The Road Between

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Chapter 12: Unleashed

Liam's POV

Three days after the scene in the bathroom with Avi I stood at the window in my bedroom and stared out. I was watching Mason and Natalie fighting in the garden, neither of them noticed when they stopped right under a tree Asher was sitting in with a book.

At first Ash appeared annoyed at the disruption but then he glared down at Mason with a ferocity he rarely showed. I frowned, narrowing my eyes as Mason took a threatening step forward and Natalie flinched away.

I was dumbfounded. Yes Mason was a cheat but I had never before seen any indication that he would hurt Natalie. What surprised me even more was Natalie flinching. She could fight as well as any other girls around here, I had trained them all determined to protect them the best I could.

Suddenly Mason raised his arm and I was about to storm down there when Ash dropped down between them. I had almost forgotten he was there. Asher caught Mason's hand and twisted it firmly behind his back before whispering something in Mason's ear. He shoved Mason away, Mason stormed off fuming.

Ash turned to Natalie, his back now to me but he must have said something because Natalie shrugged looking down embarrassed.

I turned away surprised and furious. I was going to pay a lot more attention to those two and kill Mason if he so much as twitched the wrong way.

I was grateful to Ash and silently hoped he could convince Natalie what everyone else had tried before. She was far too good for Mason.

I sighed as I sat on the edge of my bed turning my mind back to what, actually who, occupied all of my thoughts lately.

I thought about how surprised I had been seeing her by the hot tub so minimally dressed. I had had to fight the anger as old scars I had never noticed before were suddenly exposed and obvious.

However to my surprise, and dismay, they didn't subtract from her beauty at all. In my mind they actually accented her strength which made me want her even more. It had been her awkward nervousness that had stopped me then from taking the two small steps forward closing the distance between us.

Later in the bathroom, I had been so shocked when she pulled me close. It had been nearly impossible to pull away, but after kissing her forehead I reminded myself I was no good for her.

I sighed wishing for once my stars would align and something would go right. I knew I was not a good guy, but didn't everyone deserve at least one truly good thing in their world. I had been avoiding Aviana as best I could desperate to protect her from myself.

"Liam, meetings in ten minutes. You asked me to remind you." Adams' voice came from the open doorway.

I nodded, "Be there in a second."

That's how twenty minutes I sat surrounded by my men trying desperately to keep my mind on what was being said. The meeting was just updates on everything that had been happening lately. Not exciting enough to keep my mind entirely off of what I had seen in the garden, or Aviana.

"So the interrogation of Jessica went well and we were able to figure out exactly what was leaked. Luckily it'll be easy to clear just need to rearrange the schedule a bit." Ian said, shrugging passively.

"I can do that this afternoon." Natalie said.

"I'll help." Ash spoke surprising us all. He normally preferred to listen not speak.

"Thank you." Natalie responded, the only one unphased as she smiled shyly at him.

He grinned back.

"Well that's not weird at all." Ian said, cocking an eyebrow.

Ash glanced at him annoyance flicking across his stoic expression.

"Good." I sighed, "What about the Falcons Adam? Has Dan backed off?"

"They are ignoring our warnings and claiming we broke the truce when Ash shot the guy at the docks." Adam said cooly. "We also had a bit of a squabble with them downtown this morning, as you know. None of our guys were hurt badly but Dan and two others were killed."

"Dan's dead." I thought for a second before saying. "Natalie, can you go get Aviana? We need to know who is going to take over, and what to expect from them."

Natalie nodded and walked out.

"Why are you hanging out with my girlfriend?" Mason said as soon as the door closed behind her.

His arms were crossed and he glared over at Asher who stood in the back leaning against the wall. As always preferring the outside as opposed to sitting around the desk with us.

Ash just scowled at him in response.

"It's not cool, that's all I mean. She is mine..." Mason started.

"Watch it. Natalie doesnt belong to anyone and with all the stepping out you do I'm shocked she still puts up with you." I snapped.

"Hey I said I was sorry." Mason shrugged passively.

"Again." Ash's voice was cold and hard, and with one single word seemed to make the point I hadn't with my little rant.

Mason blushed and looked down at his hands thoroughly shamed.

The door opened and Natalie walked back in followed by Aviana. She wore dark jeans that hugged her in all the places I wished I could, and as usual the black hoodie.

Absently I wondered if she even knew it was mine, I doubted it. Her long auburn hair was pulled tight in a ponytail and she had on a light dusting of natural looking make-up.

She was stunning and I wasn't the only one to notice. Ian openly gaped at her, whistling, before looking in my direction. Meeting my warning glare he was suddenly very interested in the paperwork in front of him. I had threatened him to stay away from her weeks ago, and joke as he might, Ian followed orders well.

"Avi thank you for joining us. We need your intel on a situation." I said in my best all business tone.

"Okay." She said quietly, looking me over and blushing.

Why did she have to make ignoring her so hard? She had to see that I was no good for her. However, the tension was stifling. I allowed myself to wonder momentarily whether it would help if we just stopped fighting it.

I shook my head taking a deep breath then met her eyes cautiously. "Dan was killed earlier today."

I wondered whether I should add an I'm sorry but decided not to. Whether because it would look bad for me or because she wouldn't want to hear it, I wasn't sure.

Shock crossed her face before she huffed relieved.

"Dan is dead..." She said slowly as if trying out the words.

I watched her for a moment allowing her to process this. Suddenly though her expression shifted into terror. She shook her head and started backing up slowly. Then she turned bolting out the door leaving it open behind her.

"Well that was weird." Ian said with a shocked expression as I stood to follow her. "But you know what they say the crazy ones are the best!"

"Asshole." Ash snapped.

Then I was out of earshot as I flew down the hall and out the front door.

"Avi wait!" I yelled as she disappeared into the edge of the woods.

I followed her through the trees stopping only when I found her sitting deep in the forest with her back against a tree and knees pulled tightly to her chest. I walked up leaning back against a tree across from her.

"You need to let me go." Her voice had the same forced bravery as she had shone the first night we met. She stared past me with a vacant expression.

"Tell me what is going on." I said watching her closely.

"By now Jacob has assumed control over the Falcons and he will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He will kill everyone here and all of his own men if he has to. He's crazy, and he won't give up." She said stoically as if she couldn't care less.

"What exactly does he want?" I knew the answer, but a part of me needed her to verify that I was right.

"Me..." Her voice broke and fear flashed across her face but vanished just as quickly replaced by the same stubborn determination I had grown to respect.

Anger flared in my chest at the realization that maybe I had been wrong and she wasn't afraid of Dan. Maybe she was more afraid of who Dan could unleash on her, but we had unknowingly broken the chain setting loose her greatest nightmare.

I looked deep into her eyes, filled with turmoil and confusion. I wanted nothing more than for her to trust me. It was only her and I here, nobody else to look weak in front of. So in that second I made a decision.

I smiled then pushed off the tree brushing myself off. "Come on." I said offering her my hand.
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