The rain has significantly let up, and in the far distance, I can see the Eiffel Tower lighting up the cloudy skies. It’s the prettiest thing on the horizon. I force my eyes away from it to look around. The roof is empty. At least, I think it is. Where are my parents, and why have they chosen to be so obscure?
I make steps towards the edge when I see a dark shadow just about where I was planning to wait. I nearly drop to my knees. Not even because I’m so shocked, but because my legs will not work. I’m a statue of disbelief.
“Koa?” I call, tears in my eyes that I don’t hide. His head whips around, and sure enough, he turns towards me. His arms engulf me before I can fully process that he’s here. I grab him tightly, feeling the deep sense of relief that comes with such a discovery. My brother, my only semblance of home, is alive.
“How are you here?” I choke through sobs that he has to pull back to make sure he’s hearing me right. I haven’t cried in front of him since we were little kids.
“I have a lot to explain to you, but far more to apologize for.”
“Don’t apologize! You’re here! You’re alive.” I pull him into an embrace again, and he holds me tight. We stay like this for a long time, but no time will ever be enough. Thinking he was dead, and knowing he’s not, makes me want to hold on to him so tightly that he never leaves my side again.
“Hey.” He rubs circles on my back, and I pull my wet face from his black trench coat. “We have to talk.” His tone is serious. His eyes are doing that thing they always used to do when he was on a mission. I wipe my face and walk with him to the edge of the roof. We lean on the brick, fencing us in, and look out at the Eiffel Tower. His arm is around my shoulders, holding me so tight I’m slightly uncomfortable. But I won’t stop him because feeling the discomfort of his strong touch is far better than never feeling it again.
“Kira, the Bratva were planning to kill me. It’s the only reason I left.”
“I knew it.” I breathe and shake my head. “You betray them once to save someone, and you're retired without hesitation—”
“That’s not why they wanted to kill me.”
“Because I found out what they did to our parents.” I furrow my brows and turn to look at his face. He must have dyed his auburn hair a dark brown to stay hidden. His thick brows are wild as ever as they scrunch in thought. A mole on his cheek still distinguishable even in the darkness moves with his lips as they pout. He always pouts his lips when he’s focused. “Kira… they killed our parents.”
“They killed them for knowing too much.” None of this is making sense, and I feel my head beginning to spin.
“Knowing too much about what?”
“That we—you and I--were meant to rule the mafia as per an old agreement that the Mikhailovs worked to destroy and ended up killing our great-grandfather over. But not before old Pop-Pop hid evidence in a safe containing the truth of our family’s birthright.”
“Holy shit.” I gasp, trying to fit the puzzle pieces of my life together in the few seconds they’re being thrown out at me. The thing that stands out like it’s been highlighted is the fact that we were born to rule.I knew it. This is why I’ve always felt this way.
“Yeah, it’s why I started to go on my own missions. Tried to begin to get people on our side. But the Russians found out, and I knew if they thought you were involved, they’d kill you too, so I left.”
“Yeah, I want to overthrow the Bratva and take back our family’s legacy. The problem is that I’m technically a ghost. And ghosts don’t count for much in the world of power moves.”
“Okay…” I can tell he’s about to ask something of me that will cost us both a great deal. But I trust Koa, always have. Whatever it is, I can take it.
“I want you to play spy to avenge our family.” I’m still spinning from everything he just said, and now I’ve got to be a double agent again? This time against the Bratva?
“Key, I promise to protect you at all costs.” I take a deep breath to speak, but he continues. “I need you. Our family needs you.” Just before I can say anything, a loud boom from the door I came through, ricochets off every building surrounding us. We both jump, and Koa pushes me behind him as he pulls a fucking semi-automatic from his trench coat.
Romeo steps onto the roof, a crazy look in his eyes that doesn’t cease when he sees the heavy artillery pointed right for him. I grip Koa’s arm, so he doesn’t shoot.
“Lydia, I need to know the truth. Are you a fucking Russian?”
“Hey! Watch your fucking mouth. That's my sister you’re talking to.”
“Sis—” his brows raise, and he shakes his head. “Was everything you told me a lie?”
“No!” I step out from behind Koa, making slow strides to Romeo, who takes a step back, so I stop. “He was dead—” he tilts his head like I’m a moron, and I shake my head. “I— thought he was. He faked his death. It’s a long story, but--”