Home > Love's Cruel Redemption (The Ghost Bird #12)(15)

Love's Cruel Redemption (The Ghost Bird #12)(15)
Author: C.L. Stone

“Let me know if I need to come over,” Nathan said.

There was a bit of back and forth between Silas and his father. His father was upset. Silas started out strong, but after a couple of minutes, Nathan could sense he was relenting.

And then his father said, “Someone needs to take care of your brother when I’m gone.”

“He’s in therapy,” Silas said.

“And who pays for it?” Charlie asked. “And what about when he gets out?”

“We’re already doing that,” Nathan finally said. “You can go if you’d like, but I think we need you here.” He paused as he considered what else he could say to bolster Silas’s resolve in living the life he wanted. “Listen, Sang needs you, okay? Not me. The real Sang. We had some stuff this morning. If you want to come over, I’ll tell you about it.” He smirked to the ceiling as he said the next line. “Unless I need to go over there myself. Do I have to wear a skirt for him to take me seriously? Because I’ll do it.”

Silas snorted shortly into the phone but then spoke to his father. “I’m sorry. I have to go.” Pause. “Look, we’ll talk when you get back. But I think we need to look into finding someone else to go on jobs with you.” Another pause. “I don’t know who.”

“Don’t you have cousins?” Nathan asked. “If he wants someone that bad, let’s fly them in.”

“What about the cousins?” Silas said. Pause. “Sure, sure. Look, if you call one of them in, I’ll make sure he gets here. We’ll get him a visa and everything.”

There was a bit more of this. Nathan listened, but while he did, he started back up the ladder. He fiddled with the vent cover, putting it back on.

“Okay,” Silas said after a minute. “I think that’s good. Hey, good idea about the cousins.”

“I’m here to help,” Nathan said. “You coming over?”

“In a bit,” he said. “He wants to talk about which cousins. He’s not totally happy, but helping out family works.” He paused again. “This might take a while.”

“Take your time. Family first, right?”

Silas agreed, said goodbye, and hung up.

Nathan put his phone down on the top of the ladder and then waited, looking at it.

Charlie would still want Silas to take on the family business, but Silas was going to have to eventually put his foot down and tell him he wasn’t interested.

Some family situations were a bit more delicate to handle for them.

Kota arrived through the back sliding glass door just as Nathan was working on the volume levels. Nathan looked up from the tablet he was making the adjustments on, and pulled the earbud out of his left ear. “Hey,” he said.

Kota made a face that looked like an attempt at a smile but then lost it quickly. “You’re set up?”

“Almost,” Nathan said. “What do you think Danielle and Marie are up to?”

“Nothing good,” Kota said. “It’s what I was thinking about on the drive here, trying to guess what they could want. I mean, besides thinking about what to say to my mom...”

Nathan sighed and shook his head. He was going to say this was probably a bad time to be approaching Erica with the truth, but was there ever a good time? “I feel bad for lying to her.”

“Me, too.”

Nathan lips twitched. “If we both feel bad, it was the wrong decision. I know why we did it at the time, but now...”

Kota shrugged, the green hoodie bulking a bit around his shoulders. He sighed. “Can I ask you something?”


Kota avoided looking him in the eyes. “I was thinking about it on the way back. I don’t want to tell her because...I’m not sure I’m okay with this.”

Nathan lowered the tablet. “I didn’t make her do anything...”

Kota looked up sharply, slicing a hand through the air. “No, I know. I don’t mean that. I mean...” He pushed his hand to his face, covering part of it so the next words were muffled. “I’m uncomfortable when I think about you...or the others with her. I didn’t even want to leave her at Victor’s just now when I know what could possibly be happening. The others took to this so easily. Why am I still uncomfortable?”

Nathan motioned to Kota to sit on the couch. Kota did, and Nathan sat on the coffee table in front of him so he could face him. He coughed once, in a way working up the courage to just tell him outright. “It’s a wild idea. Not everyone was sure at the beginning. I didn’t know how to feel about it at first. But...a while back, Sang let me read her journal. That one that’s all coded in a Korean alphabet?”

“You read it?”

“I asked her if I could,” he said. “I kind of wanted practice being able to read it. Thought it might be useful.” He pressed his hands to the wood of the table as he leaned in a bit. “But in it, she said a lot that all she wanted was to be normal. Like a normal life.”

“Doesn’t surprise me,” Kota said, “given the life she had.”

“I know,” he said. “But this isn’t normal. And I can’t get over how that’s something she wanted and she’ll probably not get.” He pressed a palm over his heart. “I care about her, okay? I wouldn’t force her into something she didn’t want. But sometimes I feel like the others got an idea in their heads and she’s just doing it...because it’s what we want. Or she thinks we want it.”

Kota pressed his lips together, nodding, saying nothing. He nudged at the corner of his glasses, but it was clear he was giving it considerable thought.

After a few minutes, Nathan sat back. He looked around the room, at places where Sang used to sit on the floor near the TV when they played video games together. Then over at the hallway, as if expecting Sang would turn the corner and appear, like she used to, just out of bed and with crazy hair. He missed it.

“I agree with you,” Kota said finally, drawing back Nathan’s attention. “We need to be level headed enough to figure out if this is really what Sang would want.” He looked at Nathan, his green eyes dark. “But if she does want this, we...have to figure out if we want to do this, too.”

“Would you?” Nathan asked. “If she really did?”

Kota closed his eyes and then pressed his palms over his face, completely covering it. His glasses lifted up to his hair. “God, I don’t know. I care about her, too. But I don’t know if I can continue with it if every time I drop her off somewhere or leave her with someone else, I still carry this same feeling. I don’t want to end up always dreading it, always resenting you all for being around her when I can’t.”

“I know,” Nathan said grimly. “I felt it all week. While she’s at your house.”

Kota dropped his hands from his face and repositioned his glasses. “You had her for so long, in this house. I was pretty sure...for a while, I was so dead sure she was going to tell me one day she was dating you.”

“There were times I thought the same about the others,” Nathan said. “Like when she went overnight with North at a hotel. Or spent the night at Victor’s with him. Any time she isn’t with me...”

Kota shifted on the couch and took up the tablet Nathan had placed on the coffee table. He looked at it, making his own adjustments to the volume levels of the microphones. “I told her I’d take her to see Lily the psychologist. I know we need to encourage it. I just want to make sure we’re not...” He let out another big sigh.

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