Vengeance

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Exoneration

Surrender to what it is,

Let go of what was,
Have faith in what will be.

~Sonia Ricotti


“Scarlet?”

“Hmm?”

“I think it’s time we call God.”

“What?” I turned from my pancakes to face Roman.

“Huh? Whose God?” Ryder asked, placing the plate in front of me while munching on a granola bar.

“You do realise you spoiled my pick up line with that question, don’t you?” Roman snapped at Ryder, sitting beside me.

“What was it, anyway?” I asked, taking a sip of my orange juice.

“We need to call God, because he’s missing an angel.” And that is how you make me chock on my own juice.

“Roman!” I snapped. “Seriously?!” I said as I raised my eyebrows at him.

“What?! I am getting better at this!” He replied, with a shrug.

“Or the book you’re using is more cheesier than the last one.” I mumbled, cautiously gulping my juice.

“What did you just say?! I am hurt, Scarlet James Taylor! These are Roman Originals, okay?!” He accused, with a hand on his heart. Ryder let out a chuckle as he shook his head at both of us.

Before I could come up with a comeback, I heard Rihanna entering the kitchen. She had left about ten minutes to attend a call from Adrian, so I figured she knew when he was coming back.

It’s been four days since I started at the University and after about three lectures, I can proclaim myself a Nerd. Seriously, I don’t know why some people think college is difficult because I find this easy compared to anything else.

Because you spent the last two months reading biographies of authors and taking online courses.

Well, yea. Caught there. I am already through with half of the syllabus so.. Easy for me.

Why, you ask?

Well, let’s just say I have stuff planned for the upcoming Autumn and Winter break, so I know I won’t have time to catch up-

“Adrian is coming back.” High time he did..

“Of course.” I nodded in a slow whisper, showing them I was nervous about this but, hey, good acting here!

“Are you google?” Roman asked which got everyone’s attention back to him. “Because you have everything I am searching for.” He added, wiggling his eyebrows.

“Oh my god. Aren’t you late for your lecture or something?!” I asked him as he got up, chuckling at himself.

“Yup.” He replied, kissing my forehead before jumping his way out of the main door.

“Isn’t he a little too jumpy today?” Ryder asked, pointing at him.

“He’ll be fine.” I swatted him off.

“Okay-”

“Hello!” I turned back to see Adrian walking through the same door Roman had left from. He had a bag being wheeled in along with him as he came towards Rihanna and hugged her before giving Ryder a man hug.

“Hello, to you.” He said, throwing a smile my way before turning back to them. I nodded with a smile of my own in return as he went on to talk about his week with my aunt. He didn’t have much to say except a few business dinners they attended through Manhattan and little cocktails where he met some celebrities.

In these past few days, as I talked to Rihanna and Ryder more I realised that Adrian is more like a trophy to his mother than a son. I can’t believe I missed this before but he excelled in everything, giving his mother the perfect son to show off.

Even in Summerville where my Aunt thought she was shielding him from all the paparazzi, they would visit our house once or twice for a few questions whenever she won a major award. Those were the only days I was dressed up in Rihanna’s clothes and taken out along with them for others to click pictures of the happy siblings and how well Adrian was taking care of me, showing off his kindness and brotherly duty towards me.

Now that I look back, he was genuinely good to me for those few days and I was comfortable with them. I remember praying before sleeping that every day should be like this but now that I think about it, Adrian and I both knew my aunt won’t allow that.

Someday, I was going to make her pay for what she did to me and her own son. But deep inside I knew this someday would take time to come as I already had enough on my hands.

“Scarlet?” Rihanna shook me gently, as I came back from day dreaming about a proper plan to kick my aunt’s ask. I realised she was the only one in the kitchen with me as Ryder and Adrian were here no more.

“Huh?” I asked her, reminding myself that I wasn’t supposed to zone out in the middle of the day.

“You zoned there, girl. Adrian has gone back to his room, so.. .” She hesitated before adding on. “Would you like to go and talk now?”

“I think so, yea.” I nodded, getting up. “Let’s get this over with as soon as possible, okay?” I told her, as she smiled at me, getting out of my way.

“Okay.” She nodded furiously with a wide grin as I climbed the stairs, leaving her downstairs.

I knocked once, taking a deep breath before the door opened, revealing the same Adrian I had seen downstairs. The only difference remained that the wide fake grin he had put up before was now replaced by an emotionless stare. It seemed like he had thrown his facade as soon as he was alone because after a few seconds of noticing me, he pulled up a smile. I knew on the inside, he felt nothing.

“What?” He asked gently, opening the door wider.

“I wanted to talk to you.” I told him in a monotone.

“Sure. Come on in.” He replied with a shrug. I entered his black and white room, a little astonished at how clean he had kept the room which my parents used as a guest room back then. Almost nothing had changed in this room, except a new bed covers and new curtains of the same color. I remember not being allowed to enter this room because I would paint on the black walls with silver colors, trying to make it look more fancy. I guess the five years old me never liked plain black as the present me does.

A neat pile of books were stashed by the wooden study table and a little picture was kept on it. I didn’t need to ask about the picture or get closer to recognise it. It was a picture of Adrian and I from the first year I was there with him and my aunt, the good year as I call it. We were playing in the park near our house in it as my aunt clicked us, all smiling with broken teeth and pigtails.

Sometimes, I wonder why they had to hit me at all. I mean, that’s not a good plan, you see. If suppose, Adrian hadn’t hurt me on his mother’s command, I would have felt loved and never doubted them if they made me sign a document which would give my money to them.

Why hurt me and increase the risk of not getting a signature at all?

Something was missing in this jumbled up puzzle. I was missing some detail here-

“What did you want to talk about? Are there any rules which need to be changed or is Rihanna troubling you or-”

“Adrian.” I stopped him, facing him as she stood by his table. I eyed the picture once again before turning my eyes to him. This had to be done, right now. “I.. Haven’t you seen me before?” I asked him, mentally smacking myself for coming up with this line. It was dumb. Very dumb.

“Weird question.” He commented. “But, yes, I feel I have seen you before. I am not sure but.. You’re familiar..” He trailed, looking me right in the eyes.

“How could you not know me?” I whispered as Adrian’s expressionless face finally showed confusion.

“Huh?” He asked, dazed while I walked up to him. My hands grabbed the photograph kept on his table, as I later turned it to him.

“What if I said, I am the same Scarlet as the one in this picture?” I asked, cautiously. His eyes changed emotions, tearing up a little but he soon shook his head.

“NO!” He caught me off guard as he screamed, walking away from me. His whole face went crazy, as if he was fighting himself about this. I knew a part of him recognized me immediately but the other part refused to believe that I hadn’t died. Adrian was caught up in this battle as he shook his head between me and the Scarlet in the picture.

“I am the same Scarlet, Adrian.” I said, in a low voice, pronouncing each word softly, as if urgent him to believe me so that we could get over with this sooner.

“No.. No.. No..” He mumbled. “But you died!” He said out loud, pointing at me.

“Adrian-” I tried to walk up to him but he stopped me, gesturing me to stay where I was.

“No! Who told you about Scarlet?! You’re an imposter-”

“Seriously?! I look like Scarlet Winters! You cannot deny what you’re thinking, Adrian. I am not dead, I never was. I didn’t die that night, I just chose to escape when Roman’s father whose my godfather asked me to come with him!” I walked closer to him, but this time he was too shocked to stop me. “Don’t you realize?! You’re fighting yourself about something that is standing in one piece, in front of you!” I yelled as my impatient mind couldn’t control the frustration anymore.

I want to get over with this as soon as possible, okay?

“You.. But.. How..” Adrian stammered.

“Come on, Adrian. Put some flesh in, hide the bruises, shorten the hair.” I told him with a short smile. His eyes flickered with emotions as he finally accepted that it was me.

High time, brother. I mentally commented as he teared up more and more while looking at me.

Oh my god. It was difficult enough to console a crying, pregnant girl, now I have to console my six feet tall, macho brother as he cries? Great.

I did not sign up for this when I decided to come all the way to New York, from Port Angeles, Washington for University.

“Hey, big guy. It’s okay. I am fine and alive.. And better!” I squealed as he ran to me and hugged me, squeezing the air out of my lungs.

Talk about conflicting emotions.

“Oh my god. I really thought it was you when I saw you but..” He continued to cry on my shoulder as he mumbled on. “I am sorry about everything, Scarlet. I was scared but I never meant to hit you, I swear! Please forgive me-”

“Adrian.” I sighed, pulling him away in order to face him. “Over the week when you weren’t here, Rihanna and Ryder talked to me, okay? I know that your mother was behind all of this. I know she wanted my money and that is the reason I ran away that night to protect myself. A few days back, as I continued to blame you, Rihanna told me it wasn’t your fault and that you were forced. You have nothing to be sorry about, you hear me?” I eyed him, as he nodded at me.

“I wanted to explain myself to you, Scarlet. I felt guilty with every punch I gave you. I never meant it, please trust me on that. I was.. I was the worst brother to you in the hardest time of your life just because I couldn’t stand up for you in front of my mother and say a simple no to her. I was afraid.”

“That’s basic human nature, Adrian. You were bound to be scared and listen to your mother. Trust me, I forgive you. All of you guys. I just.. Want to put this behind me and move on with my life, okay?” I told him, because hey, losing it over here. I was done talking to them, saying the same things over and over again.

Can’t they just give me peace and move on?!

“You should rest.” I sighed, pulling away from him and leaving the room as his muffled cries followed me.

I crept up to my room, before checking on Roman who wasn’t back yet and then picked up a cup of ice cream from his fridge. I closed my door behind me, taking a deep whiff of the ice cream’s smell, and a loud sigh crept from my lips as I realized it was over and everyone in this house had been individually dealt with.

Time to concentrate on the present now, then.

I walked to my closet, where I intended to open my suitcase, checking over the things once again before I did a final packing for Miami which was two weeks away.

“Shit.” Someone yelled as I opened the door to the closet, instantly making my ears spring up and fists to be ready to punch whoever had invaded. With my parents, former criminals of the underworld, I expected this to happen some day of the other.

One of the reason I agreed to train with Roman.

A man’s dark silhouette sat on my window sill, with one of his leg hanging down and the other on my closet floor. His hands were on his pocket, ready to take out a weapon so I instantly ran up to him, aiming to slip down as he pulled his weapon out and then catch him after making him miss the target. “Hey, Wait-” I tried to shout at him, as he removed what seemed like a gun.

A mild pain shot through me as I shouted in pain, my whole right side hurting.

The last thing I saw before darkness overtook me was the man jumping down from the window.

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