Alatum Cloud- -.- Right. Yes. Indeed. All that. Except not really. But interesting ideas.

The Red Dove- Haha! I've never heard it put like that! I like it!

Skylove- Fine idea. I should make that a topic of interest.

Guest- Thank you so very much! I am always so happy when people say that!

Sorry for the long wait. I had some writer's block on this story.

Also, I've picked Ryan's new theme song. It's Echo, by Jason Walker. Listen to it! And love it!


Chapter 3: Paranoia

That night, I can't fall asleep. The only thing I can think of, of course, is Dominic. He fills all my thoughts. A month has gone by, but so what? What can thirty or so days do to me, after what happened? My aunt and cousins went home about an hour after my public meltdown, and I was so embarrassed. I knew they would have stayed longer if it all hadn't happened.

Staying awake with these thoughts isn't healthy, and I know it. It's the same as when I was with Dominic. It was not healthy for me to think about my family, because all it did was depress me, and confuse me. It is the same.

In his cage, Birdy starts making little noises, and I see him peek his tiny head out of his bed. Wanting any kind of company, I go over and get him out of the cage, carry him back over to my bed and pet him, letting him walk up and down my stomach like he used to, even though his tiny claws hurt sometimes. Eventually, he goes back to bed, sleeping next to my head. Well, now I definitely can't go to sleep anyway, in case I roll over and squish him.

I get up when I usually do, getting ready for school, but when I go downstairs to make myself some breakfast, Dad and Terry are there, sitting at the table. It is clear by the looks on their faces that they were waiting for me.

"Good morning." I say, going past them to the fridge, pulling out the milk.

"Good morning." Terry responds, then looks at my dad, prompting him. He clears his throat, and for a second I don't say anything, just stare down at the bowl I've pulled from the cupboards. I really don't want to deal with this so early. I sigh.

"What?" I ask, not looking over.

"Ryan...after yesterday..." Dad says.

My episode.

"We think maybe, you're not coping very well."

Coping very well? What was I supposed to be doing? It's not like I could just forget, and move on with my life.

Dominic, I think, a stupid thing that just happens sometimes. I'll just be sitting around, in school, at the table, in bed, and suddenly, I'll be thinking his name. I don't know why.

"What makes you think that?" I ask, playing dumb, finally looking over.

"Ryan, baby..." Terry says, looking at me with sad eyes. "We hear you at night, when you cry."

My face flushes, and I look at the bowl again. It doesn't happen every night. Just...most nights. Night is when I have the most time to think about Dominic, and remember him. Sometimes I think about how much I hate him. And sometimes I think about how much I...

I miss him.

"What?" Dad suddenly says, and they both look horrified. I gulp. Shit, I really need to work on that. Sometimes, I tend to say things out loud without meaning too. I did it with Dominic too. Whatever came out of my mouth usually wasn't good.

I suddenly very much feel like crying.

"I have to get to school." I say, heading toward the door, but dad heads me off.

"Ryan, stay home today." he says, and I shake my head. That would just give me more time to think.

"Ryan, we want you to see a therapist." Terry suddenly says, and I look at her, then at my dad. What? A therapist? Why? I wasn't crazy. Just confused. Lost.

"To help you get over what he did to you."

What he did to me. Hit me, whip me, starve me, hold me, kiss me, love me. He did lots of things to me.

Did you love me?

I have to know.

"No." I said, turning for the door. "I don't need a therapist. And I'm not staying home. I can't fall anymore behind."

They're so surprised by my swift exit that they don't protest about me going to school by myself. Thomson is my normal ride, and when he can't make it, Joey and Sam still show up, and walk with me. Nobody lets me walk by myself. I usually don't mind, because I don't really want to do it. Being alone makes you a target.

I debate waiting for them in the front, but I'm afraid that if I do that, then Dad and Terry might look out and see that I'm here. Then they might come out and start talking about therapy again. I didn't need therapy. What could they tell me that I didn't already know?

I start walking, and within seconds, I'm looking over my shoulders, down the road, expecting to see him there, standing at the end of the street, watching me. But he's not there.

And I still don't know how I feel about that.

I'm glad I'm away.

And I wish I could see him.

I text Joey and Sam that I left early, so that they don't show up at my house looking for me, and then I text Thomson and tell him the same. The walk to school seems longer with nobody around. The early morning streets are deserted, my only companion the rising sun. I tilt my head in it's direction, taking in some sun. It's nice.

And it's not dark.

As I'm walking, I hear a car coming up behind me. I wait for it to go past me and vanish, but after a few minutes, it's still there, moving slowly. I start to get scared, but I don't look over my shoulder, because looking over and seeing would make it real, and I don't want to believe.

I pull out my phone and stare at the screen, hoping that if I pretend I'm on it, whoever it is will go away.

But the car's still there.

My heart beats fast in my chest. Is this it, then? Did Dominic get out, and now he's come for me, either to take me away again, or to kill me? It must be one or the other, because after how I acted the last time I saw him, he knew I wouldn't come quietly. He'd either take great joy in breaking me again, or give me the ultimate punishment and end my life.

I don't know which I'd prefer.

I stop walking, and just as I'd suspected, the car almost stops completely, very quiet.

What should I do?

Run?

I run.

I tear down the sidewalk, trying not to scream, regretting leaving the house alone. I look over my shoulder for the first time, and I see the car, but it's not chasing me. I don't stop running though, because I'm not going to risk it.

When I stop running, I realize I've gone the wrong way from my school. I sigh and look around, then at my phone. I still have a little bit until I need to get there. So I go into a fast food place, order a little food, then go over to a table. I don't eat much, just nibble a bit, then stare out the window I'm sitting by.

"Ryan?"

I turn toward Dominic, who is sitting behind me in his big tub. I'm between his legs, leaning against his chest, soaking. I'd had my eyes closed, savoring the water. I'd had to go through a lot today to get this reward, more than usual. I did it all easily, without question, but I still deserve to enjoy it.

"Yeah?" I say, and he looks down at me. His eyes make me tense up automatically. I know that look. I have been on the receiving end of that look so many times. He doesn't look loving right now, not happy, not at ease. He looks like he's bored, and he wants something to entertain him. Something painful. I start sitting up, trying to get away without being obvious, but he sees right through me, and he wraps his elbow around my neck, pulling me back down.

I gulp, but don't fight it. Fighting it is not allowed.

"You love me, don't you?" he asks, and I feel a sense of relief. This question is safe. I can answer this. I know the answer to this.

"Yes." I say, and I find his hand in the water, and lace our fingers together tightly.

Don't hurt me, I'm thinking. I've been good. Why do you want to hurt me?

Something I asked myself even now.

At this point, I'd said I love you more times then I could count. Birdy was already gone, and when I look back now, I know that I was only months away from my rescue.

"You love me?" he says again, but like he's pondering it to himself. The water, which had been so warm only seconds ago, is now very cold. I want out of it now. Nothing I say, or do, is going to stop him today.

"Dominic?" I whisper, and his eyes meet mine again. "I was good today." I say, reminding him, and I can hear the plea in my voice. I'm begging him, please don't do this.

He doesn't do as I plea.

"You love me even though I took away from your family?" he asks, looking down at me with cold eyes and a smirk.

This new question makes me stop for only a second, thinking about my family, and my heart hurts.

I miss you.

But then I nod, and I squirm in his arms, trying to get out, so that I can lean up and kiss him, pacify him. But his arm tightens around my neck, and holds me there. I stop, because now I'm starting to have trouble breathing. I breathe evenly, like I've taught myself to do.

"Yes." I say. "I don't need them. Only you."

"You love me even though I make you do whatever I want, and give you no choice in the matter?" he continues.

"I just want to please you." I say.

"Even though I punish you if you make me the slightest bit angry?"

"Yes!" I say, starting to shout. "I love you, Dominic!"

His eyes narrow.

"Don't raise your voice at me, Ryan."

Punishment.

For nothing.

And given our position, I have a pretty good idea what's going to happen. I have just enough time to take a breath of air, and then I'm underwater, and his hands are holding me down. I don't kick, or try to come up. I just lay there, trying to hold onto my air for as long as I have. He will wait until I run out of air, until my calm is gone, and then he will still keep me under.

My air is gone, and I start to twitch, and trying to come up, and he holds me down until I'm kicking and flailing, the water spilling out of the sides of the tub. I can only hope that this will be enough for him, and that he doesn't decide to punish me for getting the floors wet.

The thought enters my mind to bite him, but I don't, because then he will only get more mad for sure.

Finally I come up, and I start coughing, hacking up water. I start to cry, because I'm fucking weak, and even now, I'm still surprised by him, and the way he treats me.

He will never cease to amaze me.

I try to jump out, but he grabs me and pulls me back again, and holds me against him. His hands are gentle now.

"Ryan." he whispers in my ear, and I settle back into our previous positions. "I'm sorry."

And he sounds sorry. And he looks sorry.

So I smile.

"It's okay."

He shakes his head and buries his face in my shoulder. Sometimes, he reminds me of a child.

"It's not okay." he says. "Still love me?"

I manage to turn around this time, and I kiss him.

"Always."

"Ryan!"

I look towards the voice, shocked by it's volume. And shocked by who it is.

It's Joey and Sam.

They're both sweating, and they're eyes are wide with relief when they see me.

"Guys?" I say, getting up. I look at my phone, and see that much more time has passed than I thought. School started almost an hour ago.

And they came looking for me.

"I'm sorry." I say guiltily, going over. I don't explain why I was late, and they don't ask, because they understand. They know what I was thinking about.

Everybody knows.

We start going to school, me apologizing again and again for making them worry. As we're walking, I wonder if I should tell them about the car. If I don't, and something happens, they won't have any clues to go on. But if I do, and nothing happens, then I'll just look paranoid.

Which I was.

So maybe all of this was just in my head? It was possible that the car had just been slowing down because we were close to it's house. Or that maybe the driver had to drive slow because they weren't paying attention to the road. All kind of things were possible.

So I kept quiet.

And just kept looking over my shoulder.


Max- You should really work on a schedule for when you update stories.

Me- Writing does not follow a schedule! Inspiration strikes when inspiration feels like it!

Ben- So when's it going to strike?

Me- *gasp!* Ben, you're mean.

Polly- Yeah!

Ben- Kissup.

Max- *nods*

Polly- Ah! I'm being ganged up on!

Me- While we settle this, please leave a review! Sorry it was so short! Next chapter will be better, I promise!