“I don’t want you to hate me.”
“I could never hate you, Kalif.”
“Never?” My brother laughs.
“You need to know, I loved you from the first moment I saw you. I knew I had to stop being a coward and protect you, no matter what it cost.” He swallows as if his throat is on fire. It’s like he’s about to make some confession. But I know my brother like I know myself. He never killed anyone.
“It’s okay, Kalif. You’ve always been the best brother anyone could ask for.”
“Maybe. But I’ve been one lousy father.”
“No you haven’t. Sierra -”
“I’m not talking about my daughter.”
Kalif falls silent. His eyes glaze. He’s no longer staring at me. His eyes burn through my skin as he stares at something I can’t see.
“I met your mother in college.”
“No.” My chest pounds like I’m in a marathon and my brain refuses to believe what I think I’m hearing.
“I thought she was just another student.”
Don’t say this. Please.
“I didn’t know. How young she was, I mean. Didn’t find out until too late she was just sixteen. She told me she was eighteen and I believed – wanted to believe. Prescott’s daughter hated the tight leash he kept her under, she liked escaping and hanging around the campus. Hanging with me.”
Come to think of it - I do feel sorry for Neill. Because not even he is who he thought he was.