Chapter 4:

Alex awoke with aches and pains all over his body. He give his watch a sideward glance, it read 8:45pm. Wincing as he sat upright on the very uncomfortable couch, he searched the room, for what he was looking, he wasn't entirely sure, but he wanted to find it. Catching a glimpse of the reflection of a man in the remains of the glass, Alex realized what he was trying to find, or rather, hoping not to.

The eyes were unmistakable, cold and piercing. It was only for a second, but that image glued itself to his mind and he was no longer safe in his own home. Even with Aphrodites' protection, he feared, Yo-Wen would find him.

Rising from the couch, Alex headed for his room. He wasn't sure why he wanted to go there, he just felt compelled to do so. Hobbling painfully as he went, he reached out for his door handle, but he didn't find it. He was caught by the shoulder and turned heavily to face his father, who held his shoulder still, in a bone crushing tightness. A smile spread across Clintons' face and, though Alex could not hear his words for they seemed so distant, he new the words well. "Pay Day."

As tears began to stream down Alexs' face, Clinton dragged him to his own bedroom, where inside, Clintons' 'Colleges' anticipated Alexs' arrival. He hadn't realized it before, while distracted by Yo-Wens' sudden appearance in his lounge room, that it was Thursday, or as his father puts it, Pay Day.

Upon entering Clintons' room, Alex was greeted by twisted smiles and sniggers, and some words in Spanish that he couldn't understand yet, but Ebony was slowly teaching him. Though she didn't know why he was so desperate to learn.

"Here you go fellas. Now where's my half?" Clinton said, tossing Alex slightly as he fell forwards onto the stained brown carpet. Obviously the renovators hadn't been here yet.

Men around the room held up two fifty-dollar bills each as Clinton collected his five-hundred and exited, leaving Alex to the crazed looking faces and claw-like hands that reached for him separately.

The room had been dimmed by one closest to the door and Alex could barely see across the room. His vision was constantly blurred by monstrous faces and hooked fingers as his clothes were torn from his body.

Tears lined Alexs' face as he felt the nails scrape across his bare skin and tare at his chest as the mass of monsters crawled over him again and again, hurting him, enjoying him. Alex hated his father, he would never forgive him. But there was somewhere inside him that couldn't help but make it seem a dream, and Alex would believe it, until Thursday return.

Clinton listened intently as the screams of his only son, only child, echoed again and again from the room as each man had his way with him. He felt no remorse, only longing, longing for more money, more consumers to have his son so he could become rich.

Thoughts of starting a business ran through his mind. He could gather Missys' friends and with Alex, he could become rich, like Hugh Hefner rich. He could start his own Play Boy mansion, but a miniature.

Clinton walked away, thoughts of his very own mansion fresh in his mind. He would seek out Missy and run the idea by her, see if her friends are interested, Alex would have no say in it, as is with everything Clinton makes him do. Then, if all goes well, Clinton would work on saving money to make the house bigger… Or he could just use the remaining money Alexs' mother had given and pass it to the renovators while they were still working.

Things were coming along better then Clinton had planned.

Feeling the wait lift from his back, Alex still dared not open his eyes until he heard the sound of Clintons' door open and close once again, indicating the Spaniards had moved on to the hall.

Standing gingerly, Alex reached for his clothes and reapplied them as best he could in their current state. He would have to send them to Ebony again. She never could understand how Alex could ruin so many pairs of clothing each week. He told he participated in a few dangerous sports and she asked no more. She wasn't very interested in sports and only learnt what she must about them to pass her subjects.

Walking meekly to his room once more, he could feel the same compelling that had dragged him there before. Pushing his door gently, Alex entered his room, cheeks still stained by tears.

Flopping down on his bed, he felt it was warm, but how? He sat up again and looked down at the warm patch of blanket. It was as if someone had been sitting there, as the warmth only resided in a small area.

"Are you okay Alex?" The soft voice of a dove whispered through his ears. Turning in the direction of the voice, he found who he knew the voice to belong to. Aphrodite.

"Aph-ro… Dite?" Alex questioned, trying hard to remember her name, his mind fogging from his recent experience.

Aphrodite ran to Alexs' side and put her hand to his forehead.

"Oh Alex. I wish had have gotten here sooner. Maybe I could have- Oh I wish I had have known."

Feeling a sudden rush of guilt, Aphrodite stood Alex and began to undress him as carefully as possible, removing his clothing piece by piece until he was left standing in his satin skull boxers.

"Ow." Alex winced as his shirt was removed, sliding slightly across his newly opened cuts. Upon seeing the thick strips of skin that were etched across Alexs' chest, obviously by human fingernails, Aphrodites' eyes widened and she pulled Alex into a sorrowful hug; trying as hard as she could to avoid the scrapes.

"Alex. Oh I'm so sorry. Please, Jah, forgive me. I never meant-"

"Please, Af. Don't apologize." Alex stared hazily into Aphrodites' baby blue, almost childish, eyes with the utmost sincerity. "There is nothing you could have done and God knows you are lucky to have missed the ordeal. So please, just drop the subject and leave it be. If you knew, as you said you did, then this should be no surprise for you."

Nodding once, Aphrodite looked away and walked to Alexs' cupboard. Opening the doors, Alex was amazed to find a whole new wardrobe. "I hope it's to your liking." Aphrodite said whilst picking out the clothes she obviously thought best for Alex to wear. Thin black fabric pants with flames of multiple blue rising from the ankles and a plane black shirt were handed to Alex and he was helped to put them on.

Staring at his reflection in the mirror, Alex seemed happy with his new clothing, or at least, the clothing he had seen. It seemed that there was a whole wardrobe awaiting his slim, but muscular figure.

"It's late. You should get some rest." Aphrodite said, leading Alex towards his bed. His room had been fixed, but oddly enough, it was exactly how he wanted it, and more. But he never told them. Realizing this now, Alex turned to look at Aphrodite.

"I know what you are thinking Alex. I did, before you ask. I fixed your room myself and told the renovators they could let it be. As you can see, I gave you that bed of mine you seemed to like. Well, you seemed comfortable and peaceful while you slept there, and I can always create another. I will be back to explain the ins and outs of your in the morning. But until then, sleep."

With a kiss on the forehead, Alexs' cuts, gashes and bruises seemed to fade away as Aphrodite bid him goodnight and turned to walk towards a large human-sized oval mirror with twisting silver vines encircling and framing its length.

"Oh and Alex," She spoke once more, looking back over her shoulder. "No sneaking out tonight. I'll know if you do. And, Bikku, too, will be waiting. He's been expecting you all day. Nite-nite love." Blowing a kiss to Alex, he felt his heart light up for the first time since Kezza left. He felt as if he had a mother. Like Aphrodite was filling the position that Alex always felt Kezza filled, and then she was gone. He hoped the same wouldn't happen to Aphrodite, and that she would stay and care for him, as she was now.

Aphrodite continued towards the mirror before it lit up and she stepped through, disappearing into its depths. Not bothering to think on it, Alex let what she had just done slip from his mind as he realized just how tired and heavy his eyelids had become.

Unable to keep them open any longer, Alex allowed his eyes to fall shut, and sleep claimed him. Gentle and calm, his breathing leveled out and he was lost to the land of pleasant dreams.

Aphrodite smiled as she watched Alex fall deeply into sleep. She knew, even with her plea, that Alex would still sneak out, so she allowed him to fall asleep with her mind. Hoping he dreamed of good times, Aphrodite turned away from her alabaster basin and seemed to float back to her new four-poster bed.

Laying herself down gently, Aphrodite's thoughts trailed from Alex and his fathers selling of his sons body, and focused more on the girl that had come to her in hysterics the other day.

"Oh Yasmin. What am I going to do with you now?" She spoke through a sigh as her eyes closed and the memories of yesterday flashed through her mind.