As the bell rang, signaling the end of Lisanna’s first day, Lance took her hand and guided her through the hallways towards the front gate. He hadn’t been kidding about maintaining an image, as he’d changed his attitude and demeanor before leaving the comfort of the roof, and she now walked beside a much more intimidating figure. His appearance hadn’t really changed much, he now wore a tie that had earlier been cast aside, but he exuded an aura of power. They walked through crowded hallways, a sea of people parting to let them pass.
It was evident that the group was always together and Lisanna imagined it looked like a scene from some mafia movie where the boss and his minions marched, slow motion, towards the enemy. Lisanna walked beside Lance, equal if you will. Hovering slightly behind them, Aidan and Takashi surveyed their surroundings with acute awareness. They seemed like bodyguards more than friends and Lisanna giggled slightly. Taking up the rear, the twins and Erica chitchatted away, looking completely unfazed by anything. It was strange, but Lisanna guessed now that she’d gotten herself involved with a very eclectic group.
As they approached the front gate, Lance reminded Lisanna to meet him at the park across the street in the morning and to dress casual. She nodded and Takashi called out, stopping the group to chat really quickly before they left.
“I’d say we should all go to the theme park or something, but I’m sure you guys would like to be alone.” Takashi pouted slightly and Lance shrugged.
“I don’t mind if y’all come, if Anna doesn’t mind.” He replied, glancing at Lisanna in anticipation. Lisanna smiled, pleased that he was willing to let them join in their activity, and nodded cheerfully.
“That sounds like a blast,” She chimed. Turning to leave, Lisanna froze and unconsciously clung to Lance’s arm. “Is there another exit?” She mumbled under her breath, so soft Lance almost missed it.
“Not really, just some cut in the fence.” He muttered, watching her with concern. Lisanna took a step back, preparing to bolt, as the door to the car in front of them opened and he stepped out.
“Hayden.” She muttered under her breath and Lance followed her gaze.
“Anna,” He called firmly and Lisanna flinched, more disturbed by the fact that seeing him had caused her heart to race and places on her to tighten in response than the fact that he was very clearly angry. Lance scowled at the figure. Taking Lisanna’s hand in his, he looked at the rest of the group before marching on, ignoring this man’s existence entirely. They walked through the gates and immediately turned, heading down the road without a glance back.
“Anna,” Hayden called again and she hesitated, coming to a complete stop with the group surrounding her. His growl filled her ears, making her feel like a small child. “Don’t ignore me.”
Lisanna looked at Lance, her eyes pleading for him to help her. He wasn’t sure what to do. He looked at his friends and motioned for them to continue without him. They conceded and headed off, hugging Lisanna and tossing glances back to the man in the Porsche. He was now leaning against the hood of his car, one foot propped against the fender, waiting. Lance turned to Lisanna and smiled, reassuring her that everything would be okay. She believed him.
Walking towards the car, Lisanna eyed Hayden over. If she’d thought that Lance exuded power then she was sorely mistaken. Hayden controlled his environment as if it were simplistic. The students still filtering from the building averted their eyes and cowered away from his presence. Lisanna should have known that she couldn’t hide from him and she wondered, for a second, if she’d merely wanted him to chase her. The second he spoke she knew that wasn’t the case. She had wanted to free herself from what this could become.
“You moved in with Alex?” He growled and Lisanna nodded timidly.
“You enrolled in this shithole?”
Lisanna nodded once more, wanting to argue that this place wasn’t so bad but fearing his unrelenting temper. She felt Lance’s hand tighten around hers and she watched nervously to see if Hayden had noticed. He’d noticed. His gaze narrowed and something behind his eyes flashed. Was that red in his eyes or the reflection of his car? Lisanna slipped her hand from Lance’s and stepped forward.
“A lot happened over the last week. I was kicked out of school so I had to quit my job and look for a new place. Alex needed roommates so it worked perfectly. Then everything was hectic while I looked for a new school. I’m sorry I blew you off.” She rambled and his anger boiled over.
“Lies,” He remarked, his voice flat and dangerous.
“I had no way to tell you what’d happened.” She continued and he pushed off the car, taking a step towards her. Lance launched himself in front of her and glared at the man before him.
“Move kid.” Hayden barked.
Lisanna pushed Lance gently aside and stared up into Hayden’s face. Hayden watched her carefully, waiting, but she said nothing. Finally breaking, Hayden grabbed her wrist and pulled her forward, lowering his face to hers and growling, “You lie. You quit before you were kicked out.”
Lisanna instantly knew. “You had them revoke my scholarship all because I didn’t show up for your stupid date?”
Hayden was too occupied on Lisanna’s face to notice her free arm shoot out, blocking Lance from attacking. She was going to get this out, damn it. Hayden laughed sadistically, the sound causing Lisanna’s eyes to widen in fear.
“I could care less that you skipped on our date. Hell, I don’t care that you quit your job, moved all your shit, or even ran to another school instead of asking me for help. No matter what, you will still be mine. I will still find you. What I care about is the fact that every time I track you down, your acting like some prostitute looking for her next client.” He spat, now glancing to the man beside her.
Tears welled up in Lisanna’s eyes and Lance stared at the scene before him with disgust. She swallowed hard against the lump forming in her throat and stared back at him with every ounce of anger she could muster. “I hate you.”
Hayden smiled, grabbing her wrist and pulling her up to his face, kissing her without a single emotion besides contempt. “Hate me, then. As long as I can consume your every thought, I don’t care if you damn me to hell.”
Lance had had enough. His expression darkened in response and his voice lowered to match the raging tension around them. “Well, well. I see you haven’t matured at all, bro.”
Hayden’s nails dug into his palms as he faced the boy head on. The realization struck him and he was overwhelmed with confusion. He knew that face all too well. He only wondered now why he hadn’t realized it sooner. The boy was the spitting image of his mother. “What’s your name?”
Lance smiled sarcastically. “You still haven’t realized? Clayton Lance Aberdine, your beloved little brother.”
The air became cold as the tension became practically visible and Lisanna took a step back as she realized it as well. She had noticed the similarities before but had no reason to suspect what was now laid before her. She’d never known. The truth was, she realized, she didn’t know either of them at all. It had been less than two weeks since Hayden had uprooted her world and she’d only met Clayton today.
It only made sense that she knew nothing about them yet that realization made he feel very alone. The fact was it still hurt. For whatever the reason may be, she felt as if she’d known them forever. Standing as the outsider now, Lisanna realized how truly naïve she was. She took a step back and bowed.
“I can’t do this. I will have to talk to each of you later. For now, I wish to be alone and I would rather you two take the time to think.” Lisanna turned and marched away, both men staring after her in disbelief.
She’d brushed them aside so easily and now the situation had been defused instantaneously. It was as if their anger had nowhere to go. Hayden and Clayton glared at each other before turning their separate ways. As Hayden climbed into the car, he swore he heard Clayton mutter under his breath but then he was gone. Clayton turned the corner, wishing things were as simple as out of sight out of mind, and punched the brick wall lining the pathway.
His bastard brother was back, and he had his eyes set on Lisanna. All Clayton could think was how pathetic that guy was, knowing only how to forcibly take what he wanted. If he didn’t get his way then he retaliated, with words and childish actions. He pitied the fool but the fact was that Hayden had insulted Lisanna, and that was unforgivable.
His brother would pay, and Clayton would be the one to make him, even if it meant protecting Lisanna from herself. He’d seen the way she reacted to Hayden and it honestly concerned Clayton. Lisanna was consumed by emotions, childishly infatuated, and she was terrified by what she felt while being mesmerized by his power. Clayton would not let her see Hayden again. He would be the one to protect her.