The car ride was silent, as I thought it would be. Even the radio was off, and the only sounds were the engine and him tapping his fingers against the steering wheel with impatience. He changed gears as he indicated to turn down my road, reminding me of the party when he was drugged, and how I had somehow made it back to my house in his manual car. It was the few car rides with him since then that I had focused on how he drove, the points when he changed gears and the way he actually just drove.
He parked in my driveway like normal, and when I got out I didn’t wait for him as I went to the door and unlocked it, walking in. Zeke wasn’t home, probably visiting Xavier again, Kelley was getting things for the club before going to set up and Dave would be on his way to work. So again, I was home by myself, which had only just started scaring the shit out of me.
What if Adam knew I was by myself? He would be able to come in here so easily...
Don’t think about that, you’re fine. You’ve got Ashton here with you, and Adam wouldn’t do something as stupid as come into this house. I turned to watch Ashton as he walked inside and closing the door behind him. When my eyes caught on something out the window; a pastel blue car was parked on the side of the road, a car that I had never seen before.
“Soraya, what the hell is going on?” He asked. Am I being paranoid or could the person sitting in the driver’s seat be Adam? I mean, they look like they have blonde hair... I shut the curtains and looked around the lounge room. “Soraya, you’re kinda scaring the shit out of me...” he added as I ran to the other windows on the bottom floor and closed those too, just in case. God, I am so paranoid... but if anyone else were in this situation I am sure they would do the exact same thing.
“Soraya, for the love of god, what the actual fuck is going on?” He questioned, and I paused my panicking to look at him. “Talk to me.”
“No.” I responded. “I know you want me to tell you but I don’t think I can tell you because that means telling you the one thing I haven’t told a single soul on this entire planet and if he knows that I’ve told someone he’ll come after you and that won’t be pretty and I don’t want you getting hurt because of me.”
“Well I don’t want you getting hurt because you won’t talk to me.” He crossed his arms.
“No.” I replied.
“Yes.” Oh damn, I fell for that old trick. Holy shit, how did I fall for that?
“Talk to me, Soraya.” He told me, I took a deep breath as I tried not to snap at him, but it was extremely difficult. But I eventually calmed down enough to sigh in defeat, realising that he would find out one way or another... and it would be best coming from me.
“Fine.” I took a deep breath, “I’ll tell you. But you have to promise you won’t think differently of me.” I turned to look at him, searching his expression for something, anything to let me know that he wouldn’t run away.
“Ray...” He trailed off reaching out to touch my arm but thinking better of it in light of the situation, “You know I would never think any different of you - Unless you’re about to tell me you’re a murderer, then I might have to re-think our friendship a bit..” he tried a bit of a smile at that, probably hoping to lighten the mood.
Okay fine. You would surely know by now that there’s a reason as to why... why I don’t let people touch me.” I started, he nodded in response. “And I’m sure that you’ve already guessed as to what happened to me...” I trailed off, he nodded again. “Well, if you’ve been thinking what I think you’ve been thinking, you’re probably right. Of the thirteen foster homes I’ve been in, one of them... something really bad happened there, I was forced to live in a basement with a shitty bed and five other girls, I was thirteen at the time. I just - What you need to know is that he was seventeen when everything happened, he should have known better, but he didn’t or didn’t care because he picked me. He abused me, forced me to do his chores, hit me and... more.”
I could feel my hands balling into fists, my fingernails digging into my own skin to keep me from reliving the memories and just stating the facts. “I got out of the home eventually, and I tried moving on from it but all I got was a fear of human contact... I didn’t make any social media accounts, I was careful not to leave any traces of where I went. I was scared. Scared that he would be able to find me. I thought that was enough, it’s been years. But, but I got a card on my birthday, it’s in my room, actually...” I got up, running up the stairs to find it. Ashton had followed me up the stairs, and so I handed him the card. He read it, looking at me with a confused expression.
“What the hell is wrong with this guy?” he asked, but I just shook my head.
“I thought I had time... I thought I had a few weeks... but when I went to my locker at the end of the day this note fell out, I read it, and that was when I started having my panic attack.” I told him, handing him the piece of paper which was still in my hand from when I had read it. I suddenly started feeling angry as he read it, blinded as he turned to me with a look that I could only read as pity. I didn’t want to be pitied... “I thought I had time Ashton, I thought I had time to distance myself from you before he came so he wouldn’t get to you or the others. But if he’s seen me... that means he knows I’m friends with you.”
“You need to keep this, keep everything he sends you from now on. When he gets caught, it can be used as evidence to put him away.” Ashton stated.
“I shouldn’t have to, Ashton, this should never have happened in the first place. I shouldn’t have to be in this fucking position! I thought I had time! I thought I could at least save you guys! I don’t want to see you hurt!” I was trying to get my point across, but he also had a good one. I needed to keep this for evidence... even if all I wanted to do was throw it away.
“Well, I’m worried about you getting hurt. You’re home by yourself all the time, and I don’t think that’s a good idea at the moment. We’ll work it out with the others, we’ll make sure someone is with you at all times, that way he won’t want to come in.” Ashton tried to calm me down, but it wasn’t really working.
“I don’t want any of you going out of your way just because-”
“Because the guy who r*ped you is back?!” My body froze as he shouted, tears involuntarily making their way to my eyes. “That is what happened, right?” His voice suddenly calm as he realised the mistake of shouting at me. I stayed silent as my knees gave way and I fell to sit on my bed. If I say the truth it would be the first time I had said it to anyone, and that was something I wasn’t sure I could get to.
That means I would have to stop denying it, stop hiding behind my coloured hair. Adam had always liked my red hair, so as soon as I could I changed it, dying it to push away every comment he ever made on how my fire coloured hair reflected on my fiery personality. I would then have to admit that the reason I played baseball was originally to distract me from the memories of what he did to me. Everything I did was because of him... but I don’t want to have to admit to that.
“Stop calling me ‘Ray’. For the love of god, did it ever occur to any of you fucking idiots that there was a fucking reason as to why I don’t like being called that?” I basically growled my sentence out, my mind racing with the memory of every time Adam had called me ‘Ray’. It was the only thing he had ever called me.
“Um...” Good, I had him stumped. “You could’ve told us that there was a reason behind it.” He had a point, and I suppose I allowed them to continue because I was hoping that it would help me move on from everything. It didn’t.
“You wouldn’t have believed me.” I whispered, calming down. “I’m sorry for snapping, but you’re right. That asshole did r*pe me, multiple times. Each time as painful as the first, sometimes even more. He hit me, he pushed me into walls, and once he even pushed me down the stairs into the basement before he lifted me onto my bed and fucked me again. The other girls couldn’t do anything, but I was okay with that. If I took the load then he would leave them alone, and that was all that mattered at the time.”
“Shit...” he whispered, sitting next to me on the bed.
“As you read on the card, his name is Adam Wayne. And as you would’ve guessed, he’s insane.” I stated simply, looking at my hands. “So now you know what happened to me, and there is nothing you can do to help me. It won’t matter if someone is here with me, he’ll wait until I’m alone, no matter how long that will take. I can’t have someone around me forever and he knows that.”
“Hey, look at me.” Ashton stated, but I shook my head. “Sora, look at me.” With the brand new nickname I had to look at him so he could see my raised eyebrow. He lifted a hand like he was going to cup my cheek, but instead it was positioned to sit on my shoulder.
“What?” I asked him, after we sat like that for a few moments in silence.
“I promise you that everything is going to be okay. I swear to god that you will be safe. You aren’t going to be left alone, and if you don’t want to tell anyone else about this, then I will stay with you when Zeke, Kelley or Dave aren’t home. Simple as that.” He stated.
“You swear you won’t tell anyone else?” I questioned him.
“If that’s what you want, then I promise I won’t tell.” I believed every word. I trusted him. I fully trusted him. That was something that I was never able to do... fully trust someone. I let out a shaky breath as I moved closer to him, leaning into his side as he wrapped his arm around me.
“Thank you.” I whispered before we sat in silence for a few minutes, just staring into space as I hoped that everything would be okay, but deep down knew that it wouldn’t.
“Oh shit.” I whispered to myself before I rang the doorbell, looking down at my jeans and my dress shirt, hoping to god that it was clean enough for what was about to happen. I then looked over my shoulder at my shitty truck. I should have cleaned it, I should have just fucking cleaned it like I told Mum I would but got to distracted and ran out of time. And what the hell is taking so long for the door to be answered? The door opened, and I regretted wanting the door to open just yet.
“And what the fuck do you want?” Wilbur asked.
“Um...” Well, I can’t just answer with ‘your sister’ because that might come off a little... wrong. Think about your next words carefully, Alistair. “I’m here to pick up Willow, I’m taking her out to dinner tonight.”
“In that?” Jesus, okay.
“Uh, yeah. I thought these clothes would be alright, they’re the best I’ve got.” I told him.
“No I’m talking about the piece of shit parked on the road in front of our house. I can’t believe that after all these years that you’ve given me shit that it actually turns out that your life is a whole lot worse than mine.” He stated. “I can’t believe my sister went for someone like you, apart from the asshole side-”
“What’s your problem? If it’s because all of the shit I’ve done to you, I am sorry about it, we were younger, and I was an idiot. Really, I’m sorry.” I told him, hoping to god he would believe me.
“I don’t care about this, but I know what you do to girls. You pull them in, get what you want out of them and then you ditch them in the dirt. You’re probably going after Will because she’s the only girl in your year you haven’t got to yet. I want you to leave her alone, because she deserves someone better than you.” Okay, I may have deserved that.
“Look, I understand where the hell you’re coming from, but I swear that your sister... she’s different. I like her, a lot, and I don’t care about getting her in bed, I care about her being happy.” Oh lord, I am sounding way too sappy right now.
“She’d be happier without you.”
“Wilbur, what the hell are you doing?” I heard Willow whisper-shout, and then I watched as Wilbur seemed to be yanked out of the doorway. “For the love of all that is holy can you just stay out of this? It has nothing to do with you and I don’t care how it’s going to end, so just stay out of it.” She whispered the words but I heard them clearly, and I could barely believe what I heard. Does she think I’m going to drop her as soon as I can? That I’ll get whatever I can out of her before I get bored and leave her? How the hell do I bring that up to set things straight?
“Hi, Alistair.” I heard her gentle voice speak, snapping me from my thoughts as I looked from my feet to look at her. Oh shit. I was almost speechless as I drank in her appearance. “I wasn’t sure how nice I was supposed to dress, so I went kind of half casual.” Oh god, if this is half- casual I don’t think I’d be able to handle seeing her in what she would define as ‘fully-decked out’ with whatever fancy words she would use. She was wearing a black dress, the top half tight while the skirt flared out. She had a pair of thin, black stockings on and a pair of black heels. Her hair was half-up half-down, left in their natural, fiery curls while she had dark red lipstick on with eyeliner defining her striking grey eyes. Oh shit. No dirty thoughts, no dirty thoughts.
“You look beautiful.” I told her, still trying to suppress the dirty thoughts creeping their way into my mind.
“Thank you.” She replied.
“Are you going to get cold at the movie? I set stuff up in the tray, cos the cabs a bit small to watch a movie in.” Her eyes widened.
“I didn’t think of that... oh my god, I need to change. I am way to dressed up, I-”
“Angel, you’ll be fine. I have blankets, you can use as many as you like. It’ll be fine.” Okay, maybe I just didn’t want her to change her clothes but it’s not like I’m lying. I do have a lot of blankets in that tarp covered tray. Along with a mattress, pillows and cushions. The various junk food was sitting on the floor of the passenger side in the cab.
“Okay.” She whispered.
“I’ll be back when I want to get back, don’t wait up for me.” Willow cut her brother off before he even began, then I noticed the handbag over her shoulder. “I have a set of keys, I’ll let myself in when I get back.” She stated, walking out the door to be next to me before slamming it behind herself.
“Should I be concerned about all of that?” I asked her, unsure as to whether I should wrap an arm around her shoulders or not as we walked to my car. She took a deep breath, and I was sure that she was about to tell me what was going on, but she didn’t. Even though I have a pretty good idea of what is going on...
“Uh, don’t worry about it.” She told me as I opened the car door for her, she climbed in and I closed the door behind her. Don’t trip over, don’t do that to yourself again. I told myself as I walked around the front of the car, wondering why she didn’t feel comfortable enough to talk to me about what’s obviously going on between her and her brother. I got into the car and turned the ignition on, flicking the indicator before pulling onto the road. We drove mostly in silence, and I hated the awkward air hanging between us. I had to ask something to lighten the mood, but I didn’t know what.
“So... where are your parents? They didn’t seem to be home.” I broke the silence.
“Um, ever since Wilbur and I turned sixteen they go away once a month over the weekend to get away from us. It’s basically like their take on date night but they just run away for the weekend to do god knows what.” She answered, a small smile on her face. Well, that at least took away the awkward silence.
“Well, that’s not necessarily a horrible idea...” I stated, and then her smile fell.
“To begin with it was fine, Wilbur and I got the house to ourselves, we could do whatever we wanted... but just recently, I can’t seem to stand Wilbur anymore. We’ve always been so close, we’re twins and it’s hard to not be, but now we seem to be growing apart. Ever since Soraya came here. She became friends with me, Wilbur, Raven and Jackson, then she joined the baseball team and became friends with you guys while dragging me with her a little while after. Of course, I’m still friends with the others but I’m nowhere as close, not with Raven and Jackson and sure as hell not with my brother. Then I fell into you and you caught me and everything changed...” She trailed off, reminding me of when she indeed fell into me and almost cracked her skull on the ground, but I caught her inches above the floor.
That was when I first noticed how beautiful she was, and I was kicking myself because I was too distracted by other girls putting out that I hadn’t noticed her until I saved her. She didn’t realise she was saving me, that the reason I called her ‘Angel’ was because that’s what she truly was to me. An angel in the wingless form of a red-headed girl with eyes the colour of storm clouds.
I’d have to make sure she knew that.
“Are you sure that dinner was okay? I mean, I know it wasn’t too fancy but-”
“Alice, it was great. Thank you.” She cut me off, a smile on her face.
“Are you sure? Because we can go somewhere else if you want, I mean-”
“Alice, seriously, it was great. I’ve always wondered what the food tasted like there, and it was actually really good. The lasagne was great, the breadsticks were great and the drink you ordered for me was great too.” She cut me off again, already making it a habit of hers when I begin to ramble. We were currently sitting on the mattress in the tray of my pick-up truck, waiting for the movie to start as my radio was on full blast so we could hear the movie properly.
“Okay. If you’re sure.” I replied, pulling her towards me and placing a kiss on her forehead.
“I probably shouldn’t have dressed up as much, it was just dinner and a movie, but I didn’t know how to dress.” She told me, the movie starting as I looked her over again.
“I think you dressed perfectly.” I whispered into her ear.
“Yeah?” She asked in response.
“Yeah.” I answered, pulling her to sit in between my legs with her back to my chest, then grabbing one of the blankets and throwing it over her legs to keep her warm. “You can take your heels off if you want, you know that right?” She turned her head to look over her shoulder at me.
“Of course I know that...” she trailed off in an unconvincing tone. Reaching under the blanket and pulling off her heels and putting them on the edge of the mattress. We then sat quietly as we watched the movie, but I wasn’t really paying attention. Did she actually think that I would leave her after I get ‘what I want’ from her?
“Are you okay?” She asked, shifting around to sit in between my legs but facing me. I didn’t answer. “Alistair, what’s wrong?” She asked, gently placing a hand on my cheek.
“Why do you think I’m with you?” I asked, and she furrowed her eyebrows in confusion. “Willow, do you think I’m going to leave you as soon as I get you in bed?”
“I don’t know... but I don’t really care, it’s the time we spend together that matters to me, really, even if it is all leading to...” she trailed off, looking away from me as she pulled her hand away from my cheek.
“I promise you that’s not what this is.” I told her, holding her face between my hands to make her look at me so she could see I wasn’t lying. “I need you in my life, more than you will ever know. All the other girls, I used them as temporary distractions. But you... you might actually be able to help me forget about everything that’s happened to me. I promise that I will tell you about all of that, but right now I need you to know that I see you as an Angel, one that I terribly need.” I told her, rubbing my thumbs along her pale cheekbones. I wasn’t sure if she was going to say something to me in response or not, but I soon had my answer as she moved closer to me. She held the back of my neck and planted her lips against mine, pulling away from me slowly and looking me in the eyes.
“I don’t know why you think I can help you like that, but I know that I will sure as hell try to.” She told me, a small smile on her face.
“You don’t have to try...” I responded, pulling her to me so I could give her another kiss. For her sake I wanted all of this to move slowly, and I would wait for her to be ready no matter how long it takes. I made that decision when I first kissed her, when I found out that it was her first damned kiss. She was experiencing all of this for the first time, and I wanted it to be good for her. I pulled away from her, turning her around to have her back to my chest again.
The movie went by all too quickly, and I was soon driving her back home. I walked her to her door, kissing her before she walked inside and closed the door behind herself. I then walked back to my car, driving through the lovely side of our town before I get back home, the windows barred and shingles falling off the roof, the paint peeling off the sides of our small house.
I walked inside, finding Mum sitting at our dining table, a piece of pink paper in her hand with a red stamp on top that I couldn’t read from this far away.
“Mum?” I asked, she jumped a little as I spoke, wiping away what must have been tears from her cheeks as she turned to face me, her eyes bloodshot from her crying. “What’s wrong?” I questioned as she tried to hide the piece of paper from me. “Mum...” I trailed off, reaching over her gently to take the paper from her. I sat down on one of the wooden chairs next to our small table, taking in the words in red over the black writing covering the page.
“To Miss Eliana Kingston. We are sorry to inform you that due to unpaid mortgage you will have three weeks to evacuate the premises or pay the ten-thousand dollars of which you are behind...” I trailed off, looking from the paper to Mum. “Why didn’t you tell me? I could’ve gotten a job to help.” Ten-thousand... how long have we been behind for? How many months had Mum not been paying the full amount needed?
“It shouldn’t have to come down to you, I’ve been working as much as I can but your father... he hasn’t been paying child support again and that money is so crucial to keeping a roof over our heads, and I don’t have the money for a lawyer to take him to court for it.” She told me, tears again filling her eyes. It was hard to believe that she was thirty-four, dealing with a seventeen year old son alone and having done so since she had me when she was just seventeen.
Although, we were both better off without who was supposed to be my ‘father’ but we needed the money he was supposed to be paying. Without it... we could be left on the streets. The only reason I have a car is because it belonged to my grandfather on my Mum’s side. He passed it down to me when he passed away, and I’ve made sure that I could keep it running so Mum wouldn’t be wasting time driving me around.
“Alright, so I’m pretty sure that night job I had last year will have openings again so I’ll get that job again. It won’t pay straight away so we could probably ask Uncle Dave for some money to help us out and then we’ll pay him back as soon as we can.” I made a plan.
“Alistair, this isn’t on you. I’ll figure something out, we don’t need to ask Dave for help and you should be focusing on school, not on whether our mortgage is getting paid or not.” For fuck’s sake Mum.
“Mum, the reason my asshole of a father isn’t paying child support is to get us out on the street and desperate so he can manipulate us into going back to him. He knows we can’t afford this house without that money, he knows we can’t afford to take him to court. You worked so hard to get us away from him, and I’m not going to stand around and let us fall back into that. I’ll call Uncle Dave, and I’ll get that job back. Everything’s going to turn out fine, I promise.” I told her, putting the letter on the table and kissing her on the forehead before I walked to my minimalist bedroom. I had a single bed, an old desk that was almost falling apart and my wardrobe in the corner. I walked to that wardrobe, opening the doors and fishing my black boxing gloves out of the bottom of it.
Only Ashton and Xavier know that my ‘night job’ was fighting in an underground circuit, and even though I promised them that I wouldn’t do it this year, circumstances have changed. I have to do this to keep my Mum safe, but she can never find out... and neither can Willow.