Chapter 4: Fighting Feelings
As we drove down the long secluded driveway, outside the city, I wasn't surprised to see that most of the lights were off. The three story mansion was roughly the size of a small hotel. It was light green making it seem to blend into the circle of forest surrounding it.
Our gardener kept the lawn cut neatly and seasonal flowers blooming most of the year. There was a pool outback, indoor gym downstairs, and hot tub. There was rarely a reason we left aside from work.
The house itself consisted of ten bedrooms and eleven bathrooms. All of the main members lived there and with room to spare.
However I was quickly distracted remembering the girl that was now completely unconscious in my back seat. I climbed out and opened the back door before I carefully scooped her up into my arms. I carried her to the guest room I had asked Scarlet to get ready earlier that day.
Adam followed closely behind, and though I didn't know why, I was grateful.
As I walked, I noticed liquid seeping through Adam's jacket, which was still wrapped around her shoulders. The warm fluid was soaking through the sleeve of my jacket. As I laid her down, I rolled her onto her side, and realized it was blood.
"What the hell... " I muttered slowly, removing the jacket to reveal the end of a long, thin cut that ran under her shirt.
I quickly took my knife out of my pocket, flipping it open and carefully cutting open the back of her shirt. I froze momentarily.
"Fuck... Adam, call Jay now!" I hissed.
Adam's phone was already on his ear. "Hey, Jay. Liam needs to talk to you."
He quickly put the phone on speaker before running into the adjoined bathroom for supplies.
"What can I do for you, Liam?" Jay's voice was calm and collected, as always. Adam returned with the first aid kit, some towels and warm water.
I, however, couldn't seem to tame the rising panic in my stomach. I wasn't used to feeling this way. It irritated me that some random Jane Doe could ruin the years of feeling nothing by suddenly making me scared for her.
"It's this woman we picked up; her back is covered in scabbed lacerations, but one is ripped back open and bleeding profusely. She's losing color, has shallow breath and a weak pulse." I responded as calmly as I could manage.
Jay's tone shifted suddenly. "Adam, go get Scarlet. She can help more than any of us right now. Liam, Scarlet will need one of you to help her. The other needs to make sure she has everything she needs."
"What's the emergency?" Scarlet asked, as she rushed in, pulling her long, blonde hair into a ponytail. Her icy blue eyes surveyed the room, noticing who was available to assist. It was clear she had been asleep when Adam was sent to find her, as she was wearing white pajama bottoms and a pink camisole tank top.
She gasped at the sight of the woman, freezing for a split second to examine the scene in front of her. After she had analyzed the situation, she immediately got to work.
"Adam, get the spare stitching kit. It's in the bathroom down the hall. Liam put pressure on that, the towels are right next to you. I need to wash my hands." With that, she darted into the bathroom and returned with a pair of latex gloves in hand. Scarlet snapped them on before starting her work.
"Call if you need anything, Scarlet." Jay said, "Good luck."
Scarlet nodded, not stopping to speak. Somehow, Jay seemed to know he had been acknowledged; or at least, he didn't wait for any actual response before hanging up.
I watched in awe as she cleaned, stitched, then cleaned again; she made quick work of what had, to me, seemed to be an impossible feat.
"Liam, make yourself useful. Check for bleeding anywhere else." She commanded.
Adam smirked, watching her admiringly, as always. Scarlet was too focused to notice, though I knew she would have been thrilled.
"Yes, ma'am," I answered, rolling my eyes.
We worked in silence for a few minutes, Adam running to get anything we needed, until curiosity got the better of me.
"When did you learn all of this, Scar?" I asked as I examined each cut and bruise. I grabbed a washcloth and started cleaning up any excess blood to better tell if she was still bleeding anywhere else.
"Jay taught me while you were training with Marcus." She mumbled as she made the last stitch. "Liam, clean that gently, please. We need to make sure the bleeding has stopped."
When it was clean, we could see the bleeding had stopped.
"I'm going to wash my hands again. Have plenty of clean gauze and medical tape ready when I get back." She said, walking to the bathroom door.
When she reached the doorframe, she paused, looking back, "Adam, find a brace. Her wrist is badly sprained."
I started wiping layers of dirt off of the woman's face. I marveled at how the same deathly pale skin that had made her father look demonic somehow managed to make her look angelic.
"If you survive this you owe me a new bed set." I whispered to her, for reasons I didn't even know, as Scarlet walked back in and started bandaging the woman's back.
Adam chuckled, "I never thought I would see the day Liam Bly was caring for someone other than his little sister."
Scarlet glared at him and I tossed the towel at him, "You do it then. I think I need a drink."
As I walked out I heard him ask, "What did I do?"
"You can be so naive." Was all I heard of Scarlet's reply.
He was wrong; I didn't care. I decided this as I walked down the stairs to the kitchen. After splashing water on my face and grabbing a beer, I was ready to head back.
When I got back, Scarlet was almost done bandaging all of the woman's wounds. Her back and chest were loosely wrapped with a large wrap to protect the gauze. Adam was sitting in a chair by her head, running a wet hair brush through her matted hair, in an attempt to clean it.
"Go grab a t-shirt, sweats, and a hoodie. Yours, please." She said without looking up.
"Why mine?" I asked.
"You could grab Adams. Mine wouldn't be baggy enough, they would put too much pressure on her wounds. She needs large clothes and you're a giant." She shrugged passively, still not looking up. "Which reminds me; Nat and I are going shopping tomorrow. I'll get her clothes then."
I don't know why, but I didn't want her wearing Adams clothes. It made no sense to me whatsoever. I was too distracted to pay much attention to Scarlet shopping again.
"Fine." I sighed, walking to my bedroom next door and grabbing some warm, and well covering, clothes.
I was responsible for her now. That had to be why I didn't want her in his clothes. She wasn't his responsibility; she was mine.
I shook my head, irritated with myself.
On my way back, I ran into Natalie in the hall. She wore a blue tracksuit with hot pink stripes, and her black hair pulled back into a tight ponytail. The sweat shining on her dark chestnut skin made it clear she had just finished her morning exercises in the gym downstairs.
I looked at my watch, realizing it was already six o'clock. Adam and I had been up all night and Scar had only gotten a few hours of sleep.
"Hey, Nat. You have plans this morning?" I asked as she took out her ear buds.
"Not for a while. Why?" She responded with a kind smile.
"I have a job for you. Come here." I gestured to the room, and held the door for her to walk in first.
"Who's this?" Natalie gasped, with a look of deep concern on her face.
She walked over and grabbed the hair brush from Adam. He had been falling asleep in his chair while trying to care for the woman in recovery. He willingly handed his position over to Natalie.
"We have been up all night. We all need some sleep but I'll explain more later." I sighed running my hand over my face. "Can you stay here and watch her?"
"Of course." She answered, smiling sadly at the woman on the bed.
I watched quietly as she and Scarlet started to gently slide my black hoodie over the woman's torso. It was huge on her but I had to admit something in the way back of my head liked how it looked as they pulled it down almost to her knees.
"I'll take over in a few hours, so you three can go shopping." I added, to take my mind off of the scene in front of me.
I glanced at Adam meeting his gaze for a split second.
He nodded silently acknowledging the unspoken command.
"You're so funny," Scarlet laughed, "No boys."
"Scar-" I started but she cut me off.
"It's not that we don't like spending time with Adam," Scarlet's eyes lit up at the mere mention of his name, Adam smiled over at her, "it's just that I need some girl time. Nat and I can take care of ourselves." She said, throwing her hands onto her hips.
I met my sister's gaze seeing the same stubborn determination I had seen hundreds of times and knew this was going to be a long drawn out battle. I had to win this one though.
Absently, I wondered if our expressions were as mirrored as our appearances alway had been. Did I have that same fire somehow burning behind my icey blue eyes?
"How about this," Adam interjected, playing peacemaker between us had become a talent of his. "I have some stuff to pick up as well. I will leave you guys alone, but I'll be near enough to help if you need me."
Scarlet sighed half heartedly, but after a second finally said, "Fine."
I rolled my eyes; Adam suggested the same thing I had, but as soon as it was his idea, it was okay.
Natalie chuckled, shaking her head, and shooting me a knowing look before rolling her eyes. She noticed, too.
"Sounds good. Glad that's worked out," I sighed rubbing my forehead.
"I'll let James know I'm alive." Natalie grumbled, annoyed, as she pulled out her phone, "He's so protective."
"That's what big brothers are for." I smirked.
"And little ones." Scarlet grinned.
"We are twins Scar." I groaned.
"Someone had to come first." She shrugged smiling broadly.
"Did I miss the part in mom's note that said which one of us did?"
She shrugged, "No, but don't worry I take the responsibility of being the eldest off your hands."
I rolled my eyes thoroughly annoyed. "You should go to bed. I'll be in my office if you need me."
I hesitated, looking back, "And this," I gestured to the woman and the rest of the room, "stays between us. Only the people who live in the house can know about her."
They all nodded.
"Good. Adam, inform the others." I waved my hand, dismissively, before walking out the door.
My head spun as I crossed the hall, walking down to the next door. I turned the doorknob, entering the room before slamming it shut behind me. What was wrong with me?
I growled through my teeth loudly, before putting my fist through a nearby wall.
I hated these feelings, I'm not supposed to experience this frustration, worry, anything.
Anger is all I was trained to know, instilling fear in anyone who hears my name, no weaknesses.
I was suddenly fighting such a mixture of strong emotions and I didn't understand. I had made myself numb in the last seventeen years since that first kill. I was not used to these feelings, and a strong leader wouldn't have them. My father hadn't had them.
The anger I recognized immediately of course, but then there was this feeling like I was getting punched in the gut every time I thought of her wounds. There was a familiar longing to kill anyone who had hurt her, including her so-called father. However there was also an unfamiliar longing to be next to her. To be there when this strange, stubborn, woman opened her emerald green eyes.
I was protective over her and I didn't even know her name. What had her father called her at the docks? Ana, he had said good luck Ana. Why did I care about Ana?
"It's just because she's an innocent under my charge. That's all." I growled laying my forehead against the wall with a heavy sigh.
While I knew I had never involved innocents, much less torchered them for my own entertainment, I was not completely convinced at this explanation as to why I felt so drawn to this woman.
"Let me see your hand." Scarlet's voice came from the doorway.
I turned to see her leaning against the door stop watching me, I hadn't even noticed the sound of the door open.
Her long wavy hair was down now and she was in fresh pajamas. Her bright blue eyes looked anxious though her posture was completely relaxed. I wondered what was worrying her, though I assumed it was the reason she was here and I would find out soon enough.
"It's fine." I groaned, turning to face into the room and propping my foot against the wall crossing my arms over my chest.
The walls were painted a light gray and the floor was a hardwood. Against the far wall was a propane furnace that mimicked a fireplace and in the middle of the room was a dark cherry desk covered in papers.
She looked nervous. I could always tell when something was wrong but this time it was beyond obvious that something was on her mind.
"Well that's more than I can say for the wall." She said looking at the floor as she rubbed her own forearm awkwardly.
I ran my fingers through my hair with a sigh. As I watched, her brow furrowed and she started chewing on her bottom lip.
"Can I ask you something?" She asked quietly.
"Of course sis, whats up?" I smiled trying to ease her anxiety before it got out of control again.
Her attacks were getting less and less frequent, but she seemed to be teetering on the brink right now.
"Are you going to force her to..." She paused, shifting her weight, "To be with you?"
"Hell no." I snapped shocked and more than a little offended. "I wouldn't do that to anyone."
I watched as relief flooded her face and I had to remind myself why she would worry about that at all. She was doing a lot better in these last few months, things were really bad right after her attack a year ago, but she still seemed to need the occasional reminder that not all men would take advantage like that.
"Oh thank God." She took a deep calming breath, anxiety now settling down. "Why did you accept her then? Adam explained why she's here."
"James was doing negotiations over there and saw what condition she was in. When he told me I agreed to try to help, so he set up the deal." I explained looking at the fake fire, embarrassed. "I didn't realize how bad it was though."
"Oh, I forgot James was working over there." She said thoughtfully.
"Her mother wasn't around, and her father obviously couldn't care less, nobody deserves that." I said as I turned my body away from her, I didn't want her to see me, and I didn't want to see what she thought of me right now either.
"At least we had Jay and Sarah." She said quietly, "And each other."
There was a long silence then I felt her arm wrap around my waist from behind and her head rested on my bicep. It was times like this that the five inches difference in height really became clear, even at five eleven she only came up to my shoulder.
"I love you Liam. We will always have each other." Scarlet said as I shifted so the arm she had been leaning against draped over her shoulder.
"I have to see if Jess has made any progress with finding the mole." I responded quietly, after a moment, then pulled away.
"Liam," Scarlet looked slightly hurt as she added, "You know that showing that you care is a sign of strength, not weakness, right? It was a strength Marcus never had, but you can."
I felt like she had slapped me across the face. Like she opened me up, found exactly what was wrong and twisted it to be my biggest fear.
"I'm sorry Scar, I love you too, more than you could ever know." Then I walked away headed to the security room, back to business.
It was there tracking shipments, and keeping control of my territory with my fists and guns, that I was comfortable.
I didn't save lives, I took them, I was the reaper king.