After Justin’s defeat in front of everyone, Valerie’s parents called and she had to go, Uncle Amel left, and Aunt Dahlia went up to my room to watch over Selene. Which left Aiden, Justin, and me all alone in the living room.
I sat there in front of the brother I knew my entire life and next to the brother I didn’t know existed until twenty-four hours ago.
“So…you’re like a doctor. That’s why they were asking you if I was okay? When I was passed out in Angelica’s lair? They kept you alive for thirteen years, is that why?” I asked, my head turned toward Aiden. I didn’t think that was the actual reason, but I wanted to see what he would say.
It still made me feel weird that he was my brother. That we were twins. It was obvious he was related to us. He looked just like him—our dad. I wonder if he even knew, probably not.
“Sure.” He answered indifferently in typical boy language.
“Wha…” I considered my question. Was it too personal? He was my twin. I should get to know him. Right? I went for it, “What’s wrong with you?”
Justin’s head jerked up, “Avery! You can’t just ask people questions like that.”
“It’s okay. We should be getting to know each other, right? I don’t understand your question. What do you mean?” Aiden asked. He looked almost amused.
I felt weird, like someone was pushing feelings into my head. Panic and horror flooded into me. My body jerked with the force of emotions. It felt similar to when I hugged Aiden in Angelica’s lair. Were those his feelings? We shared a dream, so couldn’t we…share feelings?
It couldn’t be…could it?
I whipped my head around, staring at Aiden. Interest and curiosity took over the panic and horror. My eyes widened as I realized the emotions were Aiden’s feelings.
He looked at me, probably realizing the same thing. His icy, light blue eyes stared at me in excitement.
Woah! You can feel me too? They seemed to say. Or did he say that out loud? I couldn’t tell the difference. It was like we had unlocked a level of each other’s brains. Then something else changed. Like something shifted in the deep, dark depths of my mind.
Memories flooded into me.
I played with a small boy with light hair. I stole his toy car. In turn, he took my barbie. I cried, and we traded, once again, content. There was another boy. He was older. He had the same light hair as the younger boy. The older boy played with a girl. She looked different, like mommy. I wanna look like mommy too, I thought.
Water bubbled up in front of me into a ball. Wow! I poked my finger into the ball, and it moved out of my reach and above me before it popped, drenching me. I cried, frustrated. Why did mommy do that?
“Avy, baby, come here,” Mommy called me. Excitement rushed through me as I climbed up into her lap. “Aiden, you too!” She called. I made room for him in her lap, and mommy opened a book. Two dragons intertwined, one blue and one red. “What is that, mommy?” I asked, my voice wobbling as I sounded out the words. “It’s essential in our world. It takes away the power-hungry eyes.” She said. I nodded even though I didn’t understand.
They restrained me and made sure I could watch as they broke her. The cracking of her arms breaking made me sob as I yelled at them.
“Stop. Stop. Please stop.” My voice was hoarse from yelling. My head ached from crying. She was already dead. Why couldn’t they leave her alone? I scratched the floor in anger, wanting to scream after watching the gruesome and cruel torture they inflicted on my mother.
I watched as the man stabbed into her chest with that stupid knife. Hearing the squelch of the knife and what remaining blood she still had dripping off the table, they had laid her on. I turned around, not wanting to witness more when I didn’t have to. I felt guilty for watching as much as I did because I knew watching my mother die hurt her more than any blade ever could have.
Reality whipped back into me. I hugged myself, bringing my knees into my chest on the couch. Grief tortured me, my chest hurting. It felt like there was a hole filling in my chest and being ripped out again, over and over. Tears poured out of my eyes as the sobs racked my body. I understood now.
“I understand…I under-und-understand now,” I said between sobs. I cried harder when Justin asked what happened. It was like I couldn’t forget the anguish, the agony, of losing her. And him. It was like the memories wouldn’t stop coming, like I had a whole other life I didn’t know about. Like that, life was on a loop in my head.
It was so sudden. I had never seen Avery cry this much.
“Avery, what’s wrong?” It was like she couldn’t even hear me. Aiden sat, paralyzed. Realizing I wouldn’t get anything from Avery, I started asking Aiden the same questions. He had to know something or feel something.
He answered with, “She remembers me…”
I assumed she got her memories back. The shock made me stop comforting her as I understood what she meant. I knew that she had unlocked the dragon gene when her body was glowing a deep purple as she cried. I felt horrible about the way she unlocked it. Usually, rogue dragons triggered the gene when angry. I hadn’t met anyone who triggered it with grief and sadness. I couldn’t imagine what she was feeling.
I sat there for a while, still shocked. Aunt Dahlia must have heard the sobbing or felt Avery’s sadness because she came running, asking me what happened when Avery wouldn’t answer. I didn’t know what to say.
“Her memories came back. Well, I think they did. I don’t know if all of them did or just some of them.” I said, more to myself than to her.
“What?” Aunt Dahlia quickly went to Avery’s side, “What do you remember? Sweetie, you need to talk to us. How am I supposed to help if you don’t tell me what’s wrong? We’re all worried.”
I glanced over at Aiden. His mouth was set in a bitter grimace. I looked back at Avery. She sobbed quietly.
What? What was she seeing? I wanted to ask but knew it would get me nowhere. Instead, I moved Aunt Dahlia out of the way, grabbed Avery by the shoulders, and shook her.
“What are you seeing? What do you remember? Only Aiden? Do you see the assassinations?” I turned to Aiden for confirmation. He looked at me with blank eyes before shaking his head.
“No…she isn’t ready for that. She remembers us when we were kids, Selene and me, mom dying. Watching her—She sees it happen. Over and over.” He squeezed his eyes closed, his hands tightening into fists.
I was relieved that she hadn’t remembered the days of her being Angelica’s assassin but also disgusted when he said she was reliving mom’s death. We had erased the real way she died and replaced it with mom dying with a quick bullet to the head. What truly happened was horrible and gruesome. I was horrified when Avery told us what she had seen. By the time they stopped torturing her, she was unrecognizable, her body contorted inhumanly.
Aunt Dahlia gasped behind me. I turned to see her eyes watering before she disappeared. At least I knew Aunt Dahlia cared about mom. Maybe she did care about us too. Though she should take care of us, I didn’t think she wanted to, seeing how it took her such a long time to find us.
Avery stopped sobbing, uncurled her legs, and a determined expression set on her face as she straightened her back. She wiped her tears away and looked up at me.
Her body was still Christmas tree bright. Her blue eyes locked with mine, and they seemed to be glowing. She was angry, I realized, not determined. With what? Or more importantly, who?
Avery pushed me back before getting up, “I’m in,” she looked back at Aiden, “He is too.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked, still looking at the violet light around her.
“Avenging our sister, mother, brother, and I assume our father. We will find Angelica, throw her in some dragon jail, and get Selene on that throne.” Aiden answered, now standing. His body glowing purple like Avery’s.
“Let’s go to Zabaria.”