CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

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Zion wanted to hit his father, and I feared he would. His father wasn't what I had imagined him to be. I was expecting a hulking man, but he was of average build and had a sly demeanor. His charisma was not plain, but I was sure that I had not been around him long enough to learn his quirks.

With a closer look at him I could tell his suit was ill fitting and the bags under his eyes were large and dark. His tone remained calm, but his body language had been desperate. Zion gained the attention of others while his father demanded it. I was looking at a man who had a hard life.

Zane had stomped into the room like a petulant child. We had just met, but I knew that I did not like him. He was aggressive and negative, which I found off-putting. He sat in the armchair like it belonged to him.

Zephyr differed from the two men. Every action Zane made earned an eye roll from her. She was calm while they were fidgeting. She needed nothing from Zion. She sat with her legs crossed, resting her head on her and. Her curly hair framed her gorgeous face. She looked nothing like her father, but shared a subtle similarity with her siblings. She was in her mid-twenties meaning she was a child born from an affair.

"You have fifty-eight minutes left," Zion said. His hand rested on my knee. It was something he did for both of our comfort.

"Look boys I know that I was wrong for leaving you all but I." Zaire cut him off not having the patience to sit through justifications. They had gone through so much not only because he left them but also because of the way he did it.

"Wrong isn't the word for what you did. You left my mom to figure out how to survive with no money. She had to support two kids while you went down the yellow brick road to your perfect little family. I don't want to hear the reasons you did something so fucked up." Zaire fidgeted in his seat.

"Zaire I understand. The thing is, I was unhappy with your mom and it was hard to stay there." I restrained a laugh of disbelief. Zephyr turned to her father and squinted.

"That's strike two," Zaire said. His voice was menacing, and he began cracking his knuckles.

"You want to know what's hard? My mom worked two jobs all day into the night. That was hard. Hard is Zion becoming my parent and dealing with my anger management issues. I also need to add that he did this while my mother worked herself to death. We lived in a van for a while. We had thought it was cool because we didn't have to sleep on top of our things. Hard is having to suppress your stomach growling so your brother doesn't feel bad for taking the day off from work to take a test so he didn't lose his scholarship." Tears ran down his face as he explained the hardships he faced growing up.

"So what. You still need to respect our dad," Zane said. He leaned up trying to be threatening but nobody reacted the way he was looking for. I cringed at his performance.

"Nobody asked you to speak. Don't talk again unless you want to eat through a straw," Zion threatened. Zions icy demeanor made his new youngest brother sit back silently.

"I didn't know you guys went through all of that. If I would have known." Walter trailed off.

"You wouldn't have done shit. You would have been the same deadbeat mother fucker you have always been." Zion's tightly orchestrated composure was slowly becoming unwound. "What do you want from me? It's getting late and you are ticking me off."

The sympathetic looks Walter had warped into a restrained smile. Just like the snake I thought he was. "I have been in a financial bind for the last few weeks. I don't know how to explain this."

"He's been running a scam on loan sharks, and they are looking for their money or his head on a plate. He wants to stay here with you and for you to pay his debts. I'm only here because he tried the same with me and I wanted to see how this would go with you," Zephyr said.

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