Life had never been simple for Alana Chambers, her life was rough, living with her parents who treated her like a slave and a punching bag. Though, she would always rather it be her than her younger siblings, while they treated her badly, they were treated like kings and queens, she did everything for them to keep them safe and she always would.
The youngest of the two, Hayden, at only seven was the bubbliest little boy she had ever known, he was one of the reasons she kept going, living for her siblings she loved dearly. Her little sister, Mia, at twelve was a little wiser than their brother, she noticed things that Hayden never did, and they hoped he never would. She was a saving grace to Alana, helping her with chores to reduce the beatings she may get off their parents.
At seventeen Alana had never once gone to school, educated at home so she had more time to do chores. There was no way out, if she were to tell the authorities about their parents they would take her siblings away from her forever, splitting them up and it would break their hearts. She had to stay strong, stay strong until she was old enough to get out of there and become a legal guardian herself. While it was just happening to her everything was fine, if something happened to Mia or Hayden though, she would fight with all her might.
“Just one more year,” she muttered to herself, looking at the deep blue and purple bruising dotted all over her stomach, grimacing as her fingers slid over them. She was skinny, more from the small portions of food, rather than naturally. If she was able to eat like normal people, her body would fill out perfectly to match her beautiful green eyes that differed from her family’s brown eyes they all had. Alana was pretty, but had no confidence in her own skin, too pale from lack of sun, which her deep brown hair made her look ghostly, skinny and in clothes that didn’t fit her properly.
“Alana, quick, Dad’s home,” Mia bursts into Alana’s room. Mia was gorgeous, with beautiful blonde hair down her back which she loved to get Alana to plait for her, her deep brown doe eyes with thick luscious lashes could wrap anyone around her finger and she was growing into her body, now hitting puberty things were beginning to change and Alana could see she was going to be a popular girl, though not an uptight one, Mia was kind.
“Shit, Hayden’s ready to go right?” Alana asks quickly, praying they were ready for school on time.
“Yeah,” Mia nods.
Tying her hair up quickly Alana walks out of the room, down the stairs and into the kitchen to prepare their breakfasts, hoping that their Dad didn’t notice she was running late, having slept a little longer because of the pain medications she had had to take late last night.
“Alana! Look!” Hayden bounces into the room, already wearing his backpack and shoes...The wrong way round with a huge grin on his face. He still sported his chubby cheeks from when he was little, but was slowly growing into his own skin, he never stopped moving, the puppy fat dropping off of him. His hair was always a mess of mousy brown curls which Alana was forever trying to tame for him.
“You silly muffin, you’ve got your shoes on the wrong feet,” she giggles, kneeling down, kissing his cheek as he laughs.
“I know, I wanted to make you laugh,” he grins, her heart flutters, caressing his cheek softly before helping him correct it. She had a deep bond to her siblings, sometimes she felt more of a mother than their own mother did.
“You’re burning the fucking breakfast,” her father’s deep voice booms, making her jump up quickly, rushing over to the cooker in a panic.
“I’m sorry, Sir,” she mumbles, hurrying to correct it.
“Hayden, leave us,” he orders sternly, she winces, knowing what was coming.
“Yes Dad,” Hayden mumbles, running off.
Her Dad grabs her by the hair, dragging her away from the stove, slamming the frying pan onto a turned off ring before throwing her against the counter, pinning her against it, his dark, hard eyes piercing her very soul as she trembles.
“I... I’m sorry,” she whimpers.
“We do not have food for you to waste! Some housewife you’ll make when you can barely cook a thing without burning it! Restart the fucking breakfast, but none for you, no food today, you don’t deserve it,” he snaps, slapping her cheek with a loud smack. She cries out, holding her cheek as he stomps off again.
Alana had always cooked for them. She was a great cook and they definitely had food to waste, their parents were well off, they could eat as much as they liked and her Dad sure did sometimes, proving he was the boss of the house, taking away her privileges of eating when he felt like it.
Getting back to the oven she wipes away her tears, knowing her siblings would be back in the room at any moment, not wanting Hayden to see her so upset. Wanting to keep him from knowing her turmoil for as long as possible, she knew even Mia struggled with it, many nights Mia had snuck into her room, curling into her side crying, scared to lose her sister to their awful parents.
“Alana,” Mia says softly, walking into the room, putting a hand on her shoulder, gasping at the redness on Alana’s cheek.
“Can you distract Hayden for me?” she asks.
“Yeah, I hate this Alana, what he’s doing to you, it’s not right,” Mia whispers sadly.
“I know, one more year, one more year and I’ll get us out,” Alana says, hugging her sister close before rushing to cook the breakfast once more. Her stomach gurgled loudly, unable to eat any of it because of her Dad’s command, she would pay heavily if he even smelt food on her breath if she dared to go against him.
“Dad, can I sleep over at Timmy’s tonight?” Hayden asks excitedly in his chair, eating his breakfast, Mia eats her own slowly, wanting nothing more than to give her protective older sister a bite.
“Of course, Alana, pack him a bag, I’ll drop it on the way to work,” Dad orders.
“Yes Sir,” she nods, finishing the cleaning before heading upstairs.
“I want the house spotless by the time your mother and I get home, you will not eat, I have locked the fridge and pantry. You may have tap water only,” Dad barks at her, snatching the bag from her fingers, pulling Mia and Hayden with him out of the house as Alana waves meekly at them. Leaving her in the silence of the house she detested most, no good memories of a perfect family. The only good thing she had was Mia and Hayden.
Alana got to work, cleaning the house room by room, wincing in pain from the bruises on her stomach, aching for something to eat as her body craved the energy, her feet wobbling beneath her.
Alana was feeling weaker as the day went on, when it came to Mia returning from school, she was ready to pass out.
“Are they home yet?” Mia asks.
“Not yet,” Alana shakes her head, leaning against the wall as Mia rummages through her bag.
“Quick, have this,” Mia says, pulling out a cereal bar, passing it to her sister.
“Oh Mia, thank you,” Alana kisses her head, eating it quickly, knowing their parents could arrive home at any minute.
“Go drink so they don’t smell it on your breath,” Mia states, rushing upstairs to put her stuff away to help Alana with the final few chores before their parents came home.
“Thank you, Mia,” Alana sighs with relief when they are done, and their parents burst into the house.
“Mia! Is your homework done?” Dad asks sternly. Alana saw her brother looking annoyed behind him, he was supposed to be at his friends tonight, what was going on?
“We didn’t get any today, Dad,” she answers.
“Alana, we will be expecting guests tonight, make dinner WITHOUT burning it! Your father told me about your stupidity this morning,” their mother sneers. That was it, they were having guests which meant playing happy families with everyone here...Great.
“Yes, Ma’am,” Alana replies with a nod, “How many will be here?” she adds.
“Connor and his four boys, make yourself look respectable too, by god we don’t need the whole world knowing our eldest is nothing but scum,” their Dad said, eyes burning with hatred at Alana. She had never given them anything to hate, she never understood what she did to deserve their hatred.
Connor, who was one of their Dad’s best friends, was always so nice when he came over, but Alana avoided him as much as possible, knowing that her parents would punish her if she gained more attention. They preferred her to be seen and not heard, telling their friends she was troubled and a mute.
Alana ran upstairs, grabbing her best clothes that she was given for moments like these, a simple pair of black jeans and a long sleeve, black tunic that hid all her bruises on her body.
“Alana, Connor’s never brought his sons here before,” Mia whispers to her sister on the landing.
“I’m sure it will be just fine, be yourself,” she kisses her head before rushing downstairs to start making dinner.
“Hmm, turn Alana,” their mother comes into the kitchen, eyes scouring her body, “It’ll do, carry on.” Alana let out a sigh of relief that she looked good enough for her mother who was a stickler for fashion.
“How old are Connor’s sons, Dad?” Mia asks from the hallway.
“I believe the twins are nineteen, one is sixteen and the other is fourteen,” he answers plainly, coming in in simple shirt and trousers.
“Why are they coming?” she asks. Alana wants to hiss at her to shut up, to stop pushing questions on him, knowing he may get agitated from being hounded.
“His two eldest have joined us in the company, it’s a celebratory dinner,” he answers.
Their Dad and his best friend, Connor, had started up a company when they were younger in tutoring, when it came to the emergence of online capabilities, they had broadened their horizons and begun online teaching, their business sky-rocketed and became a multi-million business, to which, Alana never saw a penny of it. Alana had always appreciated what they had done, they had gone from tutoring students at school and worked up to what they had now. If she had been treated like a normal daughter, she would have said she was so proud of her parents. Her mother was one of their teachers, working with fashion and design, she too was great at what she did.
“They are here, Alana, you may have a small dinner, only small to make up appearances, no talking, you dish the dinner, you eat silently and then you clear the table, clean up and go to bed, understood?” their Dad growls at her.
“Yes, Sir,” she nods.
She listens out, hearing them greet Connor and his boys at the door.
“Henry! How are you old man?” Connor chuckles, teasing his best friend. Alana had always liked him, he was how Dad’s should be, you could tell the love he had for his family just from the way he had spoken about them. Not like Henry, he never spoke about Alana.
“I’ll give you old, fucker!” Alana listened to her father joking around, a side she never saw, wondering why she always got his bad side.
“Mister Chambers,” a soothing deep voice says in the hallway, making Alana shiver, loving the deep, velvety tone, shaking her head before getting back to work.
“Call me Henry, no need to be so formal,” their Dad chuckles.
“My god, look at you all, you’ve grown so much!” their mother, Malia, coos.
“Kids do that, don’t they? Where’s the other one of yours?” Connor asks, making Alana cringe.
“She’s busy cooking, making up for the fact she’s done fuck all, all week,” Henry says, making Alana’s lip curl in anger.
She does everything! The whole house was clean because of her, how dare he! She was a slave to his every word!
“Teenagers, eh?” Connor laughs.
“You should know, you’ve got four,” Dad chuckles.
“You’ve got three kids, you’re almost up to my level, any chance of another?” Connor asks.
“No, this is it,” Malia answers. Thank God for that, Alana thought, she couldn’t deal with having to protect another poor, innocent sibling from them.
“Drinks! What would you like?” Henry booms, clapping his hands.
“Scotch will do for me, boys?” Connor answers.
“Same,” two voices say in unison.
“Can I have scotch?” Another younger voice asks.
“Not a bloody chance, when you’re eighteen,” Connor snorts.
“Just a coke then,” they sigh.
Alana prepares the drinks ready for when her father would call for them.
“Good girl,” he nods, giving her the only praise she had ever got, taking the tray from her.
“That was bloody quick,” Connor laughs.
“Alana must have heard us,” he answers before changing the subject.
“Where’s your bathroom?” the original deep voice asks.
“Walk through the kitchen, it’s on the left sweetheart,” Malia answers. Alana grimaces, someone new was coming through the kitchen and she wasn’t allowed to say a word, she prayed they ignored her. She kept herself busy at the oven.
“Hello, you must be Alana,” the deep voice says, she closes her eyes taking a deep breath, turning to nod at him, being completely caught off guard by the man standing in front of her. He was gorgeous, he was tall, dressed in dark jeans and a shirt you could see the outlines of his muscles beneath, this guy worked out, his dark hair sweeping over to the right of his forehead, his eyes were dark too, almost black.
“Do you not talk?” he cocks his head at her, frowning.
“Finley? Oh, please excuse her, she’s a mute,” Henry walks in, giving me a stern look as I look away from them, getting back to cooking.
“Mute? She can’t talk at all?” he asks.
“Yes, never muttered a word in her life. Doctors can’t work it out,” Henry answers, Alana’s fingers curl into a slight fist, her nails digging into her skin.
“Oh, well, it’s very nice to meet you Alana,” Finley says, leaving to go to the bathroom.
“Not a word, understood,” Alana feels her father’s breath against her cheek, trying to stop her hands from shaking in anger and fear, nodding in reply.
“Something smells delicious!” Connor comes into the kitchen too as Henry grabs a spoon and tastes the sauce Alana had been making.
“More salt sweetheart,” he says to her, squeezing her shoulder slightly before turning back to his friend.
She heard the bathroom door open once more, her Dad ushering Connor and Finley back to the lounge as she finished cooking, dishing everything up and placing it on the dining table.
Walking into the lounge her eyes met the new faces of Connor’s sons, Finley was definitely a twin, his twin was identical except for the hair, while Finley’s finished just below his ear, hiding a piercing in the top of one, the other wore his hair up, it looked long enough to reach just below his shoulders. All four boys were handsome, it was no doubt they got their looks from their father, they were all tall, dark and handsome. The younger two though, had lighter blue eyes, which Alana assumed was from their mother, but no doubt they would be tall like Connor too.
“Is dinner done?” Mia whispers to her sister. Alana nods in answer, knowing her parents would kill her if she were to make a sound.
“Dinner’s done!” Mia announces with a smile, everyone turns to face Alana standing awkwardly in the doorway.
“Who’s that?” One of the younger boys asks, it must be the youngest, the fourteen-year-old.
“Milo, that is Alana,” Connor smiles.
“Hi!” Milo waves with a huge grin, she could tell he had the same energy Hayden had. She waves softly, not speaking a word, she could feel her brother watching her every move, wondering why she wasn’t speaking.
“Why isn’t she talking?” The other boy asks.
“She’s mute,” Henry says quickly, eyeing Hayden, who was more than likely to blurt something.
“Come on Hayden! Dinner!” Mia says, noticing Alana’s slight panic and his lips go to move. Dragging him into the dining room as Alana nods at her in thanks.
Alana was dreading being at the table with her parents, she learnt the sons’ names now, Finley and Harvey were the eldest twins, Elliot was sixteen and fairly quiet and then there was Milo, the youngest. Alana was nervous as Finley’s eyes kept darting to her, making her blush. She hoped her father wouldn’t notice; he didn’t like her getting attention from anyone.