Chapter 2. I Need Answers
“So, you’re going to talk to her?” Abigail asked.
“I have to do something, Abby,” I said. “If what my mother said is true, for all I know, my parents did want me. How am I supposed to ignore the fact? I just. . . I want to know. I need to know. I need answers, or I’m going to get killed. We could all be in danger. God only knows what the hell Harold is capable of. He murdered his own children. That tells me the crazy son of a bitch would stop at nothing to get the revenge he wants.”
“What if he is there with her? Maybe I should go with.” Abigail’s eyes pleaded with mine.
“No, absolutely not. You need to stay here with Iris,” I said sternly. I placed a gun in my pants and a couple of knives in my pocket.
“Are you going to kill her?” Abigail stepped closer to me with concerned wide eyes.
I leaned toward her and pecked her lips. A short kiss but strong enough to light my heart on fire. “I don’t intend to,” I murmured. “I just want the truth, and she knows the truth.”
“But what if he’s with her, Hayden? You’re not thinking this through.” Her chocolate brown eyes captivated mine. It wasn’t easy to tell her no at any given time. I wanted to give her what she wanted all the time. Abigail wouldn’t make any of this easy.
I avoided that question when she asked it the first time because I had no good answer. “If he is, I guess we won’t have to worry about him coming after us because I’ll kill him where he stands.” I had to get away from her before she talked me out of it.
Abigail wasn’t the type to give up easily. She chased me out of my bedroom. “Hayden, wait! Iris, please. Tell him he doesn’t have to do this.”
I sighed and turned to Iris.
Iris grimaced. “I can’t.”
Abigail scoffed and raised a hand in the air but let it drop. She had no argument, and she knew it.
“Don’t leave, Daddy,” Stormy said and marched up to me. She reached for me with her short arms.
I lifted Stormy and pecked her on the cheek. “It’ll be okay, bug. I’ll be home before you know it.” I sat her on her feet and walked out the door. I went across the hall and pounded on Sean’s door.
His door swung open, and his eyes widened.
The only thing I could think to do was intimidate him, so I grabbed him and shoved him against the wall. “Listen to me,” I sneered. “I don’t give a fuck what Mateo tells you. You will not kill me. None of you are smart, strong, or fast enough to kill me. You don’t have what it takes to hurt me on any level. If you double-cross me, I will kill you.”
“Man, I wasn’t—”
I slammed him against the wall harder. “Your sister and niece are across the hall in my apartment. Watch them. Do you hear me? Watch them carefully because so help me god if something happens to them, I’ll make sure they never find your body. There are people after me and if they can’t get to me, guess who they will come after first?”
Sean sighed and nodded. “But I can’t beat them.”
“Then run,” I sneered. “Don’t come at me again. I’ll fuck you up.”
Sean nodded and swallowed hard.
“Go watch them,” I said. I spun around and dashed down the hallway. My body ached in protest. I had three broken ribs and a bunch of bruises from when the car hit me. I always used to compare the flu to getting hit by a car. For years I believed that getting the flu was just as bad as getting hit by a car, but I stood corrected. The flu wasn’t so bad.
It took me thirty minutes to reach my aunt’s house. Hattie lived alone, as far as I knew. She had been married once but divorced shortly after and never remarried again. Her car sat in the driveway, and nothing looked abnormal. I looked around the house and through the windows. As far as I could see, Hattie was the only one in the house.
I kicked the backdoor in, not far from where Hattie stood. The door flew open and banged against the wall. She stood near a counter in the kitchen. Her eyes widened, and she gasped. She reached for a knife, but I fired my gun at the knife block, and it flew off the counter. Hattie spun around to face me.
“Hayden, wait!” She threw one hand up as if it was going to slow me down.
I fisted her hair, arched her head back, and placed the gun under her chin. “If you tell me what I want to know, I’ll let you live. If you don’t, I’ll kill you and figure it out anyway.”
“H-how do I know you won’t kill me after I tell you?” Hattie stammered.
I shrugged. “You don’t. You’re just going to have to take my word for it.”
Tears built in her eyes. “I don’t know what this about, Hayden, but we can work it out—”
“Really? Surely, you must know Iris is awake. She knows what really happened.”
“I-I didn’t know my brother would kill his kids. I never wanted that.”
“Tell me where my real parents are? I want names, dates, and addresses. Speaking of Harold, where the hell is he?”
“I don’t know where Harold is.”
“You’re lying,” I sneered and yanked her hair harder.
“No—” Hattie cut off and screamed when I threw her across the kitchen. She slid and rolled into a cupboard and hit her head. She clutched the back of her head and cried in pain.
I kneeled over her and put the gun to her forehead. “Tell me the fucking truth,” I spat.
“M-Miami, that’s all I know,” she said. “He knows that Iris is awake. He plans to kill both of you, but he’s being smart about it. He’s not going to come directly at you. I don’t know what he’s planning. He has a lot of men behind him. You won’t beat him.”
“Where are my real parents?”
“C-California. Los Angeles, California. I have some documents I can give to you and a couple of pictures.”
“Great,” I said and smiled. I grabbed her by the hair and pulled her off the floor. I steered her out of the kitchen and shoved her into the living room but kept the gun on her.
She walked over to a filing cabinet beside her desk and slowly handed me a file that she pulled out.
“Stay out of this. Do you hear me?” I opened the file and looked at the last name in the file. “Are you sure this is it?”
“I don’t know where they live now, but the address in which they lived when you were born is in there.” The confidence rang clear in her voice.
I gazed through the file but didn’t look at any of the pictures. “If you come after me, you’ll die with Harold.”
Hattie nodded and sobbed heavily.
I spun around and headed for the door. I heard a gun cock. I grabbed a pocketknife from my jeans, spun around, and threw it before Hattie could fire the weapon. The knife entered her throat, and the gun she had fell to the floor. She wrapped her hand around the knife as she fell to her knees. She gurgled and fell face first as blood flowed down her neck. I pulled my knife from her throat.
“What the hell did I say?” I muttered. “Stupid bitch. You didn’t have to die.” I sprinted out of the house with the file. I climbed into the car and dialed Abigail’s number.
“Hello?” Abigail asked breathlessly. “Are you okay? Did you find her?”
“I’m fine. I found her. She’s dead.”
“W-what?” Abigail stammered.
“I had no fucking choice. I went to leave, and she pulled a gun out on me.”
Abigail sighed. “What if the cops find out?”
“They won’t,” I said. “I have the knife. They need evidence, and they won’t find any. She gave me the file with my parent’s old information, but god only knows if it’s accurate. We’re going to California.”
“I can’t just leave, Hayden. I have a job.”
“You’re going to California, Abby. This isn’t a debate. You have to stay with me. It’s the only way you can be safe. Pack your shit. We’re going to Los Angeles.” I hung up the phone before she could respond.
The drive to California took two and a half days. By the time we reached Los Angeles, it was dark. However, I found an email in the file. I sent an email to the woman who was apparently my mother. The woman responded with a lot of shock. While at a hotel in Houston, Texas, I called and spoke to her on the phone. We kept the conversation light and agreed it was best to meet in person. Facts and theories weren’t exchanged much.
We left Iris and Stormy at the motel as we drove out to the address that the woman gave to me. The Challenger rolled to a stop in front of tall black gates. I wasn’t sure how to get in, but the gates suddenly opened.
Abigail gave me a skeptical look. “Where the hell are we?”
“Beats me,” I said and shrugged. The house was out of city limits. I drove up the long driveway. It curved like a serpent.
“Are you sure this is it?” Abby asked.
“What if this isn’t your parents?” Abigail asked.
“I’m not sure of that, but I won’t know unless I meet them. The woman said we needed to meet face to face. I told her I was apparently kidnapped. She said she knew some things. I-I don’t know,” I stammered and shrugged.
There was a break in the trees, and a massive fountain rose out of the darkness. I followed the driveway in a half-circle and stopped it in front of the front doors.
Abigail stared at the house in disbelief, and I did the same thing.
“Damn. Who are these people?” I whispered.
“This is insane.”
The house looked ancient. If I had to compare it, it reminded me of the Addams family house, or like a castle from England—perhaps something out of a fairytale. Houses like this didn’t exist to my knowledge, but it did. It stood tall with large windows and a vast set of double wooden doors. The doors looked tall enough to accommodate a giant. It looked as if it were made of concrete.
The handle of the door appeared to be made of gold with an unfamiliar design. I reached for it, but the door suddenly swung open. An older man that appeared to be in his seventies or older opened the door. He looked tired but intrigued. He gave me a knowing smile.
“Well. . .” he trailed off. “Hayden, isn’t it?”
“Um, yes,” I said.
“Come on in,” he said and gestured for us to come inside. “Follow me.”
Abby and I shared a confused glance. The foyer held statues that were ten feet tall or taller. Pictures hung on the wall that was at least as tall as me. Abigail gazed around in wonder just as I did.
Past the double staircase was a long hallway. We followed the old man down the hall. Pictures and more statues lined the walls. The man opened two large wooden doors and gestured for us to go inside.
“You are never going to believe who I found,” a high-pitched voice said as Abigail, and I entered the study.
There were only four people in the study. Two women and two men.
One of the women had her back facing me. A man sat on the couch with his back turned as well. A couple, perhaps in their thirties, sat at a large brown desk that looked bigger than the president of the United States desk.
The man at the desk had a woman on his lap. Both of them appeared to be Hispanic. They had black hair and brown eyes. Their eyes flickered past the woman to me.
Abigail peeked around me curiously but nervously.
“Who are they?” The man at the desk asked.
The woman turned around with a smile on her face. The man on the couch rose and turned around to see who had interrupted.
“Oh my god,” Abigail gasped.
I stood frozen, unable to move, speak, or think. What I saw couldn’t be explained, but I somehow knew it was true. Hattie had given me the correct information. The woman that I presumed to be my biological mother stood beside a man covered in tattoos. The man had dark brown hair with grey highlights, and the woman had black hair with grey highlights. She had striking blue eyes that matched mine, and her complexion was as dark as mine.
Even though I looked much like her, I somehow looked similar to the man with the tattoos as well. He had strong features that mirrored my own.
“What the fuck is going on, bebita?” the tattooed man said.
“Andrew,” the woman breathed and smiled warmly at me.
“Andrew?” Abigail murmured.
By reading the birth and death certificate, I knew that my real name was, in fact, Andrew Antonio Garcia.
“Andrew?” the other three repeated.
The woman looked back at the other three. She raised her arms toward me. “It’s him. Can you believe it? Look at him. He looks exactly like her,” she said.
“Holy shit,” the man with the tattoos said. “No, bebita. This can’t be. No. Andrew died.”
“He’s not dead,” the woman said. “He’s here. Just look at him. He’s beautiful.”
I snorted. “Beautiful.”
“I’m going to have a heart attack,” the man with tattoos said.
“I think I already did,” the guy behind the desk said. He and the girl came around the desk and stared at me in disbelief and wonder.
“Hey, Mom. Sorry, I’m late. I—”
I turned to look at the girl who entered the massive library that we stood in. She appeared to be my age, and what was scarier, she looked identical to me, but with more girly facial features. However, our noses, lips, eyes, and hair were exactly the same.
“I hope you guys know what the fuck is going on because I don’t get it,” I said and shrugged. I held up the file for the woman.
She smiled at me and took it. “My name is Aria,” she said politely. “This is Ace, your father,” she said and gestured to the tattooed man. “Your oldest brother, Angel, and his wife, Mia.” She gestured to the couple behind her. She pointed to the girl in the doorway, frozen in shock. “And that is your twin sister, Andrea.”
“Twin?” Abigail and I repeated.
“What the fuck is going on, Mom?” Andrea asked.
“Bebita, stop it. What makes you think this is our son?” Ace asked and grabbed Aria’s wrist.
“Maybe I should explain,” I said stiffly and gazed around.
“Please do,” Angel said.
I sighed. “I found out a few days ago that the man who adopted me actually kidnapped me. According to the notes in there, the two of you are my birth parents. I’m not here to cause you problems. I just needed some answers. My adoptive father is set out to kill my adoptive mother and me to keep us quiet about the shit he did. My adoptive mother didn’t know, but he kidnapped me and adopted me to make it legal. When my adoptive mother, Iris, found out, it nearly costed her; her life. My adoptive father took me to get revenge because you killed his father and grandfather, apparently, and his sister helped him. She pretended to be a nurse or something.”
Angel scoffed. “That sounds accurate as fuck.”
Ace sighed. “Um, do you know his name?”
“My father’s name is Harold Crowley. I think his father’s name is Nicolas, but I’m not sure. Harold hated talking about him. He would get upset and start drinking every time he did,” I explained.
“Wait,” Aria said and put a hand up. “Nicolas Crowley?” Aria whispered and turned to Ace. “Jim Davis’s son Nicolas?”
Ace facepalmed. “What. The. Fuck.”
“Damn,” Angel grunted.
“This isn’t real. I’m dreaming,” Andrea said and rubbed her temples.
“So, you did do it? You killed Harold’s father?” I asked.
“I mean, he was trying to kill us,” Ace said and shrugged.
Angel walked over to his phone and pressed a button.
“Yes?” a deep voice answered.
“Andersen, we’re going to need a DNA test.”
“I’ll have one ordered,” Andersen responded.
“Who is Andersen?” I wondered
“The man who walked you in,” Aria said. “Familia.”
“Oh,” I said and shrugged.
“Like we need a DNA test. Look at him,” Aria said and smiled. “God, I can’t believe it. My baby boy.”
Abby and I shared a glance.
“So, what do you go by?” Angel asked. “Surely, you don’t go by Andrew.”
“Um, Hayden Crowley,” I said. “This is my girlfriend, Abigail.” I gestured to Abby.
“I won’t call you that,” Aria said stiffly. “You will go by Andrew. We’ll change your name quickly.”
“I’m getting too old for this shit, bebita,” Ace muttered and stomped over to a small table that held a bottle of bourbon and glasses.
“I could use some of that,” I said.
Abigail snickered. “That’s his favorite drink too.” Abigail pointed at me.
“I want the DNA test,” I said. “I want to be sure too. I’ve spent my entire life not knowing who I am or where I came from. It would be nice to be sure for once. How soon can you have the results? I don’t think I can stay there for more than a couple of weeks. Hotels aren’t cheap in Los Angeles. I had to quit my last job, and I don’t have much money left.”
“You could stay here, of course,” Mia said.
“The DNA results could be done in twenty-four hours or less. We’ll put a rush on it,” Angel said.
“You won’t be able to go back. If Harold wants revenge, he could be tied to the Aryan Brotherhood, and they’re dangerous,” Ace said.
“I’m pretty sure he is tied to Aryan brotherhood,” I said. “He has been since I was young, probably before I was born.”
Ace and Aria shared a glance.
“How do you know that?” Aria asked.
“I knew he was part of a gang since I was young, but I didn’t know which until recently,” I explained. “And it’s not just them. Some Latin Kings from Florida want me dead because I refused to join them,” I said.
Bourbon spewed out of Ace’s mouth, and he choked on his drink. Angel’s eyes widened and danced with humor. Aria stared at me in disbelief. Mia bursted into giggles.
“Heard of them?” I asked.
Angel smirked. “You could say that.”
Abigail swayed slightly and rubbed her eyes. I grabbed her arm to steady her.
“Look, we have to get back to the hotel. It was a long drive. Iris is at the hotel. I brought her here to keep her safe, and Abigail’s daughter—”
“You have a baby?” Aria raised a brow.
“She’s not biologically mine,” I clarified.
“Go back to the hotel and get some sleep. We have work to do,” Ace said.
Andersen walked into the room with something in his hand and handed it to Angel. Andersen smiled at me on his way out. He seemed to be a butler, but Aria referred to him as family.
“Keep those on hand, do you?” I asked.
“You never know when a long-lost family member is going to show up,” Ace said and rolled his eyes.
“Not the first time?” I asked.
“Nope,” they all chorused and popped the P.
Angel handed the DNA test to Mia. Mia took apart the test kit. Mia looked over at Ace and smiled. “Are you doing the honors, Dad?” Mia asked Ace.
“Sure,” Ace said. Ace opened up his mouth, and Mia swabbed it. She put the Q-tip back into a container and came over to me.
“Never thought I would have to do a DNA test to prove a kid to be mine,” Ace said and snickered.
Aria whacked Ace in the chest and rolled her eyes.
“Ouch. It’s a compliment, bebita.”
Mia held up the Q-tip. “Open up,” she said and smiled.
I sighed and opened my mouth to let her swab it for DNA. I closed my mouth. Some part of me was still shocked by the catastrophe of which was now my life. I spent years with a family that I didn’t resemble whatsoever. I looked around the room in which I stood in, and everyone in here somehow resembled me, apart from Mia.
“It’s a lot to take in, isn’t it?” Aria asked. Her eyes held a recognition and understanding for the situation that I couldn’t comprehend.
“You could say that,” I agreed.
“Something similar happened to your mother,” Ace said. “She didn’t know her father until she was sixteen.”
“Really? Were you kidnapped?” I asked.
“No. My mother left my father. She remarried and raised me to believe the man she married was my father. I found out different when I got older,” she said. “Funny how that works, isn’t it?” Aria looked over to Ace.
“Very strange,” Ace muttered.
“We’re leaving. Call me when the results are in or something. Don’t tell a lot of people that I’m here. I can’t chance Harold finding us. Before I killed Harold’s sister Hattie, she said he had a lot of men—”
“You killed Harold’s sister?” Ace arched a brow.
“She was going to kill me. I had no choice,” I said. I wasn’t sure why I was telling them these things, but somehow, I knew I could trust them with what I did, which said a lot, considering I had trust issues with everyone.
Angel chuckled and shook his head. “These are the days of our lives.” Angel plopped down into his desk chair. “Why couldn’t I be born into a normal family?”
“That wouldn’t be much fun,” Ace snickered.
Angel shrugged and nodded in agreement. “Good point.”
“We’re going,” I said. We turned for the door, and I stopped.
Andrea stared at me with sad eyes.
I swallowed hard. “Are you okay?” Why the hell did I care? I didn’t know this girl from eve.
Andrea gave me a sad smile. “I always wondered what you would have been like.”
“I think you’re about to find out,” I said. I couldn’t control the words that came from my mouth. I wasn’t sure I understood what I even said. Somehow, I felt different around Andrea as well. It was like having a part of me missing and that hole suddenly being filled. When I looked at Andrea, I somehow knew I was in the right place. There was little doubt in my mind that she was, in fact, my twin.
Abigail and I left the mansion. We were silent most of the way back to the hotel that we were staying at.
Abigail looked at me with curious eyes. “She’s so much like you,” she murmured.
My eyes stayed locked with hers. “Is she?” I already knew that what Abigail said was true.
“The way she holds herself, and the distance in her eyes, I see that every day in you. The way she speaks even reminds me of you somehow. Is that strange?”
“All of it is strange, bebé,” I murmured.