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Lyrical: Chapter 8


I silently follow York through the warehouse with Dax at my back, my feet are still bare and sore from dancing, my resolve to remain strong sagging with every step. I can’t even bring myself to look at the gangs seated at the tables we pass by, though I’m aware of them watching us. I can barely see straight and if I don’t get out into the fresh air soon, I might just pass out. That’s why I don’t notice Malik stepping towards me until it’s too late.

Stopy Płomieniach, it was a pleasure to meet you,” he says, reaching for me.

“Back the fuck off,” Dax growls, stepping up beside me, and cutting off his ability to touch me.

Malik laughs, dismissing Dax as though he’s a mere trifling boy who has no power to do him any harm. That pisses me off, Dax too given his snarl. Dax and I might not be friends but that doesn’t mean to say I like the idea of someone putting him down. It’s a sore point for both of us having lived with parents who treated their children like shit.

“Mr Brov,” York says, holding his hand out. “On behalf of the Skins, I’d like to extend the hand of friendship. We got off to a bad start.”

“The fuck?!” Dax exclaims, taking the words right out of my mouth. We both glare at York who is now flanking my left side whilst Dax is on my right, half his body in front of mine. York doesn’t pay us any attention, instead focusing on Malik.

“I see we have someone with manners. I respect that,” Malik replies, canting his head at York and gripping his proffered hand in a firm shake before letting it go.

MannersRespect? You touched what isn’t yours, motherfucker. Don’t talk to me about respect!” Dax interjects. My heart sinks. I really, really don’t have the energy for this.

“Careful, chlopak, you’re playing with the real men now.”

“You fucking cu—”

I can’t help it, I reach for Dax, my fingers curling around his palm. He flinches at my touch, but it has the desired effect and his cuss falls short. Malik’s bodyguards bristle at the insult, but Malik isn’t perturbed. He smiles slowly, leisurely.

“I’ve been called many things to my face, chlopak, but a cunt actually isn’t one of them. Though I am partial to one…” he winks at me, before smiling at Dax. My skin runs cold.

“You best move out of my way, cunt, because I ain’t in the mood,” Dax snarls, rising to the bait.

“Mr Brov, I think we should discuss business another time,” York interjects firmly, flicking his gaze at me. “Without an audience.” He makes a point at looking around the warehouse whilst I suck in a sharp breath at York’s insinuation. How dare he! How dare he talk about me like I’m a goddamn business transaction! Automatically I pull my fingers away from Dax, but he grabs them, squeezing tightly before rubbing his thumb over my knuckles. It’s a reassuring hold, and it confuses me, but it works to deflate my indignation. I don’t comment and I don’t pull away.

Malik rips his gaze away from Dax and arches a brow at York. “I see not everyone is willing to protect this piękna tancerka? If she were mine—”

“We’ll take this up at another time, yes?” York insists, folding his arms across his chest indicating with his body that this conversation is over.

“I look forward to hearing from you,” Malik concedes, dropping his gaze, his cobalt eyes washing over me. “You are exquisite. I am a man who appreciates the beauty in all things. A dancer like you should be revered, treasured, kept.”

With that he turns on his heel, his bodyguards following closely behind him and leaving me trembling in his wake. There’s no doubt he’s a certifiable madman. My psycho radar is going crazy right about now. Malik Brov is right up there with my brother in the world of cray-cray.

“Motherfucking, bastard, cunt!” Dax swears under his breath before gripping my hand and striding off. I have to jog to keep up with him. My feet ache with every step.

The second we step out into the darkened car park, Dax drops my hand as though burnt, rips off his mask and gloves and casts them aside. The cut above his brow weeps a little, blood trickling from the wound. His cheek is bruised and swollen, but he doesn’t seem to notice. “Fucking joke these masks. You can all go and fuck yourselves if you think I’m wearing this bastard thing again,” Dax adds darkly.

“Keep your fucking voice down and get Pen in the damn car before you get us all killed!” York seethes, turning on him.

Fuck off! What was all that ‘let’s do business’ bullshit? Are you kidding me right now? We don’t do business with men who are unhinged.”

I can’t help it. I laugh. Does he not realise who he fucking works for?

York rips off his mask, his white blonde hair sticking up in a sweaty mess as he shoves his hand against Dax’s chest. “You don’t need to fucking tell me who we’re dealing with. I wasn’t the one with a hand around the man’s goddamn throat! Do you have a fucking death wish, you prick? You put us all in danger! I was just trying to de-escalate the situation.”

Dax pushes York back. “Did you not see what he did? Did you not fucking see what he did to Kid?!” he bellows, a vein popping in his forehead as he points at me. The nervous laughter rising up my throat is swallowed back down as I draw in a breath. His old nickname for me makes my heart squeeze in pain. Did he just refer to me as Kid? What does that even mean? Was it a slip of the tongue? He hasn’t called me that since returning.

“Dax…?” I question, my voice croaking.

“Get in the goddamn car!” he snaps at me, his lips pulling over his teeth in a feral snarl as he pulls a key fob from his pocket and presses a button. A dark grey Bentley parked not too far away from where we’re standing, unlocks. Its headlights turn on, illuminating the three of us in a puddle of light.

“Don’t talk to me like that!” I shout back.

“I said, get in the goddamn car!”

“Dax—” York starts, flicking his gaze between us. He pulls off his leather gloves too, discarding them and cracking his knuckles. Fuck, are they about to go head to head? They never fought like this when we were kids.

“Shut the fuck up, York.” Dax snaps then glares at me. “Get in. NOW!”

“And what if I said screw you? What if I said, I’m done with tonight? I’m DONE!” I shout, unable to help myself. I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’m fucking emotionally drained to the point of collapse. I literally can’t take anymore.

“I’d say get in the FUCKING CAR!” Dax roars, his face is red, and his eyes are flashing dangerously. I flinch as though slapped. He’s never, ever spoken to me that way before. Not ever. I don’t even recognise this man. My shoulders slump. Has he really changed that much in three years?

“Dax, keep your damn head and chill the fuck out!” York snaps. He’s on edge too, that’s clear enough from the sharp look he gives me, but it’s tempered with the worry that flashes across his face. It’s so brief that I’m unable to figure out if he’s worried for me, or worried about the war Dax has brought down on their heads. Likely the latter.

“I won’t chill the fuck out,” Dax mocks, “until we’ve got the fuck out of here.” He glares at me, pointing at the Bentley. “For the last time, Pen. Get in the damn car! I’ve already stuck my neck out for you tonight.”

Stuck your neck out for me?” I blanch, fucking furious at the insinuation that this is all my fault. “Un-fucking-believable! Don’t you dare blame this on me. I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t ask for any of this!” And I’m not just talking about tonight, I’m talking about everything. All of the bullshit that’s happened between us. There have been so many times over the years that I’ve asked myself why I just didn’t tell them what happened that night at Rocks, and I come up with the same answer over and over again.

I was a kid.

I was scared.

I made a choice in the moment because I thought it was the right thing to do, because I believed my brother when he said he would kill Lena, because I’d just seen Jeb shoot a man in the head. I turned my back on the Breakers because that was what I had to do to survive. Going over and over my decision won’t change the fact it happened. It won’t change the fact that they let me go.

Dax snorts. “Whatever.”

“Arsehole.” I growl, wincing as I step onto the gritty asphalt. A tiny stone pierces a blister on the ball of my left foot, and I drag in a pained breath through my teeth. “Fuck!”

Dax frowns, still glaring at me. “What now?”

My nostrils flare at his curtness. “What do you mean, what now? My feet hurt. If you hadn’t noticed I’m not wearing any fucking shoes!” I snap back, matching his snippiness. Fuck him. I’m getting whiplash from his flip-flopping. “Perhaps I should’ve let you get shot.”

“Pen, don’t be a bit—” York warns.

“A bitch?” I narrow my eyes at him, barking out another laugh and ignoring the fact he looks beautifully dishevelled in his fitted suit, with his hair a mess and his eyes ablaze. Seeing him bare-chested lying on my bed is one thing, but dressed like this, like a suave, sophisticated, sexy man, is more than a little disconcerting. It’s distracting and I hate it.

“Yes, a bitch!” he counters.

“Fuck you, York. How fucking dare you! I didn’t see you stepping in at any point to help. You didn’t do anything,” I pant, throwing every last ounce of bitterness in my voice. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that I’m not just talking about this evening.

“What are you saying?” he snaps, knowing exactly what I’m talking about. I see it in his eyes. He knows. He fucking knows.

“You’re good at reading me, York, at least you were once upon a time. So fucking read me,” I challenge, glaring at him. Beside us Dax curses, he reaches for me, but I snatch my arm away. “Don’t you dare touch me, Dax.”

York keeps his gaze fixed on me and I let him do what he always did so well when we were kids. A second later, he tips his head back and lets out a strangled cry, before slamming his fist into the wall of the warehouse. The skin covering his knuckles split on impact, blood dripping from the wound, but he doesn’t even seem to notice as he steps towards me. “Pen…”

“No. No! I can’t do this!” I back away from them both, hobbling on my feet.

Dax looks down, a scowl pulling his brows together. “You’re hurt,” he states, blinking as though coming out of a trance.

“No shit, Sherlock,” I retort, walking backwards awkwardly. Pain shoots up from the base of my feet. “God-fucking-damn-it,” I curse under my breath, my head spinning with the pain, with hunger and disappointment.

“You’re weak too. You haven’t eaten in a while,” Dax comments whilst stalking me. Behind him, York just stares, like he’s stuck in a trance and can’t quite believe what he’s seeing. Yeah, the truth hurts, arsehole.

“Stay away!” I hiss.

Dax shakes his head. “Look at you, you’re a fucking mess.”

The thing is, I can’t deny it. I am a mess. My dress has a sweat patch on both the front and back. There’s a tear at the hem that opens over my upper thigh and shows off the strap of my knickers. My hair is sweaty and knotted from dancing. My feet, hands and shins are covered in blood from the cage floor and I know without looking that my mascara has smeared beneath my eyes.

I let out a hysterical laugh. “Well, this is what happens when you’ve literally got nothing left, no money to your name and no one who gives a shit about you. Mum washed her hands of me too now so it’s not as if I can go home for a nice family meal cooked lovingly by my mother!” I scoff, shaking my head. “Ha! Who am I trying to kid? I was always one step away from starving. Who needs food anyway?”

“You still have Lena,” York says gently, almost too quietly for me to hear.

My eyes snatch up, then narrow. “Leave her the fuck out of this!”

“Enough!” Dax shouts, and in two steps he’s hauled me up into his arms, across his chest, and is striding across the car park towards the Bentley. Before I’m even able to blink he has me pinned between his chest and the car and is yanking open the passenger door. His hips are pressed against mine and his muscular thigh is shoved up against my crotch, pressing against my clit. I stiffen beneath him, willing him not to move and light up my body like a damn firework.

“I’m not a fucking rag doll that you can pick up and toss around at whim,” I complain, my fingers curling into the material of his shirt to hold myself steady. His warm breath caresses my skin and he shifts slightly, the movement of his thigh hitting that spot I really fucking wished it wouldn’t.

He scoffs. “No? Seems to me you’re okay with being treated like a toy. Get in.”

“A toy—?” Motherfucker.

“Get. In. Pen.”

“I would if you’d actually let me go!”

Dax removes his thigh from between my legs and steps back just enough so I can squeeze out of his hold and get into the car. “Fucking finally!” he cries, slamming the door behind me.

A few seconds later, Dax is in the driver’s seat and leaning over me. I press my body back into the chair, and turn my face away from him. He kind of tenses up at my reaction.

“Seatbelt,” he snaps by way of explanation.

“I can do it myself,” I whisper, but he makes a snorting sound and yanks at my seatbelt, clicking it in place before slamming back into his own seat. Anger radiates from him, making me tense up. He hasn’t calmed down at all, and there’s too much between us for me to even try to soothe him, let alone want to. I saved his life tonight. That’s enough. “Where are we going?”

Dax doesn’t reply, he simply jabs his finger on the button that locks the doors just as York tries the handle.

“What are you—” I begin, looking at the rage on York’s face as he leans down and glares at us through the glass. He slaps his palm against the window, his icy-blue eyes sharp, unyielding. I jump.

“What the fuck, Dax? Open the fucking door!” York yells, slamming his fist on the roof of the car.

“Find your own way back, dickhead!” Dax jabs his finger on the button to start the ignition, puts the car in first then slams his foot on the gas. We fly out of the car park, grit, dust, and dirt churning up the air behind us. I twist in my seat, York is holding up his middle finger and even though I can’t hear what he’s saying, I know a string of expletives are flying out of his mouth.

“York looks pissed,” I remark, turning back around, my fingers digging into the plush leather seats as we speed through the gates exiting the compound.

“I don’t give two fucks,” he snarls. “Motherfucker overstepped. I’m done with the bullshit.”

“The bullshit?” I query, wondering what that’s supposed to mean.

“Yeah. I’m fucking done.”

“Me too,” I mutter. “Me too.”

Half an hour of silence later, we draw up outside the Academy. With the engine still running, Dax presses his finger on the button to unlock the car doors.

“Home sweet home,” he states, staring ahead, the glow from the streetlamp highlighting his features in stark, artificial light.

His jaw is the edge of a knife blade, and the muscle that ticks along it, a time bomb ready to go off. He might be dangerously handsome, but right now he’s just dangerous. Any minute now, he’s going to explode and a large part of me wants to provoke him, just to see what happens. The other part just wants to head inside, take a sleeping pill, and curl up into a ball where the events of tonight can be put aside for a few precious hours. The whole journey back he spoke not one word to me, just stared ahead and drove. Whatever he felt before at Grim’s club when he stepped in and protected me from Malik Brov seems to have been forgotten. Right now he’s back to hating me again.

“Why are we here?” I ask, unable to help myself. This is the last place I expected Dax to bring me. Jeb had plans for me tonight that started with rape and likely ended in something just as horrific. I doubt very much dropping me back home is what Jeb had intended for me.

“Because you live here.”

“Yes, but why am I here tonight?”

“Zayn told me to take you home. I’ve done that. Now get out of the car, Pen. Go home,” Dax orders.

“Yes, but Zayn isn’t the one who asked me to bring an overnight bag, Jeb did, and Zayn isn’t the one who ord—” I slam my mouth shut before I’m able to finish my sentence.

He snatches his eyes up to meet mine and they flare in anger before he twists in his seat and reaches for something behind him. “Here. One overnight bag delivered,” he says, before shoving it into my arms.

“But how did—?”

His phone ringing interrupts my question. Reaching into his inside jacket pocket, Dax answers. “Yes?” he snaps, his scowl deepening.

I watch as he nods his head, his fingers tightening around the phone. He doesn’t respond to whomever is on the other end but as every part of him stiffens, I know that whatever they’re saying it can’t be good. After another minute, the call ends and he chucks his mobile onto the dash.

“Fuck!” he shouts, slamming his palm against the steering wheel.

“What is it?” I ask.

“Doesn’t matter. Just take the bag and go, Pen.”

“But—” I protest.

Dax’s head snaps around to look at me, warring emotions raging in his eyes. “Just. Fucking. Go!”

We stare at each other, our gazes clashing. Words are on the tip of my tongue. Dangerous words that won’t do me or my sister any good if I were to let them spill free. Plenty are curse words but many more are the truth, and those are the ones I must hold onto at all costs because right now I want to tell him the truth. I want to set it free.

“Fine,” I snap, unbuckling my seatbelt before reaching for the door handle and shoving open the door. Stepping out into the chill night air, I slam the car door behind me, hugging my bag against my chest. A beat later, Dax revs the engine and speeds off down the street without so much as a backward glance.


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