Home > Flare (Steel Brothers Saga #23)

Flare (Steel Brothers Saga #23)
Author: HELEN HARDT

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

BROCK

 

 

I study my father’s profile as I sit on the passenger seat of his pickup. The two of us are driving across the Wyoming border. Donny and Dale were both unavailable, so it’s just Dad and me.

I wish my cousins were here for backup. I love my father—I do—but I feel like I don’t know him anymore.

He’s quiet. When my father’s quiet, I begin to worry. It means his mind is working. He’s thinking. He’s thinking about things that I probably don’t even know about. Sure, he came clean about some of the stuff, but it’s clear.

There’s a lot I still don’t know.

Finally I speak.

“Tell me. Tell me who tried to kill Mom. And why.”

He doesn’t answer at first. Instead, he stares at the road in front of us. Driving to Wyoming is driving through a lot of nothing.

Finally, “Your mother had a patient. Her name was Gina. She was Aunt Ruby’s cousin.”

I widen my eyes.

“Your cousin Gina was named after her. Anyway, she was a patient of your mother’s, and she committed suicide.”

My jaw drops.

“Except she didn’t actually commit suicide. That’s what we were told, at first. But the person who took her wanted your mother to believe it, so he kidnapped her and left her to die in a garage, tied up, while a car was running.”

I feel sick. My stomach’s about to come out of my mouth. How did she escape? I want to ask, but the words don’t come.

“You know how smart your mother is. She managed to get her wrists untied, got into the car, and backed it through the garage door. She was treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Still, I say nothing. My beautiful mother. My brilliant mother. All this happened before I was born.

“Funny,” Dad says. “I haven’t thought about this in so long. But that’s how your brother came to be.”

“What?”

“Your mother was kept for several days, and she didn’t have her birth control pills with her. So she missed a few days, and when she escaped, and she and I got back together, she got pregnant.”

Pregnant.

Before they were married.

With this new knowledge, I feel a kinship with my father I never felt before. A different kind of kinship.

“So I guess you could say that if none of that had happened, we wouldn’t have your brother.”

Talk about a silver lining. “Look, I get that you love Brad. I do too. But for God’s sake, someone tried to kill my mother.”

“Yes. So much bad happened to our family during that time. So much we’ve all tried to bury. To keep it in the past. And when we do think of it, we try to think of something good that came out of it. The good that came out of your mother’s kidnapping is your brother.”

I pause for a moment. My father’s philosophy is not a bad one. Will I look back on what I’m going through someday and see only the good that came out of it?

So far, I’m not sure any good has come out of it.

The more we uncover, the more horror we seem to find.

“What you need to remember,” Dad says, “is that your mother lived through it. She saved herself. Part of it was luck, of course, but part of it was her own intelligence and shrewdness. She’s a clever woman. And I thank God every day that I have her and the two of you boys.”

I nod.

“Brock, our family made it through the horror of those years, and we will make it through this. I promise you that.”

“How can you make such a promise?”

“Because I will will it if I have to. That’s how much I love you and your brother. That’s how much I love your mother. That’s how much I love this entire family. Everything we’ve done, we’ve done for family.”

Then my father does something completely unexpected.

He laughs.

I turn to look at him, regard his profile once more.

“What the hell is so funny?”

“It’s not funny, Brock. Just something that occurred to me, and it made me laugh. The absurdity of it all.”

“Okay. You will have to clue me in here because I really don’t understand what you’re talking about.”

“My own father,” Dad says. “That was my own father’s excuse for so long. For everything he did in his life. He did it for family. For my mother. For his children.”

I say nothing. I don’t like where this is going.

“And now here I am. Sixty-three years old, and I’m making the same excuses. We buried all of this for you—for your brother, your cousins—so you wouldn’t have to live with the darkness that our family had been through. And I’m laughing because…in the end, it didn’t work for my father. Everything he tried to protect my mother from, us from, came barreling into our lives twenty-five years later.”

And then I understand.

History is repeating itself.

Now.

The horrors of the past are resurfacing.

And I vow. I vow here and now as I stare at my father, his laughter finally subsiding, that I will never, never bury the past again.

“Tell me, then,” I say. “Tell me about your father’s half brother. The descendants who have come out of the woodwork. Do they have names?”

“Only one so far. The report came in late last night.”

“What’s the name, then?”

“It’s a grandson, or so he says.”

“Okay. Has he consented to a DNA test?”

“A DNA test may not be conclusive. We’re talking about a half sibling from two generations ago. Every family has second and third cousins floating around that have no claim to anything.”

“It’s a start, anyway.”

Dad nods.

“What else do you have? Anything?” I ask.

“A last name,” Dad says. “Lamone.”

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

RORY

 

 

I clear my throat. “Davey, like I said, I’m flattered. You’re very attractive and obviously intelligent and caring, but… Can I think about it?”

“Sure. You have my number.”

“I appreciate that. Part of me wants to say yes right now, but I guess…”

“You guess you should talk to this other person? This guy?”

“Yeah, I should.”

I need to do some serious thinking, and not just about what I might want with Brock.

About the fact that I may very well be carrying his child, and that changes everything.

“Not a problem,” Davey says. “It was nice talking to you again.”

“You as well. Bye, Davey.”

I end the call and then stroke my abdomen.

Until my phone buzzes yet again.

I don’t recognize the number, so I ignore it, but then I change my mind almost instantly.

“Hello?”

“You won’t get away with this,” says a distorted voice.

My stomach drops.

“Who’s this?” I demand.

The call goes dead.

Damn. “Hello? Hello, are you there?”

But the call was dropped. No way to trace it now. But at least I have the number. I quickly call Callie.

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