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   Chapter 12 Oh Dear!

Broken Past By Arathi Characters: 15333

Updated: 2018-08-13 06:50

"Who the fuck is Tom?" Aalam inquired.

"Beats me, " JT replied. "But, if he touched her, he is dead meat."

"Probably an ex, " Brij mused.

"Brother?" Etash piped in.

"Nah! Can't be family. At least it doesn't sound like it. I'd bet on the ex." Dev chipped in.

The conversation ended as the men reached the parking grounds at the entrance of the training area. Quickly and quietly, they mounted their rides; the click of helmet buckles filling the silence. Seconds later, several engines roared to life, signaling the start of a long journey back to home base.

The drive was a much-needed distraction for JT. He felt completely at ease on the long winding roads, especially when the sky was absolutely clear and the mountains stretched endlessly past the horizon. Not the close-up view. No. The mountainside, up close, was a hotchpotch mess of houses that gleamed in the late evening sun. Ongoing construction for new residences attracted heavy vehicles and mounds of construction material, all of which was piled high on any available flat surface available.

The view that JT found inspiring was that of the parallel range. So far out that houses seemed non-existent; no more than a speck of red, white, green or blue. The damage to the mountain could almost be entirely denied. From this distance, those mountains stood in all their glory, their only visible scarring from past or current landslides. And even that looked beautiful in a dangerous and mysterious way.

The men took turns leading the group home. Single-file on the dangerous road as there was no room for stunts or speeding. They occasionally stopped for a steaming cup of tea that was served in a clay pot (kullar).

Conversation during these breaks was, fortunately, limited to boyish-boasting; who ran the fastest, swam the slowest, jumped the highest – you get the idea. What they didn't do, was dwell over whether they cleared their training. There was no room for doubt there. They knew they had. It just couldn't have gone any other way. And they all knew why. JT

He kicked their asses, held their hands, plastered broken bones on the field, encouraged and motivated them. He pushed them beyond their breaking point, but he also knew how to keep them focused. While all their stories began differently, they had enlisted for personal reasons ranging from patriotism to search for a family to running away from past demons, they all ended the same way. They now lived and breathed for their leader, the man that was as harsh and unrelenting as a teacher, as mature and wise as a father, as rambunctious and nutty as a brother and friend. He was everything to them.

And since they owed him so much, they wanted to do anything for him. They need not worry about what path JT would lead them down. For as surely as they lived and breathed every day, they knew he would never take a walk down the wrong road.

Their career and lives were safe with JT. And that's all they needed. Their trust in him, implicit.

By sunset, the boys saw the familiar spatter of houses that indicated they had reached city limits. They were finally home and all the more cheerful for it!

As they rounded the corner to Sadar Bazar, the boys were still clueless as to JT's plans. He hadn't said a word about the Gwen situation yet, and they had given him space and time he needed to work on his approach.

Planning and strategy was JT's forte. And they knew well enough not to interfere. What caught them off-guard, however, was his strategy for this particular situation. They expected to drive straight to Gwen's and tear down her door in search of this Tom character; bring out the heavy artillery in a hostile situation, so to speak. What JT did instead, was send them all home. All except for Aalam. Eventually, the boys worked it out for themselves. Reconnaissance. That's what JT was after.

Aalam was, on the surface, like any other handsome bastard. He could turn on the charm and disarm most folk. He knew how to study and understand people by watching them. He could even work out their next moves before they knew. He could pry background information with finesse, without making the conversation an interrogation.

When the boys disappeared, JT and Aalam spoke briefly before parting ways. JT had one more stop to make now. Aunt Jasmine's. The last text message Gwen had sent simply said "hungry and out of coffee."

A half hour later, JT pulled up outside Gwen's. He kicked the side stand into place and turned the key. As the lights and engine switched off, the crickets chirping got louder. He

ok his head and chided her. "You know better Gwen. There's no point in being reckless on the mountain. If you hope to live here a long, long time, you must learn to abide by simple safety rules. No more gallivanting up and down the mountainside in the pouring rain!"

"I know, I know, " she said grinning. "Sooo, how about it?" she asked shoving the last of her food into her mouth.

"How about what?" JT asked. Somewhere in between, he had stopped listening and had gotten lost in his thoughts.

Gwen gathered their plates and punched his arm with her free hand before making her way to the kitchen. "Men! You're all the same. Tune out when a girl talks and pretend you are listening."

JT followed her to the kitchen, shamelessly admiring the curve of her legs and bottom. "Huh?" he said when she prompted him again.

"See? You're doing it again! You're very distracted today, " she teased.

"Mhmmm, " he said forcing his eyes to look anywhere but at her bottom.

"The sink is full. Mind if I help you clear the dishes?" There! That ought to be distraction enough for him.

She sighed in defeat, looking around at the kitchen. How could a person own so little, and yet make such a big mess?

"No, " she whispered. The exhaustion replacing the light mood she had only seconds ago. "It can wait till morning. Like so many other things. I know you want to ask about Tom, and thank you for not bringing it up, but I just want to go back to bed."

"All right, " JT said and nodded in understanding. He was exhausted too. The anger from before was dying out now. After everything he'd been through with the training and the drive, a good night's sleep was very welcome.

Having finally run out of conversation, the two fidgeted for a few minutes. The awkwardness they both felt when it was time to say goodbye, returned.

"I guess I should be heading home, " JT said as he fumbled in his pockets for his keys.

"Please stay, " Gwen whispered. "The door doesn't lock too well, and I'd feel better knowing you are here, " she continued. Absentmindedly, she rubbed at her sore and bruised wrists and the anger and resolve from before returned to JT.

"Probably best if I do, " he said wondering if Tom was indeed foolish enough to pay her a second visit. Maybe he assumed she was here all by herself and had no one to lean on thus allowing him to terrorize her at will.

Well, he would change that, wouldn't he? After all, protecting people was his life's calling and here was this fragile being that seemed to need him desperately. How could he refuse?

"So where do I sleep?" he asked smiling. The warmth of his chocolate eyes engulfed Gwen, and she found herself smiling again. And then the dimple flashed! She couldn't help but blush. He was a charming bugger, and she found herself very attracted to him.

"I have only one mattress, " she said. Slowly, she pivoted on her heels while surveying the room. "And no couch as you can see."

A barely audible groan slipped past JT's lips. This was going to be a very, very, long night!

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