Chapter 1 - Getting to New York
"Nyx It's Justin and we've got a problem."
I remember the call. I remember every single word that had been exchanged and yet I couldn't bring them back to the forefront of my mind as Asher and I floored it to the private airfield. It had been exactly five hours, thirty seven minutes since Justin had called. It had been five hours, fifty two minutes since I had called Asher and relayed the conversation word for word to him and the chapter.
Zipper had placed a call to Jay who had given us the name and location of his friend Drake who was willing to fly us out to New York as soon as we could get there. Asher refused to let me travel alone, stating that Damien would have his head if anything happened to me. I remember shrugging and grabbing my duffle bag that Damien and I had packed together in case anything were to ever happen and we'd have to leave immediately. I had also grabbed his, just in case he would need it when I got there and found him.
Time ticked on painfully slowly as traffic urged us to slow down significantly. Asher cursed and grumbled a few unpleasant remarks about an eldery woman in a pastel pink volkswagen beetle trying to force her way into our lane to pass a truck. I ignored him and pulled out my phone, sending off a quick text to Jessica.
'I need you to see if your old friend in the FBI is willing to do a favor for me. I'll pay him back in whatever means he needs, but I need to see if Damiens phone is still pinging a location off of the cell towers in New York.'
She had replied almost instantly.
'Of course! Scott still owes me a few favors so I'll just be sure to mention that to him. Let me know when you land. I'll have my crew meet you out there as soon as possible.'
I glanced over at Asher who had started tapping his fingers angrily over the steering wheel before laying on the horn. I shook my head, he was taking this just as hard as I was.
'Okay. Have Erica lock up my place. I'd rather no one stays there just in case this has anything to do with what happened with Roman. Justin didn't give me a lot of info to go on other than that he wasn't in his apartment and there were signs of a struggle...'
I sniffled. Dammit. I had hoped to hold off on the waterworks for as long as I could because the last thing I needed was to cry. I had to be strong and focus on what lay ahead of me. I had to find Damien. I had to bring him home in one piece.
Asher glanced over at me but I ignored him as I placed my phone in the glove box. I leaned back into the headrest of the seat and rubbed my eyes with my palms taking a deep breath. I couldn't let myself show any of this. I didn't want Asher to try to comfort me, I didn't want anyone to look at me with pity in their eyes. I simply wanted to get to New York to see his apartment for myself. I wanted to make sure that no one had overlooked any clues that could lead me who had a hand in his disappearance.
My heart dropped as I imagined every possible scenario that he could be living through. I let my hands fall into my lap as I looked through the windshield. I thought back to the time I had been locked away in the dungeon of Roman's manor, remembering all too well the sensation of the shackles biting angrily into my wrists as I fought to break free. No. I couldn't think of that. I couldn't let myself bring those memories back. This was not the time nor place to have a flashback to that.
Asher's voice pulled me from my thoughts, bringing me back to the bitter reality that awaited us, "Nyx, when we land in New York Marco, the Vice President of the chapter there will meet us at the private runway. He'll take us straight to Damiens' apartment. He wants to make sure that you're prepared for what state it's in. He says he hopes we are coming packing because we're coming right into the middle of a bloody war between a psychotic Mafia boss and a dumbass gangbanger and his crew." My head snapped up to look at him as I mulled over what he had just told me. Was that the reason that Damien was taken? Possibly. It was something I couldn't rule out for sure. I had to approach this as logically as I could and be realistic. I needed everyone around me to do their part and help me find him.
"I always come packing. What Roman put me through made me realise that I needed to be able to protect myself. Damien even had me take a few different types of martial arts and then put me into kickboxing so I'm pretty well off to handle my own." Asher nodded, grunting in approval as his eyes stayed locked on the highway. We were getting close as the last bit of sunlight faded over the horizon slowly. We fell into silence for a while before Asher turned on the radio.
I grimaced immediately, the radio talk show hosts' voice slowly faded into the background as the melodious sound of Alan Walker's music filled the cab of Asher's truck.
'I've been dancing by myself tonight... Close my eyes I'm fading with the lights... Did you always keep me in the dark?... If you knew why did you let me stay?' I closed my eyes and tried to focus on my breathing and not the words, but it was futile. Her voice, soft as the wind but fierce as the sea crashed into my heart. The lyrics that she sang grazed through my core sending my eyes into a misting frenzy.
' 'cause I'm lost in the silence between you and me... now you're gone nothing's left of what used to be...' I couldn't do it anymore, I reached up and turned off the radio and quickly averted my eyes to look out the window as Asher's face contorted into pity. I didn't want to see it. I didn't want to even begin to give him the opportunity to say anything about Damien and talk about him as past tense. Zipper had already done that and earned a good hard slap across the face from Erica.
Everything in my world once again was falling apart. Why? Who knows. Maybe God needed more entertainment and just decided that it would be me. He must have enjoyed the last shit show so much that he wanted more. Either way, it didn't matter. I pulled my phone out of the glove box and unlocked it and looked over at Asher, "Jessica is going to send her crew to meet us when we land in New York. I have to message her first so I'll wait until we get to the hotel. I'd rather they not fuck with the scene. Keith had taught me that preserving the scene was one of the most important things in an investigation." He looked over at me with an eyebrow raised but didn't say anything as he turned his eyes back on the road and eased off of the highway.
I glanced through the window before turning back to my phone.
'Hey E, can you do me a flavor? I need you to get a hold of Keith's son Ricky. Say Nyx needs that promise. He'll understand what you're talking about. No need to stick around after that though. He'll know what to do. Oh and if you need anything, ask Jessica or any of the Devils Rebels. They know to watch out for you while I'm gone.'
Erica replied just as fast if not faster than Jessica - I'd have to have them to teach me to text that fast because it was effective.
'Yeppers. Stay strong love. He's going to be okay. D's a stubborn man - he won't die on you. Promise. He wants to marry you too badly.' I laughed softly before putting the phone back into its place in the glove box before closing my eyes, leaning back into the soft upholstery. Soon I was dozing off to the hum of the engine and Ashers frequent curses under his breath.
Strong hands grabbed hold of my waist and hauled me out the car. Asher. I recognized him by the lingering scent of Axe mixed with Old Spice on the nape of his neck as he carried onto the plane. Drakes' voice filled the silence as he went over the safety features of the plane and what would need to happen in case we crashed, had a water landing or any other possibility while in flight. I kept my eyes closed not wanting to see either of them. I just wanted to get through the flight and prepare myself for what I'd see.
I was placed onto a bed - It was soft and cool, only covered by silk sheets and I had wondered where the comforter or blanket had gone to briefly before abandoning my mental search for it with my eyes still closed. I listened to the sounds of Asher's footsteps fading slowly before the soft click of the door indicated that I was left alone.
My eyes opened slowly to take in my surroundings. The room was small, cozy even. Soft beige walls flowed down into what looked to be hardwood floors. A small built in vanity glimmered in the soft dimmed light directly above the bed I lay on. A smaller dresser stood bare against the wall on the other side, bolted to the floor to prevent it from sliding around as we took flight. Two small doors, one to exit and enter the room and one that most definitely opened into the bathroom were placed perfectly across from each other. Only one small window to the left of me offered me the confirmation that we were indeed at the private airport.
I kept my head on the soft but still quite firm pillow as my eyes glossed over remembering every moment I've ever spent with Damien.
My eyes watered as I remember the proposal...
One weekend. That's what he had asked of me. He wanted one weekend getaway with me where we could just be together since I had been fully healed. It was a way to celebrate that I was indeed alive after everything that Roman had put me through and the fact that my own flesh and blood, my own brother Jake, had shot me. I remembered that the drive had been so unbearable for so long that I had fallen asleep in the passenger seat. He had woken me up gently, coaxing me out of my slumber with his soft lips - peppering kisses over every inch of exposed skin his eyes rested upon. When I was fully awake and alert he had pulled me out of the car - being sure not to give away the surprise. I had followed behind him willingly. He had aready gotten the cards for the door to our room and seemed like he was going to burst at the seams with excitement.
'What in the world has gotten into you huh? You keep jamming the card in there you'll never enter the room!' I had joked, taking the card from him and swiping it effortlessly over the scanner. A triumphant and I-told-you-so smile spread across my lips as I made eye contact with him before pushing open the door.
I stopped dead in my tracks, one foot in the room and on still firmly planted in the doorway as I gasped and took in the room. Purple and Red rose petals led a path straight to a small circle table that held what looked to be a silk purple table cloth. On top? Two place settings of crystal champagne flutes with a single red candle burning, the same rose petals scattered elegantly across the surface.
I gathered up my courage and strode into the room towards the table. I stopped as I realized that the petals atop it spelled out one sentence. One that I had never in my entire life thought I'd ever read, hear, see, or even be apart of. I turned slowly to look at Damien, it was futile. He had already gotten onto one knee, his eyes glistening with unshed tears. There in his hand was a black velvet box, opened to reveal the most beautiful ring I had ever seen.
I placed one hand over my mouth to muffle my sniffles while the other rested on my stomach clenching the simple smooth fabric of my tank top. The ring. Oh that ring. That damn, beautiful, perfect ring. A beautiful yet elegant array of Sapphires were nestled within the black gold band. I single black gold back lay just in front of it to show it was indeed a wedding set. I looked up into Damiens' eyes, blinking rapidly to clear my eyes of the unshed tears. He cleared his throat quickly before putting on a stoic face although his eyes were filled with nothing but love and adoration.
'Nyx.' he had started, 'I have loved you since that first moment of laying my eyes on you as you strode deterindly through my bar, dodging that empty beer bottle as if it had been nothing. Every moment spent with you is a moment where I feel as if my life finally has a purpose. That my life is finally worth living.' He blinked a few times, a tear or two slipping out of his tear duct as he paused to take a deep breath, 'Nyx, I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to be the only man you ever love, the only man that you ever lay next to, the only man that you build a family with. I want to come home to you every night, to fall asleep and awake to you every single day. Will you marry me?'
It was my turn, my turn to answer him and all I could do for the moment was stand there stunned. I slowly got down onto my knees and looked him in the eyes, letting the tears fall freely now, 'Damien, there is nothing I'd want more in this world than to marry you. Yes. One hundred percent yes, I will marry you.'
I was jerked out of my memory by the sound of the plane's engines humming to life. I sat up, knowing that I couldn't stay in here for take off unless I wanted to be launched off the bed. Taking a deep breath, rolling my shoulders I strode out of the room. Asher stood up quickly and took a tentative step towards me, worry and pity in his eyes. I held up a hand and shook my head at him.
"I'm fine. Just couldn't sleep is all, I'm fine I promise." I said gently but still stern enough to show him that I was indeed fine. I couldn't stand the pity in his eyes. He nodded and sat back down patting the seat next to him, coaxing me forward. I plopped down next to him and fastened my seatbelt quickly as we started to ascend.
"We'll be there in a coupe hours or so." Was all he said. I nodded and leaned back into my seat and sighed. This would prove to be quite the tortuous flight.