Chapter 10: Inevitable
Unravel Us Playlist on Spotify.
Song; (Duncan Lawrence- Arcade) & (Falk Wunsch- Home)
[email protected] @ @~~
I don’t remember what happened.
One moment, I’ve taken Thomas’s hand, another moment, I was descending down the emergency stairs.
At some point, I got into his car and then... nothing.
Everything else is blank after that.
I knew I was conscious, I knew I was still present but for some reason, I can’t seem to remember anything of importance.
It’s like the entirety of my vision has gone underwater and I’m right beneath the surface, hands held out, struggling to make it to the top.
There’s nothing I can do to unstuck myself. I can’t get out.
So I simply stay there, frozen in time.
It could have been seconds, minutes, hours... and I didn’t even realize it.
Eventually, though, the passenger door opens beside me, startling my wayward thoughts into focusing on the now.
I hadn’t noticed we’d arrived at our destination-wherever the hell that was anyway-the heir of Graymoore hadn’t been too chatty.
“Ginger,” He holds his hand out, the other resting over the roof of the car. I can’t see his eyes from where I sit but I feel his presence, strong and resilient.
“Take my hand.”
It is not a request, it is an instruction, for I am too far deep into the void to understand what is left or right.
Robotically, I reach out for his palm, letting his fingers close around mine as I’m pulled out of the car and onto my feet.
The night air is cool and the skies are littered with stars. Just beyond the brick walkways, I spot a familiar sight.
I recognize the elaborate fountains and hedges, the giant mansion, bathe in warm light and modern colors. The garage is what gives it away.
He’s brought me to his house.
The first time I came here was when Chuck impaled a knife into my side. It was a time when King and I never even dreamed of what we’d potentially mean to one another.
Believing in fate or coincidences wasn’t my forte but these past few days have taught me to keep an open mind.
I just wished I had the power to see the future, that way I’d know when things get difficult. At this point, it’d spare me the exhaustion.
Shaking my head, I feel my body shudder in on itself as waves of icy numbness crawled up the back of my spine.
The suddenness of my actions causes Thomas to pause having felt it from holding my hand. “Are you cold?”
Was I cold or was it simply all in my head?
I shrugged instead.
The truth was, whatever was left of my soul had been left behind in that burnt apartment. If you asked me how I feel, I can’t.
I don’t know, what I’m feeling, I don’t know, how I’m feeling.
I just don’t know.
“Hey,” I barely hear Thomas when he calls out to me softly.
My hand is still intertwined with his, and although he could have let go, he chose to bring it up to his mouth instead-where he places a delicate kiss on the back of my palm, eyes never once wavering.
“I’m not asking you to think too hard,” He says, with all the gentility and patience the world can offer. “Let’s just go inside, it’ll be warmer.”
He laces our fingers once more and tugs my body to move with him.
I watch the back of his head as he leads, mind running in circles. Was the affectionate act meant to stabilize my thoughts? Was it assurance? For me or for himself?
I resolved into silent nothingness.
We walk up the rest of the pathway and onto marble floors. He only lets go of my hand when he has to type in a passcode.
The lock turns green.
He enters first, leaving me to feel the blast of heat from behind him when the door opens.
Sensitive from the change of atmosphere, I have to hold my arms up to my face as I stepped in after him.
The burns that plague my skin are showing their true colors now.
A definite pain in the ass.
“Welcome home,” Thomas mumbles beneath his breath as he shifts to his knees in order to retrieve something behind the rack of shoes.
The words are meant for himself, but I can’t help but wonder why they are pack full of spite.
He doesn’t like his home.
I look around, trying to take the opportunity to scan my surroundings and noting every single detail as curiosity reigned. Was there perhaps something in this house that made him not want to be here?
As far as everything goes, I don’t see anything here that fits the bill.
It was all so pristine and beautiful.
The floors are marbled, the walls are smooth, intricate chandeliers and large stairways dominated the entire front of the mansion.
It was beautiful, but it was also large.
The tiny prick that settled at the back of my heart, thumped once.
Such a big place... but why did it feel empty?
Startled, I whip around in the direction of the noise, hearing the sounds of scuttling and paws meeting floors from around the corner.
A familiar large German shepherd releases another heavy bark upon noticing the two of us mingling by the doorway. The force of it echoed the entirety of the mansion, startling Thomas whose attention had been on the door.
The dog gazes at its owner and then back at me.
"Jax," Thomas says louder, voice ringing in command. A warning.
Unfortunately, that only excited the canine even more.
Jax releases another bark before there was a flash of fur as the german shepherd bounded down the stairs and went straight for the kill.
I’m pushed down in a matter of seconds, Thomas’s protests disappearing from somewhere behind me as Jax gets on top, his paws on my chest and his snout, sniffing and licking down my neck and face, forcing slobber all over my form.
I did not see that coming.
The heir of Graymoore reappears from the corner of my eye and lunges at the dog, his hand clamping over its snout as owner and pet wrestle each other. “You’re 80 pounds, she can’t breathe!”
Jax struggles in his owner’s grasps throughout the altercation.
“Off! Get off, come on!” Eventually, Thomas manages to get Jax off of me, revealing the dog’s large tail wagging back and forth and his tongue lolling out.
I sit up from my place on the floor and tilt my head at it. “Jax?”
He escapes from Thomas’s hold and immediately sniffs at my knees, then my arms, and my fingers. The dog is aiming for the bandages wrapped throughout my body, as though he knew I was injured.
The smell of medicine must have gotten to him however because he sneezed loudly after a few seconds.
Slowly, I run my fingers down its coat, feeling his fur tickle the inside of my palm. The German Shepherd ceases his wagging and sits down, keeping its head up.
Was he implying I could do this for as long as I needed?
“I haven’t seen you in a while boy,” My fingers scratch at its ears, finding the spot that makes Jax purr. “Do you remember me?”
The german shepherd merely places his huge head over my lap and lays there, pinning me down as though to deliver a message, loud and clear; Of course, I do.
“Don’t play coy.” Thomas moves around our position so he could be centered in front of us. He’s looking at Jax, almost offended by what he’s seeing.
“You didn’t act like this when the others came around why are you kissing ass now?”
Jax lifts his giant head and prowls around Thomas with an innocent wag of his tail and a gentle lick.
Thomas watches him with an expression I can only describe as exasperation.
He shakes his head and lifts his eyes to meet mine.
At first, I feel like saying something... maybe it would have been funny or stupid, but when I see the endearment in his gaze, the truth of his feelings, something bubbled up in the pit of my stomach.
I promptly turned away, unwilling to push it any further.
As punishment, my fingers wrap around my shoulders, brushing bandages and inflicting momentary pain. If I could think of something else, if I could force my brain to think of anything else, but this...
The only thing that comes to mind is the scent of smoke still lingering on my clothes and my fingernails and skin, left rough and unclean from the terrible events.
I hadn’t shifted my focus, I’ve made it worse by being reminded of what’s transpired in these past few days.
It sickens me.
“Can I...” Clearing my throat, I tuck a stray piece of hair up my ear as the words come out shakily. “...get cleaned up?”
The heir of Graymoore doesn’t wait for me to stand, he is the one that lifts my form off the floor and wraps an arm around my back so I’m tucked to his side.
“Jax, move ahead.” He orders.
The dog prowls to the front, his large form disappearing down the corner presumably understanding Thomas’s instructions.
We stay right behind him, passing numerous doors and different hallways along the way before I’m led up the stairs and down a corridor.
Thomas’s grip on me did not loosen. His eyes are deadset in front of him, focused and determined.
Without a word, he’s understood my desperation and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
We stop in front of a white-colored door right where Jax waits patiently for the both of us. Thomas grapples for something in his pocket and takes out a set of keys.
Does he lock his room in his own home?
The door clicks open, a waft of cold air breezes against my skin. He gently pushes me to enter after Jax and I step forward, greeting nothing but utter silence and utter darkness.
I stand still as my senses prickled and pop.
The silence stretches, my eyes flutter close.
Then the lights come on.
It’s too bright and I want to ignore it, I want to keep my eyes shut.
My senses have taken advantage of the situation, becoming hyperaware of their surroundings.
Scent; Clean detergent.
Sound; Jax’s quiet pawing.
Touch; The ash in between my fingertips.
Taste; Old bile at the back of my throat.
The chandelier above where I stand is distinctively buzzing as well but that is only if you strained your ears.
I waited with bated breath before forcing my eyes to reopen.
I don’t know what I expected, but it certainly wasn’t this.
Thomas’s room doesn’t have dark colors or dark patterns, it’s covered in a blanket of coziness and regality.
The walls are painted a pretty cream and the furniture is plush and comfortable, none of that fancy velvet stuff.
His room doesn’t reflect his personality at all.
It’s funny... why did this room feel more like home, than the home itself? It was beautiful but a stark contrast to all of the interior outside.
The click of keys against a nearby counter enables me to know where Thomas is, even without looking up.
“We’ll be safe here for the next few hours,” His fingers come in contact with the numerous files and documents stacked on the desk.
It’s positioned facing his bedroom door and the big windows showcasing the night sky is wide and panning.
An image of him sitting there, working, with the light casting in, lightly touching his shoulders and casting shadows across the floors fleeted in my mind.
I feel my body unconsciously move by itself along the room. My fingers run through picture frames and delicate trinkets with genuine curiosity.
He grew up here, I wondered if he had happy memories.
My fingers landed on a picture frame. It’s the only thing in the room that looks out of place. The edges are yellowed but there is no mistaking the smiles on the two figures as they look at the camera.
A young woman and a little boy.
Right behind the picture is another frame. I pick it up, instantly recognizing the figures inside it, all nine of them.
They’ve gathered around the camera, with big smiles and bright moods. The background is somewhere at a mountain top.
It couldn’t have been recent, not with how young they look. This picture was probably taken before Thomas and Mason had that falling out, you know, the one with Rose.
The group split into two pretty quickly after that.
Well, what do you know, despite the heir of Graymoore’s earlier disgust for Mason in the beginning it would seem he still kept the picture up.
Maybe he always knew they’d amend their mistakes one day.
Deep down inside he never stopped thinking about them even through all the shitty things that have happened.
For these reasons alone, I know he’d be devastated if any of them got hurt and I also know the others would feel the same.
Was it worth getting them involved in this game between Rose and me?
“Did you hear me Ginger?”
The trance is broken.
I’ve been ripped out of my own subconscious and back to reality, a reality where nothing ever goes how I want it, and the people I care about always get hurt.
“Did you hear what I said?” He’s reaching for his opened windows, closing them shut and blocking the cold air from seeping in further.
Guilt, for having gotten our friends involved in a power play. Regret, for causing unspeakable hurt, these are all the things I should say, these are all the things I should confess, but I can’t seem to find the words.
“What’s wrong...?” He’s in the middle of pulling the curtains close when he realizes I’m not speaking and has turned around to see it for himself. “Are you uncomfortable anywhere?”
Far from uncomfortable, I feel like thousands of ants are crawling beneath my skin.
I’m scared of losing everyone-of losing him, the most.
Frustration ebbed in my heart as I look at the wall quickly, preventing Thomas from catching my wavering intentions.
The curve of his eyebrows narrows into a frown.
Clearly, it did not go unnoticed, because he seals the curtains close with a prominent swish.
“I can’t read minds,” He turns around and places both palms on the desk. The movement made him look larger, wider, intimidating. “If something’s wrong you’ll have to tell me.”
He’d always been quick to notice.
It was never possible to hide anything from him.
“Are we going to play the silent game?”
He’d crossed both arms over his chest when he says this, angling his body in a way that the suit seems to stretch over his build.
We’re positioned just close enough yet far apart that the atmosphere neither lessens but grows with unease.
Is it unease?
His stare is more than heated, it’s searing.
Cracking my neck, I feel the muscles in my back pop at the action, jarring sharp pain throughout my bruises. I flinch, fingers clenched.
Don’t react, it’s just pain.
“Look at me,” He says.
If I look at him, I’m done for.
The urge to hold on to whatever is left of my sanity is borderline obsessive. Somehow my brain has made that decision, no matter if it was right or wrong.
“Look at me, Ginger.”
“I’m not-” Breathing in shakily, I slowly exhaled. “-going to look at you.”
There was a pregnant pause.
Was he surprised by how cold I am, because I sure as hell was.
It would have been better if he left it at that, or heck, maybe just walk away altogether.
Save the turmoil for someone else.
But he didn’t.
“Why not?” The aura that washes off of him and towards me says everything he feels, by itself.
Concern, frustration, and something else.
“I just... don’t want to.” I step back, half my body angled in the direction of the wall as though that would protect me.
Was he agitated?
Was he perhaps annoyed?
“I recognize that look,” From the corner of my eye, Thomas shifts out of his jacket, going to unbutton the top collars and exposing skin.
It had been a statement too, not a question.
“Don’t bother lying, don’t bother pretending-” He cuts me off as he throws the blazer on the desk and uses his free hand to unbuckle the cuff links. “I see right through that shit.”
“I’m not thinking of anything...” I sigh, despite knowing I was kidding myself. “I just-”
“You what?” Thomas stands up and lets his hands fall to his sides. His tone is serious. “Let me take a far guess--you’re thinking if it’s worth getting us involved anymore.”
Right on the nail.
“God forbid, I can’t think like that,” I mutter forcing myself to glance at him so he knew I wasn’t going to accept his reasonings.
“After all, I should just be selfish and risk your lives right?”
He shakes his head, sarcastic. “You’re letting your emotions control your actions.”
“I just don’t want them, to get hurt,” My words are plain and simple, yet they extend the truth. “Anyone else would feel the same.”
“You’ll hurt them even more if you do things by yourself-”
“Our friends are in the fucking hospital, Thomas!”
I hadn’t wanted to shriek at him, the words, bottled in my chest, just ripped out of my throat without warning.
Thomas is staring at me, silent by my sudden outburst, his expression hauntingly blank.
“I...” Running my fingers through my hair, I attempt to calm my remorseful heart, made worse by the expanding guilt building at the back of my head.
Why did I do that?
“...I’m sorry,” Shaking my head, I release a sound. It’s a cross between a laugh and a choke. “I didn’t mean that.”
From beneath the desk, Jax is whining.
I don’t realize I’m trembling until Thomas’s eyes dart between my fingers and me.
Focus, calm down.
Taking a deep breath, I hid my shakes behind my back and stood straight, exhaling all at once.
“This isn’t about whether or not revenge is worth it, this is about more than that now,” The words are chalky and my throat is closing up. “People, are getting hurt, Elios, got hurt, and Hailey-”
My eyes burn, my chest throbbed. “...nearly died because she took my place, how many more have to experience that before it all stops?”
“What happened with Hailey was something you had no control over,” He states first, firm in an otherwise descending situation and I know deep down inside, he’s as tired as I am.
We’ve had to stand strong in front of our friends because they needed it but now we’re alone, there’s no one here but us... is there a reason to keep it all in anymore?
“The same goes for Elios, the same goes for the others. They made the decision to help, they are responsible for their own actions, you didn’t force any of them to follow you.”
“So I should just be okay with this? I should just be okay with them doing what I say and potentially dying?”
“Nobody said anything about dying,”
“Well, we came pretty damn close a couple of nights ago.” I snap.
I can’t control it.
This resentment, this hatred, this absolute denial deep in my soul that things will only stop when I’ve died.
Is that what it takes?
Is that what it takes for everything to finally, finally, come to a halt?
My heart is too tired, I’m too tired and the world can crash and burn for all I care, I just want the people I love, to stay safe.
I just want everyone safe-
An overwhelming need to keel over seizes my muscles and I let my head drop, then my shoulders, my chest, my abdomen, my knees, until finally, I buckle.
By the time Thomas reaches me, I’ve already sunk onto the floor and on my knees. The sudden momentum causes me to slam my palms flat in front of me to prevent my head from meeting the ground.
I resisted my body’s further urging to just lay here, immobilize.
God did I wish, I could just do so.
“Don’t touch me-” I warn at him when he tries. “Don’t even do it, bloodsucker.”
“You can’t stay on the floor,” His body warmth encompassing my form from behind is unbelievably addicting.
I ignore it. “Watch me.”
“Do you want to get sick? You’re covered in bruises, a cold would virtually kill you.” He wraps his fingers around the back of my shoulders and pulls gently.
He huffs, annoyed now. “Ginger,”
Increasing his strength, he practically has to bend down in order to get a proper grip on my statued self, yet I still didn’t budge.
“You’re being unreasonable-” He complains beneath his breath, frustration clear. “I swear I’m going to be the first adult in his early twenties to have a head full of white hair because of you.”
A thought crossed my mind. “...Daddy?”
Just like that, Thomas pulls one final time, forcing the two of us backwards as our balance flies out the window.
He hadn’t succeeded in getting me to stand, since I’m still on the floor, but the only difference was that I’m now in his lap and his arms are around my body, hands crisscrossed on both my arms in front of me.
Thomas’s out-of-control breathing fans the edge of my hairline.
I peer up at him, catching the way his blue-green eyes narrowed in response.
“I’m still not getting up.”
“I thought you’d say that,” He squeezes his eyes shut in exasperation, long legs spreading out, so they intertwined with mine.
This feels like a comfy cage.
Jax, curious as to what is currently happening gets up from his position under the desk.
He patters over to our sides, his snout sniffing at Thomas’s neck before he pauses, gaze questioning.
“Jax, no,” Thomas huffs at Jax’s but the dog’s ears merely twitched.
Smirking, I reach over and patted the dog. “Good boy, don’t listen to your owner.”
That seemed to win him over because he planted himself right by our legs, his large head resting over Thomas’s thigh. Now we were the ones keeping him down.
Offended, Thomas glares at his supposed obedient dog. “Don’t support her behavior, it won’t earn you any favors.”
Despite the anger in his tone, I detected a hint of amusement.
I almost cracked a smile.
Could we stay like this? Suspended in time?
How nice that would be, if we could just ignore all our problems, all our issues, and stay in this one minuscule moment where nothing will ever cause pain or heartache.
But that isn’t the case, is it?
Nothing is ever the case.
Sighing, I relaxed into his hold, leaning my head back so I could face the glittering lights.
“Thomas...” Lifting a hand in front of me, I held it up and let it fall to my lap.
He was listening.
I felt it in the way his breathing hitched.
“I know whatever I say and do won’t stop the others from making their own choice,”
God knows it’d take a storm before that happens, no, even if there was a storm they’d fight through it.
That’s why this was so hard.
“But it doesn’t mean, I should be okay with it.”
The heir of Graymoore is sitting stock straight behind me. His chest rises and falls and even without turning around, I know that the gears in his blue-green eyes are twisting and turning.
He’s thinking of what to say.
“Do you understand what I mean, Thomas?” I ask hesitantly when the silence stretches.
Logically, my conclusion would be the right way to go. The wrong way would be to ignore all of the warnings and continue to risk the lives of my men.
The truth is, doing the right thing, doesn’t always mean it’s easy. If it was, then we’d all be sinless.
Did I hear him correctly? He actually agreed with me?
Slumping forward, Thomas dips his head behind my neck and exhales, breath warm. “If I was in your position I wouldn’t want anyone getting hurt either,”
Invisible strings are weaving in the air between us.
I feel the atmosphere, change subtly, like a breeze.
Gone was the uneasiness, it was replaced with something much more confusing...
And I wasn’t worried.
Because this was him, this was Thomas Moore, the man that reflected back on me, the man that considered who I am, that accepted my flaws and never gave in to the pressure.
I realize what I was feeling, wasn’t confusion, it was empathy.
It was consideration, it was tenderness, it was more, it was so much more.
“You may not be okay with it, you may not agree with it even, but it doesn’t matter, Ginger, none of it matters-” He grasps my chin in between his fingers and holds me in his gaze.
“You can’t stop someone from caring, you’re only asking for the inevitable.”
The ocean in his eyes is swirling and twisting into endless pools of blue and green.
“I don’t want it to be inevitable,” I whisper honestly. “I don’t want you to be right.”
He shakes his head. “I don’t want to be right either,”
Because we both share the same fear.
We both share the same anxious thoughts, the same quiet terror.
There we were-sitting on the floor, two halves of the same coin, two leaders desperate to keep their kingdom from collapsing with everything they have.
There we were.
I feel the rock in my chest seize.
It teetered between expanding and contracting.
The indecisiveness felt oppressive, so much so, that I let out a huge gulp of air and twisted my abdomen, quickly planting my face on his shoulder so I didn’t have to see anyone and anything.
“What should I do?” My voice is raspy, filled with sand almost.
He places a hand on my back and held me to his chest unused to the sudden request. “What do you mean?”
“Tell me what to do,” I reiterate. “I’ll follow whatever you say.”
It was pathetic.
Asking someone to hold the reigns was a cowardly way out but I didn’t care, I didn’t care at all.
So what if I was a coward?
That didn’t matter.
Thomas’s fingers draw circles down my spine in comforting patterns as I held onto him, hearing the thumping of his heart beneath his chest.
I find myself playing with the end of his silver chain.
A useless method of distraction.
“Stand up,” His voice vibrates beneath my touch. I feel those oceanic eyes and the heaviness they bring as they bore down on me from above.
“I know it’s something you don’t want to do right now and I know it’s hard-” Thomas hesitates, uncertain. “...so if you can’t do it for yourself, do it for me.”
Do it for him.
I stand up, my body moving before my mind could catch up.
It’s too fast that the world tilts and I wobbled, nearly face planting.
“Woah,” Thomas is quick at matching my abrupt speed with his own, fingers closing around my wrist for support.
He says something else, but I didn’t catch it having been preoccupied with the sharp ache that shot down my spine from the still-tender bruises.
I should not have laid on the cold floor.
“I don’t have any clothes that will fit you so you’ll have to settle for my size,” Thomas releases my wrist slowly when it is safe to let go.
He moves to the far end of the room where a large walk-in closet awaits and enters, voice echoing. “You can use whatever you want in the bathroom, just make yourself comfortable.”
Do I even deserve comfort?
The memory of the burning building, the embers, the fog, the smoke...
Suddenly, my shoulders are too heavy, my legs are cement, my lungs are filling and filling with water instead of air- I don’t wait for Thomas, my body moves on its own accord, towards the direction of what I assume to be the bathroom.
It’s tucked away in a corner next to the other panels of giant closets, pass a layer of glass. I fumble for the light switch, holding my breath until I found it.
His bathroom is bigger than my old bedroom.
Not only that, everything was pristine and clean with minuscule items and necessities. Thomas had always been a straightforward person, I suppose his personality reflects on how he organizes things too.
It feels like I’m stepping into another part of Thomas’s life, the normal, everyday Thomas that has habits like everyone else.
Of course, he’d have habits.
Why was I acting like this was all new to me?
Shaking my head, I head over to the double sinks and turn on the tap.
The cold water feels amazing on my skinned palms. After having gone hours saving people back and forth and days in the hospital, this was a blessing.
Instinctively, I look up to the mirror, but instead of walking away and continuing on with what I should be doing-which was to take a shower and wash all the terrible remnants away-I froze in place.
What was this?
The girl staring at me...
Was that really me?
My fingers prod at my cheek, at my lips, dry and chapped, at the bandages around my shoulders, hidden beneath the obviously burnt jacket.
There are ripped holes everywhere on my jeans and whatever skin in view is covered with leftover soot and ash.
I was a mess.
A literal walking mess.
Was that how I’d gone about for the last three days?
The strands of hair that curtain my face are frazzled and in disarray. I try to smooth it out but it does no good, the red pieces are practically grey.
Placing my palms on the counter in front of me, I stare straight into my eyes, into my brown-colored orbs that reflect all the emotions, all the feelings, all the pain, and devastation.
I try to sift through them, I try to replace the darkness forming within my iris into something better, positive, anything but this, whatever it was, that currently stared back at me.
Unconsciously, my fingers move on their own accord, slowly slipping the jacket off, then the tank top, then my jeans, until I’m down to my bare undergarments and the bandages are free for all to see.
But it isn’t enough.
There’s this sick part inside me that wants to see injuries, the bruises, the absolute hell my body has gone through.
So I took the bandages off too, one pin at a time, one medical tape at a time. I do my shoulders first, then both my arms, the plasters around my fingers and knuckles, the huge padding by my left rib.
Bending down, I graze the compressive bandage applied on my right leg.
The area is swollen as I took it off, seeing the skin form blue and red beneath the material.
All these bruises, all these injuries, all these wounds...
At that moment, in that situation when people needed help, when my home was burning in the background, when people were dying, it hadn’t mattered. The pain hadn’t come through, because the inner turmoil had been much worse.
Should they be marks of a champion... or marks of shame?
This wouldn’t have happened if I did not challenge Rose.
But another voice appears at the back of my mind just as quickly as I’ve thought of that, snapping a response so brutal I’m winded.
This wouldn’t have happened, if she just stayed, fucking dead.