The Loudest Silence

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Isabella

“I’m headed to my dad’s for the night, I’ll probably be back early tomorrow morning.” I threw over my shoulder to Isla as I zipped up my coat. Winter had hit Maryland at it’s full force, and the thin jackets I once wore no longer sufficed.

Luckily, Isla had decided to clean her closet out earlier in the month, and had insisted that I choose whatever I wanted. She had enough clothes to dress an army of people, and was more than generous with it.

I didn’t know how I had gotten so lucky with her being my roommate. After our conversation last week, we had gotten closer than ever. It was clear that her confession had been weighing down on her, and telling me helped with that. She had been busy the entire week, and he hadn’t spent too much time with one another. Isla finally decided to seek professional help to help with her trauma, and was attending therapy sessions. I could see the clear change in her since those sessions, and I couldn’t be more proud of her for the effort she had made to overcome what had happened to her. I would be lying if that I didn’t feel guilty anytime Isla filled me in on her progress, and how much better she felt being honest with the people in her life. Isla had been nothing but good to me, and I wanted nothing more than to be transparent with her.

As much as I wanted to, I knew that I couldn’t risk even more people knowing about my situation. I would tell her in due time, when things settled down, but for the time being, it was a risk I didn’t want to take. Roman and I had been walking on eggshells since our last conversation. We had met a few times to discuss how we wanted to go about things, but they were always brief because he usually had somewhere to be with his uncle or Rick. We were trying our best to keep this under the radar from any of Rick’s men, and and continued on as we normally would.

“Okay! Have a good weekend!” She cheerfully said from her bed, where she sat painting her toenails. Today she was painting them a bright green color, and she looked incredibly concentrated as furrowed her eyebrows and kept a steady eye on her toenails. I couldn’t help but let out a silent laugh at her intensity, as I turned back to the small duffle bag I had packed.

I wasn’t exactly lying when I said I was going to Rick’s house. He had called an impromptu meeting with the entire group tonight. Roman and I had plans to meet already to discuss how we were going to approach Mason on the matter, but decided to push it back until after the meeting was done. If we were absent from the meeting, Rick would definitely suspect that something wasn’t quite right.

I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the fact that I would finally be telling Mason everything. It was a a surreal feeling. One part of me was terrified of how he’d react, but another part of me was aching to release everything I had kept inside, and I knew I couldn’t go much longer lying to everyone around me.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious of how he would react to all of this. It wouldn’t be an easy topic to discuss, and I don’t know how he was going to take the news about me lying about my identity and who I really was, but I only hoped that he was understanding and willing to help.

“Oh and Isabella! There’s this live concert out in the courtyard next week, we should definitely attend together. I miss spending time with you.” Isabella piped up just as I made my way to the door. Turning to face her, I gave her a wide smile whilst eagerly nodding my head. I was optimistic about how the rest of the year would pan out. Ever since I had made the decision to free myself from Rick’s control, the prospects of how my life would be were endless. I was giddy for how my life was going to change, and I couldn’t wait for that moment to come.

“I’d love to.” I said to her as she returned my smile with one of her own. She gave me a quick wave before leaning down to blow on her wet polish. Giving her one last look, I made my way down the stairs and towards the parking lot. Roman’s car was parked towards the front, and I quickly paced to the car. It was slightly beginning to drizzle, and dark clouds occupied the sky. Low rumbles of thunder had sounded while I was getting ready to leave, meaning a storm would most likely be coming later tonight.

Pulling the car door shut behind me, I pulled my coat tighter against my body as I tried to warm up. Luckily, Roman’s heater was already on its highest setting, and it didn’t take long for the car to warm me up. Glancing towards Roman, I saw that he wore a small smirk on his face as he watched me.

“What?” I asked, curious to know what was amusing to him.

He let out a small chuckle- and I swore it was the first time I had ever heard him laugh. The sound was foreign to my ears, and I was sure that he could see the surprise on my face. The last week, Roman had definitely been opening up more to me. He wouldn’t delve too much into his private life, but he would actually have conversations with me about me, and answered some of the questions I threw his way. I had learned that Roman was raised by his grandmother who lived a few states away. At first he didn’t mention why he ended up being raised by his uncle, but I later discovered that his grandmother had been terminally ill, and ultimately passed away when he was a teenager. He refused to speak about his parents, and I didn’t push it, knowing that certain topics were more touchy to discuss.

From the small pieces of information he’d throw here and there, I had grown developed an immense amount of respect for him. As much as he tried to mask it, Roman was a good person. He had a rough exterior, and rarely wore anything other than a scowl on his face, but in the last few months of knowing him, I knew there was so much more to him. My heart hurt knowing that he too had been deceived by someone of his own blood, but it was also comforting in a way to have someone to relate to. Despite the slow start to our friendship, I couldn’t help but feel connected to Roman, as one would be towards a sibling. We weren’t that close to one another yet, but I knew that he and I understood one another very well, and I felt protected around him.

“You sure that coat wasn’t meant for me instead?” He answered, as he put the car in reverse, and began to navigate out of the parking lot. Glancing down at the coat, I rolled my eyes at him.

“Isla was cleaning out her closet, and was sweet enough to hand it over. You wish you had one.” I teased him, briefly sticking my tongue out at him.

He gave a side eye look, as he raised an eyebrow at me, “That coat is not meant for either of you. It’s nearly 3 times both your size.” He commented. Shrugigng my shoulders, I held my hands up to the heater vents.

“Fine by me, as long as it keeps me warm.” I said to him, as he hummed in agreement. After our initial conversation, the car was mostly silent. With Roman, I’ve learned that silence is his preference. It doesn’t mean he’s angry or upset at you, but it’s just the way that he prefers to be.

Roman made a shift onto a new highway, as I relaxed back into my seat. Rick had recently moved locations, something he frequently did to ensure that nobody knew where he actually was. It was one of the reason why he had escaped law enforcement for so long. He almost always left no trace of himself, and would rather turn in every single one of his men first before going down.

He demanded loyalty, but never returned it.

“There’s a meeting tonight with the entire team.” Roman started off as I sat up slightly in my seat. Sleep was threatening me, but I fought against it, knowing that it would be a long few hours until I actually went to bed. “From the men’s chatter the last few days, it’s the biggest drug trade we’ve ever had in years. And it looks like Rick has a role prepared for everyone.” Roman informed me, as a sigh escaped my mouth. Ever since we had come to the decision to leave, simple tasks from Rick made me feel ten times worse than they used to. Each meeting and drug trade all made me feel more miserable from the last, and I found my tolerance thinning as the days passed.

“I hate the feeling of being a part of this” I said to him in a low voice, as Roman threw a glance over his shoulder. He wore a solemn expression on his face, and although he didn’t voice it, I knew he felt the same.

Pushing my hair behind my ear, I watched as Roman pulled off into a secluded dirt road. I hadn’t seen any signs of civilization within the last 5 miles, and I knew that what Roman had said about this being an intense drug trade was true. Someone would have to truly be looking for Rick and been on his tail to even be within 10 miles of this location. The dark night sky had taken refuge in the sky, and luckily the rain hadn’t quickened up yet. Stepping out of Roman’s car, we both made our way to the door where one of Rick’s men stood guard. He didn’t say a word to us, but stepped aside and let us pass.

As soon as I stepped into the warehouse, something in the air completely shifted. A dark feeling settled into the pit of my stomach as I walked a little farther past the doorway. Glancing over at Roman, I could see that his eyebrows were furrowed as well, as he scanned the room around us. His shoulders looked tense, but he masked his feelings with a poker face, as the man from the doorway spoke up, causing both Roman and I to turn around.

“Rick is asking to speak with you in private.” He said, his eyes steady on my face, before they travelled down the length of my body. I felt small under his slimy gaze, and quickly turned away towards Roman.

Roman had a confused look on his face, and I know that he didn’t know about Rick’s plans to meet with me. I couldn’t help the knot that had formed in any throat, as my heartbeat began to accelerate.

I didn’t want to jump to conclusions, but there only one question pressing in my mind.

Had Rick found out?

“Don’t worry, I’ll be close by.” Roman reassured me, as if he had heard the thoughts that had been swirling through my mind. I mustered up a small nod, before taking slow steps towards Rick’s office, which was always on the second floor of any location we went to. The warehouse was empty on the second floor, except for a few miscellaneous items and boxes.

The door to his office was closed, and I took in a deep breath, before raising a shaky hand to knock on the door. I had barely knocked once, when his raspy voice sounded from the inside.

Turning the door knob, I kept my head bowed, and my eyes directly on the floor as I stepped inside. Shutting the door behind me, I didn’t say anything, as I briefly peeked up from under my eyelashes.

Rick wore an expressionless mask on his face, as he leaned back in his seat behind his desk. He had a cigarette in his hand, and would occasionally bring it back towards his mouth to take a few hits.

I could feel my body begin to tremble as Rick threw the cigarette on the floor before putting it out with his shoe. He looked the same as he always did, but today there was a different gleam in his eyes. He had always looked like a sadist to me, but today, it felt like a new layer of him had been peeled back.

It was almost as if he had turned into someone unrecognizable.

A soft chuckle escaped from his mouth as he rounded his desk, to lean in front of it. He began to rub his chin thoughtfully, as I continue staring at him silently. The years had caught up to him, and the alcohol and drugs didn’t help either. He didn’t look like the same man he did when I was a young child, and before he had changed into a different person.

My thoughts were interrupted by him clearing his throat, “How have you been, Isabella?” He finally spoke up as he gave me a small smile. The smile didn’t reach his eyes, and I knew that it was a trick question.

I remained silent, and just continued to look at him with a poker face as he slowly nodded his head.

“Well, how about I tell you how I’ve been.” He continued on as he stood up straight, so that he was no longer leaning on his desk. He took a few steps in my direction, and I forced myself to stand my ground, and not let him intimidate me.

“My week was going well, until one of my men decided to let me in on a little secret.” He started off as he began to slowly pace in front of me. “You see Isabella, the thing with me is that I value loyalty. And I expect it from everyone. So, would you imagine how it must have felt hearing about what my own daughter had been doing behind my back.” He said, as I felt my heart nearly stop in my chest. I could feel my blood run cold, and my body stiffen as I stares at him.

He knows.

“Not only did you abuse my trust, but you disobeyed my instruction to not interact with anyone at your university. Isabella, you know how I feel about disobedience.” He chastised, as my eyes shot up to his.

Oh god. He knew about Mason. I could feel my heart completely drop to my stomach as my legs turned to jelly. Rick was a ruthless and heartless man, and I knew he wouldn’t spare anyone who knew more than they should have.

My mind began to race, as images of Mason’s battered body began to infiltrate my mind. Had they already gotten to him? I couldn’t think straight in that moment as I forced myself to push back the tears that had threatened to escape.

I knew I should have kept Mason out of my life. He didn’t deserve to be thrown into a lifestyle like mine, and now he could face the consequences for my actions.

“And to make matters worse, you’ve convinced of MY men to join you.” He finished, referred to Roman. My head shot up, as it finally registered in my mind that Rick had discovered everything. Roman and I had gotten caught before we could even make a move, and I didn’t know what would happen to us now. I felt fear grip my chest at what they would do to Roman. I began to shake my head profusely and let the tears fall from my eyes, as Rick watched me with a sick smile on his face.

“Do you have anything to say, Isabella?” Rick mocked, knowing fully well that I had nothing left to say. Everything had fallen apart before it even came together, and I was left in the dust, with both Roman and Mason facing the repercussions.

How stupid had I been to think that I could ever get away with this. Rick had people working for him, that I had probably never even seen before. People who had probably been watching everything and informing him of everything for God knows how long.

“Leave Roman and Mason out of this.” I said through my teeth, as I felt my hands ball into fists at my sides. The fear and sadness that had consumed me earlier, was slowly becoming clouded with anger. I could hear rumbles of thunder intensify outside, as the rain pelted against the window.

Rick let out a scoff, before crossing his arms across his chest.

“I knew you were a whore like your mother, but I never expected you to be juggling two men at once. I thought I raised you better than that.” He taunted as my eyes narrowed at him. For the last decade, he had refused to speak a word about my mother, but I knew that everything he did to me, was in spite of her. I didn’t know why he hated her, or why I was his collateral, but it didn’t matter anymore. I was done playing his stupid games.

I had no reason to hold back anymore. I had been caught already, and it was clear that I couldn’t escape anymore.

“You did a sorry job at it.” I answered back to him in a low voice, as his head shot up in surprise. His brows raised, and I could tell that he hadn’t expected me to say anything.

I challenged his stare with one of my own as Rick let out a small tsk as he stepped closer towards me. I maintained eye contact with him as he stopped a few feet in front of me, “Your new attitude is what’s gotten you in this mess in the first place, and now you’ve gotten both your boys stuck with you.” He said in a low voice, as I remained silent. “Do you actually think any of them are going to want anything to do with you?” He let out a small cackle before looking back at me again. His breath reeked of alcohol, as he breathed out the next words, “Oh wait, I don’t think they’ll be able to after I’m done with them.” He finished, as my stomach dropped.

I knew what Rick was capable of, and I knew that if he wanted to, he could have Mason and Roman dead within minutes.

“I said to leave them out of this. This is between you and I.” I repeated myself, hoping my voice didn’t come off as shaky as it sounded.

Another laugh bellowed out of Rick, as he gave me a funny look.

“Don’t worry, I don’t think I’ll have to do anything about your little boyfriend. Once he knows the person you are, he’ll be gone before I even have the chance to get to him.” He paused and looked down at me thoughtfully as I tried not to let his words sting. “Roman on the other hand, won’t be getting off so easy.” He said, as I looked away from him.

I felt a pang at his words, and couldn’t help but let his words paralyze my mind. He was right. Realistically, Mason probably wouldn’t want anything to do with me once he knew about the person I actually was. Memories of our time together threatened to cloud my mind, but I pushed them away, knowing that it would only deepen my pain.

I felt immense guilt for bringing Roman into my mess. I hated myself for letting him get involved with my plan, and it was my fault he’d be facing Rick’s wrath. Loyalty was Rick’s number one rule, and we had broken it. Rick would probably hurt me and torment me for his own sick satisfaction, but what would they do to Roman? He didn’t deserve this, it was all my fault.

“Did you actually think you could get away from me?” Rick asked after a moment of silence. The only sound filling the room was the rain, and if I didn’t know any better, it felt like the warehouse was empty and everyone had left.

“Answer me!” He roared loudly, slamming his hand on the desk behind him.

I didn’t know what came over me in that moment, but every filter and restraint that I had imposed on myself in the last decade had faltered. The words tumbled out of my mouth before I could stop them, and a deadly silence ensued in the room.

“Fuck you.”

My head slammed onto the floor immediately, as my vision blurred. I barely had any time to see Rick’s reaction to my comment, before he had swung an arm at me.

He knelt down beside me, as I lifted my head up to look at him. I had never felt so much hatred for someone, as I did in that moment.

“Say it again, I fucking dare you.” He taunted, as he challenged me with his eyes to disobey him again.

“You are a vile human being for doing this to your own daughter.” I finally said after a moment of silence. I couldn’t hide the disgust in my voice when I spit those words out to him, and I knew it hit a nerve.

As a child, all I had ever wanted was to be treated like his own blood. I would beg, and pray for a miracle to happen that would change the way Rick treated me. But it never came.

And I was done.

He was no more of a father to me, as I was a daughter to him.

“After your actions these last few months, I guess you’re more like your father than I had expected.” He said, as his hands gripped my hair, and yanked me upwards. A yelp threatened to escape my lips, but I held it back, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he hurt me.

“I will never be like you.” I spit at him, as his eyes flared with anger. He yanked my hair even harder, before pulling my face closer to him. I could feel his breath on my face, as I looked into his eyes. There wasn’t a single emotion behind his eyes, and I knew that I should have lost any hope years ago. He was a lost cause, and it was clear that I would never mean anything to him, except for a loose end.

“We share the same blood. The same DNA. You’re more like me than you think.” He lowly said to me, as his hand tightened around my hair.

I didn’t let his words affect me, and maintained eye contact with him as he stared down at me with the most hatred I’d ever seen before. But for the first time, I think my face matched his, because I felt the exact same way towards him.

No other words were exchanged between us, as Rick released my hair, and threw my head down to the floor again. I could see the door opening behind me, as Rick’s boot repeatedly came down against my side. I didn’t let out any sounds of pain, as he continued his assault on me. I heard the sound of footsteps approaching us, and expected to see Roman’s face, but instead was met by a vaguely familiar one. I didn’t have much time to think about who the person was before I felt a pinch on the side of my neck, as the man injected me with something.

I opened my mouth to protest, but before I could say anything, my eyes drew shut.

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