10.5- Goodbye, Tyler

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As soon as I threw open the door, I entered to find Tyler clutching his arm, blood dripping from a deep gash and onto the kitchen tile beneath him. My gaze met his only for a split second before I acted, grabbing a towel from the bathroom and handing it to him.

"What happened?" I asked.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" His voice was low and cut deep through my chest. I reacted by getting angry, angrier than I ever had at him. He had put my life in danger by kidnapping me and I was getting sick of him not trusting me, of him not telling me what those men even wanted.

"What the fuck was I supposed to do, huh Tyler? They barged in on me. I handled it the only way I could."

"You shouldn't have even let them in."

"I didn't think I had a choice. Besides, I was handling it."

"Oh yeah, it sure looked like it." He spat.

"I would have been fine."

"No you wouldn't have. You don't know what they're capable of."

"So fucking tell me!" I yelled, putting my hands on his chest and pushing him backwards. "What do they have on you, Tyler? What?"

"Nothing."

"You're such a liar. I know you didn't choose this. So fucking tell me."

Tyler's eyes darkened and he took a step toward me, attempting to intimidate me with his size.

"Why the hell are you still here?" He demanded. "Only an insane person would come back to the place where she was kidnapped and almost killed."

"I came to see if you were okay."

"I am. Now leave."

My eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "First you're tying me up and now you're telling me to run? Make up your mind."

"They've seen your face, Aly. What do you not get about that?"

"What, so you want me to get out and leave you to deal with the consequences? What if I call the cops?"

"At this point, I don't really care."

That declaration didn't confuse me as much as it should have. I stared into his eyes as if searching for answers and instead found specks of yellow in his brown irises. Just like there were specks of compassion in an otherwise cold exterior. I knew what he wasn't saying. I could read between the lines.

"You'd rather go to jail than have them hurt me?" 

Tyler took a couple steps back, his gaze travelling to the floor. He didn't respond. He didn't really have to. I watched as he made his way over to the sink and removed the towel, letting the water from the faucet wash out his wound.

There's no way Tyler still considered me a stranger. He wouldn't risk everything if he didn't care about me, at least a little bit. 

Hearing Tyler's muttered swears was enough to get me to act. 

"Yeah, well I don't want them to hurt you either."

I left my spot and got medical supplies from his bathroom before making my way to the kitchen. Standing next to him at the sink, I waited until he was done washing it before wrapping it in a clean towel to pat it dry.

Tyler's hand immediately covered mine. "I don't need help." 

"Yes you do. Deal with it." I kept my voice level even though the feeling of his hand on mine was enough to send my heart into overdrive.

Hesitantly, Tyler removed his hand and let it rest at his side. There was no way he was going to do all of this with one hand, let alone his left one. As I examined the cut, I couldn't help but wonder how it happened. It wasn't as deep as I thought, but it was jagged and long. Not at all like one from a knife.

I got out some antiseptic cream and gently rubbed it on his forearm. Tyler winced, but I didn't think it was entirely from pain.

"Why don't you fight back?" I asked.

"I can't."

"Why not?"

He remained silent, his jaw clenched and looking away from me.

"I know you're not the one in danger. It's your family, isn't it?" I probed.

"Drop it."

I did. His reaction was enough for now.

It took another five minutes to finish bandaging him up. Five minutes of silence and me touching his muscular forearm, trying not to think too much of it and concentrate on the task at hand. When I was done cleaning his wound, Tyler quickly moved away from me. He created space by taking a few steps back, clutching his right arm and giving me a pointed look. "You should probably go."

"I should?"

"They can't find you here again."

Though he made a good point, I didn't want him to be right. As crazy as this all was, I wasn't ready to leave. His apartment was starting to feel comfortable. The mystery behind his life was too captivating. Plus, he was in danger, and as much as I hated to admit it, I cared about him. Much more than I should.

"Will they come after me?"

"They shouldn't. They think you're just some girl I'm sleeping with."

"If only that were true." I muttered under my breath, soft enough that he didn't hear. I hoped.

"What?"

"Nothing. I won't rat you out, by the way. I hope that's obvious by now."

Tyler still didn't seem to trust me, but said 'ok' anyways.

"Ok then. Can I have my shoes back?"

After spending the next couple of minutes gathering my stuff amidst the disaster that was Tyler's apartment, something caught my eye that I hadn't noticed before. A piece of mail with his last name on it.

Not thinking much of it, I opened the front door and looked back at him, carrying my things in a plastic bag. He stood in front of me and pulled my car keys out of his pocket. 

"I'm sorry I got you so involved in all of this." Tyler said. 

"I'm not." I told him honestly. "You're a good guy, Tyler. It didn't take much to figure that out."

Tyler blinked as if unsure how to react. Instead of saying anything, he just looked at me with the same blank expression that I was used to by now.

"Goodbye, Tyler."

"Bye, Aly."

And just like that, I was free.


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