Being Amber

Without any memory of her past and not knowing why people react to her as they do, Amber has to learn to survive in the hard underworld of the City, among gangs and the unwanted citizens.
Her appearent resemblance with Ben's dead girlfriend, places her in the middle of a war that easily can cost her and others their lives.
In her quest to find her identity Amber has to learn to tell friend from foe, see behind the lies and decide if Ben's past matters at all.
When Ben asks Tom to train Amber he gets pulled into the war happening around him, far more than he wants to be.
Tom's alliance with Ben hangs in a thin tread when he not only falls in love with Amber but also starts a relationship with Kattie, who already has a boyfriend in Clay, Ben's second in command.
Will Amber ever find out who she really is ?
And how Will they get through the war ?

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30. Daddy dearest and mommy’s story

 

 *Amber*

 As soon as we got close to the apartment we knew something was seriously wrong here. There was four police cars and two expensive black cars parked out front. And there were two armed cops standing on the stairs. But luckily they didn't see us befor Ben pulled me behind a wall.

 "Shit". One of his hands rested on my hip as he pulled out his phone and called Kattie. While he was talking to her, I snuggled into him, resting my head on his chest. I didn't know what he had done this time, but I didn't want to be without him if  he went back to jail.

 "Thanks Kat". Ben sighed. "We'll be there in a moment". He hung up and held me out from him, so he could look at me.

 "Is Kattie up there ?" I asked worriedly.

 "Yes". Ben's thump gently stroked my cheek, removing an invisible tear. "So is your father and Christopher".

 "What ?" I couldn't believe this. I had finally accepted it all. Ben had finally kissed me and now I would get ripped away from it all. "Why now ?"

 "Because Christopher couldn't get anyone to guarantee his safety before now if he did it". Ben sighed. "Zombie isn't playing fair here and if he has put security on Christopher, then we can't get to him. You don't have to come up there. Run to Tom, he can keep you safe. At his place they can't get to you".

 "What is going to happen to Kattie ?" I asked him. "And KC and Hope ?"

 "They aren't home". Ben promised me. "Kattie is getting arrested for keeping information about you hidden. Information she promised to provide. That is why I have to go up there".

 "And what will happen to you ?" I asked, blinking hard to stop the threatening tears from falling.

 "Amber, darling, both me and Kattie are ready to take our chances to make sure you are not going back to your father". He pressed his lips to my forehead. "Please go to Tom".

 "No". I was shaking my head. "We are together in this and I am not afraid of my father". I pressed myself closer to him. "And no one, not even my father is going to tell me who I should be". I pressed my lips against his, trying to get even closer to him.

 I am Amber. No one can change that now.

 

 Hand in hand we walked up the stairs. When we got close to the cops, they both pointed their guns at us. Ben gave my hand a last squeeze and lifted his hands in surrender. "Well good evening sirs". He said in a relaxed tone. "To what do I owe the honour of your visit ?"

 "Oh don't start with us Ben". One of them cut him of, and grabbed Ben, locking his hands on his back with handcuffs. They seemed to know Ben and he seemed to know them.

 The other cop grabbed me, and handcuffed me in the same way, it hurt a lot in my sore arm.

 As soon as we stepped into the apartment, all attention was on us. Kattie was sitting on the couch, the phone laying next to her. Her hands was also locked behind her back. Which meant they had let her answer when they saw Ben call.

 Christopher was the first to step up to me. He stepped up close and nodded once to the cop holding me. He stepped humbly back and gave us space. "Zombie sends his love and told me to say that revenge is sweet". Christopher whispered.

 The anger made my blood boil. So I couldn't use my arms, but I could use the rest of my body, so I launched myself at him, slamming my head into Christopher's jaw. Before he could react, I had one leg around him, and had knocked him to the floor. I didn't get farther before four guns was pointed at me.

 "But Sarah sweetie". A man, that had to be my father stepped past Christopher and up to me. "That isn't a way for a good girl to act". His gaze was reproving, he had piercing blue eyes and ginger blond curls that were combed back. But I could see the malice in him, just like in Zombie and Christopher.

 "Then I guess that I am not a good girl". I answered, holding his gaze. That obviously made him even more angry. I kept eye contact when his hand struck my face, even though it would have hurt less if I had turned my face with the slap, but I wouldn't give him that satisfaction. So I bit down the pain and stared angrily at him.

 "Take them all to the cars". One of the cops said.

 "No!" I turned to the cop who had spoken. "We haven't done anything wrong".

 "Sarah these people kidnapped you and they have been keeping information from us". The cop said like he was talking to a child. "It is very very wrong. We were lenient on Ben the last time, because Kattie here promised to bring us any information she found on you and as she haven't  done that, we have even more reason to arrest them both. There is nothing you can do for them".

 "Let's go home". My father grabbed my arm and dug his fingers into the wound Zombie and his knife had left. "You are going to forget this place and those people really fast".

 I heard what was behind the words. That he would make me forget. That he would punish me for being disobedient the last year.

 And I remembered..

 I remembered every assault he had made on me. Every lash of the whip, every beating and every tear he had caused.

 "Stay away from her". Ben ripped himself free from the cops holding him, and pushed himself between me and my father. He must have seen the truth in my face. "You will never harm her again".

 "And what are you going to do about that scum ?" My father said calmly. "Before this day is over you will be dead and gone".

 "No!" I stepped up next to Ben. "I am coming home". I looked pleadingly at my father. "I promise to behave. I'll marry Christopher. Just let Ben and Kattie go". Very much against my will, I looked down at my feet as I had been thought a women was to do.

 "Amber no". Ben rested his forehead against mine. "I won't let you sacrifice yourself for us".

 I looked up at him. "Yes". I was smiling through the tears. "I rather live a choosen life of hell and know that you are alive. That live a forced life there and know you are not". I would end up back with my father no matter what. There was no way out.

 "Can we have two minutes to say goodbye ?" Ben asked the cop who shook his head. "Sorry Ben. Sarah belongs to her father.

 Ben rested his cheek against mine, this was the closest we could come right now. "You are still Amber. When you get your chance, take your revenge and come back home". He whispered before getting pulled away.

 "Ben, Kattie". The cop looked at them both. "If you make any attempt to get near Sarah or the Noble family, you will be punished most severely. Let them go".

 As soon as my hands were unlocked my father grabbed my wrist and Christopher had a hand on my back. I only got to cast one last glance at Ben, before being lead out the door.

 

 I remembered the way to my room. I didn't even greet my mother as I walked past her. Instead I went directly to my room and threw myself at the bed.

 It hadn't changed at all. It was still bland and without an ounch of fantasy. In many ways it was even more depressing that the worn down apartment, even if the walls were egg shell white and the curtains the colour of my eyes.

 My body hurt badly. No one had cared about the injuries Zombie had given me.

 There was a small soft knock on my door and my mother stepped inside. "I thought you might want to talk". She had brought some tea. And I remembered her coming to me in the evenings when my father was out at meetings. She would ask how I was. Those were the evenings we broke the rules and talked and she read to me from the books she kept hidden in her closet.

 "Is he at a meeting ?"

 "He has to make the announcement that you have been found". She smiled at me. "We have a couple of hours".

 "And Christopher ?"

 "He is busy arranging your wedding. He has been searching for you for a year, of course he want it to be as soon as possible". My mother poured me a cup of tea and sat down on my desk chair. "How are you ?" It was like she didn't see what had really happened. She didn't see my injuries. She had always been an expert at ignoring them when they were caused by my father, why should now be any different ?

 "I am in pain". I answered. "I am feeling like I am breaking apart inside because I don't belong here. I am longing to be with Ben and mostly I want to hit someone". Not something, someone.

 "You are going to learn". My mother said overbearing. "Learn to put the past behind you and do what you were born to do".

 "This is my past. I am choosing my own destiny. I choose what I am born to do".

 "And what is it that you think you are born to do ?" My mother asked like she had asked me what I tought of her new dress. I couldn't answer her. I didn't know what I was born to do. "Think about it sweetie. If you can't find a greater meaning with you life, then it is probably meant to be that you carry on your fathers genes".

 "You don't know what it means to be in love do you ? To fight for something bigger than yourself ?" I asked her.

 "Sweetie, I am a mother. I know better than you".

 "Then were where you when father raped me and beat me ? Were where you when he tried to hang me ?" I got op feeling angry. "Not once did you stop him from hitting me. You just watched in silence".

 "Because he would take it out on me if I tried". She said.

 "If you loved me you would have taken the beating for me". I was yelling in frustration now. "That is what we do in the underworld. Standing up for each other. Being there for each other. Loving each other". I would have taken them for Hope. I would have taken them for KC, Kattie, Tom and Ben if they would let me, hell I might even take them for Zac.

 "When you have lost what I have, you loose the ability to dream of a better life". My mother was crying now. "Don't think you are the only one who have loved someone else, but had to marry because your father wanted it that way. Don't think you are the only one who have dreamed of another life".

 "The difference between us is that I don't give up". I couldn't feel sorry for her. Her tears did nothing to me.

 "I gave a daugther away". My mother stood up, my anger seemed to have spread to her. "My fathers price for me was that our first born child was to be sent to him right after birth. I had to give my little girl away. I sent her to the other end of the country".

 I sat down on the bed. Shocked by what my mother had just told me and by her anger, I had never seen her angry.

 "And that isn't everything". My mother sat back down, hiding her face in one hand. "I knew how your father was and I didn't want to give him children. When I got pregnant with you and your brother..".

 "Wait, what ? Brother ?" She didn't hear my interruption.

 "I asked the midwife to get rid of you both. Your brother was born first and she had time to carry him out before your father showed up. He was there to take you into his arms, and it was to late".

 I couldn't answer her. She had given my sister away, she had my twin brother killed and the only reason I was alive was because my father had been there when I was born. I had never really felt anything for my mother. Her not interfering had made it impossible. But now I hated her.

 "I got a picture from your sisters wedding some years ago". My mother was suddenly smiling. "My father had her married into a good family when she was seventeen. That.. well that is almost ten years ago now". She left the room and returned with a picture, handing it to me.

 Some part of me didn't want to see her. The sister my mother had given away. But I couldn't stop myself from looking at the picture. My heart stopped beating. My hands turned clammy. It was me or it might as well have been. The long blonde hair, even though mine was dyed darker now, the same toned body that I had now. The blue eyes.

 "What was her name ?" I whispered, even though I already knew the answer. My mother was sitting on the chair and her gaze was far away when she said her name, my name.

 "Amber".

 I felt like throwing up. She was my sister. The woman I looked like, the one I was named after, was my sister. And she had been married when she arrived in the underworld.

 "In the underworld". I whispered and sank the lump forming in my throat. "I go by the name Amber, because I look like someone they lost three years ago". I couldn't look at her as I told her. "She is dead".

 I couldn't feel sorry for my mother when she realised I was the only child she had left. She had given her daugther away herself. She had sentenced her son to die and had been ready to do the same to me. No I wasn't feeling sorry for her at all.

 

 It was possible that I was forced back into Sarah's life, but I was Amber now. And my father and uncle found out the hard way when the sneaked into my room late that evening. They had done this so often. Coming to my room when I was asleep, and I wouldn't wake before it was to late to do anything. Not that I had been able to. This time I sat up the second the door opened and I turned on my bedside lamp.

 "Good evening Sarah". My uncle said in a friendly tone. Sarah would have hidden under the covers, trying to cover the body in the thin silk nightgown. She would have crawled backwards on the bed and she wouldn't have faught back because it only made it worse.

 Before they reached my bed I was on my feet. I ignored the pain in my body and remembered what Zac had taught me. It had become instinctively now after months and months of training.

 "Do you seriously think you can stop us ?" My father asked scornfully and stepped closer to me. When he tried to grab my arm, I turned swiftly, hammering my elbow into his ribs. I followed up wit a knee in his diaphragm. "Touch me again and I will kill you". My voice was hard with no trace of fear.

 "John". My uncle Rene was the first to react. He put a hand on my fathers shoulder. Holding him back. "Watch out".

 "The wedding is tomorrow". My father lifted his finger at me. "I don't care who you think you have become, until tomorrow you belong to me".

 "Try". I challenged him.

 His hands opened and closed, while we were staring angrily at each other. Then he suddenly jumped forward, grabbing my arm, pressing his fingers into the knife wound. Everything went black for a second and I felt myself fall backwards.

 I had lost. This was a pain I couldn't ignore and I knew what would come.

 "John". My uncles voice held a warning.

 "Stay out of this". My father hissed. He still had a grip on my arm, right on the wound. I was only just conscious, but I could still feel it and still hear him.

 I could feel his other hand slide up my thigh.

 "John". My uncle called again and a few seconds later I felt my father getting pulled of me. "If you are going through with what you have in mind, then you can be sure you wont be here to see tomorrow".

 I tried to get up, the two brothers was staring at each other. Then my father left the room, slamming the door behind him.

 "Are you okay ?" My uncle asked. Was he really concerned about me ? Or was this just a new game they were playing wit me.

 "No". I whispered. I felt dizzy and nauseous. "I need some painkillers and my wound needs restitching".

 "I wish I could help you". He told me and I almost believed him. "At least it sound like your last year was a happy one".

 "You say it like my life is over". I said a bit challenging.

 "As soon as you have said your yes tomorrow and signed the papers, they no longer need you alive. You will become the first unwanted citizen that don't end up behind the forest in the underworld. You will just dissapear. So yes I guess I am saying my own goodbye". He said slowly.

 "Why are you suddenly being friendly ?" I asked him feeling tired.

 "It makes me sad that your life ends tomorrow". He told me. "And it makes me even more sad that you can't believe me". I didn't say anything else, but just left my room.

 The thoughts was running amok in my head. My uncles last world kept popping up. Unvanted citizens, the underworld. Wasn't it Zac who at some time said something similar about Catrista's unwanted citizens ? I couldn't figure out right now why that detail was so important right now. But I had the feeling I was about to make an important discovery.

 

 I must have fallen asleep. Because I am most definitely in a dream. A very life like one.

 I was standing on the stony beach that belonged to the underworld. I was wearing my normal clothes, the kind that was easy to fight in and there was no one to be seen, not before she showed up, walking towards me.

 Amber.

 My sister.

 She was dressed in a flowing white dress, that flowed behind her in the wind and made it look like she had wings. Both tattoos, the symbols of The Shadows and The Zombies was visible on her arms, but beside that there was no trace of the rough life of the underworld on her. Her long golden hair fell loose around her shoulders and she had the same eyes as me. Clear and crystal blue.

 She was like a perfect version of me.

 "Amber ?" I could hear my own voice shaking. "Is this dream or reality ?"

 "Maybe it is reality in a dream ?" Her voice was born from the wind. Like the waves carried it to me and not this mirror image of me.

 "What do you want ?"

 "Give you my accept to love Ben". She answered and sent me a smile. Of course her teeth was perfect to. Either she had been perfect in life or death had made her so. "For years I have seen Ben suffer and bury himself deeper. He needs you. The underworld needs you".

 "I can't be their princess. I just want to be with Ben". I begged her. "I don't want to go to war and I don't want to marry Christopher".

 "Do you think I wanted to go to war ? Do you think I wanted to se Zombie and Ben go up against each other ? I loved them both deeply. Choosing one over the other is the hardest thing I ever tried doing, but I think you already know that. Saving both of their life at the expense of my own was the easiest".

 "What about now ? Do you still love both of them ?" I wanted to touch her, to see if she was really here.

 "I am dead, I can't even breathe. Love is for the living Sarah". She whispered.

 "Amber, my name is Amber now". I didn't want to be Sarah anymore, not in any way.

 "Do you still prefer that name after finding out who I really was ? Do you still want to compare yourself to me ?

 "I am not you, we just have the same name".

 "You are strong". She sounded thoughtful. "Strength is important. Strength will be the most important thing for you in times to come".

 I looked at her sceptically, uncertain of what she ment.

 "Say yes to Christopher, let him have the name if it is so important to him. Marriage means nothing when you are back in the underworld". She had been married herself. I remembered that now. I wondered if Ben would also find it unimportant. 

 "Say yes to Christopher, put a knife in our fathers heart and go home". She was slowly getting more and more transparent.

 "Did you just come to tell me that ?" I asked feeling scared, angry and disappointed. "Can't you do anything ?"

 "I am here only because you were thinking of me". She answered. "Sleep well sister, and know your choice is the right one for now, he needs you". 

 And then she was gone.

 

 I opened my eyes and sat up. Zac's words ringing in my ear.. 'all Catrista's unwanted citizens ends up in the underworld. Even the ones that has just been born'.

 Maybe I could still get out of this whole mess. But I would have to find my brother.

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