God of Ruin: Chapter 37

LANDON

To say Mia’s father doesn’t like me would be an epic understatement.

Not only has he been keeping a close eye on me since I showed up at their door yesterday, but he’s also been threatening me with bodily harm every chance he gets. Behind the backs of his wife and daughters, of course, so he won’t seem like the bad guy.

Too bad for Kyle, Rai tolerates me. Don’t get me wrong, she’s still suspicious, probably due to a bad marketing campaign Maya has led against me, but I’m nothing short of the best PR representative you’d ever encounter, so I’ve been changing my image.

Namely, now that I’m meeting Kyle’s father and Mia’s grandfather.

He invited the family for lunch at his place, and because I refuse to be separated from Mia, especially since I have my suspicions about this trip, I joined.

When I think of grandfathers, mine come to mind. My paternal grandfather Jonathan King from is a ruthless monarch who only shows affection to my nan and Glyn. My maternal grandfather, Lord Henry Clifford, is a posh, sophisticated man who still has the posture of a forty-year-old.

Mia’s grandfather, Mikhail, however, has a significant belly and the distinguished look of a mobster in his beady eyes. As I stand in front of him while Mia introduces me, I’m not sure if he’ll pull out his gun and shoot me between the eyes or ask the buff men stationed at every corner of his house to do it for him.

He looks at Mia the entire time she talks and only after she finishes does he direct his ruthless attention toward me. His voice carries in the air with a notable Russian accent. “So you’re the one my precious granddaughter chose.”

“My name is Landon King. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Kozlov. Mia has told me so much about you.” I offer him my hand.

He takes it with a slight lift of his brows. “Like what?”

“Like how much you’ve spoiled her since she was young and how you were one of the first to learn sign language for her. Not to mention that she loves spending time in your house because she feels loved and safe.”

Don’t get me wrong. Mia never really told me these things and I haven’t been able to ask her or get alone time with her when Kyle has been acting like my designated warden. But I witnessed her talking to Maya and Rai earlier this morning and saw how excited she was to visit her grandpa’s house again. Since I’m a mastermind at linking patterns, I managed to create the image of everything I said just now.

My effort is greeted with a smile from Mikhail. “I see. I always knew Mia was smart and would know how to choose properly.”

“Naturally, Sir. She had a brilliant upbringing, and from what I see, a fantastic family support system as well.”

“Don’t call me ‘Sir.’ It’s too impersonal for my Mia’s boyfriend.”

“Of course… Grandpa?”

“Much better.”

Mia gives me two thumbs up as her grandfather guides me to the extravagant living room that’s decorated with animal heads and gruesome renaissance paintings.

This ‘Grandpa’ has no qualms about appearing entirely unwelcoming. In fact, I suspect he does it on purpose to blow fear into his enemies’ veins. But then again, I wouldn’t expect anything less from a man who probably spent his whole life in the Russian mafia and survived to reach an old age.

Maya and Rai walk alongside me and Mikhail, but Kyle wraps his arm around Mia’s shoulder and glares at me.

I meet it with a smile.

What? I’m working hard for his approval, and I doubt that would be achievable by being a dick.

And while I have no fucks to give about other people’s opinion of me, Kyle matters because he happens to be the man who contributed in the making of my little muse.

I’ll dance to his tune until he realizes that he can’t get rid of me. His father definitely likes me and he should follow his lead. Not going to lie. It’s irritating to be seen as a threat by him when I’ve been so dutifully stopping myself from planning to break Nikolai’s arms and chopping off his legs for his stunt a couple of days ago.

He had the audacity to not only try to keep Mia away from me, but to also try to break my genius hands. But then again, just because I can’t and won’t hurt him physically—which he should thank his sister for—doesn’t mean I won’t destroy him emotionally.

Nikolai made the mistake of messing with what’s mine, not once but twice, and I don’t react well to being threatened, now, do I?

He better sleep with one eye open going forward.

But that’s a thought for another day. Right now, I’m more concerned with making a good impression on Mia’s aunts and uncles, who are being introduced to me by Mikhail.

I compliment one aunt on her scarf and another on her massive ring that could accidentally blind someone. I also talk American football and hockey with the three uncles, which they respond to with enthusiasm. I had some help from Mia in this regard. I texted her to ask about her family’s interests and she sent me a whole list of what each of them enjoys.

Currently, as she watches me capturing their attention like the god I am, her mouth is agape. She must be wondering how I’ve managed to remember all of this, but I’m a bit wounded. I thought she would know by now about my superior genes, but anyway, Operation Charming Mia’s Family is a staggering success. By the time we sit down for lunch, I seem to be the center of attention.

Mikhail even says that Nikolai was being overprotective and could’ve taken it too far by ruining my handsome features.

Don’t worry, Grandpa. He’ll pay for it in due time.

After lunch, we go to sit in the garden, and I notice something in their family dynamic. Everyone here—and I mean everyone—looks up to Kyle and Rai. They keep cornering them together and separately for a brief conversation, and I can tell Kyle is so done with his family’s shit.

Rai, however, is more diplomatic. She listens carefully and nods along.

That’s probably why she’s more receptive to me than her closed-minded husband.

I meet his eyes across the room, and he narrows them as he tightens his hold on Mia’s shoulder. I smile again.

Just wait, old man. I managed to win over your difficult daughter and it’s only a matter of time before it’s your turn.

Since Mia is unfortunately out of reach, I slide up next to Maya, who’s sitting on a chaise lounge and obsessively checking her phone.

“Waiting for an important text?” I whisper close to her ear from behind the chair.

She startles, and in her surprise, the phone falls to the grass beside her. She grabs it hastily and glues it to her chest. “What the hell do you want?”

“I was asking an innocent question.” I cock my head to the side. “But judging by your highly suspicious reaction, I have reason to be curious. What are you hiding, Maya?”

“None of your business.”

“I’m afraid it is.”

“Don’t push your luck just because Mia chose to like you.”

“Jealous?”

“Fuck you.”

“As I previously mentioned, I’m interested in your sister, not you.”

Her lips lift in a snarl as she jerks up and storms away, still holding the phone in a death grip.

As I watch her leave, Rai walks toward me. I straighten and stop glaring at her daughter.

I lift my hands in the air. “I was only asking what she was doing. I swear I had nothing to do with her sour mood, even if it seems like it.”

“I believe you.” She smiles and shakes her head. “Maya has always been Mia’s closest and best friend, so she feels a bit threatened that Mia has someone of her own now. You understand that since you also have a twin, right?”

I nod. The day Bran finds someone, though it’s very unlikely, I’m not sure what sort of beast I’ll turn into. I’d like to think that I’ve changed some of my mindset, but my brother has always been a red line that couldn’t be crossed by anyone—our parents included.

“Maya has the right to have as much antagonism toward me as she pleases. As long as she doesn’t get between me and Mia, I can tolerate her attitude.” Mostly because I couldn’t care less about her entire existence. Her only merit is being my Mia’s sister.

“I appreciate your understanding.” She pauses and looks across the garden to where Mia’s telling Kyle and Mikhail a story about her plants.

All I can see is her carefree smile and the way her light eyes twinkle under the afternoon sun. I have the urge to go there and devour that smile and feast on her full lips. But since I’m sure that would only result in my balls being cut off by Kyle, I focus back on his wife.

She studies me closely. “I admit I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of you after Maya told me you’re like my nephew Killian, and I’ll probably always be wary of that.”

I knew Maya was campaigning to be the president of my anti-fan club.

“However,” Rai says. “I can see how much Mia has changed since the last time I saw her, and according to what she told me, it’s all because of you that she smiles more now and seems more comfortable expressing herself. So thank you for bringing back my daughter, Landon.”

“As much as I would like to take the credit, I can’t. Mia is the one who worked on herself and is fighting to find her voice. And I’ll be there every step of the way until she manages to do so.”

And I mean it.

I don’t care who I have to upset for Mia to regain what she lost against her will.

If that means her family will hate me, so be it.

None of them matter.

The only one who does is the girl who keeps stealing looks at me whenever her dad isn’t looking.

“Is everything okay?” she signs from the distance.

I nod but stop there before I accidentally say what I’m thinking.

Everything is always okay whenever she’s in my sight. Not even my demons could interfere with this sense of peace.

She’s managed to tame them by merely existing.

And I’ll make sure to bring her demons to their knees before they hurt her, even if it’s the last thing I do.

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