“Amber! What the hell?” Johnny gasped. I looked up he was standing there in just a towel, his body wet from getting out of the shower. I pushed myself away from the door and threw myself at him, hugging him tightly, ignoring the water dripping on me from his hair as I sobbed against his neck. “What’s wrong? Amber, for goodness sake! What’s happened?” he asked desperately as he rubbed his hands up my back trying to soothe me.
“I need to go home. I need to go, right now!” I cried. My legs were barely holding me up; he was supporting most of my weight. I was probably hurting him because of how tightly I was clutching at him, but he didn’t complain.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, pulling back to look at me.
“Johnny, please?” I choked out.
He nodded and pulled me over to the bed making me sit down. “I need to get dressed,” he said, blushing. I nodded and closed my eyes, trying to picture Liam, I needed to calm down, I couldn’t go into meltdown here. I could hear him moving around, getting dressed. Less than a minute later he took my hand. “I’m ready. Let’s go,” he stated, pulling me up gently. I clung to his hand tightly as he led me across the room to his door; he stopped with his hand on the handle. “You promise you’ll tell me what this is about later?” he asked, looking at me pleadingly. I nodded. I’d agree to anything he asked for if he would just get me the hell out of here. He wrapped his arm around me, pulling me close to his side as he opened the door, leading us quickly down the stairs. I stiffened as his mother walked out of the lounge. “Shit! What are you doing home?” he asked, shocked.
She smiled a little sadly. “Matt’s not well. He was sick last night and he’s been grizzly all day, so we just came home early,” she explained, holding her arms open for him. He stepped away from me and I felt my breath catch in my throat at being on my own. He hugged her quickly. “Missed you,” she cooed, patting his back.
He smiled and kissed her cheek. “You too. Look, Mom, I need to take Amber home, her brother needs her,” he lied, moving back to me quickly.
She smiled sadly. “Are you sure you can’t stay for dinner, Amber? Stephen would love to spend some time with you.”
Spend some time with me? Is she freaking kidding me? I shook my head. “I can’t,” I whispered.
My father walked around the corner and I shrank into Johnny’s side, pressing against him so hard that it actually hurt. His arm tightened around me even though he didn’t know why I was acting like this. He really was a great stepbrother.
“Hi, Stephen,” Johnny greeted, stiffly.
“Hi, Johnny. Getting cosy with my daughter?” Stephen asked, his voice hard making me flinch.
“I need to go,” I whispered desperately, digging my fingers into his side.
“I’ll see you guys later,” Johnny said, turning and pushing me in front of him putting himself between me and my father as we walked to the door. I practically ran to his car, watching the front door the whole time in case he came after me. I knew he wouldn’t though. He needed to keep up the act for his wife and Johnny, but that didn’t stop the panic from rising in my chest.
Johnny was watching me worriedly as he sped down the streets. “Are you alright, Amber? You look really pale, you’re shaking,” he said, taking my hand.
I nodded. “I want to go home,” I choked out.
“OK, shh I’ll take you home.” He rubbed his thumb over the back of my hand as he drove to my house. I squeezed my eyes shut. He really hadn’t changed at all; the way he looked at me turned my stomach. Oh God, I needed Liam!
After about ten minutes of trying to think of anything other than my father, we pulled into my drive. I burst out of the car and ran for the house, praying that Liam was still over. I threw the door open and spotted him sitting on the sofa playing PlayStation with Jake.
They both glanced up as I came in. Liam grinned at me happily before his face fell. He jumped up from the sofa as I ran to him. “What the hell?” he shouted angrily, glaring at Johnny who came in behind me. I threw myself at him, sobbing. Jeez, I needed him; he was the only thing that kept me sane when my world started to fall apart. He wrapped me tightly in his arms, turning me away from Johnny, his whole body tense and stressed.
“What the hell is going on?” Jake shouted, stepping towards Johnny, looking really angry.
“I don’t know. I was getting changed then she just freaked out and started crying. Jake, I didn’t do anything!” Johnny cried sounding a little scared.
Jake grabbed my arm, pulling me away from Liam. “Has he hurt you, Amber?” he asked fiercely, pointing at Johnny accusingly.
I shook my head, trying to speak. They thought Johnny had hurt me? “I went to his house. He wasn’t supposed to be there,” I sobbed, my legs gave out from under me. Liam grabbed my waist before I slumped to the floor and picked me up quickly, he sat down, pulling me onto his lap, rubbing my hair away from my face and kissing my cheek.
“Shh it’s alright, Angel. Everything’s OK,” he cooed.
“Who wasn’t supposed to be there? Someone needs to tell me what the hell happened, RIGHT NOW!” Jake shouted getting angrier and angrier.
“Dad,” I croaked.
Jakes eyes went wide his hands clenched into fists, his jaw clamped tight. I felt Liam’s arms get tighter around me. “You saw him?” Jake asked, his voice sounding truly menacing. I nodded and watched him glare at Johnny again as if this was somehow is fault. “You took her to your house and let that as**ole near her?” Jake growled, making Johnny flinch.
“I didn’t know he was there! He wasn’t supposed to be there. They came home early while I was in the shower,” he protested, holding his hands up innocently as Jake looked like he wanted to murder him there and then. If looks could kill Johnny would be dead right now.
“What did he do, Angel?” Liam whispered, pulling my face around to look at him. I shook my head. Could I tell them? If they found out I had no doubt that they would be going round there in the very, very near future, and then they’d get in trouble. “Tell me,” Liam ordered.
I hugged him tightly, I couldn’t lie to him. “He….he grabbed my arm. He said I… I looked beautiful, just like my mom at my age, and that I was a f…fucking p…peach,” I whispered, barely able to get the words out, my voice hitching and catching through my sobs. Liam’s arms tightened around me, so tight that it was actually starting to hurt my ribs. “Liam, you’re hurting me,” I whined, gripping my hands into his hair. His arms loosed instantly but his whole body was so tense that he was probably giving himself an ulcer.
Jake grabbed his keys off of the side. “I’m going. You coming, Liam?” Jake asked, heading for the door. Oh hell no! I couldn’t let them get in trouble!
Liam lifted me off of his lap and sat me on the sofa. “Watch her,” he said to Johnny sternly, as he stood up to leave.
“No!” I screamed, grabbing Liam’s hand. “Jake, no!” I begged.
“I won’t let him hurt you again,” Jake growled.
“He won’t. He won’t come near me. It was my fault; I shouldn’t have gone to Johnny’s. I shouldn’t have taken the risk. Please, please don’t. I can’t see you get in trouble. I need you. I need both of you. Please don’t leave me on my own,” I begged. I squeezed Liam’s hand for emphasis. “Please,” I begged pulling him closer to me again.
He sighed and looked at Jake. “She’s right, Jake. We can’t go without him doing anything first. He’ll just get away with everything, and we’ll be the ones in trouble,” Liam reasoned.
I relaxed. Liam was seeing sense; he always thought things through, not like Jake. “What do you mean by, hurt her again?” Johnny asked quietly.
All three of us looked at him. Jake spoke first. “Nothing. I think you should go, Johnny.” He nodded at the door, signalling for him to leave.
Johnny shook his head. “No. Amber, you promised you’d tell me what this was about,” he stated, looking at me pleadingly.
He’s right, I did say that. Jake looked at me, letting me make the decision. “I did say that,” I confirmed, nodding and closing my eyes, pressing myself to Liam again. Jeez, this was going to be so damn hard!
~ Liam ~
I pulled her back onto my lap, wanting her close to me. My heart still hadn’t returned to normal from seeing her sobbing like that. I was so angry that my jaw was aching where I was clenching my teeth together so tightly, trying to stay in control. I wanted to go around there and beat him until there was nothing left of him, but she was right, we’d be the ones getting in trouble then and she didn’t need any more stress right now.
Jake motioned for Johnny to sit on the couch opposite us, and he sat down next to him. Both of them looked stressed. Amber curled herself up into a ball on my lap, pulling her knees up and tucking her face into the side of my neck. I rocked her gently as I listened to Jake telling Johnny about the abuse when they were kids, how their father had tried to attack Amber, and how we’d kicked him out three years ago. He left out the sexual abuse that no one really knew very much about because she refused to talk about it. The whole time Johnny just sat there, playing with his hands. Why didn’t he look shocked at all of this? If someone sat there and told me that their father had abused them for years, I think I’d at least be a little shocked, wouldn’t I?
After about ten minutes I glanced down at Amber to see she was asleep in my arms. She looked so sad and vulnerable; her face was still red from crying. I’d never let anything hurt her again. I waved to Jake to get his attention. “I’m going to put her to bed,” I whispered, standing up and trying to keep her still as I carried her to her room, laying her on her bed. She whimpered and snuggled closer to me, so I laid down with her for a couple of minutes until she was back in a deep sleep. I kissed her forehead and went back to the lounge