ONE YEAR LATER
“Lean backward. Don’t raise your leg yet...”
As the music picks up its tempo, all fifteen girls lean backward with their hands up. I watch mesmerized as they listen to every one of my instructions and dance their heart out. A part of me wants to laugh. Even after everything, I still couldn’t stop the dreamy look from resurfacing on my face when I dance myself or teach the girls.
“Miss, I can’t match the drops. Can you see what I’m doing wrong, pretty please?” Cassie asks pouting. She’s only eleven but has so much potential. She reminds me so much of our childhood. Speaking of us...
I haven’t seen Grace or any of the Serpents since the last we met up in Mexico in that cheap motel.
After I was well enough to travel, I left for Cuba. Everything was going well. No one knew who I was and where I came from. I had to hide in motels to motel in fear of getting traced back. After three months when no one came banging on my door that I took a small job as a ghostwriter. I thought I’ve built a life for me since it was decided that I can’t go back to Southside. But my world shook again when I got a call from the current Mexican cartel Elijah asking for me to make a peace treaty as my sperm-doner was dead. In his words, it was something like-
Since the old fool is dead, why don’t we forget why they were enemy and create a new omerta, eh?
I fled the same day leaving once again everything. This time I ended up at Newzeland. I didn’t think of putting my life at risk by doing any jobs. There was a time, I had to pickpocket to get some food. Yet that didn’t stop a man from my father’s mafia to find me and corner me into an alley.
Carter found me scared out of mind running from the alley with a bloody hand.
I didn’t even last a month in there before I was forced to leave with Carter and come to Australia. That was eight months ago. Here I don’t have to worry about my father’s men or any drug cartel. Here I am free. Here I can be Gwen without looking back every time I was outside.
“Hold your stance and bend a little, darling.” I can hear myself mutter while Cassie tries to match her classmates. After I help her stretch the way she needs to, she gives me a big smile that I can’t help but share with her.
Another perk of me coming here was finding this dance studio. When Carter introduced me to my landlords, I was hesitating to bring an old couple in my troublesome life. But they only helped me build a life here. Not only that, when they saw my love for dance, they willingly offered me to use their daughter’s old dance studio.
The kids loved every new move I did and by the fifth month, I was running a full class of three different batches. And I loved it. I was happy and yet...
“Listen up, kids. You did well today and with practice, we will do even better. Now, today’s class is dismissed. Don’t forget to practice at home, ok?”
They all cheer with a yes and run to their respective parents. Only when I lock the studio and start to walk that I can breathe again. I can feel my fingers tingle to think of just what’s coming. I don’t take notice of the shadows around the corner. In the night they play a mysterious danger. But right now I’m not a bit concerned. Sirens wail somewhere around. I walk faster until I catch the shouts coming from the end of the road.
“Fight! Fight! Fight!”
My breath hitch in anticipation. To visit the same hell. To feel that familiar feeling of drawing blood.
Time to let Kitty out of the cage.
“Where the fuck were you?” Erick snarls catching up with me when I’m halfway down the cage. He’s not mad. Not really.
“You know. The usual.”
“Hmph.” He hums walking with me to the cage. Today the cage is full of people. Maybe the bet is higher as well. Not that I care. I only need to leave the rage, the pent-up pain of what I went through for the night by fighting. Almost every night anyway.
Just when I take a step to face my fighter of the night, Erick tugs on my arms, stopping me. His face reveals nothing when he grits out.
“Don’t die on me, Kitty.”
I don’t miss the clench of his jaw when I smile. “Wouldn’t think of it, boss.”
A year ago I was too fucking lost to decide who I really was. That girl who couldn’t talk or walk. Who wasn’t ready to embrace her dark world. But for the first time of my life, I know who I am. I know what I want.
And I’m not afraid to walk through hell to get it...
I watch her.
There are a dozen few others who watch her in awe as she forms a fist and slams it down at the poor man’s face. She doesn’t even stop until the man is breathing hard and begging to let go. My Kitty...
“Shit!” Someone mutters behind me. Don’t tell me-I don’t have to look behind when I hear him again. “Knockout. Again.”
“What the fuck are you doing here?” I can’t hide the distress from seeing him again. The last I saw him was two months ago when we clearly had a deal to meet only once in four months.
“Relax, cuz.” He says with a grin. “I’m not here to steal your girl.”
Son of a bitch- “Kidding! I only came here to deliver some news, cuz. I promise.”
My brow furrows. “What kind of news?”
We both watch Kitty walk back to Erick to collect the money. He spits out in somewhat anger. “You left Seth. That brought a hella lot of problem in the Southside along with the Serpents. I had to run with the Mexican cartel for a while just to clear my name. Have you any idea how fucking risky that was!?”
Fuck! He was still on that topic. “You know we had to. That’s what we were all doing since Mexico. I can’t see her get hurt again, Carter. That will fucking kill me.”
“I know.” He admits sighing. “That’s why I came here earlier than I meant to be. Remember I told you about that cop that bails me out? He caught some interesting news. There’s some rumor going on about a prisoner escaping soon-”
“What does that have to do with us? No one knows where we are.” I made sure of that. It was hard to say goodbye to my old life. Snipper knew how to deal with these kinds of business, Seth doesn’t give a shit about any prisoner running through the town.
“Fucking let me finish.” I stop immediately and he huffs a breath out as if to say finally. “Now as I was saying. There’s going to be a huge prison break in a few weeks. And the prisoner just happens to be the same bastard you send to the prison. The name Lorenzo brings any bell? Darla and her father have finally fessed up against him. The court date is coming up and if my source is right, then we will have a dangerous prisoner running around the Southside in a few weeks.”
Darla? As in Kitty’s old nurse, I paid to leave Southside?
I’m still stunned when he continues. “The first place he will go to is your club. Mark my word, cuz. The Serpents didn’t take my word but you know who really messed up.”
I know. Shit! I basically called the cops.
“What did Lethal said? Did he said anything about...me?” It’s not odd to ask Carter about what’s going on in the club. I might not be welcome anymore but I can’t help but keep contact via Carter for months. The clubhouse is where I grew up. No matter how fucking scary my childhood was, I couldn’t cut contact completely like Lethal wanted.
He drags a hand over his hair. “Not really. I mean you know how much of a fucking stubborn ass he is. He’ll never say it aloud but I saw the tiny bit of worry when he asked me where you were since I’m your cousin.”
“And did you tell him?” As much I loved that Lethal still cares I can’t just break-
“I didn’t tell him. I know our deal, cuz. We don’t share with anyone where you are.”
“And that better be stay enact.” The warning is clear as day as he waves his hands in surrender.
“It will be. Now that, I’ve told ya, I should go. See you in another four.” He turns to disappear into the dark alleys when something makes me stop him.
“Don’t you want to meet her?”
He jerks his chin towards Kitty who’s on her fourth fight of the night. He lingers a few minutes but then grins. “Nah. I’d hate to say goodbye.”
I nod understanding. After Carter found her in an alley sacred out of her mind, something changed between them. There’s a respect for each other that wasn’t before from Carter’s part. He only took her as my woman, not a person who has other identities. But now they have established a friendship much to my surprise.
So I don’t stop when he starts to walk again. But right before he leaves the cage, he gives me a mischievous grin. “And just so you know, your Vice-president may have a bun in her oven.”
The fucker leaves with that. And I’m-I don’t know what to think of that. Grace was pregnant? How would Kitty react to that? Will she want to see her sister? Talk to her? I’m still pondering over what to do when I smell her.
Blood and that jasmine scent.
“What are you thinking about?” She asks kissing my neck. I can feel a smile on her face and I don’t have the heart to tell her what I know. I might tell her when it’s time. When we might have to leave again. If Carter was right about Lorenzo-
“I just missed you.” The lie rolls off my tongue easily. I just have to paste a smile to go with that. I know she doesn’t believe me. She knows me too well to know when I’m pretending but she doesn’t call out the lie either.
Instead, she shares my smile. “I missed you too. Ready to go home?”
“Come on, love.” It feels like Deja vu when we head for our place. Her knuckles broken and mine clench tighter. A year ago I was trying hard to take care of everyone. To be perfect little Snipper. Just like her. In the end, we have just embraced that we both aren’t perfect. But together we are.
“I love you, Kitty. So damn much.”
She doesn’t sound surprised at the sudden declaration of affection. She only radiance in the dark as her hold on me tightens.
“I love you, Seth. Always.”
So what I wasn’t a part of the Serpents anymore? So what if I broke many rules on the way. So what my brothers might hate me for all their lives? All I did was for her. And it always will be.
After all, everything is fair in love and war...
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