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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23. Tom and the women

 

 *Tom*

 None of us had any doubt that this was an extension of the meeting Kress had called, just without Zombie and Sunny. Even if he tried to pretend that it was nothing serious and that it could easily wait. Both Zac and I knew it couldn't. It had all been an act not to alarm Amber.

 I kicked a group of teenage boys out of one of the living-rooms, and we all slumped down in the couch and chairs.

 "So what is it ?" Kress was leaned back in one of the armchairs. Ben was sitting in the other one, Kattie perched on his armrest. Zac and Drew had taken the couch and I had pulled over a chair sitting down on it backwards.

 "Zombie". Ben started. He leaned forward, his hands folded in front of him. "He is sticking to his demand, if the underworld is to be united in one alliance, with one of us as the leader, I am either to give him Amber or I have to leave the underworld forever, alone, leaving her behind".

 "And if you don't ?" I asked. "Giving him Amber is simply not an option".

 "If you think it is the best for everyone that I leave the underworld, then I will do so". Ben answered. "But I am not leaving her behind, I am bringing her with me. And I don't know how Zombie would react to that, you might not be better of".

 "And what does Amber say to this ?" Kress asked.

 "She doesn't know". Ben answered without looking up. "I don't know how to tell her, that we are probably going to war because of her".

 "It isn't because of her". Zac pointed out. "Zombie is using her against you, because he knows that she is your weakness. He is using her in an attempt to play you and Kress up against each other". Zac was looking at Kress. "He know that you are skeptical towards her. And he know your views on women and their worth. You would never put a woman above everything else".

 "We have gone to war over a woman before". Kress pointed out. "You were to young to understand and I never told Ben why, but we went to war over the other Amber. Zombie demanded her back or a war".

 "What ?" Ben looked up at Kress. "Why have you never said anything about that ?"

 "Because I knew you wouldn't allow it". Kress shrugged. "If I had told you, you would have had to live with the guilt about the lifes that was lost. So I took the war on my name".

 "But why ?" Ben wringled up his forehead so much his brows almost met in the middle.

 "Because you were happy". Kress told him. "I took you under my wings many years ago. Hell you are as much a brother to me as Zac is. And you are happy now, with her, so of course you are not giving her up".

 "But I could leave and give you a better chance against Catrista". Ben said.

 "I wont let you leave". Kattie blurted out. "I won't allow it".

 "You could go with us". Ben suggested, taking her hand in his. Katties eyes found mine.

 "Don't make me make that choice". She begged, she tore her eyes from mine, now looking at Ben. "Don't make me choose between you and.. and.. the underworld".

 "No one is leaving". I quickly stated. The idea of Kattie and Amber leaving made me feel ill. They both held a huge place in my heart. "We can take down Zombie". If the alternative was loosing the girls, I would be happy to go to war.

 "Can we ?" Ben asked.

 "Of course we can". Zac stated. "We have the majority and if we give Zombie what he wants, he will just make up more and more demands, until he is sitting on the power". Zac looked at me and I knew he had my back. He knows what I am feeling and thinking better than anyone. Sometimes better than I do myself.

 "So The Eagles and The Stars are both ready to take the fight". Kress stated. "The question is what do you want Ben ? This is your fight and no matter what, we have your back".

 "Except if you leave with the girls". I added, making Drew kick me rather hard under the table.

 "Okay". Ben leaned forward, rubbing his tembles. "Then let's get this war over and done for good, let's settle the score".

 There was a tense feeling in the room. Ben kept massaging his temples, not looking at anyone. Katties eyes found mine while Kress and Zac were having a wordless conversation.

 We had just decided to go to war. A war that wouldn't be over before either Ben or Zombie lay dead on the ground. A war that no matter what would cost lives. But right now there was nothing more to say about that so I decided to change the subject.

 "Ben ? Why is Kattie here as your second in command and not Clay ?" I asked. It took a couple of minutes before Ben looked up at me.

 "I honestly don't know if I can trust Clay". Ben admitted. "What happened at the meeting today was just one of many episodes that makes me doubt his judgement".

 "You mean his accusations against Tom ? That he is fucking both Kattie and Amber ?" Zac snorted. "He has his knickers in a twist over Tom for some reason. You don't really think..".

 "He can't handle loosing the power he had gained". Kattie cut him of. "When Ben was still affected by the drugs and I was affected by Ben, Clay was all but running The Shadows. After Amber came, Ben is back to being himself and back to acting like a true leader and that has taken the power from Clay".

 "So Clay prefers Ben high on drugs and abusing you, and Amber being tortured by her family, just so he can feel important ?" Zac shook his head. "What do you want with a man like that Kat ? You can do so much better. Just look at me". There was definately nothing wrong with Zac's confidence. Hitting on Kat like that was more than brave. Her and Zac had never exactly gotten along.

 "Zac my dear". Kattie smiled like the kat that ate the canary. "If you were the last man on the entire earth, I would become a lesbian".

 "See that I would love to watch". Zac said with a wink and a sly smile.

 "And I would like to place this knife right between your eyes". The knife was in Kattie's hand faster than anyone could react. "But of course that would be a pity for the knife that it had to be so close to you".

 "Ha ha such a comedian". Zac said dryly.

 "Stop it". Ben took the knife from Katties hand. "Kattie puts up with Clay because I asked her to. It is the only way we can control him right now. For the same reason I can't really remove him as my second in command. We don't know how he is going to react and he can't be trusted".

 "We can bear to loose Clay". Kress said. "Honestly he wouldn't be much of a loss. Sorry Kattie".

 "But can we bear him going to Zombie ?" Ben looked around at everyone. "Clay knows to much about our structures, weaknesses and strategies".

 "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer". Drew mumbled. "But you know, this won't hold forever right ? Sooner or later Clay will become a problem. He is out to get Tom and at some point you either have to listen to his accusations against Tom or you have to shut him down and throw him away".

 "It only has to uphold until we have closure on the whole Zombie thing". Ben answered. "I couldn't terminate an alliance during a war, even if Clays allegations turned out to be true".

 That was when I realised that Ben wasn't convinced that Clay was lying. He sent me a warning glare. I was wondering how much of it he suspected to be true.

 "Let's meet a week from now". Kress got up. "We have to get back home". He nodded to Zac, who also got up.

 And very soon me and Ben were alone.

 "I know something is going on between you and Kattie". Ben said very directly. "It wasn't me and the underworld she didn't want to choose between, it was me and you".

 "We have always had a special connection". I said, playing innocent. "I was there for her when you wasn't".

 "Listen I am neither blind nor stupid". Ben leaned forward. "I really don't care what the two of you are up to as long as Clay can't prove it. Kattie deserve the best and if she thinks it's you, well, then it is you. But if I get so much as a hint of suspicion that he is right about any of his other accusations, our alliance will be the least of your worries".

 "I would never dream of touching Amber". I promised.

 "You have already told me that you would pick her over me any day. You are the one she goes to when I fuck up, just like Kattie has always done. And don't think I haven't seen how you look at her, I also noticed you reaction when I said I would take her with me if I left. Amber is of limits Tom, she is not an option for you and she never will be".

 "I care a lot about Amber and yes if you ever manage to hurt her so badly that she can't forgive you, then I am here for her. But not in that way. Kattie is enough for me". Right now probably wasn't the time for being totally honest.

 "Good". Ben got up. "I am starting to see you as a friend Tom. I would like to be able to continue with that".

 "Thank you.. I think". I stood up too, accepting his handshake. He sent me a smile.

 "At least I do trust you enough, to know he is lying when he accuses you of having touched Hope, that I would never believe. Buuut I have heard some rumours about Penny....". He sent me a questioning glance.

 "Lets just say it like this". I answered, thinking some honesty is in it's place. "Penny still pays regular visits to the underworld and like her brother she is quite mature and grown up".

 "Oh God Tom, you are to much". Ben laughed, shaking his head slightly. "But hey, Penny was never a girl to take no for an answer".

 "It has been a while". I said. "I haven't seen her for almost a year. Someone should tell her that you are back and of the drugs".

 "If I know Penny right, she will show up soon". He walked towards the door. "And now I have to get home and make sure that Clay haven't killed KC and Amber while I was gone".

 "You need to watch out Ben. He could be a threat to her. If he gets the idea that her death would get you back on drugs". I said feeling worried.

 "He is never going to be alone with her". Ben promised. "KC is aware of the danger".

 

 I had only just reached the door to my private room, when a small hand closed around my wrist. "Kattie". I turned towards her with a sigh. "You still have a boyfriend". I reminded her. She ignored me, opening the door to my room, and pulled me inside. I didn't exactly try to resist.

 "It doesn't count any longer. It's just a job". She grabbed the hem of my shirt, pulling me to her.

 "You are to much". I mumbled with a smile, as I let her pull of my shirt. Her fingers instantly running over my upper body, following the contours of my muscles. 

 "Don't try and tell me you haven't been longing for it". She pressed her lips to mine, she jumped up, folding her legs around me. I grabbed her with a sigh of resignation, and turned to press her against the wall, kissing her back.

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