The words rang in her ears.
Just leave the car, warned a voice in her head. Leave and don't look back. He's obviously insane. But her body wouldn't budge and she couldn't believe she would even consider throwing her brother to the wolves.
However, what Ghost was saying was borderline insane. But that's what he does anyway—take what wasn't his and fuck the consequences. Fuck that it was illegal, or that he was dragging her to commit something as atrocious as stealing from a church. A place of God.
She didn't even know if he was being serious, but it was too shocking to hold back from asking, "You want me to steal from the church?" Just to make sure she quite heard him right.
It only seemed to earn her a flash of a grin that might have been charming, yet somehow they managed to look anything but. Nova couldn't decide if he was dropped as a baby, hence why he may have lost a few knots, or he had been exposed to a dangerous drug that fucked up his mind. Her theory didn't just come to her now; so many incidences that happened could back up her theory.
"Are you crazy? Why do you have to steal from the church? I thought you claim to be some badass gangster. If you want money, go steal from the bank or a grocery store. Why does it have to be the church? And why do you think I'd go through with your stupid plan?!" she rushed the words out without catching her breath and ended up coughing just a bit, pretending she wasn't concerned in the least that he was rolling his eyes.
"I'm not trying to steal from the church, idiot. The money you're getting is mine. Not anyone's, but mine. Some fucktard hid it in the church, alright? Stop crying about it and go get my shit."
Her stomach dipped and tied a knot. Suspicion went its way through her, planting a seed of doubt in her mind. "Why can't you get it yourself?"
Ghost's face shaped into a scowl; the full force of his brutal gaze on her. "Because it's none of your fucking business. I tell you what you do, not the other way, so shut the fuck up." His voice was full of more annoyance than usual. The type of tone that made it impossible for her to discern if he was speaking the truth or making up a lie. He sure as hell sounded like he was lying.
Why else would he get so defensive?
"I'm not moving until you explain to me why you can't just go in there and take back the money if it's yours. What's so hard about that?" she snapped, eyebrows drew together. "Or are you looking to get rid of me so quickly?" Damn. He probably was. Maybe he didn't want her around anymore. What better way to send her to jail than to get her arrested for stealing money from a church?
I mean, there were dozens of ways to get rid of me, so why the church?
"I hate churches. Which makes it un-fucking funny." One corner of his full mouth twisted into something like a smirk, clearly not on the same page with his words. "Some cunt stole my money and thought it'd be safe in there. Satisfied now, hmm?"
No, she wasn't satisfied.
"Why can't you send one of your guys to get it, then?"
"As I said, it's none of your business. Get out or your brother gets shot." Despite the hardness to it, his mouth formed a wry smile as he slowly ran a wide thumb over his lower lip.
Why do his expressions never align with his words? That was what made him so confusing. He was really trying to hide so well.
Nova resisted the urge to flinch or cower but threw him a dark glare she hoped would welcome his dreams. "Dick."
Ghost's sharp emerald eyes lit up with amusement as he tapped a finger against his smooth chin. "It's fucking ginormous, thank you. Want to cup a feel and see?"
Her mouth fell. "I—never mind." If the car had been moving, she would have shoved him out of it and called it an accident.
He leaned closer to her face. The air around them shifted into something deeper and darker and a little more dangerous. His fingers intentionally skimmed the length of her neck. Her breathing hitched, but she didn't pull away, even as his eyes became nearly level with hers, coming so close she could feel the sweep of his lashes.
"Remember, the priest might be in on it, so try and act better than you pretend as if you don't want me to fuck you." His lips moved to the corner of her mouth before it widened into a taunting smile, his eyes shimmered as they looked away. Without another word, he moved back, putting a large amount of space between them.
Nova went stiff, her eyes darting to the door. With shaky hands, she opened the door and bolted out.
The building before her was small, but beautiful, old stone and stained glass. This was the first time she had ever been to church. Her family hadn't been religious, and Nova never cared about that. Her anxious stomach did a flip the second she stepped into the church.
It was filled with the smell of flowers, carrying a scent of lilacs and roses, mixed with different perfumes. It was breathtaking and enchanting; the church's ceilings were very high and the marble floors made a clicking sound when you walk, the cold chills like a magnet that clings to your skin. Rows and rows of the pew that occupied only a few people, who were so into their prayers they cared little about their surroundings.
The sun shifted outside, causing the stained glass windows to glisten, and the colours fall over her as she walked, taking a deep breath and inhaling the scent of dust and wood cleaner and burning candles. At the very end of the church was the lobby and the Confession booth.
Nova walked into the confession booth and closed the door shut, sitting onto the hard wooden seat and glared daggers at the wooden door. It was pitch black inside, and she rubbed her hands nervously.
A square gap appeared in the wall, allowing a small amount of light to filter through. The face of the priest was visible, and the man stared straight ahead, averting his eyes from her.
"Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned," Nova murmured and looked around the booth, wondering how the hell she was going to get Ghost's money when she couldn't see a damn thing.
"God forgives all who sins," the priest replied, his voice hoarse from the previous mass.
"This is the first time I'm doing a confession. I guess you can hear the nervousness in my voice. I wasn't sure I was going to do this." Her hand touched the wall behind her, quietly roaming her hands as she tried to find the hidden compartment. Every wall she touched was nothing but wood.
Frustratingly, she raked her hand through her hair, remembering that she was supposed to be talking, exposing her sins. Except, there was nothing to ask forgiveness for.
Confess to him how much you want to tear my clothes off with your teeth, this big bad wolf.
Nova gritted her teeth.
"I have sinful thoughts about a man I shouldn't have. He's dangerous, and he's sending me down to the wrong path." She could barely conceal the anger and frustration, as she continued her searching.
"He scares me, but I'm scared of what he might do to me. There's a really forty percent chance that he might be a psychopath, but my– my body doesn't care about that. My inappropriate thoughts don't give a shit, and I'm pretty sure I clench my legs every time he threatens me."
The vivid memory of their kiss and the emotions it had aroused unexpectedly floated through her mind. Ghost was conscious of a thrill, but it was a sickening thrill, one made up of equal parts excitement and fear. Just why, why would he evoke such feelings from her? Why would she respond to him in such a way that was repulsive to her—of all the men in the entire world, she just had to be attracted to that one man?
A laugh escaped her, one that sounded hollow and desperate. "That makes me so crazy, doesn't it? Even after putting a gun to my head and threatening to kill my brother, I—" She stopped talking for several long moments, catching her breath. Her hands were now touching the wooden chair she was sitting on, finding and seeking.
Where the hell was the hidden compartment?
The priest didn't say anything. He was probably expressing all his disgust on the inside.
"That makes me a horrible person, I know," she spoke again with a hint of constraint in her voice, her cheeks burning. "You hav—"
A quiet gasp left Nova's mouth. She found it! Accidentally, that is. The hidden compartment was right under the chair she was sitting on. She leaned down in the darkness as she searched with her hands, but there was nothing inside. It was empty.
Her heart sank.
It sped with worry.
The money was missing. Great. Just what she needed.
She didn't even care that she was in the middle of a confession before she stood up and walked out. Relief soared through her for not finding the money, because she just had a feeling it might possibly be the church's money that had been stolen.
She expected to find his car gone, fully prepared for the disappointment to kick in, but when Nova stepped out of the church and found his car parked exactly where she had left him, she couldn't say she wasn't surprised. She walked all the way to the car, opened the door and slide into the seat.
Ghost's lips were curved with a small smile, his dark green eyes shining with something wicked and mischievous, his fingers making small circles on the dashboard. "I see that. You don't have my money."
Nova looked away and kept her eyes straight forward. "Found the hidden compartment," she told him, her voice neutral, but her face was agitated. Nervous. She was sure he would blame her or accuse her of taking his money for herself. Maybe he would probably say she was going to use it pay off Grant's debt; that sounded like Ghost.
"Oh, yeah?" It came out as sarcastic.
"Didn't find your money."
"That's....unfortunate." The drawl skimmed over her skin, as cool and polished as a freshly sharpened sword.
"Unfortunate?" She frowned, deeply. "I'm confused. Weren't you so eager to get the money? You're.....you're not losing your shit about it."
He laughed, quietly. Different from any rich sound he had ever made. "I do get breaks, you know?" Nova wasn't sure why, but she sensed she would find out the reason for his subtle amusement, or lack of any reaction. "The money, you didn't find it." He suddenly reached under his seat. "Ah, shit."
"What? What is it?" Her eyes opened wide for any sign of threat, but there was none. Except for the beautiful man sitting opposite her, armed with the most dangerous weapons—his eyes, his smile and his ability to bring out feelings she loathed.
What would Grant think if he knew she was lusting after the man who put a gun to his head? The man who threatened his life? That her heart pounded, her veins heated and her blood raced every time she was near him?
Ghost lifted a brown paper bag, gleaming brighter. "Forgot I had it with me," he answered, stroking a thumb under his chin, looking as if he were truly disheartened over the fact.
"You....what?" All air escaped her lungs.
He ran a slender finger over his pink, luscious lips. "Oops?"
Oops? Oops meant he did it on purpose. She clenched her jaw so tight she heard her teeth grate together. He looked down on her with a smile so disturbing it could have made a kid weep. The shock of what he said was evident on her face as she flushed with fury, her eyes a fiery spark of fire.
He wasted her time for his own amusement. Nova could have burned those minutes doing something important.
He had been watching her face crumble until every last bit was replaced with chaos and seeing how amusement had cracked in between indifference, Nova's gaze went everywhere but him, clutching her hands together. A soft laugh came from him.
"Self control. I'm going to add that to one of your qualities. I really like that about you." He reached for her and carefully smoothed out one of her strand, his hands gentler than his chaotic self.
She wanted to rage, to scream, to slap his perfect, smooth skin, but it seemed her rage was more controlled. A silent fury that needed no action. Gaze fixed on the window as if her life depended on it, she tried to breathe through her nose, through her mouth, anything that would lessen her anger. And it seemed to work, a nice tactic that would come in handy when dealing with Ghost.
She registered the sound of the engine roaring, snapping her head as Ghost steered the wheel onto the road, a ghost smile still on his lips. Her mouth opened to speak words, but nothing came out, so she looked away to the window, watching the buildings blur in front of her eyes.
It was like a piece of beautiful melodic music, the silence that had fallen inside the car until he turned on the radio to an awful song. She opted to remain quiet until he dropped her off at home, but when he shut off the engine five minutes later, leaving the key turned just a click so that the radio continued to play, it prompted her to ask.
"Why did you stop?"
"Meeting someone," he vaguely replied.
"Well, I didn't think we were going to have breakfast."
The edge of his mouth twitched. "We could do that." Her stomach did a quick flip, as something purely intense shimmered in the eyes that were gazing at her. "Have breakfast together. Hold hands under the table and stare at one another. You know, what couples do." He smoothed her hair back from her forehead, an intimate gesture that filled her with foreboding.
"We are not a couple, and I would rather shove a fork in my eye than eat with you."
Humour lit his eyes, as her response seemed to excite him a bit too much. "I kissed you. I was on your bed. What more proof do you need, muneca?"
"I'd need to be sick to go out with someone who pointed a gun at me and my brother," Her tone took on more of a bite. "and blackmailed me to work for him."
His gaze remained frustratingly level, but Nova swore a muscle ticked near the corner of his jaw despite the gracious smile on his face. "You know there's a term for what we are, right? Dark love." He leaned closer as he said it, drawing out the syllables as if it were something he wanted to hold on to.
Red tainted her cheeks, but she managed to scrunch her face with a look of disgust. "There's no we and there's no love," she countered, and just right after closing her mouth, the back door of the car opened and someone swiped inside, the smell of ash hitting her nostrils.
"Hey, you got the cash?" A head poked in between the front seats. Nova turned her head, scooting back a little because the man was so close to her face as his rumbled voice filled the car. "Oh, who is this lovely woman. Hi, name's Screw." He tipped his bald, tattooed head at her with a roguish grin. His pinched in cheekbones rested on the skin that stretched through his leather jacket, a devil may care outlook.
"Your name is Screw?" The baffled sound escaped her mouth.
His blue eyes were orb round and gleamed with delight. They shone brightly at her. "Yeah, I screw up people's lives, so the name's more fitting. Don't you think?" Bristly eyebrows lifted in the angular face.
"Jesus Christ." Her eyes looked away from his to Ghost, who shrugged his broad shoulders. Do these gangsters know normal names existed? Or did they think having names like that made people more scared and intimidated?
You literally almost shitted your pants when you saw the names on Ghost's phone, Nova.
So it did work. Weirdly, after spending time with Ghost, she didn't think their names would scare her anymore. But she does wonder what kind of name Ghost had. Certainly psychopath or crazy would be so fitting.
"Leave me alone," she snapped at Screw, eyes looking forward and arms crossed over her chest.
She didn't care if she was being rude, and quite frankly, there was no need for Screw to be pleasant with her anyway. If she had just been anywhere and didn't personally know Ghost, he would have been one of those dicks who would threaten her, or worse, run her over, because she was no one. And now that she was working with them, they wanted to be nice. Well, fuck them. She hated Ghost and she hated everyone he worked with. If they were looking for her to be nice to them, they were in for the best surprise of their lives.
Fucking arseholes. Fucking Ghost. Fucking Mario. And Screw. The whole lot of them.
"Kinda hard to considering he's your mini-boss. He's the third in command, and you're gonna listen and do whatever he says when I'm not around."
She turned around to face Ghost so sharply. "You're assigning a guy who calls himself Screw as my boss?" She would rather have a dog as her boss.
"Hey," Screw's cry of protest earned him a glance. "I'd have you know that I have masters and PhD in crime. Made it to the top all on my own. Ya gonna be in good hands." He patted his chest with an awful smile that looked like a demonic smile.
"He is going to show you around the warehouse and hook you up with your jobs and shit."
Narrowing her eyes, Nova lifted her chin defiantly. "Yeah, no. Take me home." Then looked at the dash with a scowl.
A slow curl of Ghost's lips said more than any insult ever could. "Aw, you think you can pick and choose what you wanna do and when you wanna do it? Cute."
"Fuck you," she told him. Pouted, more like, and for a moment his smile widened to a grin.
"You say stuff like that, doll, makes me wonder how sooner you want it to happen, or how sooner you want your brother to die. I hear Shell sells cheap coffins."
That was her cue to open the door and walk out of the car. Guess that was his strategy. And it worked. One day, she thought, it wasn't going to work.
Another door opened.
Screw got out and went to Ghost's window, lowering his head to speak to him. She didn't care enough to eavesdrop. Nova was barely interested in anything concerning Ghost and his gang shit—which she guessed did concern her now since she was working for them.
And why wouldn't Ghost show her around? Why send her with someone she didn't feel comfortable with, and a place that would roam with gangsters? It made her feel uneasy. Scared.
The car engine started again and she moved to the side as Ghost pulled onto the road. She watched the car, contemplating taking a run herself, but something tells her Screw would only tackle her to the ground and she didn't want to go through that humiliation.
She gave him a deathly glare as she walked up to him. "Call me that again and you'd end up in a body bag," she threatened, earning a chuckle from him as Screw kept passing the money bag that Ghost had with him between his hands.
"I see why he likes having you around."
Her head jerked back.
What exactly is that supposed to mean?
“Come on, mama. The dark side is waiting for you.”
She glared at his back.
Screw turned and started to walk backwards now, grinning. “And ya know, the initiation. Can’t have you working for a gang without proper initiation. Blood in, blood out.”
Initiation? Blood what?
Just what the fuck?