I walk over to Gunner, Zane and Bear while smiling sweetly. However, they don’t look at me like I’m an angel. I can’t stop the smile, though, not after all that with Dante.
“You stabbed him.” I laugh at Bear’s statement.
“He enjoyed it, didn’t you, psycho?” I wink at Gunner.
“Doesn’t mean I wanted you to, though. So you can fight, you could have said last night when I mentioned today's plan.” He looks at me, shocked but amazed, and it feels like he sees me as a new challenge in his mind.
“I mentioned something about why you all assume I can’t fight. Anyway, let me fix you three.” I take my time cleaning each of their cuts, scrapes and other problems. Maybe I shouldn’t have fought like I was trying to survive?
I listen as they talk, discussing things, but not fully paying attention. Finally, my head turns to Zane.
“What about Jamie?” I heard him mention Jamie.
“Disappeared. Well, kind of. Your mum is keeping it hidden where he is or what for. She got her guards around last night, so they’ve planned something, and Jamie has gone with them,” Zane explains.
“So, what’s their plan?” I look at him, worried.
“No idea, but even if we’re not with you, there will be guards with you. Guards on the doors everywhere. No one will get to you, Emmi, I promise.” He smiles at me as Dante does something on his phone.
“Right, let’s go grab food and talk.” He walks out with us following. As we sit down to eat, I can feel all their eyes on me. Someone or maybe all of them have questions. They all have that look.
“Right, so what’s your plan?” Dante asks bluntly. “You told people from both cities you don’t plan to marry any one of us because you want us all.” He’s going straight to the point.
“I hate you all, just so you realise.” I smile at them.
“We know, we hate you as well, now your plan?” Bear asks.
“I meant what I said. You are all so different, each one of you. If I had to choose, I can’t, I’ve tried, but I feel connected to you all. I fit in with you all.” I do, and I don’t want to have to choose.
“This can’t work.” Zane looks at me.
“Why not? Has it been working so far? Nothing will change. I can’t choose. So it is either all of you or none.”
“And there you are saying you hate us.” Bear laughs.
“I do, don’t get a big fucking head.” Okay, I feel like I love them, which is crazy, but I won’t say it.
“What if we decide we don’t want you?”
My head turns quickly to look at Zane, hurt blazing through me.
“Do you not want me?” Why the hell does that hurt? I stare at him, shocked. I thought they all liked me, but what if they don’t?
“Answer the question. If one of us said we didn’t want you, then what?” He looks at me, waiting.
“Then I would still refuse and leave. If I can’t have you all, I don’t want any of you. I can’t stay living with you guys and pretend I don’t like you. So I guess I’ll pack my bags.” I move to stand, but Zane reaches out to stop me.
“I was asking. That’s not me saying I don’t want you. We need to know the outcome based on everything. Sit.” He looks at me, waiting.
I sit back down, looking around the restaurant, trying to avoid making eye contact with any of them. That hurt and scared the fucking shit out of me.
“Now we need the truth about how you feel, sugar.” I turn to Dante. Wait, really? “Honestly, you can’t just pretend you hate us. We need to know because for all we know, in a month, you may change your mind and then it will cause a war between us.” He sits looking at me, waiting.
He’s right. If they don’t know how I feel, there is a chance I turn around next month and say I love one of them, then they will hate me and fight.
“Does that include you four?” If I am being honest, shouldn’t they be as well?
“We will be honest as well if you are. You can go back to saying you hate us all, but we need to know where your feelings are right now to make you decide you don’t want to choose.” Bear explains.
I would rather run, hide, and pretend like this conversation never happened. Admitting it out loud, for real, that will open me up more to getting hurt. It feels wrong, and like when I do, one of them is going to hurt me.
“What are you afraid of, little lamb?” Bear asks.
“Admitting it out loud makes it real. Everyone so far who I loved or who I thought loved me has hurt me, used me, seen me as nothing but a weapon, a way to win what they want. Saying it out loud means I’m opening myself up to that pain.” I don’t want that. “I feel like I would rather walk away and leave than ever speak it.” Maybe that is the option? Just leave, save myself now.
“Are you finished?” I turn to Dante and nod as he points to my plate. “Okay, the guards will take you home. We have a few people to visit to try to find out what your family is planning. Consider what we asked. It’s late, so get some sleep.” He looks at me, waiting.
“They aren’t my family. I don’t have one.” I stand and walk out, the guards following me and taking me straight home. I find myself walking around for hours, just trying to find a way through this. I should be honest and tell them I love them, but that will mean getting hurt. I know it will.
I sit, just waiting for them to come back while I consider everything. The whole night passes as I sleep on the small chair in the main room.
When I wake, I look towards their guards, and they all shake their heads.
“You heard nothing at all?” Someone should have.
“Nothing, normally they message to check up on things, but there hasn’t been one message.” One of the guys says - Tim, I believe his name is. I glance at my phone and try to call them, but none are answering. Did I hurt them by refusing to tell them how I truly felt? I feel like I did. Maybe it was a foolish move, and now I feel like I’m losing them. Maybe they’re doing this to make me realise I should have said it, but they will walk through at any minute.
Maybe this is so that I realise I love them and should be honest? I don’t eat, I can’t, I’m too worried.
“Yes!” I turn hearing Tim talk, his hand against his ear, holding the phone. “Orders were not to let anyone near her or speak to her.” He looks at me, and I stand up.
“Who is it?” Why would someone call the guards? I watch as his face turns from annoyed to shocked. “Impossible, and if that is so, you should have kept quiet. We need to protect her more now than before,” he says before hanging up.
“What? Who was it?” I don’t like this. It is coming up to twenty-four hours now.
“Someone from Solace City. They wanted to talk to you and for you to meet them. Jamie and Candice have got the brothers. They separated last night to find out what they planned.” I stare at him, shocked.
“No, they can’t.” No one can just take them! I look around myself worried, twenty-four hours, of course something went wrong.
“I thought that, but it isn’t like them not to keep us updated. So now you need protecting. I am going to get more guards to watch this place.” Tim nods to one of the other guards.
“No, we’re going to get them.” I won’t sit here and just hope for the best. I walk through and get changed. I grab the weapons before walking back through to them.
“Emmi, you’re not allowed to leave,” Tim says.
“Why?” I should help. We should be saving them.
“Because if they die, you’re their family. You need protecting to ensure this city stays out of Jamie and Candice’s hands.” He is wrong, and he knows it.
“So I am in charge?” I look at him, watching as he nods. “Then what I say you do, take me to where they are.” He shakes his head.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t.” I scream and throw a dagger, watching as it impales the guy next to him.
“You either take me, let me go alone, or kill you fucking all and go myself! The next one is coming for you.” I won’t stay here, not when it is my own family who took them.
“Okay, just don’t hurt any more of us. You realise where they are, right?” He looks at me.
“Where?” I need to know.
“In Solace City, in your house.” He looks like he expects me to quit. He’s wrong.
“Good, I know where they’ll be being held. Let’s go.” I move towards the door, the guards hesitating before moving out of my way.
“And your family?” I hear Tim behind me.
“They aren’t my family. If they stop anyone, they die.” I walk down to the car and get in. Tim opens the door.
“I’ll drive. The rest of the guards are following.” He stands, waiting for me to move. Climbing out, I walk around and sit in the passenger's side. “You realise they will kill me, right?” he states.
“No, they won’t. I will tell them I stabbed one of you and was going to stab you all and escape. They will believe it.” I sit watching as we pass the border and get into Solace City. “How do you know where they are?”
“I was told on the phone, look, this could be a set-up to take you. Have you considered that?” He looks across at me.
“Then it will fail.” It will. I am not letting them take me, and there is no way I’m sleeping alone in that house again. Not tonight.
“You’re very confident.” I hear one of the men sat in the back say.
“Not confident, I just know this place. When we go in, you guys clear upstairs. I’ll make my way around the back and downstairs.” It’s been years since I was down there.
“You take a team with you,” Tim insists.
“Fine, but not too many. There are more places upstairs than down, which means if no one is clearly out upstairs, they will come from behind us.” We need to be safe.
“How do we get inside?” Tim looks at me.
I take out my old phone. Opening the app, I click the button and watch the gates open. We drive in and stop outside the door.
“Okay, the rest of you guys clear the place. We follow Emmi to where she believes they’re being kept.”
Dante: Dante’s Fall
We’d planned something for Emmi, something amazing to reassure her we aren’t just using her. Then we split up. I find myself stood beside the car, looking at the house as my guards sweep it, looking for Jamie or any of Solace guards.
I know they’re hiding something. Jamie just disappeared, and no one has seen him in the city. I feel something connect with the back of my head, my body falling to the floor as everything goes black.
When I wake, my eyes have to adjust to the darkness. I should have been more cautious, ensured I was checking around me. Groaning, I search my pockets, unable to find the phone. I feel a dagger in my pocket and hold it in my hand. Why did they leave me with a dagger? They cleared me of the guns and gave me a dagger?
I reach out, feeling across the wall. Slowly I begin to see slightly, but now I wish I couldn’t. I find myself panicking. A fucking cupboard. I feel myself shaking as I try to find an escape, but there isn’t one. Everything, every memory begins flooding back as I scream, unable to escape either the cupboard or the memories. I now understand the dagger. I have a way out, just not alive.
Bear: The Fall Of Bear
I move through the building with speed. Every person who attacks me falls to the ground. I know Gunner is clearing out the rooms upstairs as I am down here. I hear the shot and stop still. Something spreads up my back, making my body go numb, and I fall to the floor as a heavy darkness floods me. I’m either dying quick, or that was a tranquillizer. Either way, if Gunner doesn’t finish up there quick, I’m dead.
I feel my eyes opening, and all I can do is smile because Gunner saved me. I know he did. Then, as I go to move, I feel myself strapped down. My eyes fly open and I scream.
I’m face to face with my sister, only it isn’t her. It isn’t her happy and smiling, it is that same face from when she died. I turn my head from the image that is pinned directly above me. A familiar sense washes over me when I do, and I turn back to look at her. All I can do is smile and relax. How? I try to focus on Gunner, my brothers, and Emmi and force my eyes away from my sister's picture. Then I spot it and freeze. I try to move, fighting against the restraints. No amount of drugs can stop that. No amount of drugs can keep the pure panic hidden. Last time I nearly died.
I look at the needle in my arm, at the man pushing the drugs in as I scream and try to escape. I would rather die than Emmi see what these drugs turn me into. I’m breaking, crying. Not even the drugs can keep me calm now.
Gunner: Gunner’s Fall
I’ve nearly finished clearing upstairs when I hear the shot. I hear downstairs fall silent and panic. In my haste, I forget my surroundings and can do nothing to stop it as something wooden flies at my face. The last thing I remember is the pain of it hitting me.
As I wake, I find myself surrounded by pictures, pictures of him, of the blood and me stood there at thirteen covered in it. Pictures of my sister unconscious. I feel sick. I try to curl into a ball and protect myself from the images, but now they are burned into my mind. After years of escaping it, years of forgetting, there it is, like real life. Every now and then, I slip back, but this? This is worse.
I am looking at pictures of me covered in his blood while holding the knife. Pictures of him, with his organs scattered across the bed. Pictures of both my sisters at their worst. I scream, unable to escape, and now, now I am right back there, and it is just on replay, over and over, as I fight with air.
Zane: The Fall Of Zane
We’re all working alone to find out the plan. I go from small business to small business. Stopping at the bar, I sit down.
“Drink?” I nod to Ash, watching as he pours me a drink and hands it to me.
“If you hear anything, tell us.” We can’t search both cities, we need help. He nods as I down the drink. As I stand, everything starts to spin. I reach out to grasp the bar, but with my vision gone, I don’t grasp anything. Instead, my body falls. I’m awake, I think, just paralysed?
I can hear them talking as they move me. My body is strapped in a glass box. I look around confused, slowly getting movement back. I’m fine, Dante and the others will find me. I know I’m fine. Closing my eyes, I try to calm myself down.
A familiar heat prickles my skin, and my eyes flash open to see a man in front of me holding something on fire in his hand. I see Jamie sat in a chair, his eyes not even on me. I begin to panic, watching as he pushes it against me, my eyes looking down. Where the hell are my clothes? I feel the fire burn across my skin. My screams getting louder. I will kill her. I will kill Emmi. The only words I can tell myself as the fire surrounds me, and Jamie just sits like nothing is happening.
Emmi: Saving Them
We rush through the entrance, and I fight my way through the guards to the back. Tim and a few others following me. I reach the stairs and slowly descend down them. We search one room at a time, slowly clearing them of guards. The further along that I get, the more worried I am that they aren’t here, and this really was a set-up. Tim and others scan the room after me as I push the door open.
I freeze, seeing Bear barely even moving. A guard is stood next to him with a needle in his hand.
“Get him free,” I say as I move towards the guard and pull out a dagger. He isn’t trained to fight, that much is clear. I swing while I duck his hit, plunging the dagger into his neck before slicing it across him, the blood squirting over my body as he collapses to the floor. Rushing to Bear, I watch as they release the final restraint. His eyes are on fire. He pushes Tim and the others out of the way. His eyes searching for something.
I move to stand in front of him. “Bear, go home, get cleaned up.” My words fall on deaf ears as he pushes me away. “Bear!” I scream after him, but he isn’t there. He’s shaking, searching for something.
“After his dad died, Bear took drugs, a lot of drugs to stay alive. He stopped, Emmi, so now that he has had them again, he won’t listen until he gets them.” I watch Bear searching through everything. I knocked the one out of the guard's hand, and it got stamped on. As crazy as it is, I need to help. So I join in searching. I find some and, placing them in Bear’s hand, I smile at him. He needs to get home where he’s safe.
“They will take you. Go home to where it is safe.” I try to smile, but it’s as if he doesn’t even recognise me. I watch as the guards pull him out. This is my fault. All of this is my fault. We move through and check the room is clear. Then onto the next.
I stop when I see Gunner alone. Rushing to the glass box, I try to force the lock off, Tim helping me as soon as the lock gets free. I pull the door open and step inside. I see the images displays around him, and I feel sick. I rush over to Gunner, but I fly backwards, my body hiding against the glass. He pins me there and grabs one of the daggers.
“Gunner! It’s me, look, big guy, it’s me, Emmi,” I call out to him, but he’s gone, far further than before. He is screaming that I deserve to die painfully. I don’t want to hit him. He swings to hit me, and I move my head just in time. His hand moves, swinging the dagger into my shoulder. I scream, feeling tears fill my eyes.
“Emmi.” I look up to Gunner. His eyes are on my shoulder where the dagger is. “Emmi.” I nod, trying to smile as Tim steps forward. Gunner turns, and I watch as he throws Tim against the glass and hits him. He’s slipping away again. I pull him back.
“Gunner! Let them take you home. Bear needs you.” I try and smile at him.
“You need me.” His eyes go to my shoulder.
“I have the guards. I’ll get Dante and Zane. Bear needs you, Gunner, they gave him drugs. Go see Bear.” I keep trying to smile at him, but I feel like screaming in pain. I need to remove this dagger. I watch as he nods and walks out with more guards following him. I hope he stays here and doesn’t flip back. Grunting, I pull the dagger from my shoulder.
We clear the room, but there is no one in here. As we move around the corridor, I hear screams and cries, and look around trying to find where they’re coming from. I glance at the small door. Shit, she used everything. Everything she knows scares them or breaks them, she’s used it all. I run to the door, crying, and kneel down to break the padlock. As it opens, I’m faced with Dante. He pins me against the floor, one hand around my neck and the other holding a dagger against my heart.
“Kill. Me. Later.” My words are quiet and broken. “Need to. Save. Zane.” I tap his hand as his eyes burn through mine.
“Dante. Gunner and Bear are on their way back. They’re a mess,” Tim says, and Dante’s hand releases on my neck. I watch as he moves and leaves. He hates me, and I can’t blame him. Now though, I don’t know if I want to move. If I find Zane, I know what to expect. Fire. He has nightmares, but this is going to be a real one, real life.
“Come on, Emmi.” Tim pulls me up from the ground. It’s only him and me now. All the guards are taking the others home. We search the rooms, more and more turning up empty. As I get further down the hall, I can smell smoke. We rush into the room it’s coming from, and I stop when I see Zane tied up. A man is stood lighting a cloth on fire and throwing it at him, laughing as he does. Jamie is sat on a chair before him, not even watching. I rush in and straight to Zane as he screams. I run at the guy, my dagger sticking into his shoulder as I knock the fire out of his hand. I pull the dagger back out before plunging it into him again and again until he falls to the floor. Behind me, Tim wrestles Jamie and straps him to a chair. I stand in front of Zane.
His face is full of pain and hate, new burns across his skin, not many, and not as bad, but still new ones. I cry as I try and remove the straps. As the last one unfastens, I go to hug him but instead find myself pinned by his body.
“I’m going to fucking kill you.” His hand moves and grabs a dagger from my waist, holding it against my neck. “You, this is your fault, you told them.” He pushes the dagger against my neck more.
“Later, if you really still want to hurt and kill me, later, when we know for sure you’re all okay.” He looks at me confused, then anger flows through him. The dagger pushing deeper into my neck. One move, and I’m dead.
“Them, all of them?” His dagger digs in deeper as I nod, feeling tears fill my eyes.
“I’m sorry, everything they did to you guys was my fault. Go see your brothers. I promise I won’t run. I’ll come back and accept whatever punishment you see fit.” I will because I knew these things scared them, haunted them, broke them, and I told her. He steps back, enough for me to pick up the burning stick.
Turning, I face Jamie, pushing the flame against him and watching as he screams, and his clothes catch fire.
“Emmi, no!” Zane screams, rushing to stop me. “He’s your brother, your family, you love him, don’t do this.”
I knock him back. “He was never my brother, he isn’t my family, and I can’t love a monster.” Jamie screams again as I hold the fire against him. I simply stand there, watching as he burns. “You’re my family, you guys. Not him.” Hell, that didn’t even sound like me.
“Take him home, Tim. I have to find Candice.” I do, and I will.
I turn and look at Zane. “You need to. Bear needs you. Out of everyone, Bear needs you most right now, Zane.”
“I can’t leave you alone.” He shakes his head. “Tim can stay with some guards. You are not getting left here alone. You’re in trouble, and you have to come home.” He looks at me.
Laughing, I nod. “I will be home, I promise. Now leave.” He needs to go home and check on everyone. I watch as he walks out.
“You’re in trouble.” Tim looks at me.
“I got stabbed in the shoulder. I’m sure I’ll survive long enough to find my mum.” My shoulder is hurting and bleeding, though. As we move through the house with the few guards left, I find it empty, which means she ran and hid.
We leave and get in the cars. Tim begins driving us back. I know I’m in shit. They would have had more power if I hadn’t told my mum those weaknesses, their childhood traumas. But I also know all four will want revenge, to hurt me.
“GET DOWN!” I hear Tim’s shout as I hear a bang, and before I can do anything, the world is spinning as the car flips. As it stops, I look around me. Tim’s body is slumped forward. He’s out of it. I fight against the door and try to climb out. I’m still in Solace City. I glance around, trying to figure out the best way to go.
Dean’s, his bar. Ethan will be there, I hope. As I start running, I hear someone chasing me. Just as I reach the small alley, a pair of hands grab me. Turning, I kick the guy. I grab his gun and shoot him without hesitation, watching as he falls to the floor. Someone else kicks me from behind. Rolling over, I raise the gun and shoot him too, and he falls. I rush through the alley, but someone’s hand grabs my hair and drags me back. I scream as he wrestles the gun away from me. He hits me as I pull the dagger out and takes that from me too. I continue to fight, even as he swings the dagger at me. I scream as I feel the metal cut through my side and swing my second dagger down into his face.
The blood runs free as I pull the dagger out again. Screaming, I stab him again and again until he slumps to the floor. I struggle to move, my clothes are ripped, I’m bleeding and tired. I stumble out of the alley and into the bar. As I do, I stumble and steady myself on the table. Everyone stares at me, shocked.
“Emmi?” I hear Ethan’s voice.
“Help.” I try to walk forward and feel someone’s hands grab me. I pull out the dagger and swing for him.
“Emmi, no!” I hear Ethan shout and stop, his hands pulling me to sit. “I thought you were in Wolverson City?” He looks at me, confused.
“I was, mum and Jamie took the Wolversons. I had to help them escape, but she’s somewhere and keeps sending guards to kill me.” I slump forward.
“Where are they, Bear, and the rest of them, where are they?” he asks.
“Home. They were a mess, I had to send them home.” I feel dizzy.
“I will get you back. Let’s move quickly before your mum or the guards show up.” He pulls me up as I glance around the room.
“I’m no longer a Solace. I am a Wolverson, so you speak of me having been here, or Ethan helping, expect them to visit,” I announce. My words are quiet, and I can only hope no one tells them. Ethan helps me out and climbs onto his bike. Wrapping my arms around him, I grunt at the pain as his bike begins moving. Not long after, we get stopped at the border.
“Not her.” I look up, confused. “Candice has said she is confined to this city. I can’t let her pass.” He grabs me and I fight against his grip, pulling out a dagger before dragging it across his neck. Hitting the button, I watch the barrier lift.
Climbing back onto the bike, it begins moving. “You look a mess; how did you survive?” he shouts over the sound of the bike.
“I wouldn’t say I survived yet, Ethan.” My voice is quiet, and my head feels heavy. I’m bleeding bad. Too bad. Ethan stops outside and pulls me up. My legs can barely carry my weight as he drags me into the building, leaving a trail of blood.
Stopping at the lift, I try to get the card from my pocket but struggle to. I feel Ethan searching my pockets to find the card.