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Chapter 5 Revelation

  • I swung through the door before my nerve left me completely and spotted my aunt Paula sat behind the counter tapping away on a computer. The bell chimed to announce me. My eyes darted round every direction - it was totally empty, maybe she was closing for lunch soon - and finally landed on her.
  • Paula looked up. She stared at me. I stared at her. I clutched my shopping bag nervously, other hand in my pocket to play it off like I hadn't been gone for nine months.
  • "What the hell are you doing here?" she rudely broke the silence.
  • I took a couple steps forwards in my nice new Deerupts. "Why's there nobody here?"
  • Paula tugged at her long black braid of hair. I hadn't exactly wanted fanfare and welcome back banners, but I was her favorite niece, for God's sake. Why was she being so snappy?
  • "What… I…" she stood up and came round to appraise me, standing two feet away in case I was carrying some unknown contagious disease. "You're skinny as a rake, Kiara. God. You look awful."
  • Awful! That was a bald-faced lie and my aunt wasn't looking too hot herself. I gritted my teeth and reminded myself I needed her help.
  • I also reminded myself that if she wanted she could've found out where I was and sent parcels up to the girl's home. Had she? No. So maybe I didn't need her after all.
  • "Your hair… It's so thin," Paula continued to flatter me. "And why are you yellow?"
  • Skinny as a rake, thin hair, yellow skin. I didn't kid myself that I was a top model right now but I could only take so many blows to my self esteem.
  • "Alright, alright," I smacked my glossy lips. "No need to be so kind. I haven't been out much."
  • Paula shook her head as she sized me up. "I don't get it. I thought you were in juvie. How did you come back?"
  • So no one had remembered my birthday this year either. I was eighteen and a day and no mention of it. "I left yesterday," I tapped my foot on the tiled floor. "Why wouldn't I come back? I wasn't in juvie anyway."
  • Juvie was for lawbreakers. I hadn't broken any law.
  • "Typical of you," Paula looked away. "You come back like nothing ever happened and expect us all to bow down at your feet, I guess."
  • "That's not true!" I half-lied. "Where else would I bloody go? This is my home."
  • "What home? Did you conveniently forget your parents and brothers are in prison, or are you so self-absorbed you haven't thought about them?"
  • I knew what she was doing. She wanted to make me feel small. She wanted me to grovel. It just wasn't in me. Of course I remembered everyone was in prison but if I couldn't do anything for them there was no use in moping round, dwelling on the subject.
  • "If I'm not wanted I'll go, it's no problem," I rolled my eyes though my heart thudded under my blue tracksuit. Aunt Paula was my lifeline for the moment.
  • "And where else would you go? Off with another drug dealer to play your games?" Paula paced round the empty shop, gesticulating with her hands. "Do you think any of them will want you now? You're even dumber than I thought."
  • "I wasn't dumb when I used to come in here and spend my money!" I sniffed. No, back then I'd been everyone's fave. Now nobody wanted me. I was a pariah after all.
  • "Your money? Your father's money, perhaps, and it's all gone now so don't think you can come lording it up here." Paula glared at me with her dark beady eyes. "Bloody irresponsible and empty-headed you are. You've lost and you still have the audacity to pop up and act like nothing's gone wrong."
  • I turned on my heel before I could spit out something really poisonous, but to my surprise Paula placed a hand on my shoulder to hold me back.
  • "Get off!" I shook her away in distaste. "I don't need your pity or your insults."
  • "And where else will you go? Don't think your grandparents want you at their door. As it happens they're not even here."
  • Despite myself I wanted to know more. "And where would they go? Don't tell me they got locked up too, they're too old."
  • Paula invited me wordlessly to have a seat in one of the hairdressing chairs. While I perched she walked round and round again getting herself all worked up.
  • "They sold the house and they're living in Campamento now. They need a quiet life after everything that happened last year. Kiara, you don't realize how worried everyone was. Oh, we all put two and two together, realized you were gallivanting with that married man, but it was like you vanished into thin air. Nobody knew where he was and -"
  • One word in particular stuck out. "What do you mean, married?"
  • "Yes, Kiara, married. You went tumbling off into his bed quick enough so I guess you didn't care."
  • Maybe Paula was getting Yunai mixed up with his brother because Yunai certainly wasn't married. He would've had a white band on his finger from wearing the ring. And for God's sake, he wouldn't have dragged me along with him everywhere if he'd been married.
  • "No, Paula, Yunai wasn't married," I said calmly but surely. "He was single. Contrary to what you all think I don't go sneaking round with married men. That's Saray Morente."
  • Paula tipped her head back and laughed. It wasn't a nice laugh; it was unpleasant and humorless. Coming here had been a bad, bad idea.
  • "Oh come off it, Kiara. Yunai is married. Separated from his child's mother, yes, because he was running round playing drug dealers with you, but he wasn't legally divorced."
  • "If he's separated it doesn't matter then," I wrinkled my nose. How useless to be arguing over Yunai after all this time. He was history. Good riddance.
  • "I'm sure it doesn't matter to you, anyway."
  • "It doesn't, because Yunai kidnapped me." If I repeated the same lie enough times it would become true. I'd stick to that story until I died. "He tricked me. He said we were just going on holiday but then it all went wrong and I couldn't leave."
  • Paula stopped in her tracks, hands on hips, and gave me a hard look but I didn't flinch. My blank expression barely wavered.
  • "You're telling me you were with him for months on end and never had the chance to leave, I guess."
  • "Never!" I was fired up with conviction. "I'll admit I left town with him because everyone else treated me badly, yes, but it wasn't meant to go this way, none of it. I don't know what you think of me."
  • She didn't reply. Maybe Paula didn't know what she thought of me either. Here I was, her little sister's youngest child, with nowhere to go and nobody to rely on, and she was being such a bitch. No wonder her husband spent the day drinking and whittling her money away, with such a harpy for a wife.
  • "It's all David's fault anyway," she muttered, slumping down into a chair opposite me. "Him and his ego. He turned all of you into monsters, took you all down with him."
  • I played with my fingertips, pretending to be in deep thought, secretly wondering when to ask her for some new acrylics. Maybe it wasn't the right time.
  • "But at the end of the day, you're my niece. And it's not like I can leave you alone in the world. Rocío wouldn't want me to do that."
  • Bingo.