"What the hell was that about?" Lachlan asked, leaning back in his chair to take in the reactions of the other guys.
It wasn't unusual for Roman to barge in like that and refuse to answer questions for a bit, but it definitely meant something was bugging him. Was one of the trainees giving him hell?
Giving up on trying to piece together the situation for himself, Lachlan simply leaned back and took in his surroundings in an attempt to pass the time.
He and the rest of the guys had been hanging out in the common room for quite some time now, pretending to listen to Callum's ranting about their newest "guests" and the many troubles they would cause.
In the years past, the common room had become a sort of haven for them, giving them a space that was theirs alone. They knew nobody would disturb them in there, so they often hung out there when they needed some time to be themselves.
The room was exceptionally large and consisted of basically anything the guys could possibly want. There was a bar in the corner next to a gaming table that could be converted to play pool, air hockey, table tennis, or even mini basketball. On the other end of the room, there was a large area full of books that Declan mainly used, along with a small work area for Callum.
Closer to the entrance door there was an enormous couch surrounded by some comfy leather chairs and a large coffee table, all facing a massive TV and a rather impressive gaming set.
The common room also connected to each of their bedrooms, so they could easily access it without having to walk through the many walls of the castle.
A loud bang jerked Lachlan out of his leisurely perusal of the room, and he looked over to see Roman storming in from his shower with wet hair and a simple pair of sweatpants.
"You going to tell us what happened now?" Callum prompted, heading over to the bar to fix himself a drink.
Lachlan watched in anticipation as Roman took his time getting comfortable on the large couch, waiting until Callum came back over to begin talking.
Listening to Roman rehash what went down in the gym, he had to hold back a chuckle.
"So hold up, hold up. You're saying this puny little thing that's practically a quarter of your size handed five of your guys their asses on a silver platter? Man, what I would have given to see that!" Lachlan burst out laughing, finally looking up to see that Callum and Declan were having to hold back laughter as well.
Roman, on the other hand, looked beyond pissed. Man, what it must have been like for Roman to see some of his own guys get bested like that! By a girl!
"Alright, alright. Enough. Roman, continue," Callum, ever the fun sponge, attempted to get the conversation back on track.
Casting one last scathing look at Lachlan, Roman continued on. "Well, I guess since you think it's so funny, you'll be happy to know you can all watch her train tomorrow morning."
What the hell? How had Roman gone from practically hating this girl to offering to train her?!
Apparently having the same question, Declan piped into the conversation. "Wait a minute, what else happened to make you offer to train her?"
Lachlan watched as Roman took a deep breath before continuing, and he knew the conversation was about to take a very serious turn.
"When I was yelling at the recruits for their blatant insubordination and disrespect of a direct order to leave Addie on her own, I noticed her stagger off into the hallway. She left her jacket, but when I took it out to her, I found her curled up in a ball in the hallway. Guys, it was bad. She was against the wall with her knees tucked to her chest and she was practically shaking like a leaf." Pausing briefly, Roman cast a meaningful glance to Lachlan that practically had rocks settling deep into the pit of his stomach. He knew what was coming next.
"I have no clue what could have scared someone that bad. She doesn't even look down when I bring my bear to the surface to demand submission. It's almost like she's fearless, but then I saw her like this and she looked utterly and totally broken. I turned around to leave her alone, but she saw me before I left. When I asked what happened, she refused to tell me. The only way I could get any sort of answer was the prospect of training her."
Dreading the answer, but needing to know, Lachlan asked the question that he knew was on the tip of everyone's tongues. "What did she say?"
"All she would tell me was that it was a memory."
"Fuck." Callum said, looking straight to Lachlan with a concerned expression.
Fuck was right. If she was that scarred from a memory of her past, it had to have been bad, and having a dark past himself, Lachlan knew how long it could haunt you.
"What's going through your head right now, Lach?" Declan prompted, not letting him get sucked into his own nightmares.
"I mean abuse is the first thing I would think, but let's not jump to conclusions. It could be a million different memories. We'll just have to get her to tell us." Lachlan refused to believe this girl went through anything like he did. He could barely handle the trauma from the abuse he endured, and he wouldn't wish it on anyone.
"We still can't trust her, though. She could be playing us all, and we need to know more about her before we let her get under our defenses," Callum stated.
Lachlan knew he was right, but if this girl had been bad enough to get Roman that worried, he knew she couldn't have been faking it. Still, they didn't know anything concrete yet, and family came first. No matter what, this girl could not be allowed to put his brothers at risk.
"Alright, so here's how it's gonna work," Callum began, getting up from his spot on the couch to put his glass in the sink at the bar. "Roman, you can use these training sessions as an opportunity to get to know her weaknesses. Make sure she's not a threat and that you're able to take her on if the time comes.
"Lachlan, she seems to be the most comfortable around you, so you'll be the one to get close to her. Try to get past her defenses and see what she's hiding. Do whatever it takes. We can't let her surprise us.
"Declan, you mentioned you might have some insight from some of your history texts as to where those marks came from, so you'll be in charge of that. Get to work finding out anything you can about her. Something tells me she's not just a low-level mage.
"I'll work on taking care of the Council. As soon as they find out about her this is gonna get a lot more complicated." He paused to look at the other guys, making sure to get their agreement before continuing.
"Alrighty then, if that's it for tonight, I'm gonna hit the hay. I'll see you guys in the morning to watch her first training session." With that, Callum headed into his room. Declan and Roman left right after, and Lachlan was left alone to his thoughts.
No matter what he tried, he couldn't get his mind off of what Roman saw in the hallway. He wouldn't wish trauma like that on anyone. Could he really force her to open up those old wounds just to know her secrets?
What Callum said was right. She couldn't be trusted. They didn't know anything about her, and all she had done up to this point was cause problem after problem.
And family always came first for Lachlan. He would do anything for his brothers, and he knew they would do the same for him. So why did he find himself wanting to protect this girl as well? What was it about her that was already forming cracks in his armor?
One thing was clear, though. When it came to Addie, Lachlan knew they were playing with fire. He just had to hope they didn't get burned.