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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39. All changed but still the same

 

 *Amber*

 My body had gone into a state of numbness. I didn't even feel the cramps in my arms and legs any longer. It was a fantastic feeling compared to the pain.

 To put Ben on the line had been a deliberate choice. It had been Christopher standing behind Ben, and I was sure he wouldn't dare hurt Ben, because he still fears that Zac will come forward and take everything from him.

 I hoped Ben would let me explain this to him, before he got angry with me or Tom.

 "So Ben, will you let Zac sleep with Amber or are we going to ad a lot more scars to her collection ?" Zombie said in an almost friendly voice. Like he was offering us a cup of coffee.

 "Do you have any idea at all what it is you want them to do ?" Ben asked, looking disgusted. "Has no one told you that they are twins ?"

 "Might just be his cruel form of humour". Zac said.

 "Oh you don't say". Zombie looked from me to Zac. "Twins. Well who knew. Well that changes my plans a lot". He looked thoughtful. "Let's stop the game here, while it is still fun right ?" He smiled at Ben. "Clay, you have my permission to kill her".

 Zombie stepped back, while both Zac and Ben tried to protest. They both tried to get up, but with their arms tied to the chairs and Shine and Christopher pushing them down, they couldn't. Clay came slowly towards me.

 "Isn't she why we are going to war ?" Ben asked sounding halfway panicked. "If you kill her you take away the reason for the war. You will take away your possibility to kill me legally. And you will have to take the punishment for illegally killing her".

 Zombie grabbed Clay's arm and starred angrily at Ben. "Zac take your sister, and get the fuck out here". He hissed. "You and me". He pointed at Ben. "Has some things to discuss".

 Ben and Zac reached me at the same time. While Ben held me up and supported me, Zac managed to untie my wrists. "I'm sorry". I whispered to Ben. "We had no choice, I didn't know.. forgive me".

 "We talk about it later, okay". Ben grabbed my face between his hands and our eyes locked. "You are both alive and that is the only thing that matters". He swiftly kissed my forehead, before leaving me with Zac. "Take good care of her". 

 

 Zac carried me out of the building. I could already see smudges of my blood on his clothes, but he didn't seem to care.

 We had only just left the compound, when Tom pulled up beside us in his car, and Kattie opened the back door, helping Zac get me inside.

 "Where is Ben ?" Tom looked worried.

 "Zombie wanted to talk". Zac sounded sceptical, and I noticed him and Tom exchange worried looks. I was slumped against Kattie on the back seat.

 "I'm sorry Kat". I whispered tiredly. The pain had started to come back now.

 "You have nothing to be sorry about". Kattie said, taking my hand. "You did what you had to do in order to save as many of us as possible".

 "Thank you". I really needed for her not to be angry with me or Tom. "You wouldn't happen to have any painkillers on you ?"

 "The glove compartment". Tom answered. Soon after Zac handed a syringe to Kattie. I noticed the blue liquid and I also knew what it meant. But right now I welcomed the sleep.

 

 I couldn't move when I woke up. I was in one of the beds made ready for the hospital for the war. My entire body bandaged.

 A hand was resting on top of mine. I slowly turned my head and wiggled my fingers. Seconds later Zac looked at me, smiling softly. "Morning sis. How are you ?" He gently stroked my hair. "Is there anything you need ?"

 "Has Ben come home ?" That was my biggest concern. That Zombie had kept him or even worse. 

 "He showed up shortly after us". Zac reassured me. "But you have been out for twelve hours and he needed some sleep. They are all asleep now".

 "Is everyone still friends ? Is things... okay ?"

 "Ben and Tom had a long talk, cleared out some things and there is nothing there, that will affect our alliance. Everybody did what they had to. Well except for Tom running of by himself to save you". Zac squeezed my hand. "You wants me to go get Ben right ?"

 I nodded. I felt bad about asking for it and for disturbing Ben's sleep, but I needed him badly.

 Ben was alone when he arrived. First he leaned down to kiss me softly. Then he sat down on the chair, lacing our fingers together.

 "There is one thing I need to know. Did you know that Christopher wouldn't stick me or did you know there wasn't poison in that syringe ?"

 "I was ready to bet that he wouldn't  dare take the chance". I had taken the choice and stood by it. "That is why I saved Zac first, he was leverage against Christopher. I would never have forgiven myself if he had stuck you and it was the poison".

 "He didn't stick me. I felt the liquid run down my neck instead". Ben caressed my cheek. "You wouldn't have forgiven yourself if Tom or Zac had gotten the poison. Both you and Tom did what you needed to do today. We all walked out of there alive and that is the most important thing".

 "Zombie seemed rather convinced that Tom and me are feeling something towards each other we shouldn't". I mumbled.

 "Zombie don't get the concept of friendship". Ben just said. "I know you just woke up, but you should get some natural sleep".

"I wish that I could lay with you and you could hold me". I whispered.

 "I promise to stay right here". He whispered back, kissing my cheek.

 

  When I woke up again, it was Kattie who was sitting next to me. "Ben had to leave". She apologised. "We are really busy now, we need to get everything in order before it all goes down".

 "You should be helping". Maybe I was out of commission, but I didn't have to hold her away from work too. She brushed her hair away, so I could see the black Z behind her ear.

 "Do you know what this is ?" She asked. "It isn't just a Z. It is Zombies way of marking his women. The women he owns".

 "But that doesn't mean we belong to him, does it ?" I asked.

 "Until Ben knows exactly what kind of rights and powers it gives Zombie over us, we are not allowed to leave the school. And I will suggest you keep it covered, so no one sees it". She let her hair fall down to cover it again. "As soon as it is healed we can get it covered".

 "I refuse to hide from him". My voice was a bit raw. "He is not gonna make me turn my head away in shame".

 "We are going to show him what we are capable of". Kattie promised me. "But right now we need you back on your feet. If I remove the bandages so the wounds can get some air you have to promise to stay in bed anyway".

 Katties hands was fast but very gentle as she removed all of the bandages from my body, throwing them out. My body was crissed crossed in short knife slashes, a few had been bleeding after they were stitched up.

 "They are going to heal up fine". Kattie promised me. "As long as you are lying still here you can have them uncovered and give them air, but when you start to move you need to cover them up just in case. One of the guys will be by to check them over later.

 "Thank you Kattie. And thanks for not being angry with me for kissing Tom". I placed my hand on top of hers, looking up at her.

 "You didn't kiss Tom. He kissed you". Kattie said in a low voice. "But I get why. You did it to save one of us, without knowing who. I have nothing to blame you for". Her smile was a bit half-hearted.

 

 It took three days before they let me come out of bed. I was healing up fast, but not so fast that I could get the stitches out yet. And they nipped and bit every time I moved, and I knew I couldn't do much as long as they were in. I couldn't train, I couldn't help stock weapons or food and I couldn't leave the school.

 The only thing I could help with was folding clothes in boxes according to size, making sure everyone had clean clothes on hand during the war.

 It was boring and tedious and the worst part was that I had to do it with a flock of Tom's young girls. I tried to ignore them, but I couldn't keep their words out.

 "So we agree that it is ten points for scoring a kiss, twenty-five for a BJ and fifty points for the whole shi-bang ?" One of them said. The rest nodded in agreement.

 "For leaders in a relationship, yes". Someone else said. "It is still three, seven and ten, for leaders and second in commands that are single".

 "Have you been with any of them ?" Someone asked eagerly. The one who had first spoken glansed at me. "Maybe".

 "If you are hinting that you have slept with Ben or Tom, I happen to know that it is a lie". I couldn't keep my mouth shut. It didn't sound as casual as I had hoped.

 "Do you really believe men like them has enough in one woman ? When you have been used to get as much as they have, you will always crave more". This one was blonde and skinny and way to confident considering the way she looked. "The leaders need us".

 "They need cheep skanks ?" I arched my eyebrow.

 "They need weak girls. Girls that can make them feel all masculine and boost their confidence". She rolled her eyes like I was a lost case.

 I threw down the stack of shirts I had been folding. "Well, then why is it me and Kattie, you gets to spend every single night in their company ?"

 I gave her a moment to answer, but when she didn't answer, I left. A woman in her late forties caught up with me. I hadn't realised she was there.

 "They have a need to be popular with the men in charge". She explained. "That is how their hierarchie works. The one who get most attention from a leader is most popular. That is what sets them apart from women like you and Kattie".

 "Kattie and I don't need to seek approval in that way". I said still angry. Why did she butt in on me like this ? "We don't use sex as a way to gain popularity".

 "Every leader uses sex as a way to power". The woman stopped in her tracks. "The men has done it forever. Tom has the power over these women, because they know that they actually has a chance with him. And the other leaders isn't any better. Most just don't have a need to let everyone know like the girls in there. And don't underestimate Kattie. She knows how to play their games".

 "Games ? Sex ?" What games were she talking about.

"And as women you can play it much stronger".  The woman whispered secretly to me. "It is pretty hard to hate someone you have seen naked and who have given you an amazing experience. Why do you think Kattie wins so many fights ? She isn't that good. In the end it is all about feelings and desires".

 "Ben is enough for me". I turned my back and started to walk away.

 "Just remember it". She raised her voice. "You have ended up in a powerful game, and if you don't want to be a pawn, you need to learn how to play".

 I ignored her and turned around the corner.

 

 I went to Ben, I needed to talk to him, we had only seen each other shortly because he was so busy all the time. I missed him and there was some things I needed to know.

 "There you are love". He pulled me down into his lap, kissing me softly. I enjoyed having his full attention for once and I snuggled into him.

 After sitting like that for a couple of minutes, I looked up at him. "I know you are very busy, but there is something I really like to talk to you about.. alone if it's possible".

 "Of course". He waved for the other to leave the room, when the door closed, he looked at me. "What is it Amber, you look so serious ?"

 "Just.. there is two things I need to ask you about, please don't get angry with me". I bite my lip nervously and he smiles softly. "Amber, I would never get angry with you for asking about something".

 I take a deep breath, none of this will be easy and I fear what I will hear. "When I was working with the laundry I.. well I heard some young girls talking about how they compete for the leaders attention and gets points according to how far they get with one of you. I left but this woman showed up and started talking about the games, like sex was something to be used. She said Tom uses sex to control the women here, that you all do that".

 "And now you want to know if I really do that". He takes a deep breath. "I am pretty sure you had the honour of meeting Tom's mother, honestly she .. well she had a rough life and she wasn't strong enough to handle it. She talks alot about these games she thinks is going on, about sex and the use of it as a weapon".

 "But is she right ? Is there any truth to it ?" I ask him. Hearing it is his mother gives me a new understanding for Tom and what struggles he must have if that is what he was raised with.

 Ben looks softly into my eyes. "I can't claim to have been innocent. I've done my share of stupid things. And yes I have sometimes slept with some of these young girls, I think every man here has to some extent. Regarding Tom, yes he might have done that, to some extent, because his mother told him that was what he needed to do. But I can promise you, I haven't in any way touched another woman since you and me have been together and I don't plan on it either. You are more than enough for me".

 "That's all I need to hear". I trust him to be honest with me and kisses him deeply, letting my hands run into his hair, and I can feel him smile against my lips.

 When we break the kiss, he gently caressed my cheek. "You said there was two things, what was the other thing you wanted to talk to me about ?"

 "It was something Zombie said, about why you two don't get along". I hesitate when I see how he gets pale and his jaw tightens. "You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to". I look down, hating to be the reason that he looks like this.

 "No, you should know everything about me if we are to be together, the good as well as the bad. And this.. this is very bad". He bites his lip. "I just hope you can still look at me in the same way after".

 I gently run my hand over his face, brushing a stray curl of his forehead. "Ben, there is nothing you can tell me that will change the way I look at you".

 "I am not so sure unfortunately". He says. "I am sure he told you about him being left with a woman, Anna was her name, as a baby. Our parents was very superstitious and they was scared of him because of his pale skin and white hair, they thought him some kind of demon. I ended with her when our parents died".

 I nod to tell him that I am with him. "She was a good woman, cared for us the best she could. And honestly we were quite a handful. She wanted us to do better, she knew Zombie, his real name is Bartholomew by the way, but never call him that. She knew he would never be able to do anything else because of the way he looks, the only place for him is the underworld. But me, she wanted me to move away, to be something".

 "But I wanted to stay, Zombie and me, we wanted to start our own gang, we had so many plans, we.. well we wanted to sell drugs. I know it's a bad thing, but we were young, we mostly thought about the power and the money, we wanted to run the underworld". He looks pained.

 "When she found out about the drugs, she was so very dissaponited in me". A single tear runs down his cheek. "She started yelling at me, telling me what a disappointment I was. I lost my temper, I just wanted to push her away. But she stumbled and fell down the stairs, I panicked and ran. The house burned down because I had left some stuff, machines for making drugs, on in my room. I killed our mother and Zombie has never forgiven me. And then Amber just added to his hatred".

 I am just looking at him. So Zombie did tell me the truth. But I mostly feel sorry for Ben. He was young and it was an accident. I can't hate him for it. So I getly kiss away his tears and then kiss him softly, feeling him pull me closer to him.

 

 I didn't get the last stitches out before three days before the war was to begin. Ben and Zac helped each other getting them all out, while I tried keeping my eyes closed and ignoring the feeling of the tread being pulled through the skin.

 I still hadn't seen Tom at all since that day. I hadn't asked about him or tried to find him. Honestly I didn't know what to say and do about it.

 "I know you really want to participate in the war, but you aren't ready". Ben said, when he helped me get my shirt back on.

 "I can get ready". I promised.

 "No". Zac interrupted. "Your shoulder still hasn't healed from the bullet and to many of your muscles have been damaged. Your body needs more time, before it is ready for the strain of multiple battles".

 "We are going to find things for you to do". Ben promised. "You wont be left out. You are just not getting out there". He nodded towards the window. "I have things to do, but I'll be back later". He gave me a quick kiss before hurrying of.

 "He always have things to do". I sighed.

 "He is trying to organise a war". Zac said with a smile and helped me up. "It takes a lot of planning. Especially if you want everything to run smoothly and to minimise the losses. That doesn't mean that he wouldn't prefer staying with you".

 "I don't know what I'll do if we loose". I whispered. "If I loose him..". The tears was threatening to fall at the thought. "What would I do without him ?"

 "Don't start on thoughts like that". Zac pulled me into his arms and held me close to him. I hid my face against his strong chest. "I do whatever I can to have his back, I promise you".

 "I don't want to lose your either". I whispered into his chest. "I don't want to go to war..".

 "I know sis". He stil held me close. "Amber, you need to go talk to Tom. He hasn't been himself at all since that day and I think you are the one he needs to talk to".

 "I can't Zac..". I was shaking my head. "I don't know what to say to him".

 "What would you have said before that day ?" Zac asked me. "If you don't find a way to move past it, it will forever be a barrier between you, that just grows and grows".

 "That is why I can't loose you and Ben". I mumbled into him. "I have already lost Tom".

 "No you haven't". Zac held me out at an arms length. "You still have Tom. You two just need to talk this through. Go find him. If not for yourself, then please do it for him".

 

 I found Tom in the weapon basement, moving some boxes around. He came out a room with a case under his arm when I almost walked into him. "Hi". I didn't know what to say.

 "Hi". He stopped and put the case down. "I hear all your wounds have healed". He seemed just as uncomfortable as I felt.

 "Yeah". I had a really hard time looking at him. "I am not going to be ready to be active in the war though".

 Tom seemed insecure in a way I had never seen him before. "Listen.. What happened that day..". He was scratching his neck.

 "We don't have to talk about it". Even though that was exactly what I had come to do, I just couldn't breach the subject.

 "Yes we do, or we will never be anble to function together again". Tom looked at me. "I was naive when I thought I could save you. But I was ready to sacrifice myself for you. I haven't been able to look at you since that day. I hate myself from having to choose, to only be able to protect one of you".

 "Tom..". He held up his hand to stop me.

 "I know you and Ben are happy together, and that is how it's supposed to be. I have no notion that you and me should be together. I know that will never happen and honestly I wouldn't want to give up Kattie. I love her. By you need to know that I would always put myself in harms way to keep you safe and I would always put you above me friendship and alliance with Ben".

 "I need you to be the friend to me you have always been, I can't loose that". I told him softly. I wish I could tell him how honoured I felt by his words, but it would only complicate things.

 "I will always be your friend". He sent me one of those handsome smiles. "Nothing that has happened have changed that one bit". He grabbed my hand, pulling me into his arms and I felt myself relax into his embrace. "You have Ben and I have Kattie. That is how it is meant to be".

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