“W-What?“, I stuttered unknowingly and shifted my eyes downwards.
I could feel his fierce staring burning a hole in my entire body and I couldn’t help the chill that went down and up my spine in a matter of a second. I avoided his eyes and glanced at almost everything surrounding us in the room... except at him.
“Well? Shouldn’t you get dress before you catch some cold or something?“, he asked in a rasping tone.
I drew a deep breath and forced myself to look up and steal a glance at him before he noticed the action but alas! My eyes got caught with those deep penetrating eyes that made something erupt from the very bottom of my heart. I wished I knew what he was thinking. I couldn’t even investigate my own thoughts ever since I met this sexy handsome robust lad. So, forget about even exploring his mind. I can already tell that he is very athletic from the way his body is so well built up. I can see months of hard works behind it... maybe even years of working out in a gym. I couldn’t stop my thoughts from escalating even more further when I thought about a sweaty Ryder working out excessively in a deemed out space, looking hot and -
“Hello? You there?“, Ryder’s loud voice tore me out of my dirty thoughts... dirty thoughts about him which I couldn’t help but shiver at how my mind is getting pretty messed up by this stranger and that too... only after having met him yesterday.
I’ve never felt this way before. What is wrong with me? I couldn’t help but think and that thought did not just struck my mind but also got stuck in there. I wince at the sudden headache that I suddenly felt piercing through my head and I stumbled backwards but held myself up before falling down in only a towel which has already gotten wet by now.
I’m already embarrassed and I will not be able to sustain any more embarrassment than that.
“Are you okay? You just blanked out right in front of me like I wasn’t even there”, he got up and took long but careful strides toward me and I couldn’t help but think about how wrong he is in his explanation. He was right there, captivating my brain and putting vile thoughts in my mind like a poisonous snake.
Yet, I couldn’t help but think about how he might not be as atrocious as he pretend to be. But, looks could be deceptive and I think that I don’t want to discover about the reality that this guy seems to be hiding under his sleeves. The truth might wave its way out and reveal itself and I don’t want to fall into yet another dark hole when I just escaped one of doom. It might be sooner than I expect and I don’t want that revelation. Therefore, keeping my distance from him might be the best decision as from now on because I will not be able to take another harsh blow in the near future. Well, what more blow can a shattered mirror take when it’s already shredded to pieces and thrown aside like garbage? It can never be glued back together however much you try to bring the bits and pieces back together. In the end, it splinters again and again because it remains as fragile as it once was.
I flinched when Ryder help his hand up high above my head but my small reaction to his sudden action did not stop him from caressing my head gently, almost affectionately and enveloping his other warm, yet calloused palm around my left cheek. I wanted to lean in and let the warmth that he had to provide evades my entire existence but still, an emotion very foreign pervades my heart and I had to take a few step backwards to get away from him even though I felt an inching pain tear through me.
He nodded while tightening his sharp jaw at my actions like he has some kind of debate zoning around in his mind. If I wasn’t staring intently at him and watching his every expression, I swear that I would have missed the bit of vulnerability that overshadowed his current facial expression but as soon as that came into view, it went away. I could have missed it and I would have gladly accepted that but the fact that it happened in front of me, made me looked down guiltily. It affected me and I could not just pretend to be oblivious to that. He had that kind of effect on me and as much as that scared me, it also felt thrilling in some way that I could’t turn a blind eye to the kind of emotions that crop up whenever he does something new and interesting in front of me. Something that has never happened before... well, never happened to me.
“C-Can you please.... g-get out -
I was scared out of my wits at the sudden boom that echoed through the empty space. When the lights went out, I panicked and lifted my arms above my head to protect myself from the danger looming around. I screamed when someone pulled me in full force and I crashed into a hard surface.
My father! I couldn’t help but think that my father is here.
“No, no, no, no, please! Father, please, don’t hurt me! I- I s-s-sorry -
“Shush! It’s me”, a familiar voice murmur in hushed tone and I immediately wrapped my arms around his chest, burrowing myself even more deeper if that was humanly possible. I tried to calm down and breathed in and out slowly but I just couldn’t, not when another loud clash sounded from downstairs. I yelled out once again but Ryder covered my face with one of his hands while muttering soft and encouraging words in my right ear and then cupped the back of my neck, keeping my face at the crook of his neck.
“Shush, Lea! It’s alright. Everything’s gonna be alright. I’m right here, aren’t I?“, he cooed and I nodded rapidly but I could not help but tighten my arms around him and he responded in the same way.
“It’s my father! He found me... h-h-he will hurt m-me! H-H-He is here and I -
I stopped breathing. I could feel myself burning... like I’m being placed in a stove with it on at the highest temperature. I could feel beads of sweat forming on my entire body. Someone shook me and I fought with the sleepiness that took over me. The hands wiped away all the sweat and I was then forced to open my eyes with the abrupt shake that overtook me at one point. My eyes met with Ryder’s worried one and I held myself up with the help of his arms around me.
“Please! Don’t close your eyes, Lea. I’m right here. Shush! Breathe, come on? You need to breathe.... come here”, he motioned toward the bathroom and once we went in, he closed the door quietly, and slowly locked it. He sat me down on a stool which was kept there for some particular reason and cupped my face while kneeling down in front of me.
“I’m right here and I’m not gonna go anytime soon, just relax, please!“, he pleaded and I nodded while whimpering slowly. I tried my best to stop the overwhelming tears from cascading down my cheeks like a broken dam.
He moved to get up but I grabbed onto his arms, almost cutting his flesh with my nails in the process but he paid no heed to that and even if he got hurt by me, he did not show it.
“W-Where a-are y-y-y -
“Just fetching something for you, wait”, he stood up and opened one of the small cupboard from nearby and rummaged through the stuffs kept there. All the while, I kept my eyes on him, following his every action because I couldn’t bring myself to look at the closed door of the bathroom, in fear that it would fly open and reveal my father.
Ryder brought out a piece of black clothing and held it out to me. I shakily took it and frowned at the piece of cloth. Why is he giving this to me when he should have gone check out what that thing from downstairs is? But that’s when realization dawned on me and I glanced down at myself. I was still wrapped up in the white towel. I shivered and looked up at Ryder who avoided my gaze and turned around, showing his back to me. That’s when I understood what he wanted me to do. Get change! I hurriedly took off the towel and threw the t-shirt on me, covering my nude body. I could not care less about the fact that Ryder was right in front of me, maybe only a five feet away because I could not shake off the petrified sight of seeing my father right behind the closed door at any moment.
Right when I pulled the shirt all the way down, covering my upper thighs, a violent rampage took over the closed door and I let out a bloodcurdling scream.