- Meet The Girls
- Meet The Guys
- Chapter One
- Chapter Two
- Chapter Three
- Chapter Four
- Chapter Five
- Chapter Six
- Chapter Seven
- Chapter Eight
- Chapter Nine
- Chapter Ten
- Chapter Eleven
- Chapter Twelve
- Chapter Thirteen
This story is rated Mature for adult language, sexual content, references to graphic violence, drug, and substance abuse. This means that this is intended for audiences 18 and up.
This chapter includes mental/emotional abuse/manipulation.
Her stay in the hospital had felt like an eternity. She had learned a great deal about what had happened as the staff milled around her bed. They informed her that she had been in a car accident — that she had come to them with broken ribs and bleeding organs.
The entire team seemed to be quite charmed by Landyn, speaking ad nauseam about how he had been so attentive and how he tended to her every need while she was unconscious. A part of her could believe him when he said he had been worried — petrified of losing her. She had long ago accepted that what he had for her wasn’t love, but she didn’t doubt that he didn’t fully believe it, himself.
Her release from the hospital came with conflicting emotions. On the one hand, she was happy to get out of a place that smelled like antiseptic. She would be grateful to be no longer haunted by the ghostly wails of people worse off than her. But, on the other, she did not want to be alone with the Devil. He had been too good and too kind for too long. The wickedness was undoubtedly pulsing beneath his skin. A second beast, soon to rear his ugly head as soon as they were alone.
Beyond what cruelty she might unearth, she feared what restrictions would now be put on her life.
Eli had a brief moment where she could have reached for help. Landyn had gone down to fetch the car, and she was wheeled by one of the nurses through the hospital. She had stared up at the ceiling as they moved, wondering what would happen if she told the woman what really had happened. That those injuries had been a gift from her lover. That they had been the only way he could think to keep her at the time. Would she bring her into the belly of the hospital and keep her there for her safety? Or would she turn her back on her and release her into her captor’s hold?
“There’s nothing I can do,” she might say. “You have to do it yourself.”
“Are you all right?” The nurse asked, halting just outside the front doors.
“I’m fine,” she lied through her teeth, realizing that no good would come of not being all right, either. Her fate was sealed. All she could do was put on a brave face and hope that it was enough.
The doors clicked open with a hiss of hydraulics. Landyn hurried to the wheelchair, ever-so-convincing at playing the role of protector. So much so that she was almost convinced herself as he guided her into the seat.
He buckled her, pushed her hair from her face, smiled warmly at her. His disposition didn’t change, even as he sat in the driver’s seat.
It took a moment too long to realize that he was driving. Not a driver.
“I don’t think I’ve… seen you drive since before we came to Vegas.”
He offered a small smile over his shoulder, his knuckles turning white as he gripped the steering wheel. “I don’t trust anyone with you right now,” he said, almost hesitantly. As if the vulnerability was scraping his throat raw on the way up. “I don’t want anyone else to drive you. I just want to make sure you’re okay.”
“It wasn’t anyone else’s fault,” she said, fixing him with a level stare over her shoulder. “You’re the one who beat me until I nearly died.”
He grimaced, his hands tightening around the wheel. “You’re right,” he said slowly, carefully. “But it’s because someone else got into your head and poisoned you against me. That’s why I had to do it.”
“Why I did,” he corrected his grip tightening. “And when I saw the way you looked at him…”
Eli’s jaw locked, her heart breaking all over again. She turned in her seat, her hands balling into fists in her lap. It was impossible to think about him without crying. Impossible to remember those final moments and not wish another outcome had occurred. She could have kissed him – pulled him out of the way before the bullet could sink into his brain.
Damien had looked at her with love in his eyes. A love she never even got the chance to try to return. A love that was just for her. A silver lining in the shitshow that her life had become.
“How did you find me?” She asked, her voice unnaturally thin. Her nails bit into the fabric of her jeans, grounding her as pain blossomed beneath her pinching fingers.
“When I found your birth control,” he gritted, his expression slack as he confessed his sins as natural and as easy as if he was listing off groceries. “I had the security cameras checked and saw your many visits with him. I had him tailed. I had a tracker put on his car.”
“What did you do with his body?”
“That’s something I can’t tell you,” he said, looking over his shoulder at her. “Don’t think because I’m sorry about what happened doesn’t mean that I trust you. You did just as many fucked up things as I did.”
She growled, “what you did to me. It’s not something that happened. It’s what you did to me!”
He remained perfectly still for a long moment, the square line of his jaw tensing under her verbal assault. It was the first time she had ever talked back. The first time she had raised her voice in return, instead of allowing herself to be manipulated or manipulate him in return. It felt good.
She knew that she was tempting fate. With every cruel barb she threw his way and every truth she exposed to him, she was signing her death certificate. There would be a point when he would snap. There would be a time when she had pushed him too far. And not-so-secretly, she was hoping for it. Hoping he would put an end to what he had started.
“If you thought I was pregnant, you wouldn’t hit me,” she gritted, her eyes glued to his profile. “I thought, if you thought I was pregnant, I would be safe. And if you remember, I wasn’t the one who said I was — you were the one who just assumed.”
Her words seemed to startle him. His eyes widened, flickering briefly to her as if hardly believing what he heard. There was a long moment of considering silence, leaving her suspended in a sea of uncertainty. Drowning in unreality where the Devil listened to someone other than himself and the demons who swarmed at his feet.
“You’re right,” he said, after a long moment’s silence. “You’re absolutely right. It is something I did to you.”
She growled at him from her position on the seat, her arms draped defensively around her middle. No part of her trusted him, nor his words. Whatever game he was playing, it was new. Uncharted. And she didn’t have the devices to be able to fight against it.
“So what now?”
“We get you home. We get something to eat. And you heal up.”
Landyn’s jaw tightened, his eyes locked on the road. It was as if his following words were causing him pain, even before they spilled past her lips. “Yeah.” Curiosity nagged at her. The desire to push until he broke gnawed holes in the back of her neck. This Landyn was fictitious. This Landyn only made appearances when he had gone too far, and he needed to convince her to stay. It had never been anything like this because he hadn’t gone this far before.
They both knew that she should have died. And likely would have if they hadn’t gotten her to a hospital in time.
A part of her — the part that was still naive and desperate to see the goodness in people — wondered if he regretted it. If, somewhere, deep down, he realized what he was doing and decided that he couldn’t go on like that anymore. Or that he was no longer the man he wanted to be. It wouldn’t be a leaf turned. Too much had happened to make her want to leave. In an ideal world, he’d finally let her go. Let her live her own life.
A pipe dream. An unreality that she was too happy to lose herself to.
“And then?” She pressed, her eyes locked on his profile.
“You get some sleep.”
“You know what I’m asking.”
“I’m afraid I don’t,” he said, his voice thin. “If you want to know something specific, you’re going to have to ask directly.”
“What’s going to happen to my life now that I tried to leave you?”
His jaw worked, his tongue tracing the inside of his lip. “A full rotation of guards. You’ll never have the same guard more than twice a month,” the leather of the steering wheel creaked as he gripped tighter. “I expect hourly check-ins. Tracking will be enabled on your cell phone. At all times.”
“Or else,” she finished flatly for him.
He offered no argument. She had just stolen the words out of his mouth.
“And my birth control?”
“We don’t need it,” he said, his eyes darkening, the leather creaking again.
“Landyn. I will not have your baby.”
His eyes snapped onto hers, hellfire alight in his gaze. His lip peeled back, revealing elongating teeth.
“The thought of you hurting our child the way you hurt me is unacceptable,” she countered – a truth, an untruth. “That’s why I started taking it in the first place.”
Slowly, his hackles began to lower, his jaw working as he stared straight ahead.
“My father was slow to anger with me when I was growing up,” he said, his hold on the wheel loosening ever so slightly. “But when he was angry, he burned with the vengeance of a thousand suns.” Something strange flitted across his face. An implacable feeling, too candid, too far out of reach for her to ever be able to name. “I do not want to lay a hand on our child, either,” he conceded.
She’d believe it when he said that he would start seeking help. That he would talk to someone.
But the Devil was a liar. And the best lies were the ones that could be real or pure fiction. Even Eli wasn’t sure which was more likely as he spoke.
“We will use condoms,” he said, his tone making it clear that he would have no more of this discussion. “There’s no need for that… chemical bullshit. And then when we’re ready, we’ll stop with contraceptives altogether.”
She shook her head from side to side, her eyes darting to the world outside the car. Brighter, cheerier. Far more inviting. A part of her wanted to jump out of the car door and roll to safety. But she knew it was hardly the best idea with all of her injuries.
“I’ll prove myself to you,” he said, at long last. “I know you have no reason to believe me, but I….” His jaw locked, the car rolling to a stop at a red light. “I miss when you looked at me the way you looked at him.”
“And how’s that?”
“Like I made you feel like you were walking on air.”
She didn’t meet his eyes. If Landyn thought he would ever be able to make her look at him like that again, he was completely delusional.
“Like you loved him.”
She was quiet for a long moment.
“Did you?” He asked, his voice breaking. “Were you in love with him?”
“I don’t know if there’s enough left of me to be able to love anyone,” she said, her eyes flickering to the light as it turned. “Green light.”
It took some time, but eventually, Eli reclaimed some semblance of normalcy. At least, the “normal” that had her drinking in her apartment and funneling prescriptions up her nose. She spent large portions of her day out on her balcony, chain-smoking, watching as life passed her by beneath her feet.
She had reached out to Yui as soon as she arrived back at her apartment. But they both agreed that it was best to maintain some distance for a while in their code language. Yui was relieved she was okay. Eli was not as much. However, she realized that she was almost happy when the day finally came for Yui to visit.
Eli washed and dressed, pleased to see that the bulk of her injuries had already faded to bruises and slight cuts.
Clad in a pair of black drawstring shorts and a loose t-shirt, she opened the door when the knock finally came. Yui looked adorable in her pleated, hot pink skater skirt and a black silk button-up. A glance down at her feet revealed monster-looking creeper shoes, making her stand almost as tall as Eli. Which, for someone as petite as her, was likely a feat.
The door closed behind her before either could squeak out a greeting. Her arms locked around the Siren’s shoulders as hers coiled around her waist.
“I’m so glad you’re okay,” she whispered, pressing a kiss to her neck. “I’m so, so glad,” she shivered, something hot and wet biting at her shoulder through her t-shirt.
“I’m so sorry you had to see that,” Eli replied, giving her a soft squeeze. “I’m so sorry we didn’t get out.”
“Don’t,” Yui whimpered. “Don’t apologize for that. I know you did everything you could.”
Eli shrugged, raking her fingers through Yui’s dark hair. “It wasn’t enough.”
The Siren shook her head from side to side, her hands closing around Eli’s. She froze, her eyes sweeping to the door for a moment. Then, she held up a finger and began rooting around in her purse. She produced a strange-looking vial of bright orange liquid, with all matter of questionable, floating things inside. It looked like it had been produced from a hidden compartment in her bag. Yui uncapped it, and the scent of lemon washed over her.
Doorway by doorway, she moved, dipping her thumb into the liquid, only to draw small symbols over every arch. She spoke as she did – about completely inconsequential things. The club, primarily. She told Eli about the girls and some of the drama they had gotten up to. It wasn’t until she was back at the front door she said anything that mattered.
“I got this from Belle,” she said, pressing the bottle into the palm of her hand. “This is to make sure that they can’t hear anything in here.”
Eli smiled gratefully, turning it over in her hand.
Yui must have noticed her hesitation. She stepped closer, closing her hand around Eli’s. “It looks and smells like a wellness shot. You can keep it in the fridge. You know how Nex is with Witches.” Somewhere between arch-enemies and completely ignoring them. They wouldn’t know any real craft if it bit them on the ass.
“Thank you,” she said, stealing a quick kiss from the Siren.
Yui smiled warmly, molding herself to her like a cat. She nuzzled under her chin, looping her arms around her middle. “I’m so sorry, Eli.”
There was nothing else to say. She could hear it in the dead air that hung between them.
“And poor Damien,” she whispered, seemingly oblivious to the way Eli tensed in her arms. “Are you okay?”
“I’m,” she hesitated, choking on the words. Her shoulders lifted, her voice frozen in her throat. She could have said so many things, but none of them wanted to come out.
Surprised by her emotional display, Yui pulled her closer, tugging her head to her chest. She shushed her, rocking gently from side to side.
Eli didn’t know how long she cried. Nor did she remember being moved from her kitchen to her bedroom. She didn’t remember tangling herself up in Yui’s arms. But when she finally came back to herself, she was utterly still, their legs tangled together while Yui hummed sweetly against the crown of her head.
She sniffled, focusing on the ceiling overhead. “We’ll get out of here,” she said resolutely. “Damien worked so hard to get us out. I’m not going to let Landyn win.”
“No, we can’t,” she agreed, tracing the back of Eli’s neck with her fingertips.
“Then we’ll do it,” Eli said, bracing herself up on her elbow. “I’ll get us out of this, Yui. I promise.”
The hope in her friend’s eyes had dwindled. But she, at least, gave her the kindness of a smile. “Where you go, Eli, I go. I promise.”
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