Lyrical: Chapter 38

Pen

It’s Sunday morning, and I’ve spent the weekend in bed with Dax. We’ve fucked, we’ve danced together in the studio, we’ve talked, we’ve healed each other. I’ve asked about the others, but he just told me they needed time to deal with their shit and left it at that. I haven’t pressed him for any more information, and he hasn’t offered up any more of an explanation than that. Right now he’s cooking me breakfast. On the side table, my phone beeps and I pick it up, opening the text message.

Clancy: Babe, I’ve spent the whole weekend in bed. River has skills for daaaaayyyyssss.

She follows up her message with a string of emojis that I can’t even begin to decipher right now. Though I’m gathering from the copious amounts of egg plants and lips that they’ve had a lot of fun.

Me: Too much information. I hope your dad doesn’t know what you got up to this weekend. I still can’t believe he was cool with all of that.

Clancy: Babe, my dad would shit a brick if he knew. Friday night was on me. I knew you wouldn’t come if you thought I’d paid for it all. Don’t kill me.

Me: Clancy!!!

Clancy: Sorry Babe, got 2 go. River’s waking up.

Shaking my head, I place my mobile phone on the side table. “Should’ve known, the sneaky bitch,” I grumble.

“Who’s a sneaky bitch?” Dax asks, peering around the door into the bedroom, the delicious smell of sizzling bacon drifting into the room.

“Clancy fibbed to me about something. It’s all cool though. I still love her.”

“Good, I like Clancy. Has she been a good friend to you?”

“Yeah, yeah she has.” I climb out of bed and pull on Dax’s t-shirt and joggers. He stares at me hungrily the whole time. He’s insatiable and my cheeks blush at what we’ve shared. Talk about making up for lost time. “Don’t look at me like that, Dax. I still haven’t recovered from the several orgasms you gave me last night, not to mention the day before.”

“Is that so?” he cocks his brow, a self-satisfied smirk pulling up his lips. “So, tell me, did York and Zayn give you as many orgasms? Coz you bet your arse I’m making a mental tally. Those boys better up their game.”

I pick up a pillow from the bed and throw it at him. It bounces off the wall, completely missing him. He laughs loudly and the sound warms my heart. When he pops his head back into the room, he’s grinning.

“Come on, let’s eat,” he says, pushing the door open and offering his hand.

When we step into the living area, I’m confronted with three very exhausted men. I stiffen, my mouth suddenly going dry. Xeno is sitting on the coffee table, his head in his hands, Zayn is on the sofa and York is frying up the bacon in the kitchen.

“It’s okay, Kid,” Dax says, trying to reassure me. “They might look like shit, but they’re good now. I swear it. Any more trouble, and they’ll have me to deal with,” he warns them, tugging on my hand. He leads me to the sofa, positioning me next to Zayn who immediately wraps his arm around my shoulder and pulls me close, pressing a kiss to my head.

“Hey, Pen,” he says softly, gravel in his voice. He sounds exhausted.

Dax settles on the other side of me and rests his hand on my leg. I glance at York, who takes the pan off the heat and sets the bacon aside. He joins us, pressing a kiss against my head before sitting down. He doesn’t say a word. None of them do. They wait, and I realise after a moment that they’re not waiting for me to speak, but for Xeno to face us all. The fact that he still can’t do that fucking hurts.

When a long drawn out silence begins to make us all feel uncomfortable and Zayn mutters something cutting under his breath, I realise it’s me who has to make the first move. I have to bridge the chasm between us. I don’t know what’s gone on between the three of them, but judging by the heavy bags under Zayn and York’s eyes, it’s been a long weekend. They’ve all changed clothes, so I imagine they’ve been at the Academy this whole time. Xeno being here now is a huge step, and I need to pull up my big girl pants and tell them the truth.

It’s time.

Drawing in a deep breath, I slide out from between Zayn and Dax and kneel in front of Xeno.

“Will you look at me?” I question softly. Reaching for him, my fingers press against his knees gently. He flinches but I refuse to be put off. “Please. I need to tell you something important.”

“Jesus, man, just let it go, Xeno. Fucking look at Pen,” Zayn says in frustration, but still he refuses. I won’t let that deter me. This is the barrier my decision to walk away from them put up between the two of us. It’s up to me to break it down.

“The first thing you need to know is that I love you. All of you. I never, ever stopped,” I say fiercely, my fingers wrapping around his jean-clad knees. I look over at my boys sitting on the sofa and smile through the cracks in my voice. It feels good to say that out loud, to mean that. “Walking away from you all was the single hardest thing I ever had to do. You have to know I wouldn’t have done it if I had a choice.”

“Fuck,” Dax utters, but I return my attention back to Xeno.

If I was the beating heart of our fivesome, then he was the glue. Without him we won’t stick, no matter how much we want to. My fingers slide up Xeno’s arms, and I cup my hands over his. He has his palms resting over his eyes and his fingers curling into his hair. I wrap my fingers gently around his hands and pull them away from his face.

“Please, just look at me,” I beg.

He lifts his gaze slowly to meet mine, and I draw in a deep breath at the utter despair I see reflected back at me. The split in his brow is scabbed over, but he still has bruising around his cheek and there are bags beneath his eyes that tell me he hasn’t slept much these past couple of days.

“Why didn’t you have a choice, Pen?” Xeno asks. His voice is dangerously low, and I’m not immune to the murderous edge I hear within it. Holding his hands in mine, and gently rubbing my thumbs across his fingers, avoiding the bruised and split knuckles, I tell him.

“Because I had to protect Lena. I had to protect you all.”

“Fucking what!” Dax exclaims, but I refuse to look at him. I might lose my nerve if I do.

“Do you remember after the battle at Rocks, after we won, I went missing for a while?”

“You were with Jeb.” Xeno spits his name out like poison, and for a moment he turns his head away, not able to look at me.

“Not at first. That was after…” I swallow hard, forcing myself to get the words out. “Before that point, my brother had a few things he wanted to tell me.” Xeno’s head whips back around to face me. His eyes narrow into slits.

What did he have to say to you?”

“My brother gave me an ultimatum. Walk away from you all or see Lena dead.”

“THAT MOTHERFUCKER!” Dax roars, and I flinch.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Zayn grip Dax’s arm. “Be calm,” he says.

I look over at York and he nods, encouraging me to go on.

“David admitted he had—” I have to swallow the bile burning in my throat at the memory of his words. “He admitted that he had feelings for me. He was jealous of you all. He blamed me for his sickness.”

“That perverted fuck!” Zayn snarls.

“David said he would kill Lena if I didn’t walk away from you. You have to understand that I couldn’t let him hurt my little sister.”

“Why the fuck didn’t you say anything, Pen? Why?!” Xeno exclaims, sitting upright. He glares at me.

“I was scared…” I blink back the tears I feel pricking at my eyes as Xeno stands and starts pacing back and forth.

“We could’ve done something. We could’ve helped! You have to know that, right?”

He pulls at his hair and I stand too, watching him as I hug myself. “I couldn’t. That wasn’t the only nightmare I lived through that night.”

“What do you mean?” Xeno snaps, cutting me in half with his emerald gaze.

“After David’s threat, I somehow ended up walking in on Jeb getting his cock sucked by some random dude.”

“Jesus fucking Christ. This just keeps getting better,” Dax says from behind us.

“Jeb has kept his sexual preferences hidden for years. I don’t know why he’s so fucking worried about it, but when I walked in on him, I knew I’d seen something I shouldn’t have. I ran, but he caught up with me—”

“What the fuck did he do to you, Pen?” Zayn asks, this time it’s him who’s unable to control his anger. He gets to his feet, anger blazing across his face.

“He took me to a room and shot the man who was supposed to be keeping watch whilst he was getting sucked-off. He blew his brains out.”

They’re all silent for a moment, shock rendering them speechless. “He fucking blew his brains out because I saw something I shouldn’t have.”

“And then?” Xeno finally asks.

“He considered shooting me too.” I laugh bitterly at the memory. “Instead, he said that if I could keep his secret, then he would let me go. He would let me be with you all…”

“But you couldn’t do that, could you?” York asks gently, knowingly.

I shake my head sadly. “How could I, York? David would’ve killed Lena if I did.”

York sighs. “So you asked Jeb a favour in return, right?”

I nod. His gaze flicks to Xeno behind me before settling back on me. There’s so much regret there, it would break my heart if it wasn’t so thoroughly shattered already.

“I did. I asked him to send David far away. I begged him to help me because I knew that no matter what, he’d hurt my sister if he remained here. I couldn’t put her in danger. I couldn’t risk it.”

“That’s why Jeb sent David to Mexico,” Dax states, finally understanding.

“Oh, I’m more than positive now that he was going to do that anyway,” I say bitterly. “Jeb sent David away as a favour to me so long as I gave him something in return.”

“And what was that?” Zayn questions, his jaw gritting roughly.

“To be his. Or at least pretend to be. I had to break up with you. I had to break your hearts, work for him at Rocks, and wait for the day when he’d need to call in the debt I owed. He said if I didn’t do that then my life and my sister’s life were forfeit.”

I sit down heavily, my arse hitting the hardwood of the coffee table. “Part of that debt was to let Zayn fuck me at Grim’s that night so that he could still pretend he was straight. I don’t know what else he has planned for me because he hasn’t tried to contact me since,” I say softly.

“Motherfucking cunt! He won’t get a chance to plan any-fucking-thing because I’m going to murder the bastard.” Zayn snarls fiercely, his black eyes snapping with fury.

You will do nothing, Zayn. Fucking hear me?” Xeno snaps before focusing back on me. “So what’s changed, Pen? If you were so afraid of what might happen to Lena, why are you telling us all this now?”

“Because I have help.”

“From who?!” he demands, stepping towards me. I don’t like the look on his face, not one bit.

“Grim. She’s got two of her men watching over Lena for me.”

“Fuck, Pen!” York exclaims. “You should’ve come to us first.”

“Xeno made it clear that I should stay away from you all. I didn’t have anyone else to turn to.”

“God-fucking-damn-it!” York grits out, glaring at Xeno. “Your stubbornness has put her in danger again!”

Xeno flinches but says nothing in response to that. “But why did you need to turn to them at all? You could’ve just kept away from us like David wanted,” Xeno asks and there’s a tremor to his voice that I don’t understand. A crack, like he’s shredding the walls encasing his heart in a way that is dangerous for all of us. I swallow hard. This is the last truth I have to share. I owe it to them to be completely honest.

“David heard about you returning. He knows you’re at the Academy for Jeb. He’s pissed that he’s been left out of the loop of whatever you’re up to and asked me to find out what’s going on. I have until the end of the month or Lena’s dead. That’s why I went to Grim. At least she’s safe from harm until I can figure out what to do about this fucking mess.”

Xeno’s eyes hardened. “How?”

“What?”

How would you find out what’s going on?”

I swallow hard, the words sticking in my throat. I look at Dax, at York and Zayn, then back at Xeno. “By making you fall in love with me again, by finding out your secrets and breaking your trust. That’s how,” I whisper.

The room falls silent, then like a hurricane ripping through the front room, Xeno strides over to the kitchen, tears open a cabinet door and starts throwing the contents onto the floor. Plates crash against the tiles, shattering on impact, shards of bone china scattering across the floor. We all watch as Xeno rips open cupboard after cupboard and drags the contents out. He roars, smashing plates, throwing pans, even the utensils’ drawer gets pulled out and upended on the floor. When he starts punching at the wall with an aggression that scares me, Dax grabs my hand tightly in his, tugging me backwards and away from him.

“We should go,” Dax says.

“No!” I protest, “He’s going to seriously hurt himself. Please, Dax, make him stop.”

My voice seems to register in Xeno’s head because his hands fall to the side and he turns to face me. “Take her back to the Academy—” he grits out tremulously.

“Xeno, please, let’s work through this.” I step forward towards him, but York steps in my path and shakes his head.

“No, Titch. He needs time.”

“Come on, man,” Zayn says, resting his hand on Xeno’s arm and looking at me with an apology in his gaze, but Xeno smacks it away.

“Don’t!” he snarls, turning his attention back to Dax and completely ignoring me. “She can’t be around me. Take her back to the Academy. Right the fuck now.”

“Xeno, don’t do this…” I rub at my chest, feeling his pain as though it’s my own. I wanted so badly to believe that by telling them the truth we’d be able to start over, to start again, but I was wrong. I was so fucking wrong, and it hurts.

“We should go,” Dax says, drawing me away from the trio.

“I can’t leave him like this,” I plead, fixing my gaze on Xeno. He can’t even look at me.

“JUST LEAVE!” Xeno roars, and when Dax wraps his arm around me and lifts me off the floor, I have no choice but to go with him.

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