Chapter 4 ~ On our way
I awoke to a knocking at my door. The sun was streaming through the windows as I get up off the couch and peeked over at the bed. Harlyn thankfully was still fast asleep under the covers - I heard her crying most of the night. I guess everything she had been through really stirred up her feelings and emotions. I opened the door…
“Mum, what are you doing here?” I surprise whispered.
“Your father informed me about what went down last night, I brought her some clothes and food for you both,” she whispered back.
“Thanks, mum.” I took the clothes from her and placed them on the floor, noticing a Victoria secret bag on top. “You brought her lingerie?” I yell whispered this time.
“Relax...” she chastised, “the girl is going to need underwear and bra’s, every woman does. What do you think she wears Arlo, imaginary undergarments?”
“How do you know what size she is?”
“Tamelia guessed it,” I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.
“Of course she did, thanks, mum.”
“Mmhhmm. We are all having dinner together tonight - bring the girl.”
“Yes, mum but only if she wants too. She had a rough night last night and the shock of escape might still be crashing on her, so I’m not forcing it.” I kissed her cheek, taking the tray of food from her hands and closed the door with my foot.
“Who was that?” Her sweet, sultry but morning husk wrapped itself around my ears.
“My mum, she lives over the other side of the mansion. Dad told her you were here.” I placed the tray down on the bed and walked back to collect the clothes, lingerie and other bits and bobs. “Eat... she made us breakfast and got these for you,” I tossed the stuff onto the bed, catching her rather puffy eyes and swollen and bruised face.
“Your mum brought me clothes?” She looked up at me in surprise.
“Well, you can keep wearing my shirts if you want to?” I shrugged. God, I have to get that thought out of my head before my cock follows suit. I nodded to the tray altering my focus, “what’d she cook us?”
Harlyn lifted the two covered trays, “is it too early in the relationship to declare my love for your mother?”
“That good huh?” She laughed, god her laugh is incredible.
“Bacon, eggs, sausages, hash browns, beans, mushrooms, sautéed spinach and toast served with coffee and orange juice. I think I just died and I’m in heaven.”
“Christ, she did go all out.” I flopped onto the bed beside her and picked up a fork.
“Does she do this for all the girls you bring home?” She teased.
“I’ve never brought a girl home,” I stated, continuing to eat. I glanced up at her - she was frozen and staring at me. With big hazel eyes the size of saucers, even through her damaged face, she was shocked.
“Ever?” She whispers.
“Nnooo,” I drawled out nervously.
“So, where do you take girls to fuck?” I almost choked on my mouthful.
“You don’t… have to answer that, I just presumed… ah, but if you’re a virgin…” she shoved eggs and hash browns into her jittery mouth, cutting herself off.
“N-no, I’m not… you thought I was a vir… ya know what, it’s fine, I was just a little thrown that’s all, it’s been a few years and work keeps me busy... so there’s not a lot of action happening in my life,” I furrowed my brow. “God that just sounds pathetic and lame.”
“It’s not… before your work-induced celibacy, where did you take them?”
“Their house mostly, maybe a hotel or two...” I took a mouthful of coffee. “Where did take yours?”
“I’ve been in two serious relationships, both complete idiots might I add and they would take me to their houses, other than that - I’m afraid I have almost no experience. I’ve never had a one night stand and so when Eddie threatened to take me without my permission - I was planning on killing him.” I hadn’t realised I had stopped eating and was gawking until she looked up, “are you going to be able to get those girls out?”
“Y-yep, but it’s going to be a difficult extraction,” she nodded, knowing exactly what it’s like in there.
“Sssooo, you said about staying here with you for protection, what did you mean?”
“You’re on Eddie’s radar now, he may value money more but… I can see how much he wants you. If you stay here, we can keep you safe until after he’s locked away for good.”
“Won’t I get in your way?”
“No,” I replied matter-of-factly and went back to eating.
“Will you let me help?” I looked up at her.
“If you want to... sure... but you may see some horrible stuff. These men that buy these kids are not gentle or loving, they are brutal sadistic bastards, they thrive on the cruelty they inflict on helpless children. They believe that they are superior to everyone else and relish in the domination and suffering, you can help sure, but if I see you struggling…”
“You can remove me, please Arlo… I have to get Paisley back,” I nodded at her.
Fuck, I was losing my mind and losing it fast.
We had spent all day together, laughing and wandering aimlessly along the beach. Talking to her was as easy as breathing, yes, she would change subjects when it came to a line of questioning she wasn’t comfortable with but for the most part, she was open and I got to really know a lot about her… but, I felt more towards her. This is getting dangerous for my heart.
It was time for dinner with the family. She walked out of the bathroom in black skinny jeans and my basketball singlet and socks. I swallowed hard, she had no makeup on and yet, she looked stunning. “Y-y y-you’re beauti… ready?” I stuttered.
“What if they don’t like me?” She bit her bottom lip insecurely.
“Why would they not like you?” I was thrown by her question, how could anyone not like her?
She exhaled hard, “I’m defensive when it comes to questioning.”
“I’ve noticed...” I laughed, rolling my eyes. “C’mon,” I grabbed her hand and walked to the elevator, talking non-stop about my family and probably who was going to be there.
“So, your whole family then?” I watched her trying not to hyperventilate.
“No, probably not my grandparents... just everyone who lives here.” I could see the reservation written on her face. “They are normal people Harlyn, just nuts.”
“They are not normal, normal people don’t just accept bringing an unknown woman home that their son picked up while trying to bust a child prostitution and slavery ring… and... why do so many people live here?”
“You’re freaking out.” Harlyn blushed, oh god did she blush, I damn near died on the spot. “Th-they’ve always lived here, I never bothered to ask why.” I stopped before pushing the door open, “you look beautiful by the way.” Her mouth flopped open, “just thought I’d let you know before we went in, I had trouble getting the words out before,” I pulled her by the hand and strode confidently in.
As ever predictable, my bloody mother had invited everyone. Zavion and his dad’s, Uncle Joel and Uncle Carter, Tristan and his parent’s, Mags and Luca, Uncle Ashley and mum, dad and Caiden my baby sister. They all looked at us curiously as we entered, but then all at once, they gaze dropped to our joined hands. Mum’s smile was massive as she made her way over to us, I stayed holding her delicate fingers as they wrapped around mine. Truth was, I didn’t want to let go.
“You, my dear, are beautiful,” Mum emphasised, cupping her cheeks before wrapping her arms around Harlyn, forcing her to relinquish my hand. “Come sit with me and Aunty Mags,” she laughed wickedly.
“Thanks, mum but she’ll be next to me.” I collected her hand again and ushered her over to our family dinner table as everyone’s eyes followed her and me.
I pulled out the seat for her next to my sister Caiden and she mumbled a shy ‘thank you’ and nervously cleared her throat.
“Jesus Christ, is this awkward or what? It’s like royalty just waltzed in and no one can look away.” Caiden laughed, handing Harlyn bread, to which she smiled kindly.
“So son, are you going to introduce us?” My father piped up.
“Well, that depends dad, are all of you going to continue to stare at her?” They shifted their gazes back to the table realising their mistake - this made Harlyn chuckle. “This is Harlyn Royce, she’s staying with me for a while,” we both locked eyes before she bit her bottom lip and sucked in a big breath.
“Hello,” she smiles brightly, oh god her smile, fuck, her smile is breathtaking.
“Welcome Harlyn, we heard you could sing?” Dad replies.
“I’m alright,” she blushes and smiles again. Fuck me, she has to stop smiling and blushing before I lose all self-control.
“The smile on your face tends to give away the fact that you know you’re better than just... alright.”
She shrugs her shoulders, “I heard you and your wife can sing.”
“Oh we do, and you and I little one, will be doing a duet later.” She sparkles when she smiles like actually sparkles... fuck I need help, right man, compose yourself!
“Okay,” she breathes.
Thankfully, the awkwardness dies down and they all begin talking amongst themselves while I quietly observe the crowd. Caiden and Harlyn had been wrapped up in conversation most of the dinner and Tristan was clearly still pissed at me because he was saying nothing, despite sitting right beside me. All of a sudden, I felt this fingers pecking lightly at the back of my hand. I looked up, greeted by blazing hazel eyes.
‘You okay?’ She mouths. I entwine our fingers and lean back in my chair, smiling as I nodded. She doesn’t even try to pull away, “are you sure?” I nod and smile again, our eyes fixed in on each other’s orbs - neither one moving. Her hazels held me captive as the air around us became smouldering hot and dense, thick with raw electrifying sexual alluring tension.
“Harlyn... coffee?” Mum breaks our heated stare but our hands remained connected under the table.
“Sorry what?” She shoots back, just realising mum had called her.
“Um yes… please… that would be… fantastic… thank you.” I can’t help but snicker at her, ‘Shut up’ she mouths, full of playful tease.
“Arlo... coffee?!” Mum yells.
“Oh Jesus Christ, if you two would stop making googly eyes at each other, you’d hear what I bloody said.” She scolds, much to my embarrassment.
“Coffee… yes… thanks, mum.” Now Harlyn was snickering at me, ‘Shut up’ I mouthed back.
After dinner, we headed for the lounge where everyone relaxed. Harlyn had offered to clean up but mum, I and Aunty Mags refused. Instead, sending her into the karaoke dungeon with Dad, which was just the lounge room.
“Right darlin’ I think it’s bout time you show us just how good y’alls vocal cords are.” Uncle Carter, always down for a show.
“He’s right little one, duet… you and me.”
“Okay, but pick something I know at least?” Dad rattled off title after title, all of which she didn’t recognise. She stood and walked over to him.
“What decade are you in?”
“Did you just call me old little one?” She smiled cheekily at him, “I believe she called me ‘old’ dear.” Dad hollers, feigning insult.
“That’s because you are, my soul...” Mum shoots back from the kitchen. “You like her?” Mum squared in on me with Aunty Mags nodding behind her, “you like her a lot.”
“Mum,” I chastised, praying she would not continue.
“This is something different, isn’t it?”
I swallowed hard and blanched at her. “Yep.”
Mum and Aunty Mags’ side glanced each other as the music started.
***Please listen to Christina Aguilera - Just A Fool ft Blake Shelton***
I couldn’t believe the sound that came out, it was so pure and raw, full of emotion yet, a hint of playfulness as she harmonised with Dad.
“Arlo... a girl doesn’t sing like that unless she’s lived through a whole lot of trouble in her life and survived. Why was she in the hands of that man?” Mum whispers in my ear about halfway through their melodic duet.
“She’s Carmelito Esperanza’s, daughter Paisley’s, part-time nanny. She lived on his property. She has no one to call, no one to care for her when I freed her.” Mum looked up at me with a concerned look on her face.
“Is that where she got those bruises?”
“No, they were inflicted by another monster, the ones from last night’s mission.”
“Has she talked?”
“Answered every question I’ve thrown at her, all except her family ones. I think she’s been hurt.”
“I have a sneaky suspicion, she may know more than she’s letting on, just be careful.”
“Mum,” I warned.
“I like her too son, I especially like the way you two look at each other, considering it seems forever since you have been close to anyone, but I will give my life to protect your heart, that’s all I’m saying.”
“Wow, your girl definitely has some pipes on her.” Dad came into the kitchen, hugging up to mum, “obviously not as good as your’s beautiful,” he snuggled into the crook of her neck.
“Oh, nice save dip shit.” Mags threw the tea towel at dad before exiting the kitchen. I paid their childish antics no mind and headed towards my goddess.
“Can we talk?” Tristan stepped in front of me. “Why didn’t you just tell me you wanted to fuck her? Yeah, she’s hot but I don’t understand the $350 K for her?”
I grabbed him by the throat and pushed him against the wall, “don’t talk about her like that,” I spat at him. “I know what happened but you don’t understand…” my words were cut.
“You almost blew our mission because of your dick,” he sneered.
“That is not what happened and when is it your right to question my judgements?”
“You’re meant to be my friend?” His eyes narrowing in on me.
“You have no…” but my words were stopped.
“Arlo!” My dad warned from behind me.
I instantly dropped him and stormed away. I know I didn’t explain her being there to them but the truth was, I didn’t know how too? How do you explain that you have feelings for someone you’ve just met? How do you explain this primal connection between us, as if this were not our first life together?