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You have returned for a reason,

Your adventure begins now.

~Chronicles of Narnia : The Voyage of The Dawn Treader

Her bewildered green eyes looked straight into mine as she tried to punch my stomach, failing miserably, yet again. Her lips curled up into a snarl, as she tried to hit my pretty face this time. The girl had potential, alright. But every time my eyes drifted to her arms and legs, a little part of me broke and felt sympathy for her. But no. She didn’t need sympathy from anyone, not right now for sure. I wasn’t blind to her facial expressions when she felt helpless while finding her room or when after dinner, my parents hugged her saying it was all going to be okay. She didn’t want it to be okay. She wanted to make it okay herself, without our support. She and I both knew my father was right when he reasoned with her that she needed to train because she was emotionally and physically unstable. She wanted to train to show her worth and unknowingly, prove herself of being a Winter.

She couldn’t help it. It’s in her blood from generations.

I have known Scarlet for less than a day now and here we are, fighting each other at five o’clock in the morning. Honestly, I expected her to throw her pillow at me when I went to wake her up this morning but she silently picked herself up from her bed, dressed in loose shorts and a T-shirt which Maddie lent her, and walked to the washroom. Ten minutes later, she asked where we were beginning our training.

Seriously, I was nothing compared to her. Nobody could even compare both of us. I was the laziest when it came to training, when I had started about two years ago. But she, she was nothing like the fourteen year old me who refused to not procrastinate and spent hours arguing with my father to change my training time. She never complained. Even here as she fights me, I know she’s not strong enough to hit me. But she’s trying harder than anyone else, I have seen in training.

“Tired?” She asked, huffing on her own.

I let out a chuckle, sitting beside her on the yoga mat. “Nope, baby girl. What about you?” I asked, punching her arm playfully, as she pulled on her sleeves.

She winced loudly, moving a little away from me and covered her hand over her arm. “Oh, shit. Scarlet! Do you have a wound here too?!” I asked, frantically. She had her right side bruised and scratched, not this! Was there something here as well?

I rolled up her sleeves even though her little hands begged me not to, but anyhow, I managed to swiftly turn her body towards me, and wrap my fingers around her sleeve, pulling it up despite her hands stopping me again and again. I had to see this. I saw exactly what I had expected. A wound surrounded by dry blood which I knew she had tried to wipe off, but couldn’t. “Wait. I’ll get a first aid kit.” I muttered, getting up, pissed off a little at her for not telling any of us about this. She could tell my mother at least!

Her cousin had tortured her, I knew that. But so many wounds on her showed how much he was violent towards her.

How had she even survived there?

As I was submerged in my thought, I didn’t even realise that I had got the first aid kit and wrapped the newly found wound, until she called me out. “Roman. I am fine.” She whispered.

“No. You aren’t.” I snapped back at her. “Come on, Scarlet. Why did you escape so late?! Why not the very day Amanda gave you the address?!” I don’t know why I was angry at her but I couldn’t control my anger at her or that aunt of hers and her wretched son. I cannot imagine the Scarlet I see, not fighting it off. I cannot imagine anyone, with her blood running in their veins to be under someone, being beaten up by them.

“I.. Couldn’t.” She whimpered, moving away from me. I realised I was doing the same thing Adrian had done. I was scaring her away.
I crouched down in front of her and made her look at me right in my eyes, as I gently bought my fingers to her chin and lifted it up. “Scarlet, I am sorry. I know you wanted to stay for your aunt and everything but.. I just got angry, okay?”

“You’re making it more difficult for me to trust you all, Roman.” I knew I had screwed up there and then as her voice faltered and she refused to look at me.

“I am terribly sorry for that, Scar. But trust me, I will never hurt you like the others. Never. Nor will my brother, sister and my parents.” She nodded at me but I knew she wasn’t convinced even a bit.

To be honest, I am happy that she’s not. She’s showing every sign of being related to her parents. Even though Scarlet doesn’t want to get into the family business like me, I know we both share the traits of our parents. The fact that she is thinking this through and taking her sweet time to trust us, shows how safe she’s playing this.

We might not be criminals like our parents, but we are definitely thinking like shrewd ones.

“Okay. Tell me, would you like to go out with me tonight?” Her eyes immediately shot up to mine as her cheeks turned a mild red.

“I.. Haven’t ever.. Date-” She stammered uncontrollably as if I had asked her to submit her life to me.

“I mean like a friend, stupid.” I said with a laugh, realizing I had put the question in a wrong sense.

Wow, Roman. Just wow.

I don’t ask these kind of questions every day, okay?

Huh. Doesn’t mean you’ll scare off an innocent girl because of your pathetic communication skills.

Give me a break. I am not a normal teenager, jeez.

“Uh.. I don’t have pretty dresses.” She shrugged, making a small chuckle escape my mouth. Pretty dresses? Girls will always be girls.

“Darling, you do realize your money is safe in a different account now?” She nodded. “My Father will give you the credit card for that account by ten, this morning. Would you like to go shopping with my mother, then?” She thought for a while and then nodded at me.

“That… Would be fine, I guess.” She replied, but I caught the hesitation that I felt in her voice.

“Don’t worry; no one will recognize you, baby girl.” I smiled, picking her up.

“Where are we going?” She asked, referring to the go-out-with-me-as-a-friend thing.

“To the treadmill.” I replied, knowingly interpreting her question in a different sense.

No, she won’t know until tonight.

“Mrs. Jonathan, thank you for this.”

“Honey! I told you to call me Cara. Hell, you can even call me mom. Mrs. Jonathan makes me look older and its really weird, okay?” My mother sighed, eyeing herself in the mirror while scowling at her hair and placing a single strand correctly.

“Oh.. Okay.” I saw Scarlet nodding from the side mirror. She sat behind me, clutching her small purse in her arms. She was dressed in the jeans she drove here in and my sister’s shirt which perfectly fitted her. We asked her to let down her dark brown hair, which she said she always kept tied in a bun in Summerville and made her wear a pair of dark sunglasses and nerd glasses for later. I don’t think anyone would recognize her and be able to track her down this far. The police was still searching for her in Summerville or New York, where she was supposed to be. Her aunt had come back this morning, to be questioned by the officers in charge for her case. Amanda, Scarlet’s lawyer had managed it really well, guiding them to New York.

The letter Scarlet had left was a testimony to Amanda’s statement.

Her newly bought car had been painted black and was on its way to Seattle Port. If only that guy, Ryder, who saw her leave the house kept his mouth shut, they would close the case very soon without any leads. If only.

“Scar. Mom. We’re here.” I told them, as our driver stopped in front of the mall. I helped Scarlet out, who was visibly scared to be recognized or noticed.

The police had her photographs, yes. But they were not recent. The last picture that was ever taken of Scarlet was for her high school record, almost a year ago. With longer hair and a more fragile body, no one would recognize her. Even if they did, who would expect a girl of 16 to have ran away more than a hundred kilometers to Port Angeles within a day or two?

“Okay. What do you need?” My mom asked her, removing her sunglasses as I gave Scarlet the nerd glasses to wear. She looked older with this attire, a college student for sure.

“I.. need everything. I mean, you can just tell me the location of the store, I’ll shop on my own.” She hesitated, checking her card in her purse.

“Honey, I am not a bad shopping partner, okay?” My mom chuckled, holding Scarlet’s hand in hers.

“If you don’t have a problem, mom.” We both froze as Scarlet mumbled, referring my mother as mom.

“What did you just say?” My mother asked, shocked. I knew tear drama was only a few seconds away by that tone.

“I am so sorry. I didn’t realize that I called..” Scarlet said in a frenzy, embarrassment filling her voice as her green eyes enlarged.

“No! You can call me mom, Scarlet.” The tears were already pouring out as my mother clutched her into a bone crushing hug, making the poor girl whimper.

“Okay.” Scarlet tried to reply but the poor girl was victim to my mother’s deadly hugs right now. I chuckled at both of them, pulling my mother away from Scarlet.

“Mom. Can we focus on clothes, please?”

“Can’t you relax? It’s not a date!”

“Oh well! I want it to be one!”

“Come on, man. You knew this wasn’t a serious thing ever.”

“Why not?! Why can’t we just date?! It’s like, she’s playing me and I’m letting her.” Mason huffed, sitting back on the couch after being dressed up.

“Aren’t you late, brother?” I asked him. If anyone was late, it was Scarlet and I. But Maddie has her room locked and was dolling her up. I mean, this ain’t a date, girls!

I just want Scarlet to warm up to Port Angeles and feel safe at least with me by taking her around the place. I want her to know where she is staying, this small town which her parents called home. Where she was born, but until and unless she didn’t step out of the house, she won’t know.

“Oh my god! You idiot! Why didn’t you tell me before?!” Mason was out of the house in a few seconds, stumbling on the staircase as I muffled a laugh. My brother is on the edge of being bipolar.

“Roman.” Scarlet called me as I turned behind to her voice. She was coming down the staircase, wearing a plain white top under her new black leather jacket, a pair of black jeans and black and white vans. And damn, the woman was pulling it off better than anyone else I had seen with a ghost smile near her lips and her hair cascading down in a braid.

She, truly is a mystery to me, after all.

Somewhere, I knew that Scarlet and I were going to be great friends, very soon. I don’t know why I think so, I mean, she doesn’t talk much to any of us. But, I have this feeling, okay? And for some reason, I know I will prove this feeling right. “Hello, There. Ready to discover Port Angeles?” I asked, as she giggled and nodded. Maddie and Scarlet must have had a really great time because she seemed happier than before and hey, she giggled!

“Yea.” She nodded, following me out to my new black convertible which I got for my sixteenth birthday, three months ago from today. “Is this yours?” She asked amused and I told her it was mine.

“So. How about we take a drive through the town and have lunch at my favourite diner? There isn’t much to do here, you see.” I shrugged, slipping into the car.

“Can we go towards the seaside?” She asked, hesitantly.

“Yea. We can.. I know this place not very far away from here. It has an amazing view of the Port.” I told her. Yes, I am a little hesitant too. This place.. , it’s a little secluded so, not the way to make Scarlet trust me. Also, it’s kind of my place. I haven’t ever even taken my siblings there but.. I could take Scarlet, couldn’t I? I had this spontaneous feeling that I could and somehow she would trust me with it.

“Sure. If its okay with you...” She replied. For some unknown reason, I nodded, burying my hesitant feelings.

“So...tell me about yourself.” I asked, cautiously as we began to drive. She was looking out of the car, and without looking towards me answered to me.

“What would you like to know?” She answered with a question.

“Anything. Your likes, dislikes, weird fetishes-”

“Are you trying to copy Gus’s dialogue?” I froze, gulping as silently as I could.

“Uh.. No... I don’t even know who Augustus is...”

Stupid boy, she said Gus not Augustus.

Her laugh filled in the car and minutes later she was clutching her stomach and tears poured down her cheeks. “You. You totally don’t look like the guy who would.. Read... TFIOS!” She said between her giggles as I turned to the Highway to my place. We began to climb height of the route when she let out another giggle, and I grunted.

“Yea, very funny-”

“Roman. Where are we going?” Her giggle long gone, as she asked me.

“Trust me, Scar. We are just going to the place I talked about.”

“I.. Okay..”

We didn’t talk for about ten minutes after that. Scarlet was too busy gazing out of her window and then glaring at me, as I gulped. I was too busy, seeing her skeptical about this and avoiding her murderous glares, who hid fear behind them. I knew she was scared because she didn’t trust me. I knew she would remain like this and that I had screwed this up, yet again.

“Scarlet.” I said, as I stopped the car in a clearing. Her eyes were stuck at my face, a wrong on her part as she didn’t even realize that we were off the Highway and in between trees. What can I say? The road was good, so she felt nothing.

“I..” She stopped, looking around the glass. “Roman! Where are we? Why are we not on the Highway?!” She was visibly shaking by the time I got out of the car and started to walk up to her. By the time I opened her door, we both looked at each other, shocked. The only difference was that her eyes held tears and mine sadness and guilt.

Avoiding her eyes, I got down on my knees in front of her. “P-please don’t kill me.” she whispered, letting out her tears. “I.. I’ll do anything.” She cried more while I just shook my head as I felt rocks of guilt being thrown on my heart.
Way to make a friend, Rome.

“Scarlet, when you look at my mother, do you feel she could do anything against you? Do you think she could ever hurt you?” I asked her out of the blue.

“N-no.” She shook her head violently.

“Do you feel scared talking to my sister? Do you flinch when she touches you?” I asked, gently taking her hand in mine, even though she flinched at the contact. Her hand remained warm in mine, a hope burning between us that she could still trust me.

“N-no. I.. Don’t.” She said, her voice breaking into a sob, hammering my heart too.

“Did you see my brother look at you with love before you saw your parent’s video?”

“No, R-Roman, no. I am.. Sorry.” Her voice was unstable as she answered. I placed my palm on her cheeks, which were warm from all the tears.

“Then trust me. My family and I will never hurt you. My mother loves you ever since you were born to her best friend. My father cried along with your father when you were placed in his arms. My brother had dotted over you more than me for the first four years of your life. My sister has grown up seeing your pictures. I have faint memories of you from my childhood. I have grown up hearing everything about you and me. I won’t ever dare hurt you. In fact, I almost came to Summerville to hit that brother of yours when Amanda told us about the abuse.” I told her honestly, silently hoping she could catch it in my tone.

“I...” She wiped her tears and then turned back to me. “It’s difficult to trust anyone after...” She trailed her eyes looking at our entangled fingers.

“I know, Scar. And that’s a good thing.” I told her, helping her stand up.

“That’s a good thing?”

“Let me tell you something Mason told me a year ago.” I took her hand in mine again, as I locked the door. “When I was fifteen, I had a best friend. He, unfortunately, conspired against me and removed me from the football team. Minor thing, I know. But.. That night Mason came to my room and had a conversation with me.”

“What’d he tell you?” She asked, interested in the conversation.

“He told me, it’s okay to trust someone. That it’s okay to have friends because someday if they break your trust, you learn a lesson.” I was reminded of Ethan, who had grown up with me and whom I had been a brother to.

“And that lesson was, not to trust anyone?”

“Yes. Not to trust anyone right away. I suffered, I learnt, I know.” I smiled, pushing Ethan out of thoughts, glad that he didn’t remind of painful memories anymore.

“You’re implying I shouldn’t trust you at all?”

“That’s where you’re wrong, Scar. Sometimes people build a strong wall among themselves, not allowing anyone else. All you have to do is learn to let it down for the right people, not close yourself up.” I turned to her, and continued. “I know you won’t trust me or any of us right away because you shouldn’t trust anyone that way. But please, let that wall down for me so that I can teach you to trust those few who are worth it. It breaks my heart to see you this way, Scarlet. I know sympathy is the last thing you need and that you need to tackle this on your own but a little help won’t hurt, okay?” I may have sounded very empowering to her, but inside me I was just begging her to hug me and tell me she would trust me always.

She continued to look into my eyes, her own battling an inner war going among her head. “Can I trust you?” Her voice asked herself and me at the same time.

“The fact that you let me drag you into the woods for these long shows that you already do.” I smirked. She giggled in response but soon stopped.

“For some reason I always trusted you.” She replied as I gave her a warm smile.

“Now, honey boo. The real reason why we are here-”

“You’ll never stop making new nicknames for me, will you?” She sighed as I left her hands and placed them on her waist, turning her around. The whole Port laid to our left side, dawned by the dark, black sea on the other. The lights glimmered against the little opening in the trees, shining into Scarlet’s green eyes as she gawked at what lay ahead of her. I suppressed the urge to close her mouth, but man, I was suppressing laughter already as I cautiously removed my hands from her waist.

Get me a good camera, someone. This expression is beautifully embarrassing.

“It’s.. Whoa.. I haven’t ever seen anything like.. This.” She mumbled as I debated whether I would be able to click a picture of this in my iPhone without her noticing it.

You have to use flash, so duh, she will come to know.

A flash went off before Scarlet could close her mouth with my laughter behind the camera.

“Did you just..?” She asked confused as I took a step back.

This is the silence before the thunder, my friends.

When a girl says that, an argument or a fight isn’t far away. It’s actually the little knock of the devil.

“ROMAN JONATHAN! DID YOU JUST CLICK AN EMBARRASSING PICTURE OF ME?!” I guess even the most shy and socially impaired girls get a voice when they are clicked without being told to pose or pout.

This, my fellow boys, is how you sign your own death sentence.

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