Chapter 3 - Emmalyn
Emmalyn shuffled the take out bags in her arms and struggled to find her keys to unlock her apartment door. She grew up in this apartment and she adored it. It was in a modest area, and it was close to several high end shops and restaurants. She shared it with her uncle Mathias, and even though she was now twenty-three, she never got around to moving out. Every time she brought the topic up her uncle would find some preposterous reason why she shouldn’t. And if she was honest with herself, she was in no hurry to be on her own. It had always been the two of them, her parents had died in a car accident when she was young. She didn’t even have any memories of them, and the only picture she had was held in a tiny, tarnished locket she wore around her neck. The image inside was faded, but it was something she held close to her heart. When they died, Mathias had stepped forward as her only remaining relative.
Emmalyn missed having parents, but she was far from unhappy. Mathias was a wonderful uncle and more than provided her with the love she would have received from them. He was fun; he made decent money, and he was always there for her. When she skinned a knee, it was him that had cleaned and bandaged her small cut. When her first boyfriend broke her heart, it was him that let her cry on his shoulder. And when she was called out for being different, it was him that assured her they were the different ones. He always made things better, and she loved him for it. He also enjoyed finer things. The apartment was cozy, but the furnishings were top of the line. She picked out a soft cream sectional for the living room, but it was Mathias that provided the big screen television, surround sound, and glass topped end tables. Her bedroom had a four poster bed and beautiful matching nightstands, and the kitchen held a large round table and every appliance imaginable.
She finally dug the keys out of her pocket and was poised to push one into the lock when the door abruptly opened. Thrown off balance, she stumbled slightly and would have fallen, if not for Mathias wrapping his enormous arms around her tiny frame. She righted herself and looked way up into his smirking face. Mathias was a rather large man, and he was extremely fit for being in his early forties. He reminded her of The Rock, and on more than one occasion, the girlfriends she brought home would drool over him. He was just that handsome.
“Jesus, you smell like a wet dog,” he grumbled as his smile slipped and a frown took its place. He promptly dropped his arms, relieved her of the food, and stepped aside so she could enter. She did so quickly and pulled the door closed behind her.
“And hello to you too,” she flippantly replied. His grin immediately reappeared, and he shook his head at her. “It was bath day at the shelter,” she revealed. “I don’t know who got more water on them, me or the dogs.”
“Did you fall in again today?” he chuckled, and she threw a glare in his direction.
“Once Mathias, only one did that happen, and it was because the dog was the size of a small horse,” she defended.
“Right,” he countered, still snickering. “My mistake. Go take a shower and wash that stink off. I’ll get plates and set out the food.”
“That sounds perfect,” she admitted, as she dropped her small tote on the floor and headed for her bedroom. Each room had its own bath, which made living here with him a much easier decision. Sharing would definitely have been an aggravation neither of them needed.
She had been in a hurry this morning when she left, and she groaned as she looked at her unmade bed and the pile of clothes on the floor beside it. Bending, she hastily picked up the mess and dumped it into her already overflowing hamper. She’d have to throw in a quick load once she was finished her shower. Her uncle worked from home, running his own investment company from his laptop, and he had offered on more than one occasion to wash her things for her. But she couldn’t deal with him touching her underwear. It was just too embarrassing to even think about.
Knowing she was staying in for the night, she grabbed loose pyjama pants and a cute crop top that matched. Underwear followed, and then she was in the bathroom and running the water. While she was waiting for it to warm, she took a minute to survey herself in the mirror. Her hair was a light chestnut colour and fell to her lower back. She had suggested cutting it once, and her uncle flew off the handle. He was old school and believed all girls should look like girls. Instead of arguing she had given in, and it was a decision she never regretted. Her hair was thick and shiny, and she was forever getting compliments on it. She was short, but her breasts were a decent size and she knew her smaller frame accentuated them. It was her eyes though that gave her an appearance of being different. They were a light blue, but it was the silver flecks in them that drew people’s attention. She’d been called a freak more than once and had even resorted to wearing brown contacts to hide them. She wore them so often, even her uncle admitted to forgetting how striking they were.
Turning away from her reflection, she stripped and stepped under the hot spray. She loved working at the shelter with the cats and dogs, but she knew she smelled most days. The dogs were always unkept when they arrived, and she took it upon herself to see them cleaned and brushed. It was a never-ending task, and one she relished. The dogs always lapped up the tenderness she showered on them, and it endeared them to her. She turned her attention back to her shower and reached for the shampoo. She washed her hair twice before adding the conditioner, then hurried to soak and rinse the rest of her. When she stepped out, she dried off, dressed and braided her wet hair. She was hungry, and she didn’t want to keep her uncle waiting. He always refused to eat until she joined him, and it was one of the ridiculous things he did that she appreciated.
As soon as she stepped into the room, he pulled out a chair for her before taking his own. Then he loaded up her plate and his own and poured each of them a tall glass of lemonade. She smiled at him in thanks, then dug in. Today she’d bought Chinese, knowing it was his favourite, and she smirked as he took a bite and moaned.
“You spoil me,” Mathias hummed, as he swallowed his noodles and loaded his fork with more.
“I like spoiling you,” she admitted. “It makes me happy to see you enjoying the small things I’m able to do for you.”
He dropped his fork and lifted his head, commanding her full attention. She sat back in surprise, knowing he only did this when he had something extremely important to say. He didn’t make her wait, he never did.
“You know I appreciate it when you say things like that. I’m always worrying I can’t give you all the things a young girl like you needs. I do my best, but I always feel it’s never enough,” he quietly admitted.
Emmalyn rose from her chair, circled the table and wrapped her arms as best she could around his large frame. “You mean everything to me Mathias, and I’m so grateful to have you in my life. I don’t need any parents when I have you.” She bent to kiss his shaved head, then whispered in his ear. “I love you.”
She heard his sharp intake of breath and knew he felt the words to his soul. Mathias might look like a handsome brute, but the big man was a softy. All she had to do was smile at him sometimes, and he’d cave and grant her whatever she asked. He placed his large hands over hers and gave them a squeeze, then he motioned to her food.
“Eat before it gets cold,” he ordered. “A small thing like you needs to move fast before I eat it all.”
She threw her head back and laughed as she took her seat. “You never finish your plate until your sure I’ve had enough.” He gave her a slight shrug, but he didn’t deny it, and she knew he secretly loved doing small things for her too. He took his job as guardian seriously.
She was about to dig in again when an ear-splitting roar came from the living room. It sounded like a tornado had dropped into the apartment. Pillows and books flew in from the other room, and one of the many forest paintings Mathias had hung, fell to the floor and shattered. She turned to him in confusion, to see he was already out of his chair and dragging something out of the pantry. When he turned back to her, he had a look of pure rage on his face, and a sword in his hand.
“Is that a sword?” she asked in astonishment as she stood and took a step towards the living room. The minute she put her foot down he seized her arm and spun her around.
“You get behind me and you stay there,” Mathias ordered strangely, ignoring her sword question. He thrust a small knife in her hand as he threw her behind him. She had to grab onto his shirt to keep from falling.
“What the hell?” Emmalyn cried, as it sounded like five heavy objects dropped into the room. And they must have been large because they were easily heard over the roar of the tornado.
“If I fall, you fight to the death. Do not let yourself be taken,” Mathias roared, as he lifted the sword, spread his legs for balance, and prepared to take on whatever had landed in the other room.
All Emmalyn could do was cling to him and cry out in fear, as five, large, strangely dressed men charged into the room brandishing swords of their own.