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Lyrical: Chapter 28


After spending the rest of the afternoon teaching the girls—as Grim refers to them—the choreography, Beast gives me a lift back to the Academy. He puts on some jazz music and spends most of the journey humming along to some tune I’ve never heard before. If ever a dude was a motherfucking contradiction, it’s this man. A small smile pulls up my lips.

“What?” he asks, flicking his gaze to me.

“Nothing.” I shake my head and look out of the window, biting down on my grin. I’m not sure if I’m feeling a little hysterical after today’s meeting with Grim and the epic fucking rehearsal that followed, or if I’m genuinely this comfortable in Beast’s presence.

“Seriously, what?”

“You’re kinda odd, you know that?”

Odd?” he barks out a laugh, chuckling at my observation of him. “I’ve been called far worse things in my time. I didn’t get this name for nothing.”

“Yeah, I bet.” I fall silent, not sure what to say to that. It’s certainly an odd feeling being driven around by the man everyone calls the Beast. His name fits his appearance, that’s for sure. I mean, he’s good looking and all, but there’s this wild quality about him. From what I observed at Grim’s club, he’s as well respected and feared as much as Grim is. Yet, there’s this whole other side to him that somehow I’m getting to see. I’m not sure whether I should be flattered or scared. Knowing too much about someone isn’t always a good thing. David being a case in point.

“So, now that you feel comfortable enough to insult me, sweetheart, wanna tell me how you managed to get a bunch of strippers to dance the way they did this afternoon? Of course, none of them held a fucking candle to you. Don’t tell Grim I said this, but damn have you got some moves.” He grins widely, winking, then laughs when I blush at his compliment.

“That’s easy. Stripping is a form of dance—”

Beast barks out a laugh at that, but when he catches my scowl, shuts up. “Fierce little thing, aren’t you?” he mutters, shaking his head. “Fuck, I’m a sucker for a feisty girl.”

“Don’t let Grim hear you say that,” I respond, realising how flirty that sounds. I cringe inside.

“I’m not coming onto you, Pen, if that’s what you’re thinking. There’s only one woman for me. Grim got hold of my balls a long time ago and hasn’t let go.”

“Sounds painful,” I deadpan, holding in the giggle I feel inside. This really is a surreal conversation.

“Fuck, no. Best thing I ever did was let her in. She could drag me into Hell by the balls, and I wouldn’t fucking complain. In fact, the woman regularly holds me by the bollocks. She does this thing where she—”

“Okaaaay,” I cut in, doing a timeout with my hands. “That’s way too much information, big guy.”

He chuckles. “Fine. Back to the strippers.”

Dancers,” I correct him. “They may strip for a living, but those girls are dancers. No doubt about that. I think they proved that today.”

“Sure as fuck did. Grim was impressed.”

“She should be. It’s easy to pass someone over based on what you think you know. Strippers equals hookers, right? Isn’t that what everyone assumes?”

“But you saw something different?”

“Yeah, I did. To be able to strip and appear sensual yet not sleazy, isn’t easy. They might reveal their bodies for a living, but they dance whilst doing it. Most people just see tits and arse. They think sex because they’re incapable of seeing anything else. But I see rhythm, control, expression. All key skills for dancing. It wasn’t hard to teach them because I already had so much to work with.”

“The girls certainly took a shine to you. Never seen them so enamoured. They’ve been in the business for a long time. Jaded, is the word I’d use. But you brought out the best in them. That’s pretty fucking impressive, I’d say. The punters ain’t gonna know what hit ‘em.”

“I appreciate you saying that.”

Beast glances over at me and nods. “I gotta admit, when Grim told me she was bringing you in as a performer at the club, that she was gonna give you access to the girls and full artistic control, I was sceptical. Then again, Grim is never wrong when it comes to business matters. Not only did she see an opportunity, she saw something in you. Grim relies on her gut in everything she does. She was right about this, about you. You’re certainly something.”

“Thanks,” I mutter, not used to receiving compliments, especially not from a big, tatted criminal who has a reputation for fucking people up both in and outside the cage.

“Honestly, Tales has been needing a facelift for some time. Looks like you’re gonna be the person to give it one. I’ve no doubt you’ll be the star of the club.”

Tales?” I question.

“Yeah, it ain’t called Grim’s Club, though most people refer to it that way these days. Tales is the official club name. Always has been.”

“I like that… Tales,” I say, sounding it out.

“Yep, tales you win, heads you lose. The fighters of Tales never lose,” Beast reels off like some kind of mantra.

“Is that right?”

“Our fighters are the best of the best. I trained most of them myself. Grim’s father started this business many years ago. She became Queen of Tales when he died and made it more than just an underground fight club. Grim is smart. Much smarter than my sorry arse. It took me a long fucking time to realise just what a woman she is.”

“What happened to her dad?”

Beast scowls, his face darkening, and I see a real glimpse of the man whose name precedes him. “That, sweetheart, is not a story I’m willing to tell.”

“Fair enough,” I reply, not my business anyway.

“Well, here you are, Pen,” Beast says, as he pulls up outside the Academy a couple of minutes later. He’s parked on a double yellow line on a busy London road and doesn’t give a shit.

“You’ll get a ticket.” I point out the parking attendant striding towards us with the look of glee on his face. Beast laughs loudly, his whole body vibrating with humour.

“Oh, fuck. You really do kill me.” He rolls down his window and pokes his head out. The second the parking attendant sees him, the smug look on his face drops and he turns on his feet and walks the other way. “Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Beast shouts after him before turning back to face me. He winks.

I laugh, shaking my head. “Perks of being the Beast, yeah?”

“You could say that. I’ve maimed people for less than a parking ticket, Pen,” he says it with humour, but I know it’s the truth, and it reminds me just who I’m sitting next to. That sobers me a little. Beast must sense my change in mood because he puts the car in park and turns to face me.

“Look, I’m gonna be straight with you. What you’re mixed up in is next level shit, but you’re a smart woman, and you made the right move today. I ain’t gonna lie and tell you that everything’s gonna work out okay because I ain’t fucking God. I’m not all-knowing or all-seeing but I will tell you this. Grim will always back the ones she thinks are worth it, and believe me, she doesn’t do that very often. She’s offered you a lifeline and expects loyalty in return. Don’t fuck her over, okay?”

It’s a warning, and one I understand completely. “I don’t intend to.”

“Good. You got my number now, so call me direct if you need a lift to the club at any point. I don’t mind chauffeuring you about. You’re cute as fuck, and I mean that in a completely platonic way.”

I laugh. “Yeah, I know…” My voice trails off and I gnaw at my lip.


“The fight with Dax. Could you —”

“Nope. No fucking way. That kid needs to learn a lesson. Don’t worry, I won’t hurt him… that much. Now, sod off. I got shit to do.”

“Pen Scott, you’ve got some explaining to do, girl,” Clancy states, greeting me as I enter the atrium. She’s looking over my shoulder trying to capture a glimpse of Beast. “Who the fuck was that hunk-a-chunk, and where the fuck have you been? York and Zayn were barely holding onto their heads in class just now. I swear they’re like two pack dogs, and just as territorial. They clearly don’t like not knowing where you are.”

“I had something I needed to do…” I say, realising how lame that sounds. Clancy’s covered for me again and I owe her a proper explanation, not some vague bullshit that I’ve fed her.

“Hmm, like your text said.” Clancy narrows her eyes at me. “Was that something more important than your dream? ‘Coz honestly, Pen, you’re on shaky ground. Madame Tuillard wasn’t impressed.”


“Yeah, she decided to drop in on the lesson. Tonight she’s coming to watch each of us rehearse our duet…” Clancy winces.

“Well, she’s gonna be even more pissed then, because River and I aren’t gelling all that well.”

“He’s glad to be dancing with you, Pen. He fucking hates Tiffany.”

“Yeah, me fucking too… But it’s not the same dancing with River.” I sigh heavily. I’ll get my own back on that bitch when I’ve dealt with more pressing matters. “So, what did you tell Madame Tuillard?”

“I said you had a family emergency and had to go home to see your mum.”

I puff out my cheeks and blow out a steady breath. “Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me yet because I gave York and Zayn your number. I figured you might answer their text messages given you were ignoring mine.”

“Messages, what messages?” I ask, pulling out my mobile phone. “Battery’s dead. I’m so sorry. I need to charge it up.”

“You need to fess up, you mean,” Clancy retorts, folding her arms across her chest and acting all indignant. “I know how much being here means to you, Pen, but skipping class is a sure-fire way to get thrown out on your arse. I figured that whatever you needed to do was important, and was happy to cover for you, only then I see you having flirty banter with that hot-as-fuck dude and I’m like, so she’s bunked class to shag that delectable man-mountain. I mean, I don’t blame you, but couldn’t it have waited until after the class was finished?”

“It’s not like that…”

“It better not be,” a familiar voice states from behind me.

Zayn. Shit.

Clancy’s eyes widen as her gaze flicks to Zayn over my shoulder. “Should I give you two… ah, no, three, a minute? Hey, York,” she smiles sweetly, lifting her hand in the air and wiggling her fingers. She’s loving this a little too much. I guess karma’s a bitch. Clancy covered for me and I left her hanging. Not cool. I need to explain, to make it up to her. Only now I’ve got to deal with York and Zayn first.

Fuck, this is all I need.

“No, it’s fine, Clancy, you don’t need—”

“Actually, we’d appreciate that. Catch you at rehearsals later, yeah?” York offers, effectively dismissing her.

“Sure thing, partner.” Clancy gives him a cheeky salute, then leans in to hug me, whispering in my ear. “You best give me the lowdown later, or I’m gonna break into your flat and open up a tin of tuna chunks and leave it in your knicker drawer.” Then she kisses me on the cheek and saunters off, cackling. If she wasn’t my friend, I’d worry she was being serious about her threat to make my underwear smell like dead fish.

“Tuna chunks? Fucking gross,” I mutter.

Clancy hears and throws me a wink over her shoulder. “Better than prawns and tuna!” she says, disappearing through a door leading to the canteen, leaving me to face Zayn and York on my own. Perfect.

“You’ve been avoiding us, Pen,” Zayn remarks when I finally turn around to face him.

“I have.” There’s no point denying it when it’s true.

“Care to elaborate?”

Zayn’s pissed off but trying to downplay it by appearing calm. York, however, isn’t doing so well at hiding his anger. He looks dangerously close to combusting.

“Have you forgotten my new job? I was rehearsing with the girls for my first performance.”

“What, and suddenly Beast is your fucking chauffeur?” York snaps, his voice getting louder. Jealousy crackles within his glacier eyes and it surprises me. I’ve never seen York like this.

I look about the atrium that’s milling with students, some of whom are now watching us. The rumour mill has been doing overtime and lately we’ve been the centre of attention. I don’t want to add any more fuel to the already burning fire. I’ve quickly come to realise that the students who go here are nothing but a bunch of gossips with nothing better to do than talk about other people’s lives because theirs are clearly fucking boring.

“Not here.”

My place then,” York states, before spinning on his feet and heading towards the staircase that leads up to our flats.

We ascend in silence, York leading the way and Zayn bringing up the rear like he’s worried I’m going to run if he doesn’t keep his eyes on me. Truth be known, I feel like a piece of shit keeping away from them both, especially since we’ve reconnected, but with Xeno’s warning and David’s threat what else should I have done? At least now that I know Lena’s going to be safe, I can relax a little bit. Maybe even explore what’s happening between us. It feels real, and yet I have so many insecurities that are fucking with my head that it makes me question everything.

“So, you’ve been at Grim’s club?” Zayn asks, the second we step into York’s flat.

“That’s right. I really don’t know what the big fucking deal is,” I reply, feeling defensive. I sit down on York’s bed whilst the two of them glare at me like I’ve actually spent the time fucking Beast rather than rehearsing. “It’s my job now, remember?”

Zayn takes the bottle of beer York offers him and swigs back a mouthful. “I’m well aware, Pen.”

“So why the anger? I had a routine to go through with Grim’s dancers. I can’t do that here at the Academy.”

“Because, Titch, you were dropped off by Beast,” York says, opening his own bottle of beer and taking a glug. He eyes me down the long neck of the bottle, fuming.

“And?” I cross my arms over my chest and raise a brow. Yes, we might’ve reconnected, but at no point did I agree to them being overbearing bastards. I’m not down with that. They don’t get to come back in my life after three years and dictate who I do and who I do not get into fucking cars with.

And Beast doesn’t do that shit. Ever,” York grits out between his teeth.

“What, give someone a lift in his car?” I roll my eyes. “You both need to dial it back a notch. I might’ve longed for this kind of alpha, chest-beating bullshit as a kid, but I’m different now and I’m perfectly capable of accepting a lift in a man’s car without it having to mean I’m fucking them. Besides, have you forgotten who Beast’s girlfriend is? You two are crazy if you think I’d mess around with him. Grim would have me killed.” That’s one man I will never fucking touch with a barge pole. “Besides, there’s something called girl code, not to mention the fact that I don’t fucking want him,” I shout.

They both blink at my outrage. York places his bottle of beer on the counter and sits down on the bed next to me. “Who do you want, Pen?” he asks softly.

I laugh bitterly, unable to hide the stress in my voice. “Who do you think, York? I’m not the kind of girl to jump into bed with just any man who shows me the least bit of interest.”

“Wait, you two have slept together?” Zayn asks, looking between us both. His eyes narrow at York and he downs his beer in one long glug.

“And if we had?” I retort, feeling my hackles raise.

“Then I guess York is better at this wooing shit than I am…” Zayn’s voice trails off as I glare at him.

Wooing shit? Is that what this has been about, Zayn, getting in my fucking pants?” I narrow my eyes at him, then glare at York who winces. “Oh, I get it. This is another one of your games, isn’t it? Well, fuck you both!”

Standing I stride towards the door, but a firm hand grips my wrist and yanks me back around. “No, this isn’t a game, Pen. Fuck, that came out all wrong,” Zayn says, looking at me intently, an apology in his eyes.

“Way to go, bro,” York mutters, shaking his head.

I look between them, not knowing what to think. Then I figure I may as well give them a little bit of honesty because what the fuck else have I got left to lose? “The only men I want are my Breakers. It’s only ever been you four,” I say, trying to pull my hand free. Zayn’s grip just tightens. He steps closer, his free hand running up my arm and cupping the back of my neck.

“That was a cuntish thing to say, Pen. I’m sorry. I wouldn’t care if you had slept with York, though, admittedly, it might hurt my pride just a little,” he smiles tentatively. “See, here’s the thing. All I’ve thought about is you for the last three damn years. I denied ever wanting you. I lied to myself, but now that I’ve got you back, I’m a little fucking territorial over who gets to spend time with my—”

Our,” York corrects.

“Our girl,” Zayn continues. “Seeing Beast put a smile on your face did something to me. It fucking scrambled my brain. I apologise.” He looks at me beseechingly. “I’m sorry, Pen.”

“That’s better, you fucking muppet,” York states, getting to his feet and joining us. He stands behind me and wraps his arms around my waist, pulling me back against him then drops a kiss on the top of my head.

“Don’t call me a muppet, you prick. You were about to blow a gasket seeing Pen with Beast. Don’t pretend to be all chivalrous now.”

York grumbles, but he doesn’t deny it.

“I’m just trying to work through this,” I say quietly.

“This as in us, or as in what you’re keeping secret?” Zayn asks tentatively.

“Both,” I admit.

He nods, glancing at York above my head. “Pen, I know you feel like you can’t trust us. Fuck, it hurts like a motherfucker that you feel you can’t, but I get it. I understand.” Zayn’s thumb rubs over my knuckles soothingly, and York’s arms tighten around my waist in comfort, but it isn’t enough.

“You don’t get it, Zayn. I so desperately want to tell you what’s going on, I really fucking do, but how can I when not all of you are on board? This isn’t just about you and York, it’s about Dax and Xeno, too. It’s about everything that happened between us three years ago. It’s not something I can share if half of the Breakers refuse to even look at me, let alone try to fix what’s broken. Fuck, I shouldn’t even be saying this.”

My shoulders drop and my head falls back against York’s chest as I shut my eyes against the sting of tears threatening to fall. Today, I secured my sister’s safety, but what about my heart? Because that’s still broken, and it still fucking bleeds.

“Pen—” Zayn whispers, his voice filled with empathy that only makes my heart break more.

“I don’t know how to do this anymore,” I admit, fucking exhausted from trying to hold it all together. It’s like trying to make a castle out of sand. Every time I think I’ve made something strong enough to withstand the elements, a huge waves comes along and fucking washes it away. “This is so much bigger than I can handle.”

“Then share your burden, Titch. We can help.”

“It’s not as simple as that. I just…”

“You need Xeno and Dax too,” York mutters against my hair, his lips pressing kisses to the top of my head.

“I need all of you. I always have. This was never just about me,” I say, trying to make them understand.

Zayn cups my face. “We’re going to fix this, Pen. If it means me beating the shit out of my two best friends to make them see sense, then I will. I’ll fucking do it.”

That makes me smile, a tiny laugh escaping my lips at the absurdity of it. “It’s a nice thought, but we all know Dax would make mincemeat out of you, and Xeno will take the beating and still not budge.”

York chuckles. “You’re not wrong there, Titch.”

“I don’t fucking care. Someone needs to knock some sense into them,” Zayn says adamantly.

“Beast thinks so too,” I say, biting on my lip when Zayn’s eyes flash with jealousy. “I asked him to go easy on Dax…”

“Is he going to?” York asks, and I swear I feel him smiling against my head.


“Good. Stubborn fucker might finally meet his match.”

“Oh God, this is all my fault.” I turn in York’s arms, my fingers curling around the material of his top as fear grips my throat. The thought of Dax coming to harm makes me feel physically sick. Beast might have promised not to kill Dax in their fight, but I’m fully aware of what’s at stake. Beast has a reputation to uphold, and Dax has his pride to keep intact.

“Hey, Dax can hold his own,” York says, trying to reassure me. He grips my shoulders and bends down to look me in the eyes. “Dax can hold his own. He’ll be okay.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Believe me, Titch. I know that.”

I untangle myself from York’s hold and step away from them both, needing a moment to breathe. I’ve come so close to just spewing my guts and telling them both everything, and I need a second to gather my thoughts. “I need to get ready for our rehearsal. River and I need to practice before Madame Tuillard stops by. I should go…”

They both look at me like that’s the last thing they want me to do, but I think they also understand that I’m done with this discussion for today. Zayn nods tightly, and York swipes a hand through his hair. They’re both as tense as I feel.

“Pen, I promise you that I will do everything I can to persuade Dax and Xeno to come around. No, fuck that, I will get them to come around, but you have to promise me something in return…” Zayn says.

“And what’s that?”

“When that time comes—and believe me it will—you have to tell us everything. No more secrets. No more half-truths. No more lies,” he says.

I nod in agreement.

“Atta girl,” Zayn grins, his relief like a tonic. I have no right to feel hope, but I do, within his smile and York’s grin, I do.


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