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Lyrical: Chapter 6


Dax isn’t letting go. I can see the rage taking over. So I do the only thing I can, I step in. Tentatively, I place my hand on his arm. “Let him go,” I coerce, looking at Beast and begging him with my eyes not to pull the trigger. Beside him, Grim frowns and I know she sees something in me that she hadn’t before.

“Stay out of it,” Dax bites out, anger billowing off him, thick and pungent. He doesn’t look at me, he keeps his gaze fixed on Malik, refusing to release the arsehole. I wish I could see more of his face to try and gauge just how close he is to exploding. Then again, it doesn’t take a genius to know how he’s feeling. I just wish I knew why.

He doesn’t give a shit about me. Unless

My heart stutters in my chest, but I refuse to let hope take hold. This could all be because Jeb has ordered him up here. This could all be a part of their game and not because my Dark Angel has returned to protect me. I swallow the hope that tries to make me weak and force a firmness into my voice.

“You don’t need to die tonight.”

I don’t say his name, and I don’t beg, but I’m sure he hears the plea in my voice all the same. No matter how angry I am with him, I don’t want Dax to die. I don’t want any harm to come to any of them, no matter how they’ve behaved. Deep down, I’m still that girl who loved them fiercely even if they aren’t those boys anymore.

Nausea twirls in my stomach, threatening to burst free. I sway on my feet, stumbling a little. Dax flicks his gaze to me, slamming his lips together in a hard line.

“They have guns,” I press. I know he knows that, but he doesn’t seem to give a shit, and that scares me more than anything else does. He has no regard for his life right now. It’s like he wants to die. That was never Dax. He had a shit upbringing, yes. He endured a life that would have led any kid to harm themselves, to want out, but he never succumbed. He fought to keep his sanity. Why so different now?

“I don’t motherfucking care,” Dax grinds out, confirming my worst fears. Malik eyes us both with interest, coming up with his own conclusions despite the fact he mustn’t be able to breathe all that well right now. He’s eerily calm. I don’t like it.

“Five, four,” Beast counts down. I see his thumb pull back the safety and urgency snaps at my heels. I step closer, ignoring Malik and focusing on Dax.

“Stop,” I say gently. “Stop. Don’t die tonight. Not for me.” I can’t hide the sheer exhaustion from my voice. The physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. I’m about done.

Dax tips his head back and roars, losing his shit right in front of everyone and my throat tightens as Beast continues to count down.

“Three, TWO…”

“Let him go,” I choke out, hating that I’m showing vulnerability but knowing it’s the only thing that might stand a chance at getting through to him. My eyes flick to Beast, honing on his trigger finger. “Please…”

Dax’s shoulders slump, and just like that, his hand releases Malik’s throat as he steps back. I breathe out a sigh of relief whilst Malik just laughs, his voice tight, croaky.

“She’s quite something. I can see why you wish to protect her.”

Dax doesn’t respond, he just keeps glaring at Malik. Behind him, Beast lowers his gun. I reach out, my fingers curling around the wire, holding myself upright as my heart really does try to escape my chest.

“Out of the cage, gentlemen,” Grim says with anger, her attention focused on the two men. Though there is less strain in her voice now that the situation is under some semblance of control.

“As you wish, Grim,” Malik says with a broad smile that makes Beast growl in warning. He watches both Malik and Dax closely as they pass by, his gun still clutched in his hand. Once they’ve stepped out of the cage, he follows.

Grim looks at me, her chin jerking. “You too, Stopy Płomieniach,” she says, repeating the same phrase Malik used to describe me earlier.

“What does that even mean?” I mumble as I follow her instructions and exit the cage on wobbly legs and painful feet. They begin to throb as the adrenaline starts to wear off. I’m not really expecting an answer, given Grim dismissed me the moment we met, so I’m surprised when she falls into step beside me, allowing Beast to deal with Dax and Malik.

“It means feet of flames,” Grim replies, moving closer so I can hear her over the music that has been turned up a notch. “Malik Brov is otherwise known as The Collector and is the head of a powerful Polish crime family.”

“I see,” I respond, not really knowing what the fuck to say to that.

“You don’t,” Grim insists. “Malik’s side hobby is to collect women like other men might collect cars or jewels. Rumour has it he has a castle in the Scottish Highlands filled with women talented in the arts. Most of them are dancers, some are artists, others are musicians but all of them are prisoners. Malik and his three sons, The Masks, are a force to be reckoned with. Don’t doubt there will be some kind of retaliation against the Skins for this—”

I nod, wondering if she knows that Jeb and Zayn have switched places. When I look over at the table, I notice that the only person still sitting is Zayn whilst the rest of the Breakers and Jeb are on their feet, standing toe-to-toe with three mean-looking arseholes with the same mask as Malik. Zayn appears to still be playing the part of gang leader and gives Malik a deadly look as he approaches. The rest of the gangs in the warehouse are watching everything unfold with interest. The tension is thick, cloying, and I’m finding it hard to breathe.

“Are they his sons?” I ask, indicating the three men.

“No. Bodyguards. His sons rarely leave the castle.”

She reaches for me, stopping us both in our slow walk back to the table. “You are here under duress, aren’t you?” she asks, her voice low and her fingers cool on my forearm.

I nod my head. What would be the point in lying?

Her jaw grits, anger flashing across her gaze. “I’m sorry for that.”


“I assumed, and I was wrong. I’m guessing you didn’t want to fuck Mr Bernard tonight,” she says, canting her head towards Zayn. I can’t tell whether she genuinely doesn’t know that Zayn is playing Jeb or does and is protecting that secret for some reason I’m unaware of. I’m not sure I care either way.

“No, I didn’t,” I bite out.

“And you dancing was a way to get out of that?”


“You think that’s going to prevent him from taking what he wants regardless?” Grim asks, her voice low, angry. Her reaction surprises me. I really didn’t think she’d give a shit.

“The moment’s over. Besides, who wants to fuck with a gun aimed at their heads?” I say with false bravado as I nod towards Beast who still has his gun clutched in his hand. My gaze flicks to the men standing high above us, all of them pointing at the Breakers and the men opposing them. I bite down on my lip to stop it from trembling as I focus my attention back to the face-off unfolding in front of us. Dax has joined Xeno, York and Jeb. Zayn maintains a relaxed posture at the table, looking almost bored. He plays the role of Jeb well. Too well. My stomach flips over at the thought. I catch Zayn’s eye. I can’t read him, won’t allow myself to. I need to keep my head rather than try to digest everything that’s passed between us tonight.

“You’d be surprised,” Grim answers sharply, a flash of disgust passing over her features. That one look tells me more about who she is than anything else that has passed between us tonight. Grim is tough, there’s no denying that, but she has her own set of principles too. Maybe I judged her wrongly just as much as she judged me.

“Who are these people?” I ask, a shiver tracking down my spine as Malik barks an order at his bodyguards. They immediately step away and follow him to whatever hole he crawled out of. Good fucking riddance.

“People you don’t want to get mixed up with.” Grim leans in close, taking the opportunity to keep talking with me whilst Beast has a conversation with the Breakers and Jeb. Now that Malik and his bodyguards have walked away, the tension dissolves further. The rest of the gangs resume talking as more girls come pouring out from the corners of the warehouse. I tense. Grim notices.

“They’re not here for sex. Just to serve. None of my girls fuck these men, unless they want to, of course,” she says, as more drinks are poured, and drugs consumed.

“I’m not with the Skins because I want to be…”

“Yeah, no shit…” She sighs heavily, looking at me as though making a decision. “Fuck sake, I’m getting soft. Those damn delinquents have screwed me up for life.”

“Delinquents?” I frown. What’s she talking about?

“Don’t worry about it. Look, I can get you out of here right now,” Grim offers, but I shake my head. As much as I’d love to run, I can’t, for Lena’s sake. I need to see this night through. I need to face whatever Jeb has planned for me because even though I’ve managed to dodge a bullet, there’s a whole load more aimed at me and I have a feeling more than one is going to hit their mark sooner rather than later.

“That won’t help me in the long run,” I reply.

“That bad, huh?”

“Yeah. That bad.”

She nods. “I can make shit difficult for them…”

“What do you mean?”

“Jeb’s an opportunist, I’ve never liked him. He likes to use kids to do his dirty work just like another wanker I used to know.”

“No one likes him,” I say, with a hint of a smile.

“All the more reason for me to take him down. He stepped on a few toes recently and whilst I’d normally keep the fuck out of bullshit like this, I will step in if I have reason to. Lately I have reason to.”

“No offense, but you don’t know Jeb. He’s a fucking maniac.”

“I don’t need to know Jeb. I’ve dealt with men like him all my life,” she says looking at me intently. “I see you have too. Am I right?”

I nod. “Yes.”

“What’s your name?” she asks me, changing the direction of the conversation.

“Pen. I’m Pen.”

“Well, Pen. You ever need a friend. You come find me.”

My stomach swirls with apprehension. I’m not sure of her motives, not at all. She might appear to be someone I can trust, but I’ve not lived the life I have to throw myself at the feet of someone I’ve only just met. Fuck that. Instead, I proceed with caution.

“Friends can turn their back on you without a moment’s hesitation, so forgive me if I don’t jump at the offer.”

I expect some kind of caustic reply or a revoking of her offer, but all I’m given is a wide grin. “Yeah, I like you, and because of that I’ll make sure Jeb doesn’t fucking touch you tonight or any other time he brings you to my club.”

“Thank you,” I respond.

Not that it’ll make much difference. If the leader of the Skins wants to fuck with me, he can do that at any point. Gritting my jaw, I make my way back to the table ready to face the Breakers and Jeb.


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