Lyrical: Chapter 27


Pen

I nod. If Asia can trust her, then I figure I can too. It’s time to put my pride aside. I need help. I need a friend, and whilst once upon a time the first people I would’ve gone to were the Breakers, right now I can’t risk trusting them without figuring out if they really are on my side. Well, two of them at least. My heart squeezes painfully. Zayn and York have made their feelings known even if they haven’t opened up about anything else, but Xeno unleashed his pain on me and told me in no uncertain terms to stay the fuck away from them. I don’t think he’ll ever come around, and Dax? Dax has made it easy and stayed away from me, refusing to even acknowledge my existence when we pass in the hallways at the Academy.

“Pen?” Grim prompts.

“I have a little sister, Lena,” I begin, drawing in a deep breath. Grim frowns, flicking her gaze to Beast then back to me. “Her life is being threatened, and I need to protect her at all costs. I’m asking for your help to do that. Whatever I earn here at the club, I will use to pay towards her protection. I’ll work more nights, every night if I have to, to cover the cost. But I need eyes on her at all times. I need her life protected.”

“Well, shit,” Beast says. “What little cunt is threatening your sister? Just give me a name and I’ll sort this.”

Grim holds her hand up, immediately silencing Beast. “This isn’t some two-bit street kid with a bad attitude threatening her, is it?” she asks me.

“No. Do you think I’d come here asking for your help if it was? I might be a dancer, but I’ve grown up fighting my own battles. I can deal with some stupid roadman.”

Grim nods. “I don’t doubt that. So, who are we dealing with?”

My fingers curl around the pad of my seat and I lock gazes with Grim. “I can’t tell you that.”

“What do you mean, you can’t tell us? Listen, Pen, we need to know who we’re dealing with if we’re gonna agree to protect your sister,” Beast states, shaking his head like he thinks I’m a lunatic for even suggesting it.

“I can’t tell you because I don’t know who it will be…”

“So your kid sister’s got a hit on her head? Why? What the actual fuck is this? Who uses kids as a tool to threaten—” Beast snaps, his tirade cut short by Grim.

“Jeb?! That motherfucker.”

“He’s threatened my sister’s life, yes. But it isn’t him I’m most worried about, not since you stepped in. I don’t think he’ll do anything to Lena now that you’ve hired me.” I give her a half-smile that doesn’t meet my eyes because whilst I hope that’s true, I really have no fucking idea whether I’m right. Jeb only does things that suit him. Right now, me dancing for Grim fits into whatever little plan he has. When that stops being beneficial to him, all bets are off.

Grim looks at Beast, a whole conversation passing between them both. It must feel good to know someone so deeply that just one look can convey a whole conversation. It used to be like that for me and the Breakers. I really want that back.

“Who’s the other person?” Grim presses. I swallow hard. Fear keeping me mute. Am I doing the right thing? “Who else, Pen?”

“My brother.”

“Your fucking brother,” Beast repeats, incredulous.

“Yes. My brother runs Jeb’s drug business in Mexico. He’s threatened Lena’s life and will kill her if I don’t find out what Jeb and the Breakers are doing at the Academy.”

“Fuck me.” Beast whistles.

“He’ll kill my little sister if I don’t betray the men I love. Whatever they’re up to, David hasn’t been kept in the loop. He’s pissed off and when he’s like that, he’ll act out. I can’t risk him hurting my sister,” I choke out, my chin wobbles and tears prick my eyes. But I don’t cry, instead I grit my jaw knowing that I have to be strong, though it’s getting harder and harder these days.

“Your brother sounds like one twisted fuck.”

I met Beast’s gaze. “He is.”

“And you didn’t consider asking the Breakers for their help?” Grim asks.

“How can I when they still work for one of the men who’s threatened my sister’s life?”

Grim raises her brows. “You think they’d actually hurt your sister?”

“No. I don’t.” I sigh heavily, swiping a hand over my face. “At least, I don’t think they’d hurt Lena, but they’re different now. I’m not sure I know who they are anymore.”

“You can’t trust them?” Beast asks, more of a question than a statement.

“I want to, but Xeno hates me, Dax has avoided me since I danced here last—”

“After what you did for him? I knew I should’ve shot the little shit,” Beast exclaims, a long list of expletives erupting from his mouth. “Give me the word, Pen, and I’ll beat his arse to a pulp in our upcoming fight. I’ll put him in hospital for being such a fucking dick.”

Please, don’t,” I say.

Beast’s lip curls. “That prick doesn’t deserve you. What a fucking selfish little cu—”

Grim holds her hand up, quietening Beast’s tirade.

“And the other two? Zayn, York?”

“We’ve got closer again this past week or so, and they want me to tell them what’s up, but how can I do that? How can I do that knowing who they work for? Jeb is Zayn’s uncle, for fuck’s sake. Besides, I don’t want to put them in the line of fire either. Jeb will kill them if he thinks they’ve turned their back on him, but not before my brother gets to them first. David hates the Breakers. Always has.”

“This is a complicated situation you’ve got yourself in,” Grim remarks, picking up another cigarette and lighting it. I watch her take a few deep inhalations, the smoke she blows out clogging the air between us. “You get close to them and find out what they know, betraying their trust. You stay away and find out nothing, and your sister winds up dead.”

“That’s about the sum of it,” I say. Grim nods, glancing over at Beast who pulls a face. It’s actually quite comical and I would laugh at his expression if I didn’t feel like fucking crying. “I can’t hurt them again. They’d never forgive me. But I can’t let David hurt my sister either. So here I am. If I can ensure my sister’s protected, then I can figure the rest out somehow.”

“Sounds like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place,” Beast remarks, stating the obvious.

“Yeah,” I laugh bitterly. “You could say that.”

Grim taps her fingers on the table, staring at me. She screws up her nose, thinking before she stubs out her cigarette in the ashtray on her table. “I’ll put her under surveillance, stat. I’ll make sure my best men guard her, Pen.”

“Should I warn her…? I don’t want to scare her. I’ve always kept her shielded from David. She doesn’t know anything about this.”

“My men are professionals. She’ll have no idea. Believe me when I say it, Pen. No fucker will get close enough to touch a hair on her head. I give you my word, she’ll be safe,” Grim says, giving Beast a meaningful look.

“Text Grim a photo of your sister. I’ll get things moving,” he states, striding towards the door. “We got this covered.”

My shoulders drop, relief flooding through me as I do what he asks and send through a photo of Lena to Grim’s phone. “Thank you. I don’t know what to say.” I can feel the tears welling again and I choke them back, hiding them beneath a cough. I’ve really no idea why she’s helping me, but right now I don’t care. Lena will be safe, and I can figure the other shit out later.

“We’ll protect your sister until Jeb and your brother are dealt with,” Grim says, picking up her mobile phone and tapping a message out as the door closes behind Beast. Her brows pull together in a frown at the very quick response.

“What do you mean, until they’re dealt with?” I ask, my gaze flicking to her mobile.

She doesn’t answer me right away, instead she taps another message out, then places her mobile on the table. “Just business,” she explains, nodding towards her phone. I don’t question her further because it’s really none of mine.

“What are you planning on doing?” I ask, a shiver tracking down my spine.

“I told you I dislike Jeb. He’s been on my shit list for some time, Pen. Your brother just got added. No motherfucker threatens a child’s life and gets away with it. As far as I’m concerned, they’re already dead.”

There’s a fierceness in Grim’s gaze that comes from a place of experience. It makes me wonder what happened in her past to make her feel this way. She’s a part of this world that exists like a secret society beneath the mundane everyday life and yet it seems to me that it’s not something she really likes or wants to be a part of, for that matter.

“Can I ask you something, Grim?”

“Sure.”

“Why do you do what you do when half the people you invite into your club are arseholes just like Jeb and David?”

“First of all, they might be criminals but not all of them use kids to do their dirty work. There are some—just a few, granted—who can be trusted not to do that kind of shit. Secondly, it’s all I know. This is the world I grew up in, Pen.”

“Why didn’t you get out?”

She laughs. “Because I didn’t want to.”

“But I thought—”

“You thought that I was some kind of secret church-going prissy bitch because I have a few morals? Believe me, I’m not. I make a good living doing what I do. I met the man I love right here in this club and I live a good life, an exciting one. I like the power and the lifestyle that being Grim affords me. Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness.”

“I don’t. I’m just trying to understand.”

“Then don’t. The only person who understands who I am and what I’m about is Beast.”

I nod, remaining quiet, thoughtful. “Look, Pen, just because I happen to like my life it doesn’t mean to say I’m happy about how some of these arseholes run their businesses. I’m not down with kids being used or threatened as part of someone’s business plan. Adults can make their own choices. Kids for the most part, can’t. I take umbrage to a child being coerced into doing something they don’t want to do. I also hate fucking pricks who threaten a kid’s life. That’s a hard fucking no from me. Hence why I’m helping you.”

“Whatever it costs to protect my sister, I’ll pay you back, every single penny. I swear it,” I say, because I know that what I’ve asked for doesn’t come for free. There’s always a favour owed or a debt to be paid. I came here willingly knowing that.

She levels me with her stare. “I don’t want your money, Pen.”

My gut turns over, I was expecting something like this. She’s not as respected as she is in the criminal underworld for being a Mother Theresa wannabe who helps kids. There’s the other side to Grim, one I’ve only scratched the surface of. Whatever her reasons for helping me, I know there’s more to it than she’s willing to say right now.

“No? What do you want?”

“When the time comes, I’ll be sure to let you know.”

“Sounds ominous.” I swallow hard, and grit my teeth.

“I’m not like Jeb or your brother, Pen. I won’t be asking anything of you that you wouldn’t be willing to do. You’re going to need to trust me on this.”

So, that’s what I do. I put my trust in Grim and Beast. Let’s just hope I’ve not made another mistake that will bite me on the arse later or worse still, get me killed.

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