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God of Fury – Chapter 27

BRANDON

“It doesn’t even make sense.”

I nod along, although I have no clue what Cecily and Glyn are talking about. I agreed to meet them for afternoon tea out of habit and I regretted the decision almost immediately.

My head is a fucking mess and I’m barely functioning. I can’t muster the energy to put on a façade, let alone fake my smiles properly.

“Don’t you think so, Bran?”

I lift my head from my cup of tea and stare at Cecy. “Hmm?”

“About the fact that Ava is up to no good. She’s making a lot more trouble lately and keeps going to all these fights.”

“You know how she is,” I say, tracing the rim of my cup. “Just give her space and she’ll come around.”

Besides, judging by what I witnessed the other day when she ‘pretended’ to come see me, I’m exceptionally aware of what’s going on between her and my unruly eldest cousin. In fact, at this point, everyone but her knows what’s up. Her inability to submit to reality or at least acknowledge it is possibly why she’s been spiraling out of control. I tried advising her, but she’s too hotheaded to listen and prefers indulging in Lan’s plots of mayhem that target Eli.

My brother’s aim is entirely to egg Eli on and have fun, but she’s digging her own grave. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, I have no clue.

“I’m worried, though,” Cecily says with a frown.

“Me, too.” Glyn stuffs her face with a macaron and my chest twists into a knot.

I can’t help recalling the sweet-toothed monster who’s always stealing from any box of pastries I bring.

He hasn’t touched any lately, though.

My heart aches and I clear my throat, but it does nothing to alleviate the lump stuck in there.

It’s been a week since the day I had a breakdown and nearly splintered to pieces. But I didn’t, because Nikolai held me through it.

And he did it for a long time.

Until my knees went numb and I became lethargic. Until the cut stopped burning and itching and driving me fucking mental.

Then he made me lean on him and carried me out of the tub because I couldn’t stand upright. I was a pathetic mess, a shadow of a person, and the very fucking thing I was terrified he’d see.

I expected disgust or, worse, pity, but I couldn’t see any on his face.

He looked extremely focused as he dried me off, helped me put on some clothes, then let me sleep while strangling him.

The thought that he’d leave triggered a panic so deep, I was hyperventilating. I think I hurt him by how hard I clung to him, but he didn’t seem to mind. If anything, he held me tighter and kissed my eyelids, my nose, my cheek, the top of my head—anywhere he could reach.

That’s when I finally fell asleep.

He left me alone the day after, although I could tell he had a lot of questions.

But then I found out the reason he didn’t get in touch was because he was fighting my brother the following night.

I asked him not to. I begged him, even, but he went along with it anyway.

There’s something Nikolai doesn’t know that I’ve been keeping a secret—aside from my fucked-up state of mind. His sister Mia is in some sort of relationship with my brother.

When I found out about that, I tried to warn her away, but she was as hard-headed as her brother and wouldn’t listen. Lan is also acting uncharacteristically possessive of her, which he’s never done with his previous conquests.

So I hid that from Nikolai because I could tell he holds a massive grudge against Lan—rightfully so.

But even without that information, he still went on with the fight.

I had to stand there and watch Nikolai and Lan go at each other’s throats and nearly beat each other to death.

To say I was livid after that would be an understatement. Not only because Nikolai still went on with the fight despite me begging him not to, but also because of Lan.

He suspects something and he was positively murderous after the fight. He wouldn’t stop asking, “Why the fuck was Nikolai looking at you like that?”

While he didn’t specify what the ‘that’ was, I could see the accusatory look in his eyes and hear it in his tone.

Telling him anything is just a disaster waiting to happen, so I deflected, and it’s working for now.

That night, I naturally couldn’t go to the penthouse, because Lan was watching me like a fucking hawk. I was sure if I’d left, he would’ve followed me. No doubt about that.

So I texted Nikolai.

ME

Why on earth did you fight Landon? Now, he won’t stop pestering me and asking about why you kept looking at me.

NIKOLAI

And it’d be the end of the world to tell him the truth?

If I do, he’ll kill you.

Not if I kill him first.

He’s my twin brother, Nikolai. You can’t just talk about killing him and expect me to be okay with it.

But it’s okay if he attempts to kill me?

No, of course not. I’d much rather you stay away from each other.

Is that your way of saying you’ll never tell him about us?

That’s just a recipe for disaster. He’s not exactly your biggest fan.

The feeling is mutual. I hate the motherfucker.

Can’t you just ignore him? I’m sure he’ll ignore you, too.

Until the whole thing with Mia hopefully blows over.

Let me ask you. Do you ever plan on telling him about us?

I don’t think that’s a good idea right now.

How long do I have to wait? A month? A year? A decade? How long should I prepare to shove myself back into the closet with you?

I’m sorry.

Fuck you and your fucking brother.

That was the last text he sent me. Six days ago.

Six whole days.

I’ve waited for him in the penthouse, but he never shows up.

I’ve texted him a few times, but he’s never replied.

Every night, I hope he’ll come home. Every night, I sit on the sofa across from the lift until I fall asleep. Sometimes, I spend all-nighters obsessing and having to physically stop myself from bleeding my fucking wrist dry.

The fact that he ghosted me after I opened up to him, even partially, has been messing with my head in ways I don’t like to admit. Nikolai has always communicated with me. This is the first time he’s not being an open book and it’s fucking me up.

It’s not like I can go to his campus or house. Though Mia invited me to her birthday party tonight, so this is my only chance to see him.

“Bran!” Glyn waves in my face and I blink. “Where did you go?”

“Nowhere. I’m just a bit exhausted.”

“I get it.” She sighs. “Lan’s been shadowing you lately, hasn’t he?”

“Yeah.”

“That must be so annoying. What’s his plan now?”

“I don’t know.” Though I do know, but it doesn’t matter now that Nikolai isn’t in the picture anymore.

What if he really is done with me this time? What if he finally gave up after seeing that ugly side of me?

The thought sends a rush of nausea to my throat and I feel like I’ll throw up.

“Poor Bran is just existing, but psychos won’t leave him alone.” Cecily pats my hand, bringing me back from the edge.

“Psychos?” I frown. “Do you mean Eli? He doesn’t really bother me. He’s actually pretty content when he’s around me.”

“Not Eli. Nikolai.”

My heart thuds against my rib cage and I have to remind myself to breathe.

Jesus. How desperate could I be to get so flustered at the mere mention of his name?

“Nikolai?” I ask with the same nonchalance that I fake so well.

“Yeah, he was asking me about you the other day when Jeremy took me to the Heathens’ mansion. He calls you lotus flower.” Cecily winces. “It gave me the creeps to see him that interested in you.”

“Right!” Glyn snaps her fingers. “Whenever I go to visit Kill, Nikolai asks about my brothers and I thought it was because of how much he hates Lan’s guts, but he seems more interested in any tidbits about Bran. Did he always love art? When did he make his first painting? What does he like to do in his free time? What’s his favorite color? Movie? Parent? Jeez. It feels like a police interrogation.”

“What makes it creepy is how intense and insistent he gets. Jeremy said that’s how he is and if I don’t feel comfortable, I shouldn’t answer him, but still. Why do you think he does that?”

“If I didn’t know better, I would think he’s crushing on you, Bran.” Glyn giggles and bumps my shoulder with hers.

My body stiffens and I reach a hand to my nape, pulling at my hair until pain explodes not only in my scalp, but also deep in my soul.

“Bran?” Cecily watches me carefully. “Are you okay?”

“Not really,” I murmur, battling against being suffocated under the weight of my own admission.

I am not okay.

Have I ever been okay? I don’t remember the last time I was okay.

No. I do. It was when Nikolai hugged me to sleep. I was okay that night.

Fuck it. I’m falling apart anyway. Might as well do it spectacularly.

I let my hand fall to my side and face my sister. “You’re right. He’s crushing on me. Or he was.”

Her eyes double in size. “How do you know? Did he tell you?”

“You could say that. Actually, I’ve been with him for a while now.”

I regret my decision to just let it all out when Cecily spills her tea and Glyn looks at me as if I’m an alien.

And these two are supposed to be the least drama-free and understanding people in the group.

Bloody hell.

I tighten my grip on the teacup. “Are you going to say something or just continue to stare? Not that it’s uncomfortable or anything remotely similar.”

“Sorry…” Cecily dabs at the spots of tea on the table with a napkin. “I’m just making sure I heard you correctly. Did you just say you’ve been with Nikolai for a while? Like the way you were with Clara?”

“Don’t compare him to Clara. I couldn’t care less about her.” I’m losing myself because of him.

“Oh my God,” Glyn breathes out and cups her mouth, but that does nothing to hide her smile. “That day in the coffee shop when Kill said Nikolai is exclusive with someone, could that, by any chance, be you?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you, like, coming out to us, right now? What am I supposed to do? Can I hug you?”

“I’d rather not,” I say, feeling a bit lighter that she’s smiling. That’s good, right?

Cecily takes my hand in hers. “I’m so happy for you, Bran. I feel like a proud mama seeing you find someone you like.”

“Yes! I hated that bitch Clara,” Glyn agrees. “She was such an opportunist. You know, I didn’t want to tell you this, but that night we had a party in the Elites’ mansion, I saw her trying to kiss Lan and she was rubbing herself all over him. He threw her out and asked me not to tell you since it would just hurt your feelings. I despise her so much, I can’t even begin to express it.”

Lan never mentioned that. But then again, he never tells me anything.

And what do you tell him? You locked him out a long time ago.

“You…” I watch them closely. “Don’t think it’s weird that I like a guy after only dating girls all this time?”

“What does gender have to do with it?” Cecily strokes my hand. “I’m just happy you’re happy.”

“Me, too.” Glyn interlinks her arm with mine and leans her head on my shoulder. “Whoever you like doesn’t change who you are. You’ll always be the coolest older brother ever.”

“Best friend in the land of the living.” Cecily scoots her chair over and grabs my other arm.

“Thanks.” My voice catches and I clear my throat. “I’m lucky to have you both.”

Cecily smiles up at me. “So, how long have you been with Nikolai?”

“Yes!” Glyn rests her chin on my shoulder. “We need deets.”

“A couple of months.”

“Wow. You guys really kept it under wraps.” Cecily shakes her head. “I didn’t suspect anything.”

I kept it under wraps. I am the one who didn’t want to say the words aloud.”

It’s not really about coming out. It’s about everything else I have to admit when I come out.

The reason why I didn’t want to believe how so not normal I am.

“You needed time. It makes sense,” Glyn says. “You were always with girls, so I never really suspected you were bi.”

“I don’t think I’m bi. I’m just gay.” The words flow from my mouth easier than I thought. “Asexual, too. Or I was. I think the right term is demisexual. I can only feel sexual desire toward someone I like.”

“I kind of suspected the ace part.” Cecily smiles. “You were never attracted to anyone, no matter how hot they were. You looked at animals with more affection than you looked at your girlfriends.”

“Animals aren’t gold diggers.” Glyn punches the air. “I want to beat those bitches for using you.”

They didn’t use me. I used them. But that’s not a conversation I’m willing to have.

“I can’t wait to see Mum’s and Dad’s reactions when they find out.” Glyn grins and then pauses. “That is, if you want to tell them?”

“I will.”

“They’re going to flip their shit.”

“In a good or a bad way?”

“Bran, you could literally be an alien and they’ll love you. You’re their favorite.”

“No, I’m not.”

“You totally are. Mum worships you, and Dad loves you so much, he’s always like, Bran did this and Bran did that.” She pauses. “Not sure he’ll like Nikolai, though. He’s a massive menace.”

I wince. “It doesn’t help that he’s Kill’s cousin.”

“Kill can be civilized. Nikolai is…well, not?”

“Why Nikolai?” Cecily asks. “No matter how much I think about it, you guys are worlds apart in character. Where he’s chaotic, you’re organized to a fault. He’s unhinged, you’re methodical. You’re, like, opposites.”

“Maybe that’s why it worked. Besides, he didn’t really leave me much of a choice. He invaded my life and wasn’t budging no matter how much I pushed him away…well, that is, until now.”

“What’s wrong?” Glyn pulls away, frowning. “Please tell me it’s not because of Lan.”

“They fought the other night, right?” Cecily winces. “Jeremy said Nikolai hasn’t been himself this past week.”

“It’s not Lan, it’s me. He didn’t like the fact that I was hesitant.”

“But this whole thing is new for you, Bran. It’s okay to take your time.” Glyn rubs my shoulder.

“Not if it means I could lose him. I think I hurt him whenever I do that, because he believes I’m ashamed of him.”

“Oh.”

“I’m not,” I blurt out quickly. “I just… I can’t help thinking about all the other factors, namely Lan.”

“Ugh. Seriously, you need to get over your fixation on Lan’s reaction to everything you do. I love you, Bran, I really do, but you give him so much leeway for all the shit he does.” Glyn sighs. “He doesn’t even care.”

She’s wrong. Or maybe I’m also holding on to another myth that was never true.

But seriously, what does it mean if I’m more worried about Lan’s reaction than my damn parents’?

Not that I’m not concerned about Mum and Dad—I get a queasy feeling just thinking about that conversation, but Lan…

I can feel my stomach dipping when I imagine the haughty, disappointed expression he often gives my art.

He’s always been perfect, and his disapproval gives me fucking nightmares.

“I mean, not to be the devil’s advocate.” Cecily grimaces. “But nothing good will happen if Lan knows about Nikolai. That’ll be like when he learned about Killian and Glyn all over again.”

“That’s what I said.” I rub my face. “Nikolai doesn’t seem to agree. I really don’t want them to fight again.”

“You’re right…” Glyn’s shoulders droop. “It won’t be pretty.”

“You bitches!” A loud voice comes through and we all groan as Remi slides to our table, dragging Ava behind him. “I can’t believe you’re having afternoon tea without my lordship. If I hadn’t seen Glyn’s story, I would’ve been none the wiser. And then I find this one lurking in the house like a thief. You bitches will be the death of me, seriously.”

“I’m not a thief, I was just looking for Bran.” Ava kisses my cheek. “Hi, Bran.”

“Hey.”

Ava sits beside Cecily and hugs her. “Missed you, bestie.”

Cecily rubs her arm. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah.” She smooches her cheek.

Remi pulls up a chair and invades the space between me and Cecily, and they fight about who gets to sit beside me.

Since I’m the most levelheaded of the group, they always want to be with me. I often get texts like, It’s boring without you, Bran.

Even though I’m not a clown like Remi or hyper like Ava, I have a special place in the group.

Why did I ever feel like I’d be judged by my closest friends? My intimate circle of support?

No, it’s not them I was scared of. It’s me. It’s always my-fucking-self.

I’m my own worst enemy.

“So what were you talking about before my lordship’s spectacular arrival?” Remi steals Glyn’s macarons and Cecily’s tea.

“Nothing.” Cecily winks at me.

I shake my head at her and take a deep breath. “Remi, Ava. I want to tell you something.”


Though I’m joined by Cecily and Glyn, my movements are stiff at best as we walk into the Heathens’ mansion.

My sister and my friend have been here countless times, considering their boyfriends, but that’s not the case for me.

I remain in my element as we push past the partygoers. The Heathens went all out with this birthday party. Countless lights cover the ceiling, casting violet and blue lights on the people jumping to the trendy music.

Alcohol is thrown around everywhere and I would really like to be wasted for this, but that’s just cowardly, so I stop myself from snatching a drink.

I catch a glimpse of Maya, who’s wearing a glamorous white dress, dancing with a group of people in bizarre outfits. But I don’t see Mia.

A few weeks ago, Mia introduced me to Maya, and she’s nice, but I prefer Mia’s company. We’re both introverts and get along without talking much.

Glyn leads us to the second floor and we continue pushing our way through.

My chest aches when I catch a glimpse of Mia dressed in the black version of Maya’s dress and dancing between Killian and Nikolai. Though they seem to be kicking and punching each other.

I really don’t like it when Killian hits him. I know it’s their dynamic and they’ve been like that their entire lives, but he needs to stop putting his fucking hands on him or I’ll break them.

Good grief.

Where did that violent thought come from?

“Hey you.” Jeremy slides to our side, smoothly, if I might add, and kisses Cecily a bit longer than I’m comfortable with watching.

“Hi,” she breathes as he wraps an arm around the small of her back.

My gaze strays back to Nikolai of its own accord. He looks so damn well-built in a black T-shirt and jeans. A few rebellious strands escape his ponytail and fall on his forehead. His muscles ripple with every move and the intertwined tattoos running down his biceps and arms instantly distinguish him from the crowd.

I’ve always found him beautiful. No, not only beautiful. He’s categorically hot. It just took me some time to realize that I was becoming hopelessly attracted to everything about him. The fact that I haven’t been able to touch him for days on end is messing with my head.

My gaze studies him closer, taking in his sharp jawline, full lips, and—

I frown when I get a clear look at his face. His eyes are dark, almost bottomless, his mouth is set in a line, and he seems…off.

Like that time during the fight.

He must be having one of his episodes. Though I’m not sure what type of episode it is, he mentioned they come and go. I haven’t seen him in this state since that night of the fight. Only, now, he seems more closed off.

And I want to…what?

What the fuck do you think you can do when you’re broken yourself?

Killian notices us, or more like spots Glyn and stops dancing. Mia and Nikolai do, too. My friend smiles at me. Nikolai scowls.

My nape burns and my skin starts to feel black, inky, and foreign.

It’s been a week since I last saw him, and while I didn’t expect a welcoming ceremony, I also didn’t think he’d look this displeased.

Glyn hugs Mia and hands her a bag. “It’s small gifts from the three of us. Happy Birthday.”

“Thank you. You didn’t have to,” she signs, then grins at me and types on her phone before she shows me. “I didn’t think you’d come.”

“You personally invited me. I wouldn’t miss it.” I smile, fighting the need to ogle her brother.

“What the fuck are you doing here?” Nikolai shoves Mia behind him and gets in my face, his voice harsh, face closed off. If it weren’t for his familiar smell, though now mixed with cigarettes and alcohol, I’d think I was looking at a stranger.

Is this how he felt every time I pretended not to see him in public? Because it’s no different than having a fucking knife lodged between my ribs.

“Another elaborate plan from your brother? What is it this time? Arson? Assault? Murder, maybe?” The coldness behind his words leaves me speechless.

Nikolai never speaks to me in that tone. He never snaps at me.

And the fact that he’s done it twice now makes the grim possibility of losing him a terrifying reality.

But you know what? Fuck him.

Why the hell is he angry when he ghosted me for a whole week?

“Bran is my friend. I invited him to my birthday,” his sister signs, her movements smooth and determined.

“It’s okay, Mia,” I tell her and keep glaring at him. “I couldn’t care less about your brother’s opinion of me, but it’s probably better that I leave.”

She shakes her head frantically.

“Mia is right,” Jeremy says somewhere behind me. “You’re our guest.”

Killian clutches Nikolai’s shoulder. “If you can accept Glyn and Cecily, you’ll have to accept Bran, too. He has nothing to do with Lan, despite the creepy physical resemblance.”

“He’s right.” Glyn looks at me with an encouraging smile. “Bran is completely different from Lan. I promise.”

Jesus. She sounds like she’s selling me for some position.

Nikolai’s eyes never leave my face, and I can’t help staring back. While I don’t really like the anger, I like that he can’t look away from me.

It’s the least he can do after disappearing on me as if I’m nothing.

Mia jumps in front of him and signs, “Please don’t ruin my birthday.”

Nikolai flashes me one last glare before he releases a throaty sound and snatches his pack of cigarettes from the table.

My frown deepens. Things aren’t good if he’s smoking. He told me he’s a mood smoker and only resorts to them when the chaos in his head is too massive to contain.

I really need to get him alone, talk to him, and make sure everything is okay.

Just when I’m thinking about the best way to do that, the last person I need waltzes right in the middle of the scene like he owns the place.

Lan scans his surroundings and then flashes us a diabolical smirk. “What’s with the tense atmosphere? I thought this was a birthday. Also, did someone mention the word ‘ruin’?”


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