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God of Ruin: Chapter 27

MIA

I expected many demands from Landon, including trying to trick me into having sex, forcing his way into my life, or suggesting we get back together.

Surprisingly, he does none of the above.

In fact, he merely asks me to go on a date with him.

A date.

No kidding.

Landon King, who would be elected as the leader of psychopaths if given the chance, actually wants to do something as normal as a date.

Not only that, but he invited me over to the Elites’ mansion, where he set up an extravagant setting on the open terrace on the roof.

Dim yellow lights hang above the table like a halo.

Two blue candles sit on the aesthetically pleasing tablecloth, casting a soft edge on the otherwise sharp atmosphere. A few dishes lie on the table and I lick my lips at the mouthwatering smell.

Lentil soup, Mediterranean salad, pasta with meatballs, and a delicious-looking lamb tagine. Landon definitely picked up on my favorites and the fact that I love eating everything at the same time without the common order of appetizers, a main course, and a second course.

A large hand lands on the small of my back and the smell of intoxicating male cologne fills my nostrils as Landon leads me to one of the chairs.

He pulls it out and helps push me forward once I’m seated, like he’s some sort of chivalrous prick. He looks the part, too, dressed in a casual black sports jacket and pants with an off-white shirt.

He sits opposite me with infinite elegance and pours me a glass of cola and himself a glass of wine.

He often offered me that, but alcohol and I don’t vibe very well, so he learned to get me cola whenever I came over to the haunted house.

I can’t help studying his face in search of a sign of deceit. Considering he’s possibly the definition of the word, it’s strange that I find no trace of it.

My gaze skims over his outwardly peaceful expression. His usually dangerous lips are set in a neutral line, and even the mole beneath his right eye that usually looks menacing is now just a welcoming beauty mark.

“What’s with all of this?” I sign.

“I told you.” He swirls the red liquid in his glass with the elegance of a demon lord. “A date.”

“Why here and not in a restaurant?”

“You find them tedious and less personal, so I opted for a more intimate experience where you can have all your favorite dishes instead.”

I mentioned that several weeks ago and he still remembers it so well. Seriously, I’m starting to think he has an elephant’s memory.

In my internal musings, I nearly forgot I was staring. To which Landon smiles broadly with a perverse sense of satisfaction.

I clear my throat. “Why are you taking me on a date? It’s not like you believe in normal.”

“I don’t, but you do.”

“But—”

“Can you stop asking pointless questions and just eat? Look at what I cooked for you.”

My lips part and I pause before I grab the spoon. “You cooked these?”

“Of course.”

“Of course? Why are you saying that as if it’s a given? You never cooked before.”

“As I’ve mentioned countless times, I’m a fast learner. You’re welcome.”

I cast another glance at the food and then take a tentative sip from the soup. The rich taste explodes in my mouth like a home-cooked meal. Before I know it, I’m done with it.

I move to the pasta, and it tastes even better than the soup. The lamb is a knockout, but I choose to take my time with it, partly because I’m almost full and I want to savor what I’m eating.

A sudden breeze ruffles my hair and goosebumps erupt on my naked arms. For some reason, the sensation doesn’t seem to be entirely related to the cold. I lift my gaze, and my mouthful of food gets stuck at the back of my throat.

Landon, who I assumed was also eating, is not. His undivided attention is dangerously focused on me, head on his fist as he swirls the wine glass with his free hand.

I swallow the contents of my mouth with effort and slowly set my utensils on the table. “What do you want?”

“Should I want something?” he replies with disturbing nonchalance.

“You always do.”

“Hmm. Maybe you’re right and I do want something.”

“Which is?”

“To get my fill of you, which I’ve been doing spectacularly.”

The temperature rises in my chest and forms knots at the base of my belly. I try and fail to control the unconscious reaction as I sign, “You want me to believe that the great Landon King would settle for such a trivial thing?”

“I couldn’t believe it myself, but I also wouldn’t categorize it as trivial.”

“You mean to tell me you’re content with this very normal date and wouldn’t trade it with chasing or choking me?”

“What type of blasphemy is that? Of course I would. But, apparently, it’s better to go against my instinct in situations like these. I don’t really get the hype about emotions, but I’m trying.”

“Trying to what? Have them?”

“Nonsense.” His lips lift in clear disgust and he drowns it with a sip of wine. “I’m trying not to use my understanding of emotions in a destructive manner. At least, not with the people who matter.”

Thump.

Thump.

Thump.

My heart nearly explodes from behind my rib cage. I breathe in and out slowly, attempting, no, refusing to be caught in the web of Landon’s chaos-driven world again.

“Does that mean you didn’t consider your other options?”

“What other options?”

“The girls who throw themselves at you ready to satisfy your wildest kinks.”

“The only girl I want to satisfy my kinks is you, so everyone else is redundant.”

I swallow thickly, my heart rate still refusing to go down. “Are you telling me you weren’t tempted? Not even a little?”

“No. I quit going to the sex clubs after you came into my life.”

“You went to sex clubs?”

“All the time. I used to go there mostly to satisfy my exhibitionism kink.”

“And you don’t need to now?”

His eyes darken. “Absolutely not. The thought of anyone seeing you naked turns me murderous.”

I clear my throat. “I don’t know what caused this change, but it doesn’t matter. If you hurt my family again, Jeremy included, not only will I never share space with you again, but I’ll also make it my mission to destroy you.”

“Oh?” A sardonic smirk lifts the corner of his lips. “Did you mention a form of destruction?”

“Do you think I’m joking?”

“Far from it. Which is why I’m taking the risk.”

“Risk?”

“I told you this whole sentimental gibberish doesn’t come naturally to me.” He takes another sip of wine and stares into the starless sky in the distance.

“Then how do you intend to learn it versus merely emulating it?”

“As I’ve continuously mentioned, I happen to be a genius.”

“Intellectual IQ is worlds apart from emotional IQ. You might score two hundred on the former, but you’re minus two hundred on the latter.”

He clicks his tongue, the first sign of annoyance peeking through the creasing lines around his eyes and mouth. “I’m far more superior and efficient than fools who let their feelings dictate their actions. What’s so high and mighty about having emotions?”

“You really don’t get it, do you?” I sign without any sense of anger or disappointment. I’ve always thought of Landon’s condition in the clinical sense, or maybe as I blamed him for all the shit he keeps stirring, but this is the first time I’ve realized he probably doesn’t know anything else.

He’s never experienced any of the normal emotions many of us do. No genuine love, sadness, heartache, or anything of sentimental value.

The fact that he can emulate them doesn’t mean he can feel them. It’s why he’s lethal when he gets hold of other people’s weaknesses.

His lack of both empathy and guilt makes him the ultimate mental weapon.

It’s also why he gets irritated when forced to act opposite his nature.

“Get what?” he asks in an unfamiliar tight tone.

Landon’s strength is his ability to not get agitated or ruffled, like an ancient, untouchable god with thousands of followers.

He’s right. It’s different now.

He’s definitely trying to go against his fundamentals and it’s throwing him off. For some reason, a part inside me softens and I can’t help feeling a tinge of joy that he’s trying to act different.

For me.

Not anyone else. Just me.

I shake my head and choose to focus on something else instead. “If you want to learn emotions, I can help.”

“Oh? I thought you were a self-proclaimed emotionless bad bitch.”

“Bad bitch, yes. Emotionless, no. I just enjoy teaching those who mess with me or my family a lesson. Anyway, let me ask you.” I take a sip of my cola. “From your family and friends, who do you think of when you hear the word love?”

“What is this? Amateur therapy?” He scrunches his nose as if he smells something foul. “Why does everyone seem to have an imaginary license lately?”

“Just answer the question, Landon.”

“Mum and Dad. Next boring question.”

“Why do they come first?”

“Ever since I was young, they’ve always respected, worshiped, and taken care of each other. They’ve never had a fight that lasted more than a day. They love each other to the point of obsession, if you ask me. Too much PDA for my liking.”

“Have you ever thought about having a relationship like theirs?”

“No. Because I don’t see the hype about the love and compromise strategy they employ in their marriage.”

“Who have you felt closer to between the two?”

“Dad in the beginning. Then Mum because of our shared artistic values and because she said I’m a better artist than her or anyone she knows. Neither now. I realized my personality and theirs are so different, I might as well not have been their son. I don’t hate it. I don’t like it. I simply understand it the way every individual should instead of transforming into a drama queen…why are you looking at me as if you pity me?”

“I don’t.” I just feel inexplicably sad for him. He might not feel it, but the fact that he realized early on that he was so different from the people he was closest to must’ve been so confusing to him.

He narrows his eyes. “Are your wannabe shrink questions over?”

“I’m not trying to be a shrink. I just want to understand you better.”

“Why?”

“Because that’s how interpersonal relationships are made.”

“Huh.”

He appears genuinely pensive and I wish I could take a trip inside his brain and see how he processes information. This is the first time he seems so open and not attempting any form of manipulation.

Landon finishes his glass of wine and pours himself another one. When he offers some to me, I nod. The first step of establishing a bond is to build common ground around something. I’m ready to sacrifice my disregard for alcohol to get him to open up more.

He raises a brow, but he pours me a glass anyway, then takes a sip of his. “Tell me more about how these so-called interpersonal relationships happen.”

“Well, first you have to be interested in getting to know the other person.”

“I’m clearly interested in you. Next.”

I nearly choke on the tentative sip of wine I’ve taken. The heat from earlier rises to my ears again, but I choose to believe it’s because of the alcohol.

“Then you’d want to learn as much as possible about them. Like their interests, favorite color, favorite movie, hobbies, and so on.”

“Despite wearing black all the time, your favorite color is, in fact, blue. I suppose you don’t wear it as much because you hold it in high regard and don’t want to waste it on everyday activities. Your favorite movie is a tie between Mad Max and Fight Club because, unlike your prim and proper anti-chaos talk, you do enjoy watching violence and anarchy, which is why you often complain about Maya’s romantic comedy movie nights. Your favorite food is Italian, mostly pasta, specifically carbonara. Your interests include chess, meditation, working out, and, of course, growing plants and then talking to them as if they possess a soul and feelings. Oh, and you definitely have deviant sexual tastes that fit mine like a glove.”

My lips part and I have to catch myself before I start drooling or something a lot worse.

Landon is perceptive to a fault, but I never thought he’d pick up pieces and stitch them together this efficiently.

“Did I miss something?” he asks when I don’t reply.

I clear my throat and sign, “Yeah, one thing. I’m not as deviant as you.”

“Highly debatable. Care for a bet?”

“I’m done betting with you.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure. The temptation will arise sooner or later.”

I narrow my eyes but soon relax. “I see what you’re doing.”

“What I’m doing?”

“Trying to rile me up so we’ll slip back into your territory, and you’d have complete control over the outcome of the situation. I’m telling you it won’t work, so you might want to give up.”

A slight smirk lifts his gorgeous lips. “My territory is more fun. Just saying.”

“It’s also more destructive and causes strain to anyone who’s not you.”

“If by strain you mean coming a few times a night, then sure, it’s a massive strain.”

I glare. He stares back, still smirking.

Then again, it’s impossible to make him abandon all bad habits in one go. The fact that he’s willing to listen without imposing his threats and ultimatums is progress as it is.

Small steps, right?

“Moving on,” I sign. “Another method is to tell the other person something no one else knows.”

“I will only do that if you reciprocate.”

I narrow my eyes. There he is back to the choices. But this one seems fair enough, so I nod.

“I’ve never considered any of my statues a masterpiece.”

I straighten in my chair. “Are you joking?”

“When have I ever?”

I stare at his face, but there’s no hint of a lie. He means it. He actually thinks all his absolutely gorgeous, though often disturbing, pieces are not all that.

“But you always say you’re an untouchable genius and God’s gift to the art community and humanity.”

“That I am. I just still haven’t produced the piece I’ve been wanting to since I was two years old.”

“What defines a masterpiece for you?”

“It’s just a feeling. I’ll know it when I experience it.” He points his glass at me. “Your turn.”

I bite the corner of my lip and then release it. He really did tell me something special, so I can’t just hide from this.

Maybe it’s because of my inexplicable need to build up the bond between us, but I go for it. “I never told anyone about my kidnapper, because they said if I mention anything, they’ll know and will kill that person in front of my eyes.”

My limbs tremble as I sign the words. The words due to which my entire world has been flipped upside down leave me like a whoosh of icy air.

“Is that why you stopped speaking?” Landon asks in an eerily calm tone.

I nod. “My family thinks it’s because of the trauma and I let them believe that.”

Why am I telling him all of this? Why am I digging my fingers into the old, infested wound even though it hurts?

It’s alcohol. Must be the alcohol.

Landon stands up and I’m too slow to follow his movements. Before I know it, he’s beside me. He removes his jacket and places it around my shoulders, then presses down gently.

It’s then I realize that not only my hands are shaking, but my whole body is.

Landon lowers himself so his face is level with mine. The scent of his cologne sends a strange calming effect through me and I inhale him, breathing in as much as my lungs can take.

Isn’t it mad that I find peace in a monster?

My eyes meet his darker ones, but for some reason, they appear lighter, shinier, like the sky before sunset.

“I’m drunk,” I sign. “Forget everything I said.”

“On the contrary, I will remember every word.” He slides a stray strand behind my ear and I lean my cheek against his warm hand. “No one steals from you and gets to breathe, little muse. I’ll make sure you regain your voice even if it’s the last thing I do.”

My breathing comes in short intervals, but before I can think of anything to say, Landon lowers his head and nips my bottom lip.

Then in one swooping motion, he dips down and claims my mouth with a ferocious passion. He doesn’t only kiss me, he feasts on me. His tongue curls around mine, sweeping, tasting, and biting.

Landon has always been more interested in sex, but he’s rarely kissed me. This one, however, is more than a kiss.

It’s a whispered promise.

A nonnegotiable claim.

A new beginning.

Because I know, I just know, Landon and I will never be the same after this.


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