Chapter 8: Runaway
After Liam left I decided it was high time I do the same. Standing hesitantly at the door, I listened as his footstep receded down the hall. Then I stood in the middle of the room contemplating my options.
There was the door that led into the maze of this massive house that I would have to try and navigate, or I could try the window.
I walked across the room and looked outside realizing for the first time that I was almost three stories up. It was high, but there was a tree if I could manage to climb along the ledge to it. It was a long shot, but it was also my only chance.
I hurriedly pulled the window open feeling the strain of my back muscles pulling against the stitches. I froze, taking a deep breath as an icy blast of fresh air hit my face, wincing as my lungs ached in protest.
Looking back one last time I climbed out onto the ledge shuffling the few feet to the large fir tree. I climbed down to the lowest branch suddenly realizing I was still about seven feet off the ground.
"Damn hollywood and their perfect escape trees." I muttered as I tensed to jump, knowing full well it was going to hurt.
The jump was almost graceful, that was until I landed awkwardly my right ankle twisting sharply before giving out completely.
I fell to the ground biting my tongue as I fought a cry of pain building in my throat. Despite the throbbing I had to keep going if I wanted to get away though.
I stood fighting tears as I limped towards the cover of trees away from the house.
However, I only got a few feet into the woods before a large firm hand caught my right arm in an iron tight grip, stopping me in my tracks.
This caused me to misstep putting too much pressure on my ankle. With one quick jerk I spun falling to my knees, the pain in my back and ankle excruciating.
"Where do you think you are going?" Liam growled down at me tightening his grip on my wrist till it was painful. His blue eyes flashed with concern contradicting the menacing glare that was etched into the rest of his face.
"Away from you!" I snapped but my voice broke exposing my fear.
I tried to pull away despite knowing by now I was caught.
I fought not to shy away from the anger flashing in his eyes, his grip tightening slightly.
With all the pain, I could feel my mind trying to shut down. I fought it, if I passed out now I would be entirely at his mercy. He could do anything, I had to take back some control of this situation. I shivered, and binked hard trying to erase the black spots from my vision.
"You are not going anywhere." He glowered down at me.
I could smell the alcohol on his breath. As I felt myself slipping, fear flashed in his eyes, an emotional conflict obvious on his face.
"Avi, are you okay?!" He asked, his voice changing dramatically.
"I-I'm fine." But my voice sounded weak and far away as my mind finally won the battle over my consciousness and I felt myself begin to slip away.
My anger faded into sheer fear as I watched her body go limp. I crouched just in time to stop her head from hitting the ground.
"Crazy ass woman. Why do you do this to yourself?" I groan picking her up and cradling her tightly to my chest.
My heart fluttered, having her so close. I fought to convince myself it was just lust, I tried to ignore how different it felt from what I had felt for Jess.
After getting her back into her room, and having Jay restitch her back and put a brace on her badly sprained ankle, I sat in one of the chairs, next to the small table, facing her bed.
"You are going to get yourself killed trying to escape from the only safe place for you. I can't understand it. For the first time in your life you are safe, nobody here is going to hurt you. Yet you stubbornly fight against my protection." My voice grew as I spoke projecting all of my frustration into the empty room.
"You of all people should understand not trusting in even the obvious good. Not that that's what this is to her." Adams' thoughtful voice shocked me.
He must have slipped in at some point. He came and sat in the chair opposite the table also facing Aviana.
"What do you mean." I sighed, leaning back and resigning to having this conversation.
"Well she has no control over anything in her life. You decide who she sees and when, what she's offered to eat and drink. No offense but did you even ask if she liked pizza?" Adam nodded to the plate still full, minus the one bite I took.
I shrugged thoughtfully.
"Exactly." Adam shook his head, rolling his eyes. "You can't just lock her up in a padded room and say, stay here you're safe. She wont believe you. She needs some freedom."
There was a pause before I whispered suddenly exhausted, "I am trying."
"I know, just think about it." He said cautiously, then he sighed, "Listen I know you are stressed out right now, but we do have this meeting tonight with..."
I cut him off, "You deal with it. It's a standard pickup but take Ian, maybe Asher too."
"Always overly cautious." Adam smiled nodding.
"Better safe than sorry." I hesitated then added, still not looking at him, "Men you can trust are hard to come by."
"Oh, would you miss me?" Adam laughed and nudged me.
"I meant Ian, but sure." I smirked, glancing at him out of the corner of my eye.
At that he bit his lip, chest heaving as he tried to laugh quietly. I grinned taking a deep breath.
Minutes ticked by till I glanced over again and noticed he was squinting down at his hands.
There was something else he needed to say but he wasn't sure how.
As long as I had known Adam he was clever, always thought everything through before he said it. Normally this took no time at all but if it was something he didn't want to say it could be a while.
"What's up?" I asked, finally meeting his gaze.
"Maybe we should talk in the hall." He said quietly frowning at where Aviana lay.
"She's asleep, what's going on?"
"Her father's gang is causing serious trouble, and attracting the feds to our turf." Adam looked as close to pissed as he ever seemed to get. "And you were right Jess was the snitch, but she took off."
"I expected no less on either accounts." My voice was sharp and acidic. Aviana groaned lightly drawing my attention back to her. "If Jess comes back, lock her up. I'll contact Mr. Johnson with the first warning."
"Yes boss." Adam glanced at Aviana with a grin, "And good luck with that one, she's a wild little firecracker."
I glared up at him. "I'm not sure what you are implying, but you are wrong."
"Sure thing Lee." He chuckled and I rolled my eyes looking back at Aviana.
He walked out still chuckling as the door clicked shut behind him. I sighed deeply, finally alone I laid my head in my hands and closed my eyes.
"Why?" Her voice, while barely above a whisper still shocked me.
I sat up right dropping my hand and watched her confused for a moment. She was still laying on her stomach, head on the pillow but her large vibrant green eyes were staring at me, begging to understand.
"What?" I asked quickly regaining my poker face.
"If you knew he wouldn't abide by the agreement, why make the deal?" She seemed hesitant, not meeting my gaze. For the first time her guard was completely down.
Whether because she had just woke up, or she was just too tired to keep it up. I didn't know the reason but her fear of me, of this situation, was not masked in the least.
This was probably why I almost told her the truth, but I couldn't. It would be the ultimate show of weakness. So instead I said, "So I could make an example of them when they crossed me."
She shuddered, looking down, her face almost buried in the pillow.
I wanted so badly to tell her the truth. I wanted to tell her that when I heard what was going on in that house of horrors, I had to get her out. That I would have sacrificed more than just some negative attention to do so.
"What are you worried about your family?" I asked sarcastically instead.
I regretted it the minute it left my mouth, even before the pain and anger flashed across her face.
Suddenly she was guarded again. Her jaw tightened and she sat up pulling her knees to her chest in a position that I was already seeing as a trademark for her.
"I don't have nor do I want a family." She shuddered involuntarily again, before adding, "And they sure as hell are no family to me."
I nodded slowly wondering how I could take it back.
"It doesn't make sense though." She was speaking quietly as if to herself more than to me. There was a new edge to her voice as she spoke. It was quiet, calculated, and knowledgeable. "There are easier, safer, and more effective ways to set an example..."
I just shrugged in response. I was impressed yet slightly frustrated that my cover hadn't worked as well as I had hoped it would.
After a minute she looked up at me again, Her expression was stoic, her tone of voice flat as she said, "Are you going to kill me now?"
I sighed thinking of what Adam had said, while fighting my initial instinct to say simply not yet.
"No, I have no intention of killing, hurting, or using you." I leaned back against the chair watching her calmly.
The confusion that crossed her delicate features, breaking though her tight mask, brought another wave of fury to my chest.
That was when I realized that under her strong, unphasable facade, a part of her couldn't help but believe she was worth no more than what she had received in life so far. Part of her believed she really was just another punching bag or sex toy. That hit me harder than anything else had yet.
"When you are well enough you are free to wander the house and grounds all you want. Or go shopping with the girls or something. I only ask that until things settle down and I feel it is safe you don't leave the grounds without Adam, James, Ian, Asher, or myself with you. You are not a prisoner here."
She stared at me incredulously.