I felt my breath catch. I could hear Jason's voice ring in my ears, "I didn't have a dad." I shook my head and blinked a few times.

"What?" I said. "How…? Wha…? What are you doing here?"

Sawyer chucked softly as he looked into his lap. He looked up at me, smiling.

"There's a lot you need to know," he said. "But first, tell me what you know."

"I don't know anything," I said, absentmindedly playing with Jason's bracelet on my wrist. "All I know is some guy named Tyler took Varner and I and that Varner knew him somehow."

Sawyer sighed, "I knew it had to be him."

"You know Tyler too?"

"Yes. And fortunately he hasn't discovered I'm alive."

"What do you mean? How do you know him?"

Sawyer paused and ran his hand through his hair.

"He was my step-son," he said.

It took me a moment to gather myself and rein in the shock. Was he saying what I thought he was saying?

"You're telling me that Jason, Varner, and Tyler all had the same mother?" I said, annunciating the last word.

"Yes, they did. Just not the same father. I married their mother Christine when Tyler was about a year old."

My mind was still bogged down with the brother shock.

"Ok, so they're brothers. Then why did Tyler take Varner captive? Why didn't he just ask him what he wanted to know over the phone or something?" I said.

Sawyer laughed sadly, "Their relationship isn't exactly like that."

"What do you mean?" I said.

"Well… Let's just say Tyler tried to kill Jason and Varner three years ago, but they got away."

"Why would he want to kill them? They're brothers!"

"Exactly. They're brothers."

"I don't understand."

I was starting to finally know things, but the more I knew, the more questions I had and the more confused I was.

Sawyer ignored my confusion, "What did Tyler want to know?"

"He… He wanted to know where Marc was, but Varner didn't even know who he was," I said.

Sawyer's brow furrowed as he thought hard.

"Who is Marc?" I said.

Sawyer thought for a moment longer and then spoke, "He's Varner and Jason's younger brother."

"There's another brother?!" I said.

"Oh there were seven of them total," he said.


"Yes. Christine married young. She had three boys with her first husband until he died of cancer. When he died, she went into a downward spiral. She got herself wrapped up with the wrong people for a few years until I found her. When I did, she had the three boys from her first marriage, Chris Luke, and Ben… plus Tyler… a token of her rough years and bad choices. I helped turn her life around and we had three boys together, Varner, Jason, and Marc."

My head was swimming. There were seven brothers in total? Seven? I had seven brothers! The coincidence made me feel sick and I was glad I was lying down.

The woman whose voice I had heard earlier appeared in the bedroom doorway with a sandwich on a plate in her hands. Her daughter Lily looked just like her. The woman had bright blue eyes and black hair cut just below her ears with bangs.

"I'm not interrupting, am I?" she said politely with an eastern European accent.

"No, not at all. In fact, you've come at the perfect time. I just told Codie about Varner and Jason's brothers," Sawyer said.

"Oh," the woman said, understanding completely. She stared through the plate that now rested unsteadily in her hands.

"Codie, this is Mariska. She was Chris' wife," Sawyer said. "And Lily is their daughter."

I stared at Mariska as she handed the plate to Sawyer, without looking at either of us. She sniffled and hurried out of the room.

"What happened to Chris?" I said.

Sawyer swallowed, "He died. Three years ago. Along with Luke and Ben."

"What happened?" I said.

"They were killed."

I opened my mouth to ask by whom, but Sawyer's eyes seemed to have clouded over and I knew he wasn't in the room anymore.

I waited a few seconds… and then minutes. Finally, Sawyer blinked slowly and his eyes came back into focus.

"Sawyer?" I said. "Who killed them?"

His eyes raised in slow motion to meet mine.

"Tyler did," he said, equally as slowly.

I took a shaky breath, "Why?"

"Because they were brothers," Sawyer said bitterly.

He saw the confusion in my eyes and continued, "Tyler was an angry, hostile child. He thought his mother loved all her other sons more than him because she didn't have him by choice. That was never true. Christine loved him just as much as the others, but he was still bitter toward everybody else."

He paused and then said, "She was the only person that loved him. And when the day came that her cancer overcame her… he snapped. He blamed her death on his brothers… and took his revenge."

I could feel myself becoming emotional even though I had nothing to do with what had happened. The sadness of it all just weighed down the air in the room. I could feel it clinging around me.

I thought about everything he said. It didn't make sense. Why would Tyler just go after the brothers and not his step-father Sawyer? Surely he was bitter that Varner, Jason, and Marc had a father, but he didn't.

I tried to sit in silence, but a question rose in my mind.

"You said that Tyler doesn't know you're alive. What did you mean?" I said.

Sawyer sighed, set the plate on the nightstand, and put his head in his hands.

"I left when Tyler was young. Christine told the boys that I died in a car accident," he said.

"Why?" I said.

"Christine knew about Tyler's bitterness and swore that after Jason was born, she wouldn't have any more children. She knew that all of her sons were in danger from Tyler and didn't want to put any more children at risk. When we accidentally got pregnant with Marc, she came up with a plan to save him from Tyler. She told me that she would hide her pregnancy and when he was born, that I had to take him and run away. She told me she didn't care about being alone, but that she had to take care of her other boys and I had to save Marc. So when he was born, that's what I did. I took him and ran and she told the boys that I had died in a car accident."

He paused and I saw him rub his left ring finger, where a ring still sat.

"It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do," he said.

"Why didn't you tell Varner and Jason you were alive after she died?" I said.

"Because right after she died, Tyler went on his rampage, killing all of the brothers he could. When Varner and Jason got away, he was always looking for them. I couldn't risk contacting them in case Tyler found them and then found me… and then found Marc. I had to keep Marc safe… Christine wanted me to… she wanted me to…"

He began to sob and I then saw the toll the years had taken on him. Regret and despair lined his face.

As I watched him cry, only one thing crossed my mind.

"Sawyer… Where's Marc?" I said.

"I don't know," he said between sobs.

A few minutes ticked by as he cried and then calmed.

"Somehow, Jason found out about Marc and got a hold of him. Jason told Marc that they were brothers. Marc was infuriated that I had lied to him and he ran off. I've been looking for him for weeks now, but haven't found him. I know Tyler doesn't have him or Varner and Jason would be dead. I can only hope that he's somewhere safe," Sawyer said.

"How did Jason find out?" I said.

"I have no idea. And I don't know how Tyler found out either. I've spent 15 years keeping Marc a secret…"

"Wait… If Jason knows about Marc, then why haven't you revealed yourself to him… and Varner?"

"Because I'm sure Marc told Jason about me and if he hasn't contacted me, then he probably doesn't want to. I don't know why he would. I left him when he was three years old. I didn't protect him and Varner. I chose Marc over them."

"He would understand if you told him everything you've told me. I know he would."

"Would you understand if you were in his place? Would you accept it?"

"I don't know. All I know is, they know about you now. Now you can protect all of them."

"Who will protect Mariska and Lily if I die?"

"You think Tyler would kill them?"

"I don't know, but he knew Chris was married."

"But would he go that far…?"

"I don't know, Codie!"

"Has he gone after Mariska's family about where she is?"

"No. Her family lives in Hungary and as far as her and I have been able to tell, they've been just fine."

"Then why doesn't she take Lily and go stay with her family? They would be safe and you would be free to help your sons."

He didn't say anything.

"What?" I said. "Are you afraid of dying?"

"No," he said quickly.

"Then what is it?"

He looked away.

"Sawyer. What is it?" I said.

"The only way I can protect my sons is to kill Tyler. He'll never stop looking for them until he's dead. And I can't help but think of how Christine would react if I killed her son."

"Tyler killed three of her sons. How do you think she would have reacted to that? How do you think she would react to three more of her sons dying?"

"Would you kill your own child?"

"I don't know," I admitted. "But you have to do something. You can't just sit here! If you do, you'll regret if for the rest of your life."

He was quiet and I watched him as the wheels turned in his head. He knew I was right. He couldn't keep hiding. He couldn't be afraid of what he may have to do. If he loved his sons, he would act.

"Ok. Here's what's going to happen. I'll tell Mariska to take Lily and go stay with her family in Hungary. Then you're going to go home and I'm going to find my sons," he said.

I thought about just showing up at home. That would go over well… I got kidnapped from a hospital. Not like it's a big deal or anything. There probably aren't cops out looking for me... I didn't even know where I was or how I got out of the hospital.

"Sawyer?" I said.

"Yea?" he said.

"How did you get me out of the hospital?"

"I'm actually a doctor there. I went into your room, gave you a light sedative, and wheeled you out for a 'test.' It was quite easy really."

"How did you smuggle me out without anyone noticing?"

"I put you in some normal clothes that Mariska lent me and carried you out a back entrance."

I hadn't noticed the clothes he had put on me, probably because it was just a pair of sport shorts and a t-shirt. They were comfortable even though they weren't mine.

"You do realize that my family probably has the whole city looking for me. How am I supposed to explain this to them?" I said, starting to panic.

"Sorry, I didn't exactly think about that. I didn't expect you to be going back to your family," he said. "At least not until this whole thing was done."

"My family is seriously never going to leave me alone now. I'm going to have escorts everywhere I go."



"You'll be safe then."

"No. You don't understand. I will be hovered over and followed until the day I die."

"Oh don't be so dramatic Codie, things will work out."

My mind spun and I now realized the gravity of everything that had happened. I mean, I knew what everything else had put my family through, but this… this was it. If I went home, I would never be free. I would never be able to see Jason or Varner again. Were they worth me abandoning my family? No. I couldn't possibly choose them over my family. My family's everything to me. They've always been there. Maybe if I called my family, they would realize I'm ok and calm down…

I looked at Sawyer.

"I can't go home," I said.

"What?" he said.

"You don't understand what my family's like. They are the epitome of overprotective. I'll call my family from a pay phone so they don't track us here to let them know I'm ok. Afterward, I'll stay here while you get a hold of Jason and Varner. Then I can see what they think."

Sawyer frowned, "Whose plan do you think they would like better?"

I sighed, he was right.

"Fine. Take me home then. You can deal with the cops," I said.

"I'll call a cab," he said.

There was just no winning or compromising. I may be safe with my family, but I would never be allowed to make my own choices or go anywhere without an escort again. I felt my freedom slipping through my fingers as Sawyer stood to leave the room.

"Wait," I said. "Can I just stay here tonight and go home tomorrow? It's been a long day."

"It is tomorrow Codie," he said.


"When I brought you here it was still daytime, but you slept through that and the night. It's the next day."

"Oh. Can I still stay though?"

"No, I think you can go home."

"But the doctor at the hospital said I was supposed to be there for awhile. Should I be moving around from place to place all the time?"

"Well it would be better for you to be at a hospital… to keep your head injury in check, but I think your parents will argue for you to stay at home. And you'll be fine there as long as you don't move around too much."

I sighed again.

"You're not getting out of this. You told me to act and that's what I'm doing," he said.

He turned and left the room to call the cab. He was right. I had gotten myself into this predicament. At least Varner, Jason, and Marc would be safe… hopefully.

I grabbed the sandwich off the nightstand and bit into it. It tasted delicious, but maybe that was because I didn't remember the last time I had actually eaten. While I scarfed it down, I saw a little dark head peep out from around the doorframe.

"Hello," I said. "You can come in if you want."

Lily's whole body appeared in the doorway. She held a piece of paper in her hand.

"What's that?" I said.

She walked to my bedside and handed the sheet to me.

"It's for you," she said, in a shy voice.

I examined the paper. There was a large circle that was colored a light gray on black construction paper.

"What is it?" I said.

"It's the moon," she said.

I froze and my thoughts immediately went to the dream I kept having. The car accident, the fire, the moon in the sky… Why would Lily draw a moon? And why would she give it to me? I refocused my eyes to ask her, but she was already gone.

I had a bite left of my sandwich, but couldn't finish it. I tossed it back onto the plate on the nightstand. I gazed back at the drawing. I stared so hard at it I began to believe there was no way the dream wasn't coming true.

Hey everyone! Holy cow it's been a long time! I really need to stop taking such long absences (darn school and boy drama). It's hard to make sure I'm accurate with everything (please tell me if I'm not) and it's hard to keep everything tied together! However, I appreciate all of you sticking around though and reading! I really do! You guys are the best! Anyway, I hope you were all able to enjoy this chapter and all the goodies/information it gave you! As always, I would love if you left a review! Thanks!

Much love,