The Memory House

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The Doors

“They’re open?” Harper asked and Rowan closed her mouth after realizing it had dropped open in her shock.

“Open.” Oliver nodded once and sniffed a single time, running his finger under his nose. Harper looked to Daisy who nodded fervently.

“All of them.” Though said as a statement, Harper was more asking for confirmation.


Without any further discussion, they left the library – leaving ‘the un-sub’, Nick, still exposed – and went for the stairs, the men taking two at a time while Daisy quickly climbed the stairs behind them.

Rowan slipped away and veered to the left of the stairs to see if the other two were unlocked, the doors that were part of the small partition the staircase made. At the end of the hall was a small window, placed in the center of the small wall that sat between the kitchen entrance and one of the two doors.

To her left, she could see Carmen and Louis talking, Carmen’s arms waving around madly while Louis simply nodded and adjusted his glasses. To her right was one of the two doors.

Slowly, she placed her hand over the door knob. She took a deep breath and held it in anticipation. A single twist to the right and it was all she needed. It was still locked. Rowan sighed in disappointment and dropped her hand away from the brass colored door knob.

“You check the other one, yet?” – Rowan jumped and spun around in surprise.

“Jesus!” She held her hand over her heart as she faced Harper, “Why… why would you sneak up on me like that!?”

He stifled his laugh, “I’m really sorry…”

“That’s twice now!” She pushed by him and he pivoted to follow after her.

“I’m sorry! -but did you?”

“Did I what?” She paused by the second door a few feet to the right of the locked one she’d just tried, passing the wall of pictures that hung between the two doorways.

“Check the other one, yet…” he repeated. In a bitter, wordless response, Rowan blindly placed her hand on the knob and twisted it half willingly.

“Yup, it’s locked.” She said uninterested.

Harper sighed and blinked slowly. “Great.”

“What’s upstairs?” She nodded her head upwards as she asked.

“More bedrooms.”

“With beds?”

“Some with double, so at least we have somewhere to sleep tonight…” Harper shrugged.

“There’s not going to be a ‘night’!” She exclaimed but kept her voice low, not wanting to bring any attention to the situation.

Harper sighed, “You know-”

“Dinner is ready…” Carmen interrupted and caused both of them to jump in surprise. “Sorry,” she looked between the two of them as they turned away from the wall with the morbid pictures. “Are you two okay?” She made eye contact with Rowan and the red head nodded in response.

“Yeah, we’re fine.” Rowan tucked her hair behind her ear and nodded, “We’ll be right in…” She offered a smile which was mirrored by Harper who still stood beside her.

“Okay,” She paused and looked up to the balcony. “Do you know where Oliver and Daisy are?”

Harper shrugged momentarily before gesturing his hand up above them, “I think they’re still upstairs.”

“Thanks.” She smiled and nodded, her short black hair falling from behind her ears. After she shimmied past them, her back to the wall, she made her way up the stairs quietly.

“C’mon…” Harper nodded his head in the direction of the living room, which connected to the dining room. “Let’s eat, we can think some more about this over food.” He offered a smile and Rowan sighed but nodded.

The two entered the dining room and took two of the open five seats, Harper pulling out the chair for Rowan to sit in and then taking the seat to her left – though Rowan turned to look up to thank him it became obvious that Harper was hardly aware he’d done it, something of a habit of who he was likewise to when he held his hand out for her to take earlier.

Following the length of the table, four chairs on each side and on the ends a single chair. Matthew and Louis took the ends, Calley to the right of Matthew and to the left sat Carey. James was already eating, fork clattering against the plate as he scraped every last bite off and into his mouth. Aidan ate slowly and unusually quiet, pausing until each mouthful was thoroughly chewed and swallowed before taking another bite.

Rowan put her left elbow on the table and dropped her forehead into her hand, massaging her temple. “Hey,” Harper whispered, leaning in closer to her. “You okay?”

“Not feeling well.”

“You should eat,” he started scooping rice and stir-fry onto her plate.

“I don’t need your help.” She mumbled, looking at him skeptically for treating her like a child.

He froze in his action before putting the spoon back into the bowl and nodding, “You’re right, sorry.” He replied, just as Carmen came in from the living room, her eyes wide with shock.

Calley furrowed his brows and let his fork clatter on his plate, “You alright?”

Pouting her lower lip, Carmen nodded. “Daisy and Oliver… they’re… gonna be a second.” She said softly, taking a seat between James and Louis sharing a look with Rowan who sat directly across from her.

“They’re gonna be a second…?” James started but when the rest of the group gave him a knowing look, his eyes widened and he nodded once. “Oh.”

The group sat in silence, the only sound was of chewing and the clattering of silverware on ceramic plates. When Oliver and Daisy walked in they all stopped and stared at the two, “What?” Oliver spat, daring anyone to make a comment of their not so subtle ‘indiscretion’.

“Nothing” the group all said in unison, though some were more mumbled either by embarrassment or the food still stuffed in their cheeks.

“That’s right, ‘nothing’…” Oliver grumbled as he took a seat, not bothering to look at Daisy as he took the seat beside Harper, still straightening out her dress – fidgeting.

“Has anyone else found any open doors?” Matthew began conversation as everyone else finished off their food. “Rowan?” He directed the question at the red head, who was picking at her fingernails. Matthew cleared his throat when she didn’t lift her head.

“Oh, huh?” She looked at each face as she realized all eyes were looking at her and hid her hands under the table by clasping them and placing them in her lap.

“Did you… find… any other… open doors…”Matthew’s voice was condescending and she looked at him in surprise at his tone.

Unsure of his sudden change in attitude, she looked at him strangely before replying. “Yes.” She forced the word out, reticent to respond to his tone.

“Well?” He leaned forward as he rested his elbows on the wooden table and steepled his fingers.

Her teeth grinded and her eyes became steely- “The bedrooms upstairs are all open…” Harper replied for her, knowing that she was becoming irate.

Carmen lifted her eyes in realization and gently put her fork down. “By the way, I don’t know if anyone else has checked, but those dressers have clothes in them.” Taking the pressure off Harper and Rowan, all eyes shifted to her.

“What?” They all asked in unison, a look of surprise on their faces.

“Yeah, when I went up to get them,” she indicated to Daisy and Oliver, I stepped into one of the bedrooms to investigate…” she paused and muttered something in Spanish, “To make the story shorter... each room has a dresser filled with clothes.”

“Ach, to get out of these clothes!” Daisy smiled brightly and closed her eyes dreamily.

“Thought you already did that,” Louis muttered under his breath, only loud enough for Carmen to hear who poked him in the thigh hard enough to let him know it wasn’t appropriate but light enough it wasn’t vindictive.

James smiled and comically smelled his own hoodie, pulling away with a look of disgust, “Phew!”

After dinner, and succeeding the announcement of the other bedrooms and clothes, everyone, except; Daisy, Carmen, Rowan, and Harper scooted their chairs away from the table and made a break for the upstairs – wanting to see the new rooms and gather new clothes, Oliver just wanting to make claim to the bedroom he wanted.

“Thank you for dinner,” Rowan offered a smile though it was weak to say the least.

“Of course,” the quiet woman replied with an equally feeble smile.

After glancing at Harper momentarily, Rowan looked back at the girls, Daisy with a mouthful of food and Carmen pushing the last of her food around on her plate, edge to edge. “Excuse me…” She announced and started to gather the dirty plates and cups.

“Let me help you-” Carmen started to stand, her fork clattering on the plate in her haste to join Rowan, but the red head held out her hand in a ‘stop’ gesture.

“No no no, you made the food. -Least I can do is clean up.” She smiled, this time genuine – as though the conversation of who cooks and who cleans brought back a sense of normality and eased her mind.

Again, Carmen returned the smile, mirroring the sincerity.

“I’ll help, you wash- I’ll dry.” Harper stood and began collecting cups. Daisy was still eating, otherwise the table had been cleared, and Carmen left to go upstairs.

The black haired woman left through the kitchen as she dropped her plate off at the sink, nodded to the two who were cleaning, “You know, I didn’t find a washer or dryer or anything…” she commented, pausing at the doorway to the hall.

“Yeah?” Harper he asked dismissively.

“If we want clean clothes, we may have to wash them in the sink.” She nodded to the kitchen basin.

In unison they all looked at the sink with a mix of disgust and disappointment. “Hopefully we’re not here that long…” Rowan replied after a moment of hesitation.

Carmen shrugged but remained quiet before sidestepping into the hall and disappearing from their sight– only barely glancing at the photographs on the wall – and climbed the stairs, slowly. As she came to the second floor she could hear shouting from the bedroom across the hall from the ‘wake up room’.

“No, I already claimed it!” Oliver stepped up toe to toe with Calley, his head shifting back and forth in a show of intimidation.

Calley shoved him back forcibly, the impact of his hands on Oliver’s chest was loud enough for Carmen to flinch in sympathy. “You can’t ‘claim’ shit!” his voice boomed.

Carmen glanced over as Aidan came out of one of the other bedrooms behind her. Subtly, Carmen held her finger up to her lips momentarily in a gesture for the woman to remain quiet. Aidan complied and walked slowly up beside Carmen where they both stood in the doorway and watched behind the cover of the wall.

The bearded man smirked and straightened his shirt tersely, “Hooo, bro.”

“Ain’t yer bro, man.” Calley replied and stiffened his body when Oliver stepped forward.

Carmen glanced over to Aidan with a questioning look but the woman was too focused in on the imminent fight.

“Okay, now gentlemen…” Louis stepped up to their sides with his hands raised in a calming gesture. “Let’s-”

“Shut tha hell up old man!” Oliver jabbed a finger in Louis’ direction, the tip of it nearly touching his face.

“No, you ‘shut up’!” Louis rose his voice, “There is an identical room across the hall!”

Oliver, having lost all patience, lunged at the elder man but Calley blindsided him with a punch to the jaw. From the heavy blow from the larger man, Oliver staggered back clumsily. He stood back up straight, grasping his jaw.

The big bald man was already in a fighting stance, ready for retaliation.

“Now, fella’s-” Louis started but this time Matthew held up his hand for him to be quiet, and so they all watched as the fist fight began.

Daisy finally brought her plate in to the other two who were already halfway done with all of the dishes. After she departed, Rowan finally spoke up. “I want to go look at the body again…”

“Why?” Harper took the plate Rowan offered him and dried it off before putting it on the drying rack.

“These tattoos…” She gestured to her marked name, careful not to fling soapy water across the room. “I want to see if he had a name…”

“Maybe he’ll have a name that actually looks like it belongs to him.”

Rowan smiled, understanding his mention of their barely unisex names. “You don’t like your name?” She giggled uncharacteristically as she handed him a bowl.

Harper? I mean, c’mon…” He laughed as finished drying.

“At least you’re not ‘Calley’ or ‘Carey’…”

“There are plenty of great people named Carey.”

“Like who?”

“Carey Grant...”

“The actor?”

“Yeah, a great actor.”

They both laughed and Rowan started to drain the sink of it’s not so clean, soapy water. “It’s strange how we can remember movies or actors names but we can’t remember our own names…” She placed the sponge on the edge of the sink after wringing it out.

“I can still remember things,” Harper started as he hung the towel he’d been using over the handle of the oven. “Like, faces and places… things I’ve learned…”

“Me too, but nothing personal other than hazy memories.”

“It’ll come back…” He assured, offering a sideways grin. Rowan, not convinced but appreciative, smiled in return before drying her hands and walking towards the hall. “Where you goin’?” He called after her, pivoting on the tiled, kitchen floor to follow her.

“I need to see the body again,” Rowan replied and disappeared behind the wall of the passage way.

Without needing a prompt, he followed her, passed the picture wall, and the stairs and into the library. By the time he’d turned into the library, she was already standing beside the body with his left arm in her hands. “So?”

She let the arm drop back to the body’s side, with little discretion or respect to the deceased and nearly laughed. “Michelle.”

Barely hiding his own bitter amusement he shook his head as he ran his fingers across his own tattooed name, “These aren’t our names.” He stated plainly.

“Then… whose?”

Oliver ducked to dodge another blow to the side of the face but was too slow, Calley landed his fist on the bridge of his nose. Blood gushed from his nostrils and stained Calley’s knuckles in red. Before he could fall back, the Army man grabbed the front of his shirt and threw the bloody, bruised man out the door into the hall. Oliver crumpled and hit the floor with a brutal thud.

“Wait, stop!” Daisy ran forward to help her lover but with Louis’ assistance, James ran forward to grab her. She didn’t fight against them, just watched eagerly.

Still, the stubborn man got to his feet, and with a battle cry ran to tackle Calley, who’d also stepped out into the hall, his back turned to the stairs.

Aidan stepped to the other side of the hallway, followed by Carmen so that they were both pressed against the left side of the hall. The room was soon emptied as everyone spilled into the hallway to watch the brawl. Matthew observed deviously with Carey standing to his right, nursing the drink in his hand.

Calley simply side stepped and Oliver tackled empty air and landed on his stomach- his shout ending suddenly with the impact. He got up, despite his unstable footing. Swaying with imbalance, one step forward three steps back, Calley walked up to him menacingly- preparing to finish the fight once and for all.

“He’s done, let him be!” Louis implored from his place beside Daisy and James.

Matthew gestured at him to be quiet but Calley didn’t hesitate to respond. “He started it. Now I’mma finish it.”

“Then… whose?”

The walls shook and a loud crack resonated through the halls, followed shortly by shouts of men and screams from Daisy, “No! Stop!” - then the sound of something, or someone, falling down the stairs. They shared a look before running for the entrance – just in time to see Oliver sprawled at the bottom of the landing and Daisy scrambling down after him, her flip flops slapping against her heels in a comical following of her hurried steps.

Peering around the corner to look up the stairs, Harper made eye contact with Calley who stood at the top of the landing with a menacing look and Matthew who stood to his right with a proud smile.

“Ollie? Ollie?!” Daisy cried, holding Oliver’s head in her lap as she pushed her pink painted finger nails through his curly, dark hair.

“The hell is going on here?!” Harper exclaimed and with one step was able to get around the corner of the library entrance and Oliver’s legs - still propped up on the second to bottom stair - to start ascending the stairs.

Once he got to the top, Calley hadn’t moved but the others had stepped away from both the stairs and the balcony that stretched the length of the mini-hall below them. “They fought over the bedroom but it turned into an alpha male brawl.” Louis explained, his face was flushed as he rubbed a withered hand over the gray stubble on his face. “I think it’s obvious who won…” he removed his frameless glasses to wipe them but first gestured both his hand and his glasses in Calley’s direction.

Harper turned to look at everyone in turn, “And no one tried to stop it?”

Aidan stood in the doorframe leading to the bathroom, her arms crossed and her shoulder leaning against the door-jam. “Not exactly…” She glanced over to Carmen who stood to her left by the wall.

“He actually wanted-” Carmen started, discreetly pointing in Matthew’s direction.

“Stay out of this!” Carey pointed at her accusingly, his expression deadly. It surprised Harper that he wasn’t already slobbering drunk with all the alcohol he’d consumed, he still held his half-empty glass in his left hand. “You don’t have anything to do with this, woman.” He added before sipping his amber liquid.

James stepped up to defend Carmen, “’Eh, back off, Carey!”

The drunk stepped forward in response to James’ rebuttal but Harper, with little effort and without looking away from Matthew, shoved the alcoholic back against the wall. His abrupt action kept Carey from advancing on the kid but also jostled Carey’s drink, it sloshed out and spilled over his hand and up his forearm.

Carey regained his footing surprisingly quick and smashed his glass on the floor, glass and what remained of the alcohol splayed across the floor. Responding to Carey’s aggressive behavior, Harper turned away from Matthew, who still looked unaffected, and faced his aggressor. Rowan joined them on the second floor and just in time to see Harper grab Carey by the front of his shirt and slam him against the hall. “You don’t want to do this…” Harper warned, his eyes steely.

“Don’t I?” Carey narrowed his eyes, staring right back at Harper then around him towards the kid. “You’ve been askin’ for it since we woke up!” He continued to yell at James.

James scoffed and rolled his eyes, in response, knowing how ridiculous the drunkard sounded.

“You got sumthin’ to say, Kid?” Carey barked, spit spewing over Harper’s face, the brunette flinching with disgust but did not release the drunk.

James went wide-eyed and shook his head at first but then straightened up with bravado- wanting to look tough, “Yeah, you don’t know what you’re talking about!”

His words sent several events into action, simultaneously; Carey lurched forward but was quickly shoved back by Harper, Rowan pushed passed Matthew and Calley - giving Matthew a dirty look as she passed - who were still standing by the staircase, James stood further from the wall to prepare to fight but was quickly enveloped by Rowan who held him back.

“No! Hey!” Harper shouted, “That’s enough!” He struggled to speak over Carey and James who were still shouting insults and threats at one another.

Carey shook Harper off and stood away from him, his chest heaving with heavy breaths. “You’re all-“

“I said that’s enough.” Harper lowered his voice and came toe to toe with the blond, his nose inches away, and their eyes locked and daring one another to make a move. Carey scoffed and pushed passed everyone to get to the stairs, back into the living room, heading for the bar – again.

After Carey had departed, Harper sighed and turned back to face Carmen, who was still standing near the bathroom door beside Aidan. “Now,” Harper ran his hand through his hair, “What is everyone so worked up about?”

“Who gets that room…” She said simply as she pointed to the end of the hall where they’d all come out from.

Rowan, having released James who was now leaning up against the yellowing wall, nearest the balcony railing, shook her head as she made eye contact with Harper who returned her gesture.

“Are you kidding me?” Harper now turned to Matthew and Calley who were turned away from Oliver and Daisy who still remained at the bottom of the stairs.

“Why would you let this happen?” Rowan questioned, shocked that Matthew, who had seemed so level headed when they met, would allow such animosity happen.

“Men should fight for what they want, especially when there are no rules.”

“What, are we cavemen now?” Louis chucked, “Who said there aren’t any rules?” he gestured to everyone still standing on the second floor. “We’re still peop- adult people, I think we all deserve some human decency. Now more than ever.”

“We-“ Matthew began.

“No, stop… everyone…” Rowan stepped forward and paused as she braced her face against her fingers, two rested on her forehead and her thumb on her cheek. “No one- okay… we’ll divvy up the rooms. Everyone here has someone they trust- or can at least… tolerate… you board up with those people, right?”

Everyone remained silent and shifted but there was no blatant disagreement which she took gratefully. “So, everyone ‘pick a partner’…” Louis continued Rowan’s implied suggestion.

James laughed, “Why is it, all we’ve done since getting here is do grade school activities; ‘getting to know you’, waiting in ‘single file line’ for the bathroom, now the ‘buddy system’?”

“Kid,” Harper paused, thinking the best way to word what he was thinking, “shut up.” Since the order came from Harper and not Matthew or Carey, James listened without getting defensive – though it was obvious he was surprised by it and a little hurt. “-but yes.” Harper added to soften his previous statement, offering a small smile, relieved when the kid smiled back.

“Well,” Carmen began but was quickly interrupted by Matthew.

“Calley gets his room, he fought for it, it’s only fair.” He slapped his new ‘buddy’ on the back, with a smile on his face which dropped when Louis spoke up.

“So there is ‘fairness’ but ‘no rules’?” The white haired man laughed, a bitter smile on his lips.

Choosing to ignore the statement, Matthew continued. “Louis can get the room across the way from Calley… girls, all four of you are next to Calley’s room.” he pointed to the right side of the hallway to the center room, to the right of ‘Calley’s. “Harper, you can room up with James and Oliver, across the hall from the girls. –And Carey and I will take the last room.” He gestured to the last room, across from the bathroom.

“There aren’t enough beds for everyone.” Aidan pointed out.

“Well some people will be on the floor…” Matthew dismissed.

Aidan raised a brow and puckered her lips, resisting the urge to roll her eyes. “Yeah, maybe the men should...”

“Should what?” Matthew’s eyes were hard as he dared her to finish her suggestion.

“It doesn’t matter.” Carmen finally spoke up, her small voice barely carrying over the loud voices of the others.

Rowan nodded, “She’s right. It’s probably only for the night and we’ll figure out what’s going on by tomorrow. People can sleep on the ground for one night, right?”

There were nods of approval mixed with reluctant agreements in response. Silence fell over the group as they all silently judged the others.

“We should go get Oliver up off the ground.” Harper mentioned after the pause stretched uncomfortably long.

Calley was the first to volunteer, nodding curtly, to the surprise of the group. He descended the stairs slowly, as to not startle the frantic woman at the bottom. “Hey, sweetie… let me help.” She shied away at first but seeing his genuine concern, she allowed him to come to the other side of Oliver. “I’m sorry… I shouldn’t have gone that far.”

She sniffled and nodded adamantly.

Harper shared a look with Rowan and then to James, “C’mon…” He nodded his head towards the stairs. James sighed in unwillingness but followed behind the brunette anyway.

Together, all three men hauled the unconscious, muscular city slick up the stairs and into ‘his new room’ – all but throwing him onto one of the two mattresses in the room. “Soooo, who’s getting the other bed?” James asked as all three stood back and stared at the slumbering man.

“I’ll sleep on the couch.” Harper offered as he crossed his arms and shifted all his weight onto one foot.

James pivoted slightly, “Are you sure?”

“Yeah,” the elder of the two nodded slightly, “don’t worry about it.”

Carmen loaded some ice into a zip-lock bag then wrapped it in a dishtowel, handing it to Daisy who waited anxiously, her eyes stilled red-rimmed from crying over her ‘not-an-angel’. “Here, place this on his head…” Carmen frowned but forced a sideways smile for the blond’s sake.

“Thanks…” She snatched it and hurried back out the hall to get upstairs, barely avoiding a collision with Carey who stumbled in, an entire bottle of whiskey in his hand- half empty already.

“Hey, youuu.” He slurred at Carmen who barely gave him a glance. “Hey, I’m talking to you.” He came closer.

“Yeah, ‘Hi Carey’.” She forced and dried her hands on the towel that hung on the oven handle.

He feigned hurt though his eyes remained icy. “Why so cold?”

“You’re drunk.” She stated, turning her back as she moved about the kitchen as though it was her own space, seemingly natural and comfortable.

He moved up silently behind her, unnoticed by her, so when he next spoke his lips were by her ear. “Yeah,” – his voice startled her, making her jump and spin around, finding herself face to face with him. “So?” he asked, his breath wafted over her face and made her scrunch up her nose at his rancid smell. His attention diverted to her nose and smirked, bringing his index finger up to her nose stud and tapped it gently. “That’s cute.”

“Step back.” She shied her face away from his touch and tried to project her voice with bravery but her voice wavered with fear and uncertainty.

Smirking, he leaned closer so that he was but a hairsbreadth away from her, “No.” Attempting to lean back she bumped into the counter behind her, whimpering quietly at the realization that she was trapped between a drunk and a hard place. Not a moment later, she heard the glass bottle being set on the counter and slid back further from the edge – closely followed by his lips crashing on hers.

She cried between his lips and pushed on his chest but his hands quickly grasped her wrists and held her to him but also prevented her from trying to escape.

As suddenly as it began, it ended. Harper suddenly appeared behind the blond and grabbed Carey by his shoulders before he threw him back so hard the drunkard couldn’t stay on his feet, landing on his ass and sliding across the tiled floor. “What the hell are you doing?” Harper demanded to know. He’d turned to face Carey as he stood up but didn’t bother waiting for a reply, instead he turned to Carmen and grasped her upper arms to stabilize her and looked her in the eye. “Carmen, are you alright?”

The mortified woman held his gaze as she nodded but when she dropped her eyes to the floor she turned her face away as well. “Thanks…” she whispered and tucked her hair behind her ear.

Once he was reasonably convinced, he released his gentle grasp on her arms and turned back to Carey just as the man was getting to his feet. “What the hell do you think you were doing?”

“We’re trapped in this house indefinitely!” He rationalized.

Harper looked at him incredulously, “Hwhat?! So you thought you’d force yourself on her!?” He took a few menacing steps forward but the blond man didn’t move, even raising his chin in defiance, challenging him. “That doesn’t even make sense.” Harper gestured aggressively at Carey.

“What’s going on in here?” Rowan made her way in from the hall. The red haired woman took a few glances between all the other adults and drew a hasty but accurate conclusion, rushing to the other woman’s side and attempted to comfort her.

Carey took a step forward but was quickly shoved back by Harper, his shoulder jerking back with the force of the brunette’s hand. “Where do you think you’re goin’?” Harper demanded, anger still lit in his dark eyes.

“To get mah drink.” He motioned to the bottle of whiskey that was still on the counter, to the left of Carmen but the right of Rowan, the latter quickly grabbed the bottle and, in effortless grace, moved to the sink and dumped the drink down the drain. Harper stepped back with a satisfied smile though it dropped when he saw Carey react by jolting to grab Rowan.

Before Rowan could respond and step back, Harper grabbed Carey’s shoulders from behind and wrenched him back, sending him reeling back against the kitchen island. “You’re done.” Harper came toe to toe with the drunk who was leaning backwards against the island; his arms spread across the counter, palms facing down.

“Is that a threat?” Carey raised a brow and stared down Harpers pointed finger in his face in mock amusement.

Barely refraining from rolling his eyes Harper shook his head. “I’m telling you that you’re done drinking and you’re not going to be ‘messing’ with anyone. For your own good.” Harper’s left eye twitched as he fought to control his anger towards the drunkard.

Rowan stepped up beside Harper and rested a hand on his forearm which, in that moment the man realized was now grasping a fistful of the blond’s shirt. “For everyone’s sake.” She corrected and pulled Harper back who hesitated briefly before releasing his grasp and stepping back with Rowan.

They all glared at Carey, even as he stood and straightened out his black t-shirt of most of the wrinkles. He gave them all an angry glare and slinked out of the kitchen, through the dining room and into the living, where he was likely getting another drink.

“You sure you’re okay?” Rowan was back by Carmen’s side and holding her hand as the woman nodded shakily. Harper drew his lips into a thin line and furrowed his brows before getting a glass full of water and bringing it to Carmen to drink which she did with a thankful smile.

Rowan and Harper shared a look and she forced a smile before it fell as she looked behind him to where Calley stood in the hall entrance with a look of judgment. Without a word he side stepped to go back the way he came, a grim look on his face.

“Shit, how long was he there for?” Harper looked to the two of them.

Carmen shook her head numbly while Rowan shrugged, “He assaulted Carmen…” she justified and rubbed the woman’s back. “He can’t argue anything.”

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