☠ Chapter Twenty-Six ☠
➳ ZAYN'S POV
"Chef Wilson," Arielle's eyes go wide when she takes in the sight of her professor standing in the doorway. He's smirking evilly at her. I watch his tongue dart out to wet his lips a little too slowly. I try to distract myself from punching his f.ucking face and so I step towards Arielle protectively.
"Arielle," he greets her. His eyes quickly rake up her body. My fist tightens behind my back. He swirls the wine around in his glass before turning his head towards me. "Zayn," he greets me as well and I narrow my eyes, sending him the most hateful gaze I can manage. F.ucking d.ick. He just purses his lips a little before placing the glass to them.
I notice that he looks different from the last time I jammed my fist into his face. He's cut all of his hair off, and he's gotten rid of that f.ucking god awful beard. He looks a lot younger since the last time I saw him. I feel like maybe his sudden change in appearance is due to his constant need to impress Arielle. Just thinking about it makes my blood pressure rise.
"Please, come in." Theo says with a leer in my direction. Arielle reluctantly takes a step inside and I follow closely behind her. If Theo thinks he's getting close to her he's severely mistaken.
"We're here to see Jamie and Sydney Price," Arielle says angrily. She's clearly unhappy to see Theo . . . I don't blame her. She can barely keep eye contact with him, especially since he's looking at her in such a way that she's practically squirming. I step closer to Arielle, and wrap my arm protectively around her waist. Theo sees the gesture and his face twitches a little when she instinctively leans into me.
He quickly shakes off whatever he was feeling and extends his hand in her direction. "Hello dear, I'm Jamie Price. Would you like to meet my wife?" He smiles, "dear!" He calls out to his wife, but she doesn't respond. He sips on his wine again quickly before retracting his hand. Arielle's staring at him challengingly before looking around the mansion.
He f.ucking tricked Arielle into coming here. I'm not entirely sure of the reason just yet, but I'm sure it won't take much to figure it out. He's clearly got some fetish with Arielle, and he's doing anything he can to get close to her.
Theo scans her body shamefully and my grip tightens on her waist. His eyes find mine and we share an intense stare-down for a few moments before his gaze darts to something to the right of me. I follow his eyes to find a man standing with his arms crossed on the back deck – a bodyguard. Of course he'd have hired a bodyguard, he knew I was going to be here and he knew that if given the opportunity I'd punch in his stupid f.ucking face.
"Honey!" He calls out again, twisting towards the staircase behind him in such a manner that he nearly spills his red wine all over his horrible old looking sweater.
I hear a female voice yell out from somewhere at the backend of the house that she's coming. After a few moments she comes around the corner cradling her own wine glass between her fingers. She's walking with such class yet with such ignorance it's hard not to notice her presence.
Everything about her appears perfect; her hair is perfectly straight, her outfit has zero creases, her makeup is caked perfectly on her face. Her blonde hair sits atop her shoulders and she pushes it back elegantly. I nearly scoff aloud. Who the f.uck does this woman think she is?
"Arielle," she states the name aloud as the woman looks at Arielle. Her lips curl into a smirk as she stops beside Theo.
"Vivien," Arielle's voice quietly says. When I look at Arielle, her eyes are wide as she stares at the woman. "What the h.ell are you doing here?" Arielle spits. Who is this woman?
Vivien takes a step closer to Theo, "this is my house, dear." She stands up straight and glares at Arielle in a condescending manner. I tuck closer into Arielle to remind her that I'm here to protect her from these people who seem to be making her extremely uncomfortable.
Arielle's eyes dart from Theo to Vivien and back again. Vivien takes a step closer to Theo and his arm ends up snaked around her waist. Thank f.uck. He must have a girlfriend, so why's he so d.amn obsessed with Arielle?
"Did you meet my hubby?" Vivien teases Arielle as she leans into Theo's touch.
Arielle scoffs and rolls her eyes, "you're dating this f.ucking pervert to what? Upset me?" Arielle crosses her arms.
"Language, Arielle." Vivien says, a smirk plastered to her lips. She says it almost as if she's Arielle's mother.
"So what the f.uck is this? You and him?" Arielle's voice is laced with hate. I've never heard Arielle sound this angry, this hateful towards anyone. I've never heard her swear this much either. She's suddenly another person. Vivien has an amused glint in her eye, but she doesn't say anything, she just sips her wine elegantly.
"Is this all some fake ploy to get me to come see you?" Arielle asks.
"No, Arielle the extra credit thing is real. We want you to cook for us for two months. We are moving to Miami to be closer to you. The only part we made up was the whole married thing . . . and we made up fake names. But if we told you that it was us, would you have come?" Theo pulls Vivien closer into his side as he speaks.
"Why should I believe anything you say?" Her eyes look down.
"Oh, Arielle please . . . do play nice, my dear. We are all going to be spending quite a bit of time together. I know it is hard to get used to the idea of Theo and myself together, but whatever little crush you have you are just going to have to–"
"Crush? Crush!" Arielle yells out, appalled. "Is that what he told you? He's the one that's been throwing himself at me!"
"This f.ucking prick is basically her stalker," I chime in. I'm not really sure where I belong in the conversation but I feel the need to speak up. Arielle's my girlfriend and I'll do anything to protect her.
"Who are you?" Vivien asks as she turns in my direction. She takes a step away from Theo, right up until she's standing directly in front of me. She inhales deeply and closes her eyes. "Delicious," she says so quietly that only I can hear. Her eyes shamefully rake up and down my body.
Arielle steps in front of me a little bit, and glares at Vivien. "He's my boyfriend." She's trying to protect me from this woman.
"And he's not interested," I add in.
Vivien cocks her head to the side. "His name's Zayn, he's quite the cocky little s.hit," Theo says. How ironic . . . those words coming from him. His fat little hands reach for Vivien and he pulls her away from me, and towards himself.
I scoff aloud, as does Arielle. "Don't f.ucking start with me. You're lucky he's standing back there," I respond. My gaze quickly averts to the bodyguard. When I look back at the two of them, Vivien's threading her fingers gently through Theo's hair, showing him off. He's looking at me with that f.ucking crooked smile again, as if it's supposed to p.iss me off or some s.hit.
Just then the driver enters the house with our luggage in tow. "Would you like these put in your room, Mister Malik?"
"I–" I begin.
Arielle interrupts me, "h.ell no! We're not staying here!"
Vivien smiles and places her hand on Theo's chest, "you do not have much choice, my dear. You will never find a hotel room at this time of day during this time of year. Besides, we have a large home and you are always welcome here. It is a part of your little internship with us. We require you to home cook our meals, therefore being with us is a must, Arielle."
"If you think I'm cooking for you, you're crazy," Arielle says.
"Well, why would you not, dear?" I notice that Vivien never talks in contractions and it's really f.ucking irritating.
"Because you're both psycho!" Arielle screams before turning around, grabbing her purse from her luggage and walking out the front door. I'm about to follow her when someone grabs my wrist and I spin towards the person, irritated.
"Get your f.ucking hands off me!" I yell out, jerking my arm away from Vivien.
"Do not bother following her. She has always been a drama queen. She will get over it. Please Zayn, stay. Let us get to know you," Vivien swirls the red liquid around in her glass. I give her a glare deadlier than bullets.
"Look, I don't know what you did to her – I don't even f.ucking know who you are – but I'm not leaving her alone. She needs me. And when I bring her back here, we're gathering our things and she will never see you again, I'll be sure of that," I threaten before turning towards the front door.
"I would watch your mouth if I were you. I am sure a young man such as yourself has a record . . . that can easily be used to my advantage." Vivien steps towards me. "Do not fuck with me," she whispers so that Theo can't hear. She raises a perfectly plucked eyebrow at me.
She's testing me. "F.uck you," I spit.
"Gladly," she teases.
I take a deep breath and turn from the two and head out the front door. I expect to find Arielle sitting on the front steps or near the fountain but she's nowhere to be seen. "Arielle?" I call out for her once I reach the bottom of the stairs. I notice the driver shuffling around in the back of the car and so I approach him, "hey, have you seen Arielle?"
"Miss Hawthorne?" He questions.
"Yeah, I need to find her. We need to leave these f.ucking a.ssholes and go home."
The driver seems a little stunned by my foul mouth, but responds nonetheless, "I think she went into the city. I saw a woman with brown hair walking up the sidewalk."
"What?" I hiss. "Why didn't you f.ucking stop her?"
He shrivels away from me.
"Where did she go? Did she say where she was going?"
He shrivels further, raising his hands in defence, "no, she didn't Mister Malik. She was swearing under her breath. Sir, I'm sure she's fine."
I run my hands furiously through my hair. I frantically begin dialling her number. "Sir, if I may, I shouldn't say anything, but I overheard the argument . . . I'm sure she just went for a walk to clear her head, or maybe get a drink."
"She's not legal, she can't get a drink . . ." I'm waiting patiently for her to answer her phone but it just goes to voicemail. I start blowing up her phone with constant texts hoping something goes through. "Do you know where she'd go for a walk? Where's the nearest bar, or liquor store?" I'm not even sure that she'd try going inside a building where she isn't legal, but I don't know where else she'd go. She doesn't know New York and she's upset. Most people when they're upset they want to drink, so would she go to a bar? Or a liquor store?
He points to the street in front of me, "it's a little bit of a walk . . ."
"I don't care. I need to find her. She's upset and alone and she's probably going to end up getting lost," I ramble out. The driver gives me a set of directions and I type his directions into one of my applications on my phone, just in case. I thank the driver and throw caution to the wind as I head out after her. I continue calling her as I walk.
It's been a good fifteen minutes since I last saw her, where could she have gone? I hope and pray that she went to the nearest liquor store, which is where I'm headed.
I sigh. Why'd she run away? What the h.ell happened between Vivien and her that she gets so wound up whenever she sees her? I understand why Theo makes her upset, he's a d.ouche, but what about Vivien?
I can only assume that Vivien is her mother. The relationship I have with my mother is strained, but h.ell it isn't nearly as bad as theirs. I don't hate my mother . . . We just don't get along. We haven't for a long time now, but that's just because we're such different people. Not to mention the fact that she's so devoted to her work that she doesn't even recognize the things that are going on around her.
I wander up and down streets for what feels like hours. Somehow I've managed to get lost, despite the directions the driver gave me, and the map application on my phone. How touristy of me . . .
The city is beautiful, I'll admit it. But there's so many d.amn buildings and people and everyone seems to be in a hurry. I can't tell you how many people I've bumped into on the way. I'm so stressed that during the few minutes it took for me to cross some stupid bridge I'd smoked two cigarettes, not counting all of the others I've smoked during my walking.
It's dark out and all I want to do right now is to find her and carry her back to bed and just stay there. Just lie there with her and forget about all of this bulls.hit. Forget about this entire f.ucking trip and what a waste it's been for the both of us. God my feet hurt.
I hated walking. I had a car. I owned a f.ucking car but yet here I was walking for miles just to find her.
My phone vibrates twice within my hands.
I immediately dial her number and she picks up the phone on the first ring. "Babygirl, are you okay? Where are you?" I run my fingers through my hair. I feel winded from speed walking while trying desperately to find her. God, I really need to stop smoking.
"I'm okay," she says quietly.
"J.esus it's been like an hour! Where are you? I'm coming to get you," I exhale, glad that I know she's okay.
"I–" she begins but gets distracted for a moment. "I'm drinking," she slurs. J.esus C.hrist she's already drunk.
"Are you drunk, love? How'd you get alcohol?" My voice is filled with worry.
"I paid some dude with long shaggy–" she hiccups, then giggles, "hair fifty bucks to just get me anything that would get me drunk. Thank f.uck he got some cheap a.ss wine. I love wine. And it got me drunk pretty fast." I hear a sloshing sound and then a whimper. "F.uck, I'm almost out. Why'd he get me such a baby bottle?"
"Arielle . . . babygirl . . . I need you to focus. Can you tell me where you are?" I coax her through the phone.
"I–" there's some stumbling. I think she's trying to stand. "I'm near a liquor store. There's a small park across from it. I'm sitting on a bench under a pretty tree. Such a pretty tree. Oh, hot dogs! . . . Sir!"
"Arielle, no! Just stay where you are, please!" I yell into the speaker phone. I desperately search the map application until I find a small park, along with a little beer bottle symbol, signalling a liquor store. It's about two blocks west of where I am. I was that f.ucking close to her this whole time. "I'm coming! I'm like two blocks away."
She hiccups, "okay. Can we hang up the phone now?" She breathes heavily into the phone. She's already getting sleepy. What the h.ell am I supposed to do with her?
"No, don't hang up the phone babygirl. Stay on the line with me," I plead with her to stay on the line. If something happened to her I would never forgive myself.
It's quiet for a moment but then she utters, "okay." I hear her let out a shuddering breath and then she utters a curse word. There's a little clink and I assume she's tossing the empty bottle into the rubbish. "I want to kiss you," she says quietly on the other end of the line. I hear her sniff lightly.
"How about I find you first?" I say. I'm almost there, I can see part of the park in front of me, but I can't see her just yet.
"There's also something I want to tell you. I've never said it to anyone, but I'm drunk and I feel like s.hit since seeing her and I just–" she pauses and takes a breath. I can see her now. She's sitting underneath a tree on the far side of the park, just as she said. She looks sad and lonely and it causes my feet to pick up their pace. "I need to finally get it off my chest Zayn."
"Okay," I say quietly. She hears me say it as I take my final step to stand in front of her.
"Hi," she says into the phone, despite the fact that I'm standing right there.
I smile and hang up the phone. She hangs up her phone while staring up at me with red, swollen eyes. She's been crying. "Are you alright?" I ask, sitting down beside her. She scoots over so that she's lying on the bench – her head rests on my lap.
"No," she chokes out. She's crying again, I know she is. I don't have to look at her beautiful eyes to know that they're filled with tears.
"Tell me, please." I plead. Arielle's quiet. "Babygirl, please."
Her shoulders are shaking lightly as she cries harder. She's just silently choking on her own sobs and I feel like there's nothing I can do. She's having such a hard time and I don't know what to do.
"Ezra," she chokes out. Ezra? Who's Ezra?
"He raped me," she interrupts. She rubs furiously at her eyes. I'm stunned. Stunned. I don't know what to say, what to do. There's nothing that I can do to calm her it seems.
Someone raped this beautiful, beautiful girl. Someone out there touched her when she didn't want to be touched. Where she didn't want to be touched. In most instances I would feel angry. I'd want to punch something, kick something, yell, and scream . . . but when I look down at her small frame that's rocking with sobs there's only one thing I want to do: and that's comfort her. And so I rub soft circles on her back with my one hand and grab her other hand. She squeezes my hand tightly at first as another sob is released. For a moment, it's a minor distraction from the pain she's been feeling, but this is something she's been dealing with since it happened, and that I can't fix.
For once I can't just fix her problem. No matter what I throw at it . . .
"Arielle–" I begin, but I don't know what to say. There's absolutely nothing I could ever say that could fix what's been done. You can't erase something like that. It can't be fixed with a hug, or a kiss, or a f.ucking box of chocolates. This is something so extreme that it changes the entire fibre of your being – who you once were is almost erased the instant the trauma happens. Who knows who Arielle was before this happened? She's probably an entirely different person now.
"He'd come into my room late at night and he'd tell me he wouldn't hurt me. And I'd thrash and I'd scream but it didn't matter. He would leave tons of bruises on my–" she points to her bottom and another sob escapes her lips. For a moment she's rendered speechless by the shaking of her body. I squeeze her hand reassuringly. "He had this stupid pet name for me – Ella. I hated it." She takes a heavy, concentrated breath. "After the second time I decided I needed to tell my mom. I mean, she's my mother, I should be able to trust her right? I figured by telling her it would stop."
Arielle sits up from my lap and she curls into my side. She still hasn't made eye contact. I'm not sure if it's because she's terrified, or if she's worried that I'll suddenly look at her differently.
"I finally mustered up the courage and I told her. Want to know the reason why I hate my mother so much? Why I never mention her to anyone, ever? Why I f.ucking moved states just to get away from her?"
"Arielle, you don't have to . . ." I don't want her to feel compelled to tell me. If she feels uncomfortable at all telling me, she shouldn't. As it is, she's drunk and I'm not even sure that she'll remember this conversation, come morning. Truthfully, I'm not even sure she actually wants to tell me all of this.
"She did nothing about it. She never even said anything when I told her. She just stood there in the kitchen like . . . I don't know . . . she was suddenly mute. I guess I expected her to comfort me, she is my mother after all. She stayed with him, and he continued the assault. It wasn't until about three months later they finally separated. He finally left us, but I know for a fact that she had nothing to do with him leaving."
I swallow down the bile that's risen in my throat.
"Arielle, I'm so sorry," I breathe out. "I wish I could've protected you from this." My heart sinks in my chest. A feeling that I haven't felt since many years ago. I hate this feeling. I feel hopeless and useless and empty.
There are actually people out there in the world that could do something so evil, so disgusting. And her mother. Oh my god.
To think that I even stood in the presence of a woman such as her mother physically makes my body shake. A woman of such selfishness . . . such maliciousness. A woman that didn't protect her own child. She just sat by and did nothing while her husband raped her daughter.
Vivien married a monster. She's the one that brought this monster into Arielle's life. Yet here Arielle is . . . she will be a victim for the rest of her life because of someone that her mother brought into her life.
A man that physically makes the bile rise in my throat. My hands are shaking at the thought. Ezra. How has Arielle survived this? She's so strong. She's so beautifully strong.
More than I ever imagined. Stronger than myself. To have overcome such hardships and to be able to smile, and strive . . . my heart pumps a little faster, almost as if it recognizes something new I'm feeling towards her. There's suddenly a large lump in my throat and I can't seem to swallow it.
"I think it's what's been causing the blackouts," she murmurs quietly. "They started right around the same time the nightmares did . . . and that wasn't long after the first time."
"Arielle," I grab her hands and force her to look into my eyes. I take a deep breath and rub my thumb softly over her hand. She's the one squeezing my hand reassuringly this time. It's hard for me to gather my thoughts and what I'm feeling. Inside me dwells anger, sadness, empathy, and a strong sense of like for the young woman sitting in front of me. How could I have ever missed her strength? I decide then it's my favourite aspect about her. My angel is the strongest person I've ever met, and she should be proud of that strength.
I take another breath. When I look up at Arielle's beautiful green eyes they're filled with red lines, and they're extremely swollen. But somehow in the chaos her eyes calm my frayed nerves. "You survived, Arielle. I don't even know how. I mean–" I have to take a shaky breath, "I can't imagine the strength it took – still continues to take, every day. I admire it, really." Her eyes light up a little at that. "You've spent your life running from this woman, I know that. I don't know how to deal with something like that. But the strength you've gained from that experience . . . you can use it, Arielle. You do use it, every single day. Use it to stand up to this woman, to forgive her, to move on from this. I know it's hard, but you have to stop running." She looks away from me and so I grab her chin, forcing her to look at me. "I will be here for you, every single step of the way. I promise."
She sighs heavily, closing her eyes for just a moment. "I know that. All of it. I do need to move on from her. I want a life without her in it. One without Chef either . . . and in a few months time I'll be done school and I can start that new life, wherever I want." She wipes away the dampness underneath her eyes.
"And I'll be right there with you."
Arielle leans forward, resting her forehead against mine. She looks at me with sleepy eyes. I can tell the liquor still has her a bit intoxicated. "I'm sleepy," she murmurs, barely able to keep her eyes open. Her face is so swollen I swear that she could sleep for days.
"It's okay," I mumble.
She closes her eyes and I don't do anything about it. I just adjust her so that as she falls asleep she curls into my side on the bench. It only takes minutes before she's passed out and now I'm left in the predicament of what to do with her.
I can't take her to a hotel. I don't know anybody in New York City. My only option is to carry her back to the mansion, despite the fact that we despise the two people inside of the house. I stand and unzip my leather coat, slinging it gently over her shoulders. She's already shaking in this cold. I pick her up bridal-style in my arms and begin the trek back to the mansion.
After about twenty or thirty minutes I finally find their street and the mansion is in sight. Standing outside near the end of the driveway is the driver from earlier.
"Mister Malik," he greets me. "Oh dear, Miss Hawthorne . . . is she okay sir?"
"Yes, just a little drunk and cold. She fell asleep and I had to carry her from some park." I adjust her a little in my sore arms, trying my best not to wake her. She mumbles my name softly in her sleep and I try to ignore the way it feels inside my chest.
"Good. I'm glad to hear that she's okay sir," he gives me a polite smile. "Do you need help with the luggage I brought in earlier?"
I nod my head, "we'll only be staying one night. I'm getting her out of here as soon as I can. We're going back to Miami."
"Call me Zayn."
"Zayn, sir . . . are you sure you want to leave?" He adjusts his glove on his right hand.
"Yes, I'm getting her the f.uck out of here. These people you work for – what's your name?" I interrupt my own thoughts.
"Aaron, these people you work for . . . look, you should quit. They aren't good people." My arms are really suffering now and I'm struggling to hold her up in my arms. Aaron seems to take notice and so he grabs our luggage out of the back of the car. I furrow my eyebrows for a moment, confused. I could swear he brought our luggage inside . . . Aaron sees the confusion all over on my face.
"Why do you think I brought your luggage back outside?" He chuckles, "I don't trust them anymore than you do. Mister Wilson showed up about a week ago and him and Miss Vivien . . . it was strange. I didn't really understand at first. Him just showing up out of the blue and the two of them kept mentioning the two of you. I think they had this whole plan. I'm not really sure what of, but I've been working for Miss Vivien long enough to know what she's capable of. Her last husband, Sir Jackson was only with us for about two months before she divorced him. Got herself millions. Including this–" Aaron points at the mansion just in front of us. "Just be careful. She knows what she's doing."
"So it seems," I say.
Aaron takes a step towards me. "Some of these husbands she's had . . . let's just say they aren't exactly her type. One man could barely speak English. But he sure knew his way around money," he whispers to me.
"Green cards?" I reply. This is good. This is really good.
"I don't have proof, but that's my theory. She's been married two times since I've started working for her. And I've only been working for her for six months. One was Sir Jackson and the other was Sir Alexei – the man who could barely speak a lick of English."
"Aaron, you f.ucking genius. This is perfect. This will finish her," I smile wickedly. "All I need is proof and she'll be out of Arielle's life forever."
"It's not that simple. That woman . . . she's probably already eight steps ahead of you." Aaron points out.
"That's true. But don't worry about it. I've got it."
He gives me a small smile. He seems unsure but he doesn't say anything. He grabs hold of our luggage and we head into the mansion together.
The second I step inside the house I recognize the bodyguard. He's sitting at the massive island in the kitchen, but once he hears me enter he stands and walks towards me. He stands there, shoulders wide, trying his best to intimidate me. F.uck, he's even bigger up close. He's probably the biggest guy I've ever seen. A solid three hundred pounds of man. As much as I'd like to believe I could, I could never take him. And that's exactly what Theo was thinking when he chose him.
I sigh once I step past him. My arms are near limp from carrying Arielle so far, yet she doesn't even realize it. She's still fast asleep in my arms. "Lead the way to our room, Aaron."
Aaron quickly shuffles past me, "yes sir, Mister Malik."
I follow him up the massive staircase, and to the right hallway. About halfway down the hallway he reaches a door and he opens it quickly, "here you are."
I walk past him into the gigantic bedroom. It's bigger than my living room and kitchen if I were to put them together. How many men has Vivien f.ucked to own something like this?
I sigh before carefully placing a drunken, still asleep Arielle down onto the king sized bed. She mumbles incoherently and then snuggles into the pillow.
When I look up at Aaron he's standing awkwardly at the double doors to the bedroom. He's gripping both suitcases in his hands, unsure of what to do with them. I walk towards him and throw them carelessly against the wall just inside the bedroom.
"Is that all, sir?" He asks. He's always talking as if he's a servant and it's f.ucking irritating. He talks to me as if I'm above him, which I'm not. We're equals.
I look back at Arielle who's still snuggled into the pillow. The swelling has gone down in her face a little bit, but I know she's going to need water. "Could you just–" I grab his arm, pushing him out of the room. I trust him to watch over her, but I don't trust him to be in the same room. "Can you watch the door? I'm just going to grab her a glass of water, I'll be right back. I just don't trust him . . . speaking of which, where exactly is their bedroom?" Thinking about the d.ickhead makes my blood boil.
"Oh, they're in separate bedrooms, sir."
"Right. Sir Wilson is on the other end of the house. Down that hall." He points towards the opposite end and I breathe a sigh of relief. "Miss Vivien is down near there as well, but on the opposite side."
"Okay, that's good to know." I slap a hand on his shoulder. "Thanks man. I'll be right back." I begin to walk away but turn around last minute, "don't go in there or I'll f.ucking kill you with my bare hands."
Aaron flinches a little.
I turn from him and head down the staircase. When I reach the first floor I turn left and head into the kitchen. I don't see the bodyguard around. Good. I walk straight to the refrigerator and grab a bottle of water from inside.
"Surprised you came back," a voice says from behind me. I nearly drop the bottle of water. I turn towards the voice.
"What do you want Vivien?" I hiss.
There's an amused glint in her eye. She's still eyeing me up as if I'm a piece of meat and it just makes me hate her more than I already do. If she wasn't a woman I would already have her against the ground, my first jammed into her skull. I can't believe that this woman in front of me is so evil. She's so small and everything about her visually seems so perfect. But that's the thing about psychopaths, they are always so charismatic . . . so alluring . . . so perfect to the untrained eye.
"I get the sense that you do not like me, Zayn." She places her hand on the marble top in front of her. The massive island creates ample space between us; that I'm thankful for.
"What gave it away?"
"Well you seem fairly hostile. I am not really sure why though. I have done nothing to you," she sits down on the barstool underneath the island and sits up straight. I wonder if it gets tiring for her . . . putting up this façade.
"You did so do something to me. You hurt Arielle and when you hurt her, you indirectly hurt me. And I can't forgive you. She may one day, but I refuse to." I place my hands down onto the countertop and stare at her intensely. She doesn't back down from me. Vivien doesn't even look intimidated.
"I have done nothing to either of you. I do not know what you are talking about."
My teeth grit together. "You know exactly what I'm talking about."
"No, I do not Zayn. Please, elaborate." She cocks her head to the side.
"The rape, Vivien. You sat by and let that happen to your daughter. She told you!" My voice raises as the anger boils inside of me. "And you did nothing. What kind of mother are you?"
She chuckles dryly, almost as if I've just told her a joke. After she's done laughing she takes a moment to collect herself. "Oh, dear . . ." her body leans towards me and she places the palm of her hand flat on the marble surface. "Is that what she told you?"
"Arielle seduced Ezra," she says with total confidence.
What? "What?" I'm looking at her as if she's just grown three extra heads. Did she honestly just say that her own daughter wanted to be raped? That her daughter purposely seduced her own step-father? Does Vivien seriously believe this? And not believe her own daughter?
"Oh, Arielle always had a little crush on Ezra. That is no secret to anyone. And one day I guess she just could not supress those feelings anymore. They had consensual sex, Zayn. Do not believe her, she has always been a compulsive liar. She is known for keeping secrets. Did she tell you about her high school days? She was quite the little wh–"
That's enough out of her foul f.ucking mouth. This woman is a sociopath. I charge towards her, stopping just inches from her face. She flinches a little, finally. "I will bury you," I growl. I realize that I sound like a psychopath, but that's my intention. If I can scare her enough, she won't f.uck with Arielle.
She doesn't say anything, she just stares at me. My chest is rising and falling quickly. Everything in me wants to slap this woman, but I can't. I won't. I refuse to give her the satisfaction. I'm no longer playing her game. She's playing my game.
"Arielle and I are leaving come morning. If I ever see your face again, I will bury you. That's a promise." My voice is dripping with such venom that I nearly don't recognize it.
I can see the small hint of terror inside of her eyes. Good.
"I do not give up that easy, Zayn." She swallows slowly.
I step back from her, grabbing the water bottle and beginning to walk away from her. "Better grab your shovel then, Vivien." I turn to look at her before exiting the kitchen. I smirk wickedly at her. Game. Set. Match. B.itch. She seems a little surprised that I've actually intimidated her. But with her, who knows? Maybe it's all just an act . . . that's the thing about psychopaths, you really can't tell.
I run frantically up the stairs. When I round the corner, Aaron is still standing there up against the door. "No visitors?" I ask.
He shakes his head, "no sir."
"Thanks," I reply and he steps away from the door. I walk inside and lock the door behind me. Arielle's still lying on the bed, fast asleep.
I place the water bottle down onto the table beside her. She should be wearing pyjamas. I need to change her. I look around the room and decide it's best not to. Knowing Theo, he probably has f.ucking cameras set up just to catch something like that. Safe to say that we're staying in the clothes we came in. I don't trust this c.ocksucker for one minute.
I reach for her shoes and tug them lightly off her feet, along with her socks. She mumbles a little in her sleep and her toes curl. I imagine her body's probably reacting to the cold. I lift her limp body and start pulling the layers off her. I manage to get my leather coat, and her coat off before she opens her eyes just a smidge.
"Babygirl," I whisper. Thinking about what her mother said earlier is enough to almost bring tears to my eyes. Does Arielle know what her mother thinks of the rape? Should she know?
"Zayn–" she mumbles.
"I'm sorry, I'm just trying to get your coat and sweaters off. You'll be too hot to sleep otherwise." I begin pulling off the next layer and she lazily complies by lifting her arms.
"Where are we?" She asks.
"What?" For a second it seems to wake her a little.
"I'm sorry. There's nowhere else I could take you. It's only for tonight, okay?" I rub my thumb over her cheek gently and it causes her eyes to close. "I promise we'll go home in the morning."
"Okay," she mumbles out, trusting me.
"Just help me get your sweater off and you can go to sleep." I tug at the material and together we remove it.
"Are you sleeping with me?" She reaches for me sleepily.
"Of course," I say as I take the two sweaters off my torso in one quick motion.
Arielle reaches for my face, "kiss me."
I lean forwards, resting my forehead against hers. She inhales my scent. "Please," she pleads. I comply, fisting my fingers into her messy hair while attaching my lips to hers. It's quick and soft but it's exactly what we both need at this moment.
She pulls her forehead away from mine. "Sleepy," she murmurs.
"I'll be right there," I coo as I unlace my boots and place them beside the bed, along with my socks. I can't f.ucking sleep in thick clothes and so I shed my shirt along with my jeans. I check that the double doors to enter the bedroom are locked before crawling into bed beside Arielle. I lay on my back and she immediately fits herself perfectly into my side.
Arielle falls asleep quickly, but sleep doesn't consume me. I'm too worried about the angel in my arms.