We must have fallen asleep because I
woke up with Liam wrapped all over me. I
looked at his clock. Holy crap, it was past
nine! Jake would be home already. I nudged
him awake. “Hey, I gotta go, it’s after nine,”
I stated, urgently trying to unwrap him from
He groaned. “Ten more minutes, Angel,” he
I laughed; he looked so cute when he was sleepy. I
giggled as I tickled him. “Liam, it’s not morning, it’s still
night-time, but I’ve got to go. Jake will be wondering where I
am!” I explained, finally prying him off me and jumping up.
He groaned and pulled me back down to him, holding me
tight against his body, smiling sleepily. I giggled. “Will you
stop! I need to go,” I said, laughing as he nibbled my
earlobe. He shook his head. “No, I don’t want you to go,” he
muttered, as he kissed my neck. I pushed him up and he
groaned. “But I’m going to miss you,” he whined, making
me laugh even harder.
“I’ll see you in an hour. Anyway, I have homework to
do,” I said, with a shrug.
He sighed in defeat. “Yeah, me too,” he admitted,
pouting slightly. I climbed out of his bed and went to the
door. “Hey wait. I’ll walk you out.” He grabbed my hand as
we walked down the hallway.
I stuck my head into the living room. “Bye, Pat. Bye,
Rick,” I called.
“Goodbye, honey,” Rick replied, not taking his eyes
off the TV.
Pat smirked at me. “Bye, Amber. Did you guys have
fun?” she asked, giving me a wink. I blushed like crazy and
nodded not sure that my voice would come out if I tried to
speak. Liam rolled his eyes and pulled me to the front door,
where he pushed me against it lightly and kissed me until I
“I’ll see you at half past ten, OK?” he whispered,
caressing my cheek.
I walked quickly to my house, turning back to smile
at Liam as I walked in the front door. Bless him, he was
standing on his porch checking to make sure I got home
safe and I live like thirty feet from him.
Jake was sitting on the sofa, waiting for me. As I
walked in the door he looked at me, his eyes tight with
anger. “Where have you been? I’ve been worried! You
could have left a note or something,” he said, shaking his
“Sorry, I was over at Liam’s. Pat asked me to stay
for dinner, and I thought, seeing as you weren’t here, that I’d
go so I wouldn’t be here on my own,” I said with a shrug.
“I love Pat’s dinners!” he moaned, his angry
expression leaving his face, to be replaced by a jealous
“Well you missed a good one too, she made a
homemade pie and everything,” I teased, smiling wickedly
as he groaned.
“Well, I enjoyed my grilled cheese,” he joked, making
“I’m going to go do my homework.” I turned and
started towards the hallway so I could go to my room.
“Ambs, wait a minute. I need to talk to you about
something,” he said, patting the couch next to him, looking
I plopped down next to him. “What’s up, Jake?” I
asked, concerned, he looked really upset about something.
He took a deep breath. “I spoke to Mom tonight.”
I smiled. “Yeah? Is she OK? Is she coming home?” I
asked, getting excited, thinking about seeing my mom
sooner than a couple of weeks. I’d missed her like crazy
and the time that she was here always seemed to go too
He shook his head. “She told me something, but I
don’t want you to freak out about it. There’s nothing to worry
about, I promise.” He took my hand and looked at me,
Oh crap, this is going to be bad! “What is it?” I
asked, already imagining the worst. We were going to have
to move to china. She’d lost her job. She was getting
remarried - but I suppose that wasn’t necessarily a bad
thing, unless he was a jerk. Hundreds of things were
running through my mind, but the last thing I expected was
what Jake said.
“Our father has been in contact with her. He wants to
see us, apparently, make amends for what he did,” he spat
through his teeth, his sadness turning to blind rage.
I couldn’t breathe. My lungs just refused to work. My
heart was beating way too fast as my body started to
shake. He was coming back. He wanted to see us. The last
time I saw that man, he had ripped my school shirt off me
and had pinned me to the floor while he undone his pants.
He was about to rape me when Jake and Liam came in
and beat the crap out of him. Oh God, he was coming back.
I replayed all of the beatings he handed out to me and
Jake, all the touching that happened when I was alone with
him, the whispered words and secret smiles. My vision
started to get black spots as I hyperventilated. I was going
to die I could feel it; my body was shutting down, unable to
deal with the memories and the pain.
I was vaguely aware of shouting. “Just let go. I can
help her!” a voice I recognised, shouted.
“Call 911 for fuck sake. She can’t breathe!” Jake
“Jake, let go of her! I got this, I promise,” the voice
said urgently again.
I was jostled slightly and then I felt two strong arms
go around me, pulling me into a hard chest; there was a
beautiful smell that I recognised as Liam.
Oh thank you God, Liam’s here! My heart rate
started to slow as I felt him press his lips to my neck and
breathe slowly and calmly down my back. I tried to match
my breathing to his. I concentrated on the feel of his steady
heartbeat against my chest and the black spots slowly
started to fade. After a few minutes I regained control of my
arms and I wrapped them tightly around his waist, clinging
to him as if he was the only thing keeping me from falling off
the edge of the world. My father was coming back, but I was
with Liam, he wouldn’t let anything hurt me, I knew that. So I
started to feel safe in his arms. After what seemed like
forever, I was able to pull back to look at him.
“You alright now?” he asked, putting his hands on
either side of my face and pressing his forehead to mine.
I nodded and licked my lips, they tasted salty for
some reason, and then I realised I was crying. I wiped my
face and sniffed. I slowly became aware of my
surroundings; I was still in the lounge. I looked over to see
Jake sitting there, shocked, staring at me and Liam. His
mouth was hanging open, his eyes wide. I thought about
stepping back, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t move away from
Liam, he was my safety; he was the one I needed, the one
that would keep me sane through all of this.
Jake walked over and pulled me from Liam’s arms,
making me whimper. He wrapped me in a tight hug. “Damn
it, Amber. Don’t ever do that to me again! I thought you
were going to die! Shit, you scared me,” Jake ranted, as he
rocked me back and forth gently.
“I’m OK,” I said weakly. I looked back to Liam for
reassurance and saw that he wasn’t there, the panic started
to rise in my chest as my breathing started to get shallow.
“Where’s Liam?” I choked out, tears flowing down my face
again. Oh God, he left me!
Jake hugged me tightly. “Shh, it’s OK. Just breathe,
Shh,” he murmured, but I couldn’t, my lungs were too tight.
“Shit!” Jake gasped looking at me. “Liam, get in here
quick!” he almost screamed.
Liam ran back into the room, holding a glass of
water which he put down on the table roughly, spilling half of
it, before wrapping his arms around me. “It’s OK, Angel,” he
whispered, putting his lips to my neck again.
After a couple of minutes, when I could pull back, I
smiled at Liam gratefully.
Jake looked murderously angry. “What the fuck? You
two are together, aren’t you?” he roared.
Liam just held up a hand to stop his rant. “Look,
Jake, you and I will talk about this, but now’s not the right
time after what just happened. I need to make sure she’s
OK,” he said sternly, ending the conversation.
Jake looked at me apologetically and nodded. “I’m
sorry, Amber, but I had to tell you, to make sure you knew,
but I promise I’ll never let him hurt you. You don’t need to
worry about anything. I’ll kill him before he touches you,”
Jake said, taking my hand.
I smiled but I had a feeling it would look more like a
grimace. “I know that, Jake. I’m sorry I freaked out and
scared you.” I raised a shaky hand and swiped at my tears
“That’s OK. Just don’t do it again,” he said, smiling
at me. I laughed weakly and nodded.
Liam handed me the glass of water and I drank it
gratefully. I noticed that Jake was watching Liam’s every
move, glaring angrily. “Stop looking at him like that, Jake,
he’s done nothing wrong,” I said, frowning.
He shook his head and clenched his jaw, taking a
deep breath, obviously trying to calm himself before
speaking. “You two are together,” he said simply, looking
between the two of us for confirmation. I shifted
uncomfortably in my seat. OK, so much for a couple of
“Yes,” Liam answered, nodding. His arm wrapped
tightly around me. I cringed into him, wanting this to be a
dream. Not only is my abusive father coming back, but my
brother was now going to beat the crap out of my boyfriend.
“How long?” Jake asked. His jaw was still tight but
he seemed to be doing well with his control.
“Since Friday,” Liam replied quietly. He looked really
guilty, and I knew it was my fault because I asked him to lie
“He wanted to tell you straight away, Jake, but I
wanted to wait. I don’t want you two fighting. Please?” I
begged, looking at my brother, giving him my puppy dog
“You like him, Amber?” Jake asked, closing his
eyes, looking sad and disappointed.
“Yes,” I admitted, still begging him with my eyes to
accept it and not go off on one or blame Liam for it. I would
hate it if they fell out over me.
He nodded but didn’t open his eyes. “What was that
what you did, Liam? How did you do that? Calm her down
like that?” he asked, opening his eyes and looking at him
“I don’t know. It’s just something that calms her down
that’s all. I’ve always done it,” Liam said with a shrug.
“Always done it? You’ve done that before?” Jake
asked, looking confused.
“Yeah, I’ve had to calm her down a few times,” Liam
replied sadly. I thought about what he meant, all the times
that he had seen me cry, probably every single night up until
the age of fourteen.
“What? When? I’ve never seen you do that,” Jake
protested, shaking his head, looking confused. I drew in a
shaky breath. Now he’s going to find out that Liam sleeps in
my room. I crossed my fingers and prayed that this went
well, that Jake was OK and not too angry with his best
friend. Liam looked at me for permission to tell him, I
nodded and chewed on my lip knowing this needed to be
brought out into the open sooner or later.
“Jake, please don’t freak out,” I begged, moving my
body so it was in front of Liam’s slightly, in case Jake
lunged for him or something. My small move might just
deter him from beating the crap out of my boyfriend.
“Jake, man, nothing ever happened, I swear,” Liam
promised. Jake looked at him, his expression even more
confused. “When I was ten, I saw her crying on her bed
through my window. So I snuck over to make sure she was
OK, and I ended up falling asleep in the bed with her.” Jake
glared at him like he wanted to murder him there and then.
“It happened again the next night, and the next. She would
be crying, so I would sneak through her window. After a
while it was just a habit,” Liam said, frowning slightly.
Jake jumped up with his fists clenched. His eyes
tight, and glaring at Liam. As quick as lightning, Liam
grabbed my arm and pulled me behind him protectively.
Jake’s eyes flashed before his face calmed. “Why did you
just do that?” Jake asked, sighing and looking at Liam
“Do what?” Liam asked confused, still holding me
“Move my sister behind you like that,” Jake said, his
face completely calm now.
Liam shook his head as if he didn’t understand the
question. “I didn’t want her to get hurt, that’s all.”
Jake sat back down and dragged his hand through
his blond hair. “You really like my sister?” he asked, looking
at the floor.
“Jake, I’m in love with your sister, you know that.”
Liam sat back down on the sofa and pulled me to sit down
next to him.
Jake nodded. “And you’ve slept in her bed before,
when we were kids,” Jake stated, as if trying to make sure
he had the facts straight.
“Not just when we were kids, that’s what I was trying
to say. She used to cry, and so I would sneak over to
comfort her every night. It just became a habit, and now
neither of us can actually sleep properly without the other
there,” Liam admitted, frowning.
Jakes face shot up. “You still sleep in her room?
Every night since you were ten? Damn it, Liam. Shit!
Motherfucking, stupid asshole!” Jake ranted, not really able
to get the words out, taking a step forwards his fists
clenched again. I winced. Oh God, here it comes!
I held up my hands, trying to stop him. “Jake,
remember when I used to wake up screaming all the time?”
I asked desperately. I needed to make him see reason fast
before they ended up fighting.
He nodded and winced. “Yeah, that stopped though
when you were like eight or something.”
I nodded. “Yeah, I was eight. That was when Liam
started sleeping in with me. I don’t have nightmares
anymore, because of Liam,” I said, smiling and squeezing
“You do! I’ve had to sleep in with you a few times
since then,” Jake protested.
“Yeah you did, but I still had the nightmares even
though you were there,” I countered. Jake flinched and
nodded, probably at the memory of me screaming the
house down in his bed. “I’ve only had a few nightmares
since then, the only times I ever have them is when Liam’s
not there. Like if he’s on vacation or something,” I
explained, looking at Jake, watching as understanding shot
across his face. We were all silent for a while. Liam was
stroking the back of my hand; Jake was just staring at the
After what seemed like forever, Jake looked at
Liam. “Liam, if you hurt my sister, best friend or not, I will kill
you,” Jake warned. I could see that he meant it.
“I won’t, I promise,” Liam vowed, smiling
“Right, well, I’m going to bed. I guess I’ll see you in
the morning, make sure you lock the door before you two
go to bed,” Jake instructed, getting up and leaving us sitting
there on the sofa, shocked.
I looked at Liam; he just looked stunned as I felt.
“Wow, that was easier than I thought,” he mused, smiling at
me and putting his hands either side of my face.
I smiled, just pleased that it was finally out in the
open. “Want to go to bed, Liam? I’m not in the mood for
homework; I just want to go to sleep.” I just needed to lie in
the bed and have him hold me for a little while.
He nodded and kissed my nose. “Yeah, I just need
to go back home first. Jake called and said you were
freaking out, so I just ran out of the house without even
telling my parents where I was going.” He stroked my face
with his thumbs softly, just looking at me with a sad smile.
“OK. I guess I’ll just go to bed and see you when
you’re ready,” I said, getting up and pulling him towards the
“Hey, can I use the door now that Jake knows?” He
I laughed at his excitement, but shook my head. “No,
your parents might see…. unless you tell them you’re
staying here,” I suggested.
He smiled happily. “I would love to walk through your
front door and get in your bed; I’ve never done that before.”
I took out my keys and gave them to him. “Make sure
you lock it after, OK?” I kissed his cheek and made my way
to my bedroom.
It was nearly ten o’clock but my body felt so
exhausted from all the emotional drama that it felt like I
hadn’t slept in days. I pulled off my clothes and slipped on
my favourite t-shirt that used to be Liam’s. I fell asleep
instantly. A couple of minutes later I felt two arms wrap
around me and a heavy leg slung over mine. I smiled and
pressed back into him. My boyfriend. The one I needed
when things went wrong.
It’s weird, but when Jake pulled me away from Liam
tonight, I felt strange, like I’d left my heart behind. I didn’t
realise up until then, how strongly I was connected to him.
He literally was everything to me. When I felt his arms wrap
around me earlier, I felt like I was home, all my panic started
to recede. I felt like, as long as he was with me, I’d be
I snuggled into him and heard him whisper, “I love
you,” right before I fell back into a deep dreamless sleep; I
didn’t doubt his words this time.