SACRIFICE (Book Two: The London Crime King)

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Chapter 8

Liam

Hattie's death saddled me with thought-consuming guilt. Her daughter, Iris, donated keepsakes, furnishings and hoarded memorabilia to charities before the funeral commenced.

I hadn't attended Hattie's funeral service. In lieu, I parked my backside on the windowsill and watched the thunderous downpour dampen the East End with a cold beer in hand.

Bronagh's aggravating pestering tipped the forbearance scale. I contemplated inhabiting elsewhere but knew I'd miss Rex and the gym too much.

One night, while Bronagh ridiculed me through the letterbox, I sat in the bathroom on the cold tiles, head resting on the wall.

Her deriding words repeated inside my head. I appreciated her distraught frustration, but that gratuitous lambasting was uncalled for. I hadn't cheated, disrespected or harmed B. I simply repudiated accepting more than self-worth and a girl, whoever she may be, doesn't get to enter my life and trigger further impairment to my soul—beautiful eyes and smile be damned.

Loud banging roused me from sleep.

On the bed, I rolled over and studied the locked door, anticipating Bronagh's maddening chastisement with a knot in my stomach.

"Warren," a nameless man called, rattling the handle. "I need a score."

I huffed out a tired breath, rubbed the sleep from my eyes. "Give me a minute."

Heaving my naked backside out of bed, I aimlessly scoured the floor, snatched and tugged on a pair of boxer briefs.

I bagged two grams on the kitchen counter, opened the front door and held a palm out. "Pay up."

He's an older male wearing an army patterned bomber jacket and atypical smack-head expression. "You don't even know what I need."

Nobody knocks on a dealers door at five in the morning for marijuana. "Lucky guess." He hands me crumpled-up notes; I exchange with the goods. "Don't be knocking on my door at this time again. If you need anything? Call me."

While exchanging numbers, I see shadows behind the door opposite.

"Nice one, Warren." He fumbles with a bag, descending the stairs. "Oh, one more thing."

I cut my eyes to him. "Go on."

"Do you know where I can get a gun?"

Resting a shoulder to the door frame, I stared him down with scepticism, scratching my bare chest. "No," I lied. I trust no one.

He puffed sweat-slicked bangs from his face. "No sense of direction, huh?"

"Why do you need it?" I noted the resurfacing silhouette by the neighbour's door. "Fuck off, you nosey bint."

The guy looked between me and the door. "Chill, man," he cooed, itching his eyebrow. "She's only young."

I scowled at him. "How the fuck would you know?"

"She popped her head out when I knocked," he clarified, keying cocaine to his nostril. "So, the gun?"

Pondering silence stretched before I relented. "Two days."

His dull, bloodshot eyes brightened. "You'll text?"

"Call," I corrected, stretching my arms above my head. "Now, fuck off."

Nodding, he skirted down the stairs, exiting the building.

I glanced back to the tenants' home, rolled my eyes and slammed the door behind me.

Inside my solacing four walls, I set a vinyl onto the turntable and listened to quiet music while cleaning the bedsit.

Jogging transpired. I belted until sunrise and then demolished fruit punnets and bottled water en-route to the gym.

Rex didn't train me this afternoon, too busy preparing for tonight's boxing match.

Enthralled and eager to get in the ring, I busied myself with chores and even assisted Johnny through workouts.

Nightfall blackened the sphere. Rex's gym evolved into an extraordinarily exciting event. Clamorous music and conversationalists replenished hired seating accommodation, and zealous bettors suffocated the air with thick cigar smoke. Suited men imbibed Irish whiskey. Glamorous women feigned enthusiasm.

I watch Devin box his opponent around the ring. He's an arrogant dick, but he can fight and throw a killer punch.

Uninterested in their exchange, I headed to the locker room, readied with knuckled-tape and low hung training bottoms. In the mirror, I mentally gave myself a pep talk, calmed my irregular breathing, overhead Rex blare accomplishment on the microphone.

During the interlude, Rex stalked me down. "Are ye ready, Warren?"

I sweep a thumb across my eyebrow, ridding sweat. "Yeah."

"Hurry up," he implores, rubbing his hands together. "Don't forget, lad. I placed big money on ye, so ye can't let me down."

Inhale. Exhale. I shadowed him in the gym, ignoring his passionate speech.

My opponent stood in the ring, outstretching his arms, theatrically enticing the crowd.

"Got it?" Rex asked, hand to my shoulder, a comforting gesture.

I nod, dipping under the ropes, eyeing the lad with haughty disdain. Rex is right. I am repugnantly narcissistic, commonly boastful and exasperatedly conceited. It's how I sustained loveless neglect, disappointment and distress. It's how I plan to defeat this tool and future foes.

The buzzer tore me from thoughts, but unruffled composure steadied my stance. 'Don't get cocky,' Rex had told me. 'Eye one prize, Warren. Let the enemies flaw themselves,' he'd harp on, 'and remember; calm and collected.'

Breaking into a sequence, the freakishly tall and muscular lad, began to circle me, fists guarding his head.

The audience rooted their favourite boxer, drenching him with supportive glee. He broke first, swinging combinations, left hook, uppercut, right jab.

I dodged his attack, almost landed one to his ribs, but held back, securing my breathing.

By round three, I'd mastered his technique.

He threw a left hook; I evaded.

He powered through an uppercut; I bounced back.

He swung a right jab; I clipped him straight across the jaw.

Loud protests raised the roof. Angst and concerned by my contender's tiredness, gambling spectators stood, yelling profanity or encouraging jargon.

I'd angered him. He growled, lost poise and, in a hot-tempered state, blasted me with premeditated combinations.

I burst out laughing, escaping his whooshing punches. I had him—I knew I had him, and still let him make a mockery out of himself. I waited until sweat clung to his flushed flesh before swinging a right hook across his jaw. His head whipped to the side, body colliding to the floor, unconscious.

Curiosity and upheaval radiated from the stands. I didn't hang around for victory. I used the back of my hand to dab perspiration from my forehead, plummeted under the ropes and drowned out Rex's stentorian merriment echoing into the changing room.

"Warren," Rex yells three hours later, gesturing for me to enter his office. "Come to me, lad."

Previously, I stayed away from commotion until it quietened and unidentifiable spectators fled from the building. When It was safe to return, I assembled cleaning equipment and tidied the aftermath.

"What?" I asked, lingering in his doorway. "I'm tired, Rex."

"Ye did well tonight."

I felt a sliver of pride. "Thanks, Rex."

Opening his desk drawer, he brandished cash, tossed it before me. "For ye."

I didn't need the money. "No." I folded my arms. "Keep the money, Rex. We need new equipment."

"Ye earned it," he insists, but I shook my head. "Surely, ye need the cash, lad? How do ye survive with no income?"

I mustered a flat smile. "Quit worrying about me." I am made for life. "As I said, buy some equipment."

Confused and inquisitive, he cleaved his tongue to the roof of his mouth, swept the notes back into his drawer. "I got ye a gift—and don't roll those fuckin' eyes at me," he warns, carefully setting a small, leather jewellery box onto the desk. "I knew ye were gonna win, so prepared for ye conquest."

My eyebrows cinched. I stopped before him, opened the box. On a velvet-padded bed, a white gold military-style chain sparkled beneath aloft lights. I pinched the long chain to read the tag engraving—Liam Warren. "Why did you get this for me?"

Something indescribable dimmed his eyes. "Ye know, Warren," he whispered, flinging his cap onto the chair, "I might be gettin' old, but I am no fool."

I put the chain over my neck.

"I've lived on the East Ends since I was a whippersnapper," he continues, rounding his desk. "I left Ireland by Ferry with my Ma to start afresh. I grew up on these streets, outlived most..." He dawdled off into space, lost in reflective thought. "Anyway, I got a reputation by the time I reached sixteen—much like yourself."

"Where are you going with this, Rex?"

"I like ye, lad," he admits, squeezing my shoulder. "I am not gonna tell ye how to live or lay the law on ye. It's not my job to do so, but I am worried about ye." He fixed my twisted chain. "I have been hearin' some illicit rumours."

The muscle in my jaw popped. "You shouldn't believe anything unless witnessing with your own eyes."

"True," he agrees, smiling grimly at me. "Ye really are stubborn, lad." Gently patting my chest, he ebbed away from me, igniting his pipe. "Oh, well. I'll leave ye with this." He slipped on his reading glasses. "Start ye army, Warren. Ye gonna need it."

I laid awake that night, listening to strong winds outside with my trainer's subtle foreshadowing in mind.

At four in the morning, I showered, pulled on loose pants and conveyed recycling outside. I passed Hattie's door, returned with a garden flower, stationed it on the worn welcome mat and added her death to my list of blunders.

Before unlocking my front door, I heard a creak from my neighbours. Blowing out an angered sigh, I marched across the hall, beat my fist against the door. It swung open— "What the fuck is your problem?" I barked, coming face-to-face with round blue eyes. Fuck. That smack rat was right. She's only young, not much older than me. "You're always watching me. Why?"

She knotted her silk robe, tucking blonde tendrils behind her ears. "Insomnia," she breathes, cheeks darker than crimson.

I brazenly lowered my eyes to her chest, admiring her ample assets. "Since when did habitual sleeplessness give you the right to pry on neighbours?"

"I'm sorry," she said genuinely, the dark circles around her eyes corresponded to her reasoning. "You don't sleep much, either. Sorry, I word vomit when under pressure."

I am hardly upbraiding her. "What's that smell?" I mused, inhaling aroma-filled cooked meats. "Are you cooking? At this time in the morning?"

Giggling, she threw a thumb over her shoulder. "Bacon sarnies." She chewed her lower lip. "Do you want one?"

"Yeah," I said, brushing past her. "I could eat."

My nosey neighbour was a twenty-five years old sales cashier named Laura. She made a mean bacon sandwich and lived in a typical feminine infested home with shabby-chic furnishings. Her impressive book collection gained my attention—that, or the double-bed and faux fur cushions.

"Fuck," I groaned, hands welded to her hips. "Ah, shit."

Laura bounced up, and down my shaft, hands positioned to my chest. "Liam," she moaned, fisting my hair, devouring my mouth with fervent kisses. "Oh."

Christ, I thought Bronagh was insatiable, but Laura is something else. I could barely breathe.

Rolling her hips into a steady rhythm, she clenched herself around me, moaning through her orgasm. I almost protested and enunciated the fact I hadn't hit my peak—until her head descended my body, nestling between my thighs. "Shit," I breathed, clutching the back of her head. Okay, B mastered blowjobs, so Laura's skill had taken time. I came, nonetheless.

Laura collapsed by my side, hand smoothing over my chest. "Well, that was certainly unexpected."

I came down from my high and had a sudden urge to leave. "I got work," I lied, climbing off the bed, discarding the condom.

She propped up onto two elbows, watching me tug on jogging bottoms. "Can I cook for you later?"

"I'll call you," I yelled over my shoulder, closing the front door behind me.

I had no intentions of seeing her again.

Bronagh seldom knocks on the door anymore. Only when drunk and horny, apparently. I guess that's progress, considering how long it's been since our break up--not.

"Warren!" Rex seized the back of my neck, yelling his exhilaration in my ear. He elevated my arm heavenward, fingers pinching my wrist. "Ye are fuckin' legend, lad."

I haven't lost a fight. I am no longer an unknown opponent. Now, I am the undefeated fighter who guarantees victory. People travel to watch me fight. Men place big bets and offer me tickets out of the East End. I am bigger, stronger than before...then why do I feel lonely, bored, unenthusiastic, unsatisfied and hopeless?

I don't sell weed anymore; I stock cocaine, crack and heroin.

I don't deal from my front door; I pay errand boys to supply on demand.

I don't stockpile revolvers; I distribute Berettas, Hecklers and Glocks.

"Celebrate tonight," Rex encourages, handing me a towel. "Ye head out the door or hide before champers."

"Sure." I left Rex in the ring, retreated to the showers.

Changed into a black tracksuit and brand-new trainers, I wade through energetic throngs, searching for a familiar face. I halt beside the booze station, ponder beer or cider.

"This one, " a husky, feminine voice purred, confident with her selection.

I stare at the scarlet red fingernail, tapping a Jameson bottle. "I'm not much of a whiskey drinker."

"It's a favourite," she chimes, holding out a crystal glass filled with amber liquid. "Taste."

I accepted her offering, sipped its distilled, smoky flavour. "It's not bad." I might be seventeen, but I appreciate a mature woman. There's something about their confident strides and curvaceous bodies. Unlike the girls my age, the women who prowl Rex's Gym uphold flawlessness under the influence of alcohol and act accordingly when holding a conversation.

"What's your name?" she asked, putting her back to the table.

"Warren," I respond, thanking her for the top-up Jameson glass. "And you are?"

"Julie." Her kittenish smile was a deal-breaker. "I watched your fight," she purred in my ear, those glossed talons tickling the back of my neck. "Fancy getting out of here."

I am a warm-blooded male. Fucking sue me.

The second I opened my front door, Julie pounced on me. I stumbled, half-heartedly discarded my clothes and fell across the bed.

Wearing all-black lace, Julie straddled my waist. Blonde hair fanned across my chest as she kissed her way south. She licked the underside of my shaft, and a strangled moan fell from my lips. "Fucking hell." I tangled my fingers through her hair, watched her suck me to the back of her throat. "Christ."

Okay, it's wrong to compare others when in bed with another woman, but Julie wins—hands down. "Are you going to come for me, big guy?"

Yeah, I pretty much shot my load in seconds.

Julie taught me the tricks-of-the-trade. For three weeks, she parked her mustang outside the building at three o'clock in the morning, joined my bed and fucked me senseless. Between intervals, she'd teach me restraint and how to pleasure women. "You don't need to come straight away," she explained, stroking my manhood. "Learn to control it, Liam. Sex isn't just about the end-game. Besides," she smiled at me, kissing my jawline, "painstaking euphoria is worth the end result."

"Shut up," I playfully scolded, slapping her hand away. "You're too bossy, Ju."

Chuckling huskily, she fell onto her back, moaning her appreciation as I sneaked above her. "God, I wish I were younger, Warren."

Julie's forty-one. She is also a married woman with three kids. "Why?" I whispered, nibbling around her diamond stud.

"You're a fantasy," she explained, raking her fingernails down my back. "You make me feel young again."

"You're not that old," I assured, seeking her mouth for a kiss. "I'd do you." I thrust inside her wetness, groaned into the nook of her neck. "I could live inside you."

Julie fucked me twice before that burdensome phone pinged, a message from the husband.

Dressed in heels and a figure-hugging black dress, Jules smoked a joint with me, apologised for leaving and promised to make it up to me next week.

I liked Julie. Uncomplicated sans expectations, she visited my bed frequently, offered friendship and companionship without needless drama.

Laura's accustomed to my lifestyle and pretends it doesn't bother her. I know she's lying, but when Julie ventures overseas with her asshole husband, I fall into the vicious cycle of crawling into my neighbour's bed.

Each time we sleep together, she promises not to demand more from me. And then it's time for me to leave and she cries for more.

"She's almost twice your age," she shrieked, following me around her bedsit. "You said that she's married."

"Me not being with you has nothing to do with Julie," I fired back, sinking on the sofa to put on my trainers. "I don't want a girlfriend, Laura. End of."

Her woeful eyes held mine. "Then, why do you keep coming back?"

I get lonely. "You're a decent fuck."

Growling under her breath, she picked up a paperback and lunged it at me. "It's over," she screamed, storming toward the front door. "I am not doing this anymore, Liam. Find some other poor bitch to fuck."

I stormed in her direction, and she flinched. "Why did you jump?" At my angered tone, she shrank against the wall. "Fuck's sake, Laura. You're acting as though I beat you."

"You're intimidating," she sobbed, smearing mascara over her cheek as hot tears emerged. "Where are you going?" Following me across the hall, she snatched my hoodie in tight fists. "Liam, please—"

"I'm going to bed," I retort, thrusting a hand through my hair. "Get inside, Laura."

"Let me stay with you," she asked, hope ablaze in her almond-shaped eyes. "Please, Liam."

I didn't want her in my private space. "No."

"Oh, but it's okay for that perverted cougar to sleep in your bed!"

"Don't call her that," I seethed, shoving her away from me. "You don't even know her."

"What she's doing with you is wrong, Liam," she passionately stresses, flinging matted hair from her face.

"You fucked me when I was seventeen," I cruelly reminded her, and she parted her lips in sheer dread. "If anyone pried on me? It was you."

Laura relocated to a different tenanted-building a week later.

I am glad her tempting ass moved on.

Bronagh no longer hammers those closed fists against my door--real progress.

Rex gave me the week off. Thus far, I have hated every second of it. Half-cut from my newfangled whiskey approval, I stretched across my bed, counting money, tallying sums and pondering possibilities.

My phone buzzed, and Julie's name flashed on the screen.

"Hey," I answered, joint balanced between my lips. "How's the trip?" Julie texted last week, mentioned a Spain holiday and sexy bikinis.

She snivelled down the phone. "He knows," she whispered, and I paused mid-count. "He knows I had an affair."

Had, I thought, respiring smoke. "Is it safe to call me, then?" I half-joke, swallowing dryness. "What do you want me to say, Ju?"

Muteness hindered our call before she asked, "Are we possible, Liam? If I left him..." Her hesitancy confirmed her unassured proposal. "Liam—"

"No," I interject, tossing notes aside. "Don't leave your husband, Ju. I am not worth it."

"I think you might be."

I pinched the bridge of my nose, concluding the right approach. "I am not interested in a relationship, Ju," I said, praying she doesn't freak out on the phone. "So, when I say that I am not worth it? Believe it. I am not safe nor guaranteed. If I see a bird, I like next week? I'll move on. You got too much to lose—too much to consider: husband, kids, job, friends and reputation." Her muffled whimper tugged on my heart-strings. "Hey, if it's any consolation, I think you're pretty fucking amazing, and I'm kinda missing you already."

I envisioned her amused smile. "You were always the perfect fantasy."

"I'm glad you approve," I tease, perching my backside onto the windowsill. "Maybe the next life, huh?"

She sighed into the receiver. "Take care of yourself, Liam."

Pursing my lips, I ended the call, chucked the phone on my bed. Numbness invaded my body. I didn't love Julie. Fuck. At this point in my life, I doubt such sentiments exist. I liked her, though. For an older woman, she wasn't so bad.

My phone beeped with a text message.

I spurned answering it.

Tucking my keys and wallet in my jogging pants, I stuffed my Glock in the waistband of my trousers, pulled on a beanie hat and sprinted away from my troubles.

Depressing skies befell upon the dark horizon, and warm showered sporadically cooled my heated skin. I blew out calming breaths, powering through unbreakable sprints, gravitating to Rex's Gym. My curled-up fists ached from clenching so hard. Beating that heavy punching bag is a therapeutic option.

I opened the door, ascended the stairs, overheard a muffled conversation.

"Aye, hold yer horses. I need two weeks," Rex bartered, and I stopped to listen. "Ye—agh, shite." A loud thump reiterated, and every hair on my body stood to attention. "Please, I—" Another thud resounded. "I beg ye."

"You had two months," someone enunciated, and Rex howled. "You Irish cunt."

Heart thunderously oscillating in my chest, I put my foot onto the next step, blood shrieking in my ears. I peeked through the open doorway, assessing the situation: six unapproachable looking men surround Rex's frail, bloodied body. The shorter yet stockier male sports designer attire. His loyal subjects chortle at their boss' unsympathetic deriding and punctured syllable.

I gallanted one step, and the floorboard creaked, attracting seven pairs of condemning eyes.

Rex tried to sit up. "Get out of here," he scolds, the pain in his side causing him to wince. "Go on, lad. Fuck off. I don't even bastard like ye," he lies, spitting saliva and blood onto the blue mat. "Now!"

"Not so fast." Bald and dominating averted his attention to me. "Who..." He cocked a gun, aiming toward my head, "the fuck are you?"

Positioned on all fours, Rex pleaded with me to run.

"What did he do?" I asked, vibrating in escalating rage.

"He owes us money," another said, smoking a cigarette. "You gonna pay up, kid?"

I am not paying these asswipes a cent. "No. It's not my fucking debt."

"Interesting," the boss chimed, and his minions chortled. "What's your name?"

Inhale. Exhale. "Liam," I reached for my Glock with surreptitious aptitude. "Warren."

"Warren," he drawled, marvelling at my physique. "You might be a great asset to the boss."

Okay, I pegged the situation wrong; they work for someone else. "Yeah," I said, ignoring Rex's muffled pleas. "I'm definitely adaptive." I abruptly aimed the Glock at his face. "And I'm fucking deceptive." I pulled the trigger, releasing a single bullet from the chamber, the ringing sound piercing my eardrums.

Before the others conceptualised the unexpected turn of events, I whipped aim, uncaged bullet. In adrenaline imbued slow-motion, I watched them groan and drop like boneless contortionists.

Aquiver with stomach-turning epinephrine, I stepped over one dead body, levelled the gun on a whimper guy's face and snatched his final breath. Blood pooled beneath their slumped bodies. Two held a hand to their wounds while simultaneously reaching for their guns. They'd die eventually, but I wanted to ensure their demise. I shot them at close range, caught Rex crawling toward the wall, generating safe distance between us.

"Liam," he whispered, and I knew he was disappointed by the way he addressed me. "What have ye done?"

I couldn't look at him. "They were going to kill you."

"Why do ye possess a gun? Ye are just eighteen years old," he barked, dragging himself into a firm stance. "Ye got yer whole life ahead of ye, Warren! Ye fucked it all up, huh? Comin' in here all brassy and—fuck." Snatching a handful of hair, he tugged at his roots. "I'll take the heat—tell them I did it."

"No, you won't," I said in a calm voice. "Those were my murders."

His jaw slackened. "Are ye out of ye goddamn mind!" I stepped closer, and he wilted on the spot. "Stay back!"

I lowered the gun to the floor. "Rex, I'd never hurt you."

"Shite," he breathed, lips trembling in aftermath shock. "I know, lad. I'm just a little shaken is all."

Adapted abandonment and condemnation sprouted against old, rooted reservations. I glanced around the gym, knowing it'd be the last time with a sad smile on my face. "How much do you owe him?"

Humiliation moulded his morose expression. "Fifty Grand. And I'll pay it..." He flickered his eyes over the dead bodies. "I don't know how to explain those, though." Collapsing on a metal chair, he placed a hand on his chest, inwardly soothing his flustered heart. "I don't know what to do."

I squatted beside one male, frisked his pockets. Opening his wallet, I thumbed through business cards, instincts highlighting the green and gold emblem. "Jerry's bar?"

Rex levelled me with a sidelong glance. "Jerry's the big boss," he substantiates unspoken ambiguities, nerves suffocating his erratic breathing. "Ye need to leave the East End, lad. Keep yer head down and stay safe. I can deal with them."

I nodded, blinking damp from my eyes. "What about the bodies?"

"I'll rid them," he said, chewing his thumbnail. "Don't ye be worryin' about me, Warren Get out of here." He shoved my shoulder, flapping a hand to the door. "Go, lad. Move on." His voice broke, redness brimming his eyes. "Go on."

I clenched and unclenched my jaw. "Fucking hell." Wrapping an arm around his neck, I lingered a kiss atop his head, not wanting to let go.

He fisted my hoodie, muffling sobs against my chest. "Go," he rasped, but I didn't release him. "Don't make this harder for me, lad."

Dislodging the lump in my throat, I dipped my head, kissed his bruised cheek and staggered out the building.

Back at the bedsit, I rushed to pack my two holdalls, carefully placed the turntable at the bottom, stuffed drugs, jewellery and money inside spare shoes.

I'd leave tomorrow night, after dealing with a few loose ends. Yeah, I had to finish what I started.

Zipping up the bags, I set them near the table, sat on the chair and made a deck on the table. Shaping and rolling my joint, I balanced the roach between my lips, lit the end and inhaled well-needed detachment.

Recalling the message on my phone, I picked it up and read.

Unknown number: Hey.

Blowing out a slew of smoke, I hovered a thumb over the delete button.

Me: You changed your number?

Unknown number: New phone.

Unknown number: I am not hounding you, Liam. I was thinking about you, and, well, I wanted to know if you were okay.

I saved her as a contact.

Me: Where are you?

B: Home.

Collecting my bags, balancing the straps on my shoulders, I locked my front door, stuffed the keys in my pockets and walked ahead.

Me: Rex told me you were in the Bahamas with Conor.

Three minutes passed before her response.

B: Yeah, I soaked up the sun. It's a beautiful place.

Me: Tan?

B: I wish. I burnt like a crisp and blistered.

Me: Still lily-white then?

B: Har! Har! You're no better, Milky Kid!

I snorted, letting haze roll around the back of my throat.

Me: You with him?

B: What?

Me: Your dickhead boyfriend. Is he there now?

Another two minutes.

B: Why?

I pushed past her garden gate.

Me: What about your mother?

B: Did you just walk up the driveway?

I rapt my knuckles on her front door.

B: Liam! You cannot be serious!

Me: Open the door, B.

Bronagh unlocks the door, glaring at me beneath furrowed eyebrows. "What if my mother was home?"

I rudely entered, dropping my bags in the foyer. "You were on holiday," I whispered, positioning my hands to the wall beside her head. "It was fun until Conor pissed you off, right?"

She narrowed her eyes. "My granddad is such a blabbermouth."

I gave her a wolfish smirk. "Your mother blamed you—said you couldn't handle your alcohol." I untied her robe, parting the silk material. Fuck. Why does she wear something so sexy to bed? White lace adorns her flawless body. "She stuck up for dickhead, so you took the first flight home."

"I shouldn't have texted you," she breathed, allowing my hand to smooth over her curved waistline. "What's with the bags?"

I moved back, eliminated my hoodie and T-shirt.

Bronagh admired my chest, fingers tugging the waistband of my trousers. "You're leaving." I stepped out of my bottoms. Everything else followed suit. "I don't know how I feel about that."

I lowered to one knee, curled my fingers around her thong, pulling down to reveal her timed pussy.

"Liam," she whispered, fisting my hair, "please don't leave."

Parting her lips with my thumbs, I swipe my tongue through her cleft, avoiding the spot I know she craves. I got time to kill, so I ravish Bronagh with deliberate strokes, teasing her throbbing heat. It's been too long since we touched, but I'll never forget what she appreciates. I suckled on her clit, earning myself a guttural mewl. "Like that?" I husked, devouring, smearing her arousal on my lips. "B?"

Her trembling legs buckled at the knees. I snatched the backs of her thighs, forcing her to stand. "I'll come," she cries, spine arching off the wall. "Liam."

Bronagh's sensitive, so I taunted her with further swipes, loving those protesting sounds she makes.

Bearing a cocky grin, I rose to full height, opened my mouth to fire a witty comment—and her lips slanted across mine. "Fuck," I groaned, back colliding with the wall, capturing her in my arms. "B."

Arms enveloping around my neck, she coerced me toward the sofa, hauling me atop her. I fit perfectly between her slackened thighs, cock hanging heavily between us. "Let me fuck you," I growled, dragging her earlobe between gritted teeth.

Unclasping her bra, she flung it over the sofa, wrapping her legs around my waist. "Take your time," she pleads, peppering kisses all over my face. "Don't rush, Liam."

"We got all night," I reassured her, bracing one hand above her head, slamming my hips forward. "Fucking hell." I buried deep, eased back to thrust again. "I need to fuck, B."

Mouth parting on a hollow moan, she dug the heels of her feet onto my backside, silently encouraging.

I didn't care for the longing look in her misleading eyes or the whispered sentiments she repeated in my ear. I needed hard, fast, uncaring sex—the type of sex where you lose yourself and forget.

"Oh, shite," she purred, clinging to my body as I pummelled into her. "Oh, Liam. I missed this so much—missed you."

I sank my teeth in her neck, adding pain, pressure, enough to silence her.

Bronagh came twice before I mustered enough strength to reach the finish line.

I should have left.

I should have checked into a hotel.

"Ride me." Helping her mount my cock, I slapped her ass, sat back and admired those bouncing tits as she fucked me into submission. "Harder, B."

Hand to my shoulders, she rolled her hips, bounced up and down my length, ass cheeks slapping against my thighs.

"Fuck, yes." Cupping her breasts, I pinched her nipples, matched her thrust for thrust. "Don't stop; I'm close."

Three hours subsequent to hot living room sex, I crawled over her breathless body, hands fisting her pink bedsheets, hips pressed to hers. It didn't matter how many times I overcame exuberance; I craved more.

She bared her pale body to me. Swollen, red predatorial marks bruised her neck, shoulders, stomach, back and inner thighs. Yeah, I'm a dick. I know Conor disembarks tomorrow, so I left my stamp all over his girl.

"Oh, Jesus," she cries, fingernails piercing my back as she comes, milking my aching cock. "Liam."

I eased out of her, slumped onto the mattress, face meshing into the pillow. "I am fucked."

She dazedly nods her head. Vibrant red hair fanned across the sheets. "Do ye want a drink?"

"No." Naked and soaked in sweat, I leave the bedroom, grab a joint and a lighter from my trouser pocket and return to her side. "Want some?"

"Please." Propping onto an elbow, she watched me inhale, waiting her turn. "Did ye miss me, Liam?"

"Don't ruin it," I said harshly, passing her the goods. "I'm leaving the East End, B." Her teary eyes diverted to the window to watch rain splatter. "I'm not coming back."

A tear rolled down her cheek. "Can we stay in touch?"

"Sure," I lied, kissing the column of her neck. "Fuck. I'm hard again."

"Ye incorrigible," she teased, blowing smoke toward the ceiling. "Do I want to know where the stamina amounted from?"

Julie, I thought, adjusting my chain. "No."

"Did ye sleep around?"

"Did you fuck Conor?"

"Fair enough," she quips, pressing a kiss to my shoulder. She held out the joint, and I shook my head. "Want me to ride ye again?"

I smirked, stretching out on the bed. "Let's get some sleep first."

I waited for Bronagh to relax beside me. In no time, breathing evened out, curled up on her side. Being careful not to disturb her, I soared from the bed, gathered my clothes and changed in the living room.

Unzipping one bag, I fossick through scattered contents, found bullets, slipped them in the chamber, equipped myself and discarded my phone.

Once more, with the clothes on my back and an extra bag, I ambled the streets with the morning sun as my witness, armed and ready for mass destruction.

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