Miss Perfect and Her Brothers (Part I&II)

Part II: Chapter: 41

 "Hi, baby."

I furrowed my brows at the sound of that warm voice that had been my backbone for by far the majority of my sixteen years of life. Deep down I knew that, although it had an immediate soothing effect on me, I shouldn't have heard it.

And that was because it belonged to my long-dead mother. When I realized this, I quickly opened my eyes. I was lying on my back, covered up to my chin with a thick quilt, which was like a cover and a prison at the same time, because I felt that for some reason I was not able to move even my little finger. I completely lost control over my body. I could only lie and stare as if in a vegetative state.

The only reason I hadn't had a proper panic attack yet was the presence of my longing parent, who was sitting on the edge of my bed, staring at me with an exasperated expression. Only a small wrinkle between her eyebrows betrayed that she was worried.

"Mom," I sighed softly, eagerly absorbing her figure.

A storm of red curls was pinned up at the back, probably with a buckle, the way she liked it. Her glazed eyes gazed at me with unabashed maternal love, and her pale pink lips stretched in a gentle smile. On her ears she wore her beloved emerald earrings, whose small stones dangled just below her earlobes. She was dressed in a tight brown turtleneck, which I also remembered well was one of the favorites in her closet. The woman even smelled like my mother, because, apart from the delicate, floral scent of perfume, there was also the pleasant scent of fruit tea around her, probably the kind with raspberries.

"You're cold," she said, and the worry on her face slowly began to outweigh the tenderness.

I shook my head. First of all, I was almost too warm and I was suffocating a little wrapped up in this quilt like a cocoon, and secondly, this was not what I wanted to talk about with someone very close to me, whom I had lost and now suddenly out of nowhere I had regained.

"Yes, Hailie, you need to warm up," she insisted.

"I'm fine," I replied impatiently. "Mom, what's going on, what are you doing here?"

I wanted to raise my hand and touch her to find out that this person is actually my mother in flesh and blood, but my limbs were like those of a rag doll, useless.

Instead, she raised her hand and stroked my cheek. For some reason I expected the touch to be cool, but on the contrary, I would say that it almost burned me.

"My Hailie," she muttered under her breath in a soft, monotone tone.

"Where are we?" I asked, but at the same time I looked around myself and immediately knew the answer.

A small room with a two-door oak closet was nothing compared to my current walk-in closet. A simple, tidy desk stood perfectly under the window where the purple blinds were now drawn. A lamp with a tissue paper shade standing in the corner gave off a soft, yellowish light. It made the room feel semi-dark. It was enough for me to cast a confused look at my mother.

"My bedroom," I whispered to myself and a little to her too.

She nodded.

"Why? How?"

This time she shrugged her shoulders.

"I think it's your brain's defense mechanism," she confessed and again lightly stroked my hair, not my cheek, this time.

"Defense against what?"

There were more wrinkles on her forehead.

"Hailie, you should warm up," she said, this time more emphatically.

"I'm warm," I dismissed her impatiently and tried to move again. I wanted to touch her, to hug her. But my body still didn't listen to me, so I just sighed with frustration. "Tell me what's going on."

The woman smiled at me gently.

"There's a lot going on, baby, so you have to act. You can do it. I know you can. You're incredibly strong. And so good." She shook her head in awe, and her gaze almost hypnotized me. "Amazing. I couldn't be more proud of you."

"I am not strong," I protested automatically, and then I added, as if unconsciously: "I'm dying."

Mom's red curls flared as she shook her head vigorously.

"No. Today you are a little closer to death, yes, but there is no question of dying. Can you hear me? You just need to warm up. And wake up."

"Then you'll be gone, right?" I asked, though I guessed the answer. "I don't want to. Mom, I don't want you to disappear."

She sighed heavily and closed her eyelids. There was nothing on her face now but suffering. I stared at her expectantly for her to let me finally disentangle myself from this quilt and cuddle me. Maybe we could make some tea, talk. Make up for lost time. Explain some things. Oh, we had so much to explain!

"Some other time, Hailie. Some other time, not now. There is no time now," she began, and as she said this, she finally opened her eyes again. They had changed. They were firmer, her gaze hardened and became less forgiving. Her tone was not steady either. She spoke louder and louder, almost shouting at the end. "Now open your eyes and get warm. You have to fight, open your eyes. Hailie, come on, open them, now! Open-..."
I opened them.

I opened them.

I took a deep, rapid breath in and immediately let the air out, my chest vibrating like moved strings of a harp. I blinked. Mom was gone. My room, too. I felt like crying because I felt like I wouldn't see her again so soon. And I wanted to hug her so much.

But before the tears had time to accumulate in the corners of my eyes in sufficient quantity to run down my cheeks with grief, something distracted me from my desire to give in to this inexorable despair. For I realized what a strange position I had just found myself in, and for a moment I thought about what it was all about.

A white haze was now forming just in front of my face and slowly fading. With each exhalation I made, it renewed itself and it took me several long seconds to solve the mystery of its existence. My mouth was centimeters away from the glass, on which the warm steam condensed every time I breathed out.

Well, I guess that's good evidence that I'm alive. I am breathing.

My next conundrum was how on earth that glass had gotten so close. I furrowed my eyebrows a moment, still unable to move. I did all my inspection by just moving my knobs and I really didn't like what I saw.
For one thing, it was dark. What I was able to determine was that I was apparently lying (on my stomach this time) on the dashboard, so that my head and torso were pressed between it and the windshield. I think my forehead was pressed against the glass, and the view of a dark forest stretched out before me. The sky had managed to turn an ink color. The twisted figures of trees were haunting in the darkness. I was only able to see something thanks to the white snow, which covered the mulch quite abundantly and slightly brightened the blackness prevailing around.

About that time, a tape of memories of the events before my loss of consciousness rewound in my head like a movie. Ryder picked me up from school, right before my exams. He abducted me in a car. He was drugged. We struggled. I shot him. I left him on the road. I drove off. I got into a skid.

"Oh fuck," I whispered in a thin voice.

My throat seemed swollen as if it had been stung by a wasp. I tried to grunt, which resulted in a nauseating coughing fit.
My eyes grew moist with the effort it took me to calm down. As I did so, I pushed my forehead away from the glass, which was met with an unpleasant sensation of detachment, as if someone had stuck it there with glue. I hissed quietly and automatically raised my hand to apply it to the sore spot, but only inadvertently banged it against the windshield. Goddamn cramped space.

"You have to move. Hailie," I growled to myself. "Come on."

My voice was still reassuring, especially now that it was so dark and deafening around me.

I experienced a mini heart attack when I couldn't get my legs to work for a long while. I already thought I had lost feeling in them, but then I began to panically kick them and swing them in all directions. I got a few new bruises (which were insignificant compared to how many I already had) and made a lot of noise, but at least I could finally move them, so I was quickly relieved. 

At a turtle's pace and gasping like I was a hundred and twenty years old, I lifted myself up and gently slid off the board. At some point my leg came off and I bumped my hip against something, but like I said, I was so battered that I just clenched my jaw tighter and continued picking myself up.
Absolutely every single bone in my body was stiffened to the point that I wouldn't be surprised if they suddenly started to creak and crackle with any movement. My muscles, meanwhile, had lost their elasticity and were reluctant to listen to the commands sent from my brain, also actively protesting at even the slightest of my efforts.

When I finally took back the driver's seat and gained more space and better conditions to look around, the first thing my eyes fell on was the watch on the dashboard. It indicated the late evening hour. Ryder had kidnapped me up before noon, so I had to be there for a bit.

For some reason, the lights (neither front nor back) weren't on, though at first glance, the hood wasn't too badly damaged. I suspected it might be the fault of an outdated battery that couldn't handle so many hours on the go. And that's where my speculation ended, because with my limited automotive understanding, I couldn't come up with any particular explanation. Not that it's the most important thing right now.
So the front end looked not too bad and I already thought that it was nothing at all, this whole accident. I even tried to turn the keys, still persistent in the ignition. Of course, the car didn't even snort. That's when I turned around and gasped for air. In the place where the back seats were, a huge tree branch was stuck. It was as if the car, while slaloming, had impaled itself on it like a damn meat on a skewer.

I blocked my mouth with the palm of my hand. Jesus Mary, if someone had occupied the back seat, they would have been dead. How did this even happen?

On top of that, the damage to that part of the car was so extensive that the vehicle was definitely losing its function of a shelter. There was a hole there, through which any heat that that car had been able to hold within it while it was still an enclosed space, that is, before the accident, had certainly already escaped. It had even dumped some snow through it. And I was still surprised that of all the inconveniences and aches and pains I had suffered, feeling cold was not one of them.
Then I remembered my mom's words that I needed to warm up.

"But I am warm after all," I muttered to myself, blowing the steam in front of my nose.

And then my gaze fell on my terribly reddened hands. And my eyes went out of their orbits. I lifted them up. My fingers were trembling. I could hardly feel them. I looked at them carefully from all sides. They were almost bruised. Compared to them, Granny Blanche's hands were as smooth as a young woman's. Then I realized that mom was right. I really need to warm up.

With the same stiff fingers, I reached for the rearview mirror. I adjusted it to see my face in it and immediately regretted it. I don't think I've ever looked this bad before. Even in the prevailing darkness, I couldn't look at myself.

I ignored my cherry-red cheeks and almost bruised nose, both effects caused by the cold. I also ignored the bruise on my jaw where Ryder had kicked me with his shoe. What bothered me most was the wound on my forehead, from which blood must have oozed for quite a long time, because (even though it had long since clotted), it flooded the entire left side of my face. From my temple to my neck and shoulder, where it soaked into the fabric of my jacket and the collar of my shirt.
"What the hell," I muttered, watching my injured forehead in the mirror. I wanted to touch it, but I gave up. Instead, I turned my gaze to the windshield, which was indeed also covered with blood where I must have smashed my own skull against it. I only just noticed it.

No, no. I have to get out of here and as soon as possible. I can't stay in this car another minute.

I combed my hair with my fingers to cover my forehead with bangs and to hide my face as much as possible. If someone sees me now, they will run away from me with a scream. I also looked around for possible items to take with me and which I could use.

The first thing I thought of, like a professional killer, was a gun. After a moment of consternation I discovered it wedged somewhere under the pedals. I immediately retrieved it from there, carefully secured it and hid it in the inside of my jacket. A trick I had seen at Ryder's. I have to admit, it really fit in there like a glove. It was as if the kids had these pockets sewn into their uniforms on purpose, so that they would have somewhere to store their weapons in case of emergency.
Speaking of the devil. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Ryder's jacket, which the guy had thrown into the back seat as soon as we drove off the school grounds. Well, a puffer jacket it isn't, but I wasn't in a position suitable for fussing, so, gasping with exertion, I reached out for the garment. I tugged at the hem of the material, but it caught on something and wouldn't let go. Since there was a massive tree root stuck in the back of the car and it was apparently blocking me from getting my hands on the precious thing, I finally gave up. I didn't have time to play tug-of-war. Instead, I was reminded that there should still be a fleece blanket under the passenger seat. And I was right, because it lay there politely, and I, for lack of better options, reached for it, automatically wrinkling my nose, even though, after all, no stench should be a real inconvenience to me at this point.

Rolling the blanket in my ossified hands, I took a quick look around the car. In fact, I had a faint hope of spotting a cell phone, or maybe even a laptop with, I don't know, a portable Internet connection plugged into the USB port. How many opportunities I would have then to contact my brothers!
"Get a grip on yourself," I reprimanded myself out loud with a really sincere dislike for my own brain, which right now was sending me such unlikely visions. "You better focus."

I wanted to get out of here, but at the same time I was afraid of the lonely trip ahead of me, so before opening the door I sat for a while and gloomily stared at the windscreen. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking out for wolves.

And what about bears? The Pennsylvanian woods were full of them.

I would have trembled if my body hadn't been frozen.

"Calm down," I admonished myself. "You're a crazy idiot!"

I became even more of an idiot when I felt remorse for having spoken so badly to myself.

"Okay, I'm sorry," I muttered after a moment. "You're not a crazy idiot. Just try to pull yourself together, huh? Just a little bit."

Finally, I got up the courage and, having wrapped myself up tightly in my jacket, I went outside. I expected that I would have to struggle with opening the door, but it opened without any problem. This car was definitely scrapworthy at best.
The snow crunched as I took my first tentative steps on it. My legs were trembling and apparently they did not expect that I would make them walk, because they almost immediately bent under me so that I had to lean on the car to avoid falling.

I sighed. Having such a clumsy body was extremely annoying.

My next move (as soon as I was able to stand on both feet) was to pull up my skirt, which would have come down to my ankles. Then I threw the blanket over myself, which I was holding half under my arm. I spread it out and hastily covered my back with it. I didn't think it would warm me up even a little bit, but it was always an extra cover that could at least buy me a few more minutes of life.

I shivered. Out of terror, not cold.

I held the blanket with my palms fused together from the inside and pulled it up to my nose to protect most of my face as well. Thus camouflaged, I finally began to look around for the direction I should go. I planned to go back to the road and along it to the town, hoping that some car would pass me earlier. Maybe with some nice family? Preferably one with small children. They would surely help me.
Unfortunately, I needed a long moment to assess my position. All traces of the accident were skilfully covered by snow, as if it was teasing me, and therefore my task was difficult, but finally, after straining my eyes and grey matter, I figured out where to go.

I moved slowly, croaking as my socks quickly began to get wet. Great, that's exactly what I need now. I felt so bad, so sick. What I would give to be in the Monet mansion right now. I would sit on the couch, curl my legs up, lean back against the soft cushion, turn on the TV show, and Eugenie would bring me warm cocoa.

My mouth curved into a pout as I thought about the trivial things I wasn't exactly used to appreciating, and for which I would now give my life.

At some point I tripped over something (probably a root, though through the layer of white fluff I couldn't be one hundred percent sure) and toppled over. I groaned loudly and pitifully as I bruised my knees. I propped myself up on the ground with my hands and all my meager attempts to warm them up under a blanket, now that they had fallen back into the snow and froze again, went for nothing.
"Why is no one saving me!" I wailed to myself, hungry, tired, and a little cold, as I was beginning to feel the cold.

I didn't care how melodramatic and embarrassing I sounded. I just couldn't do it anymore. I didn't have the strength. I wasn't a brave bad girl. No warrior, so if someone expected me to start a fire, hunt a deer, and jump on trees right now, I would laugh in that person's face. And then I would punch them and yell something like "go ahead!" and tell them to stand in my shoes and show me what how they would deal with my situation. That's what I would do, and then...

Something rustled.

I quickly stopped my absurd thoughts to focus on this unwelcome sound. I immediately looked around, but I saw nothing suspicious. Just trees, darkness and shit.

"Watch your mouth," I hissed to myself, like Vincent, disappointed with the choice of my own vocabulary.

I think I was losing my mind. I have to move, I have to save myself before I go completely insane.

I got up on my feet, shrugged off the snow vaguely, wrapped the blanket around me again and moved forward, a little faster this time. Fear gave energy to my ossified limbs.
Finally I reached the road. It was not so far, on the contrary, but because of the snow, and also my clumsiness and weakness, it took me a while to cover even such a small distance.

Unfortunately, the roadway was just as empty as last time. Even there were not many visible tire tracks, which meant that I had little chance to meet a living soul here. And I was not wrong. Slowly, I moved along the road in the direction where I remembered I should reach the city. I was wading in the snow up to my ankles and every now and then I would turn around hoping to see some car coming. Well, hope is the mother of fools.

I don't know how long I walked like that. I was very happy when the road I had left joined another one, which should have been more frequented in principle, but in practice turned out to be just as disappointingly empty. Only one car passed me on it, and before I had time to get excited, wave and shout something, it ignored me in flawless style.

I stared at the lights in the distance, disappointed by such insensitivity. If I were the driver, I would have stopped for sure... I do not know, maybe they didn't notice me...
Finally, infinity of time later, I saw the first buildings. They didn't look like houses inhabited by warm and helpful families, unfortunately. It must have been a more industrial part of town. I consoled myself, however, that I would surely meet someone here soon. I must.

And I did.

The first building I passed was a store, Dollar Tree perhaps, whose green signboard was the first to herald signs of civilization. Of course, at this time of the day, it was already closed and the small parking lot below was empty, but I didn't break down. Especially when I saw some car darting somewhere in the distance. I waited until I reached the smaller streets, because for now I was walking only along the main one, around which this whole sleepy town was built.

Behind a store a large hall emerged, so large that it could fit two planes. Behind it, on the other hand, stretched some gloomy garages. It was there that I got into trouble again.

I wasn't going to stray from the main road yet at all, especially not into the tangle of garages that I associated with all those movies where murderers liked to hide their victims' bodies in such storages.
Besides, there was finally a sidewalk. I got happy about it like a little child, because even though the traffic on the road was zero, I felt a little bit safer.

I pulled the blanket tighter around me and looked around carefully for even the slightest movement. To my left was some kind of car repair shop, and then the trees were growing again. I stared at them, and at that moment, to my right, where those aforementioned garages were located, someone stared at me.

"Someone's walking over there," a man who was standing by one of the tin garages burbled, very close to the road I was walking on. As soon as his hoarse voice cut through the silence, I turned my head in his direction. I didn't notice him right away, because he was hidden and dressed in black, but now he leaned out, looked at me, and held a glowing cigarette in his hand.

"Who?" the other one asked and he also leaned out.

Great, that's what I'm needing right now, really. The momentary euphoria caused by the presence of living creatures evaporated like water as soon as I noticed that they were big guys who did not inspire any confidence.
I accelerated my step. Right next to me, there were some shabby buildings, which, to my disappointment, also left a lot to be desired in terms of safety.

"Hey, who are you?" the first guy growled unfriendly, which urged me to go even faster. It only irritated him. "Hey, I'm talking to you!"

"Leave it, it's a rumdum."

"You're a fucking rumdum, it's a woman."

"Well, a fucking woman-rumdum, leave her alone."

"Ey!" another, third voice cried a bit louder. "What's wrong with you? What are you ladies chirping about? There's work to be done."

"Jj's an idiot and he's staring at homeless people."

"Who's homeless?" the newcomer growled and he too leaned out to look at me.

God, Hailie, go faster.

"Hey, you, come here."

I didn't react.

"Are you deaf?"

Yeah, I'm deaf, back off.

Just leave me alone, please leave me alone.

Then a long and rich in juicy curses calls reached our ears. I could hear it getting louder and louder, which meant that its author lost his patience and started walking towards me. I turned my head gently to make sure, and when I saw that big gorilla guy stalking towards me, I finally started to panic and just openly ran away.
The blanket fell to the sidewalk, but I didn't care. I spurred my disobedient body to run, and to my surprise, it finally began to take me seriously. My heart beat harder. It hoped that somewhere in the depths of my frozen body, my old agility was still there. I didn't have time to be happy yet, however, and I felt foreign fingers tighten on the back of my uniform.

There was a jerk and gravity pulled me backwards. Then I felt someone's arms wrap around me like nasty vipers.

"Let go!" I squealed and struggled for a while until I finally figured out that it didn't make any sense and calmed down a bit.

"She's a teenager," one of the men snorted dismissively, but not the one holding me. It turned out to be one of his friends, with a very young face, but one that already had the makings of a hoodlum. He approached us and now it looked like I was standing tied up by a stranger, large man, and the other one, the young one, stopped in front of me and squinted his eyes to look at my face.
I shook my head to cover it with my hair, just a little out of sheer spite.

"A teenager?"

"Some kid."

"Stop struggling," the man who was holding me growled.

I jerked even harder.

"Really, and not just any kid. Look at what she's wearing. She goes to Saint Mitchell's." The guy across from me looked me over from head to toe. "She's a rich kid."

"Why are you wandering around here alone?" the man holding me asked, as if he was my parent and wanted to reprimand me and then ban me from going out.

"Let me go." I only hissed and I hated my voice for sounding so weak and hoarse. I spoke exactly as I looked, which was terrible.

"You, she has blood on her face," the younger dude noticed and came a little closer to have a look.


"She's all in general kind of bruised," he continued his examination, and as I looked to the side to avoid his gaze.

"Christ, what happened to you, girl?"

I remained silent. This isn't the kind of rescue I was looking for, but I was just considering if I asked these guys to let me make a call, would they laugh at me. They didn't inspire my confidence, but I also couldn't say one hundred percent that they were bad thugs. I mean, thugs maybe, but....
I tried using my self-defense skills once more that day, but I was too weakened to surprise my restraining opponent. He quickly held the elbow I was going to hit him with and sighed in exasperation.

"Come on, stop struggling, you savage. Let me help you."

I was so desperate to be rescued that I actually calmed down at his words. I breathed heavily, but I did not struggle anymore, and the guy, seeing this, loosened his grip a little, and then took his hand away from me so that the only thing that stopped me from running away was his other hand, which was still clamped on my elbow.

"What happened to you?" he asked me, satisfied that I had stopped tossing.

I didn't answer him, and just glared at him suspiciously. I didn't want to speak because I sounded too pathetic, and besides, I'm not going to tell a stranger about my messed up experiences.

"She probably ran away from home," the other man suggested.

"Did you run away from home?"

I shook my head.

"She must have run away from home. These rich families are often a pathology of the worst kind."
"I did not run away!" I hissed furiously.

"Then who did this to you?"

The drugged brother of my school friend.

Again I didn't speak.

The guy who was holding my elbow sighed and ran his free hand over his face.

"Okay, we don't have time for this."

"Let her go, just let her go."

"What, alone, in the dark?" The gorilla guy looked at me. "Do you want me to give you a lift somewhere?"

Did I want to get in the car with this stranger?

"Are you kidding? We've got work to do, and you're going to go for a ride now?"

"What are we supposed to do? You got a better idea?"

"No, I'm sorry, but I don't know what to normally do with troubled teenagers."

"I'll tell you what to normally do with them. Normally you call the cops which is a no-go in our case. The last thing we need here is snooping rollers.

"I may call" I finally spoke up, attracting the attention of my companions. I grunted quietly and repeated the same words to make my statement a question: "May I call?"

Gorilla guy looked at me, as if surprised, then turned to his friend.
"Ah, see? She doesn't even have her phone with her. No teenage girl would run away from home without a phone."

"Okay, fine." The young man waved his hand. "Let her call and get lost."

My eyes lit up as the gorilla guy took his cell phone out of his pants pocket. Before he made a move to hand it to me, he threatened me with his finger.

"You're calling your parents, right?"

I looked into his eyes and only saw that they were quite normal, not the way I had imagined them to be at first, that is, filled with evil, envy, or corruption.

"My brother," I answered quietly.

The man nodded, but in a second he furrowed his brow for a moment more.

"He's not the police, is he?"

By no means.

Before I had time to answer out loud, another person approached us, drawing our attention. Of course, for how else, it was another man. First he called out something, and then he came closer.

"What are you, on vacation?" he asked. His voice was deeper and calmer than the others. Worst of all, it was strangely familiar to me, so I tensed slightly, trying to identify him quickly.
"No, well, some kid came across here, so...."

The newly arrived bald man immediately shifted his gaze to me, and then he recognized me, because he opened his eyes a little wider.

"Hailie Monet."

I tried to keep a neutral expression on my face as I realized that the dude standing next to us now was my former bodyguard. The exact one who had been fired because he hadn't watched over me when I snuck out of Mona's apartment to Mrs. Hardy's bakery to help Leo.


"You didn't just catch some kid, you caught the Monet's sister.

Everyone was staring at me now with a new look of surprise on their faces.

"Are you Hailie Monet?" the man who had grabbed me repeated in disbelief, and I watched in disappointment as he discreetly slipped his cell phone back into his pocket. I didn't answer, so he turned to the newcomer: "Are you sure it's her?"

The man threw him an annoyed look.

"I think I'm capable of recognizing someone around whom my work used to be revolving, no?" - My former bodyguard squinted and nodded at me. "What happened to you?"
"Nothing," I burbled through my teeth, unnerved by his presence. The last thing I needed right now was to interact with my former bodyguard, whose attitude towards me was completely unknown to me at this point.

The bald dude shook his head to himself, as if he didn't feel like interviewing me.

"Okay, take her inside. And let the boss know."

"Come on, girl," the gorilla dude caught me again and pulled me along.

I tried to resist (with poor results) and cried out desperately:

"No, you were supposed to let me make a call!"

The guy stepped back and bent down so as to look straight into my face. A rather benevolent expression covered his face with determination.

"Look, I'm sorry, I really am, but things have gotten complicated. You have to come with us." With these words he turned around and did not pay any more attention to my protests, he just ruthlessly dragged me behind him. As you can guess, my attempts to free myself had no effect.

"Let go! Let go!" I cried out, and then I looked at the back of my former bodyguard's bald head and addressed him rather venomously: "You! You worked for my brothers, you must not..."
"I worked and I don't work anymore," he exclaimed, raising his hand only for me to be silent, though he turned around in a moment, throwing me an amused look: "You have no luck with your bodyguards, huh?"

And he turned back.

Then there was nothing left for me but a last resort.

"HELP!" I shouted as loudly and squeakily as I could and it seemed to me that all three men winced in exasperation. I got an annoyed look from each of them, and the one who had pulled me along now grabbed me in such a way as to block my mouth.

We stood between a row of garages, one of which, the one closest to the road we were walking, was open. Inside, among what appeared to be junk, several people were loitering, and out of the corner of my eye I noticed that some were giving us interested glances. Right next to it there was a building, very shabby, with an equally shabby open door, which looked like a side entrance to some den. I wasn't so wrong at all, because that's where the gorilla men then started dragging me, after a brief exchange of words with my ex bodyguard.
I was so tired that I would have fallen asleep standing up if only the conditions allowed me to do so. Everything hurt me, and on top of that I lacked reflexes, so I suspect that in such a state I would not be able to free myself even from Mona's friendly embrace, let alone from mitts with biceps bigger than my waist.

This is why I was ushered into the bar with such ease. First I had to go a few stairs down, making the decor of the room basement-like and just as claustrophobic, thanks to the lack of any windows. It was not a large room, very dingy and certainly not the kind of room normal people come to for a drink. The dark green walls were ugly, with grey plaster showing through in many places, the ceiling was cracked and bare pipes were tangled underneath. There were only a few tables, and only one of them was occupied by some guy who was sipping a beer, smoking a cigarette and reading a newspaper. He gave me a brief glance and then went back to reading, as if he assumed that the less he knew, the better he would sleep.
Of course, as in every pub, even the most run-down one, there was a bar. By the bar there was sitting another guy, who was drinking some drink. He became more interested in me. He was very old, with an unfashionable beret covering his grey hair, and he was staring at me in the most shameless way, exactly the way only old, experienced people can. Behind the wooden, plucked bar was a large bartender, but this time it wasn't muscles that built his powerful physique, but rather mass. He had shoulder-length, greasy hair and a pudgy face without a trace of stubble. He looked a bit like a big kid and didn't really fit into this suspicious environment.

"Go straight," the gorilla guy instructed me, finally taking his hand from my mouth. Now it was not worth to even bother and shout and we both knew it. These people here didn't look like they were going to come to my rescue. "Do you hear me? To that door. That's the bathroom. Watch out, it's pretty filthy. Wash your face in there and so on. What are you looking at, at least wash the blood off, right?" He opened the door for me, painted with mint-colored paint, and I hesitantly went inside, immediately looking for possible options to escape, which the gorilla guy immediately understood, because he threw behind me: "Forget it, there aren't even any windows in there."
Indeed, there were no windows, not even small ones, just near the ceiling. There was only a dirty grate, but even if I was a great secret agent, for whom rolling around in the ventilation system is something normal, I wouldn't fit in there anyway.

The room consisted of a tiny sink, an aged hand dryer that hung on a wall covered with old gray tiles that were broken and scarred in probably every possible place, and a small, cracked mirror. Next to it was an equally cramped cubicle, as I soon discovered, in which (surprisingly) there was no shortage of toilet paper, but one that was gray and had a particularly unpleasant, rough texture. When I decided to use a toilet, I generously draped it over a toilet seat full of bacteria visible almost to the naked eye.

I barely managed to sit down. I was so sore. The effects of my tug-of-war with Ryder and the accident itself were getting to me more and more. What's more, in a room even as uncomfortable as this one, I was beginning to warm up a bit. It was always warmer here than in the freezing cold outside. Slowly, I could feel my fingers and toes, as well as my cheeks and nose, starting to go numb. I wasn't entirely sure if this was a good sign.
I didn't realize how full my bladder was until I started emptying it. I sat on the toilet, first rubbing my frozen thighs, then sighing and staring at the door that was right in front of my nose in such a small space.

An ugly, dark gray door on which someone had painted some creative blasphemies in barely visible black marker. I stared at them, wondering what would happen to me now.

And I almost had a phone in my hand. Another moment and I could have called Vincent. Then it would be downhill from there. How unlucky that my former bodyguard came across me. Terribly unlucky.

I flushed and went out to wash my hands. Then I finally dared to look in the mirror. And unfortunately, I looked ugly. My hair was frizzy, my face kept taking on new and strange colors – from violets and purples to pinks and strong reds. My eyes were dim and very tired. My bangs was thinning. I ran a stream of water from the tap that was sadly icy cold and, gritting my teeth, began to rinse my face with it, concentrating especially on getting rid of the traces of blood.
It was a bit of a struggle, because my skin was as sensitive as ever. The slightest touch made me let out a quiet groan. Eventually I managed to get to a state where I looked like an unattractive teenager who hadn't been sleeping for a few nights and forgotten about the existence of the shower, but at least I stopped scaring people with my blood smeared on my forehead and temple.

Before I even went out to the gorilla guy, I just patted the left side of my uniform, and when I sensed the gun hidden there, I felt more confident.

"Wait there," the man instructed me, pointing at a corner sofa, one that could easily seat a large group of friends. It also did not escape my attention that this was the table furthest from the entrance. "Sit down, okay?"

Before I reluctantly obeyed him, I looked around longingly for options to escape, which he immediately noticed.

"Ah, ah, ah. Don't try anything," he admonished me with a serious look on his face, then waited until I obediently took the seat indicated to me and left.
This was one of those moments in my life where the uncomfortableness of the situation could literally eat me up. I was sitting behind a wooden table with a sticky top on a wooden couch with imitation leather, black upholstery that had holes in it in places, through which a light sponge was leaking out from inside. I was wearing a school uniform that must have looked comical in such a place. No wonder that both the strange bartender and the old man sitting at the bar kept glancing at me and sometimes even whispered something to each other. If it wasn't for the fact that the men who dragged me here were standing at the entrance, I would just get up and try to get out of here. I mean, I couldn't see them all, but every now and then the gorilla dude's head would appear in the passage and he would glance straight at me, checking if I was where he had left me.

I wrapped my arms around myself, because just because it was a bit warmer here, didn't mean that I stopped being cold, and somehow it turned out that sitting in this substitute for a bar, I felt the cold even more acutely than in a broken-down car in the woods.
What if I take out my gun now and start threatening them all here?

That couldn't end well.

I tilted my head back, looked up at the cobwebbed pipes, looked sideways at the uneven walls, looked down at my feet, at the dirty floor, where, in addition to a layer of mud, there were also treasures such as cigarette butts. Again and again I sighed quietly. I tried to avoid the bartender's gaze. I had a feeling that he would come right up to me and do something terrible.

Surprisingly, it wasn't long before I began to slowly drift away. I sat like this, pressed into the corner of the sofa, curled up my legs and leaned my head back, every now and then closing my eyes and forcing myself to open them again. Each time, this second action went harder and harder for me.

I want to go home.

It is very likely that I would have shouted those words at the top of my lungs if it wasn't for the fact that my strength was draining as fast as the air from the cracked mattress. Not surprisingly, at some point I actually started to almost fall asleep. I didn't want that. Not in this place, not among these people...
"Wake up, Hailie Monet."

My neck jerked as my head settled from the backrest. I woke up abruptly and blinked my eyelids. I was still sitting in the same place, in the same pub. My eyes were kind of puffy, and therefore still tired. I must have been napping for about twenty minutes at most. Oh, silly Hailie, how could you have fallen asleep here!

It wasn't until I rubbed my eyelids and stopped a yawn that I remembered that someone had said my name a second ago. I looked confused in front of me, not really ready for another dose of effort, even just mental effort.

And it was about to come, because in front of the table I was sitting at, stood a smartly dressed man in whom I immediately recognized Adrien Santan, my brothers' partner.

He looked straight at me and did not shed the sharpness that I remembered always shining discreetly in his light brown irises. A slight smile was also painted on his face. His hair was a bit tousled, probably by the wind, but apart from that he looked perfectly dignified. He towered over me in a tailored, dark coat, which seemed to be thin, but its owner did not look actually cold.
Staring at him, I straightened up and admonished myself to close my mouth, which opened by itself in astonishment.

"What are you doing here?" I asked in a whisper that came from my clenched, dry and sore throat.

Adrien tilted his head gently to the side, staring at me with a still undiminished interest. He slowly pulled his hands out of his pockets and began unbuttoning the buttons of his coat. He reminded me of Vincent with all his dignity and unhurriedness. At the same time, he was much more fond of wrapping things up than my eldest brother.

"Did you have a good night's sleep?"

Good thing I was still too cold to blush.

"What are you doing here?" I said again.

"Interesting question considering you're the one who wandered into my bar, not the other way around."

I raised an eyebrow.

"This is your bar?" I looked around once more, as if the place would suddenly become more attractive.

Adrien laughed, sitting down gracefully in front of me.

"This is a meeting place for my traders," he corrected.
"Extremely run-down."

"They are not complaining," he shrugged his shoulders, clearly not interested in talking about interior design. "So where did you come from, Hailie Monet?"

I sighed, gathering up all the patience in the world. I didn't think that on this horrible day I would still have a conversation with Adrien, who was such a suspicious type that any interaction with him required really quite a lot of focus and energy, which I was now experiencing a serious deficit of.

I trembled and clenched my fingers into fists, rubbing my thumbs against them to warm them up a bit, because the mere fact that they were not yet frostbitten was an extraordinary miracle.

My discomfort did not escape the attention of my perceptive interlocutor, who turned his head toward the bar and beckoned the bartender to us. The man immediately approached our table, at which point the bar stopped hiding his large, obese belly and equally massive thighs. His physical form was in a sorry state, and I was stunned to see him standing next to us, as big as the rocks I'd seen while visiting the islands at Blanche's.
"Abe, give our guest something to warm up," Adrien instructed him, still not looking away from me. I only glanced shyly at the big Abe for a moment, but quickly decided that, of all things, I would rather look at the man sitting in front of me.

The bartender, on the other hand, nodded vigorously, apparently staring at his, I'm guessing, boss like a picture. He really seemed to be a weirdo. As he turned to go back behind the bar, I saw that his ugly, loose jeans came down to less than halfway down his buttocks, and the only thing protecting us all from the nasty sights was his equally loose T-shirt, which was strangely clinging in some parts of his body.

Adrien watched me for a moment, then stood up, grabbed his jacket, which he had folded elegantly on the couch earlier, and walked over to me with it. I followed his movements with suspicious eyes, tensing when he stood too close.

"Relax, Hailie Monet. After all, we don't want you to freeze to death here." With those words, he wrapped his cloak around my sitting, somewhat hunched figure. For the first moment I did not move, feeling strange with Adrien's clothes weighing on my shoulders. And it was literally weighing me down, because the good material it was sewn from weighed a lot. It also seemed so unfamiliar to me, especially the scent it was permeated with. Such an ultra strong, masculine aftershave. As soon as the coat came to rest on my shoulders, the smell took over my senses, but thankfully I quickly shrugged it off. I wasn't wrong when I guessed that the coat must be warm. Even though it didn't look like it, it immediately started to heat me up and I automatically wrapped myself in it more tightly.
Adrien managed to take his seat back on the opposite side of the table and the big bartender came up to me and put a glass full of amber liquid in front of my nose. I immediately smelled intensely of alcohol. I raised my eyes to my companion, who at the same time sighed impatiently.

"Abe," he admonished him like a father to his silly son, "Not alcohol."

The bartender looked at him frankly confused. Adrien closed his eyelids for a moment, and when he opened them, he finally glanced at his employee.

"I didn't mean the alcohol," he explained, then pointed at me with his chin: "She's too young, bring her something else."

Abe really didn' understand, and I could tell by the expression on his face that he was trying very hard. He leaned over to pick up the glass he had set on the table for me and stared at it, wrinkling his brow.

"Abe, bring her something else," Adrien repeated, and I found it quite charming that he had so much angelic patience with this half-wit. "Some herbs or something."
"Herb," Abe picked up, and his eyes lit up. Nodding, he immediately did a backward turn.

"Stop," Adrien ordered him loudly and firmly, massaging the joint of his nose. "Not that kind of herbs."

Abe furrowed his brow again, and his momentary excitement passed as quickly as it had appeared.

"I mean somethling like tea. Hot tea. Do you understand, Abe?"

The bartender mumbled for a moment, as if tea was a word in another language that he had once learned, then forgotten, and was now trying to recall its meaning from memory, but finally he retreated back to the bar and began to put something together.

"Forgive me. Some of my people are not very bright. They should have taken better care of you while you were waiting here."

"I don't want tea, I want to go home," I snarled and added, not to sound too childish: "After all, you are Vincent's partner, you should let him know right away that you found me."

"Right," he agreed, but did not perform any action, just kept looking at me. "I'd like to know who did this to the Monet's sister."
"What do you care about me?" I growled defiantly.

Adrien shrugged his shoulders.

"It's not about you, it's about the man who messed with the Monets. If he has dared to mess with them, I want to know if I and my family have reason to be concerned as well," he explained, "You see, Hailie Monet, I have sisters too. I want to know if it's a coincidence that you're involved."

"You have sisters?" I was surprised, which was stupid, because having sisters was nothing new, and I knew very little about Adrien.

He nodded with a mocking smile.

"Two, older ones. Your brother even fucks one of them. Didn't you know?"

"Which one again?"

"They don't tell you much, do they?"

I fell silent.

Adrien shook his head, still with the same smile glued to his face.

"You don't know what you're missing out on. To be in a social elite that people are willing to sell their souls to the devil to get into, and not take advantage of that..."

"Well, yeah, because I just dream of partying with disgustingly rich mafiosos."
I made him laugh immensely.

"Mafiosos," he repeated, gritting his teeth, "what an ancient expression." He shook his head and then became a bit more serious. "Don't consider yourself superior, Hailie Monet. You are as disgustingly rich as the rest of us. Just because you temporarily tell yourself that you're not interested in our upper crust, doesn't mean it will always be that way. Aside from the fact that it's your family that isolates you from it, so don't pretend it's your own choice." Adrien leaned forward slightly. "One day you'll wake up, consumed by ambition, and you'll discover that your beloved school pals have stopped where their possibilities ended. And you will subconsciously know that your own ones will never end. You will need to climb up and up, higher and higher. Then you'll knock on our door, and we'll..." Adrien suspended his voice for a moment and leaned back on the couch, then finished: "And we'll let you in."

I stared at him, processing his words, which completely threw me off guard. How did we even get into topics like this? I didn't even notice that Abe came to us again, this time holding a beer mug – yes, a beer mug – of tea. As he placed it in front of me, he slammed it loudly on the table top and spilled some boiling water over it. There was a sachet floating in the middle of the vessel, and the water was coloring very slightly. I had no desire to drink it, but I couldn't refuse to lean over the steaming brew and embrace the mug with both frozen hands. It was the first thing since I'd crawled out of a car wreck that had any real aptitude for warming me up.
"So, will you tell me who attacked you and how you managed to break free?" Adrien asked again after a while.

"Call Vincent first."

"We set conditions, I see." I was coming to the conclusion that too often Adrien was up for a laugh. While I was dreaming of ending this nightmarish day, he was enjoying himself. "Remember, Hailie Monet, we are not negotiating for each other here at all. I'm nice to Vincent's sister, but my politeness has its limits, too."

I wrapped my hands more tightly around the hot mug while furrowing my brows.

"You can't threaten me."

"I don't want to," he corrected me, "but I can."

I moved away from the tea, watching my interlocutor with a downcast face. I tried to ignore my runny nose, which got attacked under the influence of the heat.

"Please call Vincent," I demanded, trying to sound both tough and polite.

Adrien didn't even blink. He reminded me a lot of my oldest brother, except for his nonchalance, which was downright pulled from Dylan. He sat upright and proud, but relaxed at the same time.
I straightened up, too. Then I did something that surprised myself. It was certainly an ill-considered action, for my brain, as I had already mentioned, was not playing its best role under the weight of weariness and bewilderment.

In a slow yet determined motion, I reached to the inside of my uniform and pulled out my gun. Already being in the middle of this move, I hesitated at the rightness of it, but I couldn't back out anymore.

Adrian watched me take out the gun, gave me the same curious look, and didn't even flinch when I pointed the barrel in his direction. Instead, he shifted his gaze back to my face.

"I was expecting a knife," he announced as if nothing had happened.

Holding Adrien at gunpoint was a completely different situation than pointing a gun at Ryder. Leo's brother was stupid and easy to get under control, but Adrien was a trouper who was not really impressed with this kind of actions, especially by someone as inexperienced in the business of threatening others as I was.
"To answer your question, this is how I managed to break free. Now call Vincent," I instructed him, praying that it would go as easily as it did with Ryder, which of course didn't happen.

Adrien didn't grab his cell phone, and instead Abe saw me aiming at his boss and started yelling something, pulling out his own gun from behind the bar. The old man who was sitting there beside him also reached for his belt, and from outside the gorilla dude looked in, attracted by the noises, and at the sight he found here, also reached for his gun.

Fuck, bravo bravissimo, Hailie, excellent work.

I won't deny it, the sight of so many firearms suddenly pointed in my direction brought beads of sweat to my forehead. In one moment, I became as small as an ant compared to all those grown-up guys around me, but for some reason I didn't lower my gun, I just tightened my fingers on it nervously and glanced at Adrien's defenders.

He, on the other hand, raised one hand up. He knew that behind his back his employees were in full readiness to disarm me. Besides, we could all hear the click of weapons being unlocked. Adrien's hand was sticking up in the air, seemingly carelessly, but at the same time clearly communicating to stop any possible gunshots and attack. A massive signet ring glinted on one of his fingers, further signaling who was giving the orders here.
Adrien stared at me for a moment, as if he wanted to tell me without words who was deal the cards here and that I should behave myself, then he turned to his men:

"But gentlemen. Please do not create a nervous atmosphere," he spoke to them as if they were the instigators of all this action here. He did not turn to them at all, but looked to the side, at the ground. "You wouldn't want to accidentally shoot Hailie Monet, would you? Put your weapons away and get back to your business."

A moment later, after everyone had already processed the boss's words, I watched as I stopped being in the line of fire. The gorilla guy walked back outside, the old man turned back to the bar as if nothing had happened, and only Abe continued to glare at me suspiciously from time to time.

I was still aiming at Adrien, but I might as well not have, because after what I saw, I knew I wouldn't get away with shooting him. I'm sure Adrien was well aware of the conclusions I'd drawn, and so I reluctantly finally returned his gaze, knowing it had to be mocking. I was not mistaken.
"Well, well, your balls are growing up like weed, huh?"

I cringed in disgust.

"Contrary to yours," I retorted and shuddered in embarrassment.

He laughed again.

"Oh no, no. Don't get interested in mines. I already told you that you are too young."

I closed my eyelids, gathering the strength to continue dealing with this idiot. I couldn't talk to him and not get upset. He had this uncanny ability to turn anything I said on its head. Dylan and the twins had an identical one and it was a truly annoying trait.

I opened my eyes back up to demand something again, hoping that Adrien would finally stop joking around and take me seriously. After all, I guess we're not going to sit here indefinitely. However, all my determination flew away as soon as I saw that Will had just walked into this nasty den.

My heart pounded in my chest so hard that it almost throbbed against ribs. My first thought was that my overtired brain was playing tricks on me, but split seconds passed and I still saw my favorite brother in the newly arrived man. What's more, he entered the room, looking around carefully, and almost immediately met my gaze, upon which he paused.
His blue eyes were all I saw. Relief as it flooded over me until it made me ache. Ever since meeting Ryder I had dreamed of being near my brothers, by whose side I felt safe, but to find myself specifically by Will's side was the absolute pinnacle of my wildest dreams.

I remembered that I was still fiercely pointing the gun at Adrien, which I now quickly lowered as if I had been caught in the act. Will wasn't stupid, he certainly saw what his sister was holding in her hands, now hidden under the table, but when he rushed towards us almost at a jostling pace, the first thing that concerned him was my well-being.

"Ah, William Monet has arrived," Adrien smiled friendly, as if he were the host at the party and expecting more guests.

Will did not greet him, busy inspecting my person. He was concerned and probably did not expect me to look so bad, because he did not seem to be able to say anything, but immediately leaned over me and with gentle strokes of his fingers brushed away my hair and bangs to take a closer look at my wounds, bruises and other similar marks. I could see that he wanted to touch my face, to stroke my cheek, but he was afraid that even the simplest gesture would cause me pain.
I glanced down at his tense face. His jaw was clenched, and in his eyes, although there was caring in them, there was also a hint of anger.

"It's okay, Hailie, we have you back," those were the first words he whispered to me. He kissed the top of my head, placing his hand on the back of it and pressing it lightly to his chest. Sensing his closeness, my body surrendered. I stopped putting pressure on myself to act like a brave heroine because I knew that whatever happened now, Will would take care of me and help me. I didn't have to worry about anything anymore. How soothing that thought was! I still couldn't believe that after all I had been through, I had reached the point where I could finally just switch off.

Will grabbed my hand thoughtfully. He took the gun out of it, which I absolutely allowed him to do. He secured it efficiently and slipped it into his pants as if nothing had happened, and still leaning over me, he asked:

- Can you walk?

I nodded my head.

Then he helped me up, taking care to be as solid a support for me as possible. As he pressed me against his side, already standing up, I noticed that Vincent was just coming towards us. His unfeeling eyes looked straight at me for a long time, as if making sure it was really me and that I was here, that I wouldn't disappear. Then he exchanged glances with Will, nodded at him, and turned to Adrien. He greeted him formally and thanked him for calling.
I perked up my ears with interest, but my favorite brother directed me to leave, and I was as unprotesting as possible, only glad to finally leave this disgusting place and in the best company I could wish for. Even before leaving the building, Will stopped only for a moment and took off his coat. He threw it over my shoulders, where Adrien's coat was already on. I just remembered that, and made a gesture to get Will's attention, even though he could see that I was wearing a stranger's jacket. He waved his hand dismissively, letting me know that I'd better not take off any layers, and apparently he didn't care about leaving Adrien his property. Well I wasn't going to argue with Will, certainly not now, and I fell silent, politely allowing myself to be wrapped in my brother's extra garment.

I scowled as I stepped out into the cold outside, instantly remembering my recent wandering. How I dreamed then of a moment like this, when I am already with my family, taken care of. In front of the bar, at the same time by the garages, stood my former bodyguard and this gorilla guy, and next to them, apparently all tense and with his arms folded across his broad chest, Dylan was hanging around. He classically got into some kind of a bad mouth with my ex bodyguard, but he totally ignored him when he saw me. He lowered his arms along his torso, but his hands remained clenched into fists. We made eye contact, but there wasn't time for anything else as Will very firmly pulled me towards his big jeep.
"Wait for Vince," he merely threw to his younger brother, and despite himself, he obeyed and I could only feel his gaze on me as we walked to the car. Will opened the door to the back seat in front of me where he helped me get in, pulling his jacket tighter around me, probably well aware of how close I was to freezing earlier.

"Is something hurting you badly? Something wrong with you that I should know about before we go to the hospital?" he asked when I finally sat up and he stood over me, protecting me from the worst of the cold.

I shook my head.

"Nothing like that, Will. I'm just tired, but there's no need to go to the hospital. It's enough to go home. I dream of resting at home," I muttered sleepily, resting my head against the headrest of the chair.

"It's good that you don't feel that anything serious is happening to you," he replied, staring at me with undisguised worry. "Of course, we have to go to the hospital anyway. Don't sigh, little one, I know you need rest. I promise you'll get as much of it as you want. Okay? We just need to make sure nothing serious happened to you. Okay?"
I closed my eyelids, unhappy that I wouldn't go home right away after all, but deep down I knew that what Will was saying made sense. Once I closed those eyes like that, I had a hard time opening them, and my brother respected that and buckled me in, like a little kid, then folded my hands in my lap and carefully closed the door. Then he sat behind the wheel and started the car, immediately turning up the heat.

We stayed like that for a really quick while and then were joined by Vincent and Dylan. The latter sat next to me, in the back. As soon as I scrambled up, I closed my eyes again. I didn't have the strength, I just didn't have the strength to even look or speak, and I wanted to ask even about the twins.

"Is she okay?" Dylan asked and I could feel his gaze on me.

"She's roughly fine, but she needs to be seen by a doctor. Give her your jackets, she's freezing all over."

After a while I felt more layers landing on me, like quilts.

"Adrien said his men found her walking by the side of the road. She had a wound on her forehead, bleeding quite profusely from it."
"What forehead wound? Oh, shit, I see it. Hailie, did you hit yourself? Did someone hit you?"

"Dylan, leave her alone. We'll find out everything."

I was finally getting a little warm. I was finally comfortable. I was finally in the company of people I trusted. I was enjoying their conversations. I know they were discussing me and normally I would have participated in their exchanges, but now I could only enjoy the familiar tones of their voices, ignoring literally the entire point of what they were saying.

I was half-drifted away and I only knew that the next day, well, a conversation with my brothers awaited me and I already had in my mind more or less what I would tell them. Especially to Vincent.

A/N: Guys, there is only one chapter left! I am so excited as the English version of my book is going to be finally finished after such a long way! Thanks for your support, as always and for your patiece, as always. And just to clarify, I feel obliged to mention that although I'm writing the sequel to this novel in Polish, for the time being I'm not planning on translating it into English at all. I've said this several times before, but never so officially under a chapter, and I'd like to avoid any misunderstandings. Unfortunately, I don't have enough time to write, let alone translate. You can see it for yourself by the frequency of chapters added to this version. Another thing is that I haven't forgotten what happened to this book and I don't want to give people more ideas to copy. Now almost every book about brothers in mafia looks so similar anyway, so at least let's let the sequel stay original:) Thanks for understanding, you're amazing, I send you kisses and I'll see you soon under the last chapter!