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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Chapter 9

I was warm.  Not the kind of warm you get in the summer when you can’t get cool; the warm you are when you are cold and there are finally enough sisters piled around you that the cold isn’t so bad anymore.  I decided to take advantage of it as I knew Mother Mary would be calling my number soon enough. 

“You’re an ass Alex.  I had to undress her, she was soaking wet.  You had to turn it into something sexual.  No wonder she ran from you.” 

“You think I’m the only one she was running from?  You think she sees you as some kind of guardian angel or savior?  Trust me, the last thing that Thorn thinks of men is as rescuers.  And she can take care of herself.” 

“God, that’s even worse.  Do you hear yourself?  And how the hell old is she?!” 


“All the make up is practically washed off and … dammit, how old is she?” 

“How the hell am I supposed to know?  It never came up.  Does it matter?  Obviously old enough.” 

I finally realized I wasn’t at Mother Mary’s and while it was a welcome realization that didn’t mean I was much better off.  It was dark and I could hear rain but I didn’t feel it anymore.  I was also warm.  The problem was that I was also nude and after what I’d heard I’d been fully on display at some point. 

I rolled over and tried to … honestly looking back I wasn’t sure what I was grabbing for but Roman put something in my hands and it turned out to be my bag.  I hugged it to me and I could literally hear him swallow.  “You didn’t keep your promise.  You ran off.” 

“I told you I wouldn’t go back to that life.  Ever.  And that if someone tried to make me I’d fight.” 

“I wasn’t trying …” 

I glanced behind him and then pushed.  I didn’t have much strength but I had enough to make him fall down where he’d been balancing on his heels as he squatted beside the cot I was on.  He narrowly missed being knocked out by Alex’s fist that had been aimed at his head.  Alex tried to follow through but Roman may not know much about people but he does know how to fight.  He was on Alex in a second and it took no time for Roman to have Alex against the wall of the room and really pummel him.  But he pulled back before he killed his brother and Alex slid to the floor. 

Roman looked at him and sneered.  “Ass.” 

Roman turned around and I could see he was still furious and for a moment I thought Roman would take what Alex did out on me but instead he picked up another blanket and then looked at me.  “Can you stand and get yourself dressed?” 

“Think so,” I muttered unsure where he was going with this. 

“All I can do is hold this blanket up.  Not much privacy beyond that.” 

From the floor Alex chuckled snidely and said, “Trust me, she doesn’t need it and wouldn’t know what to do with it anyway.  C’mon Baby, give us a show.” 

Roman just about took after again but I stopped him by saying, “Ignore it, I will.  He was never this bad before.  Not even when he was … bad.  I think he is showing off for you.  Maybe he wants you to beat on him.  Will it garner him any sympathy with your father and brothers?” 

Roman went still and then sent a furious glare at Alex.  I’d guessed right when Alex’s face turned into a pout. 

Roman sighed.  “Pathetic.  What the hell has happened to you Alex?” 

“I was free in the city.  Now you are dragging me back to that backwards hell on earth.” 

“Yeah, you were free all right.  Free to screw up over and over without immediate consequences.  Fletcher has already reported what he found in the books.  Why do you think I came to get you?  Dad nixed David coming but he wasn’t against Saul coming after you.  You know what Saul said he was going to do?” 

I saw some fear on Alex’s face before Roman picked up the blanket and held it up.  I did my best to dress quickly but I hurt, hurt like I’d been beat.  I must have made some noise because Alex said, “Damn, you sound like a pig.  If you’re this fat now ...” 

A little sensitive when I shouldn’t have been I snapped, “I’m not any bigger than I’m supposed to be.  Emerald said so.” 

“F*** that b****.  She’s another one that I hope burns in hell.” 

I kept my mouth shut after that and just dressed the best way I could.  My pants won’t zip and my shirt is all stretched out but at least all my skin in the middle where you are is covered.  I tapped Roman’s shoulder and said, “I’m dressed.” 

He’d had his eyes closed which almost made me smile.  Almost.  There was a retarded kid that would work for Mother Mary every once in a while and he was the same way in the beginning but after a while he was just as eager to see skin as any other guy and some of the girls were really bad about teasing him and making him crazy. 

“What’s the look for?” 

Realizing something must have shown on my face I said, “Nothing.” 

“No it wasn’t but …” 

“Damn Roman … you haven’t looked at a woman since Patty.  Wait ‘til David hears you’re going soft for a whore.”  He cackled like he was borderline crazy. 

Whoever Patty was, it was a sore spot for Roman as he froze.  When you are a whore you hear lots of stories from men, most of them sad or angry; you get to know what to say to keep them from getting mean.  Calmly I told, “Ignore him.  All you were doing is trying to prove your point about the men where you come from being different.” 

Roman looked at me and then looked away.  “You need to wash your face.  You still have make up smeared all over it.” 

Alex was determined to egg Roman on and the man didn’t seem to have enough sense to see it.  “Oh, I forget you like ‘em young and innocent.  But trust me Bro, she ain’t innocent.” 

Roman’s arm bunched up and I could see the swing before it went in motion but I grabbed his bicep before it could move.  He snapped his head around to look at me but I just stared calmly back.  I don’t know why I was trying to help the big doofus.  It’s not like he can’t take care of himself.  But something about the way Alex was acting bothered me. 

Doofus or not Roman seemed to finally get the message and he started ignoring Alex’s behavior.  Then they started bickering about who would stay and who would go.  It is too stupid to record in this story.  They reminded me of when a couple of the girls would get going at one another and not be able to stop.  Mother Mary would step in, or worse she would have Brian step in, and that would be the end of that.  But I’m not her or him and right now I’m not able to fight them both at once.  So I left them to it. 

They finally stopped for the night, both determined to leave first thing in the morning so that they could have their side of the situation heard.  But I wouldn’t be going.  No way could I travel as fast as they wanted to go riding pillion on a horse. 

Roman stretched out in front of the door and Alex got this nasty look on his face.  When he turned that look on me I decided to keep an eye on him in case he decided to do something crazy.  I out lasted him – and in the morning I saw his disgust as this fact – and he went to sleep first after staying awake a couple of hours.  To make sure I levered myself up onto to discover that Roman had been keeping one eye open as well. 

To cover up being afraid, using hand signals I asked to go to the bathroom.  He escorted me outside after making sure Alex couldn’t wake up and lock us out.  When I was finished I came out of the bushes to find he had his back to me.  He turned like a snake though when he heard the twig I stepped on snap.  For a moment I expected him to try something but it was a surprise when he didn’t.  What he did do was a bigger surprise. 

“I’ll leave you what I can.  Alex and I can feed ourselves on the trail.  Hopefully it will only be two, maybe three, days before someone comes back.  It might not be me though.  If I’m not with them make sure they tell you what the code is before opening the door.  Hmmm … the code will be … three hippos with five o’clock shadows.” 

I snorted an unexpected giggle.  “Uh …” 

A little chagrinned he said, “I know but … look it’s just a code, something not easily guessed.” 

“Sure, if you say so.” 

“I do.  And look … don’t wander around.  I don’t think Alex will … double back … well shit.” 

“Yeah,” I told him having already thought the same thing myself.  And feeling more than a little irritated I told him, “Geez, I don’t get Alex’s sudden damage.  It’s almost like he is playacting being … whatever he’s being.  On the other hand …watch your back.” 

“He’s my brother.” 

But I heard the doubt in his voice.  “Like I said, something is up with him.  I don’t know him well enough to figure it out, I just know he is different.  Maybe he was like this before, but not when he was around me.  He started off being such a … I don’t know … such a wannabe.” 

“A wannabe?” 

“Yeah.  He had me for six months before … before …”  I stopped and shook my head.  It wouldn’t help my case to reveal too much.  I decided to keep some things to myself because even though I had promised Alex not to blackmail him I will if he threatens you.  I wouldn’t enjoy going back on my word but you come before anything else.  So I’m holding some things back.  “He had me for six months before I got this baby in me.  Something happened that night.  I know it had to do with you, with your family but that’s all I know.  Then he … he broke some rules and Emerald took it out of his hide.  From there he just got stupid and told you and your family that he got beat up by loan sharks but that’s not who beat him up.” 

“Yeah it was.  I stopped them from beating him a second time.” 

I stopped and looked close to see it was the truth.  “Then Alex has some other game going besides me.  All I know is that … well he told me he told you that it was a loan shark to keep you from finding out … that … that …” 

“That he was keeping you?” 

“Yeah.  Which I told him was stupid because you all are men and wouldn’t freak out about that but that you would over a loan shark and you proved me right.  The pressure of being watched all the time … it made him … act …” 

“He should have said something.  And Dad is going to want to know about that.  You can’t untell it now.” 

My shoulders slumped.  “Yeah.  But … I … I thought … Look, I don’t know anything about a real loan shark.  He never said a thing about it.  He just always blamed me for his budget problems.” 

“Then why didn’t you break it off?” 

I shook my head.  “You don’t listen too well do you?  He bought me.  Had me under contract.  From the moment they locked the door on that condo you saw me in he owned me for the duration.” 

“You were … locked in?” 

“Yeah.  That’s the way it is … was.  Look, I’m tired and it’s cold out here …” 

“You can’t get out of it that easy.” 

“I’m not trying to get out of anything.  I just don’t want to talk about it all night OK?” 

“Don’t try that attitude with my Dad and David … especially not Saul.  Saul is … he’s …” 

“He’s your enforcer?  Fine.  Whatever.  Thanks for the warning.  But I’ll fight him too if he tries anything that will hurt the baby.  It didn’t do anything wrong.  I won’t just sit there and let …” 

“Whoa, that’s not what I mean.” 

“Maybe it isn’t what you mean but I’m not stupid.  I’ve seen too many men say they are one thing until suddenly they are another.  Alex is like that.  He is just revealing more and more of himself.  I thought I had seen the worst of him.  Makes you wonder what else there is.”  And it does make me wonder but it made Roman finally shut up and let me go back inside. 

They didn’t leave until mid-morning because they had to wait for the trail to dry up some and because they were fighting over leaving me any supplies. 

“Oh for gawd sake Roman!  You know what those supplies could bring in the city?!” 

“I’m not leaving a woman to possibly starve and that’s final.  If you don’t shut up I’ll hog tie you and then throw you over the saddle and we’ll arrive in real style and damn the consequences.  I don’t care if Mom and Gran do love you best.  I don’t care if you were born fifteen minutes before I was.  Frankly right now I don’t give too much of a damn about you at all.  Now get on the damn horse and shut the hell up.” 

Twins.  I never would have known.  And Alex is the older one.  I realized right then that this whole situation was turning out to be way more complicated than necessary.

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