God of Ruin: Chapter 33

LANDON

My fingers flow over my sketchbook in a sporadic, chaotic rhythm that I have little to no control over.

And I’m the type who thrives on control and having everything under my fucking thumb.

Yet I can’t put an end to the figures I’ve been sketching for hours. Don’t ask me how many, because I have no clue what I made during the time I’ve spent trapped in this endless loop.

It’s been so long that I’ve lost count, and I’ve also lost the ability to get past this stage.

It’s been long enough that my lips have become dry. Since there’s nothing to keep them company, it’s impossible to tune them out.

What’s more frustrating, however, is this rush of creativity that’s been possessing my head and limbs but refuses to materialize in real form.

Sketches upon sketches of possible masterpieces fill my pad, and yet none of them makes the cut. My brain is a picky twat with higher standards than the Greek gods.

But then again, if greatness were to come easily, everyone could be a genius.

A soft hand touches mine and I lift my head to meet the eyes of my own Greek goddess. The muse I didn’t know I needed until she stood in front of me in the darkness like a perfect imitation of a statue.

My hoodie swallows Mia’s tiny frame and reaches the middle of her thighs. Marks of my fingers form a map over the fair skin of her inner legs in a clear show of my absolute ownership.

My gaze slides to the dark blue mark that’s spread on her throat. A mark of my own making that bears no resemblance to what I did to that fucker Rory, who’s probably fucked off back to his unremarkable hometown in Cambridge as we speak.

After I got that brazen call, I went to the flat he shares with another member of the Elite. I didn’t have to wait for long, because he showed up soon after, wearing a smug grin.

That sense of victory was wiped off his ugly face by yours truly after I taught him some basic rules about who calls the shots. Spoiler alert, it’s not him.

Just before he passed out, he had the audacity to tell me that he left me a memento with Mia.

That got him the final punch in the face that could or could not send him on the first ambulance to the hospital.

My rage surged the highest after I saw that Mia intentionally hid the hickey he left. As if she was trying to protect the mark or something equally blasphemous.

I’ve never experienced that type of rage. Not when Bran was made a target. Not when Killian decided my sister was his target.

Not even when I figured out I’d never relate to my parents the way my siblings do.

The moment I saw another man’s mark on Mia’s skin, I had the urge to destroy Rory so irrevocably, nothing would be left for others to come and pick up.

Then came the need to cut into Mia so deep, my name would be the only one left inside her for any future lives.

But that black rage instantly faded as soon as she said—or, more accurately, signed—the words.

“I’m yours, Landon.”

Of course she fucking is.

I didn’t need to hear/see the words to know they were true and yet that’s exactly what managed to pull me right off a very bleak and dark edge.

She’s doing it again right now.

The feel of her soft hand against mine is enough to drag me out of the black hole I got myself trapped in after she fell asleep.

My demons retreat to the shadows, quietly hissing and making their discontent clear.

“Is everything okay?” she signs.

I slam my notebook shut, throw it on the table beside me, and grab her by the waist, then sit her on my lap. She feels small and fucking perfect in my arms—like this is exactly where she was always supposed to be. I bury my nose in her slightly damp hair and I breathe in the magnolia scent.

And yes, I have that shampoo and body wash here.

My lungs expand as I inhale her and I release a long hum. “It is now.”

Mia wiggles on my thigh until she’s sitting sideways with her back against the desk. Her eyes glitter in a watery blue, like the Mediterranean Sea under the scorching sun.

Was she always so fucking beautiful or am I falling harder onto that bottomless hole?

She studies me closely, which has been the norm since the rooftop date. As if she’s trying to get under my skin by using every method at her disposal.

“What were you thinking about just now?” she finally signs.

“Why are you asking?”

“You seemed so lost in thought and I want to know what someone like you thinks about when you’re trapped in your own head.”

“Nothing good, to be frank.” My fingers slide beneath the hoodie and I stroke her hip slowly, sensually.

She shudders but soon recovers. “Tell me.”

“It’s best to leave some skeletons in the closet.”

“But I want to know.”

“The skeletons? My, muse. Is this a new kink?”

She teasingly swats my shoulder. “Don’t even think about changing the subject.”

My smile flattens. “My mind is wired to see the bad before the good. In fact, everything sunshine and rainbows is often an afterthought, never a main idea. My instinct is pro-manipulation, corruption, and anarchy, which means it revolts against the very notion of neurotypical people’s socially acceptable behavior. I have a beast that’s in constant need of stimulation and if I don’t satiate those demands, I’ll spiral down a worse path.”

As soon as the words are out, I curse myself internally for disclosing that information so easily. In fact, I can’t even fathom that I just talked about it to someone other than Uncle Aiden and sometimes Dad.

I’ve been a proud member of the Antisocial Club to the point where I could be elected as its president. That’s why I’ve always prided myself on being private and secretive. I’ve never been an open book, not even when I was younger or with therapists. They tried, but as soon as I perfected the game of social emulation and learned emotion, I played them as skillfully as a chess board.

Mia, however, is different. I tried to play her, but I never quite succeeded.

She looks at me with a sense of understanding instead of clinical judgment. Only three people have ever given me that look. Mum, Dad—after he realized it was pointless to put me on a leash—and Uncle Aiden.

And now, her.

Mia.

She watches me for a few beats as if she could skin me alive and insert herself between my ribs. After careful thought, she signs, “Is that why you’ve been finding it hard to stay still ever since you announced the truce with the Heathens?”

Perceptive little minx.

“Partially.”

“What’s the other part?”

“You playing an infuriating push-and-pull game.”

“Well, I couldn’t trust you before.”

“Does that mean you do now?”

“I’m starting to.” She clears her throat. “Do you feel better?”

I tighten my grip on her waist, my fingers digging into the soft skin. “Now that you’re here, yes.”

“That’s enough?”

“To make the urges dull down, yes.”

“Is that why you said I’m the only one who can quench the rage?”

I nod. “You’re a good sport.”

“But what if I stop being a good sport? Will you dispose of me if I get in your way?”

“You’re not a good sport most of the time and you’re always in my way. You don’t see me pushing you away.”

“What if I never change and continue being difficult and too much myself.”

“That’s what I’m counting on. Don’t ever change. You’re perfect the way you are.”

A shudder rushes through her and she smiles a little. “Did Bran teach you to say that?”

“Fuck no. In fact, I should teach him a few things.”

“Because he’s an empath?”

“That’s a problem as well, but my biggest concern is that he’s a bit of a prude and has little to no experience.”

“Ever thought that’s because girls have used him to get to you?”

I narrow my eyes. “How do you know that?”

“He told me.”

“Getting a bit too cozy with Bran, aren’t you?”

“He’s a very good friend.”

“Hmm.”

“Stop it.” She smiles. “I can’t believe you’re jealous of your own twin brother.”

“I’m not jealous. I’m territorial. Besides, there’s a reason I’m more popular than him.”

“The fact you’re a dick?”

“There’s that. He’s also extremely emotionally stunted sometimes. Don’t let the image he wears so well fool you. There’s another side to him that he keeps under lock and key.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing you need to worry about.”

She observes me with a slight frown, but, thankfully, she chooses to let it go and points at my pad. “Were you sketching?”

“Yeah. Not much luck, I’m afraid.”

“You didn’t sleep?”

“Don’t have time for it.”

“But you never sleep.”

“Sleep is overrated.” I stop there, not wanting to disclose that I do sleep, just not when she’s around.

She’s been single-handedly driving my superior creativity lately and I’d rather get the most out of it than sleep.

Mia glares.

I pinch her cheek. “Did I ever tell you that you look adorable when you glare? It gets me hard.”

Her cheeks redden as she signs, “Everything gets you hard.”

“Not everything. You.”

“Not me. The kinks.”

“Not the kinks. You.” I lift her chin with my thumb and forefinger. “They do offer a sprinkle of spice, and yes, they’re undeniably thrilling, but they’re not strictly mandatory when I’m with you. I used to go to sex clubs and indulge in all sorts of fuckery because normal stopped working out for me since secondary school. Although I managed to reach physical climax countless times, it was never fully satisfying.”

“Even with the kinks?”

“Even with the kinks. You’re the only one I’ve reached a mental climax with.”

“In some time?”

“In ever.”

Her lips curl in a proud smirk. “Guess that means we’re each other’s firsts after all.”

“Don’t get smug Miss Prude Virgin Until Fairly Recently.”

“Virgin or not, I managed to offer the great Landon King something no one else has.” She ruffles my hair, seeming so happy with herself.

I grin in return. “You find me great?”

“Get over yourself.”

“Impossible.”

She shakes her head, but the smile still paints her lips. “What were you working on?”

“Nothing satisfying.”

“Ever thought that you’re too hard on yourself?”

“Not hard—selective. I don’t vibe well with mediocrity.”

“Nothing you make is mediocre.” She points at her statue. “I love it. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, but you can’t take it.”

“Why not?”

“It’s my property, like you, little muse.”

She frowns. “I’m not a thing.”

“No, you’re not. But you’re still mine.”

“Well, are you mine, then?”

“If you want.”

She bites the corner of her lip and releases it, then clears her throat and looks around for another way to change the topic.

That’s fine. If she’s this rattled by me, it means I’m drawing her deeper into my world. Sooner or later, she’ll have no choice but to let her guard down and completely belong to me.

After a few seconds, she signs, “How come you’re not smoking and making your lungs as black as your soul?”

“I quit.”

“Really?”

“Cigarettes were always an indulgence I could walk away from. I don’t get addicted.” Except for when it comes to you.

It’s not only obsession or limerence at this point. And it’s definitely a lot more addictive. The fact that my demons immediately calmed down the moment she appeared is both fascinating and alarming.

And yet I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Good. It’s not good for your health.”

“And your health.”

“And the plants!” She smiles. “Thank you for taking care of them. They’re alive and pretty.”

“I was bored.”

“You’re never bored enough to take care of plants, so just take the thank-you without being so sarcastic about it.” She hops off my lap before I can stop her. “I have to go check on them. It’s best to water them this early in the morning.”

“Are you seriously exchanging my godly company with some flowers?”

“You can join me,” she offers over her shoulder with a flirtatious smile and then she’s out the front door.

I’d rather crash and burn in my McLaren as it falls off a cliff.

Twenty minutes later, I’m dressed in sweatpants, a T-shirt, and my wellies as I make my way to the small garden Mia created.

What? I was bored. Besides, I’m not in the mood to be trapped by my own creativity again.

Mia looks up from her crouched position and lifts her gloved hand to shield her eyes from the rising sun. I stand in its path and slide a hand into my pocket. “I’m gracing you with my presence. I accept worship in the form of blowjobs.”

She laughs and shakes her head, then signs, “Don’t just stand there. Make yourself useful and get me the fertilizer spikes.”

The blasphemy. How dare she treat me like a servant for the demon flowers that she’s giving more attention than me. I should’ve squashed them to death when I had the chance and chalked the whole thing up to an unfortunate flower death. Happens every day in many flower shops and wouldn’t be frowned upon by any stretch of the imagination.

Since that option is currently out of the question, I go fetch the fertilizer and even put on gloves. Then I, Landon King, the legendary genius of contemporary art, help water the little flower fuckers.

My logic is simple. The sooner she’s done with this tedious chore, the faster I can get her to round two. Maybe this time, I’ll paint her pretty little body as I fuck her on all fours on the canvas. Or maybe I’ll sketch something on her back while I fuck her senseless. I’m nothing less than versatile when it comes to fucking and art. Combine the two together and you get a recipe for guaranteed success.

“You’re not supposed to try to stab them, Landon.” Mia laughs and catches my hand to show me how.

So I make mistakes on purpose so she can ‘correct’ my actions further. Now, this I can deal with, unlike entitled flowers that have no business getting between me and my muse.

After I get over my childish, immature feelings about literal plants, I focus more on Mia. I love the carefree, happy expression on her face as she strokes and even signs to the flowers as if they’re pets.

“You could make a career out of this,” I say when she keeps inspecting the seeds.

“Oh, I will,” she signs. “I’m going to be a badass businesswoman who will make the world a better place for plants.”

“Pretty sure you’re confusing business with activism.”

“I can do both. Money talks, so I’ll have that and use it to give the plants a better life.”

“How about your family’s notorious mafia business?”

She lifts a shoulder. “Fortunately or unfortunately, that responsibility falls on Nikolai’s shoulders. Mom and Dad promised that Maya and I can marry and do whatever we want. Imagine me having to marry one of the mafia heirs?”

“Not so hard to do, considering your liaisons with Jeremy.”

“Jeremy is a responsible leader and a trustworthy friend.”

“Hmm. Go on. Tell me a bit more so I can bump him up to the top of my shit list.”

“Don’t be jealous.” She laughs.

“Me? Jealous? I don’t process those feelings, love.”

“You obviously do. Aside from the Jeremy thing, Bran said you made it clear that I’m yours in order to keep him and Remi away.”

“As it should be. Bran is my brother, but even he isn’t allowed to mess with what’s mine. As for Remi, he’s a nuisance.”

“No, he’s not. He’s actually funny and fun.”

Funny and fun. Not just funny or fun. It’s both funny and fun.

I better not see his face in the near future or I’ll be tempted to ruin it.

In fact, maybe I should do just that. He’s too carefree for his own good and could use a lesson or a few.

I’m still contemplating the best plan to bring Remi down when, all of a sudden, the sky opens up and the rain comes pouring down.

Mia gets to her feet and grabs my hands, then we run toward the gazebo in the middle of the garden.

But it’s too late. We soon realize that we’re both soaking wet.

We look at each other, pause, and then burst out in laughter.

It’s one of the few genuine laughs I’ve ever had, and it’s only because she’s by my side.

The rain hammers down on us. Mia’s blonde strands stick to her face, but she still looks like a goddess as she laughs, the sound echoing around me like my favorite tune. Droplets of rain stick to her upper lip and then make a path to beneath her hoodie.

Mia stops in the middle of the yard, takes my hand again, then uses it to twirl herself under the rain. Just when I’m about to join in the cheesy dance, she releases me, a sly look penetrating her light irises. “Catch me if you can.”

Then she resumes running.

My beast roars to life as if it was never dormant. This is what Mia has that no one else does. She’s not prey to my beast, she’s its match.

The yin to his yang.

The crazy to his insanity.

I leap right behind her. Mia chances a look back and releases an excited yelp when she sees me within touching distance.

And I realize as I catch up to her inside the gazebo that I wish this moment would last for an eternity and beyond.

But since that’s not doable, I will prolong it for as long as possible.

Looks like classes are canceled for both of us today.


Remington: Who the fuck hid my special edition Jordans?

Eli: And you’re texting that in the group chat because…? Don’t tell me you think someone actually cares.

Remington: You shut up, psycho. Why don’t you go torture some miserable soul?

Eli: Why would I do that when I have my own source of entertainment, aka you?

Remington: I’m no clown, twat.

Eli: You’re failing to make the case for yourself.

Brandon: I thought you found them the other time?

Remington: They went missing again. Spawn! Help me out.

*Remington adds Creighton to the group chat*

Creighton: I’d rather be sleeping.

Remington: What the actual fuck? Do you prefer sleeping over helping your lord and savior (who’s me by the way)? You’re changing, Creigh. Not only are you often with your girlfriend, but you’re also not paying my lordship much attention. Remember that if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t have had the adequate social skills to even get on Anni’s radar.

Eli: And you plan to make him work for that for the rest of his life? Stop bothering my little bro and go find yourself a decent hobby aside from unnecessary arrogance.

Remington: Says the twat who’s the definition of the term.

Eli: At least I don’t talk about myself in the third person as if that’s a perfectly normal thing to do.

Brandon: I’ll help you look for them, Remi.

Eli: You don’t have to cater to his illogical whims, cousin. Let his ‘lordship’ solve his own trivial problems.

Remington: You’re so unserious, not to mention jealous. Do something better with your life instead of obsessing over me @Eli King.

Eli: Me? Jealous of you? The bar is so low, might as well step on it.

Remington: You just proved my theory.

Eli: Which is?

Remington: You’ve always had an inferiority complex because you can never reach my level of blinding charisma. Don’t worry, Eli. You can’t have everything in life.

Brandon: Come on, let’s be rational.

Eli: Something Remi will never know the meaning of, considering his multiple delusions.

All this time, I’ve been reading the chats while leaning against my car at the corner of REU, waiting for a mosquito to make her presence known.

Since I’m bored anyway, I type.

Landon: He also doesn’t know when to shut up, which will soon make him the subject of a ferocious witch hunt.

Eli: Not to mention, give him a dedicated section on some people’s shit list. He’s too blasé for his own good.

Landon: He doesn’t know how to keep his thoughts and tacky jokes to himself. For the record, you’re not funny, Remi.

Creighton: I agree. No clue why girls think of him as funny.

Remington: Spawn! How dare you turn on me and take Eli and Lan’s side over mine?

Eli: It’s the sensible thing to do. My little bro has superior taste, as expected.

Landon: Everyone but Remi does.

Remington: You jealous bitches can go die. The fact remains that I’m besties with all of your girls and always will be. Muahahaha.

I’m going to kill the bastard.

*Creighton King has left the chat*

Brandon: You shouldn’t have fanned the flames, Rems.

Eli: You made a terrible mistake. You better watch your back.

Landon: Should’ve said goodbye to your beloved Jordans while you had the chance. RIP.

Remington: It’s you! I swear to fucking God, Lan, if you don’t give them back…

I don’t read the rest of the texts. One, because I have no mind for Remi’s over-the-top dramatics. Two, because the person I’ve been stalking better than an MI5 agent walks around the corner, watching her surroundings with eyes as big as a sewer rat.

I slide my phone back into my pocket and move to a hidden spot by a gigantic tree to the side.

Nila stops upon seeing my McLaren, her face pales to a pallid white.

Her heels scratch against the asphalt as she makes a run for her car. I follow behind her, and the moment she opens the door, I slam it shut and say in cold words, “Running from something, Nila?”

She slowly turns around, doing a poor imitation of those horror film airheads. She plasters a smile that’s more fake than her lashes and releases an annoying chirpy noise.

“Lan! I didn’t see you there.”

“Naturally. Since you’ve been making it your mission to avoid me.”

“What…? No, of course I wasn’t avoiding you.”

“Is that why you haven’t been acting like my designated shadow the past couple of days?”

“You said you didn’t like that.”

“Didn’t stop you before.” I step closer so that I’m staring down my nose at her. “So let’s hear it, Nila. What’s the reason that pushed you to be so transparently avoidant of my company?”

“I just have a lot of schoolwork.”

“Are you sure that’s the only reason? It couldn’t perhaps be due to a certain fuckup on your part, now, could it?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about—”

Her words are cut off when I grab strands of her hair and pull until tears gather in her eyes. “The time where you can bullshit me does not and will not exist, Nila. Did you possibly think I wouldn’t find out that you were the one behind Rory’s foolish idea about Mia? He’s as thick as a brick, but you’re not. You’ve always been a conniving little bitch who uses your looks and resources to get anywhere you want. But here’s the thing, Nila. I taught you half of what you know, which you should’ve thought about before you went against your fucking maker.”

Her face reddens as I pull harder with every word. She tries to claw my hand free, but it’s no use. If I choose to, I can squash her faster than a cockroach.

“You’re the one who turned your back on the club and us for that bitch!” Her voice grows in volume as she lets her true face show through.

Greed and contempt stare back at me like a disgusting mirror of my old self. I’m no saint and fortunately never will be, but these types of frivolous, shallow emotions Nila represents have long since been washed out of me.

“So you decided to inflame Rory’s rage and point him toward Mia. Is that it?”

She purses her lips. “So what?”

“You had the audacity to touch what’s mine, Nila, and as I’m sure you found out through Rory’s state, I don’t react well to anyone threatening what belongs to me.”

Her lips lift in a snarl. “What does she have that I don’t?”

“Figures. One thing’s for certain, you fucked up and this is me telling you, I’ll fucking destroy everything you stand for. The friends you think you have? They easily switched to my side after a few words from yours truly. Your beloved papa’s company can effortlessly be crushed if my dad somehow pulls his investments. So here’s a helpful suggestion. Be afraid, Nila. All your worst fears will come true.”

I release her and she crashes against the side of her car, tears streaming down her cheeks.

“She’ll eventually see you for who you truly are and abandon you, Lan!” she shouts at my back. “You can never maintain a relationship, not with her or anyone else!”

I don’t listen to her blabbering as I head to where I parked my car and pull out my phone.

Eli was a good sport and sent me some information. Though it’s not much and by no means concrete evidence, coupling his findings with what I discovered on my own, I’m getting close to the whole truth.

Another text pops up at the top of my screen.

A smile lifts my lips when I find it’s from Mia. She attached a picture of the flowers she’s grown in the garden.

Ever since I found her there three days ago, she’s been going to the haunted house—that’s not so haunted anymore—whenever she has time.

It’s for the flowers, she says. But I often catch her trying to sneak and take a look in the art studio like a curious kitten.

When she was asleep, I hid the piece I was working on in a closet and locked it with a key. Other than that, she’s free to roam around—which can’t be said about anyone else who’s not Mum or Bran.

Lately, I often catch her looking at anything that casts a reflection—mirrors, the refrigerator door, the glass top table—opening and closing her mouth as if she’s trying to speak. She’s probably doing it subconsciously since she usually looks startled whenever she takes note of the situation.

That happens during sex as well. Twice now, she’s opened her mouth, struggled, and then only released a guttural scream.

In a way, it feels as if she’s battling to remove the mental shackles that stole her voice. I have confidence that after I get rid of the vermin who threatened her life, she’ll be able to finally be at peace with her younger self.

I stare at the text she sent with the picture.

Mia: Claudia, Stephan, and Emilia say hi.

Landon: Either you’re crazy and actually gave those flowers names or you’re also crazy and started talking to the resident ghosts of the house, who are in the process of sending me a stern letter about the recent renovations. No clue which crazy is more serious.

Mia: *laughing out loud emoji* x3 You’re effortlessly funny sometimes. And what do you mean that naming the flowers is crazy? Of course they need names now that they’re blooming. I’ll name the others when they grow as well.

Landon: You do realize they’re not pets, right?

Mia: Of course they aren’t. They’re my friends.

She’s so insane, I love it.

My smile turns to a grin as I type.

Landon: You better be done with all that voodoo by the time I get to the house. There’ll be nothing friendly about what I’ll do to you.

Mia: Promises. Promises.

My dick jumps in my trousers and I have to readjust so I don’t sport a major hard-on for the world to see.

Fuck me.

I’m definitely going to break a few road rules on my way there.

The new flirtatious version of Mia is completely doing my head in. In a good way.

I love that she’s more upfront about what she likes and doesn’t shy away from dropping to her knees when I’m trying to work. It’s a major distraction, but I prefer coming down her pretty throat to touching cold statues for sure.

Movement sounds behind me and I start to turn, but someone wraps an arm around my neck, catching me in a chokehold.

I lift my hands to push it away, but someone else yanks them behind my back.

The stronger they strangle the life out of me, the more lightheaded I get. The last thing I see is Nikolai’s manic face

“Payback time, motherfucker.”

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