His Fragile Flame
His Fragile Flame
Author: Armeia Aguilar
Prologue

I was running so fast that I could hear my heavy heart pounding rapidly, as my knees began to weaken. I was shot on my left arm, and the blood continuously ran down to the back of my hand. The piercing sound of gunfire echoed loudly in this place, as darkness covered the surroundings, making it easy to lose your way out.

When I heard some heavy footsteps, running towards my direction, I suddenly stopped and hid behind the bar. My breath became heavier, as I thought about what I had gotten myself into. It wasn't supposed to end like this. It got beyond what was planned, I whined to myself.

Suddenly, a silhouette of a masculine man started approaching, so I covered my mouth to hush my unstable breathing. I couldn't move, and I froze to where I was hiding. Then I started roaming my eyes in front to search for a weapon but unfortunately, I saw nothing but shards of alcohol bottles.

I should've known this would happen. Because before this could even get worse, I was at ease negotiating with these bastards, but I never thought this wouldn't end well. So they tried to kill me, as I ran from them and hid like a total idiot.

I sensed a sudden movement beside me and felt a warm grip wrapped around my right arm. My breath hitched and my body began to tremble. For a second there, I thought I was screwed, so I just looked at the person beside me. Meeting the person's concerned eyes, I noticed some beads of sweat forming on his forehead as it glistened in the darkness. He pursed his lips before muttering to keep quiet and held my hand, as he got me out of the bar. I wasn't sure I had seen this person before, nor did I know he was working with William.

It was still dark; the kind of dark that only the moon outside was the source of light, as it peeked through the broken cement and ceiling. My wound continued to bleed and the pain blocked my mind from doing anything. I was wincing in torment, the blood ran down from the wound down to my forearm. I tried to get my free hand to grasp the agonizing wound, hoping it would lessen the bleeding but it didn't help. All I gotta do was run to get out of here. I couldn't even fathom why this person even tried to save me.

We suddenly stopped in a parking lot, filled with a bunch of cars. There was finally a light, and a breath of relief rushed out of my mouth. The pain got worse, while the bullet dug deeper into my skin, making me grimace in pain. The guy noticed my misery, as he scanned my wound and ripped a piece of cloth from his shirt.

"Sorry for their bad behavior that put you in this suffering," he spoke, tying the cloth around my wounded arm.

I finally had a glimpse of him. I had never seen him before but he must've been involved in this. He looked like he was about my age.

"What is this for?" I asked in confusion.

When he was done tying the cloth, he then looked at me and said, "Girls always have to be protected. But it doesn't matter if I saved you because I'll be leaving without an introduction anyways. I need to be enclose, so be safe and hope we'll see each other again."

~*~

Two years later

It was as if I was counting almost forever during these months I'd felt so alone. I was forced to be someone I shouldn't, and I finally convinced myself to stop. Fifteen was too young to start this, and I wouldn't miss the privilege of being free. I spent almost two years of my life working for my freedom, so I guess I earned it after all.

A new morning came and it had to be over. I was heading to William's office to end my not-so-expired contract. To be specific, I was ordered to kill a bunch of people-- a horrible way to start my life as an independent teenager. Since my mom got disappointed in certain things I did, she thought disowning me was a solution. I was so lost I couldn't deal with my expenses. So my uncle, William, gave me a job so I could earn money that I could actually call mine.

Thing was, I had so many things to prove in this cruel world before it started plotting my life to death. To stop my wrong and illegal doings, I finally decided to use my savings in my bank account to start over: get a scholarship, pay rent, and try to live normal.

I was in front of William's office with my feet glued to the ground, as my fingers fidget uncontrollably. Hesitating to knock, I repeated my resignation speech in my head over again. Before my knuckles could even touch the door, someone opened it for me, revealing William who sat on his office chair with a stoic face.

I gathered all my confidence to take a foot inside and approached him in front of his desk. My heart thumped faster than before, and my hands became sweaty. I wasn't sure what word to utter, but I was certain he read my anxious face. I gulped for a split second before speaking.

"I'm done," was the dumbest thing I'd came up with to start a resignation. He raised his eyebrows in confusion and scoffed softly under his breath. I rolled my eyes in annoyance, noticing the slight sarcasm in his tone.

"I don't have any idea on what you're trying to say," he responded, amused.

"I was in a major reflection lately, on the things I shouldn't have involved myself into. I'm sure I've done my job sufficiently and I think you owe me my freedom," I said, trying to look confident.

He gave me a skeptical look, while he rubbed his thumb on his chin. I could tell by his expression that he wasn't happy about it. So he abruptly stood from his office chair and moved across the desk.

"As much as I want to regret involving you in this business, when you leave this behind, everything will just get worse," he spoke as he approached me. It was an unexpected response. "In fact, I don't owe you anything. You owe me your life," he added, giving me that intense eyes that hinted disappointment.

I was astonished by his confidence of telling me this which caused me to scoff and roll my eyes in annoyance.

"Have you forgotten anything? You were the one who made me sign up in this crap, took advantage of my rebellion against my family, and made me turn into a monster. My life wasn't in danger, not until you came and destroyed everything," I whined, frowning at him problematically. He was taken aback and did his remarkable scoff. It wasn't as if he was amused by the things I said, but the fact that he was going to throw all my indebtedness against me.

He leaned on his desk, legs crossed atop of each other while rubbing his left thumb on his chin.

"You shouldn't know anything, as your father ordered me. So if it's freedom you want, then I should bring you back to your home where you could lay safe," he responded.

I hated the fact that he knew how to push my buttons; he hit me with my own fragility. Then I would suddenly snap and realized that if I go back, they would point out all my shortcomings, making me perceive how worthless I was. They weaken me to the point where I had to self-loathe every time my brother met their expectations. And I hated how wretched I was back then.

"You don't need to do that. I can take care of myself and have a normal life. That's what my father wants me to do after all," I explained, my heart thumped fast from anger.

The expression he gave me was infuriating. It seemed like he would aim his gun to my stubborn head every time I tried to explain. He was predictable, that was the reason why I got so irritated.

"In contrary Lala, your father wants you to be with your family and he cleared to me that he didn't want you in this business," he explained, clasping his hands together.

"Then why did you make me sign up in this?" I questioned and furrowed my eyebrows confusedly.

"Lala, you don't have any idea why your mother kicked you out of your home," he said with a smirk, emphasizing the word your. "She's afraid to face the truth what power you have against them."

Then he handed me a newspaper. The headline of the article was shocking. I crumpled it like it was a piece of junk before tossing it to William. He laughed at my sudden reaction, seemingly amused by my anger.

"I think that just meant we're back in business." He chuckled victoriously, smirk crept across his smug face.

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