Focus (Le Corbeau, #1) ✓

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9. Stay

“I wish we had more time to talk,” Salice pouted and I sent her an apologetic look. Night fell and the streets were deadly silent. I was the last guest to leave the Atlas household, standing under the porch light, and I placed all my blame on Bruce. The guy wouldn’t let me leave, not that I was complaining. “He hogged all of your time!”

“So did Jonah,” I raised a brow and she released a tired breath.

“He’s my boy,” She pursed her lips. “I can’t be too angry. You make him happy,”

I played with ends of my hair, not knowing what to say. He makes me feel happy? Baring my emotions wasn’t my strong suit. It was a reason why I didn't sign up for therapy.

“Is he not happy in general?” I asked and she tilted her head to the side thoughtfully.

“He’s very passive at times. Nothing really fazes him. All of a sudden, you came back and he’s grinning from ear to ear,”

“If you’re gonna talk about me don’t you think it’s fair I join the conversation?” He stepped around his sister, kissing her head. “Where’s Jonah?”

“He’s sleeping. All that running has knocked him out cold,” She chuckled lightly.

“I better get going,” I said out of the blue.

“I’ll drive you home,” Bruce turned to Salice. “You’ll be okay, right?”

“Sure, sure,” She waved her hands in reassurance. “Besides, Wolf and Mikey are here so you have nothing to worry about,”

He closed the door quietly, placing his hand on my lower back and pushed me forward.

“I drove here,”

“Give me your keys,” He demanded and I dropped them into his hands. “I’ll walk back,”

“That isn’t-”

He scowled at me in warning, telling me to ‘shut up’ and I held my hands in surrender, standing away for the king to walk through. We both entered the car and he drove into the night. All lights were turned off at John’s house and I assumed everybody was asleep. Vaguely, I registered Bruce leaving the car just when I did. Leaning on the passenger door, he walked around to my side, stopping directly in front of me. Biting my lower lip and trying to hide my smile, he whistled lowly whilst touching the hem of my dress.

“What?” I asked shyly. Flattening my breasts against his torso. Bruce nuzzled his nose with mine.

“Nothing…” He whispered. “I…”

Shaking his head, he tilted his head back with a quiet, strained groan, closing his eyes and cursed under his breath. Without a thought, I kissed his Adam’s apple and his skin quivered with a contented sigh.

“Don’t leave,”

Unwillingly, I turned my head to the side, avoiding his pleading gaze. “I can’t promise that,”

“Whatever's happening, seeing your dad, your disorder, that’s fine.”

“It’s not that simple.” I rubbed his bottom lip with my thumb and he took it into his mouth, sucking slowly. “This place brings bad memories I try to avoid,”

“Don’t dwell on the past. Embrace who you are and let’s make new memories, good ones like tonight,” The muscle in his cheek ticked with tension. His grey eyes were soft, begging.

“I’ll think about it,”

“Okay,” He stepped away and the heat he provided evaporated. I rubbed my arms as a cool chill brushed my skin. “Goodnight,”

“Night,” My voice was barely a whispered and I headed to the front door of Alexis and John’s home. His eyes were on me, I knew this by the way my skin tingled in feverishly with satisfaction. But I wasn’t in the mood to get giddy over him at that moment.

I didn’t dare to look at him when I closed the door; I’d succumb to his will. I knew it. Entering the living area, Gladys stood to her feet abruptly, her hazel eyes blazing with jealousy. She must’ve seen us together and I glanced at the unkempt curtains. Tossing the car keys on the counter, I folded my arms, waiting for her pathetic threats and warnings.

She bit the inside of her cheek, turning her eyes to the ground for a second. “Now, I have my answer on what Bruce is up to,”

“Why can’t you just get the hint? He wants nothing to do with you,”

She cackled and I cringed inwardly. “You think I’m the first girl?"

I stayed silent, shifting from foot to foot, agitated. I didn’t convey my true emotions to her, learning from my first mistake.

“No, and you’re certainly not the last,”

Kicking off my converse, I walked to the stairs but Gladys wasn’t done. Obviously, my reaction didn’t satisfy her irrational hunger to harm me emotionally. The thought of Bruce being with anybody else killed me but I didn’t have any right to claim any hold. Her feet stomped on the ground behind me like a petulant child and she was audacious enough to grab me. I swirled around, resisting the urge to push her. Even when I beat the crap out of her, I never felt any sense of remorse.

“That’s where I think you’re wrong. We talked the other day, actually and he helped me with a few things at the gym-”

“Keep pushing the wrong buttons and you’re gonna fall down these steps,” I barked, standing one step higher than her. She looked up at me, satisfied. Not only was I exhausted to deal with her antics, I didn’t want to know what Bruce helped her with. She was delusional and possibly crazier than I thought. I don’t think I’m the only one who needs to see a shrink.

“Bruce is easy to love,” She breathed and descended the stairs. “But he’s incapable of monogamy,”




‘I’m coming over’

I read his text for the millionth time and bit the inside of my cheek. His words revealed every sense of his being, leaving me entertained.

I noticed he never asked for anything, more like he ordered them. My day was quite busy, though. John and I started to build the shed which wasn’t as complicated as I expected. So, in the end, I left him hanging but it didn’t stop him. The guy was relentless. Bruce's jeep racing down the street was a distant tune which increased when he parked in front of the house. Meeting him halfway, he hauled my body over his shoulder - causing me to shriek in fright - ambling back to his jeep. I didn’t get the chance to close the front door properly! He was a neanderthal!

“Bruce!” I screeched when he slapped my ass. This is kidnapping! I thought and he buckled my seatbelt after pressing a hard kiss to my lips.

“It’s been three days,” Was all he said and shut the door. I blinked stupidly, shocked by his braveness. Those three days were spent contemplating on the situation surrounding me, especially the one where Tony was involved. I only had a week to make my decision and my mind was playing angel and the devil.

And then there was Gladys. She truly was the definition of a vile serpent. Three nights ago, her menacing words didn’t go unnoticed and I spent all my time deciphering the meaning behind them. Her morals were on the wrong end of the fucking scale and I had no clue where she learned them from. John was an honest man, maybe her mother...? I don't know. It was okay for her to wreck other's relationship but when it came to her… something told me to keep an eye on her.

His scent snapped me out of my reverie as well the dip of the jeep by his 6’5 muscled body. “Got to make every minute count,”

“Don’t you have a gym to run?” I asked.

“Gym’s closed for the day. We’re going to the mechanics,” He replied and positioned his hand on my thigh.

“You’re crap at this,”

He angled his head and his face scrunched up in a frown. “At what?”

“Who would like to spend their time in the mechanics with their date?”

He licked his bottom lip then beamed at me. “You would because you love cars. I know you more than you think,”

He knew this, of course when we worked in the same shop for a couple years. He drove away from the curb and avoided my gaze. Soon, I gave up. Shivers wracked my body because of his fingers. I loved his hands; they were big, masculine and its rough exterior tickled my inner thigh. I touched them lightly, smoothing over his knuckles and trailing the veins prominent on his fair skin. They engulfed mine completely.

“You couldn’t wait for tomorrow?”

He tapped my thigh teasingly. “Couldn’t wait another second,”




The ‘mechanics’, as Bruce pointed, was actually Wolf’s house; he was a ‘part time’ mechanic himself. They were fixing a car together that was abandoned a few miles north from Le Corbeau. It was a black Chevy Impala 1967 in working progress but it was beautiful, nonetheless. The cool, shiny exterior fought off the heat inhabiting my skin and from a distance, he observed me intently.

“You’re working on the engine?” There wasn’t an engine at the front.

“Yeah, we’re still figuring everything out,” I caressed the roof fondly, looking at him to elaborate. “I thought we’d sell her for a few thousand dollars but I’m a little sentimental,”

“Don’t sell her, she’s too beautiful to let go,”

“You have no idea,” Tucking a loose tendril behind my ear, I met his gaze. Something flashed within the depths of his eyes and I straightened my spine in acknowledgement.

“Oh god, you’re falling in love,” I joked and for a second, he was serious until his eyes sparkled in hilarity.

“I don’t fall in love,”

We slipped into the vehicle and this time, I got the chance to take the wheel. Adrenaline surged through my body, the urge to drive at the tip of my tongue.

“You can’t drive it yet,”

No shit. “I’m not stupid, Bruce,”

“I wouldn’t bring you here if you were,”

My hands fell into his briefs and he hissed lowly when I grabbed his rod firmly. He leaned into my touch with his shallow breath wafting a cool minty aroma. Grinning, I licked his bristled jaw seductively. His iron fist wrapped around my wrist as if he wanted me to stop but he didn’t pry my hands away.

“McKenna…” He moaned hoarsely, closing his eyes in surrender.

“Hush,”

From the windshield, Wolf entered the garage and is surprised to see us in the car. I tightened my grip to silence him and from his tense jaw, he shifted around uncomfortably. Stroking him slowly, I popped my head out the window to greet him.

“Hey,”

He stared at us curiously before jabbing his thumb to the door behind him. “Salice is whipping something up for lunch, are you guys hungry?”

“No!” Bruce shot sharply, his voice thicker than gravel. “Later, I still need to do a few things with the car,”

Impressed by his composure, I tucked my lips to hide the snicker. Wolf backed away from Bruce’s hard stare and left us to ourselves. The minute the door closed, he soared across gear shift to grab me. I dodged his attack narrowly. With my hand ready to open the door, I leapt out of the car, gracefully releasing him. He made a thunderous noise of frustration and bashed his fist against the dashboard. I sent him a cheeky look.

“I’m hungry,” I pointed with my brows raised.

“That will be dealt with after I have you,”

Seeing him in a state where I bothered him fuelled my pride. My greatest strength was his weakness – I had the power to bend him to my will. I walked away and his call fell on deaf ears when I passed the threshold and into Wolf’s home. Following the enticing smell of food, I saw Salice at the stove. Wolf stood incredibly close to her but she didn’t seem to notice this. He laid his hand on her lower back, watching as she instructed the process of making mashed potatoes with fried chicken. I tapped my chin with my index finger as I regarded them quietly, waiting long enough before I coughed loudly, effectively grabbing their attention.

Wolf jumped violently as if he was a frightened cat and Salice’s shot her eyes to me. She was shocked and my interest peaked a tenfold. They acted as if they were caught doing something naughty.

“I’m hungry,” I repeated, pushing away the from the door frame and stood between them.

I was one annoying little bitch.

“Where’s Bruce,” Salice questioned.

“He’s still working on the car,” I shrugged and looked inside the boiling pot. “That smells yummy!”

“Thank you, everything should be ready in fifteen minutes,”

Wolf was sullen, acting like I stole his favourite candy. His brows were lowered into a deep scowl, directed at me most of the time. I offered my assistance and in some aspects, I was useful. Still, Bruce didn’t make an appearance when his plate of food was set out on the table. I got out the utensils and thought to collect him from whatever held him back. But as if he sensed my thoughts, he appeared seconds later. Directing a glare at me, he marched to the table without a single word.

“I thought you weren’t hungry?” Wolf asked, confused.

“Shut up,” He retorted grouchily.

I made my way to my own seat but he attacked when I least expected it, grabbing my waist to pull me onto his lap. His bulge poked my lower back, caging me with his steely arms as his prisoner. Salice sent us knowing looks and sat in her own seat along with Wolf. Outstretching my arms, I dragged two plates of food in front of us and looked around patiently.

“Do you guys still say grace?”

“Of course we do,” Bruce answered whilst rubbing my waist. “Who wants to do the honours?”

“I will,” Salice closed her eyes, propping her elbows on the table and clasped her hands together. Everybody did the same expect me. I never considered myself a religious person but was aware of Le Corbeau being dependent on Christianity. My dad was from an Islamic background and wasn’t devout. Alexis went to church every other weekend. Those times, when I was younger, I would tag along but not out of choice.

Salice spoke her gratitude of family, a good life and gift of eternal happiness bestowed upon them. She thanked God for my return and Bruce tightened his grip on me. Even though they weren’t looking, I blushed, feeling uncomfortable in the unintended spotlight.

After she closed the prayer, everybody dug in. I was right handed as Bruce was more dominant in his left which made eating a little easier for us. His stubble scratched my bare shoulder and I jerked at the itching sensation blazing my skin. Conversation toured the room and I stayed silent, always being the observer. I never had this amount of normality growing up. My father was either too drunk for the night to end well or his rage would’ve spiked, making him hazardous overall. We were dysfunctional but moments with the Atlas’, their home, was my sanctuary. With them, I felt normal.

“Don’t make me force feed you,” He warned, staring at my food. “You hardly ate anything,”

“I’m a slow eater,” I whined. He was finished within a matter of seconds. “You can help me,”

I piled my portion on his plate. He didn’t complain; I suspected he ate a lot. So did Wolf.

“There’s more in the pot if you guys want seconds,” Salice offered. Wolf went for more but Bruce stayed put. “Just leave a little more for my boy,”

“Where’s Jonah?”

“He’s been begging for weeks to visit Robert, so for the day, I let him go,”

“He must be having the time of his life,” Bruce’s chest hummed in laughter. “You coddle him too much,”

She looked offended and this time, chuckles rang from all three of us. Wolf’s cell ringing blared through the room and he excused himself. Bruce coerced my lips to connect with his and instinctively, I wanted to pull away out of embarrassment. PDA wasn't my thing but he didn't seem to care. Something flash from the peripheral vision and I turned to catch Salice snapping a picture of us. I blinked away the spots in my vision.

“You guys look so adorable together.” She commented, facing the Polaroid picture at us. “We’ll frame this,”

Wolf barrelled into the kitchen, panicked with the phone glued to his ear and Bruce straightened his posture, alert.

“What’s wrong?” He asked when Wolf ended the call, his frantic look alarming us all.

“It’s Mikey, he was shot,”

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