Title: Alive [Chapter Eighteen]
Summary: Sage Alvi’s whole world turned upside-down when she lost her mother to cancer. Now forced to live with a father she never knew, she’s trying to navigate her way through a new home, city and school. To make things worse, her half-siblings hate her and she’s being bullied by the cool crowd. They say high school is hard, but this is just ridiculous.
Shortly after waking up in the hospital, Sage found herself being interrogated by the vice-principal. Although she informed Mr. Briar that Marcus had been the one to attack first and Aidan was only trying to protect her, he didn’t seem fully convinced. It was easier for him to believe that she, the charity case, was the instigator of the fight rather than one of their own. Who cared if Marcus already had a history of criminal activity? Clearly logic had no place in Briar’s mind.
Thomas remained in the room with her the entire time, mute and stoic. He didn’t speak up or defend her. Instead he stood in one corner of the room, silently chastising her. She didn’t have to be a mind reader to know what he was thinking: if she’d taken his offer to leave this place, they wouldn’t be in this mess right now.
After Mr. Briar left, Sage cast a brief glance at Thomas. “Do you know if Aidan’s alright?”
“You heard Mr. Briar. He’s fine. And lucky for you, so is that Marcus kid. Security was able to stop Aidan before he did any serious damage.” Thomas levelled her with a solemn look. “Marcus is claiming you assaulted him first. Is that true?”
“Are you serious?”
“Answer the question.”
“He was calling my best friend a fag. I asked him to stop. He wouldn’t.”
“Then what happened?”
“I told him if he didn’t stop acting like an asshole, I’d smack him.”
“And did you?”
Following a brief pause, she jutted out her chin defiantly at him. “Yes.”
A resigned sigh escaped Thomas’ lips. “I wish you had walked away instead of making the situation worse.”
“Yeah well, I’m not a coward who runs when things get tough. I must have inherited that from Mom.” Unfortunately, her father didn’t take the bait. “I need to talk to Aidan. Do you know what room he’s in?”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“I don’t care.”
“He’s probably being interviewed by Mr. Briar as we speak. Do you plan to march in and interrupt them?”
“Did they call his parents?” she asked, her stomach twisting into knots at the thought of what awaited Aidan.
Fuck. She slid off the bed.
“Where are you going? You need to rest!”
She exited the room and walked along the hallway, eventually finding Aidan alone in a room few doors down. Sitting on a bed, he was playing with the bandages on his hand. Her heart squeezed at the sight of his black eye, cracked lip; she rushed towards him. “Are you okay?”
“Are you?” Aidan asked, kissing her forehead while his fingers laced through her hair. “I kept trying to wake you up but you were out cold.”
She peppered his face with kisses. “Are you sure you’re alright?”
“I’m fine. I’ve suffered a lot worse.”
“Aidan, your dad-”
“You don’t need to worry about him.”
“Tell him the truth, that you were defending me. He’ll go easy on you.”
A bitter smile formed across Aidan’s face. “You think that would make a difference to him?” Probably sensing her increased anxiety, his smile quickly transitioned into a flirtatious smirk. “You looked pretty hot when you were kicking ass today. It was such a turn on.”
She glared at him, exasperated, fully aware of what he was trying to do.
The back of his fingers lingered on her right cheek, stroking the skin. “Maybe we can try role playing next time I come over. I’ll be the mark and you can be the sexy con with badass ninja skills who falls in love with me. Then we can team up and take over the world.”
“Stop trying to distract me!” She peered closely at him. “I can get Thomas to talk to your dad.”
“Just drop it!” The smirk on his face vanished, now replaced with a steely expression. “You’re not going to say anything.”
“I’m supposed to stand by and do nothing while he hurts you?”
“I can take care of myself. I don’t need you to protect me.”
“Maybe you should have listened to your own goddamn advice then and stayed out of my business!”
“It’s not the same thing and you damn well know it! You keep saying you love me? Prove it. Keep your mouth shut!”
Tears of frustration brimmed in her eyes. Feeling helpless at the thought of not being able to do anything for him, she turned away.
“Hey, babe. Come here.” He laced his fingers through hers and drew her closer, resting his chin on her shoulder before hugging her from the side. “I’m sorry,” he murmured. “I shouldn’t have said that.”
“You wouldn’t have to apologize so much if you just stopped acting like a jackass.”
He smirked. “Yeah, but where’s the fun in that?”
“Aidan, if he-”
“He doesn’t know about the fight. He’s not even in town. My mom is the one who showed up. She’s probably out there right now, bitching out Briar for suspending me.”
Relief flooded over Sage. The knots in her stomach untwisted and relaxed, finally allowing her to breathe again. Her arms encircled him, squeezing him tightly.
“About that role playing-”
“Shut up”. Closing her eyes she held him in a tight embrace, breathing in his scent. She didn’t move, simply enjoying the stillness between them. Lately they spent most of their time fighting or having sex and this… this small, intimate moment was something she desperately needed to restore her calm.
His fingers started to stroke her hair, in that very special way which made her knees weak and her heart race, and she leaned into him further, nuzzling his neck. “Last time we did something you really wanted, I ended up with sand everywhere. That was not fun.”
“Don’t pretend you didn’t enjoy having sex on the beach. I still remember how loud you were.”
“It was alright,” she said, faking nonchalance.
He pulled her onto the bed and rolled over, hovering above her. “Just alright?”
Before she could respond he started tickling her, making her squeal with laughter.
“What’s going on here?”
Startled by the voice, Sage looked past Aidan to find his mom standing near the door. He pulled away, she sat up. While he seemed amused, Sage was horribly embarrassed – especially when she noticed the quick flash of revulsion on Madeline Coventry’s face. Although Sage had seen pictures of her before, mostly over the internet when she had decided to look up Aidan’s parents, this was the first time she was meeting Madeline in person. Wearing a cream-coloured wrap dress designed to draw attention to her perfect figure, the statuesque redhead was strikingly beautiful. While Aidan didn’t bear much of a resemblance to Madeline (he looked more like his father), he did have her eyes. Unlike his, however, Madeline’s gaze was ice-cold.
In truth Sage never expected to like his mom (she couldn’t understand how Madeline let her husband hurt Aidan the way he did), but she was surprised to find herself intimidated by her.
“Did you give Briar a piece of your mind?” Aidan asked. “Is he still standing?”
The older woman remained fixated on Sage, studying her with an intensity that was nerve-wracking. When she finally spoke, her voice was polite – but firm. “Maybe we should discuss this in private.”
“It’s fine, mom. We can talk in front of Sage. I trust her.”
His words were meant to be assuring but they had the opposite effect as Sage noted the subsequent look of contempt on Madeline’s face. However, Aidan seemed oblivious to it. The fact that his mom seemed to disapprove of their relationship shouldn’t have come as a surprise – yet it was. And it hurt far worse than she expected. “It’s okay, Aidan.” Sage slid off the bed. “You guys talk. I should go back. Thomas is probably waiting for me.” She knew better than to lean closer and give Aidan a gentle, lingering kiss, but a part of her wanted to stick it to Madeline. “I’ll see you soon.” She headed to the door, walking past his mom, and their eyes locked. Sheer hatred emanated from Madeline and Sage felt a dreadful, ominous feeling come over her at that moment.
It was the last day of her suspension, meaning only one more day of being cooped up in this house before Sage was allowed to go back to school and see Aidan. Since leaving the hospital a week ago, she hadn’t heard anything from him despite sending him numerous messages. Concerned his dad may have found out about the suspension, she had urged Theo to check on Aidan. Apparently, Aidan was fine; Madeline had simply grounded him. Sage suspected it was a ploy on his mom’s part to keep him away from her but she refused to get worked up over it. Nothing could erase her excitement about seeing Aidan tomorrow, not even Maria who greeted her with a sulky expression as she entered the kitchen. Ignoring the maid, Sage headed to the fridge to grab the ingredients for a grilled-cheese sandwich. As usual, Maria exited the kitchen in a huff.
A short while later Sage was putting everything back in the fridge when Cat stormed in, startling her.
“Is there anything in your life you don’t fuck up?”
Sage cast her sister an irritated glance but remained silent, refusing to get involved in the drama.
“Wasn’t it enough that you ruined my family, my life? Now you’re trying to mess with Aidan too?”
Her resolve dissolved immediately upon hearing his name. “What happened to him? Is he okay?”
Cat shot her an incredulous expression. “Are you kidding me? No! He’s not okay! Do you know how much trouble he’s in? I just talked to his mom and she told me he’s not allowed to come over here anymore. Because of you, because she knows you provoked him into a fight!” Cat was practically shaking with anger. “That’s what you wanted, right? That’s why you had your loser boyfriend go after Aidan?”
“No, that’s not what happened!”
“Fuck you! You have no idea what you did. Aidan needs Theo, he needs me. This is the only place where he feels safe but you don’t care about that, do you?”
For Cat to be this afraid meant Aidan was in real trouble. Guilt and panic began to sink in at an alarming rate.
“You don’t give a fuck about who you hurt!”
“That’s not true! I care about Aidan. I love him.” The words slipped out before Sage could stop herself. The room was filled with silence, the calm before the storm. Cat stood frozen, in shock, the same piercing blue eyes she inherited from Thomas now penetrating into Sage. Anger which spewed out of Cat a minute ago was now replaced with an eerie stillness which Sage found far more intimidating. “I’m sorry, Cat. I really am. Aidan wanted to tell you a long time ago but I asked him not to.”
“Shut up.” Cat’s acerbic tone was filled with contempt as she lashed out. “You think I believe anything that comes out of your mouth? You’re just trying to fuck with my head, but you can’t. I won’t let you. I know Aidan better than anyone else. He would never hurt me.”
“No, he wouldn’t. Not on purpose. This thing between us… it just happened. We didn’t plan to fall in love.”
Cat sneered. “Love? Keep dreaming.”
“Look, I’m trying to be honest with you.”
“You want honesty? Here it is. You’re trash. Ugly, fat, trash. And Aidan would never touch someone like you.”
Sage’s jaw clenched in anger. “Go ahead. Call me whatever names you want to make yourself feel better but it doesn’t matter. Because Aidan loves me. Who I am, what I am, how I look, all of it. I love him and he loves me. And nothing you say or do will change that.”
Cat stared back at her coldly, as if determining what to do next. A minute later, Cat turned around and walked away.
Sage pulled out her phone and started texting Theo.
Sage looked around Aidan’s bedroom, a bit surprised to find it as clean and organized as it was. The room was huge, bigger than her entire apartment in Chicago, but that wasn’t unexpected. Everything was bigger in this city (except the girls). There was an electronic guitar and a violin balanced against the wall in one corner (she wondered if he played, he’d never mentioned it) but those seemed to be the only personal items. No posters adorned the walls, no medals or trophies showing off his accomplishments cluttered the shelves. The room was cold, devoid of any little knick knacks that revealed anything about his personality. No wonder he was always at the Woods’ home. Thanks to her, however, now he wasn’t even allowed to seek refuge there anymore.
According to Theo (who had gotten the info from Aidan’s housekeeper), Madeline was supposed to be gone for two hours, yoga class or something or other. which meant Sage only had a short amount of time to talk to Aidan. Earlier today she’d been so excited to see him but now she felt burdened with guilt and sadness, to the point where she didn’t even want to interrupt his shower to let him know she was here. Instead she sat at the edge of his bed and waited for him, listening to the water run in the ensuite bathroom.
Cat’s words played over and over again in her head, making Sage feel worse. It was easy to ignore her sister when Cat was being her usual hateful self but today she’d been afraid and worried for Aidan – and that wasn’t easy to disregard. Plus, blurting out about her relationship in the midst of an argument had just been plain selfish. No matter how much of a bitch Cat was, she didn’t deserve to find out like that.
“I’ve fantasized about this many times, but usually I’m not the one who’s naked.”
She glanced up to find Aidan standing in front of the bathroom door, clad only in a towel wrapped around his waist. She studied his bare chest and torso, checking to see if there were any new wounds. Thankfully, the scars were all old.
“Well, not at first anyway.” Looking mischievous, he flashed a smirk at her.“Hi,” he said.
“Are you just going to sit there?”
“You could come closer.”
“I will. Eventually.”
“Oh, good.” He winked at her. “Anything I can do to speed up the process?”
“You can shut up.”
Eyes twinkling, he pantomimed zipping his lips together.
She remained in place, watching him, the sadness in her evaporating away even as she told herself to hold on to it. It was easy to feel safe and complacent, forget all the odds stacked against them when it was just the two of them alone – but now things were changing. The world was barging in, invading their space. How would that affect them? Him? What if being together meant he would be under constant attack? Could he handle it? Even if he could, was that really fair to him? His mom had already ordered him to stay away from the Woods home, his safe haven, to keep him from her. What if that was just the beginning?
“Fuck this. I can’t wait that long,” Aidan declared before rushing over.
One second she was sitting on the bed, the next she was in his arms, being pulled to the floor, his long fingers threading through her hair, his mouth devouring hers. It was wild, frantic, the way he kissed her, held her, desperation lacing his every move as he undressed her.
The world may have been knocking on their door, but at this very moment the only thing that mattered was being with him. She took control, biting his tongue with just enough grip to drive him crazy. Throwing aside his already loosened towel, she reached for his cock and pumped him slowly, her hand slick with pre-cum. His breathing grew ragged, his hot breath humming against her neck. He sat on the floor, pulling her atop him. Straddling him, she guided Aidan inside, closing her eyes, melting from the sensuous feel of him sheathed within her. As she began to move, dictating the rhythm of how their bodies pulsed together, a guttural groan escaped his lips.
Coherency left her brain as his tongue pushed aside her necklace and dipped into the hollow of where her neck and shoulder met, biting her skin, gliding over her clavicle. She was pressed against him so tightly her breasts were crushed but it didn’t matter. Pain and pleasure were all jumbled up together, making it impossible for her to separate the two.
His grip around her tightened as she sped up the pace, his fingers carving her. At times the rough nature of his hands left their mark on her skin but it was always temporary, never permanent – unlike his. Sometimes she wondered what it would be like to bear the permanence of his wounds. Would he want her more? Or would he be disgusted?
“Look at me.”
She did, gazing down at him, taking in the passion that thrived in his darkened eyes. Her fingers encircled his neck and she leaned down to kiss him. Soon she was lost in the storm, falling over the edge, swallowing his groans inside her mouth as he took the plunge with her.
Lying on her stomach, legs swinging idly in the air, Sage turned her head to look at Aidan. He was next to her on the floor, balancing his head on one arm while the other spanned the small of her back. “What time is it?” she asked.
“I have to call Theo to pick me up.”
An amused smile played on his lips. “Your brother is driving you to your quickies now? That’s sweet.”
“Shut up. It’s not like that.”
She peered at him closely. “I came over because I wanted to talk to you. You’re in a lot of trouble and it’s my fault. I wish-”
“I know you like to think you’re the boss of me, babe, but you’re not. I did what I did because I wanted to. I made that decision, not you.”
“You don’t have to pretend like everything’s fine.”
“But it is fine.”
“I know your mom isn’t letting you come over anymore. Don’t act like that doesn’t bother you.”
A heavy sigh escaped his lips. Inching towards her, he leaned down to kiss her naked back.
“It’s not a big deal. Trust me. She’s just pissed right now but it’ll blow over soon. I promise.”
“I knew you’d freak out over this. That’s why I told Theo not to say anything. I’m going to kick his ass for opening his big mouth.”
“Then how did you found out?”
It was on the tip of her tongue to tell him about Cat, but she hesitated. Broaching the subject of her sister would lead to the end of this peaceful moment between them and Sage wasn’t ready for that yet. “I’ll tell you later.”
“Fine.” He trailed wet kisses along the length of her spine. “Not like I want to waste any more time talking.”
“Oh, so having a conversation with me is a waste of time?”
“It is when we can be having sex instead.”
She nudged him playfully and he responded with a giggle, the sound of it tugging at her heart. “Can I ask you something?”
“No,” he murmured, too busy tracing circles on her skin. “No more questions, no more talking.”
“I don’t like your room.”
“That’s not a question.”
“It’s so sterile. Why don’t you put up some posters or something?”
“I used to, but Dad doesn’t like that stuff. When he’s in one of his moods he comes in here to rip up my things. It’s just easier to leave the walls empty.”
She felt like an idiot. Of course this had to do with his father; the man had to exert control over every aspect of Aidan’s life, not even allowing his son to have the freedom of expressing himself in his own space. The thought made her sick to her stomach.
“Shit, I almost forgot,” Aidan said.
She turned around, watching him grab something from his backpack before returning to her side.
“Keep this with you all the time. Somewhere close so that you have easy access to it,” he ordered, handing the small package to her.
She opened the box. Inside the sheath was a knife, bigger than pocket size but still small.
“Next time someone comes after you, use it. Stab them with it, twist it inside them, or even just slash them with it. Whatever you can do, do. And then run.”
“Yeah, okay. Because they’re just going to wait for me to pull it out of my purse, right?”
His eyes darkened, a somber expression masking his face. “You think this is a joke? Do you know what Marcus would have done to you if I hadn’t showed up? What if I can’t be there the next time? What then?” Frustrated, he sat back down again, leaning against the bed.
“Every time I think about him hurting you I want to scream! Or punch someone!”
Realising how important this was to him, she sat up. “I’m sorry.”
“I wish I could protect you, I want to, but I can’t be there all the time. So you have to learn how.”
She reached out to hold his hand. “Okay.”
“And you need to sign up for self-defense classes. Promise me you will?”
Sounding a lot calmer now, he squeezed her fingers. “Sorry I yelled at you.”
He pulled her onto his lap, arm circling her waist. “I’m glad you came over. I was going to give the knife to you tomorrow but this worked out better.”
“I want to give you something too.”
He cocked his eyebrow. “Really? What is it?”
Unfastening her chain, she offered it to him. “I want you to have this.”
He stared at her for the longest time, unmoving. “I can’t, Sage. It’s your mom’s. It’s the last thing she gave you.”
“Yeah, but I wouldn’t even have it now if you hadn’t gotten it back.”
“I know how important it is to you.”
“It means more to me than anything else I own. That’s why I want you to take it.”
Still hesitating, his teeth pulled at his bottom lip nervously.
”What? Is it too girly for you?” she teased.
He smiled back. “Nope. Just girly enough actually.”
“Good. ‘cause I’m not taking no for answer.” Reaching around, she tightened the clasp behind his neck and leaned back to examine him. “Looks good.”
He touched the pendant, smiling at her. “Let’s face it. It probably looks hotter on me.”
She rolled her eyes. “Yeah well, if we break up, I want it back.”
He gave her a stern look in return. “I thought we agreed not to joke about that.”
Suddenly the door swung open, and in came Madeline.
Aidan walked through the droves of people in the club, heading directly to the VIP section upstairs. The party was for one of Cat’s close friends (an actress who barely worked but managed to be a fixture on gossip sites thanks to the paparazzi), and Aidan knew there was no way Cat would miss it. The crowd was a mixture of celebrities, wannabees, dealers, and middle-aged executives who came to these clubs to hook up with hot women by promising them money and fame. In other words, a typical party in Hollywood.
Entering the VIP area, he acknowledged the bouncer who was guarding the entrance. “Hey man, how’s it going?” Aidan asked, bumping fists with him.
“Same old, same old.”
“Seen Cat around?”
“In the back.”
He passed by a group of beautiful women, each eyeing him like he was the answer to their prayers. He winked at them, and kept walking.
When he finally found Cat she was sitting with her friends, snorting lines of coke. Great. Cat on a normal day was bad enough, Cat high on coke was a fucking nightmare.
“Hey Aidan,” one of her friends purred at him. “It’s been a long time.”
He glanced at the redhead, gave her a dismissive smile before turning his attention back on Cat. “Can we talk?”
She wiped off the powder from her nose, and levelled him with a seductive look. “I don’t want to talk.”
He quirked his eyebrow. “You have something else in mind?”
“Figure it out, Einstein.”
“I’m not interested in putting on a show for your friends tonight.” His gaze swept over the women beside her, granting them a flirtatious smile. “As hot as they are.”
Cat did not like being slighted, especially around her followers, and gave him a menacing glare in return. “All talk, no action. You always were a pussy.”
“I’m the same pussy you were begging to move in with last month. You didn’t seem to mind me so much then.”
Her eyes hardened. “Now you’re just deluding yourself.” She waved him away. “Why don’t you go back to looking for your Jihadi girlfriend and leave me alone?
“Now is that any way to talk about your sister?”
Nothing worried Cat more than the truth about her father’s indiscretion coming out. She glared at her friends who scurried away quickly, apparently aware of her temper. Her cold blue eyes returned to his face. “What the fuck do you want?”
“Did you know?”
“What, that you’re an asshole? Everyone knows.”
“Sage has a kid. My kid. Did you know?”
A cruel smirk plastered across her face. Taking a sip of her champagne, she sat back in her seat. “So the little bitch got knocked up, huh?”
His jaw clenched, but he forced himself to stay calm. By losing his temper, he would be giving Cat the reaction she wanted – and he wasn’t willing to play into her hands that easily. “Answer the question.” It was his turn to smile. “Or I may have to spill the beans about your dad. Wonder how that’ll go over when he starts campaigning.”
She set down her glass. “No. I didn’t know. And I don’t give a fuck either.”
He observed her for several seconds, looking for any signs that she was lying. Finally, he came to the conclusion she couldn’t have been. She was too fucked up at the moment to pull it off convincingly.
“You sure that kid’s yours?” she taunted.
“Sage wasn’t one to fuck around.”
“Just because you cheated on me doesn’t mean she did.”
“Don’t be an idiot. There were rumors about her and that guy she always hung out with.”
Aidan gave her a pointed glance. “David? He was gay.”
“Like that mattered in high school.” Her brow furrowed with concern. “Are you going to tell Dad about this kid?”
“Why would I? He already knows, doesn’t he?” Something akin to guilt crossed Cat’s face, arousing his suspicions. “Or did you lie to me about Thomas paying off the detectives?” Instead of responding she grasped his hand, urging him to sit down next to her.
“Forget about her.” A strange kind of helplessness revealed itself in her eyes. “Remember when it was just you, me and Theo? Why can’t we go back to the way things were then? I miss those days. Everything is so complicated now.”
“Because we have to grow up at some point. We’re not teenagers anymore.”
She shook her head ‘no’, like a child, before resting it on his shoulder. “I don’t want to.”
“Cat, what’s wrong?”
It was a while before she answered. “I feel so lost. Like everything is falling apart around me.”
“I don’t know.”
He took her hand in his, stroking it gently, hoping it would bring her some kind of comfort. “You need to stop doing all this shit. It’s messing with your head. And get rid of these leeches that mooch off of you.”
“They’re the only friends I have.”
“No, you have me.”
“You’re too busy chasing after Sage!”
“That doesn’t mean I can’t be there for you.”
“What if she tells you to stop talking to me? What then?”
“It doesn’t matter what Sage wants. I’m not going after her because I want her back. I need answers. That’s all.”
“Who are you kidding?” Cat snapped, pulling her hand away from his. “She ruined my family. She ruined us. And you’re going to let her do it again.”
“You can’t keep blaming her for messing up your life, Cat. It’s been eight years. Time to let it go.”
“Oh, that’s rich coming from you.”
Angry, he stood up. “You need a ride?”
“I don’t want to go anywhere with you.”
He turned around to leave when she grabbed his arm again.
“She was a snobby bitch, always acting like she was better than the rest of us.”
He pried Cat’s fingers away, his expression cold as ice. “She was better.”
“No, she was trash.”
Aidan regarded her with a mixture of sadness and pity, wondering how Cat came to be so different than Theo. “All Sage wanted was to be accepted, be your sister, but you never even gave her a chance.”
“Why should I? She’s not good enough to lick my Louboutins.”
“Who’s the snobby bitch now?”
Having reached the end of his patience he started walking away, shaking his head as she continued to hurl insults behind him. Running into the same bouncer again, he reached into his pocket to pull out some cash from his wallet. “Make sure she gets home alright.” Aidan handed him the bills.
“Don’t look like she’s very happy with you right now.”
“She never is.”
Sauntering out of the club, a part of him wondered if he should have argued further to make her see how small-minded she was being, but Cat was still that immature girl from high school, unwilling to look at things from any other perspective, and he realised challenging her would simply be a waste of his time. Besides, he had far more important things to do. Like paying Sage, and his daughter, a visit.
Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced without written consent from the author.
A/N – Thank you for reading and taking the time to share your thoughts. Whether it’s through comments here or via Facebook messages, I truly appreciate the wonderful support you guys have given me.