REDEMPTION (Book One: The London Crime King)

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CHAPTER TWENTY- THREE

Alexa

I am lying face down on the most comfortable king-sized bed, shrouded by all that's masculine and Liam. His bedroom has become a temporary safe place over the past week. I keep the blinds drawn and the lights off, sleep customarily and occasionally venture to the en-suite to shower.

Going home is out of the question. According to Brad, our boss firmly forbids me to leave the penthouse, not that I challenge his verdict. In actuality, I never want to step foot inside that flat ever again.

Liam generously accommodated Chloe who presently sleeps in one of many guestrooms. This morning, my friend cautiously entered the room, asked how I was feeling and offered coffee.

As I wasn't overly talkative, Chloe, face swollen and blue, sat beside me on the bed, explained how Kathy followed and attacked her. Knowing my sister beat my friend into unconsciousness broke my heart. I felt it necessary to apologise on her behalf and assured discountenance.

I love Kathy so much, but, mental health concerns aside, I do not condone her belligerence and vile behaviour toward my friend.

And she tried to kill me—my sister. My flesh and blood wrapped her hands around my neck and endeavoured to strangle me to death. Kathy's inexcusable bloodlust and disturbing act of cruelty are unforgivable, yet encumbering ambivalence crucifies me.

Losing somebody that you love feels insurmountable. Kathy's undeserving of my punishing anguish, but it is impossible to forget happy memories. I ache for the girl who freed me from shackles and unclipped my wings. I ache for the girl whose tortured soul incurvated.

***

Chloe cracked open the door this morning to tell me she had work.

I rolled over and fell back to sleep.

***

I heard Brad and Nate singing in the kitchen. They enraged Liam with their inharmonious vocals and infuriatingly clamorous saucepan drumming. I pulled the duvet over my head to drown them out, overheard Chloe half-heartedly chastise them before Brad seemingly chased her down the hallway.

***

I felt Liam staring me but didn't open my eyes. He loomed beside the bed while losing his suit and then barricaded himself in the bathroom. I listened to the water running as he showered, smelt his cologne as he fixed himself ready for work.

He didn't speak to me.

I didn't want him to speak to me.

Or maybe I did.

***

On the bedside table sits a soup bowl. I know Chloe made it for me and, even though it smelt divine, the thought of food consumption nauseated me.

***

Liam's rarely home. It made me wonder if the man ever slept. Perhaps he rests at the office, or maybe he's using a spare room while I am here.

What is next?

Am I destined to go home?

Do I still have a place to call my own?

What happened to Kathy?

Where did they bury her body?

I cried.

***

"You need to get up," Chloe scolds, attempting to rip the blanket from my body. "This isn't healthy, Hon. It's been two weeks. You don't eat. You barely shower. And, said in the nicest way possible, you look like shit."

I laid without coverlets, studied London's picturesque night views through the floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows.

"I get it, okay?" She cried, slumping beside me. "You loved your sister, and you're hurting right now, but Alexa..." Snivelling into the nape of my neck, she hugged me, tears warm against my clammy skin. "I hate seeing you like this."

My lips started to wobble. I sank my teeth into plump flesh, hindering the process. "I'm sorry," I whisper, fist clinging to the silk sheet.

"Please," she begged softly, kissing my cheek. "Please come out and eat with us. The guys are in the kitchen with takeout."

"Okay," I lied, and she snivelled. "I'll be out in a minute."

I never moved.

***

"Alexa," Liam's impatient, authoritative voice droned in my ear. "Get up."

I squinted my eyes open, faced by all-encompassing darkness. Hiking my knees to my chest, I buried my head into the soft pillow, respiring a content sigh.

"I don't like repeating myself." He ripped the duvet from my body. "Now, Alexa."

"Go away—Liam!" I shrieked, his arms forcefully yanking me out of bed. "Let go of me you tyrannical bastard!" A bright light suddenly blinded me before all-consuming cold water smashed over my body. "Liam!" Bitter showers stormed over my head, drenching my clothes. "It's freezing!"

Posted near the glass door, he unbuttoned his shirt to salvage damp, leaned into the cubicle and tore the doused T-shirt from my body. It dropped to the tiles with a heavy thud, my leggings and underwear followed.

I instantly covered myself, not wanting him to see me.

"I've seen it all before," he arrogantly reminded me, perfunctorily squirting shower gel onto a loofah. "Wash."

Embarrassment climbed to my cheeks. I reluctantly accepted his unenthusiastic gesture and scrubbed my skin raw. Soon the cold water transforms to therapeutic warmth, soothing the goose pimples ruptured over my body.

Satisfied that I no longer represented an unbecoming cavewoman, he killed the shower and tossed me a towel. "Get out."

Wrapping fluffy cotton around my body, I stepped out of the cubicle and followed him.

Liam gaits across the bedroom and turns on the lamp, generating faint light. "This ends now," he said, opening the balcony door. "No more wallowing in self-pity, Alexa." Lighting a cigarette, he blows smoke outdoors, foot propped on the doorframe behind him. "It's done. I've given you time to mourn, but this ends tonight. Move on."

I paused at the foot of the bed, searing into him with a venomous scowl. "Move on," I repeated incredulously, hand tightened around the towel. "It's not that easy, Liam. I lost my sister—"

"Kathy was a fucking nutcase," he spat, irritably scratching his jaw. "If I hadn't come in when I did? You'd be dead."

It's on the tip of my tongue to ask why Liam and the Suits appeared, but I stubbornly suppressed curiousness. "You didn't need to kill her," I whispered, lump shifting in my throat. "She needed help—"

"So unassuming," he gritted under his breath. "Irritatingly modest and delusional. Kathy Pearl was unredeemable, Alexa. The sooner you get to grips with that shit—"

"I don't care for your unsolicited opinions, Liam," I retort, summoning my inner voice. "Your perception of Kathy differs from mine. To you, she was the enemy."

"Damn fucking right," he admonishes, glaring at me beneath turned up eyebrows. "That motherfucker was on my hitlist regardless."

I nodded impassively. "She was my sister, and I loved her regardless," I imitate, sarcasm dripping from my wayward tongue. "You didn't need to kill her."

"She was lucky," he said in that dangerous tone, flinging his cigarette outside. "Had I not acted on instinct that thieving bitch would've endured far fucking worse."

I believed him. "Where did you bury her?"

"It doesn't matter."

"It matters to me," I protest, rage bubbling up inside. "I need to say goodbye."

"You need to forget she ever existed." He came to me, shoulder-to-shoulder. "Remove it."

Fumingly mad, I shoved past him, scanning for a T-shirt.

"What, you fucking blame me for this shit?" Claiming my elbow, he hauled me back to him. "She tried to kill you."

"It still hurts," I cried, tears burning my eyes. "It's still there, Liam, deep inside my chest. That pain and longing and devastating guilt. You can't just erase indelible scars. It's impossible—"

"Nothing is impossible." He fails to convince me. "You're allowing this to fester."

"Let go of me," I asked calmly, marshalling my murderous thoughts. "Now, Liam. I don't want to be near you." The incorrigible man defied me. "Please, I just want to sleep and forget—" He snatched my jaw. "Liam, stop! Just because you're a heartless bastard—"

Liam's lips crashed against mine, stealing my breath. I fought against him as he backed me to the wall, palms slapping his bare chest. His kiss strengthened, tongue demanding entrance to my mouth.

Fingernails clawing into his neck, I sank my teeth into his lower lip, expecting him to lambast or shove me away. He growled into my breathless mouth, the taste of his blood on my tongue. "You want to fight me?" He ripped the towel from my body, gathering me into his arms. "Fight me."

"I hate you," I lied, jerking in his hold. "I don't want this—"

"No?" His mouth fused to mine, hand painfully grasping my breast. "You don't want this? You don't want to feel good, baby?"

"Liam," I sobbed into the groove of his neck, fingers tangling through his hair.

His mouth moves down my neck, stubbled jaw and burning kisses coarse on my flesh.

I didn't notice his slacks removal, but I most certainly felt his cock forcing into me, resulting in a strangled moan. Arms enveloping his broad shoulders, I adjusted to his thickness. He stretched me unbearably yet beautifully. Fingers bruising my hips, he pulled back a touch and then drove deeper, my back crashing firmly to the wall. "Liam," I keen, gnawing my lower lip, arousal drenching his glorious shaft. "Shit."

"Do you feel me?" He whispered against my lips, fucking me with harsh, deep slams. He drags his cock in and out, tongue swiping through my mouth, erotic yet tender.

"Yes," I gasped, feeling the muscles in his back flex under my palms.

Liam pushed us away from the wall and lowered me to the bed. His hand captured my wrists, pinning them above my head. My spine curved off the mattress, and he groaned his approval, seizing my waist in his rough hands. He pounded into me with restrained vigour, teeth set on his bottom lip, sweat misting his stunning body.

I cried out as he filled me, pussy accommodating his punishing length, releasing orgasm.

Hands grappling the sheets, I clung to them, a powerful wave breaking through me. "Liam." His name escaped my lips like a desperate plea. "Shit."

He alleviated me as I came down from my paralysing high. I immediately missed him, hand reaching for his head, stroking the back of his neck. His lips lingered between the crevice of my breasts, sucking and biting my small mounds. "You feel good?"

Why did he keep asking me that?

Hands smoothing beneath my thighs, he widened my legs, pressing my knees to the bed—and then his mouth closed around my delicate clit, suckling me into his mouth.

"No," I gasp, hips threatening to lift from the mattress. "Liam it's too much."

He disregarded me, thumbs dividing my swollen lips, tongue flicking, attacking my sensitive bundle of nerves.

My trembling thighs shameless opened further, and he moaned, lips circling my clit, sucking long and hard.

Our eyes locked as he slipped two fingers into me, pumping forward, thumb brushing, teasing my pulsing ache.

Over sensitised and overwhelmed, I cried sounds unrecognisable to my ears, body driven over the edge. "Oh, God."

He caressed and licked once more, and I clenched around him, body crashing against another orgasm.

Liam withdrew his hand, sucked his fingers clean and crawled over my body, hand capturing my throat, lips claiming mine. Hips pressed onto me, cock prodding my entrance, his wide head stretched and filled me.

I curled my legs around his waist, encouraging him to continue. And he does, head resting on my clavicle, lips ravishing my neck.

Chest rising up and down as pleasure radiated through me, I bit into his shoulder, hanging on by a thread.

His lips overpowered mine, dominant—the taste of my arousal on his tongue. "Can you give me another one?" He asked, breathing heavily in my mouth. "Come on, baby." He wedged himself to the point of no return, fucking me mercilessly against the mattress.

Our slapping bodies sent a dusted flush to my cheeks, but secretly, I didn't care. I loved how harsh he hammered into me, felt every inch of him claiming my body.

I am powerless and at his mercy, caged beneath him. He positioned his hands on either side of my head and lifted his head to look at me. I held his hips in my hands, opening myself fully, giving him more room.

His thrusts became frantic as he seemingly chased his climax, but when I came, he held me at the base of his shaft until my body collapsed beneath him and then his movements slowed. In and out, he dragged his soaked cock, lips brushing my jawline. "Do you feel good?"

I barely mustered a nod.

Pleased, Liam pinched my jaw in his hand, gave me a bruising kiss and then slipped back, cock weighing heavily between his thighs. He fell onto his back beside me, eyes focusing on the ceiling mirror. His hard shaft rests on his muscular stomach, and I felt a wave of disappointment. "You didn't cum."

Catching his breath, he rubbed two hands down his face, licking his dry lips. "It's not a problem."

"It looks like a problem," I said, and he cracked a humorous smile. "What man doesn't want the end result?" He turned his head to look at me with dilated, pinpoint eyes. "Is it because you're drunk?" I mean, I don't think he's had too much to drink. I had tasted a touch of whiskey when we kissed.

Disbelieving laughter vibrated in his chest. "I forget."

"Forget what?"

"How young and innocent you are."

What every woman wants to hear right after amazing sex, I thought.

My unknowingness irritated me to the core. "You didn't fuck me like an innocent," I counter, a touch affronted. "You fucked me like I was all that mattered."

Liam relieved an itch from his nostril, clenching his jaw. "Drop it."

Oh, the penny dropped, alright. "You're coked-up."

He flung me a sidelong glance. "What do you know about sniff?"

I moved to my knees, ready to climb off the bed. "Enough that it kills your mojo—"

"Mojo?" His disgusted tsk warranted a hangarage. "Why do you have to be so sensitive?" Clutching my wrist, he pulled me back, compelling me to lie down. "Why are you upset over this?"

Honestly, I had no logical response. "You didn't wear protection."

"I knew I wouldn't cum," he said, and my rage hit its pinnacle. "For fuck's sake. If it bothers you so much," he based his shaft with a tight fist and stroked, "come over here and wrap that sassy little mouth around it." His harmless teasing hit me hard in the chest. "What?"

"Nothing," I whispered, faking a smile. "It's not you; it's me." I sat crossed-legged, swallowing acidic bile. "I guess I don't want you to be disappointed."

Liam's humorous expression faded. Propping onto one elbow, he grasped the nape of my neck and drew my lips to his. I melted into his tender touch, our tongues lazily coming together. "You want me to cum?" he asked hoarsely, and I averted my gaze. "Look at me."

Our eyes aligned. He began stroking himself, unhurried and strangely erotic.

I watched, captivated, thighs clamping together.

His large hand worked an upstroke, thumb smearing leaking pre-cum over his swollen crown.

It was salivating.

I had an urge to please him, but unassertive, disinclined.

Liam stationed onto his haunches, one hand gripping my neck, other hand working his long arousal. His lips teased mine, kissing and nibbling, breaths coming in heavier, strained.

I was too pusillanimous to put my head down there, but I rebelled against his assured affirmation.

Leaning over him to yank open the bedside drawer, I retrieved a condom, ripped the wrapper with my teeth and paused.

Understanding passed through our heavy-lidded gaze. Liam released himself, draped his arms at his sides, head lolled back as he awaited my next move.

I gingerly took him in my hand, and he hissed through gritted teeth, eyes briefly closing in euphoria. Stroking him twice, I sheathed his length, praying I am good enough and gently pushed his back to the bed.

He watched me straddle his waist, humming throatily, arms crossing behind his head. I settled onto my knees, caught him in my hand, rubbed myself against his length, lined up and slowly sank onto him.

Painfully full, I granted myself a moment, palms flattened to his chest, hips carefully rolling forward. Leaning down, I inhale his incredible masculine scent, intentionally tightening around him.

"Alexa." Liam coiled one arm around my shoulders, pinning me to his chest. "You gonna fuck me, baby?"

Amped-up more, I twisted my hips, bounced above him.

"Fuck," he groaned, eyes rolling back, hands attaching to my hips. "That's it."

I didn't care what drugs Liam stupidly consumed—I am determined to make this man come undone. Breathless, I fucked hard and fast. Sweat danced down my spine and dusted my heated skin, his hardness pulsing inside me.

"Come here," he rasped, and I dipped my lips to his. He kissed me, consuming and passionate, the type of desire I knew not to over analyse. "Make me cum."

Perspiration misted his body, his muscles under my palms bunching together. I felt my orgasm soaring and inwardly scolded my needy self.

I laid my forearms beside his head, speared my fingers through his hair and sucked his neck, knowingly branding him.

Hands smoothing over my backside, he agonisingly grasps my cheeks and shoves into me, meeting me thrust for thrust.

I worked him long and deep, ass hitting his thighs. I'll never forget his throaty moan when he came or the way he enclosed me in his arms. He held me down, cock twitching, emptying.

"Liam," I whimpered into the nook of his neck, combusting above him. "Holy, shit." I have never felt anything like this in my life.

"Fuck." Head falling back onto the pillow, he blew out a shuddered breath, one arm sliding off my back. "You killed me."

Hiding my triumph smile was hopeless. "Yeah?" I kissed his chest, tasting salt on my lips. "Couldn't orgasm, huh?"

He gave me a low, lopsided smirk. "Don't get cocky."

I lifted off him with a wince, letting him discard the condom.

Wholly spent, I face-planted the mattress, waiting for him to return from the bathroom. I hear the water run and the shower cubicle close. I laid awake, wondering if he'll join me.

Fifteen minutes later, he exits the bathroom and enters the walk-in wardrobe, rummaging for a suit. I turned my head and closed my eyes, tugging the duvet over my body. I felt him staring while styling his hair and spraying cologne.

I craved his nearness—for him to climb back into bed and spend the night with me.

Liam said my name, and I pretended to sleep, discerning his audible sigh. His lips touched my forehead before he left, confusingly tugging my heartstrings.

I latterly realised he helped me forget.

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