Agape

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I'm a busy man

Chapter 29

Ella:

One week later.

I’m a hole, a pit, a depthless cavity. A spiral of dark twisting deep inside of me. Hours feel like days. Days feel like weeks, and weeks feel like months. My mother is gone, Declan is gone, and pieces of me are gone. Stolen, taken, kidnapped. The same three words said multiple times a day, multiple times an hour. Shredding my ears and my heart and my mind into something dark, something critical, something desperate. And I don’t think I’ve ever been so pathetically desperate in my life.

Day by day, Declan’s heartbreaking face lights up the tv screen on channel ten news right beside my mothers. His eyes of green forests and vast beautiful grasslands are not the same in pictures as they are in person. His radiant smile is just a memory of how happy we were and a reminder of how we’re now ripped apart. And I don’t know where he is or what is happening to him, if he’s okay or if he’s in pain. But I have a gut feeling it’s the latter. He can’t just vanish without a trace and simply be ‘okay’.

Julian escaped during his transfer. My mother and Declan go missing around the same time. It can’t be coincidental, he must have something to do with it. He has to. My mom wouldn’t just disappear without a word. Right? The last time I spoke to her she told me—she told me she loved me. She told me not to forget it just before I ended the call because Declan was distracting me. That was the same day I got into that stupid fight Hayes evidently set up. She called me all concerned. But why would she tell me not to forget that she loved me? Unless—

Unless she knew something was going to happen to her.

A pang twinges right in the center of my chest as if someone just speared some invisible arrow at me, knocking the oxygen from my lungs. Did she know something was going to happen to her? Is that why she was crying that one day in her room or drinking that night I came home from soccer practice? Is that why she’s been acting so off lately? Or is this just all in my head, a ridiculous theory I’m conjuring up to help me cope with her uncanny disappearance?

Could her and Declan’s disappearances be linked?

Propping myself up in my mom’s bed, only a dull soreness is felt in my stomach where my new scars have scabbed over, healing ever so slowly. Lightly placing my hand on them, I trace the jagged letters of ‘eyes open’ recalling everything Hayes said to me before he decided to use me as his palette. Words I continue to pick apart every day, not being able to forget them.

As his voice plays on a record in my mind I come to the conclusion he knew Julian was going to escape. He didn’t directly say it, but he implied it when he practically said you’re a fool if you disobey Julian. He said he wasn’t the bad guy; he was just fulfilling his orders.

He said I was just collateral damage, a warning. I was Declan’s warning, I knew that. His warning for what? Being taken, kidnapped? If that’s even what happened.

My mind stirs as my head begins to throb, the more I think about it the more upset it makes me. A hand gently grabbing my wrist causes me to flinch as my eyes swivel to the side as fast as lightning. Olivia is beside me on my mom’s bed, now awake too as she speaks up. A breath of relief falls from my lips. Hayes isn’t here. “It’s me, Ella.” She says with a soft rasp; her throat dry from sleeping. Did I wake her?

“Sorry,” I mutter, my voice raw and strained from all the mental breakdowns I’ve had this week. I haven’t been able to sleep—well more like I force myself to stay awake as long as I possibly can. Afraid of all the nightmares that haunt me as soon as my eyes fall heavy and my mind fades into unconsciousness. Afraid to relive the horrors of Hayes chasing me and taunting me, only to torture me. Afraid to see Declan’s face etched with severe pain as a dark hooded figure tortures him. Afraid to see my mother’s cheeks sodden cascading with tears. Afraid to see my greatest fears come to the life in the form of a terrifying dream.

What scares me the most is that my nightmares could be true. The worst part is that I have no idea what either my mom or Declan are going through and if they’re suffering.

Olivia has been staying with me knowing my fear of being alone. Though Thomas is home and a police officer is now stationed outside my door since the news of Julian escaping, the thought of sleeping alone to just being alone for even a single second petrifies me. A single second is all it takes for someone to hurt you.

“How long have you been up?” She asks, examining my face for answers. Her eyes are weary with sleep, lips pulled into a straight line.

Shaking my head, I slowly pull my hand away from hers and place it on my lap, not wanting to be touched. Not since what happened. If I initiate the contact, then it’s fine, but when someone else does it only makes me freeze up and concentrate on where they’re touching me and if they’re going to hurt me. Not that Olivia ever would, it’s just a new mental thing that’s seemed to develop. I didn’t like to be touched before, but now I hate being touched. “I haven’t gone to sleep.” I croak, looking straight ahead at my mother’s oak wood dresser. “I’ve been thinking.”

How can I sleep when nothing is right? My moms the only parent I have left and Declan is the boy who has my heart with him where ever he is. Without him, my chest is just a crater, as if a scalpel reached in and dug out the most important part of me.

Saying it out loud only makes me think of Declan. “I can’t sleep,” He mumbles nuzzling my neck. “Not when something’s upsetting you.” And he would make it better. He knew how to silence what I couldn’t. Knew not knows because he’s not here. He’s gone, and I don’t know where he is or how to find him. He wouldn’t just leave me. He wouldn’t. Julian had to have taken him. And I can barely function knowing that a monster has my Declan. Kidnapped and is probably hurting him just as Hayes told me he would.

Olivia nods in understanding. “Do you want to talk about it?”

The burn is already in my eyes, it’s been there for days right alongside the sick feeling in my stomach that won’t seem to go away. “I need to find them.” I utter, coldness raking my body. “I need them.” My voice faltering, shutters encircling my bones with pure desperation, the loss clutching me like a second skin. I told him to leave. Now he’s gone. And the guilt runs unfalteringly deep. I miss him. I miss them both so much.

“We will find them.” She responds fiercely. “We won’t stop looking until we do.”

I can’t bring myself to agree because her words don’t make me feel better. She doesn’t know if we’ll find them, nobody does. “Julian has them,” I say, gripping my mom’s comforter in fists as I bring my eyes to hers. I’ve been sleeping (laying with my eyes open in silence) in here ever since the day Hayes invaded my space knocking down my doors, stealing my sense of safety and comfort with him. It also makes me feel closer to my mom. “He does, I-I know it.” With everything in me, I believe it no matter what anybody says. Julian has them hostage.

But why would Julian take my mom too? What’s his motive?

“I believe you.” It doesn’t give me any relief hearing it. “But the police have to check into every possibility until they can rule out what’s true and what’s false. And right now they don’t have any leads.”

I clench my jaw, water speckling my vision as a tremble goes through me. “By the time they do, it will be too late. Julian’s probably torturing Declan—he’s probably in so much pain.“As I say it, I wince knowing most of the scars littering Declan’s body are from the man who’s supposed to love him the most. Even now I can see the pale welts he has on his back from the day Julian’s shot at him with a be be gun and the actual bullet wound on his shoulder from the day at the warehouse. In an instant I’m on my feet and running for the bathroom, Olivia hot on my trail a moment later asking me what’s wrong.

Reaching the white porcelain toilet, I empty the contents of my stomach before sliding back onto my knees and wiping my wrist across my mouth. A bitter, putrid aftertaste lingering on my tongue. Like every other day, the damn breaks and the salt-infused water pours out, it’s how now become a routine. Olivia doesn’t touch me, but she sits right next to me on the floor, her way of telling me she’s here in whatever way she can be. “I c-can’t sit around anymore.” I hiccup, letting my hair fall into my face. “I won’t, he n-needs me.”

She lets me cry, not once even hinting any discomfort. She says nothing, just letting me feel what I need to feel and let out what I need to let out. As I cry, I think about my mom’s last words to me. I think about mine and Declan’s last encounter. He was so broken. And still, I sent him away. I didn’t even tell him I forgave him. He doesn’t even know. Now I can’t tell him. Does he think I hate him?

I will find you both. I silently promise, rubbing my eyes. You will come back to me. I won’t stop searching until I find you. Nothing else matters, not until I know your safe again.

Declan:

Hours, days, weeks. I don’t even know how long has passed, how long they have chained my wrists above my head, the shackles digging into my skin rubbing it raw. How long I’ve been hanging from the ceiling, my toes just barely touching the cold cement floor.

There are no windows in this room. There’s no clock, not that I would be able to see it anyway with the internal darkness. The lights flick on when I have a visitor. When it’s torture Declan time or to shove food and water down my throat. When they take me down from the ceiling, four men come in to restrain me while they strap me down to a metal table right in the middle of the grey room. They need four grown men to restrain me; it should honor me. Even after they torture me, they’re still cautious.

I’ve endured worse.

I haven’t seen Julian once and am beginning to believe Matty boy and Jason were fucking bluffing. Unless he’s waiting to make a grand entrance, which is possible but as time goes on it seems more unlikely.

In the utter blackness of my ‘room’, I dangle awake, my arms aching from the unnatural position and my neck stiff. A dull soreness coats my body from being a personal punching bag. If I could see there would probably be blue and purple patches speckling my abdominal area as well as my back. They will have to do a hell of a lot more than just leave me in the dark and punch me in order to break me. I have yet to see Hayes either. He hasn’t once greeted me in this shit hole and if I’m not mistaken, he’s the one who had me brought here. He couldn’t even fetch me himself.

Coward.

There’s no way out of these chains; they’re bolted to the ceiling made of reinforced high-quality metal. Unbreakable. Expensive. Impossible to get out of without a special key. Every method I’ve attempted has failed to work. Julian used to lock Hayes and me in handcuffs and tell us we had two choices, we could sit there and be helpless little bitches or get the fuck out of them. Look where those lessons got me now, nowhere.

As I hang having plenty of spare time, I wonder what Ella thinks. Does she know Hayes has abducted me? Does she even care? The last time I saw her, she told me to leave. She barely even let me kiss her. Is it better that I’m gone? My mom must think I left her. I told her I’d come back, and I didn’t. Is she still at my apartment? Did she leave? Wesley must suspect something. He knows I wouldn’t just disappear without a word. Or maybe I’m fucked. I deserve this. Ella got hurt because of me. This is my punishment. I can endure it as long as she’s okay, as long as she’s safe.

A noise outside has me straightening in alert. The doorknob jingling outside as someone inserts a key and twists. Slowly white light slips into the utter black, slicing the floor with illumination as more and more creeps in. Blinking my eyes rapidly, I try to make out the tall figure stepping inside as my eyes adjust so fucking slowly. Their shoes click against the cement. It takes a good ten seconds as the man flicks the light switch adjacent to the steel door. Sleek ebony hair. Olive tan skin. Decisive blue eyes.

Julian Anderson, my father.

Ignoring the aching of my arms, I force myself to stand straighter on my tippy toes, force my face to remain neutral though my heart is thundering. He really did it; he really escaped jail. And he’s standing right in front of me looking no different than he did a year ago save for his hairs longer and his skin is slightly paler. Makes sense after spending so much time indoors and out of the sun. How could I be so foolish to even believe for a second Matthew was lying?

As much as I wanted to speak first, to say something sarcastic I couldn’t. I couldn’t think of a single fucking thing to say. And I hate myself for it. I hate myself as he runs his piercing eyes down my body, as he clicks his tongue, and curves his lips. “Peculiar isn’t it, how life works?” Julian draws, letting the door slam shut behind him as he stands in an all-black suit, tailored perfectly to him. Golden cufflinks attached at each wrist, and polished dress shoes on his feet. “I was locked up but now I’m free. How our roles have reversed, now you’re the one in chains.”

I shrug or at least attempt to in my position. “I was wondering when you’d build up the nerve to show your face. How long have I been here? Days?” Pausing, I tilt my head to the side. “You know for holding me captive this long, I’d thought you’d grant me with your presence sooner. It must be difficult to face someone who’s bested you, then again I wouldn’t know.”

He smiles, white teeth gleaming, a charming smile that makes most women fall to their knees. He wields it like a weapon. “I see you’re still in good spirits, though if you must know I’ve had a lot to clean up after the mess you caused.” He steps closer, pulling a short silver knife out of his slacks’ pocket. The same knife he’s always carried, the same knife he’s used on my mom, Hayes, and me. “So forgive me for not visiting sooner; I’m a busy man.” He twirls the knife in a circle, every so often testing the sharpness with his index finger.

I eye the knife, then bring my gaze back to his face. “You plan to use that? Maybe it’ll add a little spice to my otherwise boring day.”

He chuckles, blue irises brightening. “This among other things in due time. You see Declan, I’m going to take it slow with you. There’s no need to rush.” Before I have a chance to respond he pulls back the knife angling it with quick precision and throws it. Within a heartbeat, the blade embeds itself into my thigh, deep enough to tear muscle and burn like hell. I grit my teeth and hold back a hiss, as blood surfaces coloring the wooden handle. This is nothing compared to what he can do.

“I’m looking forward to it.” I grit, trying to diffuse my harsh breathing. I will not give in any satisfaction.

“I’ll remember that.” He muses, bringing his hand to his chin. “We have a lot to catch up on, you and I. A lot indeed.” He then turns around and strides to the door grabbing the handle and twisting. Before he opens it, he glances back with a grin. “Let’s see how long until that confidence falters.” With that, the door opens and as he saunters out, he flicks the light switch leaving me in the hands of the dark once again with the knife in my thigh and no way to pull it out. A short welcoming visit to razzle me, to put me off-kilter.

*

Hey guys, it’s been a little while. I haven’t felt the motivation to write and kind of had a hard time with this chapter. But I hope you like it! Comment please, I love hearing what you guys think! Also sorry for any mistakes!

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