God of Fury – Chapter 2

BRANDON

“You know who I am?”

I have no clue how the words tumble out of my mouth—in a sickeningly unsteady voice, I might add.

Tick.

A crack appears in my outer walls and extends to the ground beneath me.

Tick.

The black hole widens, and muddy black ink swallows my feet until I can’t feel them.

Tick

“Hmm. Should I?” The rumbling gruff of Nikolai’s voice sounds sinister, reinforced by the splashes of blood on his neon mask.

I’ve been in a constant state of hyperawareness ever since he crowded my space, but that’s not right.

This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.

A puff of breath heaves out of my constricted chest and, with it, my inhales and exhales return to normal.

I’m thinking too much—as usual.

I need to get back to working out or painting my calming nature scenes so I’ll stop this vicious cycle of red on black.

Or, more accurately, black on dead gray.

can’t think. Thinking leads to fucked-up images that I’d rather leave in the unremarkable shed of my barely beating heart.

Nikolai sinks his fingers into my nape, digging into the skin until I feel him instead of see him.

“The answer is yes, preppy boy. I should know who you are, shouldn’t I?”

A wave of rage tightens my muscles and I let it wash over me as I fall into it.

Rage is better than nausea.

Rage is certainly much more welcome than the doomsday ticking my brain practices like an orthodox religion.

How dare he talk to me in that mocking tone? I’m Brandon King and that last name means something in this world.

But you don’t. Without your papa’s last name, you’re nothing.

The voice rolls in like sandpaper on glass, leaving a dry, scratchy feeling at the back of my throat.

I swallow the sudden rotten taste and force myself to calm down as I slap Nikolai’s arm.

He doesn’t move, not even one inch, as if his brute fingers are now an extension of my nape.

“Let go,” I say or, more accurately, order. I’m nice and pleasant until someone oversteps, which Nikolai has been doing with flying colors since he surprised the shit out of me.

“In a hurry to go somewhere?”

“More like, I don’t appreciate being touched, especially if the hands are filthy.”

He stares at his free palm under the slowly setting sun that casts an orange glow on his haphazard jet-black hair. He glances at the dried blood as if he forgot it was there and lifts a casual shoulder. “You’ll get used to it.”

Get used to what?

Is this freak high or something?

I wouldn’t be surprised if he snorted coke like a nineties rock star and smoked more weed than Bob Marley’s fan club before this damned initiation.

“Let. Go,” I repeat in a firm voice and push at his arm with all my strength.

He loosens his grip but doesn’t release me.

An appreciative hum falls from somewhere in his throat. “Bossy. I like it. But you know what I like more? Your posh little accent. Question. Does it sound the same when you say crude things?”

I narrow my eyes. What on earth is wrong with this twat? Did someone hit him upside the head?

“This is the third and final time I’m telling you this. Let. Go.”

“Why?” He strokes his fingers near my hairline and that wave of something that’s not nausea courses through my veins in flashes of bright yellow. “I rather like it here.”

“I don’t.” I tighten my muscles against the morbid unease flooding my bloodstream. “You disgust me.”

“Yeah?” His eyes, the color of midnight-blue sky, twinkle with pure sadism as he leans closer and murmurs, “Even better.”

His warm breaths skim the side of my neck. My jaw clenches and it takes everything in me to ward off the discomfort that’s still not nausea.

Not in the least.

The sensation spreads from where his fingers glide over my nape and ends at my earlobe, where he whispered.

I need out of here. Now.

I reach to the ground behind me and grab the first object I find and then haul it square against his face.

He loses his hold on my neck and I don’t wait to see his reaction as I jump up and sprint behind the bushes.

Fast.

Not looking behind.

I run as if we’re in overtime during a game and the team depends on me passing the ball to the attackers.

It’s me against the screwed-up notion of time. It’s always been that way.

The sense of apprehension is replaced by a shot of adrenaline and the inherent need to escape.

Far.

So far.

A dark figure nearly slams into me and we both skid to a halt right before we crash into one another.

Red Mask.

He’s carrying his bloody baseball bat and watches me as if I’m an insect that crossed his path.

The rush of adrenaline slowly dissipates and a tremor spreads in my limbs like wildfire.

Stop shaking.

Stop shaking, you damn weakling.

Stop!

I nearly manage to crack the sudden sporadic emotions, but disgust lurches from my stomach to my throat faster than I can blink.

The distinctive smell of alcohol, cigarettes, bergamot, and the stench of metallic blood envelops me.

No.

No.

No.

I glance behind me and my eyes clash with Nikolai’s darker ones. They’re more unhinged than a witch during a pagan funeral, bloodshot and filled with a promise of drawing blood.

My blood.

Not allowing myself to think about it, I walk in Red Mask’s direction. He can hit me with that bat, for all I care. Maybe I’ll be lucky and will lose consciousness and, therefore, can remove my brain from this situation.

“Look, I caught a stray cat.” Nikolai’s rough voice sounds like the trigger for nightmares. “He just wouldn’t stop running, you know, and has a temper. Threw a whole fucking branch at my face and nearly knocked me out. Gotta love the motherfucking feisty ones. They’re so fun to break into pieces.”

I stride to Red Mask, who studies me up and down and then lifts the bat.

Finally.

It’s done.

It’s over.

I’ll go back to a world where I don’t cross paths with these wastes of human—

A heavy weight lands on my back, and I flinch as a strong arm wraps around my neck and nearly crushes my windpipe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t—

Survival instinct kicks in and I elbow Nikolai with every ounce of energy I have left. He might as well be a wall because not only does he not release me, but he also tightens his grip.

Panic stiffens my muscles and I push with feral strength and bite him at some point, but Nikolai doesn’t flinch. He drags me behind the trees, my feet scraping the ground, and I open my mouth to call for help, even if it’s from another damned Heathen.

Nikolai slams another hand on my mouth, digging the mask against my lips. “Shhh. I’m going to need you to shut the fuck up.”

My words come in mumbled, haunted sounds, like in those creepy horror movies where the nerd dies first.

That’s me. I’m the nerd.

In a last-ditch attempt, I throw the entirety of my weight back. My muscle mass doesn’t compare to his, but I work out a lot.

I run, too. More than should be humanly allowed.

Nikolai loses his footing and I dart to my right, but the world is pulled from beneath my feet. He tackles me to the ground, and I land on my stomach.

A massive weight slams against my back, and Nikolai is on top of me like a brick wall.

I cough, straining, and my deep inhale forces me to breathe in tiny particles of dirt. My lungs burn and I realize it’s because he still has me in a chokehold.

“A fucking fighter. Jackpot.” His voice echoes like the dark ink from my fucked-up nightmares. “Fight me more. Do it harder. Stronger. Faster. I want the fight!”

I tap his arm twice, wheezing and gasping for breath.

I get lightheaded and spots of yellow and orange spark behind my heavy lids.

“No fight?” He sounds disappointed. “Fine, guess you can’t if you’re being choked. If I release you, will you behave?”

My short nails scratch the long sleeves of his shirt, and he hums. “Though I’m fine with the status quo. I rather like this position.”

Humiliation rushes through my bloodstream like poison as the feel of his body crushing mine registers faster than the lack of oxygen. His chest covers my back and his knee is jammed between my thighs. His entire weight spreads over me and he’s so damn heavy.

I press myself against the dirt as if that will help me escape him. A dark chuckle erupts in my ear as he loosens his grip enough for me to breathe.

He makes no move to release me or push the hell off me, though.

I inhale cracked breaths and cough at the sudden rush of air.

“Anyone ever tell you how fucking hot you feel when struggling for control? I could swallow you alive and leave no crumbs.” The last sentence is whispered against my earlobe and I nearly retch.

Out of my skin.

Out of my fucked-up brain.

I don’t know where I get the strength, but I elbow him and crawl from beneath him faster than he can blink.

Once I’m on my feet, I start to run—

“I take it you’re not worried about your brother?”

I come to a halt and slowly turn around. Nikolai is on his feet, arms crossed and head tilted to the side as he watches me nonchalantly.

Only, there’s nothing nonchalant about him. The twat could only be described as mental.

“Heard he’s into a lot of shit,” he continues. “Landon, I mean. He’s the reason you’re here, right?”

My eyes widen behind the mask. “Are you the one who sent me the invitation?”

“And you didn’t disappoint. Brother love for the win.”

I storm toward him and grab him by the collar of his shirt, hauling him so close, his chest collides with mine. “Where is he?”

His hand shoots up to my hair and he grabs a handful, pulling at the roots until my head snaps back, then he peers down at me. “Where do you think?”

My grip doesn’t loosen on his collar. I don’t care if he’s crazy or downright insane. If he messes with my loved ones, I’ll be his worst enemy.

“Don’t make me repeat myself,” I grind out.

“Why? What will happen if you repeat yourself? I’m kinda curious, and by kinda, I mean I have to know. Now.”

“You—” I cut myself off because his mask scrapes against mine.

His breath bathes the plastic and my lips.

“Hmm? What? What am I?” he asks with an edge of lunacy, like a child ghost in a haunted castle who keeps repeating himself in a distorted voice.

I shove him away and he stumbles back, letting go of my hair, but like an elastic band, he bounces right back, invading my space and crowding me.

He’s much more looming and intimidating in person. And I don’t even get intimidated.

“Stop!” I place both hands up and the bastard bumps right against them, his muscles flexing beneath my fingers.

“You still didn’t tell me what I am. Go on. Don’t leave me hanging.” He grins, the motion looking savage behind the bloodied mask. “Is it something good? Or bad? Either? Neither? Both?”

“Just stop.” I have to keep all my strength in my hands as he pushes and wiggles against them like a damn bull.

The sound of his tut echoes in the air as he finally quits trying to glue his chest to mine.

I still keep my hands up, not trusting him to discontinue his frantic movements. I can’t help noticing how taut he is, like a wall.

His pectoral muscles twitch beneath my fingers and I drop my arms to either side of me, chasing away the haze and the strange taste of adrenaline.

When I speak, my voice is calm. Collected. In control. “Landon. Where is he?”

“Fucking dull preppy kids,” he mutters under his breath, then turns on his heel and marches in the opposite direction.

I stand there for a few seconds, my breathing condensing on the interior of the mask. Then I follow after, my legs feeling weightless and completely foreign, as if they’re no longer an extension of my body.

“Are you taking me to him?” I ask when I fall in step beside Nikolai.

He whips his head in my direction and I have to suppress a cringe at the sight of blood. It’s not a view I’ll ever get used to, no matter how long I try.

“If I do that, what will you do for me?” he asks with that glint that I swear was muted not two minutes ago.

“Not report you to the police for your illegal activities. Though you should consider a change of hobbies to something less violent.”

“But where’s the fun in that?”

“Being normal for once?”

“Is that spelled boring?” He gets close and I step to the side, narrowly escaping his shoulder bumping into mine.

“Back off.”

“Ah, fuck. I want to defrost that layer of control you’re wrapped in and see what lurks inside the preppy boy.”

My teeth clench and I release them slowly so as not to trigger the sensation I’ve been coexisting with for most of my life. “I’m not a boy.”

“Whatever you say, posh kid.”

“What the hell is your problem?”

“Me?” He points a thumb at himself. “You seem to be the one crowded with issues, boy.”

My nostrils flare and my hand balls into a fist.

You have issues.

Lots of them.

You don’t want to be a disappointment.

Nikolai tilts his gaze to my hand, bouncing off his heels as if he’s waiting for a Christmas present. “What you gonna do with that? Punch me? Just so you know, you might get disgusting blood on your pretty hands.”

The urge to hit him snaps my muscles into a tight knot, but I force my fingers to uncurl.

I don’t do violence. Ever.

This crazy wanker won’t be changing that.

“No? Bummer.” As fast as they sparkled, his eyes become muted again, turning into two orbs of black.

Black on black.

Black on—

I briefly close my eyes to chase away the clouded thoughts. When I open them, I catch a glimpse of Nikolai stalking into what looks like an annexed house.

I didn’t notice it earlier during our walk, too focused on the bastard and his unpredictable behavior to watch where the hell we were going.

Against my better judgment, I slip in behind him. Not that I have a choice. Nikolai knows where Landon is and I need to make sure my twin brother is safe.

The interior looks far simpler than the outside—clean and clinical—but the white walls are smudged with dirt in places. The decor consists of a leather sofa and a table against the wall, and there’s a door to what appears to be a storage closet.

I stand at the entrance as Nikolai throws his weight on the sofa, arms flung on the back and legs wide apart like one of those macho guys who think they own the world.

He beckons me over with a forefinger and I snarl behind my mask. And I don’t even snarl.

I don’t run away or elbow or scream for help, either, and I’ve done all of the above this evening. Thanks to this bastard.

“Do that again and I’ll break your finger,” I deliver the threat with calmness and a smile. He probably can’t see it, but fuck it.

“Get your ass over here if you want to see your brother breathe another day.”

My shoulders tense and I take careful steps toward him, each one echoing a louder-than-necessary sound.

It isn’t until I’m within arm’s reach that I realize he’s crowding the sofa that should fit at least three people.

I’m still contemplating his sheer size when a noise spills from my lips. A startled, funny noise that feels foreign as it scratches out of my throat.

But I don’t focus on that, more concerned with the reason behind said noise.

Nikolai grabs me by the wrist and hauls me over so fast, I land on him, my chest crashing against his and our masks bumping.

The assault on my senses is much more prominent this time as that stupid glint rushes to his previously muted eyes. “Well, hello there. Lovely of you to finally join the party.”

I bite back a curse as I attempt to get up. Nikolai lets me, but then I make the mistake of turning my back.

Brutish hands land on my hips and I stifle whatever noise that’s trying to escape. A curse. It was definitely another curse.

And it doesn’t matter that I actually don’t curse.

Nikolai drags me down and my arse meets a hard surface. His thighs.

What the—

Panic dashes in my veins and I start to get up, but he pushes with enough force to knock my bones against his. “Stay fucking still unless you’re in the mood to take care of the boner you’re giving me.”

My face falls, figuratively, of course. I’d pay money for it to disappear literally. Indefinitely.

I try again, needing to escape the wanker. But before I can move, he wraps his arm around my waist and spreads his palm over my stomach. “Someone has nice abs.”

“Stop touching me and throwing out sexual innuendos,” I hiss under my breath, sinking my fingers into his arm and pushing. “I’m straight and have no interest in your weird nonsense.”

He chuckles, the sound reverberating like a symphony gone wrong. “You don’t say.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“I don’t know. The fact that you say sexual innuendos, maybe. Such a preppy boy.”

“What?”

Whatever he has to say is drowned out by voices and the shuffling of feet outside. Green Mask stalks in from another door to the right that I didn’t notice and I stiffen.

The situation I’m in registers quickly and heat rushes to my head. I’m sitting on a random guy’s lap.

Me. Brandon fucking King.

Yet I remain completely still, not wanting to draw attention to myself. I’m wearing the mask anyway. If I stay still, he won’t look at me or notice me—

My jaw nearly hits the floor when none other than my baby sister rushes through the door, her cheeks red and her demeanor flustered. Glyn stares at me and I feel as if I’m being stripped naked, free falling from the sky without a safety net.

I lower my head, staring at my feet, and soon, that dark inky water swallows them whole, creeping up my calves and to my knees.

Veiny-like tendrils strap around my flesh in a vise, pulling, gripping, plunging me into the endless hole.

Down.

Down.

Down—

“She’s gone,” a chilling voice whispers in my ear and I jerk.

The black ink slowly dissipates and I lift my head to find that Glyn and Green Mask are disappearing out a third door to the left.

I release a puff of air, but it gets stuck in my throat when Nikolai strokes his hand on my stomach.

It’s over my shirt, but it’s like he’s scratching at the surface of my skin, nearly peeling it off the muscles. A burn erupts at the pit of my belly and rushes to the rest of my limbs.

“Such a responsible brother. First, you came here because I made up a story about Landon, and now, you’re worried about your sister. We have something in common. I like it.”

My head spins, mostly due to his breath near my ear, his hand on my stomach, and his rock-hard thighs underneath mine.

Then something he said comes back to me and I narrow my eyes. “You made up a story about Lan?”

He lifts a shoulder. “How else would I have gotten you here? On my lap, I mean.”

A volcano of rage splinters inside me, and I want to punch his fucking stitch mask so bad.

So, so bad.

But I don’t, because I don’t do that.

I use the energy to push against him and spring up. “Take your nonsense away from me. Far away.”

That glint flashes again, but before I can find out what type of absurdity he’s planning, Jeremy walks through the door Glyn and Green Mask disappeared through, holding his orange mask and a bloodied club.

He’s only second to Nikolai in broadness and unpleasant facial expressions. But where the arsehole behind me is outwardly loud, violent, and generally obnoxious, Jeremy is the calmer version. The type who appears collected, but is in fact as notorious as his precious idiot friend.

He’s scowling now, seeming lost in thought as he throws his club on the ground and runs his fingers through his damp hair that’s stuck to his nape.

“Jer!” Nikolai jumps to my side and wraps an arm around my shoulders as if we’re mates. “Meet eighty-nine. Pretty sure he’s the only one who made it here and, therefore, can be a member of the Heathens.”

Jeremy lifts his head and takes in the scene for the first time. He was so lost in his own head that he didn’t even notice us.

He cocks his brows at Nikolai, then narrows his eyes on where he’s grabbing me.

I flash the crazy bastard a death glare that he lets roll off his bloodied mask as if it was never there.

He’s high. Must be.

There’s no other explanation for why he’d think the twin brother of Lan, aka his worst enemy, should join his precious club’s ranks. Or why he’d possibly think I would.

Now that I know Lan isn’t in danger, I have no reason to tolerate his distasteful presence.

I shove his hand off my shoulder, not bothering to hide my contempt, and turn around and leave.

No, I run.

Far. Away.

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