I'm getting whiplash.
I swear it!
Yes, I know, we're back with Safe Now, and we have been, but that's not the problem.
I'm wondering when we are in the story.
And what's going on.
And so many questions - but above all...
What's the woman's name?!
It's driving me nuts!
Avan and I flinched. Kaine dragged me so hard that my knees gave way. He pushed me into Beast and Caretaker, who held me back. Kaine turned to stand over Avan with the stick, watching.
"Did I tell you to stop?"
As Avan lifted himself, a sickening "crack" rang out, wood on bone, the stick contacting Avan's shoulder.
"Stop it!" I snapped. "Leave him alone!"
Avan lay on the floor, his teeth gritted. Kaine bent down and shouted his command in Avan's ear.
Slowly, Avan assumed his position, his hands shaking. He rose up.
"Avan, stay down!"
With a sharp intake of breath, he rose again.
He gasped and his leg gave out. He lowered his head.
Avan stayed down. He rolled onto his side, green eyes finding me.
"Avan," I mouthed. "Stop."
I knew he would go on. I could see it in his face, his determination pushing away the pain. I knew he would go however far Kaine pushed. He would do it so I wouldn't face Kaine’s wrath. Just as I'd expected, he pushed.
The fifth blow was the loudest, the sharp sound echoing off the basement walls. It was that blow that kept Avan on the ground. I sighed, feeling relieved and horrified, when it was clear he wouldn't be rising again. Kaine dragged the stick across the hardwood floor. He motioned to Beast and Caretaker, and all three of them went up the stairs, looking the door. Once free from the men, I rushed towards Avan, who rolled onto his bsck, his fingers linked behind his head, his eyes squeezed firmly shut.
"Avan, are you okay?" I asked, kneeling beside him.
He opened his eyes, his face painted with worry at the sight of my expression. With a wince, he rose up onto his elbows, raising one knee. His little smile, a crescent moon, washed away my pain, my grief, my anguish. I ran a hand through his hair. The swelling in his cheek was gone, leaving a dark yellowish bruise in its wake. This was a good thing. Avan was healing.