Chapter 11: Fighting the Past

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We all stared at the almost empty room. Where was she?

"Xavier? What are you doing home so soon? Didn't you have a party?" Xavier's father said with concern as he stood and walked towards us.

"Where's Marie?" Xavier asked, ignoring his father's questions.

"Marie? She went to the bathroom." He said confusion in his voice and eyes. I spun around with Xavier on my heels. We piled back into the hallway when I stopped.

"Wait." Everyone stopped and looked to me. "Mr. Hayes, do you have a safe here?"

"Of course." He said a look of disbelief coming across his features.

"Where?" Xavier and I asked at the same time.

"My office, right down the hall, it's the second door on the left." We all snuck back to the office.

"Xavier," I whispered, "she probably knows we're here now, I have to go in there and talk to her."

"Not alone." He said this gruffly as we reached the door. It was a wood door with square windows from top to bottom, but a shade had been placed on the other side and was pulled down. I couldn't believe how foolish we'd been.

"Xavier," I started to argue.

"Please Lani; I can't let you deal with all of this alone again. I wasn't there in Boston when you had to fight your own mother for your siblings, let me be here for you now." Who could argue with that? I nodded once at him, smiling again. He made me feel so was indescribable. There were so many emotions, so many feelings only he seemed to bring out in me. Love, happiness, safety, confusion sometimes, humor, beauty, and so many more; too many to name, really. Slowly we pushed the door open but as it opened all the way it creaked. Marie stood by a frame that was open like a door where a safe—already open as well—had once been hidden behind it. At the noise, she whipped around, her hands full of stacks of money.

"Drop it, Marie." I snapped as I walked in, Xavier followed as well as Liam, Jonah, George, Ceony and Mr. Hayes. She wasn't getting out of this. Ever.

"Ah so the prodigal daughter returns." Marie laughed.

"You came here, Marie." I snapped, unable to control the anger in my tone.

"Well, I couldn't stay away from my own children forever." She said this in a 'motherly' tone. As if she suddenly loved us more than the money and drugs and alcohol.

"If you didn't want revenge we would never see you again." I told her, stating the obvious. "Stop pretending to be some caring, loving mother. You were never that, and you'll never be that. Do you honestly believe stealing from the Hayes' will make you feel better? Will somehow make a difference?"

"Well you took my only source of income!" she yelled, finally forgetting her terrible 'mother' façade. "Gideon and Iris are my children."

"You were going to use them to con people!" I scoffed. "Not to mention beat them into submission."

"They're my children, Lani, I raise them however I see fit." She said with her head held high.

"They deserved a better childhood than you would have ever given them. They deserved a chance to live outside of your shadow and greed."

"Greed?!" she laughed. "It was survival you ungrateful imp. How do you think we would have survived without that money?"

"I guess we'll never know. Besides, it doesn't really matter now, does it?" I sighed. "You didn't give us a chance to try. Dad left and you just...decided you didn't want any of us either." Marie's eyes narrowed at the mention of my father, like I'd spoken of the devil.

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