4. Shadows From the Past

"Your girl?" The assailant nearly spits. His eyes narrowed. If looks could kill, Dan would be dead.

"Yes, my girl. Destiny is working tonight."

"No. She's not." The assailant snaps at him, gently pushing me in front of him.

Dan raises his hand to firmly set it on my shoulder. Attempting to pull me to him. Without hesitating, the assailant grabs his hand, pulling it backwards. He immediately twists Dan's arm behind his back, pulling down. Dan cries out in pain, and several bouncers swarm around us. The assailant doesn't look the least bit fazed.

"We're leaving." He says to no one in particular. Rather more of a statement.

"You sir, are welcome to leave. But Destiny is staying here." Dan bites back, fighting off the pain in his shoulder.

"That wasn't a question." The assailant bites back, swiftly pulling a gun from his side, and raising it to meet Dan's head. Dan immediately freezes, raising his head, and nods.

The assailant wraps his arm around my shoulders, ushering me out of the club. When we are outside, I spin around to confront the assailant.

"Who are you? What do you want from me?" I all but spit at him. Regardless of what just took place in the club, I'm not afraid of this man.

The assailant steps back, his anger washing away.

"Banana?" The man says gently.

My blood instantly runs cold. I haven't heard that nickname since I was a kid. 

'No! It's not possible!' I think to myself as I take a step backward, and freeze.

The assailant walks carefully towards me. Watching to see what I will do next. His movements are calculated, almost as if anticipating that I would run from him. 

"It's me Banana. It's really me."

I look at him incredulously. As happy as I'm to have my brother back in my life, I'm pissed that he thinks that he can just show up, and everything will be fine. Where was he all those years that I searched for him. The nights I cried myself to sleep. Protecting me from my nightmares. All the years that I had been abused. Which is why I find myself yelling at him, instead of running into his open arms.

"What the hell are you doing? Why are you here?"

"Me? What are you doing?"

"I'm surviving!"

"Don't you dare think that you can suddenly act like my brother after ten years!"

I spin back on my heels, looking towards the sky.

"Ten years! Ten fucking years Ryker! You haven't been my brother for ten fucking years!"

I turn back to see Ryker falter. His head sinks down in acknowledgement. 

"I know, and I'm sorry for that. I should've been there for you."

"Yes! You should've!" My eyes cloud over remembering that dreaded night. 

"Do you even know what my life has been like ever since that night?" I stare at him, no longer able to contain my hatred. I'm not mad at him, rather mad at what my life has become ever since he left.

"I've been in and out of foster homes my entire life. Trading one horrible nightmare for another. I ran away everyday for a solid year. A year! I used every opportunity I had to try and find you. Eventually I just gave up. You can only find someone that wants to be found." I stare back at my brother. My anguish from all these years bubbling over.

"I'm right, aren't I? You didn't want to be found." I say, holding onto hope that I'm wrong. Ryker turns his gaze from mine, to the ground.

"I'm sorry Banana."

"Don't call me that! Only my brother was allowed to call me that, but he's been missing for ten years."

"I'm sorry Savannah. I should've been there for you."

"Yes! That's just it! You should've been there!"

I run towards my brother, and begin pounding on his chest. All the emotions that I've kept locked up for years, suddenly coming to the surface and spewing out of me like a volcano. Tears are pouring from my eyes, but I could care less.

Ryker doesn’t seem to care. Rather he is letting me take my frustrations out on him. He wraps his arms around me, pulling me tight against him. He leans my head into his neck, placing his head on top of mine. My tears begin to drip onto his shirt, but he doesn't seem to care.

“I’m so sorry Banana. I should’ve been there for you. Everything is my fault. I don’t blame you for being upset with me.”

“No! You don’t get to do that!” I push my hands across Ryker’s chest, so that I’m staring up at him. Ryker looks into my eyes, searching for a possible answer, while keeping his hold on me. Preventing me from running away.

“Do what? 

“You don’t get to come into my life after ten years, and act as though everything is your fault. You're not allowed to just show up in my life after a decade, and act as though the past ten years didn't exist.”

Ryker keeps his gaze unwavering from mine. It’s almost as if he’s seeing me for the first time. He pulls me close to him, I don’t hesitate, I let him comfort me.

“Savannah? What happened?”

I take a deep breath. Ryker never calls me Savannah. I know he's trying to be there for me, but our lives have changed so much since we last saw each other.

I try to think of how to explain the past decade. I know there is no real answer. He will never understand, not only that, but he will pity me. The last thing I want is to feel his pity. I've been through so much, and while my past may be dark, I've come out of it a survivor. I don’t want to be that eight year old girl that relied on others for her future. That girl died in the fire.

“The life I once had went up in flames. I can’t even begin to tell you everything that’s happened to me. It’s best if you just leave it alone, and accept that this is who I'm now.”

I melt into Ryker’s arms. Time seems to go by, and yet we don’t move or say anything to each other. It’s almost as if without saying anything, Ryker understands me. Instead of forcing the issue, Ryker stays silent.

“We should get you home. It’s late.” Ryker says a few moments later.

Instantly, fear overwhelms me. I didn’t think I would have to go back to that place. I had planned on never going back there. But unfortunately, I don’t take possession of my apartment until tomorrow.

“It’s fine. I can find my own way back.”

“There’s no way I'm letting you walk home by yourself at this time of night." I sigh, little does he know that I don't fear the streets. The streets are much safer than the nightmare waiting for me back at Craig's. 

"Really.. it's ok. It's only a few blocks from here anyways." I try to stammer out. Hoping that Ryker will just leave, and I will just spend the night at the warehouse.

"No way. I don't feel good about just letting you walk home alone. Even if it was just the next block over, I would feel better knowing you got home safe."

I sigh, looking momentarily down at the ground. My hope of Ryker dropping this going to waste. Defeatedly, I nod my head as I walk with Ryker towards his car. I give him the directions to Craig's house, and a few minutes later, we are parked out front. I look over at the house. I close my eyes wishing that the house will be gone when I open my eyes. I pray for almost anything, desperately wishing that I don't have to go back in there. 

"Everything ok?" Ryker turns towards me.

I'm sitting frozen in his passenger seat, unable to move. As if I'm mentally preventing myself from going back in there. I ignore Ryker's question, and continue to stare out the window, at the hell house. 

"Lex?" I can feel Ryker nudging me, hoping to awake me from my trance.


"What's going on? What's wrong?" Ryker asks me, worry spread across his face.

"Um... nothing. Everything's fine."

"Are you sure? Because you don't seem fine to me. Rather you seem nervous, scared even."

I nod my head, then open my door. Stumbling out, hoping that his rain of questions will end. My mind begins to race, thoughts of what Ryker would think of me, if he knew about Craig and Gary. He would probably assume it's my fault. My fault I stayed. My fault I didn't try to find help. My fault that they treat me the way they do.

Without answering, I close Ryker's car door, and run towards the house. Maybe I'll be lucky enough that Craig will just be passed out on the couch. Or even better, perhaps he's not at home. Forgetting about Ryker, I run up to the door. I hesitate just for a moment, before carefully letting myself in.

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