Crash and Burn

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Chapter 10

Deciding that waiting around and thinking about all the things that couldn’t be changed was probably not the best course of action, I decided to hop in the shower instead.

I still had all the blood and grime on me from my encounter with the men in black, so a shower was definitely needed before I went out to look at the castle.

I peeked my head into Elle’s room to let her know I’d be in the bathroom for the next little bit, only to find her sound asleep on her bed.

I hadn’t even stopped to consider how exhausting this had been for her. Damn, I was seriously slacking with this whole sister thing.

Making a note to have a talk with her soon about how she was taking all this, I closed the door quietly and stripped out of my clothes. Finding a towel and a soft, white bathrobe in one of the cabinets, I laid them both out on the counter for later and climbed into the shower.

Then I remembered that I had no idea how to use it. I mean who needed three showerheads and like six different nozzles?!

Well, here goes nothing.

I turned the first nozzle on the left and squealed as the showerhead directly above me soaked me in a stream of freezing cold water. Fumbling with the rest of the nozzles, I finally got the water semi-warm and had two of the showerheads working. That would have to do.

I took my time in the shower, savoring the feeling of the water running down my back and relaxing the tense, sore muscles from the fight. My wounds were pretty much healed by this point, so my main concern was getting the blood off my body.

It took three shampoo cycles and some intense body scrubbing before I finally felt clean enough to face the outside world again.

After a little more fumbling with the nozzles, I figured out how to turn the water off and stepped out to grab my towel. I quickly dried my body and used some of the leave-in conditioners I found in a cabinet to untangle my hair and put it back in a single braid down the length of my back.

After slipping into the robe, I stepped back into my room to see an array of clothes laid out on my bed with a note atop them.

Addie,

I found these earlier in an old trunk and figured that you might like them. We will have some of your new clothes finished in the next few days, but these looked like they would fit you, so I decided to go ahead and drop them off in case you wanted to get out and explore the castle a little before then.

XO- your new friend

Laying the note to the side, I looked at the outfits laid out on my bed. There was a long gown off to the side, along with a few outfits with jeans and some longsleeved shirts, but it was the one in the middle that caught my eye. Bringing the outfit closer to me and unfolding it to get a better look, I smiled. It was perfect.

The black shirt was sleek and tight but had enough stretch to allow me a full range of motion, and the pants were the same. Made of black, stretchy material, they looked snug enough to stay out of my way, but also stretchy enough to not hinder me when I had to run or fight. Underneath them, there was a sturdy black bra equipped with a few small pockets to keep hidden weapons in.

But it was the jacket that had me feeling giddy. Made of black leather, it looked sturdy and totally badass. Opening it up, I saw multiple rows of sheaths for daggers and pockets for other weapons to hide in. The back had a cutout to allow for a sword or a bow to comfortably rest across it, and I couldn’t wait to try it all on.

Looking at the last piece, I found two black combat boots that nearly went up to my knees, with a small sheath in each to keep a thin knife hidden within. They looked rugged and hardy enough to last through the toughest battles, while also having a very feminine look to compliment my long legs.

I couldn’t wait to see how it all looked together, and as I slipped on the outfit, I was amazed by how perfect all the pieces fit. I felt as though it was made for me, and I couldn’t contain the smile that overtook my face as I looked in the mirror. I looked like a total badass and felt like I could take on the world.

I definitely needed to try this thing out in action. After spinning around one more time in the mirror, I set out to find the gym to see how it held up in some training.

Thirty minutes in, I was beginning to think I might not even be able to find my way back to the room, much less actually discover the location of the gym! What was with this castle?

Every hallway looked the same as all the others, and there were so many different turns that I became lost in no time. Sighing in frustration, I decided that if I didn’t find the gym in fifteen more minutes, I would have to start trying to make my way back to the room.

In my frustration, I turned the corner too quickly and heard a shriek as I ran straight into another person.

“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry! I totally should have been looking where I was going!” I exclaimed, dusting off my pants and offering my hand to the small woman still on the floor.

“Oh, don’t worry about it, miss! I was in a hurry to make my way to the kitchens and should have been watching where I was walking as well!” She replied, accepting my hand and allowing me to haul her back up to her feet.

“Were you trying to find something? You look sort of lost,” she remarked, dusting off her dress and pulling her hair back into a cute messy bun.

“Actually, I am a little lost. Could you steer me to the gym possibly?”

“Oh, of course! I just came from there! I was delivering the trainees their lunch for the day! All you need to do from here is continue down this hallway, take a left at the end, and then your first right, and the gym doors should be at the end of that hallway! I hope you find it okay!”

“Thank you so much! I don’t think I ever would have found it just wandering around on my own!” I chuckled and began heading off in the direction she sent me.

It didn’t take long to find the gym, and I laughed a little at how close I had been to it all along.

The doors at the entrance took up the whole wall at the end of the hallway and peeking in through the glass, I could see the guards in training on the side closest to me.

Great. Now I have to go through them to even get close to any of the workout equipment.

Deciding to just get it over with, I slowly opened the massive door on the right and stuck to the wall as I tried to make my way around the trainees.

All dressed in similar black gear, they were lined up in rows, creating a somewhat intimidating sight. I watched in awe as they went through some simple sequences to work on form and warm up their muscles.

All moving in sync, they really were a sight to behold, and I found myself gaping at them from the sidelines. Man, what I’d give to be able to be a part of a team like that.

I always had a very unique and rugged fighting style from my time on the streets, and I was definitely more of an individual fighter, but I would have loved to be able to learn how to fight with the finesse and technique they were currently showcasing.

Walking to one of the students in the back, I tapped his shoulder to get his attention. With a grunt, he turned around, only to smirk when he saw me.

“Little girl, if you’re wanting some of this you’re going to have to wait ’till after I finish my training. Roman’s a real hardass and I can’t skip out on training, even for an ass that perfect.”

Rolling my eyes and deciding to ignore the rude assumption, I continued on with what I had originally wanted to ask. “I’m not here for your pathetic little dick, I’m here to train. So, can I join you guys?”

Looking me straight in the eye, he busted out laughing, and I seriously wanted to punch this guy.

“You seriously think a puny thing like you could join us? Ha! I’d like to see you try!”

Before I could even respond, the guy was thrown out of my sight, and I found myself looking up at the beast of a man called Roman. Shit. How did I always manage to find myself in these situations?

Well, no backing down now.

“What the hell are you doing here?” His low voice sounded rough and gritty as if he had spent the whole day yelling, but with a smooth honeyed tone underneath that left me reeling with my mind blank and searching for an intelligent response.

Clearing my throat, I regained my composure and remembered why I had come here in the first place. Hell if I was going to let some guy push me around just because I was a girl and he was some muscled god with a voice like rich honey and muscles that I just wanted to run my hands over and-

Get your head on straight, Ad! What is it with you and these heirs?!

Looking back up at him and clearing my thoughts, I finally got the brainpower to reply. “I’m here to train. Can I join you?”

All I got in response was a gruff “No” before he turned his back on me and started making his way back to the front of the room.

“Now, hold on a minute, mister! You haven’t even given me a chance! I guarantee you I can beat any of these guys here in a one-on-one fight, and I’m a quick learner. If you’re going to insist on keeping me in this damn castle, then at least let me train!” Following behind him, I grabbed his arm until he turned back around and pinned me with a glare that rivaled my own.

“I said no. First, you’re a girl, and girls aren’t allowed as guards. Second, you’re no match for any of these guys and you’d give up before we even got done with workouts. I don’t deal with stragglers. Third, I never wanted you here. All you are to me is some arrogant bitch who barged into our lives and attacked my brother. If it were up to me, I would have left you to die that day we found you and your sister. You have no place in this castle, and you have no place training with these guards. So get out.”

I felt like I had been punched in the gut. What the hell was this guy talking about? They took me from my home and trapped me in this damn castle and then I figure out they don’t even want me here?! UGH!!!! What the hell is wrong with these men!

“Fine! You don’t want to train with me, then whatever. But you and your buddies locked me in this damn castle against my will, so you can’t kick me out when I try and use your fucking gym. If you do, you might just find that I was actually very nice to your ‘brother.’ I could have slit his throat in an instant and there’d be nothing you could have done to stop me. So back off and leave me alone if you’re really so disgusted by my presence or you might figure out just how much of a handful this arrogant bitch can be.”

With that, I walked to the other end of the room to begin training on my own. Even as I was fuming at Roman, I couldn’t help but admire the array of equipment they had here. From target practice to general workout equipment, they had everything I could ever need for a training session, and I found myself wondering where to even begin.

Deciding that I needed to blow off some steam, I made my way over to one of the treadmills to do some running. Taking my jacket off, I delicately set it on the ground next to the treadmill and began at a steady jog. A few minutes in, I was still fuming and running wasn’t helping anything. Screw that.

Looking for something a little more aggresive, I made my way over to the punching bags and let out all my fury on the first one I saw. By the time I finally decided to be done I was covered in sweat and my arms were beginning to protest, so I moved onto some stretches to give myself a break.

Within minutes, I saw some of the younger students walking over to me.

“Well, well, well, what do we have here? You know, you really should have left before training was over. The boss is gone so nobody’s gonna stand up for you now.” The guy in front let out a low chuckle, and meeting his eyes, I noticed he was the guy I had talked to earlier.

Taking a closer look, I noticed that he did have good reason to be cocky. He was a well-built man with short brown hair cut in a very clean manner, with a light five-o’clock shadow and brown eyes.

He was not at the level of the heirs, but if it wasn’t for his personality, I would venture to say that he was very handsome. However, that didn’t mean I was going to put up with his shit.

“Leave it alone, asshat, or you’ll discover that I really wasn’t bluffing earlier when I said I could easily put you guys on the ground.” Deciding I wasn’t in the mood, I got up from my stretches and went over to grab my jacket.

“Bitch, you don’t get to threaten me like that! Who do you think you are?!”

I felt a hand grab my arm and quickly turned around, locking my free hand over his knuckles and twisting my hand underneath his arm towards his back until I had his arm twisted and I could shove him to the ground.

“I said, leave it alone,” I growled, shoving him once more before I let him go and backed off.

“You filthy little cunt! What the hell do you think you’re doing, treating us like that!”

I heard the swoosh of air to my right and dodged the fist coming for my face just in time. Turning back around, I got into a fighting stance and ran my hands over my shoulder runes to give my tired arms some extra strength.

Five on one was not good odds, but I’d been in worse predicaments, and these guys were definitely angry and overconfident. Two things I could definitely use against them.

Before one of them even had a chance to throw a punch, I leaped towards the closest one, calling on power from my shoulder rune again to give my punch extra power and speed. As soon as it connected with his face, the man was out cold.

There was no time to celebrate before the second one was throwing a punch, so I quickly dodged, grabbing his arm the next time he punched and twisting it around until I heard the snap of a broken bone.

Leaving him moaning on the ground like a child, I turned towards the other three. These three looked a little older and more mature, which was evident in their stances and patience. They and I both knew that I would wear out much too quickly if they were able to work together and keep me on my toes.

However, I had been watching them train during my workout, and I had a fairly good idea of their style and technique. They had a very structured way of fighting, which was fine in practice, but out in the real world, you had to have a bit more grit. I wasn’t afraid to fight dirty, and they were about to figure that out.

They began slowly trying to circle around until they were surrounding me, and I slowly waited for them to get in position. Having people at my back wasn’t too big of a problem when you were as tuned in to your surroundings as I was.

Calling on the rune on the back of my ear, I was instantly able to hear every little detail of my surroundings. I heard the footfall of the guy behind me and to my left right before the whoosh of air caused by his arm reaching around to grab me in a chokehold.

Not giving him the chance, I grabbed his forearm, twisting my body until I was able to face him again and giving a well-placed knee to the gut. The runes on my thighs gave it a little extra boost, sending him staggering back to try and catch his breath.

Hearing another whoosh of air behind me, I dodged a fist over my head, twisting around to give two gut punches to the guy while his arm was still outstretched.

My smaller frame allowed me to twist away and behind him, before he even had the chance to recover, and a swift kick in the back was all it took to send him to the ground. The weakness in my legs caused the kick to have a little less power, so I called on my runes one last time to get me through the rest of the fight.

The guy I had kicked in the stomach earlier had now fully recovered, so before the one on the ground had the chance to get up, I started going for the two left standing.

“What the hell is going on in here?!”

I froze at the sound of the booming voice behind me, seeing Roman come up out of the corner of my eye. Backing up so I could keep the others in my periphery, I looked over at Roman.

“What does it look like? I was finishing up my workout when these guys came up and wanted a fight. I told them I wasn’t in the mood, but they didn’t listen. What do you expect?”

Apparently at a loss for words, Roman just stared straight at me until I felt like the room was going to burst from the tension seeping off him in waves.

“You did this? You fought all of them?” He gritted out from between his teeth. I could see the vein popping in his neck, but I didn’t see anything wrong with defending myself, so I held my ground.

“Yeah? What about it? They came at me. I wasn’t just going to take it, so I fought back. Sorry if your precious little prodigies got hurt in the process. Maybe they’ll learn their lesson,” I shrugged, meeting him dead in the eyes and refusing to show any weakness. I had a feeling that this guy would take full advantage if I were to submit to him now.

“Boss, the little bitch lies! She attacked us! She’s a freak and a menace and she needs to be punished. She needs to learn a damn lesson in respect!” Looking over, I noticed this was the guy I talked to in the beginning. Great. Just what I needed. An enemy.

Before I looked away, he met my eyes and spoke directly to me. “You’ll get what’s coming, you spoiled bitch. You just wait. Watch your back cause you won’t know what hit you. You don’t belong here you filthy cunt. You deserve a lesson in respect, monster.”

The rest of what he said was lost on me as my head began to swim and my thoughts were dragged into a memory.

Dammit, not now Addie! Breathe!

I halfway registered Roman’s cursing as I attempted to make my way out of the gym. Staggering into the hallway, I barely made it ten steps before I collapsed against the wall and the memories rushed over me.

‘You filthy little cunt! You don’t belong here!’

I felt the sting of the slap as it connected with my cheek, and tears spilled out of my eyes as I landed on the ground.

‘You spoiled, unappreciative little bitch!’ I grunted at the kick to my gut, curling inwards to try and protect my stomach.

‘You killed her! It’s your fault she’s dead. You’re the one that deserves to die, you little slut!’ Pulling at my hair, he dragged me up until I landed on the bed.

Before I even had a chance to recover he was pummeling me with his fist, laughing at my painful cries. It felt like forever before he stopped, leaning over me to whisper in my ear.

’You deserve this. You deserve every punishment I give you because, you know what? You don’t deserve this life, and you never will.

’You live in this house and under my roof as if everything is okay but it will never be okay. You’re lucky I even let you live. Be thankful I haven’t put you six feet under where you belong. Because I’d be doing this world a favor.

You’re a monster and you murdered her. You’re the reason your mother is dead, and you will never be able to get that blood off your hands. So you deserve every bit of pain I ever cause you. You deserve every hit and kick and whip I ever give you.'

And with that, I felt one last hit to the temple, and the world faded to black.

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