"Did you not hear a single word I said?!" Kai retorted, pulling away from me.
"I did." I snorted, as I felt my cellphone buzz.
I pulled it out to see a message from Roy. "What's taking you so long?"
I didn't respond and shoved my cell back in my pocket in order to finish my conversation with Kai. I had thought about this for a while, gone back and forth about walking into the mob's grasp, but I had had enough. If the Manors were involved in fucking up our lives, I wanted to look the devil in the eye and beat my questions out of him. I'd give up my career to end our torment.
"What are you so afraid of, Kai? What is it you're not telling me about Darian and his goons?"
"Darian..." he started, "is Charles."
My mind stood still.
You're boyfriend? Clearly this isn't what he thinks.
My eyes brightened with distaste. I wasn't wrong. His words...they were hard to forget. "How? They don't look anything alike."
"He grew out his hair when we went to college and he dyed it not to long afterwards. He wears makeup to cover his viper tattoo, and his eyes....well you didn't know Darian long, but his eyes change from blue to yellow depending on the season."
Seasonal cataracts? My theory wasn't even close.
Kai held back his frustration, "Charles is an alias, no...a persona to allow the Manors to enter high society without the stigma of being associated with a gang. This was an idea Darian and his father, Markus, decided on in order to partner with cybersecurity firms. 'Charles' not only hid their affairs, but utilized cyberspace to fund home-grown terror. The larger they grow...the more untouchable they become."
As disgusting as that was to hear, that was not the information I wanted from Kai. I was an agent in the Secret Service, not the FBI. Sure, I could spread the news around about the Manors secret play, but for what? Everyone in DC ate out of their pockets.
"If that's all―" I said, suddenly annoyed.
"No. I'm mentioning this because Darian believes you're his half-brother, which would make you...a Manor."
My blood ran cold, and my heartbeat slowed. Half-brother?! Kai couldn't be serious. He had to be playing another one of his stupid games, but when his eyes didn't waiver, I unbelievingly let out a laugh. It surprised Kai just as much as it surprised me, so much so, that I covered my face in humiliation.
What the fuck was going on with me? I must be losing it.
"Ha," I ended my spree, looking over at an exasperated Kai, "haven't you tired of lying?"
"It's not a lie." He said, straight and mellow.
I composed myself then, realizing his tone. "Markus made a deal with my father in order to rid the future president of his infidelities. My father was indebted to Markus, and since he had a son around my age, I was asked to come to many of their outings. That's how I met Darian."
"Ok?" I thought.
"Darian took a liking to me early on and because of that, I heard a story of the red eyed woman. It was a tale his father had told him about his first love, a Spanish woman he met while studying abroad in high school."
My breath caught, but I paid it no mind. It was true that I did not know who my parents were, I just had a woman's name, and it was obvious that my eye color was rare. The doctors never understood what could possibly allow a child to be born with such a hue. Some even thought they were the result of popped blood vessels, but my vision was always perfect. Unexplainable was the only answer I was given. So, in the very least, I was intrigued.
"Markus, against his families will, brought the girl back to the states and claimed to marry her. Unhappy with his decision, his family decided to quietly dispose of the woman. The Manors tried to buy her off, but she would not agree to pay off her love to Markus. If she had accepted, she would not have died."
This keeps sounding like a typical gang novel...
"Markus found her, after returning home from dealings in Detroit. She showed up unnamed at a hospital, her face mangled and bruised...then just a lifeless corpse. Markus took his revenge that night, killing off those of his family who aided in her death. Why? Because she was pregnant with his child."
Alright, this fairytale is a load of bullshit, and I could tell Kai knew I wasn't being swayed. Who would be after hearing that? However, when he dug into his pocket, I began to wonder if there was something tangible to this B- romance novel.
"Markus ended this tale with a twisted moral. Never let the love of your life go. Kill every being that stands in your way until their body and soul is yours. Otherwise, they'll end up in an unmarked grave."
Kai showed me a picture on his phone. It was an old-era photograph, but as I took the phone from his hand my eyes widened. She...whoever this woman was, had my eyes. They were mesmerizing...along with her beauty. Her silky black hair ran down to her shoulders as she posed seductively in a red gown. Her face...was almost like looking in a mirror. Could she...no, she couldn't be!
"What's her name?" I asked.
"I don't know, that's one thing Darian wanted to bring up tonight. You see, I took that photo and kept it close because that night I realized Darian thought he found the missing boy. The child who could rip away everything he had claimed."
I looked back at Kai, "Wait...you're saying..."
"Yes," Kai acknowledged, taking back his phone. "He thinks that boy is you. You are that love that sits between him and all that he desires. You see, love is the end all be all to the Manors. Darian knew I loved you. He knew that I was head over hills for you the moment we met, but the more time I spent in your arms was less time I spent with him. So, he did as his father commanded and got rid of the one thing that stood in his way: you. He swore me to secrecy and made me agree to marry him in order to keep my tongue tied. I was made to keep tabs on you ever since...but every time I wavered..."
My eyes lit up at his pause. It WAS Charles...Darian who injured Kai's wrist. Even to this day, Kai was still trying to figure out a way forward that didn't end in me drawing my weapon. Is that why he latched onto me when I turned my back to him? Is that why he kissed me?
Kai gathered himself, looking me in the eyes once more. "Because I knew if you made one wrong move...or stood in his way ever again, he would kill you. So...I had no choice but to stay mum."
My heart pounded as my fists clenched. I felt my teeth grind in agitation. He did all of this...for some childish story he happened to believe?! So what if I look like the woman in the picture? So fucking what?! I do not have any desire to figure out whether or not I was a Manor. I don't ever want to join such a corrupt and vile organization that turned good men into charlatans! But what pissed me off even more was that Kai was caught in the middle. No, what enraged me was that I didn't know...I never once thought to think or feel anything for him after that day.
"So please, Max. I'm begging you...don't go."
I looked at Kai, his eyes full of sorrow. I didn't want to see more tears run down his cheek. I didn't want to hurt him any longer, but―
"Max? Are you in there?" I heard Roy call.
We both turned toward my door, shocking me back to reality. I glanced at Kai, whose expression was bare, and opened the door to Roy.
"Max, how come you're not answering your―" Roy questioned, suddenly realizing Kai was in the room. "Um...Sir, I apologize."
"It's fine. Max, I'll meet you in the limo. Take your time."
I couldn't respond as he walked out of the room: but there was a black cloud lingering over his eyes. Was he agreeing to go to the Hanor? Even more pressing...was he agreeing with my relationship with Roy?
I was in an odd spot. The conversations we had weighed on my mind, and my thoughts once again raced back to Kai. The haint felt less and less now, as if I had finally uncovered unanswered questions from my past. Was I...hell, did I feel sorry for him? Sorry for us?
"Max?" Roy asked, snapping me out of my trance.
I sighed, deeply, pressing my mic and stating: "Lotus heading to cars".
I almost forgot to alert the other agents.
"What's going on? What were you guys talking about for that long?"
Roy's concern was heightened. I'm sure he thought we had sex. I could see it all over his face, and to his credit we had been in here a while. However, nothing Kai and I spoke about had anything to do with mending our past relationship.
"When we're done tonight, I promise to tell you everything." I said, repaying Roy with a generous kiss.
I meant every word. It would honestly take me a long night, a bottle of whiskey along and a pack of cigarettes to go over everything that happened.
"You promise?" Roy asked, a new spark dancing amongst his eyes.
I kissed him again, on the cheek, as he blushed: making me smile. We walked out of the CP together, making our way to the cars. I called my guys inside their vehicles and took my place behind the wheel of the Bentley. I looked back in the rearview mirror, seeing Kai's stoic face. He was looking out the window, back at the Belle. However, the more I looked at him, the more I saw the boy who I used to know...that I used to love, gazing out at the countryside.
I felt my face heating, as I turned away from him and started the limo.
"CP from DL, Lotus leaving the Belle and heading toward the Hanor. 20 miles, approximately 45 minutes."