The Road Between

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Chapter 9: Guarded Trust

Aviana's POV

I just stared at him, I wasn't sure whether I should believe him or not. What he said sounded impossible to me, but the look on his face was so sincere. His bright blue eyes looked so honest.

He wore a white tank top and blue jeans. His black leather jacket was tossed across the table next to him.

Suddenly, he looked nervous. He ran his hand through his bright, blonde hair. With his bare arms, I couldn't help but notice his muscles shifting under the tight skin on his biceps.

I swallowed hard imagining once again how badly someone his size, with his strength, could hurt me. I couldn't imagine any other experience. With that amount of strength, there was only pain.

"Anyway I need to get back to work. Rest up and eat, please." He said looking back at me.

His eyes swept over me until they suddenly stopped lingering on my lips. He frowned looking down, slightly flushed before he stood up with a sigh.

He walked to the door frame then stopped hesitating. Suddenly he hung his head with a deep sigh then turned to face me.

"Is there anything else I could get you that you would feel more comfortable eating." He turned slowly, looking at me again. "What if I had someone bring individually wrapped snacks and bottled water?"

I nodded dumbfounded. He returned the gesture before walking out.

I had so much to think over, but the thing that bugged me the most was why had he taken the deal. Why had he jeopardised his territory knowing full well Dan had no intention of keeping his side.

Now the Reapers would have to go through the formality of warning the Falcons before defending their territory. Who knew what damage might be done by then, or how much negative attention could be turned to them.

He had risked his members for something he knew wasn't going to work. My first instinct was to think bad leadership, but the respectful manner in which his men talked to him, the few interactions I had seen, proved that he was a good leader.

I got up limping slowly to the bathroom, when I got back out there was a plate on the bed with cheese sticks, granola bars, and three bottles of unopened water. I sat down eating hungrily.

A few minutes later there was a faint knock on the door. I froze, swallowing the last of my food

"Hey." A female version of Liam walked into the room smiling sweetly. "My name is Scarlet, but you can just call me Scar. I'm here to make sure Liams taking good care of you."

I stared at her without responding. She was as beautiful as Liam was handsome, with those same bright blue eyes and bright blond hair. Scarlet's hair was long and wavy cascading down her slender shoulders. She was tall, I assumed around six feet. She wore dark blue jeans and a light pink v-neck, fitted blouse.

I pulled the sleeves of my baggy black hoodie tightly over my hands grateful that it was so huge on me. I also wore light blue sweats and my hair hung loose covering the side of my face. I wasn't sure how to react to her presence.

Dan never kept females around for longer than a couple of days, and then they were always so drugged they could never remember anything.

Scarlet wasn't as threatening as the men, but I didn't know how to talk to her, what to say, or even how women were supposed to interact.

She sighed exasperated, making me jump and effectively snapping me back to the present, "I see that he hasn't. Have you even been offered a shower yet hun?"

I swallowed, forcing myself to sit up taller. "No, but who exactly are you again?"

"Liam's twin, Scar. In all honesty he sent me up here to babysit you." Scarlet rolled her eyes, "Which, I can't lie, after your latest stunt I think may actually be necessary."

I blushed looking down at my hands in my lap.

"But, he is insane if he thinks we are just going to sit here cooped up in this little room all day." She placed her hands on her hips looking me over slowly, "So your clothes are in the dresser, take a shower and I'll go get you some crutches."

I looked at the bathroom door, my heart felt like it was going to rip it's way out of my chest and my breathing was speeding up. Was somebody going to slip in with me? Watch me? Would I be safe there?

"The door locks from the inside and only Liam and myself have keys. I know how you are feeling, but you are safe here." She smiled sadly.

There was suddenly a haunted look in her eyes that I recognized all too well, she really did know how I felt.

"I'm sorry." I said finally meeting her gaze.

"Yeah it sucks." She sat on the bed beside me with a sigh staring straight ahead with an absent look in her eye. "Not that being raped once is as bad as what you have been through." She shuddered, "I can't even imagine."

I shrugged, "It still breaks you. No reason to compare. Once or a hundred times it still destroys who you once were."

She stared at me sadly, "It definitely changes you, but it doesn't have to destroy you. It would have destroyed me if not for Liam though." She suddenly smiled widely, blushing deep crimson as she ran her hand through her hair, the same way Liam did so often. "And Adam."

I couldn't help but smirk at her reaction, something about her made it so easy to drop my guard.

"Who is Adam? Have I met him yet?" I asked thinking back.

Her laugh chimed through the room. I just stared at her confused.

"Yeah, he's the one you kneed in the balls at the docks." She said, still chuckling.

It was my turn to flush red, "Oh."

She suddenly turned serious again, "He feels really bad about that by the way. He didn't mean you any harm. He hasn't come around here much because he's worried you will feel unsafe."

"I should be the one apologizing, I know he was just trying to help. I was just..." I paused, chewing on my bottom lip.

I didn't want to divulge how terrified I had been. I wasn't sure why it was but Scarlet was too easy to talk to. I kept having to stop myself before I said too much.

"I know, so does he. He doesn't hold it against you." She smiled blushing again.

"You're lucky to have such a great boyfriend." I smiled at her.

She looked shocked, "What? Oh no no, um he's not my boyfriend." She blushed looking down at her hands. "I mean he's just Liam's best friend, he doesn't think of me that way. Not that I want him too." She trailed off biting her lip.

"Oh." I made a mental note to see how Adam acted around her. Not that I had any experience, but if it was always this obvious I was sure I could tell.

"Anyway, take a shower and we'll go down to the game room and watch a movie." She perked back up.

"Okay," I said then paused. "What about my back?"

"Water resistant bandages, you'll be okay. I'll switch them over after the shower." Scar shrugged, "I know what I'm doing, don't fret, I did it the first time. Jay was out of town." She explained smiling at me kindly.

"Oh, thank you." I said embarrassed at the thought of anyone seeing my broken and scarred body.

"Well it wasn't just me. Liam and Adam helped also. It was a rather large job." Her brows furrowed as she watched me. Unasked questions seemed to hang in the air causing an awkward tension.

All I could think was I had been practically naked, and unconscious, in front of two men and they hadn't hurt me. The concept seemed not only foriegn but impossible.

Back with the Falcons you would have been punished for not taking advantage, not to mention helping me.

Maybe it would be okay to let these people help me. They had yet to hurt me in any way and I had been here for several days. Liam had seemed sincere when he said they weren't going to hurt me.

"Thank you,'' I said again distractedly.

Slowly I stood walking into the bathroom without meeting her gaze again.

"Of course," Scarlet's voice sounded cheerful, and though I didn't look at her I could imagine the wide friendly smile she had on her face.

I took my time alone in the shower to reflect on my predicament. I wasn't dumb, I knew my knewest injuries were completely my fault.

This was a different environment from what I was used to, and my normal preservation tactics just weren't working here.

I sighed wondering whether I should stop fighting unless it became necessary. At least until I had the strength to fight.

After squirting extra soap onto a washcloth, I viciously scrubbed at the bruises and scars that coated my skin. In ruthless desperation, I tried to rid myself of the torturous memories and the shame that came with them.

I wanted nothing more than to wash away the past. I scoured my skin until it felt raw, in my vain attempt to somehow make myself whole again.

It wouldn't work though, I never would be whole or unbroken. I gave up and with a silent sob I leaned my forehead against the shower wall letting the water run over my back as I cried.

When I finally got out and dressed I limped over to where Scarlet was waiting on the bed. Next to her was a stack of new bandages and crutches propped up against the bed.

I allowed her to rebandage my back before accepting the crutches hesitantly.

"Is this really necessary?" I asked, shifting my weight uncomfortably as the bars pressed into my armpits.

"Honestly, probably not. However, to keep the peace with Liam, I would highly suggest it." She shrugged.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Well technically I was told to stay in here with you, because he doesn't think you should be walking around on that ankle. This way we can get out and he still gets what he wants." She shrugged, "With Liam you learn to compromise, he's less likely to throw a fit that way."

I couldn't help but smile. She talked about Liam as if he were a child, instead of the most feared kingpin in western America.

"Okay, fair enough." I resigned.

When we got to the stairs I handed her one crutch using the railing and remaining crutch to hobble down the steps slowly. At the bottom of the second flight there was a large wood door partially ajar.

"Is Liam in there?" I asked, despite the crutches I was still worried about being out of the room he wanted me in.

"Probably not, he rarely takes a break." Scarlet said pushing the door open.

As she opened the door though I saw him sitting on a couch in the back corner. Another man sat next to him, they were both bent over the small coffee table that was covered in papers. They were talking in hushed voices.

I froze.

"What's wrong?" Scarlet asked looking back at me.

"He's mad at me." I whispered almost inaudibly.

She chuckled, rolling her eyes, "More frustrated, and definitely concerned." Her smile faltered as she met my fearful gaze. "Anger is a natural emotion. Unlike some Liam won't act on it unless he has to, and he doesn't have to with you. You are safe."

I nodded slowly then followed her into the room. Thanks to the sound of my crutches the boys turned to face us immediately.

"Scarlet Elizabeth Bly, what are you doing?" Liam sighed, running his fingers through his hair. He looked exhausted and I hadn't noticed the stress etched into his sharp jawline before.

"We wanted to watch a movie. You can't honestly expect us to stay cooped up in that room all day. Not a chance." Scarlet stopped when we were next to the couch across from the second man.

"Cool we just finished up here, mind if we join you." The other man, who I thought I recognized as Adam, asked smiling broadly at her.

"That would be awesome." She blushed. Then she hesitated looking at me with a pleading expression. "If you don't mind."

Even though Scarlet wasn't even a friend yet, she had been nothing but kind and helpful so far. That was how I found myself nodding with one quick jerk and plastering on my best attempt at a smile.

Liam watched, his stunningly blue eyes curious as they seemed to see right through me. I quickly looked down fidgeting with the hem of the huge black pull-over hoodie I wore almost constantly.

"So I'm Adam. We never officially met." Adam smiled calmly up at me, extending a cautious hand.

Reluctantly I extended my own hand, shaking quickly before drawing back.

"I don't know if you could survive an official meeting after your unofficial one." Scarlet chuckled earning a boisterous laugh from Adam.

I felt the blood rush into my cheeks and bit my lip fighting to force it away.

"I am so..." I began slowly.

"Nah, don't be." Adam smiled brightly as Scarlet walked over sitting on the end of the couch next to him.

While altogether a harmless move, she had unintentionally left me to sit on the opposite side next to Liam. Who was still watching me, though at this point I doubted he even noticed.

I was wondering absently if I would be able to get away with sitting on the ground, when Liam noticing my nervousness scooted over leaving me more than enough room to sit comfortably without worrying about contact.

Adam picked up a remote opening up Netflix and they all started discussing movies.

"How about a gangster flick?" Adam asked leaning forward.

"No." Liam groaned, "Don't you get enough of that in our everyday."

"I want a romance." Scarlet smiled, blushing slightly.

"No!" Liam and Adam said in unison.

Scarlet pouted good naturedly for a second before laughing. "I swear you guys are impossible."

I sat down watching them in this scene, they seemed normal.

"What do you want to watch Lee?" Adam asked.

"Honestly I think I should probably..." Liam started.

"Sit back and take a much needed break?" Scarlet said sarcastically, earning yet another eye roll from Liam. "I completely agree."

It was so easy to want to be a part of their playful banter I caught myself chuckling at them.

Liam glanced over at me grinning, "What do you want to watch Avi?"

I froze as they all turned to face me. Scarlet nodded encouragingly. Quickly I glanced at the screen reading off a random title.

"Um, Blood Red Angels?" I said unsure.

Liam lifted one eyebrow grinning unevenly at me. "Okay then Blood Red Angels it is."

Adam pressed play on the film. Then laid his hand across the back of the couch behind Scarlet, as the show started.
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