• 12 •
– Anna’s POV –
My brother used to tell me stories when I was really young – four years old – but even then I could understand morals and concepts behind the stories he told. One of the quotes from him that I picked up was, “If we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead feet.” He was an adventurer, and even though I couldn’t go out with him, he still told me watered-down tales of his reality. To make it child-friendly and exciting. I never really knew exactly what he went out and “adventured.”
But I never actually found out what that quote meant personally. I understood the deepness and value of the words, but I never experienced them like he wanted me to. I tried and still try my best to stay inside, avoiding social contact or anything that involves more than three or four people.
Only now do I think of this quote. I haven’t thought about it for many years- years since he left. But Aiden, I can see, is going to force me to break out of my introvert shell today.
I glance down at the brace that is on my knee. He happened to have it in his room, telling me that he had hurt his ACL when he was thirteen in a match. What kind of match, I don’t know. But he hurt his knee, and this fit him as a kid, so now he put it on me. He sure seems to know a thing or two about medical inquiry.
“You good?” Aiden asks me, side glancing at me as he tries to focus on the road, hands on the wheel. We’ve exited the city, and in turn, have violated my “must” law number twelve: Must not leave the prohibited amount of miles from foster home without permission. I’m well breaking this rule, but I don’t really care. Right now, we’re only five and thirty-three hundredths our from the substantial miles. It’s not too bad, and not bad at all if I’m not caught.
I nod. “Fine. Where are we going?”
He smirks. “You’ll see.”
We turn off to the right onto a cut off road. As we continue on, grass appears and we begin driving up a hill. About another five miles and we’ve reached the destination. It’s at the top of the tall hill, and confusion fills my stomach.
It’s a house in the process of being built. A big house at that. It’ll be two stories high, and with at least four bedrooms that I can see. Large bedrooms. Right now all you can take in is the wooden skeleton- the first layer of what it will become. It’s going to be gorgeous, especially up on this hill out of the city with beautiful landscape and a view of the clear sky expanding westward and away from the crowded inner-city.
We get out, and Aiden comes to the other side. He turns around and points behind him with his thumb. “Get on my back.”
I raise a brow, using the crutches to support my weight. “Huh?”
“I said get on my back.”
I sigh and roll my eyes, tossing the crutches into the grass. I balance myself by placing my hands on his shoulders. “So demanding.”
He chuckles as I hop on one foot and clamber onto his back. He carefully situates his forearms so they’re under my thighs, my legs dangling in front of him a little bit. I wrap my arms around his neck.
Aiden seems to carry me so easily, and it’s no surprise. Underneath the clothing, I am skinny. And right now, I look normal. But my eating habits are going to catch up to me, I know it.
We walk up to the house and he brings me into one of the squared-off foundation areas. “This will be where the kitchen is,” he comments.
I look around. “I can maybe see that.”
He lifts his hand a little, cautious as not to drop me or anything, pointing to the soon-to-be room next to us. “That’ll be a dining room.”
I scrunch my brows. “How do you know?” Is he working on this house with a crew? That would explain why he just waltzed in here. This is private property.
He shrugs. “I’ve been here a few times these past two weeks. Thinking and looking.”
“So you’re not a contractor or any sort of construction worker on the side of school?” I ask blandly. “And you haven’t gotten in trouble sneaking in here?”
He shakes his head and looks up at me mischievously. “Not once, Dimples.”
I glare at him. “Quit calling me that. It doesn’t even suit me.”
Aiden snickers and mumbles something, but I don’t catch it. I just roll my eyes and let him continue to walk around. He shows me a few more rooms downstairs including the living room, the game room, and what would be a small cinema. But then he carries me upstairs. There are four bedrooms, as I presumed, and three bathrooms, along with an office and a cozy lounge in the center. Or, what would be cozy after being put together. My mind could already see everything though.
In one of the rooms, he goes out a door and spots a latter. I raise my brows in surprise when he hoists me up and onto the roof- or what was acting as the roof for now. He follows suit by climbing up the ladder and sitting next to me.
He leans back. I gasp when he tugs on my arm without warning, making me fall onto his chest. We find ourselves in the same position as this morning.
The sky above is clearly blue for once. I’d only been here for two and a half weeks, but the rain was something I was prepared to see everyday. This is amazing. I’m actually glad Aiden made me come with him. And I’m even happier that he didn’t make me socialize or go party like I thought was his plan.
“It’s crazy that you ended up here,” He says quietly, in a low rumble.
“Because. I’ve lived here my whole life. You moved from somewhere out of state, and out of all the places you could’ve gone, you came here. Where I just so happened to be.”
I shrug. “Never really thought about that. I’ve been up and around my whole life, so I was bound to come across my…person…I never wanted to admit it though.”
He turns to look at me. “Why? Did you not want to meet him?”
I look at him too. “Did you?” I avoid answering.
Aiden’s eyes search mine separately. “No.”
“Me neither.” I pause. I don’t know if I should say this next part, but I do anyway. Something draws me to. “But I think I’ll come to enjoy your company.”
He smirks. “I’m already enjoying yours, Dimples.”
I roll my eyes, shaking my head with a smile. A small one, but a smile nonetheless.
“Aha!” He exclaims. I flinch out of habit but then calm myself.
“That’s why I call you Dimples. I saw them when you went to sleep.”
I look at the sky again, releasing a sigh. “That must be a first then,” I mumble. “I never sleep. And when I do, I’m not smiling.”
“Well, you should do it more often.”
I open my mouth to respond, but I’m cut off by the sound of footsteps walking against wood. I freeze, Aiden following. But as the steps approach even closer, he peeks down.
His jaw tightens and he immediately switches his angry façade on, moving my legs up onto the roof so they’re no longer dangling and hidden. He adjusts himself in the same position.
“Aiden, what-” I start in a whisper, but he shoves a hand to my mouth quickly, silencing speech. My brows dip in confusion, and I take his hand off of my lips. I want to look down too, but decide against it. Obviously it’s best to stay quiet.
Is it a police officer? The owner of this land being built on maybe? Or perhaps it’s just one of the workers checking in on the structure. Maybe someone heard us nearby and checked up on it to confirm suspicions. Whoever it is, I’m guessing it’s not a person who would let this slide if we were caught.
“Who is it?” I mouth silently.
“We need to leave,” He noiselessly responds, eyes hard and unnerving.
I frown and glare at him, but then nod. He lets out a breath of relief at my compliance and then looks down. He sits up, eyeing me warily.
“We have to get down,” He whispers. “I’ll carry you back to the car after that, but we have to be quiet, understand?”
“Is it a policeman?”
“No. Quite the opposite actually. Now shut up and let’s go.”
I roll my eyes. This is the jerk everyone was talking about. Or, I guess he isn’t a jerk. He’s just being pushy because he wants to leave. But something inside of me squirms when he mentions unlawful people. Opposite of the police? I’ve dealt with those people. My father. The ******. The stranger who attacked me. They’re not good, and so I know it’s best to just listen to the bossy Aiden before me.
Quickly, Aiden climbs onto the ladder and outstretches his hand to me. I latch onto his wrist and allow him to skillfully help me down. I hit with the tiniest of thuds due to the boot on my foot, and we still.
A moment passes, and he breathes out once. Then he gestures for me to follow him with a small wave of his hand. I do so, trying not to apply too much pressure on my knee. It only hurts a little bit.
We walk to the stairs once more. Aiden makes a “stay put” gesture with his hands and I nod. He descends the steps slowly and carefully before disappearing to search the first floor. I feel like a spy. But I also wonder: Are we on the good or bad side of this situation?
We did trespass, but that’s not what I’m questioning. I know that’s wrong. I’m talking about this person. Whoever it is, is he good or bad? Are we good or bad?
I mean, technically I can’t be either. I only followed Aiden. So I guess what I’m actually pondering is, is Aiden the bad guy?
Before I can elaborate on my thoughts, the sound of creaking floorboards behind me rings in the air. It’s not loud, but it sounds like it is in my head. Like blaring alarms. Get out. Get out. Get out.
I spin around and see a large, strong, and tall man that must have a good foot or two on me. He wears a black mask, eyes glaring and burning. But as soon as I turn around and he looks at me for a moment, they widen.
I take the moment of shock on his face (for whatever reason he was shocked) to turn around and sit. I know I just look ridiculous. I know this must be ******** of me. But this is literally my only escape in a time of adrenaline, nerves, and the three F’s. And with an injured knee, I’m definitely stealing the “Flight” option.
I push myself down, butt hitting against each step as my clothes slide down the wooden stairs. There aren’t too many stairs, even considering how large the place is, thank God.
I reach the bottom and hoist myself up, knowing the man was well over halfway down already. I use the rectangular wooden rail to balance myself.
“Aiden!” I call out. “The ******* is in he- Mmnph!” A hand covers my mouth, the other arm wrapping around my waist and pulling me into him a little too hard. My breath is knocked from my stomach when he does this, and I groan a little.
A moment later, Aiden runs into the room again, eyes wild and searching for me. And when he does see me, he stops. His eyes burn in a fiery hatred. I can see his fists curl up at his sides and a single vein present itself on his neck.
Cold metal is pressed not against the side of my head, but is quickly felt inside of my mouth. The captor has released his hand from my lips and used it to aim this terrifying object at me – or more – in me. My eyes widen at the familiar weapon pointed toward the back of my throat, and I almost faint. Just right there. In fact, I’d rather do that. But my body won’t shut down. It’s contradicting itself.
“Let her go. Now,” Aiden growls, taking a step closer.
He shoves the gun deeper into my mouth and tuts, and I close my eyes, calming myself with a deep breath. Why does **** like this always happen to me? Like it’s not even realistic. Or, it shouldn’t be.
“Now now, Foster. I wouldn’t make any rash decisions when I’ve got your little girlfriend choked up.” I can just imagine the smirk due to the suggestive tone in this guy’s voice. I give Aiden a bland look and roll my eyes.
“Or…is she not your girlfriend? A little **** maybe? A toy?” the guy continues, “Would you be willing to let me play with her for a while.”
Aiden’s eyes seem to turn pitch black with anger. His chest moves up and down a little quicker, in short movements. It’s taking everything he’s got not to move. I can see it straining him.
“*******,” I mutter, sounding more like: “Aughcole.”
He chuckles, chest vibrating against my back. “And you’re feisty.”
“I swear to God if you don’t let her go right now-“
“What?” Evil Guy scoffs, interrupting Aiden. “What’re you gonna do?”
I resist biting down on the metal of the gun in irritation. Does he really think he can belittle Aiden and me, whoever this guy is? Obviously something has gone down with these two, but I don’t want to be a part of it. Now I really don’t think trusting Aiden would be the smartest of decisions.
But I can trust myself.
Without hesitation, I place weight on my injured foot and use the other to slam into my captor’s shin with my heel. He cries out and I use his weak moment to get out of his hold and take the gun out of my mouth.
I don’t really know how to use one of these things, believe it or not, so I pass it to Aiden and hobble over to him. He makes me get behind him, aiming the weapon at the guy’s head. He hisses, rubbing his leg.
“Who are you coming from? Who the **** sent you to follow me?” Aiden barks, and I flinch. He was loud, and most certainly terrifying when he used that voice. Booming. Threatening. Chilling.
The boy puts his hands up. “I…no one.”
Aiden growls, stepping closer and shaking the gun. I stare at him in a slightly wary way. He’s kind of scary.
“Tell the truth, you ************! Who?!”
“No one, I swear!” He shouts back, eyes wide and vulnerable.
Without any sort of second thought, Aiden brings his free hand back and throws a punch straight into the guy’s jaw. He drops like a sack of potatoes and I bring a hand up to my mouth. My heart hammers as he towers over him, aiming the gun at his head.
“WHO SENT YOU?!”
“It was just me! I’m not even after you!” The boy cries.
“Aiden, I think that’s enou-” I gasp when he kicks him in the ribs. The boy groans and rolls to the left, curling up, coughing and trying to get enough air. I quickly wobble over to them and grab Aiden’s shoulder. He glances at me, and then back at the boy, still aiming the gun at him.
“Aiden. Stop,” I beg. “Don’t do anything more. Not in front of me. I’ve seen enough of that in my life, and you’re the last person I want to see copy it.”
Aiden looks at me again, eyes slowly and gradually retreating from their narrowing stature and softening out. His breath calms out as the guy writhes on the floor, and he puts the gun down, un-cocking it. He shoves it in the back of the waistband of his jeans and sighs out through his nose.
“If you ever come near me or Anna again, I will cut off your ********* and staple them to your lips,” Aiden growls with one last spew to the intruder.
I stare at him on the ground before Aiden stops it by picking me up and bringing me out to the car and loading the crutches into the back.
I came here for yet another fresh start. A new life. But again, the old things come rushing back into my life.
Aiden’s bringing them back.
I suck at this.