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God of Ruin: Chapter 3

MIA

“You didn’t answer me.” Nikolai’s voice booms in the room as he nudges me with a foot.

I lose balance, but I go back into position and don’t open my eyes.

Anyone with any form of common sense would leave me to meditate in peace, but my brother and common sense have been fighting each other for his entire life.

He pushes me again, and this time, I fall to my ass and start to glare up at him, but I startle when I find him in my face.

Literally.

He’s leaning so low, the bent position appears creepy at worst and awkward at best.

My brother is a year older than Maya and me, but he couldn’t look any different. Where we take after our mom and her identical twin sister, he takes after Dad. They share the chameleon eye shade of turquoise blue, some of the same body structure, and dark hair—though my brother wears his long.

It’s currently tied in a low ponytail at his nape, which highlights his unwelcoming, grim face. I love my brother, and he’s actually handsome, but you have to look past his usual manic expression to see that.

Also, he’s shirtless ninety percent of the time—now included. And that puts all his hedonistic, scary tattoos on display for the world to see.

Add the fact that he’s quite buff, and you have the perfect recipe for a disaster waiting to happen.

It doesn’t help that he was brought up as the mafia heir for my parents’ positions in the New York Bratva.

At times, he’s like a psycho with a license to beat, maim, and even kill. Other times, he’s just my brother who used to take me and Maya for ice cream and defend us in front of a deadly stray dog.

“I’m still waiting for an answer,” he repeats his earlier words.

I can’t help glancing at the bandage covering the base of his neck.

That’s the reason I bathed that asshole Landon in pig blood a few days ago, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

“I’m still waiting,” Nikolai says again in his usual gruff, but now completely irritable voice. I swear he has the patience of a toddler.

“For what?” I sign, wearing my innocent face. “And rude, by the way. Didn’t I tell you not to bother me when I’m meditating?”

“Blah fucking blah. You’re not deflecting.” He gets even closer so that I’m breathing mint off his breath. “Where did you take your sister the other night, and why were you laughing like evil maniacs after you came back? I know an adrenaline rush when I see it, and you two definitely had one. So out with it.”

I play with the dozen blue ribbons in my hair, pretending to fix them. “What makes you think I took her somewhere? Maybe she’s the one who took me.”

“She’s malicious, but you’re the brains behind every disaster you two plan. I don’t have all day, Mia. What the fuck did you do, and do I have to maim someone?”

I point a proud thumb at myself. “Your baby sister took care of it. Just rest assured, Niko.”

He narrows his eyes and it looks maniacal, scarily so. He’s not the type to be deterred from his inquiries, especially when Maya and I are involved.

Besides, although we live in a flat close to the mansion where he resides with the Heathens, he doesn’t have access to us all day long.

Yes, there are bodyguards, but Maya and I made it clear that they were only for outside and would never come inside the house. Or, God forbid, follow us around.

We were unlucky the other day, because when we came back, we found Nikolai waiting for us.

He definitely didn’t believe our lie that we were with friends. One, we don’t have those. People have always been either scared or wary of us, so Maya and I became each other’s best friend.

My sister has a huge following on social media and is in a clique with people who are similar to her, but even she wouldn’t call them friends. She used to be super close with our nanny when we were growing up, and she often called her a friend, but that ended after the nanny left the state to be with her family.

Two, despite my and Maya’s abilities to come up with an imaginary scenario on the spot and finish each other’s lies effortlessly, Nikolai has been with us all our lives, and while he likes to pretend he can’t differentiate between us when we dress the same, he actually can.

He can also tell when we’re acting.

“What happened that night, hmm?” he asks, completely undeterred by my answer. “And don’t tell me nothing, because I call bullshit.”

“It’s really nothing,” I sign with a sweet smile.

I learned early on that I have a cute face. Maya does everything to make hers sexy. I’m using this shit to my benefit.

If you’re cute and you smile, people will easily fall for your charms.

I just have to appear gullible until I find the chance to kick or punch them in the face. Like I did to Landon King.

A shudder snakes down my spine at the image of his manic smile that night. I actually had a nightmare about his bloodied smirk and the ‘I’m watching you’ sign.

He couldn’t possibly know it was me. I never removed the mask, and I technically wasn’t invited to that party.

My ally, the one who provided those invitations and let me in the Elites’ mansion, wouldn’t sell me out.

In fact, Brandon, Landon’s twin brother and my ally, sent me a picture of his brother covered in blood with a text.

Brandon: Did you do this?

Mia: If I say yes, would you hate me?

Brandon: No. I actually like you more now. I’m impressed.

Mia: You’re not mad that I used the invitations you gave me to do this?

Brandon: Not really. I figured you were up to no good when you asked for them.

Mia: What if you get in trouble with your brother?

Brandon: I know how to deal with him. Don’t worry.

So it was a win on all accounts. I get to keep my fresh, new, and completely unsure friendship with Bran, and I also got revenge for what his psycho brother did to mine.

Still, I’ve been unconsciously watching my surroundings the past couple of days, expecting Landon to jump me from behind.

Or worse—drag me into some dark corner, where I would definitely be defenseless.

“Okay.” Nikolai rises to his full height.

“Okay?” I repeat in sign language, not sure if I heard him correctly.

“Yeah, okay. You and Maya can have it your way.” He tilts his head to the side. “In exchange, I’m adding two more bodyguards, and everyone on your bodyguard team will be following your every move.”

I jump up and sign furiously, “You can’t do that.”

“You’ll see proof of me doing exactly that first thing in the morning.”

Oh crap.

If my brother says it’s happening, it’s definitely happening.

“Wait,” I sign and release a sigh. “Okay, we lied. I actually met with a new friend of mine I don’t think you’d approve of, which is why we didn’t tell you.”

“Name. Address. School.”

“Brandon King. He lives in the Elites’ mansion, and he goes to REU.”

My brother pauses and his brows nearly reach his hairline. “Since when are you friends with someone from REU?”

“It just happened. You know, that time his brother, Landon, was bothering Kill and being rude, Brandon apologized on his behalf. Afterward, we played a game together and became friends.”

“Killian never told me this.”

“Not sure why.” Because Bran actually asked him to, I think. And since Killian was trying to get on Bran’s good side so that he could date his sister, he kept quiet about the whole incident.

“So you’re telling me you and Lotus…” he trails off and clears his throat. “And Brandon are friends.”

“Yeah. We meet for gaming and stuff. We keep kicking each other’s butts. You should see it.”

“Maybe I should,” he murmurs under his breath.

“Does that mean you’re okay with it?”

His bemused state completely disappears, and he narrows his eyes. “Absolutely not. You’re not to get involved with anyone in the Elites.”

“But he’s really different, Niko. He’s so nice and such a gentleman.”

“Oh?”

“Totally! And he’s nothing like his tool of a brother, Landon.”

“So you and Maya were with Brandon that night?”

I nod.

“Where? In their mansion?”

“No. They had some sort of party there, so we met in a gaming café and played for a while.”

“Maya. In a gaming café? The nerd hotspot, as she calls it?”

Shit. I miscalculated that.

Maya wouldn’t step foot inside one of those places with her cheapest heel.

“She wanted to meet Bran because I’ve been telling her so much about him.”

“So much about him,” he repeats in a mysterious tone.

“Yeah. She totally likes him.” Now, I have to actually introduce Maya and Bran. Yikes. They probably won’t get along.

Nikolai fetches my phone from the floor and hands it over. “Call him.”

I jerk. “What?”

“You said you’re friends and spend time together. That means you have his number, no?”

I nod.

“Then call him. I want to verify your story.”

I open my phone and type furiously. “This is ridiculous. Do you have that little faith in me? It’s like you don’t believe me.”

“I don’t,” he says point-blank. “Call him.”

“He’s not used to me calling him.”

“I’m sure he won’t mind it this once since he’s so nice and such a gentleman.” I don’t miss the way he stresses the words I mentioned.

Ah, crap.

I try to buy as much time as possible as I scroll to find Bran’s name while hoping Maya will pop in here already.

She’s always invading my space, but not this time. She’s probably hiding so Niko won’t grill her for answers. The little traitor.

When I take longer than necessary, Nikolai snatches my phone and types ‘Bran’ in the search bar. When the only contact with that name appears, he presses Call and hits the speaker button.

My heart nearly hits the floor as the ringing sound echoes in the air.

Don’t answer.

Don’t answer.

Please.

Please—

“Hello?” Bran’s slightly husky voice sounds in the air as if he was woken up from a nap. “Mia? Are you okay with calling?”

I release a deep breath and catch a glimpse of my brother giving me the side-eye.

The horror.

“Mia?” Bran sobers up. “Is something wrong? Make any form of noise if you need help—”

“It’s her brother, Nikolai.”

Bran goes silent for a few tense beats and I nearly piss myself. This is going too bad too fast.

“Right.” Bran clears his throat and sounds detached, cold, even. “What can I help you with?”

“My sister tells me she spent the night with you three days ago.”

“Spent the night with me?”

“Is that not the case?”

Damn Niko. He makes it sound as if I slept with him or something.

“We met, but she didn’t spend the night with me in that sense.”

Yes, Bran. Thank you.

“What were you doing?”

“I’m sure you can ask your sister that.”

“I did, and I’m trying to decide whether or not I’ll lock her up based on your reply.”

Silence again.

Poor Bran is being dragged into an unfair situation that he didn’t agree with.

“We played a few games,” he replies casually.

“Where?”

“In a gaming café.”

“Which one?”

“The only one on the island. Play Dungeon.”

“With who?”

“Alone.”

I nearly stagger. He did everything right, as if I’d told him all the details, but he missed on the last one.

“Alone,” Nikolai repeats with a sly smirk.

“Yes. We were the only ones who played. Maya was there, but she was too preoccupied with her phone most of the time.”

My man.

I’m totally buying Bran the new League of Legends merch.

“If there isn’t anything else…” Bran trails off and then hangs up.

I smile at my brother triumphantly and sign, “It’s not good to distrust your own siblings. We need to work on these bad habits, Niko.”

“You’ll stay away from that bunch of little fuckers.” He pushes the phone against my chest. “Brandon included.”

And then he leaves. Gee. Talk about pissed off.

But oh well. This is still a win.

Now, I need to thank Bran personally and hope—no, pray—I never see his psycho brother again.


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