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How's that knee holding up

Chapter 28


Slamming my apartment door shut, I chuck my keys on the table itching to break something, anything at this point. Hot, red, black, blurry. The four words that best describe rage in the sense of seeing and feeling. Muscles tensed but twitching, teeth gritted, jaw clamped, ears ringing, and fingers tingling. I’m a fuckup—a fucking promise-breaker and bastard.

Grabbing the nearest picture frame, I chuck it hard before I even realize what in the hell I’m doing. Loud clattering glass slams into my living room wall, splintering the cream-colored carpet along with the splintered wooden frame. Step, step, step—

In a grand total of twenty seconds the lamp is broken, the TV smashed, and the x-box thrown.

My skin is sweltering, blood sizzling, ears raging. If I were on a cliff, then one foot is over the edge. Hayes rocked the boat, and now I’m going to fucking sink the ship. For her, always for her. I’m going to destroy all things touched by Julian and Hayes, I swear it on my fucking life. No—I swear it on Ella’s. Hayes will be crossed out and erased. He will be nothing and no one. He will be ash and dust, burned down to the ground, with ruins of his collapse the only indication of what he once was and will never be again.

Seconds pass as I stand staring at the destruction. Seconds become minutes as they tick, tick, tick by. Until finally the small subtle knocks on my bedroom door meet my raging loud ears. Kicking the destroyed picture frame, I carelessly walk over the shattered glass, letting the shards crunch under my boots to the sound of the knocks. In front of my brown wooden door, my hand reaches up and pushes the steel barrel bolt left, unlocking the lock. For a brief moment, it’s utterly quiet as I twist the cold brass knob opening the door.

My mom stands a few feet away wearing the clothes I gave her last night, shorts and a t-shirt. Her long charcoal curls are tied up in a messy bun, some springing out, not willing to be tamed. Her sapphire irises look me up and down and—and for a moment it’s my mom. It’s the way she looks at me, assessing me as if she’s pinpointing every single thing from the way I’m standing to the emotions bubbling beneath my skin. She’s seeing, and all I can do is stand still and stare. She’s not a drug addict today, at least not right now. “What?” I manage to say.

“You’re upset.” She states softly, bringing her gaze to mine.

My shoulders stiffen. More so than they already are. I’m more than just fucking upset, I’m beyond livid. “No, I’m as happy as a horse.” I retort, not being able to stop the remark when really all I feel is exposed. We haven’t really spoken since the day I bought her here. Like Ella, she can sense out emotion after emotion, swelling through every waking ember of me. It’s flattering but completely inconvenient.

She tilts her head to the side, pink lips pulled into a frown as if noticing and realizing how much I’ve changed. Before I can even register what in the hell she’s doing, her chilly hand lifts up and wipes a lone tear that I didn’t even know was there, swiping it away with the pad of her thumb. “You’re angry and you’re hurting.” She murmurs, contemplating her own words as my muscles strain into tight knots. “Who are they? The person you care about.”

I step back, shaking my head sharply as I hiss out, “How do you know that? Have you been in fucking contact with Julian?” My eyes boil into her skin. She’s been here, how does she know about Ella?

The color drains from her face, like his name itself sucked the life out of her. “No—I have nothing to do with him.” The scared quiver in her voice is not missed, but it’s the truth. “You’re my son Declan, and I-I know that look.” She pauses, looking conflicted. “You love them, don’t you?” She asks quietly after a moment, searching my face, not missing an inch as she does so. I don’t have to tell her I do; she can see it as the sentence alone rips at my chest.

I crunch my fists, fury and hate and annoyance, and lastly guilt parading around me like a carousel. Ella got hurt, and it’s all my fault. “It doesn’t matter. I fucking ruined everything.” I mutter, looking away from the concern in her warm blue eyes. Hayes hurt Ella. I broke my promise, and now I can’t fix it. All I can do repay the favor. But that won’t magically take away Ella’s scars. Nothing will. They will be there forever, just a reminder of how much of a fuck up I am.

She deserves better.

Without warning, she grabs my hand with her small one, and when I try to yank it away, she grips it tighter. “Not if they love you back. If they love you, they won’t let you go even when things get hard.” She says evenly without faltering. “If they love you as much as you clearly love them, there is nothing you can do that will make them stop.” She continues, blinking away the shine welling in her eyes. “Just as they are special to you, you are just as special to them. That doesn’t just go away.”

This time I manage to yank my hand away, masking my face into a collected calm, so she doesn’t know how much those words affected me. “I will not cage you here if you don’t want to stay. You’re welcome to leave at any time; I wanted the decision to be yours.” I state, attempting to efficiently change the subject. “Now that your head is clear, the choice is yours. I have money if need it.”

Her eyebrows crease hurt that I pulled away and shut her out, but she puts on a smile anyway. “I don’t want your money.” She says, folding her hands and fiddling with her fingers as if she’s embarrassed. “You’ve done enough for me.”

My face heats up, a new fury wrenching its way in. After going through the trouble to get her she’s just going to leave? “I went and got you, so you didn’t have to live in fifth any longer. When I was busy getting you, the girl I love was getting tortured and I didn’t even know.” I growl, heat radiating off of me. “So the least you can do is stay—so her getting hurt wasn’t for nothing.” Turning around, I stride out, slamming the door behind me. It wasn’t her fault, but it was easier to blame it on her. These days everything fucking sucks.

As I stomp down the hall, my feet come to a halt. A minute passes before they doing a whole one-eighty, striding right back. Guilt already plaguing me. It’s not her fault, she didn’t call me to come and get her. I made that decision. I just yelled at her, I shouldn’t have yelled. Fuck, what is wrong with me? Opening the door back up, my eyes take in the wet cheeks of the frail women in front of me. Shoving back my pride, I stride over to her and pull her into an embrace as I would Ella. If only she knew how much Ella and her were alike. If only she knew Ella at all. She would love her as much as she loves Riley. “I didn’t mean that,” I murmur into her hair. “I’m—I’m sorry.”


After making my mom breakfast, telling her only tidbits of the shit I’m dealing with, she listened without comment cringing at parts. Out of all people, she understands because she’s suffered it her whole life. Now that she’s got that shit out of her system she’s the same person she’s always been, the person I’ve always looked up to. I then told her about Riley, down to the very last detail. She wanted to know everything and anything, from Riley’s first birthday to her favorite food.

It would have been perfect, but I couldn’t stop worrying about my Ellie. She hasn’t called me or answered my texts. So I’ve been resorting to Wes for information as to how she’s holding up. It’s not the same. I want to see her, to hear her angel-like voice, to hold her until the hurt fades away. But she doesn’t want me there, she asked me to leave. Ella has never once asked me to leave. She’s never once sent me away. She wouldn’t even let me touch her, not even to hold her hand. It stung to see her hurting so goddamn much and she wanted nothing to do with me.

I deserved it.

When eleven o’clock came around, I had to leave to go to meet this stupid football recruiter. He was persistent to meet with me, to apparently ‘change my mind about playing college football’ when I specifically told him I wasn’t interested. But then I remembered Ella, how happy she was when I told her about it and decided to give the man ten minutes. Ten minutes to impress me or ten minutes to waste my time. It will probably be the former but for Ella’s interest, I’ll do it.

Before I left, I saw my mom eyeing the destroyed living and told her not to clean it. That would be a project to occupy my time later. Or who knows maybe I wasn’t quite done destroying it yet. She seemed skeptical when I told her where I was going, don’t get me wrong she was happy for me. It’s difficult not to second guess everything you do after what she’s gone through. But when this meeting was over, Wes and I needed to talk. It’s time to give Hayes a taste of his own medicine, whether he was ordered to do what he did to Ella or not. Julian’s in jail, there are no more orders. He’s not a fucking soldier.

Driving down the barren road to an old park on the west side of town, I attempt and fail to think about football in college. It doesn’t help that Ella’s on the back burner of my mind, stirring all my thoughts back to her. She’s my life; college isn’t. Football isn’t a dream of mine. It’s only an outlet for anger. Nothing more and nothing less. I can’t go to college when I plan to get custody of Riley anyway. She would be better off with me.

Reaching over I turn off the music, not wanting to listen to the channel Ella loves. It only makes my chest ache. Bringing my attention back to the road, I only a have split second to see the grey van veering onto my side of the road. A split second to make my frozen shocked leg slam down onto the breaks and swing into the ditch. A split second to feel the van front attempt to front end me, feel my head slam back into the seats, feel the airbags shove me back, back, back. It only takes me a split second to be in the present and then blur into unconsciousness.

Blackness, darkness, pain.

Then a crank of my door opening. A hand yanking my arm so hard I’m surprised it doesn’t pop out of the socket.

My eyes spilt open to blurry vision, seeing in threes. Splotches of stars speckling my surroundings, dizzying stars. My heart vibrating in my head, pounding, pounding, pounding into an awful migraine. A final yank of my arms and I’m falling. I blink and blink and blink.

What the hell?

I force myself to concentrate, to remember, to see.

A man is dragging me, a man covered in black. Three men surrounding him. To where? To the grey van.

People from an ambulance certainly wouldn’t be dragging me. There was no sirens anyway.

Did the van swerve to run me off the road? They did it on purpose to get me to crash my car. What the fuck is going on?

Finding some strength, I yank my arm back hard enough to free it from the man’s grip. The man wasn’t expecting it, he must of thought I was unconscious and therefore kept his guard down. “Shit.” The guy growls. Before he can grab onto me again I throw myself to my feet in a dizzying stumble, sprinting a few feet before turning around and facing my perpetrators dressed in black. Two guys seem to be smiling, the other two straight-faced. It only takes me a minute to recognize the black-haired male with brown eyes, my cousin Matthew and Julian’s yellow teethed right-hand man, Jason.

Even with my fuzzy head, I recognize them. They haven’t changed a fucking bit, two loyal scumbag soldiers. The other two are strangers. “Don’t be a pain in the ass pretty boy, you are coming with us willingly or unwillingly.” Jason coos, chuckling afterward. “What fun we’re going to have.”

It’s an effort to stay upright, to ball my fingers into fists. “I don’t fucking think so.”

Matthew smirks. “You’re in no condition to run, let alone fight cousin. How’s that knee holding up?” I grit my teeth. Julian shattered my knee cap four years ago and now that the airbags hit it—

“You don’t know shit,” I growl, eyeing the van, the trees, the road. No cars are coming, this road barely ever gets traffic. It only takes a second for things to click. An old park, a persistent college recruiter, and a barren road. This was a setup, to get me alone. To take me. To do who knows what with me. There’s no way out. Ella and Wes won’t know where I am. I won’t be able to protect her. My mom was skeptical, I should have listened.

Matthew shakes his head, eyes dancing. “I know you’re in a shit load of trouble.” Jason and the other two men laugh. “And I know you’re in for a beating.”

Panic sprinkles my gut. If they take me, what will happen to Ella? What will happen to my mom? Who will check on Riley to make sure she’s safe? I’m not a coward, and I won’t run. Running won’t get me anywhere anyway. Not with my knee and not with the woods around me. They can take me with a fight, absolutely not fucking willingly.

Catching them off guard once again, I fly forward aiming for the guy straight ahead of me. His eyes widen as he goes to throw his hands up to block my punch, but I go right for the low blow, his nuts. He screeches out a curse, knees buckling in.

Blinking through the black spots coloring the open air, I turn ninety degrees in an instant seeing Jason in my peripheral vision. Before he can punch me square in the face, I duck, hooking my leg around his all in one motion knocking him off his feet. Once again I go to turn around readying for the guy when someone kicks the back pocket of my knees causing them to cave in almost instantly. My knees hit the asphalt with a thump skyrocketing pain up my legs. My hands collide with the ground next, palms scraping viscously.

I sway on my knees; the car accident did most of their work for them. I’m almost positive I have a concussion with all this nausea making me feel as if I’m not completely here. If not for the car accident, I could take them all.

A hand fists my hair, practically ripping it out, pulling it up. Pain wracks my body as my head pulsates, the migraine increasing tenfold. Matthew leans down in front of me getting right in my face. “You’re ours now. How happy your father will be to see you, he’s missed you dearly.”

I roll my eyes, spitting at his feet. “Julian’s locked up Matty, where the fuck have you been this last year?”

Matthew gazes up, amusement curling his features as the rest of the gang surround me grinning ear to ear. “He hasn’t heard boys, shall I break the news?” He muses, not really asking.

“Well then.” I tut, even just moving my lips hurts.

He grips my hair harder, bringing his dark brown eyes back to mine, smiling sickly sweet. I ground my teeth. “You’re daddy is now a free man Mr. Declan.” He says slowly, making sure to articulate each individual word in emphasis. Something inside me wilts and dies hearing the words I never wanted to hear again. I force my face to stay neutral, to come across unaffected when really my heart becomes a booming hammer. “A free man indeed. You needn’t worry too much, you’re his son. He’ll likely whip you back into shape.” He ends with a wink.

I glare. ‘Whip’ echoing my aching ears. He used the expression as a jab, and he fucking knows he hit right where it hurts. “You’ve forgotten I’ve escaped once. What makes you think I can’t do it again?” I say quietly but with just as much force.

He shrugs. “The only way you’ll ever get out again is when Julian is six feet under, even then I’m not sure if you will.” He pauses, tilting his head to the side. “I almost feel bad for you, pretty boy. You’ve got a lot to pay for and a lot to make up for.”

“Make up my ass.” His smile grows as he nods to the two strangers behind him. They circle around us, each shoving their hands under my armpits and hauling me up into a standing position as Matthew releases my hair. If I wasn’t so dizzy, I’d head but one of them and twist, sucker punching the other. My eyes narrow in on Jason as he pulls a syringe you would find at a doctor’s office out of his pocket. The same kind of syringe I used on my mom in order to bring her to my apartment.

Karma’s a bitch.

Matthew stands as well, brushing invisible dust off his black slacks. “If I were you, I would keep that smart mouth of yours shut especially around daddy. I’m sure he has other methods if you don’t corporate. For instance, he likes pretty little blonde girls with magnificent blue eyes.”

I go to lunge for him, only to be yanked right back. “Touch her, and I’ll fuck you up.”

He chuckles humorlessly. “You’re in no position to make threats.” He takes a couple of steps back and Jason takes a couple of steps forward invading my personal space. “Goodnight Declan. See you at hell.” Jason pulls his hand back and knocks me straight in the face, my nose crunching as my head tumbles back. Pure true pain ricochets through every waking ounce of me, as a prick of a needle pinches the skin on my bicep.


Ahhh tell me what you think!! I had so much fun writing this chapter!! Sorry for any mistakes!

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