Then You Look At Me

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I Hope Someday Will Be Soon

~And you are the reason that I’m still breathing.~ Calum Scott.

Chapter Theme Song: ‘You Are the Reason’ by Calum Scott.

••

Rainey

“…and the last time we went by her mom’s place, he was acting like a possessive mentally deranged asshole. All psycho and pervy.” Aiden informs my dad, who is raising his brows attentively while the brothers feed him information on Jeff.

“Yeah, he didn’t want us to see her. He had this little cocky look on his face, and he was so weirdly defiant. What do you boys want with Rain?” Arden attempts to mimic Jeff’s tone, causing Alaric to snicker softly at his brother’s accurate impersonation.

“He even threatened Ansel’s boss,” Alex adds, and Robert looks at Ansel with narrowed eyes.

“He did?”

“Yeah, I work part-time at Crossview’s café, so he came by one day while Rain was there,” Ansel tells him. “And he was so determined to take her with him, but Rain didn’t want to go with him, so I told him to leave.”

Rob nods.

“He didn’t want to. He was pushing a fight—”

“And he wouldn’t want to pick a fight with my brother,” Aiden tsks, as he drapes himself against the couch. “Ansel would have disfigured his face.”

“So, Tim saw the commotion and came over, pushed him out of the café. He pointed a finger to Tim, and was like: You will regret doing this—”

“You’re not doing it right, An.” Arden interrupts. “His tone is craggier. You will regret doing this!”

“Don’t. Don’t do it again. You sound too much like him and it’s creeping me out.” Alex cringes.

“So, did he stick to his word, did he harm your boss?” My dad queries.

“Nope. He can’t harm Tim.” Alaric chuckles. “Tim’s not an easy guy to mess with. I know because he specialized in gun-shooting and martial arts in the past.”

Ansel nods. “Yeah, he did.”

I raise my eyebrows at the new information. Tim did gun-shooting and martial arts? Okay. These brothers and everyone associated with them cannot be read just by their covers. I will always bear that in mind.

My dad’s overwrought expression returns, and he exhales tiredly before running a hand over his face. “I will be getting both he and his companion imprisoned for all they have done to my daughter. Thank you, boys, for sticking by her, and thank you, Ry.”

Riley, who is sitting on the floor mat, offers him a soft smile. Her eyes drift to me and her face dulls as she pouts her lips in apology.

I am not mad at Riley for telling my dad everything. At least she had the guts to do what I couldn’t, and for that I am grateful.

“We can’t get too arrogant though.” Ansel sighs. “We are yet to deal with the ‘big boss.’"

My dad vaguely cocks his head to the side. “What do you mean? What big boss?”

Alaric pulls himself to the edge of his seat, resting his elbows on his knees as he rubs his palms together. “There is this drug dealer man called Ron Moretto. Apparently, he has taken a fancy to your daughter and wants her.”

"Wants her?”

“Yeah, Mr. Slate. The guy is twisted.” Alex inserts. “He goes around collecting young girls, claiming he needs them to join his drug camp while offering them protection and money. Jeff and Greg aren’t the only weird guys we’ve had to deal with these past few weeks.”

My dad screws his face up as he pulls unaware eyes to me. “Rainey?”

I slump my shoulders. I did not tell him about Ron Moretto because I know he will want to take me away from here. Safety is important…but so is Ansel and his brothers. I do not want to leave here and not see them again.

“Why didn’t you tell me this?” His tone is grim, and I shift in my spot while the brothers regard me with soft eyes.

“I…” I sigh. “I knew that if I did…you’d want to take me away from here.” I stare at my black-painted fingers, refusing to see the looks of sympathy surrounding me. “And I don’t want to go away from here. I don’t want to not be able to see them anymore…”

There is a brief silence, and I have no idea what they are all thinking. I have become quite fixated on them. They offer me such warmth and a sense of belonging and I fear I won’t be able to get that anywhere else.

My dad blows out a sigh and puts an arm around my shoulders. “I can tell you have gotten close to them.”

I glance up at Ansel and his eyes are slightly glossy, a look of anguish gleaming within them. My throat burns as my eyes mirror his. He offers me a half-smile then mouths an: ‘It will be okay.’ I nod my head but if I’ll be away from him, I don’t see how that’ll ever be possible.

“I don’t want to take you away from them either, Rain.” My father breathes. “But if a gang member is looking for you then this is dangerous news. I won’t have you being targeted by anyone. I will have the police look into this matter as well.”

“Mr. Moretto is very powerful.” Alaric prims his lips. “He has a lot of friends in the law department; corrupted cops and judges, so be careful.”

Rob runs a hand through his hair. “I see. I am going back to Dubai in a few days. I’ll have her come with me then, while I get some of my law enforcement associates to investigate this matter.”

Dubai? Oh no.

“Dad—”

“You will be back, baby. After this has all died down.” He promises, pulling me close to him and pressing his lips to my forehead. I fight back the tears as I raise my gaze to the brothers, who are all smiling a little with pained eyes.

This is one of the worst feelings in the world.

I pull away. “I don’t want to go…we can just face him. I could just—”

“I cannot put you in danger, Rain.” My dad is becoming annoyed by my stubbornness. “How can I fly out of the country and leave you here, knowing you’re being targeted by some drug dealer?” He makes a face, shaking his head. “No. You are coming with me. You cannot stay here, I am sorry, baby.”

“You know, we could just protect her. That was what we actually planned to do.” Alaric tries to aid. “I have a few men in the vicinity who can—”

“I don’t know, I have done caused you all so much burden—”

“It’s not a burden,” Arden quickly says. “We love having her around us. We can all fight Ron Moretto together.”

Rob sighs. “I really can’t leave her behind here. Her mom is not a stable guardian and Rain doesn’t live so well with her other relatives. She’s my only child, and I really can’t afford to lose her.”

I feel my eyes stinging with tears and I bite down onto my lower lip.

“It’s okay, Rain.” Alex tries to smile. “You’ll be back after this has all died down, yeah?”

Ansel is fondling with a loose thread on the old mini couch he is sitting on. His head is hung, but I can tell his expression is laced with sadness.

I don’t want to leave him, and I can tell he doesn’t want me to leave him either.

The brothers look devastated, and that makes all of us.

••

Ever since my dad broke the news about taking me with him to Dubai, the brothers have been trying excessively hard to lighten my mood. However, I can easily see through their gimmicks and laughter. They are only putting up a façade; they are just as unhappy as I am.

Melissa and Austin have arrived home and my dad is in the kitchen speaking with them. I watch their faces shift from smiles to frowns and smiles again as I wonder earnestly what they are talking about.

“So, what’s your name?” Arden is sitting backward on a chair while he eyes my dad’s driver who is sitting on the couch in severe discomfort. The brothers are all watching him in fascination since his whole conduct is robot-like and critical.

Where on earth did my dad get him from? The navy?

“Marco.” His tone is sharp, and Riley raises an impressed brow as we exchange small smiles.

Marco is Asian, and his perfectly gelled hair is slicked back, blending in effortlessly with his jet-black tuxedo. His shoes are sparkling clean and his skin is flawless.

“Cool name.” Alex shrugs.

Aiden clears his throat, lifting himself off the ground with an exhale. “So, Marco. What’s your specialization?” He cracks his knuckles then his neck, and Ansel simpers in amusement, shaking his head.

“Repeat?”

“What is your specialization? Are you a black belt? Red belt?” Aiden is flashing his hands and flinging his legs out as if to warm up.

Alaric deadpans his arrogant brother. “Aiden, sit your ass down.”

“Red belt.” Marco tilts his head to the side. “10th-degree blackbelt.”

“Woah…” Riley gasps, bringing her lips to my ear. “That’s like the highest rank.”

“Really?” I gape.

Aiden looks taken aback but plays it off quickly, coughing needlessly. “I see. Well, I am specialized in the area as well. You see, I have a…uh, beige belt.”

Marco narrows his eyes cluelessly.

“Never heard of it? Yeah, it’s rare.” Aiden is bouncing on his toes. “Only the fittest of the fittest.”

His brothers are snickering, and I catch a hint of amusement in Marco’s eyes.

“So, you wouldn’t mind taking me up on a challenge, would you?” Aiden suggests and Marco’s eyes drift to the kitchen where my dad is seated around the dining table, still engrossed in his conversation.

“My boss wouldn’t—”

“Come on, don’t be a pussy. Just one challenge. Arm wrestling.” Aiden pulls the sleeve of his T-shirt up, pushing back the contents on the coffee table so he can rest his elbow there.

Ansel bites back a laugh, using his palm to conceal it while Alaric shakes his head in pity. “You’re going to embarrass yourself. The guy looks like Jet Li for shit’s sake.”

Marco looks at my dad once more before getting up and moving over to where Aiden is slouched over; ready and waiting.

“I wouldn’t want to hurt you. My hand has a lot of strength.” Marco has a thick accent, and I can tell he’s not very good at speaking English.

Aiden scoffs. “Well, that makes two of us, Chinese guy."

“I am Korean.”

Aiden hmms. “Same thing.”

They connect their palms and the battle begins. Aiden’s face is one of complete struggle as he tries to push his weight onto Marco’s wrist. The Korean guy’s expression is calm and unmoved as he effortlessly pushes back. The brothers are cracking up with laughter at the fact that Aiden is losing the battle.

“He looks like he’s taking a shit,” Alex says between cackles. Riley and I double over in tears at the precise simile. He does look like he’s sitting on a toilet right now.

“I told the fucker that he’d embarrass his damn self. Now, look at him.” Alaric tsks pitifully.

“I…will…not…lose,” Aiden says between breaths, his face contorting in the effort as he clenches his jaws. The veins in his neck are standing at attention whilst Mr. Asian looks composed as if he isn’t doing anything at all. What creature is this guy?

Marcos sighs. “Give up. I may bleark you hand.”

Yeah, English is not his thing.

“I…will…never…give in!” Aiden grits out. At this rate, I feel extremely sorry for his poor hand that now resembles a flexible rubber.

The face-off goes on for a moment longer until Aiden realizes that his wrist is partially dislocated. With a heavy grunt, he lessens his weight and Marco plunges his weak hand against the table in victory. Aiden gropes his hand with a pained face while everyone erupts with fits of laughter.

Marco smiles. “I like your splirit. You are very completitive." He didn’t pronounce the last word right but that’s okay.

He straightens his spine and his countenance is still cool as if he did not just use an ounce of energy. He extends a hand to Aiden, who is breathing heavily as he smirks, putting his hand into his for a handshake.

“I won’t lie…” He sighs, sweat drenching his forehead. “I like this Chinese guy.”

“Korean.” Marco corrects.

Aiden shrugs. “Same thing.”

We laugh again, and I find myself smiling while I ogle everyone inside the room. I wish this moment could last forever. Sadly, I will have to leave. Not being able to see the King brothers anymore will be immensely painful. My smile is replaced with teary eyes, and I swallow the burn in my throat.

I will be back someday.

And I hope someday will be soon.

~

~I’d climb every mountain and swim every ocean, just to be with you.~ Calum Scott.

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