklace Monster had given to me on my birthday at the cabin; I threw it at his chest with all my strength; the fragile pendant bounced, and fell helplessly to the floor at his feet with a resounding clink. "We will never be family!"
Hurt stole Monster's features, but like me my brother was no one to show his emotions. He put up a wall, something I have done countless times when the pain became too much, or knotted at the base of my throat like a hand of fire. He started to walk backwards and nodded with a finality that almost made me regret what I'd done.
Monster grabbed for Tobias's shoulder and said, "We should leave, father," while his light green gaze was kept trained on me. Blank as ever. "Her choice has been made."
Tobias came towards me, and although I flinched back from him he reached up casually, cupped my face- as if it was the most natural thing -and kissed the crown on my head. The whisper of his final words caressing my hairline as he said, "I will change your mind. You will see I am not your enemy in this."
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
Someone was now using a force to get inside, a hard reverberation that shook the walls and the floor beneath us. The police must have decided to break in. Soon armed officers were heard crashing through the front door. With one last look, my unearthed father and twin fled in the direction of the alcove, which probably lead to the back tunnels Cassidy took to escape.
Seconds later blue uniforms spilled into the ballroom. Their guns poised and commands thrown into the air to show hands pulled me from my stupor. I complied as several flashlights swerved in my face, and a whole team of badges marched inside to inspect us. They were pursued by Kieran, Hansel and Phoenix still dressed in the matched uniforms I last saw them in.
A police officer, young and inexperienced, tried to stop them from trespassing but that was a lost battle. "You can't be allowed in here!"
The boys ignored the man and rushed over to Beau and Ridley who was bleeding and wrapped in ropes. They didn't seem to notice me as a pair of EMTS ran through the crowd to attend to the mayor, his son and the stubborn blue haired boy hissing at the medics to let him be because he was fine.
As soon as Beau was untied, he stomped over to me, and patted me down for injuries that were nonexistent to the eye. His fingers shook, but his task remained certain as if he didn't know what else to do after what we'd just gone through.
I put a stop to the incessant inspection. "I'm fine, Beau."
He looked down at me, blue eyes uncertain. Eyes that belonged to Morris and possibly my mother's sister. I never seen her, but if I do the similarities will be there. Charlotte's letters confirmed that now. Morris was not my father. Which meant Beau was not my brother, but my cousin.
The blood tie was there, but not in the way I had thought for all these years.
"I'm fine," I said again, stepping back to avoid contact. I was afraid if he tried to comfort me; I was sure to break. I kept my eyes downcast, unable to look him in the face as he watched me with that sad expression. "You should go check on your father."
"Our father," he retorted.
"No," I snapped, drawing attention to us. Why was this bothering me so much when I never cared before if Morris was my father? "Don't be naive, Beau. We were provided with the truth tonight."
"Bullshit." He was in denial.
I could relate. I didn't want this to real, but the surety in Tobias's eyes gave me reason to doubt I might be his daughter. In addition, looking at Monster as my twin wasn't hard. When I looked closer at him some features correlated with Charlotte's- especially the green orbs he stared down at me with tonight.
I will never forget them, because those were mother's eyes.
I finally lifted my head to look at him. That was a mistake. It broke me a little inside to see Beau so distraught and lost. Tobias's claim as my father seemed to have thrown him off, because now he would see vengeance against me was never his to distribute.
"Don't make this harder than it needs to be. You saw his eyes. You saw the way Morris reacted to the mention of my mother's sister being your mother. Deep down you know he is right."
A throat cleared and we looked to a slim man in a suit and badge clipped above his right breast. It was the young man who tried to preclude the boys from bypassing officers to get into the room. He appeared awkward, running a nervous hand through a thick patch of black locks. "Excuse the interruption. I am the new Chief of King County. I have been assigned to the case in replace of Charlie."
Charlie was suppose to be dead. The police had no knowledge of their former Sheriff's betrayal, nor the relationship he harvested for my father: a renowned murderer possibly responsible for Charlotte Moon's death as well as the unknown dead boy, Jonah Treehouse.
Could that mean Jonah was the boy I met at the cemetery instead of Charlie, and somehow my mind mixed up their deaths? Then again my ghost boy wore the uniform of a Sheriff. How did those cancel each other out if Jonah had been dead for quite some time prior to Charlie's funeral?
"You may call me, Sheriff Burke."
Sheriff Burke steered in the direction in which one of his deputies called, guiding a small form into the ballroom with a map of curly blonde hair.
"Atticus!" Ridley pushed out of his seat to embrace his little brother.
Groggy, the boy wiped at his eyes. "Ridley?"
Ridley grabbed his brother's face, studying for any signs of harm. When he saw into the dilated blue hues rage took over. "They fucking drugged him!"
"Bring him to van," the female medic advised, prepared to escort them out. "We can look over him and take precautions to make sure the toxins have no side effects or possible internal damage."
"You should come with us as well," said the male medic to me.
"No!" Ridley protested.
The group stared at him with question marks in their eyes, but I knew better.
He didn't want me to come. He was either afraid for Atticus or the knowledge that Tobias Carroll might be my father was making him act this way. I voted for the latter in consideration that Ridley didn't like me as much as the other boys.
My assumptions were proved correct as he stared me down, a protective arm wrapped around his little brother. "She stays here. I do not want her anywhere near Atticus. I don't trust her not to harm him."
A prickle of pain sprouted in my chest, like a small seed setting roots in soil. The process was slow, but his words cut at places in my heart I hadn't thought to feel until recently with these boys. But now that Ridley knew the secret of my real father and twin brother things were sure to cause a rift between us.
Not like our relationship was stable before this.
"Why the fuck not?" Hansel gave his best friend a hard stare.
Ridley glared back. "I do not have to explain myself to you. Or anyone else for that matter. She can get treated here, but she will not come with us." And he whirled, stomping away with Atticus at his side and a dumbfounded paramedic lost to what transpired between Ridley and I just then.
I couldn't blame her. I was just as taken aback as her.
"I'll take care of you-"
"I'm fine," I rejected the male paramedic. "Thank you, but I don't need your bandages and antiseptic. I'm not injured much. Just a scratch."
"Be that as it may, you will have to come down to the station, miss Monroe," said the new Chief. "I need all your statements."
"And then I can return to my dorm?"
He nodded. "I will take you there personally."
"No." Morris entered the conversation with a cotton pad and white wraps on his forehead and hands. "I'm her guardian. I'll do it."
I stared up at the man I once thought to be a father who abandoned me. After tonight that ideal no longer held meaning, however, I now understood why Morris left all those years ago. Why he took Beau and left me behind?
It was because he knew.
He knew this whole time I had never been his daughter.
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