Inside, Kiley Rae was nowhere to be found. Lord Hutton’s other bodyguard was waiting to protect The Lord again, and Rika, Charlotte, and Lilith were standing with their heads together, whispering frantically. When they saw Brianna come in, Charlotte and Lilith rushed over to envelope her in a hug, and Rika stuck her hands in her pockets and gave Brianna a small smile.
“Is everything going to change now that you have a real family?” Even though she was fourteen now, Charlotte still had a way of making Brianna see the eight-year-old girl who first found her.
“No. Nothing’s going to change. You three are my family. That man might know my real name, but he’s a stranger to me, do you understand?”
Even Rika gave Brianna a full fledge smile at that. “We understand.” Charlotte told her happily.
“Now, I have got to go and talk to him for a while, because the rich man is trading me a favor to do so, but when I get out, I expect you guys to be in the room and ready to go to bed, okay?” Brianna gave a quick nod to Rika, who came forward and took each of the younger girls by the hand, and pulled them back gently, so they were all standing in a line about a foot away. She nodded back at to Brianna, a promise that they would be in bed when she got out, and then Brianna turned and headed into the private room that Davy kept for special occasions.
Kiley Rae lit the candle sitting on the center table as she entered. She expected to be followed by Lord Hutton and his second bodyguard, but she was not. The door shut neatly behind her, and for the first time in nine years, she was all alone with her brother.
“Do not use that name. I am not Wini anymore. I haven’t been for years.”
“Okay. What would you like me to call you then?”
“For a while, I have been called Brianna. I suppose you can call me that as well.”
“Very well. Brianna.” It sounded weird coming out of his mouth. She did not like him calling her Brianna. She did not like him calling her anything. She was too mad to want to deal with him at all.
“Kiley Rae.” She said in response, “That’s really all I have to say to you, so unless we are sitting her in silence until the candle burns out, I suggest you do the rest of the talking.”
Seemingly despite himself, Kiley Rae smiled. “Still as strong willed as ever, huh? Well, okay then. I will do the talking. First things first, I did not abandon you.”
“Were you kidnapped?”
“Kidnapped? Taken against you will? Threatened with bodily harm and forced to go places you never intended to go?”
“No. I am sorry, if you were not taken against your will, then you did abandon me. Feel free to tell your story anyway you want, but don’t deny that you abandoned me, because that’s the only way I will ever see it.”
Kiley Rae curled his lips in over his teeth until they were a thin line. Brianna recognized that her brother was getting angry, and she got a sick sort of pleasure for that. “You hate me, don’t you?” He asked.
“More than you could ever imagine, dearest brother.” Brianna finally sank into one of the chairs surrounding the center table, and Kiley Rae followed in suit. “I have a real family now, Kiley Rae. We’ve been together for six years, and we’re still sticking together and supporting each other. The only reason I am here is as a favor to one of the more powerful men in the entire country. As soon as this candle goes out, I am done with you. I am going up to my room, in the place that I call home, and you can go off with your cushy job and rot for all I care.”
Brianna leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms over her chest, and glared at her brother. She knew that a twenty-two-year-old woman should not be sitting here throwing a silent temper tantrum, but facing her brother again made her feel like she was a whiney teenager all over again. She figured it was only a matter of time until she stuck her tongue out at him, at this rate. Kiley Rae mimicked Brianna’s pose, but she imagined that he probably looked a lot more intimidating with his arms crossed angrily over his chest then she did.
“Fine,” he spat, “Fine. We will just sit here until the candle burns out. Forgive me for trying to make amends, Brianna.” After he said her new name, he literally spat on the floor, “I wo not bother you again.”
“I’d appreciate it, Kiley Rae. Please, run away, it’s what You are best at.”
They glared at each other forcefully for a while, and then Brianna got up quickly, knocking her chair to the ground, and crossed to the one window in the room, staring out at the streets of Varch. Kiley Rae started muttering under his breath, and occasionally Brianna caught bits of things like “Stupid, Stubborn Girl,” and a few very derogatory names for females in general. But she would not rise to his anger again, so she simply continued to stare out the window. Finally, the light that danced around the window disappeared, and Brianna heard a thunk, before the door slammed shut behind her. Her brother was gone and good riddance. If she never had to deal with him again, it would be too soon.
She turned around to face the mostly dark room. Stuck into the table was Kiley Rae’s knife, which was pinning a small slip of paper to the table. It was an entry card, labeling the holder as a guest of Lord Hutton Reignat, and allowing that holder access to his lands in the Royal City of Jigika whenever they wanted. Brianna pulled the knife out of the table, and slipped it into her waistband. She considered burning the entry card for a long moment, but instead just slipped it into the hidden pocket she had sewn onto the inside of her shirt. With the weight of her brother’s knife leaning against her hip, Brianna headed up to her room where her girls, her family, would be waiting for her.