~You’ve been searching, have you found many things? Time for learning, why have I not learned a thing? Words with no meaning have kept me dreaming but they don’t tell me anything. And all you never say is that you love me so, all I’ll never know is if you want me. If only I could look into your mind maybe then I’d find a sign of all I want to hear you say to me. Are you uncertain. Or just scared to drop your guard? Have you been broken? Are you afraid to show your heart? Life can be unkind, but only sometimes, you’re giving up before you start~Birdy.
Chapter Theme Song: ‘All You Never Say’ by Birdy.
“She looks so pale,” I mutter. “I am really not used to her like this…”
Ansel exhales heavily from his stance beside me, his gaze fixed on an unconscious Riley. “She’ll wake up soon, I am sure of it.”
I hope he is right. If Riley does not wake up, I do not think I will ever be able to forgive myself.
Alex sighs and moves closer to her, placing the furry bear by the nightstand. I was wondering why he had taken it from the store; it turns out he wanted to give it to Riley.
“At least she won’t be lonely now…” He says, dragging a hand through his strands.
I smile a little at him. He does seem to like her a lot; the frustration on his face and his constant uneasy pace being rock-hard pieces of evidence.
“Rainey!” Valarie rushes into the room and I arise from the chair anxiously, my brows knitting in worry.
“What’s wrong, Aunt Val?”
She takes hold of my hand. “The cops…the cops are here.”
“Did you call them?”
“No, the doctors phoned them in to ask me some questions about what happened to Riley. You should go, sweetie. I know you can’t be caught here by them …they’ll think this all has something to do with you and you know that won’t be good.”
It does have something to do with me. I know that this is all my fault.
I nod my head. “Okay…is there a motel nearby? I really don’t want to return to Crossview until she wakes up.”
Valerie smiles sadly. “Yes, dear. There is one right next door to the hospital. But I think it is expensive. Do you have money? Let me check my purse…” She motions to move off, but I stop her, gently grasping her arm.
“It’s okay, Aunt Val. I have a credit card, so we’ll manage.”
She nods her head, her eyes drifting to Alex and Ansel. They smile a little and she reciprocates the gesture.
“Here, you can give this to them…it’ll be of great aid.” I hand her one of the flash-drives with the video of Riley’s kidnapping, along with the printed image of the perpetrators’ faces. She flips the paper over, gazing at it in wonderment.
“What’s this dear?”
“Those men were the ones who took Riley.”
Her eyes become glossy as she tightly grips the paper in her hands. “Oh, God…How did you get this, sweetie?”
“We went to Vincent’s Street and checked the CCTV from a drug store near the warehouse.”
Her wet orbs glisten with gratitude. “Thank you, dear.”
Honestly, I am not worthy of her gratitude. This all happened because of me so I am entitled to do this.
I pat her shoulder remorsefully. “We’ll get to the bottom of this, okay? We’ll be back in the morning.”
She nods as we turn away to leave the room.
I stand on the balcony of the motel room. The night is cold and windy, and I wrap an arm around myself as I gaze down at the city lights. I paid for a room that has two beds and a couch. It is quite simple with a television, a bathroom and a balcony which offers a breathtaking view of the city below us.
Footsteps approach me from behind, and I turn my head around to see Ansel. He is now sporting a white T-shirt which he was already wearing under his dress shirt. He offers me a half-smile as he joins me by the railing. “Are you alright?”
I half-shrug. “I’d be lying if I said I was…”
He grips the metal barrier, the wind flurrying his dark hair around as he sighs. “It’ll be okay. I promise.”
I look at him, and he tries to smile, but I can tell he is equally uneasy as I am.
The slamming of the motel door causes us to turn our heads in sync. Alex strolls into the room, clutching his cell in his hand.
“What did Alaric say, Alex?” Ansel asks as we make our way inside. He plops onto one of the beds while Alex sits on the couch, running a hand down his face.
“He says he’ll keep an eye out at Crossview and that he has a few men in the area who can keep a watch on us while we are here.”
Ansel nods, resting his elbows on his knees as he twists his lips in thought.
Alex glances around the room, then he smiles. “This room isn’t bad though. How did you get the money to rent this, Rain?”
I smile. “Well, my dad sends me money quite often.”
“Oh, I’ve never heard you talked about him,” Alex mentions, glancing at Ansel who is looking at me attentively.
“Uh, yeah, that’s because I…really don’t have much recent stuff to talk about. Except that he’s a lot busy which makes him hardly have time for me.” I purse my lips.
Alex’s gaze softens and I shake my head quickly. “But that’s okay though, he takes care of me financially.”
A thick silence falls upon us and I can tell they are both experiencing feelings of pity toward me. I hate that more than anything.
“Uh, I’m gonna use the bathroom. I’ll be right back.”
I stroll to the adjoined restroom and close the door behind me. I stand in front of the mirror and stare at my reflection for a while. I am aware that my life is pretty messed up, and because of my messed-up life, people I care about are getting hurt.
I sigh as I hang my head in remorse, pressing my palms against the pedestal sink. Immediately, a pain shoots from the center of my back to my shoulder, and I groan as I recall the painful fall I underwent earlier.
I attempt to straighten my spine and the throb comes again. I wince audibly, screwing my face up as I bite my lip.
A knock sounds at the door, followed by Ansel’s voice. “Rain, are you okay?”
I swallow, attempting to reach my back, but my hand is way too short. “Uh, yeah…I mean…no, it just hurts…”
“What hurts? Do you want me to come?”
I gulp, closing my eyes as I think hard on his question. The pain returns and I find myself nodding on impulse. “Yes, please.”
I reach forward and unlock the door. He opens it and steps in, his brows drawing together when he sees my pained expression. “Where does it hurt?”
“My back…” I sigh, glancing at him through the large mirror in front of us. “I think I fell too hard earlier.”
He blows his cheeks out and comes up behind me. “Can I lift your shirt?”
“Yeah…” I wrinkle my forehead, shutting my eyes. He curls his fingers under the hem of the fabric and pulls it up, along with my tank top. I watch his expression shifts to one of worry as he pulls it back down.
“Am I okay?” I ask.
“There are bruises on your back.” He moves over to the cabinet in the room and begins sifting through the space. “There has to be a first aid kit in here.”
“Is it bad?”
He blows his cheeks out. “Not really. I’ll apply the medication and if it still hurts tomorrow, we’ll check it out at the hospital, alright?”
I nod my head, then sigh in relief when he locates a first aid kit. He places it on the counter as I crouch against the sink.
“I am sorry,” He breathes. “This is my fault.”
“It’s not.” I shake my head. “Please don’t say that.”
He sighs as he sieves through the white box. He then grabs a white tube and flips it over, reading the label at the back.
“It says here that it’s for pain and bruises. It should be applied to the bruised area with the flat of one’s palm…I’ll use this one, okay?”
I nod my head as he resumes his position behind me. He stills for a moment though, clutching the ointment, and I bring my eyes up to meet his through the mirror. “What?”
He twists his lips skeptically. “You’ll need to take your shirt off, I guess.”
“Oh…” Heat rises to my cheeks as I reach my hands up to undo the buttons of my shirt. My eyes catch his in the mirror and he looks away as he waits for me to pull the garment off my body. Chill bumps grace my arms as they are now exposed and I look at him again, awaiting his further instructions.
“Everything,” he says. “You’ll need to take everything off.”
I blink my eyes, and he quickly clarifies. “Uh, the bruises stretch from the center of your back to your right shoulder. Garments will just hinder me from rubbing the ointment in properly. I’m sorry, I know this is uncomfortable for you.”
He is right; the ointment will not be properly applied if there are barriers. I know that, but it does not stop the apprehension I am currently experiencing.
I swallow the lump in my throat, shaking my head. “It’s okay, it’s not uncomfortable...”
He smiles a little and I coil my fingers under the hem of my tank top and pull it off me. Ansel’s eyes dip to the black bra I am wearing but he looks away in short order, a deep flush appearing on his face.
His jaws are noticeably clenched, and he is trying not to stare. That works better for me; I will probably die from nervousness if he blatantly stares at me. I bring my hands around and unclasp the notches on my bra, but I do not pull the straps off. I clutch the paddings to my chest, so I am not exposed.
“Is this okay now?”
He nods his head. “Uh, yeah. Perfect…”
“Do you have an elastic band?”
Using a palm to tightly clutch the bra, I lift my opposite hand to him, and he pulls off the black band from my wrist. “Why do you need it?”
“I want to put your hair up.” He answers, smiling at me through the mirror.
“I could do it—”
“Your hands are occupied, you don’t want me to end up seeing something I shouldn’t, do you?” He smirks and my face tinges pink as he gently grabs my hair into a bundle. He pulls it together then attempts to put the band around it.
I smile at the utter look of struggle on his face. “Are you managing?”
“Yeah, I got it.” He chuckles as he twists the band and loops it one more time around the hair. He manages to create an extremely messy bun and I fight off a grin. A few strands dangle around my face but it could be worst.
I titter a little. “Who taught you this? I mean, you grew up with a house full of boys.”
He smiles. “No-one, I just took a shot at it. Not bad for a guy, right?”
I smile. “Not bad at all.”
He sends me a toothy beam, and my heart skips a beat at how handsome his face is. He squirts the ointment in his hand, then rubs his palms together, idly smiling at me while he does. He begins to apply it onto my back, and I slightly shiver at the feel of his palm on my skin.
“You okay?” He chuckles lightly as his eyes meet mine through the mirror.
“Because your body jerked under my hand.” He stares at me.
“Uh, yeah…the ointment is just really cold.” I avert my gaze to the face-basin as he gently kneads the medicine in my back. His touch is gentle and soft, and I swallow hard as I struggle to keep my face from getting red. But it is so hard to when his palm is doing weird things to me.
“It must have hurt, huh?” He comments and we connect gazes as my orbs swirl with confusion. “What must have hurt?”
“This tattoo; the eagle with shackled feet.” He sighs. “It’s so big…it must have been painful.”
I smile sadly. “Yeah. But not as painful as the reason I got it…”
We stare at each other after that statement, and Ansel’s expression is mixed with curiosity and concern. A knock at the door makes us jolt as Alex’s voice flows through the creases.
“Why are you two locked up inside the bathroom? I’m heading out to get a beer, so you guys can use the bed.” He chuckles as his footsteps fade away.
My face becomes red as Ansel nibbles his lip, seeming equally flushed as he grabs my tank top, handing it to me. “That should ease the pain, if it still hurts tomorrow, let me know, alright?”
I nod my head as he puts the tube into the kit. He then begins to clasp my bra for me, and the action makes my lips pull back into a genuine smile. I put my tank top on and turn to look at him.
He regards me intensely; his eyes never cease to set me into a trance. “Will you tell me now, the reason you had to leave?”
I nod my head. “Yeah…I will tell you everything.”