Arran's Law

Chanelle's boyfriend Arran is accused of murder, and she goes on a one woman mission to clear his name.

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15. Coming Clean

Conor guides me inside, and sits me down on the couch. I'm competely out of it, sobbing so hard my whole body is shaking. A little part of me is still screaming that I have to pull myself together, not let Conor see how weak I am. But I ignore it, not caring anymore. This hurts more than anything else. We had enough time, we had a little hope. But that's all been taken away. We only have a week - no where near enough time. It hurts, it hurts like acid is eating away at my insides. This is all so fucked up. Whoever the real killer is, I hate them more than anyone or anything else in the world.

 

Conor holds me close to him, so my face is buried in his chest. But even now, something is nagging at me. Conor has the same last name as Arran, and I don't believe in coincidence. He's never actually told me how he knows Arran, and why he's actually bothering to help me. No one else is. He's just come into my life, and now I need to know why.

I sit up, stifling the sobs and shaking off Conor's embrace. I look him right in the eyes.

"Conor, I think it's about time you tell me how you know Arran." I say. I know how I must look - eyes bloodshot, tear tracks down my cheeks, hair a mess, but my eyes are pure steel. Conor opens his mouth as if to say something, possibly a distraction, but then closes it when he sees the look in my eyes. He looks at me, unsure of what to say. Then he sighs.

"I was afraid you'd ask that."

"Listen, I think I've been fair to you. You said that you didn't want to tell me, and I respected that. But now, we only have a week left. I think it's about time you told me."

"You're absolutely right. I just don't know where to start." Conor says, frowning.

"How about from when you first met Arran?" I suggest.

 

"The first time I met him... That would have been a few hours after he was born. My dad married Arran's mum, and they had Arran together. Our dad took me to the hospital to meet him. I still remember it, even though I was eighteen months old. Arran was tiny, and so fragile. He had hair - thick black hair. And he opened his eyes, and he looked right into my eyes. From then on, I knew that I would protect him for the rest of my life, which had barely even begun. As we grew up, we became even closer. We were so close. I remember in our first year of school, we were put in the same class even though I was a year older, they tried to split us up. We both cried until we were allowed to go back together. And once Arran wasn't well so he couldn't go to school. I threw a tantrum until I was allowed to stay home too. Even when we were older, we found ourselves hanging around with the same people, even if we did try to stay apart, so we stopped trying to stay apart. If Arran was ever sick, I'd be worried to death about him until I came home." Conor says, smiling at the memory. I gasp when I realize what this means. Conor is Arran's brother. That explains why Conor looks a little like him. It explains why Conor cared so deeply about Arran. Now that the truth is out... I feel even closer to Conor than I ever did.

"How come he never mentioned you before?" I ask quietly.

"I'm surprised he didn't tell you. Well, his mother died a couple of years ago. We were both devastated. I remember how we had to go into school a few days afterwards, and neither of us could stop crying long enough to tell our friends why we were crying. A few days later, our dad found a letter from our mum addressed to Arran. The bastard opened the letter. The letter said that our mum had had an affair, and the man that she'd had the affair with was Arran's real father. Dad hit the roof. He kicked Arran out, all the while calling him names that make me sick to think about. I tried to protect Arran, but Dad just shoved me out of the way. I objected, said Arran's name, and Dad slapped me across the face. I called a friend, asked him if I could stay at his place. He said yes. I took a couple of days to get my stuff together, and then left. I've never gone back, and I never will." Conor's eyes fill with tears as he recalls what must have been one of the worst times of his life.

 

Oh my God. Arran had never told me about this, and I wish he had. I've confessed everything to him - I wish he had done the same. This explains why he was on the streets so suddenly, and why he changed the subject if  ever asked him about his parents. I reach out, and put my arm around Conor. He doesn't look at me.

"Thanks for telling me. But I wish he had." I say wistfully. Conor sighs, and he suddenly seems so much older than nineteen.

"Believe me, Nelly, so do I." There is a short pause before he speaks again. "Can I ask you something?" I nod, wondering what he wants to know. "Arran told me that what he did do, he did it for you. What does that mean?"

I inhale slowly. He could've asked me anything but that, and it wouldn't have been this bad. Anything else in the whole bloody world but that. Just the memory that flashes to the forefront of my mind makes me start trembling. I lift my shaking hand to my lips, trying to pull myself together. But that is so much easier said than done.

Conor gently takes my quivering hand, and massages my knuckles. When I turn to look at him, his face is full of concern.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah," I say, my voice barely more than a whisper. "Just... memories."

"Listen, honey, you don't have to tell me if you don't want to-"

"No it's fine," I jump in, even thought it is very un-fine. "You answered my question, it's only fair that I answer yours." I take a deep, steadying breath before I start speaking.

"It all started about three years ago, when we were all still in school. I knew what the world was like, after seeing my mother drink herself to death, but I expected a good life for myself. So naive... As far as I was concerned, robbery and rape and murder, they all happened to people I didn't know in places I hadn't been. My attitude was 'oh, it'll never happen to me'. I would trust people that I had only just met, always see the good in people, even if it wasn't there. It was that trust that would turn my world upside down. I would have been about fifteen, and like any other fifteen year old girl, I had a boyfriend. That boyfriend would grow up to be Jordan, the gang leader." Conor gasps out loud, like he can't stop himself. He looks at me, and I can see the shock in his eyes.

"I know." I whisper, trying to not start crying again. The last time I spoke about this, I cried for hours. "But I didn't know what he was, or what he would become. He always treated me well, respected me, never raised his hands to me. Whenever we went out, he never let me pay for anything. He was rich, had loads of money - drug money. He was so romantic, treated me like I was the only one for him, and the only one that there would ever be. He swept me off of my feet, treated me like no one else had. And I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. I actually think that I loved him at one point. I can't believe how completely stupid I was.


"So, one night he takes me back to his place. No one else is there - how convienient. At first, everything is good. He romances me, jokes around, and seems normal. I was completely at ease - I had no reason not to be. And then we start kissing. I pull away from him, and he doesn't like that. He tries to make me kiss him again, but I don't. So he starts yelling at me, trying to threaten me. I start yelling back, not afraid because apart from him there was no one else left that I cared about. He picks up this big heavy vase thing. He weighs it in his hand for a moment, like he's admiring it. But then he swings it, and it smashes straight into the back of my head. It knocks me out instantly, so I have no chance to fight.

 

"When I wake up, I'm lying in a pool of my own blood. My head hurts like my skull has been smashed into hundreds of pieces - exactly like the vase. I open my eyes. Jordan is... I'm sorry, but I can't say what he was doing. It makes me sick to even think about it. I try to push him off of me, so he hits me again. He doesn't use a weapon, just his fist. But it still hurts. He does this all night. He makes me do things, and he rapes me, with the threat of killing me if I don't. He hits me with a hammer, with a belt, and over the head with a wooden chopping board. He cuts my skin with a knife, and rubs irritant and bleach into my eyes and down my throat just for the pleasure of hearing me scream. He poured boiling water over me. When the sun rises, he tells me to put my clothes back on, and takes me out of his place. He throws me down a flight of stairs as a goodbye. I climb to my feet, almost completely blinded by the irritant, and manage to find my way to the hospital. I'll never forget the male nurse who came over to me while I was being examined. He held my hand, talked to me, told me that it was going to be alright. I'm in there for about a month. It's a miracle that I can still see - I almost lost my eyes. I don't have as many scars as I should, thanks to hundreds of skin grafts. But I have scars on the back of my head, and on my ribs as well."

"Why didn't you press charges?" Conor says, his voice barely louder than a breath.

"Because Jordan would have killed me. And he would have made sure that I suffered for a long time beforehand. Jordan is a sad, sick thuggish demon who almost killed me, and I hate him more than anyone else in the world. And if I ever press charges, then if he doesn't kill me, one of his gang will. I know they will."

 

There is a long silence after I finish. My head is full of memories, none of them good. The sheer agony in my head when I woke up on the floor. The disgust when I saw what he doing to me. The terror when he started cutting my skin, thinking I was going to die. The searing pain of the bleach in my eyes. When I told Arran, Arran was almost out of the door to go kill Jordan. I only just managed to stop him leaving. Arran swore to me that he would get revenge for me. I guess what happened was Arran's revenge - it just didn't go to plan.

"You lived through all of that? He did that to you?" Conor says, his voice strained.

"Yes." I whisper.

"I'll kill him. I will kill him." Conor says. "I'll kill him!" He suddenly yells. He leaps to his feet, and storms towards the door. I leap in front of him.

"Don't, please," I beg him.

"Stand aside, Chanelle. I can't let him live, not after what he did to you." Conor says, no longer yelling but still so angry he's shaking. I look up into his eyes. His eyes are full of the flames of anger. He's gone pale, and the skin of his face looks tighter. He's so strong. I know that he would actually kill Jordan, if he got the chance.

 

My guardian angel.

 

"Don't go. Please don't leave me. Not now." I say softly, almost crying. Conor's face softens. As I watch, the terrible anger leaves him.

"Ok, honey. I'll stay here. He says.

 

I throw my arms around him, revelling in the feeling of his arms around me. He's my best friend in the whole world right now, and I need him more than ever. If he leaves now, I'll cry until I can't cry any more.

 

But this time, it's me who holds him as he loses control and start sobbing into my shoulder.

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