Vincent wasn't joking. All my brothers started to be very controlling about what and when I eat. I got tired of it very quickly but deep inside I knew I did it to myself and until I wouldn't get back their trust, I had to live with their new rules.
I had to confess to my friends about my eating disorder as they'd find out that something is going on anyway because, at the beginning of every lunch break, Dylan appeared in front of our table. He was standing there with his hands folded on his chest, waiting for me to eat at least a bit of what I was having on my tray. I was grateful to Vince because he was the first one who understood how my body works now and that I should increase the amount of consumed food gradually. At the same time, I knew that if I denied eating at all, Dylan wouldn't let it slip. And I couldn't allow him to embarrass me just like he'd wanted to back in the restaurant. Oh no, no. Not in school. I'd curl up and die if he started to feed me and I could say that he was so annoyed by this whole situation that he wouldn't hesitate to do that. The fact that he was watching me so closely was humiliating enough.
Also at home, I lost my freedom and I couldn't eat whenever I wanted anymore. Strict meal hours were set especially for me and there was always someone to check up on me if I was obeying them. My favorite one was Eugenie because she never shot me impatient (as Tony), irritated (as Dylan), weary (as Shane) or worried (as Will) looks. She let me slough through my food as long as I needed it. From time to time it happened that Vince was present at my dinners but he was usually focused on his iPad or laptop or whatever and he seemed not to pay attention to me at all. Well, he seemed but I was more than sure that if I tried something, he'd find it out right away so I didn't even bother. Especially, that when I begged him no to send me to any doctors, he finally agreed under the condition that I'd eat whenever they tell me to.
Apart from this tiny little change, everything was fine,
Until something happened. Something that I'll never forget.
It was Tuesday, one of those March days which are sunny and spell a spring. Since the twins' birthday, there's been one month. I was at school, just having the first bite of my sandwich under watchful gaze of Dylan. We were just laughing about something with Mona, Audrey, and Marshall (who only recently learned how to relax at my brother's presence). Suddenly, Dylan cussed.
He drew our attention to himself but he was too busy with some fast typing on his phone to see it. I just noticed how his face darkened and I could be only happy that I wasn't the reason of him getting so mad.
"Ey!" He whistled and waved at Shane and Tony, making me and Mona shrink out of surprise. After a moment, they approached our table. Some people, who were nearby, shot them curious glances.
"What the fuck is that?" Dylan whispered furiously to Shane, showing him the screen of his phone. Tony looked at it above his twin's shoulder and spat loudly at whatever he saw there.
Shane scratched his head, making a sheepish face.
"He said he'd take care of it so I thought it's done," He shrugged.
"Well, fucking amazing job," Dylan growled.
They were talking in quiet voices but I could hear them as they were standing right behind my back and I was cocking my ear a bit.
"We have to fix this shit and we have to do it now. You're coming with me." Dylan hissed and Shane just mumbled "ok".
I couldn't stop myself and I turned my head away to have a peek at them. Shane was biting his lip, Tony rubbed his forehead and Dylan was texting someone again. Then, he remembered me and his eyes looked down at me.
"Tony, watch her," He turned to the other brother and then they muttered something to each other and he, together with Shane, left the cafeteria just like that. Tony watched them disappearing and then he concentrated on me.
"Eat," He growled at me, visibly annoyed.
"What's happened?" I asked, looking at the cafeteria's door.
"None of your business. Eat."
"Where did they go?"
"Eat." He repeated, losing his patience.
"I'm just asking..." I mumbled irritated and a bit stressed because apparently there was some problem.
Tony hit our table with an open hand making me and my friends jump.
"For fuck's sake, just eat this fucking sandwich!" He aggressively ground out, leaning across me. I shivered and dropped my head, doing my best not to start crying. How could he be like that for me, at the top of it, in the presence of my friends...
I was toying my lunch, avoiding all the looks.
"He left," Mona informed me quietly when I almost finished my food.
I took a deep breath and firstly turned away and to check if Tony wasn't there anymore, just to be sure. Then I moved my eyes to my friends with a cloudy face.
"He shouldn't have spoken to you like that," Audrey said.
"He was being a dick," Mona added.
"How happy I am to be an only child," Marshall muttered.
I smiled at them gloomily and my mood kept bad till the end of classes. Especially that, when I went to the parking lot, it turned out that whenever Dylan and Shane had gone, they'd not come back to school which meant I had to go home with Tony.
My eyes moved through the cars in search of blue Lamborghini but I couldn't find it. And that wasn't a car hard to notice. I stood confused for a moment and then I remembered that lately, Tony had been riding his motorcycle to school. Today wasn't an exception.
Indeed, he was standing next to his new machine and smoking a cigarette, as usual. At his sight, I felt a wave of anger again for how he talked to me in the cafeteria. I headed towards him, adopting an offended expression.
When he noticed me, he gave me a helmet without saying a word.
"I won't get on this," I hissed. I wanted to act in defiance of Tony but another thing was that with his driving style, I was afraid when Tony was driving a car, not mentioning riding a motorcycle.
I expected that my brother would start yelling at me again or something but he just rolled his eyes.
"You don't have a choice."
"I'll walk," I said, wondering if I have enough energy for it.
"Hailie, don't push me."
I don't know if it was Tony's warning tone or my tiredness but I gave up and took this stupid helmet from him, making sure that my movements show how reluctant I was. He just checked if I put it on correctly and wore his. Then, he mounted the motorcycle and nodded at me to do the same. I sized it up with no trust but finally, I climbed on the place behind him. Uh, how unsteady it was...
It was my first time on a motorcycle and in fact, I was quite excited. Right when I saw it at the garage, I was curious about how this famous wind in hair feels like. But no one offered me a ride back then. And, as I said before, Tony wasn't the safest driver so I wasn't really eager to accompany him during any rides.
I didn't know what to hold until Tony, not turning away, reached with his hands to my wrists and wrapped them around his waist. As soon as I heard an engine's roar, I shivered and automatically clung to him like a koala bear, feeling his hard abs.
"Hold tight," Tony ordered me in a raised voice so I could hear him over the engine and a helmet muffling his words.
Tighter than now was impossible.
When he moved, I wanted to squeal like on a rollercoaster. I've never hugged any of my brothers the way I hugged Tony now. Wind in my hair wasn't an option because of the helmet but it's fine. My eyes were closed and at some point, I decided to have a peek to see where we were. But when I noticed all those trees which we fastly were passing by, I decided it's better to keep my eyelids shut.
I didn't feel this kind of adrenaline even when I sneaked to a forbidden corridor in our house nor when I smoked a cigarette in my bathroom.
After some time I started to get used to the speed and the noise and I relaxed a bit. I even felt some pleasure.
I wasn't long though.
At some moment I felt like suddenly Tony started speeding up. A lot. I had the impression that we were going really fast so I didn't want us to be moving faster. I was back all tensed up and I wanted to scream to him to slow down but there was no chance for him to hear me. I couldn't do anything else like just beg him telepathically.
I was afraid.
I heard some bang and then another one and felt some fierce recoil. Now, the motorcycle started to bounce. I opened my eyes for one second to notice that we probably turned into some woody road. What is he doing? Does he want to scare me? I'll kill him.
One more bang. I think I screamed. I wasn't sure. What was happening? My heart was pounding like crazy.
I want to stop!
I tried to cry it out loud but I couldn't.
Something was wrong.
Another recoil, another bang. And another one.
It's a good thing that Tony is so big, otherwise, I'd break him because of how tight I was holding him.
Another bang that sounded was the loudest one. So loud that it was ringing in my ears. It was accompanied by some unpleasant sound. And then I felt like some huge power rips me away from the motorcycle.
No, I have to hold Tony, I have to hold him!
I yelled that to myself in my head but I wasn't able to say any sensible words out loud. I could just scream uncontrollably. What was happening? I was falling. Then I hit something. A ground? It didn't even hurt. But I couldn't take a breath. I didn't mind. I didn't feel anything. But something weird was happening. Was I rolling down?
I closed my eyes.
I opened them.
They opened again. A second, a minute or an hour later? I was laying on the cold litter. I couldn't get up. I was so stiff. I turned my head away. I saw a two-wheeled vehicle stopping in my view. Not so far away from where I was. Oh, it must be Tony. I think I let go of him and fell. He's going to help me now.
I almost sobbed when I saw that some two stranger men got off the mentioned motorcycle. It wasn't Tony's. A wave of panic spread through my body. Where is he? Who are those people?
It was quiet now, too quiet. Only some birds were twittering. The sun was breaking through the trees. I couldn't move, so I was just looking. The men stood next to each other. One of them was quite big with a wide, thug face. He was bald and wore black clothes. He could be in his late thirties. I gasped silently when I noticed him holding a silver gun in his hand.
The other man was some young dude, not much older than Tony. He had a leather jacket and faded jeans. He was the driver and out of the two of them, only he had a helmet, which he just took off, showing his messy, dark blonde hair and ferrety face. He was very skinny.
Both of them were looking at something on the ground, close to me.
"Monet," The bald guy hissed. He sounded as if he had a stuffy nose.
O my God, Tony, Tony was laying there!
"If only you knew how I'm itching to send a bullet straight through your fucking trap." The bald one confessed and the hand that was holding the gun twitched as to confirm his words.
Does Tony need help?
I forced my body to cooperate with my brain. I couldn't stay like this. I'm fine, nothing happened to me, I had to get up. Firstly, I moved my finger, then my hand and then my left leg. 'Yeah, just like that, very good,' I was speaking to myself in my mind.
With a huge effort, I tried to push my body off the ground. I was still half-laying, I didn't even manage to sit but at least I could see more. I noticed Tony. He was slowly getting up too, looking a bit benumbed. A few seconds before, he'd had to rip his helmet off his head because now it was rolling somewhere in the background. That's when I remembered that I still have mine on.
I looked at the side, at my legs and I got another heart attack. My jeans were ripped and my calf was bleeding. Where did this blood come from? This really scared me. I let out a weak gasp and moved rapidly. I also felt a sudden need to get rid of this damn helmet. The whole struggle drew the attention of the men.
"Oh," The bald guy muttered and when he finally saw my face, he seemed to be surprised at first but then he smiled widely and sickly.
"I thought it was some of your hoes and I was disappointed because I hoped to catch you with some of your bros," The man got silent for a moment, looking at me with growing delight. " But now I see that it's a little Hailie Monet."
I was staring at him with a terror.
He laughed and shook his head.
"Well, well, how lucky I am..."
"What the fuck are you talking about?" Tony growled weakly.
He was barely sitting now, leaning on the closest tree to him. The sight of my brother, who always was so tough and almost radiating his power, who in my imagination was actually undestroyable, in this kind of state was more terrifying than my bloodstained leg or the gun in the bald psycho's hand.
"I have a message to Vincent. And its content will be his two youngest siblings' dead bodies," He explained ominously.
Tony tried to stand up, still holding the tree.
"You idiot, he'll murder you," He grunted.
"Me? And how's he going to know it was me? If your ghost doesn't haunt him in his dream and blabs it out, your dear brother will go insane out of powerlessness," The bald guy laughed, appreciating his own joke.
I couldn't believe what was happening. I had never been so scared in my entire life.
"Don't worry, I'm not a monster. Firstly, I'll kill your baby sister so she won't have to see how her brother dies. I hope you'll recognize my gesture."
I was trembling. He was talking about me. Oh my God, this man wants to kill me. I'll die.
"She's fucking fifteen! She doesn't know anything, she has nothing to do with the business!" Tony yelled with fury.
The skinny guy, who was quiet all the time and was watching the whole performance with a distance, now was chewing his bottom lip and looking at me, frowning.
"Sorry, darling," The bald guy turned to me, not caring about Tony's words.
With parted lips, I gaped at his dark eyes, not able to move or even say something. With tightened throat and shivers going through my spine, I was watching him raising the gun and pointing it at me.
And then everything happened so fast that I'm still not sure if my brain managed to record it all. Even if, the sequence of these happenings was doubtful. I was sure that I heard a bang which was a gunshot and then another one and another one and I felt pain when something heavy pressed my tiny body to the ground. I couldn't breathe again. It was too much.
I lost my consciousness for a few seconds and when I opened my eyes, I faced Tony's back. He was kneeling in front of me, placing one of his hands on the ground to hold himself. The other hand was grasping his black gun and he was extending it ahead.
Loud swears were the only thing I could hear.
And I fainted again.