Strung

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Chapter 54. - Set For Life

*Lukas*

“I thought you weren’t coming!” Jesse complained as I plopped down on the couch next to him. The club was buzzing with life tonight, bodies mingling on the dance floor, the bar packed to the limit. There was a huge line waiting outside, which wrapped around multiple corners down the street.

This was the kind of place the guys and I would hang out at every night after the shows for the first couple years of the band. The perfect place to pick up chicks. I saw a handful of them eyeing us over the railing as they shook themselves and ground on each other, hoping to get our attention.

I turned my head away and looked at my friend instead. “I said I would be here. I keep my word.”

Jesse rolled his eyes. “Someone’s feeling touchy tonight!” He reached for two of the shots from the neat line already spread out on the table in front of us, handed one to me and threw back the other. “So. What got your panties in a twist?”

“I haven’t been sleeping well.”

“This should help that!” Jesse grabbed a second shot and pressed it into my free hand. “Bottoms up, pretty boy!”

Ash appeared between the people, parting the bodies like the red sea as he walked through, holding a girl under each arm. “Fellas!” He greeted, smirking at me. “Nice to see you out of the house, Lukas.”

I lifted a brow at him. “Speaking of houses…. What is happening in yours?”

Ash’s black eyes met mine, a sly smile crinkling its corners. “You caught that, did you?”

Of course, I caught that. It wasn’t as if I watched the girl who showed me I had a heart and then shattered it into pieces waltz right into his home and proceeded to stay there. For hours. As far as I knew, they were completely alone - no one else came in or out.

And I felt confident about that, because I parked myself in front of my window with a chair and my phone, watching them like a proper fucking stalker.

“I live next door,” I said instead.

“So you do.” Ash chuckled. “Get us a drink, baby.” He nodded at one of the girls who scrambled to her feet, taking everyone’s orders as if we didn’t have at least ten shots in front of us and an entire bottle of champagne chilling on ice. When she finally left, Ash pushed the other girl to a standing position.

“She’s already getting the drinks!” She whined, trying to sit back on Ash’s lap, who pushed her away again.

“Then go powder your nose!” He snapped, making the poor girl scramble away.

I rolled my eyes. “It’s a wonder how you pull so many chicks with that attitude.”

Ash grinned. “They like a man in charge. The rougher I am, the more eager they are to please.”

“Mom beats herself up every day over wondering where she went wrong with you.” Jesse sighed, being his usual dramatic self. “Anyways, I feel like I’m missing something. What happened?”

“Mom shouldn’t worry. I make these girls very very happy.” Ash wiggled his brows at us as he sat back, spreading his arms. “And why don’t you ask Lukas what’s bothering him?”

“I already did. He’s not exactly being chatty about his feelings lately.”

“Ash had a guest today,” I said slowly, watching my best friend’s every reaction to my words. But while I expected anger, surprise, or even cynicism, all I was greeted with was a cocky smirk on his face. “Someone who really had no business in being in his house. Alone.”

“And yet there she was.” He stared at me as if daring me to say something. “All on her own free will.”

“Who?!” Jesse looked between the two of us, clearly confused. “Who is ‘she’?”

I didn’t take my eyes off the guy I knew as my best friend for the last two decades of my life. “London.” The word came out as a sneer and Ash’s eyes crinkled at the corners with a sly grin. He looked like someone who won the lottery.

“You two are the bane of my existence!” He sighed finally, leaning back on the couch, spreading all six foot however many inches of him. “If you want to know what she was doing there, all you have to do is ask.”

“London!?” Jesse asked a beat behind all of us as usual. “What the hell was she doing there?”

“Ask!” Ash pressed, keeping his black gaze on me.

I sighed, breaking the eye contact we shared. “Where she goes is not my fucking problem anymore.”

My best friend’s brows hiked so high in his forehead, they nearly hit his jet black hairline. “That’s right.” He said slowly. “But you’re dying to know anyways.”

His knowing smile told me I didn’t need to answer that. Of course, I was dying to know! If my best friend fucked the girl I was shamefully still obsessed with, I didn’t know how I could get over that.

Back in the day, just after the band started to really take off, there was a girl. I thought she was The One for me at the time. She seemed perfect in every way - loved the same things I did, was always attentive, obsessed with me, and the sex was incredible. She always aimed to please - and back then she was the first girl who showed me what it could be like.

I mistook lust for love, and when I found out Ash had been fucking her simultaneously, all the illusion wore off. She wasn’t perfect, she just pretended to be. She didn’t share my hobbies and most definitely wasn’t interested in the same things I was. She had been faking it the entire time.

She wanted what most girls wanted out of us - fame and money.

At that time though, it nearly broke up the band. I blamed Ash for fucking everything that moved and while he could’ve had almost any girl out there, he wanted mine. I blamed my best friend when instead, I should’ve been blaming the girl all along. She played me good and all Ash did was prove it to me.

But this… This was entirely different. London wasn’t playing me. She couldn’t have been!

I frowned. “Did she sleep with you?” I asked finally, breaking down.

But instead of the shit-eating grin I expected out of Ash, he looked rather pleased. Almost proud. “No.”

“Did anything else happen?” I pressed on because I no longer cared if he would make fun of me for having fucking emotions and caring about someone.

“No,” Ash said again. “I’m remodeling. She’s working for me.”

I exhaled the breath I didn’t even realize I was holding. I shouldn’t have cared if London moved on. We were over - she made that crystal clear when she left me cold turkey and skipped the country after to make sure I couldn’t chase after her. If she wanted to have anything to do with me, she would’ve made an attempt already.

“Just one question-” Jesse started, snapping me out of my train of misery. I had been so wrapped up in my thought, I’d nearly forgotten he was there with us. “-how the fuck are you going to pay her?”

The three of us burst out laughing, and the mood has shifted noticeably - until the two girls Ash scared away made their way back with tray fulls of alcohol and a fresh bottle. “We weren’t sure what you liked, so we got a little of everything.” One cooed, plopping back down on Ash’s lap while the other girl distributed the drinks to everyone.

“Speaking of handling money…” Jesse trailed off as he spotted a tall, blonde head above the crowd. The high ponytail made her way toward us, walking straight past the multiple lines of security as she flashed her famous sultry smile. “Here comes trouble!” He whistled, just as Callie reached us and took the seat between me and Jesse.

Callie moved her blue gaze between the five of us, eyeing everyone carefully before turning to me. “I didn’t think you’d show.”

I rolled my eyes as I leaned back on the couch. “Why does everyone keep saying that?!” Sighing, I emptied another shot glass in front of me. “We were just talking about our financials.”

Her lips quirked into a wicked smile. “Don’t you worry. Your money is in good hands. Or bad ones, depending on how you look at it.”

Ash leaned closer, clearly interested in the subject. “You better not be blowing my millions, blondie, or I’ll make you regret-”

“She’s not!” Jesse interjected, jumping to Callie’s defense. “You’re not, right?”

Despite baring everyone’s stares, Callie looked calm and collected. “And what exactly should keep me from blowing all your money right as we speak?” She cocked a brow, daring all of us to answer.

“The fact that you like hanging out with us, and it would get fucking awkward if you did?” Jesse guessed, but the humor was slowly fading from his dark gaze.

She shrugged. “Like I said. Not much to hold me back.”

“How about the clause Dom put in your contract before we wired you the shirt off our backs?” I dared her, smiling as she shuffled uncomfortably in her seat.

“I suppose.” She sighed dramatically as she reached for one of the shots in front of her. She threw it back like a pro and without flinching, set the glass upside down on the table. “Ugh, I hate that vulture lawyer of yours! He’s way too hot to be this brilliant.”

“So why are you not trying to fuck him?” Jesse nudged her, sounding almost bothered by her statement.

The two of them were like a trainwreck I couldn’t look away from. The last thing I needed was to get tangled up in their relationship - or lack thereof - but the fact that they made it so public took my guilt away from involving myself in their mess.

“I don’t like men with eyes like that.” Callie shivered as if our lawyer’s eyes disturbed her.

I, myself, haven’t seen anything wrong with Dom’s eyes. In fact, I couldn’t even recall their color.

“Dark and emotionless…” Callie added, reading my mind. “If I was into the soulless, I would’ve gone for Ash already.”

Ash looked pleased by that comment as his black orbs sparkled across the table at her. “You couldn’t handle me on my best day, little girl.”

I’ve just about heard enough. “Is our money safe or not?”

Callie’ baby blue gaze swung to me. She nodded. “Of course it is. It’s all sitting in a bank, investing itself under my name. I’ve split everything up the way you wanted - and Dom forced me to do it.” She added sheepishly. “You really have nothing to be worried about.”

“And London?” I pressed.

“Is set for life.”

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