My alarm in the morning went off way too early. I mean who the hell willingly gets up when it isn't even light out?
The only reason I was able to drag myself out of bed was the excitement of training, and even then it was a struggle.
By the time I had brushed my hair and teeth and dragged on a black, long sleeve outfit for training, I was slightly more awake, but I would definitely need some coffee if I was going to be any good at the training session this morning.
Before I even had a chance to pull my combat boots all the way on, a knock came at the door.
Seriously? Who else would have been dumb enough to wake up at this hour?
I slipped on my second boot and grabbed my leather jacket before making my way over to the door, opening it to find a grinning Lachlan waiting for me.
"What the hell do you want?" I asked, turning back around to grab a hair tie off my nightstand.
"Well aren't you just a joy to be around in the morning?" He stated sarcastically, standing way too close for my liking as I pulled my hair up in a high ponytail to keep it out of my face.
"Yeah, well, I haven't had my coffee yet, so don't expect my inner bitch to go back into hiding any time soon."
At that, he let out a full belly laugh that had butterflies settling deep in my stomach and my libido waking right the fuck up.
What the hell? This was an heir for gods' sake. Cool it down, Ad! I needed to get laid.
Shaking my head before my thoughts got out of hand, I set my hands on my hips and waited for Lachlan to quit laughing.
"I'm glad you find my lack of caffeine so entertaining, but if you don't mind, I would really like to go find the kitchens."
"Oh, spitfire, I find much more than that entertaining about you. In fact, you might just be the most interesting thing to have walked into this castle for a very long time."
Well, shit. Way to stay under the radar, Ad.
"But, if you really do insist on having some coffee, I can lead you to the kitchens. I was actually going to escort you to the gym since Roman doesn't appreciate anyone being late to a training session, but you were ready much quicker than I thought you were, so we have time to stop by the kitchens first." As he finished his statement, Lachlan held out his arm for me to take.
Hah. As if. I wasn't his prize to be dragged around like arm candy. I bypassed his arm and headed for the door, calling out to him over my shoulder.
"What, do the women you normally spend time with take a lot more prep work in the mornings? Sorry to say, Lachlan, I'm just not that type of girl."
I hoped he got the hint. I wasn't anybody's plaything, and I was in no way going to let him treat me like I was just another one of his conquests.
"Oh, little spitfire, I think you are much more my type than you know." His mouth was way too close to my ear when he said that, and it made shivers trail all the way down my spine.
Straightening my spine and lifting my chin, I somehow formed a coherent response.
"Don't kid yourself, Lachlan. You know nothing about me, and I am in no way interested in seeing what you have to offer."
"I think you're lying, little spitfire. I may not know anything about you, but you are very, very interested in seeing the many things I have to offer."
I felt heat gather in my core, and struggled to maintain my composure, thankful for the dark hallway covering my flushed face.
"Coffee, Lachlan. I am only interested in coffee at this time of the morning. Any other proposals are falling on deaf ears." I said, following the path of his finger as he pointed to a hallway on our right.
He let out a small chuckle at that before responding. "Keep telling yourself that, spitfire."
"Keep dreaming, lover boy."
Caught up in our banter, I noticed we had made it to the kitchens much quicker than I thought we would. There were already cooks working on breakfast, and it wasn't long before one of them noticed us.
"Oh! Good morning, Mr. Walker! What can we do for you?" One of the cooks exclaimed.
He was a very short man that looked to be in the mid-fifties to sixties. His hair was balding and there were laugh lines around his eyes from smiling all his life. I rolled my eyes at his enthusiasm towards Lachlan and complete dismissal of me.
"Just some coffee for the lady, Mr. Avery. We have an early training session we have to get to." Lachlan responded, smirking at my put-off expression.
It didn't take long for the man to prepare my coffee, and we were headed to the gym in no time. I was glad for the silence, but it didn't last long.
"Well, you were right about one thing, earlier. I don't know anything about you," Lachlan started, looking down at me with an expectant expression.
"What makes you think I want you to?" I asked, sipping on my coffee and silently thanking the gods for the gift of caffeine.
"What makes you think you can get away with not telling me? I am an heir, you know. I could just demand you to tell me."
"You underestimate how stubborn I can be, Lachlan. You might be the nicest one so far, but you have yet to earn my trust. I don't tell people my past without them earning it first. You and the other heirs have done nothing my entire life to earn my trust. If anything, you have only earned my contempt." I stated honestly.
It was still too early for my filter to be in place, and I slightly regretted my words as soon as they came out of my mouth. But, oh well. Too late now.
"What makes you say that? Why the contempt?" He asked. I looked up to see true concern in his eyes as if he actually cared what I thought of him.
Maybe I was crazy, but I decided to go ahead and answer honestly.
"Lachlan, if I told you the shit I have gone through in my life you would probably not believe me. And if you did you would be fucking sick. This privileged life in the castle is nothing like what goes on in the outer cities. There, people fight for their lives every day over a morsel of food on the streets. Gangs rule the towns and those who want to live but can't defend themselves are forced to either live in servitude or sell themselves for money. Families often don't make it, and children have to fend for themselves much too soon. Going to bed hungry is an everyday thing, and innocence gets you killed. Callum was very right when he said that little girls who don't know how to defend themselves don't last long.”
I stopped to take a deep breath before continuing, willing my memories to subside.
"I can't tell you what I've seen because you wouldn't understand. Life out there is a battle every day, with no one to help those who can't help themselves. Meanwhile, you guys sit here in your fancy chairs with money coming out of your asses. You don't have to worry about your next meal or who's around the corner. You don't have to worry if you will live to see your next day or if the ones who love you and depend on you will have to survive without you. You don't have to learn how to fight just to survive and you don't have to lose yourself to keep those you love safe.
"I was one of the lucky ones. I learned to fight and defend myself and Elle. In my darkest moment, I had someone who helped me up, but life still wasn't a picnic. Meanwhile, no one has seen any help from the council. No one has gotten any help from the people who are supposed to be in charge of protecting them.
"So no, Lachlan. None of you have earned my respect. The only thing y'all are to me are people who have the money and the opportunity to help, but not an ounce of the compassion to do so. And none of you even deserve the chance to prove otherwise."
I took a final deep breath, willing my mind back into the headspace I needed to be in to train.
I could tell I struck a chord with my words to Lachlan, but I didn't expect anything to come of it. These men were too deep in their own self-serving lives to do anything for those who really needed the help.
Nevertheless, we walked the rest of the way to the gym in silence.