Then You Look At Me

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Once And For All

~You know you’re not alone, don’t be alarmed. I’ll find you no matter where you are.~ Poets of the Fall.

Chapter Theme Song: ‘All the Way / 4U’ by Poets of the Fall.

••

Third-person Pov

Rainey woke up to find Ansel’s side of the bed empty. Last night he had embraced her tightly as if she would be gone in the morning, his lips pressed to her neck while his arm draped around her. It was one of the best nights of sleep she has had in a while, though the thoughts of her leaving were still rampant in her head.

The day has dawned bright and clear, hot rays of sun pouring through the open window. Riley is still fast asleep on Alex’s bed; her mouth agape as unladylike snores pass through them. Rainey fights the urge to laugh at her best friend while she gets up, sauntering over to the window and pulling back the dove-grey curtains.

She peruses the awakened neighborhood that is now lit with a soft orange hue and a rush of early-morning activities. Lawn mowing, kids playing, car washing; the normal day-to-day activities that bring a neighborhood alive. Rainey feels a tinge of bitterness. In just a few days, she will not be able to experience this delightful scenery anymore. Her dad claims she will be back soon, but how long is soon? She fears that this whole ordeal with Ron Moretto will not die down and she’d end up being stuck far away from here, unable to return to this city for a long time. Sighing, she quickly strides to the bathroom to brush her teeth and wash her face.

She leaves the room and makes her way out into the hall. From the top of the staircase, she sights the brothers sitting in the living room. Two guys are seated in front of them, and instantly, Rainey makes out the two familiar faces.

Ken and Joe. The two guys Ansel fought with on the first night he visited her house.

Why are they here? Curious about their visit, Rainey quietly descends the stairs in an act of eavesdropping. She stops on the final stairs, cringing as the old board creaks beneath her socks. She stiffens but sighs in relief when she realizes they are still oblivious to her presence.

“Didn’t Ansel beat both your asses the other day?” Alaric motions a finger between the two boys while splaying an arm over the couch. “And a female somehow managed to hit one of you in the head with a rock, yet you guys keep coming back for more, are you addicted to pain?”

Aiden chuckles as he fires up a joint.

“If you’re here about the money you claim I owe you, it makes no sense, you’re not getting it.”

Ken and Joe are a part of their own nameless mini gang and have known the brothers for quite a long time. The small disagreement between them and Alaric is because Ken had purchased drugs from him but claimed to not have received his rightful change. That was not the case since at the time Alaric had raised the price of it without his knowledge. Ken deemed it unfair that he wasn’t notified of the inflation and has been demanding his rightful amount ever since.

“You claimed your boss was going to take this up in hand, why isn’t he here yet? We’ve been waiting for weeks.” Arden raises a brow, taking a bite out of his cracker before sipping his milo tea.

“I didn’t tell my boss anything,” Ken says. “And I am not here about the money.”

Ansel narrows his eyes. “Then what are you here for?”

“We are here because we heard.” Joe shrugs.

Alex squints his eyes. “You heard?”

“You can’t just say ‘you heard’ and expect us to know what you’re talking about. We can’t read minds and we don’t have superpowers—ouch, shit that’s hot.” Arden winces, blowing over the chocolate liquid before taking a cautious slurp.

“We heard that Ron Moretto is after one of your girlfriends,” Ken states. “So, we just thought—”

“How did you two even come to know that?” Aiden looks confused. “Are you guys stalking us?”

Joe sighs. “We heard from someone. We can’t call names, just know that we know.”

Alaric rubs his chin. “One of those motherfuckers in my circle keeps running their parrot mouth. If I find out who it is, I am putting a rifle through their fucking skull.”

“Either way, just let us help you guys out,” Ken suggests. “Our gang is small, but we have an adequate amount of men that can help you guys raid Ron’s camp.”

“Raiding his camp will not be easy.” Alaric reminds him. “He’s the most powerful drug lord in all of Freetown.”

“Yeah, but with your men and ours, we can do wonders.”

“Hold up. Why on earth should we trust you?” Ansel blinks his eyes in doubt. “We don’t even like you.”

Ken exhales. “Because he fucked with us too. You remember years ago when he got those men to shoot up your porch? Have you forgotten what happened to my little sister, Kenite?”

When Ron got the men to kill Austin’s brothers, Ken’s little sister, who was good friends with the boys at the time was also there. When the first shot fired off, it landed in the little girl’s shoulder, and Ashton—the oldest of the brothers--dived in front of her; shielding her from further injuries and taking four bullets to his back. Ken was livid with the King Family, saying that their dangerous lifestyle is what caused his sister to get hurt.

“How do you guys know that Ron’s the person who sent those men?” Alaric questions. “We don’t recall sharing that information with you.”

“The streets talk a lot. We’ve heard people say that he was the one behind it, and knowing what an asshole he is, it’s not hard to believe. Even a blind man could tell that he was jealous of your father and his brothers. Look, at first, I was mad at you guys because I almost lost my little sister, but when I look into it, Ashton saved her from dying that night, so I am in no position to be angry with your family. Ron’s the person I should target; because of him my sister still has nightmares of what happened. So, I want us to defeat him together. I owe it to Kenite.”

The brothers are all staring at him contemplatively, his little trip down memory lane stirring up fresh resentment toward Ron Moretto.

“Why are you standing here?” Riley appears behind an engrossed Rainey, who quickly swirls around with a finger to her lips.

“Shh.”

Riley peeks over her shoulders, her nose crinkling inquisitively. “Who are those guys?”

“They came to assist the boys with Ron Moretto,” Rainey mumbles, crossing her arms in disapproval. “They are planning on raiding his camp.”

Riley’s brows perch up. “What? Noooo, they cannot do that, that’s dangerous. We can’t let them do that. That’s insane, Rainey. They are going to get themselves killed.”

“I will protect you from Ron Moretto. Even if it means dying in the process.”

Ansel’s words ring in Rainey’s ear again and she shakes her head, pressing a hand to her forehead. “I can’t allow them to go through with their suicide mission.”

Although the King boys have their fair history of mishaps where Ron Moretto is concerned, Rainey can tell that the main reason they have decided to go after the man, despite their parents’ warnings, is because of her. They want her to be here, and the sooner they get rid of him, the faster they will all be together again.

“Oh, Jessica just texted me. It’s actually a message for you.” Riley hands her cellphone to Rainey, who lets out a deep sigh before reading the message written on the screen.

Hi, I am unable to get through to Rainey. Could you tell her that I need to speak with her today if it is possible? It’s very urgent. I’ll be in Crosshill.

-Jessica.

Rainey knows that without a doubt this has to do with Kendra.

“What could be so important?” Riley frowns. “I bet it’s Kendra who sent her on a little errand. She’s such a puppet for her.”

Rainey taps a reply then hands the cellphone back to her best friend. “I am going to meet with her. She probably has information that could be useful.”

Riley grimaces. “Don’t trust her. She’s a fucking puppet on a string.”

“Yeah, I know, but I can defend myself. I’ll be fine.”

“I’m coming.”

“You’re not. Stay here so that when my dad drops by, he can relay any information to you. He’ll be going by the police station today.”

Riley shakes her head. “He could just pass on the message to the king boys. I should come.”

“Riley, please don’t. Look what happened last time. You got hospitalized because of me. Just stay.” Rainey pleads. “I’ll be at the mall, if I don’t come back on time then you know where to find me.”

She quickly hurries up the stairs to get dressed while Riley scowls at her retreating back. “Rainey!”

••

Rainey

The mall’s food court is noisy and crowded, but above the numerous heads, I easily spot Jessica’s at the back booth. I hurry down to her, noticing she is wearing a large grey hoodie and a black hat. She appears edgy and jittery, constantly glancing around her surroundings.

“Hi…” I sit in front of her, narrowing my eyes at her weird expression. “You okay?”

She meets my gaze and I almost jolt at the large blue mark encircling her left eye.

“Oh my God.” I gasp. “Are you okay?”

She pulls her hat off to push her brown hair back. “No, I’m not okay.”

I get a better look at her bruised eye and grimace in horror. “Why is your eye like that? Who did this to you?”

She sighs. “Kendra, the one and only.”

I ground my jaws. There is something wrong with that girl.

“We got into an argument yesterday and she gave me a hard fist to the face.”

Anger wells within me. Jessica had never adequately defended me at Freetown, but regardless of that, she’s an okay person. Although she lacks the ability to stick up for herself or remain grounded in her morals, she was the best of the trio.

She reaches for the strawberry shake on her table and takes a small sip from her straw. She extends the drink toward me and I shake my head.

“I’m fine, what were you guys arguing about?”

Respiring harshly, she puts the beverage down and comes to the edge of her seat. She surveys the environment once more before speaking.

“She was telling Monica about the plans she and her uncle has for you.”

My brows raise in question, and she continues.

“The whole bargain thing, about her bloody uncle wanting you to work for him, it’s all bullshit. It’s a lie. Whether you accept the deal or not, he’s planning to kill you. Mainly because you are tied to some Kane brothers or something like that.”

“King brothers.”

“Yeah, King brothers. He’s also planning on killing them too. He’s just using the whole ‘bargain’ thing as a game of cat and mouse. He just wants to get you where he wants you. So, I got mad and told her to leave you alone. It’s just not fair, you are not at Freetown anymore and you have started a new life elsewhere, why must she track you down and make your life a living hell? She didn’t like that I objected and so she gave me a hefty punch to my face.”

It is okay if Kendra and her uncle target me, but why won’t they leave the King family alone? I will be damned if I let them touch a hair on their heads.

Fear overtakes Jessica’s features, and she perches her elbow onto the table. “You should leave, run away from here. He really will kill you, Rainey.”

“I’m not scared of anyone.”

“Riley too. They are planning on killing her as well. And we can’t even go to the cops because her uncle is so powerful. I think it’s best if you leave this city. Go far away, as far as you can, where they won’t be able to—”

“I won’t keep running away.” I insert, and she looks at me with softened eyes. “I ran away once, and I won’t run away again.”

“Rainey…”

“Anyway, I like that you stood up to her,” I say. “That was brave.”

She smiles.

“I still can’t understand why you hang around her though.”

She drops her eyes to her fingers. “The reason…It’s silly.” She shakes her head. “I stayed around because I felt like someone when I was around her. I felt like…guys appreciated me more when I was friends with her.”

I sigh. “You’re a lot prettier than Kendra. Your heart is pure, and that’s what matters. Plus look at your hips, a lot of girls would kill to be as plump as you.”

“Thank you, Rainey.” She smiles. “I needed that.”

I nod.

A small silence falls upon us and my phone buzzes amidst the void. I ease up to slide it from my pocket, noticing that it’s a message from Ansel.

Riley told me you’re at the mall. When did you leave?

-Ansel.

I quickly tap a response while Jessica glances around her surroundings yet again.

I had to meet someone. I’ll be home soon.

-Rainey.

“Everything okay?” Jess asks out of curiosity, and I nod.

“Yeah, my boyfriend.”

She smiles.

“I sort of ran out of the house without telling him I was leaving.”

“Oh.” She nods.

Who did you have to meet? Alex and I are taking a trip out of town for a quick while, should we pick you up on our way back?

-Ansel.

No. It’s not far away, I’ll head home as soon as I am done here.

-Rainey.

Who’d you meet?

-Ansel.

I’ll tell you when I see you later.

-Rainey.

Respected. Keep safe and call me if anything. Be careful, Rainey.

-Ansel.

I slide my cell into my pocket as Jessica releases a sigh. “I am sorry that I didn’t sufficiently defend you while you were at Freetown. I feel awful.”

I shrug. “It’s alright, I am not one to enjoy pity or people coming to my rescue. I tend to like riding alone on the battlefield.”

Jessica smiles and I offer one back.

“I don’t want anything to happen to you.” She sighs. “I just wish you’d leave this place and not come back.”

“I’ll be fine,” I assure her. “I can defend myself. Don’t worry about me.”

••

Third-Person Pov

Anger. It’s the only thing Rainey is feeling right now. She has had it. Her life is already messed up as is, and for Kendra and her God-forsaken uncle to aim at the few people she has found happiness in is just a strong shove toward her limit.

She needs to pay Kendra a visit, right now. She doesn’t care about the outcome because Riley and the King family deserves all the sacrifice.

She finds her way to Freetown and hops on a bus that leads to Kendra’s neighborhood. Venom is coursing through her veins, hot like lava, and it will not be soothed until she gives to this girl what is madly overdue to her.

Kendra opens her house door and is immediately met with a hard fist to the face. Stumbling back in awe, she touches her nose and stares at her red-stained fingers as Monica slithers between Rainey and her bleeding friend.

“What the fucking hell Slate! Are you insane?!”

“Move!” Rainey warns, but not waiting for her to heed the instruction before shoving her aside with the flat of her palm. The bronzed-skin girl falls back against the ground as Rain walks up to Kendra, who is currently holding her broken nose with bloody hands.

“What the actual fuck is—”

Another fist meets her face and the teen tumbles to the floor. She grimaces, attempting to sit upright as Rainey stomps over to her.

“You have lost your goddamn mind, Slate!” Monica screams.

“Damn right about that.” Sitting over the stupefied girl, Rainey eyes her with distaste and venom. “When will you-madam Kendra-learn to leave me and my friends the hell alone? I am sick of it and I am sick of you. I have so many shits dealing with already and your added fuckery is annoying and tedious. Get. The. Fuck. Off. My. Case!”

She slaps her hard across the face before gripping her hair in her hands as Kendra thrashes around wildly, attempting to free herself.

“Let me go, Slate. You cannot touch a hair on my head, you’re going to jail for this!” Fear is hemmed in her voice as blood from her nose drains down her blanched face.

“Have you forgotten the warning I gave you at Freetown High that day? I told you I would be back to pay you for what you did to Riley. I told you I would reopen your fucking wound. I told you that you should not mess with my friend, yet you are still planning to hurt her. And to make matters worse, you are going after the few people I love and care about. My boyfriend is a part of your little “kill-batch” and I swear to God, if you even cause a scratch on his flawless body, I will cut you to fucking threads!”

Rainey attempts to slam her head against the floor, but Kendra keeps writhing beneath her, clearly knowing the outcome of all of this. She knows Rainey is crazy enough to reopen the healed wound on her forehead...or even kill her.

Two hands grip Rainey’s arm from the back as Monica attempts to pull her off her best friend.

“Get off her! Get the fuck off her, Slate! You psychotic bitch!”

“Back off and stay out of this!” Rainey easily pushes the inquisitive girl away, seething in anger as she falls onto her butt against the carpet. “Stay the fuck away or I will gladly give you a taste too!”

Fear numbs Monica’s bones as she watches Rainey beat her friend senseless.

Slaps after slaps are delivered to Kendra’s face as she tries to dodge the blows, crying out at the top of her lungs.

“I am telling the cops, Slate! YOU BITCH, I AM GOING TO RUIN YOU!”

“You can’t ruin me!” SLAP. “Your uncle is planning on killing me anyway, isn’t he?” SLAP. “So, It doesn’t fucking matter!” SLAP.

“GET OFF ME, RAINEY SLATE!”

Fists after fists. Slaps after slaps. Until Kendra’s eyes begin whirling into the back of her head.

“She’s fainting, stop!” Monica cries, but Rainey just carries on as if the weeping girl begging for her best friend isn’t present in the room at all.

Rage. It’s the only thing seething through her body. She has been through so much, and the moment she has finally found contentment in a family of five boys is the moment this girl wants to ruin it. She has already ruined so much for her.

She is sick and tired.

Kendra’s vision is now a blur, and she stops fighting, allowing Rainey to smack her in the face repeatedly.

With frustration releasing into each punch, Rainey beats the girl until her knuckles are bruised and tired.

Deciding that she is finally satisfied, she stands to her feet to see a traumatized Monica staring at her limp friend in awe.

“That’s what happens when she doesn’t listen,” Rainey says, and Monica shakes her head in disbelief, tears streaming down her cheeks.

“You’re a monster.”

“Been called worse.”

Rain stoops down to grab Kendra’s cell from the pocket of her jean shorts and scrolls down the caller’s list to find Ron Moretto’s number. She places it to her ear and breathes down into the phone as he picks up.

“Kendra.”

“Sorry to disappoint.” Rainey grounds her jaws, and Ron chuckles on the line.

“And a good day to you too, Slate. What’s this? An early Christmas gift?”

“Call it what you may. I can deliver myself to you early. But under one condition.”

“Speak away.”

“Do not touch a hair on the King family’s head. I think you have caused them enough damage. I am the one who fucked up your niece, twice now. So, I am the one you should come for.”

He laughs yet again. “Woah. I like your fire, Rainey. Reminds me so much of your boyfriend.”

She clenches her teeth, and he breathes out. “Alright, deal.”

“Good. I am in Freetown, Gordon Road. Your niece’s neighborhood. Come get me...and let’s settle this, once and for all.”

~

~Oh, my love, if it’s all I can do, I’ll take the fall for you.~ Poets of the Fall.

~

Don’t worry, it’s not over yet. Lol.

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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