***POV - Melaena
I start reading the card:
’This is a type of treasure hunt, just for you. Read the cards, listen to the songs, and relive the memories – good and bad. Maybe you’ll understand how I feel about you at the end.
First, you have to go back to the place where I first saw you but also almost lost you. We’ve both lost part of ourselves there, but it’s also the place where I realized that you are to me. I’ll never want to live without you. You are my angel … everything I want and I’ll die for you in a heartbeat.’
Tears build up in my eyes and slip down my cheeks again, but I don’t even bother to wipe them away. Alejandro grabs my arms and pulls me up as if I’m a delicate snowflake. He brushes the tears from my face with his thumb, his blue eyes full of love, giving me strength.
So this is what Damion meant with his message – it’s a treasure hunt and I suppose he’s the freaking treasure. Cocky bastard.
“I don’t know what you did to my brother, ’cause it seems that he lost his balls judging to this effeminate behavior, but fuck, what do I know? It’s not as if I’ve experienced a love like yours before.” His head angles to the side and he wipes the last tear from my cheek, a softness lingering in those ice-blue eyes.
“I believe, one day you’re going to fall even harder than him,” I tease him.
“So, where are we heading, little sister?”
I take a last look at the tombstone and give a little smile – Xander Blackburn, loving father, husband, and hero – written on the one side – Miranda Blackburn, loving mother, wife, and angel – written on the other side. And at the bottom in big curly letters – Together again!
According to my brothers, dad died with a huge smile on his face, peacefully. I’ve wondered over the weeks if it was because I told him I forgave him … or maybe about my pregnancy. Whatever it was … I’m just glad he died happily even in that circumstances.
I may not have peace in my heart, yet, but I know I’ll get there. I’ll get there with the help of my demonic angel, and the rest of my loving family, those that are blood-related … I look at Ale … and those that are not.
“The haunted house.” I know what Damion’s trying to do, he wants me to face my fears … my losses … and the only way is to face the place where it all took place head-on. I take a last look at the tombstone with a sad pout.
Alejandro helps me into Kiara’s car that I borrowed since mine is a wreck - I’m not sure how he got here – and puts on a song from his phone while he hands me another card.
‘Angel with a shotgun – The Cab. This song played on the radio just after I got the message that you’ve been kidnapped. That day was by far one of the worst in my life – and I’ve had some bad ones. The words made me realize just what I was fighting for and it gave me the strength I needed to get through the battle.’
Imagining how I would have felt if the roles were reversed as the song starts to play, I swallow the burning feeling of tears in my throat - only now grasping the devastation he must have felt, the frustration, anger, rage, fear … and the lyrics penetrate into my soul, just as it must have done with him.
’I’m an angel with a shotgun … shotgun …
Get out your guns, battles begun, are you a saint or a sinner …
At least I’ve learned through this whole experience that you never know who’s the saint and who’s the sinner … some devils hide their horns, like Ren and Lucinda, and some angels hide their wings, like Damion. I’ve become less naïve … less trusting and I think maybe I’ve even earned a small monster in MY shadows – FEAR. It’s now in my bones, something I can relate to.
They say before you start a war … You better know what you’re fighting for
Well, baby, you are all that I adore … If love is what you need, a soldier I will be’
I bite the inside of my cheek to keep myself from crying some more … these days it doesn’t take much … but the significance of this song, this moment is just too great. Not only is it his voice that sings the song, but Damion is my angel and my devil, my heaven and my hell, my everything and he’ll always fight for me, for us. I know from this moment on he’ll be there whenever I need him to be, always. And I’ll never doubt him in my life. Just like I know now what I’m fighting for … nobody is ever going to harm my loved ones ever again.
Suddenly the looming darkness of the house we’ve just stopped at is not that dark anymore. I know that the things and lives we’ve lost here, will always leave a hole, but the sadness will go away ’cause we all have a bright future together. And I promise myself that I will help all of my San Francisco boys to find happiness and a love that can heal them. Just like me and my demonic angel warrior.
A red fire truck from station 19 is parked next to the house and the men are standing around as if they’re waiting for us.
“Can I have the keys to the car?” One fireman asks politely. I hand it over, knowing that he must be friends with Axel.
“I’ll make sure to get it back to your place.” He walks away and I’m not sure how we’re going to get back to my place, but it seems that at least Kiara’s car will make it there. I walk through the weathered door just to find Jackson sitting on the staircase.
“Hey sis, are you alright?” I swallow some imaginary spit down and give him a faint smile while clinging to Alejandro’s hand in mine. A quick glance to the right - the room I was tied up in – looms as a dark hole of cursed despair. More than one life was lost between those crumbling walls. Biting my bottom lip, I blow some air through my nose.
“Yes, I’m fine.” He holds out a brown bag and I take it, vibrating with anticipation. I let out a deep breath and stick my hand into the bag, pulling out a box of matches and another handwritten card.
‘I want you and Jackson to burn all the bad memories with this house – together we’ll make it a better place.’
I look at Jackson with confused eyes as he hands me a glass bottle filled with some kind of liquid fuel, a cloth stuck in the opening. The smell of petrol mixed with alcohol fills my nose and burns my throat.
“Just burn this fucking house down, sis.” I take the matches, my hands shaking so much I almost can’t light it up. Eventually, the cloth starts burning and Jackson throws it against the wall while shouting out. I take the next bottle and walk to the cursed room, throwing it as hard as I can. We light several more bottles, each of us taking a turn to relieve some of our anger towards this place, satisfied each time the glass shatters and the flames run up the bricks, eating into the wood.
It’s as if the disintegration of the bottles also breaks the enslavement the house had over us, freeing us. Standing there feels liberating as if all the anger, rage, and hate inside me are melting in those yellow-licking flames. I hope all the ghosts of the dead get released too … to find peace. We watch the house getting engulfed by the fire as if hell was set loose to devour it until only ashes are left. It didn’t take very long.
Looking at the expression of my brother standing next to me, I know why Damion organized for him to be here, we all lost a little part of ourselves in this house and we needed this to start healing. I’m still unsure what Jackson’s involvement was in everything … and knowing my brother I may never find out, but I do hope he can find an angel like I did … someone to fight his monsters with him, someone that can fix his broken soul. I’m not sure such an angel exists - she’ll have to be extremely bold, stubborn, strong, patient, complicated, and a little crazy to make Jackson whole - but I do hope she’s somewhere out there.
Even the firefighters seem enthralled looking at the burning house.
“Damion has this plan to build a children’s village here … for orphaned and abused kids from the gang areas. So far, I know that we’re going to invest dad’s money in it. Uncle John and Garcia are also part of it. Deimos is going to supervise everything and you are going to design the place. The place is also going to bear Damion’s sister’s name. This way good is going to come from all the bad.” Jackson explains, putting his arm around my shoulders. I smile. This is going to be a beautiful project, I just know it.
When only smoke and ashes remain, Jackson hands me his envelope and I pull out the card.
‘It started with a purple dress and ended in a night I’ll never forget, a night of firsts for both of us. Get into the limo from that night and it will take you to your next destination.’
Just then a limousine pulls up to us hooting its horn. I smile thinking how much effort and thought Damion put into organizing this hunt. He thought of the smallest details to make this something special and remarkable. Our first Valentine’s day together and I for sure will never forget it. Who knew that my bad-boy player can be this romantic?
The driver gets out and holds open the doors for us, then he hands me another envelope.
‘The night you honored THE GUY by becoming his girlfriend you were waiting for me in a place where I had to think about an ugly dude naked to sink my boat because you looked so damn sexy’
I start laughing so loud that I need to cling to the limo to not fall over, remembering the goon Damion was staring at, and then the comment about the Titanic. Jackson takes the card and just shakes his head. He has this too-much-information bitter look on his face. I ask them both if they also do the trick of thinking about naked men to get their dicks deflated. The only answer I get is some wicked laughing, telling me that they probably do.
Maybe it’s another thing guys learn at the BEAST academy. I direct the driver to the small pub, our secret meeting spot. This time Jackson plugs in his phone and hands me the song-card. I was expecting it to be the soppy Titanic song or even ‘Perfect’ from Ed Sheeran since we danced on it at the ball, but the message on the card totally threw me for a curveball.
‘Boy like you – Kesha. Have you figured out what to do with a boy like me yet? I can clearly say that you’ve got me hooked, wrapped around your finger. I’m beautiful and dangerous … and you blow my mind. By the way, I see the light now … it was all part of destiny’s plan for us to be together.’
Cheesy, right – but so darn cute I want to scream and cry all at once. The small things he remembers from our time together fill me with awe. Again, it’s his voice singing the song and again, the song fits perfectly into the circumstances.
‘… you’re so beautiful and dangerous …’
Cocky dipshit. But he’s right, it does describe my man to the T!
‘what do I do with a boy like you ...’
Well, I can think of a few things ... all 18R of course! And now I wish he was here so I could kiss heaven out of him.
I walk into the pub, this time with two hotties in tow, to find the oldest of my brothers at the bar, drink in hand. He winks at me as soon as he sees me and I can’t stop the huge smile from spreading over my face and stand on my tippy-toes to hug him around his neck.
He hands me a small velvet box, not asking if I’m okay, but his doctor-eyes scanning my body doesn’t go unnoticed. I suppose it’s his way of a quick checkup. I immediately open it and feel dizzy upon seeing the necklace … my necklace … the one Darren yanked off. My hands are shaking so bad I almost drop the box, but Ilkay grabs it and removes the dainty chain. He moves my hair to the side and fastens it around my neck, all while I’m standing there … stumped … frozen, and ecstatically happy. I look down and my fingers gently play with the heart hanging between my breasts. Where did Damion find it? I thought I lost it forever. Tears well in my eyes.
“Eh, before we sit with an emotional fairy ... please read the next card,” Ilkay moans. I take it from him, still trembling.
’You were my own little lab bunny and our first kiss was an experiment - that turned out perfectly but also turned my whole world upside down! Vampire Diaries turned out to be my favorite show ever – I got the girl! And I’ll never let you go!
That freaking experiment of his ripped out my whole heart, handing it to my brother’s bad-boy best friend, even if I was still fighting it in my mind. I want him to be there at his house, but I also love the excitement and memories of this hunt! I must be the luckiest girl alive … I have the perfect boyfriend, almost …
“Okay, let’s get to his house. I’m starting to like this whole sissy-boy side of him.” Ilkay has the next song to entertain us on our drive to Damion’s living quarters – and this time I’m bomb-shocked, yet again.
‘Holding on and letting go – Ross Copperman. You better get this else you’re not the biggest TVD fan.’
I get it, it’s the song when Damon kissed Elena for the first time – again I must admit, he gave it some thought – deep thought!
‘It’s everything you wanted … it’s everything you don’t …’
The words are ... eh ... descriptive ... at that stage my heart wanted Damion but my mind didn’t yet ... I rush through the door of his house with 3 followers this time to see Luke’s face lighting up from the sofa where the experiment took place.
He jumps up and down excitedly before literally throwing me the next clue. Damn, will I ever get used to the Grimm boys’ wild ways? All 3 of them are overenergetic cocky bouncing blobs ALL of the time. I wonder how poor Hayley manages sometimes. Does she ever get tired?
I know for a fact that Luke got called into the principal’s office twice this week alone, and his brother was no better when he was in school. And as far as I understand from Alejandro’s stories, he was no better. But right now the littlest devil’s naughty hazel eyes are waiting anxiously for me to open the envelope.
‘I know you’re hungry – go grab some food at the place I held your hand under the table under your brothers’ noses. It’s also where I declared my love openly for you when I sang you a song – and where you called my name.’
“Let me guess – we’re going to have lunch at Inferno?” Kiara smirks, strutting from the kitchen, and Luke jumps from the couch and runs through the door. The car is getting rather crowded now, but nobody wants to miss a thing. Luke puts on the song I was hoping to hear Damion sing again, this time I know it’s for me, no doubts –
‘In case you didn’t know – Brett Young. The words say it all – even when I couldn’t.’
‘In case you didn’t know, baby I’m crazy bout you … and I would be lying if I said that I could live this life without you …’
“Ug, he’s pussywhipped for sure or maybe his dick is turning into one.” Jackson snorts and then blushes when Luke giggles openly next to him, finding his words funny. I’m guessing to find Enrique at the club, and I was not wrong. My brother is waiting with a spread of finger food on the bar for us to eat. My tummy rumbles and I stuff myself so full, I almost want to puke. Then he hands me the next message.
‘Remember the day Jackson almost castrated me for taking you for a drive on my bike? Go to the place I won you that dragon that’s still on your bed. I wanted to tell you all my secrets that day – the biggest being that I loved you, but I couldn’t. Loving you like that scared the everlasting shit out of me, so I fucked up and ended up hurting you. I could see it in your eyes each time you looked at me. But no more secrets. And I’ll try my best to never hurt you again.’
I read it out loud so everybody can hear and Jackson hits his head with his hand.
“Fuck, I almost lost it that day when I saw you sitting squashed against his back on that bike.”
“Um yeh, I would say you lost it. You both ended up with black eyes and bloody noses.” He takes my hand and leads me to the car. While we drive I tell them about the day mentioned on the card. The recollections of that day hit me in my gut with more force than I ever expected.
“Okay, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.” I can’t wait to hear which song he picked for this. Enrique connects the Bluetooth to the radio and hands me the song-card.
‘Stand by me – Rachel Platten. I hope that we can stand by each other for the rest of our lives. Today I’m going to expose all the scars I hide. But as long as you hold my hand, we’ll find heaven together.’
I fight the want to cry when I hear him singing, his voice husky and sad. I never knew then that he felt that way, I thought he didn’t give a damn about me. I mean who wouldn’t – he showed up with another girl just the next day. So I tried hating him, but I never fully succeeded. Alejandro takes my hand again and we walk into the Boardwalk to find the place where Damion won the soft toy years ago, and there’s Axel; holding a huge pink cotton candy and another envelope.
’This is me – my guilt … my scars … but as long as you stand next to me, they seem not so scary.
Scar one: The death of my sister – you already know about this.
Scar two: The little boy that got killed. It was an accident and ruled as one – there was no bribing or buying his parents off ... although I did give them a large sum of money … they were poor and still had four more kids to look after.
Scar three: Last season I did an evasive maneuver, wild even, and a Honda rider, Graham’s previous teammate, tried to copy me and lost control, crashing into me from behind. He died a few days later. That’s the reason Graham hates me so much.
And now you know my demons face to face … no more secrets.’
I feel the blood drain from my face, and my hands get sweaty. I can understand why the therapists called him ‘broken’. Anyone with that much guilt cannot stay whole. I’m glad he told me all this, now I understand him a little better. And I know that he’s blaming himself for all of it, even though he was not responsible for any.
“Are you okay, or do you need to rest?” Alejandro looks me up and down, probably trying to figure out if I’m not getting ready to fall down dead or something. I suppose I can’t blame them, I did almost die, but it’s getting a bit much.
“I’m fine. Just give me the freaking clue will you?” Axel smiles but doesn’t hand over the envelope, instead, he pulls out the card and reads it to me.
‘We slipped out one night, without your brothers knowing, to break in and watch some animals doing it. You’re like a drug that’s killing me – and I’m addicted to you.’
“Fuck, how long have you two been going on behind our backs?” Enrique seems mad, but I don’t fall for that act. Yes, Damion took gullible me out TWO times while we were at school, but then he just went back to being the bad-boy man-whore as if nothing happened, leaving me hurting and hating him. Now I know that he was scared of his feelings … afraid to break his rules.
“The zoo, we’ve slipped into the zoo one night.” I laugh, thinking about how we almost got caught by a fat security guard. We ran away and hid in the turtle enclosure, only after one bit him on his leg did we realize they were snapping turtles. He won’t admit it, but he’s still a little afraid of turtles even to this day. Jackson puts the song-choice Axel handed him on and I look at the card with a huge grin. This time he’s not such a wimp – seems he got his balls back.
’Animals – Maroon 5. Baby, don’t deny the animal that comes alive when I’m inside you – I love doing it with you.’
“No!” All the boys shout out almost in unison while Luke wants to know if ‘doing it’ means having sex. The limo stops as close to the gates as it can. We all get out and this time Luke takes my hand, hopping and skipping beside me while we walk to the turtle enclosure. Logan sits on the side, his finger popped in his mouth, his face in pain. He looks up when he sees us, pulling his finger with a POP from his mouth.
“The little suckers bit me.” He points toward the snapping turtles with his bleeding finger and gives them a savage glare. Luke picks up the envelope, which must have fallen to the ground during Logan’s epic battle with the reptiles, and opens it. I let him read it out this time and his shining eyes tell me that he’s enjoying this just as much as me.
‘Angel, I’m waiting at the place where fate brought me back to you, where I lost my heart, soul, and mind – forever.’
“The school … he’s at the school,” I shout out overexcited and overwhelmed, my heart so full of love it’s bursting at the seams. Alejandro throws me onto his back and piggy-rides me to the car. I don’t mind cause I must admit that I’m a little tired after the whole hunting escapade and I can’t wait to see my devil, the BEAST smirk on his face, and that thing he does with his eyes that drives me insane. He’s the one, the only boy for me.
Logan gives me the last song card and sends the song from his phone to the radio.
‘I lost control – Alan Walker. I lose control when I’m around you, but you are the one that can bring me back from the chaos, my light, my angel. And this time I’m gonna get it right.’
‘So I walk into the dead of night, Where my monsters like to hide’
Now my heart is not just full, it’s overflowing with rapid speed, flooding my body with the tingly feelings of love only Damion can create. I have a permanent smile plastered on my face when we walk through my old school doors and down the hall.
I gasp at the beauty of him standing next to my old locker in all his glory … dressed in his team jacket. I focus on putting one foot in front of the other without stumbling, and I hear the song starting to play softly on the intercom system.
‘You don’t need to be Prince Charming to me, I just need this to be real, I don’t need no Fairytale’
And as I stare into those green eyes I know … this is real! He is real! My devil on a black bike … this is my fairytale.
“Hello,” He greets me the same way as the first time, the word that ripped out my heart unexpectedly and dropped it solidly at his feet, and without me knowing it – he picked it up and kept it all these years. I’m desperate to touch him, hug him, feel him, oh boy I want to run into his arms and kiss him brutally unconscious! But instead, I gape at the bad-boy I love with every little piece of my heart, his hands stuck deep in the pockets of his jeans, the sun forming a halo around his head, leaving his eyes black.
I can’t decide if he’s my demonic angel or my angelic devil … but it doesn’t matter – it’s all the same - heaven or hell, I love him.
“How was your hunt?” He moves closer, and I bite my lip to keep myself from falling into his arms.
“Unbelievable.” He moves even closer, a misleading smile on his face. His eyes back to those dark orbs – the devilish emotions in there are overpowering, leaving me breathless and my mouth dry.
“Mel,” He gets down on one knee, forces down a swallow, and takes my hand. “I hope now you understand how I feel about you. I’m no prince charming, and this is life, not a fairytale, but I’ve won you a dragon and I know this is as real as it gets … “ He combs his fingers through his hair, “So will you do THIS GUY the honor and marry him?”
He holds a dainty ring out at me – a huge black diamond encircled by smaller normal ones. A surge of emotions floods my body, my hand moving over my mouth, as I stare at the ring with huge eyes. He knows me so well. It’s perfect … everything about it forms my dream ring. The world around me becomes a blur, but somebody is holding me up. I can’t speak or form words, and I’m sure my body went into shock.
“Mel, I’m dying here …” His hand is shaking slightly, showing me that he’s nervous. It makes me smile, my cocky bastard is scared I might reject him – sweet. I find my voice.
“I have a few demands.” Everybody suddenly freezes, waiting to hear my next words.
“Firstly, you’ll never do anything to break my heart. Secondly, you’ll get rid of your guilt - it’s what your demons feed on.” My angel doesn’t say a word, but a tear rolls over his cheek.
“And lastly, your racing ... ” I see fear in his eyes. I know racing is his life. But I also know he would give it up for me.
A few of the witnesses standing in a circle around us gasp, pulling in their breaths. I notice the worried look deepen in my racer’s eyes, and I can’t help but smile seductively.
“You have to promise to be careful when you do your famous tricks and stunts. I mean, if you lose a limb I might just have to get myself a new husband.”
“Husband,” he frowns. “Does that mean you’re saying ‘yes’?”
I bite my lip on purpose. “Yes, you dumb dipshit.” He moves so fast, grabbing me in his arms, his lips claiming mine with force.
“Fuck, I love you.” He says, looking into my eyes, his one hand moving protectively over the small bump under my shirt. “Both of you.”