I ran and ran and ran, until I realized it was time to stop.
Sometimes, the only way out of a situation is to face it, before it gets to you.
Escaping isn’t the solution all the time.
“I’ll fry him.”
“I am going to kill him first.”
“I am going to tie him before you kill him and torture this little piece of meat.” Chris countered.
“Are you guys talking about Ryder or the freaking lobster?!” Roman hissed as I groaned at three of them.
We sat in their new living room, where we had come once I saw Ryder and Adrian leave for their classes in the morning and knew that they won’t be back until this afternoon. I had explained them whatever had happened last night, a few minutes ago, as Roman continued to hiss or groan in between, his arm tightening with every detail that I passed, around my waist.
“Hmm.” Stephen nodded, throwing the cooking book away from Chris’s hand. “I see..”
“I feel Ryder is obsessed with you.” Chris murmured, scratching his chin.
“WHAT?!” Roman and I both growled.
“I think Chris might be right.” Stephen agreed as Roman and I got up to leave.
“Where are you both going?” Chris asked.
“We are leaving.” I breathed but Stephen pulled us down before we could leave the room.
“No, you can’t. Not before we talk this through.” He ordered, pulling Roman down, next to me.
“We talk about what, Stephen? How obsessed he is with my girlfriend? Or how I am supposed to ignore this just because we need to get them to Miami with us?” Roman snarled in annoyance.
“Think about what you have at hand, Rome.” Chris spoke out, finally as I took Roman’s hand in mine, in order to calm him down. “By now, I think we have established the facts correct that-.” He stopped, looking at both of us, right in the eyes. “One, Ryder is somewhere related to Jason or any of his member. Because it is almost impossible to get through the classified data in his file, which means somebody is providing that particular file more protection than needed. His father, J. C Hunt is nowhere to be found in records except a few photographs which have been blurred in every document. I can’t even find his full name anywhere which also means, this man is very important to Jason and that is why he is living inside his area, where Ryder is contacting him. The amount of protection and safety Ryder is getting while contacting them means he is one of them or related to them. You cannot risk going out on him because right now, he doesn’t know who both of you are.” That was right. Not even Jason could get past Roman, Maddie and my file, the same way we couldn’t yet across Ryder’s. But we had a duplicate file for the times someone tried to find us, something Ryder’s handlers didn’t think of doing. The reason why Ryder, Jason or his men aren’t suspicious of us is because the file that exists on the database of ours doesn’t relate us to Jonathans and Winters anywhere. Our record, according to the data which will be displayed, is clear.
“Secondly, I know that having Ryder around is not a good thing for our plan, especially if he is involved in all of this but we need to take Ryder with us to Miami.” Roman immediately groaned at him, muttering incoherent things about risking this all. “Because, not only will it be established that our Ryder is really a part of them or not, but, he will also lead us to their base as we follow him.”
The only thing that remained in my mind was Rihanna and how I had to save her from all of this. She, I knew had no idea what Ryder was up to all this while and she just trusted her twin and father to provide her and her child protection if Adrian didn’t.
“We need to protect Rihanna from this mess, Rome.” I whispered, my voice breaking in the end.
“I know, baby.” He nodded as a little tear escaped my eyes and he wiped it off.
“S-she doesn’t know anything and she’ll break if Ryder is really involved in all of this. That night, she said her father used to take Ryder along with him, while she feared he would turn into someone like him.” I told them, as they looked at me with little nods. “I don’t care if Ryder is into all of this. I really don’t. But I will do everything to protect Adrian and Rihanna. They have no idea who Ryder is, I am sure. I can’t...I can’t let Ryder hurt them please.” I whimpered as Roman wrapped me into a hug, joined by the other two.
“I promise, baby girl.” Roman muttered. “Nothing will happen to any of us. We’ll get through this, okay?” I nodded, still shaking with tears which disagreed to stop, as if they had been waiting to break away.
All these emotions fired themselves at me, making me weaker as seconds passed. Everyone in this room had seen Scarlet Taylor, the girl who didn’t even flinch while shooting, the girl who had changed herself in order to hide her emotions, in order to be stronger as she fought men, double her size. They knew the girl who had taken up probably the most difficult task of taking revenge from Jason, head of the largest and most feared gang in all of South America and Southern USA. Right now, that girl was hidden away as Scarlet James Winters surfaced up. All the emotions that I had kept locked for three years, threatened to come out, all at once as three of them sat beside me in shock of what they saw. They saw the fragile girl again. They saw the girl whom they had seen fade away, coming back to life now.
“Scarlet. Please don’t.” Chris mumbled, putting my head on his shoulder.
“He’s right, Scar.” Stephen agreed, gently pressing my cheeks as Roman held my waist.
“Scarlet.” Roman said, turning me to him. “Hear me out, okay?” I nodded, wiping my tears with the sleeve of my shirt. “It’s okay to cry sometimes, because you don’t have to be serious all the time, okay? But there is no point in running away now. As much as I hate to say this, we need to know who this Ryder really is. And as you told me, there was always something suspicious about him as he stood away as Adrian hit you and how he stopped you from leaving. I know I am not supposed to say this, but if he likes you or anything, we need to use this against him.” He whispered, closing his eyes as if he regretted it.
W H A T?!
“Roman.” I shook my head. “What.. I can’t.”
“He’s not telling you to date him, jeez.” Chris snapped. “You just got to know him better. Of course, he knows you’re dating Roman so if he’s in his right mind, he won’t ask you out or shit. But.. Be a friend to him just like all of us. Either way, you’re going to the school reunion with him.” SHIT. I almost forgot about the school reunion to which Ryder was taking me.
“You play him, Scar. Because you’re the only one who can. He knows you and he just might like you. Also, the fact that he never hit you, means he won’t hurt you. You’re the only one who can gain his trust enough so that in Miami, you can ask his father’s address.” Stephen explained.
“Why do you want the address?” Roman asked, confused.
“We need to know where he lives, because we could only track the area, which is in Jason’s territory.” Chris explained.
“If you have the address, you can see in the list of the houses that belong to Jason and we would know..” I trailed, gulping at the thought of Ryder living within his territory.
“If Ryder is really involved or not.” Roman completed for me. “If he is, nothing will stop me from taking his down.” He added with a growl.
“They are back home.” Chris announced as Roman and I got up to leave.
“I’ll meet you guys tomorrow morning, then.” I chirped, the emotions long buried in as I wiped my face one last time.
We leave for Miami, finally, tomorrow but we won’t reach there before day after tomorrow, Night, and thanks to the stupid little one year reunion Summerville has in store for us.
Let’s gear up for pines, beaches and a hell lot of teenage drama, yeah?
“Going out?” I turned as Adrian caught me before I could go out on a late night stroll after packing for tomorrow’s road trip along with Rihanna and telling her about the date. You could say my ears pain right now with all that squealing.
He stood in a black muscle t-shirt along with black sweats, his eyes bright, without any hint of sleep in them.
“Just a late night walk.” I shrugged.
“Do you..” Adrian stuttered “Mind if I join you?”
“If you’ll get me a coffee at Ophelia’s.” I answered, referring to the diner a few blocks away from our house.
“Sure.” He laughed, grabbing his wallet and wearing his shoes in a haste. “Let me check on Rihanna.” He told me as we walked across the hall to her room and slowly opened her door. I stood on door as he got a blanket from her closet and placed it on her sleeping form, pressing a small kiss on forehead.
Sure you don’t like her that way.
“Why are you standing here?” He squeaked in surprise after coming out, utterly embarrassed.
“Just seeing you take care of her.” I shrugged as he blushed a deep shade of.. Scarlet.
*Laughs at my own lame joke.*
“So..I heard you’re dating Roman, officially now.” He remarked as we began to walk out, after locking the door.
“Yea.” I replied with a small smile creeping over my face.
“I don’t mean to be nosy or anything. But.. I am happy that you’re with him. He seems like a nice guy.” Adrian mumbled.
“Adrian. I wanted to talk to you about something.” I whispered as he turned to me in confusion.
“Of course. What did you want to talk about?” He inquired.
“It’s just that.” I said, walking slowly as he followed me. “Please don’t hesitate while you’re around Rihanna. I know, I mean I see you holding back when you touch her stomach or are just around her. You’re even weird around me.” I told him as he stopped in his steps. “You’re too serious, Adrian and this is not the Adrian I saw on the football field or while he laughed with his friends.” I told him slowly, coming to the point.
“What do you want me to do then, Scarlet?” He grumbled in annoyance as if expecting this talk from me. “All I have ever done is hurt you and Rihanna and you know how. I distance myself, I am always serious, because that’s who I am..” He trailed.
“No. That’s not you, Adrian. You aren’t like this.” I argued. “Stop distancing yourself please. You don’t know how much Rihanna needs you, right now. She is madly in love with you and I know you love her too but, please don’t hold back.” I tried to reason with him as he shook his head.
“It’s not that simple, Scar. I am guilty of so many things I have done that, I can’t even enjoy the fact that I will be a father to the child of the girl I have hopelessly loved for the past so many years. I am afraid that I will hurt them, just like I hurt you.” The Adrian who looked up at me, after confessing wasn’t the guy who had hit my arm with a beer bottle, he was the broken guy who had been shut off inside the monster I had known. He was the guy who had been brainwashed by his mother to hurt others, without him wanting to.
“Adrian. Roman recently told me, that you can’t run away all the time. Sometimes, you need to come back and face your problems. Rihanna is the girl for you and look at her, she loves you and trust me, she’s a really great person after I left. Your past will affect you, her and your child until and unless you don’t forgive yourself and move on.” Adrian must have left a never going scar on my right arm but I knew my cousin brother had more on his heart, for every time he hit me or cheated on Rihanna. He deserved to mend those scars and move on by forgiving himself, because I knew, Rihanna and I had.
“When you have been forgiven by both of us, and we have moved on, I don’t see why you’re still holding back.” I whispered. “She deserves you, Adrian. And you deserve her. Drop this, please. You and, we both know how her father is and how Ryder will not always be there to protect her. Please, be there for her and your child.” I told him, walking back to the house, as I left him on the road. I saw him follow me, but then stop on the bench next to our house and sit there.
I guess he just needs to sit and relax for a while but as much as I was tempted to leave him alone, I went towards him and sat beside him in complete silence.
“I always imagined us to be the perfect siblings.” He spoke after a while. “Sometimes, I really sit and think what life would have been if I hadn’t laid my hands on you.” He chuckled dryly. “We would have been perfect, won’t we, Scar?” He turned to me as I nodded with a small smile, remembering the days he hadn’t been the monster I had known. “Back in school, I was tempted to stand up for myself and disagree to my mother. But I guess I was content with imagining four of us, walk in the hallways, all happy.”
“Four of us?” I asked in confusion.
“Ryder, Rihanna, you and I.” He continued. “I promised Ryder that I won’t ever tell you, but now, I know it’s too late for him to tell you anything.” He said. “Ryder liked you a lot and that is why he never hit you like all of us.” Knew it. I freaking knew it. Adrian just confirmed this but I knew he was up to something back then as well. “It’s gone now, I guess because he hardly talks about you, but I am not unknown to the little growls and scowls that leave his mouth every now and then when he sees you with Roman.” He spoke.
“What are you implying by telling me this now?” I inquired.
“I just want you to know Scar, that Rihanna and I aren’t unknown to the fact that Ryder, Roman and you along with Rochester twins are involved in some.. Inappropriate business. Ryder’s dirty tricks have been ignored by the whole school as they nicknamed him the bad boy because of all rumors of him breaking in or getting arrested for attempts of murder, but trust me, the rumors were all true.” He said, getting up, shocking me as he held my hand, helping me up with him. He swiftly hugged me, while muttering in my ears. “Just so you know, I can’t afford to lose my sister and Rihanna again. Do whatever you want to, but please keep yourself, Roman and Rihanna safe. Ryder can go and burn in hell if he tries to hurt any of us.” His arms left mine as he walked into the house, leaving me all alone.
The hate for Ryder was just an ounce more by the time I caught up looking at us from his bedroom door.