Chapter 1: Scars
She shoves me harshly to the ground. I feel a sharp pain on my arm where her nails just were. I see red starting to pool. “Please stop!”
“You don’t deserve any sort of kindness. You’re just a brat.” She says as she bends down and grabs my bleeding arm. “If you dare tell anyone this, I’ll make sure to tell your parents about your boyfriend you’ve been sneaking around with.”
Tears start to come to my eyes as her nails create a new wound in my arm. I bite my lip, knowing if I say anything more that she would only hurt me more. I nod my head in defeat. “I won’t tell anyone.”
Over time, I came to believe that I deserve all this pain. And I fear nothing more than someone seeing these wounds. Each time it happened, she would hurt me more severely. The worse the wounds got, the faster they would fade, until eventually, they started healing immediately after. Even my scars are gone now.
This abuse went on weekly and that grew into daily. After a year, my parents found out about my nanny abusing me and hired a new nanny, Luke.
More than ten years has passed since that time.
I curl up with one of my many fluffy pillows on my bed. The light from outside penetrate through my eyelids. I slowly open my eyes to see an unfamiliar person’s back. I let out a screech that sounds like it belongs more to a bird than a human. I cover my mouth and turn myself invisible. I stand as still as I can manage and peek out of the corner of my eye. The strange man hasn’t woken up. I ungracefully squirm out of the covers and fall backwards on the floor, landing on my back with a loud thud.
I hear the stranger rustle on the bed and I freeze. I quietly stare at the bed while I lay on the floor, still invisible. After a couple of minutes, I peek my eyes just far up enough to see him still asleep. I breath a sigh of relief and stand up off the ground and head to the door. I open it without making a sound and closed it behind me. I step on something soft and jump and fall against the wall. I look up to see Luke staring down at me with bored eyes. I know behind his bored eyes, he’s fuming. His brown hair is slicked back with a couple of stray strands in front of his brown eyes completing his pissed off mood.
“Good morning, Adilay,” he says in a low grumble.
“Oh. It’s just you.” I turn myself visible again and walk past him towards the stairs.
“Do you want me to send off your friend?” Luke asks, annoyed still.
I scrunch my face at the unpleasant topic. “Yes.” I don’t have to look at him to know he just rolled his eyes at me. “I don’t want to hear it. I know what you’re going to say.”
“Maybe if you stopped drinking, I wouldn’t have to clean up after your mess. If you know I’m just going to lecture you each time this happens, maybe you should stop. And...”
I stop listening to his speech and turn away from him to flap my thumb and fingers together, mocking him. Soon after, I feel a chin resting on my shoulder.
“If you have the power to turn invisible, I suggest making fun of me while I can’t see you. I thought you were a smart kid,” he says before walking away from me. “You’re parents called and want to see you at the party tonight. I also have paperwork for you to look at. Come find me when you’re done with your tantrum and ready to be an adult.”
I open my mouth and turn towards him with my finger lifted to point at him, but he is already gone. “If you’re going to pick a fight you should stick around for it, jerk.”
I make my way down the hall and down the glass staircase that leads to my personal gym. I grab the door knob and it scans my hand print quickly before unlocking and I enter my sanctuary. I first smell chlorine of the pool that has a waterfall in the corner that is softly splashing into it. I listen to the soft thud my feet make as I walk across the stone flooring. I walk past the pool and the yoga area before reaching a dresser. Above it, there is a panel in the wall with controls to the music. I hit play and music starts blasting through my surround sound that echoing off the floor and walls. I take off my baggy sweats and tank top and throw them in the corner. I put on a sports bra and some shorts before I walk across the cold stone floors to sit down on the edge of the pool. I stare at the waterfall flowing from the hot tub while I mindlessly kick my legs in the cold water. The refreshing smell of chlorine always helps calm me down for some reason.
After I swim twenty laps I head over to my workout equipment and focused on my legs today. After a fifty minute workout, I stand in front of the mirrored wall on the opposite side of the pool. I smile at my reflection. I admire my fully defined abdominal muscles that are dripping in sweat. I turn my leg and flex them even though their screaming at me. Every muscle is perfectly defined. I flex my arms and admire how strong I look. My smile widens. “Perfect.”
After a hot shower, I walk into my kitchen. It’s far too large for just Luke and I, but it’s a good investment.
I run my finger across the smooth marble as I situate myself on a bar stool. I observe the counter tops and flooring that are reflecting the bright lights while the black appliances are absorbing it. I love the contrast. I take a deep breath and smell coffee and something sweet in the air.
“French toast and an omelet,” Luke says as he places a plate in front of me with a cup of coffee. “I really wish you would eat healthier foods. It can’t be good to take in this much sugar.”
“Indeed. Maybe I’ll start tomorrow,” I say, but he just rolls his eyes at me.
“Adilay, your health is not a joke. With all the alcohol you down in one night and all the sugar from breakfast, it just can’t be good for you.”
I shove a bite of French toast in my mouth. I nod as I chew. “My body as super healing powers. My body is fine. I broke my arm just last week. It healed within a day,” I say a wave my arm around, proving my point.
He stares at me with his bored/angry face and sighs heavily before placing another cup of coffee in front of me. He doesn’t say another word and he leaves the kitchen.
I would probably be afraid of him leaving me, but I pay him too much. He knows it too.
I smile to myself. Money does have it benefits. I have a personal assistant to take care of me. That’s the only sort of companion I could ever want. Animals need me to take care of them and a romantic relationship takes up too much of my time. I’m too weird to have any friends and they also require too much attention. All I need is someone to occasionally talk to that handles everything for me.
“What are you smiling about?” Luke asks me.
I jump, startled. I didn’t hear him come back into the kitchen. I look up from my mug and see a blank face staring back at me. He drops a stack of papers in front of me.
“You need to look over these new jobs. You have another one from a suspicious private organization, so you might want to start there. The funds from your last job have also been transferred into your account. And both your mother and father called this morning asking how you are and want to make sure you’re coming to their party tonight at nine.”
I groan. “I hate those events. Do I have to go?”
He turns to leave and doesn’t look back at me as he responds, “Yes.”
I groan again and lay my head on my arms that are folded on the table. “So stupid.”
My parents hold fancy parties to impress their investors. I hate going because It’s nothing but a bunch of rich snobs trying to climb the social ladder. The only way I can keep my parents off my back is by attending their occasional party. I guess if I don’t have to talk to them other than at the parties, it’s worth it. I can’t stand my parents.
I sit up and lean my head on my hand and touch the mug with my finger and watch it turn invisible. All I see is the coffee magically floating. I take my finger away and the mug instantly reappears.
I let out a heavy sigh and look through the papers Luke left for me. Most of them are personal vendettas that I don’t accept. I only take on the ones that are serious. I can’t prove if they are innocent or not, so it’s no good for me to turn them in if they can’t be proven guilty. I guess that’s what I get for just having a public website for people to put in requests.
I see nothing but garbage and drop my head onto the stack of papers. Staring at the papers sideways, one on the papers catches my eye. It’s the one from the private organization that Luke mentioned. How can I say no to them? They’ll probably come after me if I just ignore them since they’re giving me confidential information. I really hate when I get these. I look through the details about the person, but it’s vague about what the person is guilty of. I squint at it as I read it.
Person of Interest: James Aly
Country of Origin: Egypt
Height: Six-feet one-inch tall
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Right brown & left gray
Defining Features: Faded scar over left eye that leads to left corner of mouth
Last Known Location: Portland, Oregon
Reason for Capture: High degree felony
Amount of Money Offering: Five million if captured. Double the money if killed and brought to location that is to be decided upon completion.
Kill? I don’t kill.
I squeeze my eyes shut and pinch the bridge of my nose. I would never take this if I didn’t think they’d come after me if I refused. They don’t even specify what he did. Just a felony? Seriously? Could that be any more vague? I really wouldn’t take this if I didn’t have a choice. I set down the paper and place my hands both sides of it and feel cool marble. I stare at the paper for another minute before I stand up from the bar stool.
I walk across the room into the living room to sit down on the large black sofa. I let myself sink in to the plush cushion before I lean forward to pick up the laptop off the glass table in front of me.
I chew on my lip hesitantly before opening it.
I type ‘mystic hero’ in the search engine.
No pictures come up, which is great. The first link that is displayed is my website for job requests. Everything else is just conspiracy theories about me. I click on a recent article and read over it.
The Mystic ‘Hero’
Just yesterday, the Mystic Hero was spotted in a fight on the West side of Portland with a suspected rapist. Mystic’s invisible body was covered in blood when the authorities arrived on scene. Mystic ran off before the authorities were able to contain them. The suspected rapist has since then been convicted and sentenced to jail time. Mystic’s victims have so far only been suspected or convicted criminals. Which leaves the question what Mystic’s motive is? Mystic always leaves his or her victims in a near death state. Does mystic have a personal vendetta against every person they go after? Or do they just enjoy beating people to the brink of death? As to why only criminals, it would seem to keep their conscious clear. Who is this person, and should we be afraid of being their next victim?
My bottom lip starts to quiver. I close my laptop shut.
I hear Luke come up behind me. “Perhaps you need something to take your mind off things? May I suggest you picking out what you’ll be wearing tonight, so I may have it ready.”
I turn my head to look at him. “Is that really something better to think about?”
“No, but it will help me, and I would appreciate it.”
I pout. “Do you think I’m a sick freak that enjoys beating people up, Luke?”
He pats the top of my head. “You shouldn’t care what others think.”
I lower my head. “I know.”
I’m glad Luke hasn’t left me. I need someone to help me think about these choices I’ve been making... and to clean up after me and take care of my money and handle my schedule... I don’t think I can do anything by myself, honestly. He’s been around for so long I don’t know how, or want, to take care of myself. I’m not even sure how old Luke is... Huh.
I lift my head to look at him. “How old are you, Luke?”
“Huh. I thought you’d be older.”
He stares back at me with an emotionless face. “Have you picked out your next job yet?”
I cover my face with my hands. I was trying to not think about it. Thanks. “I don’t really have a choice. I’ll have to do the sketchy job first.”
He nods in agreement. “Try not to get twisted up in anything. Just get the job done and move on. I saw another job in the that pile that looked promising. You should take that one next.”
I stand up and pat my pockets, knowing full well that they’re empty. “Hey, where’s my smokes?
His lips form a hard line. “On the glass table next to the backdoor.”
I walk to the left of the living room and see my cigarettes on the table. “Thanks.”
He sighs. “You know, those are going to kill you.”
I laugh and place a cigarette in my mouth. “I can only hope.”
He lets out a small laugh. “You know, if you said that to anyone else, they’re probably send you to an institution.”
I slide open the glass door leading to the balcony as I shake my head and smile. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
I roll my eyes and slide the door close behind me. I look across my large balcony that I’ve seen in hundreds of times, but I always observe my surroundings. I guess it’s habit from the dangerous line of work I’m in.
The hot tub is in the right corner while the patio furniture is to the left. I walk straight ahead to the edge where there are two chairs facing the glass railing, looking over the city. I sit in the right chair and I light my cigarette and take a long drag. I lean one arm on arm rest as I look at the view.
I can see all of Portland from up here. Tons of little buildings and people. I feel free from everything being up on the thirtieth floor. I hear all the noise from the cars and sirens. But no one will notice me from up here. It’s just another escape from reality I guess. Not like I have enough of those...
After I finish smoking, I head back into the house where Luke is waiting for me on the sofa. He turns his head to me and looks at me with his usual blank stare.
“Ready to pick out a dress for the evening?”
I bite my bottom lip hesitantly. “Yeah, if I must.”
He stands up and leads the way to my closet.
Hours later, after picking out my dress, I must have fallen asleep because I wake up to Luke nudging my shoulder. I groan as I pull the covers over my head and turn away from him.
“No. You need to get up. It’s time to get ready.”
“I don’t wanna...” I mumble, half asleep.
He pulls the covers off me and picks me up. My eyes shoot open as I protest. I kick the air and squirm around in his arms.
“No. No. No. Put me down!”
He carries me into my en suite bathroom and sets me down in front of my shower. “You have an hour to be ready. I’ll be waiting by the front door.”
I smooth out my clothes I shake my head. “That was completely unnecessary.”
He shakes his head and turns around to leave. “You would have never gotten out of bed. It was necessary.”
I wait until I hear my bedroom door close before I get undressed and start my shower.
After I’m finished, I wrap a towel around before I try to style my usually frizzy hair and carefully apply some makeup.
I walk into my enormous walk-in closet and see the simple, spaghetti strap black dress I picked out earlier hanging up.
I take it off the hanger and slide it down my body. I put on a pair of strappy back heels and grab a sparkling silver clutch purse.
I walk to the right side of my closet and look at myself in the full-length mirror. I usually just wear sweats and never bother with doing my hair or makeup. I hate when people look at me.
I frown at my reflection and then grab the side of the mirror that is hinged to the wall to expose the large safe behind it. I type in the combination and open it up to the many weapons I have stored. I grab my gun that looks like an umbrella and my taser and handcuffs. I’ve never had to use my gun, and I’m thankful for that. But I never know what could happen.
I glance at a thing of pepper spray on the bottom shelf and grab it too. I could easily take down a pervert, but I don’t need to cause a scene tonight. Just the thought of having to use it makes me laugh.
I head to the front door, feeling fully prepared for the evening. Luke is standing right next to the door in a full suit. He usually wears a button up and a tie, but he always looks so sharp, while I lounge about in pajamas all day...
He looks at me confused. “What’s wrong?”
“You always look so nice, while I stay in pajamas all day.”
He raises an eyebrow at me. “You can dress however you want every day and you choose to wear pajamas. I don’t understand why you look upset. It’s completely your choice.”
I laugh. Of course, he’s right. I never leave the house and I just always seem to fall asleep throughout the day, so I just stay in pajamas.
He opens the front door for me. “It wouldn’t hurt you to look nicer every day you know. It doesn’t take that much more effort.”
I walk through the doorway and head towards the elevator. “Mmm... It really is a lot of effort though.”
He laughs as he shakes his head. “Lazy ass.”
Usually I would pick a fight with him for that comment, but the upcoming evening has me too on edge.
We take the elevator down to the parking garage and he walks over towards the shiny black sports car. I’m not too sure about cars, but I really liked the look of this one and Luke said it was a great car. I don’t enjoy driving much though, so he usually drives me around in it. He would never say it aloud, but I believe he enjoys driving me around in it.
He opens the passenger door for me and I bend down and slide myself into it. He quickly goes to the driver’s side and starts the car.
We’re soon weaving past traffic to the place I hate most in this world.
Luke drives down a seclude road before stopping to talk to the guard at the gate before we’re allowed to drive farther up the road. He soon pulls up to the front of my parent’s mansion and stops next to the valet. I notice they have put a new fountain in the middle of the roundabout driveway. The grass covering most of the yard is a lush green, now that it’s finally mid spring. Their mansion is built next to a cliff and there is a natural waterfalls along it. The dark green scenery hides the mansion well. The smell is so fresh here, I really like this area.
Luke gets out of the car and says something to the valet before walking to my side and opening my door. He holds out a hand for me and I grab it as I ease my way out. He lets go of my hand once I stand up and guides me up the brightly lit stone steps to the front door. I can smell the hundreds of tulips that are blooming. I want to like the smell, but it just reminds me of things I don’t want to remember.
My breathing starts to quicken and I clench my chest.
“It’ll be over soon,” Luke says.
The door man instantly recognizes me and opens the door for us. “Welcome, Miss Bereza.”
I nod and enter through the grand doors. The familiar stone flooring and magnificent chandeliers make me nauseous. I hold my breath as I observe the people. There are roughly a hundred people here tonight. A little more than usual, but it’s about what I expected.
I straighten my posture, trying to gain some bravery before walking into the crowd. I feel my stomach churn, but I ignore it. On top of my hatred for this place, I really dislike crowds. They always make me nervous. I never know what to expect.
I look around at all the people for a few minutes before spotting my parents standing together, chatting with another couple.
I pat Luke’s arm and he looks down at me. I point over to my parents and he nods and follows right behind me as I walk towards them.
I make eye contact with my mom and her face lights up. She taps my dad’s shoulder and points in my direction. He looks over at us too and gestures for us to come over. I try my best to hide my disgust, but I don’t know if I can. As soon as we reach them, my mom pulls me into a tight hug.
“I miss you so much Adilay,” she says with the same Ukrainian accent that I have.
I pat her awkwardly on the back. “Yeah, you too mom.”
My dad comes right next to her and reaches out for Luke’s hand. I watch as Luke firmly shakes my dad’s hand. My dad doesn’t seem to want to let go of his hand though.
“Mr. King, I’m glad you’re taking such good care of our daughter. It means so much to us,” he says in his Ukrainian accent.
“I’ve worked for your family for so long, I wouldn’t know what do to with myself if I ever left,” Luke replies sincerely.
Huh. I wonder if he really does enjoy being my assistant. I couldn’t image working for myself. I know I couldn’t do it. I would hate someone with my personality.
My mom finally lets go of me only to place her hands on either side of my face. “You’re getting so big and grown up, I can’t believe it.”
I awkwardly laugh. “Yeah, mom. I’m twenty-three years old. I’m not so little anymore.”
She pinches my cheeks before she finally stops touching me.
I take a step backwards and she frowns in response. “You didn’t even invite us to your birthday party two months ago.”
Way to make this even more uncomfortable, mom. I nervously laugh. “I didn’t have a birthday party mom. I just stayed home and slept.”
She laughs and winks at me. “I was young once too, you don’t have to lie to me. I know you just wanted to be around friends while you partied. I understand.”
I look at her confused. I really did just stay and home and sleep all day. And how could I have any friends? I wasn’t allowed to have any. I just smile at her.
“And Mr. King, you’re looking a dashing as ever. I’m so glad our little girl has you.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Bereza. I’m thankful for all you’ve done for me,” Luke responds.
Luke starts talking to my mom while my dad is talking to some other social status climbing fake, so I take my chance to escape while they’re distracted.
Sorry Luke. I smile to myself as I walk away, only to be stopped by an older guy staring down at me.
“Do you know the Bereza’s?” he asks me.
I take a couple steps back from him. “Um. Yeah, they’re my parents.”
His face lights up as soon as I say that. Crap. I really shouldn’t have said that.
He takes a step closer towards me. “Oh, you’re the famous daughter. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” He grabs my hand and pulls it up towards his mouth, but I yank it away before he could kiss it.
“Um. Yeah... I need to go over here now.” I turn to walk away, but he just grabs me by the waist and pulls me close.
“I would love to escort you for the evening. I want to know everything about you.”
I stare at him in shock. Seriously?! I take a quick look over him. He’s only a couple inches taller than me. Probably about five feet ten inches. He’s older and doesn’t seem to be in good shape. I could totally take him out with one solid punch.
I pull back my arm and close my hand into a fist, ready to knock the wind out of him, but a hand grabs my forearm. The stranger’s hand gently pulls me away from the old pervert.
“Please don’t touch my girlfriend in such a way. It’s impolite and it would give off the wrong impression,” the stranger says.
I turn my head as I yank my arm away and look at who grabbed me.
Just for a moment, time stands still. This man has a beautiful warm golden glow to his skin. The lights from the chandeliers bounce off his attractive skin in such a way that it makes my heart stop. He is dressed in a black suit with a white shirt and tie. He has black wavy hair that just brushes his shoulders and one long gold earring that is curled up in it that matches the gold nose ring in his left nostril.
I look up at his eyes, and I can’t look away. He has one deep brown eye is staring at me with care. His left eye is a light gray that is smoldering with concern.
Wait... Gray and brown eye? I remember that description. I look closely at his left eye that has a few strands of hair concealing it, but I see the faded scar. This is the man that I’m supposed to kill.