21. Red
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Coldness is no longer an issue for Lucca since something inside him felt colder than the air. He doesn’t have his watch on so he is unsure of the time but he can tell that it could be around 3 or 4 in the morning by the air. The stillness of the air is familiar to him. He was used to waking up at those hours from his constant nightmares. He would stay awake and breathe in the still cold air, listening to the sounds of nothingness. Oddly enough though, tonight, and the nights before when he was with Caleb, he has dreamless sleep, of course unless Luke emerged. Luke’s memories are like dreams to him. Thinking of Caleb, whose soundly asleep next to him, his heart aches a little. He had made a painful decision to leave him. It’s difficult now to move since they are huddled together under a thick blanket. He can feel Caleb’s bare skin on his own. Caleb’s chest is closely pressed against his back while his arms is wrapped around him.

 

But he knew he has to do it. Thus, he slowly and carefully pulls Caleb’s hand away from him so that he can free himself without waking him up. He takes his backpack as soon as he finishes putting on his clothes. It was the longest time he ever took to put on his clothes as he needed to do it very carefully with less movement. He would stop from time to time to observe if Caleb would wake up. Half of him wished that he would wake up. The other half screamed ‘no’. And when he finally had zipped the tent closed behind him, he feels the heavy weight of guilt pushing down on him. But he chooses to ignore the realization and drag his heavy feet away from the tent, away from the memories.

 

It’s funny how much simple things they did in the past, the anger, the shame, the argument, the good times… could hurt. They could hurt with just a simple thought that it will be no more. That it will just be memories. Some remnants of the past that could never be relived. Sometimes living in the moment is the worst thing to do because moments past. And it hurts just knowing that we could never grab that moment and keep it in our arms again. It’s gone and it’s never going to go back to the way it was before. Does he have regrets? No. The only thing he could slightly feel regretful was only for the fact that he had fallen in too deep. That he had let himself got swept away by those temporary pleasure. Temporary happiness.

 

He looks up the sky and sees the moon shining brightly as if it is welcoming him on his way towards his solitary voyage. There’s a vast lake by the side of the path in the woods that he had taken. The water reflects the moon clearly indicating how still the water is. For a moment, he feels the cold dread of fear that something might emerge out of the water but quickly dismisses the thought though he started to keep a little distance from the waters unconsciously from his childish fear. Out of a sudden, his fear of the water subsides as he heard some commotion coming from the middle of the campsite. He heard sound of men shouting and women or children screaming. He can’t make out what they’re saying but it was like the campsite is being terrorized by a group of people. He then saw from the distance the sight of people fleeing away from their camp. In the heat of the moment, he immediately thought of Caleb and made a dash back towards where he was coming with his heart beating out of his chest.

 

As he got a few meters away from his tent, he saw a few men wearing black piece of clothing closing in on the tent. Out of reflex, he hides behind a thick bushes overlooking the tent. He saw the men pulling Caleb out of the tent. One of them slams him down to the ground and pins him down with his feet on his head. “Where is he?!” the man that was pinning him down on the ground asked. Shit, Lucca thought to himself as he slowly realizes that… those are his papa’s men! “Fuck you!” Caleb cursed at them proudly, not giving in to the men that obviously had more power over him. Part of Lucca feels slightly touched at how loyal Caleb is to him but the other part is burning with anger and pain at the thought that he should not have been so when in fact, he had been betrayed by him. Lucca had betrayed him by walking away but why is it that he still keeps standing up for him? Tears roll down his face. Should he go and stop them? If he does, then it will all be for nothing. If he didn’t, then Caleb will be in more pain. So what can he do? He feels completely useless.

 

Leave, a voice ordered out in his head. Luke? Lucca called back in his mind. Just leave and don’t look back. That’s the only way to save him, Luke said. But they’re going to hurt him, Lucca protested. He’ll do worst to him if you are found, Luke advised and Lucca knew that he is talking about papa this time. Lucca cries even more but careful not to let his sob audible. He can’t help but agree with Luke so he turns around but before he could leave, he heard a familiar voice behind him over where the tent is.

 

“Well, well, if it isn’t my rebellious step son,” the voice said. Lucca immediately sank back behind the bushes in fear. He turns to confirm his thought and saw that yes, it is his papa. Edmund is there in flesh and blood. He is looking down on Caleb. “Go to hell,” Caleb spat uncaringly but Lucca can sense his anxiety all the way from where he is. That is probably because the aura Edmund giving off is too strong. Such destructive and resentment energy he releases.

 

He squats down beside Caleb, completely nonchalant to everything surrounds him. This is the first time Lucca had seen Edmund having no indication of emotions or whatsoever that made it hard to read his thought or desire. “Now let me tell you something, Caleb. Your life is as meaningless as a rat. I might be married to your mother but both of you are nothing but rats to me. So you better tell me where my precious Lucca is before I nail you to the ground and cut you limb from limb as slowly as I can,” he said as he took out a knife from inside of his jacket’s pocket, a light of amusement dances in his eyes for a moment as a sick sadistic smile crosses his handsome face. But still, he is as emotionless as a doll despite of the smile.

 

“He’s not with me. We went our separate ways days ago,” Caleb lied. He slightly shivers from the sight of Edmund’s evil smile. He, too, had never seen this side of Edmund before. He only had heard of his reputation as one of the five mafia’s families’ head but never saw how brutal he could get before tonight. At that, Edmund lets out a deranged laughter. “Wow, you are quite convincing. Then, tell me who is this in this picture with you?” he said and flashes the screen of his phone to Caleb’s face depicting a picture of Lucca and him dancing at the gathering just now. Damn, he thought. Someone took photo of us and posted it on Instagram! Caleb keeps quiet as he no longer knows what to say. He can no longer spit lies now. That, and also the fact that he actually doesn’t know where in hell Lucca is! When he was woken up by the noise, he had found him missing. “My patience is wearing thin, Caleb…” Edmund warned. His voice made it sound like he was being playful and murderous at the same time.

 

Edmund then inhales deeply like he is holding back the urge to just tear the boy in front of him apart. He then looks around and smiles slightly. Blood is thicker than water. With Lucca, the relationship between them is even thicker than blood. Only he knows that. And the dead. “Oh Lucca… are you there?” he called out playfully and manically at the same time, sensing Lucca’s presence somehow. Lucca feels shiver while hiding behind the bushes. He, too, can tell that his papa can sense him. He started to sob even more. He is conflicted. When it comes to papa, he is always conflicted. It’s easy to forget about him when he wasn’t there but now that his papa is near him, he feels the connection they had. He feels the intense desire he had for him. He feels the shame, guilt, and pain of being loved, used, and abused by him. And at the same time, he feels angry, hate, and disgust of what they had. “Should we search the perimeter, boss?” one of Edmund’s men asked. Lucca is stunned upon hearing the suggestion but he dare not to move from where he is hiding.

 

“No need. He’ll come to me,” Edmund spoke confidently. He then looks down on Caleb and pulls him by the hair. With the knife in his hand, he starts to cut Caleb by the ear. Caleb screams in pain and wriggles his body but he is being held down by Edmund’s men and couldn’t do much to escape the pain. Edmund laughs as he cuts the skin slowly so that the pain will be more unbearable. “Scream more, my dear. I love the sound,” Edmund teased sadistically. Despite of him not wanting to give in to Edmund, Caleb still screams louder without his control due to the intense pain he is feeling.

 

Lucca can’t hold himself back anymore. Even Luke stops speaking in his mind. He doesn’t know where Luke is. But it’s almost like Luke had cowered away in fear to the appearance of papa. “STOP!!! Papa, stop!” Lucca screamed as he rushes out of the bushes. To the sound he longs to hear, Edmund puts down his knife calmly with a smile on his face as he licks the blood from his knife a little accompanied by a slight laughter at the taste of the blood in his mouth. “Ah, there you are, my pretty baby,” he called.

 

At that, memory flashes in Lucca’s mind of someone else. A beautiful woman with her looks almost matching to that of his own. Except that her eyes are of pale blue instead of dark green. “Ah, there you are, my pretty baby,” she called out to him. They were in the garden at the estate. But the garden was livelier in colors in this memory. The red roses bloom deep dark red. Like the color of blood.

 

He is snapped back to reality when he heard Caleb screamed at him. “You stupid shit!” He cursed. Lucca still has tears on his face. He can’t bear to see Caleb in pain. Half of his face is filled with the color of red like that of the roses in his memory. The blood keeps flowing down. Lucca panics in thought of how Caleb might just die from blood loss. But who was that woman in his memory just now? He doesn’t have time to delve more into the thought since his papa had moved closer to him, pulling him in by the waist and raise up the bloody knife he has in his hand to Lucca’s chin, forcing Lucca to look up into his eyes. Lucca gulps in fear. He doesn’t remember ever seeing his papa in this manner before. Guess he knew now why people feared him.

 

Edmund licks his upper lips calmly with his eyes vacant of emotions other than arrogance and quickly plants a rough kiss on his son’s unwilling lips, sucking it. He then forces a bite on Lucca’s lower lips till blood comes out of the torn skin and Lucca lets out a muffled scream of pain. He is still moaning in pain when Edmund broke the kiss but Edmund shows no remorse of what he had done. His face is void of any emotion. “You’ve been a very bad boy,” he said. There’s a hint of anger in his tone. And also malign. Lucca feels like time had stood still upon realizing what a monster his papa really is.

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