A World Without Words

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Chapter 5

Chloe entered her room angrily and slammed the door. One minute she was starting to appreciate Ethan and the minute after she just hated him. Well, at least she was trying to hate him. He had no right to tell Emma about her panic attack, it was none of his business, he had nothing to do with it.

And yet again she just couldn’t hate him. He had been so sweet, kind and caring with her in the grocery shop. She couldn’t forget the way he had been holding her, not letting go of her and fall on the floor. How he had cupped her face between his strong manly hands that she loved to feel on her skin, and how he had tenderly kissed her forehead.

Wait, what was she doing? She shouldn’t think that. He was nothing but an ass to her. True he had been kind in the grocery shop, and true he made her walls crumble like no one before but, she could also remember how he had treated her the day before. How he had said that he wasn’t interested in talking with her, how he had said that he didn’t want to read her stupid papers and he didn’t want to talk with someone who couldn’t speak.

She walked toward her bed, dropped dead on it and she just stayed like this. She let the thoughts consume her until she started to think about something she had never thought about before, well, since the incident. Maybe she could try to talk, just once, just to see how it would be to hear her voice. Would she even still be able to talk? She opened her mouth but nothing came out. Come on, she just had to say something small, like ‘hi’ for example. She opened her mouth once more and an image of Will appeared in her mind and she just closed her mouth at the same time.

What had she been thinking? She couldn’t talk, it wasn’t that she didn’t want to, she just couldn’t. It was like her subconscious was forbidding it, like she didn’t deserve to talk, like it was forbidding all of her emotions as well. Like it was forbidding her from crying even during those times when all she wanted to do was cry until she had no tears left in her. Her thoughts were broken when she heard a knock on her door. She didn’t say anything, well, obviously...

Ethan entered the room only a second after knocking; it wasn’t like she was going to answer anyway. He didn’t even know what to say now. What had he been thinking to knock at her door? He just had felt the urge to see her. He thought he would see her differently now that he knew what had happened to her, but he didn’t.

Well, he did, in some way, because now when he looked at her he wasn’t seeing a mute girl anymore but a broken woman, a woman who couldn’t even show her emotions, a woman who had been through a horrible trauma and had lost her brother. He felt anger rising in him when he thought about what Emma had said, they had found her caged like an animal with her dead brother in display for her to see.

Chloe straightened up when she heard the door being opened, she was seriously expecting to see Emma appear to talk to her about her panic attack at the grocery shop, because Ethan had ran to her and told her the second he had passed the threshold. But instead it was Ethan entering her room. He walked inside making himself feel at home, he really didn’t care, did he? Chloe crossed her arms in front of her chest watching him take a look around her room.

After a minute, Ethan stopped looking around her room and turned toward Chloe looking straight at her. She was still wearing her ugly clothes and in his head he could still see her with the beautiful dress she had been wearing at the wedding, he could remember her voice as he was greeted by nothing but silence right now. He could remember her smile full of light and her eyes shining in happiness, but he was met by an emotionless face even though her eyes always held all those deep emotions. Right now, only looking at her stance he could tell she was angry though.

“I just had a conversation with Emma,” he announced breaking the silence.

Chloe sighed disappointed. Deep down she had hoped he wouldn’t tell Emma about her panic attack. She had thought she wouldn’t have to take more pills and see the doctor more often, but of course it was all just hope, of course he had told Emma.

“I told her we crossed paths with Alex and Cassie but I didn’t say anything about your panic attack,” he continued and he couldn’t help but notice how her face lit up when she realized Emma didn’t know about her panic attack and he smirked.

He took her pills out of his pocket and walked toward Chloe to give them back to her. He approached her bed and sat next to her on the edge of it. He extended his hand with the drugs in it for her to take. As she grabbed the pills Ethan closed his fist around the pills and her hand wrapping his fingers around her small hand. Chloe looked up frowning and confused. He was looking at her seriously now and she started to feel fear rising in her. She didn’t like when people grabbed her like this.

“I know what happened. I know you’re not mute, you stopped talking three months ago; you stopped showing your emotions,” Ethan admitted. Chloe tried to pull her hand away from his grip but he kept her hand in his firmly.

“I know they found you in a small cage, like an animal,” he continued and Chloe noticed how angry he seemed as he said this. She wanted to cry as the memory came back in her head, she wanted to cry so badly, but she couldn’t.

“I know they killed your brother in front of you and that you are doing everything in your power not to show how you feel about it, how you feel in general. But I can see it, like I can see that you want to cry right now, like I can see that you are terrified.” Ethan brought his other hand to her other hand and took it as well.

“You can’t stay like this; this is ruining your life. I won’t let you ruin your life. I’ve seen soldiers ruining their lives with guilt, because somehow I know that what you really feel is guilt, and I don’t know why you feel guilty but I will find out.” Ethan looked at her straight in the eyes.

“You must be wondering why I care,” Ethan continued slightly chuckling. “I don’t know why I care but I do. I don’t know why I want you to be okay. I don’t know why I want to find everyone who ever hurt you and rip them apart. I don’t even know why I find you so intriguing, how you can be so beautiful even when you dress like a potato.”

Chloe was shocked, she didn’t know she affected him that much. She felt her heartbeat fastening in her chest with each word he was saying. The skin he was touching on her hands was burning. She had no idea how he was able to read her like this but he was able to in some way.

“I never get interested in anyone, but when I do I don’t do it halfway,” Ethan admitted before sweetly kissing her cheek and leaving the room leaving a shocked Chloe behind him. She brought her hand to her cheek where he had kissed her and slightly touched it with her fingers, looking at the closed door of her room.

Ethan went back downstairs and walked toward the front door ready to leave. He had something important to do. When he had said that he never was interested in people it was true, and when he had said that if he was ever interested in someone it would be completely, it was also true. And he was interested in Chloe. He would find out everything about her. He put his hand on the handle of the door but a very recognizable voice stopped him.

“Where do you think you are going?” Ethan turned around to find Emma looking at him her hands on her hips in a defiant way.

“I’m going out,” Ethan simply answered and started to turn back toward the door.

“No, you’re not going out now. Right now we are going to have lunch that I just prepared while you were in Chloe’s room. But before that you’ll tell me what you were doing in her room,” Emma said not giving him any choice as she turned around and walked in the kitchen knowing that he would follow her, unless he wanted her to kick him out of the house, forever, when he hadn’t found his own place yet. And living 24/7 with Ian wasn’t an option.

Ethan followed Emma and entered the kitchen after her.

“What do you want?” He asked crossing his arms over his chest.

“What were you doing in Chloe’s room?” Emma asked crossing her arms over her chest as well.

“I was just talking to her,” Ethan said raising an eyebrow.

“Don’t you dare do your little number on her,” Emma exclaimed angrily all at once.

“My little number?” Ethan asked confused.

“Yes, don’t you dare be your charming self, even though I don’t think you are charming at all, and seduce her just to put her in your bed and then once you have what you wanted act like it never happened,” Emma explained.

“I wasn’t trying to seduce her I was just telling her I knew she wasn’t mute,” Ethan said not liking what Emma was implying.

“She doesn’t deserve it, Ethan. She was engaged to Steven and after the incident he left her. He said she wasn’t the woman he had fallen in love with anymore. He gave up on her. And Chloe, she has a fickle heart, she cares too easily, she loves too easily. So please don’t do this to her, don’t make her fall for you, don’t break her heart,” Emma said calmly this time.

“I know she doesn’t deserve it. I would never do this to her,” Ethan affirmed. He hated that Emma thought he could ever break Chloe’s heart that easily.

“Then why did you tell her all the things you told her in her room? I went upstairs a few minutes after you and I heard you when you told her you cared and that she is beautiful.” Emma raised her tone once more. “Don’t tell her things you don’t really think.”

Ethan felt anger rising in his system at her words. She thought he didn’t mean what he had said to Chloe and it was understandable. He had always been nothing but an ass to women but not with Chloe. Of course he wouldn’t admit it in front of Emma so he didn’t say anything else. Emma hadn’t been supposed to hear what he had said to Chloe. And he wouldn’t admit in front of her that he had meant every single word.

“Let’s have lunch now. Jason is already waiting for us at the table you can go, I’ll call Chloe,” Emma announced before leaving the kitchen and walking toward the stairs.

Ethan left the kitchen as well to join Jason in the living room. When he entered it his brother was already seated at the table waiting for everyone. Ethan greeted him and sat in front of him.

“What was that about?” Jason wondered.

“What?” Ethan asked looking up at his brother not knowing what he was referring to.

“I heard Emma yell. She seemed quite angry,” Jason explained not leaving his brother from his sight.

“Oh, nothing important. Something about me wanting to seduce Chloe just to put her in my bed,” Ethan said nonchalantly.

Jason raised an eyebrow. “And of course that’s not your intention.”

“No, I don’t want to put Chloe in my bed. You and Emma are annoying with this. I don’t care about Chloe and I don’t find her attractive at all. If I want to put someone in my bed I’ll go to a bar and take a random girl. You know what? I might do that tonight actually,” Ethan answered nonchalantly even though he didn’t mean any of it.

Jason could see right through Ethan. He knew that he was lying through his teeth and he was about to say something about it when someone cleared their throat. The two brothers turned their head to see Emma and Chloe at the entrance of the room. Emma looked at Ethan in a way that made it clear they had heard everything and Ethan didn’t even bother to look at Chloe, he didn’t want to see how she would feel after hearing him saying that.

Both women walked toward the table and Emma took the seat next to Jason which left, as an only option for Chloe to sit next to Ethan. Chloe was hurt to say the least. She sat down not looking at Ethan, not wanting to see his arrogant face, his amused smirk that she was sure he had on his face. But at some point she turned toward him and he was looking at her as well. She knew from their conversation earlier that he could see how hurt she was in her eyes. But at her surprise she could also see in his eyes that he was sorry and he hadn’t meant what he had said a few seconds ago. She could see it in the way he was looking at her.

Ethan saw how hurt she was but he also saw how it faded away as she looked into his eyes and he understood she knew he hadn’t meant what he had said to Jason. He was mesmerized by how they were able to have a conversation just staring at each other. They didn’t need words. Ethan looked back toward the table and smirked. Chloe smiled as well and they started eating not saying anything. Emma and Jason hadn’t noticed the exchange, fortunately.

When lunch was over Ethan left the house and took his car without telling anyone where he was going. A few minutes later he was in front of the police station. He stopped the engine and entered it. Thanks to the military he had connections and he was counting on using them. He entered an office he knew very well not even knocking and sat at the chair in front of the desk facing the man that was on the other side of it. He lifted his feet off the ground and put them on the desk making himself at home.

“Ethan King, long time no see, what can I do for you?” The man asked not smiling.

“Alan, I need to have a look at a file,” Ethan said nonchalantly looking at the man defiantly. They both looked at each other like this for a few more seconds and then they both started laughing.

“It’s good to see you, Ethan,” Alan said happily and Ethan smiled as well. Alan used to be in the military as well but about a year ago he had stopped to become a cop instead. He had dark brown eyes, almost black, and a chocolate skin.

“I see you are doing well,” Ethan smiled.

“Yes, I am,” Alan confirmed. “So, what is this file you need to see?”

“Chloe Pierce, three months ago,” Ethan simply replied and Alan’s smile dropped.

“Listen, mate, I can’t give you that file. It’s the sheriff’s daughter,” Alan announced but Ethan didn’t lose his smile.

“I just want to take a look at it, nothing more. The sheriff won’t know about it,” Ethan affirmed.

“All right, be quick about it. And if you have questions you can ask me, I was there when we found her.” Alan opened a drawer and took a file out of it before placing it in front of Ethan. “We are still on the case, we didn’t find who did this yet.”

Ethan took the file in his hands, dropped his feet from the desk and opened it looking at it seriously.

“That was really nasty,” Alan commented pointing at the file.

Ethan turned the first page that was telling him nothing more than he already knew thanks to Emma. He found pictures of a dead body that was hanging from the roof. The man had his wrist attached to the ceiling with chains and his feet barely touched the ground.

“That’s William Pierce, the brother,” Alan explained.

Ethan put the picture aside not wanting to look at Chloe’s brother the way she had seen him for the last time in her life, he couldn’t imagine being at her place. The next picture was one of a small cage and his jaw tightened understanding it was the cage Emma had been talking about. There was blood inside the cage and one of Chloe’s shoes.

“We found the girl in there,” Alan said pointing at the cage. “I’m the one who took her out of it. She wasn’t in a good state; if you want there is a copy of her medical file at the end of the file.”

Ethan didn’t say anything and turned the pages until he found a picture of Chloe only wearing her bra and underwear. The doctors must have asked her to take her clothes off to take pictures. She had bruises almost everywhere on her body, her hands were bloodied, she had blood in her hair, a split lip, a black eye, and bruises on her neck and on her wrists.

“We found her blood on the chains from which her brother was hanging which means they hanged her there as well at some point,” Alan continued to explain.

She had small cuts on some parts of her body and all he could see in her eyes was sadness and guilt. Why was she feeling guilty? There was also this emptiness about her; it was like she was dead inside.

“This girl really broke my heart, I mean, I’ve seen a lot of horrible things being in the military and all but this really broke my heart. I was glad when I learnt that at least she wasn’t raped,” Alan explained and Ethan felt an immense relief when he heard it too.

Ethan closed the file not wanting to see more of this. If one day he found out who had done this he would kill those monsters slowly and painfully.

“I heard that she tried to kill herself once or twice after this but I also heard that she is better now, slowly she is doing better.” Alan took the file and put it back in his drawer. “Anyway, why are you interested in this case?”

“She lives with Emma and Jason, my brother. I also live there, which means I live with her,” Ethan explained trying not to show how angry he felt inside.

“Listen Ethan, I have to work right now so maybe we can talk over a drink tonight or something,” Alan proposed and Ethan agreed before leaving the police station.

Ethan immediately drove to the Grill on the other side of town. He needed a drink before going home. He couldn’t go home right now and face Chloe after seeing the pictures. He wouldn’t be able to. He was starting to care too much for her anyway and it was wrong, it was all wrong. Especially in such a short amount of time.

It was a few hours later that Alan entered the Grill to find an already wasted Ethan at the bar. He had a glass of bourbon in his hand and was drinking it greedily. When he turned and he saw Alan he smiled and opened his arms in a welcoming manner.

“Alan, there you are. You’ll have to excuse me I started without you. I needed a drink,” Ethan said stumbling while trying to stand up from his stool. Alan chose not to say anything scolding or mean remembering that Ethan could become quite mean and aggressive while drunk, not that he wasn’t mean and aggressive while sober when provoked.

“I can see that,” Alan chuckled. “Maybe I should take you home.”

“No, not yet. Let’s have one drink together and then we’ll go home,” Ethan said enthusiastically.

“All right, one more drink then,” Alan agreed.

Two hours later and they were still at the Grill, Ethan was still drunk but a little less than earlier as he was now drinking a coffee before going home. Because he had finally accepted that Alan brought him home and he had also accepted that it would be a better idea to drink a coffee before doing so. He didn’t want to cross paths with someone in the state he had been minutes ago, even though they were surely already asleep.

Ethan finished his coffee and stood up. He walked toward the entrance of the Grill when he saw Steven entering it and he felt his blood boiling in his veins remembering Emma saying he broke Chloe’s heart. He also remembered telling Chloe he wanted to rip apart anyone who had ever hurt her. Alan must have noticed the change in Ethan’s stance because he grabbed his arm and started to drag him toward the entrance.

“Come on mate.” Alan continued to drag Ethan out but he pushed Alan aside and started to walk menacingly toward Steven.

He reached him in a second and threw a punch at Steven’s jaw. Steven, taken aback, dropped to the floor and looked up at Ethan confused.

“That’s for breaking her heart,” Ethan growled before trying to hit Steven once more but he was yanked away by a few other men who dragged him outside.

Once outside they let go of him and walked back inside not saying anything. Alan appeared outside a few seconds later.

“You’ve lost your touch, man,” he said amused as he started to walk toward the car.

“I’m drunk, I don’t have all of my abilities,” Ethan defended himself.

“I know. I’m glad you are drunk right now, if not I’m scared those men wouldn’t have been able to tear you away from the other guy and you would’ve killed the moron.” Alan entered the car and so did Ethan.

Ethan looked at his hand and sighed. “Emma is going to kill me.”

“Why?” Alan asked starting the engine and driving away.

“She’ll see I fought. I have scratches on my knuckles,” Ethan explained and Alan started to laugh.

“You are not scared of men but you are scared of this woman,” Alan laughed.

“You haven’t seen her, she is scary,” Ethan said.

“I hope Chloe won’t care that you fought,” Alan continued.

“Why?” Ethan asked confused.

“She can punch. When I took her out of the cage she was scared and she tried to fight me. I had a black eye for a week.” Alan stopped the car as they arrived in front of the house.

Ethan smirked. “That’s my girl.”

“Your girl? Let’s pretend you said that only because you’re drunk.” Alan opened the door to walk toward the entrance of the house knowing Ethan wouldn’t be able to unlock the door with the keys in his state. “Although, she would be perfect for you, you do need a girl who can punch to put you back in your place sometimes.”

“Ha ha ha, very funny, Alan,” Ethan said sarcastically.

After that they said their goodbyes and Ethan walked in the house trying not to make a sound. He took off his shoes and threw them on the side not really caring where they landed as he started to walk toward the stairs.

He walked toward his room but stopped in front of Chloe’s room. He approached it and listened to see if he could hear any noise inside and he couldn’t so he quietly opened the door. He walked inside and approached the bed where Chloe was fast asleep. He looked at her for a few minutes and admired how peaceful she looked while being asleep. He brought his hand to her face and brushed her hair away from her face before slowly caressing her cheek with the back of his fingers and that was when he saw his knuckles once more and he smiled.

“You are worth it, you are worth everything,” He whispered.

And with that he left the room. Once the door was closed Chloe opened her eyes letting go of the breath she had been holding. A small smile appeared on her lips and for the first time in months this smile reached her eyes.

The day after that Ethan was strangely nice to Chloe, no remark about how she was dressed or what she was doing or anything of the sort. He was just oddly nice. Of course Chloe didn’t know that it was because every time he looked at her he was seeing her with bruises everywhere and caged in a small cage.

But a week later and it was back to normal which reassured Chloe, she didn’t want him to pity her. And at first he had pitied her in some way and she knew it, but now he wasn’t anymore. Maybe sometimes she actually preferred when he pitied her, like right now for example.

Chloe opened the fridge and took chocolate out of it with a small smile adorning her lips; she smiled a lot more than she used to now and even though the others had noticed they didn’t say anything about it too scared that Chloe would stop. Anyway, she took the chocolate out of the fridge and was about to eat it when it was snapped out of her hands.

Chloe turned around to see Ethan standing behind her and starting to eat her chocolate. She tried to grab it back but Ethan walked to the other side of the counter top so they were separated by it. Chloe crossed her arms in front of her chest and made it clear that she was angry and that she wanted her chocolate.

“Don’t be angry, sweetheart,” Ethan chuckled continuing to eat her chocolate. He then sighed in defeat and handed her, her chocolate. Chloe tried to grab it but he yanked it away just before she could grab it.

“No tongue, no chocolate.” Ethan laughed and was taken aback when Chloe started to circle the counter top running.

He started to run as well and Chloe continued to run after him through the whole house. They passed in front of Jason who was reading the newspaper and he didn’t even look up as if he was used to it. Oh yeah, right, he grew up with Ethan and Ian, he was clearly used to it.

Then they passed in front of Emma who yelled something they both didn’t understand. Ethan ran upstairs and Chloe followed. For someone who hadn’t practiced sports in a long time she was doing well. Ethan slowed down not knowing where to go now and he opened the door to his room, but he had thought for too long and as soon as he entered the room and turned around to close the door, Chloe jumped on him and he fell to the floor with Chloe on top of him, who was still trying to grab the chocolate.

Ethan chuckled and rolled over so he was the one on top keeping Chloe from grabbing the chocolate. But as soon as he was in this position Ethan noticed how sexual it was. Chloe had her legs opened and he was between them. Chloe stopped moving as well when her eyes met Ethan’s. They both looked at each other not saying a word. Ethan wanted to kiss her; he wanted to kiss her so badly. That was all he could think about. Her eyes were so intense staring at his.

Slowly he brought his hand closer to hers not leaving her beautiful face from his sight and came even closer. Chloe licked her lips and Ethan looked down at the pink lips he wanted to kiss, to capture so badly. And then Chloe brought the chocolate to her mouth and bit into it eating it happily.

She was smart, God she was smart. He hadn’t even realized she had taken the chocolate from him. He had underestimated her that was for sure. But he didn’t care that he hadn’t kissed her because that was also the first time he heard a sound leaving Chloe’s mouth. It was the first time he heard her laugh and that sound was music to his ears. That sound was the most beautiful sound he had ever heard.

And he loved the vision he had in front of him, Chloe laughing with a giant smile on her lips, her eyes shining in happiness and her body shaking from her laughter. Once her laugh faded away Ethan stood up helping Chloe to stand up as well and he just couldn’t look away, his eyes were transfixed on her.

They both walked downstairs quietly. Chloe only realized then that she had laughed and the guilt took over her. She didn’t deserve to laugh; she didn’t deserve to be happy. She noticed Ethan looking at her frowning at her sudden change of mood.

She didn’t deserve it, she couldn’t be happy. Her breath started to quicken and she started to tremble. It was wrong.

Ethan immediately noticed it and cupped her face in his strong manly hands. It wasn’t a panic attack yet, he could try to calm her down before it was too late and she would have to take her pills.

“Chloe, look at me,” Ethan whispered not wanting Emma to hear and Chloe looked into his eyes still trembling and it was while looking in her eyes that Ethan understood something important, something he should have guessed earlier. He had been trained for this. Being in the military didn’t mean being trained only for combat. He was trained to read people and understand them.

“Chloe, ssh, calm down. It’s okay to feel, it’s okay to be happy, it’s okay to laugh,” Ethan started whispering. “It’s not your fault Will died, you can continue to live. I know you feel like you don’t deserve to be happy because he died and not you. But it’s okay to be happy, and it’s okay to talk as well.” Chloe started to shake her head and Ethan took her in his arms letting go of her head.

“Will would have wanted you to be happy,” Ethan whispered and with that Chloe stopped shaking her head because she knew inside of her that Ethan was right. She just stayed in his arms, gripping his shirt forcefully, not wanting to let go.

After a few minutes Ethan broke the silence. “What do you think about watching some movies in your room?” He proposed and Chloe nodded before taking a step away from him.

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