Chapter 75 : Madelyn
Chapter 75 : Madelyn
Sunday, September 12th, 2021
I haven’t left their house in two days, and while I wouldn’t yet consider it moving in, I did end up having to go to Hailey’s to grab my computer because they didn’t make it sound like I was leaving tonight either.
Telling them I loved them was no small thing for me, and with everything else that was happening, they refused to let me wander anywhere without them somewhere close apart from the bathroom.
Just spending the weekend with them has let me see an entirely different side of them, and it was one I could definitely get used to.
Like seeing Alec in the morning with messy hair in the kitchen, cooking us all breakfast and fussing over me like a mother hen. And then there was Xavier who no matter what got up at the ass crack of dawn to work out in the gym downstairs, coming back sweaty, hot and delicious.
However Caleb the most like me, sleeping in and spending the first hour of consciousness cuddling and drinking the coffee we took turns making. His voice was always so tired in the mornings, and there was nothing quite like him whispering I love you in my ear when we first woke up.
It’s fair to say I feel like I’m on cloud nine as of recently, and while I woke up alone today, I had no complaints because it was accompanied by the delicious smell of something filling my senses from downstairs.
I smelt bacon, and that was encouragement enough to force me out of Alec’s bed—the one I fell asleep in last night.
At some point in the night I faintly remember Xavier coming in to spoon me from behind without a single word, but his side was cold when I woke up and I’m not actually sure that Caleb slept last night.
Something to do with finishing up something for work and considering he didn’t specify, I assumed it was mafia business.
If it weren’t for Alec joining me in his bed after I’d taken a long bath, I don’t think my mind would’ve calmed enough to fall asleep.
I couldn’t pin it exactly, but yesterday felt a bit off with all three of them, even though nothing coherently seemed wrong. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I hoped that if something was truly wrong, they’d come to me now if they needed it.
I suppose I’ll just have to wait and see.
Walking out of the room wearing the silky pajama set Caleb had picked out for me the night before, I smoothed down the uncombed strands of my hair with lazy movements. The smell of breakfast only got stronger the farther I got down the hall, my stomach rumbling with interest in response.
“It’s my dad.” I hear Alec’s voice speak from the main floor, strained and clearly unhappy at the continuous ringing of his phone. I just make it to the stairs when I see him stepping out onto the balcony, the sun of the day already bleeding deep into the sky.
The last time I checked my phone it was just past noon, my body very clearly in need of the sleep after Alec kept me up all night teaching me the never ending wicked things he could do with his tongue.
I could still feel him from the soreness that followed me into this morning.
“Darling.” My nickname echoes off of Caleb’s tongue at the first sight of me, my eyes peering over the railing to find him reading in a chair just off of the living room with plenty of windows to light the pages of his book.
His office was right across from where he sat, the separating wall a mixture of glass and dark wooden frames in theme with the rest of their house.
It was clear this slightly hidden corner was his space, but god did the sight of him dressed in dark gray sweats with an even darker toned shirt feel inviting. Caleb had stuck to lounge wear for today, and I liked that more than I’d admit.
“You look happy.” He smiles as I make my way over to him, trying to sit at his side only to be pulled straight into his lap. The first thing he did was kiss me lightly, the contact short and sweet but the caress lingering with the feeling.
“I am.” I say as I twist to let my legs drape over the arm of the chair, my head falling happily against Caleb’s waiting chest. “You sleep okay?” The question slips from my mouth at the sight of the dark circles under his eyes from either a restless sleep or no sleep at all.
He’d said he’d been working on some important project that couldn’t wait, but I had at least figured he would’ve gone to bed at some point.
“Yeah, I just think the jet lag is still catching up to me.” Caleb answers, moving his book into his left hand so he could hold me better with his right. “Xavier went to Jolene’s for coffee but he should be back in fifteen or so if you’re hungry.”
I was but I didn’t mind waiting a little either.
Being cuddled first thing when I wake up is something I’m never going to pass up.
“Okay.” I mumble as I let one of my hands rest against his stomach, my head against his shoulder. “You can keep reading. I’m just going to try and wake up.”
Even as I said that, I could feel myself slipping away again just from the warmth of his comfort. When my eyes closed and Caleb reached over to our sides, I sighed when a fleece blanket was placed over our legs, making sure to tuck it in around my feet so I wasn’t cold.
God, I love this man.
“Okay, Mads.” He says, and while I can’t see him, I have a big feeling he’s probably smiling down at me right now.
It was tempting to open my eyes just to see that, but when I heard the shuffle of a page being turned, I knew he’d gone back to his book.
It felt so good being able to do things like this, and whatever tension I thought I’d felt yesterday dissolves along with my worries.
I feel like things have been looking up for us a lot lately, and I planned to enjoy every blissful second of it.
I don’t think I fell asleep again, but I could still faintly hear Alec talking on the balcony the next time I opened my eyes, the sight of Caleb finishing the last page in his book appearing right before he closes it entirely.
“Did it have a good ending?” I smile tiredly, no signs of Xavier meaning he’s probably still gone. I couldn’t tell if I wanted him or the coffee more.
I guess it doesn’t matter when I’ll soon have both anyways.
“Good, but not happy.” Caleb eventually answers and I nod because I get it. It’s typically books like those you tend to think about for days if not weeks afterwards.
I wanted to get back into reading when I have the time, but I’ve been so busy as of late there hasn’t exactly been a lot of opportunity to just relax on my own time.
I’m sure the need for space will come eventually, but I’m perfectly happy right now having movie nights with Hailey and spending time with my boyfriends.
“Fair.” I say, shifting myself so that I’m sitting up a little more. “Why don’t you put it away and grab new ones for both you and me? I don’t have to leave for work until four thirty.”
Something that looked a lot like appreciation in Caleb’s eyes flashed at my offer, but I was starting to understand the little things just as they had for me. While I struggled with small spaces sometimes, Caleb had a need for organization in almost everything.
It ranged from things as simple as the dishwasher being organized in a specific order to the shoes at the front door having to be in line with the mat. It’s subtle, but I know he wouldn’t be able to just put his book down on the table for a few hours and go put it away later.
“I love you, darling.” He says quietly as he tips my chin up for a kiss, an action I’m more than compliant to.
Grinning afterwards, I pull away as I reluctantly slide off of his lap, keeping the soft blanket wrapped around my body for warmth.
“I love you too.” I tilt my head, fully taking in his attire and biting my lip at how good he looked.
I might have been liking it a little too much as a low chuckle leaves his body, the kind that makes it hard not to press my legs together over.
“Sit. I’ll be back in no more than a few minutes.” Caleb taps his index finger against the cover of his book as though it irritated him he had to put it away. I suppose my staring probably didn’t help that much.
“I get to stay in your special chair?” I tease with a contained giggle because in all of the times I’ve been here, Caleb is the only person I’ve ever seen occupy it. Like I said, apart from his room, this place was where he liked to relax.
“There is nowhere in this house that isn’t free to you, darling.” He says, only making the first move to walk away when he sees I’ve sat down and gotten all cozied up in his spot. Even then, his steps were backwards so he could continue to look at me.
“Noted, Sir.” I threw back with no other motivation than to get him to hurry, my laugh echoing when I heard him murmur the word insatiable under his breath.
It clearly worked when he tore his eyes away from me at last, heading towards the elevator at a much quicker pace than what he would usually walk.
I felt so good to be able to tease him like that, smiling like an idiot because I knew no one else was watching. It was just me now, but even in a house this big, I felt anything but alone.
Pulling the blanket just a little higher over my body, I pulled my phone from my pocket to check the time, finding that Xavier was taking a lot longer than what Caleb said he would.
I was about to call him just to make sure he was okay when my eyes connected to the wallpaper of my dad and I together when I was still a kid, my smile turning into a different kind at the memory.
It was days like these where I wished I could see him—where I’d be able to tell him all about my relationships because I know he’d still be happy for me despite being with three men instead of one.
In fact, I’m sure he prefers it that way since there are more people to protect me even though I don’t need it.
The last time I really looked at his face was when I found those passports of his in Detroit, but I ended up giving everything I found to Caleb because I knew if anyone could help, it would be him.
We hadn’t really spoken about it since, though, however I’m not exactly sure if he’s had a ton of time to look into it yet either. Curiosity brought my eyes from my phone to the partially glass wall of his office, and I wondered if it was that that kept him up last night.
I hoped not because I told him it wasn’t the biggest priority right now, but when I looked at his desk, I couldn’t help but notice the dark gray envelope sitting there with the same clasp as the one I’d given him.
Everything I found was in there, but he told me he was sending it away to one of his men for prints. Had there not been any results and he didn’t want to disappoint me?
It was a sweet thought, but there was one thing I wanted to see again and that was the ultrasound photo I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since I saw it.
The date stamp just didn’t line up, and my curiosity got the best of me as I put my phone down, neatly placing the blanket onto the seat of the chair.
Rubbing my eyes as I stood, I took a few steps towards the office door, thinking about the fact Caleb just told me there was nowhere I wasn’t allowed to go. Anyways, these were my files I’d given him, but my hesitation was about what I was going to find.
Surely he would’ve said something if he found a clue of importance, and I couldn’t tell if that realization disappointed me or not.
I wanted to see my father again so badly, but I knew he was alive. When it comes down to it, that’s all that matters to me.
Finding Caleb’s door unlocked, I pushed it open with my attention zeroed in on the file. The string clasp of it was already undone, and with a steadying breath, I opened up the top to find the contents of my father’s belongings in there.
The items were of varying shapes, but there was more paper in here than what I remember there originally being.
With the desk being mostly empty, I used the space to start pulling out pieces, the first stack of paper containing a series of fingerprints to names I didn’t recognize, all connected by a single paperclip.
Setting it down, I made a note to go back to that when the next thing I found was what I was looking for, only this too now had a clip.
Pulling out the ultrasound photo dated 1996, my mouth parted in a silent gasp because of the photograph attached to it. The sight caused me to stumble, a man sporting the same bright green eyes and blonde hair as me, both distinctive features given by my father.
The image itself was clearly taken from the internet considering it was bordered by the text of a high school graduate, class of 2014.
His nose was slightly crooked as though it had taken a hit or two throughout the years, but this man was disturbingly similar to me. A different mouth but the same hair. A different nose but the same eyes.
The man named Cameron Monet looked similar enough to be my brother older by two years, the son of my father but not my mother.
The question was why did Caleb have this and why didn’t I know?
Shakily putting the image down and forcing myself to breathe, it was the passports and IDs I found next, simply dumping all of them onto the desk to save time.
A frown marred my face as I picked the closest one to me up, my father’s face connected to the name Jonathan Barkley only seeming more confusing than the last time I saw it.
Sure, it’s not a huge surprise to learn he led secret lives, but were children really a part of it?
I jumped at the sound of the front entrance door opening and closing, likely Xavier coming home, but I was too transfixed in everything else to care.
Picking up the next passport, my head tilted at the name Marcus Caddel appearing in a bold font across the top, but instead of pausing in thought like last time, I froze in horror.
Before me was the alias that felt familiar when I first read it and had my heart sinking in recognition now that I’ve seen it again.
My hand shot out to grip the desk when I felt myself fall forward slightly, but not even that could ground me at the fact I’d heard this name before and not in a good way.
“My mother was murdered shortly after I turned seventeen?” Xavier had said. “The man we’ve spent years hunting will die by my hand one day. Marcus Caddel will know what true pain feels like, just like I did thanks to him.”
Xavier had told me that a few days before I found his room destroyed, before he kissed me, before he held me, before he told me he loved me and nothing would ever change that.
But there was no way he saw the background on my phone and didn’t know, no matter how different my father has changed his appearance to remain hidden.
My entire body shook, unsure what to do, but it soon didn’t matter when I felt the eyes of others on me.
“Madelyn.” Caleb spoke my name from the door of his office, but it was not the same way he said it when he was reading only minutes ago.
It wasn’t until I turned I realized I was crying, but seeing Xavier there too made it worse. Alec came next, and when he tried to move towards me, he quickly stopped when I took two steps back.
I thought I knew what betrayal felt like in Detroit when I told my mother I didn’t want her in my life anymore. But this... this hurt so much fucking worse.
“You knew?” I say, my voice breaking on the last word as I barely manage to keep myself standing upright.
I hated the feeling of my tears wetting my cheeks and the way each inhale became harder to take, but it was the guilt—the confirmation in their eyes that I hated the most.
“My god, you knew?” I said again, this time not as a question but as a painful accusation. Everyone knows the idiom of being stabbed in the back, but I never actually expected to feel the physical impact of it in my heart.
“I know this looks bad, I know it does, but please put down the scissors, Mads.” Xavier says, panic clear in his eyes where my fingers were gripping at the blade. I hadn’t even realized I’d picked them up.
I knew what he was thinking and it hurt as I listened, dropping them to the desk along with the sheets of secrets that had just been uncovered.
“You need to explain what the fuck this is right now or I’m leaving and I won’t be coming back.” I demand, my voice surprisingly steady despite what my actions are showing on the exterior.
I doubt I could actually follow through on that last part, but I couldn’t tell what I needed most right now. Answers were the most obvious thing that came to mind, but I really just wanted to be held by the only people I can’t have near me right now.
“Okay.” Alec says, his hands shaking as he raises them slightly. “Let’s go into the living room and we’ll tell you everything.”
I knew he meant it, but I shook my head anyway.
My grip on this desk was the only thing keeping me from collapsing and I wasn’t about to get one of them to pick me up.
“No, you’ll tell me here, starting with how you know my father.”
All it took was a single glance to see they didn’t want to have this conversation, but that’s tough shit. I wasn’t about to give them an opportunity to hold me or make me feel better because I’m not sure I’m capable of getting the answers I need otherwise.
“You should sit down, sweetheart.” Xavier says with genuine concern, but I didn’t want to hear it.
“You’re not in a place where you have the right to tell me what to do.” I shoot back, though I do lean against the office chair slightly from the overwhelming waves of dizziness and nausea.
My expressions hardened despite my tears still flowing. To be honest, it didn’t even matter.
I waited in a tense silence for the explanation I was owed, and I forced myself not to feel sad at the fact Caleb’s entire body was nearly shaking where he too leaned against the door frame for support.
“You want to know everything?” Xavier asks, tipping his head down slightly in acknowledgment that this was what I wanted, even though it’s a discussion that never should have needed to be had.
My silence was my answer and it was one that was going to change everything.
My dad is Marcus Caddel, father of myself and my half-brother Cameron Monet.
Vincent killed my uncle—Marcus’s brother—and in revenge, Xavier’s mother was murdered when he was only seventeen by strychnine, a poison that is more than lethal in even the smallest of amounts.
He did this as Tobias Adams, and when the entirety of the Alcazar family sought out retribution, my father became Christopher Michelson, then Jonathan Barkley, then Marcus Caddel.
For years, he’s hidden under an umbrella of false identities, meeting Cameron’s mother Natasha two years before meeting my mother Heidi and having me. They don’t know anything more than that, but they knew where my father was going to be.
Alec, Caleb, and Xavier had been ordered to kidnap and make a statement out of the man who raised me, and they’ve known who I was since I met Vincent for the first time by that elevator.
“You held me.” I shook my head, my fist balled and rested against my chest as though it could make the ache go away. “You held me when I cried, worrying my dad might be dead or hurt or alone when you knew this whole time he wasn’t!”
I may have just been stating facts, but it was the only thing I could do from breaking. Losing them was a loss I wouldn’t be able to recover from, yet how am I supposed to continue on when they plotted my father’s murder while telling me they loved me.
“Is this why you haven’t killed Vincent?” I ask, my words directed straight at Xavier. He killed those women but not the man who sent them there. Why? “Because you needed him to get to my father?” It was the only explanation I could think of, but I feared the truth would be so much worse.
“If Vincent dies, I’m going to be caged into a life I never wanted.” Xavier says, and while my heart aches for him too, that doesn’t erase everything else.
“But you admit it? You’ve been trying to kill my dad even after all we’ve shared. After I told you how much he means to me? That he’s the only family I have left?”
A lone tear falls down his cheek, but I’m too fucking tired to care.
“No.” He takes a step towards me, physically flinching when I move away. I knew it was too good to be true. “Fuck, yes, but that plan stopped after I realized what you were to me.”
“And you think Vincent would just let my dad go after everything? All of you seriously believe he won’t do everything in his power to ensure his death with or without you?”
There was no way in hell they could think that was a possibility, and even if they weren’t the ones to pull the trigger, they would be the ones handing over the firing gun either way.
Hearing all of this was a kind of pain I didn’t know I could experience, but my vision started to switch between being in and out of focus after enough time had passed.
My body felt like a dam very quickly being rushed at in surges, and I was no longer sure how much longer I could last before breaking.
“No we don’t believe that.” Caleb says, but there was a kind of numbness to his words that felt like the knife being twisted. “There’s only ever been one other way to ensure your father gets out of this alive, and I promise you I will make sure it happens tomorrow.”
What does that even mean?
I wiped furiously at my cheeks when more tears flowed, and it took my arms physically wrapping around my body to keep from moving closer to them.
“Please, Mads.” He cries with guilt, and I wish I could say that made me feel better, but it didn’t. Not in the least. “Please let us make this right. Tell us what you need and we’ll make it happen, just don’t leave.”
His last beg came out as a desperate plea, and it was my undoing. I broke as I fell to the ground, sitting against the desk leg with my hands over my face and my knees pressed to my chest.
I didn’t move away when I felt Caleb and Alec come to my side, but their touch against my skin didn’t feel the same. What they didn’t understand was that they’d already given me everything I ever could have needed just by being them.
No actions could take back what was already too far gone. Even if they don’t plan to kill my father now, they had when I was well in love with them, foolish enough to believe my happily ever after had finally found me.
“I’m sorry.” Alec whispers in my ear, but I’m barely listening when Caleb gently pulls my hands away from my eyes, his gaze focused on my shaking body where our fingers were now connected.
“There is no place in this world where people won’t be able to find Xavier and Alec, so tomorrow I’m going to kill Vincent and flee to a safe house in Costa Rica until the dust settles.” Caleb tells me, surprising me with my eyes shooting to the son of the man in question.
Xavier hadn’t left the door since I first flinched away from him, but a lot has changed since I last looked. The only thing I could see through his hardened expression was disgust, not for me but for himself.
His arms were crossed and his eyes were entirely on me, but if he was bothered by Caleb’s words, he didn’t show it.
“We were going to convince you to come with me, and I was going to tell you everything once we got there to ensure both of our safeties together. I know there is no amount of apologies we can give you to make up for the lies we told, but I promise you I will fix this.”
I didn’t stop him as his hands lifted to cup my face, but my vision was too blurry to even make out more than the shapes of his white blond hair I had been playing with only minutes ago.
His words should have reassured me, so why am I only feeling so much worse?
I didn’t want Caleb to have that burden because I know his rights as an associate are very little compared to the ones Alec or Xavier has. Those two could kill Vincent and get away with it, but Caleb... he would be hunted down for the rest of his life if he were caught.
How did things go so wrong so quickly?
I could feel Alec’s shaking body beside me, trying to put up a good front but failing to hide the absolute terror in his eyes at the thought of me leaving like this. Caleb’s given himself the task of fixing things that we all fear are irreparable and Xavier has gone so cold it hurts because I know he’s falling apart silently on the inside.
We all were.
I was so fucking mad at them, so mad, but my mind couldn’t help but travel to so many other places now as the dots began to connect together.
My uncle died before I was even born meaning this all began before I became a factor. I wanted to be able to scream just to be able to communicate something, but there’s one truth that no one wants to talk about and it’s the fact my father is Marcus Caddel.
From the shadows he allowed himself to be beaten down just so he could rise now. He killed Xavier’s mother just as Vincent killed his brother, but that also made him smart in some sick, perverse way.
Nobody goes years hiding from any mafia, and my dad has managed to do so my entire childhood. There was more to this than I think any of us knew, but they were all morons if they believed my father was unaware of the uninvited guests he’d be having at his party tomorrow.
And while changing the plan behind Vincent’s back could work, it’s only when I realize how unbelievably tense Xavier is that I remember the other fact no ones talking about.
If Vincent dies, Xavier is going to become the Don of the Italian-American Mafia.
My eyes widened at him to realize what that means, because he’s going to be the uttermost powerful leader of the three crime families and hold the responsibility of the title along with it.
The Mafia was not a world I grew up in, and I don’t even know a fraction of what the position entails, but what I do know is that it’s a life Xavier doesn’t want.
He told me that the morning after he’d traced his initials on my hip a week ago, saying it would be like a prison sentence with nothing more than a pretty cage.
That was the same morning I’d promised him that if things ever came down to him being forced into the position, I would run away with him to the ends of the Earth if that’s what it took. Caleb and Alec would be by our sides, and we would never have to look back again.
In a better world, that could be a reality. In a fair world, people like Vincent would simply cease to exist.
But this life is not better nor is it fair. All we have is the chilling grasp of reality that leaves one option, and that is to survive.
“I need to go.” I sniffle as I push myself up from the floor, or at least try to and fail. “I need to go.” I say again as though I was trying to convince myself of that.
They didn’t help me up. Alec gently grabbed my hand and Caleb kept a hold of my face, but the new kind of pain across their faces wasn’t out of pity but out of regret for the fact they weren’t going to let me leave.
“It’s not safe for you to be gone right now, princess.” Alec shakes his head, and even though I’m furious with them, I can tell forcing me to stay wasn’t something he wanted to do. Truthfully, I didn’t really care.
“Let go.” I cried as I pulled myself away from all of them. Thankfully, to this they listened, even if it looked like it hurt them to do so. “I’m going home.”
The worst part about those words is that I thought this was the only home I ever needed.
I didn’t seek them out this time and instead used the desk to steady myself upwards, standing even as sobs threatened to wrack my body. I knew I was about to start hyperventilating soon, and I didn’t want to be anywhere near here when that happened.
Thinking back to how broken I was and still am over everything that happened with my mom, I feared I wasn’t going to be able to recover from this kind of loss after the true reality of this all sinks in.
“Don’t.” Xavier cuts Caleb off, and his tone actually startled me for a second before I looked over to find him shaking despite his expressionless face. He’s not looking at either of us right now, but I’m pretty sure he’s aware of things as small as the heavy breaths currently leaving my body.
Everything about the way he stood caused an icy cold wave of acceptance to wash over me, because even if I somehow found it in myself to forgive them, things could never be the same now.
I’ll admit, as much as they could’ve just come clean, this wasn’t only about me anymore. Maybe it makes me stupid, but I really do believe they’ll do everything they can to keep my father alive. If they wouldn’t, then Xavier wouldn’t be standing like everything was going to be stripped away from him, both me and his freedom of a life without the confinements of being Don.
Though hating them would make everything about this so much easier, I couldn’t, not even now. Trapping himself in a future like that is something I’ll never wish upon him, or Caleb and Alec because I know they’d be just as stuck as him.
“My father is smart enough to work through things on his own.” I say, lifting my chin slightly just to cause more tears to trickle out of the corners of my eyes. “If you chose to kill Vincent—any of you—don’t do it for me. That’s not what I want.”
It was the only thing I would ask of them, because I wasn’t going to give them the illusion his death would make everything okay again.
I don’t know if anything could.
The air stirred around my body as Alec stood followed by Caleb, but neither of them tried to reach out to me this time when I took a heart shattering step forwards. I refused to look at how they were feeling, so I chose numbness instead, waiting for Xavier to move out of the door frame.
“You want to go back to Hailey’s?” He asked in a horribly deafening way, however I knew he was doing it out of respect for me.
“Yes.” I bit my cheek as my bottom lip quivered, my mind very quickly becoming a mess of emotions I already knew would consume me the second I was alone.
I felt Caleb’s shuddering inhale as though it were my own lungs breathing in the devastating tension, but I couldn’t look away as more tears fell down Xavier’s face.
When I forced myself to stop being a coward, I looked at Alec first, finding his hands curled tight at his sides to restrain himself from going to me. Something passed through us when our eyes connected, and the force of his pain was strong enough to nearly make me fall down all over again.
It didn’t matter that it was their fault they lied. This was tearing all of us apart, and I hurt for them just as much as I was angry that they caused this.
“Okay.” Xavier said, and that was it. Nothing was keeping me here but myself.
There was still so much—too much—I had to process, namely the fact I was unbelievably upset and torn from my father’s involvement in this too, but right now the only thing that mattered was us.
Xavier, my always, Alec, my everything, and Caleb, my forever. This felt like goodbye, and when I took a second step towards the door, this time I didn’t stop.
- End of Chapter 75 -
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