Chapter Twenty-Six

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Chapter Twenty-Six

Hadley

I sat in a worn oversized chair, my feet barely brushing against the floor. The floral wallpaper had yellowed. I had memorized the delicate flowers, which once were displayed in vibrant reds and blues. Now they were a mere memory of their once glorious former selves. Now they were dull and nearly dead, just like me.

"Come this way," I could hear Pops' voice coming from the other room. "I've got a huge surprise for you!"

I glanced down at the angry scar running from my forearm to my wrist. That had been my first attempt at escaping Catherine's house. She had caught me. Threatened me with a gun and then cut me with a jagged piece of glass.

Pops had scolded her for leaving a visible scare. "I do not want my property marked up!" he had screamed at her. "You leave marks where they cannot be seen," he said before punching her in the kidney. "Just like that. Understood?"

Catherine had fallen to the ground. Neither Jade nor myself had gone to her rescue. We both knew what would happen if we dared to help her.

When she didn't respond, Pops had kicked her again. "Understood?"

"Y- y- yes," Catherine managed to stammer quietly.

Another kick.

"YES SIR!" bellowed Pops. "YOU ALWAYS SAY, 'YES SIR!' HOW MANY TIMES MUST I GO OVER THIS WITH YOU?"

"Yes, Sir," said Catherine as tears began to stream down her face.

My second and third attempt to escape had earned me the same punishment.

As each day had passed, a little piece of me had given up. I barely spoke, smiled, or ate. The only time I did any of those things is when Pops threatened me. Slowly withering away... Then everything changed, I thought to myself.

"In the living room, kids," Pops said excitedly.

Nausea overcame my senses as Pops turned the corner. He grinned widely and gave me a wink.

Caden rounded the corner first, walking with a slight limp, followed by a girl who looked to be in her late teens or early twenties.

"Hadley, I think you remember Caden, right?" asked Pops. "Kendall, you two haven't had the pleasure of meeting before, but I think you'll soon be fast friends."

Caden's eyes turned black with hate as his eyes met mine.

"Sit," Pops said, motioning to a small loveseat.

Caden rubbed his thumb over his bottom lip and continued to stare at me as he sat down next to Kendall.

"So, we have some exciting news," proclaimed Pops. "Very exciting news!"

I watched as Caden clenched his firsts. His knuckles turned white.

A small feeling of happiness stirred at my core. That's right, I'm no longer yours.

"Hadley has been living with Catherine for several weeks," Pops explained to Caden and Kendall. "But, I've made a decision and I wanted to share it with all of you tonight."

I kept my lips pressed tight. Never speak unless spoken to. One of Pops favorite rules...

Pops propped himself on the arm of the chair I was sitting in. "I have decided to move Hadley into the house with us," he announced.

Caden jumped out of his seat. "POPS! THAT'S NOT F-" he started to protest but quickly stopped as Pops drew the gun out of his waistline and pointed it at his son.

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