“I’ve never seen him like this.” Sebastian starts to say something else, but then he shakes his head and waves off the thought. “I don’t want to get in between you two,” he tells me.
“Everyone else is,” I answer flatly and then really look at him until his eyes dart to mine. “Everyone has always been between us.” That’s the sad truth. If it were only us, there’s no question I’d be by his side.
Parts of Sebastian remind me of Eli, or maybe I simply long for someone to confide in, someone who understands and respects the situation the way Eli did. The thought brings a swell of emotion up my chest and I stare out of the window, at the dark green leaves strewn in between the dried-up amber ones.
“Hey.” Sebastian’s voice brings my focus back to him.
“Have you talked to him today?” The concern on his face seems out of place as he waits for me to answer.
“I just got up, and…” I trail off to swallow the sickness rising up my throat, remembering what happened when I made it to the bathroom. “I haven’t.” There’s nothing left to say. That’s the truth of the situation, but I don’t bother to voice it.
The silence in the car is awkward. Sebastian asks questions I don’t want to answer.
I don’t bother to even give him a response to that one.
“Do you like the quiet too?” he asks me after a moment passes with neither of us talking.
“You like the quiet?” I ask him to clarify and he shakes his head no.
“Carter always did.”
Again I turn to the window. It’s not shocking that the brooding man prefers silence. And the way that little fact tugs at me makes me wish I hadn’t climbed into the car.
“Although some days he’d turn up the radio just to numb it all out.” He clears his throat and turns the car around. As he’s making the three-point turn to head back to the estate he tells me, “When he’d stay with me, back when his mom was sick, he always wanted it to be quiet. He used to say the quiet was his safe place, but then again, he grew up with four brothers and the only time it was quiet was when he wasn’t home… so…” He shrugs.
“What was he like back then?”
Sebastian regards me for a second and slows down as we near the estate.
“Stubborn, ambitious,” he answers me and then says, “loyal to a fault.”
He stops in front of the gate and I ask him to go around just one more time. My hands feel clammy as my gaze flicks to the lock and then back to him. I don’t think he saw though.
“So he’s always been like this?” It comes out as more of a statement than a question, but Sebastian refutes it.
“Carter wasn’t ever like this. He wasn’t brutal, he was fair. He didn’t…” Sebastian stops his thoughts again and this time a darker set of emotions plays on his face. “I should have never left,” he confides in me and I give him a weak smile.
“If I could go back,” he starts to say, but I cut him off, stating, “You can never go back.”
The moment ends with silence as the car continues to move farther away. Closer and closer to the point in the road where I’ve chosen. The place where he turned around last time. Where he slowed down the most, and the farthest down the drive that he’ll go.
“Why did you leave?” I ask Sebastian, more to distract him than anything else.
Sebastian doesn’t even spare me a look as I reach for the lock. He’s too busy pinching the bridge of his nose to keep whatever emotions are haunting him at bay.
Click. I shouldn’t have turned to look at him, wasting the split second but also feeling guilty from the look of surprise and hurt on his face when he sees me rip the handle back and push the door outward.
He hears the lock click up though and his fingers wrap around my wrist, my left one with the deep gouges from the cuff last night. Fuck! The pain travels quickly and in a single electric motion. I hiss from the sudden jolt of pain as I rip my arm from his grasp, nearly falling out of the car until I have both feet on the ground and run as fast as I can. I don’t stop. Not for a moment. Not when he cusses and puts the car in park. Not when I nearly trip moving from asphalt to dirt as I enter the woods. Every breath hurts my lungs as I heave in air.
A few men’s voices are carried into the woods. I know there are more men who guard the estate, but I don’t know where they are. Somewhere they saw, which means they’re close.