“So,” I say. “Are you really with the military?”
If this guy’s going to stick around, I might as well see what’s going on.
He shrugs. “You could say that.”
“What are you guys doing in a small town like this? We’ve never had soldiers here before.” “We’re just passing through on our way to another town," he answers. "Nothing to be concerned with.”
I want to prod further, but I know he’ll never tell me.
This stuff is normally top-secret information. The members take an oath not to tell outsiders. He could probably barely tell me that.
Unfortunately, it didn’t help at all.
He gave me no insight as to what’s going on. Don’t all citizens deserve to know what’s happening where they live?
“Well,” he says after a moment of silence.
“I’m glad I could help, miss. Do you need me to walk you home?”
I shake my head. “I should be fine on my own. Thank you.”
I smile. “By the way, what’s your name?” I ask. “I want to thank you properly.”
The stranger pulls the hood down from his face
and steps into the light. "Kaiser, Ismus Kaiser."
His words hit me like a car going at full speed. My mind is numb. My bones are lead. I almost fall to the ground from shock.
“Ismus,” I whisper, holding back the tears.
He cocks his head to the side. “What’s the matter?”
“It’s me.” I reach out and hug him. “Ismus, it’s me, Roselyn
“What on earth are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same question.” I hand him a glass of water and sit next to him on the couch, crossing my arms. “Where the hell have you been these past two years?”
Ismus suggested that we talk in somewhere private,
so I brought him back to my place. There was no way I was going to one of those inns to reconnect. For the first time in years, I actually felt safe walking home.
It was nice knowing someone would be there for me.
Yes, I’m happy to see him after all this time. He’s the only family I have left; I’ve missed him so much. But that doesn’t change that fact that he abandoned me and left me in a foster home.
I’m still bitter about how things went down at the diner.
I don’t know whether to smile, frown, cry, or punch Ismus in his smug face; I didn’t think we’d see each other again.
Ismus takes a sip from his glass before looking at me.
“So,” he says to ease the tenseness in the air. “Your hair is different. Did you bleach it?”
“Cut the crap,” I snap.
“Roselyn…” His eyes filled with pain and sorrow. “I’m sorry about what happened back then. Things got ugly before I left. I wish you could have come with me, I really do. But my hands were tied."
"There was no convincing those guys to take you with us. I’m sorry.”
“You didn’t even try.” My hands curl into fists on my thighs
“You just let them separate us. You didn’t say a word to those two guys or Stacie. It’s like you wanted to get rid of me…” I shift my gaze to the floor. I used to think about that a lot .
That Ismus didn’t really think of me as his sister,
that he was pretending for his parents’ sake. His track record supports it. He left because that was best for him; it wasn’t what was best for us.
“Roselyn.” His hand rests on my knee.
“I was a coward, I admit it. I might not have done the right thing back then. But they told me the road I was traveling down was dangerous. I wanted to protect you; I wanted to keep you safe."
Water glosses over his emerald eyes.
"I wanted to protect you; I wanted to keep you safe. I thought it would be better for you to stay back.”
“You say that, but…” My eyes shoot daggers at him.
“That doesn’t change the fact that you didn’t speak up once. You went along with what they said, no questions asked. Plus, you didn’t even tell me where you were going.”
He squeezes my hand. “I wasn’t allowed to tell you anything"
"I’m not allowed to tell anyone anything. Some information is confidential, Rose.”
“Don’t call me that!” I slap his hand away.
“Stop beating around the bush, Ismus! Dammit!” I jump to my feet and peer down at him. “I want answers! I’ve been alone for the past two years, wondering if you were still alive!”
I’m so angry I could cry.
I can feel the tears swelling behind my eyes, but I hold them back. I keep my stance and my hard demeanor. I won’t let him leave this time without some goddamn answers.