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Chapter 17 : Caleb

Chapter 17 : Caleb
Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

Something is extremely off right now, and even I can’t figure it out.

Madelyn’s so-called dad is named Tobias Lee Adams, and ever since I saw those tears falling down her cheeks yesterday, I’ve used every source available to find this man.

Something is very very off, because as far as the world knows, Tobias Adams doesn’t even exist.

Under other circumstances, this wouldn’t have been a huge deal. Lord knows I’ve seen crazier things happen, but what I can’t wrap my head around, is that there is no trace of either of Madelyn’s parents ever being born.

No birth certificate, no social media, nothing.

I doubt Madelyn is aware of this, and in all honesty, I’m not sure I want her to.

Yesterday, once the tears staining her face ceased, she sat down and told me a lot about her father. How he went missing, and how she was sure this was his way of saying he was safe without revealing himself to the many enemies he’s made over the years.

But I don’t know how to tell Madelyn that her parents have been lying about their identity to her her entire life.

I could see how just one smell brought her the peace of mind she’s been searching for during the last six months of her life.

I don’t want to be the one to take that away from her, especially if I can figure out what the hell is going on first.

Xavier didn’t say anything when I told him about this discovery and Alec simply provided his two cents where he could.

There were much better sources higher up, but we can’t risk Xavier’s dad finding out about Madelyn or her family.

I’m quickly growing protective of her, and it is becoming a dangerous weakness for me. For all of us.

I can tell Alec has become attached especially.

Madelyn was asleep during this conversation, but after Alec put her in one of our guestrooms a few nights ago, we had the realest conversation we’ve ever had.

It was short, but he said he was scared. I’ve never once heard Alec Sawyer admit he was fearful about something until that night.

When I asked what he was afraid of, he merely responded, “To feel again.”

That was the end of our conversation, but I saw in his eyes the relentless emotion battling inside of his head.

Madelyn had kissed him, and I know he didn’t take that lightly.

None of us did, which is why I’m so intent on trying to figure out this puzzle for her.

Madelyn made it very clear her concern was never that her father left, but the possibility of him never returning.

I can understand that, but it’s also clear there’s a lot she doesn’t know about her family.

After hearing about the town she grew up in, I’m not surprised her father may have messed with the wrong people and needed to flee, but even then, it takes a lot of money and power to fake your identities and remain entirely unnoticed by more than one professional investigator.

I should be able to find him, but I haven’t and that’s what’s throwing me off the most.

The one person I was able to find however, was Madelyn’s step father.

From just one glance, I can already tell he’s a real piece of work.

His criminal record is lengthy, only beginning with physical assault, vandalism, breaking and entering, and theft of motor vehicle parts.

That’s just the start.

He’s been married three times and divorced twice, currently wedded to Madelyn’s mom who still goes by the name of Heidi Adams, despite remarrying.

Following his trail, I was able to find his and Heidi’s marriage certificate, and then Heidi and Tobias’, but from there, I came up blank.

I didn’t get much sleep last night, and I’m sure it shows, but I only force my eyes away from my computer at the sound of my office door opening.

Turning, I see Xavier walk in with a satisfied look on his face.

“I’m guessing things went well then?” I assume.

This only causes the expression to grow wider.

“I sent the twins out,” He says pulling up a clip on his phone, “It was a truly horrible accident.”

Looking down, I see video footage of Noah Wright walking out of the door leading into his garage. I watch as he walks down the three steps before moving to open the door of his car.

Just as his right arm reaches out for the handle, one of the shelves screwed into the roof above him breaks free and comes crashing down on his limb.

The next ten seconds of the video are of him screaming out in pain, clutching his now shattered arm in his remaining hand.

How the twins—our base’s assassins—managed to precisely get that shelf to drop onto Noah’s arm and car and nothing else is a mystery to me, but I don’t question their work.

Seeing that the video ends, I hand Xavier back his phone, more than pleased with the outcome.

I hadn’t forgotten for a second his actions towards Madelyn, so I made sure to do my research thoroughly before jumping ahead.

I found that Noah is currently working as a high ranking Police Officer at one of the stations in the city.

After a lot of digging, I discovered he was just recently accepted as a candidate for the major crimes unit, something he’s been working towards since he first started police training.

The standards are extremely high to become a homicide detective and having a shattered arm will put him in recovery for about twelve weeks with a cast. After that, it may take an additional month until he’s fully capable of using his arm again.

Let’s just say that he can say goodbye to achieving that dream any time soon.

He’ll have to wait for another opening, which—if my research is correct—probably won’t be for a while.

Compared to some of the other things we’ve done, this is highly merciful on our ends.

I don’t feel bad for a second.

“You need to take a break.” Xavier says, glancing over my tired state.

He’s not wrong, but I want to know what the fuck is going on with Madelyn’s family.

Talking to her to get more information is the easiest idea, but I don’t want to sit in a room with her and lie to her face the entire time.

She doesn’t deserve that, and I refuse to be that person.

Sighing, I rub a hand down my face.

“Are we going to tell her?” I ask, powering off my computer.

Xavier is silent for a moment as if debating my question himself.

“Yes.” He finally decides, “She deserves to determine what she can and cannot handle. It’s her choice.” He finishes, and I simply nod my head in response.

“I’ll call Hailey and find out where Madelyn is, so we can tell her in person.” I say, retrieving my phone from my pocket.

Xavier doesn’t wait, leaving me to it on my own.

Having her number memorized, I dial it and wait as it rings three times before I get an answer.

“I was wondering when you’d call to check in.” Hailey’s voice answers on the other end.

“Hello to you too.” I joke at her ever so welcoming greeting.

She just gives a small laugh.

“Madelyn’s not home right now if that’s who you’re looking for.” She says, cutting right through my bullshit.

Works for me.

“And where exactly could I find said person?” I ask, earning myself a sigh from her line.

“Do you even know what you’re doing?” She counters, not giving me an answer.

“Weren’t you the one who purposely sent Madelyn back home with us the other night?”

“That was before someone broke into my house, which might I add, is likely linked to you assholes in some way.”

“We know what we’re doing. Madelyn will always be safe with us.” I promise.

She just hums.

“So... are you going to tell me where she is now?” I ask.

“Nope. She could use some normal time on her own, but if you can find her some other way then I can’t control that.” She says, and after that, Hailey hangs up the phone realizing that’s all I called her for.

Great.

I have to think for a moment, but since Hailey said she needs normalcy, there’s only one place out of the house I can think of as to where she’d be.

Looks like we’re going to be visiting Jolene soon as well.

______

I don’t think Jolene’s very happy to see us.

Like she did with Noah, the three of us are currently stuck outside with a highly displeased cafe owner.

“I thought I told you to keep her out of your shit.” She rounds to me with her arms crossed.

Yup, definitely unhappy.

“We know, but you know how things are in our world. At least she’s under our protection when she’s with us.” I defend.

I don’t think my words calmed her though.

“We just came here to talk. Something weird is going on with Madelyn’s family and—”

“Don’t you think I know that.” Jolene interrupts, “That girl has been through hell her entire childhood, but every time I say anything that remotely touches the subject, she brushes it off and changes the subject with a smile like nothing’s wrong.”

“We just need to talk—”

“No. Everyone around you three eventually ends up hurt or dead.” Jolene protested, and I can tell her words are coming from a place of concern. “This—”

“How about instead of discussing Madelyn’s life for her, we go in and let her decide what she thinks?” Xavier cuts in and I can tell this conversation has not settled well with him.

“I have very quickly come to love that girl like family. You know how protective I am of family.” Jolene defends, looking at Alec for the second half.

“We understand that, but she has a right to know. Keeping her in the dark about this only hurts her.” Alec explains, keeping his voice calm.

I can see that Jolene’s every word is driven by wanting to help Madelyn, but we’re going to talk to her at some point either way.

After a long pause, Jolene opens the glass door to the cafe with a sigh, giving us all a look in before moving behind the counter.

Considering it’s most people’s lunch break right about now, the cafe is extremely busy.

But despite this, when I step around the large line of customers, I see Madelyn taking up one of the largest booths here.

I can guarantee it was Jolene who placed her there too.

Her hair is tied up in a low ponytail, some of the shorter cut strands falling out in random places around her face.

She just brushes them aside when need be.

The round table she’s sitting at is covered with different papers and photographs, a silver computer placed in the center in front of her.

Even though we don’t say a word, she looks up at the door and looks surprised to see us there.

When she looks at Jolene right after, I can’t help but wonder if there was a previous conversation between the two of them about us.

But then, when Jolene just shrugs at her, Madelyn actually smiles and waves us over.

Xavier is the first to move, then me, then Alec.

“What brings you guys here?” She asks when we’re standing at the head of her U-shaped booth.

“We came to see you.” Xavier responds and takes a seat beside her when she motions.

I move to the other side, Alec following me.

“Sorry about the mess. Just move anything that’s in your way.” Madelyn says, referring to the paper covered table.

“What are you working on?” I ask, glancing over at her computer to find thousands of images from the wedding loaded on there. “Ah, I see.”

“I figured I had the time, so I may as well get a head start.” She says, her focus moving back onto the image she was editing before we came in.

“We came to talk to you about your dad.” Xavier says, stealing away her attention from the screen instantly.

“Okay...” She said, with a slightly concerned tone.

Xavier then looks to me because of course I was the one to do all of the research.

Lucky me.

“I know you said he’s been missing for a while now and being who we are, we have a lot of resources available to us for finding people.” I explain and it kills me when I see hope flare in her eyes. “I looked into your father for you...”

“Were you able to find him?” She asks during a pause.

This really fucking sucks.

“I’m sorry.” Is all I’m really able to say. I instantly see that my words disappoint her, but she just tucks a loose stand of hair behind her ear and looks back at her computer.

“That’s not all.” I continue knowing I have her attention, even if she’s no longer looking at me, “During my research, I couldn’t find either your mom or dad anywhere.” I explain. “There’s no sign that either of them were ever even born.”

All three of us silently look at her when I’m done speaking, and after a few clicks on her computer, she finally flicks her head up to me.

“That doesn’t surprise me; my dad’s a really conservative guy.” She starts, “Anyways, it makes sense he’d want to hide his identity from the countless number of people he’s managed to piss off in the last fifty or so years.” She says, as if her entire family ceasing to exist isn’t a big deal.

“You’re not bothered by this?” Alec asks, and I can tell by the way he’s looking at her, he’s doing his whole mind reading mumbo jumbo.

“I was disappointed you couldn’t find my father, but I know he’s alive and hopefully well. I couldn’t care less about some hospital records.” She says, and the small nod Alec gives us shows that it was indeed the truth for her.

Not what I expected.

“Do you want any food?” She redirects, motioning to her plate full of muffins and small cut sandwiches to her right.

Considering I haven’t had anything to eat in the last thirty hours, I happily take her up on her offer of the muffin.

“Thank you.” I say, just as Alec reaches over for a sandwich slice.

Xavier only takes something when she looks up at him as if waiting for him to eat too.

Satisfied by this, her attention drops back down to her computer, and I recognize she’s using a combination of Photoshop and Lightroom to edit her images.

“How are they going?” Xavier asks after swallowing an entire half of the muffin he took in one bite.

Madelyn raises her eyebrows, surprised by his question, but then she tilts the computer slightly towards him.

Clicking the scroller, I can assume she’s going through some of the photographs with him.

He just silently observes, keeping quiet until a particular picture pops up that causes a half smile to appear on his face.

It just happens to be the one that Madelyn tries to scroll right past, but Xavier stops her.

“Pull that one back up.” He says, and reluctantly, she does so.

Twisting the computer to us, Xavier takes it and shows us the picture of himself, Hailey, Alec, and I, all with slightly stunned looks on our face at the wedding.

This was right after she found out we were the ones who killed that man and wanted to prove a point to us.

Alec and I full on laugh, and Alec makes a comment on how we should get that framed.

I honestly forgot she took that until now.

I agree with Alec. Maybe we can give it to Xavier as a present for his birthday next month.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen my friend look so caught off guard before.

“Anyways...” Madelyn says under her breath, moving on to others. “About that night, I still have a lot of questions,” She mumbles, catching all of our attention.

It’s understandable, and we’ve already prepared for this discussion; I just hope she doesn’t hate us in the end.

She should and has every right to, but I don’t like the idea of seeing hatred for us in those beautiful green eyes of hers.

“What do you want to know?” Alec asks from beside me, clearly deciding to lead the conversation.

“What did you plan to do with me once you knocked me out?” She jumps right in, the question directed entirely at Alec.

I see him stiffen before regaining his composure.

“I honestly don’t know. At the time we just needed to make sure you kept your mouth shut, so chloroform seemed like the most sensible, least violent option.”

Seeming unsurprised by this, Madelyn nods and continues, “What about the police? How did you keep them quiet?”

“Money and connections mostly.” Alec answers, giving the vaguest answer possible.

It’s not like we can just outright tell her we’re in the mafia, so a lot of responses are going to have to be like this.

“Why did you give me my phone back?” She turns to Xavier, and I’m honestly just as interested as she is.

None of us commented on his action from that night, but it’s been in the back of my mind since I saw the footage of him leaving her room.

Madelyn doesn’t rush him for his response, as Xavier tries to find the words to explain.

“Truthfully...” He pauses for a moment, “I wanted to see you again.”

He spins one of the rings on his middle finger, not giving her an opening to comment on it.

“What else?” He says, looking at her.

“Do you always keep a gun on you?” She asks, and Xavier raises his eyebrow at her question. “It would seem rather convenient for you to just randomly have a gun on you that night, so do you always carry one around?”

“Why do you want to know?” He counters.

“What makes you feel unsafe enough that you feel the need to bring a gun with you to a cafe?” She asks, her eyes dropping down to the opening of Xavier’s jacket.

The angle he’s leaning his arm against the table at leaves the outline of it fairly obvious to those specifically seeking it out.

Not bothering to cover, Xavier leans slightly closer, so his next words can be spoken as a whisper.

“Does it scare you?” He asks, and while I know he said it to be intimidating, there’s more meaning to the question.

He wants to know if there’s a chance with her, even after learning what kind of people we are.

“No,” Madelyn says, her voice unwavering, “It does not scare me.”

You do not scare me, is what’s unspoken in her statement.

Our conversation goes dead for a few seconds, Madelyn never breaking her gaze or shifting in her seat.

As if finally satisfied by her response, Xavier’s the first to move, leaning back in his seat.

“You can never be too careful in a business like ours.” He answers her initial question.

“I didn’t realize owning a nightclub required you to have perfect aim with a gun...” She says to Xavier, “you to master the art of reading people,” she says to Alec, “and you, to be so good with computers that you were fully confident you could locate a man that even a professionally trained private investigator couldn’t find.” She finished, the last part directed at me.

I just give her an innocent shrug.

Madelyn’s smart.

She’s brave, which may even make her a little bit stupid, but she sees right through our bullshit and calls us out on it too.

That’s a dangerous quality to have around people like us, but I’ll admit, I like her even more for it.


- End of Chapter 17 -

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