"I would say my theme has always been paradise lost, always the lost cause, the lost leader, the lost utopia.” - Marguerite Young.
Celia was sitting in the auditorium, in a seat near the vast window that allowed her to gaze at the afternoon sky. The sky had been painted a mix of pastel colours and a rainbow had appeared after the rain.
She almost laughed at what a false advertisement that image was. In real life, the rain, which represented the troubles following people, did not dissolve into beauty but in pain.
Celia knew that all too well.
She missed the rain terribly, even though she lived in England and as it is known England does not have a shortage of drizzle. Perhaps it would be fair to say that she missed the rain almost as much as she missed her home.
Celia was aware that she hadn’t been paying attention to her philosophy professor’s words as they came tumbling out of his mouth. She had only caught fragments of what the lecture was about and instead of worrying about the difference between Aristotle and Plato and how their different approach on some subjects created a whole new era of philosophical views, Celia was thinking about her home. The home she had left five years prior to settling in a small town outside of London.
She had just turned eighteen when she was forced to start a new life far far away from all the toxic memories the old one had to offer. She travelled a lot through Europe, for about a year, letting her self discover where she would feel more comfortable to start over. She learned a lot about Mediterranean cultures, being half Italian herself she had always felt a deep longing in her heart whenever she would gaze into the dark blue waters of the Mediterranean, yet she did not choose a familiar environment.
She found herself infuriated with the grey skies of England and the graphic alleys, the architecture. It all felt familiar to her soul and so at the first chance that arose she enrolled in a university in order to study philosophy as she had always planned.
The very first thing that she was asked was what her ambition was. She had tried to be as honest as possible and had replied that she had none, she simply wanted to live and that she never dreamt big, the way she was urged to do from a young age because dreams are fragile and get crashed easily as do people who dream.
The professor looked up from his notes and started speaking once more. “All great philosophers were disturbed - in a way. Every genius is a little bit mad at the very least. We all carry baggage, some of you may know this from personal experience and this is where we draw art from. Pain, misery, insanity, violence. Have you ever heard of art coming from hearts and flowers, peace or love? No, you have not because it can’t, great art takes a part from you and you never get that part back. Where I am going with this as you may be wondering is that philosophy is an art.” Mr. Russ said.
Celia never bothered to learn their names. She believed that because they never knew her she wasn’t obliged to learn more about them, she only cared about what she could learn from them. She was just a number in a file and some basic information, prior education, her birth certificate and other meaningless data, she was not a person with thoughts and passions. But she couldn’t help but know this detail about the only professor who held a deep understanding of the things he was teaching. Others weren’t like him.
She was not blaming anyone for this, honestly, that was how the educational system operated. Perhaps, she was just bitter, she could never stand when she felt that her wants were suppressed.
She loved philosophy yet she detested the people that attended the same classes as her, those pretentious bastards who believed they knew everything, all in all, she detested her self. Who could be more pretentious than a young woman with such strong beliefs?
Celia realized she had drifted away from the lecture once again and so her attention was back on the professor. “The next five lectures are going to be about difficult situations people keep finding themselves into and we are also going to have five different speakers coming here to talk to you about each situation so you better prepare yourselves. Class dismissed.”
She got up slowly, still a bit dazed, and shrugged on her black leather jacket before throwing her books messily in her backpack and heading outside. She started walking along the crowded streets, letting her hazel eyes scrutinize some shops and their windows for a few seconds before moving once more.
She couldn’t have been walking for over five minutes before she found herself outside of her favourite tattoo parlour, Olympus. She pushed the door open and walked inside. Deafening silence filled her ears. It can’t be, she thought with a confused frown on her face, Apollo always puts music on when he works.
She walked to the receptionist, Rachel, and explained that she wanted to finish her half sleeve.
Rachel looked at her with surprise. “Sorry doll, the bossman isn’t here today. You haven’t heard?” Celia shook her head. “Oh, well his brother is coming home today and he took the day off.”
“Brother?” Apollo would have told her that he had any other siblings besides Eros, wouldn’t he? They were friends after all.
Rachel’s eyes twinkled with a gleam that could only be described as naughty and smiled. “Oh, yes the almighty Ax, such a handsome lad. I’m surprised you’ve never heard of him, he is quite famous around here.” Rachel replied. “Or it would be appropriate to say quite infamous.” She added in an afterthought.
Celia didn’t know what she should say to the redheaded receptionist, she seemed to be in a dreamlike state, thinking about that Ax most likely.
Celia had to resist rolling her eyes, she found it incredibly idiotic when women were fanning over men. He can’t possibly be that fucking special.
She cleared her throat, trying to regain Rachel’s attention. The receptionist rewarded her with a startled yelp as if she had just noticed Celia’s presence. “I’m sure he is great, Rachel. Could you tell Apollo that I want an appointment to finish this?” She gestured at her covered left arm. Rachel nodded. “Sure doll, I’ll tell him once he comes back.”
Celia smiled in gratification. “Thank you, I’ll see you later.” She waved at Rachel before stepping towards the exit. She did not even spare a glance at the interior of the shop, she knew every detail by heart. She knew how there were paintings decorating the hallway, courtesy of one of Apollo’s fellow art classmate in college and worldwide famous painter, Miguel Velasco. She knew how Apollo loved the old vinyl records he kept scattered all over the room in which he spent most of his time. She also knew how each tattoo he ever created was recreated on a canvas, left in the attic.
“Any time doll,” Rachel yelled, hoping her voice had reached the young woman before she left. Rachel was aware that it was not highly possible for Celia to have heard her, the woman must have had already put in her earphones. She had a love for music, that one, to the point where she couldn’t leave her house without grabbing her earphones, they were more of a necessity to her than any other thing people might value.
And of course, Celia hadn’t heard a word. She continued to stroll, tearing through the people that made her feel incredibly small. She, eventually, reached her neighbourhood but before she could pass the road, a bike came out of nowhere and almost hit her. The street was practically deserted yet the driver of the vehicle acted like he was being he was running from someone, or perhaps towards something. Maybe he was chasing after freedom.
The driver stopped after almost hitting the young woman. He took off his helmet and let it fall on the gravel before rushing towards the black haired beauty that was glaring in disbelief at the pavement. “Are you alright?” He asked as he reached her side. He should have been angry that she was crossing the street without looking to check if anyone was coming but as the woman lifted her gaze towards him all he could do was stare at those beautiful, doe-like hazel eyes.
Oh, come on Ax get yourself together you fucker. He thought scowling briefly. The woman was glaring at him, anger flying off of her. “Am I okay? You almost killed me, you lunatic.”
“Well if you were watching were you were going then maybe you wouldn’t have been in danger.” His accent was a bit thicker when he was angry.
Celia couldn’t help but stare at the man. She didn’t want to appreciate the beauty of a man as arrogant as him but she couldn’t help herself. His eyes were bright blue, almost electric, and his head was full of inky black tresses that stopped at the collar of his leather jacket. His nose was a little bit crooked but that simply added to his appeal and the seductive air he was carrying so effortlessly. He had nothing to envy from Michelangelo’s David or any other representation of male perfection.
She forced herself to close her eyes in order to snap out of the little dreamy haze she had just found herself in.
“Oh go fuck yourself.” She said as his words registered in her mind. He was putting the blame on her and here she was comparing him to a work of art.
Celia turned away from the nameless man and started walking in the direction of her desired destination. Ax let out a chuckle as the curvy little thing scurried away from him. “Be careful, little girl.” He called after her, as she disappeared from his view.
Ax hadn’t been between a woman’s thighs for too long, it had been five years ever since he had even been close enough. He stared at the where the black-headed beauty occupied a few moments ago and sighed in regret. She would have been the perfect candidate for the position. Any position, he corrected his inner thoughts with a wolfish grin, she would be perfect for any position.
He just knew how wonderful that hair would look wrapped around his fist as he pounded into her little body.
He decided not to dwell on those thoughts for too long, he would get his taste of freedom soon enough but first things always came first, it was time to reunite with his family. Ax had met his parents outside of the prison. His mother had flung herself in his arms and he had held her as she cried and kept cradling him to her in order to feel that he was truly there. His father had been a tad more civilized, he welcomed him with a hug and a warning glare which was typical of his father and was the same as saying ‘I love you’.
They had driven him to his home, a home he hadn’t stepped foot in a very long time yet had somehow remained clean, Ax was certain that had to be his mother’s work. He stayed there for a while, getting reacquainted with his bed.
After that, he knew he had to go and see his brothers. His first stop would be Apollo, the youngest of the three, the painter that had drooped out of art school and started his own business doing what he truly loved, creating art on the fragile human skin rejecting the canvases that he had been pestered into using repeatedly.
His mother had briefly informed him that his shop had been open the whole time he had been locked away. Ax was - still is a car mechanic and had inherited the garage from his father, who had been in the same line of work. He wasn’t surprised when he found out that his father had stepped in his place in his absence, what troubled him was that Apollo had been helping him whenever he was able, and who knew what the kid had fucked up.
Apollo broke everything he laid his hands on. It had been a special kind of talent which he had ever since he was a child. He brought trouble everywhere he was, they were similar in that way.
Ax drove to his shop. He remembered every little detail of his hometown even though he had not laid eyes on a single building for five years. It created an ache in his chest to know that he was finally home. That was the same sensation as the one he felt as he stepped inside the seemingly intact shop. He saw his younger brother working on a sand-colored Fiat, and chuckled deeply as he saw him struggling over figuring out which cable he should connect with which.
“Attach one of the red cables to the positive terminal, you idiot. I taught you that when you were sixteen, how are you still struggling?” Apollo jumped at the sound of his brother’s voice. The tattoo artist couldn’t help but stare in disbelief as he turned to face him. “You’re here.”
“No shit Sherlock. Next, you’ll be telling me that the Earth is round.” Ax commented in a lighter tone. “Did you expect for me not to get out?” He asked before remembering that he had called his family members just a day before being released. “I did inform you.”
Apollo nodded. “I know, I just, fuck I don’t know asshole this was sudden.”
Ax looked around, checking to see if anything was falling apart in front of his eyes, no such luck. “I know hope you didn’t ruin my shop, you impeccable.”
Apollo followed his gaze and chuckled before glaring at his older brother. “I am the only reason this shithole hasn’t been closed down, dad hasn’t been much help, you know.”
“I sincerely doubt that.” Ax replied. “Well, I’m glad you enjoyed the experience so much but get the fuck away from the cars.” He stated dryly. Apollo steeped away while raising his arms in surrender, mocking his brother. “Don’t you have to work?”
Apollo looked around trying hard not to start yelling at his brother for trying to push him away. It was much too soon for Ax to start acting like his normal self. Without a second thought, Apollo moved closer to his brother and threw his big arms around him, drawing him in for a hug. “I really did miss you motherfucker.”
“Yeah, I did too.” Ax admitted, his voice barely louder than a whisper. Maybe he was afraid that mundane emotions would make him appear weak, but there was no way to know what has been going on in that man’s head.
“Oh, and before I forget, I want my dog back.” Ax stated.
Apollo nodded. “Yeah sure, come by my house whenever you want.” He said. “Anyway, I think she prefers you over me.”
“Who could blame her?” Ax questioned teasingly,
After they had parted Ax remembered of the missing piece of this reunion, Eros. “Where’s the other asshole?”
“You know Eros, he is probably locked up in his house and wallowing in self-pity, as a true artist should. But I do feel bad for Theo though, the poor kid doesn’t deserve that shit.”
Ax nodded solemnly. Last time he had seen his nephew he hadn’t even spoken a word yet now he was old enough to start school. God, he had missed too much.
Ax turned his attention back at Apollo and saw tears glistening at the corners of his eyes. “Don’t ever do this again, you hear me?”
“I hear you.” Ax replied even though he knew that he wouldn’t be keeping any promise that he made. “We were all this close at losing it completely. Mom was so worried that something would happen to you in there, did you know that?” He shook his head whilst muttering ‘Motherfucker’ over and over again.
“Stop acting like a pussy, idiot. Nothing would have happened to me, nothing did happen to me.” Ax stated with a reassuring grin.
“I didn’t have nightmares screaming for mom to come and save me when I was eleven, so yeah definitely not the pussy of this family.” In a second the playful expression was gone from Apollo’s eyes. “Are you done with the club? I mean it Ax, don’t you even try to lie. I will know and I’ll lock you up myself this time.”
“I respect that, brother, I really do but there is one last thing I have to do and then I’ll be out, completely.”
Apollo’s face fell at the sound of his brother’s reply. “What will you do?” He asked not entirely sure he wanted to know the answer.
“I will ruin them. Tear them apart and make them wish they had never messed with me.”
Apollo understood that he could never win this argument so he backed down immediately. At least he is going to be a problem. Ax thought but even though that thought was supposed to be reassuring there was something inside him that wouldn’t rest.
Apollo sighed in defeat. “Do what you have to do, Ax, but I don’t want to find you beaten up on my doorstep any time soon, alright?” Ax nodded. Getting beaten up did not feature any of his plans.
He suddenly had the urge to get away.
So he said goodbye to his younger brother and fled. Apollo wasn’t surprised at his brother’s behavior, he always seemed to be wanting to escape, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t disappointed.
Apollo decided to go to his shop and blow off some steam. After that, he would probably join Nikolai at the pub.
I need a cigarette, I really fucking need a cigarette.
Ax hadn’t even been out of jail for twenty-four hours and yet he had been stressed out of his mind. First his parents, then Apollo and to top that he had gone to see Eros and that alone was enough to make him want to gouge his eyes out. Damn, he thought with a chuckle, it’s good to be home.
As he was driving back from Eros’ house he decided to give into that old habit and so he pulled up and parked his motorbike by the bridge where he used to hang out as a kid, staring at the blue waters for hours trying to decode what could be hiding in there. Some years later as a scrawny teenager that had just discovered the power of marijuana.
Ax tried to reject the memories that came to him after. Memories that reminded him of some of his mistakes, it was a part of him that he could never erase. He felt the need to hit his head against a wall in order to forget all the things he had done.
He shook his head as he took a drag from his cigarette slowly, savoring the bitter taste, and started walking towards his spot, which was located near the center of the old wooden bridge. As he neared his destination he couldn’t help but notice a small curvy figure standing alone, gazing at the stars or maybe even trying to find the courage to jump. If it was the latter, he couldn’t really blame her many had tried, quite unsuccessfully for the water wasn’t deep enough to anyone to drown in but that hadn’t stopped the attempts, not even his own.
He had been twenty-five at the time, a sorry excuse of a man as he used to characterize himself whenever he was referring to those years. He had wanted to put an end to it yet the only thing he achieved was a broken leg and a fractured arm, not catharsis as he had hoped.
No rest for the wicked. Perhaps Father Logan did have a point after all. Ax certainly wasn’t getting any kind of rest.
Ax impulsively strolled towards the mystery woman that was leaning against the bridge’s barrier.
“You shouldn’t be doing this.” Ax commented casually once he reached her.
“Excuse me?” Celia snapped at the man that was standing behind her. “Is looking at the stars illegal now?” She hadn’t turned to look at him but his deep voice made her clench her legs together. Well, this is certainly new. She thought and scoffed.
“Is that what you were doing?” He inquired. Celia didn’t have time to answer for he opened his mouth again. “You could have fallen.”
Yeah, right. Her subconscious replied. She nodded once but the movement went unnoticed by Ax, he was too busy ogling at her curvy backside. An appreciative smile lit his face as his eyes traveled. “I am aware of that.” She replied after a few moments of deafening silence.
“So I’m assuming you don’t mind dying? Because you will die if you fall from that, little girl.” It was the final part of his arrogantly phrased statement that caused her mind to connect the dots and a light bulb to appear over her head. The words ‘Be careful, little girl.’ flowed through her mind and the eyes of the man with the crystal blue eyes surfaced.
No fucking way.
Celia closed her eyes and decided to turn around and confirm her suspicions. The sight that greeted her once she did, did not surprise her. The tall, dark-haired man was standing right in front of her, leaving only a couple of metres distance between them. “If you think that anyone could die from falling in these waters, then you are an idiot. I’m sorry to disappoint you but this lake is too shallow to drown in, not that had I wanted to, in fact, jump in there that would have been any concern of yours.”
Ax gazed at her curiosity. Who is this woman? His eyebrow quirked upwards in question.
“Look sweetheart as much as I love standing here and being insulted if you are going to act like a brat then I’ll just be on my way.”
Celia rolled her eyes. “Well drive safe, I hope you don’t hit anyone that happens to be passing by.” She dismissed him, she actually had dismissed him. She was irritated and not even his pretty blue eyes could stand in the way of her anger, she wasn’t like those women that would fall at a man’s feet and worship him simply because he was handsome and she’d be damned if she started to act that way now.
Ax was ready to snap at her in reply to her dismissal but as he saw her lose her balance all sarcastic comments escaped from his mind. Her body stumbled backward and she would have fallen from the barrier and into the dark waters had he not caught her in time.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck. Shit.” Celia mumbled repeatedly as her body was thrown onto the bridge’s wooden floor.
“You alright?” Ax asked as he crouched down beside her.
“Yes, I am fine, thank you.” She answered politely and looked at her feet, mentally cursing her self for being clumsy at the most inappropriate times. Ax’s pointer finger raised her face so that she was staring directly at him.
Something changed in the air the moment their gazes locked. Ax couldn’t help but scrutinize her face, staring at her almost as if she was some kind of oddity he had never laid eyes on before. Perhaps it had been the years of his celibacy, maybe it was her fiery personality but no matter what Ax wanted her. He wanted to tame the hazel-eyed woman.
“What’s your name?” Ax decided to ask, the sound low and husky.
“Celia.” She replied, not letting her gaze waver from the stranger.
“Alexander Vidal.” He introduced himself and outstretched his hand, offering it for a handshake. Celia accepted it as he went on speaking. “But you can call me Ax.”
As his words registered Celia felt her eyes widen significantly. Apollo’s brother the infamous, as Rachel had called him, Ax was standing right in front of her, staring at her with a wicked gleam in his eyes.
She suddenly realized their proximity, if he was to tilt his head a little bit they would be kissing. Celia was staring directly at his plump lips and gulped nervously. The little movement did not go unnoticed by Ax and he felt a smirk slip on his face, realizing that the little spitfire was attracted to him.
Well, it’s not like anyone could blame her the man could even tempt a nun if he wanted to and Celia was no nun. She briefly wondered how it would feel if he were to touch her intimately, having his hands run all over her body but those thoughts were interrupted as Ax closed the gap between them. In an instant, he was kissing her. He was acting in an extremely primal way, borderline animalistic and she couldn’t help but wonder what she could do to please him, submit to him without even being asked to. She wasn’t thinking straight, Celia couldn’t possibly want to give herself to a complete stranger, it made no sense. She wasn’t the type of woman that would act so recklessly.
The primal need must have been transferred to her without her knowledge. His kiss deepened, his mouth seeking hers and as much as she wanted to move back and slap him hard across the face for his behavior she couldn’t help but fall in sync with him.
A few seconds later Ax broke the kiss and Celia was struggling to catch her breath. He pressed his forehead to hers, his blue eyes practically searching her soul. “How about.” He began and a smirk appeared again. “We go to my place and continue?” Celia felt her eyes widen and her anger rise.
She raised her hand without thinking and slapped him across the face, wiping the existence of that arrogant expression from the face of the earth. “How dare you? I’m not someone you can just smile at and believe that will fall at your feet and obey your every command. Fuck you.” She lowered her hands to the wooden flooring and used them to push her body so that she could stand but Ax stopped her as she went to move. “Get your fucking hands off of me.” She snapped and tried to snatch her arm from his tight grip.
“You kissed me back.” That was all he said. No apology, no explanation. He simply stated the fact that she had responded to his kiss.
She had nothing to say.
He wasn’t listening but she had to clear this subject. “Look Mr. Vidal-”
He quirked an eyebrow at her, amusement twinkling in his eyes.
“I will not accept you treating me like some whore. I don’t know who you think you are but you can’t just ask a woman you’ve just met to sleep with you.” She stated while taking deep breaths in order to calm herself. “Also if you want to do that I’m not the woman for the job, there’s a bar downtown, in case you’ve forgotten, and I’m sure you’ll find many willing participants, alright?”
In reply he only gave her a grin, making him even more irresistible. He must have known what that effect that smile had on women. That gorgeous motherfucker. She thought and scowled at herself.
“You are attracted to me yet you resist that. Why? Do you happen to know who I am?” He inquired slowly, a hard look replacing the mischievous gleam he had a few moments earlier.
“No, I don’t. And that is exactly my point.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You might....might...” Don’t stammer you, idiot.
“I might do what exactly? Kill you? Sorry princess I don’t have any axes lying around, so I will not be reenacting any horror movie.” He said sardonically. “I don’t know what you’ve heard about me Celia, though I doubt it is anything good, I can assure you that killing you is not a part of my plan.” He gave her a hard look but all she was able to focus on was the way her name rolled from his mouth, his accent caressing the syllables, causing the ache between her legs to grow.
But she had her pride. Lust was not enough to make her let go of her pride. “Well sleeping with you isn’t a part of my plan either, so why don’t you just let me up so I can leave?”
“Who said anything about sleeping?” He asked and the playful grin was back on his face.
“You are impossible.” She huffed and shook her head.
“No, I am not. I stated what I wanted from you. You are being impossible by turning this into something that it is not.”
“And what is it? A one night stand? I’m not looking for something like that.”
“Are you sure you don’t know about me?” He inquired. Celia’s eyes were clouded with confusion. Who was he anyway? What was so important about him that guaranteed that she should be aware of him and his actions?
“Oh for fuck's sake.” She exclaimed using her hands to push against his strong chest. “You arrogant asshole. Let me go.” She continued. Ax didn’t even feel the push, it was ridiculous had she honestly thought that her strength could have an impact on him?
Ax stood up silently and offered her his hand. Celia did not rely on him in order to stand up, instead, she pushed against the floor and was able to get on her feet.
She took a step forward and another but her feet protested and so she stopped and took off her high heeled boots. Relief flooded her entire body instantly.
Ax looked at the small thing in front of him and found himself getting amused at how small she was in comparison to him.
“There’s nothing I can do to convince you?” He asked. Celia wanted to kiss him again, she couldn’t deny the attraction she felt but at the same time, he was incredibly frustrating.
“Look, I don’t know what your issue is but I really just want to go home. No, you can’t convince me.” Her voice almost betrayed her true feelings about the proposition.
“Guess we will have to see about that.” Was his own reply.
Celia rolled her eyes at his stubborn response but deep inside her, she felt a certain kind of heat spread all over her body. She had to get out of there before he did anything that would make her throw caution to the wind and succumb to him.
“Goodnight,” Celia called out as her bare feet hurried from that forsaken bridge.
Ax wasn’t going to give up that easily, it wasn’t in his nature.
He would convince her no matter how long it took.
And betting on her reaction , it wouldn’t take all that long.
“Goodnight little one.”