Agape

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Struck a nerve, have I

**Trigger Warning** (abuse) If that makes you uncomfortable please skip this chapter.

Chapter 30

Declan:

My eyes shoot open as my body becomes fucking frigid. Extremely gelid water being thrown onto my bare skin feeling like shards of ice piercing into my flesh. Like millions of needles poking and poking and poking. A choked gasp falls right past my lips as my body immediately begins to convulse in uncontrollable shivers causing my teeth to chatter. The water is so extremely cold it burns as if blue blazing fire is covering me from head to toe. Between gasped breaths, I recognize the two men showering me in Arctic water, my cousin Matthew and Julian’s right-hand man Jason.

Directly in front of me, a few feet away is Julian himself with his head tilted to the side. When I meet his gaze, he merely jerks his head and the cold assault halts. My hands balled into fists above my head, straining to keep the shaking to a minimum and the clanking of chains as quiet as I can. All the while my skin blotches with little red rashes down my bare chest and arms. As I shake my thigh throbs, pain cumulating quite rapidly where the knife is residing.

“Nice day for a shower?” Julian draws, taking a step closer. “I thought you’d appreciate it. Hygiene is important, after all. You know that.” I won’t speak, not when my teeth are chattering. It will only make me sound like a goddamn fool and it will only please him to hear it. So instead, I let myself shiver in hopes to warm my muscles, blinking my eyes as if he said nothing at all. He can do whatever he wants to me as long as Ella is okay, as long as she’s safe. Beside me, Jason lets out an amused snort, while Matthew stands unfazed by four more full buckets of ice-loaded water.

How the hell did I not hear them come in? The thought unnerves me, and I bet big money Julian knows this. After losing so much blood from this fucking knife plunged into my thigh that I can’t even pull out, my body feels weak and tired. So when I sleep, I sleep heavily. “No smart mouth today, how unfortunate.” He again steps forward in his black button-up and slacks, his expensive shoes clicking against the floor as he’s now right in front of me. Before I have a chance to even calculate his next move, he lifts his hand and grabs the knife handle, yanking it out in one fast swoop.

I shutter, a short high-pitched sound falling right off my tongue. He ignores it wiping off the knife’s blood on my cruddy jeans, front and back until he can see silver again. Breath Declan just fucking breathe. It’s the only way I’m going to get through this, one breath after the next, concentrating solely on keeping myself as calm as possible. I am the master of my fate, and I will not break to his will. For Ellie, I will stay strong. Always for Ellie as long as my heartbeats. If this is my punishment, I will take it. I will take it a million times over if it means Ella never gets hurt again.

“What’s there to say? You wanted me and now you’ve got me. Hurt me, torture me, do as you please Julian. My body is all fucking yours, but my mind will always be mine.” I grit out, pushing the pain back, back, back to the darkest part of my conscious. “The cold water was kind of you, excellent in numbing my leg by the way.” Just to edge him on even more, I wink letting my lips curve into a smirk as I glance down to my leg then back up at him. If my hands weren’t bound above my head, I’d even put a big thumbs up. It takes everything in me to keep my body still, to keep the tremor of my cold skin at bay, the burn in my leg from twitching.

The hues of blue in his eyes darken past the shade of midnight but the collected calm he holds does not falter. In his hand, he begins to twirl the infamous blade he’s had since I was a child, crusted with my dry blood now almost the color of black. The only hint that gives away the gears turning in his head as he thinks, pondering whatever messed up thoughts run through his mind on a daily basis. Mathew stands straight with his arms folded behind his back, waiting for his next order like a good little soldier on my right. While Jason does who knows what behind me, the sound of his feet shuffling swiftly the only inclination he’s still here.

I don’t peer back, it would only give the impression that I’m nervous. But with the lights on I have the chance to see the metal table to the right of me just a few feet away, the one where they’ve strapped me down these last couple of days. “Big words for a boy who runs from his problems, no? You’ve got a lot to say Declan for someone who’s been running away from me, trying to hide. If you’re so brave why run at all?” The pit of anger that never seems to fully dim sparks, strumming warmth to my frosted veins. “Is it fear, hmm? Are you afraid? Did my lessons teach you nothing?”

Clenching my jaw, I snort. “Running? You think I’ve been fucking running from you. I’ve been living in my stationary apartment, working to make ends meet, going to school. Sounds a lot like I’ve been staying the hell put. News flash Julian I’m not fucking running from you, I’m living a life without you in it and that’s completely different.” I’ve been living a life with Ella. Deep down in the farthest parts of my mind, shoved and locked in darkest corners I know my answer is only partly true and that angers me further. If I didn’t meet Ella, I’m not sure if I’d still be in this town.

By the grin on his face, he knows it too. Because he knows me. He’s studied me, learned me, raised me. He stops twirling the knife and by the look on his cruelly handsome face; I know my life is about to be hell. “You know I don’t appreciate lying. Apparently, you and Hayes still think you can get away with it. The similarities between the two of you never fail to amaze me.” He draws flicking his head to the side, then licking his smooth lips. Matthew drops his hands to his sides and strolls for the door, that’s when I realize whatever just happened was both a silent signal and order. “It’s time the both of you get a little refresher of what happens to liars.”

With another flick of his head and a second to spare, once again I’m submerged in glacial water. This time nothing I do stops the shivers, my body out right convulses as a cold burning sensation takes root along every inch of me. Numb but excruciating, as if a hot iron was being pressed against my flesh everywhere. My hands ball into fists as I yank at the chains, my teeth and jaw clenching so hard as I attempt to stay quiet, to keep my hisses inside. No words come out of my mouth, I’m too breathless to speak, my lungs have frozen along with the rest of me. It doesn’t stop, the frigid downpour keeps coming.

Right beneath my feet is a drain where the water drips off my body and into the ground.

I don’t have time to think about what Julian said. I don’t have time for a sarcastic reply as my body just flips like a fucking seal stuck in the sand. I don’t have time to concentrate as these shackles cut into my wrists and my stabbed leg throbs. Without thinking, I squeeze the chains tight and swing myself back as fast as I can, hoping to kick Jason. My shaking foot collides into something solid. Right then a grunt meets my ears and only an ounce of satisfaction wells inside me as I hear the water bucket fall spilling onto the cement floor. Better the floor than me.

“What the fuck you bastard.”

In front of me Julian chuckles, he actually chuckles. “Get up Jason and go get me, Remi. You’re done in here and get your fucking manhood checked out why you’re at it.” Behind me I hear Jason grunt through my chattering teeth; he walks around me spitting in my face as he passes on his way to the door, muttering something incoherent. I cringe at the disgusting saliva sticking to my cheek. When the door slams shut, Julian averts his attention back to me, stepping so he’s just a breath away from my face. He raises the knife in his hand to my chin, dragging it along my jaw by my ear applying enough pressure to slice a long middle grade cut down my neck. The grunt that comes out of me is impossible to hold in.

My heart lurches, booming in my ears. Not out of fear but pain. The line isn’t even straight because of my fucking shaking; it’s jagged. When blood begins to dribble out, he pulls back resting the cold steel just under my chin. “This behavior won’t be tolerated. You are going to learn some respect.” As he says it, he then drags the cold metal down to my open chest, resting it right on my tattoo above my heart. The crown with Ella’s name right in the center. Julian touching it enrages me so much so that my numb skin kindles with warmth with the heat burning through my blood.

That tattoo is Ella’s, it feels pure in a way and Julian touching it repulses me.

My lungs melt and unfreeze. “Get your fucking hands off of me.” The words come out raspy but rigid, lethal. One moment I’m staring him in the eye, the next my heads swinging back and my nose is crunching loudly from an explosive punch that makes my cranium vibrate and my ears pulsate. Searing pain engulfs my head and warm liquid spills from my nose like a fountain. Stars stain my vision in black and blue and purple as my eyes blink rapidly trying to get a grasp on my sight.

“That is not how you talk to your father, I will not be spoken to in that tone.” His voice is low and deep, commanding as he presses down enough that the knife punctures through my skin in the center of the tattoo right above my heart. “Let’s get one thing straight son, your life will be hell until I decide otherwise. I will control when you eat, sleep, and piss. I will control what emotions you yield and the pain and relief you will feel. You will bow Declan.”

Blinking a couple more times, I lean forward and spit my bloody saliva in his face. ”Never.”

The next punch to my face is brutal, rattling my skull as my teeth clamp down on the insides of my cheeks drawing blood. This time my vision blacks out completely, my shoulders straining from the impact and my wrists aching with deep bloody cuts where the metal chains have done their damage. I’m not knocked out because my brain is conscious and still working, but my sight is impaired for the slightest moment slowly fading back and seeing blurs of color. I don’t care what he does to me, I will never bow to him. I will never let him control my life again.

Past my ringing ears, I hear the sound of the door to my room swinging open. My mind reels back to Julian ordering Jason to go get Remi. When I was younger, I knew to stay away from Remi, knowing he’s the guy who was the head of the basement where all the torture rooms and equipment were. Whenever my dad took someone hostage, that’s where they went and Remi was sent to deal with them, known for being a sick sadist and delighting in inflicting pain on others. His brain was twisted as fuck, some of the things he did were things I wish I didn’t know of.

I remember once when I was seven I was in the house walking through the hallway all muddy from playing in the rain. Remi caught me tracking in mud on the freshly cleaned floors and didn’t hesitate to shove me face-first into the wall and spank the living daylights out of me. Julian wasn’t home but when he got back he made me scrub the floors and thank Remi for teaching me a lesson. I never played in the rain again after that, not until the day Ella and I were driving and my tire went flat.

Long moments pass, and my eyes begin to see again, blurry but enough. Two new people have entered the room and one old one. Julian has turned to greet them. My eyes narrow in on the brown-haired, blue-eyed individual that I’d know anywhere. My twin, Hayes, in shackles with our cousin Matthew behind him and Remi flanking his left still looking the same as I’d remembered him, just slightly older. His eyes were still mahogany, brown hues with shades of reds as if he were born psychotic. His hair a coppery ruddy brown, contrasting with his sharp cruel features. Why the hell is Hayes in shackles? I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a sight to see.

Seeing him here in person brings out my urge to strangle him, to kill him for laying his hands on my Ella. For hurting her, for scarring her. I will kill him; I fucking swear it. He stares back at me, eyes dull, lips chapped, and face paler than the usual tan. He looked like shit. If I wasn’t so fucking enraged, I’d wonder what in the fuck happened to him but frankly, I don’t care. Not after what he’s done. Straining in my chains, I lean forward and look him dead in the eye with a promise on the tip of my tongue. “I will kill you.”

Julian turns, a glimmer on his face, the knife loose in his hand. “You see Remi, what a brute my son has become. He’s now making death threats at the age of eighteen.” Remi chuckles in response, eyeing me from head to toe intensely, maybe even excitedly. He’s about ten years younger than Julian, early thirties at least. Julian grins, his white teeth present, as he flicks his hand my way. “Take a look at his chest, don’t get too close though he bites.”

Remi’s head raises to me as he begins to stroll forward. “You’ve grown pretty boy, both in size and temper I see.” He halts a good three feet away, gazing at my chest as Julian told him too, only adding to my pit of depthless fury. I’m not ashamed of my tattoo nor will I ever be. It’s there because I fucking had it put there with pride, that will not change. “Interesting. Ella must be one special girl. Is she a pretty one, hmm? Does she call you daddy—”

I snarl, face burning and aching. “Keep her name out of your nasty ass mouth.”

Behind Hayes, Matthew snorts. “Don’t take it personally Rem, she’s a tough subject for him.”

Remi waves him off nonchalantly, a smirk curving onto the wicked line of his mouth. “Struck a nerve, have I?” He then glances back at Julian, with raised eyebrows. “A brute indeed. Disrespectful, your sons must get it from their mother.”

This time it isn’t just me snarling, it’s Hayes too. Both Remi and Julian ignore us as if we’re not even in the room. “Even after all I’ve done for them, ungrateful little brats. That’s why they need to be taught a lesson and I thought what better way to do that than now when we’re all together.” All he’s done for me? What a fucking joke. If he wants to do me a favor, dying would be at the top of that list. A moment passes and Julian steps forward, all pleasantries over with. “Unlock the chains, I want him on his knees, Hayes beside him.”

Remi’s in motion before Julian even finished his sentence, not needing to be told twice. This is his sanctuary and the eagerness gracing his face isn’t missed. As he strolls around me, I ready myself to lash out, though Julian is already prepared, grabbing my legs and holding them still. Applying some pressure onto my knife wound with his thumb to assure I don’t move. Fucking bastard. “Keep it up Declan, it will be all the more entertaining when you are bleeding before me on your knees with your head down like a peasant. And I’m going to make you scream so loud your slut will hear it in her dreams.”

I stare him straight in the eye. “What an experience that will be,” I state blandly as Remi holds one wrist while unlocking the other, my thoughts strumming in a hundred different directions stirring with indescribable hatred. “You shouldn’t be so loose with calling women sluts when you yourself are one.” Hayes coughs as soon as the words leave my mouth while Matthew pushes him down onto the floor beside me.

“Get the whip.” Even Matty boy’s face pales as he strides to the back wall, obeying orders without question.

When my other wrist is unlocked, I go to lunge forward only to be yanked back in my handcuffs. “Uh uh uh.” Remi tuts against my ear. “The fun is just getting started.” He then kicks the back of my knees causing them to buckle and I go collapsing onto the cement, bones shuttering as they collide with the hard surface. Not only do my knees blanch with pain, but my cut thigh too. Before I even have the chance to catch my breath, a hand that I quickly know belongs to Julian grabs my chin, digging his nails right into my skin with no empathy whatsoever.

“One lash for every one of my men who were arrested and an extra every time you make a sound.” Letting go of my chin Julian stands up, circling around me while Remi forces me to drop my hands in front of me so he can lock them on the single hook welted into the floor. The hook will keep my hands pressed against the cement beneath me holding the handcuffs in place in a position that will make me look as if I’m praying. If I wasn’t already so weak from blood loss he wouldn’t be able to move me around so easily, but my luck sucks.

Hayes doesn’t so much as glance at me, he keeps his head held high and gaze straight. A single wrong move from him will place in him the same position. He knows that.

My hands balled into fists, my fingernails seeping into my palms as my toes curl. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. But that doesn’t mean they have to know it. Behind me, I hear the whisper of the leather whip brushing the ground which in turn raises the hairs of my back and skin, goosebumps arising in record speed. My mind begins to run a mile a minute as my stomach falls flat. Anybody’s natural reaction, almost like an instinct.

The next thing I know the whip cracks against the floor beside me and my flinch isn’t missed, Julians and Remi’s chuckles are proof. “Turn on the camera, Remi.”

*

I wasn’t planning on leaving this chapter on a cliffhanger I swear it kind of just happened...So umm yeah this chapter is a little gruesome but I hope you enjoy it anyway! Who do you guys hate most and why? Also, we’re now on chapter 30 how crazy is that?? P.s. sorry for any mistakes editing isn’t my forte.

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