The door of the storage room closes and Harry presses my body against it. His hand covers my mouth and I just stand there staring at him. His face breaks when he looks at me.
“I’m not going to hurt you please believe me.”
I shut my eyes. I really want to, I really, really, want to Harry.
“Don’t scream.” He removes his hand from my mouth and I swallow, unable to move or speak. Harry goes to move closer but I flinch back, hitting my back against the wall.
“Don’t touch me.” I blurt out and he backs away from me.
“Don’t do this please.” He says and I look up the ceiling trying to catch my breath.
“There’s things you don’t know Violet. Things I’m trying to keep you away from.” I can barely hear him talk right now. I can barely even feel myself. I’m not even sure I’m present in this room-led alone life.
I try to piece myself together but my words come out stuttered “I’ve lost so much. I’ve been through awful things Harry, and- ...I - Harry I thought you were good for me.” An angry tear rolls down my cheek.
“You weren’t supposed to find out.” He cringes his face and goes pale as I laugh. “Find out.” I throw my hands in the air.
“Well guess what Harry today was not keeping me out of this.”
I pull the strands of my hair. “I thought you liked me. I thought you were the first person to look through me and really see me. Im falling for a stupid killer. You were the first person who ever saw me for me and I-”
“Violet I know you saw things you didn’t want to see but you have to let me explain. Please let me explain. It’s going to sound crazy and messed up but you need to know the whole story. I’m not going to hurt you.” He shakes his head continuously stepping forwards and I walk up to him pressing my hand against his chest pushing im away.
“You were just about to kill someone. I thought I knew who you were but I know nothing at all.” He suddenly cups my cheeks and places me against the wall. He looks deeply into my eyes searching for the words to handle this situation.
I pray this situation fixes itself because I can’t lose him. He’s the best thing in my life right now and I can’t go back.
“Just let me explain. I’ll tell you everything then you can decide if you want me in your life. Just please darling I would never hurt you. You’re the one person in the world I care about. I’d burn cities down if anyone ever hurt you.”
My hands start to shake at my side but my eyes never leave his green ones. His eyes speak all of his emotions. From the beginning, I’ve always felt a pull to them. It was something that I couldn’t match the puzzle piece in my head.
Without him I’m just existing so I place my trust in his hands. I need to know.
“Okay,” I whisper and his face drops slightly in relief. “Tell me everything.”
“If you know though Violet you can’t tell anyone. It’s dangerous to hang out with me led alone knowing information that could get you killed.”
I’ve never really been afraid to die.
“If I can’t be around you then I’m practically dead anyway. Please tell me. I’ll try to understand.”
He was a broken boy after all. Villains are just misunderstood human beings. If anyone knew about my life I’d beg for them to hear me out. There’s always a story behind the pain we construct ourselves to do.
“We can’t do it here. People are going to be back any minute. I’m just glad you came down when you did.” He rubs his thumb against my cheek.
“Take me back to your house then.” I part my lips but he shakes his head again.
“Alone well have to be alone, I can’t do this in front of the boys. I have an apartment, can I take you there?” I close my eyes feeling the warmth of his hands touching my face.
We don’t bother to speak on the car ride to his apartment. I pick my knees to my chest and fiddle with the silver ring the whole way. Harry looks like he’s about to pass out any minute and his hair looks like a complete mess from stressfully raking through it. He keeps staring at me whenever he gets the chance, wishing I was gripping his hand instead of my own.
I feel he’s trying to soak up all he can until it’s too late.
During the ride, I’ve come to the conclusion that im not going to run. I can’t leave him and if that makes me mental so be it. Have I really run away from bad people my entire life to end up with one?
No. No... I see the difference in him and it scares me that Im making the exception.
Parking his car in front of the apartment we look at each other and he nods painfully for me to follow.
With the pouring rain outside we both jog into the building.
Stepping in the elevator you can feel the tension through the small space and I hold my breath never looking away from him.
“Im not going to hurt you.” He barely whispers, shaking his head. The emotions soaring in his body language already make me comfortable in knowing he won’t.
“I know you won’t. I know.” The elevator bings and his hand grazes mine reaching to hold it. Once they meet he pulls back immediately like the touch physically burnt him.
“Sorry.” Shaking his head and squeezing his eyes shut he steps out but I grab back onto his hand. His lip barely forms a smile but it’s there.
The relief I’m not completely terrified of him.
Pulling me to his apartment he unlocks the door. Walking in there’s barely any life in here. It un-lived.
“I don’t ever stay here.” He speaks reading my mind. “This is my place but I’ve only ever stayed here a couple times.”
The room consists of basic furniture. A single couch, kitchen table and chairs, television and a back room which im sure is his bed. The space is large and looks bigger with the lack of detail.
“Where did you want to do this?” He scratches his head and I just point to the couch in question. He pulls me there and we take a seat. I cross my legs facing him and place my hands in my lap. He sits there awkwardly not knowing where to start.
“The boys and I have all know each other for a long time. Since we were six. It started just as a casual friendship that my father introduced me too but once we turned ten we were forced to learn how to fight. Introduced to this whole company.”
He stops as I push my eyebrows down in confusion, “What do you mean company?”
He takes a breath.
“Liam, Niall, Zayn and Louis were from bad pasts. None of them ever had a family. Niall never grew up with a dad. His mom was an addict never paying attention the toddler running around. Liam’s parents died in a fire. He was the only one saved. He was only four but doesn’t remember anything. his family never made it out. Louis never had a family to provide for him. He stole things to save himself and ended up in Juvy. And Zayn, well, his parents were abusive. They left him behind one day and never brought him with them. Ages 6-8 the boys were. They all grew up in foster care.”
He never breaks eye contact with me and I find it hard to keep myself together.
“Nobody ever loved them. They grew up knowing it.” He says in disgust.
“I told you once my dad was mean to me. He hated the idea of having a son who liked looking at butterflies. A boy with a heart. He started hanging out with Peter’s father. His name is Charles. You probably already know that. He became friends with my father, Wesley through work. He brought him over one day while I was playing in the backyard and he convinced Wesley what I was doing wasn’t manly and a disgust to our family name. That was the first day he hit me. It only happened a couple of times but verbally he was ruthless. Locked me in my room and wouldn’t let me out for days. Never was allowed food or water until I got the lesson.”
I stop moving. Frozen only focusing on my breaths as he talks. My heart physically breaks and if you could hear it, it would be shattering. They were all just children.
“Charles and Wesley started a group. They craved power and always needed things to be in their hands. They were bad men-”
He stops talking and looks to me for permission to keep going I start to nod but he takes my hand.
“The stuff im about to tell you its... You have to understand once that you know you can’t go back. You won’t be able to look at us the same way.” I stop Harry and climb onto his lap. I press my hands around his neck and he grips my waist. It’s an automatic feeling I get when I’m with him but I can see how hard this is for him to say.
“Im not going to run. No matter what I saw today you’re still the same guy who picked me up from all my shifts and brought me driving on the back of his motorcycle. The guy who just wanted to admire his butterflies.” I speak softly.
He squeezes his eyes. “Okay ill keep going.”
“Charles and Wesley were businessmen. Wealthy men who knew connections that could get them anywhere. They built casinos all over America. There’s one in almost every state but they’re not just ordinary casinos they were built to launder money and store drugs. Cocaine, weed, heroin, everything illegal. They made millions fast but it wasn’t enough. No matter how much they already had they needed more.”
He pulls my hips closer as he speaks low. The room is completely silent except for the man talking in front of me.
“They were evil and needed people to help move the drugs all over the world, accept people wanted what they had. People threatened to take over their empire daily and it was starting to get dangerous, they needed protection. So they started a mafia.”
I inhale through the space and arch my back trying not to make a scene. “They had so much power and allies it was just a label at this point. With a plan from the beginning, they needed people to steal and run shit for them.”
“They started at foster cares getting kids young to train them in that way of life. They needed the ones in foster care from a torturous past. They wanted heartless people. Unloveable children who wouldn’t bat an eyelash in the direction of death. That’s where I met Liam, Niall, Zayn and Louis. Wesley brought me over to their building one day where I met them. We grew up together. I never noticed but since the beginning, we were formed and manipulated for a certain strength.”
I just stare into his eyes trying to understand this reality you almost only hear about in movies. It doesn’t seem real. My stomach turns in disgust from what these poor boys have endured. Rage pours through my body from what Wesley and Charles have done.
“Niall’s gambles. Put odds in his hand and he never loses. Zayn knows everything about anyone, one look at you and he knows your greatest weakness and strength. You saw Liam stitch me up today, he makes sure we don’t die until we can get help. Also, a getaway driver when we’re on missions. If we get caught it’s over and he was trained by the best to never make sure that happens. Louis does tech. The voice in our ears leading us down a pitch-black alleyway.”
He stops when I ask, “And what about you?”
“I get people to talk. Like you saw in that basement I get information out of people, I’ve always been good at it. Physical and mental. After years they put us together and sent us out to do their dirty work. My dad put me in this business forcefully. I already ruined his life so I owed him. I just wanted to impress my parents. I just wanted them to love me so I went willingly. No matter what I would’ve had to do it but it earned bravery points.” He laughs.
The kind of laugh that runs venom through your veins.
He never wanted to be this way. The way he grew up was vile and vicious. A helpless child surrounded by monsters. He thinks he’s this bad guy but he was only manipulated into one. His heart is pure but his body was moulded hard around him.
“When the two men came over today it was because I messed with Peter. If you don’t follow the rules of the plan strictly then you get a reparation. They beat you until it finally knocks in your head that they own you.”
Of course, he fights back it all makes sense now.
“When I got to know you and saw you at the club I was scared. Scared that a nice girl like you was working beside killers and were oblivious. And I was scared you were going to see me like today. That’s not who I am and I didn’t want you to see me like that. You looked so scared of me. No ones ever looked at me that way before. Disappointed and disgusted yes but you were frightened. The people we get sent out to hurt look at me the way you did.”
He cringes and his eyes reflect glossy. His voice breaks each time he opens his mouth. It’s hurting him to tell me everything.
“The basements a way for us to get information out of people. Gambling and drug storage. The drugs are there temporarily until it gets sent out. Depending on who’s using the space strippers accompany them as well. We use poker down there when people refuse to talk. That’s where Niall comes in. We make them think if they win they can go home but if they lose they owe a debt worse than what they already owe. People do anything for a chance to get free.”
He pauses, taking a breath as he traces my hips with his hands. He’s always been gentle with me.
“Today when you came in the basement we were getting a name out of someone. Another mafia whos been trying to overthrow the one we’re in. Our job the last few weeks is to get as much information possible and-”
His neck restricts and eyes fall from my own.
“Kill anyone we need to. either when ordered to do so or when no one pays up.”
The room goes silent and he bites his cheek. “Were from England but since the casinos and major businesses were built in America we moved over once our training was done.”
Once he finishes his eyes coat in glass and despite all the cuts on his face a harmless boy sits in front of me. I sit there for a moment trying to process everything he just told me unable to move.
My silence speaks a different language for Harry and he looks to the wall beside us. “You can leave if you want. I’m not going to force you to stay with me, I’m a monster.”
My buddy unfreezes looking at this hurt boy. I quickly grab his face in my hands forcing him to look up at me as his head falls.
“You are not a bad person Harry. You were forced into this life knowing that you never wanted to do it. You weren’t created this way. the choices that surrounded you forced you to turn a certain way but you’re not the same inside.”
He shakes his head staring up at me and I swallow my own tears.
“No, I have made every choice in my life. I’m a bad person Violet. I hurt people.”
“You only hurt people because you had to put yourself first. If you didn’t you probably would have ended up dead. From the beginning, you just wanted to be loved and you did everything your dad told you to earn his honour. He was a sick man but you are not him. You never said you were but I know you fear turning into him.”
I know this because I have the same fear of turning into my own parents.
I think back to the book I read only a couple of hours ago. ”There’s no such thing as bad people. We’re all just people who sometimes do bad things.” I quote as he leans his head against my forehead. I wrap myself completely around him and he clutches on to me like at any moment I’ll disappear.
He doesn’t say anything in response knowing I took it from the book. “I live in a bad world Violet you’re not safe with me.” His voice breaks in the crook of my neck. His warm breaths hitting my skin.
“Harry I’ve felt the safest with you than I have my entire life.” I sniff and just sit there with him wrapped in his arms forever, not once wanting to run away. He lives in a bad world but he’s not a bad person. As humans, we like to classify people based on their environment but never get to know the person living in it and what they’ve gone through. We aren’t a copy of our parents, we are a copy of ourselves.
A bad world and a bad person are two different things. He’s just a boy caught up in this violent life he never asked for waiting until his time ticks down.
From this point on will either be running in two different directions or the same one never wanting to let go.
After a couple of hours, we finally pull apart. “I’ll keep you safe,” he whispers and I place my head against his forehead.
“I’ll keep you safe too.”
You always need someone to fall on at the end of the day when it’s too much. Even the strongest human needs someone to save them once in a while.
Gripping my thighs he stands with me in his hold and walks to his bedroom. The sheets are un-made and he slips in the bed with me still clung to him.
Rolling over so were both facing each other he places his head against my chest and I brush my fingers through his curly hair. The hair tye I tied earlier still sits tightly in his locks. I loop the elastic around my wrist and continue to comb my fingers through.
He tightens his grip around my waist and pulls me closer. When the sound of soft breaths hit my chest I realize he fell asleep.
Continuing my patterns through his hair I just watch him. How his lips pucker when he’s asleep and how soft his skin is to the touch.
His grip never lets go of my skin. Like the switch in his brain always wants to keep me close.
Hugging my arms around his neck I fight sleep wanting to hold him forever.
I just hope I made the right choice but if not it’s never felt so good.