⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING ⚠️
The following entry implies and/or depicts the following: child abuse, neglect, homophobic slurs (censored), transphobia, physical violence, and murderous intent. Reader discretion is advised.
The two exchanged horrified looks as the mystery person screamed again, only this time they cried out:
Monty and Lizzie were on their feet in an instant. “That sounds like Gabby!” she told him. She was already shoving her feet into her boots when he opened the front door.
“Stay with the boys,” he insisted, before running off into the night.
“But–” It was too late; the prince was already gone, with the patio door slammed shut behind him. She huffed and finished putting on her boots, grumbling to herself. “They’re my friends… I should be over there…”
Concern for Gabby and Gavin had her on her feet, pacing by the open front door. Since the patio light was on, she couldn’t see anything beyond the screened-in brick porch. Lizzie paused from her brisk back-and-forth to retrieve her phone from her backpack. She had two text messages from Marilyn, one from Tawni, and three from Gabby, so she immediately opened the texts from the freshman. The first two were sent around four in the afternoon, shortly after they said goodbye.
Delivered 4:11 pm: kojis fine, hes home but wont see us Delivered 4:12 pm: but kent says he needs a break from school
The third and final text was delivered a few minutes before ten at night, which was around the time Monty had arrived:
Delivered 9:57 pm: liz my dads home n gav is at kents, idk what to do
Lizzie’s heart shot up into her throat. It was beating furiously, pounding in her ears. Nathan Moore worked night shifts at the power plant for the majority of the week–an arrangement negotiated by Gavin in order to keep his younger sister safe. Lizzie had never met the man, but Gabriella had expressed her fear of her father. She recalled the way Gabby’s slate blue aura was overtaken by brown at the mere thought of explaining her parental issues to Lizzie, so the senior had simply hugged the freshman and assured her that no explanation was needed. If that asshole hurt Gabby–
She turned to face the front door just in time to see Gabriella wrench the screen door open and sprint inside, her face blotchy and streaked with tears and clear snot. It was a wonder that she could see; she was sobbing uncontrollably as she collapsed into Lizzie’s arms. “He–He–”
“Whoa! Slow down.” The older teen tried to steer the younger girl toward the couch, but she only shook her head and tugged on Monty’s hoodie. “Just breathe, Gab. Did you see Monty there?”
Gabby nodded, still crying. Okay, that explains how she knew I was still here. “Is he taking care of things with your dad?”
She shook her head. “Gavin got there first. Monty and I can’t get him off my dad. I-I-I think he’s going to kill him!”
Lizzie’s mind flew back to the day of the coronation–the day when she realized just mentioning Nathan Moore to Gavin made a flash of blood red appear in his aura. Knowing Gav, he might actually kill him.
“Gabby, listen to me. I need you to stay here–if the boys wake up, just send them back to bed. If Carmen gets here before me, then go to Tawni and Benji’s, okay?”
Her sobs had mostly subsided, but she was still sniffling and huffing as Lizzie let go of her. “Wh-Wh-What are you g-going to do?”
Lizzie squared her shoulders. “I’m going to get Gavin back.”
Then she ran out the open front and patio doors, and sprinted between Carmen and Marilyn’s houses, cut across Mair’s backyard, hopped the chain link fence that separated her backyard from the roundabout. She then ran through Solomons Park to continue on Harmon Street until she was on the lawn of the first home of the block. It was a tiny pistachio green house with white shutters and a red brick chimney. The front lawn was mostly dirt, and there was no rhyme or reason to the placement of the overgrown hedges. Lizzie saw that the front door was wide open, and she could hear shouting from within.
“Get the hell out! Get the hell out! I don’t wanna see you or that fuckin’ queer in this house ever agai–”
The man’s slurred insults were interrupted by a hefty thwack, as if he had been punched in the face.
“Gavin! You’re not helping–” Monty shouted over the repeated blows. “Gavin, stop–!”
“YOU HEARD WHAT HE FUCKIN’ SAID ABOUT GABBY–”
Lizzie flew up the cement path to the stoop and burst through the front door, her eyes wide as she surveyed the scene.
Monty had his arms wrapped around Gavin’s torso; he easily had the teenager held back thanks to his towering stature, but Gavin refused to let his height get the best of him. He clawed and tugged at Monty’s arms, his expression absolutely livid. His aura was nothing but red–the same sanguine shade that stained his knuckles and dripped out of the man lying on the floor between the coffee table and an armchair.
Nathan Moore was a thin man. His hair was a reddish-orange, reminding Lizzie of the odd red streaks that gave Gabby’s brown hair its auburn sheen. His face was rounder than either of his children, giving her the impression that they take after their deceased mother–until she saw the rage and disdain in his hazel eyes as they pierced through her. Nathan pushed himself up until he was seated, his right hand using the bottom of his filthy beige undershirt to wipe the blood from his face. His gut spilled over his belt, contrasting his scrawny arms.
She would have thought him a harmless man, and suspected that many of their neighbors felt the same, if it were not for the black tendrils that snaked out of his murky, sanguine aura.
He might look like an innocent man, but he has nothing but hate and anger inside, she realized, connecting the dots. Gabriella’s over-forgiving attitude, Gavin’s protective nature regarding her–it was almost an exact parallel to her and Clint. Which means that Nathan Moore is just another Jebediah Peters.
All three men watched Lizzie carefully as she slowly made her way into the living room. Her feet carried her across the threshold, not stopping until she stood beside her friends and before the bleeding man. She did not offer him assistance or kind words, nor did she attack him or sling any degrading remarks. Instead, she gazed down upon the sickening human and asked:
“Do you love your daughter?”
“I don’t have a daughter,” he sneered. “I got two sons–that good-for-nothin’ over there, and a f*ggot.”
Lizzie’s expression hardened. “I didn’t ask how you see Gabby–I asked if you love her.”
Nathan scoffed. “How the hell can anyone love him? He’s all messed up in the head, thinkin’ he’s somethin’ he ain’t.”
“Lizzie–” Monty tried to caution her, but the former bandit cut him off.
“I love her.”
The man let out a humorless chuckle. “Come again?”
“I said I love your daughter,” she repeated. “And I’m not the only one–she has a whole-ass family to replace you. I just needed to confirm that you were unfit.”
Then she met Gavin’s wide, amazed eyes and boldly said, “Go and pack whatever you can for both of you. You’re staying with me and Mona in the meantime.”
Gavin nodded and ran deeper into the home to fulfill her request. Monty’s eyes were glued to Lizzie, studying her mannerisms with an unreadable expression. “ ‘In the meantime’?”
She finally met his gaze and studied his aura. She had done her best to ignore it, as she knew it would be the same or similar to its new pretty pink hue; however, as she looked closer, she could see dark magenta and cloudy Aegean blue. The shift in his colors made her frown, but she tried not to think about it.
“I want to go before the council and request a home of my own–an apartment building. For me and all the unwanted kids in Savannah.”