Epiphany:Part Three

By: Gemma James

I’m reeling, free falling, my world destroyed from the bombshell of a secret my mother dropped on me. The timing couldn’t be more dangerous. The Hangman is closing in, but even if I do survive his noose of death, I fear there won’t be anything left to go back to.

What if Happily Ever After isn’t in the cards for Aidan and me?

Part three of a three-part serial. Intended for mature audiences due to adult situations, explicit language, and disturbing subject matter. Approximately 27,000 words.

Hamilton Payne is your father.

My mom’s words roared through my head like the ocean during a storm: deafening, brutal, and unpredictable—similar to a sneaker wave that tumbled from her lips and caught me off-guard. I stumbled back and bumped into the center island. Aidan and me…sharing the same father. Sharing DNA. Siblings didn’t feel this way about each other. It was unnatural, absurd. The room spiraled out of control as I whirled in memories that crushed me—his skin on mine, our mouths colliding, bodies moving in tandem.

Vomit burned my throat. “It’s not true.”

“I know I’ve given you no reason to trust—”

“Shut up,” I cut her off, and the slight tremble of her lips only infuriated me more. “How could you sink so low? What do you have against Aidan that you’d try to sabotage us?”

Tears hung on her lashes, big drops of truth I didn’t want to acknowledge. “I-I’m not lying. He’s your brother.”

“Yes you are!” My voice bounced off the walls. Everyone at the table probably heard every shouted word, but I didn’t care. This wasn’t real. I’d wake up any moment, heart thudding too fast, body drenched in sweat and twisted in my sheets, and I’d shake off this ridiculous nightmare. “I don’t believe you.”

“Kenz, please…”

“Is this about Joe? Is that it? He must be desperate if he’s got you going to bat for him like this.”

“It’s not about Joe.”

I ignored her denial. “You wanna know why I turned my back on him? His dad raped me. There, I said it.” My chest heaved, and I blinked, trying to hold it in. Hysteria bubbled up anyway, gushed from me like a dam bursting. I hadn’t spoken that word once—not once since it happened.

Horror coursed from her eyes, and she opened her mouth, working to speak.

I beat her to it. “He didn’t believe me, Mom. He didn’t…didn’t…” I shrank back when she reached for me. “Just…don’t.”

I ignored her pleas and stalked into the dining room, wiping my face as I went. Everyone stared at me, their expressions identical masks of curiosity. Relief hit me as I realized they hadn’t overheard what I’d told my mom.

Aidan sprang up and took a step in my direction, and instinctively, I moved back. Every touch, every inch of closeness, took on new meaning in light of what my mom claimed.

It’s not true…

“Get me out of here, please.”

“What’s wrong?”

My eyes would overflow again at any moment, and once I started, I feared I wouldn’t be able to stop. “Can we just go?”

He rested his hand at the small of my back, and something in me shattered. I barely registered the perplexed faces crowding around me, didn’t feel their arms as they hugged me goodbye. Didn’t answer the questions they wanted to ask.

Glad you made it, sis. Sorry you’re leaving so soon.

That was Micah.

Stay safe.

That was my sister.

Marcus also said goodbye, but I wasn’t in the mood to deal with his disapproval. I wasn’t in the mood to deal with anything. I hurried toward the door, the exit just a few feet away.

My mom was suddenly in front of me, face tense, her lips moving in desperation to get through to me. “Please…don’t leave like this.” She blocked my escape into the storm, and her gaze fell on Aidan. “Let’s sit down and talk about this. I-I didn’t know, Kenz…”

“There’s nothing to talk about.” I shoved past her, and as I took my first step across the threshold, she grabbed my jacket.

“I have something for you. Just…wait here.” She disappeared from sight, leaving me alone with Aidan.

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