They told me that Nick had been found at the site of the crime and was about to be handed into police custody. The rational part of me, the one which I'd ignored for so long believed for some reason that he was innocent, that he wasn't capable of sinking so low because fact was Nick never had the guts, he was all talk and that I was sure of.
"He isn't making much sense right now but maybe you could get something out of him." Liam had gotten back his usual confidence back after the meltdown and he was like a man possessed, in the confines of Zach’s basement a lot of questioning had been done, from where I sat
on the stairs I had heard a lot of shouting but all of it had been from the guards or Liam, Nick was an absolute mess, barely speaking like he was in shock or something. Now I was being told that I should
speak to him and that since he knew me he would respond better to me. Bruce had intervened at that point, saying that that could put me in danger but I had assured them that I knew the guy well, he was capable of a lot of things but never physically harming another person.
I took the seat across Nick's with a table in the middle but the setting felt too much out of a CSI Miami episode so I shifted my chair and placed it next to his. He had his head buried in his hands, not even looking up like he'd never even noticed another person's presence in the room.
I placed a hand on his shoulder, “Nick?" I said softly and felt his muscles flex beneath my hand. His eyes were bloodshot as he met my gaze. I could tell that they'd witnessed something horrific, something
which had snatched the light away from them.
“Oh thank god" he surprised me by giving me an awkward one armed hug and I patted his back in return. He didn't leave me for a while, through the thin material of his t-shirt I could feel his heart
“What happened Nick?" my voice was muffled as my head was against his shoulder.
“I don't know...I just... We were talking and then Olivia walks in. She was acting crazy you know? Shouting, throwing stuff and then she got out a gun..."
My breathing faltered as he began to graphically describe how Olivia had shot Zach and managed to run before the security had rushed in. A heavy sort of weight settled inside me and tore me up when he said that Zach only kept one or at most two guards with him and had sent most of them with me to New Hampshire. How could I have been so stupid so as to miss that? What world had I been living in?
“Olivia-what happened with her? I mean at the press conference you guys looked happy..." I trailed off, it wasn't making sense, nothing
was now that I knew that it was indeed my sister who'd shot Zach. Yes I knew she wasn't in the right state of mind but in her own twisted and demented way she cared about Zach or at least she was aware of the fact that she could use him for her own gain so why did she just destroy any chance she might have left with him?
“Don’t be stupid Ari!" he reprimanded me like I was a dense child. “The only reason Zach put up with her was because he wanted to find out who the person behind your accident was. That was why he brought me in. I've been spying on Olivia for weeks now and two days ago she told me everything. It was all her Ari, the abortion, Randy, the accident she was behind everything. When I told Zach, you should've seem him...he would've killed her if Liam hadn't stopped him."
Somehow I felt like I already knew this, like some part of me was aware of Olivia's hand in this and Zach's innocence but hearing those words from someone else's mouth made it all so much worse. What I'd said to him...that day at his house and the hospital, remembering them made me want to run into his arms and hold onto him, beg him to forgive me, to love me again but then did I deserve it anymore? I knew I didn't.
“Did she find out? Did she know that you didn't like her?"
" It just wasn't that. Things were becoming harder her, Zach made sure to make her suffer all the time. He told the press that he'd left her, a divorce and everybody took his side because Olivia was spotted with me a lot of the time. It was everywhere you know? People thought she'd cheated on him; the day after the conference we had reporters all over the house. Then he had her removed from the project, it was getting to her. These last two days she'd always be drunk...I knew she was going
to have a meltdown any minute and tell me everything."
" You came to tell Zach when you found out and she followed you didn't she?" I guessed and he nodded as he squeezed his temples. I sat back in my seat, processing what I'd just heard now nursing a pounding
headache of my own. What had I done to deserve someone as special as Zach? How could I have been so blind? He loved me, he loved me enough to risk his life for me and here I was, a useless pathetic girl who'd been played like a fool.
“Do you know where she is?" He shook his head in response to my question, “She ran off, took off before we could get to her. Zach needed to be taken to the hospital and when we'd taken care of him she had left."
My knees were knocking together as I stood up, I knew where she was, it was really wasn't that hard to guess, knowing that my sister was off of her rocker, it was obvious that she wouldn't run. What she
would do was try to go on with her life like nothing had happened. It was hard to believe but then I knew her better than anyone else, I had seen firsthand what her crazy phase was like and the one thing I'd learnt was that when she was like this, rational thinking was a very distant concept. It was like she'd become a totally different person, someone who would switch off their emotions, someone monstrous, ruled and controlled by something very dark.
I was well aware of the risk I was taking as I started driving towards my house. She was out of control, she could and would do anything without a hint of remorse but if I didn't end this then it would go on
forever, her presence in my life, the power she would hold over me, the guilt that had always linked me to her since the day of the wedding, none of it would ever go away so this was it, this was the
time to severe any tie I had left with her.
The lights were out as I pulled into the driveway, no one else was at home but I knew there was most definitely a team of security trying to discretely follow me but it was rather obvious and comforting to know that I had the back-up I needed.
Carefully I walked inside my childhood home, memories of my time here playing inside my head like a photo reel. Olivia had been with me through a lot, she was always there holding on to me when I broke down but the sister I knew was long gone and the one that had taken her place...well I hardly knew her.
Light streamed in from the pool house and I could hear the sound of water splashing. Swimming...she was swimming after she'd shot someone, it was like every ounce of humanity in her had died. Anger was a soft word for the feeling that burnt red hot in me but I needed self restraint when handling her, she knew how to take advantage of emotions and play them to her own advantage, it was exactly what she'd done to Zach and me.
She was leisurely wading through the water when I entered. There was a serene, almost angelic smile on her face like she was so at peace.
“Took you long enough baby sis." My heart threatened to jump right out of my chest but I tried to not show it, control, I needed to muster up all my courage and self control for this moment.
“You were expecting me?" My heels made a click clack sound as I settled myself on a pool chair. A hint of a smirk appeared on Olivia's face as she skillfully continued her backstroke.
“Totally. You were never one to sit back and enjoy the show, not when you could have a part to play as well."
Her words confused me, they didn't sound as cool and collected as she
was trying to make them sound and I knew what she was hinting towards, Zach. It would always come down to Zach.
" So what do you think I'll do now?"
" You'll cry, tell me how much you hate blah blah blah, cry some more, give me a lecture on morality and then guess what? You.Will.Cry."
" You think I'm weak, you think you could do anything to me and I'll do nothing about it, give or take a few tears?"
" That’s right, I mean I killed that bastard child of yours, I had Zach leave you, broke up that fake little relationship for good and today I shot him but I'm still here aren't I? You're pathetic Ari, always have
been always will be."
I counted to ten in my head, take a deep breath Ari, now was not the time to lose control, if anything now was when I needed to beat Olivia at her own game.
She'd stepped out of the pool and was drying herself with a towel before wrapping it around her waist. She waltzed up over to me looking like the picture of ease and with shaky legs I got up to greet her.
“So what's the plan? The lecture or the crying first?" She asked as her lips pulled up into the ugliest smile I had ever seen.
My palm made contact with her cheek before I could stop myself. I really really needed to get the smug smile off her face. She looked stunned and snarled raising her own hand to hit me but I grabbed her
wrist and twisted it painfully making her shriek.
“That was for those weeks you kept me locked up." I spat and used my free hand to pull her hair with the full intention or ripping it out. Her eyes were ablaze with fury as she shot vicious glares at me.
I slapped her hard again, satisfied when I successfully left a print of my hand on her face.
“That was for what you did to Zach and me."
She struggled against my grip as I shoved her up against a wall, slamming her head into it and used my knee to kick her in the stomach, watching her writhe in agony, " and that was for what you did
to my baby you bitch." She'd only just recovered from the previous
blow when I pulled my fist back and aimed for her nose. The way she was cowering, not defending herself at all empowered me; let me feel that I could do anything to her that I wanted. Instead of hitting her I dragged by the hair towards the pool, shoving her face into the water and watching her struggle to breathe.
“That’s what it felt like when I was losing my child! Like I was dying, like it was my lost moment to live!" I shrieked possessed by an almost animalistic need to kill the person who'd taken away
something so precious away from me.
" Ari, Ari stop!" Bruce entered with about five men behind him, all with guns in their hands. I didn't stop however; I couldn't if I wanted to. I'd pull her up by the hair and then dunk it in the water again as she
coughed and spluttered water.
“Arianna you will not kill her! Let her go!" Bruce commanded and tried to loosen my grip on the struggling Olivia.
“You want me to let her go? Do you know what she's done?" I sobbed as my hand on her hair loosened on its own accord.
“Yes we do and she will be punished for it but not by you, we have the law for that and I will personally make sure that she gets the punishment she deserves." As he was calming me down, another man in
the black suit had lifted a semi-conscious Olivia from the ground and was escorting her out. Her chest still moved up and down so she was alive but had Bruce arrived a little later...
“Get a grip on yourself Arianna, she isn't worth it. She's done enough; don't let her ruin your life anymore."
He gave me a fatherly hug, one which had me crying shamelessly on his shoulder, it felt good to get it all out, I felt lighter, better but still not quite whole.
“Shh its okay, everything's going to be okay now. Come on, let's get you to the hospital, there's someone there who's asking for you." There was a hint of a smile in his voice and I pulled back immediately.
“You mean..." I dare not get my hopes up, my heart started racing in anticipation. Was he implying that...?
“Zach’s awake, Liam was there with him and he told him that you're back. Poor guy almost lost an eye, Zach's not happy that we brought you into this." He grimaced but the small smile on his face didn't go,
he was happy and what I felt was tenfold of that.
“You can go in now Mrs. Price." The nurse told me but my feet refused to move, I felt like I was cemented to my spot, like my legs had become lifeless so when the same nurse gave me a weird glance I didn’t really know how to respond.
“Go ahead Ari; he really wants to see you.” Liam came up from nowhere and placed a hand on my shoulder, giving it a little squeeze.
“But what…what am I going to say to him?” I stuttered, my face heating up at the prospect of seeing him after all this time.
“Go in, once you see him the words will come to you.” He smiled, making it seem like such a trivial matter but that did nothing to curb my nervousness. I was still frightened as hell, not knowing if I could ever face him again.
“Come on, go he’s waiting for you…” he nudged me and then placed his hands on my shoulders literally pushing me in. I was in a zombie like state, a rag doll who could be taken anywhere without protest.
I felt incredibly nauseous as I was mere inches from the door to Zach’s room and knowing that he was on the other side caused massive butterflies to erupt in my stomach. Here I was someone who’d been through so much and still the idea of seeing Zach made me feel like the teenager I truly was. What was wrong with me?
With a final push from Liam I stumbled into Zach’s room and my breath got caught in my throat as his eyes shot up the second the door opened.
Oh My God.
Breathe Arianna, remember to breathe.
Don’t cry, whatever you do don’t cry.
He looked fine, not like he’d just been shot but that was only because a sheet covered his wound. My body reacted greedily to his presence, like it had had enough of being starved of being near him, thumping heart check, heavy breathing check, blushing cheeks check, trembling knees double check.
We both stared at each, not daring to speak. The air crackled with tension and pent up emotion as his alluring blue eyes bore into mine, tenderly, softly like they were seeing right into my soul.
I felt myself being pulled to him by, tugged by an invisible string. It was strange how fragile he seemed to me, like one touch and he’d disappear. He watched with an astonished expression as I leant over him and cupped his cheek, the light stubble teasing my fingers.
“Ari…” he gingerly placed his own hand on top of mine.
“Shh, don’t talk. You need to rest.” I smoothed the hair away from his forehead, enjoying running my fingers through his silky hair.
“You shouldn’t be here.” He whispered like he was scared, like he thought I wasn’t real.
“I’ll be wherever you need me to be and right now I you need me here Zach, no arguments.” He looked transfixed, his eyes watching my every small movement.
He gave a weak nod; I could tell that he was exhausted.
“Lay with me?” he asked, surprising me with the request but at the same time filling me with warmth. He tried to scoot over but I stopped him, called in a nurse and had them arrange another bed which they joined to Zach’s. I shifted as close to him as was possible and lightly placed my head on his shoulder, kissing his collar bone.
“Ari?” he asked his voice laced with sleep.
“This isn’t a dream is it?”
I let out a soft laugh and kissed his cheek, “No, no it isn’t. “
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I Was Never YoursRomance
"You were forced upon me, you are a liability. I do not love you, I will never love you Arianna." What happens when on the day of your sister's wedding she decides to leave the groom at the altar and you're asked to marry your brother-in-law to be...