“So I spoke to the front desk,” Nikki moved some hair out of her eyes, “they’re fine to extend for another week if we wanted to.”
“Another week?” Isaac’s brow rose and he scratched his cheek.
“Yeah,” she shrugged, “I mean it’s a nice place, the boys like it here… we haven’t had any trouble, so why move on yet?”
Isaac looked through the window into the café where Everett and Monroe were ordering some food.
“It wasn’t the plan,” was all he could come up with.
“Screw the plan,” Nikki frowned, “we can’t do this forever.”
“It hasn’t even been a year,” Isaac muttered under his breath.
“And a year is about a tenth of the boys’ lives already,” Nikki wasn’t having it.
Isaac sighed to himself, seeing Monroe carefully making his way back with their coffees.
“Okay,” he shrugged, “we’ll stay.”
“Thank you,” Nikki was suddenly beaming before turning her attention to Monroe.
She helped him set the coffees down before he turned to Isaac.
“Dad? I think Uncle Tay’s in there but he’s being weird,” he pulled a face.
“Wasn’t Tay in Dallas yesterday?” Nikki looked confused.
“He was,” Isaac was looking through the window again, “where?”
“Everett’s talking to him. Or trying to.”
“Do you think…?” Nikki was looking him in the eye.
“Stay here,” Isaac put a hand on Monroe’s shoulder as he stood, “I’ll go check it out.”
He made his way into the café, excusing himself as he made his way through the crowd toward where his eldest son stood at the front of the line. He could see the barista bent over the counter. Everett jumped when Isaac touched his shoulder and the barista stood up. Isaac froze on the spot.
He was the spitting image of Taylor, but there was something odd he couldn’t quite put his finger on. His hair was in a similar style to the last way he’d seen Taylor’s so that couldn’t be it.
“Dad he’s being weird,” Everett broke his haze.
“Pére?” the stranger raised a brow.
“Oui,” Isaac nodded, squeezing Everett’s shoulder and indicating for him to step aside, “pardon.”
The man shrugged and moved on to serving the next customer.
“Dad! What’s going on?”
“That’s not your Uncle,” Isaac said under his breath as he led him out of the café.
“Just come outside!” Isaac insisted, not wanting to cause a scene.
“-What about our food?”
Isaac stopped in his tracks and winced.
“Go out to your Mom, I’ll get it,” he insisted, sending his son on his way.
He turned back apprehensively. He could see the food had been set aside, and the barista was watching him with an amused glint in his eye as he continued to serve customers. Isaac still couldn’t put his finger on what seemed off about him but tried to put it down to the language barrier.
He paused to wait until he’d finished with his current customer before stepping forward.
“Excusez-moi,” he apologised to the person behind them, before taking a moment to try and get his French together, “toi… ah… you, toi, you look like my brother.”
The man squinted, knowing he was trying and seeming to give him the benefit of the doubt.
“Brother? Ah…” he quickly pulled out his phone where he had a translator he’d been using, “frére?”
“Parlez-vous anglais?” Isaac raised a brow.
“Er... small,” he held his pointer and thumb half an inch apart, “small, small English.”
“Okay…” Isaac quickly typed into the translator, “vous regardez… comme mon frére?”
Not sure he was saying it properly, he showed him the screen with both translations. He seemed to consider it for a moment, he seemed to consider Isaac for a moment, and then his eyes lit up.
“Hanson!” he exclaimed, “you are Hanson?”
“Yes!” Isaac was just happy to get his point across, “I mean, oui! Isaac.”
The man was smiling now and he indicated the phone. Isaac shrugged and watched as he began to type. One of the other workers walked past and quite obviously berated him for not serving further customers but he just waved her off. When he handed the phone back Isaac couldn’t help but smirk. The translator said ‘people tell me I look like Taylor Hanson’.
“You certainly do,” Isaac said aloud, “what’s your name? Prénom?”
“Keandre,” he offered his hand, which Isaac shook.
He took the phone back and typed again. Isaac checked over his shoulder, seeing his wife watching from outside. Keandre handed the phone back.
‘Why are you in France?’
“Vacation?” Isaac tried, relieved when he nodded.
He took the phone back and typed ‘what time do you get off work?’
When he handed it back, he caught a small wince. Worried that Keandre wasn’t interested in maintaining contact he quickly pulled the phone back and retyped.
‘I think it’s important to talk to you. Can we talk?’
Now he just looked confused.
“S’il vous plaît?” Isaac pleaded.
Keandre took the phone and translated ‘is something wrong?’
Isaac stopped to think about that one. On the one hand, yes. On the other, he didn’t want Keandre running away just yet.
‘I have some information you will be interested in,’ he typed, ‘about your parents’.
Now Keandre was frowning and he checked over his shoulder. In doing so he caught the other barista doing something wrong and quickly berated her.
“S’il vous plaît,” Isaac repeated, trying to get his attention again.
Keandre sighed before typing back.
‘What about my parents?’
‘I know who they are,’ Isaac responded, ‘I know why you were adopted’.
Keandre shook his head at that and shrugged before his lacklustre response.
‘I was not adopted.’
Isaac froze on the spot before his eyebrows rose. He looked Keandre in the eye but got nothing back. He seemed done with the conversation, and looked a little awkward.
Isaac’s mind raced.
“She ran,” he realised aloud, “she fled the country. She brought you here.”
Keandre’s eyes narrowed and Isaac realised he’d only understood a couple of words.
‘You were born in the States,’ he typed.
Keandre hesitated at that, pursing his lips. Isaac couldn’t help but flashback to Taylor working in the studio. The thought killed the mood a little.
“Oui,” Keandre eventually frowned.
‘Did your mother ever talk to you about an experiment?’ Isaac asked next.
Keandre shook his head before looking over his shoulder again. Isaac could tell he was uncomfortable and really wanted to leave.
‘Please meet me after work?’ he tried again, ‘we have a lot to talk about, I promise.’
Shifting his weight, Keandre held up his hand.
“Cinq,” he said, “je finis à cinq.”
“You finish at five?” Isaac checked, taking the phone back when Keandre nodded, “great! Five! Merci! I will be back.”
Keandre just shrugged again before turning and getting back to work. Isaac finally walked out.
“Your coffee’s getting cold,” Nikki gave him a sly look.
“Who was that?” Everett asked.
“A good lookalike,” Isaac insisted as he sat down, “I’m going to come back and talk to him later today.”
“You are?” Nikki raised a brow, “does he… know?”
“I don’t think so,” Isaac shook his head, “and I’m not sure I want to be the one to tell him either.”
“Know what?” Monroe asked.
“You might not have a choice there,” Nikki pointed out.
“I need to call Tay,” Isaac rolled his eyes, sipping at his lukewarm coffee.
Mark grunted as he was pushed down into the opposite couch to Russo, but whoever had hold of his hair wasn’t letting go.
“And if you are not who we think you are…” the much larger man seemed amused, “just who might you be?”
“My name’s Mark,” he tried to look up at the man that held him but couldn’t see his face, “Mark Miller.”
Russo eyed the man and indicated for him to let Mark go. Once he had Mark grunted and scratched at his head.
“You’re his brother,” Russo was suddenly not amused, “we knew of a brother, but he neglected to tell us he was a twin.”
“Sure,” Mark glared at the man standing over him.
“Where’s Colin?” he demanded, looking down with a stern expression.
“Dead,” Mark blurted, before wondering if that was such a good idea.
“How long?” Russo was stroking his beard calmly.
He didn’t seem at all surprised.
“I don’t know. At least six months,” Mark shrugged, “I’ve been living here since then.”
“Why?” the man above him demanded.
“Because my place fucking sucks, why do you care?” Mark scorned.
“There’s no need for the language,” Russo insisted, “if you’re his brother you’re already aware of Mr Reis’ extra-curricular activities.”
Mark shrugged at that.
“The question now is… how can you help me?”
“Hey, this thing was Colin’s forte, not mine,” Mark insisted, “I highly doubt that I can help you at all.”
“If he’s no use to us…” the man behind him suddenly armed a gun.
His gun, Mark quickly realised.
“Whoa, whoa, wait!” he insisted, raising his hands, “what do you want from me, I’m not a lawyer! I don’t know what he was doing with all the numbers bullshit! I wouldn’t know where to start!”
“You’re not making a case for yourself,” Russo pointed out.
“Tell me what I can do,” Mark insisted, “if I just have to look like him, I can do anything you want.”
“Do you have access to his accounts?” the man over him asked.
“I could get it,” Mark shrugged, “but last I heard he didn’t have anything in them.”
“What did he tell you?”
“Nothing, he wasn’t big on spreading the brotherly love,” Mark scorned, “we found out later he transferred all his money out before he died.”
He froze when Russo stood from the chair. He wasn’t intimidated by his henchmen, but Russo was something else altogether.
He made his way over to Mark’s side, taking a gentle hold of his chin and turning his head to the side. Mark quickly realised he was studying the scar.
“Do you know where to? And how much?” he asked absently.
“All he had left, he split it between four accounts,” Mark felt himself tense, “four mil all up.”
“Only four?” Russo’s interest seemed to peak.
“It was all we found,” Mark frowned before Russo let his chin go.
Russo paused, staring at his chest. When he reached over to pull Mark’s shirt aside at the collar Mark didn’t move. Russo looked over the tattoo he’d seen the edge of with interest.
“You’re nothing like your brother,” he mused, his eyes meeting Mark’s.
“It’s been said,” Mark swallowed a small lump in his throat.
“But you might still be able to help us,” Russo let his shirt go, “your physical resemblance may come in handy for dealing with our mutual acquaintances. How many people know that he is dead?”
“I don’t know,” Mark answered honestly, “I came here… a few days after. He’d been gone for two weeks. I haven’t met anyone else.”
“Even better,” the man behind him commented.
“You obviously don’t have his cell phone,” Russo observed.
“No,” Mark admitted, “the people that killed him took everything.”
“You know who killed him,” Russo realised, and Mark immediately regretted saying it the way he did.
“…Sort of,” his brow furrowed.
“Did you kill him?” the man behind demanded.
“No,” Mark wasn’t at all confident in his answer but quickly tried to cover it, “I was just there.”
“It doesn’t matter what happened,” Russo insisted, “what matters is who knows that he is gone, and if it’s going to influence our future dealings with the law.”
“I can count on one hand the number of people who know,” Mark tried to assure, “no one that would be a problem. I don’t think. But the people who took his body, the people responsible… they might be a problem.”
“Who are they?” the third man asked from over his right shoulder.
“They’re scientists, from Nevada,” Mark answered openly, “possibly now in Dallas. They held him captive for two weeks before his death. Now they could be after me too.”
If getting on the right side of the mob was going to help Mark avoid Morris and his colleagues, he was going to take that route for all he was worth.