Gabriella Davey stared at the fire watching the sparks springing from log to log, her mind a million miles away. She shifted forward in the wooden lounge chair hunching her shoulders slightly, feeling the warmth from the fire bathe her legs. She ran her hand through her hair. She was glad it was finally almost back to the length it had been before she’d been snatched by the Jackals two and a half years ago. After the kidnapping she’d been forced to cut it really short because it was so matted. Now it was almost the length it had been before they took her and it hung almost to her mid back in gentle waves that curled at the ends. Gabi hugged herself feeling gloomy. She didn’t like remembering the past, because thinking about her time with those animals sent pain roaring through her. It might have been years later, but she was still messed up by the time she’d spent in that shack they’d shoved her into.
She could still feel the hands that had held her down while the men had raped her. Her ears still rang with their sinister laughter. Gabriella had tried to escape the thoughts of those evil men, only to be reminded every time she slept. Two years should be long enough to escape the nightmares. It wasn’t. She woke less than thirty minutes ago in a cold sweat, a scream poised on her lips, and her mind ablaze with the memories of those weeks she’d spent in hell. Gabi was trying not to think about how she’d died a little inside that shack.
It was funny, before she’d been taken she had hated the shortened version of her name and had gotten mad any time someone called her Gabi. Now she felt like a different person and the name Gabriella didn’t fit anymore. She was Gabi now. Sad, damaged, Gabi.
She tightened her arms around her legs, thinking. As if the dreams weren’t enough pain for her to suffer, the fact that her brother had betrayed his club and ruined his life was still something she dealt with every day. He still hadn’t earned his previous position in the club back. It hurt her heart that Mark, who’d always loved his MC, had been forced to choose her over the club. He had fared better than most people who’d betrayed the club. Normally betrayal came with a death sentence. Bone had let him slide only because he’d been trying to protect her.
Not that she’d been saved. By the time they’d come to save her, she’d been beyond saving. Mark hadn’t known that they’d been raping and beating her, or he would have likely been killed trying to rescue her. Instead, the Jackals had told him that she was locked up and that they were taking care of her. That was bullshit of course, because those bastards weren’t capable of taking care of anything. Gabi jumped when she heard a snap. Her head turned towards the sound, and her heart began racing.
The shadow that stepped from the edge of the woods made her breaths come unevenly for a moment until she recognized who was standing there as the moonlight fell across his face. He stood silently for a moment just staring. Why he came to her every night was still a mystery to her. He had to know it was useless for him to come here, and yet he came anyway. She wondered how he always seemed to know when she needed him. It was like the man had some kind of radar that let him know she was upset or hurting. It was eerie how he always knew.
“You okay?” Pretty Boy asked, his eyes intently pinned to her face as he took another step towards her.
“Yeah, just a nightmare.” Gabi told him, trying not to sound small or pathetic.
“That’s three this week. You need to talk to the head doc again?” He asked as he took the seat next to her.
“No, I talked enough. It’s just going to be this way. Maybe in a few years the dreams will fade, I don’t know.” Gabi shrugged unconcerned. There wasn’t anything she could do about the memories, and that meant that she’d likely always have the dreams. It was the reason she didn’t take things forward with Pretty Boy. He was waiting for her to be ready. He’d been waiting for two years, and she had no idea why.
“You sure?” He asked.
“I’m sure. You know you don’t have to come here every night. I’ll be fine by myself.”
“Never said you wouldn’t be.” Pretty Boy said, propping his feet on the small table that sat between them and the fire, watching her silently. His eyes assessing her as they ran over her from head to toe.
“You need to stop showing up here. We can never be anything more than what we are right now and we both know it.” Gabi didn’t want to say it, because she honestly didn’t know what she’d do if he listened and stopped coming to see her. Hell, she wasn’t really sure of anything except her need to do the right thing and push him away. He was a good man and he deserved a whole woman who could love him, not one who couldn’t even sleep at night. Her heart clenched thinking of him with another woman, and it made her want to snatch the words back, but she didn’t.
“Do we know that? I think we don’t know, and we should just wait and see what happens.” Pretty Boy replied, his arms folding behind his head as he looked at her with a little smirk on his lips. Gritting her teeth at his high-handed behavior, she growled a little and glared in his direction.
“Why are you still doing this? It’s been two years Pretty Boy. If things haven’t changed by now they aren’t likely to.” Gabi felt like she was clawing out what was left of her soul by saying those words to him in such a nasty tone. She couldn’t believe that she was trying to shove away the only person, besides her brother, who cared about her wellbeing.
“No,” Pretty Boy grunted, a dark glower on his face. “Enough! We’ve discussed this. You can’t make me walk away. It’s never going to happen, even if nothing changes between us.”
“But why? You deserve to be happy and I can’t give you that.”
“I am happy, and my happiness will always be about this, about us.” Pretty Boy jerked forward, no longer relaxed in the chair. The sudden movement of his body should have scared her after everything she’d been through, but it didn’t. She knew that there wasn’t another person on the planet that she was safer with, and that included her brother.
“That’s the point, there is no us! There can’t be an us! I’m too broken, and you need to stop waiting on me to be whole.” Gabi’s voice raised, getting louder with each word until she was almost yelling at him by the end of her statement.
“You aren’t broken anymore, firefly. You never were. Yes, you were hurt and you’re still healing, but you have never been broken. Never.” He said the words like he knew, like he understood, but he couldn’t. He just couldn’t. For a moment she couldn’t speak, and she sat there staring at the fire trying to get her thoughts in order. Shaking her head with her hands trembling, she stood up and she tried not to fall apart as she found her voice again.
“I’m shattered Kyle. I am. You have to accept it because that’s not going to change. Just stop coming here every night. I’ll be fine without you,” but even as the words left her mouth Gabi felt her chest tighten. Panic teased at the edges of her mind and she shoved it back with both hands. She didn’t want him to listen to her commands to leave her alone. It actually scared her half to death to even think about it, but she knew letting him move on was the right thing to do. She would never be who she’d once been. She could never again be that innocent girl who believed in fairy tales and happily ever after’s. Her nightmares were real, and they lived and breathed, even if the men who caused them were nothing more than worm food, thanks to Pretty Boy and the other Red Devils.
Pretty Boy let out a sigh as he stood slowly to his feet, and for a moment Gabi felt panicked that he might actually listen to her, but he just walked over and lifted her in his arms before sitting down in her chair with her cradled in his lap. Gabi tried hard to force herself to push him away and stand, but her heart wasn’t in it. She wanted to be close to him, and despite her resolve to try and force him to see that she was a lost cause, she just couldn’t seem to make her body cooperate.
“You need to get some more sleep, babe.” He grunted before he settled her, shifting her around until her head rested comfortably on his shoulder, her legs arranged over the arm of the chair. Gabi closed her eyes feeling the warmth that seeped into her body from his. She had to admit that she needed that warmth almost as much as she needed air to breathe. Why couldn’t she ever manage to do the right thing when it came to Kyle ‘Pretty Boy’ Cutler? Every night that she ended up out here in the dark trying to hold off the nightmares it always ended in the same routine. She made a fire and Pretty Boy showed up to hold her till she fell asleep again. Every time she would wake up the next morning in his arms feeling guilty that she’d allowed him to keep the nightmares at bay again. Gabi wasn’t sure how it had started, but it had been the same for over a year now.
She would wake up with a scream poised on her lips, sweat pouring off her, and her heart pounding in her chest like a drum. She’d get up and pace the floor for a while until being inside felt like being in a prison. She’d find herself outside starting a fire in the little fire pit Mark had made for her a year ago, and she would sit in her lounger waiting. She never admitted to herself that she was waiting for him, but she was, and he always came.
When he went on a run for the club she’d find Log waiting on her instead. The first time that had happened she’d been shocked, but apparently Pretty Boy had arranged things so that one of them was in Devils Falls at all times. Log was sweet and would sit with her, but she knew she’d likely freak if he ever tried to touch her. It was different with Kyle. Hell, everything was different with Kyle. He took charge and he’d been there for her from the moment they’d pulled her from that shack. Her brother had been there too, but in a strange way having Kyle near comforted her more. She should have latched onto the familiar face of her brother, but somehow since that night she felt safer with Kyle. It was odd really. He hadn’t been the only one there that night. Nearly everyone in the club was there. Ratchet was even the first one to enter the shack that night, but it didn’t matter. Something about Kyle soothed her soul.
Gabi felt her musings slipping away as his hand ran soothingly up and down her arm as he held her tightly against his hard chest. Her body recognized his and her mind was calmed by his even breathing that puffed against her hair as his lips rested on her head. He didn’t speak and he never tried to take his embrace further than just holding her, but she knew from the hard bulge in his pants that he wasn’t unaffected by her. If only she could trust herself and her desires enough to allow him to take this a step further, but she couldn’t. Even now she was scared she’d panic and fight him, knowing it would hurt him and likely her too. She didn’t have to try to let him know that she was too ruined to be his sexually, and that made her heart shatter all over again even as she slipped into a deep dreamless sleep.