Cross my heart
And suddenly I felt nothing but the reverberation of my pulsing panicked heart roaring through me like thunder rupturing the sky. He smiled, bringing his index finger to his vile lips, tapping the window again with the tip of the gun, motioning for me to unlock and open the door quietly before settling the gun back on my face. My stomach squeezed, a ball of anxiety sitting heavily in its pit, growing, stretching, sprouting as quick as just a simple snap of your fingers.
Behind me, Olivia’s voice shakes. “Who i-is that?”
I gulped, having no other choice but to lean forward and slowly unlock the door knowing my life was nothing to him and he could end it just like that. “That’s Julian.” I croak before the door is being pulled open with quick quiet precision and my arm is being grabbed by a man I had not noticed before, swiftly yanking me out. I stumbled at the force, a small high-pitched noise leaving my throat in surprise and fear. But I hurry to stable myself as a small horrified grunt leaves Olivia’s lips and a moment later she comes knocking into me but thankfully my feet stay planted onto the ground.
Before I even have the chance to take a breath, my arm is being gripped into a solid grasp once again. My head immediately swings to my arm, then follows the foreign hand up to the face of a younger-looking man, maybe just a few years older than me at most with black shiny hair and brisk brown eyes. His face remains expressionless as if this is just a normal day thing that he does all the time. Like he’s used to it. Like ruining people’s lives is okay, habitual. And though my heart beats hastily with the threat of death looming at any given minute, my stomach is sick with repugnance, coated in it.
So I glare, not caring if he ignores it, as long as he knows how I feel, as long as he knows I won’t let my horror scare me away from showing him how disgusted I am. Another man holds onto Olivia in a similar manner as to how I’m being held, he’s big and bulk and emotionless. It must be part of the job, having no emotions, or being a complete psychopath with no sympathy for others. Do they have a family, a person they love? How would they feel if roles were reversed and their family member was getting hurt?
“Stop struggling.” The guy holding Olivia growls.
“Fuck off.” She curses back, only to have her arm twisted painfully behind her back until she can’t take it anymore and goes still. I watch with fury clouding my vision.
Lastly, Declan’s mom is yanked out of the car by Julian himself, blue eyes wide as saucers but alive with pure lingering hatred. He merely smiles, leaning in and whispering something into her ear. Her mouth glued shut, eyebrows caving, as she averts her eyes down, looking as if he just drained a parcel of her life. He then leaned in and pressed a cold-lipped kiss to her forehead in which she stood stone still. “What a sneaky girl you’ve been, darling. But I’ve got you now.”
I cringed, feeling my knuckles clench. No woman should be treated how she’s been treated. And to think he has my Declan locked up, maybe even my mother—I want to scream but immediately shake the thought away because if I did I’m sure Julian wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger and get rid of me for good. Then I’d never know if Declan was safe, I’d never know where my mother is and if she’s found, and I’d never even have a last chance to see them again. So whatever irrational thing I’d like to do, I swallow it down. Julians in control and now we’re two steps back, while he’s a step ahead.
“All three of you actually.” He chuckles, jerking his head to one side before beginning to walk and forcefully moving Declan’s mom in the direction between two houses so his disciples follow without any verbal command. He didn’t have to speak. He didn’t need to, because he knew he had the power. So Olivia and I were dragged along behind him without a choice in the matter, considering the two guys holding us were much bigger and definitely much stronger. “You know it’s amusing that the three of you thought I could be tricked so easily and borderline assaulting.”
I grit my teeth, trying and failing to yank my arms free which only makes the guy holding me grip tighter to the point of pain as he pushes me along. “Your hurt feelings weren’t my biggest concern.” I retort evenly and for once not stuttering under pressure. I’m tired of letting people walk all over me, I’m tired of letting others push me down and not pushing back, I’m so fudging tired of it. He’s taken so much from me; it’s time to fight back even if it’s just small retorts. At least I’m not keeping my mouth shut, at least he can’t take my voice away from me, not anymore. It’s better than letting him think he’s won.
I won’t give him the satisfaction he wants, it will only build him up when all I want to do is tear him down. To bury him deep where the sun can’t reach him, where ants nibble at his skin and worms slither into his ears, where spiders crawl up his nose and centipedes into his eyes, where he will rot in the earth and never find peace. Where he will become nothing but decay, with a soul that sinks down into the deadliest fires underneath the earth and he burns for the rest of his miserable eternity. And I have never wanted something so cruel to happen to a person so much, or at all.
Julian angles his head, enough to show he’s heard me. “No they weren’t, were they?” He draws, quiet and calm. “But I’m guessing Declan’s feelings were where all your concerns lie, or better yet maybe even your mothers—she is a beautiful lady. I’ve thought so since I first saw her, a little fierce but we’re working on that.”
My hands gravitate to fists, nails infiltrating skin. Working on it? As if he can fix her or change her into what? A half a human, an alien, a doll? What is wrong with his head? She’s a person. It’s a personality, and when you take away her personality what does she have left? She wouldn’t even be her anymore. She would just be who he wants her to be, compliant and opinion less. Is that how he sees all women to be, as if he’s better, or the male species as a whole is superior. As the thoughts emerge and duplicate I feel an angry heat flush my face and every centimeter of my skin.
“Working on what? Making my mom your personal servant?” I growl, feeling so utterly infuriated. “Like she’d ever cater to you.” And I laugh, because of how absurd it sounds. It’s the twentieth century. Is he stuck in the Victorian era or something? Is that what he did to his wife, Declan’s mom? Is he abusing my mom, hurting her?
Julian continues to walk, through the grass in between the two houses and their backyard fences. The tall wooden fences keep us hidden and out of sight of Melanie and the rest of the FBI agents. We walk or rather three of us are dragged while Julian and his guys pull us to a long strip of pine trees where the woods are, which only makes me think of every bad thing that could happen. Why is he bringing us to the woods? But thinking about it only enhances how terrified I am so I try to think of something else, anything else so I don’t become paralyzed by fear.
This time he actually turns his head just enough so he can look me in the eye while continuing his fast pace to the woods, he blinks all of five times and then I hear Olivia cry out. I whip my head back to see tears streaming down Olivia’s face and knife at the skin of her throat, cutting just enough to draw blood. “What are doing, stop it!” I say, feeling my chest clench. “Don’t hurt her she didn’t do anything!”
“Let’s get one thing straight Ella, I’m going to be your father soon and you will not speak to me like that,” Julian states smoothly as if he’s talking to a child. I blink at the word father as my stomach recoils at him relating to us in such a way. He will never be my father and my mom would never marry him. “So the next time you talk to me with such disrespect, your friend will choke on her own blood, are we clear?” The guy holding onto my arm shifts uncomfortably as we trek through the stick-coated ground of the woods, moving deeper in.
As much as I would like to reply, I press my lips shut and nod my head hating how he could so easily shut me up by using my best friend’s life against me. But the guy doesn’t remove the knife, which makes me turn to Julian too afraid to speak. “Now if you’d like Jason to remove the knife, you are going to beg me to forgive you.” Tears well in my eyes but I blink them away, seeing Declan’s mom in the corner of my eye nodding her head towards me, tears already streaming down her cheeks.
When I glance at Olivia, I see the look of pure horror on her face; she looks like she’s truly afraid to die and it shatters my heart. Nobody should ever have to see a knife to their best friend’s throat. Nobody should have to feel the utter desperation to stop it. Completely helpless, I bring my gaze to Julian. “I’m sorry, just please don’t hurt her, please!” I plead, feeling my heartbeat echo throughout my entire body, because if he presses down on the knife anymore—. “Please stop, I’m sorry—I won’t speak to you like that again!” And I’m begging, feeling my lips quiver and my body shake with pure desperation. “Please—please don’t.”
Julian flicks his head, signaling to Jason to drop the knife, which thankfully he does. Relief fills me up as quickly as an air balloon, as I wipe a single tear from my eye, still shaking. Julian’s lips pull into a small smile as he looks at me, stopping dead in his tracks, as we’ve now reached a clearing in the trees. “That wasn’t so hard was it?” I stare blankly, hating him and hating how helpless he can easily make me, but keeping the hatred at bay letting it bubble low in my blood so to him it just looks like I’m shocked and defeated. “Now that that’s settled, I have a present for you only if you continue to be a good girl. Would you like to see it?”
Despite my anger, my eyebrows furrowed in confusion having no clue as to what he’s talking about. Does he really want me to answer? I don’t think I want a present from him. He must read my expression and see my confusion because he pushes Declan’s mom to the ground and tells her to ‘sit’ as if she is a dog which she does before bringing his full attention back to me. “Would you like to see the present, Ella?” He asks again, this time as a command. So slowly I nod my head forcing myself to say yes. If I said no who knows what he would do and I definitely won’t risk Olivia facing the consequences. “Wonderful. Are you going to be a good girl?”
It takes everything in me to nod my head once again and not spit something out even though on the inside I’m repulsed. Well, repulsed is an understatement. “Great. Now listen closely, you’re going to sit on the ground and you can’t move, do you understand?” Once again I nod. “Speak, yes or no?”
“Y-yes.” And I curse myself for stuttering, for sounding defeated.
His features sharpen upon hearing my voice. “Say it again without sputtering like a fool.”
Taking a deep breath, I close my eyes and pray to god. “Yes.” After saying it, the guy holding onto my arm pushes me down, so I sit with my legs criss crossed on the leaf and dirt-covered ground. And with that, Julian puts his index finger and thumb together in his mouth and blows, letting out a loud high-pitched whistle. Beside me, Olivia is forced to do the same. Seconds later there’s rustling beyond the clearing in the trees circling it, before two people appear holding, well more like dragging a dirty blood-covered slumping person between them.
My mouth drops open at the condition of the person, and my heart hurts for them. What kind of present is this? Until he lifts his head and my whole world goes spiraling. And I’m choking, tears spilling, as I go to get up and sprint to him only to be shoved back down by my shoulders. He’s almost unrecognizable. My Declan. I try to get back up again, lashing out at the guy keeping me from my Declan. But the man twists my arms behind my back and steps down on my heels immobilizing me.
Declan wrestles too, even in his condition he tries to fight the guys holding him but he’s as skinny as I’ve ever seen him, his forest eyes sunken in, and his cheeks hollow. He’s so weak he almost looks sick. ”Ellie.” He yells, his voice is a brittle rasp as if he’s been deprived of water for days. And the very sound of his voice makes my heart sing and crack and rupture at the same time. “Get your fucking hands off of her Matthew!” He hisses, sounding nothing like himself. That must be the name of the guy keeping me from him. Matthew.
Defeated and unable to move, I stop fighting knowing I’m not strong enough. Instead, I just look at my Declan through blurry eyes and cry because he’s been beaten and hurt and abused and there’s nothing I can do. Heart clenching, piercing pain envelopes me, seeing him like this. “D-Declan.” I hiccup. Then a moment later rip my searing gaze away from him and land it on Julian. “How—How could you do this to him? He’s your son!”
In his hand, Julian twirls the gun he had previously held to my head. “Watch your tone Ella, I’m only going to tell you once.” My mouth falls shut, hearing the threat in his voice. The threat of killing Olivia. “Sometimes you have to break people down to build them back up to be their best selves, and Declan needed my help, still needs it.” You can tell by the way he says it, that he believes it and it makes me sick. “But now that you’ve had this little reunion, we have other matters at hand.” Again he puts his index and thumb in his mouth and whistles.
“Fuck you.” Declan rasps.
Three more men emerge from the trees, two of which who are dragging the third slumped person between them who seems to be in the same condition as Declan. When he raises his head my stomach twists, because those piercing blue eyes are the same eyes that torment me in my dreams or rather my nightmares, except now they’re lacking luster. Hayes. Bloodied and battered just like Declan. Why? Shouldn’t he be at Julian’s side?
Julian ignores Declan and instead brings his attention to his wife. “It’s nice to have our family all in one place again, isn’t it?” She just stares at her sons, looking as if Julian just punched her in the gut or something. When she doesn’t answer him, he grabs a fist full of her curly hair and yanks it. “I asked you a question.” And there’s nothing I can say or do, all I can do is watch.
“Leave her alone!” Hayes and Declan scream at the same time.
She whimpers, balling her hands into whitewashed fists beside her as an act of comfort all the while looking ashamed and embarrassed. “Y-yes.” What else can she say? She has no power either. If she says or does the wrong thing, her sons will pay for it.
Julian smiles a wicked uneasy smile that could turn anyone’s gut ignoring both his sons. “I thought you’d want to see them one last time.” It takes a second for the words to register. One last time. He brings the gun up to her head and I stop breathing, watching as Declan’s mom’s eyes become wide with fear. “I have no use for you anymore.” And just as she mouths the words I love you to Declan and Hayes; Julian pulls the trigger and the sound of the gun echos sending vibrations through the ground. And all at once Olivia, Declan, Hayes, and I are screaming.
And I’m trying to break free, to get away, to get to her but I’m being held in place. Until I’m not, because Matthew let’s go of me, so I take the chance and sprint to her stumbling over branches as I do. Everything else is silent, all I can hear is the gunshot ringing through my ears and my frantic uncontrolled heartbeat. Right now I don’t care about Julian or what he’ll do me, I just care about the women he killed in cold blood.
When I’m a foot away, I drop to my knees, my hand covering my mouth as I choke out a cry. Leaning over, I press my ear against her chest praying to hear a heartbeat so when I don’t I begin to sob. “No, no, no, no,” I whisper covering my ears and closing my eyes.
This isn’t real. I’m just having a nightmare. It’ll be over soon.
It will be.
But all I hear is the gunshot, the screams, and I love you.
And then there’s footsteps, tons and tons of footsteps. A flounder of voices directing orders and the static sound coming from a radio or some kind of walkie-talkie. So I force myself to peel my eyes open, to see if it’s all real. And when I do the first thing I see is Julian sprawled on the ground a few feet away looking limp as if he’s passed out with the gun lying beside him. A person in a uniform I don’t recognize has kneeled next to him placing handcuffs on his hands and feet. I blink trying to clear my vision, but it’s difficult when I’m a hiccuping mess. But then I notice the thing sticking into his shoulder, a tranquilizing dart, the kind you see in movies.
My eyes dart around confused, only to notice all of Julian’s guys are passed out on the ground with a tranquilizer dart sticking in either their arm, leg, or stomach with other people in uniforms snapping handcuffs on them.
When my eyes land on Declan hunched over on the ground, I scramble to my feet and run to him not caring about anything else, tears tumbling out my eyes and down my face. I trip over a rock but keep running until I reach him, collapsing on the bed of leaves right in front of him. He has tears staining his pale dirty cut-up cheeks, and it sends a wave of aching pain through me. Before I can hug him, he beats me to it and drapes his long bloodied arms around my waist and pulls me close as if it’s an instinct. A need to touch, to feel, to see if the other is real. And we just stay there wordless, holding onto each other like we’re each other’s lifeline as chaos surrounds us.
“Don’t e-ever leave me, Ellie.” He murmurs just above a whisper, every word drenched in so much pain that it physically hurts me. Pain of seeing his mother murdered right in front of him, the pain of being abused, and something else.
I hug him tighter inhaling his scent keeping my face right in the crook of his neck not wanting to ever let go, consoling him, noticing how much weight he’s lost, hating every cruel horrid thing Julian did to him. “Cross my heart.” I quiver, with pure brutal honesty. I wasn’t even mine anymore; I was all his.
Declan and me, me and Declan.
“Hope to die.”
Hey guy!! So in the days I’ve been absent, I’ve graduated high school, tore out my kitchen, dining room, and laundry room, and been to a bunch of hardware stores like two times a day. So I’ve been a little busy but I hope you like this chapter, it’s an emotional one!! Tell me your thoughts! Did you cry? What part made you cry? What about Declan and Ella seeing each other again?...P.s sorry for any mistakes feel free to point them out and I’ll fix them.