The fall of our secrets

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Chapter2

Hello Everyone! Here is a new chapter, I hope you will love.

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“How can the dead be truly dead when they still live in the souls of those who are left behind?”

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers, author

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Ethan:

The moment I opened my eyes, the lights blinded me, and I groaned as my head throbbed painfully.

I heard movement beside my bed, and a few moments later, the lights were dimmed, and I piled my eyes open.

“How are you, kiddo?” Uncle Jasper asked from his chair beside my bed.

“My head is killing me. I feel like someone had hit me with a hammer or something heavy.” I coughed and clutched my temples.

“Here,” Jasper gave me a glass of water, and I drank it greedily. “I will go and call Edward, so he can give you some painkillers.”

Moments later, Uncle Edward entered the room and injected me with some medicine. I felt relief immediately, and I could focus again on my surroundings.

“What happened?” I asked my uncles.

“Don’t you remember?” Uncle Jasper asked.

I tried to focus on the events of today, but my mind was blank. I shook my head and sighed in frustration.

“Go back to sleep, don’t exert yourself. At the moment, you need to rest.” Uncle Edward advised.

Before I could protest, I felt my eyes getting heavy, and soon enough, the darkness consumed me again.

*****************

This time when I woke up, the room was pitch black. With a groan, I sat up in my bed and reached over to turn on the lamp on my bedside table.

The Shimmering light illuminated the room, and I realised it was empty. I sat still for a few moments trying to focus on my breathing. I needed to remember what happened today, and why I was in a hospital bed.

As if hit by a speeding truck, the memories started flashing in my mind. I gasped in shock, and without another thought, I ripped off the tubes connected to my arms and got up from the bed.

It was a wrong move on my part because as soon as my feet hit the floor, I felt dizzy and disoriented. It took me several seconds to steady my swaying body.

I moved slowly to the door and opened it to find two of our guards standing there.

“Good evening sir, where are you going?” One of them asked.

I raised an eyebrow and tilted my head to the side, since when my guards were interested in my whereabouts.

“I want to see Jasper, is there something wrong?” I said coldly.

They looked nervous and tried to avoid my gaze. My patience was running thin, and I couldn’t afford standing here, wasting my time on those morons.

Apparently, my look was enough for them to collect their wits and answer my question.

“We are sorry, sir. But we are under orders to keep you in your room.” At the murderous look that graced my face, the guard with the sunglasses added hastily, “We can always go and call your Uncle for you.”

I wasn’t in the mood to argue with anyone, and if my father was the one who gave the orders, then those two won’t budge even if I threatened their lives.

“Yes, call him for me,” I ordered and went back to my bed.

It didn’t take long for Jasper to come to my room. I sat straight on my bed and watched as he leaned against the wall and crossed his arms.

“I remember what happened,” I whispered.

“You are stubborn, and here is the result,” Jasper spoke sternly.

“Did he escape?” I asked, ignoring his admonishment.

“What do you think?” He asked with a raised eyebrow.

I closed my eyes and cursed under my breath. The bastard had escaped our Clutches, and catching him again will be hard, if not impossible.

“Who helped him? It was a very well-executed plan. One moment I was interrogating him, and the next moment, he was smirking, and Gas started enveloping the room.” I spoke out loud.

“Ethan, you do not see the point here, do you?” Jasper asked in exasperation.

“I know it is a very complicated situation, but I will do my best to catch him,” I promised sincerely.

“If you weren’t in a hospital bed, I would have punched you hard,” Jasper growled. “Your father is torn between caring about your mother, little brother, and you added to this situation by your foolish actions. You have even involved your best friend in this mess.”

A sudden realisation hit me hard, Enzo was with me when the bastards tricked us. He even passed out before me. I still remember his limp body on the ground.

“Is Enzo okay?” I chocked out the words.

Jasper shook his head, and his hard blue eyes softened a bit. He sat on the chair beside my bed.

“He woke up an hour before you did. He has the same symptoms you are suffering. I think he will be okay by tomorrow morning.” Jasper said with sympathy. I sighed in relief and dropped my head on the pillows behind me.

“How are Hunter and Mom?” I asked the question I wished I can avoid as much as possible but knew it would be impossible.

Jasper clasped my hand and rubbed my fingers gently. My uncle was showing a rare side to his personality. The man was always hard and impassive, but the fact he was showing sympathy scared me beyond imagination. It meant the situation was worst than my worst expectations.

“Unfortunately, your mother has entered a coma, and it is unknown when she will wake up.” At the look of shock that passed my face, he added quickly. “As for Hunter, they were able to stabilize his condition. It is a matter of time before he wakes up.”

His words were like a knife stabbing me in the heart. Losing Lena, and now, my mother’s condition was critical. I didn’t know how I will cope with all of these events at once.

“I want to see Hunter,” I told my uncle, the mere thought of my little brother injured was more than I can take

“Your father is there,” Jasper said apologetically.

I nearly laughed at the expression on my uncle’s face. He was terrified at the idea of me facing the wrath of Dad. And to be honest, I should be frightened as well.

“I will go and see him. I don’t care Dad is in there,” I said and started getting up from the bed.

“When will you stop being so stubborn,” Jasper muttered under his breath, but he clasped my arm and helped me anyway.

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With every step I walked down the corridor, I could feel my heartbeats increasing. We paused outside a closed-door, and with my hands shaking, I knocked once and opened the door.

My father, who was running his hand through Hunter’s hair, paused his movements and looked up.

I swallowed hard as he got up from his chair and stalked towards me. It took all my resolve to stay standing in the same spot and not sprint to the door as he stood in front of me.

“How are you?” My father asked with concern in his voice, which was contradicting the hard look in his blue orbs.

“I am fine,” I whispered, then, my eyes landed on Hunter lying on the bed with his body hooked up to several machines. My father followed my gaze and shook his head.

“Edward said he is stable, but I won’t be convinced until he opens his eyes.” My father didn’t move his gaze from Hunter’s small body.

“How could he do this? We trusted him with our lives, and he stabbed us in the back. Alberto? I never suspected him.” I spoke my thoughts.

“And since when traitors wear budges of identification?” Father asked with a raised eyebrow, looking at me once again.

“What will we do next?” I went to Hunter’s side and caressed his cheek gently.

“There is no ‘we’ in the matter, Ethan. I will be the one to catch the bastard and kill him. You are not involved from now on.” Father said with finality in his voice.

“What? You can’t exclude me from this. It is my revenge as much as it is yours. They killed my sister and hurt my family. As long as I am breathing, I won’t allow Alberto and his little followers to live peacefully .” I made sure to keep eye contact with my father while I spoke the words.

“And how do you plan to do that? Will you go head first and expose yourself to your enemies, huh?” Dad said harshly.

“Today was a mistake. I was blindfolded by rage, and I wanted to kill him with my bare hands.” I tried desperately to show him my point.

I watched as Father’s jaw clenched, and he gritted his teeth in anger. He came closer to me and reached over to clasp my jaw in his hand.

“Today, I lost a lot of the things that keep me sane. You know, I used to joke with your mother and tell her that the four of you are my sanity. But in reality, I wasn`t joking. It is the truth. I already lost half my sanity, and I am hardly keeping the other half intact. I don’t want to lose you as well. In other words, I won’t allow you to lose yourself. New York is going to war before my bloodthirst is satisfied. But you, my boy, won`t be a part of the chaos.”

I snorted at Dad’s words and shook my jaw free from his grip. “So, I will be the little boy who sits idly and watch the show. How about the whole speech of leadership, power, and revenge, isn’t our mission in life to protect the family?” I asked, feeling anger bubbling in my stomach.

“This is not your revenge, it is mine, and I won`t allow anyone to take it away from me, even if it is you. I will stand in your way, Ethan.” My father`s words were like stinging slaps to my face. I took two steps away from him and looked closely at his stony face.

“They are my family too, and it is my responsibility to avenge them as well. Do you think I am not strong enough to fight beside you?” I defended weakly since I knew that my father`s mind was set, and he would never change it no matter what.

I was surprised when Dad burst into a fit of humorless laughter. “I don`t want you to fight beside me because I think you are the only one who can help Hunter pass this difficult period. I am not in the right mindset to be by his side.”

It was my turn to laugh. I wiped a fake tear from my eyes and spoke in a frigid tone. “Making up excuses isn`t your forte, Dad. I am not two years old, who can be convinced this easily. It is either taking revenge, or I am leaving the United States forever.”

“Since you know I am not good at making excuses, I think you know as well that I don`t take any ultimatums. My decision is final, and you are free to make yours.”

I didn`t wait for any more nonsense from my father and left the room, barely keeping myself from slapping the door behind me.

I decided to go and visit Enzo. I opened the door soundlessly in case he was sleeping and entered his room.

“Your Ninja skills are improving,” My best friend`s voice startled me, and I turned to glare at him.”

“And I see you are well enough to crack useless jokes,” I shot back.

His grey eyes twinkled, and he smiled at me. I sat on the chair beside his bed and asked. “How are you?”

“Apart from a massive headache, I am fine,” Then, his look darkened, and he said angrily. “They won against us. It is the first time we are outdone by some idiots.”

“I know, but it will be rectified soon,” I said darkly.

“I never suspected your Father`s cruelty. He will burn them down, and I am delighted we are a part of it.”

I nearly laughed at his words, I didn`t know what was wrong with me, but I was pretty sure my mental health was at its lowest, “My father wants me out of the whole thing. And to make it bitter, he played Hunter`s card against me. I can`t believe this. He thinks I will back out from this, but he has another thing coming.”

“You know your father`s words are the law. You can’t move without his approval.” Enzo spoke tentatively as if I would explode in his face.

“I gave him an ultimatum, and he can choose whichever option he wants,” I said with resolve in my voice.

“And do you plan to carry it out?” Enzo asked.

“Yes,” was my one-worded answer.

“Just know that I will always have your back, no matter what you decide.”

I smiled at my friend and nodded my head. It was moments like this that I appreciate our friendship and Enzo`s blind loyalty. He was always there for me, and we plan to stay like this forever.

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Five days later, I woke up at seven in the morning. I walked to the bathroom, took a quick shower, and changed into a black suit.

My movements were fast and precise. It was like I was assembling a very complicated machine. I grabbed my car`s keys and went to the garage. I found Lillian leaning against my car. She was wearing a modest black dress, and her hair was in a high ponytail.

“Good morning Ethan, how are you doing today?” She asked and waited for me to open the car before she got inside and sat in the passenger seat.

I took the driver`s seat and started the engine. I looked at my cousin, who had dark circles under her eyes. Her usually bright face was dull, and sadness dominated her features.

“To be honest, I don`t know,” I answered her question and focused back on the road.

“You didn`t come downstairs yesterday. Dad wanted you with us, but Jackson convinced him you need some alone time.” Lillian said conversationally.

I winced at her words. These past days, I took residence in my uncle’s home. I couldn`t bring myself to step a foot in our mansion. It was impossible to picture our house empty and shallow after it was full of life and energy.

“I am sorry for bothering you. I will just sort out the chaos inside my head, and then, I will move on.”

Lillian didn`t comment on my words. Instead, she reached over and clasped my cold hand in her warm one. Her gesture was enough for me to know that my family had my back.

In no time, I pulled in the hospital`s park, and along with Lillian, went to Hunter`s room. I watched as Lillian fussed over him and helped him wear his suit. He still got bandages around his torso and head, but he was okay, and the doctor cleared him for today’s event. I leaned against the wall and waited until my little brother was ready.

Normally, he would never accept anyone’s help in a trivial matter like dressing, but his arm and chest were still heavily bandaged, and he didn’t have a choice.

Once Hunter was wearing his suit and ready to go, I stretched my fist towards him, and he bumped it wordlessly. The little gesture meant a lot to me. It was the first time since he woke up I saw him respond to any attempt of contact.

I longed to hear him speak and laugh as usual, but I knew he wasn`t ready for it yet. He was in trauma, and until now, he couldn`t comprehend what happened. Mom`s complicated health condition didn`t help at all.

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Before this day, I always hated funerals and goodbye moments. You don`t know what to do, or the right words to say. It was a struggle I had better avoid. But today, there were no words that can explain my feelings.

Today, I must be here. There was no place for me, but here besides my family. I stood next to my father, with my little brother taking the last place in our small row. We were standing on a very large auditorium with Lena`s casket positioned to the right side.

I could see members of my family sitting at the front row. I caught Lillian`s eyes, and she tried to smile through the tears running down her face. I nodded her way to let her know I appreciate her support.

After that, everything was a blur. People shaking our hands and expressing their sympathy. while others looked grim, and they acted as if they were forced to attend.

Then, the moment I hated the most came, I waited until Dad finished his short speech and took back his place. I tested the microphone a few times, gaining in the process a few moments to gather my thoughts and formulate my words.

“Five days ago, Lena was happy and bouncing on her heels in excitement to go to Disneyland. She didn`t have a care in the world. All her thoughts were on the fun she was supposed to have. She didn’t know it was her last day on this earth. She never suspected the man protecting her to be a wolf in sheep’s cloth. My sister had paid the price for something she never committed.” I cleared my throat and continued.

“Today, I and my family are saying goodbye to our sunshine. Lena is gone, and she won`t come back, but there is something I would like to say in front of all of you. I promise my little sister and my brother that no one is allowed to separate us. As long as I am breathing, I will never let any traitor rip my family from me again.”

I finished my words and tried to ignore the pain in my chest. I never anticipated speaking in funerals, let alone talk at my sister’s.

I looked at Hunter and motioned the microphone, but he just shook his head and looked at Lena`s casket with an emotionless face.

I sighed and put the microphone down. I went back to my position between my father and little brother. Others took the stage and spoke a few words about my late sister. But to be honest, what do you have to say about a four years old girl? She was the sweetest girl on the planet, and there were no words that can do her justice.

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Standing in front of Lena`s casket was too much for me. It was time for us to look at her for the last time. Her fair hair was shining in the sun’s light, and her face was as bright as ever. It was as if she was just taking a nap and would wake up soon. I longed to see her big doe blue eyes; they were the bluest I had ever seen in my life.

They were the same color as my father and Hunter, but they were different at the same time. It was nearly unbearable to think I will never see them again. I reached over, and with trembling hands, touched her silky hair. With a last kiss to her cold forehead, I moved away to let Hunter have his last moments with Lena.

Hunter was a strange kid. He didn`t display any emotions. He leaned over and whispered something near Lean`s ear, then with the same impassive look on his face, came to stand next to me.

We waited until our close family took a last look at my sister before the burial ceremony started. It didn`t last long before Lena`s body disappeared under the ground. I took a fistful of soil and threw it at her now, closed casket.

Soon enough, there was no one around us apart from Grandmother, who was patting Dad`s shoulders comfortingly.

I clutched Hunter`s hand in mine and squeezed strongly. I knew my brother wanted to keep his strong façade, and I wasn`t going to shatter his efforts.

*****************

Upon returning home, Hunter headed to his room without a single word. While Dad took the stairs, probably to his room. I sat on the sofa in the living room, and I stared at the wall in front of me.

The house was quiet, too quiet in my opinion. Even the usual rustle in the kitchen was absent since Father gave the housekeeper indefinite holiday time.

Now, I can understand scenes in movies where the hero sits quietly and shadows from the past play in front of him. Here from my spot, I could remember moments from our childhood, when we were little kids who didn`t care about a thing in the world.

Lena`s tiny body in my hands as she and Mom came back from the hospital after her birth. I chuckled as I remembered the prominent scowl that took over Hunter`s face as he thought Lena would take his place in the family. He even packed his things and decided to move out of the house.

Lena`s first steps came next. She was a chubby toddler padding on the carpet and barely holding her balance. This time though, Hunter was by her side holding her hands, and making sure she didn`t fall.

“Dada” was the first word my sister said. Dad was ecstatic, and it was hilarious to see a mafia boss nearly crying from joy because his two years old daughter called him Dad.

The days that followed her first words were spent in me and Hunter teaching her to say our names. It was funny how Lena just looked at us with a cute confused look on her face. Mom just laughed at our antics. She was so happy to see her family blossoming before her eyes.

Memories after memories invaded my mind. They were like a hurricane destroying every resolve I built in these past days. I couldn`t imagine life without Lena. I felt my heart aching, and breathing was so hard I start hyperventilating.

I felt a strong hand on my shoulder, shaking me hard. I heard words as well, but my mind couldn`t decipher them.

“Ethan, breathe with me. Try and imitate my breathing.” I realised my father was speaking to me, and I tried to focus on his moving lips. Slowly, I began regaining my breathing and control my racing heart.

“Are you okay?” Dad asked after a few minutes.

“Yes, I am fine,” I assured my father and accepted the glass of water he offered me.

We stayed in silence for a long time, each one of us in his thoughts.

“How will we live here after today? The place is full of memories. I don`t know if I can stand it. It is suffocating.” I spoke into space.

“We will move out tomorrow morning. I ordered the house staff to prepare the other mansion for us.” Dad answered my question.

“Hunter is not doing well. He shut down, and I am worried about him.” I spoke about my concerns.

“How about you, how are you doing?” I smiled at my father`s words and shook my head. Leave it to Dad to answering a question with another one.

“There is a fire burning my insides. I won`t rest until I see the culprits rolling in their graves. I want revenge, and no one will stop me from taking it.” I expressed my feelings honestly.

“What if I said I will stop you from doing it?” My father said with an arched eyebrow.

“Dad, I gave you my decision five days ago. It is either letting me be a part of this revenge, or I am gone.” I spoke calmly.

When my father didn`t say another word, I nodded at him and rose from my seat on the sofa.

“Good night,” I said dryly and headed for my bedroom to spend a sleepless night.

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When you lose someone dear to your heart, then only you will understand the feeling of walking and talking like a dead man. The week after Lena`s death was the hardest week of my life.

I spent it between ignoring my Dad, trying to reach out to my brother and bring him back from the dark place he chose as a new home and visiting my Mom, whose condition was stable but didn`t improve.

It was the day I was leaving for Switzerland. I couldn’t take it anymore, my father was destroying New York and anyone related to Alberto, and I was always on the sideline. He never let me be a part of any of his operations. He even went so far and appointed bodyguards to follow me wherever I go.

I was at the airport waiting for my flight when I saw Lillian, with two heavy bags trailing behind her, coming my way. I looked at her with my mouth hanging open.

“Don`t be surprised, cousin. I am never leaving you alone.” She said with a smile on her face.

“What?” I asked dumbfounded.

“Such a gentleman! Aren’t you going to help me with my luggage?” Lillian asked sarcastically.

I shook my head at her and took the two bags. We sat together, and I was dying to ask her a lot of questions, but knowing her, I was sure she won`t answer any of them.

In no time our flight was announced, and we moved towards the plane doors. Before I entered the plane, a voice stopped me in my tracks.

I turned around and saw Hunter running towards me. I was shocked when I saw him standing in front of me, trying to catch his breath.

I left him a letter today before I came to the airport, and I thought he will be okay with my explanation.

“Why are you leaving?” His question brought me back to reality.

“I explained everything in the letter I left at your desk in the morning. Did you read it?” I asked.

“Is it enough reason for you to leave me?” My twelve years old brother caught me off guard with his question. These past days he was so distant and cold, I thought he would never need me again. Heck, It was the first time I heard his voice since the accident. It was a shock to me, and I remained speechless.

Hunter took my silence as an affirmative answer. He shook his head and said in a disappointed voice, “I see, have a safe trip.”

I watched as he turned back and started walking away.

“Aren`t you coming?” Lillian peeked from the door and looked at me in confusion.

I paused for a moment and asked myself, was my leaving worth it? My mind and soul at the moment, shouted: ”Yes, it is worth it."

“Yes, I am coming,” I answered Lillian.

I glanced back and saw my brother disappearing in the crowd. I would never forget the defeated haunch of his shoulders or the broken look in his eyes. This day, I knew I lost my brother. Nothing will be the same after today.

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Ethan: "Your comments and reviews will cheer me up."

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