“If I don’t, I’ll die. I can’t be weak. I’ll never let them see. Never.”
She chewed on her lip as she watched me with a curious expression. “You don’t act right. Not like me.”
I didn’t bother to argue because she was right. I was one of the few whose life began here and even some of the others didn’t survive long. I picked up words and actions from the trainers and workers in the compound. Anything else, like toys and video games, I learned about from kids who brought them here from their homes. It was how I learned not all the parents were giving away their kids. Some of them were stolen.
“My mommy says all kids are angels.”
“Your mother is wrong. I’m no angel.”
“Did your mommy and daddy lose you, too?”
“No… they left me here.” Frank always made it a point to remind us that our parents never wanted us so they left us here.
“Were you being bad?”
“You ask too many questions.” I looked over her arm even though I didn’t really know what I was looking for. I’ve seen plenty enough broken limbs to be able to tell that hers wasn’t broken. It was bruised and swollen, but that was it. She finally quieted down enough, and when the silence between us stretched too long, I turned on my heel and started back for my cot, but her next question stopped me.
“What’s your name?” she called out.
I made the mistake of turning back around. “I don’t have a name.”
“Everyone has a name.”
“I don’t. I don’t need one.”
“I could give you a name,” she offered, seemingly unfazed by my short answers.
“Why would you do that?”
“What else would I call you, silly?”
She frowned her little face and stared at me hard. “I don’t like that name… Oh! I know! I’ll call you Keiran!”
“Keiran is my brother’s name. I’m sure he won’t mind since you don’t have one.”
“Keiran,” I tested the name on my tongue.
She looked at me expectantly, and I figured she was waiting for me to ask hers. I didn’t.
“Don’t you want to know my name?”
“No.” I really didn’t want to know her name. Making friends would be a mistake. I knew just by looking at her she wouldn’t last. At least… that’s what Frank would say about the kids they often brought in. I was the only one who held any promise he would say. I wasn’t too sure if it was necessarily a good thing, but it kept me fed and from being beaten.
Pretty. Nice. Light. Those were the words that came to my head.
It had to go.
“No, it’s not. It’s slave.”
* * *
The conversation with my uncle was safely tucked away for me to dissect later. The plethora of information my uncle was suddenly inclined to divulge couldn’t have come at a worst time. At this stage, I was prepared to eradicate the past. How my past came to be was inconsequential. It was done, and I managed to live through it.
It was all that was supposed to matter.
Living and making sure I never became a slave to anyone or anything ever again.
That included the idea of love.
“You love your brother, Keiran… and you love me or else you wouldn’t care.”
No one will ever know it—least of all her, but she destroyed me that day in the hallway. Pushing her away was the hardest thing I ever had to do next to killing Lily and my mother.
When she left Six Forks… when she left me, I started to slowly crumble back into the black abyss I had crawled out from. I finally cracked and followed her aunt to a town about an hour away. When she arrived at this picture perfect house with a white picket fence, carrying a suitcase as she went inside, I knew it was where Monroe was without ever seeing her.
4756 Perish Lane, Columbus City, Nevada was where she went when she finally ran from me.
Where she finally sought the chance to be happy.
It was how she found a way to save herself.
If I didn’t mean it before, the decision to let her go for good was made then.
Less than a week later, I was being arrested for murder.
The heavy bass of Slipknot’s psychotic tone filtered through the speakers as I drove down the darkening streets. I turned up the volume to an ear-splitting roar to drown out the past and one blue-eyed temptress. I needed to focus.
I had an impromptu stop to make before I could make my way to the hospital. One phone call to Quentin let me know he was in place at the hospital.
My destination wasn’t too far away so I was in place within minutes.
The community wasn’t as lavish as the estate Dash’s parents owned, but one my uncle could have easily afforded, but chose not to live in.
I’m not sure if I would ever feel the need to surround myself with wealth. It was money that led me to be the person I was today.
One man’s greed is another man’s tragedy.
Though my uncle, Keenan, nor I ever displayed or flaunted it, the status of our family’s old wealth was well known. We were estranged from whatever was left of our family.
I parked in a copse of trees near the community and jogged swift and quietly up the good doctor’s driveway. He was likely lying in his latest mistress’s bed paid for by him. There were too many drunken nights I had to hear about it with the hopes I would care.