His eyes rapidly searched for her in the crowd, waiting for that face to come in front of him after ten long days. Why had he even left her alone, knowing that she could pull a stupid stunt like this?
The twins, his brother? They knew about this and they had lied to him, right on his face. His brother had known all along about this whole “mission” of hers which had back fired on her only. But he felt it more than anyone else in the house. He felt the pain of not seeing her more than anyone else who was involved in this.
She has to be here! He yelled at himself, frantically looking at the device and the crowd again and again.
The tracker in her shirt button was indicating her being in this crowd, somewhere very close to him, yet distant. But no, she wasn’t here anywhere and still the tracker remained stubborn at this specific position. Everyone had told him that following this lead would lead him nowhere. Ryder was smart enough to get that tracker off her but he knew that the tracker was undetectable and he believed that somehow, even if she wasn’t wearing that black shirt anymore, that tracker would lead him somewhere.
“Oh god. Where is that shirt?!” He screamed out in frustration, pressing the advanced options on the device. It beeped twice before the map maximized, leading him to a cafe, just beside the road which was flooded with people. It was a good Sunday morning and everyone was flocking near the port side, buying themselves stuff while absorbing the mild heat of the sun, only found in Florida at this time of the year.
“Out of the crowd, thank god.” He mumbled, looking ahead as he adjusted his shades.
The device stopped, telling him that it could not track beyond this point. It stopped showing him any directions which meant that the tracker was very very close to the tracker now.
“Okay then.” He muttered, putting the tracker back in his khaki short’s pocket, looking around until his eyes landed on a woman almost immediately. She wasn’t Scarlett, she couldn’t be because Scarlett wasn’t a blonde. The woman sat crossed leg and she would have been near his brother’s age. A newspaper was opened in front of her as she sipped a coffee, her-no- Scarlet’s shirt was tucked inside her faded blue shorts carefully.
She didn’t look very rich, and neither did the shirt she wore suited her other accessories. That was Scarlett’s shirt. He had seen it numerous times when she had hopped into his room, asking him to accompany her on a late night walk. This was the shirt with the tracker, no doubt.
This was her “late night mission” shirt.
“Ma’am?” He found himself patting the woman’s shoulder before he could think for another moment. The woman immediately turned, eyeing him once before gulping and getting up. She was visibly surprised by this man, who seemed younger to her in an expensive blue t-shirt with khaki pants, dresses perfectly for the day with an expensive watch and shades against him.
But his face didn’t mean holiday. In fact, it screamed business.
“Y-yes?” She stuttered as he took a seat, signaling her to sit as well.
“Please don’t be scared, Miss..”
“Clarissa.” She answered immediately, not defying to the young man’s authoritative voice. Even though he must have been a few years younger to her, she was scared of this man. She was scared of every man, but he screamed power like her boss back home. For once, she was allowed to leave her boss’s house for a holiday and visit Miami.
“Clarissa, I promise not to hurt you.” He spoke gently, but his eyes were speaking in another tone. He was furious and he, needed answers. She gulped once again, nodding at him. “Good. Now, I need an answer to a simple question. If you answer me correctly then, you can go. If you don’t, then..” He lifted his t-shirt up, and she could see the little revolver placed there.
She knew men like him ever since she was a young girl. Clarissa grew up in a household filled with these men and she also knew the consequences of defying their orders.
“I-.. Okay.” She nodded, tears threatening in her eyes until she remembered what her Mamma had told her. Don’t ever go against a man with a revolver. She had simply told her on her death bed.
“I need you to tell me where you got that shirt from.” He asked, pointing at her black shirt. She teared up, finally realizing her mistake. She shouldn’t have stolen the clothes of that young woman when her boss had asked her to throw them.
“I.. I am sorry.” She squealed, getting up and grabbing her newspaper. She needed to run before this man knew about her thievery, so she ran, knowing that her boss would find her and punish her if she told about that young woman to anyone. He had a gun, but there were a lot of people around here so he wouldn’t fire it.
She took off, the man didn’t even follow her as she ran into the crowd in the bustling heat of Miami. She didn’t run towards the port, but towards the city, planning to reach her boss’s territory where they would give her protection from this unknown man. On her way, she would dispose this wretched shirt even though she had loved it very much.
But with this shirt, she was reminded of that young woman whom she had cleaned up in that room. She had sponged her pale body while the woman slept, under the influence of a heavy drug. There was a big wound up her thigh which Clarissa had cleaned and bandaged it well.
She would hear the girl cry sometimes as she stood beside the door. She would hear her scream a name. Roman, she would shout again and again but within a few minutes, her boss would come and drug her again. She even mumbled that name in her sleep, as if asking him to come and rescue her. The whole staff knew not the help that girl or answer to her pleas but Clarissa was the only one who got a little hurt after every time she heard her wail for help.
She felt pity for this girl, because in a house full of men, that young lady was the second one to be bought hostage.
First, was Clarissa’s mother, who died defying the men’s orders.
“Oh god.” Clarissa gulped, nervousness settling in the base of her stomach yet again. “I should have taken the cab.” She mumbled as a dark street stood in front of her. As soon as she would cross it, she would be in her Boss’s territory and any gangster looking guy would help her find her way.
Hating her decision, she began to jog, holding the jacket she had bought and worn on that shirt. The road was just around the end, when she felt a car zoom beside her. It all happened so fast, as she eyed the end of the road, a tear slipping out of her eyes and the car’s door opening. She was pulled harshly inside the car, her arm twisting in between.
Cab would have been the better option.
Roman touched the shirt once again before closing the closet door. The housekeeper had changed Clarissa’s clothes and placed then neatly in Scarlet’s closet as soon as she had cleaned up a small wound on Clarissa’s broken arm.
“Sir?” Drew, his security detail called out. “That lady has woken up.” He continued, as Roman stepped out.
“I’ll be there.” He nodded.
Roman looked around her room one last time, taking a deep breath before closing the door behind him. She would be back here soon, he remained himself again and again as he walked to the guest room where Clarissa was put up after she was drugged during her kidnapping.
“Rome.” His brother called him out before he could open the door. “I asked Rihanna to be with her. Adrian is inside as well. They haven’t told her anything, I guess you can now.” Roman silently nodded at Mason, his face shifting to a cold look.
Rihanna and Adrian had been informed everything because Mason thought they had the right to. Rihanna had ensured Roman again and again that Scarlet won’t be hurt if she was with Ryder. He won’t ever hurt her, so he could remove that thought from his mind. But Adrian was beyond mad after knowing everything about his sister and his best friend. How had he not seen Ryder’s true colors, he kept on asking Rihanna, who took the information really well, as if she had expected that out of her brother.
She was disappointed in him, but more than that, sad that she had lost him because with this move of his, he was nothing but a replica of their father and uncle. She even told Mason and Roman whatever little she had known about their business but that was similar to what all they had known, actually less.
Ryder was a monster for her now, not her twin brother. Just like her father, who she knew was always the bad guy.
“It’s been 4 months.” Roman heard Rihanna tell Clarissa as soon as he stepped inside the room.
On a wooden chair, Rihanna sat beside Clarissa and Adrian stood above the girl, his eyes lost in thought. He heard Roman enter and immediately nodded at him as Rihanna sent him a sad smile.
“Clarissa.” Roman nodded, taking another chair as his brother stationed himself against the wall behind him.
“Cafe guy with the revolver.” He nodded. “I told you, if you won’t answer, I would have my own way with you.” He spoke in a monotone. “Now, will you answer my question?” He asked her desperately.
“I can’t.” She answered shaking her head. “They will kill me, just like my mother.” She mumbled.
“Who will?” Rihanna asked.
“My boss. His men. They killed my mother because she went against them, they will kill me too.” She desperately whispered to Rihanna only, shaking her head in fear.
“No one will do anything to you, Clarissa. You’re not in their territory anymore.” Mason told her and Clarissa finally looked at the man who stood in a sharp black suit. He looked.. Intimidating.
“I am not? Who are you then? A rival gang who needs to know about them? I will not tell you anything! I’d rather die in your territory than be killed by my boss.” She shook her head violently at the man, no matter how intimidated she was by him.
“No one is killing you! If they’re a gang, then we are Jonathans and Winters. We are much more powerful than them-” Roman yelled, getting up from his chair, in frustration. This woman, was getting on his nerves. She knew about gangs, she knew about that shirt, yet, she was keeping quiet.
“Roman, don’t shout at her.” Rihanna argued, telling him to shut up. “You’re scaring the lady more.” She snapped as Roman sat back. How could she be so calm about this, Roman wondered.
“Jonathans and Winters?” Clarissa spoke carefully, naming the strongest gang in North America and Europe. She knew everything about gangs, she definitely knew how powerful this one was. But then it hit her. The man who had answered to her, she had seen him somewhere. Mason Jonathan, her mind answered. Once when she had sneaked into the conference hall to clean a tea mess, this man’s picture was displayed on the screen which had been paused. Her boss had shooed her away immediately but she read his details. This man, was the next heir to the company and to the gang. Another memory played itself as she heard the pregnant girl speak again. Roman, she had called the other young man, who seemed to be Mason’s brother because they both shared the same features.
The young woman had screamed his name again and again and then it all fell in place. The shirt Clarissa had stolen was hers, the name she had called out again and again in pain was this man’s.
She was here because Roman was trying to find that young lady, finally.
“You’re Roman.” She stammered into the silence. His head immediately shot up, not holding itself down in defeat anymore.
“Yes.” He replied in confusion.
“You’re trying to find that young lady.” She continued, finally figuring it out.
“Young lady?” He asked, but then his eyes lit up. “You know Scarlet?”
“This shirt.. I.. Stole it.” She answered sheepishly. “I am very very sorry but my boss asked me to throw her clothes away but I liked this-”
“I am so glad you did! Please keep it!” Rihanna answered, getting up from her chair. “Now, can you tell us about that young lady?”
“I..” She hesitated, looking into the eyes of these young people who desperately stared into her eyes as if their life depended on her.
“Clarissa.” Mason spoke slowly, walking to her. Everyone reminded quiet as he knelt beside her. She never thought a man this powerful could look this defeated, but his eyes were so pleading. “I promise to provide you all the protection required. That young lady, is like a sister to me. I need to know where she is.” He demanded, gently touching her hand as she felt his warm skin claim her down.
“Clarissa.” The pregnant girl held her hand. “I know, I heard you, that you lost to your mother because she defied their orders but trust me, we will not let that happen to you. That girl, is our family.” Rihanna pleaded, pressing her hand. “If you have ever cared and loved yours, please help us find ours.”
“That girl, is my girlfriend.” Roman said, as a tear slipped out of Clarissa’s eyes. “You have no idea how much I want her back. We all do but that depends on what you decide. That man, is her brother.” He pointed at the guy who stood beside Rihanna. “That girl is her best friend.” He pointed at the pregnant girl. “They need you the most right now because you’re the only one with a little idea. We will give you the perfect life, with us if you promise to tell us everything because if you do, you would do us the biggest favour. You don’t have to go back there, we will fake your death and keep you under our protection even after Scarlet is found.” He told her, sitting in front of her.
“Do you promise?” She asked and they all nodded.
So, she told them. She told them everything because the cries she had heard from the past ten days were haunting her as she sat, looking at their pleading faces. If she couldn’t save her mother from being killed, she could at least save that young girl who had a beautiful family waiting for her here. Clarissa felt important for once when she saw them depending on her, specially this man who kneeled beside her, Mason.
“I first saw her the night my boss, Mr Carter’s son bought her to his villa in Mr Carter’s private island.” She began, giving them the details of this island which was a few hours away from Miami’s shore. When she told them about wiping Scarlett’s wound which she had personally cleaned up, Roman had banged his hand on the bed, his eyes feeling nothing but anger. “I.. I heard Mr Carter’s son shout at his father as I cleaned Scarlet up. He wanted him to leave and Mr Carter left that very night, promising that this was the last time he had hurt what was Ryder’s. Ryder, his son then instructed everyone in a staff meeting to not be around her room and to not hurt her at all.” They had all left a huge sigh after she reassured them that no one would hurt Scarlet again in that house.
“They drug her a lot. Almost every time she screams but it has reduced from the past two days. She has been keeping quiet because she knows she’s not on mainland anymore and no one would hear her.” She finished, and soon Roman left the room.
Clarissa didn’t have to know this man to see the love in his eyes for Scarlet. But on the other hand, she had seen the obsession in Ryder’s eyes when he used to sit on a couch as she cleaned Scarlet up.
For now, she would keep the ugly details to herself. They didn’t need to know her situation right now, just the fact that she was okay and wouldn’t be hurt.
For the first time, her eyes opened normal, as if she had actually slept and not been drugged. The bright white ceiling greeted her and she felt she was in a different room all together.
“What?” She muttered, getting up as her feet hit the white rug.
She found herself wrapped in a white night dress which hugged her body well and was so comfortable, but not something she would wear normally. She looked around the room even though it was very dark and the only source of light was the little lamp on the other side of her white queen sized bed. She felt normal in this room and sighed as she saw the bruises on her wrists were paining as little as possible. She lifted her dress up, to find her thigh tied up in a proper dressing. She knew it was healing because it didn’t pain anymore when she got up.
“It feels like I am walking after years.” She mumbled to herself as she looked around the room which was purely white.
A white couch stood in front her her as she walked to it. Where was she, she wondered? Had she been rescued finally, but no, this place didn’t belong to her or Mason.
She still wasn’t in her own territory or else Roman would have been here beside her. This place didn’t feel home a bit because the familiar tropical air was still there.
She heard a click and immediately turned her head around to find the wall behind her bed lifting itself up. Her eyes remained alert as she stepped away from the light which seeped in from the blinds which opened themselves for her. It was automatic, which meant someone was controlling it. Someone who wasn’t her. The blinds went up, as her breath hitched in her throat.
She looked at the scenery outside, she looked at the green garden, dawned with tropical trees with huge leaves and an artificial waterfall on the end. It looked like a dream garden, which was fenced well as if it had popped out of a magazine of fancy beach houses on an island.
But that wasn’t the reason for her breath to stop.
With the beautiful view, came the devil himself. Ryder stood on the other side of the glass wall, smiling gently at her. She involuntarily took a step back, knowing that -
1. This wasn’t her territory at all.
2. She may be trained but she couldn’t protect herself against a man like Ryder with a big ass wound up her thigh.
3. This was his territory and possibly, she was still on his private island, the one he had talked about while thinking she was asleep.
4. There wasn’t any running away anymore.
5. The only way she could “think” about getting out of here was to make him trust her.
His obsession was her only way out of here.
He is vulnerable to her.
She is his only weakness. And right now, he is her only strength.
“I’m sorry, Rome.” She whispered before smiling warmly at Ryder who was surprised with this attitude of hers. His love blinded the fact that she was acting funny because all he saw was that smile.
“How is your thigh?” He asked, as he slid the door open and walked in.
“Better.” She answered, awkwardly sitting beside her bed.
“I am so sorry that my father did this to you.” He rambled.
“You don’t.. Have to apologize for something that he did.” Scarlet said in a monotone. She possibly couldn’t jump up to flirting with him. Normal talk would be fine for now.
“Are you hungry, Scar?” She mentally gritted her teeth with irritation. She didn’t want Ryder to call her out with that name. When she turned to him, she followed his eyes right to her own chest and then coughed.
“I..I would like to eat, yes.” She nodded at soon he got up. She got up too, wondering where he would go from there and if he would lock her in.
“Don’t worry, I wouldn’t lock you up.” He answered, not facing her. Had he read her mind? “You see, Scarlet. You must have already noticed but let me tell you.” He turned, swiftly wrapped his warm arms her waist and pulling her against his chest and as a reflex she placed her hand on his chest, his cologne hitting her nose. To a normal girl, he would be everything a woman would crave. To a girl who was in love with a man like Roman, Ryder didn’t even hold a candle. “We are on my father’s private island, hours away from your Roman. There is no point running anymore and even if you do, the ports belong to us, only. If you try to hurt me, I will have my own way with you.” His head immediately dipped down to her ears. “Now be a good girl and start making yourself comfortable at home.” He whispered, kissing her ears tenderly, staying for a good five seconds there. Scarlet could only hold her tears.
He had confirmed her fears.
There was no escape from him.
After everything, she had finally lost her battle. He had her cornered from every sphere as his eyes moved back to her face and gently picking her lips. He held her so tightly, as if begging her to kiss him back but before she could protest, his lips parted from hers as if he knew how to break her, a very small piece at a time.
But only if she also took it slow, only if she could remain unlocked and explore this house, she would be able to communicate with Roman and Mason back home.
She needed full access to her “new home”.
Again, the key was Ryder only.