I quickly stormed down the stairs to Alex's room. I knew he would do anything for me no questions asked. I knew I was going to get into so much shit for doing this but at this point I really didn't care. I was done playing games and I was done having other people defend me. It was time to take things into my own hands.
This was the first time I had been down to the lower level where the rest of the rooms resided. The beige carpet was plush under my feet. The walls of the hallway eloquently decorated with abstract paintings full of beautiful colors in ever hue in between each door. The walls were bare white otherwise, giving it a look of simplicity. I had to be honest I was unsure which of the four rooms in this part of the house actually belonged to Alex. So I kept walking, exploring the new terraine.
The end of the hallway immediately after all the rooms opened up into a rather large family room equipped with a billiard table, a massive television, a brown leather section couch, and I'm sure the boy's favorite- their own personal bar. Lavish furniture lined the whole room. Decor in precise spots that I would have never imagined Adrian picking out. One wall was almost completely windows with a sliding glass door that led out onto a patio from what it looked like. It was dark outside so I wasn't exactly too sure. I had been here for months and I had no idea this room existed. But I also spent most of my time in my own room since it had everything I needed except food.
I wandered over to the bar turning each bottle of alcohol around and picking up a few examining the ones that looked high end and valuable. I didn't even know that half these alcohols existed. I was never much of a drinker. Well actually, Daniel never really let me and after my experiences with him and his alcohol abuse I never really had the urge to drink. I was in my own world when the floor creaked behind me making me jump.
"What are you doing down here?" Thank god it was only Alex.
"Actually, I came down to talk to you but I didn't know which room was yours so I kept walking and found this room. Clearly I haven't left my own room enough to know this was even down here."
"Yeah, you've done a great job at secluding yourself lately."
"Not really my fault I've secluded myself you know."
"Really? Is that why I just heard you arguing with Adrian not that long ago? And why you two have been ignoring each other for weeks now. When in the hell did you get a fire under your ass like that, girl? No one has ever spoken to him like that. EVER. And those who even attempt to speak to him like that end up six feet under. What the hell has gotten into you Addi?"
"That's something that I wanted to talk to you about. Alex, I'm so tired of having to rely on you, Adam and Adrian to protect me. I'm sick of feeling weak. I'm sick of people walking over me because I let them. I know Franco is coming or Dominic or some other minion to Dominic. I know they're coming for me. Amelia told me everything. And I also know that Dominic isn't going to stop at anything until he gets what he wants. I need your help Alex."
"You want me to help you? With what exactly?" Half of his lips turned into a smirk knowing what I was going to ask before I even asked it. I knew he heard the full argument between Adrian and I. The look on his face gave it away. His shoulder leaned against the door frame, his hands in his pockets and his left leg crossed over his right nonchalantly waiting for me to respond.
"Train me; hand to hand type training. Help me at least have some skills to protect myself. I don't want to feel helpless anymore. I'm sick of everything being outside my control."
"Let me guess piccola, that's what the argument was about. You asked him first didn't you?" Quickly he crossed his arms over his chest and a devilish grin fully enveloped his face. His eyebrows raised with curiosity patiently waiting for my response.
"Do I really need to answer that?" I stated seriously. He knew the answer already, it was pointless for him him to even ask.
"Nope. That was all the answer I needed."
"Non farei niente per te, mi piccola angelo?"
"English asshat." The last week or so he started speaking Italian to me or around me. He knew I didn't completely understand it and it drove me up the wall. Which I'm sure is why he did it. Alex was like the brother I never had, purposely annoying the shit out of me. A smirked raised my lips regardless. If he was going to continue acting like my brother, I was going to treat him like such.
"It means wouldn't I do anything for you my little angel? There that better, drama queen?"
"Who the hell you calling a drama queen or your little angel for that matter? Ew, makes me wanna puke when you say that." I laughed. I hadn't laughed like that in a long time. It felt good. And after what happened with Adrian earlier in the day I needed that. Alex always knew what to do to make me feel better. Not that Amelia didn't. Adrian did to. But all three of them had very different ways of cheering me up. Making me laugh was Alex's specialty.
"When do we start boss?"
"Well, how much rage do you have left in you tonight?"
"Good. Let's go use it. Come on piccola."
Alex ended up taking me to the safe house. I had never been there but I had heard all sorts of stories from Amelia. From my understanding Adrian had purchased the safe house in the event that their home became compromised. He would occasionally stay there when he had work and deals to take care of in the city. When Adrian wasn't able to bring the work home he would store it at the safe house. And by work Amelia meant the individuals that Adrian was torturing for information. I may not have been fully educated on their lifestyle but I wasn't entirely naive.
From the outside the safe house looked more like a warehouse more than anything else. It was near the city and quite a drive from home. While it looked beat up and run down from the outside, the inside was anything but. It was lavish. It almost looked like a loft once you were on the inside. To the left of the front door was a rather large staircase leading to the bedrooms that reside there in case of emergencies fully stocked with back up clothes for any occasion. It was also equip with a kitchen, a gym and apparently many other rooms Alex didn't feel like getting into or wasn't allowed to tell me about.
Alex took me down a set of stairs bringing me to a level directly under the main floor. Although in any other house or building it would have been considered the basement, this didn't feel like it. It wasn't dark and damp. The walls were not made out of cinderblocks. It felt and looked like any other gym I had been too. Every kind of equipment was there. Lifting racks, treadmills, free weights, lifting machines, and my personal favorite a whole corner designed with a boxing ring. Why didn't I know about this place sooner? I would have been here working out every damn day.
My eyes sparkled with passion and hope. I always used to love lifting and working out. Especially after I ran from Daniel. It was something that made me feel strong. It made me feel more prepared for when he would inevitably find me. I went from this scrawny, malnourished, all bones and skin with Daniel, to bulking up and gaining muscles I didn't even know were possible. At least I had muscles before everything happened with Franco. My abs were well defined, my biceps and triceps firm, and legs-oh leg day was my favorite. I could do leg workouts all day. I felt a rush of happiness coarse through my veins from being back in a place like this. Alex looked over to me seeing my eyes gleam with pure joy.
"Why was I never told about this before?"
"Because you didn't need to know about it."
"Alex you have no idea how happy this makes me. Oh I miss being in a gym."
"Well you won't be this happy when I'm done with you." Tossing a roll of something at me he quickly stated, "tape your knuckles up. I'm not going easy on you. And wipe that damn grin off your face. Even if I am practically your brother, that won't stop me from kicking your ass. Got it?"
"Wow, way to ruin my momentary happiness jerk." I said playfully giggling at the end to let him know I wasn't serious.
But how wrong he was. He could beat me, push all my limits, physically exhaust me and I would still be grateful. Finally I had some place to put all my anger, all my hurt, and all my rage. Alex may think that he won't take it easy on me, but in reality I won't take it easy on him. I have secrets he doesn't know about. I've asked others for help shortly after I left Daniel. Training like this is nothing new to me. But I want to be better, I want to feel prepared. I want to be able to not cower down in the moments I should be using my skills that I've learned. That's what I need help with. Learning the steps and moves and 'what should I do in this given moment' or 'if your attacker does this' shit, that's easy. Becoming more proficient at all the punches, blocks, jabs and whatever else was one of my weakness. Getting the courage to use what I've learned on someone other than Alex, that's my biggest struggle. So for now I'll just keep my secrets. I want to see his face when he realizes I already have some experience.
"Good Addi. But block your face next time. You're leaving yourself wide open. Try again."
We had been at this for hours at this point. I had thrown multiple punches, uppercuts and jabs at him. I had gotten better but still lacked a lot of defense on my part. No matter what I would do Alex would take me out over and over. I felt like I was getting no where.
"ADDI, watch your fucking hands. What are you doing? Where should they be damn it? HOW MANY TIME DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU TO BLOCK YOUR FUCKING FACE?"
"Piss off Alex. I'm trying."
"Not fucking hard enough. Go again."
The longer we went at this the longer I had to deal with Alex's angry remarks. And quite frankly I was getting progressively more pissed off.
"STOP. Do I need to legit fucking punch you in the damn face for you to get the damn point?"
Apparently I wasn't the only one getting pissed off.
"Go again Addi. And don't make me fucking say it again."
Fine. He wants to be an ass. I'll put my fist in his mouth so he won't be able to say it again. I quickly threw a punch towards Alex's face which he ducked away from while simultaneously throwing a cross punch at me that my reflexes finally reacted to jumping back out of the way.
"Shut it. Go again." I was still pissed off. All my rage from earlier only adding to the rage I had now.
I put my hands up in position and shortly after threw a left hook right towards his face actually hitting him this time. Alex's face stunned for a second that I actually hit him. My knuckles started to sting from the contact. It felt... it felt so damn good. We had been pretending to punch each other but never made any real contact. But now... now I wanted more. I wanted to feel that sting. And evil smirk crept to my lips. Alex retaliated with a jab to my right ribs that I dodged by stepping closer to him and quickly reacted by elbowing him between his shoulder blades and kicking him in the back of the knee forcing his balance to fail sending him to the ground. The physical contact, the feeling of strength, the power it all felt like a drug.
"Ow! What the HELL was that Addi?"
I let out a giggle walking towards the edge of the ring taking a towel to my eyebrow which was currently bleeding from one of Alex's accidental punches earlier that landed on my face.
"What's wrong Alex? Didn't think a little girl like me could hold my own?"
"Nah, don't play dumb Addi. I've had enough of you doing that the last four hours. I can tell that this was not the first time you've been in any kind of hand to hand fighting is it? Even if we need to refine a few skills, you knew what you were doing from the beginning. "
"Maybe I had a little training prior" I said drawing out the maybe while squinting my eyes and putting my thumb and first finger together as to sarcastically show him just how little. "I trained a little after I ran from my ex. I needed at least some skills to defend myself. I knew he was going to come for me. I wanted to feel like I could fight back when that day would come."
"A little training Addi? That's bullshit and you know it. You held your own for most of the time despite needing to practice your blocks. You have skills girl. Addi if you've had training before why did you want me to teach you?"
"Because Alex. It's one thing to be trained and its another to have the courage to use it. I am nowhere near proficient enough to feel comfortable if someone were to attack me. Tomorrow I want you to teach me more steps, more hits, more blocks. Train me harder than you've ever trained someone before. You don't want to make it easy on me? Good, than don't. I can't see you as my 'brother' when we're here. Kick my ass if that is what it takes. Give me bruises, cuts, scrapes, get physical, piss me off whatever it take to make me learn."
"Who are you Addi? You are not this sweet little innocent girl that you were when you first came into our lives. You're almost like a badass now." Alex said smiling and shaking his head while he began unwrapping the tape from his knuckles.
"I'm still me. I promise. Still sweet and innocent. I'm just sick of being used, and beaten and scorned." I cup his face into my hands taking the towel to wipe the blood off of his lip. "Let's call it a night eh? I think we both got a good enough work out in for the night."
"Okay angelo, or should I start calling you diavola?"
"Devil? Hm, don't think I would go that far yet. I guess we'll have to see where this training takes us." Another laugh escapes my lips. "Let's go home brother."
Over the course of the next week I hide out in my room. I would sneak down to the kitchen occasionally to grab food only to return to my room. I didn't want to see him, see Adrian. And I couldn't have him see me. Alex and I tried not to inflict wounds on each other but occasionally it was difficult to avoid it with training. If Adrian were to see my face, he would know instantly what I was doing and it would be shut down immediately. I couldn't risk that. Especially after how far Alex and I had gotten.
Alex and I had been spending a minimum of four hours at the safe house gym daily. It was kind of exhilarating sneaking out of the house to go train. I felt like a teenager all over again avoiding disapproving parents. Alex and I would do some weight training and stamina training but the majority of the time was spend tackling each other to the ground and trying not to split each others faces open or leave bruises.
It was actually fun training. I felt more at peace than I had in a long time. I felt like I was starting to know the real me. I felt like I could conquer the world now or at least have the balls to protect myself. I couldn't have done any of it without Alex. I owed him for this. He said that he was running out of things to teach me and brought up the idea of getting Adam involved.
Adam was more knowledgeable with MMA type fighting skills and boxing. I was hesitant at first thinking that he was more likely to go rat on us to the boss but surprising he agreed with our side of it. We had been working together for about three days now. I wasn't too fond of the straight boxing part of it but it did teach me how to better my blocks and throw a mean punch. MMA fighting however, that shit was my style. I clicked with it right away and Adam seemed thoroughly impressed with what I was able to do the first day of training.
Adam, Alex and I continued to sneak out of the house later at night after Adrian had gone to bed for about a week now. After today's training session I was sore and beat. Sometimes I thought Alex was taking it easy on me, but I would always quickly brush the idea away. Until today when Adam and I went hand to hand MMA style to see how well I could handle myself. Adam put Alex to shame on his term of "not taking it easy". I'm pretty sure I had bruises in areas that were never supposed to be bruised. I felt the pain of them before the purple even showed up. Adam ended up splitting my lip and I'm pretty sure he broke a rib as well. The more pain he caused me the more rage I had and I was able to hold my own the whole time I soared against him. I was impressed with myself and from the looks on the boys' faces I would say they were pretty damn impressed with me too.
It was finally time to turn in for the night as we snuck back into the darkened house trying not to wake the other two up. I quickly kissed Alex and Adam on the cheek goodnight and began striding up the stairs to my room clutching my right side with my arms to dull the pain from my ribs. Part of me wanted to crawl into bed and not even bother washing up or changing due to the exhaustion. But I didn't want to go to bed sweaty and dirty and the warm water would probably feel fantastic on all my newly inflicted wounds. Plus I had yet to use the giant whirlpool, so why the hell not.
I quickly drew the hot water into the tub splashing some of the lavish soaps and oils into the crystal clean water. If this is what heaven smells like-oh boy I was already there. I lit candles around the bathroom and dimmed the lights. I was going to take every opportunity I could to make this as relaxing as possible. I deserved it. I had been through hell and back and was currently working my ass off to make sure I never went back to that hell.
I carefullly stript my clothes off, glancing slightly into the mirror. My scars lit up on my body like neon lights. I hated them. My fingers traced over the ridges near my abs. A pit in my stomach developed. No matter how hard I trained I was always going to be broken and ugly.
I turned my head away from the mirror and threw my hair up in a messy bun before I dipped my toes into the water testing it to make sure it wasn't too hot. But it was perfect. I quickly settled into my spot, sinking down into the water until only a little of my neck and head stuck out of the water. I loud sigh escaped my mouth without warning releasing tension I had been holding for quite some time now. This was just what I needed.
My eyes closed as my nose soaked all the scents I had used. The warm water caressed my skin relaxing every muscle. My breathing slowed. I was on the urge of falling asleep when I felt a presence standing in front of me. Sure enough I opened my eyes and there he was, leaning against the door frame. His face was flat, barely showing any emotion. His arms were crossed over his bare chest making his biceps bulge and the veins that ran up and down stretch his flawless skin. His loose sweatpants hung low enough to show his perfect v-shape. My eyes trailed up and down his perfect physique without even trying to. His hair was neat but messy, almost like he had just woken up and ran his fingers through his hair. How can someone look that damn good wearing only a fucking simple pair of sweatpants? I wanted him. I didn't care if I was still livid with him treating me like a damn child. I wanted to rip those damn pants off and take him all for myself. A primal growl raised in my throat that I quickly suppressed.
I sat up slightly, letting the bubbles trail down my skin a little but leaving enough to cover everything important. The top of my breast barely sticking out of the water. He was just staring at me. His expression went from flat to-to desire again. I kept making eye contact with him, urging him to make a move. But he didn't. He just kept staring at me. So finally I spoke up breaking the silence.
"You have three choices Mr. DeLuca. One, you can turn around and leave me to bathe in peace. Two, you get your ass over here and rub my back for me, it's the least you can do after ignoring me for weeks and then treating me like some helpless child when I asked you for help. Or three, you get in and join me. Take your pick, but you cannot just stand there and keep staring at me like that."
"Excuse me?" His eyebrows lifted in surprise at my boldness.
"Did I stutter Mr. DeLuca?" My hand fiddled with the bubbles on the surface. My head tilted down but my eyes glared up at him seductively. Part of me was really hoping he would strip down and join me, but part of me also wanted him to leave.
Before I could process anything further, he gingerly began stepping forward towards me dropping his hands to his side, sighing in defeat. He almost seemed like he was hesitant in his decision. He grabbed one of the many lavish sponges that hung in the shower. He kept his eyes on me the entire time giving me chills up my spine. My center began throbbing for him without my control. His eyes were so full of lust and longing but also full of rage. My bottom lip found it's way in between my teeth as I leaned forward in the tub hugging my knees to my chest. Adrian found his place next to the tub bent down on his knees.
He placed the sponge in the water giving it a moment to soak up every drop of moisture it could hold. My head cocked to my shoulder watching him from the corner of my eye still biting my lip. It was taking everything in me to not turn around and grab his face and finally feel his lips against mine. My thoughts were interrupted by warm water trickling down my back as he wrung the sponge out meer inches from my flesh, making a small moan escape my lips without warning as my head rolled side to side with pleasure. He splashed the sponge back down into the water and repeated drizzling the water down my spine as my eyes closed and I held back another moan. He began using the sponge to caress my back tracing the curves of every muscle. His free hand found my arm, lightly tracing the pads of his fingers up the back of my arm making me tilt my head back in pleasure from finally feeling his touch.
Minutes went by that felt like only seconds. And each second I had to hold back a moan; a moan of pleasure or a moan of his name, I wasn't too sure. I didn't know if everything felt so-soooo right, so wonderful because someone was rubbing my back or because his hands were finally embracing my body.
Unexpectedly I heard a voice against my neck. "Lean back" he whispered into my ear. His chin practically resting on my shoulder as I felt his warm breath caress my skin. His lips seconds away from me, from my neck. I couldn't help the moan that finally escaped my lips at the thought of him kissing my neck.
I quickly did as I was told and leaned into the back of the tub straightening my legs and placing them on the side of the tub out of the water. The bubbles still covering any parts that mattered, although I was sure at this point I wouldn't have cared if he saw me naked. Maybe then he would finally end the damn torture and tension between us and make a fucking move and kiss me, touch me. Damn it, any move at this point!
His hands swiftly found my shoulders massaging every inch of abused muscle. My eyes shut from the pure pleasure and my head tilted to the other shoulder exposing my neck to him completely, hoping he would take advantage of my position. He had other ideas.
"I heard a little secret." he whispered again against my neck making me shiver. I felt my skin flush. My center throbbed. My lips was going to start to bleed if I kept chewing on it any longer.
"I heard someone disobeyed my orders." I didn't even bother opening my eyes. I knew where this was going and I was going to enjoy every second of him touching me while it lasted. "I heard that this girl who disobeyed my orders ended up kicking my brother's asses."
"Oh really." I finally responded. My eyes flustered open and my face turned towards his that still sat inches away from mine. My eyes darted between his and his lips. I leaned slightly towards him hoping that closing the distance would make him kiss me. All I wanted to feel was his lips pressed against mine. But he inched away. It didn't stop his eyes from drifting down to my lips. I knew he wanted the same thing. But it seemed like we were in an endless circle of cat and mouse.
"What do you think I should do with her." he growled seductively as his eyes focused back on to mine.
"Whatever you decided Mr. DeLuca." Please just kiss me already damn it. That was the only thing going through my head. I was unsure how I was even responding to him.
"You think?" He stopped rubbing my shoulders trailing his hands down my arms into the water. God he was getting so close to every part I wanted him to touch. His hand found a new place to rest, the top of my leg that sat outside the water.
His hand rested there for only a second before the light touch from the pad of his fingers started to move higher up my leg making my breath hitch from the pleasure. His hand splashed into the water again as he neared my thigh. His lips remained close to my neck. I didn't think it was possible but he inched his lips closer lightly trailing across my skin. Leaving my body begging for him to kiss every square inch. His hand stopped at the top of my thigh quickly placing it between my two legs that I didn't even realize I was clenching shut. But he stopped.
"Adrian, wh- what are you doing. Don't- don't stop." He knew what he was doing. He knew the effect he had on me. There was no denying it now.
I let out a pout begging him to continue. Instead he retracted his hands from the water and stood up walking to the door grabbing a towel.
"Get out. You've been in long enough." His face turned hard.
"What? Adrian, you can't do that. That's not fair."
"No you know what's not fair, learning someone you care about doesn't know how to listen to a damn order. When I tell you no, I mean it. And when I say you're done, I mean it that too. Get out." He held the towel up horizontally turning his head and closing his eyes. He was waiting for me to get out to wrap the towel around me.
Fine, two could play at this game. I stood up readily keeping my feet in the warm water. My arms lay perfectly on each side of my body. My eyebrows raised in a sarcastic manner. "What? Don't want to look at what I have to offer?"
"Take the damn towel Addi."
"Ehhh, I don't really feel like it."
"Addilynn Elizabeth Artell, take the fucking towel."
"Oh, using my full name huh? Fine. you're no damn fun." I pouted again with my bottom lip sticking out.
"Addi, you and I both know this isn't you. Get your head out of your ass and stop acting like an immature brat." Opening his eyes into slits to see if I had taken the towel yet he continued. "Be dressed in 20 minutes. I'm taking you somewhere."
"What?" I exclaimed ripping the towel out of his hand and wrapping it around my body before he could look at it. He was right. This wasn't me. But right now I really didn't care. His head feel forward again and his eyes opened completely once I was covered. His eyes holding a look of anger at my insubordination. Good, I'm glad I pissed him off. He had no right to be a fucking tease.
"Did I stutter now Ms. Artell?"
"Where are you taking me?"
"Guess you'll have to get dressed and find out."