Then You Look At Me

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I Need You Now

~I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough. Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up. Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low? Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know~ Lauren Daigle.

Chapter Theme Song: ‘You Say’ by Lauren Daigle.

••

Third -Person Pov

It’s been a while since Sam has seen Alaric. His muscular built, dimples, and the way his eyes tend to appear permanently dazed has never left her mind despite keeping her distance for the past few weeks.

As they sit next to each other on Alaric’s bed, a small candle being the only light source, she realizes that she has never felt so alive in days. She loves him, but if Alaric is not willing to be loyal to her, she is not sure she can stay with him.

“What did you want to talk about?” She asks quietly, keeping her eyes on her five-year-old son who is snoozing against his father’s pillows.

“I just want to say I am sorry,” Alaric says, resting his elbows on his knees as he looks over at her. Sam still refuses to meet his eyes as if a simple exchange of eye-contact may soften her already wavering heart. “What I did was messed up…but I can assure you that I have a good reason.”

She scoffs as she shakes her head, and Alaric sighs.

“What?”

“I don’t know, I mean that’s what you said the last time. You say you have a reason but what? Am I not good enough to know that reason?” She finally looks at him but the intensity in his eyes causes her to immediately look away.

He’s way too handsome.

“That’s why I want to talk to you, babe.”

“Don’t call me babe."

"Baby then?”

“Sam’s fine.” She grumbles, feeling her cheeks flaming up. God, this man has a great effect on her, and his deep yet calm voice is not aiding her case either.

“Alright, Sam.” He breathes. “The only reason I’ve been dealing with Bethany is that…I am using her to gain information.”

Sam narrows her eyes as she turns her face to meet his gaze.

Alaric brushes a thumb across his nose, sighing with skepticism. “Yeah, look, they’ve been some things I haven’t been telling you. You remember I told you some time ago about this man called Ron Moretto?”

Sam nods. “Yeah…the man who got your uncles killed and raided your camp two years ago…”

“Yeah, good girl. Actually, I have been kind of…stealing from his drug truck.” Alaric squints an eye, awaiting Sam’s rebukes of disbelief.

Her eyes slightly widen. “You’ve been doing…what?”

“I know. His girlfriend is Bethany Finn; otherwise known as Bee, and she has been providing me with information on where the drug truck will be each week and other stuff about Ron Moretto, which is why I have been hanging around her….”

Sam blinks her eyes rapidly, attempting to process what he’s saying.

“Hence why I have been acting so shady lately. I am sorry…”

She shut her eyes, raising a palm. “Hold on, so you have been—oh my God, Alaric. That is dangerous, how could you be—”

“I know, I know.” Alaric shifts to face her as he reaches for her hand, and surprisingly Sam does not pull away. “It’s the only way I can sufficiently take care of both you and Anthony. I should have said something sooner, but I feared what you’d say. I know how overprotective and caring you are; being a cancer zodiac and all.”

Sam sighs, tilting her head to the side. “That says nothing Alaric. You should have been honest with me. I would have understood, and we could have solved everything together.”

“You’re right, I am sorry.”

“I know you care greatly about providing for Thony but I really don’t want you raiding that man’s truck anymore. It’s dangerous and I honestly don’t want to lose you.”

Alaric scratches his head contemplatively. “If I don’t do that then how will I earn—”

“Promise me, Ric.” She turns fully to him, her eyes desperately pleading with his. “Promise me you’ll stop. If you need help ordering the supplies or anything then I will help you, I will give you half my paycheck or something, just please, stop doing that. If something happens to you what will I tell Thony? And what would I do? I don’t want to lose you…”

Alaric is pleased to realize that Sam still feels the same about him; her facial expression is enough hardcore proof. It springs happiness within him, and if it means complying with her wishes to ensure she stays with him, then he will do just that.

“Alright I’ll stop,” he decides.

Sam smiles, furrowing her brows questioningly. “Will you?”

“Yeah, I’ll stop.” He nods. “If that’s what you want—”

She springs into his arms, nestling her face into his broad chest as she releases a breath of relief. “Thank you, Ric…thank you so much.”

Alaric smiles, reaching a hand up to rub her back as he presses his lips to her hair. The scent of her apple conditioner pleases his nostrils as he inhales the familiar smell of her.

“Call it off with Bee then…” She says as she pulls away, staring at him expectantly.

“Huh?” He genuinely did not hear. Or maybe he did?

“Tell Bee you won’t be seeing her anymore.”

Alaric nods awkwardly, pulling his cell from his back pocket as Sam scoots closer to gain proof.

He opens Bee’s chat on Whatsapp and begins typing her a message.

Hey, we can’t see each other anymore. Sorry ☹

-Alaric.

Sam frowns. “No sad face.”

Alaric looks up at her and she raises a brow. “You’re not sad so why are you sending her a sad-face emoji? Clear it off, Ric.”

“Alright.” Alaric smiles softly, shaking his head as he clears off the emoji, turning the screen to a satisfied Sam. “Happy?”

“Yes, very.” She wraps her arms around his neck, pulling him toward her for a kiss. Smiling against her lips, his muscular arms hold her tightly as he squeezes her against him.

God, how he missed her.

••

It has been a few days since Rainey has last seen her mom. And is she sad about this? No. Her mother has been staying at a hotel near Jeff’s hospital to keep checks on him, and Rainey has been enjoying the freedom of having the entire house to her and Riley. Even though the presence of her parent has never hindered her from doing whatever she wants, knowing she does not have to worry about a possible confrontation between her and her mother sets her troubled heart at ease.

She and Riley are just getting home from school, laughing and chatting as they scamper up the steps. They plan to collect some clothes and spend the weekend at Ansel’s. As Rainey grips the doorknob to her house to stick the key in, she notices that it isn’t locked. With a raised brow, she thrust the door open to find her mom sitting at the island’s table, smoking a cigarette with a palm pressed to her head.

She rolls her eyes and sighs, all prior elation now washed away as she lazily waltzes inside. As Riley closes the door behind them, Miranda looks up from the silver platter she has been staring thoughtfully at.

Rainey deems it would show some form of courtesy to offer a greeting. Especially since she has not seen her in days. “Good evening…”

Miranda shakes her head, taking a long draw of her cigarette before looking back to Rainey. “You’re smiling and having the time of your life while Jeff and his friend is hospitalized. You can’t get any more heartless than this.”

Rainey stops in her tracks, narrowing her eyes at her mother. “What?” She can’t help noticing the bags under her eyes and how pale her skin is. Without a doubt, she has been stressing herself about Jeff. Rain doesn’t want to be selfish, but deep down she wonders if her mom has ever worried that much about her.

“You think it’s funny, don’t you?” She waves her joint around. “This whole time all you have done is wished badly for him and disrespect him, and now he’s in a critical condition with a punctured intestine and all you can do is skylark and laugh with your little friend. I saw you two giggling at the gate, what is so funny? Does it make you happy to see your mother’s life a mess?”

Rainey cannot believe what she is hearing right now. She presses a hand to her forehead. “How-how can you—”

“And then you wonder why I always choose him over you. This is exactly why.” Miranda pulls for the most painful card, her bloodshot eyes boring through her daughter's. “And this is why I’ll ALWAYS choose him over you, he’ll always be my first choice.”

“Stop it, Ms. Jones. With all due respect.” Riley says, and Rainey raises a palm to her best friend, forcing a pained smile.

“No, let her speak, Ry. It’s what I’ve been waiting to hear all these years.”

“My biggest regret is not breaking up with your father before you were born…honestly, you’ve brought me nothing but pain…and I am sick of it.”

Rainey fights back tears. Her mother has crossed the line; she knows she does not deserve this. How is she being blamed for Jeff’s hospitalization?

“Well, that makes two of us.” She swallows. “I am sick of you too Miranda, and I am sick of your rapist boyfriend that abused me every fucking night. I am sick of both of you.”

Miranda narrows her eyes, placing her joint onto her silver platter and pointing a finger to her daughter. Her voice breaks slightly, a swift wave of guilt passing over her face. “I already warned you, don’t you dare—”

“Why? Does it hurt you whenever I mention it? Does it hurt whenever I remind you of how you turned a blind eye to my cries as if I were invisible? You broke me the most out of everyone! You! You knew what he was doing, and you never said or did anything!”

Miranda gets up from her seat. “Do not raise your voice at me, young lady. I am warning you.”

“Honestly, I hope he fucking dies! I really don’t give a fuck. I hope he never leaves that hospital. I hope he stays there forever. I hope the son of a bitch rots in a fucking—!”

SLAP!

Miranda’s palm collides with Rainey’s jaw and her head tilts to the side as a large pink bruise forms on her face. Her body shakes as she gropes the area in awe. She looks back to her unremorseful mother, her hand trembling out of shock.

“Did you just slap me…?”

“Don’t you dare speak about him like that. I will fucking disown you.”

She stares at her mother in astonishment; she is unable to believe her mom just hit her to defend Jeff. Riley’s eyes well with water as she struts over, grabbing onto Rainey’s elbow. “Let’s just go to Ansel’s, Rain. Come—”

Rainey yanks her arm away and nods to her mother, who is folding her arms with a daring expression.

“You know, all this time I’ve been protecting your sanity…but I won’t anymore. Where is the cellphone you confiscated? I think there is something you must hear.”

Riley looks at her friend in confusion as Miranda places a hand to her hip. “You won’t be getting it. Neither will you be getting back your laptop. You’re lucky I allowed your little friend to stay here and that boy you like to step foot into my yard.”

Rainey decides to locate the cellphone herself. She hastily turns away and hurries up the stairs, bursting into her mother’s room. She pulls her drawers out, sifting through the contents for her cell but unable to locate it. She concludes that it is probably in her mom’s study and quickly lurches out to search there. Discovering that her mom’s office drawers are all locked with padlocks, she angrily stomps downstairs to the kitchen.

“Did you think I would allow you easy access to them?” Miranda scoffs. “I know how delinquent you are by now.”

Riley watches in stupefaction as Rainey pulls out a sledgehammer from the toolbox under the kitchen sink and crosses the living room to head back upstairs with the tool in her hand.

Miranda narrows her eyes and hurries up behind Rainey; Riley following immediately after. They enter Miranda’s study just in time to see Rainey hammering the padlocks off the desk drawers.

“Are you crazy?!” Miranda yells, as her furious daughter pulls out the top drawer and grabs her cellphone. She taps a few times as Miranda quickly plods over to her, attempting to grab the device. An audio clip starts playing, and she instantly freezes at the sound of two familiar voices.

“Woah, look at this house. It’s freaking huge. Now, this is what I call a luxurious lifestyle! I am proud of you, bro.”

“Well…life has been good to me, I can’t complain.”

The day Greg had cornered Rainey in her kitchen after he and Jeff had spoken bad of Miranda, she had put her cellphone on record the minute they had entered the living room, wanting to have evidence if the men were to assault her in any way. She has been keeping the recording a secret from her mom for a while; not wanting to bruise her feelings. But Rainey believes it is now time for her mom to know that the man she sold her out for is nothing but a fraud.

As Jeff’s deep voice chuckles in the recording, Miranda squints her eyes at her daughter. “What is this?”

“You’ll know soon…” Rainey mumbles.

“I have money myself, and I must say, I freaking envy you. Miranda is a gift to you from the heavens. Where is she by the way?”

“She’s at work. She’s a CEO, where else would she be?”

“Yeah, you’re right. I haven’t heard from her since I left the country in 2017. Is everything okay with you two?”

“Yeah…But she fucks like an old woman…”

Riley’s eyes tear open as Miranda presses a quivering hand to her mouth, her entire body stiffening with shock.

“If she isn’t pleasing you then go to a club and find a younger girl to have fun with. My Dad did that a lot when he was dating my mom, and he didn’t even miss his sex life with her after a while.”

“I do that quite often.”

“Do what?”

“Hook up with chics from the clubs. I don’t choose a bitch over twenty though, Miranda’s saggy titties have traumatized me enough.”

As the two men laugh in the audio, a thick teardrop streaks down Miranda’s cheek and she squeezes her eyes shut; unable to handle the alarm. “Turn it off—oh my God…”

“Pray she dies soon. You’ll get all her assets and possessions. Let her put your name on the will, Jeff. That’d be the best thing to ever happen to you. Imagine you attaining this fine house and—”

“Oh my God, turn it off…please, TURN IT OFF!” Miranda falls to the floor, burying her head into her palms as she begins to cry loudly. “Oh, God…” She presses a palm to her heart, tears streaming down her face as Rainey quickly clicks the red icon to stop the recording.

Her mother is rocking back and forth, shaking her head repeatedly as if she is in a state of denial. Without a doubt, her mewling can probably be heard from a mile away as her entire body trembles from the heartbreak.

Riley is watching Miranda in astonishment as Rain’s eyes foam with fresh tears. Her orbs are fixed on her crying parent, who’s sitting on the floor, desperately clawing at her chest as if it’ll ease the pain.

This is all too much for Miranda. She gave this man everything. She sold her daughter out for this man. She did everything she could to please him. She sold her soul to him.

A tear escapes Rainey’s eye and she sweeps it away. This is what kept her quiet. Jeff had used the silly ultimatum that if she told anyone about the abuse, her mom would cry, and because seeing her mom in tears was so painful, she obliged. But does it all make sense in the end? Her mom’s still crying anyway.

She did not want to hurt her despite all that she has put her through, but Rainey knows that accepting a painful truth is far better than living a lie.

She squats down in front of her mother, her tears now freely flowing down her face. Miranda looks up, shaking her head with a face drenched in tears. “Rainey…I am so sorry…” She sobs, her lips trembling. “I am so sorry…I am so sorry…”

Rainey swallows, and the sorrow in her mom’s eyes causes her voice to slightly break. “I forgive you…” She whispers. “But I will never forget what you did to me…I won’t ever be able to forget it. It’ll haunt me every night, but I will just have to learn to live with the painful memories. Look at that, Miranda. Look at the person you chose over me. That is the man you sold me out for; that is the man you betrayed me for.

“Oh, God…I am so sorry, Rainey…”

“Sometimes we hurt who would never hurt us and worship who would gladly cut our throats. You’re very pathetic…”

Miranda cries harder at this, hanging her head in agony as Rainey stands to her feet, using a palm to wipe her eyes.

“I won’t be back tonight…” Is all she says as she walks out of the room, leaving her mother weeping on the floor. She figures she needs some time and seeing her parent’s piteous expression is not mending her shattered heart.

Riley glances at Miranda with a face of pity before following her best friend.

••

“Someone’s at the door, get the door, you asswipe!” Aiden frowns at Arden whose head is buried in his cellphone while he takes a bite of his snickers.

“You get it. I am busy.”

“So are we. You aren’t doing anything constructive.”

Arden narrows his eyes as he glances at Aiden and Alex who is currently in the middle of battling a PS4 game; the two pressing their controllers as if they want to break it in half. “And somehow playing Mortal Combat is constructive?”

The knock comes again, and Alex rolls his eyes. “A lot more constructive than looking at ass and tits on Instagram.”

Sighing heavily, Ansel pulls his glasses off and throws his math textbook down. “If I answer the door, will you all stop talking so I can do my math homework without this bickering?”

“Yes, thank you, Ansel. At least someone’s mature.” Aiden shoots a glare at Arden, who chuckles cockily, chewing on his chocolate.

“Says the boy who didn’t stop drinking from a baby bottle until he was six.”

Ignoring his brothers’ banters, Ansel gets up from the couch and moves toward the door. He pulls it open with a soft sigh, his expression immediately transforming into one of confusion when he sees Rainey standing there, a pool of tears gathered in her eyes.

“Rain…” His gaze softens as she stares at him with a sad expression. “Are you okay?”

Riley is standing behind her, wiping her eyes with quivering lips. “Her mom…”

Ansel narrows his eyes. “What about her mom?” He instantly notices the pink bruise on Rainey’s cheek, and he sucks a breath in, looking heavenward before stepping toward her and pulling her into his arms.

Rainey closes her eyes as she wounds her arms around him, feeling a ton load of her worries immediately dissipating.

“Did she hit you?” Ansel pulls her head back, his eyes scrutinizing the large hand mark on her face. His eyes cloud with melancholy as his thumb gently traces over the bruise. He feels something moves within him and he swallows hard. “Why-why did she do this? Why did she touch you?”

“I am fine…” Rain whispers, laying her head against his chest. His soothing heartbeat relaxes her racing mind and she tries to smile. “I am here with you now, so I am okay…” A single teardrop leaves her eye, seeping through the thin fabric of his T-shirt, and though Ansel is livid to see that bruise on her, he tries to calm himself. He presses his lips to her head, holding her tightly against him. He does not know what happened, but all he knows is that she needs him now.

~


~The only thing that matters now is everything you think of me. In you I find my worth, in you I find my identity~ Lauren Daigle❤


••



So so sorry for the long wait guys, I was facing some difficulties :/❤.

So we are getting closer and closer to the ending of this novel, and I just wanna say... thanks for staying with me, ILY!!😊❤

Stay tuned for more and if you like my story, even a tiny bit, don't forget to hit the heart/like at the bottom. And follow me if you want to so you can get instant notifs of when I post updates and everything concerning Ansel and Rainey❤

P.S: If you'd like to you can also check out my short texting/dialogue story: 'Friendzoned' in the meantime, if you haven't already. It's a light and quick read, nothing serious.

Much much love and stay tuned for more!

-Tiffanyluvss❤


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