"Did you or did you not tell me that both of you will return home at exactly three in the afternoon?" My dad asked Ayden and me in a soft sound that I knew was a facade.
We were in trouble and dad was not happy with us at all. If not for his clenched hands, the fact that Adrian was shaking his head behind him was all the proof I needed to know that we were going to get the grounding of our lifetime.
"You did," Ayden started, chewing his lips and looking anywhere but into my dad's eyes. "But the thing is, uh, there was someone who was asking us for help. Right, Ariel?"
"Yup," I agreed, bobbing my head up and down like a bobble head. "Someone asked us for directions, and us being the good children you raised us to be, helped the person out."
I smiled widely up at my dad, hoping that my grin wouldn't look fake. Dad arched an eyebrow up, while his lips twitched upward before letting it flat again.
"So what you're telling me, Ariel," Dad said, letting his voice sound solemn again. "Is that you and your brother were two hours late because you were helping someone out."
Well, that worked out better than I thought.
"Yes, daddy," I said, letting out another bright smile. "You're abchoutely correct."
Adrian let out a laugh, and I glared at him wondering what was so funny. I didn't appreciate his laughter. He was the reason why we were in this mess to begin with.
"Alright," dad said, turning towards Ayden. "Is what your sister is saying, true?"
Ayden coughed, before smiling weakly. "Yup. Completely true. We were just being good citizens and helping those in need."
"What was the person's name that you were helping?" My dad asked us and I blurted the first name that came to my mind.
Ayden and I spoke out at the same time before turning to glare at one another. If only he can keep his mouth shut, we wouldn't get into so much trouble all the time.
Behind my dad, Adrian looked amused and I could tell that he was trying to cover his laughter with his one hand.
"Ayden, Ariel," my dad said, raising an eyebrow towards us. "Was it Hannah or was it Raphael?"
"Um, it was Hannah Ann Raphael. You know, her first name was Hannah and her last name was Raphael?" my brother blurted out, making it seem like he was asking a question instead of stating a fact. Why can't he just keep his mouth shut?
"Or was it all a lie?" my dad calmly asked, crossing his arms in front of his chest and ignoring Ayden's blunder. "This Hannah, Ariel, won't happen to be the same Hannah from the show you always watch, can it? What was it called again?"
"Hannah Montana," Adrian supplied helpfully to my dad and I groaned in embarrassment and anger. Leave it to Adrian to take my dad's side on this.
"The same goes for you, Ayden," dad said turning his gaze towards Ayden who looked like he was going to pee on himself. "Is this "Raphael" the same one that can be found in the popular turtle fighting show?"
Ayden turned a few shades of red and I knew then that we were caught.
"It was his fault," I said abruptly, changing my defence position to offence. I'm not going to get grounded again. I would rather let Ayden take the blame. "I wanted to go home, daddy, but Ayden said that we have to play one more game of hide and seek or he won't share his cookies with me."
Ayden turned and I felt the glare he was firing at me.
"She's lying dad," he shouted, pointing a finger at me. "I wanted to go home so badly, but Ariel said that we have to play another game or she won't return my teddy bear!"
"I don't have your teddy bear!" I shouted back, knowing full well that I was lying and I do have his teddy bear. "Who would want that smelly old bear anyways. It smells worse than you!"
"I don't smell!" He denied, a blush forming on his face. "You're just jealous that you don't have a teddy bear anymore."
"And who's fault is that?" I demanded, getting angry with him. "You're the one who threw my teddy bear in the trash can!"
"I told you, I thought it was trash! It smelt even worse than the trash can I threw it into, " he shouted back.
"You smell worse than the trash can," I retorted back, sticking my tongue at him.
"Ariel, Ayden," Dad interrupted calmly while raising a finger and pointing it upstairs. "Go to your room and finish your homework. Both of you are grounded for a week."
"But daddy," I whined but stopped when seeing his stern face.
"No buts," he softly said and tilted his head to the stairs. "Now go."
"It's all your fault," I grumpily said, storming up the stairs in front of Ayden. "You just don't know when to keep that mouth shut, do you?"
"My fault?" He squeaked, poking me on my back. "You're the one who said Hannah. If you left the talking to me, we wouldn't have been grounded for a week."
"You're right," I said solemnly before turning to smirk down at him. "If I left the talking to you, we wouldn't have been grounded for a week, but instead a month."
There was a slight pause in his footsteps as he took the time to understand what I just said. I smiled when his mouth dropped and his face turned red.
"Ariel!" He shouted, and started to chase me up the stairs. I ran straight to my room, laughing while locking the door behind my sputtering brother.
It was just too easy to rile him up.
"Ayden!" A voice pleaded out in despair and I jarred awake hearing the sheer desperation in the familiar sound.
I looked around, disorientated for a second, before honing onto Ariel's pitiful state.
She was leaning against the wall, clutching her head into her knees, whimpering incoherent words every now and then.
Her arms were wrapped around her bent knees and I knew with a dreadful sigh, that she was lost in her mind.
Quickly as I can, I rushed to her side hoping I can soothe her before she woke herself up again.
I couldn't even imagine the pain she's in right now. Her whole body was black and blue and the liquid silver used on her back left her skin in shreds. It was a gruesome sight and half the time I wondered if death was truly a better option for the poor girl.
"It's just a dream," I murmured in her ear, gathering her frail body onto my lap, hoping I can provide her some of my warmth. "Go back to sleep."
"I c-can't," she mumbled into my chest and I was surprised and a bit disheartened to see that she was awake. Sometimes it was better for us to be asleep. That way we didn't have to face the real nightmare that's now have been our reality for three years. "It's s-so cold, Oreo. Are we in the N-North Pole?"
I smiled with tears filling my eyes, wondering how she can still joke around at a time like this. She really is an amazing person.
"And what do you know about the North Pole?" I teased her, hoping to get her spirits up a bit. "Have you ever been there before?"
She giggled softly and leaned closer, while shaking her head back and forth. "Maybe..."
"Maybe?" I gasped, tickling her sides carefully. "Does that mean you met Santa Claus?"
"You're funny, Oreo," she laughed, before her voice turned serious. "Everyone knows that Santa Claus is not real."
"You don't know that for sure," I responded lightly, carefully untangling the knots in her hair. "Most would say the same thing about werewolves but yet, we still exist."
Ariel pondered the thought for a moment, before nodding. "You're right, Oreo. Maybe there is a Santa Claus somewhere out there."
I smiled, seeing how sincere she looked. It was hard to remember that she's just thirteen years old sometimes. The way she talks and the way she sees the world makes me forget that she's only just a child underneath all her power.
"Orion," she whispered, and her soft voice brought me back from my thoughts. "Do you know what I think?"
"Hmm?" I asked quietly, smoothing her unruly hair down. Her once blonde hair now turned a whiter color, due to the lack of nutrition and light she got in here.
For some who looked at her, they would see an abused and depraved child, but for me, I could only see her beauty and power.
"I think that even if there was a Santa Claus, I don't think I'll ever meet him or get a present from him," she said sadly, and I cringed hearing the dullness in her voice.
"Don't say that, Ariel," I commanded lightly, fully aware that the next words coming out of my mouth was bullshit. "We'll get out of here soon."
"No, we won't," she sighed, and I felt one of her tears splash my neck. "But that's not what I meant, Oreo."
"Oh?" I asked softly, trying to relax the tone of my voice. It kills me inside when I hear her crying. I hate what that bastard does to her. He tries to break her spirit and sometimes I wonder how much time we have left, before he truly shatters her.
"I won't get any presents from Santa Claus ," she mumbled into my shirt, letting out a yawn. "I heard only children on the Nice list gets present from him."
"You silly girl. You're the nicest girl in the world," I murmured and I truly meant those words. The only reason why the other wolves, Leon and I were still alive, was because of this girl. Without her healing power, we wouldn't have lasted a month in this hell-hole.
"No, Orion," she said seriously, looking up at me, before cuddling into my chest. "I'm on the Noddy list. I know you don't see it but I know for sure I'm on it."
"And why do you say that?"
"Because I did things," she said quietly, and there was a tremble in her voice that made my heart leap.
Anger washed through my body and formed in the pit of my stomach as I grasped on what she was trying to tell me.
No one, myself included, knows what takes place when Lucius drags Ariel upstairs. Every time she limps her way down the dark stairwell, her body is in a condition worse than before. Black and blue, with blood always dripping down.
What Lucius is doing to her is not just abuse, but torture. That bastard is torturing her for his own sick pleasure and we have no way of stopping him.
She never talks about it to us and we always let it go, trying to cheer her up instead. And for that, I'm grateful because seeing is one thing, but hearing what goes upstairs is a boundary that I don't think I would ever be ready to cross.
As cruel as it may seem, I only pray that the abuse she endures is physical. Because thinking otherwise, was not something that I'll ever be able to face or digest.
A sick sense of dread filled the pit of my stomach and I tried not to gag, when voicing my next question. "What things are you talking about, honey?"
Ariel barely shrugged and I felt I was carrying a half-dead body on my lap. She looked so vulnerable, engulfed against my much bigger form.
She looked like a broken, used up doll.
"I don't know," she whispered softly, trying to control her breathing. "B-but Oreo, I don't like doing it at all. He makes me do t-things and I feel so d-dirty sometimes."
Her tears were my undoing and the anger I had toward Lucius increased with the hatred I held toward myself.
I didn't want to hear anymore but I punished myself by listening to her whimpers and cries. I wasn't strong enough to save her and the worst thing is, I don't think I'll ever be strong enough to beat him.
"Oreo?" she asked and I gulped, trying to stop my voice from breaking.
"Do you think my family will still want me?" Ariel asked, sounding sad and tired. "Do you think Ayden and Adrian still care about me?"
"Of course," I responded, thinking to myself how lucky her family was to had such a bright sunshine in their lives. "Why would you ask such a question?"
"I don't know," she hiccuped, before whispering the next words. "I'm afraid they'll forget all about me one day. Who knows? Maybe they're happy I'm gone."
"Don't say that," I commanded, hoping to get my message through. How can she not see how damn special she truly was? "They'll never forget you, sweetheart. You're one of a kind. Impossible to forget and forever to love."
"You're so sweet," she murmured, letting out a small giggle. "I'm so happy that you guys are here for me. I don't know what I'll do without you."
"No Ariel, you're wrong," I murmured, amazed on the amount of kindness she has in her heart. "We don't know what we would've done without you."ns22.214.171.124da2