~I’m caught up when you look at me, you let my heart breathe with ease. Chasing stars in our galaxy, making our own make-believe. I want you when the sun goes low, your body warmth wants me close. You say you’re always by my side ’til my blood runs dry~ GLADES.
Chapter Theme Song: ‘Drive’ by GLADES.
I spoke with Riley’s mom, requesting that she stays with me at Crossview for a while until everything dies down. Freetown is not safe for her and although Ron Moretto said that he will be back after a month I still cannot trust him nor Kendra.
Alex loads Riley’s bag into the backseat of his car then we jump in. He turns his radio on but does not blast the volume as we begin our journey out of the hospital grounds.
I gaze out the window at the towering buildings. The wind is cool and brisk, and the yellow yolk of the sun drips its rays throughout the car. My thoughts are currently occupied with the discussion I had with Ron Moretto.
What did he mean by Ansel being the scariest of them all?
I still have not gotten the chance to talk to Ansel about the words that drug lord uttered yesterday; they are still fresh in my mind, roaming around in my thoughts. It seems he is familiar with Lea and I cannot help but wonder what went down between her and Ansel. Why did he and Alex say that she had betrayed him and how is she acquainted with Ron Moretto? There are just too many questions; I feel like I am stuck in a maze just thinking about them.
My eyes travel to Ansel through the side mirror as he nibbles his lower lip. He is staring out the window of the front seat and as if sensing my gaze his eyes shift to mine in an instant. I look away, shoving my hands in the pockets of my hoodie as I gaze at the passing trees. His eyes do odd things to my stomach. There is no way someone with such captivating orbs would be ‘scary’ as Ron Moretto said. Yes, he did mercilessly slice a man’s abdomen but to be honest he deserved it. I cannot judge him when I cracked a girl’s skull open myself.
It is not the opportune time, but I find myself blushing at the memory of us lying in bed the other night. The look we shared was deep. His eyes were like a whole new world with different dimensions; I could get lost in them and never have the desire to find my way out.
Just one last look at his eyes. One last.
Thinking that he has probably stopped looking, I steal a glance at him but swiftly turn my face away as I realize he is still staring at me.
He smiles softly to himself before glancing at Alex. “Is Alaric home?”
“Yeah, he and the twins. Mom and Dad are at Grandma’s for the weekend.”
“Oh my God, turn the volume up!” Riley jolts to the edge of her seat. “I love this song!”
Alex glances at her in amusement. "Birthday Sex?"
She shrugs. “Yeah, what? I like the rhythm.”
He folds his lips, his dimples popping in his cheeks while she squints her eyes at him. “What?"
“Nothing…nothing at all.” He grins openly then raises the volume as the single Birthday Sex by Jeremih booms through the car. This is indeed one of Riley’s favorite songs even though she has never engaged in such acts. She likes the rhythm and the flow of it. Seeing her bobbing her head and attempting to dance set my soul at ease. My spirit brightens at the fact that she is back to normal. Though she has a small wound on her forehead it is not noticeable and can easily be hidden with her dark hair.
“Riley.” Alex makes a swift turn as she slides to the edge of her seat, her small arms perched upon his headrest.
“When’s your birthday?” He asks above the music. Ansel glances at his brother with a knowing grin which he conceals with a hand as he looks out his window.
“August. Why?” She wrinkles her forehead as Alex smirks mischievously. “Nothing…just thinking about what to give to you.”
He and Ansel look at each other with a coded grin, earning exchanged glances of ignorance from me and Riley.
That look meant something.
Realization dawns on us at approximately the same time and my mouth falls open as Riley’s face tinges pink. She apprehensively punches Alex in his side, and he clutches the spot laughing while he tries to keep his focus on the road.
“Shit, Riley. How do you punch so hard for a girl your size?”
“You deserve it, you are so smutty, Alex!” She frowns nervously, flumping back against the seat with a red face.
He laughs. “You’re the one who likes Birthday Sex. What exactly did I do?”
I chuckle at my blushing friend who is pushing her hair back and gazing out the window as Alex and Ansel laugh their faces off. Riley may appear rugged but talks about ‘sex’ still makes her blush like crazy.
“It’s okay, Ry. You know how annoying Alex is.” Ansel gazes at her with a smile, and she frowns, fighting off one. “You were laughing too, Ansel.”
“Yeah but I didn’t mean anything by it, you know I am not for teasing.”
“Hey, Riley. If you like Birthday Sex, you like Birthday Sex, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I won’t judge your fetish.” Alex shrugs amusingly and Riley rolls her eyes, smiling softly while she peers out her window.
He smiles at her through his top mirror as he turns onto an avenue. Their avenue.
I glance around as I realize they passed my stop. “You forgot to let us off.”
“Yeah, where are you guys going?” Riley queries.
“Actually…there is something you girls must know.” Alex’s tone is suddenly low as he regards us through his rearview mirror.
“What must we know?” I narrow my eyes, as Riley and I look between the boys.
“You want to tell them Ansel?” He requests, an ominous look on his features. It makes us uneasy as we wait for answers.
Ansel sighs. “We are not who you girls think we are. There is something that you guys don’t know about us.”
“What’s that?” I skeptically ask. I glance at him through his side mirror and his expression is oddly grim.
Alex turns into their yard to park his car. The sun is setting down the horizon, and their house is dark with no sign of anyone around. Though the lighting in the car is dim we easily sight when the brothers look at each other with dark gazes, both not uttering a word.
“What the hell, you guys are scaring the shit out of me.” Riley juts her lips with a sulk.
“Yeah, seriously. Why are two being so weird?”
Ansel shifts in his seat to gaze at us. His expression is unsmiling and uncomical and it almost gives me chills. “We are not as good as we appear. And the reason we brought you both here tonight is… to kill you and sell your organs.”
Riley cracks up in laughter and I stifle a chortle of my own as she flumps against the seat, her chest vibrating at each gut-delving guffaw. When Riley is laughing her whole face is normally a lot funnier than the joke itself. It is always covered in tears and she becomes extremely red to the point that you fear she may pass out. Seeing her like this I cannot help but laugh as well. The whole car is now rocking with our unmuffled sniggering.
“Oh my God, if this is what I get for being hospitalized for days then I want to be hospitalized again. This is hilarious.” She pats her stomach as tears spring from her eyes. The boys however are staring at us straight-faced.
“You both got me there; I was this close to believing.” Riley pinches her index and thumb together as she gets the last of her laughter out. The brothers say nothing else as they emerge from the car. We watch them as they get around to our side, their stern countenances genuinely starting to creep us out.
Ansel grips my arm and pulls me from the vehicle as I glance at him in wonderment.
“This is seriously not a joke, Rain,” he says, pressing me against the car. The evening wind flurries my hair around as I stare at him, flabbergasted. “I am sorry I deceived you all along…but I hope you can forgive me someday.”
My brows knit together at his words. What is he saying? His gaze is dangerously scary, and I lower my eyes to the ground as I think back to what Ron Moretto said.
You see, he is the scariest of those brothers. I mean they all have that little cute smile and mysterious eyes…but what makes Ansel the scariest is: he knows how to convince someone that he is a good guy. He is like a candy…all sugar-coated and sweet…but what it gives is cavities and diabetes. You think you know those brothers but trust me…you have no idea who they are.
“You shouldn’t trust everyone, Rain.” Ansel continues. I pull my eyes from the pavement and back to his. His tone is icy and flat, and his gaze is wolfish. Fear stirs within me as I struggle to find my voice.
“W-what do you mean by that, Ansel?”
“Move toward the house with both your hands in the air and don’t you dare look back or you’re dead,” Alex orders Riley, who by now has stopped laughing and is looking at him in bewilderment. He grasps her arm and Ansel does the same with mine as they begin to pull us in the direction of their doorsteps.
Okay, what is going on?
“What is this?” Riley tries. “Are you two on drugs?"
“Don’t talk. It won’t be good for you.” Alex warns as they haul us up the steps. I try to catch sight of Ansel’s face, but it is much too dark now since the sun has finally taken its leave at relatively bad timing. However, despite the sudden change in demeanor his grasp on my arm still comes off as gentle. He pushes the door open and they nudge us inside the darkroom. We can barely see anything as we stand still, glancing around for any sign of light.
I do not know what the hell is going on.
“Seriously, I have night blindness!” Riley hisses. “What the fucking hell is wrong with you two—”
The light instantly switches on, cutting Riley off as the whole room beams up with a chorus of voices: “Congratulations on your discharge Riley!”
A sprinkle of confetti showers down on us and I gasp, my eyes widening as I take in the room of smiling people. Riley is as equally speechless; her jaws slackening in astonishment while she regards the gratifying setting. A large congratulations sign is hanging on the wall in front of us and the room is beautifully decorated with balloons and colorful drapes.
I feel an inkling of joy. The King boys secretly prepared a party for her. The notion is so sweet that my lips spread in a genuine smile as happiness expands inside me.
“Oh…God…” Riley breathes out. She blinks her eyes to avoid crying in front of all these people. There are a few unfamiliar faces; probably friends and associates of the brothers.
“I am sorry if I scared you.” Ansel leans down to my ear, his soft voice caressing my eardrum. I lift my face to smile at him. That was nerve-wracking but at the same time it was the sweetest thing someone has ever done in all my seventeen years of living.
“Now time for me to cut your organs out!” Alex teases Riley, lifting her bridal style in his arms and planting a quick kiss on her forehead. Her face heats up as she peers up at him, the light in the room showcasing the tears that sparkle in her eyes.
“Thank you.” She smiles and he nods, his lips tilting upwards.
“Riley, ‘baby-knuckles’ does not have the relevant strength to hold you like that. He will drop you and you’ll become cripple for life; I wouldn’t let him have me like that if I were you.” Aiden jeers as he, Arden, and Alaric trod down to us laughing.
Alex deadpans his brother, narrowing his eyes to slits before letting Riley down as she smiles at Aiden. “Thanks guys. I appreciate you doing this for me.”
Arden ruffles her hair and leans down to her height. “Glad you’re fine, soldier. I know you are not one to get defeated easily.”
Riley smiles at him. “Thanks, Arden.”
Alex looks between them both then clears his throat, subtly tugging Riley away from his charming brother.
“By the way, how did they trick you two into coming here?” Alaric ponders, shoving his hands in his pockets.
“Well, we told them we kill people and sell their organs.” Ansel laughs.
“Which…” Riley raises a finger quickly. “Which I didn’t believe because Alex is quite a sloppy actor. He wanted to laugh the whole time.”
Everyone chuckles as Alex gapes. “I did not; I kept my poker face on. I successfully scared the living crap out of you Riley, you should have seen your face.”
She twists her lips, trying not to smile. “Don’t lie, Alex.”
“You know I’m not, admit it. I scared you, didn’t I? You almost started to beg me. Please, Alex. Let me go Alex." His gaze is coy as he salivates his lips, wrapping an arm around her. She wriggles away from him with blushing cheeks as Alaric smiles, beckoning to a few guys by the stereo station.
“Give us some music!”