CHAPTER TWENTY ONE
Kevin’s mouth dropped open. “What?!”
“Kevin… Brian has a twin,” Leighanne said.
“What are you talking about?” Kevin cried. “A twin?!”
“Yes, a twin,” Leighanne repeated. “And I think somehow this twin has done something with the real Brian and has been posing as him for God knows how long.”
Kevin’s mouth dropped open. “That’s insane!” he spat.
“I thought so too. But, Kevin, it makes sense. Brian’s been acting funny for weeks. And… well, AJ called me two nights ago to ask me about something. Have you noticed that Brian’s scar has disappeared?”
“His scar. The one on his chest. AJ told me it’s gone.”
Kevin was silent, thinking back to the last time he had seen Brian shirtless, just two nights earlier, when they were swimming. He hadn’t really looked closely enough to notice. He had gotten so used to the scar that he never noticed it anymore.
“It’s gone?” he asked in disbelief.
“I guess so. I never noticed it either, but the only time I’ve seen Brian’s chest in the past few weeks has been when we’re making love, and… well, I was thinking of other things then. But AJ swore it wasn’t there, and I believe him. Something’s not right. The man that’s there with you now is not my husband.”
“So what are you saying?” Kevin asked, still in a state of shock and confusion. “That Brian has an evil twin who’s kidnapped him and taken over his life and that he was the one who did this to AJ?”
He was making it sound like a joke, but as he said it, he couldn’t help but think of how serious Leighanne sounded. Leighanne may have been blonde, but she definitely wasn’t dumb, and if she believed it, it could be true.
“Yes,” Leighanne said, her voice grave. “That’s exactly what I’m saying. Kevin, we have to do something. If this is true, he’s done something to Brian and to AJ. You, Howie, or Nick could be next!”
A chill ran through Kevin’s spine, as her words echoed through his ears. You could be next!
He swallowed hard and gripped the phone tightly to his ear.
“So what do we do?”
Kevin was up at the crack of dawn the next morning, after less than two hours’ sleep. He had talked to Leighanne for hours, and they had decided the best way to make sure Brian’s twin didn’t hurt anyone else was to go to the police.
But to do that, they needed proof that he really had stabbed AJ. Otherwise, if the police arrested him only to find they were unable to prove he was the attacker and released him, there would definitely be trouble. If they were going to get rid of him, they had to do it right. And that meant finding evidence.
But Kevin’s first concern was AJ. He had called the hospital as soon as he woke up and was told that his friend was out of surgery, but in critical condition. Kevin was just relieved that AJ had made it through the night and could only hope he would get better.
He wanted to go to the hospital to be with AJ, but first, he had to get into “Brian’s” room. He waited until six and then knocked on “Brian’s” door.
It took a few minutes, but finally, the door swung open, and there stood a sleepy-eyed Brian look alike.
“It’s six in the morning! What the hell do you want!?” the man asked irritably, rubbing his eyes and glaring at Kevin.
Kevin tried his best not to glare right back. But he was now certain that this was not Brian. The real Brian never would act like that.
“Don’t you want to go see AJ?” he asked. He inwardly smiled, for he was actually testing the imposter. Obviously, he didn’t care to go see AJ at all, but the real Brian would want nothing more than to be there. He was curious to see how well this twin could act.
As it turned out, pretty well.
“Yeah, of course,” “Brian” said, his tone softening so that he almost sounded compassionate. “We’re leaving now?”
“Pretty soon. Go get ready,” Kevin said. Slyly, he added, “And make sure you take a shower and get freshened up. You look like shit, cuz.”
I’m a pretty damn good actor too, Kevin thought smugly, as his cousin (who actually was still his cousin, since he was Brian’s twin) nodded and walked back into the room, heading for the bathroom. Normally, the door would have clicked shut behind him, but Kevin caught it with his foot and silently stepped in before letting it shut.
He hid just inside the doorway until he heard the imposter shut the bathroom door. When the shower water began to run, he hurried into the room to find Brian’s luggage.
He found Brian’s suitcase and hauled it onto his bed, flipping the latches up and opening it. Kevin sorted through piles of wadded up clothes, looking for AJ’s key, a knife, or anything that would prove “Brian’s” guilt.
At the bottom of the suitcase, he found a shaving kit and opened it up. And lying inside, right between a bottle of shaving cream and a razor, was a knife.
Kevin stared at it in awe, his body beginning to tremble. This was it. He had found the weapon. He started to reach into grab it, but stopped himself. The police would need to fingerprint it, and he sure didn’t want his prints on it.
Just as he was trying to figure out how to get a hold of the knife without touching it with his bare hands, the door to the bathroom swung open, and “Brian” walked back into the room. And there stood Kevin, looking like a deer caught in headlights.
“Kevin?” the twin asked in shock.
And then his eyes came to rest on what was laying on the bed right in front of Kevin. The suitcase, the shaving kit, and… the knife.
CHAPTER TWENTY TWO
Leighanne lay awake in bed, just thinking. She had gotten only a couple hours of restless sleep the night before, and now it was nine in the morning. She knew that out in California, Kevin was planning to find evidence to get the Brian imposter arrested. It was her job to try to find the real Brian. But what should she do? Who should she call? Where should she go?
That was what she was thinking about. And just as she was about to call the police, a flashback came jolting into her memory…
Leighanne sat at a red light, examining her freshly manicured nails. She suddenly heard the screeching of car tires and looked up to see a silver BMW pull a U-turn on the road in front of her and head back in the other direction.
That’s Brian, she realized, watching the car speed away from her. She squinted, watching as his car got smaller and smaller in the distance. Where was he going?
As the light changed to green, Leighanne decided to follow him and practically gunned her engine, hurrying to catch up to him. Why is he going this way? she wondered, perplexed. This road leads out of town.
Her confusion increased as she followed him all the way out of Atlanta and into the rural area just outside of the city. Never taking her eyes off his car, she drove on, just far enough away from him to still be able to see his car but not be recognized when he looked into his rearview mirror.
Her mouth opened in surprise as he suddenly made a left turn, pulling into the driveway of a small house sitting all alone in a field…
“Leigh! Boy, am I glad to see you!”
“Brian?” Leighanne asked, looking around in confusion. “What are you doing here?”
“Well, I was just about out of gas and stopped here to see if this man had any. Thank the Lord he does. He’s goin’ to get me some now.”
“What are you doing all the way out here though?” she asked.
“Uh… well, I can’t tell you, honey. It… it has to do with a surprise I have planned for you. Yeah, that’s it. A surprise.” He flashed her an innocent smile.
“A surprise? What kind of surprise?” Leighanne asked.
“Well, I can’t tell you that, silly,” Brian replied. “Then it wouldn’t be a surprise!”
She smiled, rolling her eyes. “Well, fine then. It better be good though, mister.”
Now, Leighanne frowned. She had never gotten any surprise. She doubted “Brian” was even out of gas that day. He had been up to something. And it took place at that house.
Brendan stood in the bathroom doorway, his eyes flicking from Kevin, to the bed, to his suitcase, to his shaving kit, to his knife, and back to Kevin, whose face was a mask of guilt.
Brendan knew then that his charade was over. With Kevin, at least. And that meant one thing - one of them was going down. And as far as Brendan was concerned, it wasn’t going to be him.
Kevin’s eyes widened as the imposter’s eyes narrowed.
He knows I know.
Kevin knew then that his plan wasn’t going to go exactly how he wanted it to. There was going to be trouble. One of them was going down. And as far as Kevin was concerned, it wasn’t going to be him.
The twin glared levelly at Kevin. And suddenly, he made a move, darting forward, his eyes focused on one thing – the knife.
But Kevin was quick. With one swift motion, he snatched the knife away, no longer caring whose fingerprints stained it. He held it out menacingly and saw the imposter freeze.
Kevin couldn’t help but grin darkly. He had control. He had power. It was a good feeling.
“Who are you?” he asked, making his voice as low and intimidating as he could.
The imposter was not as easily scared as Kevin had hoped though. He glared back at Kevin with just as much intimidating. But although Kevin was slightly afraid of this man, who had done such horrible things, he didn’t back down. He kept telling himself that he had all the advantages – he was armed, he was angry, and he was much bigger than the imposter, who had the same small frame as Brian.
“I said who are you?!” Kevin boomed.
He saw the imposter flinch ever-so-slightly, and he smiled in satisfaction. Underneath his bravado, this man was a coward. And that was another advantage.
“Brendan,” the man muttered, his voice so low Kevin could barely hear him.
“Brendan Graves,” the man spat, his voice rising angrily.
“Brendan Graves,” Kevin echoed, saying the name with utter disdain. “Now tell me, Brendan Graves, did you attack AJ last night?”
Brendan stood with his arms crossed over his chest, glaring at Kevin in complete defiance. Kevin took a step forward, holding out his knife. “I asked you a question,” he said through gritted teeth, taking another step forward.
Brendan continued to glare at Kevin and did not move. Maybe he was not so much of a coward after all.
But Kevin did not back down. He took yet another step forward, thrusting his knife forward. It was close to touching Brendan. He glared at the look-alike, his green eyes boring into Brendan’s blue ones, which were so much like Brian’s.
Brendan took a step back.
Kevin stepped forward.
Brendan stepped back again. Before he knew it, he was up against the wall, and Kevin was standing in front of him with a sharp knife.
Brendan swallowed hard. How am I going to get out of this? he wondered, a sense of panic rising within him.
But then, suddenly, came the distraction he had been looking for, as the door to the suite swung open.
CHAPTER TWENTY THREE
Kevin looked up to see Nick just inside the room, his eyes wide, his mouth dropped open.
“What the hell are you doing!?” he cried, rushing over to Kevin.
Kevin’s eyes widened. If anyone could ruin this situation, it was Nick. He was Brian’s best friend and bigger than Kevin. And he had no idea of what was really happening. He was going by what it looked like, which Kevin knew was not good. To Nick, it looked like Kevin was holding his best friend at knifepoint.
“Get back, Nick!” Kevin screamed, keeping the knife out towards Brendan’s throat.
Nick’s eyes widened even further, but he obeyed and took a slight step back. “Kevin,” he said, talking as if he were speaking to a three-year-old. “Put down the knife. You don’t want to hurt Brian with that knife now, do you?”
Kevin clenched his teeth in frustration. Nick just didn’t get it. “Nick, this isn’t Brian!” he shouted.
Nick stared at Kevin in shock. “Kevin, are you insane? What the hell is wrong with you!?” he cried, his “put the gun down, Kevin” tone gone.
“He’s the one that’s insane!” Kevin shouted, thrusting the gun towards Brendan.
“Kevin, stop!” Nick shrieked, rushing towards Kevin again.
Terrified that Nick was going to grab the knife away and ruin everything, Kevin did the only thing he could. He turned on Nick and held the knife out.
“Get back, Nick,” he growled.
Nick stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes glued to the gleaming knife blade. “Kevin, please,” he pleaded. “You don’t want to do this.”
“Shut up!” Kevin yelled.
Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Brendan raise his fist. And too late, he realized his mistake of taking the knife off the true threat. Before he knew it, Brendan’s fist was in his face, and everything was black.
Nick let out a shuddering breath. “God, Brian,” he gasped. “That was good! Where did you learn to hit like that?!”
Brian smiled strangely. “Oh, I dunno. I’ve just had a lot of practice lately on my brother.”
Nick’s head shot up, and he cocked his head at Brian. “Huh?” Nick was confused. “Did you just say you’ve had a lot of practice on your brother? You hit Harry?!”
“No, not that brother. I meant my twin brother. I think you might have met him before. His name’s Brian. That name ring a bell?”
Nick stared at Brian. “Dude, that’s not even funny,” he said.
“It wasn’t a joke.”
“Brian, stop it!” Nick cried, completely confused and a little scared by the weird things his best friend was saying.
“Oh, Nicky,” Brian sighed. “You messed up, buddy, you know that?”
Nick stepped back from Brian. “I gotta go finish getting ready now, I think,” he said, his voice sounding shaky.
“No, I don’t think you do,” Brian replied, picking up the knife that lay next to Kevin’s unconscious body.
“Brian, what are you doing with that?” Nick asked, his eyes widening.
“You really aren’t the sharpest tool in the shed, are you?”
“Brian, what are you talking about?” Nick cried. Was he missing something here? What was going on?
“Will you stop calling me Brian already?!” the man exploded.
Nick froze. “What?”
“My name is Brendan! Brendan, you retard! Kevin was right! I’m not Brian! Jesus, maybe you should listen to the old fart from now on!”
Common sense told Nick to turn and run at that point. But he couldn’t. Not only was he frozen in place, but he couldn’t leave Kevin there in the clutches of this psycho that he had once thought to be his best friend.
“What are you talking about?” Nick asked, his voice soft and wavery.
“God, don’t tell me I have to explain this again!” Brendan cried, throwing his hands up in the air in mock exasperation.
Now, Nick might have been portrayed as being “not the brightest crayon in the box” by the media and the fans. But in real life, he was actually pretty smart. And he was a quick thinker too. And that’s why, in that split second that Brendan had his hands up, Nick choked back his fear and punched Brendan right in the gut, as hard as he could.
Brendan let out a choked scream and doubled over in pain, the knife falling from his hand. Nick darted forward and grabbed it with lightening speed. And then the tables were turned again, with Nick in Kevin’s position, his knife outstretched and pointed at the imposter.
“Gee, Brendan,” he said in a taunting voice, “that was a pretty stupid move. Guess you’re not the sharpest tool in the shed either.” He grinned smugly down at Brendan. And as Brendan let out a hoarse cry and lunged at Nick, Nick thrust his arm out and plunged the knife into Brendan’s flesh.