I still remembered all the emails she got from a tannerinyourmama—almost her entire inbox was emails from him.
When she’d gotten to Jonah’s picture, she’d quieted, but a fondness had shone through her. She’d spoken almost as if he were in the room and words could break him.
“Jonah’s the baby,” she said gently. “He worships Kai…” She’d paused and scratched at her forehead before continuing. “But he doesn’t look like the rest of us.” That’s all she’d said about him.
I’d inspected the picture of her and him together. She had pulled Jonah onto her lap, her arms around him, and his still-baby cheek pressed against hers as he smiled. His skin had a darker tone than the others, but they all had the most luscious facial features. All dark eyes.
Cord and Kai had black hair in their pictures. Tanner’s was lighter, and Brooke’s a lovely shade of dark copper. Jonah’s hair matched hers, with a twinge of curl in it too. Tanner’s was long and shaggy, sticking up all over. Kai’s was short, where a hand could run through it easily and it’d fall back in place—just a touch longer than Cord’s barely-there hair.
I returned my attention to the television now, coming back to the present.
In the photos on the screen, Brooke’s hair was still the length it’d been in school. She’d kept it trimmed just above her waist and had been adamant that no one would cut it. She’d whispered one night about a fight with her dad, that her father went after her with a pair of scissors. But her hair was still long when she told me, so whatever the fight, he hadn’t been successful. And like all the other times she talked about her family, she didn’t go into detail. She always said just enough so I knew what she was talking about, and then she would close up. Her shoulders would shudder before a wall slammed down, and that night had been the same.
A soft sigh left me as I continued to watch the images on the news.
Brooke had her chin up, proud, as her braided hair curved around her neck. In another she struck a sultry pose in a bikini. She could’ve been a model, except maybe she didn’t have the height—not like me. She’d been an inch shorter than me in school, though now I had shot up even taller to five ten.
They teased us about being sisters at school.
I had loved it, though I never said a word. I didn’t know if Brooke enjoyed it. She never spoke for or against it, but I could see now why people thought that way. We both had dark black hair. Okay. Maybe I couldn’t see why now. That was the end of our similarities. Brooke had a rounder face. I was fairer in skin. My eyes were more narrow. My face a little longer. And taller. I was always taller.
Brooke used to sigh that I could be a model, but she was wrong. She was the future model. I saw the proof now.
She looked like she’d gotten a tad bit taller too, maybe another inch, but that was it. It didn’t matter. Brooke could’ve been a model just because she had turned into a celebrity—which was also why the story about her being missing had been picked up by a news channel from New York City, where I didn’t think she lived.
“That’s her, right?” Blade prompted again. He shoved back his chair to stand as I heard the sounds of an approaching car outside.
We lived near Cowtown, but we kept to the forest for a reason. The cabin we were renting belonged to a friend of a friend of a friend of another friend, and there were probably three other sets of friends before we actually got to the owner. There was a reason for that, just like there was a reason Blade hurried to his computer, turning off the news as he brought up the feed from the electronic sensors outside.
A second later, he relaxed and flipped the screen back.
All was clear. It was our third roommate, Carol. But I wasn’t paying attention to her or to the sound I heard when the screen door opened and something dropped with a thud on the floor. Carol cursed.
My eyes returned to the screen, glued there because an image of Kai Bennett appeared now.
Just like the last time I saw my friend, the bile of loathing pooled in my mouth. Kai stared right at the camera, offering whoever had taken his picture the same look he’d given me before taking my roommate away so many years ago.
While I couldn’t remember the last look on Brooke’s face, I couldn’t get his out of my mind.
His eyes were dead, just like they’d been back then.
A shiver went up my spine. I’d only seen Kai Bennett in person once, but it was enough.
I hated him.