Echoes of silence unquie.., p.26
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       Echoes of Silence (Unquiet Mind Book 1), p.26

           Anne Malcom
 

  My stomach dropped, tumbled it seemed. Her words were slowly sinking in, the meaning behind them. The fact she was forbidding me from seeing people. People I had grown to care about. People that had started to fill the void created by the loss of Ava and Steve. They’d never replace them, but it was something.

  My breathing stopped and my head snapped up to her.

  Killian. Killian was a part of that world, the one she was talking about. She could not be seriously trying to tell me I couldn’t see the boy I loved anymore. She wouldn’t stop me from seeing him. Nothing could.

  She seemed to read my mind, and she leaned forward to squeeze my hand. “I like my baby girl breathing and happy which means I’ll not take away the boy who helps that happen. The boy who jumps in front of bullets to save my girl. He’s never going to be out of your life. I know that. I wouldn’t do that to you,” she promised.

  She was saying it like she was giving me a gift. Doing me a favor. Letting me have one person when she took away everyone else.

  And Zane. The man who I knew was family. He was Mom’s person. She was telling me we had to cut them out of our lives, just like that.

  “You can’t do that!” I yelled when she told me Zane wasn’t going to be in our lives anymore. Along with the entire family that I’d become so attached to. “He cares about you—he cares about us. He needs us,” I screeched with tears streaming down my cheeks. How could Mom not realize just how much Zane needed us? How could she be so callous and selfish? “He’s got no family without us. He’s playing guitar with me,” I added through my tears. He was playing with me. Music was helping. Not as much as Mom was, but it was helping him. I couldn’t take that away from him. Mom couldn’t take that away from me.

  Mom stepped forward and grasped my arms. “He’ll be okay,” she promised.

  For once, I didn’t believe her. I didn’t care about the pain on her face or the tears in her eyes. I didn’t care about any of it. I was too angry.

  I ripped myself out of her arms. “He won’t,” I hissed at her. “I hate you,” I whispered, my anger making me use words I knew would hurt her. I didn’t wait to see if they’d made their wound. I turned and ran out the door, tears running down my face.

  I didn’t stop until I was far away and puffing. I looked around. I was in a park, and my eyes were blurry and stinging from tears. Somehow, some miracle meant my pants had pockets and my phone was in one. I fumbled with the screen and put it to my ear.

  “Freckles,” Kill’s deep voice greeted.

  “Ki-Kill,” I sobbed, not being able to catch a breath. I sank down onto a bench behind me.

  “Lexie,” he clipped, his voice instantly alert. “What is it? Are you okay?”

  I hiccupped. “I need you,” I choked out.

  “Tell me where you are, baby,” he requested urgently.

  I glanced around and was able to tell him my location.

  “I’ll be there in two minutes,” he promised.

  My tears had gone by the time he got there, but my anger wasn’t.

  “Freckles,” his deep voice was tinged with concern, and he yanked me into his arms as soon as he made it to me.

  “What happened?” he asked, pulling back, his eyes running over me, looking for an injury.

  I sniffed and brokenly told him about Mom banning me from seeing anyone in the Sons of Templar and leaving Zane.

  “She can’t stop me from seeing them, from seeing anyone,” I declared hotly. “She has no right to do that.”

  Kill’s jaw was hard and he sat us back down, tucking me into his side. He kissed my head. “She’s got every right, Freckles. She’s your mom,” he said quietly.

  I snapped my head up to glare at him. “You agree with her?” I accused.

  His jaw was hard as he shook his head. “No, babe, I don’t agree with her removing herself from good people. People who care about her, about you.” He squeezed me. “But I understand it. Babe, that shit that went down, that’s heavy. It’s crazy. You could have died,” he declared, his eyes burning into mine.

  “But I didn’t,” I began to argue.

  “But you could have. The thought of that chills me to the bone, Freckles. Scares the absolute shit outta me. I can only imagine how your mom feels. You’re all she’s got now. She loves you more than anything. She’ll do anything to protect you.” He paused. “Even sacrifice her own happiness.”

  I blinked and cold realization settled over me, anger leaving me with Kill’s words. “You’re right,” I whispered. “Oh my God, you’re right.” I gazed at him, fresh tears brewing in my eyes. “I was so horrible to her, Kill. I told her I hated her. How could I do that? I’m a terrible person.”

  Kill kissed my head. “You are not a terrible person,” he told me firmly. “You’re the best person I know. You love your mom. She knows that. Those words didn’t mean anything.”

  “But I hurt her,” I whispered, hating myself.

  “Good thing it’s easy to apologize then, isn’t it, Freckles?” Killian said with a small smile. “I’ll take you home.”

  I clutched his jacket, pulling him down. “Can we sit here for a bit?” I pleaded. “I just need some quiet.”

  Kill gave me a long look, then nodded, pulling me back to him. We sat there for a while, Kill holding me in his arms, not impatiently. Then, when I was ready, he took me home to give Mom a tearful apology. I didn’t mention Zane or the club after that, realizing the pain she was in. That didn’t mean I didn’t think of them. Didn’t worry about Zane. About Mom.

  TWO MONTHS LATER

  “I don’t like it,” I declared, frowning at the house as Killian pulled away.

  He grabbed my hand from my lap and brought it up to his mouth. “You don’t have to like it, Freckles. But there’s nothing you can do about it.”

  I snapped my head to him. “So you’re saying you’re okay with Mom going on a date, moving on from Zane, the love of her life, in a blink of an eye?” I asked sharply.

  Kill glanced at me out of the corner of his eye. It was a guarded look like he knew he had potentially awakened the beast. “It’s been two months. It’s hardly a blink of an eye,” he said carefully. There was a pause. “How are you so sure he was the love of your mom’s life?”

  I stared at him. “She’s my mom. My best friend. I know.”

  I did. Anyone would. You just needed to take one look at them together. One peek at the way Zane’s mask of indifference slipped when he was with us. See how my mom’s smile was infinitely brighter when he was around.

  I knew.

  And I knew her smile had dimmed, her light had gone out, no matter how hard she was trying to hide it. She missed Zane. I missed Zane. He may have been part of our family for a short time, but he was our family. He wasn’t meant to be gone.

  Mom most certainly was not meant to be going on a date. I didn’t care how handsome Clay might have been, or cool he was. Or the fact he may hold our future in his hands, considering he was in charge of whether we got gigs again and his club was the only place for miles worth playing in. He wasn’t Zane. He wasn’t right.

  Kill sighed. “Yeah, that might be the problem,” he muttered under his breath.

  I narrowed my eyes at him. “What are you talking about?” I asked, instantly alert.

  He glanced at me again. “It’s just... I’m sure there’s more to it than your mom told you.” His tone was still careful.

  I continued to stare his profile down. “You know something. Something about Zane,” I accused.

  Kill was silent a moment.

  “Tell me, Killian.”

  “Freckles, it’s not for me to tell. Let’s just say, Bull’s got some serious demons in his closet. If there’s anyone to conquer them, it’d be your mom. She’s about as stubborn and determined as her daughter.” He gave me a small grin. “But even then, maybe they’re just too big for her.”

  I blinked at him. He definitely knew something. Something about the reason why Zane didn’t smile. About how some
times I saw a glimpse of the pain behind his eyes and I wondered how someone could still walk around carrying that much sorrow. He knew and he hadn’t told me. I wanted to be annoyed at this. But he was right; it wasn’t up to him to tell me. I even respected him for respecting Zane enough not to tell me, even though Zane treated him with ill-concealed contempt the entire time we’d been together.

  “They’re not,” I declared, looking out the window. “They can’t be. He’ll be back,” I said with certainty. “He has to come back. ‘Cause Mom has demons too. I might not know what they are, but I know she needs him to fight hers just as much as he needs her to fight his.”

  Kill squeezed my hand. “He’ll be back,” he agreed. “No one can ever leave a Spencer woman once he realizes that they’re one of a kind. Once he understands how special the thing he holds in his hands is. What a treasure it is,” he murmured, pulling my attention back to him.

  I smiled at him. Not for the first time, I thought about how lucky I was to have Kill. About how freaking ecstatic I was to have found the boy, the man for me at sixteen years old. I didn’t care who said anything about it being impossible to find your soul mate so young, to recognize them, I was certain. I was looking into his ice blue at this very moment.

  “I hope you don’t ever leave me,” I replied, my voice small. “I’m quite sure I’d be a Lexie-shaped shell if that ever happened,” I admitted. I was also pretty sure girls weren’t meant to say things like that to boys, structuring their entire sense of self around them like I had with Killian. I should have been able to be separate. Be someone without him. I guessed I could be me without him, but I found the prospect so terrifying I thought it wouldn’t matter who “me” was without him.

  Kill squeezed my hand again, his eyes moving to me once he’d pulled up at the curb.

  “I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in my life, Lexie. I’m sure I’m going to make a lot more. One I know I’ll never make is leaving you,” he promised.

  He leaned in and kissed me softly on the lips. “Ready to rock, Freckles?” he murmured against my mouth.

  I grinned at him. “Always.”

  “Good.” He knifed out of the car, and I dutifully waited for him to round it to open my door for me. I had argued over such a thing for a start, feeling stupid sitting there like a dork waiting for Kill.

  “Freckles, not many chances in my life for me to be a gentleman. I can’t afford to give you diamonds or fancy dinners. But I can damn sure open your door,” he had declared roughly when I called him out on it.

  I hadn’t said a word since.

  I grabbed his extended hand, and he kept it clasped in mine when he reached into the back to grab my guitar. That was another thing. When Kill was around, I never carried a thing. Not even my baby, my guitar my mom had scrimped and saved to buy for me. My extended limb. My sanity. Killian was the only person I trusted with it, which made sense because he was also the only one I trusted with my heart. He held both my sanity and soul in his large hands.

  ****

  “Beer?” a boy I didn’t know asked, offering me a red cup, sloshing it slightly on my tan ankle boots.

  I did my best to smile at him. “No thanks,” I replied, scanning the pulsing crowd of people for Kill.

  He shrugged, taking a sip from the cup himself. “You’re a good singer,” he declared. His eyes traveled my body. “And hot, too.”

  I glanced back to him. “Thanks,” I muttered, starting to feel uncomfortable and out of my depth.

  We had just played a house party. A birthday, or just a celebration of someone’s parents being away, I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know who’s house this even was. Sam had dealt with that. It seemed the last couple of months we’d been in high demand. Everyone heard about us playing at the clubhouse, and of course, everyone heard about the shooting. So it seemed we were the flavor of the moment, most likely because of our proximity to the event. But then people started liking us, our sound. It was strange. Girls definitely liked Sam and Wyatt; they always had one hanging off them after a gig. Noah had the same effect, but he shrugged them off. Wyatt and Sam had seemed confused about this, but were too busy with their own “fans,” as Sam called them, so they didn’t give it much thought.

  I knew the real reason. Noah hadn’t told me yet, but I knew. I hoped he’d trust me enough to share with me, to take the weight off his muscled shoulders.

  But I had never experienced guys picking me up after playing. That was because Kill was always right there as soon as I climbed off stage. He usually claimed my mouth right in front of everyone or made it very clear I was his. But this time I had gone to the bathroom. He’d walked me there and promised he would be waiting outside. Now, he was nowhere to be found.

  “I’m Andy,” the guy introduced himself, swaying slightly.

  I smiled tightly. “Lexie. Sorry, I’ve really got to find my boyfriend now,” I told him, focusing on the boyfriend part of that sentence.

  A hand trailed my bare arm. “What your boyfriend doesn’t know doesn’t hurt him,” he slurred.

  I scrunched up my nose, before I could say anything or extract myself out of his touch, someone else did it for me. Hands at my hips yanked me into a hard torso.

  “Yeah, but what he does know will hurt you,” Killian said, his voice rough.

  Even though this guy was seriously inebriated, he seemed to sense the danger he was in.

  His eyes popped out and he held up his hands in surrender. “Sorry, bro,” he said quickly before darting off.

  I grinned, sinking back into Kill’s embrace. “You should just put a sign around my neck, ‘If touched, Killian Decesare will open a can of whoop-ass,’” I joked.

  Kill’s face disappeared in my neck. “Trust me, babe, even that wouldn’t stop drunk assholes. Or sober ones for that matter,” he murmured. “You’re too damn pretty. Add that to you singing in that beautiful voice, a voice that attracts every boy in a hundred-mile radius, I’m screwed.”

  I giggled, turning in his embrace. “You have to admit, you’re a little biased,” I said, putting my hands around his waist and tipping my head up. “Which means you’re bound to exaggerate.”

  Kill’s gaze darkened. “I’m not exaggerating, Freckles. If anything, I’m understating it.” He brushed my mouth with his thumb.

  I raised my brow at him. “Well then, I’m not exaggerating when I say every single girl in this room is watching you with doe eyes.”

  I was right. As soon as Kill walked in, his arm slung around me; he was the subject of a lot of feminine gazes. Me being obviously attached to him didn’t stop anything. I didn’t blame them. Kill was hot. He seemed to have gotten taller in the time we’d been together, filled out more. He was always wearing all black, despite the weather. Most of the time he was wearing his black leather jacket. Because it was a balmy night, he was wearing a tight black tee, one that showcased his broad shoulders and muscled arms. He was a quintessential bad boy.

  Kill’s eyes didn’t leave mine. “I don’t see them, Freckles,” he murmured, his face dipping to mine. “I’ve only got eyes for one beautiful, golden-haired girl. Everyone else is invisible. They don’t exist to me.”

  My stomach fluttered at this. I had never felt insecure about other girls looking at Kill. I trusted him. Trusted what we had. But it still wasn’t the greatest thing in the world watching girls salivate over the boy you loved.

  His face changed. “You’ve still got an hour before curfew. I’m not keen on spending it here with drunk assholes leering at you. I’d much rather have you all to myself. Want to get out of here?” he asked.

  I grinned. “Best offer I’ve had all night.”

  Kill touched his mouth to mine quickly. “Good. Let’s get your shit. Then we’re gone.”

  He released me but kept hold on my hand as he weaved through the crowd. The crowd actually separated for him. He held an air about him, a warning one. He may have only been seventeen, but seeing him among the boys around the same age, I saw it. He wasn’t
a boy. He was a man. It was painfully obvious right now. I watched the way his shoulders moved as he hoisted my guitar case over his shoulder and directed us to the exit. He gave a couple of chin lifts to boys in the crowd but largely ignored everyone.

  “Lillian!” Sam’s voice carried over the crowd. He appeared in front of us, his arm slung around a petite girl wearing next to nothing. I smiled at him and at the name he had taken to calling us.

  “You’re not leaving, are you?” he asked with a horrified face.

  “’Fraid so,” Kill answered, grinning slightly. Kill and Sam got on great, which was kind of funny considering they were the complete opposite of each other. Sam was loud, hardly ever serious about anything, carefree, and always had a grin on his attractive face. Kill was quite, definitely serious, most of the time he was downright broody, and his grins were reserved for me. Apart from the occasional one with the boys and mom. I liked it.

  Sam looked crestfallen. “You cannot leave. We’re doing keg stands. Lexie has to do one,” he said, eyes cutting to me.

  I laughed at the ridiculousness of such a statement. Of all the parties we played at, I never touched a drink. The drinks were flowing to be sure, but I wasn’t interested. I was sure that made me boring and nerdy, but I didn’t care. From what I’d seen, alcohol made people stupid and make bad decisions. Kill barely touched it either. He’d sip on one bottle of beer now and then, but no more.

  He drove me to all of the gigs and had said, “Babe, I’m carrying precious cargo. Not doing anything to jeopardize my ability to get you home safely,” when I casually mentioned it.

  I may not have been interested in drinking, but the slight taste of beer on Kill when he kissed me afterward hadn’t been half bad.

  “That’s not gonna happen in any universe,” Kill told Sam seriously.

  I held out the sides of my dress. “Not really wearing the right attire for keg stands either,” I declared with a grin.

  Sam’s eyes went to my dress, then back to Kill. “Whatever. You can watch me kick Wyatt’s ass then.” His eyes went to the girl at his side. “Harriet’s promised me a kiss if I win.” He grinned stupidly.

 
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