“Do I even want to know how the hell you know where my house is?”
“Nope,” I answer Cody as I remove the helmet from my head and place it on the back of the motorcycle.
“Stalker alert,” Devin mutters. I kick him in the shins.
“Why are we here?” Cody asks.
“Because your house is one of the only ones not listed in the agency’s database.”
“So, I’m not feeling too confident about trusting said database right now and we need someplace to lay low for a week or so.” I reply to him before muttering under my breath so they can’t here, “I’ll be having a strong worded conversion with Zero later, one that he will not enjoy.”
“What the hell am I supposed to tell my parents?” he questions.
I shrug, “Anything.” he grumbles to himself quietly. I jester for him to go to the door, I mean it is his house after all. He groans and stalks towards the door dramatically. He presses the doorbell.
The door is opened by a woman in her late forties, early fifties, she...well, now I know which parent Cody looks like.
Her face lights up so much when she sees him and she runs towards him without hesitation and throws her arms around him. I don’t believe she’s noticed us.
“Cody! Why didn’t you tell me you were coming? I would’ve prepared food and,” I stop listening as she continues to ramble.
“Mom.” Cody finally interrupts her. “I didn’t really know I was coming.” he shoots me a glare and I yawn while flipping him off, his eyes narrow. His mother finally seems to notice everyone else standing behind him.
“Oh hello boys.” she greets them but her eyes never leave me. I can tell she’s assessing me, probably wondering who I am, and what I’m doing here.
“Hey Mrs. T,” Devin replies with a wave of his hand. Chase and Jason nod in greeting and she gives each one a hug. She finally turns towards me.
“And who might you be?” She asks politely. “I never saw you before and Cody has never brought home any girl as beautiful as you.” she gushes. I raise my eyebrow.
Cody chokes on his spit, eyes going wide.
“I’m Thirteen,” I reply sweetly.
Cody’s still choking, but now I think it’s because he’s discovering that, yes I can, in fact, be nice.
She laughs lightly, “Oh no dear,” she says, “There’s no need to use your agency numbers here.” she waves her hand around slightly as she talks. I glance over at Cody for help. She seems like a really nice lady and I don’t want to seem rude not telling her my name.
He seems to understand and calls out to her, “Mom,” she turns towards him, away from me and I can’t help the sigh of relief I let out. “Can we get into the house please?”
“Oh, of course! You’re all probably exhausted! Right this way.” She disappears into the house and the boys follow her first and then I do.
“I’m so sorry we only have one guest room available right now.” She says to us.
“What?” Cody questions “Why?”
“Well-” She starts but suddenly stops as the sound of thudding footsteps echo from the stairway.
“Hayden?” Cody says in disbelief and a smile spreads across his face as his older brother descends down the staircase.
“Hey bro,” he says, “Mom didn’t tell me you were coming back so soon.” he claps Cody on the back as they pull away from a hug. They obviously don’t see each other much.
“Yeah, it was kinda an unexpected visit on our part.” Cody shrugs. Hayden greets the rest of the boys and his eyes settle on me. I see him stiffen and his eyes go dark. I stare back at him crossing my arms over my chest, showing him that I’m not backing down. He wasn’t supposed to be here.
The muscles in his jaw twitch and I’m sure if I was close enough I’d be able to hear his teeth grinding together. My eyes narrow at him and he finally looks away, turning back to Cody.
“Who’s this?” He jesters to me, the words coming out through gritted teeth. I had figured Hayden had never told Cody about me but I was never sure, now I am.
“She’s...it’s complicated,” Cody responds and rubs the back of his neck nervously. Why would he be nervous?
“Well,” His mother interrupts. “Now you know why only one guest room is available.” she smiles brightly, “Sorry Cody but you guys are going to have to bunk up.”
“I call Jason!” Devin shouts and grabs Jason’s arm dragging him down the hall as Jason lets out a string of protests.
“She can stay with me,” Hayden speaks up, his voice gruff and strained.
I finally decide to speak up. “Ah hell no.”
His narrow and he takes a step towards me as if to say ‘yes you are’, I place my hand on my dagger strapped to my belt, my actions asking ‘do you really want me in your room?’ Cody doesn’t seem to notice the entire exchange.
“Sorry bro but I’m with her on this one,” Thank goodness, “I mean you don’t even know her.” If only he knew. “Chase you ok bunking with my brother?” He asks.
“Fine by me.” Chase answers.
“Come on,” Cody says to me, “There’s a spare couch in my room.” He starts up the stairs and I follow him, Hayden’s eyes never leaving me, I turn my back on him, my hand never leaving my dagger.
We make our way down the hallway to the room on the very end. Cody pushes open the door walking into the room.
It’s surprisingly clean, with a large king sized bed in the middle of the room, a closet on the right, a bathroom on the left, a couch set up in front of a TV, and desk in the corner. I place my backpack on the floor by the door.
“You can take the bed, I’ll take the couch.” He picks up my bag from the floor and tosses it onto the bed, I raise an eyebrow at him. Since when is he nice to me.
I walk up to the bed and remove my bag slinging it over my shoulder. He grabs a few of the pillows from the bed and tosses them into the couch, I toss my bag in the middle of it just as he goes to lie down. I don’t blame him really, we drove all night just to get here, but I’d never get to sleep.
He narrows his eyes at me. “I said I’d take the couch,” he repeats.
“I heard what you said, I’m just choosing to ignore it.” I retort.
“I’m trying to be chivalrous.” he snaps back at me.
“Chivalry is dead because of guys like you.”
He groans, “I’m trying to be nice, can’t you just stop giving me a hard time for once please?”
I pretend I’m pondering the question. “No.” I reply, “Take the bed, I’m taking the couch.” he opens his mouth to retort, “Cody, it’s not like I actually ever sleep anyway. Take the bed.” I order.
His eyes seem to soften, “Fine.” he resigns. He makes his way over to the bed and pulls the covers back. I unzip my bag and pull out a gray t-shirt and gym shorts. I walk into his bathroom and change leaving my boots on. As I walk out I pull my hair into a high ponytail, grabbing my wraps from my backpack.
“You do have a gym in this house correct?” I ask Cody who’s almost asleep.
“Yeah it’s downstairs.” he waves me off. Gee thanks.
I walk quietly down the stairs and look around for the gym. The third door I try ends up being the gym.
I wrap my hands up as I enter and walk right up to the punching bag. I really need to blow off some steam. I start off slow at first before picking up the pace as I go, punching and kicking the bag causing it to sway back and forth. I really need to clear my head.
I slam my fist into the bag again before delivering a roundhouse kick to the side of it. My hands reach out and steady the bag, stopping it’s rocking. I wipe the sweat off my forehead and pull the hair band out of my hair. I run my fingers through my hair before pulling it back up.
I’m breathing heavily, my chest rising up and down rapidly. I lean back against the wall, my fingers spinning my necklace around on the tip of my finger. I stare at the two little words carved into it, ‘I Promise’. My anger flares up. I turn back to the punching bag.
I punch the bag his words echoing in my head.
“I promise I will always be there for you.” I hit the bag harder.
“If you really meant that, then where are you now?” I snap quietly to myself. My fists slam into the bag again before holding it steady. I feel all energy leave me, I press my forehead into the bag. “Why’d you lie to me?” I whisper.
“I’m surprised you haven’t broken it yet.” I familiar voice speaks up, breaking the momentary silence. My anger flares up again.
I start punching the bag again just so that I don’t walk up to him and bash his face in, I don’t respond to him. I hear his footsteps grow louder as he approaches.
“I thought I told you to leave my brother out of this,” he growls out from behind me, I still say nothing.
He grabs me roughly by arm and spins me around, away from the bag, his glare murderous.
“Are you listening?” He questions harshly.
“I didn’t know he was on this team till after I met all of them.” I growl back at him, “And by then Zero wouldn’t let me on a different team.” His glare might be capable of putting out a raging forest fire, but mine’s capable of freezing hell. I see him flinch slightly, though he tries to hide it.
“I don’t care.” he snaps, “I told you to stay away from him.”
“Why do you think I’ve been nothing but rude to him since the moment I met him?” I ask icily, “The only reason I’m mean to him is because of you,” I poke him in his chest and take a step forward. “And your stupid warnings, or should I say threats.”
“Well you aren’t doing a good enough job.” his voice lacking any friendliness. “When this mission is over you won’t stay on his team, you won’t join the team no matter what Zero or anyone else says. If you stay on the team, I’ll tell them the real reason you’re not on a team.” My eyes narrow and I glare at him, imagining my dagger sticking out of his head.
Hell, the only reason I haven’t done it is because of Cody.
“Fine.” I finally answer. “But if you tell them before I get the chance to leave the team, your secret will be out too.”
His eyes darken even more, “Is that a threat?” he growls.
“No. I don’t make threats, I make promises.” I state in response and watch as he begins to leave the room. My voice stops him.
“I’m sorry Hayden,” I say quietly, my voice softer than I’ve heard it in a long time.
He turns back to me his eyes burning into mine. “Sorry, means nothing to me anymore.” he mutters, “Especially from you.”
I shrug slightly, “Just wanted you to know. Even if you don’t believe me.”
His eyes seem to soften ever so slightly, “How can I believe anything you say to me anymore? I mean did you ever tell me the truth?”
I debate answering him honestly, I feel like if I do, it’ll only end in a fight. Then again I did make myself a promise not to lie again, at least not about this.
“No,” I answer honestly and his eyes darken again.
I’m going to be asking for a fight.
“I never trusted you...still don’t. Not after what you pulled.” His hands clench into fists and he starts stalking towards me.
Why didn’t I just lie?