Nathan locked arms with me like he does to Proserpina when we made it right outside my front door. Suspicious I glared at him and pulled my arm away, "What did you put on me?"
"Nothing haven't you realized we have been missing for days?"
"Oh shit," I put my head in my hands.
"Yeah I don't want to face your father. Sometimes he is scary and he is probably not happy about this incident."
"Well lets find out," I reached for the handle but the door moved inward before I could touch it. In front of me was my mother with sadness and anger glowing bright as a fire in her eyes.
"You boys better be respectful to Richard! He has never stopped looking and blaming himself for this nonsense." Her voice was harsh instead of the usual gentleness it had before. Nodding our agreement we stalked through the door. Richard was standing facing the door. His hands were at his sides but when he turned tears were in his eyes. Dried tears stained his eyes but when he glanced at us. It was like he couldn't see us for his eyes just went to his wife in sorrow.
"What did I do? How did I lose them?" Father's voice came hallow laced with misery.
"Father, we are right here," I spoke up unsure if I was going to cry too.
"John!" Father wrapped us in his arms after covering the distance fast.
At first I didn't want to believe my youngest was there. For all I cared he was a figment of my imagination. Despite the feeling of looking weak, tears came flowing down my face when I took them in. Then John spoke and I didn't care if he wasn't really there.
"Where's Conner?" he gasped when I released him.
"I'll be back," I got up, stomping out the door with in my boots. All I wanted now was to have both my boys back safe in my house.
The park was cold underneath me while I sat there but I ignored it. I had no other place to look or go; I was being forced to look at the chances of finding him now. I just wanted everything to be okay again; I wanted to go back to when John was laughing with Proserpina and Nathan. Or even before that when it was just us, Father and our mother. Frustrated I put my head down in my lap with my hands over my head keeping me there.
"I'm guessing finding him on your own isn't working out that well?" The familiar voice of my Father came but instead gently not with authority.
"No sir," I sighed defeated and ready to apologize for my harsh words towards him.
"Drop the yes, no sir stuff for now, I'm not you're general or Sergeant. We are family not a military and don't apologize either. You don't need to." He sat next to me on the bench not ordering to me to sit up or look at him. I was too tired to ask why so I sat there listening to his next words.
"Before I tell you anything that has happened I want you to know I'm the one who is sorry. I pushed you and your brother away from me emotionally and left you to deal with everything on your own. But I'm not sorry that you thought I wasn't trying to find your brother. That girl, Proserpina, I have a feeling that she has been through things too and wishes to forget those moments for a bit while she is with us. That is why I wouldn't let you question her like someone who witnessed a crime being done. I'll never apologize for protecting her from reliving whatever it was. I also want you to know I did send out my officers to search for your brother but we had no clues to follow."
"Don't Father, I can't hear this," The words burst from my lips making me cringe for interrupting him.
"Conner I just wanted you to know that I tried. I truly tried and I never stopped I just have to be strong for you and my officers."
"What did you want to tell me?"
"Fine then your brother and Nathan have returned on their own. They are safe and sound back home if you would like to come back home." I lifted my head from my lap to stare at him in disbelief. My father had found John before I could and I had screamed at him for being weak. He had only been showing me what I wanted to see while he made sure nothing else gotten out of hand.
"Father I want to you to know, I knew you tried and that you were just showing me what I wanted to see but also what I needed to see. I'm sorry for my behavior when I left, it was unnecessary and you didn't deserve it."
"Its okay my boy," he tugged me into an embrace. I rapped my arms around him as well when tears leaked from my eyes and soaked into his shirt. He patted me on the back letting me release my pent up emotions not judging even when some sobs escaped me.
"It's alright, I got you," That was all he said through it all until I pulled away finally done. Together we rose from the cold bench and I joined him in the same vehicle when he promised one of his officers would come by in the morning to drop it off at the house.
"I don't like it when I'm assaulted in my own territory," Kaden grunted when his boot met my stomach. "I want you to remember that you asked for this and I was didn't want to do this to you." I stumbled to the ground and his boot met my spine making my fall faster. After he showed up in the office, we fought all the way outside but I lost. His bodyguard attacked me faster than I could attack Kaden, weakening me by the minute. Now it was Kaden's turn to beat on me while I still had a little strength.
"We could've been friends, we still can be after all this blows over but until then I need to do this."
"You're an asshole," I spit blood onto the ground next to his foot. Grinding his teeth together clearly irritated he wailed on me again using his feet and fists. I tried to dodge the blows but the new wounds burned with a fury, hot as the sun and my fever made me dizzy and weaker than I would've been.
"You know its that attitude towards me that keeps pissing me off. If you just acted liked we understood each other I wouldn't have to hurt you and we would be friends."
"Oh go to hell! I'm not friends with you and if you haven't noticed I'm not friends with anybody."
"Alright this might take a little longer than I expected," he rolled up his sleeves then everything blended together.
Time passed me by like nothing not waiting for me to catch up. Kaden wailed on me all through it all with each comment of mine fueling him to stay and keep going. The bells rang distantly in my ears and an audience came out. I shouted and screamed in agony but they just stood there not laughing or mockingly but just watching. They didn't even blink and neither did the duties on shift. No one said anything in protest to the event or tried to stop him or his bodyguard. Instead pity shone bright in their eyes and it enlaced itself in their tones as they whispered rumors of why I was being hurt. The bells rang again snapping them out of watching and began running to class. Not one of them glanced back at me spitting up blood and cursing at Jack.
"You're alone, everyone has left you behind and no one is coming back." He spat at me heartlessly with a triumph enlacing his tone and lighting up his eyes.
"I know, that is how it will always be," I responded back making that look disappear from him completely as he took in the information that I granted him. After that he stopped his assault and had his friend drag me with them as they headed back to where they came. I didn't bother keeping track of the directions they took to get to the house I probably wasn't going to be back here for a while anyway so what was the point? I lost and the consequence was leaving my only home that didn't even know I was here at all.
That night I spent the night in John's spare room after we cleaned up the sheets. And the next morning we headed to school to see if Proserpina was okay. My classes wouldn't go fast enough so I sat through every single one patiently waiting for it to end. I hoped for her to listen to my explanation and not to deem it false.
Then lunch arrived without a sign of Proserpina being anywhere near. Desperately with John doing the same I asked the people that took notice her when she was injured.
"Who?" One student asked.
"Are you sure she goes here?" Another one replied. The kids didn't seem to remember even what she said to them just like she had predicted. Suddenly I spotted the girl Proserpina insulted last before she stormed away and I made a straight beeline to her. Roughly I grabbed her arm and twisted her away from the other girls she was giggling with.
"What do you th--! Oh hi Nathan, can I help you?" her voice changed from rude to sweet in an instant giving me a hint of how to play this.
"Umm I'm sorry to take up your time but I was wondering if you know where the girl that insulted you was?"
"What do you want with her?"
"Oh just some drama that I'm trying to make disappear."
"Well I can do that for ya."
"Umm thanks but this is a problem for her and I need to know where she is."
"Oh well I'm sorry I couldn't help with your drama problem but last I saw her was yesterday on the field."
"Really what was she doing? Was she okay?"
"Yeah I mean she was talking with Kaden so."
"Do you know what about?" I asked trying to hide my alarm.
"No," she stated not so sweetly obviously tired of talking about someone else.
"Alright thanks I owe you one," I took off sprinting across the playground and into the building to find John.
Kaden took me to his own house that had acres of ranching land. We didn't have to sneak inside instead his uncle greeted us at the door. He was a man in his 30's but didn't seem to like his life so far. His face didn't light up from the sight of Kaden but darkened like he was the cause of something horrible.
"Uncle, I have brought a visitor," Kaden announced.
"I see that you moron. Why I told you, we weren't staying for long!" His uncle came out yelling his face agitated.
"Uncle would you just--!" His uncle's hand flew from his side and back handed Kaden across the face so hard he launched into the wall beside us. When he got up holding his cheek it was already forming a nasty bruise instead of just being red.
"I don't listen to you! You listen to me that is how this is it works! Get that through you stupid head boy, the sooner you figure out how life is the less it'll be surprising."
"Yes Uncle," Kaden replied flinching at the tone and volume of his voice.
"What's your name, girl?"
"I see you're a quick learner then." I could feel Kaden's glare burning a hole in my side.
"Take her to one of the rooms upstairs, you're right she may just be worth our time." Kaden gripped my arm hard enough to bruise and dragged me too quickly for me up the stairs. He stopped at the last door in the hallway and whirled me around to face him.
"Would you loosen your grip you did just beat me up all day?" At my request he dropped his hand to his side.
"This is how this goes; you don't suck up to Uncle and you don't get in his way. Don't go through his things or even go near his door that leads to his room. Only go into his study if summoned or told to do so. Whatever you do don't get into his way like you got into mine. Piss him off and we both get it, do you understand me?"
"Are you warning me of danger instead being the danger?" I smirked.
"Don't play around with me! Do you understand because if you don't it'll be on both of our heads. My Uncle is mean, cruel man that doesn't like anything cheerful and loves violence."
"Alright I understand but why did you bring me here?"
"I'll be by later to check on you but until then don't come out unless I come get you. Don't leave this room whatever you do don't run away. Be on your guard my Uncle is not to be trusted with any personal information." Then he hastily sped down the stairs back to his Uncle leaving me to follow his orders.
Uncle went through mail, and junk in the house throwing it at the walls. Proserpina stayed quiet up in her room; grateful for it I tried to get Uncle to tell me his plan.
"Uncle what are we doing?"
"Have you lost your brain boy? We are making a better life. A life that my stupid sister could never do."
"My mother did everything, she could to keep us clothed and fed," I growled.
"Yes her best was living in this dump of a town. Open your damn eyes boy!! Did you ever wander if she even wanted better for us?!"
"Please sir, leave my mother out of this! It wasn't her fault that she was sick."
"I'll speak how I would like towards my sister! No it wasn't her fault for being sick but she could've left us something better than this dump!!"
"UNCLE!!!" My control slipped but his hand checked it faster than it could get any farther than that.
My face burned red and tears sparked at the rim of my eyes but I quickly hid them. Uncle continued looking through junk, not a hint of guilt or of an apology showing anywhere in his demeanor.
"Kaden neither I nor my sister raised you to disrespect your betters. Your father wouldn't want it that way either but he didn't care any way if he could leave." His voice came out calmly this time speaking against my father.
"He didn't leave; he was dispatched to fight for us and our country."
"That's what they all say so their conscious is clear. Don't let them fool you, boy."
"What are we going to do with the girl?"
"She makes a great weapon of sorts."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean we train her into a type of soldier."
"Will she be harmed?"
"You're a coward, but no. No harm will come to her." He didn't face me which would've scared me more than his random devilish grins.
"Are you sure?"
"Have I ever lied to you, boy?" He asked suspicious. Shaking my head I answered him with a lie of my own.
"Now be a good boy and go make sure that girl isn't stupid enough to run on us."
"Yes Uncle," I calmly walked up the stairs knowing she was there.
When I opened the door she was crouched in the corner looking like a prisoner. Bruises marked her skin as well as cuts from the rocks and falls she took. So many possible scars were in her future but not a tear appeared on her face. Her eyes had a look of defeat and the feeling of being broken but no fear came from them either.
"Are you okay?" I asked not sure how to start off with after what I did.
"Ha! Am I okay after everything? I think I'm doing fantastic!" Her voice came out dry with sarcasm.
"I'm sorry for this," I ignored her tone.
"No you're not; if you were you wouldn't have brought me here."
"Fine, don't accept it but I truly am for what will happen to you. Whatever happens while we are in my Uncles custody I will make sure it doesn't go too far."
"What's the point? Why? Like you said I'm always alone no matter if I had friends for a while. They leave sooner or later." She retorted back at me like nothing. Cringing I shook my head.
God I'm an asshole.
"I will," I went to my similar room with almost nothing of my own in it. I lay on the dusty bed and closed my eyes.
"Soon this is will be all over," I sighed the phrase I have been promising myself for a long time.