When Tristan agreed to a meetup, this is not what he had in mind. He expects to have her eating out the palm of his hand, not having his ass handed to him as she spits fire.

The smell of coffee and vanilla fills his senses. He takes a sip of his coffee. He despises the bitter kind, but she ordered it for him anyway. Thoughtful? Not quite.

Her choice to meet here is interesting. This was the very same café where they loitered in after school with their friends. The owner changed since then, but their products taste the same.

Did she mean to make him feel so bittersweet? Nostalgic of the past? She even picked their spot.

Unfortunate that three of their friends have died. Sitting here feels as if their ghosts are listening in.

Tristan knows better. Obviously, she chose this place because its well hidden. Hence, why they used to hang out here so often. The few that are still alive from back then have now left the country and are now leading their own lives.

If only he could have stayed in those moments forever.

She straightens her posture, her velvet blue dress hugging her figure. Her thick black hair cascades around her shoulders. While her gentle cheekbones and sweet demeanor make her appear doll-like, Tristan knows better than to be deceived. When they were children, one look at her big blue eyes and she could get away with anything. Nothing gets past him.

”Mellie. Please don make me do this. It isn too late. I can make arrangements. Then everything would be the same. ” He cups her delicate hands into his rough, slender ones. The golden bangles on her wrists are cold to the touch. Melody takes out a picture and hands it to him. She watches him silently as he widens his eyes.

Nothing stays the same. No point in putting out an empty promise and flowery words, but hes desperate.

”This is…? ” Tristan stares at the picture and smiles. Tears begin to form in his eyes, warmth blooming in his chest.

”My little boy. ” She said as he reads the note at the back of the picture. He smiles, chuckling as he set the picture down. He hands it back; to which she waves away. He took a bite out of a churro, dipping it in chocolate. Hed be the best Uncle ever. No excuses, a picture for every move and video for each achievement!

Wait. A baby? The gears in his mind click and the joy from earlier is replaced with a deep irritation.

”Oh, Im killing that son of a- ”

”You are to stay away from my husband. ” Melody smiled. He pouts but doesn argue.

After some silence and coffee, she clears her throat.

”I.. Id like you to name him, Tristan. ”

He blinks in disbelief. Him? Name the child? The two stare at one another. He is too caught up in his daydream of looking after the baby to think of anything. A name is important; it can make or break a legacy.

He stares at a sauce packet.

”Haze? ”

She slaps his shoulder, unamused.

”Etienne, ” Tristan said. She nibbles on a biscuit and looks down. The name brings a pang of sorrow, threatening to tear the stitches in his heart.

”Etienne Laurent. I like it. ” Melody nods. She looks up, a sad smile on her face. Things shouldn have ended the way they did, but they
e no longer here.

Life goes on, even when he didn want it to.

He gives her hand a gentle squeeze before letting go. He closes his eyes, silently pleading she wouldn do as he fears. Not that he doubts her abilities, but he knew how just far theyd go to catch her. If not death, theyd cut her tongue for assurance.

They might even go as far as taking the baby away. This is what she chose.

A tear rolls down his face. She pats his face with the same look in her eyes.

”Now, why did you agree to this? I figured youd want to stay away from me. ” She tucks a stray strand of hair behind her ear, revealing a sapphire earring. Seeing Melody wear his gift to her made him feel a swell of pride.

She constantly said she couldn wear such a special pair so casually. At first, he thought she hated it but couldn admit it. Like the duck earrings.

The fact that she knows the truth about their family now puts not only her but her child and partner in danger as well. Melody is gifted with being able to connect dots effortlessly, wherein he would take days to put two and two together.

”Melody, I am not our parents. ” Tristan puts the picture down, his lips in a straight line. Yet he is no different from them. One order and hed shoot without hesitation. Its an unspoken rule within the group to never kill their own, no matter what. But his dear sister is an exception, Melody is family in name only.

”Your parents. We aren blood related. They sent you, didn they? ” Melody narrows her eyes. The lighting of the coffee shop makes her appear more pale than she already is.

”I came here because I wanted to. They know nothing. ” He bites his tongue, fighting the urge to lash out.

Did Melody think he would betray her, just like that? His heart sinks.

A waiter drops by and serves two small plates. Panna cotta with berries on top. Tristan digs in immediately, enjoying himself. It is just a simple mixture of sweetened cream and gelatin, but its his favorite. Melody scoffs and hands him a tissue.

”As messy as always, big brother. ” She comments. He rolls his eyes. Tell him something he doesn know.

While he is still a little angry at his sister, he felt relieved to see her look better. He figures the thought of their parents stresses her out, which can be good for the baby.

Tristan couldn wait to pamper the child. His idea of fun is a far cry from his sisters idea of safety, but she wouldn need to know. From a sweet trip to the mall to an amusement park, hed spend so much time with his nephew.

She takes a few bites out of the dish and pats her lips. Melody looks at her phone and glances at the exit. Oh. Shes leaving already? Without hesitation, he inhales her leftovers. Melody shakes her head in disapproval. What, hed let that go to waste? Come on.

”When aren you hungry? ”

”Hey! The heck is that supposed to mean!? ”

Melody laughs. For a brief moment, they exchange smiles and joke around with one another. Tristan makes the most of it, rescheduling his tears for later.

She glances at the clock.

”I… well see each other again. I promise. ” She said.

Without any hesitation, Tristan slides out of his chair and pulls her in for a hug. Tears slip out and stains her clothes. Melody pats his shoulder and let go. With glassy eyes, she leaves without a word. The sight of her getting smaller and farther away planted a sense of dread in his gut.

She doesn make promises she can keep.

Tristan makes an impatient noise at the back of his throat. Pairs of curious eyes and whispers spreads throughout, but at this point, he didn care. It pleases him to know she can stand her ground now, much different than the helpless little sister of the past. He didn fight the sting behind his eyes, allowing himself to have a moment. He whips out his phone and presses it to his ear.

These bystanders taking pictures of him would be good publicity. Another tab to poke fun at in a few weeks, because people hop from one trend to another. Oh, right.

”Shes gone. ”

Technically it wasn a lie, but not a whole truth either. Looking down at the table, Tristan touches the image of his nephew in the photograph. With Melodys genes, hed grow up to become quite the heartbreaker. Tristan chuckles and places it into his breast pocket. An ice-cold beer would console him, for now.

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