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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17. Presents and introduktions

 

 *Amber*

 I woke up late the following day. There was no one in the apartment, so I took my time showering and then I went into Katties wardrobe. Kattie had a fancy for really tight clothes and often in materials that didn't allow for much movement. So it took me some time to find a pair of pants I found comfortable to wear. On the other hand I didn't mind wearing one of her very snug tops.

 With my training over and done I had no real idea of what to do. And I already felt kind of at a loss knowing that I probably wouldn't see Tom very often from now on. I was standing in front of the mirror, trying to put on the weapons belt I had been handed. It could hold four guns and four knives. It looked really good on the boys, but I felt wrong with it. Even with weapons in it it just looked all wrong. So I went and got some of the straps that was used to attach weapons to our arms and legs and followed Kattie's example with a knife strapped to my arm. I stuck a gun in my back pocket, like Kattie always had and then I realised an upside to her tight pants. They would hold the gun in place, my loose pants didn't. I had to find another solution.

 The apartment was still depressing. It was really lacking maintenance and had scars from several fights. If the furniture had matched, it might have been possible to overlook the rest.

 I was just having a closer look at some weird holes in one of the walls when Ben entered carrying a cardboard box under his arm.

 "I had started wondering how long you were planning to sleep". He said smiling brightly at me and putting the box on the coffetable. "I have gotten you some clothes, hoping you were more practical in that area than Kattie". He nodded towards the box. "There is some stuff in there from Tom as well".

 "Just to be sure". I said, pointing to the holes in the wall. "Has someone been practising knife throwing in here ?"

 "Well sometimes you can get a bit frustrated". Ben answered with a shrug. "None of us are very good at sitting still for very long and sometimes we don't have a choice".

 He opened the box and handed me something that had to be a bra. It looked like an ordinare sports bra, but with really wide underwires.

 "So you are buying me underwear now ?" I stepped forward, snatching it from his hand.

 "Nope, that is from Tom. He makes them himself". Ben explained. He took another one up and detached the underwire with an easy click, holding it up. It wasn't an underwire at all but a curved switchblade. "They are impossible to find when bodysearched and Tom promised me they can go through a metal detector as well without setting it of. I examined it closely. It was pretty ingeniously made. The knife sat on a thin wire, and looked like a normal bra.

 "There is four of them. Remember to remove the knife before throwing them in the laundry. And I got something else for you". He pulled something from his pocket, before stepping up to me and gently taking my hand. Very carefully he tied a black braided leather bracelet around my wrist.

 "This proves that you are under my personal protection". He was still holding my hand in his and as always having him close made my heart beat faster. "You will always be under my protection". His eyes bore into mine, like they were sucking me in and engulfing me.

 "You have no idea how much this means to me". I was looking at the bracelet, gently touching it. It was simple, but the mening of it was so much more.

 "I thought it would still be a bit to much giving you the tattoo yet". He let go of me, to carry the box into my room, sitting it down on the floor. I followed him without saying anything. "Is it okay with you having Kattie in here ? Hopefully it is only temporarily. Hopefully they work things out". Ben looked around.

 "It's fine". I had no problem with sharing my bed with her. "Do you really think they are going to work things out ?" I didn't believe that.

 "I would never have thought they wouldn't". Ben answered. "But on the other hand I honestly hadn't seen that side of Clay before you brought it to my attention yesterday".

 I blushed. So Ben had heard me too.

 "Sorry, I shouldn't have gotten involved". I said looking down on my feet.

 "Yes you should". Ben told me with a smile. "That proves you belong here. That you worry about those things, about the others. Clay never asked me to choose between you two, just like he never asked me to take his side against Kattie. Clay isn't stupid".

 "When I look at all of you, it is like he doesn't fit in". It was something I had been thinking about since yesterday. Clay had never really fitted in they way all the others did.

 "Well a lot of people don't". Ben answered. "Try on the clothes, then we can go for a tour of the underworld after". He sent me a smile before leaving the room.

 The pants he had brought me was exactly what I had been looking for. They were the same kind as the guys, with small pockets on the legs, but they sat closer to the body than the ones the guys wore. They were designed so that the weapons belt actually fit with it and when I started putting things in my pockets I realised why the guys always wore the weapens belt. The weight in the pockets made the pants slide down, if I didn't wear a belt. 

 I picked one of Katties black belts though and put a gun into the lining of the pants. After taking one last look in the mirror I joined Ben for our trip.

 

 Ben started by taking me to Kress' place and at the same time introducing me to him officially.

 Like at Tom's place there were guards controlling everyone entering the area. Kress' headquarters reminded me of a training camp for soldiers. There were no women to be seen, only men and older boys, all wearing the usual pants and dark T-shirts. Some of them greeted Ben, others ignored him.

 I felt like every pair of eyes followed me from I entered the gate and untill we entered the biggest building in the middle. From the little pieces of talk I caught, I heard the name Amber mentioned several times.

 "Ignore them". Ben mumbled, when a pair of younger guys yelled something after us.

 We continued into the building and down a hall with doors on both sides. Above us were a gallery, with the same kind of doors. "It looks like a prison". I whispered to Ben.

 "Well it used to be one". Ben answered. "The Stars made a few changes, so instead of keeping people inside, it keeps unwanted people out". He put his arm around my waist, which made my heart skip a beat.

 We found Kress on the second floor, at the end of the building. It looked like it used to be a guards room once upon a time. Big windows were overlooking the yard, that had been fitted with training facilities and a lawn. The other way you could see the entrance we had come in through.

 "It has been a long time since I saw you in my halls Ben". Kress said, making a motion for us to sit down on the couch. "What brings you my way ?"

 "Well first and foremost I am showing Amber around". Ben answered. He had let go of me as we sat down, but now as he mentioned my name, he placed his hand just above my knee. He would end up giving me a heart attack if he kept going like this. "Tom finished of her training yesterday, so it is time she start using her skills for something".

 "Really ?" Kress finally looked at me for the first time since we had entered the room. "So is she worth anything ?"

 "I went in the ring with her myself". Ben said. "She is definately up to our standard, she is an ace no doubt". Kress actually looked impressed and Ben continued. "I heard rumours she actually have beaten Tom a couple of times".

 "Are you sure Tom didn't let her win or maybe let her distract him ?" Kress asked.

 "Well you never know". Ben shrugged. "What do you say to a training game in the nearest future ?"

 "I am always game for that". Kress answered with interest. "I guess you need to get Clay back in shape after his injury as well ?"

 "I am not sure Clay is going to participate". Ben said without commenting it any further. "But we will handle it no matter if he do or doesn't".

 "Have you to fallen out ?" Kress looked at Ben a bit worried. "Is everything going okay ?"

 "Clay hasn't really been himself lately. I am trying to figure out if he has changed or if he has always been like this and I just didn't see it because of the drugs and my grief". Ben managed to sound very serious and like it was nothing to worry about at the same time.

 "And Kattie ? What is she saying to this ?" Kress asked.

 "Well let me just say it this way. It has been three weeks since she last slept in her own bed". I looked at Ben in surprise. I hadn't noticed. Where had she been sleeping if not in her own bed ?

 "Trouble, always trouble with those things". Kress was shaking his head. "That is why I always say that a position of power demands that you stay clear of that kind of relationships. Women messes up your judgement and ends up making a mess of things. Have fun a night or two and then out with them I say".

 "Well that might work with the type of women you like to spend your time with, but when you are talking about women like Kattie and Amber here, it takes more than that". Ben just said.

 

 We walked through the city in silence. I really wanted to know what Ben was thinking, but I didn't dare ask him. As we passed by a gate into a big area that most of all looked like a cemetery. And when I looked further ahead I could also see the church.

 "Is she buried in there ?" I asked Ben as I stopped. He stopped next to me and I could clearly see the pain and grief in his eyes.

 "Many people are buried in there". He answered sadly. "But yeah, it is her last resting place too".

 "Why did you give me her name, when it clearly hurts you so much ?" I reached for him,  but changed my mind and let my hand fall down along my side.

 "The drugs". He shrugged. "I was convinced, that if I believed it enough, you would become her".

 "And did you manage ?" I couldn't help asking that question. I needed to know how much I was like her, now when I was trained as she had been. "Have I become her ?"

 "You have some of her features". Ben sat down on the low stone wall that ran around the cemetery. "You have become more like her physical now. You can close of for everything else when you are in a fight, exactly like she did". He looked at me, reaching for my hand.

 I let him take it, and for the first time my heart kept still. "But she never let anyone doubt her strength or independence. She hated seeming weak. She didn't tolerate anyone contradicting her and she saw violence as the solution to every problem. She was the center of her own life and that is how she became that in everyone elses too".

  I was watching how our fingers lace together, like they suddenly had their own life and were no longer controlled by us.

 "You doubt your own strenght and you are better at following a schedule than proving you can do everything on your own. You don't feel weaker for letting someone hold you or protect you, or because you show feelings or worries. If someone contradict you, you become insecure and even though I personally know that you can definately pack a punch when you get angry and hurt, I don't believe that violence is your first solution to everything". He was looking at me, like he was reading me. "And you don't see yourself as the center of the universe. You don't even see yourself as your own center. You have no idea of the amount of strenght you actually posess and what you are actually capable of".

 I felt my cheeks go red and once again I felt pulled in by those beautiful eyes.

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