Fighting to be free, p.29
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       Fighting to Be Free, p.29
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         Part #1 of Fighting to Be Free series by Kirsty Moseley

  Jamie shook his head quickly, and I breathed a sigh of relief. “No. He was a sadist, so he just used to like it when I was in pain. Thankfully, he never paid much attention to Sophie. Well, not until the day she died anyway.” He practically growled the last part. “I hated him so fucking much, Ellie. I used to dream about fighting back, about taking the knife that he always had clipped on his belt and ramming it through his heart. But I couldn’t because things were better for Sophie with him there, so I just let it go on.”

  “You let it happen so that your sister could eat? That’s, that’s—” I shook my head, not having the words.

  He shrugged as if it were nothing. “She was the most important thing, and when he was there things were better for her. I coped with it.”

  “Jamie, I’m sorry,” I whispered.

  “Sorry you ever met me, huh? Yeah, you probably should be. You don’t need someone like me in your life,” he stated flatly.

  I stood up and walked the four paces to him, gripping his hand, pulling gently to try to get him to look at me. He turned, but his eyes were firmly fixed on the floor again now. I’d never realized how insecure he was; he was like some sort of little lost boy thinking that everything was above him and he didn’t deserve things.

  “You’re wrong. I do need you in my life,” I corrected him. I went up on tiptoes and pressed a kiss on the edge of his jaw. He made a sort of whimpering noise as his hands went to my hips, pulling me to him so tightly that my body was almost crushed against his. He bent and buried his face in my hair as I snaked my arms around his waist, hugging him fiercely.

  “I need you, too. I love you, Ellie, so, so much,” he mumbled into my hair.

  We stood there holding each other until I could stand the silence no longer. “What happened?” I asked, meaning with Sophie.

  He sighed and guided me over to the sofa again. He sat and pulled me close to his side. My ribs were starting to ache because he’d clamped me to him so tightly, but I didn’t say anything about it. He obviously felt like he needed to keep hold of me, so I wasn’t going to ruin that feeling of security for him.

  “I decided to leave. I came up with a plan for me and Sophie to leave, and for me to take care of her on my own. I was already doing that anyway, but I thought that if we left it’d be better for both of us. Trouble was, I had no money. I started asking around to see if anyone wanted to give me a job, but I was only eleven, and no one wanted a schoolkid working for them. Then one day this guy came to the house and had this huge blowout with Ralf about something. I’d hidden at the top of the stairs and listened to them argue. Apparently Ralf had promised to do some robbery job for this guy, but he’d backed out last minute. I followed the guy out and asked if I could do the job instead. He said no because I was a kid, but he did offer me something else. A delivery job. I didn’t ask what I was delivering, I didn’t need to know. All I needed to know was that he paid me a hundred bucks for it. I went back the next day and did another delivery after school and got more money, and then the guy asked if I wanted to do more jobs,” he explained.

  Understanding washed over me. “This was how you got tangled up with Brett.”

  “Mm-hmm.” He nodded. “It started out easy; a delivery job here and there. Then things got more involved, and I got paid more. Money seemed to be all I could think about. The more jobs I did, the more money I got and the closer I came to having enough for me and Soph to start over on our own. I started skipping school all the time, and I’d hang out at Brett’s workshop with the guys who worked for him. I started training with them all too, doing weights and fighting and stuff, so I learned a lot about self-defense, but I continued to let Ralf do what he wanted so that he wouldn’t know that I was planning on leaving with Sophie. Ray, the head mechanic, he would let me help him with the cars, showing me how to fix them and stuff. By the time I’d been there for six months, I could strip an engine and put it back together again. Ray also showed me how to steal them. Turns out I was pretty good at it,” he said, laughing quietly.

  “I was saving up. I decided to wait until I was sixteen so that I could rent a place legally. A couple of years passed that way, then one day I spent too long at the warehouse. Ray and I got caught up cooing over some sports car. Funny how I can’t even remember what the car looked like now.” He frowned, obviously trying to recall that insignificant detail. “I was fourteen, and Sophie was seven. I was late getting home. Ralf had been drinking, and I guess because I wasn’t there to—” He stopped talking and squeezed his eyes shut as he shook his head.

  “Jamie?” I prompted when he didn’t carry on.

  “It was my fault,” he whispered suddenly.

  “What? No.” I shook my head fiercely.

  He nodded. “Yeah. I should have gone home right away; if I had then he wouldn’t have laid his dirty pervert hands on her.” He choked on a sob. “He … hurt her. When I walked in the living room she was sobbing in the corner while he sat there and—” He groaned, and I dug my fingers into his thigh as I finished his sentence in my head. I’d never heard of anything so sick in my life. What kind of despicable person got off on seeing a child in pain? I felt dirty even thinking about it.

  “Where was your mom?” I asked, the tears flowing down my face freely now.

  He gulped. “Just sitting there,” he said disbelievingly. “She didn’t care. She loved Ralf, he gave her what she needed, she let him do what he wanted.” His chin trembled, and I saw a tear fall down his face and drop onto his jeans.

  I covered my mouth as I whimpered. She’d done nothing while her boyfriend had physically abused her daughter and was getting himself off because of it? That made her just as guilty as if she’d done it herself.

  “Sophie was cowering in the corner, crying, her nose bleeding, her lip split. He’d used the knife that he always used to use on me, and sliced a big gash on her forearm. She was so little, and he was sitting there, jacking off while he watched her cry. I totally lost it. I knew we couldn’t stay there anymore, so I told them we were leaving. I shouted at Sophie to get up and pack a bag, but he got between us. He said we weren’t going anywhere, that he owned us all and that Sophie was going to earn him money too, when she was old enough.” Jamie’s face was red from anger.

  “Ralf and I started fighting. The whole time my mom just sat there, watching with her glassy eyes, like she wasn’t even aware of what was going on,” he ranted. “Sophie got in the way, she was trying to stop us from fighting, I think. He … he grabbed her, and he slammed her head against the wall.” His voice broke and his fingers dug into my forearm unconsciously as he squeezed his eyes shut. “I can still see it, Ellie. When I close my eyes I can see it, clear as day. I can still hear the crack that her skull made as it smashed against the plaster. I can still picture the smear of blood on the wall as Soph crumpled to the floor.”

  I whimpered as I looped my arms around his neck, probably squeezing too tightly to be comforting, trying to save him from the memory of it. I prayed with every bone in my body that I could erase it, that I could somehow make it better or take it away. But there was nothing I could do.

  “I shoved him off me, and he crashed into the sideboard and was drunkenly trying to get himself up from the floor. I ran to Sophie, screaming at my mom to call for help, but she didn’t. She just fucking sat there!” he cried, wrapping his arm around me tightly. “I tried to help her, but it was no good. There was blood everywhere, the smell of it made me gag. Sophie was so still, so still …”

  I gulped, desperately trying not to picture it because I was attempting to be strong, but my mind was wandering there, grieving for the little girl I’d never met, the little girl from the photo. I pictured a young Jamie holding her in his arms, screaming at his spaced-out, drugged-up mother for help that never came.

  “When she stopped breathing, I just lost it. I totally lost it. My reason for living was gone, and it was all his fault. I … I killed him with my bare hands, but I just couldn’t stop. I have no idea how
long I was hitting him for, but apparently one of the neighbors heard screaming and shouting and called the police. They busted the door down and dragged me off. I was arrested for murder, but I didn’t care. All I could think about was that there was no point to my life anymore. The entire reason for me being alive was to be a big brother, but he took that away from me.” His voice broke with emotion as he buried his face into the side of my neck, his body trembling against mine.

  I tightened my arms when I felt his warm tears wetting my shoulder. Chewing on the inside of my cheek, I stroked his back soothingly while he cried. My chest was tight with grief, my stomach was churning and twisting because the love of my life was in pieces in my arms, and I had no idea how to help him, or even if I could.

  CHAPTER 27

  IT’S OKAY, EVERYTHING’S OKAY,” I whispered, stroking the back of his head.

  He’d stilled, his body no longer shook, but he was still clinging to me as if he was frightened to let go. “If I hadn’t spent too long at the warehouse drooling over that fucking car, if I had just told a teacher or someone what was happening, or maybe if we’d left earlier instead of me stupidly deciding to wait until I was sixteen, she would be here now. She didn’t deserve that, Ellie, she didn’t deserve to die,” he said softly, looking at his hands in his lap, a heartbroken expression on his face.

  “Jamie, you can’t blame yourself for something that someone else did,” I countered, shaking my head as I stroked the side of his face, wiping one of the tears away. “She was lucky to have a brother like you who looked out for her all the time.”

  “My mom said it was my fault,” he whispered.

  If I didn’t hate her before, I certainly hated her in that moment. What the hell kind of person wrongly blames a child for the death of his sister like that? It was despicable. “Why?” I asked disbelievingly.

  He licked his lips and gulped. “She said that I started the fight, that Sophie got in the middle of something that I started, and that’s why she got killed, and that I’d as good as murdered her myself.”

  My teeth ground together as I fought the urge to go find this woman who I’d never met and smack her in her sorry face for putting Jamie through that guilt. “Jamie, she sat there and let him hurt her yet blames you for killing her? She’s the one who did wrong! She’s the one who didn’t protect either of her children from a sicko! She’s the one who deserved to go to jail, not you!” I ranted angrily.

  Jamie smiled weakly. “She didn’t kill anyone, though; I did.”

  I didn’t know what to say to that. Anger was still surging through my system, making my hands shake as my jaw started to ache where I was clenching my teeth together so tightly. “You went to jail for killing Ralf?” I clarified. Jamie nodded. “But why? If he killed your sister, then surely it was self-defense,” I countered, confused.

  Jamie laughed humorlessly. “Wasn’t self-defense, Ellie. They had to have a closed casket at his funeral, apparently, because of the mess I’d made of him. Brett told me that the only way the coroner could identify him was from his fingerprints because his face and dental records were unrecognizable,” he stated casually.

  I cringed, thinking about Jamie doing that to another human being, but I didn’t think badly of him for it like he was probably expecting. He’d killed a sick person who had probably hurt hundreds of people in his life. I wasn’t going to condemn Jamie for taking a sadistic pedophile off the streets, even in that brutal manner.

  “But the courts must have known the reasons for you killing him. Didn’t you tell them what he used to do to you? What he’d done to Sophie? Surely they could have been lenient on you because of extenuating circumstances,” I protested.

  He frowned and shrugged. “I didn’t tell them anything about Ralf. I actually didn’t tell them anything. I was distraught with grief and guilt, and I didn’t talk to anyone about it. But the investigation established that he’d abused Sophie and then killed her first, and that I’d killed him after. I pleaded guilty to murder, but I didn’t tell them anything else. I didn’t want anyone to know. I guess I was ashamed of everything that happened. The judge was lenient because of the circumstances and Sophie being killed, so I didn’t get as long as I could have,” he explained.

  “What about your mom? Didn’t she tell them what happened?” Anger leaked into my voice as I mentioned his mother. I’d never hated anyone like I hated her, and I’d never even met the woman.

  He smiled sadly and shook his head. “No. She sat there in the courtroom and watched me get sent down for it,” he replied. “She came to visit me once when I was waiting to be sentenced. She told me that she hated me for killing Ralf, that I’d made her life unbearable because she loved him and I’d taken him away.”

  I almost growled with fury when he said that. She was angry with Jamie for killing Ralf, even though her abusive pimp had killed her daughter? That was disgraceful.

  “She told me that she had no son. I never saw her again. Well, not until she got involved with the loan shark anyway,” he stated, shrugging.

  The loan shark. He’d told me that she’d gotten in trouble and that he’d gone back to work for Brett to help her out. “Jamie, why did you help her? Why did you start working for Brett again, just to help her? I … I wouldn’t have done that, I would have told her to go screw herself, and I would have left her to it,” I admitted. Clearly Jamie was a better person than me; I wouldn’t have been able to help someone who let me go through that as a child. Someone who cared more about scoring drugs from her pedophile boyfriend than she did about her children.

  He sat back on the sofa and shrugged, looking at me with sad eyes. “She’s still my mom,” he said simply, as if that explained everything.

  Closing my eyes, I shook my head. “You’re an incredibly forgiving person.”

  “She’s not forgiven.” He snorted. “But I guess maybe I owed her for leaving her on her own. Sophie and Ralf both died, I went to juvie, and she had to deal with all of that alone. She’s an addict, Ellie. Addicts just can’t control or look after themselves.”

  Scooting closer to him, I pressed against his side and rested my head on his shoulder. “Jamie, I’m so sorry that you went through all of that. Sophie was a lucky little girl to have you as a brother and have you love her so much. You can’t blame yourself for anything, it wasn’t your fault,” I promised, absentmindedly fingering the bottom of his T-shirt.

  He shifted and wrapped his arm around my shoulder, managing to pull me even closer to him as he traced his nose on the side of my face. “Why do you never react the way I think you will? You confuse me so much,” he whispered.

  I smiled sadly as he ran his fingers through my hair, just looking back at me softly. “Maybe you should stop second-guessing me and just trust me a little more with your secrets.”

  A smile twitched at the corners of his mouth. “Maybe I should.”

  My hand unconsciously moved to his stomach, slipping under his T-shirt as my fingers found the biggest scar he had. I’d often wondered how he got it, but now that I knew the reason why he had it, I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to hear the finer details of his abuse at the hands of that sicko.

  “Do you want to talk about these?” I asked, following the line of the jagged scar that ran across his hip and over most of his stomach.

  His jaw tightened as he shook his head fiercely. “No. You don’t need to know that; it’s in the past, it needs to stay there.”

  “It’s not good for you to bottle it up,” I countered, looking at him sympathetically. “Maybe you should talk about it. It might make you feel better.”

  He shook his head again, his eyes hard and determined as he said, “Ellie, I don’t want you to know those things because you’ll look at me differently. You won’t see me anymore; you’ll just see the knife wounds, the belt marks, and the burns. I don’t want you to view me differently. I love the way you look at me,” he whispered, stroking the side of my face with the back of one finger.

  My
chin trembled as I looked into his pleading eyes. He was silently begging me to let it go and not keep asking. Maybe it was too painful for him to talk about; he couldn’t seriously be worried about me looking at him differently, surely. He should know me better by now.

  “I love every part of you, and if you want to talk about it, then I’ll listen and be here for you,” I replied.

  His answering smile was beautiful. “I know that, thank you.”

  We lapsed into silence, just sitting there looking at each other. His eyes told me everything I needed to know; I could practically see the love shining there. His fingers combed through my hair as he pressed his forehead to mine, his breath blowing across my face, making my heart race.

  I tilted my head up and softly brushed my lips against his. He made a little moan in the back of his throat as he returned the kiss just as gently, before pulling back and looking at me in awe. My love for him was a little overwhelming as tears prickled in my eyes. He smiled at me, that beautiful smile that made me go weak at the knees, and I couldn’t help but smile back.

  As his mouth inched toward mine again, everything seemed to fall into place. This boy in my arms was my whole world, my future.

  He made love to me there on the couch, but it was unlike anything I’d ever felt before in my life. We’d had sex before, I would swear on the Bible that he’d “made love” to me before, but this, this was so very, very different. It was magical. Every caress and kiss was different, like he was touching my very soul. The whispered words of love seemed to fill the room as the passion built to impossible heights. He literally gave me everything in that moment, everything of himself, all of his love and passion. It was the most breathtaking thing that had ever happened to me, and I’d never felt closer to anyone. It was almost as if, in that moment, we were one person. It made my heart swell and ache in my chest. It was so special that a tear escaped my eyes, and he simply kissed it away as he whispered how much he loved me.

  Afterward, he just lay on top of me and pressed his face into the side of my neck, his hands continuing to trace the contours of my body as we both caught our breath. I didn’t want to move, didn’t want to shatter this moment and take away the magic of what had passed between us. So instead I closed my eyes and held his sweaty body close to mine, letting his safety and protectiveness cover me as I drifted to sleep with a small smile on my face.

  * * *

  I felt him move, his warm body shifting away from mine, instantly making me feel cold. I was just about to complain when something soft and fluffy was placed over me, tucking up under my chin. I wriggled to get more comfortable and forced my tired eyes open to see him pulling on his jeans, moving stealthily as if trying not to wake me. He’d put a blanket over me, so I snuggled under it.

  I smiled to myself as I watched the muscles in his back tense and relax as he moved. When he bent over to grab his T-shirt from the floor, I chewed on my lip as my eyes practically devoured his ass.

 
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