"I’m a lot more frightened of losing you than I am of facing my father again."
-There's Never Been So Much At Stake.-
Rian’s sweet laugh startled me. After all she’d been through, how could she just act so normal? It was as if this were normal for her. Sadly, it seemed that it was. How many times had her father beaten her?
I shuddered at the thought of what her answer to that question would be. I would never, ever ask it. I’d never intentionally ask anything that I knew would hurt Rian.
“What’s so funny?” I asked, standing.
She’d been looking at something on my shelf, while I watched her from behind. She didn’t seem to want to sit still and she flat out refused to allow me to look at the bruises that were forming on her body.
“I was just thinking of something.” Rian responded, shyly smiling.
“What would that something be?” I was now standing beside her.
I hated to see her like this but I couldn’t look away. Even with the bruises all across her skin, she was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen.
It had nothing to do with her actual physical appearance. It was how she carried herself. It was the way she smiled, in such an adorably careless way. She didn’t look around, nervously wondering if others were judging her. She was just her. Everything about her was beautiful.
I couldn’t help but smile. We’d only had the tiny kitten for a night and she was already completely in love with him. “You know what?”
“What?” Rian stared in to my eyes, waiting to hear what I had to say.
“I think little Jack might just cry if he knew you were laughing at him.” I joked.
Rian’s nose scrunched up and she shook her head vigorously, “I’m not laughing at him!” She immediately stated, “Just thinking of his cute antics makes me laugh.”
“That means you’re laughing at him.”
“You’re not being very nice for someone who is supposedly in love with me.” She shot back, trying to fight the smile that was creeping on to her face.
“You’re learning to play dirty.” I noted, grinning at her. “Fine, you win. You weren’t laughing at Jack; You were simply laughing for him.”
Slowly she nodded, “Exactly.”
We both smiled but the moment passed far too quickly, and our smiles faded.
We both knew we had to talk about it but neither of us wanted to. “So-“
“I’ll just go back.” Rian cut in, blushing. “I don’t want to cause problems for you.”
“I think you already know that I’m not going to let that happen.” I tried to keep my voice calm but with Rian things just weren’t that easy. I couldn’t turn my emotions off.
“You could get in to serious trouble.” Rian warned.
“Do you really think that I care?” I didn’t. Rian meant everything. I would fight for her, even if I had to fight dirty. That was something I was well experienced with.
“You might not care Gerard but I do.” Rian’s voice got stronger. The spark behind her eyes caught fire and all the reasons as to why I love her came to the surface.
“This isn’t really something that I’m willing to compromise over.” There was too much at stake. Rian looked like she was about to pass out. She wouldn’t be able to physically survive another beating, let alone mentally.
“I’m used to being beaten Gerard. I’ve gone through this my entire life.” I frowned at those statements, wondering just where she was going with them. “But I’ve never felt like this before.” Rian’s fingers reached my chest and she gently touched me. “I’m a lot more frightened of losing you than I am of facing my father again.”
My words escaped me and I simply stared at her, touched by the words she’d spoken. Once I regained the ability to speak I let the words clumsily fall out. “I’m going to kill your father.” The words sounded cruel once outside of my mouth.
Rian’s fingers fell away and she averted her eyes. “You can’t do that.” She quietly said, seeming to lose her fight.
“I don’t see another option.” Also, I really, really wanted to kill the bastard.
“I’m your other option Gerard.” Rian’s words stung a little.
“So, are you saying that if I kill your father that I will no longer have you in my life?” That’s what I was getting out of what she had said.
“I hate him.” Rian said, tears grazing her eyes. “I hate him so much but... I love him.”
“How could you love him?” That truly baffled me.
Rian looked away as heat filled her face, making her pale skin flush pink. “When I was five years old... I remember him reading me Cinderella.” I wasn’t entirely sure where her story was going. “He told me that no matter how evil people were to me... I would always rise above them, and all that took was the ability to find happiness within myself. I didn’t need them. I just couldn’t let their own pain get to me.”
“But... he was the one who was evil to you.” I didn’t understand what she was saying.
“He was.” She nodded. “But he wasn’t always like that.” So, people changed. It wasn’t always for the best. Her father was a horrible man now. What good would living do for him if with another confrontation she could possibly end up dead?
“He used to be a great dad.” The tears trickled down Rian’s face. “Something inside of him broke. He taught me to be strong. He’s the reason I lived through the years of abuse. He’s the reason I’m here, with you.”
I shook my head. “Your words don’t make any sense to me.” Rian frowned. “But I understand that you still love your dad and because of that... I won’t hurt him.”
Watching the smile reappear upon Rian’s face made my words seem worth it. Could I really refrain from murdering the man who’d caused the love of my life such pain? That, in itself, would be another test.