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God of Ruin: Chapter 4

MIA

Since meditation in the house is virtually impossible, I had to come up with an alternative.

The chess club downtown.

We have a chess club in The King’s U, but they don’t provide me with a challenge anymore. Besides, I might have kicked the club’s president in the shin for calling Maya an attention whore.

So what if she likes to dress up and show off her body? It’s none of his damn business.

As is obvious by now, I don’t react well to people hurting or bad-mouthing my family. Besides, that damn president knows shit about our lives and the type of pressure and danger we’ve had to navigate through since we were kids.

Maya is an independent girl who loves dressing up and showing off her beauty. She definitely wasn’t looking for that scum’s attention.

Naturally, I was blacklisted from the club, despite being the best they had. Anyway, I was able to join the local chess club a few weeks ago after seeing a few flyers outside our dorm building.

There are some decent older players, but many of them come to gossip, as if it’s some sort of knitting club.

Anyhow, since chess and meditation help me quiet down my demons, this is my last resort.

I also love looking after plants, but I’ve been hesitant to have any here. It’d feel like I’m cheating on my pretty flowers back home.

Point is, I really can’t get myself kicked out again or I’m in trouble. In my family, I can only play chess with Gareth, but he’s busy with studies lately.

I walk down the street, ignoring the looks everyone gives me. Today, I went back to my signature look—an ample black dress with a fluffy tulle skirt, chunky boots with chains, and matching ribbons in my hair. Oh, and killer blue-mirror sunglasses.

What? It makes me feel like the villain.

Many call this a goth look, but, really, it’s not. Nor is it my Satan worshiper look—I’m out of that loser’s league. I also don’t wear black makeup. In fact, my only makeup is pink lipstick and mascara. If I’m in the mood for mayhem, like that day in the Elites’ mansion, I add bold eyeliner.

I love being cute and deadly. It’s my strength.

Once I’m inside, I remove my sunglasses and wave at the club’s president. The other members look up, but upon seeing me, they either go back to their gossiping or their games.

Oh well.

Somehow, they figured out my origins and won’t touch me with a ten-foot pole. They rarely talk to me either.

The only one who does is the president himself. He’s usually my partner in the game as well. At my wave, he slowly stands from his sitting position by the reception and advances toward me.

Mr. Whitby is a nice old man with white hair, sagging wrinkles, and an impeccable posture for someone his age.

“How are you today, Ms. Sokolov?”

I do the okay sign that he understands by now. Everything else, I have to write in my phone’s notes app.

After I type out my reply, I show him. “I told you to call me Mia. Just Mia.”

He nods as the most perfect English gentleman I’ve ever seen. After my dad—who has a British accent but comes from a very complicated ancestry.

The only difference is that Mr. Whitby doesn’t kill people for a living like Dad.

The old man smiles faintly. “I’m sorry I can’t stay around for today’s game. I have an urgent errand to tend to.”

Oh.

“I’m sure one of the others would be thrilled to play against a bright young lady such as yourself.”

No, they won’t.

Mr. Whitby faces the other members. “Anyone?”

I hang my head. Seems no meditation or chess are on the table today. I do need to purge this energy before it consumes me, though.

This morning, I caught myself standing in front of the mirror, opening and closing my mouth. The disturbing part wasn’t looking like a haunted, mentally-damaged goldfish. It’s the fact that I haven’t done that for years.

After I stopped talking at the age of eight, I tried to speak a few years later by standing in front of the mirror and opening and closing my mouth, attempting to turn the noises I sometimes release into words, but that only made me cry and even pushed me into a panic attack.

So I stopped altogether.

I’m just under a lot of stress lately or I wouldn’t have done that today. It could also be because of the nightmares—

“I’ll play against her.”

My spine jerks and that familiar chill snakes to the bottom of my tight belly.

It can’t be.

I must be imagining things.

I don’t turn around to the source of the voice, though.

If I pretend I didn’t hear it, that means it didn’t happen. Who knows? Maybe my ears are catching up to my tongue and are also becoming dysfunctional.

A shadow stops in front of me, and this time, I do raise my head. My audible gasp nearly chokes me as my eyes clash with none other than Landon fucking King’s.

For the second time in my life, I’m speechless. No, I’m stunned. Everything about this man is unsettling and none of his charm is able to camouflage it.

It’s unfair that he always looks as if he jumped right off of a runway or out of a brand commercial. A crisp white button-down is tucked into his tailored black slacks, highlighting his sculpted waist. There’s an effortless elegance in the way he carries himself, highlighted by a sharp presence and a sardonic smirk.

Unlike a few days ago, a slight stubble covers his cutting jaw, giving him a subtle ruthless edge.

The bastard sure knows how to use the weapons that are at his disposal. Beauty, style, and infuriating charm.

He cocks his head to the side, and the same grin from the other night curls his lips. Provocative, sinful, but most importantly, dangerous.

“Landon.” Mr. Whitby clutches his shoulder in a friendly greeting. “Long time no see.”

Long time no see? Long time no fucking see?

Please don’t tell me this bastard is a member of this club.

“Frank,” Landon greets the president with the familiarity of close acquaintances, his smile subtly switching to appear welcoming. “I missed this place and the people in it, so I thought I’d pay a visit.”

Everyone, and I mean every single one in the hall, either smiles or stands up to surround the freak in a close-knit circle.

The women basically fight for his attention, and he acts like some sort of celebrity. Unlike a celebrity, however, he knows all their names and compliments one lady on her new haircut, another on her flattering glasses, and another on her cardigan. He also greets the men in a bro kind of way, and they all nod enthusiastically.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

I watch the show with my mouth agape. This must be what Bran meant by “You’ve never seen Lan in action. He can be the most charming or the deadliest depending on his mood and goals.”

Now, I see it. The other side of Landon that I’ve only heard about but never had the misfortune to witness.

He captures people’s attention with ease. It’s clear that he’s a natural at this and can’t possibly be challenged at his own game, let alone beaten.

The worst part is that people flock to his presence with the suicidal tendencies of a moth to a flame. In no time, I’m the only one who’s standing outside the circle, an outcast through and through.

Mr. Whitby clears his throat and manages to break the circle from around Landon.

Suddenly, I’m back in Prince Not-So-Charming’s field of vision. Somewhere I definitely don’t want to be after I single-handedly destroyed his party the other night.

“All right, everyone,” Mr. Whitby says. “Landon came to play, so how about we let him do that?”

The man of the hour, as he probably thinks of himself, slides his attention to me while still wearing a destabilizing grin that could rival a serial killer’s.

“Landon, this is Mia.” Mr. Whitby motions at me. “She’s unable to speak, but she can hear you just fine. If she needs to communicate, she’ll write you a note on her phone. Oh, and she happens to be the best I’ve played in chess after you.”

Did he just say after you?

Mr. Whitby, I was just building you an English gentleman shrine in my head, but how dare you place me after this asshole?

“After me, huh?” Landon echoes, and I swear a light glows in his eyes, making them brighter and more sadistic.

“Yes. She’s such an intelligent young lady and a formidable opponent. I wish I could stay to watch you two play.”

“Now, I’m intrigued.” The bastard, who definitely doesn’t resemble Bran in anything but looks, smiles again. How could he make something as simple as a smile drip with unhealthy charm and satanic voodoo?

I reluctantly sit at the vacant table in the corner. The biggest part of me wants to flee and reconsider devil worshiping to curse the man in front of me, but if I do that, it’ll only look suspicious.

Besides, there’s no way Landon knows I’m the one who humiliated him in front of his pretentious wannabes.

Still, my movements are stiff as I sit opposite him. So much for relaxing and shutting down my mind.

It’s safe to say this whole situation is failing sideways.

I busy myself with pushing the white pieces exactly in the middle of the tiles.

“We meet again.”

I slowly lift my head, only for my gaze to crash with his sardonic one and that taunting smirk at the corner of his lips.

Keeping my expression the same, I type on my phone, “Who are you again?”

The moment he sees the words, he bursts out laughing. “You’re an interesting little mouse.”

“My name is Mia,” I type and show him.

“Mouse is a more accurate description. You love going unnoticed and leaving crumbs of havoc, no?”

Fuck this asshole.

What are the chances of me kicking him and not being thrown out by the fanboys and fangirls currently watching us from their seats?

Also, does this mean he suspects me?

Still, even if he does, he has no proof and, therefore, can’t accuse me of anything.

I push my first pawn and stare at him. He stares right back as he glides his own pawn across the tiles. “I must say, you have above-average acting skills.”

I raise a brow.

“To be able to meet me and stay calm and even pretend you don’t know me should earn you a round of applause.”

I type and show him, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Did we meet? When? In your dreams, maybe?”

“My dreams?”

“Wow. I was really in your dreams? I know I’m pretty, but you can stop drooling.”

His lips twitch. “Someone is certainly drooling here, but it’s not me. And no, we didn’t meet in my dreams. I’d have to give a fuck about you to allow you access to my subconscious, and I’m not known to do that. We did, however, meet when I ruined your cousin’s car.”

“Doesn’t ring a bell.”

“How about when you called me a fucking tool, then proceeded to teach me how to curse in sign language when I called you a mute? Do you remember that?”

My blood boils at the reminder and I’m tempted to flip him off again just because, but, instead, I move another pawn and then type, “No. I meet a lot of tools in my life and it’s impossible to remember all of them. Good for you for having a strong memory for useless encounters, though.”

There. K.O. The best way to get back at egotistical jerks with a god complex like Landon? Make them feel like they mean nothing.

“Hmm.” His gaze slides from the phone to my face. “And here I thought I would apologize for the mute remark, but it turns out, there’s no need.”

I narrow my eyes but quickly conceal it. The damn prick nearly trapped me.

What is he playing at? Apologizing? People like him don’t apologize.

If they do, they don’t mean it.

And if they do mean it, there’s an ulterior motive.

“Since you have a memory lapse.” He wraps his fingers around the bishop’s neck and meets my gaze. “I don’t suppose you’ve been around my place lately, no?”

“I don’t even know where your place is,” I type.

“Funny.” He leans forward. “Because I saw footage of my brother inviting you over.”

Shit.

“Oh! I didn’t know it was your place.” I smile sweetly as I show him my phone.

“Just like you didn’t possibly suspect that my identical twin—who literally looks like a copy of me—might be, I don’t know, my twin?”

“I did suspect it when I met you just now, but it’s rude to talk about someone’s family, don’t you think?” I smile again as I knock off his knight.

Guess someone will be right after me today, not the other way around.

“It is, which is why I prefer not to show footage of your twin sister making a fool of herself with one of my guards that night.”

I freeze, my cheeks turning into hot flames.

“That’s right, mouse. I know both of you trespassed on my property and bathed me in pig blood. Now that we’ve gotten the dull pleasantries out of the way, shall we discuss that further?”


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