THE CAR RIDE TO RAVEN OAK PREP felt more suffocating than the altercation we endured with Tobias and Monster combined. The air was stuffed with a tense stalemate that could easily be cut with a knife. I didn't want to make a sound, because I felt if I did it might trigger an unnecessary conversation between me and Morris and Beau who sat silently in front of me.
The limo pulled to a rest minutes later. For seconds no one moved, poised in dead silence which threatened to swallow us whole.
God, this was torture.
"We need to talk," Morris finally spoke up.
I bit my lip.
I dreaded doing just that. I didn't want to talk. I needed space, and my attic suited the perfect excuse for me to hide in this situation.
I had a lock. No one could disturb unless I let them in.
"We have nothing to discuss," I replied.
"We have lots to discuss. You will not deny me the chance to explain-"
"Explain what?" I met his gaze, regretfully, and tried to keep the anger from being unleashed upon him despite my defense wanting to lash. "Tobias beat you at that tonight. What more truths do you have to unleash upon me other than the fact that I have never been your daughter?!"
Morris flinched as if I hurt him. Good. Maybe he will look back and face the mistake he could have avoided sooner if I was told the truth. He was not my birth father. Beau was born from a different mother- Charlotte's sister of all people -therefore his relation to me stole the title as my cousin; not my brother.
How did he not expect me to be upset?
"We were going to tell you," he said, guilt written all over his face. "Lottie thought we should wait until the time was more safe and you were older to understand."
Wait? Until I was older?
"What?" He sounded confused.
I balled my fists and forced them in my lap. I didn't have the strength to hold myself back if he kept talking like a wounded bird. "Don't act like you didn't have plenty of opportunities to tell me."
He nodded. "You're right. But you and I both know your mother was hard to comply with. When it came to you and Beau she was very passionate, yes, but all that became an obsession the moment she learned you had become the same as her."
"Same as her how?" I forced myself to ask.
"She has a condition most do not know of. Not even her parents. I grew up with their family, Charlotte and Maybelle, and as we got older I noticed strange occurrences whenever the two were alone. Once I even caught them speaking to nothing but air, as if someone really was there speaking back."
Chills rose the hairs on my arms and back of the neck.
"It was like that for years until her mother decided to medicate both of them. High school is when everything started to happen again and shit became complicated. Charlotte was always rambling about voices in her head." He looked pained as he reminisced on the past.
That must mean I was just like my mother.
"So Charlotte and Maybelle can communicate with the dead," I surmised.
Morris nodded. "Before I left I tried to convince your mother to see a shrink. Dr. Graves was the best available, so I recommended her to your mother just in case your delusions worsened."
"Because you felt I would turn out crazy like her."
Morris snapped back like a whip. "No. Your mother was not crazy. The trauma from her childhood haunted her, as does the death of her father. His sick advances on Maybelle and Charlotte made them unhinged. The pills they took to suppress the sight of dead people who visited them day and night didn't help like the doctors hoped either, so it was left to me and others to help them."
"Are you saying their father molested them?" I asked, my voice strained.
"Yes. Until Charlie, Tobias, Johnathan, Finn and I came over to their house the last night her father was ever seen alive."
Morris looked lost in thought. His eyes stolen by the past and the reminder of something so horrible he couldn't speak of it now. "That memory is better left alone for the meantime. As for the reason as to why I kept the truth of your father from you? I do not regret it. Tobias Carroll is capable of many things; I promise you nothing good ever comes from a man in love. Especially if that man is a Carroll."
"Then it's a good thing the man has no heart. I know what kind of monster he is. He killed two innocent students at Raven Oak Prep, or was involved in their demise."
Morris shook his head at me. "I'm afraid Tobias was not the one to kill them."
I gaped. "You believe him?" My voice rose within the small space at the back of the limo. How long have we been inside here? "He practically confessed their deaths were not an accident."
"If it is one thing I know about Tobias; he never lies. He has his motives, and killing the Treehouse boy and Finn Moon's daughter is not something he'd plan out himself. We have to consider the facts. Charlie started this the moment he chose to save Tobias all those years ago, but now that he has awoken Charlie looks to have regrets."
"Charlie is dead," I said. "There is no evidence to prove Charlie is still alive, and quite frankly I don't belive a word Tobias told me about the one man in my life who didn't abandon me."
No one can convince me otherwise Charlie is alive and an accomplice to such henious crimes.
I know him better than that. Right?
"If that is what you want to believe." Morris finally exit the vehicle, standing beside a patient Thomas outside the car door. He must be exhausted having to wait for us to end this conversation. "But recent events are suspicious to me. Now that I know Tobias has returned because of my brother; I have to assume the worst of him."
I joined him in the night with Beau at my back. The night air was fierce and unforgiving as we made our venture into the beautiful gardens in front of the school. Back up lights illuminated all corners with a silver-white attention, and crickets chirped in the far distance of shadowed evergreens.
The single fountain up front stole the air in a musical rhhythm, which provided a break from the tense silence we expirienced at the back of Morris's expensive SUV he traded his limosine in for after we were attacked by Monster at the cabin in Montana.
The cabin where Charlie died.
I never should have let uncle talk me into coming here. Now he was gone and I was left more dumfounded than when I arrived. I mean...who can I trust and who do I have to keep aware of?
"So you do believe Tobias is telling the truth," I said, suddenly irate. "What about his accusation that Charlie faked his death, and knew about Tobias this whole time?"
Morris rubbed the side of his wound, gritting his teeth against the pain evident on his face. "I can't rule out the possibility Charlie may be involved in all this."
"But Charlie is your brother!"
Morris whirled on me. "Even more reason for me not to trust him. I lived with him for seventeen years to know he has never been as honest about himself. He secluded from people until Charlotte. She pulled him out of his shadows. Do you think I want my brother to be the cause of all this shit?"
That made two of us.
I tried to think it over some more. "Charlie would never do something this stupid. He became the Sheriff because he looked up to you. What reason could he possibly have to want to join Tobias and Monster in tormenting me? Cassidy already confessed she was responsible for Jonah. Maybe she killed Charlotte Moon too?"
"You're overanalyzing the context because you don't want Charlie to be a killer. I understand, but you have to accept the truth."
"He has a point," said Blue. She glided up to my side, as dead as the first time I saw her with Pink and Moss wandering around us like two chickens without a head. "Your feelings for your uncle are clouding your judgement for what is clear."
"Nothing is clear," I growled over at her.
Blue raised a bloodied and wet brow at me. "You do not believe that statement yourself. Do not lie to me."
Pink popped her head from behind Blue's shoulder and looked at me warily. "Try to be reasonable, Madelyn. Some part of you must feel your uncle has been suspicious. You could be wrong."
I do have doubts. Since Tobias announced he was alive a part of me started to see the past events entirely different than I had before. For instance each murder contained a riddle with my favorite poets or books I was read to as a child.
Mom was the one to read them to me before bed because they were her favorite.
I inhaled. Calmed to clear the red mist fallen over my eyes. "Even so. If I do doubt him....why torment me and play along with Tobias?"
I balled my fists together, the edge of my nails cutting into my skin. The pain hurt, but it grounded me from letting my emotions get the best of me right now. I needed to stop another episode reoccuring and with it this horrible anxiety of mine.
"I asked your boyfriends to figure that part out."
I looked up, shocked at what Morris admitted. "What boyfriends?" I defended.
He gave me a fatherly look and heat rose in my cheeks. "Did you really believe me to be insolent? I noticed the way those boys ran towards you. For someone with expirience in that department I know what those looks mean. You're involved with them whether you want to admit it to me or not."
I crossed my arms to deflect from the amusement in his gaze. "None of us are involved."
Morris shrugged, a sly curve at the corner of his lips lifting. "Yet. As long as you make to sure to tell them you can speak to the dead before you decide take it further."
Beau cleared his throat. "It's late. We're all exhausted. I suggest we get some rest and talk this somewhere private, and not about Madelyn's nonexsistent rerlationship with my best friends."
Morris rasied a brow to his son. "It exists as much as yours does with-"
"Okay," he interrupted, quick to deflect the subject.
Now was my chance to ask. "How long have you known? About the ghosts?"
"Since your time in the institution," Morris admitted. "The nurse notified me what had happened. She also said you were often seen talking to yourself, but no one would be there."
Wait. "So you did visit me?"
He nodded. "You are still my daughter. Even if it is not by me. I have always considered you one of mine." His pocket beeped and he immediately fished it out. "I have things to discuss with my P.R and campaign manager before the Sheriff's public announcement. I will have both agents watch over you both-"
"Not me." He stared down at me."I don't want more people dead, because you want to protect me from my psychotic family. It won't do any good. Look what happened last time."
With a huff he relented, "Fine. But only for tonight."
I rolled my eyes. He was hard one to argue with that at times it reminded me of mother. "Fine," I relented.
He returned to his car and as it pulled into the night I started for the school.
"Madelyn!" Beau called after me once we were past the main hallway.
"Leave me alone," I threw over my shoulder.
"Wait." He kept following. "At least talk to me. I'm still your family."
I turned so fast he skidded to keep from running into me. "I don't want to talk. I just want to take a shower and go to bed. Please just give me that for now. We may still be family, but after everything that happened tonight I need a break from that too."
"Do you not trust me?" he accused.
"I don't know who to trust," I answered truthfully. As I said the words they never felt more true in that moment to me than anything else in my life, and although Beau wanted to continue pressing he kept quiet. "This isn't over. Sooner or later Monster and Tobias will come back. I don't think you or the Sparrows should be around when that happens. They won't hesitate to kill you."
"Not with me around. I won't let them have you."
"It's not about having me. This is no longer about who killed Charlotte. We know she is. If Tobias and Monster are right...." I swallowed to get the words out "...then I have to do this on my own."
"No you don't!"
"Yes," I snapped back. "To keep you alive and not risk anyone else I care about. This is my problem. Charlotte was never your burden to shoulder on. We just had no idea she was not your mother."
Beau stepped up to me, a hand cupping the back of my head as blue eyes glassed over. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have treated you like that; sister or not. I was stupid, but the truth was I missed you both."
I smiled small, tears threatening the corners of both sockets. In the sudden moment I allowed him to console me, leaning my head upon his and reminiscing memories from our childhood when I did believe he was my brother.
"I didn't know how much I wanted you back in my life until I pushed you off that cliff."
I forced myself to pull back and pushed him with a hand to his chest, weakly.
"You should have let me drown. If you had none of this would have happened, but as pitiful as that sounds I'm grateful Phoenix saved me. Now I am closer to what I have wanted since that night everything turned upside down."
This time when I walked away- he stayed.
I kind of feel for Beau in this chapter. How about you? Do you think Madelyn can trust him? What do you think happened to her grandfather at Charlotte's house all those years ago? Is there more secrets to explore?
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Next chapter will be up tomorrow. I will frequently post two chapters Saturday and Sunday so stay up to date!