V: Hunting for you
I feel the light of the morning hit my face but I don’t open my eyes. I squirm in the soft sheets and sigh on the pillow.
Wait a minute....
I open a lone eye and peak through my long lashes. I look around and see a room with cracked gray walls. I close my eyes again with another sigh.
Wait a minute....
I remember. I remember the beating, the yelling and then Steele.
Wait a minute....
I open both eyes and turn my face slightly, I’m met with the sight of a light ashy blonde haired man. His arms wrap around my waist perfectly and my head on his chest. He has his eyes closed and rough blonde stubble that looks unshaven, unclean and sexy.
Wait a minute...
Oh, it’s just Steele’s face.
I scream and fall off the bed with a big thump, looking down I’m wearing a big blue long sleeve and no pants.
Where are my pants?
WHERE ARE MY PANTS?
I run a hand over my face and arch my back, I scream in pain, everything hurts like hell. Wait...
Steele looks at me wide eyed in shock. Why is he in shock? I’m the one who should be in shock. He jumps over the bed in one leap, how did he do that? Oh wait, he’s a strong handsome fighter.
Steele crouches next to me and holds my wrists in his hands. I look at him afraid, panting for air that my lungs are forgetting to do, what am I doing in his room? My breathing stops short and I cry out, I remember what I did.
“Angel.” He says quietly, I look into his icy eyes, he cups my face softly. “Angel, calm down. You’re okay, you’re safe.”
“Where am I?” I scoot back, pushing my knees to my chest. Steele lets go of my face and grabs my wrists again. He tries to draw me into him but I refuse.
I am strong.
“Why.” I breathe shakily.
I am independent.
“Because I put you there.” He says looking down at my toes like a child caught stealing from the cookie jar.
I bow down to nobody.
“Why, Steele?” I say again looking dead into his eyes, it feels as if I’m talking to a child.
“We found you.” Steele’s finger skims my knee, “I-I found you.”
Steele’s double pierced ear is tangled with his long ashy blonde hair. I find myself staring at him in shock, but mostly staring at him because he’s Steele Winters.
“Oh.” I say, throat dry and head pounding. But then I realize I’m missing someone. In a panic I scoot closer to Steele. My legs intertwined in his. “Steele, h-how did you-” Tears well in my eyes as I look at him.
“Vienna.” He said simply, and I swallow and turn away from him.
Steele leans closer and releases my wrists. I sigh in relief, my back aches in pain, my ankle throbs and my head pounds. Quickly as if I’ll disappear, Steele’s arms scoop me up.
“Don’t fight me, angel. You’re hurt.” Steele looks dead straight into my eyes. I bite my lips hard and ring my hands together. Steele laughs and pulls me closer, stiffening I cross my arms and look away.
“Can you take me to her, please?” I don’t look at him as he walks with grace down the stairs. I think I feel him tug me closer but it must have been my imagination.
The last time I saw Vienna, I walked away. I left her, and I hated it, but I hated that it felt right. Vienna Hollow doesn’t need me, she never did. Not really.
I look up at Steele who is already looking at me, I fight the crimson tint on my cheeks. People like Steele don’t notice me, people like me who hide in the shadows. Maybe hoping one day we will find the light.
Steele arms and hands hold me tight as we finish descending the stairs. Rounding the apartment Steele sits down in the living room. But there’s one tiny detail I forgot to mention, he hasn’t let me go.
“Uh, Steele?” I look at him wide eyed, he stares down at me with a smile.
“Yes, angel?” Maybe he’s faking the cluelessness?
“I’m still on your lap.” I poke his hand currently around my waist. It feels weird being held by a man, I mean yeah sure I’ve kissed a few frogs but still.
“I know.” He says matter-o-factly.
“Can you put me down?” I raise my eyebrows and purse my lips. Steele’s face falls and for a second I think I feel guilty.
“Most girls like being on my lap.” He snips.
Then he ruins it with that ego of his, I roll my eyes and scoot off with a plop. Yelping in pain, I palm my head in my hand and look at him with laser eyes.
“Yeah well most girls clearly don’t think straight.” I grumble and look down the hall. Steele erupts in laughter and I scrunch my nose.
“You’re not like most girls then?” Steele looks at me with a flirtatious grin, ugh I hate that tone.
“No, no I’m not.” I say with a tone of boredom, I look at him in all seriousness and scoot closer, “Steele?”
“Hm?” Ice blue eyes reel me into a trance as I inhale slowly.
“Thank you.” I whisper and he flashes a crazed smile.
He’s hiding something—he’s hiding his real emotions underneath.
“Steele?” I whisper again, but he’s already staring at me.
How do I tell them that I went there knowing what would happen? How do I tell them that my plan went wrong? If I made it out of there I could’ve threatened him with assault. I could’ve done something more, for Myles I would’ve.
“I-I knew that he-he would—” My mouth ran dry and I couldn’t look him in the eyes. I was pathetic, I couldn’t look the playboy who I sworn to hate in the eye.
“I know.” Steele’s arm wraps around my waist, he draws me in and for once—for once, I don’t pull away.
I look at him with my jaw on the floor, he knows? He knows I went there knowing I would get hurt?
Does Steele know—
I’m ripped from my thoughts as his index finger flexes under my jaw to lift my lips together. Steele’s icy eyes bare into mine and something tells me he isn’t all that he says he is. I don’t realize I lean closer as his finger skins over my bruised jaw. A ghostly smile graces his pale lips as I blink at him amazed. My breath hitches as his dimpled smile increases slightly, he leans in slightly and caressed my cheek.
How can someone so angelic look so devious at the same time?
I flinch away as the door opens, jolting in pain I look away. That’s it, I’m insane. Jonathan punched my brain into bits.
Vienna’s flinches as she looks at my face, okay—I know I look bad, but you don’t have to rub it in. My thumbs twiddle together as I look at her, hurt flashes across my face as I remember our last conversation.
“I don’t belong here.”
I look away and at my blood crusted thumbs, my heart rapidly beating out of my chest. What do I say, what lies do I weave?
“Don’t lie to me, Rei.” Vienna’s voice cracked as she walked forward, Dicarius looming around the corner. As if I can’t see the big bad wolf.
“I-I-” My mouth closes back up, she knows, of course she knows.
“Reign,” She warns me, anxiousness creeps up on me as I breathe slowly. I just want to have a break, I just want Myles to be safe. It’s all I ever wanted.
“I, uh-um.” I start again as Vienna cocks her head with a frown.
I feel small compared to her, I feel weak. I’m not like the great Vienna Hollow. She conquered her mutism, took down her stalker and a criminal organization. Vienna knocked down one of the most desired men in all of Pineridge in mere months. She’s beautiful, kind, intimating, strong. She’s everything I’m not.
I’m just the shadow to the flame.
“Austria, stop.” Steele growled, shame shivers on my skin.
What was I thinking? I’d walk in, get my ass kicked and then sue? For being the smartest at school, I am awfully stupid.
I feel Steele’s hand come over mine, I don’t pull away but I don’t look. My mind shattered, my thoughts barely my own. I don’t recognize myself anymore and I hate it.
I hate that the lies I’ve spun have become my undoing.
My head snaps up and I look to Steele, “Myles!” I shriek. Attempting to stand, I groan at the aching pain in my back. But Myles means more, Steele rockets to his feet and before I can step he locks me in his arms.
Spinning me around, I hiss at the contact. “My brother I left him—let me go!” I yell at him as he scoops me up.
I look at Vienna who’s eyes reflect pity, I know she hated it when people looked at her like that. I know how it feels now and I hate it even more.
“We’ll talk later.” Dicarius looks at me but, I only look away.
“STEELE WINTERS PUT ME THE FUCK DOWN!” I scream as he chuckles into my neck.
“Your brother is with your aunt, right? Vienna said he’s doing just fine.” Steele smiled into my hair, I struggled against him as he climbed the steps. His calloused hands carefully under my bare thighs.
“DID YOU CHANGE ME?” I yell.
Yes, I know my temper is a mighty force all men should avoid.
“No angel,” Steele says as I look up at him with a glare, “I have undressed hundreds of women but none of them have been you.”
I look away and mutter curses, hundreds? It must be the pain in my ribs because my stomach hurts a lot more.
“You’ll be staying in my room.” Steele pushes me closer into his arms.
“Steele, no.” I wiggle out from his reach, I’m too close to his chest.
“Steele, stop!” I cross my arms and glare at his stubbled jaw.
“Steele, go!” He chuckles and pulls me into his chest, squeaking I wrap my hands around his neck.
“Steele...” I growl as he places me on his bed.
“Reign...” He says in that soft tone, how this works with the ladies is beyond my understanding. I fall back into the soft mattress with a sigh, crossing my arms over my chest and glaring up at the former high school playboy.
“Go to sleep, angel.” Steele grumbles and pulls the covers over me and up to my neck. I ignore my urge to inhale the scent on the sheets, I ignore the fact that it smells of pine. I ignore the fact that I did what I told myself not to do as the pain in my back intensifies. I yelp in pain as I twist, Steele jaw slacks and his eyes narrow.
“Ow-uh-um.” I murmur.
“Did,” Steele squeezes his eyes shut and he drags a hand under his jaw, “did I hurt you?” Steele says softly.
“No Steele, you didn’t hurt me. It’s just my back from laying up.” I squish my hand to my face feeling the bruise. Steele nods slowly, his care free manner changed, but he switched back instantly with a stellar smile. Something tells me that real-Steele is better than flirty and fake-Steele.
My jaw drops as he strips of his shirt and pants. Strong, hard defined abs and a glowing six pack smack me in the face.
Looking at my cracked fingernails with eyes wide I wait for him to leave but he doesn’t. Hold up, I’m in his room, in his bed, wearing his clothes. I look up flushed with red and he cracks a smirk at me. Then Steele hops into bed with me like it’s the most normal thing in the world. Oh did I mention he’s only in boxers? Yeah, didn’t think so.
Sorry buddy this ain’t gonna happen, I scoot off the bed, well more like attempt.
“What are you doing, angel?” Steele looks at me with an angry annoyed gaze.
What am I doing? I’m escaping why of course.
“I’m not sleeping in the same bed as you Steele.” I blurt fast, glancing into his eyes and not in his chest. I won’t check him out and give him the satisfaction of knowing I did.
“We did it before.” He states blandly, I roll my eyes and click my tongue in disgust.
“I was unconscious!” I say harshly, my arms have goosebumps from remembering the beating from my father. Definitely not from being in his strong arms.
Stupid, stupid hormones.
“You’re staying here so I can keep an eye on you.” Steele growls, but I scoot off more.
“You’re only doing this because I rejected you. Well listen now, and listen good Steele Winters. I will not be one of your playthings, I’m thankful you saved me but that is all. So no, I’m not going to sleep in your arms like some-some-” I ramble on red face looking into his slightly amused eyes.
“Like my Huntress, angel?” Steele cocks a brow and lays back down lazily, my eyes refusing his chest.
Remember Reign, you are a strong independent female, you bow down to no one.
“No.” I say flatly and I put my feet on the ground. Why is this so hard?
Leaning up more, my back freezes in pain. Gasping, I ignore the feeling of numbness in my toes. Groaning, I rock to my heels. I stand up for a split second but I expect to fall back down on the bed, on my back, my very hurt back. But a strong surface replaces the mattress. That surface is Steele.
“SON OF A BITCH!” I scream, Steele’s arms engulf me as he then cradles me.
“Reign...” He whispers.
Steele’s arms cross over my flat stomach, he twists me onto my side. I whimper as his arms draw me closer to his chest. Oh boy, abs on my back, I repeat abs on my back.
“Reign...” He murmurs into my neck again, is hot breath sends shivers up my spine. I whimper again because I feel his ‘thing’ on my back. I repeat his ‘thing’ is on my back.
Steele Winters is spooning me, what have I done to get punished like this?
“Reign, angel. Go to bed.” He whispers again in my neck. I squeeze my heated legs together tightly and shut my eyes.
“Not with you.” I mumble into the soft pillow. Oh no, I’m so sleepy, I think I’m in love with this bed. This is madness, keep your eyes open Reign.
You are a strong independent female, you bow down to no one.
“Why?” He pulls my in tighter, legs interlaced.
“Because...” I drift closer to the night.
You bow down to no one.
He repeats, I feel his smile on my neck. He kisses the back of my shoulder and nuzzles into my neck again. This is so uncomfortable, I don’t even know this guy. I murmur to him once last time before I welcome sleep with open arms.
You bow down to no one. Don’t—
“Because you’re Steele Winters.”