It was morning. He had been awake, and she had been awake with him. Bright orange light shined through the gaps in the curtains, but it couldn't chase away the gloom and the dark shadows on Vicious's face.
"I'm hungry. I didn't eat when I came running to you. That was how anxious I was to see you."
"Shut the fuck up," he replied for the hundredth time, rubbing his temple with the barrel of the gun. He squeezed his face as if he was in pain before he heard her movements and looked up. His face flamed. "And get the fuck off my bed!"
"No," Nova stated firmly, staring back at him. "I've been on this bed enough that it smells more of me than you." She smiled gently. "Is that the reason why you can't get on the bed? Because it smells like me and you can't allow yourself to breathe into it?"
Vicious' jaw clenched. He didn't answer. Instead, his gun made a clicking sound and she saw the metal pointed to her forehead. She must have hit some nerve there. It told her he still cared. He still loved her, and he wouldn't be able to kill her if he wanted to. It made a smile slip onto her face.
"You can't kill me, Vic," she muttered, wrapping her arms around herself as if she was envisioning his arms around her. "You can point it at me all you want, but you can't pull the trigger. That's why you set your men out there—to do your dirty job, and guess what? I'm not going out there. If you can't kill me yourself, no one can. No one gets to kill me. No one has the right to."
His fingers twitched on the trigger as if to prove her words wrong, but she knew she was right. He could hate her all he wanted. He could point the gun and threaten her, but he wouldn't be able to pull the trigger. He loved her too much to kill her. They both knew it would haunt him. They both knew it would ruin him.
"Do you remember the first time we met?" she randomly asked. "The first time I saved your life, I didn't know it was you. I admit that I didn't allow myself to look at the pictures of the man who hurt my brother because I thought I would flip and run to kill you at that moment. Meeting you for the first time..." She laughed huskily, staring at him, but she was looking right through him. "Oh, Vicious, it's fate, isn't it? How cruel. The only reason we got to meet is that you hurt my brother and I planned to hurt you back. Why couldn't it have been different?" she asked, her face pale with sadness and grief. "Why didn't we meet like everyone else?"
"Because fate is a bitch and it doesn't pick who to be nice to," he finally answered.
Nova nodded, taking a deep breath. Tears welled up in her eyes because she couldn't believe this was happening to them. That fate had decided to be cruel to them both. "I still hate you," she told him, her voice cracking each word. "I hate what you did to us, and if I manage to get out of here alive, I'm still coming for you." A single tear trickled down her cheek. "What would all of this have been for if I let you go freely? You have to pay up, Vic. Isn't that what you gang leaders do? People pay their debts to you in any way possible."
"As long as you can get me," he countered immediately. "You either have to kill me or get killed by me. That's the only way it can work, doll. You won't let this go and I won't. If being dead is the only way to pay the debt..." he trailed off, leaving it off like that.
Nova tightened her arms around her waist and kept her gaze locked on him. "Or you can surrender to me. End this before anyone gets hurt. It's the only way to fix this."
"You want me dead."
"Death is a gift that you don't deserve. What you did to my brother, the payment can't be repaid in blood. I want you to suffer the way I did." Her voice was croaky and broken. "Do you know what I had to do to get here? Make this easier for us. Pay me back, Vic."
"I didn't hurt your brother," he gritted out. "But the longer you keep Screw with you, the more I will hurt every single person you've ever cared about, including the man you're trying to protect. I will make you watch me torture him until he can't remember his name."
Nova's lips trembled as she shot up from the bed, running to the bathroom. She slammed the door shut and pressed her back to it, breathing in and out. She stepped closer to the sink and the mirror became visible. She stared at herself. The mascara and eyeliner that had run down her cheeks had dried off. Her eyes were red and swollen. With her hands gripping the sink, she looked herself in the eye and felt the tears filling them again.
It hurt so much. She had been trying to be brave just now, but she was slowly starting to lose her mind. This was not how she envisioned the morning to turn out. She had thought she would wake up in Vicious' loving arms, and not waking up to the end of his gun, staring at her with hate in his eyes. She didn't expect it to hurt this much.
Nova wiped the tears that rolled down her cheeks and washed her face with warm water. Feeling sad and hurt would not help her right now. She could feel all these emotions later, but she needed to sort out things now. She needed to take back control and find a way to escape without being gunned down by his boys.
She needed to talk to him. To tell him what was going on and where she was. Nova turned off the tap and dried her hands with her clothes, then glanced at the door before crouching down to her knees. What Vicious didn't know wouldn't hurt him. Nova pulled out a phone she had hidden in the pocket of her jeans. Keenan had always insisted she leave home with a second phone. He had been right. She didn't think it would ever come in handy. This was her only shot at escaping here alive. Reaching the man out of Vicious' grab was her only solution.
Her fingers trembled as she typed out the SOS number, then held the phone to her ears. Her heart was beating against her chest when it started to ring. Tears sprang to her eyes when he picked up and rushed out, "Nova!" It was as if he had been waiting for her to call and had been in hysterics.
"Keenan," she whispered, clutching the phone in her hand. She swallowed a sob that almost slipped past her parted mouth. "Keenan, he knows."
"Fuck!" he swore loudly. "Oh, fuck. Where are you? Are you okay? Did he hurt you?! I'm going to fucking kill him if he lays a hand on you!"
"I'm in the bathroom and he hasn't hurt me yet. But he set a trap and the moment I walk out of his house, I'm dead." She sucked in a deep breath and added, "I don't know what to do, Keenan. I'm scared. I need your help."
"Fuck, okay. Um.." he paused, and she heard him starting to pace back and forth. "It's the same address, right? Don't worry, I will send some guys to sniff them out. It won't be easy, but I'm going to get you out of there, Nova, I promise."
"Please, hurry. He's starting to get impatient and I don't know what he would do when his patience runs out. And Keenan?"
She gripped the phone and muttered, "No matter what happens, don't hurt Screw. Do not lay a hand on him. Set him free if I don't make it back."
"You will make it back," he snapped in frustration, but she could hear the fear in his voice. She was like a little sister to him. The only family he knew were her and Grayson, and if he lose them both, he would lose his family. Keenan had never been open about his feelings, but she knew he loved them both.
"Keenan—" Before she could say one last thing, the door slammed open. The shadow of Vicious in the front door was enough to make her heartbeat like thunderstorms. Nova froze, and all thoughts ceased to exist.
Vicious lifted his gun and aimed for the mirror, taking a shot. She shrieked as pieces of the glasses skyrocketed through the bathroom, hitting her and everything else. She rushed to pick up the phone she had accidentally dropped on the floor, but he made a rush first, his hand swooping in to take the phone before she could get her hands on it.
"No!" she started to scream as she beats his back, but he pushed her away, knocking her into the wall. With her phone in his hand, he checked through it and quickly dialed a number on the phone.
"Hey," he spoke into the speaker, keeping his hand steady on the trigger as he aimed at her. "I sent you a number. Let everyone pull back and send me the address when you get it. Take a lot with you. We don't know what you would be expecting. No one should be left alive."
"No, Vicious!" Her terrifying scream rang out in the bathroom as she tried to pry the phone from his hand. "No, please, don't kill him." Her body was wracked with sobs. "Please, don't kill him. He's the only one I got."
"The only one you got, huh?" he asked after he pocketed his phone and hurled hers across the wall, breaking it into pieces. Vicious grabbed her wrist and dragged her out of the bathroom, throwing her on the bed. She struggled, screaming, and sobbing, but he kept her down with his body. "Settle down!" At his thunderous command, Nova stopped struggling, and the only thing heard in the room were her tiny sobs.
"You're crying this much for him? Is he your boyfriend?" He sounded pissed off when he asked. "Answer me!"
"He's my family," Nova whimpered.
"You ain't related by blood, so you're not family. You make me want to kill him even more now." He yanked her arm, making her squeal. "How dare you cry for him? Do you want him to die quickly?"
"Don't hurt him."
He pushed her head down in the pillow. "You're pathetic. You're actually crying and throwing a fit over some guy that ain't even your family? You should be crying and begging me to save your life." His hand slipped into her shirt, moving to her back and sliding up to her shoulders. "Does he touch you better than me?" He leaned in and pressed his lips to hers. "Kiss you better?"
Nova didn't resist the second time his lips pressed against hers. She gave in too quickly. It was easy to slip in. She had always been too easy when it came to him. Vicious' kiss was soft and gentle, a little torturous. The kiss was familiar and soothing. It was so much easier to fall back in. He retreated and licked his lips with a look in his eye that screamed he wanted her just as much as she wanted him.
Vicious smiled, wiping his thumb along her lips. "It's going to get a little exciting soon. Remember, Nova? You love it. You love this thrill. You love doing bad things." His phone vibrated and he picked it up, then grinned after a few seconds. "Well, look at that. We got an address, and there are movements in the building too."
He slides his hand along her spine, following the curves of her body. "You don't look too happy."
A devious smile appeared on his face. "Do you want to have a moment before we head out?" he taunted. "Cause when we leave here, everything changes." His low voice hummed in her ear as he hovered close. "Everything."
Nova clenched her teeth because she wanted to say 'fuck you,' again, but her lips couldn't move to utter any word. Everything would change. She shut her eyes and pressed her lips together. Vicious' face hovered right in front of hers, so close she could feel his breath on her skin.
"Open your eyes, Nova, and see your actions. Look at me just like you've looked at me for months," he urged. "See what you loathe and despise. See me."
She blinked away the tears that rolled down her eyes when she opened her eyes. Vicious was staring at her with a smirk that quirked upon his face. Suddenly, his phone rang. He pushed himself off her and fished out the phone to take the call.
"Yeah?" He glanced at her. "Yes, she's alive. I'm not exactly in a murderous rage right now. No, not right now, and you won't." He was speaking harshly. "Because it's not your call. Stand down, Mario. I will give you another chance."
Her ears perked up at the name and her heart raced. Was Mario hating the fact that she was alive? Did he want to kill her so badly? What did Vicious mean by he would give him another chance? To what? Murder her? Bile rose in her throat.
"Don't act stupid, Mario. Sit there and wait for me to come, got it? I will see you, cuz." He put the phone back into the pocket of his jeans, all the while keeping his eyes on her. "Well, the good thing is, you have me beside you, and the bad thing is, Mario desperately wants to kill you." He cocked his head and paused. "Shall I fulfill his promise, given that he always listens to me and never steps out of line? What do you say? Your life for his good behavior?"
She ignored him.
"Okay, no response." He laughed and picked up the gun laying on the couch to show it to her. "How about I kill you for your betrayal, or kill your partner? Which one should I choose? Is his life more important than yours?" He pointed the gun at her head. "Head or tail, babydoll?"
Again, she didn't speak. He lowered the gun with a disappointed look.
"It's fine. We can try this again when we're all together." Vicious walked over to her and his thumb traveled down her lips. "Shall we go determine your future now?" He held out his hand.
He moved straight for the door, dragging her along with him. Nova was dragged to one of his cars as he opened the door and shoved her inside. He closed it and quickly hopped in himself. Nova pressed herself against the window, fiddling with the handle to open but the door was locked, so she screamed in frustration, banging the window in anger.
"Settle down," he replied. "If you piss me off, I'll leave you out here and call back the dogs."
"I don't care, let me go!" She fought with the door again, turning and twisting the handle, slamming her fist on the window.
In anger, Vicious pointed the gun at her head. "Sit still, or I'll put a bullet in your head."
She stopped immediately, her eyes widening as his gun pressed against her forehead. Her lips pursed and she took a breath. "If you were going to kill me or capable of doing so, you would have done it by now." The moment her lips closed shut, he moved the gun and shot the seat behind her. Nova jolted from being startled and glared at him. "Stop it!"
"Then, fucking settle down and don't assume I can't kill you. Just because I haven't done it doesn't mean I won't. Your life is in my hands now and you will do as I say if you want to live long enough to see your little boyfriend."
"He's not my boyfriend," she felt the need to say before she could stop herself. The two of them shared a long look before Nova quickly looked away, slumping against the seat. She went quiet after that, playing with her fingers as Vicious drove the car into the road. After a while, she turned around to look at him, wrapping her arm around her waist.
"Stop looking at me, or I'll put a hole through your devious eyes."
"Do you regret what you did to my brother? You love me, don't you? So, you have to feel some regret."
His fingers wrapped around the wheel, but he didn't turn around, and neither did he respond. It infuriated her.
"I'm talking to you, Vic."
He couldn't help the devious smile from appearing on his face. "Are you asking if I have ever regretted killing or hurting anyone in my life? The answer is no." Nova clenched her teeth. He slides her another glance. "Now shut up."
Another word didn't leave her mouth for the rest of the ride. Nova had her eyes closed as she listened to how fast her heart was beating, and when she heard him hitting the break, her eyes flew open as another wave of fear entered her. Her reaction made him start to laugh, and when she noticed where they were, she gripped her wrist and settled back on her seat.
Without saying anything, he opened the door and walked out, slamming it close. She watched him cross over to the other side and started to head for the diner. As soon as he had walked out, she had turned on the knob and found it locked, so she started to rummage around the car to find something to either break the handle or the window. A knock on the window had her startling, whipping her head to find Vicious staring at her. He smiled. Her breath hitched.
He unlocked the doors and opened the passenger's door, towering over her when he leaned over, his face hovering dangerously close to hers. She caught a whiff of his cologne and fisted her hands like she was trying to resist punching him and running out of the car, but the chances of him dodging the punch and putting herself into much deeper trouble were high.
"I forgot to mention the danger of stepping out of this car, but if you're in a hurry to meet your maker, who am I to stop you?" He grinned. "Believe me when I say you're better off staying in here than out here."
Nova's jaw dropped before she snarled. It was amusing for him to see the mixed emotions scattered on her face. With another smirk, he shut the door and walked away. The fear of his words was the only thing that kept her glued to her seat.
When he returned to the car, he carried fries, burgers, and two Pepsis. She ignored him, staring out into the window. A bag of fries was thrown into her lap. She looked up at him.
"Eat," he told her, munching on his own fries.
"I don't want anything." She threw it back at him.
Vicious clutched her wrist into his hold and yanked her forward to him as he held her, looking down at her. "Eat something. I doubt you would be able to eat anything later. Two reasons for that. Either you would be six feet under, or it'd be too hard for you to do anything when I kill your partner."
"I don't want to eat anything, Vic." She tried to jerk free, but he kept her close, forcing her to listen.
"Let's try this again. Eat the damn fries." He leaned forward and whispered in her ear. "Slow or quick death for your partner? Eat, and then we can have a different outcome later. The cards are on your table, muneca, but you're not willing to play. What would your partner think if he knew his life is in your hands, but you're not willing to save him?"
Her breath came out in short gasps. He grinned. Before Nova could take another inhale of breath, Vicious moved with lightning speed and stole the breath out of her. He kissed her half-open, trembling lips, forcing his tongue into her mouth. And as if he had to prove something, he pulled his lips away but his mouth still hovered over hers. Nova unconsciously leaned in and pressed their lips together again, whimpering quietly as she begged him to open his mouth to her again.
Vicious gripped her hair and yanked it back to stare into her eyes. A dark shade of anger came over his face before he pushed her back and her body smacked against the door. Without another word or glance, he was driving off again.