Crossroads: Book 1

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Chapter 22


“What the fuck are you doing here!” Mike bellows at Declan, who had rushed to his feet by the force of the door, backing away slowly with his hands up towards Mike on defense. He is stalking towards Declan with his fists clenched at his sides, forcing his muscles to contract - making the ink on his arms move in sync.

“I- I was just...” Declan starts.

As soon as Mike grabs Declan by the throat to hold him up against the wall, causing our china hutch to rattle, I rush out of the chair. Stretching my hand out for Mike’s arm, I beg him to let go of Declan, but he doesn’t hear me.

“I told you to fucking stay away from her!” he yells in Declan’s face. Declan struggles to breathe, using his fingers to claw at Mike’s fists in an attempt to release the tight grip around his throat.

“Mike!” I cry out. “Please let him go; you’re scaring me.” Before I know it, tears flow down my cheeks.

Declan’s face is turning purple, matching the bruises on his nose. My pleas finally wrangle Mike’s attention. Glaring at me, I see his green eyes are dark, full of malice. He turns his focus back to Declan and releases his grip like he’s dropping a bag of trash; Declan falls to his feet. Gasping for air -his hands reach for his neck in an effort to soothe it from nearly being crushed like an empty soda can.

“Get out, asshole, before I break your nose again,” Mike spits.

He gave him that broken nose?

Declan is a guest in this house. Mike doesn’t live here, given the current events – I agree that Declan should leave, but not like this. “Michael,” I warn. He shoots me a look like I triggered a bomb – I might have.

Turning to Declan, I gently place my hand around his arm to guide him to the door. Not even two steps later, I feel a grip on my elbow.

“Let go of him, Elena.” Mike is demanding. His voice is deep, clipped.

I’ve had it with his temper. I know he doesn’t like Declan, but this is my house, not his. “Let go of me, Michael. This isn’t your house; you have no right to insult my guest. You have got to calm down. I will walk him to the door – okay.”

He forces himself to release my arm, but not without nearly knocking the breath out of my lungs with the scornful heat in his eyes as they burn their way into me.

I turn towards Declan, fully aware that Mike is heaving out murderous breaths. I open the door for Declan. “You should probably leave. Thank you for talking with me. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” My voice is low. He nods at me with a small smile.

“Are you going to be okay?” Clearly, Declan’s worried about me having to face the wrath of Mike, but I know Mike will never hurt me.

“Yeah – I’ll be fine. I’ll see you tomorrow.” I assure him, trying to get him to leave. I’m not sure how much longer Mike can keep his cool.

When Declan turns out the door, I gently close it behind him then nearly give myself whiplash spinning around to Mike. “What the hell was that?” I scream. “You do not just get to barge in here and strangle people! What is wrong with you?”

I take note of his change in demeanor after Declan leaves. He stands there with his arms across his chest -breathing normally now. “He shouldn’t have been here,” he says it as though it’s a matter of fact with a shrug of his shoulders.

“You also punched him?!” I’m still trying to pick up the pieces; why would he punch Declan?

“Yeah, at the party, he was getting on my nerves.” I really wish he would stop shrugging his shoulders like his actions were validated.

“That isn’t a reason to punch someone, Mike! The cops were called on you, did you know that? What were you doing at that party that made someone call the cops?” Was he in on all of this? “How did you find me?” Was he sent as a distraction? I can’t believe my mind went that far; he wouldn’t do something like that – would he? Surely, he wasn’t a part of that...

“Damn jock.” Mike’s voice is starting to rise. “He called the cops on me? Someone should have called the cops on those guys who were all over you!” Taking in a breath after looking at me, his shoulders slump. “I may have rattled a cage or two in finding out where you were. When I got there, you weren’t with him, and after...a light use of force, he told me where you were, and that’s how I found you.”

Relief is swept over me as he continues, “And everything Darrel let you go through; you still allow him in this house? Why would you allow that?” Now he sounds offended.

I can’t keep up with him. He was just about to murder Declan in my kitchen; then he’s all calm, mad, then calm, now he’s blatantly offended – at me!

I throw my hands up in the air. “His name is Declan, and this isn’t your house! If he wants to come here to talk with me, then he can! And he should be able to do so without you going all psycho,” I yell.

That flips the switch, so he yells at me now. “Do you not remember what happened to you, Elena? He did nothing to help you – he was your fucking date! He should have protected you!”

My feet stomp quickly to the table, grabbing the mugs to bring them to the sink; I become infuriated. How dare he ask me if I don’t remember. I do – mostly.

I whirl around from the sink. “He came here to apologize, Mike. He came here to talk to me about it, to give me his side of the story. What’s your excuse? Why are you here?” I ask.

He stalks closer. “What did he say? Did he know them?” It’s safe to say he didn’t know the guys either. My last two questions are completely left unanswered, but his voice is softer now, causing me to relax a bit.

“He said that they were really dangerous guys. That if he tried to stop them then, they would probably hurt me even worse and make him watch. So, he felt like he couldn’t do anything about it. He was glad that you were able to get me out of there – though, he’s surprised that you were able to...” His shoulders relax a tiny bit – but I can still see he’s as tense as I feel.

“How does he know them?” he presses.

“You barged in here before I could find out,” I say, annoyed, the information I wanted was so close to me only to be yanked away.

“Shit, I’m sorry, Elena.” He sounds apologetic. “I saw his car and I just – I freaked out... Did you get a name, at least?”

The name.

Yes, I have a name.

A name that blisters my mind raw, paralyzes my tongue and constricts my vocal cords. I can’t say it out loud. I just can’t. Before all of it felt like a nightmare, I didn’t know a name or a face – just those cold eyes. But now... now I have a name; the rest of him falls into place. I remember. I remember everything.

“Elena, are you alright?” Before I know it, Mike is standing before me; he looks so nervous. He reaches for my cheek to brush something wet away. I take my hand and bring it under my eyes – since when did I start to cry?

No, no, I see him. I see him now. He has an eyebrow ring. Those lips - he has an evil grin on his face – I can almost hear his voice. The hair – raven black hair, falls just above his eyes. I knew this all before – I had to have. My subconscious must have locked it away for my own protection. Why is it let out now?

I scream. My hands are in my hair, pulling at the roots. Tears are streaming down my face; when did I get on the opposite side of the room? Mike’s staring at me like I’m going to run. I just might.

“No, no, no, no!” All I can say is ‘no,’ it’s on repeat. I’m reliving it. Seeing his face embedded in my mind like a growing cancer. I can feel his hands, his cold, cold hands – matching his eyes. Before I know it, I’m screaming, pacing, and pulling my hair. I need to get him out of my mind before I completely lose it.

“Elena...” I hear for the thousandth time. Mike’s voice is quiet, soothing, in efforts of calming me down, but all it’s doing is driving me mad.

“Stop saying my name!” I need to get away. He can’t see me like this. I am completely unraveling here. I need to take a shower – I need to scrub off my skin again. It helped a little before. I need to get that face out of my head; he’s constantly touching me, grinning at me, talking to me, feeling me – it needs to stop!

Before I know it, I’m in the bathroom and slam the door in Mike’s face. He wants to help me, to comfort me, but I’m just so embarrassed, angry, and I’m feeling violated all over again. Frantically stripping, I turn the faucet in the shower all the way to the end of the red zone; I jump under the scalding water, grab my loofah, and start scrubbing.

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