[Chapter Eighteen] Liam

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             Trust is to human relationships what faith is to gospel living.
                                  It is the beginning place,
                 the foundation upon which more can be built.
                             Where trust is, love can flourish.

                                       -Barbara Smith 

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Chapter Eighteen - Liam

She's been home four days now and every day I see a change in her. I was surprised that she wasn't letting what happened to her get her down, she was fighting through her fears and I was so proud of her. She became more relaxed around all of us.

She spent a lot of time with Auntie cooking; she helped her cook almost every meal. Sometimes I just watched them interact with one another, a bit creepy, maybe but I didn't really think so, but I guess it made it obvious that I liked her.

But not to her.

They laughed and smiled as they cooked together. I could see how they lightly made contact with one another like it was completely natural. Auntie would bump her with her hip or nudge her and anytime they accidently brushed one another it didn't freak her out, she just rolled with it.

It was an amazing sight to see, and I saw the way she looked at Addie, to her, she was a daughter not a niece. She loved her dearly and I knew that she wished Addison would stay here at the end of the summer, I knew all of us wanted her to stay.

It was going to hurt when she left, but I was determined to make the most out of my time with her.

I asked her if she would go down to the pond with me and she agreed immediately. I knew how much she loved it down there. Like always we went in silence, we both took the time to take in the sights of everything out here, especially since this wasn't a place people went regularly.

When we got down there we sent the horses off on their own to do what they did.

She was looking out at the sight and I tested out her reactions and walked up behind her so I could wrap my arms around her. I held my breath when she tensed but after a minute she relaxed. I smiled when she leaned back against me and put her hands on mine.

The cast felt weird but it didn't matter.

We stood like this for a while and I squeezed her tighter to feel her against me. I was happy that she would trust me like this.

She moved away from me and took her shoes and socks off with some difficulty. I hoped for her sake she would get her cast off soon, it was driving her insane, but I would be lying if I said I didn't find it cute or funny at times.

I know that it's horrible because it's broken, but she was so adorable when she got all worked up.

She put her feet in the water and I sat behind her and had a leg on either side of her. and she leaned against me again instantly. It felt so natural right now and like we have been doing this forever.

We sat in silence for a bit.

"Are you having a better day?" I asked her and she nodded "Did you want me to stay over tonight?" I asked again and she nodded once again.

This was just how we communicated now, and I also couldn't wait for her to get her cast off.

 "Do you want Keisha too?" I asked and I smiled when she nodded her head faster. She loved that dog and he adored her, it was sweet.

After that we sat there In silence until she gestured for us to go back. I was a bit disappointed, I wanted to spend more time with her, but she was hot.

I wondered why she wore jeans or leggings every day, but I think it had to do with the scars.

And then the memory of that night I saw them haunted me again.

"I didn't do this to myself"

Who did it to her then? Or did she just not want to admit it. it had me worried about her going back home, I don't know what happened there but it was worse than everyone is thinking it was. I never told anyone about them, and I wish they knew, I wish we knew what happened.

That night after dinner I went up to her room after I finished helping my father and she told me she would be right back, I was confused but I wasn't going to stop her. I lay on her bed and waited nearly an hour, I was about to go and look for her when she came back inside.

I watched her carefully, and nothing seemed weird. She simply just got in bed with me and curled up, I wanted to ask her where she went so badly, but I knew it wasn't my business, if she wanted me to know she would have told me before. This was yet another one of her secrets.

I stayed awake as she slept soundly half on top of me. I absentmindedly played with her hair.

I thought about everything that's happened.

Her lack of communication, her freaking out at first on being touched, how she's opening up, she scars on her legs and arms, the nightmares, her emotional distress, the attack, everything.

And she just became more of a mystery every single day.

She was happier here as the days went by, but you could also see the sadness that was never far behind. She was trying, but there were things that she was also repressing that I had a feeling would come back in a very bad way.

I was afraid that with her ignoring that it would set her back in any progress she's made here.

I was afraid of her going home because I think she'll just go right back to how she was before, and I was afraid we would never see her again. I honestly don't think her parents would let her come back and that would crush us all who have grown to care so much for her.

I finally drifted off to sleep, but it wasn't easy.

The next morning I left to go get dressed and eat breakfast with my family before we went out to work. Asher was taking Addie to her appointment and I hoped to see no cast when she got back.

"So how are things going?" dad asked

"Fine, things have been better with her."

"That's good. I need to talk to you though." My dad put his stuff down and faced me

"Sure." I did the same.

"Now, your mother and I trust you, but I need to ask you a few things."

"Okay" I trailed off not sure where he was going with this.

"You've been sleeping with Addie every night." This is where this was going.

"And nothing bad is happening."

"It's not?" He asked

"She's completely unaware of how I feel about her; the most that's happened with us is I hold her hand or she curls up with me. no touching, no kissing. She's not ready for that and I hold strong to my values" I told him honestly.

No woman would make me stray from waiting until I'm married, if she was the right girl, she would wait with me.

"Alright, I just thought I would ask." He shrugged

My dad was frustrated and so was Ethan. We still haven't gotten anywhere near that horse and I think they were done with him. He's hurt more people than we can count and the horse is a liability now more than an asset.

At lunch Addie came out and brought us in for lunch, I was pleasantly surprised to see no cast, she had a brace, but that was it.

And I was also shocked to see what she was wearing. Her scars were on display as she wore the shorts and she didn't seem to mind much, she got antsy when people looked at them though, I knew she was waiting for questions, but they never came

Everyone was calm about it, though I could see they wanted to ask, but no one was going to push her into it, and I'm guessing they think they're all self-inflicted

But I saw this all as a good thing, it was another step she was making in the right direction.

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