Chapter 5 ~ Trouble
“Arlo?” I called out to him as he dramatically stormed off toward the elevator, “Arlo stop.”
“No. I never question his choices, I support him even when I think he’s wrong and now he comes to question my judgement on the situation, despite the fact, that I’m the leader of this outfit. He has no right what so ever to have an opinion on something he doesn’t understand.” Arlo was mad and I knew it was because of me, I saw the whole thing happen, the two that were apart of his team, that was there tonight, were the only ones that refused to speak to me. “It makes me so frustrated, he is judging before getting to know you.”
“Do you want me to talk to him?” I offered.
“No, you don’t need to be around that.”
“He’s protecting his friend, from what I can tell, you all are very close, have been your whole lives and who am I? Someone that just waltzed in and all of a sudden is sitting with your family after you spent $350 thousand to save my life, he’s being cautious.”
“So, you’re sticking up for him?”
“No, I’m saying I understand.” We stood at a standstill outside his bedroom door, “you have been so kind and caring and it’s obvious that you’re extremely trusting, especially after seeing how you are with me and you don’t even know me - you protect so fiercely and passionately. He’s just trying to make you see things clearer, that’s what a great friend does, why are you really so angry at him?”
I opened the door and walked in, immediately dropping my jeans and taking off my bra, folding them. I could feel his intense gaze on me, I relished the way he perused my body, it excited me the way his lust blazed within his deep green eyes. It ignited a flame within me - a sexual flame - that I thought had long since been extinguished. I knew my actions were specifically for turning him on, I couldn’t stop it, I wanted to turn him on, tease him seductively.
“I’m sorry I yelled at you,” he said, taking off his shirt. Holy fuck me, his deliciously kissable, ripped back, tanned, toned and carved by gods. If his back looks that good? I can only imagine his front. Walking into the shower with his night clothes, I almost came right where I stood. Getting Paisley back may be harder than I thought, ‘distracting man’ is a colossal understatement.
We sat there on his bed talking as if we had known each other for years, he was unlike anyone I had ever met. He talked about some of the horrible stuff he had seen, how when he was home he could be himself but when he was out on the job, he was forced to play this character. He didn’t actually know how much I connected to his words, how similar his life was to mine - including all the horrific things.
“The weirdest thing you’ve seen in the emergency department?” He enquired while lying at the foot of the bed. I sat with my legs crossed, leaning against the headboard.
“Hmm... weirdest?” I thought for a moment, then my face lit up with a memory, fists opening and closing with excitement. “Oooo, when a man came in with a zucchini lodged in his butt and he tried to pretend he had no idea how it got up there.” By now I was laughing hard, “his wife was mortified and I casually suggested in front of her that homosexuality, that a males G-spot was located in his rectum and it was nothing to be ashamed of. I thought she was going to set up a cross permanently in front of me because of my blasphemous sentence.”
“Do you want to go back?”
“Yes, as soon as I can.”
“Will you go on to be a doctor?”
“No way, I enjoy being a nurse, maybe a midwife one day.”
“Why didn’t you fix your cuts?”
“He said he would hurt Paisley if I tried to clean and dress my wounds. I would rather not risk her life any more than it is.”
Arlo lay back with his hands behind his head, we had turned the lights off some time ago and the moonlight that sparkled through the open balcony doors was enough for us to see, or rather, me to lose myself gazing dreamily upon his profile. We continued talking until my eyes could no longer stay open and I slipped into darkness.
“Nnnnnooooo… get him, don’t let him break free.” My eyes slammed open at hearing Arlo’s pained cry, he still laid at the foot of the bed, tossing and turning before he thrashed in panic. “Nnnnnooooo… you are sick.” He shot straight up, drenched in sweat, shaking and breathing erratically.
“Are you o…”
“I’m fine...” he snapped, getting up to grab water from the bar fridge he kept beside the couches.
“Leave it Harlyn,” he warned, downing the whole bottle, but I was not one to just simply let it lay.
I opened up the covers. “Arlo… please come here?” He looked sideways at me, conflicted on what he should do, cautiously stepping forward, he came to the other side of his bed and slipped in. I don’t know why I did it? Okay, yes I did, I am attracted to him… a lot. He makes the butterflies come alive in my stomach but, we had only just met, then again, it was easy with him, a natural progression - meant to be. It was also obvious both of us were feeling this magnetic, sexually charged pull toward one another and I liked the way it made me feel, I enjoyed the way he made me feel.
So, I snuggled in under his arm, my palm on his chest. I could feel how stiff he was by my forward actions and I began to move my thumb back and forth, pleased to sense him relax, leaning into my body. The heat radiating off of him burned my already flaming flesh, even through the thin material of his singlet. “You are my hero,” I whispered.
“There are ones I couldn’t save...” he croaked back.
“And there will be ones in the future you won’t be able to save, but while the rest of the world worries about their partners changing their social media status from, ‘in a relationship’ to, ‘it’s complicated’, you’re fighting against something that actually matters in this world. Something you have clearly paid a high price for. I’m the bastard child of a prostitute that was paid in drugs to fuck without a condom, I was born addicted to methamphetamines and taken from my mother. My father, despite being a drug supplier at the time, brought me up to believe in myself, that it didn’t matter how bad my start to life was, I am stronger and smarter than every negative situation around me.
“That it didn’t matter how hard or complicated things got, I could always overcome everything that tried to hold me back and the only tools I needed, were found inside myself. My father is not the nicest man but he always was to me - he has and always will be, my fallen angel. You have what it takes within you to be stronger than the fear that consumes your mind, you have the capacity to love harder than the memories that haunt your dreams, at the end of the day, those distant echoed apparitions that torment your soul, are nothing more than phantoms that are incapable of hurting you. Here you are safe, with me you are protected, and to me, you are my hero. You saved me when all of those men stood in that room and watched as he continuously abused so many.”
I didn’t mean to go so deep, in truth, I just thought cuddling would be enough to calm him but as he reached down placing his forefinger and thumb on my chin, he tilted my lips up towards his - I knew I was in way over my head.
“Thank you,” he whispered, so close to my mouth. I could feel the warmth of his breath, his magnificent touch sent a bolt of heat straight into my core.
“You’re welcome,” I whispered back and swallowed hard before turning around in his embrace.
Thank god I had my turned my body, if I had of stayed a second longer, I would have kissed him and that was not part of the plan. My plan was to get Paisley, then we were to leave the country. Carmelito was now dead, so the plans that he showed me that day in his office, must be executed - I knew what needed to be done.
I couldn’t deny the fact that I loved his warm, safe, strong arms around me, the tickle of his breath as it fanned across my shoulder leaving goose bumps in its wake. Even though my face looked as horrible as it did, somehow he managed to make me feel beautiful. It had been a long time since a man held me in his arms but I couldn’t focus on that, I just couldn’t, he was like kryptonite, his looks, his voice, his actions, his assured security - all of him had me heated and throbbing between the thighs but I couldn’t pursue him. Once I had Paisley, I had to go.
Just as we began to get really comfortable his phone rang, he sprung to his feet like we weren’t just tangled up cuddling. “Go… okay… okay… okay… good, we move tomorrow night.” I sat there staring at him. It was still dark outside but he looked worried, even with the limited light. He climbed back in to hold me. “Are you goi…” but I cut him off.
“No, you tell me only if you really want me to know - don’t feel you have too.” I knew where he was going, if I was going to ask about the call.
“We are meeting with Eddie, tomorrow night.” I blew out a breath I hadn’t realised I was holding and turned in his arms to face him.
“Are you going to rescue those girls?”
“Some, I’m going to try and find where they have Paisley first.” I nodded, “I want you to stay here, where you are safe.”
My heart was rapidly beating in my chest, any second now I thought it was going to come flying out of my chest. “Promise me you’ll come back?” Suddenly, I was vulnerable. I cupped his cheek and held his gaze, “he’s dangerous, promise me, Arlo.”
“You don’t need to worry, I will always come back to you.” We spoke like we were in love - as if we were together but we weren’t. I didn’t want him to go back to that horrible hell, he was too good, too nice, too soft for such a dangerous life but he had done it before, he risked his life for people he didn’t know. He was a man, the epitome of a real man.
He pressed his lips to my forehead as I snuggled into his chest, breathing in the divine scent of him. As I closed my eyes, there was nowhere in the world I’d rather be. This was more dangerous than being forced into working in Eddie’s strip club, this ignited my heart.
The night came and it was time for them to move out. We had spent most of the day lounging by the pool, touching and holding each other - the energy between us was going past the boiling point. The heated, held gazes and the excuses to tuck my hair behind my ears, the flirtatious advances and comments were all leading us somewhere I couldn’t be. He held my hand as the whole team gathered, “relax will you... you’re making me nervous.”
“I’m sorry, just be careful.”
“We’ll be back soon, it’s a simple exchange, nothing is going to go wrong.”
“I’ve heard that exact sentence before,” I chastised because, in truth, I had.
He brushed his knuckles against my cheek adoringly. “I have to go, we need to get into character.”
“Hurry up, Captain,” Tamelia yelled before entering into the limousine.
I gripped his face. “There’s a secret room behind the stage, I found it on my fourth attempt to escape. The room is filled with other gunman and cameras of the entire club - including the toilets - those cameras you see around the place are decoys, these ones, in the room, monitor everything. Just remember they hide in there and only come out if needed.”
“Okay, I’ll keep that in mind.” I let him go, he brushed his knuckles against my cheek one last time and climbed in after the rest of his team.
His dad walks over to me. “C’mon little one, let’s get you cooking, keep ya mind off everything.”
I watched until after the limo had long gone, it was hard to witness him leave and I couldn’t understand it? Why was I feeling this way? As if I had some sort of hold over him, it was ridiculous and the sooner I got a hold of Paisley the better.
I followed his father in and he waited patiently at the door for me to finish my ‘staring at the car’ thing. “Do you think I’m crazy?” I asked him.
“Now, why would I think that? Because you’re worried about my son?”
“I am worried, Eddie may appear stupid but he’s not.” I lifted my shirt, “I have fifteen failed escape attempts to prove it and I still don’t know how he caught me.”
“What’s under that bandage?”
“Knife slices, my punishment for disobeying him.”
“Jesus Christ, you really went through some torment, didn’t you little one?” He blows out air through his teeth creating a whistle.
“This is nothing compared to what I’ve seen that man can do. That’s why I’m so worried, I know what he’s capable of, I’ve seen his dark side.”