Anyone can lie, cheat and hide the truth,
But that doesn’t make you tough and strong,
Facing the truth, accepting it and being an honest soul to others does.
“Take chocolate flavor!”
“But I want vanilla!”
“But we already took a chocolate-”
“That was chocolate dough! Get me plain chocolate, Rome!” I yelled again from the car.
“What the hell, woman?” He screeched, running out again into the dark. Yup. It’s eight in the night, we got our cars back an hour ago and we’re driving around the city to stock up the mini fridge in Roman’s room. What can I say? We crave food in the middle of the night and Roman doesn’t realize that plain chocolate ice cream is different from chocolate dough. You can melt the plain chocolate ice cream, sip it and then lick it off the- okay, I should shut up now.
“Here.” He snapped, throwing the bag with chocolate ice cream back.
“Rude.” I snapped back.
“I am rude? You made me run into a store again and I had to make up an excuse to get ahead in the line!” He argued.
“You made an excuse to do the billing faster? Aww.” I cooed, pinching his cheeks as he groaned.
“Eww. A simple thank you would do.” He muttered under his breath as I giggled.
I sank back in the shotgun of Roman’s pitch black SUV. It was a nice, expensive BMW that Marcus had gifted him on his 18th birthday, almost a year ago, which bought to my attention that Roman’s birthday was in a few weeks’ time.
My best friend is turning 19. Wow.
“Of course, everyone ages.” Roman said as I realized I had said that out loud.
“Unless you’re Peter Pan.” I said with laugh.
“Darling, how many time do I have to tell you? You look better while cracking bones not jokes. Because-”
“Sarcasm and Scarlet don’t fit in the same sentence.” I muttered.
“Exactly.” He said, patting my hair with a small smile.
“Whatever.” I snorted.
“Okay, just to lighten up your mood.” I turned to him, interested now. “We are going to Miami next month for my birthday.” He smiled as I gasped.
“Oh my god! ARE YOU FOR REAL?!” I quickly hugged him, kissing his cheeks. “This is going to be the best birthday ever!” I laughed, hitting his arm.
We pulled in our house’s driveway as I got out with a bag full of junk food, smiling like a moron. I knew we were going to Miami sometime to meet Mason and check on the.. Uhmmmmm.. Work? But hey, celebrating Roman’s birthday there would be a bonus!
“Thank you so much, Rome-”
“For what? We had to go to Miami either way, Scar.” He shrugged, placing his hands around my waist as we walked in.
“Still, I know celebrating your birthday and then handling Jason would be-”
“I don’t mind, baby girl. I really don’t.” He shrugged telling me it was okay for him but as soon as he was done replying to me, a loud bang came from the kitchen, startling both of us.
“I’ll see what happened.” I told Roman, but he caught my hand.
“No, stay here.” He switched on the lights and carefully walked to the kitchen. A weird type of pain started in my chest as I saw Roman walking towards the kitchen. A memory played itself in front of my eyes as I remembered walking the same way to that very place. My head started to ache as I called out for Roman. The same incidents had taken place that evening when a loud bang made me run to the kitchen, just to see my parents lying dead in front of my eyes.
“ROMAN!” I screamed as tears began to pour out of my eyes. I knew he was okay, as he came running towards me, confused as to why I had been crying. His eyes swiftly searched around me, looking for someone who must have hurt me.
“Scarlet? What happened?” He said, shaking my shoulders.
“I-i just heard the bang and y-you ran the same way I did... ” I couldn’t hold it back anymore, as closed the distance between us and hugged Roman with all my might. “I miss them s-so much, Rome. I-it hurts so much to know t-they were killed and I-i could do nothing.” I wailed in his chest as he patted my back.
“They don’t want to see you like this and all weak, Scar.” He said, patting my shoulders.
“B-but..” I shook my head. “I am sorry, I just lost it there for a second.”
“You have been a little lost lately. I won’t blame you.” He muttered. “Come on, get some sleep.” He told me.
“Yea, okay.” I nodded, turning to go upstairs. As I was walking up, I heard a few people giggling so I came near the window and saw Adrian and Rihanna standing beside his car, all dressed up.
There’s going out again, tonight. Thank god.
I got into my room, taking a bath and swiftly changing into my night wear. I packed my bag for tomorrow’s lecture, my first in this university and gathered up my books and extra material for it, stuffing it in my bag as well.
After I was done, I picked up my favorite book, The Book Thief and began re reading it for the hundredth time, again. As my fingers rolled the pages, my eyes began to drop slowly and slowly.
The last thing I saw before sleep took over me was an old Polaroid of me which Adrian had taken on our first and last trip to the beach. I was happy in that picture, with my dark brown hair flying everywhere as my half broken teeth gave a smile to the camera. That one year was the most peaceful and amazing year for Adrian and I. This picture remained my book mark even after I left Summerville, reminding me how everything had started well and how simply Adrian had crumped up my whole world.
I jolted awake after the familiar Nightmare had successfully invaded my sleep, making me wake up in a thin layer of sweat. I looked around for the switch and soon switched on the fairy lights. My head was lightly aching and I realized, I had never switched these lights off myself. Did Roman come here? Probably.
I had a thin blanket on me as well as my room temperature set perfectly as I had liked it. So, Roman had come in here.
Seeing it was two in the morning and that Adrian, Rihanna and Ryder were still not home, as there Adrian’s car wasn’t in the driveway, I got up and left my room to bring myself a bottle of water.
As I passed the two floors, something caught my eyes before I could enter the kitchen.
A door was open, letting a thin strip of light out. As my curiosity leaped out in front, it carried me to the door. I opened the room to its full length, realizing it was Ryder’s. I couldn’t help but look around the plain blue and black room he had, which used to be a library long time back when my parents lived here. The huge wall which used to be filled with books those days, still existed but it was now filled with football trophies, few known books, CD’s, Pictures, certificates and a music system. I realized that Ryder’s bedside lamp was switched on so I walked towards it, thinking it was okay to get into his room to switch it off. When I reached his bed and was almost going to switch off the light, a paper which was kept beside his bed stopped me. I picked it up, seeing that it was a Polaroid and turned it around. What I saw made me want to puke and run away from this room in fear. It was the same picture I had had for years as my bookmark.
Does Ryder know?!
But Ryder’s not even at home!
Who got this picture then?!
I knew being nervous and frightened right now was the last thing I had to be. I needed to maintain my composure and get the hell out of here. Maybe, he never saw this picture. Maybe, I came here by mistake. Ryder isn’t even here, he must have gone out with-
I just saw Adrian and Rihanna leave. The bed wasn’t made, the light was switched on, the door was open-
“I thought I made it clear that I didn’t want anyone in my room.” I gulped as I heard the voice right behind me, sending chills all through my body. “What are you doing here?” He asked.
“I-i thought you had gone out with the others and your light was switched on, so I-i c-came in to switch it off.” I slowly gained my confidence back and turned back to him with a smile. Guys like him don’t scare me anymore, I was just caught unexpectedly. “I’ll be leaving now. Sorry.” I shrugged, walking past him.
“No, Scarlet. Stay.” He said as I crossed him.
“Stay?” I asked confused. “Why would-” I was cut in between by his little laugh which held no emotion. He swiftly walked to the door and closed it behind him.
Did he scare me with this? No.
“I see you have changed a lot.” He smirked as he walked towards me.
“I don’t know what you mean by that, but I have to leave.” I walked to him and then to the door, putting on my best serious/I don’t know what you’re talking about, face.
“Oh, you do.” He grabbed my hand and spun my around. My back hit his chest as he wrapped his arm around my waist, still holding my hand. “Tell me, Scarlet. Wasn’t this your parents old house? Weren’t you a little scared back there as you saw your little friend run to the kitchen?” He pressed me painfully closer to his chest as his lips came beside my ear. “Aren’t you the same girl in that picture which Adrian took, Miss Winters?” That’s it. I had had it with Ryder Hunt. He couldn’t just use me all his life and then hurt me more.
So what if he knows?! So what if he tells Adrian and Rihanna tomorrow? They got nothing on me. I was swift enough to twist Ryder’s hand and get out of his grasp. I kicked his knee, which was totally unexpected for him as he slipped down on his other knee and then kicked his shoulder. With his hands pinned to the floor, I sat on his stomach, smiling evilly at him.
“You poor little thing.” I cooed. To be honest, this is the best part of being from a family of criminals, you get to watch others in pain and below you, begging to you to leave them and let them go. I have grown to love this very much, not caring how evil it sounds. It runs in the family, you see. “You seriously think I am the same little girl who left because of you three? Search it up, Mr Hunt. There is no Scarlet Winters in any records, anywhere. I am not the same girl, anymore.” I bought my lips closer to his ears, the same way he had done, silently enjoying the shocked expression on his face. “I left so that you three couldn’t hurt me anymore. But trust me, I will stay this time if you try anything, any of you. This time, you will get played and I’ll watch you whimper beneath me.” I said with a low growl.
Suddenly, my hands were twisted and Ryder held them now. With a smug expression on his face, he turned us around, hovering over me now.
Was I scared? Na.
Impressed? Nope. His family jewels lay unprotected, giving me perfect access to kick them.
“I see you have learnt a few things. But, Scarlet, honey, don’t you worry.” He leaned in, his chocolaty breath dancing over my face. “Adrian or Rihanna will never know anything about you. They never did. Your little secrets have been safe with me.” He smiled.
“What do you mean?” I asked, cocking my eyebrows.
“I mean,” He got off me, still holding my hands as he sat on the floor beside me. I swiftly took my hands away from him, sitting on the floor myself. “I never told them that I saw you leave, Scar. I never talked to the police about it. I was the one who gave your letter to your aunt.”
I stared into his eyes but I had known enough to know that Ryder wasn’t lying about this.
He had actually never told anyone, anything. I had always thought that he would have called the police or something but he never did.
“I never did.” He said, again, coming closer to touch my cheek. “How have you been, Scarlet?” He asked me, his grey eyes staring directly into mine. For a minute, I was lost in them, barely knowing what was going on. But then, I shook my head a little and slipped back a little, creating distance between us.
“I have been better than before.” I told him but then looked back at him. “What do you want, Ryder?”
“I want us to start fresh.” He said. “I know it’s difficult for you to forgive me or any of us, Scar. But trust me, Adrian hasn’t been the same ever since you left-”
“Seriously?! You expect me to believe that he was sorry?!” Adrian Winters, sorry for me? Hello, what the hell?
“Don’t you get it, Scarlet?! See it from his eyes. That guy was forced by his mother when he was just nine to hit you. If he didn’t, she would lay restrictions on him! When he grew older, Rihanna told him to do it and he was so struck by her that he obeyed. So, you have any idea how he was after you left?!” I gently shook my head, as an unexpected tear rolled down my eyes, as I realised Ryder was being honest with me. I hadn’t ever realised that Adrian hadn’t wanted to do this.
He was so good to me in the beginning and I, being the selfish person I am, didn’t even realize how difficult it was for him to be pressurised by his own mother to do something like this.
“He broke up with Rihanna. He won’t talk to anyone, he would not even talk to me, Scarlet! He blamed himself for whatever happened to you. He slipped into depression for a few months and even today, you’ll see the scars on his wrist. He tried to cut himself thrice!” Ryder got on his knees and came in front of me. He touched my cheeks gently, wiping the tears away which had slipped with the realisation that Adrian had cared about my well being. “It is not your fault. You did the right thing, Scar. But he deserves to know that you aren’t dead. I know you’re seeing him all happy right now, but he’s broken and the only reason Rihanna is staying with us is..” He gulped, stopping in between.
“Ryder.” I asked. “Why is Rihanna staying with us?” He didn’t seem comfortable answering me, his eyes a little guilty.
“I don’t know whether you heard or not, but Rihanna.. Rihanna is two months pregnant, Scar.” I gasped, all air leaving my throat.
“She’s not.. How.. I mean-” I was shocked to hear whatever he had just told me.
“I know. I didn’t believe her as well. But it’s Adrian’s.”
“How.. How has she been?” I asked.
“Worse.” He smiled. “You won’t believe me but ask anyone from school, she changed a lot. She left her slutty ways, got better grades and guesses what? She stood up for Jennifer Summers against all her friends.” Jennifer Summers was the nerd of our school who had been bullied as much as I was.
Oh my god, people certainly changed after I left.
“You don’t know how much you ended up changing everyone just by leaving. But... All I am saying is that they need another chance.”
“I.. I need to think about it.” I muttered, getting up. Ryder gave me a small nod, saying it was okay.
As I walked to the, slowly opening it, I heard him say “Stay this time, Scarlet.” as I closed the door behind me.
I walked up to Roman’s door, not caring if it was three in the morning.
We have to talk about this.