Unravel Him

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Chapter 58: Three Kings

A/N

Unravel Him Playlist on Spotify.

Song; (Fractured Light Music- Reverie) & (Fractured Light Music- Promise) & (The Tech Thieves- Fake)


[email protected]@~~~~

I expected instant yelling.

I expected things to be thrown in chaos.

I did not expect, silence.

Not even a pin drop.

Not even a word.

Just silence and the presence of a growing storm.

1, 2, 3-

“Are you out of your mind?!” Mason.

“No.” Jared.

“Very funny.” Elios.

“No, nope, nada, net, and every language out there that means no.” Evan.

“Have you thought about this?” Matthew chuckles darkly, his voice ominous. “You don’t know what he’ll try, Vanessa.”

“He’ll try to keep me, probably drug me, probably turn me against you and never let go once he does.” I listed confidentially with several fingers.

Mason looks like he is going to chain me at the spot.

He’s realized I’ve thought deeply about this by how nonchalant I am.

“Why did you even suggest it?” The heir of BourneFell demanded in outright rage. “We’re not doing this, it’s out of the question!”

“I agree with Vanessa.” That came from someone I least expected.

Victor.

The broody brunette has his arms crossed over his chest and a thoughtful look on his face. He is the only one that’s been quiet throughout the conversation, only choosing to observe rather than speak his mind.

“Take it back,” Evan growls with retched warning.

The other members have turned toward Victor, ready to scream at him with how red their faces have gotten.

“She’s not going anywhere near that prick.”

“Did you forgot what happened before?” Elios fingers are hidden behind his back but I know he’s clenching them. “You don’t know what Jonas will do.”

“Nobody will know,” Victor shrugs unhelpfully as he unfurls his long legs and leans forward. “But its the only thing that works.”

Its the only plan we have.

I know going back to Jonas is a terrible idea.

I would be walking right back to the lion’s den.

As much as everything they say is true, it is the only foolproof plan that would work.

By going back to Jonas, I would be ensuring my men’s name is not exploited in any way.

Of course, that would also mean I’d be returning to Aitenev and by returning to Aitenev, I would have to do whatever they wanted. But if I can pretend to work with them and carefully, climb my way up the ranks, I’ll be able to dismantle Aitenev from the inside.

The only downside is that Jonas will probably be expecting it.

His obsession with me won’t stop him however which is why he’ll try to manipulate the situation, play tricks and schemes.

He’ll try to corrupt me again while I pretend to be his plaything. It’ll become a tug of war with both of us knowing there’s only one winner in the end.

It’ll become a battle over who has the most power.

I cannot lose.

I can’t afford to.

“Vanessa, please tell me you’re not going through with this,” Hailey’s insistence, blinks me back into the present. She’s tug on my arm, fearful. “You must be joking right?”

The others are fighting in the background.

The main topic being me.

They’ll end up coming to the same conclusion as I did.

No other way.

As much as I want to comfort her, I knew there was no point in lying. One of the main reasons, I’ve dragged her with me to the meeting is because of this reason.

I didn’t want any more secrets.

“My men have their names exposed,” I explain, knowing it would do no good because she’ll find some other way to argue her case. “We have no other leads, there’s no other way but to do this.”

“He drugged you!” She snaps. “Who’s to say he won’t do it again?”

“It won’t be like last time, I won’t fall for his tricks again.” This time it’s different. I’ve learned from my mistakes.

“No,” Standing, she raises a finger and points it straight at me. “You’re not doing this. I won’t let you.”

“It’s not up to you,” She isn’t listening. She’s reached for my bag and hooked it around her arm as though it would somehow instinctively make me move as well.

“Look, Hales, it wouldn’t have mattered if it was just my name, but this is about the others too. I can’t just leave it be-”

“Have you ever stopped to think this is exactly what Jonas wants you to do?” She states with vehemence, green eyes flaring with unconstrained anger.

“He knows you’ll do anything for them-if that stupid building getting burnt down didn’t scream it any louder- who’s to say he isn’t baiting you?”

Standing up, I faced her wrath with stride and reach for her hands.

She flails away, disgruntled beyond belief. “You’ve kept quiet about this, all those silent days, I can’t believe I was this blind,”

“Hailey-”

“Is this about Thomas?” She cuts me off, her breathing irregular, barely audible for anyone’s ears but us.

“Is this some sort of self-sacrifice thing because there’s nothing else for you anymore?”

“That’s not it, Hales.” I glare at her, bewildered by the conclusion she’s come up with. “This is the best option we have, I’ve spent days thinking about-”

“You’re going to get hurt!” She yells, finally bursting at the seams. Her statement has drawn the others to a stop.

It is the first time Hailey has publicly display her emotions.

It stuns me because I hadn’t expected it and when tears begin to form in her eyes, I know I’ve fucked up.

Hailey...

I want to reach out, I want to tell her I’m not going, I’ll stay, I won’t put myself at risk... but the fact is, as each day passes and this Aitenev matter remains unsolved, the closer danger is to our front door.

I have to protect her.

So there is no other way but this.

“I’m sorry,” Its the only thing I can say. My heart breaks at the expression on her face. I’m guilty and feeling regretful.

Forgive me, Hales.

“You’re my best friend, Ness...” She utters, shakily. “So many things have happened and I’m afraid it’ll only get worse.”

Hailey allows me to hold her hand when I reach for it again. I intertwine our fingers and gently squeeze. “If you’re worried about your safety, I’ll protect you.”

“I don’t care about that!” She raises her downcast eyes and rips her hand away.

“You always treat yourself like some sort of tool, you always see yourself as someone that can just disappear and no one will care, but guess what, I care! Everyone in this room cares! You’re not Red Devil or the Queen to us, you’re Vanessa Vail, my friend! My best friend!

The salty tears trickle down her cheeks, mixing with the humidity in the air.

Her blond hair is sticking to her face, her mouth is squeezed shut, trembling from how hard she’s holding back.

“I...” I try to speak, I try to say something, anything that would comfort her, anything that would fix this mess.

But I can’t.

Because either way, the outcome remains the same.

I’ll still go through with the plan.

“Right,” Sniffling, she swipes at her cheeks and drops my bag on the floor, scoffing. “What was I thinking? You’ve never cared about what I said before, so why would you hear me now?”

That stung.

“I’m heading home,” She gathers her purse and phone with one arm and glares at me with contempt. “Do whatever you want, Vanessa.”

With the brush of the doors, she’s walked out and is gone, leaving behind the leftovers of an unfinished argument.

I stared at the empty spot where she once was and slump against the armchair, letting my hands fall onto my lap.

I’m still reeling from her outburst as I stare out to the open air in emptiness.

It isn’t easy for me too, Hailey.

I just want to protect her. The only way to do that is to go back to Jonas. I’ll take down Aitenev and she won’t have to worry anymore.

It’ll be okay.

“Ness...?” Mason walks in view, gentle with his question. He squats in front of me and reaches for my wrist, calmly turning my palm over.

I sense the others around me as they hover nearby, unsure what to make of the situation.

“I’m okay,” Taking my hand back, I held onto my waist and clear my throat. “You guys make up your mind alright? We’ll have to figure it out soon.”

I stood up and headed towards the bar, needing a bit of privacy to gather my thoughts. I can feel their stares as I leave but nobody stops me.

In their minds, this plan of mine deserves no attention. But if I’ve left them to discuss, it means they knew it might be something they’ll have to consider.

Was my potential downfall worse than theirs?

Them, who had families, large corporations to succeed... was I truly more important?

A sad smile found itself on my lips.

I guess this is what happens when you become close to the other side of society’s spectrum. You’ll never have a happy ending.

Benji has already prepared a large glass of water for me when I arrive at the bar. He slides it over, his expression not giving anything away as I sat next to Marlen.

My sponsor is playing with the cup, thumbing the glass with the side of his finger. There’s a bottle of whiskey in between us, half-drank.

“Get another glass, boy.” Marlen requests, glancing over to Benji who dutifully obeys.

“I don’t need it,” I shake my head, ignoring the beverage when he fills it with whiskey.

He says nothing to my objection, just leaves the glass there within reach. “You look like you’re bout to cry.”

“I’m not.”

Marlen finishes whatever that’s left in his cup and inches it forward as a sign that he was done. “It’s a terrible plan, Red.”

“So you weren’t deaf?” I roll my eyes. Earlier on, it looked like he was ignoring us. “If you come up with a better plan, I’m all ears.”

He shakes his head, quiet and I could’ve sworn, something like reminiscence fills his expression before it is quickly gone.

“What’s on your mind, old man?”

Marlen shrugs indifferently. “Didn’t know that girl felt so strongly.”

With how loud Hailey was, everyone would have been able to hear it.

Why did that make me smile?

That was my best friend to you, sweet and funny, outright vicious if you stole her food but ferociously protective if needs be.

“She’s been with me since the beginning,” I take slow sips from my water, my mind thinking back to the past. “You know after my Dad died, she was there throughout the abuse? I mean Ethan was there as well but he was still mourning for what his sons did, so it was different.”

Marlen isn’t looking at me but I know he’s listening.

That’s all I needed.

“She couldn’t protect me from my Mom but she was the only friend that stuck by me, didn’t make fun of me when I show up to school in bruises and never left even when I got involved with the Ring.”

We share so many memories together, so many moments in life, so many events that made us who we are today.

“It makes sense why she’s mad but... she’ll understand. Even if I were to back out now, it’s too late. The damage is done. The only thing we can do now is to finish it to the end.”

“Red...”

For the first time since Marlen arrived, he finally glances up to meet my gaze.

There, I see, something I hadn’t noticed.

Pale face.

Puffy cheeks.

Swollen eyes, red, from crying.

He’d been crying.

“Marlen?”

My sponsor looks away and tips his head down, hiding his features away once more. “Give us a moment, will you boy?”

Benji glances up in question, curious.

There is no usual swagger or authoritative feel to Marlen’s voice, it just sounded dead. Like all the energy had left him.

It worries me.

“Go ahead, Benji, it’ll only be a second.” I nod at my bartender.

“I’ll be outside, Boss,” He collects his jacket from under the bar and heads for the front door, allowing Marlen and I privacy.

The tension in the air is coiling.

I don’t know what to make of it.

Instead of pressuring Marlen, I leave him be, letting him take his time at his own pace.

I know he’ll figure things out eventually. He was my hardheaded Sponsor for god’s sake. I’m not worried about his resolve.

I can only pray whatever decision he makes, its the right one that will lift the heavy burden from his shoulders that’s been there since that fateful night.

“I’ve got all day Marlen, take your time.” Nerves are beginning to set in, even though I’ve just reassured him.

Taking the whiskey-filled glass, I bring it to my lips and drink it.

I don’t even taste the burn as the liquid flows down my throat and Marlen still hadn’t said anything. It’s unlike me to be patient but I suppose we all have to change at some point.

Out with the old, in with the new and eventually when you’re old and looking back, you’ve lived a life you can be proud of.

It’s funny, I’ve never thought that far ahead.

I’ve always lived in the now.

It makes me wonder if it’s possible.

Can I be happy in the future?

“Ethan MooreFell Lane,” Marlen affirms, spacing out the three words, with a proverbial pause. “You know him.”

He doesn’t mean it as a question, more of a confirmation.

“You know I do,” I tilt my head at him and rest my head on the palm of my hand. Just two weeks ago, I was in the same exact spot, only I had been staring at Thomas.

The thought of his name makes my heart, ache.

I don’t want to think about it.

Shaking my head, I release a sigh. “When he died, it broke my heart.”

“He must have loved you a lot,” My Sponsor picks up the whiskey bottle and corks it, squeezing the thing shut. “I never saw a day where that man didn’t love with all his heart, maybe he loved too much.”

I’m about to agree with him when I realized that his words are more than meets the eye.

I wait for him to correct himself thinking he’d misspoken, but when he doesn’t rectify his statement and leaves it hanging in the air, I am stunned.

“You...” The pure confusion and whirlwind I feel struck me down at the spot. “You knew him.”

I wasn’t asking.

“Yes,” He solemnly nods. “I did.”


[email protected]@~~~~

“I am not... using her.” Marlen mutters, his whole body shaking, not with rage but with something else.

“You don’t know anythin’ bout me, King.”

Thomas whirls around and gazes at Marlen, bewildered. “So you’re not, getting back at him? You’re not going to use her like you did me?”

“Am I really that cruel to you?” My Sponsor asks sarcastically, void of any real amusement. “I didn’t know she knew him, until I heard he died.”

“But its the perfect opportunity, he raised her, after all. You can undo everything he taught her, twist the knife deep.”

[email protected]@~~~~


Back at NorthVille in the motel, Thomas and Marlen had gotten into a heated argument. Some threats and statements were thrown but I never paid attention.

I should have.

Three Kings.

There were three Kings.

“You and Ethan...?” It doesn’t sound possible. How could we live in such a small world? Was it a coincidence? “He was a King too?”

The corner of Marlen’s mouth lifts, revealing the shadow of his once younger self, the one who had been King of the Ring, years ago.

“How the hell would he have coached you if he didn’t?” He snorts at me, his tone indicating I was an idiot for not putting the pieces together sooner.

“Then who was the other King? You said there were three, right?”

“We’re not as far away as you might think,” He rests his arm over the bar and twists his torso so he could view me at an angle. There’s a nostalgia tint in his gaze.

It was different compared to back then when he told the story of his two other friends who ruled the Underground with him.

He spoken highly of them but also held contempt.

I never questioned it because I just wanted to hear his story.

From what I remember, the three Kings had to go their separate ways. Marlen got caught up and couldn’t escape and when he did, he tried to ask for help.

But it had been years and he couldn’t ask for anything because his friends had their own families to take care of.

He was left to fend for himself.

“So? The third King? Who was he?” I ask again, too curious not to know. Marlen never talked about himself. This was my one chance.

“You know him too,” Is all he reveals, smiling that sad smile.

Was he joking?

I know the third King?

“I don’t believe you-” I splutter, slamming my hands against the bar. “The world can’t be that small, how is it possible?”

Racking my brain, I try to configure all the faces I’ve met during these past few years. The way Marlen said it, the third King is probably someone I’m still conversing with.

So that narrows down the pool.

He would be around the same age as Marlen and Ethan.

However, Ethan was clearly the oldest which made Marlen the second in age, the third King must be younger than them, which meant-

Oh...

Of course.

Marlen lost contact with the other Kings, but what if the other two never fell out?

What if they remained colleagues? Allies? Friends?

They had a history together, it wasn’t possible to simply forget.

And deep down inside, I start to understand, I start to see things I hadn’t before.

Who was the one that fought against Ethan, over the excavation of his Rink?

Who was the one that flew Ethan to New York after I was found to be the second chosen in the Annually?

Who became my guardian after Ethan relinquished all rights?

It wasn’t just a business favor, it wasn’t just something they agreed on.

The third King fought with Ethan because he cared for him. He flew Ethan to New York because it was a favor between old friends. He became my guardian because he knew Ethan was dying.

Had they conspired to pull the surprise Annually? Had they been the one to pick my name, because they felt obligated?

My father’s death was indirectly related to them so did they feel responsible? Did they want to make things right?

After all, the third King was the middle man, he could do a lot of things and he could pull a lot of strings.

That is his job, as GrayFell’s presenter.

David Cain.

My current guardian.

Him and his stupid umbrella.

I almost wanted to burst out laughing.

So the smoke finally clears, the promises and secrets finally reveal themselves in full light.

I should be happy. I finally get it, but it isn’t so easy, it isn’t so simple.

The smokescreen has lifted and in its wake, is the stains left behind by the truth.

If I didn’t have the connection between Ethan and David... Marlen would have never approached me. He would have never sought me out.

Which meant he’d wanted to use me.

Which meant... there is something else he isn’t telling me.

“You were angry, weren’t you?” I ask, not even bothering to hide my thoughts anymore. “When you needed help, they weren’t there and so you started to hate them. It didn’t matter if it wasn’t their fault. You just wanted them to feel the same way you did.”

Marlen doesn’t say anything.

He keeps deathly quiet, letting me deduce things as they are.

All his dirty secrets hung out like laundry.

“Years of resentment and rage, you kept it inside you, biding your time and when you saw Thomas... you saw an opportunity.” He would’ve seen a chance to hurt Ethan as Thomas was his grandson and David was tasked to look after the Graymoore heir.

It would’ve been killing two birds with one stone.

But it didn’t work out the way he wanted it too.

Ethan was never close to his grandchildren in the first place.

His own sons had abandoned him after the fallout and countless innocent people were thrown away, my Dad couldn’t take the pressure and killed himself.

Ethan dropped everything to do with his sons to take care of me and Thomas, the boy Marlen had been training, grew up without ever knowing about his grandfather.

Thomas was probably too much of a hard head to let David know what he was doing, either.

So Marlen had failed.

Perhaps he thought by continuing to corrupt Thomas, he may be able to get both Ethan’s and David’s attention.

That hadn’t worked either.

He only managed to lose his daughter to his ignorance.

So in the end, he had nothing. He becomes an old man, bitter with the world, and filled with grief.

There didn’t seem to be a way out.

“Then, you met me.”

Marlen met my gaze at this point and did not waver.

I feel as though what I say next may change how we view each other but I do not hesitate. If I hold back, there will never be an end to the beginning.

“I reminded you of your daughter and maybe at some point, you thought of using me to get back at Thomas. After all, I was the best chance you had to hurt him. He was the reason your daughter died, he would’ve mistaken me for Rose too.”

“But I didn’t use you,” He speaks determinedly, not allowing me to think otherwise. “Hell, I admit I wanted too, but I didn’t Red, I couldn’t do it.”

“Why?”

I expect him to falter, to fall back to silence, and run away from the situation as he’s always done when it came down to the subject of his daughter.

He surprises me when he tells the truth. “Everythin’ bout you, your hair, your eyes, you were like Arose’... ”

My fingers grasp the empty glass tightly.

Its the first time he’s admitted, he only took me in because I reminded him of his daughter.

I began to feel the beginnings of disappointment.

Hadn’t the others only paid attention to me because I reminded them of the one they lost?

“But there was nothin’ that made the two of you alike.” He continues, and before I can react, his warm palm settles on top of my hand, gently pushing the glass from my fingers so I’d release it.

"Arose’ lived comfortably. I gave that girl everything. Maybe I gave her too much. You? You had so much anger and pain, you watched your back as though someone would knife you, you never let your guard down and you were just as lost to this damn world as it was to you.”

Marlen releases our fingers after he saw I wouldn’t do anything.

Even if that was the case, there was no way I’d try anything right now.

“I didn’t pity you Red, if that’s what you’re worried about. I just started caring.”

“Wasn’t I terrible to deal with?” Came my snort.

“The worst.” He agrees, chuckling when I shove at him with my elbow. “You ain’t as unlovable as you think.”

I freeze.

The inside of my heart sounded like it stopped too.

He was treading on dangerous ground.

I am fearful of just how close he is to uncover another part of me.

“All those boys, over there-” He gestures to my men in the distance. They are all discussing between one another, some sitting, some standing. “They ain’t fightin’ no more, you know why?”

He was right.

They weren’t fighting.

Instead, they were discussing quietly, sharing opinions civilly with no signs of aggression.

Compared to earlier, there was a stark difference.

“Why?” I whisper.

He smiles. “Because they want to help you. They ain’t lettin’ Jonas take you so easily not on their watch. Did you really think, they’ll leave like that?”

Marlen wasn’t far from it.

I did think of it.

I just didn’t say it out loud.

“Damn you,” I curse, looking away at once when I feel my eyes burn with the threat of tears. “Why do you have to do that?”

“You were the one that said you won’t cry,” He snorts.

A groan slips past my lips. “I hate you.”

“Sure you do, Red.”

Christ, he knew me too well.

It made me laugh, startling Marlen who glances at me warily.

I shake my head in disbelief. I suppose under all that Red Devil glamour, I was still human. I was still a girl who’s trying to navigate this complicated world.

“You played dirty old man,”

“It ain’t my fault you’re a wuss.” He argues back, leaning forward to grab a bunch of napkin from the counter. “Here,”

I take the napkins gratefully but didn’t use them. Instead, I held onto my tears, I remembered the feeling, the moment, the burning sensation, and ultimately let it go.

And when I did... it was the best feeling in the world.

“Thank you Marlen.” Truly, I am grateful. He’s opened my eyes to what I couldn’t see before.

The next time I start feeling doubtful, I’ll remember this moment. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.

“Okay,” Bracing my hands against the bar, I took a deep breath and stood up with my head high. “I gotta finish this now and once its over, I’ll give it all up.”

“All of it?” He turns in his stool, surprised.

I nod. “All of it.”

Red Devil, the title, the meaning, the reputation... I’ll give it all up. I won’t ever come back for it.

Arranging the leather jacket, I stuff my hands in the pockets and turn over on my heel to head in my men’s direction.

“Red?”

I raise an eyebrow at Marlen and stop, thinking he’d forgotten to say something. “What is it?”

He’s expressionless, but eyes are the windows to one’s soul. I see it clearly. Worry, fear, and uncertainty. He’s debating on whether or not he should tell me, whatever it is, specifically.

All he had to do was open his mouth.

Yet when the seconds pass and he doesn’t do anything but sighs, I thought I may have imagined it.

“Don’t do anything too hasty.”

“I won’t,” Flicking a salute at him, I turn to my men and walked with a spring in my step.

Things will be better.

They have to be.

“Alright, coming through.” Invading their conversation midway, I prowl through the group and picked up the only cup of coffee left. Its turn cold already, but I don’t care.

“So we’ve come to a conclusion,” Elios begins, watching me cautiously as I sit in the armchair and drink the coffee.

The others are all gathered around, their stares heavy and solemn. They look like they’re about to deliver news that my grandma died or something.

“Go on...”

Why did they look so nervous?

Did they think I might argue?

When nobody makes a move to continue on, I roll my eyes sarcastically. “No worries, we have all day-”

“Your plan is terrible,” Evan burst out, holding up a finger when the others move to shut him up. “It’s stupid and lame and we don’t want to do it, there I said it.”

“Yeah,” I agree. “It is a terrible plan.”

“What?” The younger Vinyl looks like his eyes might bulge out of his skull. “You... agree with me? I mean, with us?”

“Is that so hard to believe?” I laugh lightly. “Come on guys, I know it was terrible. It was simply the only thing I could think of. If we can come up with another solution, I’m all ears.”

“So you won’t... throw yourself to Jonas?” Mason grimaces, as though waiting for the proverbial blow.

I frown at all of them and how they’re expecting me to implode or something. “First off, I don’t want to go back to that bastard. Secondly, even if I did, I wouldn’t fall for his schemes again-”

“But you won’t do it? You won’t go behind our backs and go through with that stupid plan right?” Zanthus insisted, leaning rather closely so he could peer into my eyes.

Annoyed, I push his face away from my personal space and huffed. “Do I have to make a promise?”

“Yes.” All seven of them said it at the same time.

My jaw drops in astonishment before I eventually relented and held a hand up, vowing. “I promise, I will not do anything behind your back. We work together as a group, or we don’t do it at all.”

That satisfied most of them but before they can rejoice, I quickly spoke out my requirements as well.

“All of you also need to make a promise to me.” I bite my lip and suck in a breath. “If we still can’t figure it out, if nothing seems to work and there is nothing we can do, we go forth with my plan, do we agree?”

They are about to bicker but my hard look forces them still.

I’ve made my promise to them.

They have to make their promise to me.

“I won’t be baited by Jonas again. You have to trust me, do you trust me?” This was it, the do or die moment.

This event will determine if Marlen was right about them.

Will they leave me in the end or will they stay?

“Yes.” Jared steps forward, his answer as straightforward as his expression.

Victor’s motion is to nod. A silent promise between the two of us.

The Vinyl’s fist bumps one another and throws me a smile. “Come on, without us where would you go?” Evan.

“I still need investment for my sculptures,” Matthew sighs as he delicately touches the strands of his silver hair. “I believe the best thing to do is to stick by you.”

“What so you can get more blood money from the Ring?” Scoffed Zanthus. “You do realize your sculptures are worth a million each right?”

Mason kicks at Zanthus’s foot, making the male glare at him before he shrugs his shoulders and dramatically throws his arms back. “I’m gay, I’m hot, I play with computers well, you need me, I don’t see why I’m out.”

“That means he’s in,” Elios rolls his eyes.

So they’re all in agreement, which leaves...

Mason.

The heir of BourneFell is staring at me quietly. I can see the gears turning in his eyes and how his left eyebrow twitches as he thinks.

I stand up and walk towards him, only stopping when I’m a foot away.

“What do you say?” I hold out my hand, hoping the playful tone in my voice disguised the true fear I have over Mason’s potential answer.

The night the apartment burnt down, he had accused me of exposing the others to Jonas. Who’s to say he’ll trust me now?

This could go either way.

Mason relaxes his rigid shoulders and runs a hand up to his hair with fashion. “You’re asking a stupid question to a stupid answer.”

“So that’s a yes..?”

Sighing, he leans forward and slips a hand around my back, pulling me forward so he can place a gentle kiss on my cheek.

Yes.

I can’t stop the dizzy smile on my face.

“Okay then,” Patting his chest, I slowly pull away and view the others with lightly. “Shall we figure out this mess?”

“We kinda did...” Zanthus mumbles beneath his breath, awkwardly scratching the back of his neck.

“What do you mean?” I raise my eyebrows, jolting when I realize Mason hadn’t let his hand around my back, drop just yet.

“While you were busy with Marlen,” Elios stands up from his seat and retrieves my half-finished cup of coffee from the armchair. “We’ve come across a solution.”

“So you have a plan?”

“A plan?” No.” He drinks it and smacks his lips loudly for effect. “We have something far from a plan and honestly, I think we’ll be too busy trying to stop you from running your head through a wood chipper.”

Shaking my head in confusion, I try to pull away from Mason once more, but the male merely tightens his grip.

“What are you...”

A figure is standing directly behind Mason, hidden by the unlit area of the Club.

He’s downing a navy blue suit with the top of the collar opened, revealing a silver chain. Nothing about him is out of place.

From those sandy blond strandsm to his ironed out attire, to how he carried himself, he was perfect.

Bold, dashing, and looks that can kill.

You’ve got to be shitting me.

“Well then,” Evan raises a hand and sweeps it sarcastically. “No need for introductions, I’m sure both of you have met already.”

“I’ve forgotten how much bullshit comes out of your mouth,” The figure speaks with sarcasm.

“I’ve forgotten how much of a prick you were.” Evan shot back, holding up the middle finger.

“Enough.” Jared cuts in, admonishing both. He turns to me and releases a dreaded sigh. “Vanessa this is not-”

“What the fuck are you doing here?” I snarl, all pretenses off as I shove Mason away and clench my fists to my sides.

“That’s the funny thing about breakup’s Ginger, both parties have to agree,” He’s mocking courtesy and in that sense, he’s mocking me.

Tension is pulsating in the air, heat is growing at the back of my neck.

He's giving me that look.

I know that look.

It spoke of respect, it spoke of authority.

It’s deep like you’re staring into a bottomless abyss.

It’s significant that the nerve endings of my brain hum with familiarity.

King.

"...and I don't recall, ever agreeing."

I'm in for the fight of my life.

"Get out," Throwing a hand out in the direction of the door, I struggle to keep straight face. "Now-"

“That’s no way to treat a friend.” He walks out from the dim lighting so he’s directly in view of the spotlight above us. “What, you didn’t miss me?”

“We are not friends.” He shouldn’t be here, what was he doing here? What is he trying to do?

“You’re right,” He agrees nonchalantly. “We’ve done more than what friends do.”

“Fuck you, Thomas.” I spat.


"Nice to see you again, Ginger."

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