Lyrical: Chapter 18


Pen

“Pen, can I come in?” Zayn asks, hovering on the threshold of the studio.

“Sure,” I shrug, still feeling raw from last night. I challenged Dax to dance his feelings and he did that. Boy, did he fucking do that. I’ve just spent the last two hours trying to put together a routine for my first night at Grim’s club and failing miserably. I thought it’d be a good enough distraction. I was wrong.

“How’ve you been?”

“Fine.” I begin to pack away my belongings, not able to look at him. It’s not his fault Dax ripped a hole in my chest, but he’s here and Dax isn’t, so he’s getting the brunt of my hurt feelings.

“Want to talk about it?…”

I catch a glimpse of his expression in the reflection of the mirror and shake my head. “There’s not much to talk about.”

Zayn nods in understanding. Of course he knows what’s up. Even if he wasn’t friends with the Breakers he would have found out anyway. The whole Academy is talking about how I was replaced with Tiffany. It’s no fucking secret. Clancy went off on one this morning, but I managed to get her to reel her neck in. I love that she’s angry on my behalf, but it won’t change a damn thing. Dax is as stubborn as they come. He won’t change his mind on this.

“He said you were angry,” Zayn states.

“Yeah, you could say that I had a few choice words for him.”

“I bet. Put him in his place, did you? It’s been a while since that’s happened. I would’ve loved to be a fly on the wall.”

“Not nearly as much as I wanted to. He kind of distracted me with his new students. I didn’t know he was teaching too.”

“Favour to Madame Tuillard. She gave him a spot at the Academy and in return he teaches a few local kids dance. He gets to be here, and she gets to look good. It’s a win-win.”

I raise my brows. “She seems very accommodating for you all. Wanna tell me what’s up with that?” I ask, feeling the situation out. I’m still painfully aware of my brother’s request, and so far I’m no closer to knowing why they’re here.

“Want to tell me what’s going on in your head right now?” he counters, cocking his head to the side.

I press my lips together and fold my arms across my chest. “Look, Zayn. I’m kind of busy,” I say, feeling frustrated. He’s not going to give me anything unless I do the same in return, and I can’t.

“Busy doing what? Maybe I could help,” he suggests.

“Actually, you know what, I’m done for the night,” I say, grabbing my bag and swinging it over my shoulder. I walk towards him, but he blocks my exit, pressing his forearms against the doorframe.

“If that’s the case then let’s get out of here.”

I raise my brows. “Are you asking me out on a date, Zayn?”

“Looks like it.” He smirks, running a hand through his hair.

“Is that a good idea? What about the rest of the Breakers? What about Jeb?”

“This isn’t about them. This is about us, Pen.” He reaches for me, cupping my face in his hand. “Let me take you out. No strings attached. Just fun. Just us. Nothing more.”

His sincerity takes me aback. I find myself agreeing before I’ve really had time to think about it. “Okay.”

He smiles broadly, his hands dropping as he flashes his chipped tooth at me. There’s a spark in his eyes I haven’t seen since we were kids and it makes me feel all warm inside. It feels so easy to be in his orbit again. Natural, and honestly, that scares the shit out of me.

“So where are we going then?”

“To a speakeasy club in Shoreditch.”

“A speakeasy? What century are we in exactly?” I laugh and he grins at my rhetorical question.

“The password is diamonds.”

“Diamonds?”

“That’s right.”

“It’s located on Brick Lane and only opened about two months ago. Entrance to the club is by invite only. The owners are particular about the clientele they invite into the club.”

“That so?” I question, raising a brow. “Are they sure they know what they’re doing inviting you then?”

He chuckles. “This is one of the most exclusive clubs in London owned by some very rich businessmen.”

“Businessmen you happen to know.” I raise my brows. “I thought you only rubbed shoulders with the criminals of this world.”

“Who said they’re not criminals?”

“Right.”

“Are you up for it, Pen?”

“It’s a school night.”

“I promise to have you back in bed by midnight.” He gives me a salacious grin that would’ve been creepy on anyone else but on him is sexy as fuck. “Well, what do you think? A few drinks with an old friend, maybe even a dance?” He cocks his head at me, his dark hair falling in his eyes. My stomach flip-flops as I feel that familiar pull between us.

“Sure, why the fuck not,” I say, flippantly. What’s the worst that could happen? David wants me to get close to the Breakers and Jeb was willing to sell me on to the highest fucking bidder so does he really give a shit if I go out on a date with his nephew?

“Good. I’ll send a car to pick you up.”

“You’ll send a car? Aren’t we getting the bus?” I joke, grinning. We spent a lot of time travelling on buses and jumping trains as kids. Happy times.

“I’ve moved up a little in the world since we were kids, Pen. No more buses for my girl.”

“Your girl?” My stomach flips at that.

“That’s right, my girl. Be ready at eight. I’ll be waiting for you at the club.”

“We’re not going together?”

“I’ve got some business to handle beforehand.”

“What business?”

“You open up to me. I open up to you,” he reminds me, before pressing a chaste kiss against my lips, then he strides off down the hallway leaving me with butterflies in my belly that I haven’t felt since I was a kid.


The grey Lexus—that Zayn arranged to collect me—pulls up outside a quieter section of Brick Lane, away from the main drag and the pubs and bars that dominate that end of the street.

“This is it?” I ask, eyeing the driver suspiciously. There’s nothing but a betting shop, pawn shop and a thrift store. All of which appear to be closed, though there are lights on in the pawn shop that smacks as odd given the time of night.

“This is the address I was told to drop you off at. Is there a problem, Miss?” the driver asks me.

“No, I guess not. Thank you.” I climb out of the car, slamming the door behind me. The driver pulls off, leaving me standing on the pavement nervously pulling at the hem of my dress. I wasn’t sure what to wear, but thankfully Clancy was willing to lend me her black halter neck dress in exchange for fully unabridged details of my date with Zayn tonight. She wasn’t impressed when I paired the dress with my trusty heeled biker boots but frankly it’s comfort over impracticality any day.

“Well, now what?” I mumble, peering into the pawn shop. It’s filled to the brim with all manner of items. There are musical instruments, cell phones and other electronics, antiques, collectables, jewellery and even bicycles lined up against one wall.

“Are you here to meet Mr Bernard?” A male voice asks me from the shadow of a doorway between the thrift store and the pawn shop.

“Fuck!” I exclaim, jumping almost out of my skin as a tall man with a bald held and thick shoulders steps out into the streetlight. “Who the fuck are you?”

“I’m Ben. Are you Miss Scott?”

“Yes, that’s right,” I say, giving him a once-over. He’s dressed exactly like an upmarket bouncer would be in a smart suit and shiny shoes.

“Just this way,” he says, opening the door to the pawn shop. A bell tinkles overhead and an attractive blonde woman, wearing a tight fitting silver dress, stands up from behind a counter at the back of the store as I enter.

“Shit, I didn’t see you there,” I say, holding my hand over my heart.

“Good evening, what are you looking to purchase this evening?” she asks me when I reach her.

“Purchase?” I look around the store. “Are you for real?”

“Yes.” She taps her long manicured nails on the glass cabinet in front of her and I’m drawn to what’s sparkling beneath her fingers. Diamonds. Well, in this case I reckon they’re nothing more than cubic zirconia, still, I understand her well enough. “What are you looking to purchase this evening?” she asks again.

“Diamonds?”

She smiles, her red painted lips pulling wide over her straight white teeth. “Welcome to Jewels. Through here, please,” she says, her hand disappearing beneath the cabinet. A second later a door marked storeroom swings open and I’m stepping into the entrance of a club with a topless man and a scantily clad woman dancing on two platforms on either side of a reception area where a perfectly coiffed gentleman stands. There’s marble flooring beneath my feet and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. A wide circular staircase leads upwards and there’s a floor to ceiling red curtain pulled closed directly opposite me. The deep sound of a familiar voice singing draws my attention towards whatever lies beyond the curtain. “Is that Rag‘n’Bone Man?” I ask no one in particular.

“Indeed it is,” the man standing behind the reception desk answers. He’s handsome in a silver fox kind of way. “My name is Jasper. May I take your name please?”

“Holy fuck,” I mumble under my breath, catching my reflection in the mirror behind Jasper. I look as far out of my comfort zone as I feel. Shit, maybe I should have worn Clancy’s Louboutin stilettos. Too fucking late now. I roll my shoulders and run my fingers through my hair. If I can handle myself in a club full of criminals, then I can deal with the type of clientele that must attend an exclusive club like this. This is a club for the rich and likely famous, a far cry from the street kids and criminals that attend Rocks or Grim’s club.

“Miss, your name?” Jasper repeats.

“Pen.”

“Pen…?”

“Oh, you want my full name. It’s Pen Scott,” I tell him, biting down on my inner cheek.

“Ah, yes, Mr Bernard has been expecting you. Please follow me,” he says, stepping out from behind the desk and walking towards the curtain. He pulls it aside with a smile, revealing another large room filled with people dining at tables with cut glass champagne glasses and sparkling silverware. In front of the dozen or so tables is a dance floor, and behind that a stage upon which Rag‘n’Bone Man aka Rory Graham sits. He’s currently singing Human and I swear to fuck the hair on my arms rises at the velvet smoothness of his sexy-arse voice.

Zayn wasn’t kidding when he said that this was an exclusive club if they’ve got Rory Graham singing here tonight. He’s one of my favourite artists and I’m a little starstruck, honestly.

“This way please,” Jasper says, weaving through the tables until we reach the one closest to the stage. Rory looks over at us passing through the other diners and smiles. Fortunately for me, I maintain a modicum of decorum and smile shyly back, my cheeks blazing when he winks.

Just wait until Clancy hears about this, she’ll shit a brick.

“Impressed?”

Too distracted by Rory, I bump into Zayn as he stands up from his seat at the table. He grins widely at me, looking suave in a beautifully cut grey suit and black shirt. His hair is slicked back and he’s cleanly shaven. My mouth drops open then closes again as I take my fill of him. He’s so beautiful.

“This place is insane,” I say, smiling at Jasper who pulls out my chair for me. Zayn grins, sitting down beside me.

“It’s pretty cool, isn’t it?” he agrees.

“What would you like to drink, Miss Scott?” Jasper asks, beckoning over a waiter who seems to appear out of nowhere.

“Erm—”

“Pen would like a glass of the finest champagne you have,” Zayn says for me. He gives me a look asking if that’s okay.

“Sure, that’d be great,” I offer, not really minding what I drink so long as it takes the edge off my nerves. I’m feeling well out of my comfort zone. I’m sure I just spotted Adele sitting in the far corner of the club chatting to some guy. If she gets up and sings, I might just have a coronary.

“Perfect,” Jasper responds with a nod to the waiter who leaves to get my order. “I have taken the liberty of requesting the rump steak, Sir. Chef ordered it in especially.”

“Good choice, Jasper, thank you.” Zayn gives him a quick smile and a nod of the head and Jasper gets the hint, leaving us to talk in private.

“So you know some pretty cool people,” I say, focusing my attention back on Zayn who sits back in his seat and smiles languidly. He looks relaxed, real relaxed, like he owns the place. It only makes me more intrigued as to how a kid from a Hackney estate who spent most of his time getting into trouble, ended up being friends with people rich enough to own such an establishment.

“I know a lot of people, Pen, but not one of them is as special to me as you are.” His gaze softens, and I don’t know if it’s the soft lighting, the sensual atmosphere, or the sound of Rag‘n’Bone Man singing, but I swear to fuck actual stars shine in Zayn’s night-time eyes.

He reaches for me, his fingers wrapping around my hand.

“Very suave,” I say, smiling ruefully. My heartbeat kicks up a notch and those butterflies in my tummy take flight.

Zayn cocks his head to the side and I’m acutely aware of his thumb tracing over my knuckles in such a way that my clit throbs. I need to keep a lid on my reaction to him, because this kind of attention and sincerity is doing stupid things to my libido and stripping me of that common sense and self-preservation that keeps me so level-headed.

“I didn’t bring you here to impress you, Pen. I brought you here because you deserve to be treated like a fucking queen. I want you to eat good food, drink expensive champagne, enjoy the best fucking singers, and dance because you want to, not because you’ve been forced to.”

He winces at that, and I still see the guilt he holds over what happened at Grim’s club. It softens me further towards him. We might’ve bridged the distance between us already, but there’s still a ways to go.

“Thank you,” I reply, locking gazes with him.

Our conversation is interrupted by the waiter who brings me my champagne. I thank him and take a sip, needing the alcohol to settle my nerves. The taste is delicious, and the bubbles fizz on my tongue as I swallow. “Wow, this isn’t like that cheap shit you can buy at the supermarket,” I say.

“Nope, it certainly isn’t cheap at fifty pound a glass.”

What?!” I hiss, almost spitting out the expensive mouthful. I swallow it down, not wanting to waste it.

Zayn laughs, his whole face lighting up in amusement. “Relax, Pen, I’ve got this covered. Only the best for my girl, remember?”

“You’re insane.”

“Only for you,” he whispers, dragging the pad of his thumb over my bottom lip gently.

He leans in, replacing his thumb with his lips as his hand slides around the back of my head and cups my neck. I open up to him, meeting his tongue with mine. His fingers curl into my hair as he kisses me deeply and I can taste whisky on his tongue. Something about the fiery flavour makes my knees weak just as much as his kiss does. We kiss for long minutes, only to pull away when a gentle cough interrupts us.

“Apologies, Sir. Your food is ready,” the waiter explains. I look up at him and give a weak smile, knowing my cheeks are flushing just as much as his.

“Thank you,” Zayn responds, moving back reluctantly.

For the rest of the evening, we eat, we talk about everyday things and whilst I learn nothing about why Zayn and the Breakers are at the Academy, I get an insight into the man Zayn is today, and I like him. A lot. When Rag‘n’Bone starts to sing Skin my own skin covers in goosebumps. The man is an exceptional singer, his voice melodious, deep, touching.

Zayn stands taking my hand. “Dance with me? Let me do it right this time.”

“It wasn’t wrong, Zayn,” I reply, because what happened in the studio between us might’ve been painful, but it was far from wrong.

“I want to dance with you, Pen. Fuck, there are a lot of things I want from you but right now, right this second, I want to dance with you. Dax is a fool, but I’m not. I want you back and I won’t lie about that to myself or anyone else.”

“What about Jeb?” I whisper. He might’ve loaned me to Grim, but he still owns me. Zayn might not know the full story behind our relationship—if you can call it that—but he’s still playing with fire even being here with me. Jeb doesn’t take kindly to his toys being played with by anyone else.

“Jeb isn’t going to be a problem…” he says with certainty. I frown, not understanding what he means by that. Jeb has always been the problem, alongside my brother. “Just don’t think about it tonight, okay? Just dance with me, Pen. Please.”

“Okay,” I agree.

The moment we step onto the dancefloor, Zayn’s arms wrap around my back. He tugs me towards him, a sexy smile pulling up his lips then he lowers his head and kisses me gently.

“Dancing with you is a gift, Pen. Loving you an inevitability,” he whispers against my lips before tucking my head against his chest and moving with me to the sensual beat of the music.

Later that night I fell asleep beneath the covers of my bed thinking about the boy who grew up into a man that’s attentive, warm, respectful. Zayn made no move to seduce me. We returned to the Academy, kissed on the threshold of my flat and then went to our separate beds. Did I want to sleep with him? Yes, of course I did, and I know he wanted it too, but tonight wasn’t about that. Tonight was about starting again. It was about reconnecting. It was about friendship and, ultimately, it was about trust.

Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Options

not work with dark mode
Reset