Chapter 14 - Facing The Music

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Six days later on Monday afternoon, I met with Luke at his office after school ready for my first 'lets-talk-about-your-problems' psychiatrist therapy session. I really couldn't think of anything worse but I knew that I owed it to Mason to at least try and engage with him.

A bit of research about trauma-focused CBT (the choice of therapy decided for me by Mason) told me I was seriously screwed up. Apparently, I would have to talk about the trauma. I couldn't even think about it, so if Luke managed to convince me to talk about it, he would deserve a gold medal.

"You good, Maddie?" Luke asked, taking his eyes off the miles of the road to give me a quick glance.

I always found it ironic how their business, which screamed excessive wealth and threatening danger, could be found at the end of a 10-minute dusty dirt road out of town.

"Yeah," I responded with a small nod, looking out on the expanse of emptiness; absent-mindedly following a rain droplet as it trickled down the car window from the downpour outside.

I didn't even realise we had arrived until Luke gave me a little nudge, "We're here."

Looking out of the window, I yet again found myself in awe of my brothers' business. I admired how it stood tough and secure despite the pouring rain shrouding the building in raw, unnerving strength, mystery and intimidation. For what felt like the millionth time that week, my curiosity was spiked at what my brothers were hiding. Why did they always evade the truth and change the subject at the mention of their careers?

Luckily, Luke parked right by the side entrance so by racing inside quickly, we weren't caught outside in the rain for too long.

He took me up the same rusty metal staircase and I wondered again why we couldn't go through the main door and why Harley and now Luke both took me through the side entrance. It didn't seem necessary.

Instead of taking a left into the medical bay, Luke turned right and led me down a long hallway, sparsely decorated with only a dozen or so hanging framed portraits of men running down the left wall. I'd never known a business to frame pictures of their CEOs but then again, this wasn't the first time I'd had my suspicions.

I paused when a pair of familiar blue eyes captured me in their mesmerising trance. The framed photo in question was the last hanging in the series and depicted an older man in his 40s, a familiar man. It only took a moment for my breath to hitch at the recognition of my birth father.

Santino Costello, 1968-2010.

I read the small engraving beneath his picture on repeat. His icy blues bore a striking resemblance to Mason, his stiff jaw and stern features showing no signs of paternal love. Did he love me? The answer should have been simple, he left me, he didn't love me.

Then why was my heart longing for the love of a dead man?

Nobody deserved to die at 42. My brothers grew up without both parents, under the guardianship of a then 18-year-old Mason. How could I justifiably complain about having a loving mother and a once-loving father for most of my thirteen years, when my brothers had neither? They were so strong.

A hand coming down on my shoulder shocked me out of my thoughts. I flinched and tensed at the sudden, startling contact despite it being harmless and gentle.

"It's alright Mads, it's just me," Luke assured from behind me, not shifting his hand from its resting place on my shoulder. The tension in my muscles noticeably eased at the familiar voice.

I still didn't find the words to reply, too transfixed and hypnotised by the only image of my father I've ever seen.

Luke sighed sadly when he saw my captivation with my father's image. "He was a great man," he eventually spoke quietly.

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