Chapter 32: More
Unravel Him Playlist on Spotify.
Song; (Esterly, Austin Jenckes- Built for pain) & (MISSIO- Twisted)
Craning my neck backwards, I ran my hands down my throat and neck, allowing the haunting rhythm to envelope me whole.
“Screaming like a voice inside my head... That keeps from saying do it all again.”
I dropped to one knee and splayed my other leg, twisting my torso around so my hair whipped back behind me.
“Maybe I was built, for, pain.”
The song picks up and so did my movements. My feet move quickly across the floor, my hands caress my hair, arms, collarbone.
“Built for pain.”
My surroundings are foggy, with clusters of neon fluorescent lights. All the colors of the rainbow glowed dimly across my damp skin, they flash on and off, following the bass.
I can smell the smoke in the air, the alcohol that spills and the deafening screams of the crowd.
It’s heady and exhilarating.
I’ve never been more alive.
Before the songs finishes, I paused, struggling hard to catch my breath. When I blink to clear my vision, I see Jonas and his friends staring at me from where they sat.
Most of them can’t hide the lust in their eyes.
Jonas in particular, catches my eye.
He smiles and nods in appreciation.
I kept my features blank and ignored his suggestive stare before wiping the sweat from my brow and collecting my jacket and purse.
I needed some air.
Taking two steps down the landing, I’m surrounded with people from the crowd who are chanting a mix of words from the fight that is happening.
“Fight! Fight! Fight!”
A couple of Sponsors recognized who I was and tried to evade my personal space in hopes of scoring an easy fight.
“Red Devil, I have a fighter who wants a round with you.”
“Five grand, I’ll take you in.”
“Ten grand, you want more?”
With the way I fought this past day... anyone would want to try their luck.
Too bad I wasn’t doing this for the money.
Ignoring the noise, I managed to find the back door and escaped out towards it.
Instantly, cool fresh air greeted me making me relaxed under the very early morning sky.
No one in their right mind would be awake at this hour.
However this was the time the underground comes alive.
Leaning against the brick wall, I rummaged my purse for a pack of cigarettes before casually lighting it and because I’m uncomfortable, I pushed up the mask I wore so it rest on top of my head.
The ember from the cigarette dimly burned against the darkness as I smoked, allowing the scent of nicotine and tobacco to fill my veins.
Fuck, it’s relieving.
My mind slowly began to unwind itself as I thought back about the days since I’ve been in Jonas’s company.
He hasn’t changed.
Not much at least.
Jonas still looks at me like I’m the only girl he wants.
Then again, I was, the only girl he wanted.
That all changed after I decided to stop doing all... this.
Now that I’m back, I can see it in his eyes that he’ll do anything in his power to keep my here.
I’m not complaining.
I’d rather someone else holds the reigns than I do.
Glancing down at my hands, I traced a bruised spot over my knuckle that was starting to turn an ugly shade of blue and purple.
I should start wearing gloves.
It’ll hurt less.
What would Ethan say if he saw you now?
That ugly voice at the back of my head is snarling.
Well he wasn’t here.
The door beside me creaked open and I turned, watching a familiar figure clamber out of the dark.
“Needed some air?” He asks.
“There’s only so much blood and sweat you can inhale before you get sick.” I retorted, continuing to smoke.
Jonas walks to my left and mirrors my action with the wall before placing his hands in his pockets.
“William’s been taken into the ICU.”
“Hmm...” Raising an uninterested eyebrow, I chose to focus on the stars instead.
William was the last fighter I fought with before I called a break.
He was a tough opponent but nothing I couldn’t handle.
I told Jonas to set me up with the toughest there was, as all the others were lightweight.
“You hit him pretty hard.” He laughs softly. “I don’t think he’s getting up anytime soon or the other fighters for that matter.”
I don’t answer him.
He can praise me all he wants.
I don’t care.
I don’t care about anything but myself.
“Did you do what I asked you to do?” I ask after several moments of silence.
He takes the cigarette from me and smokes it before exhaling. “She’s alive. My guys are watching her right now.”
“Alive?” There’s disdain in my voice.
He chuckles at my reaction. “In critical condition so I heard. That was a nasty thing you did with her eye, Vanessa.”
I narrowed my eyes. “She deserved it.”
“I don’t blame you,” He sighs dreamily before lightly placing the cigarette back on my lips. “If it was me, the bitch would have been cut to pieces.”
The image is suspended before me and I tilted my head, reveling in the thought.
“We’ll see... if she makes it out alive... I have more then a few ideas.”
“Until then, I’ll have my guys watch over her.”
“Tell them not to get too close,” I snap, realizing how terrible that plan was. “I have people who may come looking for me.”
Jonas pauses and raises an interested eyebrow.
He kept tabs on me while I was in New York so he knew everything that’s been happening.
News travel’s fast when you have a title in the Underground.
Jonas was no exception to this.
“I see...” He tilts his head, allowing his dark brown hair to fall over his alluring eyes. “Did you get involved with someone, Red Devil?”
Casting a glare at his direction, I ignored his taunt and focused on finishing the cigarette.
“Old news, don’t bother digging it up.”
Jonas doesn’t give up. He senses a weak spot and goes in for the kill. “I heard he’s someone rather high on the ranks... he’s fairly interested in you as well... am I wrong to presume that?”
“He’s nothing.” I spat, feeling my temper rise. “I don’t feel anything for anyone. Not anymore.”
“I don’t believe you,” Jonas straightens out his leather jacket and crosses his arms over his chest. “You say that but when faced down with it later... are you willing to kill it off for good?”
He’s taunting me.
Trying to get me to open so my vulnerability is exposed.
He wants to know so he can use it against me.
Turning around, I rested my leg over the other and cracked my neck. “Remember that I am more then willing to cut off from you, Jonas.”
He holds my gaze steady and I remained unflinching.
“If you’re wondering if I have a plan for all this, I don’t. I’m here, because I want to be. I’m here and I don’t plan on leaving. So do not, piss me off.”
I am my own person.
I fight because I want too.
No one is going to tell me differently.
Not even him.
“There’s that fire,” He muses, going to tuck a strand of red hair up my ear. “I’ve been wondering where that went.”
Ignoring his touch, I focused on the now, despite feeling what he said create an inner turmoil inside me.
Was I willing to kill it off when the time comes?
Was I willing to turn my back on it?
“When’s the funeral?” Jonas questions, breaking me out of my heated thoughts.
Finishing the last of the cigarette, I drop it before stomping it out with my boot. “Tomorrow evening.”
It doesn’t matter if I turned my back on them, they’ll leave, they always do.
It’s better if I’m forgotten in their eyes.
Less chance of people stabbing me in the back.
I have nothing else and I never will.
I guess it’s easy.
It’s easy when you don’t feel a thing.
Jonas shifts so his body faces me. “Will you go?”
Letting out an incoherent shrug, I answer because I really didn’t know. “I don’t know.”
The weather in NorthVille decided to kick start again.
Because I didn’t bring anything from New York, Jonas borrowed me his leather jacket.
The familiar scent is a mixture of unpleasantness and relieve.
It’s the smell of my old life.
“What do you want to do?” Jonas is staring at me expectantly, his hands on the wheel as we’re stopped at a red light.
I shrugged and leaned back on my reclined seat so my hand dangled out the window of his Ford Mustang.
“Nothing,” Was my blank response.
Because that’s exactly what I wanted to do.
I wanted to do nothing.
I wanted to stay in this cycle of being blank to the world.
Albeit unhealthy, but a hell of a lot easier.
The light flashes green and Jonas drove ahead, pressing down on the accelerator so the speedometer goes up.
I watched my surroundings carefully, as snow covered trees fly past us.
The afternoon sun is no where to be seen.
A dainty snowflake lands on the tip of my fingertips and I bring it close to my face, studying the intricate design with morbid curiosity.
Jonas hands me his lit cigarette having lighting it earlier and I took it, grateful for the distraction.
After years of quitting smoking, here I was, back to square one.
I’m not guilty about it however.
Far from it actually.
“Veronica must have done a number on you to have you as silent as you are now.” Jonas begins, shooting me a pensive expression.
“Not as much as I did on her,” I retorted, tilting my head so I could view him at an angle. “Why the sudden subject?”
“Because she hurt you here.” He iterates slowly, one finger tapping his temple. “That’s different and let me tell you, that shit fucks people up.”
It sure does.
Keeping my gaze level, I swiftly turned away, resorting to ignorance. “She fucked up, that’s on her. I never should’ve let her back in.”
“No, you shouldn’t have.” He agrees, humming diligently. “Everyone here, knew she was involved with Aitenev. I’m surprised you didn’t.”
That name was starting to get on my nerves.
Aitenev... who the fuck did they think they were to mess up my life like this?
“Maybe all I wanted was to believe my mother truly loved me.” I snapped, barely keeping the hiss out of my tone.
“But she didn’t.” Jonas raises an eyebrow, not an ounce of pity reveling within him.
“No.” Inhaling the cigarette, I blew the smoke out. “What’s there to love? My own father jumped off a building to escape me. Veronica only saw me as an object to use.”
Shaking my head, I tilted the cigarette so I could view the burning ember. “Everyone who ever said they loved me always leave...”
Jonas made a left and we entered a winding neighborhood, the main highway disappearing from view. “And Ethan?”
“He left too,” I answered, cut and cold.
That’s what he did.
“He was dying, there’s no coming back from that.”
“No, but he didn’t tell me. Which makes this even worse. If the one person I trusted the most had the urge to lie, who else should I believe in?”
“You don’t think he was trying to protect you?” Jonas raises a mocking brow. “Maybe he knew what would happen.”
“Look where that got me?!” The crack in the small spaced car is terribly coiled, springing forth a fury like no other.
I stared at Jonas as he made another left, into a smaller road, turning the area much more compact and closed in.
“You blame them for turning you like this... because Veronica betrayed you and Ethan didn’t tell you he was dying.”
“What did you say?”
“I said,” He clears his throat. “You blame them. You blame them for the decisions you’re making now.”
Of course I did.
Veronica stabbing me in the back was a huge impact but when Ethan died, that had eventually sent me over the edge...
So what did he mean?
“You should be looking at the bigger picture, Vanessa.” He muses softly, his grip relaxed over the wheel.
I remained silent.
“You’re blaming them to cover up the fact that deep down inside, you wanted to come back and they had nothing to do with it.”
“You’re wrong.” Shaking my head, I forced my eyes forward. “You don’t know-you don’t know, anything.”
“Don’t know... or won’t tell?” He sings, borderline sinister.
Of course I didn’t know. Everything had happened so fast.
One moment, I was trying to avenge Malorie another moment, I realized Veronica had been involved with sex trafficking.
Then it was Ethan.
Ethan. Ethan. Ethan.
His death was the killing blow.
Or was it?
I made my decision to hunt down Travis weeks ago.
Wasn’t that the start?
The start of being true to myself?
Then it all becomes clear to me, how I’ve ignored and twisted my surroundings.
It was me.
It was all me.
“I...” There’s a trembling note to my clarity. “I don’t know.”
“I think you do,” He says, velvety smooth. “I think you do, but... you just don’t want to say it.”
Growling vehemently at him, I’m surprised to find my own temper bubbling beneath the surface, just threatening to emerge.
“You don’t know how I feel.”
“Come on, Vanessa,” Jonas spits mockingly. “You came to me because I can give you want you want, what exactly do you want?”
What do I want?
“You’re holding back and I can see it. When are you going to let go? When are you going to accept that it doesn’t matter if both Ethan and Veronica betrayed you, this was you’re choice. All of it, you would’ve come back regardless.”
Squeezing my eyes shut, I feel his words strike my heart, splintering the cracks wider open.
Jonas senses my hesitance and continues on.
“It doesn’t matter how many fighters I throw at you, how many punches you land, it won’t, matter, want to know why?” He flashes me a sinister grin.
“Because one part of you... wants more.”
Just like when I hurt Ravana.
Just like when I hurt Travis.
Just like when I hurt Veronica.
More. More. More.
He holds my gaze with a steadying eye before the car comes fully to a stop in front of a neat bungalow. Jonas parks the car and takes the keys out of ignition.
“You enjoyed it. I know you did.”
He takes a deep breath before leaning forward to caress my cheek, his fingers feather-like and his words a murmured prayer.
“Enjoyed what?” My hands shake, revealing their true intentions.
“The screams,” He listed breathlessly. “All the blood and hurt you’ve done against those that wronged you.”
I did. I did enjoy it.
Old memories began to replay in my head.
Past, present and future, it didn’t matter.
None of it did.
“You loved it,” The nail from his thumb dug into my chin. “What happened to Veronica proved that to me, so I know, the real you, isn’t that far behind...”
“No,” I agreed, not bothering to lie. “She’s not.”
I can’t hide it.
It’s there, pounding beneath my heart.
It’s there, the voice at the back of my head.
It’s there, it’s always, been there.
Jonas releases an ear splitting grin. “Then I want to see her in action.”
He releases me and unbuckles his seat belt before stepping out the car. I watch him slide the gate open before I followed, keeping a cautionary space between us.
He’s up to something.
I don’t know what it is, but he seems to be leading me right to it.
“What is this place?” I ask, glancing at the house with serene interest.
Jonas ignores my question and unlocks the door before stepping inside.
He hadn’t taken off his shoes so I kept right on his trail, making sure the door closed shut.
Instantly, I am aware of how empty the inside is.
There was no furniture, no marks, just tiled floors and white walls.
Jonas slows to a stop just beyond a closed door in the right corner. Other then the dim light emitting from behind it, it is the only source of light.
“Happy belated birthday,” He gestures, smiling gracefully.
Curious, I twisted the door knob before pushing it open.
A figure sits, tied back, just beneath the white light bulb, head down and slack.
At the creak of the door, he looks up, revealing bandages soiled in blood throughout his face.
“You.” He snarls.
Jonas closes the door shut silently behind us and grinned down at his handiwork.
Travis trashes on the chair, fury emitting from every pore of his body.
“Fuck, Jonas, I trusted you!”
“That was you’re fault,” He tilts his head sideways and blinks innocently. “You should know by now, my money’s always on the winning side.”
“Her?” The man I mutilated glances over at where I stood, un-moving. “She’s with King, do you have any idea-”
A deep resounding laughter bellowed out from within Jonas’s belly, sending shiver up and down my spine.
“Oh no Travis, she’s not with anyone. She came back to me, all on her own.” He brushes the hair from my ear and twirled it on one finger.
“Isn’t that right?”
Craning my neck, I refused his advances and chose to focus on the backdrop where several neat instruments laid.
Jonas leans back and sighs. “Sadly, she’s still a bit... tied up. I want her free, truly mine, what better to do that, then to present to her an offering of all her problems?”
Travis pales at Jonas’s suggestion. You can see whatever colors left on his face drained away.
“If you haven’t guessed it by now, that’s you.”
That was it.
The big reveal confirming every point that Jonas has planned and done to get us here.
“Surprise,” Jonas reaches for me, pulling my shoulders against his front so he could lean down to whisper in my ear.
“Do you like it?”
Travis’s stare faltered as we locked gazes.
"I love it."