God of Ruin: Chapter 28

LANDON

This entire charade of practicing empathy has been proving more tedious than my sexual frustration.

And that’s saying something, considering my cock has been a literal dick ever since we’ve been closed for business.

Forget trying to shag other women. I can’t even look at them without imagining Mia’s soft face, pouty lips, and bright eyes looking at me like my own sex goddess.

Once upon a time, before she came along, I used to go to deviant sex clubs to find women who are into the unholy kinks I like to dish out. But after making the acquaintance of Mia’s sweet cunt and ferocious fight, the mere thought of touching someone else brings a foul taste to the back of my throat.

So now, I’m nothing more than a tension-filled entity of irritation and violence. An existence that can neither be measured nor contained and that keeps growing bigger with each passing second.

My beast has been scratching and clawing at the walls of my sanity, demanding a purging outlet. The crazier the better.

I would love nothing more than to give him a taste of euphoric anarchy. But the downside is, if I let him loose, Mia won’t give me the time of the day ever again. I’ll turn mental and could and would revert to drastic measures to have her.

And believe it or not, that would—according to Bran, who’s up for a sainthood—ruin everything and make me lose her for good.

There wouldn’t be any late-night roof dates like a few days ago. She wouldn’t meet me for chess or for a boring walk along the beach like some Victorian couple.

She wouldn’t open up to me or try to understand me. There would be no more magical laughs, bashful smiles, or pointed glares that only manage to tease my cock out of his hibernation state.

That mere possibility hovers over my chest and sanity like a dangerous brick wall that threatens to crush everything I’ve been building.

I’d be empty again like Uncle Aiden said.

And while I was completely comfortable with my supreme emptiness before—proud of it, even—that option isn’t on or under the table anymore.

So I’m dedicating my energy to something a lot more productive or, more precisely, on something that I’ve been considering for a while now.

“So?” I ask as Glyn stands in the middle of my room like a lost lamb.

Bran gives me a look from his position on the sofa beside me. Let’s just say he’s been enjoying this ‘let’s teach Landon emotions’ mission a bit too much.

He’s a glutton for righteousness and likes to think about other people’s emotions. All the time. Like a psycho.

I honestly believe he needs urgent apathy lessons from yours truly. But that’s a topic for another day.

Glyn releases a long sigh and slowly sits on the chair opposite us and pushes strands of her hair behind her ears. Her movements are wary and a bit awkward, like when she couldn’t figure out where she belonged in our extremely artistic family.

She often felt like she was the least talented, no matter how much Mum told her that art manifests in different manners for different people.

I taught her how to sketch for the first time when she was maybe three years old. For some reason, as I watch her now, I’m hit by the magical look that she had in her big green eyes when she looked at me back then.

The awe, the wonder, and the complete enchantment that was there when I used her little fingers to doodle on some paper. Of course, that was my creation, but Glyn took that paper and went running to Mum, screaming, “Look what Lan teached me!”

I realize with a sense of slight discomfort that back then, I experienced these bursts of pride and joy for reasons unknown. Naturally, those moments were few and far between and diminished the older I got, but they did exist.

It’s like a reminder of how largely the emptiness staked claim inside me. I refuse to lose any more of my agency to the demons lurking in the dark corners of my soul.

“Are you sure this is the right thing to do?” Glyn asks Bran instead of me since he’s the morality police around here.

“He doesn’t want to hurt her,” Bran says with the calmness of an ancient monk.

“Still. Isn’t it a breach of privacy to talk about something the family has kept hidden?”

“Not if I have information they don’t.” I take a sip of my beer in a failed attempt to hide my grin.

I happen to be quite proud of the fact that Mia told me things she’s never spoken of to her family. Prick Nikolai and pretentious Maya included.

Have you ever thought she told you that because she believes whoever knows will be killed by her kidnapper? part of my brain that’s wishing for a bullet whispers like a stage-five twat.

Besides, I could’ve asked Mia about the rest of the story and she would’ve eventually told me, but I didn’t want her to relive her kidnapping incident when she already gets nightmares about it.

“But…” Glyn trails off and plays with the zipper of her tiny backpack that I’m surprised can fit anything bigger than a mouse.

Speaking of which, I would rather I was in the company of my own little mouse, but, apparently, we’re not supposed to meet often.

When I asked her if she was hiding me from her family, she didn’t reply, and that was enough of an answer. She’s still ashamed of me, possibly refusing to tell her brother and his band of meddling fools that she’s seeing me.

And will be for a very long time.

But that’s okay. Everything will fall back into place. Not because I’m a hopeful romantic—disgusting—but because I’ll make it happen whether she likes it or not.

I’m open to anything, including relearning the entire world fucking history and seeing it in rosy colors instead of human greed, but letting her go is not an option.

Not in this lifetime or the next, or the twenty after.

“You don’t like lying to Killian?” Bran finishes for Glyn, bringing me back to the present moment.

Of course he’d figure out what she was about to say just by looking at her. I figured it out, too, but mainly because I’m nothing if not brilliant at linking patterns.

Glyn is somewhat of an empath, so she’s partially fine with exposing Mia’s secret if it means she’ll participate in helping her. What she’s not fine with, however, is going behind that twat Killian’s back to help me.

And I happen to be her brother, for fuck’s sake.

“He told me what he knows because he trusts me,” she says. “I don’t want to lose his trust.”

“You won’t, because none of us will tell,” I say in a calmer tone than I feel. “Think about it this way, the good outweighs the bad in this situation. Do you think he’ll be mad if what you disclose will help his beloved cousin?”

“Well, I don’t think so.” She releases her bag’s zipper and straightens. “Okay, so Kill has always avoided this subject whenever it comes up, but a few days ago, after the show you put on, something changed.”

Thank fuck.

I don’t say that out loud, though, or my attempts at rehabilitating my image with my siblings would take a sharp dive toward the worst.

I actually like that they don’t wear expressions of dread or disgust whenever I’m in their field of vision. They actually come to hang out in my room without me forcing them to—in Bran’s case it’s more to keep an eye on me.

They’re tangible proof that, yes, I controlled them over the years, but despite my godly logic, that process never produced a great relationship. This softer version, while not my favorite, is able to generate better results.

“In what sense did it change?” Bran asks.

Glyn leans forward in her seat. “So he was livid, understandably, since you apparently called her a mute upon first seeing her.”

“An ancient mistake,” I say.

“Killian doesn’t see it that way. He feels that you’re unable to respect that part of her. So I probed a bit more and he told me what he knows. The story happened when Killian was nine and Mia was about eight years old. Maya and Mia were being driven home when they were attacked in the middle of the road. One bodyguard got killed, but the other managed to protect the girls. However, one of the assailants reached in and took both of them. Mia struggled, kicked, and bit his hand until he released Maya. In the end, she was the only one who got kidnapped. The other bodyguard managed to get Maya home safely. For three days, they didn’t have any news. Her parents expected a ransom call, but they didn’t get one in the beginning.

“Killian said that was the darkest time for their family. Her parents mobilized the entirety of their resources in the Russian mafia to find her. They closed New York and flipped it upside down in search of the assailant, but they came up empty. Just when they were about to go crazy, they got a call. The kidnapper wanted twenty-five million sent to an offshore bank account, and only when they made the transfer would he tell them her location. If they didn’t agree to his demands, he would’ve still told them her location, but she would have been dead. Naturally, they made the transfer, and he sent them a GPS location. They found Mia balled up in a fetal position inside a dark, humid basement. She was starved and had a bloody lip and welts on her body, but she wasn’t crying. The doctor said that while she was hit, thankfully, she wasn’t sexually assaulted. But ever since then, she’s never spoken a word, and the professionals ruled it as mental rather than physical.”

My fingers tighten on the bottle so hard, I’m surprised I don’t crush it to pieces and watch my blood spill on the ground.

Just listening to what happened to her triggers an avalanche of feelings I know so well. It’s similar to when those twats made Bran the joke of the school, but these emotions are a lot stronger in intensity and could only be categorized as black rage.

Someone had the audacity not only to terrorize my Mia but also to threaten and traumatize her enough to steal her voice for a whole decade.

“She went through a lot,” Bran comments with a hunch in his shoulders.

“What else?” I ask in a slightly tight tone that even I don’t recognize.

Glyn watches me carefully. “That’s all. Mia’s parents searched all over the world for her kidnapper but found no trace of him. They suspected it could have been one of the bodyguards who disclosed the route since only they and her parents knew about it, but one of them died and the one who survived brought Maya home while badly injured, so if he had been in on it, he would’ve had Maya taken as well. They’ve been at a stalemate since then. It doesn’t help that Mia never disclosed any details about what happened.”

Because she was threatened by the fucking bastard who’ll wish he was dead the moment I find him.

“Does her family have any theories? Suspects?”

Glyn lifts her shoulders. “Not really. They definitely suspect it was an enemy of either or both of them, but that’s apparently a given in the mafia. Even Annika, Jeremy’s sister, was nearly kidnapped a few times. This is the only time they’ve gotten away with it, though.”

No, they haven’t.

If my calculations are correct, there’s one possible theory that none of them seem to have considered. But in order for that possibility to work, I need to confirm a few things first.

“Not sure if that helps…” Glyn trails off.

“It does.” I abandon my beer, then stand and ruffle her hair. “Thanks, little princess.”

She stares up at me with a parted mouth before she nods and lets her lips pull in a smile. “Sure.”

I head to my walk-in. “Feel free to hang out with the drama king, Remi, or Creigh if he’s around. I’m going out.”

“I’ll ask the girls to join me,” Glyn throws back and I hear her footsteps retreating from the room.

Other footsteps, however, approach me. I remove my shirt and dunk it in the laundry bin, then stare at my brother.

Bran leans against the doorframe, arms and ankles crossed. A rare gleam and subtle smugness shine through his eyes.

“What?”

“You just thanked Glyn for the first time ever.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I must’ve thanked her before.” I click the wardrobe button and watch my crisp, ironed shirts roll before me.

“No, you haven’t. You’re too egotistical to thank others or even see merits in them.”

“The only people whose merits I refuse to honor with even a glance are incompetent fools. Glyn doesn’t belong on that endless list.”

“Because she shares your genes?”

“Precisely.” I snatch an off-white shirt. “And she’s also never been daft. Just a bit too hung up on emotions for my taste, but oh well, as you constantly remind me, not everyone is built from the same genius clay you and I are made of.”

“You…think you and I are the same?”

“We’re identical twins, Bran.”

“Not in thinking.”

“Not one hundred percent, no.” I put on my shirt and start to button it as I look at him with a tilted head. “But you’re suppressing something, and as long as you’re doing that, we’re not too far off in hiding our secrets, are we?”

A somber look passes in his eyes, and if I weren’t in such a hurry, I’d explore it with more vigor. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You never do, Bran.” I grab his shoulder and squeeze on my way out. “You never do.”

He catches my arm. “Where are you going?”

“Don’t worry. I’m not off to instigate a new war unless chess counts.”

“You’re really just going to play chess?”

“I know, right? I’ve become too boring for my own good.”

He gives me a quizzical glance, but he lets me go. “Remember, Lan. If you fall back into your manipulation and chaos patterns, it won’t work.”

“Yes, Mum.” I do a mock salute and I’m rewarded with Bran’s snickering.

On my way out of the mansion, I shoot my cousin Eli a text.

Landon: Remember the exchange of favors we once talked about?

Eli: Ready to go down like a little bitch?

Landon: Only if you turn into a smaller bitch than my highness.

Eli: Your arrogance will get you killed one day.

Landon: Not when your arrogance is alive and thriving. Now, as much as I love talking shit, I need something.

Eli: The question is, do you need it enough to lose your bargaining chip?

Landon: Yes.

Eli: Prepare to lose the race as the best King grandchild.

I ignore him. Eli thinks that I have only one bargaining chip, but he’ll learn, after I get what I want, that there’s no pushing Landon King to the side, not even by the hands of another King.

After sending him instructions about the possible proof that can make my theory a reality, I drive to the chess club.

Now, I don’t expect Mia to show up after she specifically asked me not to pester her, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

Yes. Unfortunately, I’ve become so irrevocably obsessed with the little muse that I’m surviving on the mere hope of being able to see her.

Desperate much? Abso-fucking-lutely.

I park my McLaren opposite the entrance and step out, only to be greeted by the most miserable weather England has to offer. The wind slaps me across the face, and I close my eyes to ward off the assault. When I open them, I see none other than Mia getting out of her car.

My lips pull in a wide smile.

Despite her occasional reluctance, she can’t get enough of me either, and her face lights up whenever we meet. Which is why I had a hunch she would be here…

As she approaches me, her black tulle dress swishes, and her ribbons fly in the wind. She comes to a slow halt in front of me, her eyes entirely fucking wrong.

I cross my arms even as I keep my smile in place—only, it’s much more fake now. “I thought we weren’t supposed to meet since you’re apparently scared shitless of everyone in your family finding out about us. Changed your mind?”

“This is my club, too, last I checked,” she signs and lifts her chin.

“Which you knew I’d be coming to. Does that mean you miss me?”

“In your dreams.”

“I’ll take that as you don’t mind Nikolai and the others finding out about our very secret, very intimate rendezvous.”

Her cheeks heat and rage blares in her eyes that are more wrong than vanilla sex.

“It doesn’t matter, because I’m getting bored and could send you packing any second. In fact, I’m doing it right now.”

“I’m disappointed.” I release a dramatic sigh. “You put all this effort into pretending to be someone else, so the least you can do is be more subtle about it, Maya.”

She flinches, but instead of trying to go on with the charade, she clicks her tongue and says, “What gave me away? Not too many ribbons? Not quick enough sign language?”

“Neither. You could’ve done the outside to perfection, but you still wouldn’t have fooled me. Your eyes are entirely wrong and extremely revolting.”

“Fuck you, asshole.”

“No, thanks. I much prefer your sister.”

She hikes a hand on her hip. “Of all the people who could’ve warranted your deranged attention, why did it have to be her?”

Because she makes me see sides of me I didn’t know existed before.

But I don’t tell Maya that since I don’t owe her shit, and she narrows her eyes. “Just so you know, I don’t approve.”

“Just so you know, I can’t find any fucks to give.” I pause. “Besides, shouldn’t you all learn how to respect her wishes? Ever thought that this excessive overprotection might be suffocating her?”

“We just want what’s best for her.”

“And she doesn’t?”

“That’s not what I said.”

“That’s what you mean. She’s old enough to make her own decisions without your or anyone else’s unwanted interference.”

She opens her mouth, but she looks behind me and her eyes turn into big pools of panic.

I stare back and catch a shadow of two men before they disappear into a side building.

“Maya?” I call her name and snap my fingers in her face.

She startles and the fear spreads to her shaking limbs. It’s similar to Mia’s state when she was scared shitless of the dark.

“I… I have to go.” She runs back to Mia’s car and has to try twice before she can open the door.

I continue staring at where the men disappeared to. Interesting.

I shelve that information for later as I text Mia.

Landon: Your sister just pretended to be you so she could break us apart. I figured her out the second I saw her pretentious eyes. Don’t I get a reward for that?

No answer.

I tap my finger against the back of the phone for a few beats, then type again.

Landon: In my modest opinion (I’m just playing—there’s nothing modest about me), the forbidden love vibes are hitting so hard. But fuck that, am I right?

Again, she reads the text but doesn’t reply.

While Mia gets a kick out of playing the role of a medieval princess who’s into courting and talking about feelings, she hasn’t been ignoring me lately.

Or maybe she was the one who sent Maya over—

No, she’s not the type who shies away from confrontation. If she wanted to tell me something, she wouldn’t hesitate to invade my space and give me a piece of her mind.

My phone lights up in my hand and I stare at her name. Mia doesn’t call, for obvious reasons. She’s not a fan of FaceTime calls either, except for when her parents are involved.

Unless—

I answer it. “Is something the matter?”

“Everything is grand, minus your annoying interference. Mia and I are having a good time, so how about you piss off?”

Beep.

Beep.

Beep.

I stare at the screen of my phone as that very familiar—soon very dead—voice rings in my ear.

Fucking Rory seems to have been praying for his funeral.

What am I if not an extremely good sport?

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