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God of Ruin: Chapter 24


A finger snaps in my face and I startle as I meet my identical eyes. Only, the ones in front of me are framed with glittery eyeshadow and have two neon hearts on the corners.

Maya gesticulates in my direction while holding a massive coffee cup. “How dare you ignore my very important ramblings about our birthday preparations!”

“Sorry,” I sign, then take a long slurp from my Frappuccino as I stare out the cute coffee shop’s tall glass windows.

“You don’t even mean that.” She nudges me under the table with her pointy toe.

“Here. Let me take your picture. It’s good lighting.”

“Yes!” She passes me her phone and then quickly retracts it. “You’re not changing the subject or bribing me, Mia.”

Epic failure.

I wince and play with the blue straw of my reusable cup. In a further attempt to disperse Maya’s hawklike attention, I take pictures of her using my phone.

She poses for a few, but then she snatches my phone and glares at me. “What’s the reason behind the sudden reappearance of the emo?”

“I’m not going into an emo phase.”

“Bitch, please. You’ve been eating ice cream à la cheesy chick flicks, and lately, you wear so few ribbons, it’s a bit disturbing. Also, you haven’t been nagging me about all the sneaking around I’ve been doing lately.”

“Wait. You weren’t with your fashion club?”

“There!” She slams her cup on the table. “The old Mia would’ve made sure I was with the fashion club, not just take my word for it.”

I groan into my hands and busy myself with slurping intensively.

“Don’t ignore me,” Maya warns. “Unless you tell me what’s going on, I won’t know how to help you.”

I inhale a deep breath. It’s been three days since I blocked Landon out of my life.

Three days of restless sleep.

Faceless monster nightmares.

And excruciating emptiness.

The type that lurks in the background, no matter how much I keep myself occupied.

It doesn’t help that the marks Landon left on my body are taking their sweet time in fading away. Almost as if they got past the barrier of my flesh and are lingering in my soul.

To make things worse, he didn’t just take the hint and leave me alone. Of course not. In true Landon fashion, he texted me from a different number the same day I blocked him.

Whatever got your knickers in a twist better untwist sooner rather than later. I hate to break it to your pretty little head, but we’re not, in fact, done.

I blocked him again.

Then I spent the past two days ignoring my phone and pretending I’m at full capacity, when, in reality, I’m barely surviving.

It took some time to realize that I was so deep into Landon’s world that I needed the distance to see things clearly. My eyes were covered by a mist of lust and chaotic emotions and now I have the chance to see the world without it.

A world in which Landon is the definition of every decadent emotion and the hallmark of unapologetic psychos.

“It’s just a down phase,” I sign to Maya and mean it.

I really believe that I’m an addict and rehabilitation takes some time. First comes the excruciating withdrawals and then I’ll be immune.

Maya abandons her seat and crowds my bench to envelop me in a clingy hug. “I was thinking your nightmares had gradually disappeared, but the past few days, you’ve been having screaming nightmares.”

My lips part and I gently push her away. “I was screaming?”

She nods. “I was so scared and tried to wake you up, but you never acknowledged me.”

“I’m sorry for scaring you.”

“I wasn’t scared of you, idiot. I was scared for you.” Tears shine in her eyes. “I feel so helpless whenever I want to ease your pain but can’t. If I could…I would take all your nightmares.”

I stroke her cheek and wipe away her tears. As much as I love and appreciate Maya, I’m well aware that no one can take away these nightmares.

For a foolish moment, I thought Lan would with his crazy kinks and evil character. And yes, his presence helped, but the nightmares never completely vanished.

It’s me who desperately needs to acknowledge these tangled-up emotions and ideally find solutions for them.

“I’m fine, idiot,” I sign. “And, seriously, stop crying or you’ll ruin your makeup.”

“Don’t care.” She hugs me again, burying her face in my neck. “Promise you’ll tell me first when you’re ready to talk about ten years ago.”

I nod against her, even though I don’t plan to talk about it. Not now, not ever.

My shoulders lock together at the thought of mentioning the monster again. I barely managed to escape the first time. I won’t be able to make it out alive the second time.

Subtly, I pull away from Maya and tell her I need to use the bathroom.

Once I’m inside the stall, I lock the door and lean against it to catch my breath.

It’s all going to be okay. I’ve survived worse states of mind, so why does this one feel fundamentally different?

Cheerful female voices reach me from outside, then disappear. So I open the door and force a brave façade.

The moment I step out, a hand wraps around my throat and shoves me back inside the tiny stall.

My back hits the flimsy wooden separator with a thwack as a tall frame looms over me with the horrifying aura of the Grim Reaper.

It’s insane how someone’s presence can take the form of a hurricane, but that’s exactly what I feel as I stare into Landon’s darkened eyes. There’s no trace of his permanent taunting smirk, as if he’s done pretending to be the charming god whose altar everyone worships at.

Right now, he looks nothing short of a beast who’s out for mayhem.

He kicks the door closed and slams his other hand beside my head. The thwack reverberates at the base of my belly as he imprisons me in his grip.

“Hi, muse. Miss me?”

I plant a hand on his chest and attempt to push him. All of a sudden, his firm yet loose hand on my throat tightens. The breath rushes out of my lungs in one whoosh and tears form at the corners of my eyes. I claw at the collar of his shirt, scratching the skin in a desperate effort to remove his grip.

Landon, however, doesn’t waver. Not even a little. Not even close. “Don’t fight me, Mia. Not when I’m so close to fucking you all up.”

Slowly, and against my better judgment, I drop my hand from his chest and stare at his monstrous face through my blurry vision. He means it, and I know that not only is it futile to fight, but if I do, I’ll also provoke his uglier side.

His fingers ease on my throat, but they’re not completely gone. “You’re intelligent enough to recognize my beast’s cues, so whatever gave you the impression that blocking and ignoring me was such a brilliant idea?”

I lift my shaky hands and sign, “I told you. I’m bored.”


“I don’t want you anymore.”

“More fucking nonsense.”

“It’s not my problem that your ego is bigger than the earth and can’t take the reality.”

“What reality?”

“The fact that you’re not all that. I got a taste and the high only lasted for so long.” I glare at him, then shoot him his favorite sardonic smirk. “I’m fucking bored.”

It’s one moment, a fraction of a second in time, but I think I catch the subtle clenching in his jaw. The dark blue of his eyes morphs into a bottomless ocean where thousands of ships would meet their demise.

I’m not sure if I’m the ship or the storm that’s sinking it to the bottom. Maybe I’m both.

“The fucks I have to give about your feelings are nonexistent.”

“And yet you’re acting as clingy as a desperate ex.”

“Mia…don’t push it. You’re starting to piss me the fuck off.”

“Oh my. I’d be affected if I could care less.” I push him again. “As I said in that text, we’re done, Landon. Go find yourself another toy.”

“I never agreed to that and, therefore, it’s not happening.”

“You know what? This is your problem. You’re so conceited and up your own ass that you don’t even notice when others are bothered, suffocated, or completely miserable due to your presence and actions. You don’t care about the well-being of people close to you and even go out of your way to hurt them and sabotage their lives just because they happen to cross your path. If you look up the word asshole in the dictionary, you’ll find your picture on it.”

“Are you certain the word asshole is in the dictionary?” he delivers with unbothered calm.

“Is that all you heard from what I was saying?”

“Was I supposed to hear something else? Pretentiousness laced with a sense of victimization, perhaps?” He pushes his thumb against the pulse point in my throat. “Don’t act as if I forced you into anything, Mia. You begged for my cock on your fucking knees before you proceeded to choke on it. You ran so I’d chase you. You fought me so I’d wrestle you down. Spoiler alert, just because you pretend it was all me doesn’t take away your share of responsibility.”

“I’m not you. I take full responsibility for my actions. I admit that I made a mistake in falling into your trap, which is why I’m rectifying it. Let me go, Landon. Unless you’re ready to force me and unavoidably get your throat slit.”

The corner of his lips pulls in one of his taunting smirks. “You think the prospect of a slit throat would stop me?”

“No. But the possibility of losing my fight would. You want me because I challenge you every step of the way. I make you work for that fuck, unlike many of your previous dolls who opened their legs or dropped to their knees willingly. You reach a climax because, as you previously stated, I’m difficult. What you didn’t say is that you can only feel alive when there’s a certain level of provocation or defiance. You’re so empty inside that you need chaos to feel alive. You’re so emotionally stunted that anarchy has become the soul of all your relationships. So if you’re in the mood, go ahead and force me, Landon. I’ll become as lifeless as your countless statues until I get the chance to kill you.”

There, psycho. You think you’re the only one who’s perceptive about others?

I lift my chin, waiting for the smirk to be wiped off his face. My spine jerks when not only does it stay in place, but it also widens, so much so that he looks like a demon lord on his way to a war.

My body tightens, ready for a spar, though I really can’t take anything physical right now. Despite my big talk, I’m still not immune to his touch. Hell, the place where his fingers spread burns and sends a rush of tingles throughout my starved body.

I expect him to push further, to taunt and ridicule me with his brand of sarcasm, as is the norm for the asshole. However, he swiftly and easily releases me and even steps back, allowing me my first breath without his intoxicating scent and overpowering presence.

“You want me to let you go? There, I let you go.”

I stare at him, not believing what I just heard. Is Landon giving up? That’s just unfathomable. I expected resistance. Hell, I thought I’d be in this limbo for a while before he finally got bored and gave up.

I also thought he’d go the brute route and try to keep me by force or threaten me as he’s done countless times before.

This completely unbothered version was never, not even for one second, on my list of expectations.

“Mia?” Maya’s voice filters in from somewhere outside. “What’s taking you so long?”

“Go,” he whispers with that smirk still in place. “Run, muse. Try to hide. If you let me catch you again, I’ll fuck up your barely put-together life.”

My spine jerks and my fight-or-flight response surges to the surface in one overpowering go. I’ve always opted for a fight, even when I was an underdog and could be beaten to death.

The only exception is when I’m faced with Landon. I can’t fight. If I do, I’ll just slide back into his trap.

And he looks absolutely venomous and positively ravenous for another bite of my flesh.

I don’t give him that.

With one last look at his taunting grin and clenching jaw, I pull the door open and do what I should’ve done the first time I met him.

I run.

My birthday has always been a weird event. One, I’ve never really liked to be the center of attention, and that situation can turn from mildly weird to full-blown awkward.

Unlike me, Maya thrives on being the star of the show. She’s wearing a white chiffon princess dress with high heels that add unnecessary height to her already long legs. Perfect blonde curls fall down her back, teasing at the bare skin beneath it. As is customary on our birthday, I’m wearing the black version of her dress with knee-length leather boots. My hair is tied in pigtails intertwined with blue ribbons.

This is the first year we’re celebrating our birthday without our parents. Mum and Dad offered to come, but Maya said she wants to celebrate with friends. I didn’t encourage them either, because I could and would blurt out everything about the chaos that’s been happening in my life lately.

Still, Mom and Dad sent us gifts and were the first to wish us a happy birthday. They told us they loved us and that we were the brightest stars of their lives.

Niko, Kill, and Gareth threw us a massive party in the Heathens’ mansion. Everyone from TKU and their next of kin have flocked to the extravagance of money and blinding power.

They look up to my brother, cousins, and Jeremy as if they’re celebrities. The Heathens’ nonnegotiable power and untouchable vibe are everything they want to be. Mom has always told me that power is a dangerous game if you don’t know how to play it.

The Heathens, led by Jeremy, definitely do.

And that type of charisma attracts people like a magnet. This is why the hall downstairs brims with people, alcohol, and loud trendy music

Maya is dancing with a group of her fake friends of the week, taking pictures, and chugging alcohol. Technically, we’re supposed to wait until we’re twenty-one, but we’ve been drinking since last year. Besides, it’s the UK, and the legal drinking age here is eighteen.

Niko doesn’t seem to mind either. I’m sitting between him and Kill on a sofa on the upper floor. From our position, we can overlook the entire party while being detached from it.

I’d rather go to the chess club or have a birthday talk with my plants instead of taking part in this mindless celebration.

Worse, a part of me sees it as an anniversary of being a powerless mute. It’s been nearly eleven years already and there’s still that dooming thought that I’ll never be able to speak again.

Here’s to another year of complete silence, I tell myself as I take a sip of foul-tasting beer.

I don’t particularly like alcohol, and I’m such an embarrassing lightweight, but I need to shut off my brain tonight.

Especially since it’s been on high alert ever since last week when Landon declared that he’d let me go. He hasn’t tried to contact me from a thousand numbers, hasn’t cornered me again, and hasn’t even gone to the chess club.

I’ve been there almost every day to play against Mr. Whitby, but I was told Landon hasn’t been coming to the club at all lately.

Not that I care.

In fact, I’m glad he’s out of my life. I suspected the brief, tension-charged meeting in the bathroom wasn’t the end of Landon, but maybe I’m reading too much into it.

Maybe he’s finally done with me.


I don’t need the definition of toxic drama in my life.

And yet the beer tastes even more bitter and disgusting. Everything does.

I’m convinced it’s just a phase. It has to be.

“Why aren’t you dancing down there with your less pleasant clone, baby Sokolov?” Kill yells over the music and nudges my arm with his.

I lift my shoulder and don’t say anything.

Besides, one—or two—of us needs to keep an eye on Niko.

I steal a peek at my brother, who’s been chain-smoking for the past thirty minutes. One after the other, as if he’s on a mission to give his lungs cancer.

He’s been getting worse, not better, despite the coping methods Jeremy has been dishing his way. It seems that no amount of violence will drag my brother from his state of mental self-destruction.

I tap his hand and he looks at me, but like this morning when he hugged us and wished us a happy birthday, he’s not really seeing me.

After abandoning my can of beer on the coffee table, I sign, “Wanna dance?”

He shakes his head.

“For me?” I blink my eyes innocently.

He shakes his head again.

Kill throws a pillow at him. “It’s her birthday. Do it.”

“I’m going to fucking murder you, motherfucker.” Nikolai throws back the pillow, hitting Kill square in the face.

My cousin doesn’t do it again, because he might have provoked Nikolai’s trigger-happy fight response.

I grab my brother’s hand and pull, but since he’s a specimen of pure muscle, it’s impossible to move him.

Finally, he stubs out his half-finished cigarette in the overcrowded ashtray and lets me tug him to a standing position.

I hold on to his hands as I jump to the music. At first, he’s completely unaffected, but then Kill joins us and pushes Niko to make more of an effort.

The whole dancing thing happens due to them shoving each other and spinning me around.

For a moment, I get to unwind, laughing and giggling at how they’re so close to fighting while pretending to dance.

Then, all of a sudden, Kill comes to a halt.

The reason is none other than Jeremy walking in our direction, an arm wrapped around the small of his girlfriend Cecily’s back and accompanied by Glyn and Bran.

Glyn envelops me in a hug and pushes a bag into my hand. “It’s small gifts from the three of us. Happy Birthday.”

“Thank you. You didn’t have to,” I sign and look at Bran, who’s unusually stiff, then type on my phone, “I didn’t think you’d come.”

“You personally invited me. I wouldn’t miss it,” he says with a polite smile, keeping his eyes on me.

“What the fuck are you doing here?” Nikolai pushes me behind him and gets nose to nose with Bran. “Another elaborate plan from your brother? What is it this time? Arson? Assault? Murder, maybe?”

I grab onto Nikolai’s arm, and when he doesn’t move, I stand beside him and sign, “Bran is my friend. I invited him to my birthday.”

“It’s okay, Mia,” Bran says to me, even though his eyes, disturbingly similar to Landon’s when he’s angry, remain on Niko. “I couldn’t care less about your brother’s opinion of me, but it’s probably better that I leave.”

“No.” I shake my head a few times.

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

Killian, who just finished kissing Glyn—or more like eating her face in front of her brother—releases her and grabs Niko by the 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 says in a soft voice. “Bran is completely different from Lan. I promise.”

Nikolai continues glaring at Bran as if he wants to seep inside him and destroy whatever he finds in there.

This side of my brother is eerily frightening, and the worst part is that I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before.

I grab his hand and pull him back so that he looks at me. “It’s my birthday. I get to invite whomever I please. Don’t ruin it, please.”

He grunts and snatches his pack of cigarettes, but before any of us can release a breath, the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

Oh, no.

Please tell me I’m overthinking—

My hopeful thoughts come to an end when a very familiar, effortlessly taunting voice echoes in the air.

“What’s with the tense atmosphere? I thought this was a birthday. Also, did someone mention the word ‘ruin’?”

My eyes widen upon clashing with none other than Landon’s.

I was wrong.

He doesn’t look one bit done with me.


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