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God of Ruin: Chapter 34

MIA

I’m undeniably undergoing a drastic change and the worst part is that I can’t describe it.

All I know is that I’ve never been happier in my life.

Free.

Wild.

With no limits but the sky itself.

It’s all because of the crucial role Landon plays in my life. Ever since he forced his way past my walls, I’ve been experiencing a curious sense of novelty, adventure, and happiness.

That’s when I realized that before him, I was only living, never truly alive. I was so caught up in my childhood tragedy that I let it shackle and dictate how I should live my life.

But it doesn’t matter how confident or determined I’ve been, I still let the monster control the very foundation of my being and steal my voice forever.

Maybe that realization is why the recent bursts of happiness I’ve been experiencing seem flawed with a huge black hole in the middle.

Unless I deal with it, I know the hole will keep widening and possibly devour the good. At this point, I’m no different than a kid building a house of sand on the beach and expecting it to remain standing after being hit by a wave.

I still choose to hold on to the vain hope and the sparks of happiness with the desperation of a drowning woman.

I just can’t consider any different circumstances where complete happiness and peace is entirely impossible.

In a dream, maybe.

If I wake up, I’ll never be able to survive.

My heart rate hasn’t gone down since I was texting with Landon.

That was an hour ago.

I finished taking care of my garden, removed my gloves, and freshened up, then waited for him.

And waited.

But there’s still no trace of him.

I’m by the tall window overlooking the entrance, but my car is the only one in the driveway.

I check my watch for the thousandth time.

He made it seem as if he would be here in fifteen minutes, but that’s clearly not the case. He couldn’t have texted me from London or something, right?

This is starting to worry me. Especially since he never replied to the subsequent texts I sent asking about his whereabouts. Lan always replies to my texts.

Always.

My phone vibrates in my hand and I check it so fast, I nearly drop it. My shoulders hunch when I see the name on the lock screen, then guilt gnaws at my insides for feeling disappointed.

I’m such a horrible friend.

Brandon: Hey. Lan is with you, right?

My chest tightens and a burst of uneasiness spreads down my spine.

Bran knows about us and even told me that Lan seems to be genuinely trying not to be his asshole self for the first time. However, he never asks about us or what we do. In fact, he’s the type who’d rather be spared the details, unlike Remi, who called for a ‘meeting’ so he could get the latest gossip.

So the fact that Bran is asking now deviates from a pattern and I don’t like that. I type with unsteady fingers.

Mia: Why are you asking?

Brandon: Just tell me if he’s with you or not. Please.

Mia: He’s not. We were supposed to meet, but it’s taking him longer than usual to get here.

He reads the text but there’s no reply.

Mia: What’s going on? Is there something wrong?

Brandon: I don’t know, Mia. Maybe you’re the one who needs to tell me what the fuck is going on.

I stare at the text with my jaw nearly hitting the floor. That doesn’t sound like Bran, especially since I’ve never heard him curse.

My screen lights up again.

Brandon: I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have lashed out at you, but I think, no, I’m ninety percent certain your brother has something to do with Lan’s disappearance. He either kidnapped or assaulted him, then threw him in a ditch somewhere. That is, if he didn’t fucking kill him. Bloody hell.

My breathing quickens as I read and reread the words.

Mia: How do you know?

Brandon: It doesn’t matter how I know. I just do. We need to do something before it’s too late.

Shit. Don’t tell me…

Maya texted me earlier, inviting me for coffee. When I said no, she kept pestering me and asking where I was exactly and saying she’d come to meet me. But when I told her that I was at Landon’s, she finally gave up.

Now, I know why my overly insistent sister who never gives up did. She was probably instructed by Nikolai to make sure I stay away so he could do whatever he wanted with Lan.

I’m already running for my keys at the entrance as I type.

Mia: Meet me at the Heathens’ mansion. Give the guards at the front my name and the code 01483.

Brandon: On my way.

I’ve never driven so fast in my life. The entire time, my mind is invaded by all sorts of bleak scenarios. None of which has a good ending.

After I arrive at the Heathens’ mansion, I go straight to the annex house that they use as some form of a torture chamber.

As expected, two buff guards and Ilya stand in front of the door like watchdogs.

Upon seeing me, Ilya steps forward. His large frame blocks the sun so that I’m staring at his poker face and unexpressive eyes. “You should go back, miss.”

“Get the fuck out of my way,” I sign, not caring that he doesn’t understand a thing.

Ilya places an arm in front of me, and I can see him struggle not to push me down like a criminal. He’s definitely under strict orders not to allow me access to the room.

I slip from beneath his hold and steal a gun from one of the other guards. I point it at Ilya and motion to the side.

He lifts his hands in the air. “You don’t want to do this, miss. It’s not your fight.”

It absolutely is my fight. All of this is happening in great part because of me.

The other part, of course, is because Landon is an asshole who can’t breathe without exhaling venom into the world.

But I’ve come to terms with that, and I foolishly thought Nikolai had, too.

I keep the gun pointed at Ilya and the others as I grab the handle of the door and slip inside.

My hand with the gun falls to my side as I stand at the entrance of a large white room with a gruesome scene in the middle.

Killian, Jeremy, and Nikolai surround Landon, who’s on his knees on the floor, his lip cut, one eye swollen shut, and blood smeared over his white shirt.

Some of it splashed on Killian’s and Jeremy’s T-shirts and Nikolai’s naked chest. At this moment, my brother, who I love more than any words could describe, looks like a stranger in the form of a beast.

A weapon of destruction.

An uncontrollable entity of rage.

Landon looks up at Kill with a bloodied grin, coughs, and speaks in a hoarse voice. “Is that all you got? If you’re going to fuck up Glyn’s trust, the least you can do is make it worthwhile.”

“Shut the fuck up.” Nikolai drives his fist into his face. “You really thought we’d take the truce and let you mess around with my sister? My fucking sister? I’ll kill you before you put your hands on her again.”

“Then do it.” Landon’s provocative grin disappears. “That’s the only way you’ll keep me away from her.”

Despite the terrifying scene, I can’t help the imaginary hand that squeezes my heart and tightens my stomach.

“You’re a fucking dead man.” Jeremy kicks his side.

“Highly doubtful.” Landon’s eyes slide to mine as if he knew I was there this whole time. “Hey, little muse. I believe you should revoke Jeremy’s highly underserved nice card, don’t you think?”

Three pairs of eyes turn toward me and it’s Nikolai who speaks first.

“What the fuck are you doing here? Get out.”

I throw the gun to the floor and sign as I stride toward them, “So you can continue to torture him?”

“That’s the idea,” Killian says. “Remove yourself from the situation, Mia.”

“No.”

“I don’t know what this motherfucker has been saying to you, but you can’t believe any of it,” Jeremy says.

“Like the fact that he kept his part of the deal and you didn’t? You already agreed to a truce, so why the hell are you doing this?”

“I never agreed to the fucking truce,” Nikolai speaks in a voice so tight, the veins in his neck bulge with tension. “He does not, under any circumstances, get to touch you and live.”

“But that’s not up to you!” I get in his face, my movements brimming with anger. “This is my life and I have the right to decide whoever gets in it. Neither you nor anyone else has a say in it.”

“Mia,” he growls in warning.

I glare back at him and sign more calmly now, “Let him go.”

“No.”

“My apologies for breaking up the touching family moment, but hey you, uncultured swine.” He looks up at Jeremy, who’s now twisting Landon’s right arm at an awkward angle. “I know you’re jealous you’ll never be as artistically genius as me, but you’re causing strain on my priceless hand. Let go, would you?”

“Only if you get to free fall to hell, motherfucker.”

“Let him go, Jeremy,” I sign, watching the unnatural angle he’s holding his arm in. If he twists it to the side, he’ll break his wrist and the thought of that leaves me in cold sweat.

Landon can only survive through art. If that ability is taken from him, he won’t be able to battle the demonic forces inside him. I’ve seen how calm he gets when he’s creating, how grounded and zen his expression gets.

If that’s taken away, I’m not sure where he’ll go from here.

Nikolai watches my expression closely, then he smiles, but it’s manic at best as he leans down to stare at Landon’s face. “Want to keep your arm in one piece?”

“Preferably soon, yes.”

“Then leave my sister alone. For good.”

I push at Nikolai’s shoulder, but he doesn’t look at me. My chest tightens. Fuck. He knows that’s worse than ignoring me. If he doesn’t look at me, I can’t talk to him. He’s basically silencing me in the most brutal way possible.

And it hurts worse than I’d like to admit. Especially coming from my brother, who’s always listened to me, even when I talk gibberish.

I don’t recognize this version of Nikolai. Not even a little.

“If you don’t.” Nikolai’s face turns somber. “Jeremy will break the wrist you cherish so much.”

“Choose carefully, King,” Killian says in a casual tone. “Any breaking of arm bones, especially the wrist, could prove to be fatal in an artist’s life. Take it from me. As a med student, I can confirm that bones and ligaments never go back to the way they were and you could find immense difficulty in creating anything ever again. Your bright future will be poof. Gone. In a fraction of a second.”

“Kill!” I push at his chest. “What the fuck is wrong with you? If you watch as his wrist is broken, Glyn will never forgive you.”

“She’ll never find out, and even if she does, I have a better track record than her emotionless brother.”

My lips part. I always thought Landon was the worse psychopath of the two, but right now, my cousin, whom I always considered like my second brother, looks worse than the monster from my past.

Because I know that even if the word got out and Glyn caught a whiff of this, he’d spin the story to look completely innocent. I’ve seen the way he looks at her and I’m well aware he can’t afford to lose her, but he certainly can afford to hurt her brother irrevocably.

“Go ahead,” Landon says tonelessly and without emotion. “You can break the other one as well while you’re at it. But I’ll always touch her, even with casts on. She’s mine and neither of you motherfuckers will decide otherwise.”

I meet his cold eyes with my alarmed ones and shake my head frantically. What are you doing, you idiot?

He’s provoking Nikolai and the others. He must know they’re not the type to bluff. Especially not Nikolai.

Sure enough, Jeremy starts to twist and I scream so loud, everything comes to a halt. The world, my hoarse voice, and my surroundings.

Jeremy stops. He and Killian watch me as if I’m a wild animal who’s about to bite their heads off, which I probably should do.

Nikolai’s attention slides back to me, his expression taken aback.

“You’re finally looking at me now after you erased and silenced me?” I sign, feeling the burn in my eyes. “How can I talk to you if you don’t look at me?”

Some of the tension in his shoulders disappears as he steps toward me and grabs my arm. “Fuck. I’m so sorry, Mia. I didn’t mean to.”

I push his hand away. “Let Landon go.”

“I can’t do that. He’s a venom that needs to be extracted by the roots—”

“I’ll leave him. I won’t associate with him again, so just let him go.”

“No, you won’t.” Landon fights against Jeremy’s grip for the first time since I came here. “Go ahead and break my fucking wrist, Jeremy.”

“Stay fucking still.” Jeremy struggles to keep him down.

“Remember, Cecily loved me first.” Landon’s voice turns eerily calm. Taunting, even. “She loved me so much that she fantasized about me and called me her prince. She loved me so much that she gave me heart eyes long before you came along. Not to mention, we used to bathe together as children. Fucking naked. You must really hate that you’ll always be second choice to me.”

“You little fucking—” Jeremy twists his wrist and Landon’s face scrunches, but he doesn’t release any sounds.

One moment, I’m standing beside Nikolai, the next, I’m kicking Jeremy’s arm. He’s so taken aback that he loses his grip on Landon’s wrist.

I help him up and he stands to his feet. However, his arm remains limp by his side.

“Is it okay?” I sign, gulping the lump in my throat.

Landon doesn’t even check if his wrist is okay as he grabs my cheek with his good hand. “You’re not going any-fucking-where. You understand me?”

“Leave,” I sign.

“I’m going to fucking kill this motherfucker.” Nikolai comes close, but I shake my head at him.

“Just go.” I push Landon toward the door.

He doesn’t even take one step.

“Brandon is outside,” I sign. “He could be in danger, too.”

His upper lip lifts in a snarl and he tsks. “What the fuck is that busybody doing here?”

“He’s worried about you. Please go, Landon. For me. Please.”

I have no doubt that if he stays here one more minute, he’ll provoke them again and they’ll make good on their threat to break his wrist.

“You’re never leaving me and we won’t be over,” he says, ignoring everyone else present as he kisses me in a brief passionate kiss. All I taste is blood as Killian pushes him off me.

And then he’s out the door.

I release a long breath, then I glare at the three guys I thought were closest to me.

“What?” Killian says. “You should’ve known this was coming. That motherfucker did a lot worse to us.”

“There’s nothing worse than breaking an artist’s fucking wrist, Killian! Put yourself in his shoes. How would you have survived your medical career if your own wrist was broken?”

“You need to stop defending the bastard, Mia,” Jeremy says.

“Not when all of you are ganging up on him.”

“Why is Brandon here?” Nikolai asks out of nowhere.

“What?” I sign.

“Just now, you said Brandon is here. Why is he?”

“He texted me that you could’ve been hurting Lan, which turned out to be true, so I told him to meet me here. I’m glad I did. At least he can give Lan a ride.”

“Mia…” He growls as he barges toward me.

“I’m going home,” I announce. “To New York. I obviously don’t have any rational support here. Maya lied to me and you shut me up.”

He curses under his breath as I push past him toward the door.

Maybe talking to Mom and Dad is my best chance to protect the fragile happiness sand castle I’ve been building.


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