Chapter Twenty Two: He Appears
Although Derek can't completely recall his memories of Erin, he knew one thing - He deeply loved her.
This fact stirred Derek's efforts to get her back despite the many times she tried to stay away. When his effort bore fruit, the two headed to London in order to help end things once and for all. However, their first night in England fell apart when Erin learned the secret that had haunted her all these years.
Derek was in fact, the missing son of James Dean.
Long before he married Gary's mother, he was expecting a child with his former lover, Elena Watson, whom Erin's mother was closely friends with. However, the feeling of betrayal that Michael Dean felt when James disobeyed his order to break up with her pushed him to fix the pregnant Elena's death, in a form of a car crash.
Michael thought everything was over until he learned years later that the child survived, and had been in the care of the Grey's. He assumed that the child was still with them, when in fact, the Matthews had already adopted Derek.
Harold Grey died protecting his daughter, while Irina devised a plan that soon changed the life of her seventeen-year-old daughter.
Now that Michael is aware of who his grandchild really is, his attention had shifted.
Derek will now choose whether to join Irina and fight back, while Erin is left alone to pick up the pieces of the life she was forced to give up in order to become bait for her mother's plans.
"We don't do close combat."
Erin remembered Aris tell her this at one point. Invisible Guardians prefer to be, as ironic as this sounds - invisible.
"We always want to put some distance from out clients, and even more so with those who want to hurt them.
Usually, we strike them before they can get close."
Aris was struggling to open a pop of coke. Her blue eyes were starting to turn purple.
Erin took it from her and opened it herself.
"Sheesh, so impatient." She took a nice, long sip before putting the can back down.
"So, having both parties in the same place is just going to be a mess. Only very few can really fight head on," Aris admitted, "and even fewer enjoy doing it."
She started to shake her head.
"I can only think of one man who enjoys killing people. He does it for fun."
After the rain had let up, Erin and Derek made their way back to the hotel. They were both starving, with Erin being lost without her wallet and Derek going God-knows-where. All she wanted was a large cheese pizza. And chicken wings.
Don't forget about those damn chicken wings.
When Derek unlocked the door, Erin opened it right away so she could get her phone. However, her dreams of getting those delicious carbs in her stomach got cut short when a strong whiff of coffee beans welcomed them.
Derek pulled her back right away. "Someone else is here," he stated.
"Thanks, Captain Obvious."
Derek entered the room first, his hand extending to her own as she walked behind him.
To Erin, Derek was like a tall concrete wall.
Or a knight without the armor, so ready to leap out of the window with Erin in his back the minute he sensed danger.
Erin wasn't paying attention so her cheek bumped slightly on his back when he stopped walking.
His hand squeezed hers.
When she moved herself, she realized what startled him.
There was her mother, sitting upright with her legs crossed as she elegantly sipped her cup of coffee.
There was Aris, standing stiffly on the other side of the room with her eyes shot right to the third individual - a young, handsome man, the very same one who had saved her earlier.
"It seems you've met Sezky," Irina spoke. " Not such a pleasant meet now, was it?"
Sezky didn't say anything, and merely turned his attention to the view outside the window.
Erin felt Derek's hold tighten. It was starting to hurt.
"Thank you for today," she said to the man across the room. "I let my guard down."
"I didn't do it for you," Sezky answered her.
His voice had that cool, deep tone that would work on any drunk women in a nightclub. Erin didn't notice it before, given that she was running for her life and all, but she's starting to take him for a smooth talker with a dose of sarcasm.
And then Erin remembered when his eyes lit up the second he shot the first man who went after Erin.
"I can only think of one man who enjoys killing people. He does it for fun."
She quickly retreated behind Derek.
Sezky didn't seem to notice as his attention had already turned to the other girl across the room.
A sly smirk appeared on his face.
Erin looked at Aris, and she noticed that her face had paled tremendously.
Erin tried to walk forward to comfort Aris, but Derek pulled her behind him.
"Why are you all here?" Derek snarled, "Haven't we agreed that Erin would no longer be a part of this?"
Irina stood up. Her expression tightened. "I am still her mother, you know," she announced. "I can see her whenever I-"
"I believe you lost that right the moment you used her as lure for your captures, boss."
Sezky said from behind. "Ain't that right, little Erin?"
Erin didn't know what to say. The man who shielded from her harm was quite a vicious one even with his words. Not to say that she didn't agree with him.
It was the first time Erin heard Aris' voice tonight. Yet, never had she heard Aris' voice filled with so much fear.
"You're done here, aren't you?"
Sezky didn't say anything this time. Instead he started to walk in swift steps.
He headed towards her.
The little courage Aris had a second ago melted like water, and she found herself moving back as he closed in. Before she knew it, he pinned her down the wall, his hands serving as barriers from every direction.
"I didn't even notice you were here," he said simply. Unlike before, that smoothness in his voice escaped even without his notice. He sounded so normal, almost worried.
"You always tell me to go away," he breathed, "but don't you just want me closer?"
The room stood silent.
Erin could see that Aris was shaking, but her eyes didn't stray away from Sezky's. Her fierce brown eyes showed different things - fear, exhaustion, and if Erin was right, grief.
Without warning, tears dropped from her brown eyes. She turned her head away from him, masking what little she could mask.
But he did notice.
Those hands that pinned Aris on the wall dropped dejectedly, and he turned away from her.
Erin couldn't see his expression clearly , but looking at Sezky now made her forget how scary he was just a few hours ago.
"I believe you have somewhere else to be now," Irina interfered, "but don't stray too far."
Sezky's head nodded, and his eyes laid itself one last time to the shivering girl.
He took something from his coat pocket, and then he quickly grabbed her right hand, shoving a piece of paper in her fist before turning away.
"If you need me, she'll know where to find me," he said quietly before heading straight out the door.
"You don't have to remember his face," Irina told Erin, "you'll never see him again."
Erin could only stare. How could one man make three people feel uneasy? Aris seemed downright terrified, Derek felt the need to protect her, and even her mother wanted him out of her sight.
Even now, she can only see him as an outstanding person of sort.
Not like that contributes to his own character or interest.
"Well, we should go," said Irina out of the blue. "The two of you have more to talk about after all."
Erin called out. "....Aren't you going to tell me anything?"
Irina took another sip of her coffee.
"What else is there to say?" She complained. "I've done my best to protect you, but now I have to get my end of the bargain."
Erin took her hand away from Derek. "What are you talking about?"
She walked towards her mother, or whoever this woman was, with eyes so cold and irritably disdainful Erin could almost not recognize her.
Irina got up this time.
"You have no idea how much I suffered without your father," she revealed, her voice unkind and almost heinous. "You, so young and hopeless, could never possibly understand."
She sighed. "Tomorrow afternoon, we plan to start a war on Michael Dean. He is is somewhere in this country right now, just like Senator Dunkley had predicted, thanks to your efforts. And he no idea that his beloved grandsons are working together with me. Derek will join me, and you will go somewhere else for your protection," she paused.
"Good job being the bait. Now you can live a new life without people lining up to kill you - being my daughter or the supposed lovechild of James Dean, you don't have to worry about that anymore."
Irina walked out of the room, and Aris followed suit. The minute the door slammed shut, Erin's knees gave up, and she fell down the floor. Her hand was pounding on her chest, and the tears she tried to stop had finally been let loose.
Derek was trying to calm her down, his arms enveloping her like a protective shell.
The warmth of his body provided a bit of comfort, but the sobbing wouldn't stop.
Erin didn't know how to feel anymore. She wanted to remain numb, but she wasn't exactly sure how.
All those scary men that visited her house when she was alone in elementary, those men with guns that chased after her in middle school, the groups of thugs who looked for her in high school, the killers that tried to take her life in college - she tried to lead a normal life despite all.
Even Derek wasn't quite aware of it when they were young. And when Gary saved her that one night in the college library, the attacks stopped momentarily.
"Good job being the bait..."
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