Jax was wincing as he came down the stairs and went right to the kitchen. Ariana was there eating at the table, he noticed she was wearing one of his uncle’s t-shirts and a pretty bad black eye. “Are you ok?” he went and grabbed a cup of coffee hoping to jump start his system and ease the worry she was causing him. He was aching from his fight with the rogues but none of that compared to the gut clenching worry knotted in his stomach as he saw her black eye.
“You missed a spectacle of ass kicking we won but not without a few battle wounds.” Now that she mentioned it he noticed the sword sheath she had laid across the table, ready to be grabbed at a second’s notice.
Ariana gave that some thought. “I left him in the bathroom.”
Surprisingly enough that didn’t bother Jax as much as he was expecting, probably because his head was already hurting too much or because he physically couldn’t let his brain go there. “And Kid? I heard he was apart of the ass kicking.” He had spoken to Andrew before coming down. The guy was a mess but talking about something else helped at least for that short while.
“I personally train him and not to brag I’m pretty good.”
Again he was reminded rather boldly how different she was. Jax carried the cup of coffee over and joined her at the table. “How did you come into each other’s lives?”
Ariana finished off a slice of pizza as she gave his latest question thought. “He was a mission that opened my eyes to what the union was doing. I had loyally hunted with them and at their order for a year taking out rogues I was told were dangerous. Now I don’t know if they were all as bad as I was lead to believe and I have to live with that guilt. Thirteen months ago I was dispatched to a small shack to bring in a wereleopard. I got a description and not much more else. I didn’t know I would be finding a fourteen year old kid.” She rolled her shoulders as the emotion of the memories began to weigh on her.
Jax sat back in his chair and waited for her to continue at her own pace. This had been what he wanted, to gain some insight into the head of the woman Ariana was now. What happened to mold her and twist her into someone with no faith and driven by dark emotions.
“I wasn’t there alone like I was to believe. There was backup and they took over once I got a lock on Kid. I was shocked and disgusted that anyone could think a boy with that innocent face could be harmful. The minute I laid eyes on him and show the terror in his eyes I knew something changed inside of me; it was like a light was turned on. I couldn’t stop him from being dragged to headquarters.” She hastily dried her tears and grabbed another slice of pizza from the open box.
“What happened next?”
“They held him in a cell.” Her voice dropped to a whisper as her mind went back to the memory she fought against remembering. “I knew they wanted to turn him into me and the thought drove me crazy. It took me six months but I got him and myself free from there before they could break him down and take away his past.”
Jax closed his eyes and tried to dull the ache in his head and chest. He was furious for her and with regret over everything that had happened. Two years was suddenly a lifetime. He had always known hunters were evil monsters after they killed his mother but now after listening to the evils they could do outside of death was something else entirely. It made sense for her to shut down and avoid the real, it was less painful. What she admitted to was only the beginning; he knew it was worse than she could ever confide in.
“You should probably go lay back down.”
Jax opened his eyes and saw the look of concern she wore. It was nice to know she still cared. “I can’t sleep with Shelby out there. What’s taking Clive so long to make his demands?”