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God of Fury – Chapter 8

BRANDON

Aweek later, I go out to the local pub with my friends.

Only so I don’t get too stuck in my head and…do something I’ll regret.

Chatter echoes around us as drinks are exchanged. We’re seated at a big table in the middle, surrounded by smaller ones.

A few older locals sit at the bar, discussing their crops as they down their daily pints.

The small party is in full bloom with Remi being a clown as always. He’s bouncing back and forth with a drink in hand as he verbally spars with our two childhood friends, Ava, who’s about Glyn’s age, and Cecily, who’s a year older.

My cousin Creigh is also here, but he seems more preoccupied with his phone. Annika, the girls’ new roommate and Jeremy’s younger sister, tries to strike up a conversation with him, but he doesn’t dignify her with a response.

He’s listening, though, because he looks up whenever she stops talking.

I’m still a bit peeved about Annika recently being added to the group. She’s nice, but the fact remains that she represents the Heathens, and there’s often security detail outside every place we go.

I’d really prefer it if the Heathens were no longer shoved down my throat.

One small problem, though. I’ve sort of become close with Mia Sokolov. Or she could be just using me to get closer to Lan like all girls aside from Clara do.

I like her company and she games like a boss, so I guess we’ll keep seeing each other for as long as she wants. At my place. There’s no way in hell I’m stepping foot in the Heathens’ mansion again.

Not after the last time I was there.

Don’t think about it.

Stop thinking about it.

It’s easy to focus on the people around me, but it’s still a struggle to be completely present. So I throw down my third drink, mirroring Glyn, who’s sitting opposite me and who’s also hell-bent on drinking herself into a coma.

She just suggested playing never have I ever in a very slurry voice. Maybe I should call it a night and take her back to the flat she shares with the girls.

Only, I really need to drink as well. A few more and then we’ll leave.

Remi holds an imaginary mic. “I’ll go first.”

Cecily flips her silver hair back and points an accusatory finger at him. “You always go first.”

“That’s right.” Ava puffs out her chest. “Glyn wanted this, so let her play first.”

“Play what?”

I nearly spit out my mouthful of alcohol. It’s not because of Killian, my sister’s boyfriend, who just said that last sentence.

Not even close.

The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, and while I can’t see the entirety of him, I can make out Nikolai’s frame standing close to Killian. His hair is loose, falling thick and smooth to his shoulders.

This time, he’s wearing a black tee and jeans that hang low on his hips. Although it’s not exactly summer, he has no jacket. Full sleeves of tattoos extend from beneath his shirt to the backs of his hands.

I can’t stop looking at him.

And the more I do, the faster my throat fills with that different nausea. The one that’s overwhelming but doesn’t make me want to hit my head against the wall.

It’s pushing me to nefarious ends.

Down unknown roads.

Stop looking.

Stop looking.

I force myself to take a sip of my drink and focus on my sister, who glances up at Killian. “What are you doing here?”

He pushes his cousin in front of him. “Nikolai was bored, so I took him out for a stroll.”

“Eat shit, motherfucker. I’m not a dog. Also, he was the one who was so bored that he started vandalizing shit,” Nikolai says, then speaks to Glyn, “I was dragged out against my will because he refuses to admit he misses you.”

“Semantics,” Killian says. “Can we join you?”

All the rowdiness from earlier comes to a halt, and I can’t help hearing the doomsday sound in my brain.

Tick.

He looks murderous.

Tick.

He’s not looking at me.

Tick.

He is not looking at me.

The upgraded nausea dies down and I’m hit with the familiar feeling of fucked-up Brandon in epic proportions.

Black ink swells beneath my feet and I feel my stomach churning.

“Yeah, sure!” Ava replies. “The more the merrier.”

Killian brings a chair over and sits beside my sister, and Nikolai flops down beside him.

Across from me.

Only a table separates us, but he still hasn’t looked at me since he got here. Not even once.

Killian and Glyn whisper to each other, and I know I should be looking out for my sister, but I learned that it doesn’t matter what we think. She probably loves Killian.

Lan obviously doesn’t agree, and it’s because he kidnapped Killian and tortured him that I ended up in the Heathens’ mansion.

It’s all because of him.

Class act. Blame Lan. It’s working bloody wonders like he said.

Killian finally stops trying to eye-fuck my sister and asks, “So what are we playing?”

Never have I ever,” I say, not recognizing my voice. “And Glyn will start.”

She raises a shot. “Never have I ever done something illegal.”

Nikolai shrugs and knocks down a shot. My fingers tighten around my glass. Of course he’s done something illegal. His existence itself should be illegal.

He’s so fucking infuriating.

Why did he have to show up in my space again?

Creighton downs a shot, seeming to have finished his obsession with his phone.

“What did you do…” Annika asks, then swallows and stares at Nikolai. “Nikolai?”

He looks at her and winks. “You know the drill.”

I narrow my eyes as I stare between them. Are they a thing? Or were they?

Good grief. Isn’t she supposed to be his best friend’s sister and barely legal?

But then again, if all the posts he gets tagged in are of any indication, then he’s often caught with both men and women hanging off his arm. And it’s been going on for years.

Not that I went there on purpose…

My thoughts trail off when Ava takes a shot, drawing everyone’s attention.

“What illegal things have you done?” Cecy asks.

“Sorry, bitches, there’s no rule that says I have to explain. Should’ve set that beforehand.”

Remi brings his shot up, then takes it in one go with an “Ahh. Drugs, those nasty little shits.”

“Why aren’t you drinking?” Glyn asks Killian.

“Because I’m not admitting to doing anything illegal. My father and grandfather are lawyers, thank you very much.”

“That’s not how it works.”

“Do you have proof that I committed illegal actions?”

“Ugh, whatever.”

He whispers something in her ear and she goes a bright shade of red. This is a bit uncomfortable to watch, but not as uncomfortable as the presence of the guy I’m trying to pretend isn’t sitting next to Killian.

Who’s still not looking at me.

“Your turn,” she tells her boyfriend.

He pauses, but only for a beat. “Never have I ever been in love.”

Ava takes a shot and I watch her with pity, my fingers trailing over my glass. My poor friend has had the worst love story to ever exist. Not that I believe in that emotion.

After all, love is just an illusion made up by empty people who crave companionship.

In reality, it doesn’t exist.

My skin prickles and the feeling of being watched stabs me in the chest.

I lift my head, and for the first time in weeks, my eyes lock with the violent twat who has no business looking at me with…a challenge.

What the hell is that supposed to mean?

The way I saw it, you got hard when you had your eyes on me. Not her.

Those are the words that sent me into an epic loss of control, and for some reason, that foreign feeling is returning again.

My muscles tighten and I snatch a shot, then down it in one go and suppress a wince against the burn.

Nikolai’s eyes explode in a myriad of violent intensity, and rage radiates from him in waves.

It’s suddenly hard to swallow and I have to force down the need to clear my throat.

Unfamiliar anger ripples through me as he continues glaring.

What the hell did he expect?

Why the fuck is he even expecting anything from me?

Glyn raises a shot, but before she can drink it, Killian takes it for her and says, “You’re drunk. I’ll take your shots.”

“I don’t need you to.”

“Swoon.” Annika fawns over them, a stupid grin plastering all over her face.

She’s seventeen and skipped a school year to attend uni this young, right? I know Nikolai is only nineteen—seriously, he’s a kid—but he wouldn’t have done anything with her when she was/is underage, right?

I mean, the age of consent in the UK is sixteen, but they’re Americans. Isn’t it eighteen over there…?

Besides, he wouldn’t have done that to his best friend, right?

My throat constricts, and this time, I have to discreetly clear it against the influx of disgusting nausea.

Right?

“We need to take this game to the next level.” Nikolai holds out a shot and I stare at him, my heart pounding so hard, I think I’ll have a heart attack.

“Never have I ever fucked or experimented with someone of the same sex.” He steals a peek at me and then drinks his shot.

My heart thunders behind my rib cage and my fingers turn clammy around my glass. Breaths whoosh out of my lungs in fractured intervals.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

“Does a kiss count?” Ava asks him, and he nods. Eyes on me.

Stop looking at me.

Just stop.

I think I’m going to throw up in front of everyone and humiliate myself in the worst way possible.

“Well, screw it.” Ava takes the shot.

Remi gasps like a drama king. “This bitch is really looking to get herself killed tonight.”

Killian raises a shot and Glyn watches him with a questioning gaze.

“Don’t look like you’ll faint, little rabbit. Do you really believe all those kinks were done with only women? I used to experiment a lot.”

As he drinks, she also picks up a shot and takes it in one go.

What…? My sister did what…?

“Don’t look surprised, Killer. I used to experiment a lot, too.”

I release a breath. Okay, so that was a lie to mess with Killian. She would’ve told me if that were the case. We’re close.

think.

At least, I hope we are.

“No one else?” Nikolai toys with his empty shot glass, shooting a provocative look in my direction.

I stare at Remi and Ava bickering, then at my feet, and my focus stays there. Looking at the ink swallowing my shoes.

And yet I can feel his eyes on me, intense and unapologetic.

Tick.

You’re going to make a fool out of yourself.

Tick.

It’s game over, Bran. Everyone will see you for the fraud you are.

A low humming sound falls from him and I can’t help stealing a glimpse as he shoves a cigarette between his lips and stands. “Fucking bore. I’m out of here.”

I have to tighten my grip on the glass to stop it from shaking. My gaze tracks his nonchalant movements as he stalks to the exit, lighting his cigarette and releasing a cloud of smoke in the air.

Instead of the ink retreating from around my feet, it swallows them up, then shoots up my shins and strangles my knees until that’s all I can see and feel.

Black ink.

Fucking doom.

My heart simmers down almost lethargically, and I swallow another drink to numb it.

“Phew, that was intense,” Annika says. “Seriously, Kill. Don’t bring him next time. He’s scary.”

“Are you sure it’s not because he could snitch to your brother?”

She laughs awkwardly. “Don’t be ridiculous. I have nothing to hide from Jer.”

“Uh-huh,” Killian replies.

I want to ask what she has to hide. Why is she calling him scary if they were together…?

Stop it.

“So who’s next?” I ask in an attempt to ignore all the chaos.

“Me!” Annika looks at Killian. “Never have I ever got my dick sucked.”

“That’s a low fucking blow,” Remi whines, but he downs a drink.

Killian and I do so as well.

“Wait a minute.” Remi looks at Creigh. “Why aren’t you drinking, Cray Cray? Have you missed the never have I ever for this round?” My cousin shakes his head and Remi throws his hand in the air. “Then drink—Jesus fucking Christ, spawn, please tell me you’ve had your dick sucked at least once?”

When Creigh doesn’t reply, Remi flops on his chair with more theatrics than needed. “I think I need some medical attention. My own spawn has been missing out and I didn’t know. I’m losing years of my life as we speak, I’m telling you.”

“What’s so special about having one’s dick sucked?” Creigh asks.

“Uh, what’s so special about the sun? The moon? The ecosystem? I can go on forever. Jesus, spawn, you’re making me look like a bad mentor.”

“You are, though.” Cecily makes a face at him and they all keep talking, bickering, and laughing.

Having fun.

I zone out.

I laugh when they do, but I have no clue what’s happening around me.

A fog surrounds me and seeps beneath my skin until I can’t breathe.

I drink two more shots, but I’m not entirely numb.

It’s not enough.

Nothing is enough.

I can’t breathe.

Please stop.

I shake my head, trying and failing to shake away the black ink swelling inside.

When Killian decides to take Glyn home, I wait a few minutes, then make up an excuse about feeling a bit under the weather.

More like I’m crushed by my own head.

I stumble out of the pub unsteadily, my head swimming and my vision blurring. I bump into a group of people and apologize—or I think I do—as I walk in a zigzag.

The lights shimmer and turn into tiny bokeh points, moving farther and farther away.

Like my fucking sanity.

I used to pride myself on being completely in control. About everything.

Anyone.

Until this motherfucker came into my life.

And now, I’m not sure how to get that control back.

need that control or everything will be over.

Every fucking thing.

I stumble into someone and step back on swaying feet. “Sorry…”

“Watch where you’re going, you fucking cunt!” The guy grabs me by the collar of my shirt and shakes me a few times, and I see stars.

He sounds American. Fuck those guys. Why can’t they just stay in America and leave me alone?

“You better apologize or I’ll kill you,” he and his twin threaten.

Oh, wait. It’s triplets.

It’s the alcohol, isn’t it?

His friends try to disengage him from me, but he only tightens his hold until I can’t breathe.

I smile sweetly like the very good person I am and then mutter, “Fuck you.”

He lifts his fist and I close my eyes. Maybe I need this so I’ll either pass out or finally snap the fuck out of it.

I wait for the punch, but it never comes.

The fingers disappear from around my throat and I watch in complete horror as Nikolai drives his fist into the guy’s face, sending him flying.

Blood explodes all over his nose and mouth as he splutters on the ground. And then he lifts him up by his T-shirt and punches him again.

And again.

Then kicks him.

When the others try to interfere, he drives his fists in their faces in a long succession of punches.

He’s in a frenzy. A craze.

He is crazy.

And yet as I stand here, the only feeling that goes through me is resounding relief.

He didn’t leave.

He came back.


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