Chapter 51 : Caleb
Content Warning: Discussions about self-harm, sexual abuse, and suicide.
A/N: If these are things you’re not comfortable reading about, you are more than able to skip this whole chapter without worry. Please note that this is not meant to represent everyone who suffers from abuse, self-harm, or anything similar, it is simply written from my own individual perspective.
Also, as always, my messages are open to anyone who wants to talk, whether it’s about this chapter or anything else. ♡
Chapter 51 : Caleb
Friday, August 13th, 2021
Madelyn Adams—Madelyn Caddel—is Marcus’s daughter.
Daughter, daughter, daughter.
That single word has been echoing through my head over and over again during the last week we’ve spent with her.
Finding Madelyn in our kitchen on Monday was one of the biggest reliefs of my life, but despite that, I don’t know how nobody else is expressing how worrisome this entire situation is.
Seeing her back in our home brought a sense of happiness to me I didn’t know was possible, but that doesn’t change the fact that her father is the same person I’ve dedicated the last multiple years of my life to killing.
What’s worse is that I don’t plan to shoot down that dedication either. None of us do.
Where that leaves us now, however, I have no clue.
All I know at this point is that Xavier’s plan with his father fucked us all over, even if it was his only option at the time.
At the end of the day, that doesn’t change the fact that Madelyn is going to hate us when she finds out the very person we’ve spoken so lowly about is the man who also raised her.
Throughout my entire friendship with Alec and Xavier, I’ve always been the logical one; it is my job after all.
And between the smiles and words Madelyn and I have exchanged these last few days, I couldn’t help it as a daunting thought crossed my mind.
Is it possible this is all a trap?
As horrible as it is, it wouldn’t be the first time someone has tried to get close with us for information.
I had wondered if Madelyn was sent by her father to gain intel, because I know Madelyn is more than smart enough to do something like that.
That was where my mind branched to when I first found out her relation to Marcus, but then, I thought of every single moment we’ve shared together as well.
I can still see the fear in her eyes when Xavier shot that man all those weeks ago. And the lust she experienced when I teased her under the table at Jolene’s.
When she watched Alec and I take that girl together at the wedding, and the first time she submitted completely to us, just as we’ve been slowly giving ourselves to her in return.
I would like to think the emotion she feels for us now is and has only ever been real, because the alternative would be a loss I could never recover from.
I knew that much for certain.
Then again, this role I’m supposed to play means I’ve also always been the one to find solutions to impossible problems.
That ability was the reason I was permanently hired on with the Mafia, but I can’t find a way to get us out of Xavier’s decoy plan while protecting our relationship simultaneously.
The weight of this situation has been keeping me up for nights, but no matter every possible angle I look from, no outcome is desirable.
The reality is that Xavier and Alec are forever going to be in the Mafia.
With the two as current underbosses, both are also destined to become Dons after their fathers either pass away or are forced to step down from their positions in another manner.
Whatever the case, I don’t know what we were thinking when forming this relationship with Madelyn.
How did we think we could make this work without falling for this beautiful person in the process?
I’m just expected to feel fine about this all, but I can’t.
We’re going to lose her at some point; that’s the only way we can keep her safe, and it’s tearing me apart.
“Caleb.” Alec’s voice comes from my office door, causing me to turn and look at him.
I watch as his eyes flick over my appearance, no doubt knowing what’s going through my head.
“She’s back.” He says, even though he’s well aware I know that.
“But for how long?”
I’m happy that Madelyn’s currently here, I really am, but I don’t understand how everyone’s just walking around like everything is perfectly okay.
Like Vincent hadn’t sent out an order to have Madelyn and I both executed for our crimes against him.
If it weren’t for Xavier agreeing to now owe his father two favours at his leisure, I have no doubt I already would have been a dead man.
“We’re not letting her go, Cal.” Alec says instead, only making me more frustrated and honestly scared.
We screwed up, and I don’t know how to undo it.
Shooting Alec a pointed look, that was as far as my acknowledgement extended as I walked past him and out of my office.
My head was so damn loud as my feet carried me down the hallway and to the kitchen.
I would have continued until I was out of this house, but the sound of Madelyn laughing from the balcony caused me to freeze.
Just one sound and I felt my body calming slightly.
“I’m honestly fine.” She says into her phone, not seeing me as I moved towards her, leaning against the door frame outside.
A muffled voice comes from the other line, but I can’t tell what they’re saying or who it is.
“No, I’m working tonight.” Madelyn speaks, taking a small pause as if trying to find her words, “If you’re still awake when I’m done...”
I shouldn’t be listening to her conversation, even if the soft sound of her voice helped to tame the restlessness inside of me.
Walking away, I didn’t even notice that I had stopped breathing for a moment before I felt my chest tighten and my lungs demand for air.
No matter what, though, I couldn’t bring myself to breathe in.
I was so angry and worked up that only when I felt a pair of small hands brush against my back did I inhale.
My fists shook slightly as they balled up, my mind not understanding why I couldn’t seem to focus right now.
“Caleb,” Madelyn’s voice was laced with concern as she rounded my body, her hands coming up to hold the sides of my face.
Her eyes studied mine as I touched my fingers to hers, relishing in the feeling of her simply being by my side.
“Do you want to go out somewhere with me?” I suddenly ask, having no plan whatsoever, but just wanting to get out of this house.
Madelyn’s always been someone who grounds me, whether she realizes it or not.
I just need to go somewhere quiet and preferably get some alone time just the two of us.
As much as I love hanging out as a group, while unintentional, Madelyn and I haven’t ever really gotten to be together much on our own yet.
And right now, I really just needed her.
“Where to?” Madelyn smiles with a tilt of her head, her little touches to my body no doubt trying to give me silent comfort.
“Do you like picnics?” I ask, memory of a secluded park nearby coming to mind.
Her confirming grin was all I needed to know.
“You’re really not going to let me look?” Madelyn laughs, blindly walking in step with my body.
“We’re almost there,” I whisper in her ear, kissing the side of her cheek that isn’t being covered by my hands over her eyes.
“I can tell we’re on grass... Are we on a field?” She guesses, causing me to snicker.
“Nothing gets past you, darling.” I smile, finally letting her go and allowing Madelyn to see the grassy hills and swarm of trees around us.
I may have discovered this place a while ago when gathering information for an assassination attempt, but it’s working out to my advantage now anyways.
“Where are we?” She looked around in awe, clearly loving the scenery surrounding us, “It’s beautiful.”
“It’s just a few minutes away from your place actually,” I say, tossing down the thin blanket I brought for us to sit on.
The box of chocolate covered strawberries we decided to bring were entirely melted under the heat of the sun, so I set those down too in dismissal.
“Does this work for you here?” I ask, spreading out the fabric until it’s wide enough for the two of us to lay down on should we please.
Madelyn turning and sitting down next to me was words enough.
I had us positioned under a large tree to provide some refuge from the sun, and I was thankful for it when I no longer had to squint when looking at the beautiful woman by my side.
I watched as she too visibly relaxed, moving over until the one side of our legs were flush together, her head moving to rest on my shoulder.
I breathed in under her touch, wrapping my arm around her and ensuring we could stay just like this.
Just from a few seconds of having Madelyn in my hold, I knew this was everything I needed.
It was clear she could sense I wasn’t in the best mood today, but I didn’t feel the need to pretend with her either.
Madelyn has never rushed or pressured me into talking, and it was a courtesy I gave her in return.
There were so many things I wanted to say—to ask and to share, but none were pleasant and I didn’t want to ruin her day from my own problems.
But, she could tell things were off whether I had to say it or not.
I sensed her understanding when she planted a kiss on my shoulder, and again when she slipped her hand into mine, allowing our joined fingers to rest on her thigh.
That in itself told me everything I needed to know: I wasn’t a burden by needing to talk.
A part of me has always naturally felt like that, but Madelyn also didn’t seem like the type to run away when she finds out my mask of smiles and cocky remarks is often worn to hide what I’m truly feeling at times.
I let out a deep sigh as her head rests against my neck, holding her closer when I ask the question I’ve been wondering most lately, even if it’s one that’s probably best left unsaid.
“How can you forgive us so easily?” I murmured, trying not to tense or break down or really feel anything right now.
I felt Madelyn shift slightly in surprise, but in response, she only let out a soft puff of air as if unsure herself.
For a moment, we remained in complete silence to the point where I thought she just wasn’t going to answer.
“Can I tell you a story, Caleb?” Madelyn answers instead, her hand gripping noticeably tighter to my arm.
Furrowing my eyebrows slightly, I angle my head down so I can see the blonde waves of her hair, but otherwise, Madelyn has turned away.
“Of course,” I say, stroking a few of my fingers down her arm and catching the feeling of the small goosebumps forming, despite the hot weather.
I could somehow tell this was something I was to listen to and not interrupt.
“Promise me... please promise me you won’t get mad,” Madelyn hummed against my shoulder, still not meeting my eyes but never pulling away at the same time.
I gave her my word without a second thought, even though I worried for her and didn’t know how to help the essence of sadness now releasing from her.
In the end, I only pulled Madelyn closer, giving her gentle touches in encouragement.
I feel as though that’s the best thing I could offer her right now.
“I was eleven years old the first time my mother brought home Andrew, my step-father.” She began, picking her nails from the obvious discomfort she was feeling.
I don’t even think she knew she was doing it, but either way, I took both of Madelyn’s hands into my one, holding them together on my thigh.
“She had just been through her divorce with my dad, but on the same day, she brought Andrew home and insisted that he was my new father and I was to address him as such. I guess that part doesn’t really matter as much as it used to, but I remember that that day was the first time I’d ever felt true fear.”
I felt her swallow and try to clamp down on her nerves, but she didn’t have to pretend with me.
She didn’t seem to try anyways.
“He wasn’t a very good man...” Madelyn’s hands tried to fidget in mine, so I simply interlaced our fingers together, causing her to pull back and look up at me.
Understanding flicked over her face in appreciation as I brought her hand up and planted a kiss on the soft skin, my thumb rubbing in wide circles.
I didn’t miss the water building up around the shell of her eyes, and while all I wanted was to kiss her and try to take away the pain she was sharing, I knew the thing that would best help is for me to simply listen.
So that’s what I did.
“He umm... He was actually pretty great at first.” Madelyn continued, pulling in her knees to her chest, “There was even a couple of times my father had come over for dinner with Andrew there and we were able to act like a civilized family.”
The memory of it flicks over her features, longing for that to have remained clear in her eyes.
“But, of course, that was too good to be true.”
After that, Madelyn paused for a long while, as if contemplating something hard in her head.
“You swear you’re not going to go?” She asked after a period of time, looking straight at me as she said it.
It broke my heart, because I knew her words were caused by previous experience where people likely ended up reacting in horribly wrong ways.
Squeezing her hands for a second, I say, “I promise you with everything I have to give, I am not going to be mad at you, or leave you, or pressure you to say something you don’t want to.”
Madelyn goes still for a moment as if those words seemed so foreign to her.
“But...” I continued, “At the same time, I don’t want you to feel like you need to tell me this story if you’re not ready to. You have control over this; I’ll just be here when you need me, Mads.”
A tear falls down her cheek at that, but my hand is lifting and brushing it away before it can even fall.
“I just feel like you have the right to know about some of my scars, but I don’t want you to hate me for them either.”
A part of my heart definitely shattered for Madelyn at that point, but I didn’t let her see it.
Pulling her close to me until she was between my legs, I let her back rest against my front as my one arm wrapped around her waist, the other moving to play with a few strands of her hair.
From her most recent words, I had a feeling I knew where this was going. I also knew during previous discussions together she always seemed the most comfortable when she was physically being held tight.
“You will never be obligated to tell me about that if you’re not completely doing it for yourself, darling,” I say into her ear, needing Madelyn to hear and understand this. “I could never hate you, no matter what you tell me, and I swear to you there is nothing you could say that would ever make me feel less of you. I’m sorry there’s been people who have.”
I kept her taunt to me, refusing to make her think even for a second I spoke anything but the truth.
“You don’t owe me anything,” I promise, hugging her from behind, “If you’re going to talk, make sure you’re doing it for you and no one else. And if you decide you want to leave out certain parts or just stop speaking entirely, that’s okay too.”
I was glad when she seemed to relax into my touch, my words appearing to have relieved some of her distress.
Things soon grew quiet again between the two of us, and I just let it stay that way.
If and when she was ready to continue, I knew Madelyn would tell me.
However, the words that came next caused a stutter to occur in my heart.
“I tried to kill myself when I was sixteen.”
The sound of Madelyn’s voice and the feeling of sudden tears against my hands broke the silence between us.
It wasn’t until many seconds later that I realized a single tear had fallen from my eye as well.
“There were always random pills in my house thanks to my mom, and when Andrew...”
Madelyn’s bottom lip quivered and her increasingly uneven breaths soon forced her to pause her words.
Warm tears kept falling from her face, and even though this new information pained me to hear, I only held her tighter, placing a kiss to the top of her head.
“Andrew came home from the bar one Friday, and with my mom passed out on the couch, he decided he wanted to see me instead.”
I closed my eyes when I felt her body begin to shake, trying to comfort her in any way I could while reigning in my own emotions.
“I was asleep in my bed, but I woke up to him... he was... he was doing things to me over top of my sheets, saying things in my ear that I wish I could forget, but can’t. I tried to stop him with my words first, but he never did.”
I could hear my heartbeat in my ears with every thump, the rage and sadness and pain I felt all mixing until I couldn’t tell them apart.
“He may have been drunk—sloppy, but he was too heavy and I didn’t have the muscle or the training back then to defend myself.”
When Madelyn trailed off to take a deep breath, something about her changed.
Her expression seemed to harden, even though her relentless tears refused to stop falling.
“That night, it turned out his alcoholism was both a blessing and a curse. Before he could do anything too much farther, he passed out on top of me, but the damage had already been done.”
The fury ringing in my ears was nearly deafening, and I knew whether that piece of shit fell unconscious or not, he was going to die by my hand.
I hated Madelyn’s tears and her words because all of them meant she had to endure something that was unforgivable and there was nothing I could do to take that away.
But that never once stopped me from trying.
My hands never once ceased their hopefully soothing motions along Madelyn’s skin, even though her breathing remained uneven and sniffles sounded from her nose.
With her head angled slightly to the side, I could see the redness circling her glossy eyes and the unhappy flush across her cheeks.
I could tell just from the way she fidgeted that she wasn’t done speaking yet, though she was struggling to find her words.
“I’ve never said this out loud, but sometimes I feel as though him blacked out beside me was even worse.” Madelyn confessed, silent tears dripping off of her cheeks and onto our joined hands, “Even now, sometimes despite it being physically over, it never really ended. I can still feel his hands, and—”
She wasn’t able to continue after that admission, heartbreaking sobs rising to the surface and forcing their way over any words she may have wanted to say.
Madelyn had shattered with every part of her laid bare to me, but I didn’t waste a second before I held her tight, turning her body entirely until her thighs straddled my waist.
I never let her go as her head buried into the crook of my neck, crying and shaking as she took in every bit of comfort I could give her.
Though, she wasn’t the only one whose tears were soaking their face.
Before today, I feared talking would be placing a burden on others around me, but it wasn’t until now I realized just how wrong I was.
I knew at this moment I would never let Madelyn feel unable to express everything she was feeling again, no matter how painful and hard it may be.
“I know that veered far off from your question,” She sniffled, sighing into my shoulder in sadness, “But to answer it, I chose to stay because when you three saw my scars that night in Xavier’s office, you acknowledged them in a way that made me feel safe.”
Alec and I had gotten to our knees and kissed every inch of her thighs—her scars, saying the words we couldn’t say.
Xavier told her she was beautiful while we took care of her, knowing she was ours before she even realized it herself.
“I never thanked you for that, but thank you, Caleb.” Madelyn sat up in my lap, looking at me for the first time in a long while.
The green in her eyes was brighter in combination with her tears, and the sight could only be described as devastatingly beautiful.
Her words had my heart squeezing even tighter, my hands lifting from her back to the sides of her face.
Holding her just like that, Madelyn leaned into my touch, connecting the two of us in a way of no other.
“For years after that night... I guess my arms, stomach, and thighs took the pain my heart couldn’t handle.”
I could hear the anguish in her words, but despite this, a ghost of a smile then appeared across Madelyn’s lips.
“For years, I pretended to be stronger than I was, but then I met a group of men that made me feel like the mask I’d become so highly accustomed to wasn’t so necessary anymore. You helped me not only learn how to breathe again, but to truly feel alive.”
When my thumb caught the next tear, I knew it was one of both agony and happiness.
“So that, Caleb, is why I came back to you.”
It was at that moment I parted my lips to speak, but I was silenced as Madelyn’s mouth connected with mine.
It was not a kiss of lust, but instead, one of relief and sadness and trust.
The saltiness of our tears mixed into our senses, but neither of us cared as we remained bound as one.
“You’re so fucking strong, Madelyn,” I said against her lips, pulling back and making sure my eyes held hers, “You said you weren’t, but you are.”
My body warmed as my words caused a small smile to paint across her lips.
“Telling me this took courage, and I’m so proud of you for it. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard that must have been to keep that bottled up for so long, but know that you will never have to feel that way again.”
I leaned forward until our foreheads rested against each other, breathing in the smell of her lavender and vanilla shampoo.
“I need you to promise me something though,” I say, feeling her soft exhale fan across my cheeks, “If you ever feel that way again, no matter how small you might think, I need you to come talk to me or Alec or Xavier.”
The fact that sheer luck is the only reason I have my girl in my arms right now sends ice cold chills down my spine and fear throughout every inch of my body.
I will not be able to live a life without her in it, and I never want her to have to feel that way—feel alone again.
I felt Madelyn nod her head, the action causing her to brush against me more.
When I opened my eyes to find water droplets still on her lashes, I also found her looking at me with an emotion that expressed vulnerability and appreciation.
“I promise,” Madelyn whispered against my mouth, blinking away the last of her tears, “Can you do something for me as well?” She then asked, her eyes flicking away from mine.
“Anything,” I answered, and I meant it too.
“If it’s not too much to ask, do you think you could tell Xavier and Alec what I told you?” I watched as she bit the inside of her cheek for a few moments before her eyes reconnected with mine, “I don’t think I can do this again two more times, but I want them to know.”
I could never deny her.
“I can do that, darling.” I promise, honored that she trusts all of us enough to share this part of her life.
I could tell, at last, her heart began to pace itself once again down to a steady beat, her body seemingly shaking less as well.
I would hold her for as long as it took and then some.
“While it’ll never be enough of a retribution, I want you to know that he’s going to pay with his life for this.” I swear to her.
Her step-father will be paid a visit by the end of the night, whether it’s me on my own or with Xavier and Alec by my side.
“No you’re not,” Madelyn says, her voice no louder than a whisper as she forces me to look at her.
Just as I opened my mouth to tell her this wasn’t up for debate, Madelyn stole my attention again, her finger touching to my lip.
“You’re not killing him, because I’m going to.” The coldness that washed over her was numbing, no lie or uncertainty to be heard in her tone, “And then, I’m going to burn that fucking house to the ground.”
I didn’t have to be Alec to know she meant her every word, not as a threat, but as a promise.
For a pause, we only looked at each other, neither of us wanting to back down and neither of us speaking until I nodded in understanding.
This was Madelyn’s choice, and it was one I needed to respect.
At my silent action, she relaxed once again, resting her arms around my neck and moving forward until I was laid on my back with her on top of me.
This—she was everything I needed.
So there we remained, alone under a new blanket of warmth.
It was one that brought the promise of a better future with not just the two of us, but the four that made up our puzzle of shattered hearts.
While we’re all a mix of scars and pain and anger, these combinations also blossomed a hope that maybe something good could come out of this.
That maybe, just maybe, we could find a way to heal, not as individuals, but together as one.
- End of Chapter 51 -
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