“I don’t think I can do it,” I told Jez when we were at the lockers.
“Of course you can,” she argued. “Come on, he won’t bite you.”
“Not literally, no,” I mumbled.
Jez rolled her eyes. “Woman-up Rae,” she chastised. “You’ve already had sex with Gunner. Now you need to do something hardly as intense. Come on.” She grabbed my wrist and dragged me to where Chase stood with Marcus, Leo and Jayden, his friends. They all stopped talking, though, when they saw Jez and me. Leo’s and Jayden’s eyes were checking Jez out, like every guy around and Jez ignored them entirely and instead nudged me toward Chase. After glaring at her, I took a deep breath and turned to Chase, who looked at me with cold deep-blue eyes.
“Can we talk?” I forced myself to ask.
It seemed like the whole hallways got quiet at my request. I flinched a little, but didn’t take my eyes from him. I really needed to talk to him. I delayed it for too long.
He crossed his arms, which was a really bad sign. “There’s nothing to talk about, O’Reilly.” he said in a stern voice, and I visibly winced when he called me by my last name.
I insisted, though. “There is,” I argued, voice really small. “Can you please just come with me for a second?” I was on the verge of pleading with him.
He said nothing, but another voice did. “Why would Chase go anywhere with the likes of you?” Taryn Torres asked, disgust in every syllable. She looked as stunning as ever, her platinum hair pulled into a ponytail, her baby-blue eyes glinting with the same cunning as ever.
“It’s none of your business, Torres,” I said almost snappily. I was in no mood to handle her right now.
Chase leaned on one of the lockers. “There’s nothing you can tell me that everyone else can’t hear,” he said and by those words, he shoved me to a corner, the bastard.
Taryn looked at me expectantly, leaning right next to Chase and looking gorgeously next to Chase. Jez sent me a look of just-get-it-over-with, while Marcus with Isobel, who now joined him, both looked oddly at me. Leo and Jayden were now trying to decide on who to stare the most: Jezebel or Taryn.
The other students in the hallway stopped to eavesdrop to us.
“Fine,” I said, feeling every pair of eyes on me. “I - “ I suddenly stopped, mouth agape, and staring with horror as someone entered the building. I froze and just stared as the person entered the school, like it was normal.
“Rae?” Jez’s voice sounded concerned. “What’s wrong?”
I staggered back as the person’s coppery eyes stared right into me. “E...” my mouth was dry, and I almost couldn’t utter the word. But then she was right behind Marcus and Isobel and I just blurted, “Echo...”
At once, everyone in the hallway turned to Echo Moore. Isobel sucked in a breath; Marcus seemed stunned; Chase and Taryn looked at her with confusion mingled with astonishment; Leo and Jayden checked her out; the others gasped dramatically; Jez moved right in front of me in a protective gesture and draw a knife out.
Echo looked the same as before she’d gone missing, but there were some obvious changes about her, too; her coppery eyes had the look of something older and enraged; her mousy-brown hair was longer and hanging lose on her shoulders; she was thinner, her curves almost nonexistent and she grew a little taller, so she probably taller than me by a foot or so.
It was almost impossible to process that Echo Moore was here, after so many months away with her mother and sisters.
The one who broke the stunned silence was Jez, who growled at her. “What are you doing here, Moore?” she spat her name like a curse.
Everyone turned to Jez and took in her offensive posture and knife. They stayed away from her way, so Echo was in a straight line before us.
Echo assessed Jez with calculative eyes. “You’re a Preston,” she said, and her voice seemed like it’d aged, too. “Jezebel Smith, am I right?”
Jez tensed. “What the heck are you doing here?” She snarled at her. “Don’t you have a father to mourn for?”
Everyone sucked a breath as Echo’s face darkened. “My father’s death is all your fault,” she spat, sounding more bitter and angry than I’d ever heard her. “Yours and your precious siblings.” She started behind her, at me. “What are you doing with them anyway, Rae? Have you become a killer too while I was away?”
I stepped from behind Jez, and Jez didn’t seem so happy about it but let me. “Echo...” I bit my lip and took a deep breath. “A lot of things have happened since you were gone. I...”
“Save it, Rae,” Echo snapped. “I don’t want to hear your excuses. You’re now on their side, which means you’re an enemy.” she glowered at me. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have classes to attend to.”
As if on cue, the school’s bell went off. But no one moved except Echo, who ignored Isobel’s desperate tries to catch her eye, and just walked down the hallway like nothing significant had just happened.
Soon after she disappeared into one of the classrooms, Jez grabbed my hand and without saying a word dragged me out of the school’s building to the parking lot. Without saying a thing we got into her white BMW and she drove us back to the mansion.
“HENRY!” Jez yelled the moment we entered the entrance hall. “COME THE FUCK DOWN HERE!”
“Jez - “ I tried to put a calming hand on her but thankfully Henry, along with Maddox and Evelyn, who seemed to be a package, seeing as one couldn’t see Evelyn without Maddox plastered to her side or the other way around. Danger too came down and took raging Jez into his arms. She almost didn’t let him but she couldn’t deny him that.
“What happened?” Henry asked immediately, looking from Jez to me. “Why aren’t you at school?”
Now Gunner, along with Willow and – I almost gagged – Arabella entered the hall too. Gunner took my side with no question and pulled me into his chest, his arms around my waist.
“The Moores,” Jez said with a slightly calmer voice, but still with rage. “They’re here.”
Everyone in the room tensed. “How do you know that?” Henry asked, voice wary.
“Echo Moore,” I answered before Jez could. “She came back to school, as if nothing happened. She recognize Jez as one of you guys but... I don’t know more than that.” I winced a little, feeling an old ache in my chest. How I wished things were different with Echo – say, like, that she wasn’t part of the real mafia.
“Shit,” Danger muttered. “That means we will have to confront them no matter what now.”
“Yeah,” Henry scowled. “I’m not happy about it.”
“It’s probably because of us,” Willow said suddenly, tears filling her eyes. “We gave our place away. The Moores are after us, anyway.”
“Yeah,” Ryder said, crossing his arms, gold eyes twinkling in a sudden suspicious. “And why’s that exactly?”
Arabella rolled the eyes that were so identical to mine yet different with the cunningness in them. “Oh, shut it you spoiled brat,” she rebuked him, “we already told you the reason - “
“I get that you’ve got some business stuff they wanted or whatever,” Ryder rolled his eyes but then locked his eyes with hers, “but my research told me otherwise.”
That got everyone’s full attention. “What’re you talking about, Ryd?” Danger asked, frowning.
Arabella scoffed. “Oh, really,” she drawled mockingly. “Let’s see what you found out, arrogant brat.”
“You both weren’t truthful with us,” Ryder looked at Willow and Arabella and grinned triumphantly. “Your surname has changed since last time we met, Arabella.”
Arabella continued her snobbish attitude but I caught the sudden alarm in her eyes. “And what would that be, idiotic boy?” she said scornfully.
“You’re not just Arabella Andela,” Ryder straightened. “You’re Arabella Andela-Moore, mother of Daniel and Elizette, divorced wife of Jason, who took all of his property with your schemes.”
That made us all come to a stop and Willow to pale, while Arabella broke into cold sweat.
Henry, stupefied, turned to evilly-grinning Ryder and asked, “And why the hell didn’t you tell me that before?”
Ryder shrugged. “I just found out last night, after thinking that Arabella’s and Willow’s appearance was somewhat suspicious, and did a little search. I even used Irie, my girlfriend,” he added to make sure everyone understood, “to ask Elizette, her coworker at the O’Reilly Bakery, what was her mother’s name. That was when I was spot-on.” He grinned again. “Apparently, Arabella has a routine of giving birth to children and then abandon them. Like she did to Rae, she did so to Elizette and her twin brother, Daniel, leaving them with their father, Jason Moore, who’s the brother of Calvin Moore, father of Echo, Emanie and Emmalee.”
Wonderment spread on Maddox’s face. “Damn,” he murmured, as we all looked at Arabella with astonishment. She had the dignity to look ashamed, but I could see through this.
Then another thought struck me. “That means the Moores after your blood because you took advantage of another man’s love,” I said, my voice clear and resounding in the hall. “And now... now, apparently, I have two half-siblings.” Gunner tightened his hold around me. “Why?” I demanded, looking at Arabella Andela-Moore. “Why the fuck are you keep on doing this? Don’t you have enough money of when you deceived my father? Don’t you ever quit?”
“Oh, don’t be so dramatic, spawn,” Arabella snapped, glowering at me. “It’s those men damn fault that they fell for me,” she humphed. “What can I say, I’m too pretty and seductive, something I can’t really say about you,” she raked her eyes over my body disapprovingly.
“Did you know about it?” Maddox looked at Willow, who flinched. “Did you?”
“I...” Willow seemed cornered. “I... yeah,” she lowered her head, gracefully taking the blame. “I knew about Arabella’s addiction to make rich men fall for her and then taking everything they had. But... she’s my sister,” she smiled apologetically, angelically. “I can’t hate my sister.”
I found myself feeling so much stronger, so much more honest than Willow Andela. She may’ve been the beautiful one, but I could see now that she wasn’t the most chaste person alive. “If I manage to hate my own mother,” I said with a disgusted look at Arabella, who flushed with anger, “then you can manage hate your sister. She’s the filthiest woman I’ve ever encountered.”
“Don’t you call me filthy, damn spawn!” Arabella sniped at me. “I’m your fucking mother! Don’t you dare curse me!”
“I will call you whatever the hell I like,” I hardened myself, finding that it was easy to look into Arabella’s unfocused eyes that were a mirror of my own, only less warm and passionate. “You’re a scheming bitch that deserve to sit in jail instead of my own father.”
“Brian O’Reilly is the one you should call filthy, you spoiled slut!” She screamed at me. “He’s the one who took a swing at me - “
“Only because you’re such a raging bitch who broke his goddamn heart!” I screamed right back at her. “You should be ashamed of yourself, mother. You should feel at least a bit of remorse about every scheming decision you’ve made on the cost of people’s lives just so you could live your own in such a rich manner!”
“Rae!” Willow’s eyes were wide and she seemed suddenly shocked and, well, weak. “Don’t talk to her like that, please. Don’t - “
“She’s nothing to me,” I cut her, feeling stronger and knowing that I really was more than she could’ve ever been. “She may’ve been the reason I’m living right now, but that’s all she is for me.”
Evelyn touched her slightly bulging tummy. I remembered Maddox saying that she was two-months pregnant with their first child. She probably wondered about herself as a mother, because Maddox took her into his arms and kissed her temple, murmuring to her things that made her relax at once and lean in to his touch. I saw Willow wince at the sight.
Well, it’s her goddamned fault that she’d let him go, just like she had Gunner and Danger.
“I want you out of my house, Arabella,” Henry said, snapping everyone’s eyes to him. “I want you to take Willow, and I want the both of you to never come back here again.”
Silence filled the hall as Willow and Arabella looked horrified at what Henry had just said. “You don’t understand,” Arabella said after a while, face white with anger and selfish fear. “They would kill us! They would kill me!”
At that moment, I was in no doubt that Arabella cared less for her sister and more for herself. She was that selfish. Bitch.
“I don’t give a shit,” Henry’s voice became full of authority. “You’re a threat to my kids and me. I want you out of our house – and our life.”
Arabella’s fury was obvious on her face and she was about to yell at him when Willow grabbed her hand, shook her head slightly while soft, weak-kind-of-tears fell down her cheeks. “Let it go, Bella,” she said quietly, “just let it go...”
And so Willow dragged her older sister up to their guest room, leaving everyone here in the hall. Jez turned to Danger and hugged him tightly, while he murmured comforting words into her ear. I snuggled closer to Gunner, feeling a cold kind of feeling inside of me.
I’d just stood up to my mother, which was great. But the Moores were in town. Echo would probably recruit her family if needed in addition to the other mafia families just to get rid of the Prestons and Arabella.
The day stressed me out and I felt the need to let go of the stress. I turned to Gunner and asked, “Can we spar? I need to take tension off.”
Gunner grinned slyly at the request. “I actually have a better idea of how to get your stress off.”
Before I could object he took me to the elevator and up to the third floor. The others had already gone to make some arranges to the upcoming confrontation with the Moores, but we still had enough time to do whatever we wanted.
Therefor, Gunner took my to his office and locked the door the moment we were in. Then he kissed me, backing me to the desk with my back. I moaned as he grabbed my waist and lifted me so I sat on the desk, my legs wide open for him. He lowered my jeans and my panties but didn’t take them off. He then opened his seam and sprang his erection free. He licked my neck, holding the desk behind me while I was holding his shoulders, and then penetrated me deep and thickly and so good. It was only my second time, but I felt like I was doing it for ages. He moved in and out of me, fucking me to no end, and I held on for the ride, feeling like moaning.
He indulged in me faster until the desk moved with us. With rough hands he made everything on the desk fall to the floor and lay me down on it while he kept shoving inside of me with such a frantic pace I lost any coherent thought. Then, with a quick movement, he changed position so I was on top of him. “Ride me like a cowgirl, Rae,” he growled at me and I was more than happy to comply.
I was the one who was responsible for the speed now, and because I liked it rough, I rode him in and out as fast as I could. He grabbed my ass and even slapped it a bit, and then he made me stop as he plunged upward inside of me, deeper in this position, and rode inside of me. Then he changed position again so I was with the back to him, my legs spread wide, and he shoved so hard and rough and strong and deep inside of me until I couldn’t take it anymore and orgasmed so hard, my eyes rolled.
I came to, to find me cradled in Gunner’s arms on the black-leathered sofa in his room. “We had sex like monkeys,” I murmured, sated and beautifully pleasured.
“And it was wonderful, wasn’t it,” he grinned at me.
I then got to inspect his tattoos, something I hadn’t done last night, seeing as he wore me out entirely. “What does it mean for you?” I asked at a tattoo of a strange shape of black star.
“My father,” he answered, “had the same tattoo. It’s for his memorial.”
I nodded. I saw he also tattooed his mother’s name, Gwendolyn, on his chest, right where the heart was. I kissed the place, felt him shivering. I then saw he also tattooed a sentence; “Nothing but you, my Rae of light.”
I felt my heart softening for him. “You tattooed it after me,” I mumbled. “I told you to not tattoo my name.”
“It’s not exactly your name, is it?” Gunner grinned wryly at me.
I slapped him lightly on the shoulder. “And you call me a smart-ass,” I pouted jokingly.
He laughed. “It doesn’t mean I’m not a smart-ass, too,” he crushed me to him tightly. “What do you think about another round of monkey-sex?”
My laugh was a little startled. “How can you be possibly ready again?” I asked, nuzzling his neck.
His hand slid down my body and without a warning he slipped two fingers inside my body, making me wet immediately for him. I moaned loudly and he chuckled. “It seems like I’m not the only one who can recover fast.”
I laughed, temporarily forgetting that there was danger, and then let him sex me up again until I could no longer breathe.