Chapter 14 - Attacked
My limbs were moving and my lips were talking, but I wasn’t the one controlling them. It was like everything that was me was locked away in a glass-plated box. I could see, hear, and feel everything that was happening, but I couldn’t change what my body was doing no matter how hard I banged on the clear walls.
Inside I was shaking with a terror that I had never remotely felt before. On the outside I was a nonchalant actor, enacting a plan that would destroy everything and everyone that I loved. I would have gladly killed myself before ever allowing myself to do what I knew I was about to do. But even that was out of my control.
-- Derik Risberg
I woke up, checked my phone, and saw that Derik wanted me to go to the clan house first thing for training. I grabbed a quick shower and had my traditional cup of coffee with Jack and Amy before they left for school and then I started walking over to the clan house. The rent house was only a couple of miles from the clan house and I didn’t mind the walk. It gave me time to relive everything that had happened the night before and I found myself grinning as I let myself into the big house.
Derik was standing just feet from the entrance and I nearly jumped out of my skin because I wasn’t expecting him to be there. As I tried to get my bearings, Derik actually reached out his right hand as if he expected me to shake his hand. I looked at him with a raised eyebrow but decided to play his little game. I was on my guard, assuming he was going to pull some training exercise and expect to find me flat-footed.
The second that my hand was firmly within his grasp, Derik surprised me yet again by slapping a stainless steel cuff with dark stones rimming the edge onto my outstretched arm. An unpleasant hum radiated out from the cuff and I instantly hated that it was touching my skin. I pulled my hand away and started to examine the odd piece of jewelry when all of a sudden a searing pain swiped across my face and I was pushed backward. I stumbled and when I caught my balance I brought my hand to my newly injured cheek, not understanding what had just happened. I looked up just in time to see Derik step into me and smash his fist into my stomach before I could react to defend myself.
Air gushed out of my lungs and I couldn’t help but sink to my knees and bow my body as pain engulfed me. I didn’t understand what was happening right now. Was this a training technique? If it was, I was going to tell him that I really didn’t appreciate being ambushed like this, right after I kicked his ass.
I called a Shield to form around me, to give me a moment to regain my breath, and was utterly shattered when it didn’t form. My Gifts had never failed me before and in my confusion about the Shield not forming I did nothing to stop Derik’s knee that caught under my chin flinging me back into the nearby coffee table. My head cracked into the edge of the table, causing my vision to momentarily darken and I pushed back into the void with everything I had.
I didn’t melt into the void. I don’t even think I became less visible. This time I reacted slightly faster and turned away from Derik’s stomping foot. I had to scramble away from him to gain my footing and position myself in a slightly unsteady fighting stance. That hit to the head was messing with my balance.
“Derik!” I yelled, and blood splattered from my mouth. “Stop. Something is wrong. My Gifts aren’t working. Please stop,” I pleaded and hated how weak I sounded.
“Fuck that,” Derik growled out in a low demeaning voice that I wouldn’t have recognized as his if I hadn’t seen his lips move. “I have sat back and watched the pathetic Ray show for weeks now and I am sick of it. You are a pathetic street rat that is done leeching off my family,” he yelled at me and then materialized a wooden staff and advanced on me. I had significant training and considered myself pretty unstoppable in the fighting department, but at that moment I discovered just how reliant on my Gifts I truly was.
I ignored the sinking feeling in my gut his words had caused and repeatedly tried to materialize Weapons that refused to come as I dodged and blocked the best that I could. I might be able to take down most humans barehanded, but Derik was a highly trained Valkyrie with a weapon. He slipped through my guard and struck the right side of my face hard. I felt the crunch of breaking bones and couldn’t help falling to my knees as an unbearable pain burned through my face.
I cried out, cradling my now broken jaw as Derik laughed with demented joy. That sound alone acted as another crushing blow. How in the world could he hate me this much without me knowing it?
“You are a weak, pathetic, slut and you are no longer welcome here. I am done watching you prance around, teasing my brothers for your own sick enjoyment. You do realize that they only pretend to care because they pity you? Why else would anyone look twice at you?” Derik snarled and I felt his words like a physical slice to my psyche. Without my Truth Gift, I couldn’t be sure if he was lying or not.
Derik stalked towards me with a disgusted mask marring his beautiful face and I tried to regain my footing. If he wanted me to leave so bad, I would gladly go. However, he didn’t seem interested in letting me leave and roughly placed his booted foot on my chest and kicked. I slammed into the floor, causing my already battered head to bounce off the hardwood floor. My vision went momentarily dark and when I blinked back to awareness, Derik was straddling my waist and had wrapped his hands around my neck. He started to squeeze and unadulterated panic filtered into my mind. Up until this point I had been confused and hurt, but I didn’t think Derik would actually kill me.
Now, I wasn’t so sure.
I brought my hands up and used my nails to gouge deep scratches into his arms. I felt him grunt in pain and he spit into my face. “No one will miss a piece of garbage like you. I would be doing the world a favor by wiping you out of existence,” he yelled and I started to kick my legs trying to gain some sort of purchase but I simply wasn’t strong enough.
Later, I regretted my jerky hip movements because they brought another possibility to the surface and Derik slowly loosened his grip on my neck. I took ragged breaths and he rocked his hips painfully into my body. “Hmmm, maybe I should use you for the only thing you will ever be good for before I end things,” Derik murmured in a leering tone, and a new kind of dread unfurled in my gut.
I continued to struggle and he backhanded the injured side of my face. Vaguely I heard the terrible sound that was forced from my lips. I worked through the new layers of daze only to feel Derik rip my cotton t-shirt down the middle and hear him let out a low whistle. He reached out and harshly grabbed both my breasts and I cried out before starting to try to fight him again.
He laughed at my efforts, leaned over, and engulfed my bra-covered left breast in his mouth. Then he bit down, tearing into my sensitive flesh with his teeth, and I screamed in agony. Derik seemed to be spurred on by my pain and when I tried pushing at his chest, hysterically crying, he wrenched at my arm and flipped me onto my stomach. He continued to bend my arm at an unnatural angle until I felt a pop and knew that he had just dislocated my shoulder from its socket.
My injured face was being painfully pressed into the unforgiving hardwood while shooting pain lanced up my now useless arm. My left breast was throbbing so intensely, that I thought I could still feel his teeth ripping into me. I was one throbbing unit of agony and thought that I was incapable of feeling another ounce of pain or fear.
I was wrong.
When Derik thrust his hips against my exposed butt and ran his free hand up the side of my leg, the very real fear that one of the only people I trusted in this world was about to rip my virginity from me coursed through me. A cold fear flowed through me, freezing everything else out. I started blabbering pleas for him to stop, but my broken jaw wasn’t working right and all that came out was a horrible keening sound.
I was focused on what his hands were doing as my mind iced over with dread and didn’t notice that someone else was in the room until Derik’s body was thrown away from mine with a great deal of force. But Derik still had a strong grasp on my wrist and my arm was almost ripped clear off my body as he was pulled away from me.
I let out another scream and curled into myself, trying to protect as much of my body as I could as I lay defenseless on the floor. I felt someone rushing towards me and I quickly scrambled backward, crying out when the movement jarred my ruined arm. I continued to blindly back away, not really seeing who was in front of me until my back hit a wall. I desperately looked around, realizing that I could only see out of one eye and that I was in the kitchen. The knife block was to my left and I grabbed a knife with a blood-slicked hand and turned to stand in something that might have resembled a fighting stance. My face and arm throbbed with pain and I knew that my only real option was my relatively uninjured legs.
The fight that I was mentally preparing for never came. I was still crying so hard that I wasn’t really breathing and it took me a while to understand that it was Blake and Max standing before me with hands raised. At first, I flinched away and raised the knife higher, afraid that they too would attack. But then a single truth trickled its way through my pain and fear-addled brain.
Blake and Max would never hurt me.
I latched onto Blake’s honest eyes and saw the gut-wrenching concern and fear within their depths. I continued to simply stare into his muddy brown eyes, seeking some sort of refuge from this new horrible storm. Eventually, my legs gave out and I slid down the wall, crumpling in a heap against one of the kitchen counters while continuing to cry with incoherent wails of pain. Blake slowly stepped forward and I couldn’t help flinching or the incomprehensible cry of fear that spilled from my lips. He instantly backed away and I once again tried to push back into the void.
I didn’t want the guys to see me like this. I needed to feel the security that only the void could give me. But once again, when I reached for the fabric of reality it simply slipped through my mental fingers.
I whimpered and my eyes caught on the flash of silver against my skin. I looked down at my ruined arm, saw the heavy silver and black cuff, and remembered the horrible hum that I felt when Derik locked it onto my wrist.
It was wrong. It was wrong and I didn’t want it touching my skin.
I tried to push it off my arm but the cuff was too tight to slip past my wrist. My breath started to hitch again as I dropped the knife and tried to pry the clasp open with my other hand. The action tore at my injured shoulder and I let out another scream of pain but did not stop trying to rid myself of the evil thing.
Nothing else mattered but getting the damn thing off of my wrist.
I was so out of my mind with pain and hysteria that I was nearly ready to grab the knife and cut off my own thumb when I was started by a yell, “Ray!”
Surprised, I looked up with my good eye to see that Elijah was kneeling on the floor several feet out of my reach. When I made eye contact with him, he started talking in his calm but authoritative voice. “Ray, honey, please try to calm down. No one is going to hurt you anymore. Derik was under compulsion but it is broken now. You are safe. Please, you are safe.”
I took almost a full minute to process what he had said and then I tentatively looked around the rest of the room. Slightly behind Elijah, both Blake and Max were also kneeling on the ground and looked so distraught that I almost wanted to go to them to ensure they were okay. Behind them, in the living room, Connor stood with his back to me standing over Derik, who was hunched over in the corner of the room. My eyes caught on him and I couldn’t tear my eyes away.
He was where the danger would come from. He wanted to hurt me. He wanted to shred me into tiny little pieces. He wanted to steal one of the only dignities my father had left me with.
But when he finally looked up and caught my gaze, I didn’t see the burning hatred or rage that had been there before. Instead, there was soul-deep regret and shame. He quickly dropped his eyes and hung his head, looking completely defeated. I knew that look. I lived that look.
Derik was under compulsion.
Now that the idea was in my head it was the only thing that made sense and anger started to slowly overcome the cold fear that I was still immersed in. But all of this was going to have to wait because there was something that was more important. I needed to get this cuff off my wrist more than I needed to understand why this had happened to me. I had survived beatings before, and I would survive this. But I needed my Gifts. They would protect me. I pulled my gaze back to Elijah’s and screamed my thoughts at him. If I couldn’t use my Gifts, then I couldn’t Cloak my mind and he should be able to hear me.
GET IT OFF! GET IT OFF! PLEASE JUST GET IT OFF! I WILL DO ANYTHING, JUST GET IT OFF!
I started pushing at the awful piece of jewelry as I screamed my pleas to the only person that would hear me while I had a broken jaw. Elijah flinched back and I hoped that meant he could hear me. I was too desperate to care if I was hurting him and continued to cry out in my mind for help.
PLEASE ELIJAH! PLEASE HELP ME. PLEASE GET IT OFF. I AM BEGGING YOU. PLEASE. PLEASE. PLEASE HELP ME.
“Okay Ray, I hear you,” Elijah said with a frantic edge to his voice. “I will help you. We will get the cuff off. Please just try to calm down.” He then walked on his knees until he was closer and slowly reached out his hand for mine. I understood that he wanted to see the cuff but the arm it was on was completely unable to move of its own accord. I was pretty sure skin and a few strands of torn muscle were the only things keeping my arm attached to my body at all. However, I wasn’t going to let that stop me from getting this cuff off. If my arm fell off, at least the cuff would fall off with it.
I pushed my injured arm forward towards Elijah with my good hand and cried out in pain as white-hot agony radiated down my entire right side. “Stop,” Derik called and I involuntarily flinched back from the sound of his voice. “It will only open with my thumbprint,” he said in a broken rasp but remained motionless on the other side of the room. Refusing to move toward me.
Well, that one stumped me. I was in no shape to go another round with Derik right now if he somehow flipped his switch again, but I wanted this cuff off more than I have ever wanted anything in my entire life. I studied the broken man in the corner as my entire body throbbed in pain and I couldn’t help the low whimpers that escaped my lips. At the sound, Connor flipped around and studied my face. I hated that they were all seeing me like this and yearned to disappear into the void.
Connor must have made a decision because he stepped into motion. I watched as he summoned a short sword. He then demanded that Derik stand and declared that if he lifted a finger in my direction that he didn’t like, he was going to slit Derik’s throat. Then they started moving towards me in slow steady steps, avoiding any sudden movements. I watched them with my one good eye and hated how fear started to build within me the closer they got. I reminded myself that Derik was the key to releasing the cuff and forced myself not to cower away like a victim.
I was nobody’s victim. I had lived through worse. I would survive this too.
When they were within a couple of feet away from me, Blake also rose to his feet and shadowed Derik’s other side actually making me feel a little better. The twins wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me. I could trust the twins. Then, slow as molasses and without looking at me, Derik reached out and gently placed his thumb on the large center crystal within the cuff.
The cuff clicked open and a Shield burst out of me, blasting both twins and Derik back several feet. At the same time, my katana materialized in my left hand and my Kukri in my useless right. It was like now that my Gifts were working again they were trying to fulfill all of my wasted efforts from before.
I pushed back into the void and quickly sealed the entrance, finally ensuring my safety. I sagged sideways until I was laying on my less injured side and started to cry in earnest.
Everywhere hurt and I just needed a moment where I could be weak in private.