#RunningWilde Ch. 26 | Heaven On Earth

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Cos I'm slipping away

Like the sand to the tide

Flowing into your arms

Falling into your eyes

If you get too near

I might disappear

I might lose my mind

 

-Too Lost In You

 Sugarbabes

 

*

 

Aiden Michaels and Ava-Marie Lockewood lay strewn together in a gilded fortress of their making. Their beautiful brown skin tones glistened with sweat from their love, shimmering beneath the sunlight like they were carved from zircon and smoky quartz, their breaths soft and deep, calm -their insatiable hunger for one another temporarily satiated. For a few minutes everything was still, suspended in time; Ava with Aiden's large frame nestled against her, his head on her stomach, eyes shut, breathing in her scent of spiced honey while she ran her fingers through his glossy black curls.

 

For a few minutes he allowed them to be this.

 

He allowed them to be perfect.

 

Aiden opened his eyes and looked up at her. She was starting to drift off, nipping at her blushing lips, eyes twinkling and almost smiling. He rose swiftly out of the bed, the moment of clarification of what happened between them swooping down on him with frightening speed.

 

He'd taken Ava's virginity.

 

He hadn't expected making love to her to be like that; so feral and inundated with need. He'd expected her to rediscover her meekness and force him to take his time with her, but instead she'd opened up and blossomed for him right in front of his eyes, being exactly what he wanted without being told. It solidified his thoughts of fancy -there was something special about this girl -and that incessant tugging, the invisible thread strung between their souls that kept them returning to each other with such heightened passion, was more than just in his head.  She had to have felt it too. After what they did, how effortlessly she'd climaxed like a storm every time he willed it, there was no way he was in this on his own. This was more than just physical.

 

He looked down at her long, modelesque figure lying amidst the white crumpled Egyptian cotton sheets that swooped and piqued around her like a castle in the sky, housing his new princess of the underworld, and a flash of heat burst inside of him. He'd just had her and already he wanted her again. He wasn't sure if this was a good or bad thing. History pointed to the latter.

 

He shook the thought away and picked up his belt.

 

The familiar clinking stirred Ava's soon to be sleeping frame. She groaned and unfurled herself lazily like a pampered pussy cat. When her eyes found his her content expression became one of uncertainty. The once blurred line had definitely been crossed but now she was unsure of which side they stood on because Aiden's walls were back up, his eyes guarded and his face unreadable. After having him wide open it was an awkward situation for Ava to deal with. Yes, she knew he was as mercurial as they came, but surely this new territory came with new privileges, him being a little less complex being one of them.

 

Forcing her exhaustion aside, she sat up. "You're leaving?" Her voice came out higher than she wanted it too. She wanted to be cool and aloof, comfortable in her new found sexuality but it was hard to do that when her lover looked like he wanted to run a mile.

 

Aiden tugged on his jeans, "I have things to do, Ava-Marie." He grabbed his top from the ground and flung it over his shoulder with his belt.

 

Ava scuttled forward as he made a bee line for the door, "Aiden..."

 

He paused with his hand on the handle and looked back over his shoulder at her, frowning at her needy expression, "Yes?"

 

She retreated back into the cloudy peaks of the rumpled bedsheets and knotted her fingers together, "Can you stay with me for a little longer...please?" she asked into her chest, embarrassed to have to ask that of him when it was clear that he didn't want to. His sudden coldness made her feel awkward and unwanted, and although she knew it wasn't true, it didn't make the feeling lessen.

 

"No. I told you, I have things to do."

 

Ava's expression tightened along with a pang in her chest. "Can't it wait?"

 

He would love nothing more than to lay and waste the day away with her curled up next to him, but they'd been found, so his time was not his own. Contrary to hurting her feelings, Aiden did have things to do. Soon he'd have to take his life off of pause and pick up where he left off –at the centre of a mob war with a dead ex-girlfriend, brother and his brother's baby mother looming over his head, along with his recently orphaned 8-month-old nephew, Jamie. Aiden had to get his head back in the game and be ready for anything, especially where Ava was concerned.

 

"No." He swept out of the room and closed the door behind him.

 

The click of the door closing was like a switch, making Ava feel his absence and shutting their 'perfect moment' off completely. Like a tidal wave, shame and regret came crashing down on top of her, washing away the rosy haze and making her confront what she'd done head on.

 

She had slept with the enemy and it had been wonderful, intoxicating, liberating, this glittering madness that seemed like it could be a habit hard to break, but no matter how she dressed it up, she'd betrayed herself.

 

She'd betrayed her father.

 

The air was thick, her chest tight and the white walls reminded her of being shut away in an insane asylum, and they were closing in. Now stiff and uncomfortable in the bed they'd discovered each other in, suddenly Ava wasn't so hung up on Aiden sticking around anymore.

 

The residue of the sparkly languid feeling she basked in moments ago made her feel dirty and on edge -she wanted him off of her skin. She wrapped herself in the sheets and stormed out of the bedroom and into the bathroom.

 

She spun the tap and stepped into the bathtub under the stream of hot water from the detachable showerhead posted above it. It made her burns burn, but there was some sort of twisted relief in the feeling. She was punishing herself, convincing herself that she deserved to be uncomfortable in her sinful skin, but no matter how much she lathered up and vigorously scrubbed herself she couldn't remove the feel of him. Aiden had seeped into her pores, into her being, and he'd gone too deep to be eradicated. Even as she went through the motions of cleaning each area, the feeling of Aiden's sex imprinted in her own was ever present, ever reminding her and ridiculing her for what she'd done. She sniffed as angry tears poured from her eyes and into to her mouth, wetting her gritted teeth. She slammed the heel of her palm against the tiled wall and growled. It was frustrating to be here, to be with him. Her emotions were like a yoyo, up one minute, down the next, everything so heightened that at that moment it was exhausting to just be her. What she wouldn't give for the simple familiarity of being back at Excelsior with her friends, in the operating theatre tending to the injuries and ailments of the animals from the local shelter, attending protests with Max at her back making sure she didn't get too carried away, preparing vegan meals in the dorm kitchen and arguing with her flatmates about whose turn it was to empty the bin, watching re-runs of Friends...she missed just being a normal student, ignorant to the lure of the underworld and it's vices.  She was useless here; an unarmed pawn being shipped from pillar to post with no say in her life and with no foreseeable good to  come from it, her happiness fleeting and attached to the one thing that made her the saddest...

 

Aiden.

 

She slammed her whole palm against the tiles, "Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid!"

 

She got out of the shower and returned to her assigned bedroom and opened the closet. Everything was black. Black bottoms, tops, dresses, shoes, you name it, it was black. She looked to her white tank top and light denim jeans stained with blood and soot, crumpled in a pile in the corner, and wished they weren't in such a desolate state so she could wear them. All of this black was more than just clothing. They had a weight to them; another step in the wrong direction. It was conformity. It was the Diamond Mafia colour and if she wore it what would it mean for her? That she had given in and crossed over to the dark side?

 

'No, of course not', she thought to herself. After all, it was just clothes and it wasn't like she had anything else to wear.

 

She yanked a t-shirt and a pair of ripped skinny jeans from the hanger and threw them onto the bed. She moved to the chest of drawers next and what she found was copious amounts of underwear made from silks, satin and lace, some plain, some with indulgent detailing. There were corsets, garter belts, suspenders, nothing Ava would have picked out for herself –all in black. It was all so sexual; generally a contrast to the clothes Aiden filled the closet with. The clothes in the closet were more practical, the underwear was like Victoria's dirty little secret beneath it all.

 

'When did he have time to get these?' she wondered.

 

She pulled out the plainest set she could find; a balcony bra that fastened in the front with a tiny diamond clasp and a thong. She lotioned up and slipped into the set just as the doorbell rang.

 

Ava stiffened.

 

 

The last visitor Aiden had, and to her knowledge, the only other person who knew where they were, was Dougie. After encountering him yesterday she was in no rush to see him again. She scrambled over to the bed and reached for the jeans and t-shirt, needing to be ready in case she had to make a run for it. She slipped the t-shirt on but the jeans took a little more effort. She tugged and tugged, trying to pull them over the slight swell of her hips when the door opened.

 

It was Aiden. Alone.

 

Her heartbeat slowed.

 

"These jeans don't fit," she scowled.

 

He raised his eyebrow at her tone, "I can see that."

 

Ava stopped tugging and huffed irritably, letting her arms go slack at her side, "You bought me the wrong size."

 

Aiden frowned deeper than Ava thought the situation called for, "They weren't..." he trailed off and avoided her glare. "Try the leggings."

 

She gave him a quizzical look. It sounded like there should have been more to the sentence, an explanation of sorts, but he didn't say anymore. She was tempted to ask, but her rekindled distaste for him told her not to care, that it didn't matter. She stomped back over to the wardrobe, cutting her eye at him as she crossed the room.

 

However, there was one question she could not afford to pass up, "Who was at the door?"

 

"Family."

 

That was far too vague for Ava's liking. "Dougie?"

 

"No."

 

"Good." She kicked off the too tight jeans and pulled out a pair of leggings.

 

Suddenly his hands were on her waist, his body pressed against her back and his breath on her neck. "You're mad at me again," he said softly, his stoic iciness melted as quickly as it had formed, "Why?"

 

She shrugged him off, "When am I not mad at you?"

 

"You weren't mad at me this morning," he said in that low attractive voice, making her reminisce about how lovely it had been before she was tragically brought back down to earth. Her tummy fluttered, highlighting the feeling of his imprint inside her.

 

"I was under the influence."

 

"I didn't drug you, Ava-Marie," he said coolly.

 

She turned to face him and his eyes, usually orbs of seamless gleaming ebony, had separated in the stream sunlight that caught them through the window, revealing the smooth dark brown ring that encased his pupil. The new dimension stunned her, "You don't need to..." she said quietly, her mesmerisation blunting the sharp edges of her tone. Aiden was the drug.

 

He offered a prelude to a smile and tucked her braids behind her ear, "Is that the only way I can make you happy?"

 

"You can't make me happy. You can only ever distract me." It sounded dramatic and very 'woe is me', but it was the truth. There was no one moment that she could pin point during her time with Aiden where she was genuinely happy through and through, which was why she hated the idea of being stuck with him.

 

She could never really be happy with him.

 

Aiden's eyes flickered between solid black and liquid brown as the curtains fluttered between the stream of sunbeams, seeming to glow as he stared at her. Although he'd heard her words, he found it hard to take them in when she was standing there in only a t-shirt and lingerie. He pulled the leggings from her hands, "Would you like to be distracted right now?"

 

"No." She made a grab for the leggings.

 

He moved it away, "Didn't you like it?"

 

"Yeah, I did...that's the problem!" she confessed haughtily. "It was great up until you got up and left and I remembered how fucked up this_"

 

Aiden pressed his mouth to hers, kissing her with the lightness of a feather, making her words get lost somewhere between her waning protests and the gentle flick of their tongues.

 

It was that easy, like a positive to a negative, like their bones were made of magnets, attracting them to each other. They came together and everything was perfect again. As much as Ava wanted to refute what was happening between them, and with good reason, it was this factor that constantly threw her off. Her mind switched off when Aiden wanted her. All she could do was feel him and enjoy him, each moment binding them together so faultlessly that it felt like to tear away from him would mean leaving vital pieces of herself behind.

 

That wasn't a good thing.

 

Ava groaned regrettably and pulled away, fighting against her body's natural instinct to entwine herself around him like honeysuckle, leaving her with a hollow ache. The feeling could be compared to picking up your cup when thirsty and tipping the liquid into you parched mouth, only to find that there was only a trickle of your drink left. It wasn't enough. She wanted more of him; her sweetest poison, tailor-made to pull her beyond the realms of safety and righteousness and spark to life the curious dark thing within her that she wasn't ready to claim ownership of.

 

But she would claim it soon enough; Aiden would make sure of it. The fact that she bowed so willingly to him every time he used his powers of persuasion was evidence that he was right for saving her. She was the girl for him. She just didn't know it yet.

 

"Stop it," she snapped, staring at his mouth, "I'm mad at you."

 

"You're always mad at me, Ava-Marie." He pulled her back in, kissing her again with more fervour. Just as it was difficult for Ava to keep herself from him, it was harder for Aiden to keep himself from her. One, because he had no qualms about her, Ava was good, and two, that tugging she felt, he felt it too. When she said 'stop', even as firmly as she did, there was still that dreamy sigh laced in her undertone.

 

This time Ava melted against him as her body naturally willed her too, mouth ravishing, hands clutching, legs quivering. How magical it was to have someone do that to her -to turn her into a mess of heightened nerves and short breaths.

 

Aiden lifted her into the air, walked her over to the bed and sat down with her in his lap. She waited for his hands to wander, for him to touch her in places only he had seen, but he didn't, he just kissed her, and held her, and undid her, running his hands up and down her back, unravelling the knots of tension until she was back to her almost happy place.

 

He stopped, withdrawing his mouth and resting his forehead against hers. "Have you decided on a name yet?"

 

Ava moved from his lap and glared down at him. It was like nothing she said to him registered with him unless it was what he wanted too. "I don't want to pick a new name. I like my name."

 

Aiden sighed and rolled his eyes. Softening her up with kisses hadn't worked. "Fine, I'll pick for you." He stood up and regarded her; her singed cinnamon skin, wild autumnal eyes and dishevelled hair. She certainly didn't look like the primped and preened Ava-Marie Lockewood that had come to him initially. She looked a little broken. Angry.

 

Alive.

 

The longer he stared at her the more he saw it; Ava looked less like herself and more like a reminder. The exterior was more exotic, her skin favoured the sun more than the moon, her eyes more like the land than the sea, and her mouth was the shade of love rather than lust, but her spirit was one and the same.

 

Despite her annoyance Ava leant forward. It wasn't her own doing; it was that thing, that tugging in her chest and the pull of Aiden's stare. He'd looked at her before, like really looked at her, but this...this was something else. He was looking at her in a new way but with old eyes. That was the best way she knew to describe it. They were open and there was history in them -but it wasn't their history. She wished it was. He was staring at her like she was the beginning and end of everything.

 

"Ashleigh?" He raised his hand to touch Ava's face.

 

She drew back, livid and to her surprise, jealous. "What did you just call me?"

 

She was about to lay into him when the bedroom door opened. Ava and Aiden sprung apart as a young girl around Ava's age with curly bleached blonde hair entered the room with a baby boy on her hip.

 

"You look like you've seen a ghost," the girl said eyeing Aiden carefully. She shifted her accusatory glance to Ava.

 

Aiden closed his eyes and curled his hand up into a fist. His arm trembled. It's not her. She's gone –Ashleigh is gone. "Trish, I told you to wait downstairs," he said once he was sure he could speak without his voice cracking and giving way to the confused emotions that tumble around in his chest.

 

Trish sat on the end of the bed watching Ava with dark amusement as she awkwardly scrambled to put the leggings on. "I've got work to do."

 

"It's just hair, it can wait. Ava-Marie, this is Trish and my nephew, Jamie." Trish slid Jamie off of her hip and into her lap. He too peeked curiously around at Ava.

 

Ava wondered if he looked like Keegan.

 

"Clearly you've never undone mircrobraids," Trish replied.

 

Ava stopped staring back at Jaimie and touched her hands to her overgrown braids.

 

Trish lifted Jamie out of her lap and held his wiggling body up in the air, "Take Jamie and go downstairs. He likes peekaboo, I mean really likes peekaboo so if you're gonna go down that route be prepared for aching arms. He also likes 'In The Night Garden'."

 

Aiden scooped Jamie up -the baby made him look ridiculously bigger. He tucked him effortlessly within the inner curve of his bulging arm with absolutely no indication that Jamie's weight, as small as he was, even registered to him. The baby squealed merrily and smiled gummily up at Aiden, bumping his tiny fat palms against his uncle's scruffy beard. Aiden smiled at him fondly and arched his brow, "The Night Garden? Really, J?"

 

"Leave him, he likes it," Trish snapped softly, coming to the child's defence.

 

Aiden lifted Jamie up to his face with a playful frown, "You don't like that mess do you?"

 

Jamie tugged at Aiden's beard and stuffed his fist in his mouth, chewing on his fingers and screwing his face up wondering why he could only taste his hand. "That's what I thought," Aiden nodded as if having his beard eaten by the baby was confirmation that Trish had simply been forcing him to like the senseless child friendly dribble that was Iggle Piggle and his friends. Jamie simply smiled and made another spitty grab for Aiden's beard.

 

"You should probably cut that," Trish said nodding at Aiden's shaggy exterior, "You look a little rough, Mr Michaels."

 

Bringing Jamie back down to his chest, Aiden looked at Ava who stood off to the side astonished and unsure, studying Aiden and this child. Aiden held tighter to Jamie and shifted his footing, "Trish is gonna do your hair. I'm downstairs if you need anything."

 

Left alone with Trish, Ava shifted backwards. She was a member of Aiden's team, which was evident from the all black attire, so why did he feel confident in leaving them alone together when all Trish probably saw was the enemy.

 

Trish stood up and swaggered over to Ava, scrutinising her as she went, "So you're what all the fuss is over." Ava was a beautiful girl, despite her damage, that much was clear, but Aiden was not one for being swayed by a pretty face, so what was so special about this girl? Upon her return to the compound, Dougie had filled Trish in (in clipped tones) on the infamous Lockewood girl who had Aiden all fucked up and was gonna get them all killed. Trish didn't' share the same hostility as her brother, but she was definitely wary. This was the Vince Lockewood's child, there were bound to be complications, but if Aiden Micheals himself had decided to save this girl then Trish saw no reason not to cut her a little slack. It wasn't every day that Aiden Michael's talked himself out of murdering a mark. That was unheard of. "I'm Trish," she stuck her hand out. Ava looked at it but didn't move. Trish frowned but nodded as if she understood, "I know you're feeling a little out of sorts. Adjusting is gonna take a while, but you're not going anywhere for now, so you might as well have a friend to help you through it." She sifted closer to Ava and touched her hair, "It's not as bad as you think it is, I promise."

 

"You have no idea how bad I think this is."

 

"You're right, I don't," Trish shrugged carelessly. She was trying to be nice but Ava had her walls up and was making it harder than it needed to be. She tried again, "I grew up on the block with everyone else. Lived next door to Aiden and Keegan..." she swallowed and shook the sadness away that came with the mention of Keegan's name, "Aiden is my brother's best friend."

 

Ava's eyes widened, "Dougie?"

 

Trish frowned at Ava's expression, "He said you two had officially met."

 

"He tried to kill me."

 

"Yeah, sorry about that. He can be a bit of an ass. They both can," she said gesturing toward the door Aiden had exited through, "But his heart was in the right place. He was just trying to protect Aiden."

 

"He hardly needs protecting from me."

 

"We'll see." Trish regarded her. Ava shook her head –the fact that these people thought she was a threat was preposterous. She wasn't one of the bad guys. Trish grabbed her bag from the ground and dumped it on the bed, "Well, let's get started."

 

"Started?"

 

"Your hair," she said pulling a fishtail comb and hairspray out of the bag. "Any look you want in particular?"

 

Ava though back to the way Aiden had looked at her before Trish came in, how he'd stared into her and uttered the name of his dead lover. It was silly to be envious of a dead girl but in that moment all Ava could think of was looking as different from her as she possibly could. The next time Aiden saw her he was going to see her only.

 

*

 

"All done!"

 

Aiden pulled his weary eyes away from the pile of papers with notes and the glare of the laptop screen to look over to the doorway. Jamie was asleep upstairs in his bed but the television was still on in the background with Nick Junior playing some senseless kiddie programmes. Outside the sun was setting, painting the sky the colour of an island romance, and faint rose coloured light filtered through the net curtains. He was mid-conversation, on the phone with his mother, his jaw tensed, looking like he was trying his best not to lose his temper whilst they finalised details for Keegan's funeral, when he stopped and his jaw slackened.

 

"Mum, I'll call you back." She was still running her mouth when he pressed the call end button but Aiden didn't care because of the vision that stood before him –Ava-Marie looking like the sweet dream to his beautiful nightmare, an otherworldly fantasy too mystifying for this time or even this world altogether.

 

Now Aiden was the one who couldn't remember how to breathe.

 

Trish bounced up and down on the balls of her feet with her hands clasped together, grinning at Aiden, revelling in his mesmerised expression of his...whatever Ava was to him. "Don't you just love it?" she cooed.

 

In contrast to Trish, Ava was silent, nervous and unsure. She'd seen the results of her new look and did indeed love it. It was so far from her usual style – so far from Ash – and it made hr stand out. That's why she'd done it really, so she could be spotted, and from the look on Aiden's face, people would definitely spot her. He hadn't looked away or even so much as blinked since she'd stepped into the room. He was staring at her in that way again -like she was the beginning and end of everything -but this time there was no history, only the present moment and something like hope. He was looking at her like she was where the future flourished.

 

Aiden stood up and put his hand out, beckoning her to him. She glanced nervously at Trish who gave her an encouraging nudge forward, and went to him. His hand went straight for her hair. "Subtle," he said taking a curly pink lock between his fingers. Her hair was the texture of cashmere, each fantastical strand following the wild, winding pattern of a tornado, her tight bouncy curls falling to her shoulders. He'd expected Ava's natural hair to be similar to the loose barrel curls that Trish had, but Ava's mother's genes definitely won out over her father's, giving Ava a soft, full, billowing afro of defined curls, now the colour of a candy coated valentine or even raspberry beret –in that moment he thought he loved her. Up against her cinnamon skin and those earthly eyes she almost looked inhuman, like a hybrid between a woman and twilight skies. She looked like she felt when he was inside of her, a physical expression of...

 

"Heaven." He nodded to himself with unwavering certainty and took her face in his hands. He ran his thumb across her lower lip, "Heaven Micheals."

 

***

 

So Aiden's getting ready to return to the hood with Ava...sorry HEAVEN in tow; what do you predict will happen upon their return?

 

Please leave your thoughts below and if you love Running Wilde, please be lovely and share it with your friends 😊😘

#RunningWilde Ch. 25 | The Beautiful Damned

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Savage and an angel

We call out in tantrum

I got a grip on your throat

We would ride in tandem

And I think she bankrupt

Breathe, breathe, fast

-Flesh

Miguel

*

Aiden bit down on his back teeth. She'd asked him, so he had to oblige her now. After all, it would be unfair of him to deny such a polite request.

"Close your eyes."

Ava's world became seamless darkness. She could smell the salty sweetness of the air; a mixture of skin, sweat, polished wood, Aiden's Molten Brown shower gel and her arousal. The wind whooshed around the house, as strong as her breathing, and the floorboards creaked as Aiden came closer. She sat stock still; her heart hammering away in her chest, palms sweating and butterflies running wild in her stomach, waiting to feel what he would do next. She felt the rough pad of his thumb brush against her mouth as he cupped her chin with the inside of his index finger.

"I touched myself yesterday," he said plainly, gently pulling down on her lower lip. "The thought of being inside of you was too much. I wanted you so badly."

Ava sucked in a surprised breath at his confession. What a thing to admit to, and the way he'd said it as if it was nothing, no trace of embarrassment, well...it was kind of hot.

He lifted his hand from her mouth, then without making contact with her skin, he made a slow sweeping motion along the line of her cheek to her jaw. It didn't lessen his effect on her; Ava felt the static crackling in the minuscule space between them. "How does it make you feel..." he curled his hand and skimmed his knuckles lightly across her blush coloured lips, pressing against them and parting them slightly, "knowing that you turn me on so much that I had to leave the room to keep my promise...to keep from touching you?"

Ava breathed across the back of his hand and clutched at the duvet. "I don't know," she answered too quickly.

"Oh, I think you do." He placed his hands on her shoulders and guided her back down onto the mattress. "Tell me how it makes you feel to know that I imagined you were there with me while I was doing it." He lowered himself onto his knees before her and spread her legs wider, making the shirt ride up over her thighs. The wet patch in the middle of her lace underwear glistened like raindrops caught on a web. He pressed his mouth to her knee. "That the mere thought of sliding myself in right here," he walked his fingers up the inside of her thigh and hooked his index under the wet fabric, lifting it from her sticky flesh enough to run his single knuckle slowly up and down her warm, swollen slit, "Made me cum harder than I have when pleasuring myself before." She whimpered and jerked, raising her thighs from the mattress as the sensation of Aiden deliberately touching her caused a new stream of fluid to flow from her.

Ava gathered larger fistfuls of bedsheets as she moaned and arched her back. She didn't want to tell him what his confessions were doing to her, she was sure he could feel it -she certainly could. It was like every time he did something right, her body would bow and this dam inside of her would open and reward him with her honey.

Aiden bit his lip and groaned, enjoying how easily she melted for him, how she had coated his finger in gratuitous amounts of her nectar. He increased the pressure but kept his speed the same, each textured stroke as slow and smooth as the last and kissed the inside of her knee. "Tell me," he purred. She squirmed against his hand and the dam opened again.

Aiden kissed higher, then without warning, he slipped his index finger inside of her so fast that Ava's body bowed again accompanied by a strangled gasp.

Her eyes shot open and stared aimlessly at the ceiling, the white expanse of it translating prelude to the bright white light that had been on the cusp of greeting her whenever he had almost let her climax, "...God!"

"Tell me how it feels, Ava-Marie." He rotated his finger inside of her tightness, stroking each wall with slow masterful precision, making a sticky wet sound.

Ava hesitated. She knew what he was doing; he was trying to draw her out, make her admit to the things that she didn't want to admit to him or herself, that it felt like heaven and hell had finally found common ground, and that as long as they had this, they could co-exist together until the end of days. If she said it out loud she felt as if her soul, that was already so inclined to his desires, would cling to him for good, and that was exactly what he wanted. She pressed her lips together.

"Look at me," he demanded, refusing to let up. Ava raised her head and peeked at him -God he was gorgeous, especially on his knees with his alluring face between her quivering thighs. "How does it make you feel that it's only made me want you more, that even now," he pulled his index finger all the way out, giving her opening time to lock up again before he went back in with his middle finger added to the equation, stretching her a little wider, "I am fighting myself to take my time with you?" He rotated them both, drawing them in and out as he did so.

Ava's eyelids fluttered and she swooned and dropped her head back onto the mattress.

Aiden pulled out then pushed his finger back into her with the same quickness, pressing them inside of her till they reached the hilt, and held them there, "I told you to look at me," he smirked.

Ava forced herself to raise her head again, tightening her grip on the sheets, struggling to take her focus off of the pleasure enough to form a coherent sentence. "I feel...oh my...god...I feel guilty...like I should hate it," she admitted, her fractured words rushing out of her quickly while they still could.

"But you don't," Aiden stated. He kept his eyes locked on her as he kissed higher, his mouth now exactly three quarters of the way between her knee and her sex,

"No, I don't," she sighed, "But I should. It's bad."

Aiden cocked his eyebrow, "You think it's bad that I want you like this?" He twisted his wrist so that his palms faced the ceiling and curved his fingers. He pushed them in and out of her, slowly, deeply, each stroke reaching a special spot that made Ava part her thighs wider without contemplation. Every time he touched it she jerked and her moans came automatically. It was like playing with a doll with a voice feature.

She grew wetter.

He moved faster.

She moaned louder.

He thrusted harder, pumping his curved finger and hammering against her g-spot, deep enough that the base of his palm pressed up against her sex, rubbing back and forth against her hardened clitoris.

Ava arched her back and her moans blended together into one long, blissed out high note. Her mouth formed the shape of an o and her body convulsed around Aiden's magic fingers, then she saw it –the full effect of the blinding white light bursting behind her scrunched up eyelids.

Aiden pulled his hand out and crushed his wanting mouth greedily against her opening, groaning as her sweetness flowed gratuitously across his taste buds.

Ava inhaled sharply and sat up. Her brows knotted together in astonishment at the erotic sight of Aiden suckling at her with his eyes closed so his long lashes laid against this cheek bones, complemented by the guttural vibrations of the deep sounds he made. She couldn't take her eyes off of him. The sensation heightened and she could feel the white light expanding, shooting out of her pores, making her glow. She felt otherworldly, like a fantasy that had been locked away in human form, set free by this virtue defying man. "Jesus Christ, Aiden!" she squeaked, throwing her head back. Her body soon followed, free falling through space and time, writhing and jolting until she couldn't take it anymore. She planted her feet against the mattress and pushed back from him. She automatically curled into herself, panting, sweating and staring at the crumpled section of bedsheets in front of her face, focusing so avidly that she could see every fibre. In that moment, Ava realised that she'd been asleep her whole life, but she was awake now and everything looked different, everything felt different. She felt different, like the world had suddenly let her in on its best kept secret. She knew stuff now –she knew what it was truly like to be alive.

"Your first orgasm?"

Ava was brought back to the present by Aiden's warming tone. She tilted her head to look at him. He was standing now, watching her carefully with the hint of a smile playing around his lips. Even he looked different. She didn't know how to describe it properly, but it was like he had become realer. She could SEE him and he was so much more than flesh, bone and a beating heart, so much more than a man. He was God in the middle of a human experience, because only something bigger than a mere mortal could make her feel the way she felt when she climaxed like that. Aiden had made her tap into something higher, that she was certain of, and it was amazing. He was amazing.

Shakily, she rolled up onto her knees, "No, but it feels like it." She ran her hands up her arms; even the touch of her own skin felt different, like she was buzzing with the same magic. The sweet jolt of an aftershock spiked in her bones and she clutched onto herself. "It's never been like that."

"It's never been bad?" he teased.

Ava frowned and looked away. Her magic buzz quickly dissolved back into guilt. It was nice while it lasted, but she couldn't pretend that she didn't still believe that they were wrong for being together like that.

Aiden's hint of a smile faded and his jaw tightened. "It's not bad, Ava," he said in a clipped tone.

She sighed, "I may not have been with anyone but I know what's normal and what isn't, and this thing that you have with me, this twisted fetishized fantasy, it's not what normal people do."

He kissed his teeth and tugged his vest over his head then flung it on the ground, glaring at her. Ava unconsciously bit her lip at the sight of his chiselled tattooed torso. Aiden regarded her lust-driven gaze and cocked his head to the side, "Do we seem normal to you, Ava-Marie?"

Ava pulled her lip from between her teeth and shook her blue thoughts away. She jutted out her chin, "There is no 'we'. I'm not like you, Aiden. I'm normal..." Aiden's eyes flashed. He flexed his fingers and the muscles in his arms undulated menacingly. Ava pressed her thighs together and swallowed, "Or at least I was."

"You never were," he said gruffly, "I couldn't bring this out of you if it wasn't there already." He crawled up onto the bed, his black eyes locked onto her, holding her still as he advanced, warning her not to run.

She didn't move a muscle.

Aiden's bumped his nose against hers, "There is nothing normal about you, Ava-Marie." Her lips parted and his eyes fell to them, "You don't think it's twisted, you think it's exciting. You want it." His menacing hand snapped to her throat, "You hate that you want it." She gasped and tilted her head up, and their unfamiliar mouths touched. Ava whimpered as Aiden's lips brushed against her parted ones; they were damp and warm, and they smelt of her arousal. She opened her mouth a little more, catching his lower lip between hers, tasting herself. Aiden pulled back and drew himself up to his full height, towering over her, "But you can't stop yourself from wanting to venture further into the dark with me." With his other hand he unbuckled his belt and pulled it free, "It's okay to want it."

Ava closed her eyes, listening to the way the leather brushed against the denim as it snaked through the loops, and how the metal pin clinked against the buckle. The sound stopped but she didn't hear Aiden drop it. She opened her eyes and found the belt still in his hand. He released her throat. She swallowed.

Aiden lifted the belt to Ava's eye level then gripped the buckle at one end and dragged his other hand along it's length until he was holding the other end, his dark eyes focused on her face all the while, watching fear and intrigue shape her features. "Lift your head up," he grunted. Ava looked from the belt to Aiden then raised her head without quarrel. Aiden laced the thick leather strap around her throat and slipped the tail end through the buckle, pulling until Ava's mouth hung open and her breathing was reduced to a raspy whisper.

He leant down and flicked his tongue over her parted lips. Ava whined and tried to move closer but he kept her back, "Not yet." He pulled the strap tighter until her eyes widened and her air passage was closed off. Her hands came up to the strap and she tried to loosen it to no avail. Aiden tutted and shook his head, gently pushing her hands down, "Stay calm. Be patient," his eyes glittered like onyx, "Wait for it," he rumbled.

Ava waited and Aiden watched.

By and by, the lack of oxygen to her brain made his face start to blur from her vision and the world darkened around the edges until there was nothing but black and an unexpected transcendent feeling of peace.

Aiden pressed his mouth against Ava's and loosened the belt, bringing her back to full consciousness with a kiss.

Ava's heart sped up at the feel of his mouth on hers, as he kissed her with more tenderness than he'd ever shown. His lips were soft, supple, full and flawless. She sighed and stretched upwards, wrapping her arms around his neck, pulling his mouth down onto hers, passionately. Aiden let go of the belt and slid his arms around her waist, groaning as he felt her tongue touch his lips. He pressed into her and let his tongue meet hers. She moaned louder, gripping him tighter, wanting him -needing him, urgently.

Aiden sensed her desperation and it made his erection strain even harder against his jeans. She was so eager to feel him, almost as much as he wanted to feel her, and it made him want to take her in that instance, but she was virgin and as much as she enjoyed his talents, Aiden knew that he wasn't a man that was crafted for easy consumption. Ava would need to be eased into it.

"Lay down," he growled against her lips.

Ava whined; she wasn't ready to stop kissing him yet. She'd waited for this, imagining how amazing it would be just to meet at the mouth with him, and Aiden certainly didn't disappoint. He kissed like a love song that you had to put on repeat to truly appreciate it the way it deserved.

Aiden brought his hands up to where Ava's clasped him tightly around his neck and pulled them away, overpowering her passionate resistance. He drew back and gave her a stern look, "When I tell you to do something; do it." He let go of her hands, "Now, lay down."

Ava pouted but did as she was told. Aiden leant down and gave her a chaste kiss to placate her then straddled her. He wasted no time in grabbing the collar of the shirt and ripping the seams apart. Buttons flew everywhere and Ava squeaked. He was so aggressive –she loved it. He tugged her bra down and placed his mouth on her nipples, sucking and biting down, making her squirm underneath him.

She reached for the bulge in his jeans, curious as to how his hardness would feel in her hands. It was taut, rigid and hot -unmoveable.

"Careful Ava-Marie," Aiden groaned. He sucked harder.

"Please sir," she panted.

Aiden grunted and pulled her hand away. He held it above her head, "Not yet." He kissed her and removed the shirt and her bra, throwing them onto the ground with his vest top, then slid down her body and lifted her legs from under him. He hooked her thighs onto his hip so that her sex was tilted toward him and open like a flower in bloom. With one foul swoop his hands came down onto her knickers and the next second they were hanging from his hands, torn apart.

"Please," she tried again, pushing her bare wetness against his denim clad girth. Like the first time her sex had ever come into contact with him, Aiden didn't stop her. He sat and observed her as her begging became breathier and her movements more feral until she looked like she was about to cum, and he moved back. Ava screamed in frustration and swung her leg up to kick him for denying her a second release.

He caught her foot and his eyes flashed, "Careful, Ava-Marie." His tone wasn't gentle anymore. He was warning her.

Aiden dropped her foot and took the tail of the belt in his hands again. He shuffled down to the end of the bed. "The safe word is midnight. If at any point you feel like you need to stop, do not say stop; say midnight."

He pulled a condom out of his pocket, kicked off his jeans and lay flat on his stomach in front of her and begun to trail wet kisses across her hip bone, then he dragged the tip of his tongue from her belly button down to the top of her slit.

He tugged on the belt.

Ava gasped as he flicked his tongue over her clitoris, and then drew his full lips together for an indulgent French kiss. The kissing continued as he moved lower, all the way down to her opening.

Ava's stomach clenched and butterflies exploded as her river flowed into his mouth.

His tongue stiffened and dipped inside of her pink candy-coated walls and she arched her back, involuntarily tightening the belt around her own throat, then cried out and reached for his leather wrapped fist resting on her stomach.

"Aiden...oh my god, Aiden," she called, tapping his hand like she was tapping out.

He growled and looked up at her, fucking her with his long, stiff tongue, unwilling to cut his feast short. Even from such a submissive position he still managed to dominate her. Ava threw her head back, she couldn't help it; she was drunk on him and the glass wasn't even half empty yet. The belt tightened and her air supply lessened. She brought her head back up and Aiden held her there, forcing her to watched as he changed his methods of undoing, from tongue fucking to licking her slowly from her opening to her clit. Ava could see his tongue moving between her folds and the sight of it made her pull her thighs closer together, trapping his head. She didn't know why she had the urge to hold him there -maybe because it felt like the only way to regain some ounce of control, but to her surprised Aiden moaned. He opened his mouth wider and engulfed all of her sex in his mouth, sucking hard and swirling his tongue, pressing his face deeper into her.

Ava hummed through bitten lips and twirled her hips against his mouth as the darkness fuzzed around the edges of her vision blurred and the white light readied itself to explode in full force. Aiden growled and pressed her thigh closer to his head, burying his tongue deeper within her and sucking at her clit at the same time.

"Do it," he growled.

Ava squeezed her eyes shut and screamed, her body turning into a storm as her rain poured, thunder shook her violently and the lightening crackled so brilliantly that everything else fell away into pure white nothingness.

Her noises turned frantic as Aiden continued to feed on her, slapping her ass to add another element to the euphoria. She strained against the belt and screamed "MIDNIGHT," over and over, afraid that her jerking would make her tug too violently against the belt and snap her neck.

Aiden stopped immediately and undid it.

He threw it away and as Ava came to her kissed her deeply, massaging his tongue with hers, kissing her so intensely that it looked like it felt so good that it hurt. "You're so fucking perfect," he breathed, "And you're mine." He yanked down his boxers and slipped the condom on. He placed the glistening head of his thickness at her tight opening.

Ava's breath caught and she stared at him. This was it; this was the rite of passage that she'd said she was going to hold out for until she met 'the one', on the cusp of being taken away. She could stop him; Aiden was decent enough not to do it if she didn't want him to, but even if he wasn't the one, he was definitely something significant, and to Ava, in this moment, that was enough.

"You're all mine." Aiden pushed inside of her and shuddered. She was so tight, so new, but so welcoming.

Ava's thoughts paused and she was suspended in time, her only focus being the stretching of her walls and what an odd sensation it was. It was nothing like having fingers or tongues...or Ben Wa balls inside of her...it was Aiden. His body was inside of her, connecting them to one another, and he felt odd...in a really, really good way. Was this what sex was meant to feel like; this peculiar stretching mixed with pain and discomfort and a whole lot of pleasure?

"Am I hurting you?" he asked roughly, the feel of her walls locking around him putting more pressure on his shaft than he was used to. It had been a while since he'd had a virgin, and now he remembered why.

"A little...but don't stop," she added, scared that he'd think she couldn't handle it.

"I won't," he chuckled. He kissed her forehead and stroked her face, "Just relax for me."

"How?" she panicked.

"Stop thinking. Just feel." Aiden kissed her. It was clearly something she enjoyed doing the most (for now), probably because it was the one thing she was 100 percent comfortable with, plus...he was a very good kisser.

Ava started to loosen up, caught up in the kiss more than the new sensation and Aiden started to move again. It still pinched here and there, and when he hit the end of her tunnel it was like being punched in her stomach from the inside, but it didn't hurt in the same way a punch would; it was a good kind of hurt that rippled out into waves of intense and shocking pleasure and made her want him to do it again. She moaned into his mouth and spread her legs wider, allowing him in deeper.

"Better?" he asked, finding his rhythm. Ava nodded. "Good." He lifted her legs from his hip onto his broad shoulder and looked down at her. His eyes darkened, "Don't ever hit me again."

Ava's heart stopped; this was only the beginning.

***

 

Keeping his stormy eyes locked on her, Aiden pulled out of Ava with a deliberate slowness, making sure she felt every last solid inch of him. Ava sighed, a mixture of relief and disappointment, quietly dreading the end of him as he slipped away from her. She'd truly felt him for less than a minute and although she hadn't gotten to grips with the art of love making just yet, it didn't stop her from craving him even more than she had initially. That small taste was nowhere near enough -but it wasn't over yet. The look in his eyes made her believe that by the end of it she'd change her mind about the whole thing. He looked dangerous. The chilling coolness he'd exuded when they first met was present, casting a veil between them and the clamouring need they had built over the course of the week of knowing each other.

Aiden laid next to her, slinking his king-sized frame along the side of her body, making her feel small and delicate. She leant into him, so willing to have him put her fragility to the test.

"I want to punish you the way you deserve," he purred as he looked down at her, the density of his colourless gaze dragging her deeper under his dark spell, "but as it is your first time I will grant you this saving grace, Ava-Marie." His fingers crawled up over her waist and circled around her navel.

The gesture warmed Ava's tummy, making it jolt and flutter, and as it did she swore that she could still feel him inside of her, like his sex had imprinted on hers and her sex was in no hurry to forget the way he filled and stretched her. It was another odd sensation; one she found made her strangely happy -happy to know that Aiden had really been there, to know that her body had been claimed.

A reminder that her innocence was no more.

His hand found her wetness once more. She gasped and arched her back against the white sheets, pushing at the rumpled duvet with the bottom of her feet and pointing her toes.

Aiden tilted his head in awe of her. His kohl hued eyes softened at her grace; even flushed, covered in sweat, burns and fading scars of his making, she still managed to look like a physical expression of heaven. He dragged his fingers back and forth along the ceiling of her nature, lavishing in the way that she accented her swan-like movements with her unlady-like moans, "Whether you are punished or not, this morning, is up to you."

Ava blinked languidly at him, falling prey to his carnal caresses, "How?"

With his free hand he picked her hand up and turned her damp palms to his mouth, kissing the shallow where her love line curved towards him, "You can't touch me." With one swift blur of a motion Aiden pulled her body up and over his as he slid down and under hers, his fingers still discovering her foreign land. Her arousal flowered and she dripped down his hand and onto his body like sun-warmed honey.

Aiden groaned. He was eager to be back inside her.

His touch was replaced with his thickness and he pushed through her walls again, pulling her slender frame all the way down to the hilt, making her lower lips press against his pelvis like true lust's first kiss. Ava stiffened, shocked by his fullness, something she was certain she would never get used to. She bit her lip and as her hands went out to touch the rippling planes of his abdomen, to push up from him and reduce the full feeling, Aiden grabbed them and gathered both of her slender wrists in one of his hands.

"You can't touch me," he repeated. He tensed below the waist and lifted his hips, stretching and pushing her walls even further.

Ava whimpered and closed her eyes. Feeling this full was daunting; there was no space for anything else. He fit her so perfectly. Their union felt seamless, like they were destined to be one, even if being one with Aiden felt like he would split her in two, and liberate the butterflies that ran rampant in her tummy.

Her walls locked up around him, making Aiden wince. "Fuck, you're so tight." He pulled out a little then curled his waist and rolled all of him back into all of her.

With each lulling stroke Ava relaxed around him. She sighed, "...Aiden."

He loosened his hold on her wrists, "Put your hands behind your head and keep them there."

Ava opened her eyes and twisted her arms behind her head, stretching her torso upwards, making her small, pert breasts sit higher on her chest, and her mocha coloured nipples peek out from between her waist length braids. She looked like the vision of an Afrocentric visionary, a new age portrait of a black goddess, with her hooded almond eyes that held the spirit of the earth, skin permanently kissed by the summer sun, full blushing lips fashioned for saccharine amorousness and hair like vines entwined around her frame, falling where it pleased.

She was a nymph, magic and myth, and she belonged to him.

If Ash had been art then Ava was the muse, an inspired thing of beauty that made Aiden feel evangelical about her. He wanted the universe to know that this woman was his, but to claim her so openly could have dire consequences for the both of them, so for now he'd enjoy her in secret.

"We need to get you on the pill or something. This is not enough. I want to feel you properly." He pushed deeper. Ava threw her head back and arched her back, thrusting her breasts out. He palmed them then took her nipple between his thumb and his index, rolling and pulling it until it hardened and her body thrummed with her heartbeat. She moved her arms and reached for him again the quivering that pulsed through her centre making her too weak to hold herself upright. Aiden soon remedied that. He slammed into her, and slapped the underside of her breast.

"God!"

"Hands," he warned before she could slip up.

Ava bit her lip and readjusted herself, staring down at him with bewilderment. That swift strike to her breast heightened her arousal. Each time his hands came down on her it was like he broke through another layer of repression, opening her up to him like a rose blooming through concrete.

Aiden resumed his slow, deep strokes, "Do you know how difficult it is for me to take my time and fuck you like this? Every time I move I want to cum; that's how good you feel, Ava-Marie." His voice was low and attractive like the introduction to a Jodeci song, intensifying the feeling. She didn't want him to stop talking to her. "But if you touch me," his slow jam worthy voice developed an edge, "I will make you cum, and I won't stop."

"That doesn't sound like much of a punishment," she purred with a dreamy smile.

Aiden took her hips in both of his hands and pulled her all the way down. He rocked her body against his, rubbing her throbbing bud against his pelvis, "I won't stop," he breathed through gritted teeth, her tightness locking him in again, "Even if you scream 'midnight', I will keep taking you until you have nothing left to give." His hand slid up over her navel to the valley between her bouncing breasts then rested promisingly against her collarbone. His eyes flashed and she saw stars in their endless night, "I will be the end of you, Ava-Marie."

His long fingers snapped around her throat, not to hurt her or cut off her air, just to hold her. He stared at her, feeling her pulse clatter in his hand. If she was afraid, she didn't show it; her eyes were hooded and her pretty mouth ajar, wishing he would hold on a little tighter.

Aiden pulled her torso down on top of him and wrapped his burly arms over around her back, holding her close and still, as he pushed into her.

"Oh...god," she choked on her moan, breathing in harsh, loud, wheezing gasps. The sex was gorgeous. She didn't know if that was the right way to say it, but that was the adjective that fit the description. Aiden's movements were indulgent; focused and controlled but lacquered in passion. He was dancing, slow grinding inside of her, drawing her inhibitions out. It was a contrast to his aggressive approach but it was just as rapturous.

Just as torturous.

Aiden made love to her at a metaphorical arm's length, making her ache to be closer to him but denying her that pleasure. She wanted to hold him back, to caress him, to kiss his full lips and feel the warm velvet and satin of his tongue, but he wouldn't let her.

"You're so wet for me, baby," he grunted, nipping at her earlobe, "I'm tempted to make you cum right now." He pressed down on her lower back sliding her up and down his body, her nectar pooling out around the base of his girth and spreading as he moved her against him. He could feel the sensitive head of her clit, hard and swollen, drawing patterns on his skin for as tight as he was holding her.

Ava begun to quiver and her arms shook. It ached to hold them behind her head whilst she was horizontal, and the longer he fucked her the weaker her body became, like an ice sculpture under heat, melting and evaporating into liquid and smoke. She melted around him, climaxing, gripping his broad shoulders as she sang unharmoniously of the electric current that shot through her veins and the string wound tightly around her muscles that she could feel herself breaking free from.

This was lust drunk liberation, with a bespoke hangover for which there would be no cure.

Aiden lay stiff under her.

Waiting.

As her orgasm faded into sweet normalcy, Aiden slid from beneath her jittery frame. She was thrumming with it; this feeling of calm and light that enveloped her and brought her peace. It had been a while since she'd felt peace like this, and she would have loved to stay in her land of rose-coloured restitution, but Aiden's cold, hard voice cut through the breathy silence, casting a glittering shadow over her temporary lightness.

He came from behind like an assassin, wielding his sword like Excalibur. "I did warn you, Ava-Marie." 

He was harsh with her body, wild and unrestrained in his delivery of maddening thrusts, making her love-slick walls ache for another release. Hands on her hips, he pulled her ass up into the air and pushed her head down, then dragged his hand along her spine creating a deep curve in her back so that her pussy poked out at the perfect angle. Ava gritted her teeth and knotted her fingers in the sheets between reaching for something that she knew wasn't there.

He growled as he fucked her, bringing his hand across her ass every few strokes so that she wouldn't find her comfort. Everything had to be intense and in the moment, she had to feel every single thing in order for him to make good on his deal.

She screamed and her walls began to lock up around him.

"I wanna see you, baby," he whispered roughly. He grabbed her braids by the nape of her neck and lifted her upper half into the air and locked his forearm around her chest. His hand held her face and twisted it so he could admire the masochistic ecstasy brazenly illustrated across her profile. "You're so fucking beautiful, baby. You're so fucking beautiful," he repeated over and over, muttering gutturally on the brink of insanity, hungrily kissing the curve of her neck between sentences. Ava gasped and squeezed her eyes shut. She was close again. Aiden's chatter became more fervent as he moved faster. "Cum for me, Ava-Marie. Cum for me now. Mmm...now baby, now."

White light exploded and the sound of their screams turned into an empty ringing that she was too removed from reality to hear clearly. Her body ran hot and cold, and her skin was covered in a sheen of sweat, dazzling and dripping down her frame to join the liquid that flowed from her sex.

Aiden roared and applied pressure to her stomach with his open palm. He could feel his member striking against her ending and hear the sensual splashing of her love.

Ava's hands reached back for him, slapping haphazardly at his hips, feeling the surge coming to pull her under again so soon. "Wait...wait!"

He shook his head and swatted at her sex, beating his fingers rapidly against her clitoris. "Again," he demanded. 

Ava tried to fight it, tried to hold her breath and ignore the swell of power preparing to explode inside of her, but he felt so good. Too good. She cried out and curled her body, the strength of the feeling enough to take Aiden down with her as she collapsed onto the mattress. She yelled louder as the fall made him fall into her.

Aiden grunted and readjusted himself to continue his tyrannical assault of pleasure on her. Keeping her ass up as he laid against her back, he spread his legs wider, wedging both of Ava's thighs between his, making her love tighter.

Her nails tore through the mattress cover as the bed began to rock with them, throwing Aiden into her harder and harder as he gathered momentum. Ava cursed and tried to shake some of the feeling out, but with Aiden pinning her down and holding her together there was no way for her to lessen the sensation. It grew stronger until she was sopping wet, swollen and ready to let go again.

Aiden pulled his glazed fingers from her sweet nature and pushed them into her mouth, making her screams garbled.

"More."

Ava shook her head, "No more, please," she moaned, sucking herself off of his hand.

"I didn't give you a choice. Maybe you'll do as your told next time."

With his fingers now coated in her saliva he rolled her onto her side and hoisted one of her legs up in the air, holding her thigh close to her body and spreading her wide. He slowed his pace back to the deep gorgeous stroking that made her crumble in the first place, all length, girth and feeling, but she was cumming again and the loveliness of his love making didn't ease the pressure, in fact it made it worse and when he begun to trace circles on the head of her clit as he buried himself to the hilt and back again, Ava's temples pulsated. She closed her eyes and lay her head back against him, a quivering mess of honey and heightened nerves.

"Open your eyes and watch me fuck you, Ava-Marie."

She looked down and watched his thick rigid length glistening as it slipped all the way in and back out of her, the contrasts of their diverging melanin making the act look all the more enthralling.

Aiden watched with her, curling his hips as he moved, enjoying the way she gasped every time he returned to her. "Your pussy looks so pretty with my dick inside of it, doesn't it baby?"

Ava whimpered. He even made profanity sound like he was reciting a sonnet.

Aiden kissed her neck and sighed, "You feel so good. I never wanna stop fucking you. I never want to stop making you cum."

He sped up.

It was like being loaded with a semi-automatic rifle; once the trigger was pulled it fired hard and fast. Ava's body cast out butterflies like bullets, they escaped her like her breath and nothing she did would help her hold onto them. They didn't belong to her any more. She didn't belong to her anymore. She was his.

"All mine," he murmured, pounding her walls and spanking her sex.

"Yes."

All his.

Ava tried her best to counter his movements but she was exhausted and didn't think she had anything more in her than the urge to curl up next to him and sleep and sleep. She couldn't cum any more she didn't have the energy. Fucking Aiden had turned into a cavalcade of orgasms, laced together, each one as epic as the last. 

She was done. 

Naked.

Sore.

And heavily spent.

Aiden buried his face and gripped her tighter, then like an angel cast from heaven, he came crashing down, his wings going up in flames as he fell into her abyss.

***

#RunningWilde Ch. 24 | The Edge

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Are you afraid of me?

Cause I'm afraid of you

Cause I'm afraid of what this could mean

I'm afraid of what this could do

-Going To Hell

Miguel

*

His wife?

Ava shook her head and made a deranged giggling sound; a cross between a hysterical laugh and a short, sharp scream.

Aiden knelt before her on his bended knee, staring up at her with those heavy eyes -waiting.

She shook her head, "You're out of your bloody mind," she guffawed. He had some nerve to suggest such a ludicrous notion, one that would never come into play, as far as Ava was concerned.

"That's a matter of perspective."

"Yeah okay, whatever. There is still no way in hell that I'm going to marry you," she sneered and lifted her hips to shift to the other side of the bed.

Aiden's hand darted out and grabbed her leg. "I wasn't asking," he said bluntly. Admittedly, he'd been a tad dramatic with the whole down on one knee thing, but he'd been curious to see how she'd react to the thought of being legally bound to him. He'd secretly hoped that maybe the shock of the proposal would soften her outlook on the marque of binding that he really wanted her to concede to... "I want you to be my wife by name, not by law."

Despite his possessive hold on her, Ava's muscles relaxed and she exhaled, silently thanking God that Aiden didn't actually want to marry her. She didn't think she'd have been able to stomach walking down the aisle towards him, ready to pledge her life and 'love' to him when all she wanted to do was run far, far away, so far that he'd never be able to find her again.

"You can't afford to be Ava-Marie Lockewood anymore; your name is enough to get you killed," he warned. "People are looking for you, people that you really don't want to meet. People like Dougie-"

The mention of Aiden's silent right-hand man with the sinister smile made Ava's blood run cold. 'Heaven help anyone who had the misfortune of someone like that looking for them', she thought.

"-People like me." Aiden's voice was quieter, more gravelly, as he just revealed a deep dark secret that he was reluctant to share. It made the way he mentioned Dougie sound like a warning shot.

Some warning shot.

As fearful of Aiden as she was, Ava wasn't as frightened by him as she was of Dougie, but that was only because she knew that Dougie didn't care about her. For some reason, Aiden did, and in that moment she thought herself lucky. Aiden was a sadist. Aiden liked hurting people. She couldn't begin to imagine what an uncaring Aiden would be like, when even him caring about her was an acquired taste. If there were more men out there like him looking for her, twisted men that didn't give a damn about her protection, she most definitely did not want to run into them.

For the first time since he'd warned her of the threat on her life, Aiden noted that Ava looked genuinely worried by the news. Good. It was about time she took heed of his words.

"You got lucky with me, Ava-Marie. Another man may not be so...kind."

Ava frowned at his unwelcome grip on her leg, "Kind?"

"You're alive, aren't you?" He said, tilting his head to the side and narrowing his black eyes.

"You call this living?"

His glare darkened -she was so fucking ungrateful. "I call it not being dead, Ava-Marie."

She saw it then, the glimpse of the beast that he'd kept trapped within the confines of his skin for her sake, curling its sharp claws around the prison that was his bones, rattling them and making his large hand twitch against her leg.

He wanted to punish her.

Ava swallowed.

"Pick a name..." -it wasn't by much, no more than a few centimetres, but she felt Aiden's hand rise a fraction higher up her knee. His onyx orbs glittered menacingly -"Mrs Michaels."

Her stomach locked up at the title.

Mrs Michaels. It sounded like a eulogy. Like the girl formerly known as Ava-Marie.

If he coerced her into his life, Ava was as good as dead (in the figurative sense), but if he didn't, she was as good as dead –literally -and yet she wasn't sure which death was worse; losing her body or losing her mind. And she would lose her mind with Aiden, that much she knew, that's what made it equally as scary as the latter option.

Aiden had done terrible things to her since the day he entered her life, and she'd been caught up in him anyway. It wasn't something that she could help -yesterday at breakfast was proof of that -but at least before there had been a fifty percent chance that she would go home. The chances of that happening were morbidly slimmer this time. This time her mind could be clouded by the Aiden haze for good. Pretending to be his wife would be the equivalent running back to the burning vehicle. He was forcing her to play with his fire, and she could already feel the embers of it burning in the pit of her stomach. Make believe or not, this was a highly dangerous game they were playing.

"Aiden," she said his name desperately like she was about to burst, "I don't need you to protect me. I have Max_"

His dark eyes hardened and he curled his fingers back, forming a fist on top of her knee. "Max?" he snarled, "Max lost you to me because he was more concerned about getting his dick wet than protecting you."

He had a point.

Ava shook the thought away. "He made a mistake."

"Some fucking mistake! Look at where it got you," he stared at her pointedly. "I don't trust that dickhead with you?"

She scowled and shoved his hand away. "Max is not a dickhead, and I don't care if you trust him, I do!"

Aiden's eyes flashed, "He couldn't handle one member of my crew coming after you, how the fuck is he gonna handle everybody else coming after you all at once? Huh?"

Another good point.

Ava looked away stubbornly, unwilling to acknowledge that there was a chance that Aiden was right.

He yanked her face back to meet his, "Stop fighting me on this," he growled, "I am your best chance of survival, so until I say otherwise, your home is with me. Pick a name."

"No."

"Ava..." he warned.

She noted that he didn't say her full name.

"I don't want a new name. I've had enough new. I like my old name and my old life."

He cocked his eyebrow, "Because your old life worked out so well for you."

"It did until you came along," She bit back, knocking his hand off of her face with more force than she'd used before. She pushed away from the side of the bed; he was irritating her and she didn't want him so close. It was frustrating and every moment of that stupid conversation made her want to scream.

Change her name.

Stay with him until he said otherwise.

Be the fake wife to the man who ruined her life.

What kind of life was that? Everything was wrong and she had tried her best to keep it together, she really had, but now she could feel her seams straining and she didn't know how much longer she could take this without shattering.

Aiden grabbed her arm and pulled Ava back to him, closer than before, so close that they were almost nose to nose, his dark eyes burning into her light ones like night at war with day. "I came along because of who you are. Get this through your head, Ava-Marie; your old life doesn't exist anymore. This, here, right now, this is your life. Accept it 'cause I'm getting pretty fuckin' tired of talkin' about this shit with you."

Ava could feel the heat of his hands warming her singed skin. It was enough to make the minor burns sting, and he was holding onto her so tight, too tight, like she'd never get away from him again. And that's when it happened. The seams couldn't withstand the strain and they snapped and the wildness in her eyes came rushing out in a cacophony open palms smashing against mahogany skin over and over, under the unchained melody of Ava howling, "LET ME GO!"

Aiden caught her hands and threw her back onto the bed. He climbed on top of her to keep her still and clamped his rough hand over her mouth. "Shut the fuck up and listen," he snarled, breathing heavily as she kicked beneath him, refusing to quit. Aiden grunted as her knee made contact with the swelling on his hip. "I am already itching to punish you for trying to run yesterday," his hand slid from her mouth to her throat, cutting her screams short. His eyes were feral and his white teeth bared and glinting as he snarled through them. He leant closer, "Don't. Push. Me."

Ava hissed and clawed at his fingers, sinking her nails into him and tearing his skin open.

Aiden roared and curled his free hand into a fist then slammed it into the mattress next to her head so hard that the bed springs crunched together on impact. He had to get away from her before it was too late. He'd made a promise.

He forced himself off of her and marched towards the door, muttering profanities and stuffing his freshly mauled hands into his pocket to restrain them, to keep from doing the very thing that he said he wouldn't do to her with them -turn her backside red and sore until she couldn't sit for a week. He'd never wanted to punish anyone so much. It was maddening and he wasn't sure that simply leaving the room would be enough of a distraction to curb his urge.

Just as he pulled on the door handle, he received a sharp blow to the back of his head. "FUCK!" he hadn't thought to look behind him, he normally did when there was an altercation –you should never turn your back on your opponent after all- but Ava wasn't his opponent. She was a very angry woman, but in all honesty, after his final warning he didn't think she would be so brave...or stupid.

Aiden turned around slowly, his broad shoulders rising and falling, his chest heaving as he fixed his obsidian eyes on her. "Okay, Ava-Marie" he said in a voice so calm it was almost like a purr.

Ava hadn't expected that. She thought there would be more shouting, more rage, she could deal with rage, but Aiden had transmuted his anger into something else, a dark focus that she already knew wouldn't bode well for her. She swallowed and tried to hold onto her chagrin but as he advanced on her, slowly, like a predator stalking his prey, she found herself stepping back to keep the distance between them.

Aiden pulled his hands out of his pocket and flexed his fingers. She could see the scratches along the back of his dark skin, deep red rivulets of blood were streaked and spotted along it. It looked painful enough, but Aiden didn't look like he felt it.

"I'm not going to tie you up or pin you down, I want to see you feel what I'm about to do to you," he continued, his voice like frayed silk, caressing her ear drums, making his threats sound more like promises. "I'm not going to gag you either, oh no, I want to hear every sound you make. I want the neighbours to hear every-single-sound you make, and know that you are making them because of me."

Ava faked right then ran left hoping to outwit him. She hopped onto the bed and skittered over it but he caught her mid-air as she leapt from the other side, and pulled her body to his. Her back was lined against the hardness of his towering frame and his lips were at her ear, "I'm not going to go easy on you, Ava-Marie, not like before." His voice dipped lower, "I'm going to make sure that you never even think of raising your voice, let alone your hand to me, again."

Ava's heart sprung into her throat as Aiden scooped her into his arms and sat on the bed. He flipped her on her stomach and put her across his lap. As promised, he didn't restrain her. He didn't have to; Ava was too scared to move.

Her mind raced as she tried to come up with a plan. She could struggle, but that's all it would be, a struggle, and it would only make him enjoy it more. Her only other option was to take her punishment. She wasn't sure if it bothered her more that there was nothing she could do about it...or that she was afraid that she would enjoy it as much as he would. The intensity that occurred between them when she was at his mercy was the only thing that made her feel halfway sane, and deep down she knew that, that was why she had aggravated him to this point. She needed to hurt, she needed to feel anything but what she felt when she was alone with her thoughts, and this would allow her to stop thinking so much, just like it had when they were in the compound. It was the perfect distraction. And she thought about his words from the day before about how he would leave her sore and spent; she welcomed it.

Aiden whipped the hem of the shirt up over Ava's thighs and ass. "Suddenly you're so..." he shoved her head down so that her slender frame was draped elegantly across his lap, soft and pliable, "...obedient."

Ava gritted her teeth.

"If I didn't know any better I'd say that this is what you wanted, Ava-Marie." He placed his hand on the back of her thigh and slowly swept it upwards.

Ava took a breath.

"You do don't you?"

She bit down on her lip as his hand rose higher, but didn't answer. Soon he'd make the world fall away into white noise and she'd have her disturbed peace.

Aiden's touch stilled just under the crease between her ass and her thigh, "Answer me," he snapped.

"No," she whispered unconvincingly as her leg began to quiver with anticipation. The heat from his fingers was close to her centre that it was almost like he was touching her there. She remembered what it was like when his fingers had ventured there before, but the reimagining wasn't quite right. It was nowhere near as frighteningly perfect as the real thing.

Aiden admired the way the soft spot between her legs had already begun to puff up inside of her panties. He raised his eyebrow; "No?" He licked his lips and slipped his hand under her jaw, lifting her head and turning it so that she had to look at him. Her breath rattled as he made a production of raising his twitching palm into the air ever so slowly before it suddenly came down across her ass with the force of hitting a home run.

Ava's scream got caught in her throat.

His expression smoothed out as he watched her reaction flood her eyes –the pain...the relief.

She squeezed them shut and tried to turn her head back.

"Look at me," he purred not loosening his grip. He had to see that look on her face again, it resonated with him; the ability to finally let go of what they'd both been holding onto, the only way it seemed they both knew how.

This was standard to Aiden but it was all still so new to Ava, and that made seeing her explore this side of her all the more mesmerising. He was watching her discover herself.

The moment her eyes opened he swatted her again.

This time there was sound; it was loud and it wasn't pretty. It was rough and raspy like she had been winded and was choking on it. Her legs flailed and she hooked her arms under his thighs, holding on to him, needing the solidity of his frame to keep the lucidity from taking over.

He swatted her again. "Is this what you wanted, Ava-Marie?" She bit back an accidental moan but it hummed in her chest. Aiden pulled his bottom lip between his teeth as his nature began to rise and the beast inside of him stirred. "Well?"

She stared at him, wondering how bad it would be if she said yes, that his flesh pounding her flesh was more than what she wanted; that it was what she needed, but to admit it would be playing into his hands.

He changed tactics, hitting the underside of her ass, the force of his hand sending a blunt thud from her opening up into her stomach.

She made the ugly sound again and pressed her thighs together. "Yes," her confession came out like he'd shaken her down for it. The quivering was stronger and she could feel how warm her skin was becoming under his hand.

"Yes?" he pried her thighs apart and spanked her again.

"Fuck! Yes," Ava screamed and gripped his legs tighter.

Her panties were damp.

Aiden pulled his hands away slowly and rubbed his thumb against the moistened pads of his fingertips. He brought his hand up to her face, "You're not meant to be enjoying this," he said with a fox like smirk.

Ava's blush deepened and she lowered her eyes. He was right, she wasn't meant to be enjoying this. He wasn't going easy on her at all, but the more it hurt the better if felt.

Fuck! What was wrong with her? Why was everything about this man pulling her in deeper, as if he could do no wrong, when all he was, was wrong? The more twisted and depraved he became, the more she was drawn to him.

Ava wondered if the problem wasn't Aiden, but rather if it was her. There had to be something about her that was wired incorrectly to make her attraction to him exist. She hadn't thought of any man in this way, especially not a man like Aiden, and now all she wanted was for him to keep pushing her boundaries. To keep making her feel.

He released her neck and her head dropped instantly. Her back rose and fell in staccato, harsh and sharp, her lungs grateful for the return of easy flowing air.

"You should have said so."

"Why? So you could use it to get inside my head?"

"I'm already in your head, Ava-Marie. I have been for a while," he said knowingly. "There are other parts of you that I desire to be inside even more," he rub his hand over her ass in a figure of eight, sweeping across her damp patch, making it spread and encouraging her to get even wetter, "Parts of you that you want me inside."

Ava groaned and her breath became choppier, "Well...if you're in my...head...then you should know...what...I'm...thinking."

"Maybe, but I don't want to make any assumptions," he said tracing his fingertips along the inner edge of her underwear, from her hip to her sex and back again.

Ava's breath rattled in her chest as she too could feel herself leaking through the fabric until it was thoroughly soaked. This was what Aiden did to her. This was why hating him was such a complex thing to do because her body didn't share the same opinion of him that her mind did. "Assume away," she sighed as he brushed along the edge of her sex again.

"Where's the fun in that?" 

Aiden lifted her off of him and sat her upright on the edge of the bed. He stood directly in front of her, flaunting his bulge arrogantly in her face, knowing that his sizeable manhood would only make her melt even more.

Ava held onto the edge of the mattress as her eyes locked onto the taut area below his belt, her bones quaking beneath her flustered skin, highly strung and forbiddingly turned on.

He touched his fingers to the underside of her jaw and tilted her face up to his, "If you want it, be a good girl and ask me nicely."

Her blood rushed through her veins.

Her stomach tightened.

Her ache became a throb.

Aiden cocked his head to the side.

Her gaze softened and dropped into her lap obediently as her lips parted.

"Please...sir."

***

#RunningWilde Ch. 23 | Indecent Proposal

tumblr_nudb3xyQ6e1qdla50o1_r1_540.jpg

We're on the brink of danger

No I ain't letting go

I've got the keys to your heart

I'll be the anchor to your soul

Put you're trust in me

I'll never let you go

Baby, don't look so scared

-Scared

Ruby Blu*

***

Max dragged his feet up the stairs of the Rococo Lounge with his eyes cast to the ground. His skin was wan, his face unshaven and his dark hair flopped down to the purplish rings under his eyes that told the tale of his sleepless night.

He thought he had her back for good, that the nightmare had finally come to an end, but the moment she was out of his sight it started all over again.

He'd lost Ava all over again.

He had no idea where to find her. Syndicate men had been on the lookout for her since Friday night whilst Max ran like a mad man all over the city trying to spot her waist length braids flying through the crowd. With everything that was going on it now that Vince was gone, the search for Ava didn't seem like a priority to anyone but Max; the crew were more concerned with holding their position than saving the girl they didn't know existed until last night. They didn't realise that she was worth risking it all for.

He pushed through the door of the VIP box and scowled at the lieutenants and capos surrounded by throngs of beautiful wasted women, laughing and drinking with them as if they didn't have a care in the world. Chris stood at the helm with a girl half his age holding onto him and purring in his ear.

He looked up when Max came through the door and sighed. "Give me a minute darlin'. Let me see what the kid wants." He patted her on the ass and let her go. His steps were staggered as he moved across the room with his arms spread open and a big grin on his face, "Maxi, what can I do for ya?" he slurred, spilling brandy from his tumbler onto the carpet.

Max frowned at him. "Have you heard anything about Ava?" he asked tightly, wanting to knock the drink from Chris's hand. How dare he be in here getting pissed when Ava was god knows where probably scared out of her mind?

"Nah, but the boys are still looking."

Max pushed his floppy hair out of his eyes, tugging at the ends of it, "Tell them to look harder."

"Kid, they're doing the best they can, all right," Chris patted his shoulder with mock reassurance, "They'll find her, don't worry. Come, have a drink, you look like shit, mate."

"I'm fine," Max shrugged him off, "I just wanted to know what was going on and now I do," he scanned the room pointedly then sneered at Chris, "Nothing."

He turned on his heels to continue his one man search.

"Oi," Chris snapped pulling him back, "Don't pull that stroppy shit with me. You're not the only one that wants to find her. She my fuckin' God daughter, I'm doing everything I can, but I'm running the show now, I've got to stay on top of everything else too."

"By getting drunk and partying with paid company?"

Chris's eyes darkened, "The club's open ain't it?"

"Whatever."

Chris grabbed Max by the scruff of his shirt and pulled his face close to his. Max could smell the alcohol on his breath and to make matters worse, he spat as he spoke. The whole room turned to look. 

"You watch your tone, Maxi. My best mate died last night cause of those DM cunts and Ava's missing again, but you don't see me moping around, do ya?"

"No, boss," Max replied, turning his face away from the sour smell of Chris's mouth.

"No, you don't, so suck it up!" He released him with a shove and took a swig of his drink. "It's business as usual, all right. The world don't stop turning just 'cause bad things happen Maxi, you know that."

"Yeah, business as usual." Max narrowed his eyes at him and he readjusted his shirt. How could Vince leave such a colossal imbecile in charge? Chris was all temper and ego, he didn't have the head for leadership; he was the one who needed to be led.

"Come, sit for a minute," Chris tried again.

"No, I'm gonna keep looking for Ava."

"Suit yourself, kid. I'll let you know if the boys see anything."

"Thanks."

Max barrelled out of the room, swinging the door back so hard that it smacked into the wall. Chris sucked his teeth and emptied his glass before grabbing a fresh bottle form the mini bar for a refill.

The cool night air washed over Max's skin and he found himself wishing for rain. He was wound up so tightly and every second without her was even worse than the last. There was no trade off to come this time, no set way to get her back and that meant that there was an even bigger chance that he'd never see her again.

Maybe Chris had the right idea; getting drunk and going through the motions was definitely easier to deal with than caring so much about everything that had gone wrong over the course of the week, but Max slacking off was the reason Ava was gone in the first place. He owed it to her to keep trying.

*

There had been no more conversation between Aiden and Ava for the rest of the day. After he'd calmed himself down enough to be around her, without the need to take her then and there overpowering his senses, Aiden returned to the kitchen, sat across from her and ate his breakfast in silence.

Ava was grateful that he didn't want to talk. She worried that he would ask her questions or say something provocative to spark further reaction from her. After his heightened illustration of their coming together, she couldn't be sure that she would have be able to find the words to respond coherently. Her replies would have tumbled out of her mouth in a tangle of stutters and awkward silences. Sitting across from him in silence was torture enough.

She tried not to look at him the whole time. She knew what would happen if she did -she would see him. She didn't want to see him; none of the rough, scarred, tattooed expanse of his dark skin hugging his sculpted body like god given armour, lips full and swollen from being bitten too much due to their interminable tension, and those arresting midnight eyes that could hold her in place at will, that could see past every defence she put up, penetrating and unyielding, impelling the beautiful disaster that was ever on the brink of happening to them.

With a handful of small gestures and low grumbles, Aiden only communicated when she was to return to her room, use the bathroom and when it was time to eat again. If this was supposed to be any different to being his prisoner, Ava had yet to see evidence of it. It felt the same. She ran on his schedule, spending most of her day alone in her room until he summoned her, and then doing her best to ignore the stirrings inside of her whenever he got too close or when she slipped up and looked at him. The only saving grace was that he'd kept his word and not touched her, but it was clear the strain that it was putting on him.

It almost frightened her how badly he wanted her, but she'd be lying if she said she didn't find the thought of it appealing. The things he would have done to her if she'd chosen to give up her power would out do the vivid thoughts in her mind. She knew it would. She could see it in the way that he warred with himself in every moment they spent alone together, the way his breathing changed, how fiercely his gaze burned, the tempting way his lips parted when stared for too long, and the way his veins stood out as he'd grab on tightly to the nearest solid object, trying to suppress his arousal. Every meal would end with him muttering something and rushing from the room to collect himself.

After dinner, exhausted from balancing on the figurative tight rope for so many hours, Ava returned to her room and drifted off to sleep with less difficulty than she'd expected. The same couldn't be said for Aiden. Once he was alone in his room with no motions to go through and nothing left to do but think, he thought of Ava.

He didn't realise that it would be this hard to make it through one day alone with her -minus Dougie's intrusion. He knew he had to be patient and resilient in keeping his word, but she didn't make it easy. A day full of stolen curious glances, intimate home-cooked meals for two, accompanied by the bespoke soundtrack of stainless steel cutlery chiming against porcelain crockery, and breathy hi-hats was enough to spark his nature. It was maddening.

And there was so much that needed to be said, important things that he had to tell her...but how was he supposed to talk to Ava about those mundane things when passion was saturating every fibre of his being, demanding priority over everything else. What he wanted to tell her was that having her within his reach but denying himself the satisfaction of touching her the way he wanted to, felt like torture. Like a shiny red apple dangled in front of him, ripe, juicy and waiting to be bitten, hard and deep so that the sweet nectar spilled from his wanting mouth, but if plucked it from the tree before it was ready to fall it could be poisonous.

He had to be smart about this, keep his head and lure her in slowly, but until she was ready to give in he'd have to use other ways and means of coping...

Aiden slid his open palm over his clenched fist and bit down on his bottom lip so hard that he winced. The pain was a distraction from the molten desire that coursed through his veins and seared him from the inside out.

Revealing his wanton longings to Ava had backfired. He'd watched her try her best to stay calm while he uttered his personalised pornography, listened attentively for every sharp breath, admired the flushes of rose on her skin, and the added tension in her stature, and it was enlivening but speaking his thoughts out loud made the craving grow stronger.

God, he wanted to hurt her, to have her fall apart in his arms before he pieced her back together with his practiced hands...

She was only a few feet away from him, sound asleep in her room. He contemplated going to her and touching and kissing her into submission then fucking her over and over until she passed out from ecstasy. He had no doubt that he could do it, but it wouldn't be the same. Aiden was desperate to own her, but not like that -she had to want it as much as he did for their relationship to be able to reach the levels he imagined they could rise and fall to.

He hoped she wouldn't take too long to come around because the tautness below his belt was throbbing, hot and rigid, begging for the sweet relief that only she could grant him...

He bit his lip harder and cracked his knuckles. It wasn't enough.

He paced back and forth across his bedroom, treading a path in the carpet with his bare feet. "Fuck!" The throbbing wouldn't let up.

Aiden sat on the edge of his bed and his hands rushed to his belt buckle. He tugged at it impatiently, wrestled with the button on his jeans and yanked down his zipper.

Freed of the clothing restrictions, his hardness sprung to attention through the gap in his black Calvin's. He wasted no time in closing his eyes and wrapping his hand around the base of his shaft and his breath escaped him as relief began to blossom.

His strokes started slow, moving from base to tip as he imagined Ava before him, undressing slowly for his pleasure, blushing as her delicate hands skimmed across her cinnamon skin, over her neck, her breasts, waist, hips and thighs, teasing him, taunting him.

He pressed his lips together as he grew fuller, tighter, longer, his hand motions advancing to twisting as it travelled up and down, rotating in gentle circles along his shaft.

Once liberated of her outerwear, Aiden envisioned her turning around for him so that he could see her round ass swathed in black lace panties, the kind that he would fervently grab at the seams and tear apart as he delighted in the violent ripping sound and the way that the tiny pieces of frayed thread would shower the ground.

He quivered at the thought. He couldn't wait to tear her panties off in real life.

He applied more pressure as he pictured her slinking closer to him and pressing her thighs together in the way she did, before she sunk to her knees and bent over in front of him, presenting herself like she was his for the taking. She tilted her hips to up the night making the soft swell of her sex poke out from between her thighs. Aiden pushed back into his hand as his mind willed her legs apart until the strip of material that cupped her nature slipped between her glistening lips.

He sucked in another breath and his hand moved faster.

She swung her hips seductively from side to side, purring, giggling and moaning for him to take it because it was his.

She slipped her hand between her legs and moved the damp lace to the side.

Her fingers delved between her folds.

She entered herself...so slowly...performing for him...begging him...crying out for him to cum, cum, 'Please Sir, c_'

"Oh fuck!"

With an animalistic snarl, Aiden's stomach muscles locked up and his toes curled, gripping the fibres of the carpet as his body convulsed like kinetic electricity was shooting out of his limbs. His eyes were shut so tight that his lashes tangled together, holding in the blinding white light beneath his eyelids, bright enough to burn holes through his bedroom walls.

"Fuuuuck," he groaned languidly. His stroking slowed to a stop.

Panting with a light sheen of sweat across his forehead, Aiden's eyes blinked open, astounded at the force that everything had come rushing out of him over imaginings of her. How was this girl able to make him so far remove from himself him without even being present?

He'd done it to slake his lust, but though the immediate desire had been dealt with, it didn't mean it that it was gone. It didn't make him want her any less. In fact Aiden found that he wanted her even more. At least there wasn't a raging hard on to go with it now. He grabbed a tissue from his bedside table and cleaned himself up then took a long shower.

At least now he would be able to talk to her with a clear head when she woke up.

*

"AIDENNNN, AIDEN PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME. DON'T LEAVE ME. NOOOOO_"

Ava was brought back to reality by Aiden's strong arms wrapped around her and his soft lips at her temple purring, "I'm here, I'm here. You're okay, Ava-Marie. You're safe." The fire was gone but her sheets and nightclothes were drenched in sweat. Confused and terrified she clutched onto Aiden, crying hysterically as he rocked her and spoke to her until she calmed down.

Once she was lucid again, Ava swiped her tears from her face with the back of her hand and shifted out of Aiden's embrace to the other side of the bed.

"That's the second day in a row," he said quietly.

Ava rolled her eyes at his lame attempt to fill the silence. She pulled her knees up to her chest, wrapped her arms around them and held herself tightly. She didn't need Aiden to hold her... "Yeah well, traumatic experiences don't go away after a day," she sniffed turning her face towards the sun. "They don't seem to end either."

Aiden slid his hand across the mattress and stopped just centimetres away, wanting to hold her again. She had felt so good in his arms, so solid, and warm, and real. "It'll get better," he promised.

"How? My parents are gone, I can't go back to my life because apparently a bunch of criminals want me dead and my only option of survival is to stay with you." Ava held her arm out under the ray of light that leaked through the curtains and surveyed the burns and suicide rings around her wrist, "Spending the rest of my life waking from one nightmare to live another is not better." Her chest tightened and she hugged her knees closer until they pressed into her rib cage so hard that she was sure that if she applied a little more pressure her bones would snap. "Has anyone tried to burn you alive?"

"No." He drew his hand back.

"Then how can you tell me that it will get better? You're not the one who has to relive it every time you close your eyes."

"You're right," he nodded, "I don't." He thought that after yesterday that today would be easier to get through, that he could just come right out and say what he had to say, but her nightmare had kicked him right back to square one.

He sighed and shifted across the width of the bed and sat back on his calves in front of her with a morbid expression, then rolled up the sleeve of his sweater and extended his arm to her. "I got these when I was seven," he pointed to a string of four small black scars dotted along the inside.

Ava furrowed her brow.

"When my mum went through her heroin phase she started seeing this guy called Danny. Danny thought that I complained too much because I was always whining at my mum for spending our benefits on shooting up instead of groceries -and no one likes a moany child, especially one that isn't theirs -so Danny thought that the best way to shut me up was to mellow me out."

"What do you mean 'mellow you out'?" she asked, but by the horrified expression on her face, Aiden knew she already understood.

He presented the back of his other hand to her. It was decorated with a tattoo of a sparrow holding a scroll. He flexed his hand under the same beam of light she'd stuck her arm in, revealing the linear scars under the ink where the scroll was drawn.

Ava held her breath and waited for an explanation.

"This was when she decided that crack was her thing. She'd just gotten with Keegan's dad, James. She was convinced that what they had was love, so that meant that her money was their money. One day I'd stole two pounds from her purse and James found out. He was pissed; it was what they needed to get their next hit, but now I'd fucked it up by buying myself some chicken and chips from Moreley's. He took the spoon that they basted with and held the lighter under it until it was good and hot..." Aiden ran his fingers over the scars, "He told me that back in the day thieves used to get their hands cut off."

Ava's hold on her knees loosened.

Aiden turned around and lifted up the side of his sweater where his tribal tattoo curled around his ribs. "Give me your hand," he said monotonously. Ava swallowed then reached out to him. He took her trembling fingers in his clammy hand and dragged them from his under arm to his waist, swallowing the unwelcome lump in his throat and drawing slower breaths to keep from reacting to her touch. "Most people have twelve ribs," he lifted her hand up under his last rib, "I have eleven."

"What happened," she whispered in spite of herself. Two traumatic tales in and her animosity towards him had dissipated into compassion. It was hard not to when the monster that he was, was starting to make sense to her. She'd suspected that Aiden's life had been hard growing up, it was a given with men in his line of work, but she never thought that he would have gone through anything as vile as what he was showing her. She expected stories of gang warfare, not his mother's junkie lovers attacking a small child.

"I was twelve, I remember 'cause my mum was pregnant with Keegan, and James had ducked out on her. He owed some scumbags a lot of money and my mum's place was his last known address, so when they came looking for him all they found was us. They didn't believe that he was gone so they wanted to leave him a warning for when he returned so that he'd know that they weren't playing. They wanted to hurt her, but I wouldn't let them." Aiden dropped Ava's hand and pulled his top back down, "She was carrying my baby brother and I didn't want anything to happen to him. If there was anyone in that house who was ever gonna give a fuck about me it was gonna be Keegan, so I had to give a fuck about him. That was the first time I put my life on the line for him." Dark humour flitted across his face, but his eyes were so withdrawn, continuing to hold back the sadness. He dropped his head and spoke into his chest, "By the time they gave up my rib had fractured in three places. The doctors said that if they didn't remove it, it could pierce my liver, and if that happened I could die. So I have eleven ribs, not twelve."

Done with his trip down broken memory lane, Aiden stood up and looked at Ava. He despised relying on her pity but it was the only hand he had to play. "So no, no one has ever tried to burn me alive, Ava-Marie, and I'm not trying to take that away from you. I did a bad thing, I own that, but no one came to my rescue either," he bit down on his back teeth, "Not even my own mother."

Ava glanced into her lap and fiddled with her fingers. Taking a leap of faith, Aiden reached for her hand. She didn't pull away.

"There was no guarantee that I would have gotten either of us away from the car in time, but I did it anyway. I put my life on the line for you because I give a fuck about you." Aiden dropped to one knee by the side of the bed and gazed up at her, "I'm trying to fix what I broke the best way I know how, so when I tell you it will get better, I mean it. I can keep you safe, Ava-Marie...but only if you agree to be my wife."


I hope you all enjoyed this chapter. If you did, please vote and let me know what you thought of my lil plot twist (and Aiden's lil solo scene; was that hot or like, weird...but low key hot?) lol.

#RunningWilde Ch. 22 | Love Stories

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'Cause we both wanted to do this

But I could tell that you were scared

'Cause you thought there was more to us

But you knew how this would end

It's gonna end how you expected

Girl you're such a masochist

-Echoes of Silence

The Weeknd

Aiden rapped his knuckles against the door, sending dull vibrations down Ava's back. She hadn't moved from her spot on the floor, not entirely sure of what good it would do if someone tried to force their way in, but knowing that she had a better chance of hearing someone coming if she sat there, eased her mind a little more. Neither she nor Aiden had heard Dougie break into the house. His dislike of her being alive put Ava more on edge than she was to begin with, but her nerves eased a little when she heard a pair of boots beating a slow, steady rhythm against the floorboards as they approached. She knew it was Aiden. She could picture the way he swaggered as he walked; his warrior-like quality making him stand tall with his broad chest puffed out, as his hips dropped and switched in his cool thug style.

Aiden came across like he was two people at once; the nouveau riche business man built on top of a Brixton foundation -a refined gangster. He could pull off the eloquence of a gentleman, but no matter how many airs and graces he displayed, the hood was always in the undertones of everything he said and did. She wondered if he minded; if this was the best he could do or if he was still developing himself.

"Ava-Marie," he called as he twisted the door handle. Ava scrambled to her feet and moved to the other side of the room. As the door opened, she peered around Aiden to see if he was alone.

"He's gone," Aiden confirmed.

"Oh, thank God!" Ava released a breath that she never knew she was holding and pressed her hand to her chest, "And to think, I thought you were scary."

Aiden regarded the way her muscles unwound with the knowledge that Dougie was gone. He lips formed a line and he cocked his head to the side, "He scares you more?"

Ava opened her mouth to say yes then reconsidered. Although he wasn't posing an immediate threat, there was something a little more sinister about Aiden than his lieutenant. Dougie was more black and white with his need to kill. He applied logic, killing only as a means to an end so that the odds were ever in favour of himself and the Diamond Mafia. It was his job. Aiden wasn't that level headed. He was too passionate. Even as he stood waiting for her answer, his dark eyes devoured her, as if he wanted nothing more than to do it for real...

She inched back some more, "No."

The corners of his lips lifted, amused that she understood that just because Dougie wanted her dead and he wanted her alive, that it didn't make him any less dangerous.

He extended his hand to her, "You should eat something."

Ava put her hands behind her back, out of his reach, "I'm not hungry."

"Really?" he raised his eyebrow and sauntered towards her, closing the space she'd put between them. His eyes glinted as they travelled from her face to the space between her thighs then back up, "Because I'm starving."

And there it was, as if it had merely been on standby waiting to be activated by his slick tongue, that betraying warmth that flooded Ava's nervous system like hot, melted wax, trickling to every part of her -some more than others.

"Then you should eat."  

Aiden wondered if she picked up on her double entendre. He swept his tongue across his lips and imagined what they would taste like if he was licking Ava off of them. He slipped his arms around her waist and interlocked his fingers with hers, "Oh I intend to," he smirked.

Her skin lit up, her burns making her turn scarlet instead of the rose gold shade he was most fond of. He didn't mind this saturated colour though; it made her blush more intense, giving the illusion that he was affecting her more than usual.

 

*

 

Aiden escorted Ava back into the kitchen and proudly presented her with a stack of vegan pancakes with a small jug of maple syrup, a bowl of fruit salad and a cup of camomile tea. She was taken aback by all of the trouble he had gone through. It smelled and looked so delicious that her tummy made a gurgling sound.

He pulled the stool out for her, "Have a seat."

Ava sat tentatively on the edge of it, too aware of Aiden's hand holding the edge of the stool for her to risk brushing her ass against his fingers.

He pushed her in and grabbed his plate from the counter. When he turned back to her he found that she still hadn't touched her food. "Don't you like it?" he frowned.

"I don't want it." Her stomach gurgled again.

Aiden sat opposite her and set his plate down, "Bullshit. Eat," he ordered her gruffly.

She picked up her cutlery, cut a small piece of the pancake and put it in her mouth to appease him. Dammit, it tasted even better than she thought it would. She thought that if it tasted even a little crappy she could resist the urge to scoff it down, but they were so light and fluffy that she found herself closing her eyes and making appreciative sounds. She hadn't realised how hungry she was until she tasted it.

Aiden raised his eyebrow at her, watching as she devoured her food the way Stone did when he was high. "Good?"

Her eyes popped open. "It's edible," she said stiffly.

Aiden grinned, "I can live with that." He grabbed the maple syrup and happily poured it over his pancakes.

Ava stopped for a moment, dazzled by the way he had managed to become even more appealing. His teeth, straight and white, contrasted against his skin and his eyes were brighter. 'He should smile more', she thought.

"Whatever," she rolled her eyes, "Pass the syrup."

"Manners, Ava-Marie," he replied indolently.

Ava's stomach tightened and her mouth went dry.

With shaky hands she picked up her tea and took a sip. His request transported her back to that night in the bathroom when he'd first propositioned her to submit to him, and how foolish she felt having to constantly address him as an authority figure in fear of receiving a punishment for not doing so. She hoped that with the new territory that there would be new rules, that Aiden would put an end to that, but it didn't seem that way.

She set the cup down and lowered her head, "Can I have the syrup please..." the heat of humiliation flushed her skin "...Sir?"

Aiden's hand jerked and more syrup than he wanted spilled from the little porcelain jug. His body twitched below the belt and his palms became clammy. She still said 'Sir' like it was beneath her -nothing like the docile way a good submissive was supposed to -but just as before, it didn't make a difference to Aiden, it was still a satisfactory sound to hear fall from her un-kissed mouth.

It made him want to change that.

He held tightly to the edge of the island to keep himself from going to her. "No, I mean normal manners," he scolded, "Don't call me that."

Ava looked up at him with surprise. It was odd to see him flustered by the very authority he'd demanded. The tips of his fingers paled with the pressure he was gripping the island with, as he regarded her with dilated black on black eyes, warning her that, that one little word had been a step too far. What was different about that word now? How did its power fall into Ava's lap? "Is this a trick?"

"No," he barked, pushing the syrup over to her. He moved his hand quickly as she reached for it. She couldn't touch him right now; that would only make it worse.

"So you won't punish me if I don't do it?"

His eyes fluttered shut as he played that section of her words back "...punish me..." Fuck! She had no idea what she'd done. All he could think about was punishing her and pleasing her until her body dripped, then making her beg him for mercy and relief until she was curled up in his lap, naked, sore and completely spent.

The twitching in his trousers grew stronger.

He tried to think about something else but Ava being only a foot away from him made it even harder.

 

Puppies...dog collars...Ava-Marie with a collar around her throat, on her knees, crawling to me.

 

Football...nets...Ava-Marie in fishnet tights and me hooking my fingers through the holes and tearing them apart at the apex of her thighs, then pushing myself inside of her.

 

Pancakes, there is no way I can turn pancakes into thoughts of her, right?

 

Aiden stared at his plate at the stack of pancakes glistening with maple syrup.

 

Yes, pancakes. Warm, sticky, sweet pancakes...

...Warm, sticky, sweet, Ava-Marie...

 

Ava furrowed her brow at him; in a matter of seconds he'd gone from looking flustered to looking like he was in pain, his fingers holding on for dear life, his jaw clenched together so hard that he was at risking of shattering his beautiful smile, and the vein at his temple throbbing so aggressively that she thought he might explode.

"Aiden?"

He glared at her, "What?"

She swallowed, "...You didn't answer me," she reminded him meekly.

"I will try my best."

"What does that mean?"

Aiden inhaled deeply, "It means that you being mine is not the same as you being my prisoner. I have no reason to torture you now, nor do I want to, but there are things that I wish to do to you, Ava-Marie," his eyes darkened and his voice dropped to a guttural rumble, "bad things, and when you address me like I am your master it makes me want to do them even more."

The hairs on the back of Ava's neck stood up and her singed skin tingled as electricity sparked in the air between them. She leant back and dropped her hands into her lap so that he wouldn't see how unsettled his words made her; fidgeting with the hem of his white shirt as what she knew to be right and wrong took up arms in her mind.

After everything he'd done to her, there should be a clear choice. There always should have been a clear choice, but especially now.

Aiden was all wrong...and yet the masochism he'd awakened in her was irrevocably bound to him, craving him regardless of how much her common sense opposed. He made her rational thoughts cloud over with bittersweet dreams of hard hands meeting tender flesh, complimentary tag teams of sharp teeth and soft tongues, the thrill of giving up control, of giving in to desire, and the promise of the overdue kiss that would most likely steal the air from her lungs. This power that he had over her was going to get her into more trouble than she was in already.

She scraped her teeth over her bottom lip, "Why do you want to hurt me?"

"Hurt you?" Aiden glanced down and chuckled sardonically. She didn't know the half of what he wanted to do to her. He locked eyes with her. "I want to bend you over the counter, lift that shirt up over your ass and thrash you for trying to run away from me."

Ava put her hands on her thighs and pressed her restless fingertips against them with the same amount of pressure Aiden was applying to the edge of the island.

"I want to listen intently to you as you fight to hold back your moans and struggle to catch your breath, to watch you squirm for me, to see how red you can get."  He sunk his teeth into his bottom lip and arched his knuckles, digging his nails into the wood, "I want to touch you softly between your thighs and see how wet my punishing you, makes you. I want to get on my knees behind you, part your legs and lightly brush my mouth across your pussy, then take my time kissing it deep and slowly until you're overflowing and your legs are shaking so much that you can barely stand."

Ava's lips parted and she sucked air between her teeth.

"I want to kiss you on the mouth so you will know how good you taste, so you will understand why I was down there for so long." His eyes flashed, "I want you to return the favour; on your knees with your hands behind your back and my hand on your head, guiding your mouth all the way onto my dick and keeping you there until you gag and break away, gasping for air before I put it back in. I want you to look up at me as you do it so that I can pinpoint the exact moment when you discover that you like the feel of me in your mouth. You get greedy. You moan as you taste me. You beg me to fuck you. I want to feel how tight you are, how your warm walls pulsate around me, how the harder I fuck you the wetter you get."

She wound the hem of Aiden's shirt around her fingers and pressed her thighs together. The images he painted with his blue tongue were so vivid in that her body had readied itself for the real experience –as had Aiden's.

He leant in and lowered his voice, growling at her, "I want you to scream so loud that I have to cover your mouth so that the neighbours can't hear you. And as you cum for me, with your eyes wide, your skin covered in sweat, and your hair falling out of place as your body jerks with my every thrust, I'll tell you that you're the most beautiful fucking woman I've ever seen, and you will be glad that you are mine."

He pushed his stool back from the island and stood up. Ava saw the swell of his length filling out his jeans to the point that the fabric puckered around it. She crossed her legs and felt her labia slide against each other, slick with her nectar. Holy fuck, she wanted him.

"I don't want to hurt you, Ava-Marie," Aiden smirked arrogantly, pushing his hips forward to give her a better view of his fullness. Her wandering eyes shot up to his face, embarrassed that she'd been caught staring so hard. "I want to own you, completely." Ava swallowed. "But as I said, you are not my prisoner so I will try not to touch you like that..." he cocked his head to the side, "until you tell me you want me to."

She broke eye contact, believing had she kept staring that her mouth would speak for her and tell him yes to the spanking and the trembling, the French kissing both on their knees and standing, and the fucking that would make her feel the heady release of everything built up between them. She would be a damn fool to say anything of the sort.

"I will never want you to."

"For both of our sakes, I hope not." Aiden swept out of the room and shut himself in the living room leaving Ava alone to figure out how she was going to make herself believe her own lies. 

***

So...*puffs on spliff*, how was it?

Leave a comment below and let me know, and if you would like more of the good stuff make sure you vote and share using the #RunningWilde hashtag.

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#RunningWilde Ch. 21 | Gravity

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Mirrors on the ceiling

The pink champagne on ice

And she said, "We are all just prisoners here, of our own device."

And in the master's chambers

They gathered for the feast

They stab it with their steely knives

But they just can't kill the beast.

 

-Hotel California

Eagles

 

Ava pressed her back closer to the wall and squeezed her eyes shut, as if by ridding herself of his physical allure she could slow her racing heart enough to think clearly about her next move. But that was impossible; Aiden was too close and too overwhelming to block out, his provocative energy bearing down on her as if it was inevitable that it would find its way inside of her one way or another.

Her waning rebellion made her clench her fists so tightly that her nails dug into the tender flesh of her palms, the sensation grounding her as best as it could. "I want to go home, Aiden." She'd meant to say it with more force than that, it was supposed to be a brazen demand, but all of his damp, dark skin brushing up against her between an intriguing mix of fine shirt fabric and nothing but air made her words tumble out as a hoarse, breathy plea.

Aiden slowly brushed the tip of his nose up along her bridge and pressed his lips to her forehead, "You are home," he said in and an irresistibly undisputable tone, "I'm going to take care of you now, I promise."

He smelt clean like Molten Brown shower gel again, and his full lips were so soft against Ava's flaky skin... She felt the familiar irrational tugging sensation in her chest, simultaneously pulling her to him and down to the place where sin thrived. She pressed further into the wall, every millimetre between them more valuable to her than she thought such an inconsequential amount of space could be. "I don't want you to take care of me," she tried again through gritted teeth.

 Aiden removed his mouth from her forehead and frowned. "You asked me to save you, Ava-Marie," he snapped, "That doesn't stop just because I pulled you from a burning car."

Ava allowed herself a small peek at him, the peculiar form of irritation in his tone sparking her curiosity. It was a pathetic excuse; everything about Aiden made her curious. Had it not been his tone she would have found some other reason to irresponsibly draw herself back under his spell. He didn't look angry; his jaw wasn't tense and his eyes weren't so dark. Up this close she could see the solid ring of deep brown around his iris, set beneath his thick furrowed brows. Aiden was worried about her.

He took her face in his rough hand, gently. "You haven't stopped being leverage," he warned.

She jerked her head away from his touch, it was only adding to her confusion. "My father is dead," her tongue felt heavy saying it out loud, like it would never be fit enough to speak such a sentence, "What more do you want?"

"Only to see this through." He was looking at her too intensely, the way he had when he'd run from the shower to find her awake; like she was gravity -the only thing holding him to the earth. He reclaimed a few precious millimetres between them and leant closer, "I just want to keep you safe, Ava-Marie," he said like he was confessing some great sin.

"Safe from what?" Her eyes flicked up to the loaded gun he was holding above her head, "You were and still are the only threat to my life."

Aiden's features shifted suddenly. He clenched his jaw and stepped closer to her, completely covering her body with his own; "I was." He looked down the hall to the quiet figure standing in the kitchen doorway, "How did you find me?" he grunted irritably.

Ava's eyes followed Aiden's and she saw a tall, wiry man with an unsettling smile that she was certain hadn't been there a second go. He had a gun aimed at her. Despite her earlier qualms that she had about being trapped with Aiden, she found herself leaning into him, hiding herself under his bulk. He drew a breath and looked down at her nestled against him so helplessly, and leant over her a little more as Dougie advanced.

"You put the tracker on her, remember?"

"Fuck," Aiden wanted punch himself in the head for being so careless. Now instead of escaping his world he'd invited it into his home.

"Tracker?" Ava frowned, reconsidering her closeness to him. Aiden didn't like her leaning away so soon. It felt good to feel her need him on some level again, and Dougie was ruining it.

"Put the gun down," he barked at him.

"It's a nice place you've got here. I wouldn't have pegged you for something so...quaint," he said looking around at the eggshell white walls and polished pinewood floors. His smile shrunk in size to something less manic and more humane, "It's your out-house, isn't it?"

"Yes."

"I like it, it's got character. You picked a great neighbourhood. It's quiet...very family friendly. Your neighbours seem like decent people too. I think you'll be very happy here, A."

"I think so too. Put the gun down."

"I was wandering around earlier -before you and the girl started scrapping upstairs -I noticed you have a dining room," he said casually, nodding in the direction of a room to his left. He stopped by it and peered inside at the large table surrounded by eight chairs, all covered in white dust sheets. His expression turned solemn and his casual tone quietened, "Keegan would've liked it here. We could've had big family Sunday dinners together like we did when my grandma was still around. Do you remember those, A?"

Ava felt Aiden's weight shift at the sound of his brother's name. The bitter nostalgia made his muscles lock up and his dark eyes gloss over and go back to black. He bit down harder on his back teeth.

"Yeah, I remember."

"Keegz would show up at grandma's every Sunday, even if I didn't, and eat up all the food. He was so craven," Dougie laughed, shaking his head.

"I know. Free food was the only way that boy would show up any place without being hounded to go."

"It really is a great place," Dougie sighed and turned his attention back to Ava. His killer smile returned, "I put the silencer on. I don't wanna mess up your chances of staying here." He continued walking towards her.

"For fucks sake," Aiden rolled his eyes and pointed his gun at Dougie, halting his friend in his tracks.

Dougie's face contorted into a scowl, "You're gonna shoot me over this bitch?"

"Of course I'm not gonna fucking shoot you, but you're not listening to me. Put the fucking gun down. You're pissing me off."

Dougie glanced at Ava cowering behind Aiden and licked his teeth loudly, creating a frustrated sucking sound as if he was polishing them for the next time he was ready to smile at her.

Ava shifted further behind Aiden, too afraid of Dougie to even witness him look back at her. Aiden felt her trembling at his back and swung his free hand behind him to touch her hand. "Dougie," he snapped.

Dougie lowered his gun, "Fine."

 

*

 

Fifteen minutes later Ava was seated on a stool on the side of the island closest to the stove, near Aiden, who was finally clothed and preparing breakfast for the three of them. On the opposite side of the island sat Dougie with his gun resting on the counter in front of him whilst he sipped orange juice and drummed his gloved fingers near it as he watched her.

She couldn't take her eyes off of him, she felt like if she did that she would miss something and he'd be victorious in his attempt to get rid of her. He actually made Aiden seem like the safer option, which was saying something.

Dougie put his glass down and leant forward abruptly like he wanted to leap across the room and pounce on her, "She can't be here. It's not safe. Not for you," the edges of his fingers skimmed the cool metal of the gun, "Not for any of us."

"I know what I'm doing," Aiden said as he poured vegan pancake mix into the frying pan.

"Yeah, it looks like it. She almost got away from you."

"Yes," Aiden looked over his shoulder at Ava and smirked at her with something that she could only interpret as amusement, "Almost."

She felt something tangle in her stomach.

"And what do you plan to do the next time she tries?"

Aiden's eyes flicked up to meet Dougie's, "I'll handle it," he said darkly, all of the amusement gone from his face.

Now that he'd made it clear that he wasn't going to kill her, if Ava was to disobey him, him being Aiden, the only other way she could think of him 'handling' her defiance was...

The knots in Ava's stomach tightened.

"I hope it involves a bullet."

"It might. It depends what mood I'm in." Aiden turned back to the stove and smiled to himself. The bullet he had in mind wasn't the same as the one Dougie did.

 Dougie's steady gaze settled on Ava again, making a chill run down her spine. She didn't like the way he looked at her. It was like he wasn't looking at a person, but rather at a moving target; something to point and shoot at and be done with. She pulled her arms around herself and looked at the patterns in the wood of the island counter.

"Are you going to tell me what you're doing here?" Aiden asked, expertly flipping the pancake.

"I came to take you home."

Aiden pulled three plates out of the cupboard and set them down a little heavier than necessary on the counter top next to the stove, "I told you I needed time."

"And I was willing to let you have it until I realised you had company." Dougie's fingers brushed against the gun again. "She shouldn't be here."

"Well she is."

He raised his eyebrow, "And what do you plan on doing with her?"

Aiden's veins swam over the muscles in his forearm as he gripped the pan handle a little tighter. He slipped the pancake onto the first plate, "I'm keeping her safe."

"You're keeping her," Dougie corrected him bluntly.

Aiden slammed the pan back onto the stove and spooned in some more of the sticky vegan mixture, "Do you want a pancake?"

Dougie slammed his palms against the island top with the same level of frustration and stood up. Ava concentrated harder on the woodgrain. "Do you have a death wish? Is that what this is?"

"No. I told you, I know what I'm doing."

"Do you? Because it doesn't look like it. That is Vince Lockewood's daughter," he jabbed a gloved finger in Ava's direction, "Everyone is looking for her. They saw her on the news, they know that she's alive and they will not stop until they find her."

Ava's ear pricked up and the patterns she'd been focusing on blurred; she was on the news? People were looking for her? This was great. She didn't know how she would do it, but if what Dougie was saying was true, all she'd have to do is make herself visible and maybe, just maybe, she'd have a shot of getting away from Aiden and his gang, for good.

"With the way you're acting, if they find her they find you. What then?"

"They won't," Aiden argued and flipped the second pancake into the air, "I know what I'm doing." The pancake missed the pan and dropped on the floor. "FUCK!"

Aiden was clearly more out of it than he was letting on and Dougie could see his cool façade starting to crack under the pressure.

"No you don't," he sighed.

As Aiden bent down to pick up the pancake, Dougie picked up his gun with renewed determination and crossed the kitchen. Ava jumped out of her seat and ducked behind the counter, curling into herself and closing her eyes. The soft red glow behind her lids turned black and she smelt Molten Brown shower gel again as Aiden's burly frame eclipsed the light from the window.

He put himself in Dougie's path once more, standing tall and unmovable. "Ava-Marie," he said evenly, glaring at his lieutenant for daring to defy him when his guard was down, "Go upstairs, now."

Ava clambered to her feet at scurried towards the safety of the hallway.

The front door was right in front of her with no one blocking it.

"And I mean upstairs," Aiden warned, sensing freedom's temptation calling to her, "Because if you run, he'll come after you and I can't guarantee that I'll get to you in time."

Ava knew that he was right. She would run, but not right now, not while her potential assassin was itching for the opportunity to catch her alone. She ran up the stairs, back into the back bedroom of white on white and slammed the door behind her with the force of her back. She slid down it and sat on the floor with her knees to her chest.

She waited.

Dougie smiled and stepped back towards the other side of the island with his beady eyes on the hallway.

"Leave her alone, Dougie. I mean it," Aiden hissed venomously.

"That's the problem," Dougie sneered. He slipped his gun into his holster and placed his hand upon his friend's tensed shoulder, "Come home, A. You're not thinking straight. You need to be with your family."

"Not this again," Aiden shrugged him off, "You don't know what I need." He turned back to the stove and spooned more batter into the pan.

Dougie swiped his hand across the counter top and sent Aiden's plates crashing to the ground. "YOU NEED TO STOP BEING A FUCKING PUNK AND BURY YOUR BABY BROTHER! YOU NEED TO ACCEPT THAT ASH IS GONE AND STOP TRYING TO FILL YOUR FUCKED UP VOID WITH THE LOCKEWOOD GIRL."

"Watch it, Dougie."

"NO, I'M NOT GOING TO WATCH SHIT UNTIL YOU HEAR ME," he roared. He stamped on one of the large fragments of porcelain scattered across the kitchen floor, "You can't be here, Aiden. You can't run away and hide from everything until you feel okay -you lost your brother, you're never going to be okay, you're just going to have to learn to live without him. Some days it will be all right and some days it will tear your fucking heart out, but the only way you're gonna survive it in one piece is if you keep moving forward and if you have your support system with you. That girl is not your support system," he said pointing down the hall, "She may have a thing for you, I know, I see it, but it's not real. Underneath it all she hates your guts and this fantasy life you're trying to force down both of your throats is a fucking ticking time bomb. So forget about her; man the fuck up, come home and handle your shit. At least if you explode there you'll have people around you who give enough of a fuck to help you pick up the pieces."

Aiden looked at the shards of broken plates that he'd never even used before and felt those unwanted feelings stir in his chest. This is why he didn't want to go home; Dougie and the rest of his family were triggers. He had no triggers here. He didn't have to feel anything here because the fantasy he was force feeding himself and Ava in this quaint house kept them away, but now Dougie was here, tearing the walls down with his words. The more Aiden tried to block them out the harder they fought to get in. He was one day in to his life without Keegan and Ash, and right now his desire not to feel anything was causing him to look at the jagged edges of his crockery and make him wonder what it would feel like if he picked one up and placed the sharp whiteness of the porcelain against the fragile blackness of the inside of his wrist.

He could bleed those feelings out and then they could never hurt him...

...But if he was gone, what would happen to Jamie? There was no way he was leaving him in the care of his useless grandmother, she'd already done a shitty job failing to raise Aiden and Keegan properly; he couldn't let Jamie go through that.

And who would protect Ava-Marie?

Aiden immediately shook the poisonous thought from his head and clenched his fists at his sides. Dougie was right; he couldn't hide here.

"Okay," he sighed slumping against the island. "I'll come, but Ava-Marie comes with me."

"No. She's a liability."

"It's not up for discussion. I swore that I would keep her safe, and I can only do that if she's with me. She will be with me," Aiden lifted his chin and looked back at his friend, "Whether you like it or not."

 

***

Thank you for reading you lurvely pipo ^-^

So Aiden's following his heart (dickhead) and taking Ava back home with him to 'keep her safe'; do you think this is a good idea or do you agree with Dougie and think Aiden should keep it trill, use his head and get rid of her?

Please leave your comments below and share it using the #RunningWilde hashtag.

Fancy your steamy romance more visualWatch the complete first season of my hit web series, Unfamous (as seen in Teen Vogue) click the image below:

#RunningWilde Ch. 20 | After The Storm

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I'll sing it one last time for you

Then we really have to go

You've been the only thing that's right

In all I've done

-Run

Snow Patrol

*

Aiden pulled into his driveway and pressed the button on his key ring to open his garage door. He would've preferred to return to his apartment in Brixton, but there would have been no inconspicuous way for him to remove Ava from the stolen vehicle. Instead he'd driven the extra forty-five minutes to his suburban residence in Croydon; a two storey semi-detached brownstone that Aiden rarely visited.

His neighbours had long since gone to bed and all the lights in almost every house were off, leaving the street quiet enough for Aiden to hear the occasional whoosh from a motor racing down the more or less empty main road a few streets over. Croydon sat just on the cusp of London; close enough so it still felt like a part of the city but far enough that it was easier to see the stars. He liked living out here. He'd always thought of it as his family home -the place he would retire to once he left the game and settled down with his wife and kids -now he was escaping here to hide himself and his captive from the world.

He'd tainted it.

He pulled up carefully next to his Ducati motorcycle and pressed the button again to close the garage door behind him. As the door lowered the lights flickered on and lit the room, highlighting the millions of dust motes swirling in the air. Aiden got out of the car, careful not to come into contact with the red live wire that dangled under the steering wheel, and went around the back to get Ava. She hadn't made a sound for the whole drive and Aiden had been too on edge to stop and check if she was still alive, but when her bent to pick her up he was relieved to find that she was still warm, though her skin looked paler than usual under the smudges of soot and streaks of dried blood.

 Using the connecting door at the back of the room, Aiden walked into the quiet house, entering through the kitchen, gritting his teeth as he cradled Ava against his chest. His adrenaline had worn off on the drive over and now the effects of his injuries and how truly he exhausted he was, were beginning to take their toll on him. He patted his hand against the wall until he felt the knob of the dimmer switch. As he twisted it the spotlights began to brighten, illuminating his large kitchen with its polished pinewood floors and cabinets, dusty blacktop surfaces and spotless chrome fittings. He carried her to the island in the centre of the room, shifted his empty glass fruit bowl to the side and laid her down gently. He promptly drew the curtains behind him that looked out upon his jungle of a garden and the backs of some of his neighbours' homes. Although every window he could see was dark, Aiden didn't want to run the risk of anyone seeing anything they didn't need to. He liked his neighbours and they liked him –well, the man he pretended to be when he was here. It would be a shame if he had to get rid of any of them over a technicality.

He grabbed a tumbler from one of his cabinets and reached under the island for a bottle of scotch, then he plopped himself on one of the stools and poured himself a generous amount. Scotch like this deserved to be served with a cube of ice then sipped slow and savoured, but Aiden didn't care for pleasure, he just wanted to drown out the voice in his head that seemed intent on reminding him that everything had gone to shit. He swallowed it in one go and poured himself another one.

Aiden's looked at Ava's body stretched out before him and for a moment he didn't say or do anything -he just looked. Her lips were swollen, cracked and set in a frown, her long eyelashes seemed shorter, blunt at the ends from being singed by the flames, and her skin had lost its golden glow as if someone had opened her up and blown her candle out. It was starting to blister across the exposed peaks. Ava looked like a sad story; she was a personified metaphor for how Aiden felt. He continued drinking.

After his fourth glass he took her limp hand in his and pressed it to his cheek. She smelt like blood and smoke, a reminder of the chaos he'd revelled in. Although there was such ugliness about everything that happened, Aiden kissed her blackened fingertips and told himself that at least he had something beautiful from it.

He screwed the lid back on his scotch and put it away. He'd definitely had enough for the night. One more glass and the things that he was drinking to suppress would slip past his mental block and attack in an ugly way.

He grabbed his first aid kit from the medicine cupboard and removed his top, slipped off his bullet proof vest, then winced as he slowly pulled his cotton vest away from his clammy skin, taking extra care where the black cotton was stuck to the source of his pain. Getting shot was never fun; although the vest made the effects less lethal, it was still awful. Aiden reminded himself that it could have been much worse than this. There was a seeping lump pulsating just above his hipbone, the injury so aggressive that a vivid shade of red showed up against his deep, dark skin, spread across it like absorbed spilled ink. He applied some TCP to a puff of cotton wool and dabbed at the bulge, gritting his teeth and grunting as the alcohol in the antiseptic made the wound burn where the skin was broken, before getting an icepack from the freezer, placing it on top of the lump and securing it by wrapping a bandage around his stomach as firmly as he could bear.

Aiden was used to cleaning himself up, though he hadn't done it in a while. On his way up in the game -before the Diamond Mafia had made their name, when he was still on the road with his soldiers -he gained a lot of experience in first aid, and then some. They all did. It was risky to turn up at the hospital after an altercation, especially when the police were looking for suspects.

Ash used to tend him too; not because he needed her to, but because that was just what they did –they took care of each other. He wanted to hate her, it seemed like the natural thing to do, but wasn't as simple as that. It's difficult to completely hate someone once you've loved them truly -even if they deserve it. Ash had been with Aiden since they were fifteen, when Aiden saw her getting stepped to by a group of girls from the block. He'd admired how well she'd handled herself and how she'd never given up no matter how many times they knocked her down, so he'd scared them off and taken her on. From that day Ash had been his red haired warrior woman, his Boadicea, and he thought they'd fight side by side for as long forever would allow. He thought that one day she would be the woman he'd share this house with...instead she was reduced to a memory of a good love gone bad.

The image of Ash dead on the ground flashed in his mind and it made his heart constrict. He knew that forever was only a romantic notion and that people were bound lose each other sooner or later, but it always seemed to be sooner –too soon - in the criminal underworld. If they didn't die they ended up behind bars. That's just how it was, so Aiden was used to losing people, but it didn't make it any easier.

Eventually he'd have to face seeing Keegan and Aiden didn't know if he could look at him. He didn't want that image in his head. His imagination provided a bad enough preview of his dismembered baby brother, but he knew the reality would be that much worse.

They were two people that made up a lot of the fragments of his heart, what was left was damaged and in need of healing.

His morbid eyes fell upon Ava again. Damage was their connection, and in that connection was where they'd found some semblance of peace. Aiden hoped that they could continue to find it in the damage to come. They had to. He needed them to.

*

It was hot, too hot. Sweat dripped from her skin pooling in her ears and making the sheets damp. She clawed at the bedding, the weight of the duvet felt like it was holding her down and she couldn't get out.

It was too hot and she couldn't get out.

"AIDEN!"

Ava snapped awake at the harshness of her own voice. Her eyes were wide and wild as she scurried up to the top of the bed, swatting frantically at her arms to put out the fire that had been there mere moments ago.

She stopped and looked around; gone was the heated metal cage, the sweltering flames, the thick smoke and the dead body...

The last thing she remembered was begging Aiden through the fire to save her, and now she was clean and Ben Wa free, dressed in a white men's shirt, surrounded by simple homely white on white decor, with stinging skin slathered in aloe vera gel, a sore throat and a headache.

The bedroom door burst open and Aiden rushed in, dripping wet and naked, his deep brown skin shimmering under the light of the morning sun and his normally slick waves flicked up into soft ebony curls. "Ava-Marie," he breathed her name like he'd been holding his breath too long, staring at her as if he hadn't believed in miracles until this very moment, "Thank God." He strode quickly over to the bed, fighting not to break into a sprint, and gathered her into his arms. He buried his face in her ragged braids and drew another breath, "Thank God."

Ava could feel his racing heart thumping through his chest so hard as if it too wanted to touch her to make sure that this was real, that she was okay, and the way he embraced her felt like he would never let go of her again. She stiffened at the thought. She had spent enough time under the hold of Aiden Michaels and now that she wasn't at risk of burning to death she would be damned if she spent one second more.

"Get away from me, you murderer," she snarled, bringing her arms up between them and shoving him back with all her might.

Unprepared for such an adverse reaction, Aiden fell to the floor with a heavy thump, landing on his side where the bullet wound still protruded from his skin. He growled lowly through gritted teeth and squeezed his eyes shut, then reopened them in time to see Ava's ringed ankles leaping over him and making a run for the door. Aiden launched himself forward and wrapped his large hand around the fading rope marks, abruptly halting her in her tracks.

"NO," she screamed as she went down and threw her arms out in front of her to break her fall.

Aiden grunted and yanked her back, the fabric of the shirt he'd dressed her in making it so she glided across the laminated floor with ease. He raised his unbridled body off of the ground, enough to pull her under him before he pinned her in place with it.

Ava struggled beneath him, trying not to pay any attention to the warmth of his bare skin pressing against her exposed legs or how his plethora of tattoos stirred over his muscles as he fought to keep her under control. "Get off of me!"

He clamped his hand over her mouth and glared down at her, "Ava-Marie, listen to me –AHHH!" Ava had the rough pale flesh of his palm between her white teeth, biting down as if she was prepared to rip it from his hand. Aiden yanked it out of her mouth and brought it to her throat, his glare darkening further. "You are really testing my patience, little girl. I advise you to quit while you're ahead."

"Fuck you!" She raised her knee and slammed it into his crotch. As Aiden released her to grab himself Ava rolled him off and ran out of the door.

Her bare feet slapped against the ground as she bounded down the hallway with her heart in her throat and her wild eyes darting around every corner in fear of running into a member of the Diamond Mafia. She reached the landing and glanced down to make sure the coast was clear. There were two more doors along the hallway and at the end of it was the front door.

"AVA-MARIE," Aiden's voiced boomed from the back of the house.

Ava gasped at the ferocity of his roar knowing that she had made him angrier than she ever had before and bolted down the stairs as fast as she could. Aiden's footsteps soon thundered after her but she refused to look back. What was in front of her was all that mattered. She didn't have anything with her; no money, no shoes, no real clothing, but it wasn't important; if she could just make it outside at least she would have her freedom.

The gold lock gleamed, beckoning her touch to it and claim liberty, but as her hand reached for it she heard a soft click behind her.

"Back the fuck up," he growled.

Ava turned to see Aiden standing calmly at the stop of the stairs with a gun aimed at her and his black eyes warning her that his affection for her still had a limit. Her heart fell from her throat and into her stomach as she reluctantly dropped her hand. Aiden had tried to kill her once and she knew that he was not above doing it again.

He raised his chin and jerked the barrel of the gun to the left, "Stand against the wall." Ava inched backwards and pressed her back against the wall, holding her breath as he descended and made his way over to her, gloriously naked, armed and dangerous.

He raised his gun hand above her head and rested it against the wall, standing close enough that she could feel the heat from his damp skin, and leant down. "I gave my word that if my brother died, you would too. My brother is dead, Ava-Marie, and has been for some time now. Your father beat him to death, had his men cut him up and then attempt to deliver my mother her baby boy in pieces. He's dead..." Aiden held tighter to the handle of his gun and swallowed, "And yet here you stand. You asked me to save you, so I did. I went against my word –and I never go against my word, but I did..." his glare softened and he brought his other hand up to her face, "...for you." Aiden skimmed the tips of his fingers across her cheek, careful not to disturb the butterfly stitches he'd applied over the wound Ash carved across Ava's cheekbone. He cupped her face and leant in closer, brushing his proud mouth against her trembling one. "You are mine now," he whispered. 

 

***

Thank you for reading m'luvs. Please let me know what you think of this chapter and how you feel about Aiden so far.

Don't forget to recommend it to your friends.

Fancy your steamy romance more visualWatch the complete first season of my hit web series, Unfamous (as seen in Teen Vogue) click the image below:

#RunningWilde Ch. 19 | Beautiful Ruins

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Not about to see your light

But if you wanna find hell with me

I can show you what it's like

-Mother

Danzig

The silver Jaguar lay on its side tarnished and crumpled, the roof caved in and the wheels still spinning as if the car itself was unwilling to accept the fate that awaited it. The gas tank spouted fluids onto the tarmac, the oily consistency making iridescent rainbow colours shimmer as the puddle grew under the flashing headlights, while the alarm screamed. The steam turned to smoke.

Vince beat his fist against the deployed airbags; they were only making things worse, taking up room in the vehicle and making it harder to escape. He was lying on the side closest to the ground, while Ava's body hung unconsciously in mid-air, supported by her seatbelt. The turbulent rolling and flipping of the car had shattered all of the windows and had left tiny shards of glass embedded in her face, making her skin glitter like a Cullen in the sunlight.

Vince struggled to unlock his seatbelt to find that it was jammed. If he couldn't free himself then there was no chance that he would be able to save his daughter. All of this had come down to saving Ava and now, the moment he had her back he could lose her all over again. The thought made his already erratic heart, stop, start and slam against his ribcage and at that moment he knew that it would hurt him too much to live if she were to die. Those three days that he'd spent trying to figure out the best way to get her back had been hell, but he'd done it, he had pulled out all the stops to make sure she was safe again, so she couldn't die here, not after every law he'd broken in her name, not after all she'd been through.

He pressed two fingers against her neck and was relived to feel a pulse. "Ava, honey, can you hear me? Baby, I need you to wake up." She didn't respond. He grabbed her shoulder and shook her, desperately begging her, "Baby, please wake up." Still he got nothing.

He tugged the seatbelt but it wouldn't move so he tried to press his feet against the floor of the car hoping that if he applied enough force and turned his frame at the right angles, that he could slide himself out of it. Nothing happened. He tried again and again but it didn't feel like he was trying at all, in fact he didn't feel anything. His clear blue eyes grew to the size of whirlpools as they fell to his legs. He tried again. "No," he breathed, "No, no, no. NO!" He grabbed them, digging his fingers into his thighs eager to feel even the slightest nuance of pain, but he might as well have been grabbing someone else because the feeling would have been identical. He felt more nothing. "NAAAAOOOOOOO," he howled, slamming clenched fists against the numbed flesh.

He looked back at his daughter and his heart began to fall to pieces as the realisation that there was physically nothing more that he could do, set in. He couldn't move, she wouldn't wake up, and the pungent smell of the smoke rising out of the engine was starting to filter through the air vents in the dashboard. He ran his hand over all of the tiny black shutters that he could reach, pushing them closed to buy them a little more time. Taking in a lung full of smoke, Vince leant closer to the shattered windshield and yelled out of it as loud as he could, "HELLLLLP! SOMEBODY HELP US. PLEASE, HELP!"

The heavy sound of steel toed boots thudding against the tarmac approached the wreckage as Vince drew another toxic breath to scream. He froze. There beyond the smoke, through the broken windscreen, stood Aiden Michaels, staring him down with lawless and unforgiving black eyes. In his panic Vince had forgotten all about the other driver, but now that Aiden was there he wondered why he didn't put two and two together sooner. The impact of the crash had been too perfectly timed to be an accident.

"Michaels, you bastard!"

Aiden raised his pistol in front of him and let the first bullet fly right at the edge of the growing puddle of gasoline on the ground. The iridescent liquid rainbow tremored just before the flames consumed and blazed the trail all the way to the car. The first explosion used up the small remainder of the gas in the tank, powerful enough to make the hood fly off and slow the incessant screeching of the alarm and dim the flashing of the lights until the fire spread and both ground to a halt.

Vince more than made up for the burning silence with his desperate cries for mercy. Aiden had planned to make him burn alive, but the pitiful sounds that the kingpin was making were quickly grating on his nerves. He raised his pistol again, holding it steady with two hands as he squinted through the flames. He pulled the trigger.

Sweet silence.

Aiden watched the car burn with peaceful satisfaction. Fire rose up from beneath the bonnet and the smoke grew thicker and darker, billowing, swirling, twisting and clawing at the night sky, hiding the stars from sight. He'd warned Lockewood what would happen if he crossed him. He'd warned him that both he and his darling daughter would die at Aiden's hand should Keegan not be returned to him. Aiden was a man of his word.

And then she began to wake up.

The moment those startling autumn eyes regained their focus, they locked onto Aiden, wide with panic. There he stood, just beyond the smoke and flames, watching as the metal prison around her began to pop, and whirr, and melt as the sweltering heat reddened her skin beyond its usual rose gold glow. Ava screamed and clutched the straps that kept her suspended in mid-air afraid that with the rising temperature that they would soon melt away and drop her.

"Dad, what's happening?" She looked over to her right to see her father motionless and bleeding out from a hole between his eyes. "Oh no." Ava reached out and pressed her fingertips against his cheek. Even with the heat he felt cooler to the touch than he should, "Oh no. You're not dead. You're not dead," she whispered. Her temples started to pulsate and her throat began to close up as her vision of him blurred. Her tears splashed against the side of his face and he didn't even flinch. "Dad? Dad, wake up. Please, wake up." She shook him gently, "Please..." She knew he wouldn't 'wake up', but she couldn't bear to entertain the thought of it. It was the scariest thing in the world for Ava to acknowledge that mere moments ago he was there, and that between the time of her closing and reopening her eyes that he was gone. "Dad? ...Oh God." He was gone. They had been driving down the road and she had said the worst thing she could possibly say to him -she'd wished him dead, and now her words had been brought to life and she wished she could take them back. "Oh God, no."

The fire rose higher and the smoke surrounding the car was beginning to sear Ava's throat, snapping her out of her mourning and bringing her back to the direness of the present. She looked back out of the windshield at the stoic man with flames reflected in his empty black eyes. "Aiden!"

Aiden dug his heels into the floor and clenched his fist around the handle of his gun. Vince robbed him of much more than he could stand to lose, on this night. The only solace he had was keeping his word and returning the favour. This was for his peace of mind; the repayment for his little brother's life and the love of his life. An eye for an eye would ease the suffering to come.

He took a step back and raised his gun once more as he squinted through the flames at her. It would be a shame to see her disappear, but he would do her this kindness. He curled his finger around the trigger.

"AIDEN, NO! PLEASE!"

Her eyes looked like bonfires from where he was standing; bright and filled with the kind of wild light that had drawn him to her in the first place. His arm trembled. Aiden gritted his teeth and concentrated.

"Please, Aiden. Please don't do this."

He squeezed his eyes shut. All he had to do was pull the trigger. He tensed his finger and readied himself.

The remaining headlights on the car popped and shattered, sending a mixture of clear and coloured glass flying as the electrical circuits behind the bulb sparked glittering embers. The fire was now right up against the broken windscreen, taunting Ava with licks of amber. She howled and pressed her back as close to the back of the leather passenger seat as she could.

Aiden's hand shook harder. He'd never make the shot. Sighing, he lowered his hand, turned on his heels and walked away. It would all be over soon anyway.

"NOOOOOOO!" Ava's howling turned into spluttering as the smoke travelled directly into her airways. It was so thick that it turned her tears sooty, and soon his retreating frame would be out of sight.

She couldn't breathe.

She couldn't breathe and the world was turning as dark as his eyes.

"Why won't you save me?" she sobbed.

Aiden frowned; why would she ask that of him? Didn't she get it yet? Aiden never had any intention of saving her, he'd only ever meant to ruin her, and the only think that kept her halfway safe was gone now.

With every step he took he could hear her fragile voice crying out for him, "Save me, save me, save me," ringing in his ear. Aiden couldn't save anyone. He couldn't save his brother, he couldn't save Ash, and if he so much as attempted to save Ava, he knew that he would keep her, and that was just as bad as letting her burn, because men like Aiden shouldn't keep beautiful things...

He ran back to the car.

"Fuck!" He had to hurry. Soon the fire blossoming under the hood of the Jaguar would be too much and the real explosion would come, and if that happened then no one would make it out alive.

Aiden pulled the neckline of his t-shirt up over the lower half of his face, covering his mouth and nose to lessen the amount of smoke he was set to inhale, and moved to the underside of the vertically position vehicle. The car was sweltering, the metal almost too hot for him to bear but he'd made up his mind that he would get her out of there. He would do his best to save her. He lodged his boot on top of one of the pipes, grabbed onto another higher up, then proceeded to climb up onto the passenger side. He tried to peer through the black smoke, "Ava-Marie, I'm here," he shouted over the rumbling crackle of the flames. He could faintly make her out her shape but she didn't look good. Her body was slumped back into the position it was in when she was unconscious, mouth open, head lolling to the side and absolutely no idea of how close she was to catching fire. "Fuck," he cursed again. Now it was going to be even harder to get her out, which meant that it would take longer than Aiden intended, and with the fire rising, time was most definitely not on their side.

Aiden reached inside the broken window and flipped the lock, and then with a deep grunt he grabbed onto the handle and yanked as hard as he could on the severely dented car door. It cracked open and the smoke billowed out even faster, making his eyes sting and water profusely. With no time to undo the buckle he grabbed Ava by her arm with one hand, and then with the other he took his mora knife blade and sliced through the seatbelt straps. The moment the straps came free her body shifted downwards to where her father lay dead against the floor. Aiden quickly tucked the blade back into its sheath, grabbed her with both hands and hoisted her up.

He set her down against the backseat doors, leaving her legs dangling over the edge, before he jumped down and tugged her limp frame into his arms. "I've got you, Ava-Marie. You're going to be okay," he said sweeping her legs up so that he could carry her. He cradled her against his chest, "You're mine now."

 Aiden took off as fast as he could, away from the car and down into a nearby alleyway. He ducked behind a dumpster as the night lit up with a horrific explosion of fire, metal and the remains of Vincent Lockewood. The sound thundered through the atmosphere like a warning; the head of The Syndicate was scattered across the streets of the city he once owned and now the hierarchy of the underworld was hanging in the balance. The police would be there soon, and once they figured out what happened and who it happened to, every news outlet would be on the scene to document the sudden demise of who the outside world knew to be the multi-millionaire club owner, and that would alert every major cartel that the top spot was theirs for the taking if they wanted it bad enough. No one was safe —the war Aiden wanted to avoid was coming whether he liked it or not, and once they found out that it was him who permanently removed Vince from the throne, he would be their primary target. He needed to get away from the crime scene and fast.

Aiden propped Ava up against the side of the dumpster and took her bloodied, soot covered face in his hands, "Ava-Marie, can you hear me?" The only response he got was her harsh and wheezy breathing. He pursed his lips then slapped her face, "Ava-Marie!" Ava frowned and made a groggy, groaning sound. Aiden frowned back at her.  She didn't look like she would come around any time soon, and he'd rather not hit her again.

Sirens sounded in the distance and small tittering flocks of people began to gather at the scene, gasping and taking pictures and videos of the wreckage on their camera phones. Aiden slung Ava over his shoulder and quickly carried her through the alley and onto a quiet side street, pulling at the levers on the boot of every car he saw until one popped open.

He set Ava down again then ran his fingers along the inside of the trunk door until he located the emergency cord. He yanked on it and the backseat fell forward.  The police sirens were getting louder. Aiden crawled in and headed straight for the driver's side. He slotted the tip of his blade into the screws on either side of the cover underneath the steering wheel and loosened them so that he could pull it away. He quickly removed the wiring harness connector then yanked out the yellow and brown wires, stripped back the insulation covers and tied them together. He crawled back out and got Ava, laid her on the floor in the back, pulled the boot shut then jumped back into driver's seat and connected the yellow and brown wires the red one. The car started perfectly. Years of practice had made Aiden a pro. He put his foot on the gas and drove away from the area, smirking at the spinning red and blue lights that bounced off of the buildings on the other side of the block as more officers arrived.

Aiden headed south and called Dougie.

He picked up on the first ring. "Aiden," he sounded relieved but not surprised.

"Meet me at the back end of Drury Lane. When you get here tell the rest of them to stay put, I want to speak to you alone. Bring the money."

Dougie took a pause then said, "Okay. We're on our way."

 

*

 

Aiden pulled over to the side of the road and waited in the shadows for Dougie to arrive. Soon after, the blacked out SUV rolled silent around the corner and Dougie jumped out of the front seat with the briefcase in his hand. Aiden exited the stolen vehicle and walked towards him.

"What's going on, A?" he asked, handing over the briefcase.

Aiden didn't look at his friend as he put the briefcase on the hood of the car, "Get a bag."

"Aiden_"

"Get a bag, Dougie." Dougie raised his chin but didn't say anything more. He walked back to the SUV then returned with one of Stone's duffle bags. Aiden unclipped the briefcase and began loading half of the money into the bag. "This is for you guys to do whatever you need to do with it until I get back."

"Where are you going?"

"I don't know yet." Aiden continued piling wads of cash into the bag. "Did they get Ash out?"

Dougie gritted his teeth, "Yes. She's in the other truck. They're in their way to the hospital."

"Good. Get Baby to make her funeral arrangements. How's Trish and Jamie?"

"They're fine. They're safely in the panic room."

"Tell Driver to take them to my mother's house."

"We can't have them so local."

"We can't have them so far away either. A lot of shit's about to happen so I need everyone to stay together."

"And what about you?" he frowned.

"I have to go. I need to lay low for a while."

Dougie snapped the bag shut before Aiden could put another load of cash in, forcing his friend to look at him. He looked tired; not the kind of tired that could be cured with sleep, but the kind that made him look older than he was, as if he'd aged ten years over the three days of hoping and waiting to see Keegan again. His eyes had dark circles beneath them and his jaw was tense and set in a deep frown like he would forever be disappointed at the world and was pressing his teeth together so hard to keep how he truly felt about those disappointments from slipping out before he was ready.  Dougie sighed, "Aiden, I know losing Keegz is hard, but you can't just piss off by yourself. You need to be with your family and we need to be with you."

"This isn't about Keegan. I'm trying to protect you, all of you."

"And I'm trying to protect you, but I can't do that if you're not here."

"I don't want you to! I killed Vince Lockewood, Dougie. Once word gets out that he's dead it won't be hard for The Syndicate and whoever else is associated with them to figure out who did it, and they will come after me with everything they've got. I don't want to bring that down on any of you. You guys and Jamie are all I have left..." Aiden looked away and clenched his jaw, "I don't want anyone else to die because of me, so I need you to hold things down until I'm back. Now stop fucking around and open the bag."

Dougie opened the bag up and let Aiden finish loading the money inside of it. "I don't understand. These are mobsters that we're dealing with and now that Vince is gone it's open season for the top spot on the food chain; our whole team is a threat. If they're gonna come, they will come after all of us anyway, so you might as well stay."

"I told you, I can't," Aiden growled.

"Why not?"

"Because you have a better chance of survival without me. Fuck, Dougie! Have you heard a word I've said?"

"I have, and it's not making sense." Dougie narrowed his eyes, "What are you not telling me?"

Aiden kissed his teeth and snapped the briefcase closed, "Doug, I gotta go. Just do as I said." Aiden walked back to the stolen car and opened the door.

Just before he could slip away Dougie called out, "Where's the girl?" Silence hung in the air and Aiden gripped the roof of the car. "Aiden, where is she?"

He could lie and say that she had died too or that she'd escaped him and no one would be any the wiser. "Why?"

"Did you kill her?"

"No."

Dougie raised his eyebrow, "Then where is she?"

"I don't know. I let her go."

"You did what?" Dougie stormed towards the car. Aiden threw the briefcase down and walked out to meet him before he got too close. He couldn't risk him seeing Ava lying at the bottom of the car because then saving her would have been all for nothing. Dougie would shoot her on sight. "Are you fucking crazy? She's going to talk and you'll get locked up or you'll end up dead. Is that what you want?"

"I'm Aiden Michaels; when am I not at risk of getting locked up or ending up dead? Back the fuck off, all right; she's one girl and she didn't need to die."

"It's not about whether she needed to die or not it's about covering your tracks, Aiden, you know that. FUCK," he boomed. Dougie gripped his head, "I never should have let you touch her."

Aiden's eyes widened, showing more white than black and he clenched his fists, "What did you say?"

"I said I should have never let you touch her. Ash may have been a fucking head case, but she was right about that —you couldn't handle it. I should have stopped you."

"Stopped me? Stopped me?" Aiden shoved Dougie's wiry frame back. "You can't fucking stop me from doing shit," he shoved him again, "I RUN THIS. I'M THE BOSS, NOT YOU!"

Dougie threw up his hands. Aiden was clearly upset about more than what Dougie had said. He still hadn't dealt with his feelings about Keegan and Ash yet, so this was just an excuse to let some of his frustrations. "A, chill."

"No," he shoved him even harder, "Don't talk about me like there's something wrong with me."

"I never said there was. I don't give a fuck about how you like to fuck; shit, I tie bitches up too sometimes, but it clouds your judgement, and you know that. That's why you didn't get rid of Ash even after I warned you she would fuck you over, and that's why you let the girl live. It's only a matter of time before she does too."

Aiden kissed his teeth and turned back to the car, "Whatever."

"Wait! What about Keegan? We have to bury him."

Aiden stopped walking. The things that he didn't want to feel were slowly eating through his mental blocks and his heart was starting to ache around the edges. Dougie was right; he had to bury his brother and suddenly all he could think about was a closed casket full of pieces of Keegan being lowered into a whole in the ground, and a gravestone with two dates too close together to be considered a full life. He swallowed the lump forming behind his Adam's apple and sped up, as if getting away from Dougie would help him get out of his mind. "Make the arrangements and I'll be there."

"You're not gonna do it yourself? He's your brother."

Aiden jumped into the car. The ache was spreading and the dark thoughts were leaking out, "I can't Doug, I just...look get my mum to do it."

Dougie furrowed his brow, "Your mum? Aiden_"

"I'll be in contact." He slammed the door shut, sparked the wires to start the car up again and raced down the road out of sight.

Dougie got back into the SUV and handed the duffle bag to Stone. "Okay, let's head back to the compound."

"Where's Aiden going?" Mighty asked frowning at his laptop.

"He said he's laying low for a bit. I think he just needs some space."

"He can't need that much space if the Lockewood girl is with him."

Dougie spun around in his seat and looked back at Mighty, "What?"

"He pinned his tracker to her, right?"

"Yeah..." Mighty turned his laptop around so that Dougie could see the pulsating green outline of the inside of a car with a man in the front seat, and a map in the bottom right-hand corner following the route Aiden just took. "You have got to be kidding me."

 

*

 

"Hello, my name is Emily Watts and you are watching BBC London News.

Following the destruction of Aldwych station last Friday, police have revealed that the event may have lent itself to what appears to be a gang related incident, which journalists are now calling the Aldwych Station Massacre.

Paramedics were called once investigators were able to get inside of the historic building and found thirty-two people dead - thirty-one of them with gun wounds and one man brutally beaten to death.

Around the corner from the station, the vehicle of affluent business man, Vincent Lockewood was found. Police arrived on the scene after receiving multiple calls of from panicked onlookers. The car was burnt to a crisp with Lockewood still inside. Forensics say what was originally assumed to be a tragic accident does not actually appear to be so. During the autopsy they found a bullet identical to those found in twelve of the victims of the Aldwych Station Massacre, lodged into the front of Lockewood's skull.

There were witness reports that a black man was seen fleeing the scene with a passenger that he rescued from the wreckage, described as a young biracial woman in her early twenties. There has been no sighting of either of them since the incident.

The investigation is still ongoing and police are eager to get to the bottom of the incident. In other news..."

Max clicked the TV off and threw the remote down. He was relieved to know that Ava was still alive but the fact that Michaels had her made his temples pulsate with rage. Now that Vince was gone and his brother was dead, lord knows what he would do to her.

He was going to get her back, if it was the last thing he did.

***

There you go, now you know how to break into a car and hotwire one too. It's like info-tainment :D

So Aiden's all messed up (well more than he was before) and has fucked off with Ava, Dougie knows that Aiden lied to him about her, and Max is on a mission to get her back (it's all so very exciting!). What do you think is gonna happen next?

If you like it, pleasecomment, share and use the #RunningWilde hashtag on Twitter.

Fancy your steamy romance more visualWatch the complete first season of my hit web series, Unfamous (as seen in Teen Vogue) click the image below:

Thank you for reading, gorgeous xx

#RunningWilde Ch. 18 | Before the Night Is Through

Vince.jpg

Words like violence

Break the silence

Come crashing in

Into my little world

Painful to me

Pierce right through me

Can't you understand

Oh my little girl

 

-Enjoy the Silence

Anberlin

"Take this and give me one of your guns," Aiden said, thrusting the briefcase into Dani's hand. She pulled a pistol from her back and handed it to him. He tucked it into the holster at his hip, "Your job is to get out of here as quickly as possible. Only kill if you must; leave the rest up to Titan. Once you're back with the others, call Trish and tell her to get inside the panic room immediately, then call Grim and tell him to get my brother. Tell him I don't care how he does it."

"Okay," Dani nodded, punching the alarm button on her iWatch.

Aiden reloaded his clip and looked at Titan, "Dougie and I will go after Lockewood; you two go back the way we came. Tell Driver to start the car and bring it out front, we'll be out soon."

Dani and Titan took off up the escalators and a hail of gunfire sounded instantly. Aiden and Dougie turned towards the tunnel that led to the Northern Line, and crept slowly along the platform with their backs pressed against the tiled walls knowing that more Syndicate soldiers awaited them the moment they turned the corner.

Aiden slowed when he reached Ash. As he stared at her lifeless body lying haphazardly on the dirty concrete, her blood dripping onto the abandoned train tracks, his rage intensified and wrung his heart dry, making sure that all the good was gone. He tightened his grip on his gun and stepped over her, then abandoning his cautiousness, he broke into a sprint with Dougie hot on his heels.

They ran through the tunnels in a blind rage, firing shots at every man they saw, before they even had a chance to see them. Dougie's injuries hindered him from being as fast as he normally was, but he still had the best aim of any mobster worth his salt, so between him and Aiden, bodies fell around them like dominos. 

Stone, Merkz and Baby had entered the building, adding to the slaughter, creating a wall of sound; the morbid songs of the fallen Syndicate soldiers resonated throughout the station accompanied by the bass of bodies hitting the ground and the violent percussion of continuous gunshots.

Once Dougie and Aiden cleared the first tunnel, they hung back in the shadows to reload their weapons.

"Which way do you think they went?" Dougie whispered, swiping his face with the back of his hand before he spat on the dead man at his feet. He'd shot him at close range for the thrill of letting him get too close and was now paying for his fun with a face full of the man's blood.

Aiden double tapped the screen on his iWatch, "They're heading up Catherine Street."

"How the fuck do you know that?"

"Mighty made sonar trackers," he said, waving his watch in the air, "I clipped my tracker button to the girl before I let her go."

"Good thinking. So where are we going?"

"The quickest way to Catherine Street is the front entrance."

"It's bolted shut."

Aiden produced a small hand grenade from his inside pocket, "I know."

"Okay then," Dougie laughed, "I've always wanted to destroy a national landmark."

"It looks like today's your lucky day," he replied, putting the explosive back.

"Why do you even have that?"

Aiden pointed his gun in front of him and started walking, "I was entertaining thought of burying them alive inside this place," he snarled, wishing the opportunity had presented itself.

They headed out to the main corridor, flooded with white light and more of Vince's men posted along it, waiting silently for Dougie and Aiden to reveal themselves.

"Do you think he sent enough?" Dougie jested, cackling manically as he dodged bullets and picked the men off one by one.

Aiden fired upon them with less open enjoyment than his friend, until a stray bullet grazed his cheek. "Fuck!" He winced and touched his hand to his face. Upon feeling the stickiness of his blood wetting his fingers, Aiden pulled out the second pistol he'd taken from Dani and fired both guns, killing the bastard who caught his face first. He dug the balls of his feet into the white linoleum floor to withstand the extra kickback, and fired until both clips were empty and there were only three men left.

The smallest of the three had a clear shot of Aiden. He smirked arrogantly as he aimed for his head, but when he pulled the trigger he was met with only a soft click and no bang. Now it was his turn to curse. "Shit," he hissed as he scrambled to get another cartridge.

Aiden charged at him with his thick, muscular arm raised in the air, roaring like he could breathe fire. He flipped the barrels of his guns into his palms before smashing the heels of the handles into either side the man's head with a brutish force that caused them to break through the skin and knock against his skull. The man squeezed his eyes shut and screamed blue murder as he stumbled backwards. Aiden swung the weapons at him again and gun-bucked him in the mouth. Dougie's gun sounded at the same time Aiden heard the terribly satisfying sound of the man's jaw cracking. 

He groaned gluttonously and smiled. The shooting had been fun, but there was nothing more invigorating than inflicting pain on another person with his bare hands. When he fought like this, he became the weapon, and the heady rush of power and the thrill of the danger belonged to him alone. This man's fate could not have been in worse hands. Aiden had numbed himself to the agony that he knew was ripping him apart inside, so until the adrenaline wore off he would make this inconsequential Syndicate solider feel it for him. He would make him know how it felt to lose everything at the hands of a monster.

 He dropped his guns to the ground and punched the man in his already shattered jaw, enjoying the way the slackened, lumpy flesh crunched and flailed against the flat side of his fist. He then wrapped his thick fingers around his victim's throat and pummelled his stomach until it caved in from lack of breath, and his wheezing sounded like screaming. When his face had turned the deepest shade of puce, Aiden let him go, but before the man had the chance to collapse, he raised his knee in the air and delivered an almighty front kick that would make Leonidas envious, slamming the sole of his boot into his chest so hard that it clapped like thunder and sent the man flying several feet through the air before he crashed to the ground. Aiden wasted no time in chasing him down and stomping him out, revelling in the way the man's body twitched as he finally surrendered to his fate. Whatever little fight he had left in him was waning critically. Aiden didn't give him the chance to get back on his feet, he just kept on laying into him like a deranged animal, growling and snarling with every blow. He swiftly stepped up onto the man's chest and clipped his face with the steel toe of his boot. A violent burst of blood gushed from his mouth as his neck did a sharp one-eighty degree turn and snapped.

He stopped twitching and the dreadful crying sounds he made were silenced, but Aiden didn't stop. He couldn't stop. His rage had consumed him and all he could think about was Keegan being beaten to death by this bastard's boss, and then chopped limb from limb.

He'd promised his little brother that he would take care of him, that he would get him back home safely. He promised him, and now he had broken that promise. What kind of brother was he? Why didn't he just do what he had to do to find the money, pay up and bring him home? What value did maintaining his power have now that he had lost his heart? How was he supposed to look his nephew in the face and eventually explain that the reason that both of his parents were gone was down to him? And Ashleigh; she deserved her death, but she also deserved so much more than what he did to her. If he'd just let them be what they were meant to be, she never would have turned on her family. He sullied everything that was beautiful about them because he was afraid of what loving her did to him. He had put his love of power before her too, and it was quickly becoming clear to him that his selfishness was why nothing that he loved would survive him. 

This was all his fault.

"AIDEN," Dougie shouted over the gunfire.

Something hot and hard slammed into Aiden's abdomen, snapping him out of his torment and forcing him off of the bloodied, broken body beneath his feet. He grabbed his stomach as the searing pain dominated his senses and cried out, dropping to his knees next to his victim. He'd been shot. 

He heard the footsteps of the shooter closing in on him, probably to get a better shot. Gritting his teeth through the pain, Aiden reached down to his ankle and pulled out his Mora knife blade. With a skilful flick of his wrist, he flung it hard and fast, sinking it deep into the man's windpipe.

Dougie fired three bullets into the last man standing, and as his body hit the ground, Aiden noticed how quiet it was. There were no more soldiers to fight.

"You okay, A?" Dougie asked, extending his hand.

Ignoring the throbbing in his gut, Aiden grabbed his guns, clasped Dougie's hand and hoisted himself up.

"Yeah, I'm good."

"I though you got hit."

"I did," he lifted his shirt, that now had a small hole in it, and flicked the lump of lead out of the Teflon. "Thank God I don't leave the house without my vest." It still hurt as much as being shot with lead could hurt, but it would pass in a few days, and the worst to come from it would be a nasty bruise. Aiden dropped his top and glanced at the iWatch screen, "They're still on Catherine Street. Let's move."

They raced up the frozen escalators to see Stone and Baby walking around, making sure that all of the bodies on the ground were dead. The moment they saw Aiden they rushed to his side.

"We was about to come find you man. This ting said you was outside," Stone said furrowing his brow at the watch.

"I put it on the Lockewood girl."

"Oh." Stone cast his eyes over the two men and his smoke blackened lips turned down when he saw the state that Dougie was in. He shook his head, "Yo, where's K. Dot? He with them lot?"

Aiden tensed up, "No."

Stone stood quietly waiting for his leader to say more, and when he didn't, Dougie stepped in. "K. Dot's dead, and so is Ash," he said abruptly like he was ripping off a plaster.

Stone and Baby both looked to Aiden but he wouldn't meet their eyes.

"I'm sorry, bruv," said Stone, stuffing his hands in his pockets, "Whatever you need us to do, say it."

"Go get Ash. She's on platform two."

"Fuck that," Dougie growled, "Let the bitch rot down there. She sold us out."

"Dougie," Aiden warned.

Baby looked at Dougie, "What do you mean she sold us out?"

"She betrayed the family. She joined Vince and told him where Jamie and Trish were. It's a good thing they killed her because if I got a hold of her it would have been much worse."

Aiden clenched his fists at his side, "I don't give a fuck what she did, Ash was one of us and now she's dead, so it's irrelevant. We're not leaving her down there like she never fucking mattered. Go and get her, NOW!" He barged through Stone and Baby, and Dougie followed with a sigh. Aiden looked over his shoulder, "Don't follow me."

"A, c'mon_"

"I've decided that I want to do this alone. Do not follow me."

Dougie frowned at him but from the steely look in Aiden's eyes, he knew better than to push. "Watch out for yourself, okay?" he said with a heavy heart.

Aiden nodded sharply and continued walking.

 

*

 

"I'm taking Ava home. Double the security detail outside of my house -no, triple it."

"All right, me and Max will tail the car."

"No, the Mafia will be expecting that, and we're not out of the woods yet; they'll be looking for me. There's a dummy car down the street, follow that."

"Are you sure that's a good idea?" Max said, glancing at Ava, "We won't be able to protect you."

"I know what I'm doing," Vince stepped away from his hushed conversation with Chris and Max, and put his arm around Ava's stiff shoulders, then guided her over to his silver Jaguar. "I will inform you when we reach."

Ava was silent. She hadn't spoken a word to anyone since they'd fled the station. Her release from being the prisoner of a mob war was slowly setting in, and now that she was away from the threat of any immediate danger, Ava was coming to terms with how messed up this whole ordeal really was. She kept seeing all of who she now knew to be her father's men, outside of the station, and the red haired girl -their bodies falling to the floor, the life draining from their eyes like dementors had jumped out of the night and sucked their souls right out of them, their mouths going slack...and the blood. There had been so much blood. 

How could people be like that? How could they have such a blatant disregard for human life? All of this over some drugs. Drugs!

She hated that Max had killed that girl without any question just because her father told him to. Even worse, that he didn't even look like it bothered him. She knew he was her bodyguard and that sometimes violence was a part of his job, but she'd never actually seen him kill anyone. Max had always been a protector and now in her eyes he was as bad as the rest of them -a stone cold killer. And Uncle Chris, her godfather, another man who'd played a big role in her upbringing; he was a part of it too. Was everybody else in on this big secret except for her? Had her mother known?

What bothered her even more was that she couldn't stop thinking about Aiden. She knew she should, but she didn't know how. He should have been the last thing on her mind, she should hate him. He was worse than her father, Max and Uncle Chris put together.

Her time with Aiden seemed a lot worse now than it had been when she was actually in it. That sadistic thug had kidnapped her, tied her up, drugged her and beat her for his own perverse pleasure, whilst simultaneously twisting the experience by seducing her at the same time. Ava had thought that on some level she had enjoyed it, but now that she was free of him she wasn't so sure. She thought that maybe she had downplayed the seriousness of what had happened to her for her own sanity, because good girls like Ava didn't like those kinds of things...

The weight of the Ben Wa balls, still buried deep inside of her, tugged downwards and she sunk her teeth into her bottom lip to stifle the sound that would contradict her thoughts.

But as bad as he was, Aiden hadn't hesitated to come to her rescue when the red head attacked her, and when the shots were fired outside of the station, he'd shoved her down behind him to keep her safe. If he'd been hurt she didn't know how she would feel about it, but she knew that she wouldn't be happy.

Ava hoped that it wouldn't take too long to get him out of her head, assuming that she would be able to. How did you even get someone like that out of your head? She'd never met anyone like Aiden before; no one as openly cruel, twisted, and yet so very, very complicated; no one as real as him. Nothing in her life had ever been as real as him. Aiden had never been anything but the truth, and that was more than she could say for the men around her.

"Get in the car, quickly Ava-Marie. Our window is closing and the police will be here soon so we need to make it like we never were." Vince closed the door behind her then walked over to the driver's side, gripped the handle of the car door and braced himself. He was finally going to be alone with his daughter and he wasn't sure what to say to her. Now she knew the truth, knowing Ava, she would only want to know more, but he wasn't entirely ready to tell her more. He wasn't ready to stop being her hero.

Chris raised his eyebrow, "Vinny, you all right?"

"Of course." He laughed at himself; he was Vince Lockewood, he wasn't afraid of anyone, and yet here he was afraid to face his little girl. The rules have a way of changing when you love someone.

Suddenly a loud bang startled the city and shook the ground. They all looked over at the station to see thick clouds of smoke cascading towards the sky as clouds of dust and debris rained down. Tyres screeched against the tarmac, horns blared, alarms sounded and the few people wandering the streets gasped and screamed.

"Fuckin' 'ell Vinny, get out of here," Chris yelled.

Vince opened the door and jumped in the car, his ice blue eyes widening and paling to the colour of his pallid white skin. "Put on your..." he looked over and Ava's seatbelt was already on and her eyes were as wide as his. "Never mind." He rammed the key in the ignition they pulled off down the road, making sure to keep within the speed limit so that they didn't look too suspicious. Once they were out of the area he would go faster.

"Are you okay?" Ava held onto her seat and stared out of the wind shield, pulling her bottom lip into her mouth and biting down because she wanted to say how she felt but feared that if she opened her mouth to talk now that she would scream. "Ava-Marie, I am talking to you."

"I heard you!"

Vince gripped the steering wheel, "I understand that this has been a frightening ordeal for you, but I am still your father, and you will show me some goddamn respect."

"Or what, Dad?"

"We'll talk about this when we get home," he said tightly.

"Oh you bet we will. You are going to stop lying to me. You are going to tell me everything."

"I will tell you only what you need to know."

"No Dad, you do not get to keep anymore secrets. It's because of your secrets that I ended up with that man in the first place."

"I was trying to keep you safe."

"You were trying to keep me in the dark!"

He looked over at her, "Because the last thing I wanted was for you to be a part of all of this."

"But that's the thing, I am. I always have been, no matter how you try to dress it up."

"No Ava, you're not," he shook his head and placed his hand on top of hers, "You're good. You're so, so good. You don't belong in this world." Ava snatched her hand away and folded her arms. "Darling, I do this for you, so that you can have a great life, but I never wanted my life for you."

"Saying that you do this for me makes it even worse," she sneered. "If these are the kinds of things that you do for me then I want you to stop it. I want you to stop hurting people, I want you to stop making other people hurt people, and I want you to stop selling substances that make people hurt themselves. Just stop."

"I can't just stop, Ava. It doesn't work like that." He sighed, "See this is another reason why I didn't want you to know. I knew you wouldn't understand."

Ava closed her eyes. "What I don't understand," she said balling her hands up into fists and pressing them against her ribs. She was about to cut her chest open and was trying her hardest to keep everything from spilling out. She took a deep breath, "What I don't understand...is why you killed my mother."

The traffic light turned red and Vince pressed his foot down on the brakes. This is what he'd been afraid of.  

"You need to say something, Dad," she said squeezing her eyes tighter, "Please, say something, because I'm not sure if I can ever look at you again."

Heat began to build behind Vince's eyes and he looked out of the window. He dragged his tongue across his lip and blinked back his tears. "I don't quite know what you want me to say."

"Tell me it's not true."

"You said you wanted me to stop lying to you."

Ava unclenched her fists and her body sagged forward. Everything began to spill out of her and she hadn't the strength to keep it in any longer. She was so tired of crying. "You're a bad person," she whispered.

Vince turned to Ava and took her forlorn face in his hands, "No baby, don't say that," he pleaded. "Those people I saved you from, those were the bad people, not me. I'm still your Dad, Ava."

She opened her eyes and Vince could see her heart breaking. "You're the same, the only difference is that they didn't lie to me, you did."

"Ava, no," he kissed her forehead desperately. She pushed him away

"Did you even love her?"

Vince slammed his fist against the dashboard, "OF COURSE I DID!" Ava jumped. Vince settled back into his seat and closed his eyes, "It was your mother who didn't love me."

"That's not true."

"I wish it wasn't. I loved her so much, maybe too much." The traffic light turned amber and he placed his hands back on the steering wheel. "When I found out that she was having an affair, I just...I lost it."

"Oh my God," Ava dropped her head into her hands, "You're a monster!"

"And now I've lost you," he concluded morbidly.

"You killed my mother. All of this time I thought that she committed suicide; that's what you told me, that's what I had to live with. I used to drive myself mad wondering why she would want leave us, why we weren't enough for her to want to keep living, but it wasn't us, it was you. You make me sick. She shouldn't be dead, you should!"

The light turned green and Vince stomped on the accelerator. As he made it to the cross section another car came out of nowhere, racing at warp speed and slamming into them so hard that the Jaguar hurtled onto its side. As it flipped, it jumped and it spun, banging into the railings and slamming against the ground. It kept going, rolling and rolling, until it finally came to a stop half a mile down the road wrapped around a lamppost, laying on its side with steam rising from the engine and Vince crying out, "AVAAAAAAAAA!"


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#RunningWilde Ch. 17 | Russian Roulette

addiction atg.png

I'm taking it slow

Feeding my flame

Shuffling the cards of your game

And just in time

In the right place

Suddenly I will play my ace

 -Eyes on Fire

Blue Foundation

Vince looked down at the fallen Siren, shook his head and tutted, “What a waste. She was so…” his glacial eyes flicked up to Aiden and he licked his lips, “Gifted.”

Aiden finally tore his eyes away from the only woman he’d ever loved and looked back at Vince, his stare unwavering and empty as if something had died and gone up in smoke inside of him; like that part of him that loved her so devastatingly, never existed. He turned his back on his enemy and unclipped the tracker button from his jacket, then walked back to Ava’s side. Out of all of the people on his end of the platform, she was the one who looked the most mortified by Ash’s sudden death; her hazel eyes were glazed with horror and her ruined lips were parted, expelling short, sharp, panicked breaths. She had seen more loss than she deserved to on this night…it was a shame that it wouldn’t be the last. Dani and Titan brewed with solemn rage; they looked the way that Aiden felt but wasn’t so inclined to show in front of his enemy.

“All right, let’s speed this along. I have other business to attend to,” he snapped. His irritation wasn’t so easily disguised.

Vince smirked sardonically, “Aren’t you going to get angry? You just lost your girlfriend.”

“A traitor is of no loss to me.”

“How quick you change your tune. Even my men on the top floor heard you cry out for her when Max shot her.”

Aiden looked at Max, “I wanted the satisfaction of doing it myself.”

“But you had the chance to do so and you didn’t.”

“You snooze, you lose,” Aiden shrugged and placed his hand and the top of Ava’s spine, his black eyes still watching Max. Slowly, he began to draw his touch down the centre of Ava’s back, taking satisfaction in the way that her muscles unlocked themselves from her tense stature as he moved lower. The muscle in Max’s jaw flickered. Aiden smirked at him, “Make no mistake, Ashleigh didn’t defy me because of my treatment of her. It was my treatment of your daughter that she wasn’t so fond of.” Discreetly, Aiden slipped his fingers into the waistband of Ava’s jeans and pinned the tracker to the outside then pulled the hem of her tank top over it. Ava’s spine straightened abruptly at the brief skin on skin contact. Aiden licked his lips and stood closer to her, “She loved me and didn’t like that Ava-Marie had taken such a shine to me. She probably hated it more than you do.”

Max narrowed his eyes at Aiden; he knew that the comment wasn’t made to antagonise Vince alone. He contemplated shooting Ash again just to see her body jump the way Ava’s did at her tyrant’s touch. It wouldn’t look as alive, but he knew it would piss Aiden off, even though he was concealing it so well.

Vince’s jaw tightened and his clear blue eyes fell upon his daughter’s blushing face as the sounds that she made for Aiden the first night he took her, replayed in his mind. “Deal or no deal, Michaels; if you so much as speak about or touch my daughter in that way again, I will kill you myself.”

“Oh, I’d like to see you try.”

“Keep pushing my buttons and it will be the last thing you see. Send my daughter.”

“Gladly,” Aiden smirked tightly and ushered Ava forward. “Go on then.”

She took a step forward then looked back at him, knowing that if she didn’t say anything now that they would never have their goodbye. She looked from Aiden, to her father, and then back to Aiden, and retraced her steps. She tilted her head to look up into his face.

“Ava-Marie, I told you to go,” he barked. Ava flinched but didn’t back away. Instead she reached up to touch his face. Aiden’s eyes widened and he caught her hand before she could make contact. “What are you doing?” he hissed through his teeth, knowing that they now held the complete attention of every single person in the room.

“I don’t know,” she whispered, staring at him like she wished that he could tell her the answer. Like she wished he could explain why she wasn’t ready to leave him when it was clearly the best thing for her.

“Ava?” Vince called.

Aiden dropped her hand and lowered his voice, “You need to go.”

“Aren’t you going to say goodbye?”

“No,” he said sternly.

Ava frowned, “But I’ll never see you again.”

“What does it matter? You’re free now.”

“I know what freedom feels like,” she looked at him pointedly, as the memory of the relief that came at the expense of his hand swatting her backside plagued her mind. She shifted even closer to him; “And this is not it.” Aiden swallowed and pressed his open palm against his leg. He understood why she didn’t want to go; a part of her belonged to him, that untapped part that drove her to give into his lust-stricken desires. He now had no doubt in his mind that she would have made the perfect sub. He now had no doubt in his mind that he would have ruined her beyond repair.

“AVA!” Vince bellowed from the other side of the platform.

“Maybe in another life,” she said, knowing that their story was not meant to end this way but that circumstances left them no choice. “Goodbye, Aiden.”

He nodded but kept his lips sealed. It was such a brazen thing to pull in front of her father, and dually messed up because of the settings -Ash lying dead just a few feet away on the platform of an abandoned underground station -but then Aiden and Ava had never had the luxury of the perfect setting. Everything was badly timed and cloaked in the chaotic darkness of the criminal underworld, so perhaps Ava had been so bold because she had just come to accept that that was the way things were with them –a disaster.

She began to walk away from him. Each step felt heavy and laboured, and the further she got, the less at ease she felt. She knew what kind of monster Aiden Michael’s was; he’d been that way since she’d met him, but up until three days ago she had no idea what kind of monster her father was. He’d just ordered Max to shoot a young woman in cold blood, right in front of her eyes. He hadn’t even given her a chance to get used to the fact that the man who raised her, was a murderous, traitorous criminal, who had done nothing but lie to her, her whole life, in the hopes that he could keep her wrapped up in his carefully crafted bubble of falsities, never knowing of the terrible things that he’d done, all the while pressuring her to be his perfect little princess, his star child, the one who had to bear the weight of never stepping out of line -of being the good in a world of untold evil.

Her stomach turned as she reached the halfway point of the platform; the pool of Ash’s blood made her sick. The air smelt like gun powder, burning flesh, and she was sure that she could smell other bodily functions. She’d heard about that happening when you died; that everything, including your soul, left your body. She held her breath and stole a look at the tragic corpse of red, white and black. What an awful way to die. And if what Aiden said was true, that this young woman had gone rouge all because she loved him, it made the tragedy all the worse, because not only was she dead, she was alone, and Ava thought that to be worse than anything else. Other people would find it odd for Ava to take pity on a woman who had treated her with such contempt, but Ava was good and Ava was kind. She knew that even the most terrible of monsters deserved to be shown compassion, even when they didn’t deserve it –perhaps especially then.

She looked up at her father. His blue eyes were cold and steely, but a warm smile wavered across his thin lips. She couldn’t bring herself to smile back at him yet. Too much had happened and there was far too much explaining to do before she could forgive him. She believed that it could be a while before she smiled at him again.

Whenshe got a quarter of the way, Max rushed out and came for her without being instructed to do so, stepping to her back and guarding her body with his the rest of the way, in case the Diamond Mafia changed their mind about letting her go at the last minute. He put himself as close to her as he could without it seeming like he was doing anything more than his job. “Are you okay?” he whispered. Ava nodded but fresh tears were gathering along her waterline. He wanted to hold her, and if they were alone he had no doubt that he would -but they weren’t. Although he had Ava back with him she was still not his to touch like that, and she would never be, so as usual he suppressed his urges and kept the words he wished he could say to her hidden away and burning beneath his tongue.

Vince threw his arms around Ava, and although she was still not sure how to handle her father, he was still her father and it felt good not to be at risk of immediate death anymore. To know that the one who held her meant her no harm. She burst into tears andheld him back, crying uncontrollably into his shoulder. “Daddy, I was so scared,” she sobbed, instantly becoming his little girl again. Parents can do that to you. No matter how old you are, or how mad you are at them, the people you love will always be your home. “I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t…I was so scared. Why didn’t you tell me about any of this? I didn’t know anything and I_”

“Sshhh,” he hushed his daughter, holding her tighter, “I’ll explain everything, I promise. You’re safe now and I’m never going to lose you again,” he said fiercely, kissing the top of her head. He held her at arm’s length, pulled his silk handkerchief from his breast pocket and dabbed at her tears, “I want you to go with your Uncle Chris now. I’ll be with you soon.” He kissed her again and handed her over to Chris. They took the exit marked ‘way out’ and once they were out of sight, Vince took a deep breath. Words could not describe how relieved he was to have his little girl back, but the time for rejoicing had to wait. He still had business to handle. He composed his features and looked back at Aiden. “Victor,” he called. One of his men stepped forward and took the large black briefcase from Dougie’s bound hands and popped open the sliver fastenings on either side of the handle. He lifted the lid to show rows upon rows of thick wads of fifty pound notes held together with rubber bands. “Thirty million pounds,” he said to Aiden before Victor snapped the lid shut again and stuffed the briefcase back into Dougie’s hands. Dougie grunted at him.

Aiden furrowed his brow, “We agreed on twenty.”

“Think of the extra ten as an apology,” he said with a wave of his hand.

Aiden raised his chin, “An apology for what?”

“If I am anything, I am a business man, Michaels. After tonight I would prefer that everything be laid to rest. I’m sure you want conflicts between our sides to continue even less than I do. Things are messy enough as it is.”

“You’re trying to buy my peace?”

“I’m giving you an incentive not to provoke me any further, because if you do, we will have a full out war on our hands. A war that you will lose,” he said darkly. The corner of Dougie’s lip twitched. “To sweeten the deal I will even grant you back your former clients.”

“How noble of you,” Aiden sneered.

Vince narrowed his eyes at him, “So it’s settled. We will leave now and Dougie will be instructed to move by Victor once we’re gone, and then we can pretend this whole ordeal never happened.” Aiden looked at Ash and his jaw tightened. “A traitor is of no loss to you,” Vince reminded him with a wry smile. “Once I’m safely away your brother will be deposited at your mother’s house and my men will leave the girl and your nephew alone.” He began to walk backwards towards the exit, “Goodbye Aiden,” he looked at Dougie, “Douglas.” He gave him a stern nod, a silent warning not to fuck this up.

Vince and the rest of his men filed off of the platform and out of sight. Once they reached the top of the escalators Victor nudged Dougie in the back with his gun.

“Start walking,” he grunted. Dougie glared at him and proceeded towards Aiden, “Slowly.”

Dougie looked at him again and slowed his pace. The crusted wounds on his battered mouth split open and filled with fresh blood as they contorted into a malevolent smile as he reached Aiden. He thrust the briefcase at him and the moment it was out of his grasp he reached in and took the pistol at Aiden’s hip. With his hands still bound, he spun on his heel and fired a clean shot at Victor, grinning with deranged contentment as the force of the bullet caused his body to slam into the wall before he collapsed to the floor.

Dougie turned back to Aiden, mumbling manically, his warning muffled by the dirty rag in his mouth as the thundering footsteps of Vince’s soldiers approached. Dougie was rarely flustered about anything, so Aiden knew that it whatever he had to say was going to be bad. Dani yanked his gag down as Titan busied himself cutting through the cable ties around his wrist.

“What is it?” Aiden panicked. He held his breath.

“Keegan’s dead,” Dougie panted, “Vince killed him. He’s been dead this whole time.” And there it was; the reason for what was left of Aiden’s sanity to be kept intact was now gone. Keegan was gone.

Aiden felt time stop.

His crew came in and out of focus as the heat behind his eyes blurred his vision. He was finding it harder to breathe. The air was already so thick with the stench of death and now it was all he could think about. Death. It was suffocating and the room was starting to spin.

He shook his head, “He’s outside of my mum’s house. He’s outside of her house in the car,” his words rushed out of him desperately, “He can’t be dead, I gave Ava back. That was the deal, so he can’t be dead, Doug. Keegan can’t be dead.”

The army of footsteps were getting closer and it was clear that there were more men coming than they had bargained for. Vince knew something like this would happen, so he had made sure to cover his back as best as he could and now Dougie needed to make sure that his friend would be able to cover his. He grabbed Aiden by the shoulders, “A, look at me.” Aiden’s eyes found him and Dougie could see that he was crashing hard and fast, “FUCK! You can’t do this right now. Do you hear that sound? That’s Syndicate soldiers on their way to kill us. If you don’t snap out of it they will and then you will never get Vince back for what he’s done to our family. Whatever you’re feeling I need you to harness it and use it. You need to pull your shit together for your brother.”

“Keegan’s dead,” Aiden said numbly.

Dougie squeezed his eyes shut, “Yes A, he’s dead.” The more he said it, the more unreal it sounded -Keegan couldn’t not exist anymore. People died every day, especially in their line of work, but they’d always been so good with protecting their inner circle, their family, and now in the space of a week both Keegan and Ash were gone. Dougie didn’t want Aiden to be gone too. He gritted his teeth and looked into those lost black eyes. He had to trigger something, fast. “Vince beat him to death then got his men to chop him up and put him in a body bag. They’re going to give your mum her son back in pieces if you don’t snap the fuck out of it. Is that what you want?”

“No.”

“Look at Ashleigh, A. She’s dead too,” he said stepping out of the way and pointing at the redheaded corpse. Dougie didn’t care much for Ash but he knew Aiden did, and right now he needed all of the ammunition he could find to get that monster of a man to come all the way out of Aiden, the monster that had won him his status as the most dangerous and ruthless drug lord alive. “He had her killed right in front of you. Don’t you fucking let him get away with any of this. Don’t let him win.”

Aiden squeezed his eyes shut and made a tight fist, breathing through his teeth so hard that his chest rose and fell like a volcano on the edge of eruption. A vicious growl rumbled in the depths of his stomach and by the time he set it free there was a gun in his hand, hellfire in his eyes, and five more Syndicate soldiers’ dead on the ground.

“Dani, Titan, turn on your trackers, were gonna need back up,” Aiden snarled. He tossed Dougie a full clip to reload the pistol he’d grabbed from him earlier, “Kill every mother fucker in here.”

Dougie smiled.

***

Thank you for reading!

So you've all been waiting for Aiden to find out and now he has. Did he react the way you expected him to? What do you think he's going to do to Vince once he finds him? 

Please leave a comment and recommend it to your friends to read.

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#RunningWilde Ch. 16 | The Siren's Song

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And if the night is burning

I will cover my eyes

For if the dark returns

Then my brothers will die

And as the sky is falling down

It crashed into this lonely town

And with that shadow upon the ground

I hear my people screaming out

-I See Fire

Ed Sheeran

Max led them inside the station. He couldn’t help but do a double take when he saw the pale skinned woman with vibrant hair the colour of blood and fire. That had to be her; the one Vince told him about, the one who took Ava from him -The Siren.

Ash licked her painted lips and winked at him, “Well if it isn’t my favourite mark. Good to see you again, Max. Miss me?” Max narrowed his eyes at her but said nothing. He couldn’t help thinking that he should have known better –she looked like trouble.

He took them through a cold badly lit tunnel with walls lined with thick multi-coloured wires that brought them to another door that led out to the station barriers. There were more of Vince’s men positioned around the place, watching silently with their guns in their hands, which they instantly trained on Aiden the moment they saw him with his gun pressed against Ava’s temple. Ava noticed the way their beady eyes kept flitting from their mark to her, examining her greedily from head to toe like she was lost treasure finally found. A myth turned legend.

She didn’t recognise any of these men, and seeing so many of them under her father’s command only made her feel even more out of whack than before. When Aiden revealed the truth about her father to her, she tried to imagine what this part of his life looked like. She never expected anything like this; an army of men of all shapes, sizes and colours, all strapped with deadly weapons and grim expressions. They still didn’t frighten her as much as Aiden did; they seemed cold and disconnected, like a gang of robots programmed to do as they were told. Aiden was more ferocious in his way –she felt that the first time she saw him standing in the doorway of what was to be her prison. He was hot-blooded and ruthless, a man who made the rules but followed none.

“Tell your men to stand down. All this special attention is making my hand shake,” Aiden said gruffly, as he tapped his finger against the trigger and smirked.

Max held up his hands and gestured to the men to lower their weapons. “I’ve got this under control,” he assured them.

Aiden cocked his eyebrow, “Do you now?”

Max looked at Ava and his heart pulsed a little harder. There was no way in hell that he would allow anyone to hurt her on his watch.  He looked back at Aiden, “Yes.”

He took them down the frozen escalators and the sounds of their feet clanged loudly as they stomped their way deeper underground. They made a turn down the tunnel that led to the Bakerloo Line and walked onto the Southbound platform. It had a vintage feel; vanilla and chocolate coloured tiles, some missing leaving charcoal grey rectangles of cement showing, ruining the pattern that had once seemed so charming. There were faded British Airways adverts for cheap return flights to the Caribbean, and Colgate toothpaste posters from the nineties, torn and peeling on the wall opposite the platform. The ceiling was open with wires dangling from it, flickering lights and dull brass announcement speakers. The benches on the platform were rough with a thick layer of dried grease caked with dust, and the words Aldwych spelt out on the wall, with a Les Miserables poster and an outdated tube map between it.

At the opposite end of the platform stood Vince Lockewood and Chris with a sizeable group of yet more Syndicate soldiers at their backs. Max joined them. He didn’t want to walk away from Ava, not just when he’d just gotten her back. It made his insides wind up into tight knots to leave her alone again, but he had to do as Vince instructed. If Ava was to stand a chance of making it out alive the negotiations had to be carried out with as little conflict as possible. Max didn’t want to do anything to endanger her again, especially not after seeing how Aiden and only four of his crew members had taken out twelve Syndicate soldiers without breaking a sweat. He looked back at Ava standing next to Aiden with the gun at her temple and noted that she looked calmer than she should. She looked a little uneasy, but that was about it. There was something different about her that made Max furrow his brow. Something had changed in her and only time would tell if it was for better or worse.

“Ava?” Vince called peering past Max to look at her. His eyes flashed like blue lightning and he stepped forward when he saw the state his daughter was in. She looked nothing like his sweet little girl; her face and clothes were grubby and bloodied, her skin had lost a little of the sunshine glow that she used to emit whatever the weather, and her eyes didn’t sparkle with wonderment –she looked unsure of everything, like she didn’t believe that there was anything wonderful left. She looked broken. He glared at Aiden, “You cut her?”

“I did a lot of things to her,” Aiden purred, dragging the cool steel barrel of his gun down Ava’s face, over her cheek bones, along the curve of her jaw, against the length of her neck and into the soft hollow of her throat. She couldn’t help the way her stomach tightened as he did so. She had become accustomed to her destruction dancing hand in hand with Aiden’s seduction, but the look of contempt on her father’s face made her reign in her reaction. She held her breath. “But you already knew that.” Aiden removed then gun from her warm skin and slotted it into the holster on his hip. Vince clenched and unclenched his fist.

Ava swallowed and exhaled as quietly as she could. Aiden stole a glance at her, smirked and chuckled under his breath. Her cheeks reddened -he knew. Was she that easy to read or did Aiden know what to look for?

“Get on with it, Michaels,” Vince snapped, “I see my daughter, now where’s the rest of my product?”

Titan stepped in line with Aiden, with Keegan’s duffle bag in his hands. He unzipped it to show multitude of thick, white bricks of uncut cocaine.

“There’s your shit,” Aiden replied tightly, “Where’s K. Dot and Dougie, and where’s my money?”

Vince made a lazy gesture to his soldiers, then from the corridor that led to the Northern line, a man emerged clutching a briefcase with his hands bound together in front of him, dressed head to toe in black, with a black bag to match thrown over his face. Chris snatched the bag off of the man’s head to reveal a gagged Dougie. His right eye was blackened and swollen shut and the dirty rag wrapped around his mouth was stained with dried blood. He wasn’t smiling anymore.

“Here’s Dougie and your money. Once I get my daughter and my product back I will release your brother.”

Aiden stared at his best friend. He’d never seen Dougie beaten up before. In all their years as friends no one had ever gotten close enough or been quick enough to even touch Dougie. It was unsettling. He looked back at Vince, “I want to see my brother,” he brought his hand back to his hip and touched the handle of his gun, “Now.”

“He’s not here.”

“The fuck do you mean he’s not here? We had a deal, you piece of_”

Vince raised his palm, “And that deal still stands. I said I would return your brother to you, and I will, once Ava is safe.”

Aiden’s eyes darkened and he gripped the handle of the gun. “Where is he?” he growled in a voice so malevolent that a chill ran down Ava’s spine.

“My men have him outside of your mother’s house,” Vince smirked, “Once Ava is out of harm’s way I will tell them to release him into your mother’s custody.”

“That’s not how we’re doing this. Bring him back here or_”

“I SEE YOU’RE STILL CONFUSED AS TO HOW THIS WORKS,” he boomed over Aiden, quickly growing tired of the young thug’s insolence. He pushed stray strands of his chestnut hair back into place, “I am the King and you are in my castle. I call the shots, Michaels, not you. You will hand over my daughter and I will hand over your friend. Then and only then will you get your brother back. This is not up for negotiation; this is how it will be done. If you have a problem with that then I can make another call that you’ll like even less.” Vince adjusted his diamond cufflinks with a mordant grin, “There’s another car full of my men outside of a sweet little cottage in Cornwall. I think you know it.”

Aiden stiffened.

Vince’s smile grew, “Now you know why I didn’t come for my daughter right away, I was too busy locating your nephew and Creepy Smile’s sister,” he gestured his head at Dougie, who’s grip on the briefcase was now so tight that his tanned knuckles turned bone white. “I have four people that you hold dear; I think you will be much more co-operative now.”

The tension in the air rippled and grew thicker with the sound of low animalistic growl from Dougie’s throat. Vince looked at him and smiled but Dougie didn’t smile back.

The muscle in Aiden’s jaw pulsed and his bottomless eyes glinted under the flickering lights. He now had a firm grip around his gun and his finger coiled around the trigger. All this time he thought that Vince was stalling to see if he would cave, but he was wrong. Now his nephew and Trish were in danger -the scales tipped even further out of his favour.

“How did you find them?”

“Oh, I had a little help,” Vince took three measured steps forward and extended his hand, “Ashleigh, my dear, why don’t you come and stand where you belong.”

“Ash?” Aiden’s face fell as Ash turned on her heel and sneered at him. “Dougie was right; I should have let him kill you.” He whipped out his gun and aimed it at her. He couldn’t forgive this. He wouldn’t forgive this. “Of all the ways you could have betrayed me, you put Jamie in harm’s way. Are you fucking crazy? He’s a baby.”

Ash pulled out her gun and aimed it back at Aiden, “He’s not my baby,” she shrugged.

“Really bitch?” said Dani, reaching for her gun.

Ash pulled out another gun and aimed it at Dani, but she didn’t take her eyes off of Aiden. “Pull that gun on me and I blow your fingers off faster than you can blink. This is between me and Aiden.” Aiden gestured to Dani to cool it. Dani was good, but Ash was better. If it came to a draw, Ash would win, hands down.

“We’re your family,” he took the safety off of the gun, “You don’t go against family, Ash.”

“What family?” she scoffed, “You just admitted that Dougie wanted to kill me!”

“AND I TOLD HIM NOT TO. I DEFENDED YOU. I PROTECTED YOU. I. WAS. YOUR. FAMILY!” he roared so loud that he foamed at the mouth. He was seething with wild eyes and fire burning through his skin. He let go of Ava and stepped towards Ash.

Ash stepped back and aimed both guns at him, “You didn’t give a shit about me.”

Aiden stormed her and swung his huge arm, knocking both guns from her grasp. Ash gasped as they went flying and clattered onto the train tracks. Aiden grabbed her by the throat and pressed the gun between her eyebrows, pressing the metal in so hard that the ring of the barrel imprinted itself in her skin. His hands began to shake as he looked into the face of the girl he would have given the world for once upon a time. “I fucking loved you.”

“No you didn’t,” she wheezed, trying to breathe through the pressure on her windpipe, “You whored me out to advance your own pocket, even after I begged you not to.” Her milky white skin began to rouge and the veins in her temple pressed against her skin. She clawed at his hand but it made no difference, he was far too strong. “I begged you, Aiden.” Red turned to purple, “That’s not love.” A tear ran down her face and purple turned to blue.

Aiden felt heat behind his eyes and his hand wouldn’t stop shaking. He couldn’t do it. He did love her. He let her go.

Ash doubled over and wheezed violently, bracing her hands on her knees as Aiden turned and walked away. She swiped at her face and straightened up. “I’m better for more than lying down on my back, and Vince understands that,” she shouted at his back. She started to walk backwards over to the side that she now belonged to, “He sees the potential in me that you never could.”

Aiden looked at Dougie and he could see that he was too angry to think the one thing he had the right to say -‘I fucking told you so.’

As Ash made it halfway across the platform before Vince turned to Max and gave him a grim nod. Max drew his weapon and shot Ash in the ankle. Ava jumped and screamed as Ash collapsed to the ground, howling. Her tortured screams echoed down the abandoned tunnels of Aldwych underground till it sounded like a host of sirens being slain all at once.

“Well that was most certainly entertaining to watch,” Vince’s eyes sparkled with amusement. He advanced on her, slowly, stalking towards her like a lion would its prey, “I appreciate what you did for me, my dear, but I don’t like traitors.” He slammed his foot down on her wound, “If you could turn on the people who made you, then who’s to say you wouldn’t do the same to me?”

Ash gritted her teeth as hot tears spilled from her eyes, “You son of a bitch. We had a deal.”

He bent lower and grabbed her by the collar, “I hardly think that spreading your legs and telling me secrets counts as a deal my dear.” He let her go, and stood to the side, “Thank you for your help but that’s all we’ll be needing from you.” He grinned at Aiden, “Max.”

“NO!” Aiden yelled just as Max fired off a round of shots. They hit her in the stomach, in the chest, her shoulder and finally in her head. She writhed around screaming and finally laid dead. Her blood pooled out of her wounds, and flowed out of her red, red mouth, and after a lifetime of thrashing, the waters finally calmed in those disastrous turquoise eyes. Her skin was even paler in death; her constellations of freckles appeared more prominently like dying stars, her hair fiery red hair seemed as if it was burning out with every moment that passed, but despite her ruin, Ash looked like a Shakespearean tragedy.

She was art and Aiden couldn’t look away.


So, Ash is dead. How do you feel about her being gone? 

Hope you enjoyed that chapter. Please leave your comments below (your feedback helps A LOT).

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#RunningWilde Ch. 15 | The Final Hour

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If God's the game that you're playing

Well we must get more acquainted

Because it has to be so lonely

To be the only one who's holy

Playing God

- Paramore

*

Aiden gripped his phone tighter and looked at Ava. Vince was finally requesting his daughter back, and what perfect timing he had chosen because if he had waited for one more second...

Aiden knew that he had no place doing what he had been aching to do since the first time his beautiful captive had cried out for him that night in the bathroom. This phone call was their fates being corrected, putting them back in their opposite corners, away from temptation, away from each other. He took a step away from Ava and a haunting emptiness blacked out the intensity in his obsidian eyes as he became the cold-blooded drug lord of the Diamond Mafia again, swallowing his lust for her that he'd been consumed with only moments earlier.

Ava furrowed her eyebrows, not understanding how only moments ago Aiden had stared at her like he needed to kiss her more than he needed air, and now he was so closed off like he flipped a switch and reverted back to looking at her the way he did when they first met -like she was nothing more than leverage.

She reached for him, "Aiden?"

He gritted his teeth and turned his back on her, "Is he holding up his end of the bargain?" he snapped in a steely tone. He couldn't have her touching him anymore. The wall was back up with steel reinforcements. It was over now. It had to be over now.

Ava immediately dropped her hand and stepped back. Now she understood; everything good between them was quickly being eaten alive by their reality. She was once again only a captive, a means to an end -leverage. She fisted the hem of her t-shirt and yanked down on it, wishing that it was long enough for her to hide herself under. God, how could she be so stupid as to let herself get caught up with him again when she was well aware that Aiden was only holding onto her to trade for his brothers freedom from her father.

"Vince knows the rules of the exchange," the gruff cockney voice sneered, "Be at Aldywych tube station in one hour. Someone will be there to take you and Ava in. You come alone, and don't try any funny business."

"I'm not coming alone," he said with blunt finality.

"Those are the terms."

"Fuck your terms."

"You what?" the voice scoffed.

"I said fuck-your-terms," Aiden growled, "I will be there in one hour with my men and I don't give a fuck about how you or your boss feels about it. I don't take orders."

"You sure you wanna cross Vince again, kid?"

Aiden rolled his eyes, "See this is what you ain't getting; you're a bunch of puffed up business men, playing mobsters, throwing out orders and counting your money in your penthouses while a bunch of knuckleheads do the dirty work down on the ground. You're not the side worth worrying about here. The streets raised us. We're the real thugs. We're the real fucking killers. The real question is," Aiden turned to face Ava with a look so dark that it made her swallow and shrink back, "Is Vince if he's sure he wants to cross me again?"

Aiden hung up.

 

*

 

Chris gritted his teeth in annoyance at the dial tone and put his phone back in his pocket. "That Michaels kid's a right fucking smart ass! Said he's not coming on his own, so we've got to be on our game, otherwise this will get real messy, real fast."

"Don't worry about it. The Syndicate outnumbers the Diamond Mafia's people five to one, and he's meeting us on our turf, plus," Vince grinned wryly as he sauntered over to the corner of the room where Max stood with his arm extended, pointing a gun at the silent figure dressed in black, with a bag over his head. Vince yanked the bag off, "We've got Dougie Monroe." He smiled at Max, "Good job, Yang."

Max gave a sharp nod, "Thanks boss."

"I'll be honest, Max, I didn't think you could do it," Chris admitted, inspecting Dougie from a distance. Even gagged and bound, with a gun pointed at his head, Dougie still made him uneasy. He was so calm, too calm, like he knew something that they didn't. "The guy gives me the creeps."

Dougie's eyes crinkled at the corners. He was smiling now and his full attention was on Chris.

"Neither did I," Vince said, kneeling down to get on eye level with Dougie. Dougie didn't flinch or shift, he just continued to stare at Chris, watching him avoid making eye contact with him and occasionally pacing, almost as if he was trying to walk out of Dougie's line of sight.

Max's jaw tightened at their admissions. "It's a good thing you trained me so well," he said evenly. He had hoped that Vince had sent him after Dougie because he thought he was the only solider who could take him, but now he realised that Vince had expected him to fail. If you failed when you went after Dougie Monroe, it would be the last thing you did. He looked down at his boss.

"Indeed." Vince looked back up at Max with a blank expression, "Lord knows if you made even the slightest mistake you'd be dead." His icy blue eyes flashed and Max wondered who would have administered his death had he failed; Dougie or his boss. Max turned his focus back to training his gun on Dougie. He lost Ava-Marie to the deadliest drug cartel in South London; Vince would never let him fail again.

Vince grabbed Dougie's face, forcing him to shift his focus. "It appears I've gotten your teams notoriety levels wrong. I underestimated Michaels and overestimated you, because he has my daughter and you got captured by one of my soldiers. Not what I was expecting at all." He hooked his fingers under the dirty rag used to gag Dougie and tugged it down roughly. Dougie's smile grew wider, showing two rows of gleaming white teeth. "Now when we make the exchange tonight you will walk to Aiden with the thirty million in tow -I added a bit extra seeing as I killed his brother."

Dougie stopped smiling. His rage set his veins alight, spawning deadly imaginings of the many twisted and depraved ways that he would kill every man in this room, in the darkest part of his mind. Keegan was dead. That was his family. That was his heart. They may not have been blood related but K. Dot meant as much to Dougie as Trish did. He was as much Dougie's little brother as he was Aiden's. God, Aiden -Keegan was his world. Everything he did, he did it for his little brother and now Keegan's gone. Fuck the room, Dougie would kill everyone in the fucking building.

"You killed him?" Dougie asked quietly. He didn't miss the way Chris flinched or the way Yang gripped the handle of his gun a little tighter when he spoke.

Vince was the only one who appeared unaffected; he cocked his eyebrow, "That's what I said, isn't it?"

So that was why Vince wanted Dougie -after killing Keegan he had no leverage left to get his daughter back. Dougie's bound hands clenched into a fist behind his back and now he was really looking at Vince, studying every feature from those icy blue eyes to his smug mouth -he would enjoy watching his eyes glaze over and his mouth fall slack once he killed him. He'd kill Chris next, just because he enjoyed how frightened he was of him and it would make for good entertainment, and he'd save Yang for last because it would make for good sport.

Vince released Dougie; he knew he had his full attention now. "You will not say anything to Michaels about his brother until my daughter is out of the building. She had no knowledge of any of this," he dropped his gaze to his wedding ring, "She's good." Vince got to his feet and slipped his hand into his pocket, "That is the only way you will walk out of there alive."

 "We will be the only ones who walk out of there alive." Dougie looked around the room at each of them. His lip quirked up at the corner, "You can put my gag back on now."

The unsettling feeling that had spooked Chris took root inside of Vince, but he kept his expression neutral. Maybe releasing Dougie was not the best idea, but he was the only leverage that Vince had to get his daughter back; he couldn't screw that up again. He dragged the gag back over Dougie's mouth. At least now the smile was gone, but that uncanny happiness was still in those light brown eyes.

 

*

 

One am in London. Synonymous to the city that never sleeps across the Atlantic, the city still buzzed beneath the moonlight, with every star lost to the skies, clouded over with a haze of pollution and outshone by the glare of the electric circus beneath it. The air smelt faintly of factory fumes, a smell you begun to notice less and less the more time you spent there, mixed with alcohol, cigarettes, fast food, the North-East winds, and the occasional burst of perfume from a fragrant passer-by. It wasn't as noisy as it was during the day, as many folks had already turned in and the trains had stopped running since midnight, but the buses still rumbled through the traffic lights. Bars, clubs and pubs were in full swing, even though it was a weekday, and students, creatives, estate agents, bankers, general over-timers, hookers and homeless people still roamed the streets, along with the criminals.

The Diamond Mafia pulled up in an unmarked black SUV down one of the city's side roads. Driver shut off the headlights but kept the car running as Mighty, Stone, Ash and Aiden piled out of the vehicle, head to toe in black, with concealed weapons in every available crevice. A second identical SUV pulled up behind them and out came Titan, Merkz, Dani and Baby -some of Aiden's most capable soldiers.

Aiden walked to the boot of his SUV and waited for his crew to assemble around him. He nodded to Stone, who he put in charge of the soldiers.

"A'ight, boom. We wanna make this as quick and easy as possible," Stone grunted, "Get in, get the mandem and the guap, and get the fuck out. Lockewood took Dougie, so he's probably got some next fuckery up his sleeve, so all you man need to watch your back. Me, Titan, Dani and Ash will follow Aiden into the station. Merkz and Baby, you lot will stay here with Mighty and Driver, keeping tabs on us in case shit goes left and we need back up."

Mighty stepped forward with a duffle bag in his hand and his blue eyes sparkling with excitement. He opened it up and pulled out a small button sized device, "Each of you will have one of these little wonders pinned to you so we can track where you are. You'll be deep underground, so I can't use the usual trackers as the concrete and steel will block the signal. This is the next best thing." He began to pin one to each members' jacket. "It works sort of like a sonar device; it emits electromagnetic waves that will bounce off of your surroundings. The frequency of the vibrations will give us an idea of where you are, should we need to come find you."

"How are we meant to see each other?" Baby piped up. Mighty grinned at her as if he was waiting for someone to ask. Ash rolled her eyes as he enthusiastically dipped into the duffle bag again.

"With these," he handed Baby another device.

She gasped, "No way, an iWatch! Mighty, how did you get these?"

"I know a guy," he shrugged, trying to make it pass as cool and casual, but failing. He reached for the watch and began to fasten it around her wrist excitedly, "Well, it's not exactly an iWatch; it's a prototype that I've fiddled with. Apple created the frame but I modified them to sync with the sonar trackers." He handed one out to everyone else. "At first glance they will seem like iWatches. They display the time, but the app icons are just for show so it looks passable, but," he returned to Baby and held up her wrist for the others to see, "If you double click this button on the side...Boss, do you mind turning on your tracker?" He glanced at Aiden, "Just twist the top of it until you hear a little click." Aiden did as Mighty requested. "Thanks! Right, as I was saying, you double click the button on the side and it turns into a screen." He double clicked Baby's watch and a soft green glow pulsated inside of a black background, outlining the shape of Aiden's frame and everything around him. "The more trackers that are on, the more split screens you will get, which is why for now only the A team need to have theirs on." He said nodding at Aiden and the lieutenants. "If you want to focus on a particular person all you have to do is tap the screen in the area of their split screen and it will go full screen. To return to the split screens, double tap it. As you can see there is a second button on the side," he pointed at the second button on the side of the modified iWatch, "That is the alarm button. I didn't want to risk you all having to wear wires, so if you're in trouble, just press it and it'll send an alert to my laptop; everybody good with that?" The crew nodded. "Good. Looks like we're all set to go," he clapped.

Aiden bit down on his back teeth and pulled out a Mora knife blade from a hidden sheath under his jacket. His footsteps sounded heavy as he walked over to the boot of the SUV they arrived in. He opened the boot.

Grimy street lights illuminated the darkness, making Ava blink and squint until her red rimmed eyes adjusted. She'd been gagged, bound and thrown into the back of the car, trapped in the dark, unable to move and crying quietly, warned not to make a sound. Aiden reached inside and slipped the blade under the French bowline knot tied nylon rope that he'd grabbed off of the wall of his play room, along with the leather strapped ball gag he used to keep her quiet.

Once they returned upstairs, they shared a silent, twisted farewell as he got her ready for transportation, taking his time to dress and bind her, making sure that each knot was perfect. Ava hadn't struggled against him or complained, she just sat and watched as his fingers meticulously crafted the intricate knots, holding her breath, gritting her teeth and squeezing her thighs together each time his warm, rough hands brushed her skin. He'd left the Ben Wa balls inside of her. She'd considered asking Aiden to take them out, but she thought she'd miss the heavy thrumming ache in her core -it was the only feeling of them that she could hold onto since he shut off from her.

Aiden noted that Ava hadn't asked him to remove them. She wasn't as good as she thought she was. He was glad that she didn't. With her wrists and ankles bound together, and the leather strapped ball gag to go, putting his hand between her legs into that warm, wet place, and pulling the slick silver balls out of her, witnessing what he knew would be a spectacular reaction, would have been more than he could cope with.

He pursed his lips and yanked the blade against his binding of choice so violently that they sprung apart and frayed.

Ava watched Aiden silently as he went through the motions of enabling her to move again. He wouldn't make eye contact with her, not since he'd brought her back upstairs and informed the rest of his crew that she was being given back to her father. He refused to meet her eyes or say more to her than he needed to as he put her clothes back on and then escorted her to the underground garage. Everything he did felt so mechanical. His motions lacked the intensity he had brought to her before. He was wound up so tightly, and his eyes were so painstakingly empty that she almost believed that she'd imagined everything. It bothered her that he was shutting her out. It bothered her even more that she cared that he was. His intensity had made him almost bearable before; it had been the thing to make her forget herself within those heightened moments, but now she just felt like a piece of cargo been herded from one hell to another. She wasn't sure how she was meant to feel about being handed over. Did she want to be free again? Sure. Did she want to be away from Aiden? Well, that she didn't know yet, but once they met with her father, if all went well, she knew that she would never see him again. A lump rose in her throat.

Aiden let his eyes rise as high as the hollow of her throat. He licked his lips; "I'm going to remove your gag now. If you scream or cause any sort of fuss before I get you back to your father you will regret it. Do you understand me?"

Ava didn't respond. She was angry too with him to be compliant. What almost happened under the dark pulsating lights of his play room wasn't nothing. Ever since Ava came into contact with Aiden, everything that happened between them had inexplicably felt like something, so how could he just pass her over like this? He didn't even say goodbye, or hold her one last time, or even attempt to see if fireworks to rival Disneyland's would spark if their lips touched. God, she bet they could blow Disney out of the water.

Maybe it was for the best. They had no business feeling that thing that they felt for each other -whatever it was. Perhaps it was better to just shut down and pretend it didn't matter, to accept that it was just a fleeting moment in time that would stay there, and never bloom with the miraculousness of a rose that grew in concrete. It was an overly tortured romantic notion to think that someway, somehow, they would survive this. It was just an almost kiss.

"Do you understand?" Aiden repeated.

Why wouldn't he look at her? She needed him to. She needed to see if it was just her caught up in this little bubble of something by herself -it would make it easier for her to cut off her emotions too. His standoffishness had her in limbo and she couldn't bear to go on with this uncertainty any longer. Ava decided that she would provoke him. She would make him look at her. She knew how he hated when she didn't respond, so this was her trade-off; he looked at her and she would answer.

Aiden gritted his teeth. They were wasting time that they didn't have because this insufferable girl wouldn't answer, and he couldn't risk taking off her gag in case she screamed -that would throw everything off -and he couldn't leave her gag on because it would look even more suspicious (and a little kinky) walking with a ball-gagged woman through the heart of London into an abandoned station. "Ava," he growled.

Ava frowned. Aiden never called her by the shortened version of her name, and while she didn't like being called by her full name, she liked the way Aiden said it. It sounded different when it came from his mouth. It was their thing, but he was only pushing her away more. She felt heat behind her eyes and the lump in her throat swell.

"Do not make me ask you again_"

"We don't have time for this." Aiden was shoved out of the way and suddenly the beautiful redhead with the freckled alabaster skin was hovering over Ava. She leaned in close and grabbed Ava by the collar of the white dress, "Listen here, bitch," she hissed with vivid turquoise eyes that reminded Ava of waves crashing violently against the rocks, "We need to get our people back and the only way we can do that is with you returned to your dad, so I'm going to pull off your gag and if you make so much as a peep I will slap the shit out of you, are we clear?" Ava nodded frantically. This girl didn't look like she was playing. In fact it looked like she was itching to strike Ava.

Ash's red lips quirked up in a nasty mean girl smirk, "Good." She pulled her own blade from a sheath in the back of her trousers and slid it haphazardly under the leather strap that lay against Ava's cheek.

The blade sliced Ava's skin as it tore through the thick leather. She cried out in agony as the small red ball fell out of her mouth, and then again as Ash's hand collided with her face.

"Shut up!"

Red droplets splattered onto Ava's tank top and her once flawless cinnamon skin now had a soon to be scar to match the ones on her wrist, and a busted lip.

Aiden's fists curled around the back of Ash neck as he yanked back her and slammed her against the wall. "What the fuck are you doing?" he boomed.

"My job," she screamed back, shoving him off.

He slammed his palm against the wall next to her head, "You didn't need to do that."

"Well you weren't getting anywhere, and we have shit to do, so I sped up the process. The gag is off and she's agreed not to make any more noise, so we can go now?"

"Look at what you did her face."

Ash looked at the blood running down Ava's pretty face and smiled, "What about it?"

He gritted his teeth and stepped back from her. She was goading him and right now he was considering giving in. "This is Vince Lockewood's kid. We can't bring her to him like this!"

"Do you think Dougie and Keegan are gonna look as pretty as a picture when Lockewood hands them over? She's our prisoner, Aiden."

"She is my prisoner," he growled dangerously, his black eyes glinting like onyx under the streetlights, "Keep your hands off of her." He stormed over to the boot and scooped Ava up into his arms, holding her tightly against his chest before he set her down. He finally looked at her.

Ava's heart stopped and her rattling sobs hitched in her chest. Fuck. He was far too much to behold; this deeply tormented man with a tainted soul and heavily tarnished heart of gold. Everything was in his eyes; it was like staring into the endlessness of the universe and seeing God for the first time.

 Aiden scanned her face, the skin between his thick dark eyebrows creasing as he frowned at the small cut. He lifted his hand to wipe the blood away but as he came close to touching her face his hand slowed and he dropped it back to his side. He broke eye contact again. Ava wanted to grab his hand and tell him that it was okay, that she understood why he couldn't go there with her any more, but it would be a lie. It wasn't okay. Aiden would continue to fight what he felt and in a few minutes she would be back with her father and that would be the end of everything.

"Thank you," she whispered loud enough for only him to hear.

Aiden didn't make any sign of acknowledging her. "Ash, Titan, you're in front, I'll follow behind with Ava, and Dani, you cover my back."

 

*

 

They reached the back entrance of Aldwych train station where two of Vince's men were posed out front. The largest one stepped forward, before the group dressed head to toe in black reached them, and held out his hands. "That's close enough." He whistled through his teeth and four more Syndicate soldiers emerged from the back entrance and surrounded the group. "Take their weapons," he commanded. He pointed at Aiden, "You, with the girl, come to the front."

Aiden cocked his eyebrow at the head guard. "You're not taking anybody's weapons," he whipped his Weihrauch Silver Star pistol out and put it to Ava's temple. She yelped as the coolness of the steel pressed into her skin. Aiden had never pointed a gun at her before, and she'd like to believe that this was just for show and that he wouldn't shoot her, but in truth she had absolutely no idea of the horrors that he was capable of. Her legs began to shake. "Now back the fuck up and let us through."

"Nice try," the big guard laughed, "Hand over your weapons." He pulled out his gun and the rest of his men followed suit. The Diamond Mafia mirrored their action and soft clicking sounds rattled the air as they all prepared to fire.

Ava stiffened.

"It's a sad day when the security detail thinks they can fuck with me." Aiden shifted the barrel of his gun from Ava's temple and fired a clean shot right between the eyebrows of the big guards head.

Ava screamed.

Aiden shoved her behind him, "Get down and stay down," he bellowed as his crew circled around her and let off shots at the surrounding guards. She cowered behind his legs as gunshots, howls and lifeless bodies came crashing to the ground, shaking the earth and shattering the silence of the night. More men came barrelling through the door. She screamed again and covered her ears, squeezing her eyes shut so that she couldn't see the blood and the soulless eyes of the dead staring at her from beyond the black clad legs. She thought about running, but with the bullets flying she wasn't sure it was a good idea. Hidden behind Aiden seemed to be the safest place. For the first time in her life, Ava found herself praying.

The ground continued to quake as more bodies fell, one after the other, not one of them dressed head to toe in black.

"MICHEALS, ENOUGH!" A bullet raced through the air and skimmed past Aiden's head.

Ava's eyes popped open, "Max?" She peered around Aiden's legs and there was her best friend and protector, staring down the barrel of his hand gun aimed at the man who stole her from him.

Aiden raised his hand and signalled to his crew to hold fire. If Vince saw fit to send Yang out then that meant that he wasn't prepared to waste anymore of his soldiers' lives.

"Where's Ava?" Max growled fiercely, his sharp almond shaped eyes darting across the bodies at the Diamond Mafia's feet, hoping that he wouldn't find her in the wreckage.

Aiden narrowed his eyes at Yang and cocked his head to the side, "She's right here." He reached down and hooked his arm under hers, hoisting her to her feet.

Max's eyes widened at the sight of her, his expression a mixture of relief, remorse and rage. Her clothes were dirty, her lips was busted and swelling with a deep purple bruise forming around it, her face was bleeding and her wrists were red and scabbing over. He wanted to run to her, sweep her up into his arms and never let her go, but he knew that until Aiden released her that that could never happen, and with the high risk trade-off waiting to commence below, there was a chance that it never would. Max tightened his grip on his gun. "Hand her over," he snarled.

"That's not how this goes," Aiden held her tighter and pulled her closer to his side. "First I get my people back, then you get the girl. Now, lead the way unless you want to join your friends."

"Lower your weapons."

"No, I don't think I will," Aiden pointed the gun back at Ava, "You lower yours."

Max gritted his teeth and slowly lowered his arm. He already had Ava's abduction on his hands, he wasn't about to risk her death being on them too, not when he was this close to getting her back.

"So the rumours are true," Aiden muttered, surprised by how easily Max conceded. Ash was right; Yang had a thing for the boss's daughter.

"Now you."

"Oh no," Aiden smirked, shaking his head, "They will, but not me. I'm having way too much fun watching you bitch up." The rest of the Mafia lowered their weapons. "That's the best you're going to get lover boy, so let's not waste any more time. You want your girl back and I want my brother and my best friend," he waved his gun at the door, "Let's go."


Right, so Aiden's about to come face to face with Vince Lockewood. So many things could go wrong -isn't it exciting? *claps hands* It's all going down in the next chapter.

We all know Aiden is going to lose his shit, so my question is, what you think is gonna happen to Ava-Marie? 

Hope you enjoyed that chapter. Please leave your comments below (your feedback helps A LOT).

Fancy your steamy romance more visualWatch the complete first season of my hit web series, Unfamous (as seen in Teen Vogue) click the image below:

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#RunningWilde Ch. 14 | Almost...

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Still burning from the heat of your touch,
Know I shouldn’t
But it’s never enough.

-Last Stand

Kwabs

***

Aiden walked down the hall with Ava’s hand in his while she used her other hand to hold down the hem of her t-shirt, wishing that she’d asked for some underwear at the very least before they left the privacy of the bedroom. As they moved wordlessly through the compound she glimpsed the faces of two men, one white with shaggy, dirty blonde hair and glasses, the other black with a beanie and a spliff dangling from his blackened lips, and a woman with red hair and the palest skin Ava had ever seen, seated around a table in a room at the other end of the building, through the glass panels in the door. Ava squinted at the woman.

“I know her,” she muttered, “How do I know her?”

Aiden clenched his jaw as Ash, Mighty and Stone looked up at the sound of Ava’s voice. Ash narrowed her eyes at the two of them. “She works for me,” he said tightly, moving them along a little faster.

As they headed downstairs to the basement, Aiden's breathing slowed. Adrenaline was beginning to bubble up inside of him, expanding and peppering his blood the closer that they got to their destination –the place Ava had no business being with him.

No one else had access to this place, not even the maids, and the only other person who had seen the inside of it aside from Aiden was Ash.

They walked to the very end of the lower hall and stopped in front of a steel door with a sign nailed to it that read ‘Private’, with no handles or hinges, only an aluminium panel to the right of it with a black rectangle in the centre. Aiden pressed his free hand to the panel and waited as a thin, horizontal electric blue line scanned his palm from top to bottom, making digital sounds as it did so. The system beeped and the quiet corridor filled with the intimidating mechanical thud of the three pronged steel deadlock slamming back into place inside of the door. Ava flinched at the sound. The door slid open, metal grinding against metal and cogs groaning as they were forced to wake after hibernating for so long. Aiden tightened his grip on Ava’s hand and pulled her inside. The door immediately shut behind them and the deadbolt slammed back into place, shrouding them in darkness.

Ava’s senses went into overdrive; she felt the strength and heat of Aiden’s restrictive grasp making her hand grow clammier by the second, the chill of the metal floor beneath her bare feet, the scent of metal, concrete and Aiden’s cologne filling her lungs, and the deafening silence that highlighted the sound of their breaths whooshing over her escalating heartbeat. Aiden let go of her hand. She heard his footsteps move away from her and she squeaked finding that she wanted it back. There was an odd comfort to holding his hand -if he was holding her hand she knew where he was.

From the corner of the tiny space, a keypad lit up as the shadow of Aiden’s hand hovered over it. He punched a few buttons and another steel door slid open to reveal a dark room bathed in the mysterious royal blue glow of a pulsating black light.

Aiden took a moment to take in the scene before him then shut his eyes and exhaled. He sauntered inside, his footprints leaving Prada shaped marks in the dusty strip of black carpet that ran up the centre of the room, leading straight to his leather-bound seat at the other end. It had been so long since he’d ventured down here. He took his time running his hands over the myriad of equipment that adorned the walls, navigating around the larger pieces, his fingerprints creating patterns in the dust that rested upon the metals, rubbers, leathers and polished woods. He loved the way they quietly sang to him like a melody from his favourite song, choruses of whispered brushes, sharp clinks, and dull rattles.  

Ava peered into the throbbing darkness trying to focus on Aiden from beyond the threshold, unsure of if she should follow him or not. He seemed so engrossed in whatever forgotten treasures he was rediscovering that it seemed as if her presence had slipped his mind.

She inched closer to the doorway to get a better look and her heart dropped into her stomach. She identified obvious things like whips, chains, handcuffs, ropes, sashes of black satin, masks, vibrators, paddles, canes, two iron cages (one for standing and the other for kneeling), but there were many other instruments she had never seen before. Some were almost pretty in the way they were fashioned; gleaming, swooping silver instruments, some bedazzled with gems, things with beads and others with long swishing tassels. The rest of the unidentifiable equipment was intimidating and unattractive; things forged from metal of a darker, duller kind, studded, with multiple fastenings hanging from them. There were even contraptions hanging from the ceiling, huge things -more wood, more metal, and more fastenings. Ava’s mouth went dry.

“Get on your knees, Ava-Marie.”

Ava’s eyes snapped back to Aiden. He was sitting regally in his large leather-bound chair, with its broad armrests and high back that rose above his head and dipped in the centre creating a befittingly devilish silhouette. He watched her observe his secret world, her expected fear and unexpected intrigue arranging her pretty features into an expression bred in innocence and fragility, and he had to remind himself to stay in control and not let her get to him like she almost did when they were upstairs.

“W-w-what?” Ava had heard Aiden’s instructions loud and clear but the room with the pulsing lights, and the metals, and the polished woods, and the leathers, and the rubbers, and the gems, and the studs, and all of those fastenings, with her calculating captor at the head of it all, sitting on his menacing throne like dark lord, made her want to climb the walls in search of an escape.

“Get on your knees.” Ava shook her head frantically, making her long braids dance around her face and whip her skin. Aiden raised his eyebrow and gracefully rested his forearms along the armrests. “Ava-Marie,” he drew her name out, “I’m almost in a good mood again, so I suggest you stop trying my patience and get on your knees right now before that changes and you really have something to be afraid of.”

Ava wasn’t sure if it was possible for her to be more afraid him than she was at that moment. With all of these eccentric things and Aiden’s bad intentions, nothing good could ever come from being trapped down here in his underground playroom of fetishes and fears.

A lump formed in her throat as she regrettably sunk to the floor and the cool metal of the ground sent a chill through her bones as her knees came into contact with it. She cast her eyes to the floor and the first sob of the day slipped from her lips.

Aiden spread his fingers and subtly gripped the ends of the armrests. He ran his tongue across his teeth; “Crawl to me.”

Another sob burst from her chest as she lowered her upper half and pressed her small hands to the cold hard ground. She moved slowly, wanting to delay her closeness to her tyrant for as long as possible, but Aiden didn’t mind, in fact he enjoyed the way she drew out each movement, and the way her svelte figure shook harder the closer that she came to him. Occasionally her sad eyes would flicker up to him, her tears making them sparkle like precious gems under the glow of the blue lights, their bright colour allowing them to take on sapphire shades, encased in lashes of fine black lace, and her skin… Her skin glowed as the light hit it, the golden cinnamon tone appearing deeper and richer, almost perfect…if it wasn’t for those rings around her wrists. Her t-shirt rode up as she crawled, the material shifting and slipping over the curve of her ass to the dip in her lower back giving Aiden an eye full of her curves.  

Ava reached him with dirty hands, sore knees, and short, sharp breaths. He leant towards her and stroked the top of her head, “Good girl,” he purred. Ava gritted her teeth and jerked her head away from him insolently.

Prisoner or not, she was still the daughter of Vince Lockewood. She had attended the best schools and most esteemed social functions with young royalty, celebrity offspring and trust fund babies -she never particularly enjoyed the pretentiousness of it all, but that didn’t take away from the fact that she wasn’t meant to be crawling around on the dirty ground being ordered around, petted and cajoled like some house pet by some twisted thug.

Aiden grabbed a handful of her hair and made her look up at him. He smiled at her, “Do you not like being my good girl, Ava-Marie?”

“I don’t like being your anything,” she sneered.

Aiden’s lip quirked and he leant in closer, “I beg to differ, Ava-Marie. I think you like it,” he gently pushed stray braids off of her face, “I think you like it very much.” Ava’s breath hitched and her grimace softened as it flitted across his handsome features; features that made it easy for her to forget that as unequivocally beautiful as his exterior was, that he himself was not beautiful -but there was something else there, this thing about him that invited her in and uttered dark promises of something wildly spectacular. He wiped her tears away and touched his damp fingertips to her lips, “Now be my good girl, sit back on your heels and look at the floor.” He withdrew from her and waited. Ava rocked back and lowered her eyes. “Remind me of the number you chose.”

Ava tensed. “Thirty-eight.”

“Manners, Ava-Marie.”

“Thirty-eight, Sir.”

“Thirty-eight,” he hummed, rolling the number around on his tongue, “Thirty-eight punishments or thirty-eight rewards, depending on how well-behaved you are.” And there it was; the catch that she knew was coming. “If you’re good I will put my mouth on you…thirty-eight times…wherever I choose, but if you’re bad…” Aiden licked his lips and gripped the armrests harder, “If you’re bad, I will take any tool I choose off of these walls and I will punish you with it thirty-eight times. Do you understand me, Ava-Marie?”

“No.”

“No?”

Ava’s hands curled up into tight fists that made her nails dig into her palms. “No, I do not understand you.”

“Then let me help you understand.” Aiden lifted her chin with the tip of his index finger. “It seems that it is not enough for your father to take my little brother. Yesterday his soldiers descended on one of my legitimate businesses and smashed it up. He has caused some of my allies to turn against me, and now he is going after my best-friend and has sent Max Yang to do it, so now my interests with The Syndicate have expanded beyond the scope of simply getting my brother back home safely and reuniting him with his eight-month-old son, who -thanks to daddy dearest -no longer has a mother, and has been forced into hiding with my best friend’s sister. Understand that his actions are not only affecting me, he is putting everyone that matters to me in danger over something that could have been avoided had he just stuck to the code and discussed this with me man to man. I will NOT sit back and let any more of my people suffer at his hands or let him even think for one moment that he can get away with fucking with me, so Ava-Marie, right now I want to know about Max Yang and you will tell me everything.” He leant in closer, “Do you understand me now?”

Ava unclenched her fists and dropped her gaze. “Yes Sir,” she whispered.

“Good girl.” Aiden stood up and walked around her kneeling frame slowly and precisely, letting the thud of his footsteps echo off of the walls until he stopped behind her. “Stand up.” Ava got to her feet. Aiden stepped closer to her and slipped one arm around her waist, splaying his fingers across her abdomen and pressing it in gently. Ava whimpered and her knees buckled as the light pressure disturbed the heaviness within her walls -caused by the Ben Wa balls -to intensify. “It aches doesn’t it?” he asked in his guttural baritone. Ava’s cheeks heated up and she was grateful for the scarcity of light so that he couldn’t see her skin turn that pretty colour he liked. He pressed again, “Doesn’t it?”

                “Is this one of your questions?” she said through gritted teeth.

                “It’s a question.”

                “Does it count towards your Max Yang fact finding game?”

                “No, I’m just curious. You make me very…” he pressed down on her harder, forcing her to fall against him as she gasped, then brushed her braids back from the left side of her face and put his lips to her ear, “…Curious.”

                “Curiosity killed the cat.”

                Aiden’s hand slid lower, then one by one he gathered the hem of her t-shirt up in his fingers, “And satisfaction brought it back,” he purred.

                Ava closed her eyes and breathed slow and deep, in through the nose and out through the mouth. “Ask me what you need to ask me, Aiden.”

                The way she spoke his name sounded just as good as it did the night she dreamt of him. “Answer the question,” his fingers came into contact with the golden planes of her flat abdomen and travelled lower still, “Tell me how badly it aches,” he breathed.

Ava bit down on her lip as the feeling flourished, making her walls clutch onto the balls for dear life as her juices came down around them. If she answered him she would tell him that it didn’t ache -ache was too soft a word for the way her body responded to him with his gift inside of her. It was terrible; she couldn’t breathe, her nerves were shot, and she could barely think of anything but release because of the engorged throbbing that resonated from her core.

                “No,” she spun out of his hold and turned to face him, “I’m not playing with you anymore. I am sorry that all of this is happening to you, it sucks, it really does, and I get that you need answers to save the people you love, but you don’t need to toy with me to do it. I hate it. Ask me what you need to ask me and let me be…please.”

                Aiden cocked his head to the side and regarded her, “Why do you hate it?”

                “Ask me_”

                “I’m asking you; why do you hate it?”

                “Because what you are doing to me is wrong!” she cried.

             Aiden closed in on her, his midnight eyes glittering in the dark as he shoved his hands inside the pocket of his suit pants, “Oh it most definitely is, on so many levels, but which of those levels are you referring to, Ava-Marie?”

                Ava backed away, shuffling her feet against the ground until his chair prevented her from moving any further. Her heart hammered against her rig cage, “Does it matter? Wrong is wrong.”

                “Oh, I think it does. Is it wrong because I’m torturing you? Because I take pleasure in doing so? Or is it because deep down you know that you don’t really hate it half as much as you wished you did?” He curled his arm around her slender frame, pinning her arms to her side as he crushed her anatomy against his, and slipped his hand between her legs, “That’s why you’re so wet for me, isn’t it?” Ava cried out in tortured ecstasy and her knees gave way. Aiden let her go. She flopped down into his seat, which seemed drastically larger than she expected it to, giving her room to writhe as she panted and sweated from the short burst of temporary release. “Max Yang let my people take you, so why hasn’t your father killed him yet?” he fired at her.

                “What?”

                “Yang, why is he not dead?”

                “I don’t know.”

                “It was a nice speech but the game is still on Ava-Marie. Thirty-eight still stands,” he warned her. “Why hasn’t Vince killed the idiot that lost his only child?”

                “I don’t know why my father hasn’t taken the life of the boy he raised. He apparently had no problem killing my mother, so this makes as much sense to me as it does to you,” she snapped.

                Aiden paused. “He raised Yang?”

                “…Yes...”

                “Why?”

                “I don’t know…Max was a kid who was having a bad time and my Dad wanted to help,” she shrugged. “I guess even the worst kind of people are capable of goodness when it matters. Everyone’s got a heart, right?” She looked up at him pointedly.

                Aiden furrowed his brow, “Do you really believe that?”

                “Yes.”

                “Why?”

                “Because if I didn’t then I wouldn’t bother trying to ‘save the world’.”

                Aiden pressed his lips together. “And what if you’re wrong?”

                “I’m not,” she said with confident finality.

                They fell into silence and slowly the creases between Aiden’s eyebrows smoothed out. This girl, the daughter of his enemy, was getting to him and he hated it. He hated it as much as she hated it. He was meant to be the one in control, but without even trying Ava had managed to slip between the cracks in his armour and shine her light on the darkest, dustiest corners of his soul. Only a truly beautiful person could find beauty where the rest of the world couldn’t see it.

She didn’t deserve any of this.

She never did.

                Aiden held out his hand. “Stand up, Ava-Marie,” he said quietly.

                “Why?”

                “I said if you were good that you would get a reward, didn’t I?”

Ava’s breath caught in her chest and she shrank away from him. She didn’t know if it was wise to accept his reward, not when he now knew for certain how much she hated how much she wanted him. “It’s fine. You can ask me something else.”

                “No…I can’t.” He twitched his fingers at her, “Come here.”

                Seeing that he wasn’t going to budge (when did he ever?) Ava laid her hand inside of Aiden’s and let him hoist her upright. Aiden wasted no time in cupping her face and pressing his mouth to the hollow behind her ear. Ava’s legs began to shake and he quickly laced his other arm around her waist and held her body firmly against his.

“That was one,” he said softly, tilting his face so that his honey-dipped gravel tone went directly into her ear, “You have thirty-seven left to go. I want you to count each one so I can hear you.” His full lips closed around her earlobe. Ava closed her eyes and breathed deep. “Do you understand me, Ava-Marie?”

She nodded and replied, “Two…”

He kissed the corner of her jaw.

“Three…”

His lips grazed the edge of her jawline and ended with a kiss on her chin.

“Four…”

He kissed the underside of it.

“Five…”

Her neck, the hollow of her throat, her collar bone…

“Six…seven…eight…”

The inside of her elbow, down to her wrist where the veins crisscrossed over each other, the lines in the palm of her hand, each one of her fingertips…

“Fourteen…fifteen…s-six-sixteen…”

He lifted hem of her t-shirt and gripped her hips tightly, lowering himself to his knees so that he could scatter kisses over her navel, from hip bone to hip bone, down and around her thighs and back up again, nipping her with his teeth occasionally because he loved to hear her yelp between her surrendering whimpers, melodic moans and breathy, broken counting.

“Twenty-seven…twenty-eight...twenty-twenty-FUCK!” Her thighs were sticky with her love and the pressure to release was bringing frustrated tears to her eyes because every place Aiden’s soft, skilled mouth landed was never where she wanted him to go. He wouldn’t even touch her there. She was rapidly losing her mind. “Please Sir,” she begged, hoping that the use of his dominant title would sway him to stop torturing her this way.

Aiden’s dark eyes flicked up to her face and he removed his mouth from her inner-thigh, “Count, Ava-Marie.” He returned to full height and kissed her cheek, “You were at twenty-fuck.”

“Thirty,” she grimaced.

“Only eight more to go,” he kissed her other cheek.

“Thirty-one…”

Her forehead, both eyelids, the tip of her nose, her chin, her throat…

“Thirty-five…six…seven...”

Aiden took her face in both hands, tilted it upwards and leaned in slowly.

Their breaths were ragged, their palms were sweaty, their mouths were dry, and they both equally 'hated' what was about to happen because it was never meant to be a part of the plan…up until right then when Aiden decided that he could handle it, just this once -as long as it was only this once. And Ava reasoned that if he wouldn’t kiss her down there, then on her mouth was perfectly fine with her, and plus, it was the last one. It would be over after this...

“Is it okay if I…?” he bumped their noses together gently.

“You’re asking my permission?” she scoffed nervously.

“I am.”

Ava took her bottom lip into her mouth. “…I should say no.”

“You should,” he leant in closer.

Ava’s eyelids grew heavy, “Because you’re a bad man, Aiden Michaels.”

“I’m the worst,” he brushed his Cupid’s bows against hers.

Ava rested her forehead against his and grabbed onto the collar of his shirt. “…So why do I want you to?” she breathed.

Aiden smiled against her lips, “Maybe you’re not as good as you think you are.”

“Maybe you’re right. I really hope you’re not,” she sighed.

“Only one way to find out…”

Aiden’s phone rang severing the ties cultivated in their almost moment.

“Speak,” he growled into the receiver.

“This Michaels?” A gruff, cockney male voice replied.

“Who’s asking?” 

“Mr Lockewood is ready to meet with you. Bring Ava-Marie.”


What are your thoughts on Aiden and Ava almost crossing the line? How do you feel about Vince finally calling to get her back, and what do you think will go down once Aiden discovers that Keegan is dead?

Hope you enjoyed that chapter. Please leave your comments below (your feedback helps A LOT).

Fancy your steamy romance more visualWatch the complete first season of my hit web series, Unfamous (as seen in Teen Vogue) click the image below:

#RunningWilde Ch. 13 | Pandora's Box

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“I brought you something,” Aiden said stoically, offering the small black box to her.

Ava glanced at Aiden’s offering then up at him. Shielding her mouth with her hand she asked, “What is it?” Aiden didn’t reply, he simply continued to stand before her with his gift to her extended before him and a look of something illicit brewing in his eyes.  Ava knew then that whatever was in this box was something that she did not want. She put her fork down and swallowed her mouthful of scrambled tofu. A moment ago they were engaged in a harmless (albeit slightly awkward) conversation and it was one of the most normal things to happen to her since she’d been taken, but now she realised that it was only a ploy to make her drop her defences enough so that Aiden could spring something else on her. She knew better than to play into his hands like this, but she had craved that brief window of normalcy and she suspected that Aiden knew that. He wanted her to feel secure so that it would be all the more entertaining when he pulled the rug from under her. Ava shifted away from him.

Aiden cocked his head to the side with a small smirk, “Why have you stopped eating?”

“I’m not hungry anymore.”

He knotted his eyebrows together and frowned at her. “Eat,” he said in a tone that allowed no room for debate, “You can have your present afterwards.” He placed the black box on the table, directly in her line of sight so she could peek at it and wonder.

Ava sighed and picked her fork back up -she really wasn’t hungry anymore. Aiden filled her with something intangible but oh so real; a deep anxiety that made a million butterflies spring to life inside of her and fill every available space. She felt sick, but the way Aiden had instructed her in his silk wrapped dagger tone made her obey him. The tofu now tasted dry and flavourless in her mouth; chewing had become a task but she did so without any arguments. When her plate was empty, Aiden took it from her and place it back on the tray then handed her the glass of orange juice.

“Drink,” he instructed her in the same tone.

Ava tried to drown the butterflies with each gulp. She didn’t want to feel them anymore. She knew that something bad was coming and they were only making her nerves worse, but when the cup was empty they were still there. Her eyes landed on the black box.

“Would you like your present now, Ava-Marie?” Aiden purred stroking the smooth, dark surface of the box with the tip of his index finger.

“I don’t think I do, Sir.”

He smirked at her, “Do you think you have a choice?”

“No Sir, I don’t,” she said tightly.

“Of course you don’t.” Aiden rose from his seat and picked the box up, and then to Ava’s surprise he dropped onto one knee in front of her like some twisted proposal. He placed his other hand on top of the box and gripped the sides of the lid, “I hope you like it, honey.”

Ava held her breath and leant backwards as subtly as she could as Aiden began to open the box. She let out a sharp puff of air when she finally saw its contents and furrowed her brow, “What is it?”

Lodged between two cushioned black satin rectangles were two small gleaming silver balls connected by a silk string with a loop at one end. Aiden reached inside and pulled them out. He held it at eye level, “These are Ben Wa balls.”

“And this is my gift?”

Aiden blinked at her, “Yes.” Ava laughed airily; it sounded like a mixture of obnoxiousness and relief. “Are you not impressed, Ava-Marie? We’re you expecting something a little grander?”

“No. To be honest I half expected something to pop up and shoot me in the face.”

“Why? You still have one more day for Daddy dearest to save you before I kill you.”

Ava stopped laughing. “I find your gift underwhelming,” she scowled.

Aiden placed his free hand on her bare knee and though his touch was gentle, Ava jumped like he’d slipped a knife into the soft space around her kneecap. “Oh, I think you’ll change your mind once I put them inside of you.” He pushed her legs apart and used his raised knee to keep them that way. Ava tried to shuffle away from him; this was the part that she knew was coming, the part where the temporary calm fell to pieces to reveal the danger that was always lurking in the background. “Ava-Marie!” Aiden grabbed her forearm and yanked her forwards that they were nose to nose. “Stop it,” he scolded her through gritted teeth, his dark, empty eyes glaring right into her glassy hazel ones.

The air swirling around inside of Ava’s lungs grew thicker and heavier, suffocating the butterflies in her stomach and making them drop from flight one by one, then all at once.  “I don’t want them inside of me,” she said in a hoarse whisper, the lump developing in her throat betraying the courage she was trying to hold on to.

Aiden released her arm and returned his hand to her knee. Spreading his fingers lightly across the expanse of her trembling joint, his eyes fell to her mouth, “I know what you want inside of you, Ava-Marie,” he shifted a little closer, not so their lips could touch, but so that she could think about what it would feel like if they did, and he knew she was thinking about it by the way she wasn’t so quick to back away from him, but rather how she hesitated to see if he would. Aiden lowered his other knee to the ground and let his body provide the barrier to keep her thighs from meeting. His hand travelled up her thigh and he tilted his head to the left, the way you would if you were switching kissing positions, skimming the tip of his nose across her face. “But I’m afraid that’s not a part of the deal.”

“You’ve lost me, Sir,” she said tightly, feigning knowledge of what Aiden was referring to so she could save face. It was ridiculous of her to pretend that she hadn’t spent the better part of last night pressed up against him in the bathtub, silently begging for him to bury himself deep inside of her every time she arched her back and whimpered for him.

“See that’s where you’re wrong Ava-Marie,” his touch graced the hollow crevice between her thigh and her sex making Ava unconsciously pull her bottom lip into her mouth and bite down. His eyes met hers again, “I have you exactly where I want you.” Aiden dropped the string of balls into the hand that patiently waited on the cusp of her centre to strike, then snaked his arm around her waist and pulled her body forward. Her legs spread wider. He pinched the first of the silver balls between his thumb and his index finger and started to run it along the edges of her outer lips -he was surprised by how slippery it was. Ava squeaked at the coolness of the metal against her warm and embarrassingly wet flesh. “Have you heard of Ben Wa balls before, Ava-Marie?”

Ava shook her head, “No Sir,” she breathed.

“Of course you haven’t,” he said dryly as if he’d had some small hope that there was some semblance of a flaw on her sexual innocence that didn’t include the ones he made. He almost seemed disappointed, and for some reason that tinge of disappointment from her captor made Ava feel like less of a woman. For a moment she wished she did know what they were.

It was strange how Aiden’s dark obscurity was able to make her feel so small. Normally her lack of sexual knowledge and experience didn’t matter to Ava, but as she sat before him with her legs akimbo trying to quell the urge to lean forward just a little so that she could feel his mouth on hers whilst his hand drew tremor inducing patterns on her sex with the unfamiliar object, she knew that it should matter even less…but Aiden had this way about him that got to her, no matter how much she tried to resist him.

“They’re used to provide sexual stimulation or to tighten up your vaginal muscles,” Aiden explained. He drew a shallow breath as he moved the little metal ball to closer to her opening –God she was so wet. It made him feel things that he didn’t want to feel; an escalating burning desire, not just to have her, but to own her completely. Up until this point Aiden had refrained from touching Ava between her legs in any manner that went beyond teasing or spanking -it was one of the barriers that stopped their hostage arrangement from becoming something it wasn’t meant to be. He knew that he was taking a huge risk by playing this game with her, but he had convinced himself that he had everything under control. He wouldn’t go too far, he wouldn’t break for the beautiful young girl with the cinnamon skin and eyes like autumn, whose blush made her glow rose gold; he couldn’t. He’d been able to withstand The Siren, so the daughter of his enemy should be no trouble. He licked his lips, “Each ball is hollowed out with a small weight inside of it. The longer you hold it inside of you,” he put it right at her tight entrance and applied pressure, “The more intense the feeling becomes.” Aiden watched her face curiously. He shouldn’t have allowed himself to get caught up in the small details, but he desperately wanted to see what she looked like the first time her really touched her.

The ball slowly began to ease its way inside of her, opening her up as the smooth circumference widened. Ava squeezed her eyes shut and bit down on her lip, gripping the bed sheets on either side of her body as the small foreign object infiltrated her centre. It didn’t hurt but it was slightly uncomfortable. Ava had never been inclined to insert anything into herself before -the daughter of Vincent Lockewood would never do anything like that, plus she’d been afraid, afraid that if she tried it she might like it, and if she liked it then who knows what else she would like...

The first ball popped inside of her making a wet kissing sound as her lower lips closed around it, and she felt the soft pad of Aiden’s finger touch her briefly. She stifled a gasp, not wanting him to know that she didn’t mind his touch as much as she should have, and she definitely should have, but this game he was playing with her made her so confused. She couldn’t explain why despite the circumstances and his mercurial treatment of her, she wanted him.

While Ava concealed her gasp, Aiden concealed his smirk. It hadn’t been much, just a light touch, but damn if it didn’t feel good to finally feel Ava-Marie…really feel her. He exhaled through his nose and pinched the second ball between his fingers then brought it to her entrance.

“Open your eyes, Ava-Marie.” His voice sounded thick and warm. He hadn’t meant for it to come out like that, but it had. She made him speak that way.

Ava opened her eyes with trepidation. When she finally looked at Aiden she noticed that something was off. His daunting air of superiority was still intact, but something disturbing twitched beneath the surface of his hardened exterior that made Aiden grit his teeth and lean away from her.

When it came to Aiden Michaels, someone with an eye as inexperienced as Ava’s shouldn’t have been able to notice the shift in his demeanour, but the past two days in his presence made her knowledge of Aiden quite specific. She watched him as much as she could; she had to, it was the only way she could teach herself to figure out how much danger she was in at any given moment with him. She studied the way he sauntered around like he was a force to be reckoned with, how he would cock his head to the side when something intrigued him, the way he bit down on his back teeth when he was trying to keep his temper, and how the black light in his dark eyes flashed just before he’d snap. None of those tell-tell signs were there and Ava found herself at more of a loss than usual.

Aiden blinked and cleared his throat, “Tell me about your bodyguard.”

“Max?” she asked with a rattled breath.

“Yes, Max. Tell me about him.”

“There’s n-n-nothing to t-tell.”

“Oh, I disagree, Ava-Marie,” Aiden tutted, sweeping the second ball around her entrance in smooth circular motions. Ava’s thigh quivered. “I think you have plenty to say about the man you spend almost every waking hour with.”

“I don’t know what t-to…tell you. I…God…I don’t know w-what you want me to say...”

Aiden circulated the ball around her entrance faster, spreading the steady flow of juices around; “Tell me something true.”

                Ava’s stomach tightened as her grip on the bed sheet begun to slip. She lifted her head in the air and sucked in a breath through her mouth to settle herself. “You’regoing to hurt him.”

Aiden yanked her head back down; Ava was fascinating to watch as she came apart at the seams and looking at him seemed to make her unravel faster. He knew he should draw the line soon but he figured there would be no harm in holding out a little longer. Ava’s warm breath blew across his mouth in soft, warm bursts and the pool between her legs swelled making it difficult for Aiden to keep his grip on the ball. “That’s none of your concern,” he replied in that thick and warm voice again, training his eyes on hers.

Ava’s chewed on her lips and her breathing deepened, “I won’t…help you…oh God,” her hips bucked aggressively against his hand. She grunted and fell back on the bed providing Aiden with a clear view of her glistening sex. Aiden’s dick hardened at the sight of it and his eyes darkened to a bottomless black as he imagined just how satisfying it would feel to sink his entire length deep inside of her, hard and fast, right now…

He had to stop this. He had to stop this right now.

Aiden gathered the hem of her t-shirt in his hands and pulled her upright, “You will help me, Ava-Marie, and you will enjoy doing it.” He pushed the second ball inside of her and forced them deeper with his fingers, clinically ignoring the way her walls tightened around his hand as if they were begging him to stay.

Ava’s eyes widened as she felt her principles and morals collapse and melt away with the rest of her sanity. She yelped and threw her arms around Aiden, digging her nails into the back of his suit jacket, trying desperately to transfer the overwhelming sensation of being penetrated somewhere else, anywhere else.

Aiden stiffened.

He tore her arms from around his body shoved her away from him, his eyes as wide as hers. If there was anything she shouldn’t have done, it was hold onto him like that…like she needed him.

“Don’t touch me,” he snarled. He quickly scrambled to his feet and put himself at the other side of the room, burying his hands in his pockets. He could still feel her all over his fingers; the pressure from her walls felt like it was imprinted on his skin and her juices coated everything else.

He watched her bewildered figure from across the room, panting, quivering and twitching unable to calm herself properly as the Ben Wa balls took effect, and for a moment he wished that they had met under different circumstances, that he could go back over to the bed and sit and hold her. It was in his nature to hold her, and quiet her whimpers, and stroke her hair, and kiss her face until she felt like she was safe again, but she wasn’t really his and none of this was really real. She was his hostage and he’d been kidding himself to think that he could play these sorts of games with her and still keep her behind enemy lines.

Flustered, Ava gathered the bed sheets around her waist to reclaim some scrap of her modesty. “I didn’t mean to,” she snapped back. She had meant to, and if given the chance she would do it again, because like Aiden, for one small moment Ava wished that none of the bullshit existed and that they could just have that pocket in time to just be. Yes it was twisted, and yes it was wrong for Ava to even think about Aiden Michaels this way, especially now that there was the added threat of him hurting Max, but something about this dangerous man made her feel dangerously good.

Aiden straightened up and narrowed his eyes at her, “You’d do well to watch your tone, Ava-Marie,” he said menacingly, suddenly itching to continue with his plan despite his better judgement. “I’m not through with you yet and I don’t think you want to provoke me anymore than you already have.” He pushed himself off of the wall and went for the paper towel poking out from underneath Ava’s empty breakfast plate on the tray, and wiped the remains of her moisture off of his fingers. He sat back down in the chair, crossed his leg and clasped his hands together in his lap. He steadied his gaze. ‘I can do this,’ he lied to himself. “Pick a number between zero and one hundred.”

“Why?”

“Do it now or I will choose for you,” he said evenly.

Ava pursed her lips together and looked away from him. She could feel the weight of the Ben Wa balls tugging downwards and the weight of Aiden’s eyes on her and it made the air in her lungs thicken even more. What new game was going to come along with her decision? Was it better to pick a high or low number? Would he make her regret it?

Aiden began to count down, “Five, Four, Three Two, On_”

“Thirty-Eight,” Ava yelled out in a panic. She didn’t know why she had chosen that number, only that it was the first thing to pop into her head and she had to say something before her time ran out and Aiden chose for her. Aiden knew the rules to the game so whatever he picked would be in his favour, and as she didn’t have much choice in anything while she was trapped here, this little freedom would have been silly to waste.

“Good girl,” he smirked, his full lips tilting up on one side in a way that would have been even sexier if he didn’t look so dangerous doing it. Aiden stood up and reached his hand to her, “Come.”

Ava eyed his large palm and thick fingers with dark deep-set lines woven through the pale flesh like marble, then her eyes flicked up at him. Aiden didn’t move or speak, he just waited for her. Ava laid her hand in his hand gently as if it were a Venus Fly Trap that she was afraid to trigger -he hadn’t reacted well to their previous contact.

His fingers closed around hers encasing them in his warmth, and he pulled her to her feet. Standing next to Aiden in the state that she was in felt like standing too close to the sun; all of the heat he gave off scorched her skin and made her hot and bothered. He was a being filled with chaotic energy, contained in a form of an unforgivingly powerful man, and he scared her -God he scared her even more than the looming threat of what he could and would do to her, because just like the sun, Aiden could set her on fire, and as Ava had discovered burning wasn’t always a bad thing.

“Where are you taking me?” she asked quietly as he pulled her into the hallway.

“Somewhere you have no business being with me.”


Where do you think Aiden is taking Ava and what do you think will happen when they get there?

Do you think she will betray Max and give Aiden information about him?

Hope you enjoyed that chapter. Please leave your comments below (your feedback helps A LOT).

Fancy your steamy romance more visualWatch the complete first season of my hit web series, Unfamous (as seen in Teen Vogue) click the image below:

Click to watch

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#RunningWilde Ch. 12 | The God of War

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I wish I was you

A piece of gold at the bottom of the blue

Too heavy to swim

But too beautiful to lose

Hold in my breath

And diving down to give you air

I never knew the colours that surround you

 

-Taking in Water

Jessie Ware

It was decided that Ash would make her first visit into Streatham to meet with the Jamaicans. Under Aiden’s orders (to avoid further conflict between the both of them) Driver promptly whisked her away. Aiden had bigger problems to address and knew it would be easier to do it with the volatile vixen out of the way, especially as Dougie was itching for an excuse to get rid of her, never mind what Aiden said.

Sometimes Aiden felt as if his best friend was more for the Mafia than he was because he would go to any length to protect what they had built, and even further to protect Aiden. Yes Ash was as much a part of the crew as rest of them, after all she had grown up on the same block with them, but her promiscuous nature never really sat well with Dougie; he didn’t think it gave off the right impression for a female to be so liberal with her body, so when she got involved with Aiden, it irritated him. To Dougie, Aiden was above wifing the estate hoe, no matter how pretty or trill she was. He was glad when it was over. Ash wasn’t good for, nor was she good enough for Aiden.

Mighty and Stone were back in the meeting room listening intently along with Aiden as Dougie reported back about the earlier incident at the salon, in his usual precise, no nonsense manner.

“It wasn’t so easy to get the feds off our back this time. The Syndicate have more of them in their pocket than we do and they’re paying them more too, but after I had a quick word with officer Dobson about how interested his wife would be in knowing about that hooker he likes to arrest every Wednesday and not take back to the station, he called them off,” Dougie smirked.

 Mighty snickered, “Dobson likes prostitutes?”

“Mighty, focus,” Aiden snapped. He turned back to Dougie, “So we’re good now?”

“As far as the salon, everything’s handled. Polly contacted a builder to fix the damage; should be business as usual in two days.” Dougie picked one of his guns up off of the desk and stroked the cool steel of the barrel as if he were petting a pussy cat, “There was one thing that didn’t sit right with me after everything was sorted though.”

“What?”

Dougie’s hand slipped down onto the handle, “Max Yang.”

Aiden frowned and furrowed his eyebrows at the sound of Vince’s oh so special soldier, “What about Yang?”

“He was following me.” Dougie’s index finger curled around the trigger.

“So why didn’t you just pop him?” Stone asked pulling a half smoked blunt from his jacket pocket and sticking it in his mouth.

Dougie swivelled his head slowly to the side and peered at his fellow lieutenant, “He’s not on my list.”

Stone rolled his eyes and produced his favourite new lighter that burned green, “You and your damn lists.” He set fire to his blunt and took a quick drag, needing a quick hit to get him going before he took his usual leisurely tokes. “What if he followed you back here?”

“He didn’t.”

Stone exhaled, unconsciously blowing billowing streams of marijuana smoke in Dougie’s face, “How do you know?”

Dougie leaned across the table and snatched the blunt from Stone’s mouth, staring him dead in the eye as he took a drag and twirling his pistol in his other hand, daring Stone to take it back.

Stone kissed his teeth, “Whatever man.”

Aiden stroked his goatee thoughtfully. Why would Lockewood put Yang on Dougie whilst they were deep in the middle of a war? It was a provocative move and a stupid one seeing as Ava was still in Aiden’s custody. Did he want another of Aiden’s nearest and dearest to give him the upper hand? No, that couldn’t be it, Lockewood wasn’t that basic. Yang was one of his best soldiers, so if he was appointing him to follow Dougie, Aiden knew that it wasn’t just to watch him from afar; anyone (if they were stupid enough) could watch Dougie. Yang was as much a weapon to Vince as Dougie was to Aiden, so there could only be one reason Vince was having Yang follow his best friend. Aiden stopped stroking his beard, “Lockewood’s put a hit on you.”

Dougie shrugged, “I figured as much.” He took a nice long hit of the blunt and handed it back to Stone with a deadly grin, “Guess who just made my list.”

“Question is, why does he want you out of the way? What changed in the past forty-two hours that we don’t know about?” The room fell silent and the men watched as Aiden’s mind went to work. Aiden looked up, “Mighty, Ash bugged Yang’s phone right?”

Mighty’s face lit up and he took his laptop off of standby, “I’m on it boss.” He was practically buzzing with excitement as his deft fingers skittered across the keyboard, turning the soft clicking sounds of the key into one long, low hum. Scrambled codes scrolled across the screen at an alarming rate until and several windows came into view. Mighty tampered with all of them until at last there was a brief high pitched beep and rows upon rows of call logs from Max Yang’s phone popped up. “I’m in.”

“Good. I want you to listen to every call he’s made or accepted from the past two days and make a note of anything that might help us figure out what The Syndicate are up to.” Aiden pushed back from the desk and got to his feet, “I’m going to bed. Wake me up when you find something.”

“Sure thing, A.”

Aiden squeezed Dougie’s shoulder as he departed. Lockewood had already taken his brother, he wasn’t about to let him take his best friend too.

*

It was almost 7am and Aiden lay buried under a thick black Egyptian cotton sheet filled with goose down, his six foot four frame curled up in the foetal position with one illustrated arm flung over one of four pillows, and his serene face nuzzled against it. Thirty seconds later his heavy snores and the gentle sounds of the waves lapping against the shore from his soothing sound machine were pierced through by the grating shriek of his alarm clock. Aiden’s fist slammed down on the off button. Groaning, he scrunched up his face and scrubbed his eyes before sitting up, stretching his defined arms to the heavens and arching his broad back until he felt a deep, satisfying crack. He opened his eyes and jumped at the sight of a dark hooded figure sat quietly at the end of his bed, and instantly reached under his pillow for his revolver. He slowed when he realised who it was.

“Fuck, Dougie, I hate it when you do that,” he growled, withdrawing his arm.

Dougie grinned. “Just keeping you sharp,” he snickered.

Aiden kissed his teeth, “What if I shot you?”

“You wouldn’t.” Dougie reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a Snicker bar. He chucked it to Aiden, whose grumpy morning face softened.

“Nice one, D.” He ripped open the packaging and took a huge chomp out of it, “Wait, where did you get this?” he mumbled through the sticky nougat and caramel.

“The corner shop,” he said in a tone indicating that it should be obvious.

Aiden frowned, “Yang’s after you and you’re fucking running around getting sweets.”

“Yeah,” Dougie pulled out a Mars bar for himself. Aiden sighed. He could scold his friend for putting himself in harm’s way, but if anyone could handle themselves, it was Dougie. Sometimes Aiden was convinced that the guy was invincible. They both ate their chocolates in silence, savouring this small moment of peace until it was over and it was time to get back to the present. They both crumpled up their wrappers and aimed for the bin at the same time. Dougie’s wrapper knocked Aiden’s out of the way and it diverted course onto the floor. Dougie gave a small smirk. Aiden shot him a look.

He swung his bare legs over the side of the bed, “So what are the findings?”

“Lockewood wants Yang to bring me in.”

“Did he say why?”

“No.”

Aiden walked over to his laundry hamper and pulled on a pair of black jogging bottoms over his boxers, “And there were no other clues as to what he wants from you?”

“None. Mighty went through every audio three times last night to make sure he didn’t miss anything. The only other thing he discovered is how badly Yang wants to get the Lockewood girl back.”

“Ash said he’s in love with her,” Aiden chuckled, picking up his chocolate wrapper off of the hard wood floor and depositing it in the bin.

“He is.”

“How do you know? Did he say he was?”

“No, but I know what love sounds like.” Aiden’s expression became amused at Dougie suggesting he knew anything about romantic love. Dougie had never had a girlfriend in his life. “You used to sound like him.”

Aiden’s amusement dissolved and he became serious; he’d had quite enough of revisiting his former love life to last him a lifetime. He turned his back on his friend and his gaze travelled to the door. With a scowl and a heavy heart he asked, “Is she home?”

“She’s here,” Dougie replied in clipped tone.

“How is she?”

“Alive.”

He glanced over his shoulder at his best friend with yesterday’s warning emanating from his soulful features. Dougie looked away. “I told you she would come back,” he said pointedly.

Dougie shrugged and got to his feet, “Doesn’t mean that I’m wrong about her.”

 “Dougie, she came back,” Aiden huffed.

“So we’re just going to ignore the fact that she was the one who was monitoring Yang’s calls and forgot to mention that he is after me?”

Aiden paused; he hadn’t thought of that. This he could not dispute with Dougie about, but he couldn’t help himself -Dougie only needed one reason to do what does best. “She was pretty tied up yesterday_”

“The call was made in the morning,” Dougie growled, “You weren’t playing with her then.” He brushed past Aiden, knocking him aside with his shoulder, “Ever since you started fucking with the Lockewood girl Ash’s focus has been compromised, and when Ash is compromised so are you. Someone is out to get me and she’s worrying about your new play mate rather than doing what the fuck she’s meant to do; protect her family.” He pulled his hood down and stood toe to toe with Aiden, “I don’t know what it’s gonna take for you to see that she is a weak link and get rid of her, but I hope you figure it out before Keegan isn’t the only one missing.”

Aiden shoved Dougie out of his way. There was a possibility that Ash could go off the rails because she had lost focus, but at the same time, it was Ash, and when she was on, she was on, and up until recently she had been. He’d have to keep a closer eye on her to make sure that Dougie’s predictions would not come true because having to resort to getting rid of her…he didn’t even want to think about it. “I’ll talk to her.”

Dougie nodded sharply, “Good. Now what are we gonna do about Yang?” he said with a sinister grin.

The edge of Aiden’s lip quirked up, “Something tells me you’ve already decided what you want to do.”

“I know where he is and as you know, last night he joined my list,” he wiggled his eyebrows.

Aiden shook his head, “No, that’s not it. Lockewood wants you out of the way for a reason and we need to find out what that reason is before you kill him.”

“As long as I get to kill him.”

Aiden folded his thick artistic arms across his chest and pulled his lower lip into his mouth, nipping at it thoughtfully; something had to be done about Yang, that was a given, but if they got rid of him now, Lockewood would only send someone else along. “Where is he exactly?”

“I lost him near London Road.”

“Go to him. Let the prick capture you.”

Dougie cocked his head to the side, “And why would I do that?”

“Insider knowledge; learn what you can from them before the exchange.”

“That’s a bit risky. What if they kill me?”

“I won’t let them,” he said firmly, a promise coating his words.

Dougie smirked at his best friend, “Neither will I.”

“Oh I don’t doubt that for a second, D.”

*

It was decided that Dougie would ‘get caught’ by Max that evening, somewhere further from the compound that would keep the rest of the crew safe, but before then Aiden was going to do a little digging of his own.

After checking on Trish and Jamie, making sure his soldiers had everything under control at his mother’s house, and getting Stone to check in with Ash about how relations went between her and the head of the Jamaican’s (they were now back on side), Aiden ordered the maids to prepare a vegan breakfast for Ava and got dressed in preparation for today’s playful inquisition.

He chose his outfit carefully; a crisp black suit, a black shirt with the top three buttons undone underneath that offered a peek at his neck tattoo, and a pair of black brogues. He wore small diamonds studs in his ears, white gold cufflinks with his initials engraved in cursive on each of them, and a white gold diamond encrusted ring on his pinkie finger. He slathered his deep cocoa skin with shea butter and splashed his pulse points with Hugo Boss, then took a hard bristled brush and some Dax wax to his hair to smooth out his waves. His beard was starting to grow back and normally he would have neatened it up, but he quite liked the way the five o’clock shadow of soft, dark stubble made his face look a little less romantic, a little more rugged. It gave him the edge of black eroticism that went well with what he had in store for Ava today. With a salacious smile, he went into his cherry wood chest of drawers, slipped his hand into the back of his sock draw and pulled out a black velvet box the size of his palm and tucked it into his inner jacket pocket.

Once the maids notified him that it was ready, Aiden collected Ava’s breakfast of scrambled tofu, gluten free rye wheat toast, vegetarian sausages and organic orange juice from off of the kitchen counter and brought it to her room.

At the sound of the door opening Ava immediately closed her eyes and pretended she was still sleeping. This had been the only peace she’d had since being brought to this god awful place with it clinical helpers, gang members and their irrefutable leader, and she wanted it to last justa little bit longer before she was sucked back in to their calculated madness. The smell of the cooked breakfast hit her nose making her tummy grumble involuntarily…and then she smelt him; Aiden. The galvanising blend of Molten Brown body wash, shea butter, silk and aftershave made her grumbling tummy quieten and tighten. Had she not had her limbs strung up to the bed posts she would have crossed her leg to placate the pressure that had already begun to build between her thighs. She wasn’t high anymore and she disliked him more than ever, but she couldn’t rid her mind of the way he had made her feel last night. All that provocative taunting, teasing and titillating did something to a girl that was hard to forget anytime soon. Even in her dreams she feverishly relived the wanton moments on the counter with Aiden between her legs feeding her cake and wine, the way he caressed her skin, the heart-stopping sight of his nude God of War like frame with all of its dramatic dips and bulging planes strewn with street art and battle scars, the way his hands delivered violent waves of pleasure and beguiling thrums of pain in the same stroke, laying up against him in the perfumed water with every firm inch of him pressed up against her body while he purred in her ear, and how much she hated how good it all felt .

                “Open your eyes, Ava-Marie,” he ordered her in his firm honey-coated baritone. Ava sighed; the haven was over. She turned her head towards him and her autumnal eyes opened with the intent to glare at him, but when she saw him standing there, her breath stopped short. She took in the immaculate suit and all the tastefully expensive trimmings that made Aiden look like he’d just stepped out of a Gucci campaign, and the light shadow of his beard that covered the lower half of his face that only intensified how handsome he was. Even unshaven, Aiden Michaels was something to behold. Ava cursed internally. “Good morning Ava-Marie,” he purred.

Ava didn’t reply, partially because she didn’t want to talk to him but also because she was afraid that if she opened her mouth nothing would come out anyway. She turned her head away from him and exhaled slowly.

Aiden frowned and set her breakfast down on the table in the corner. He marched over to the bed and yanked on the rope connected to her wrist, causing Ava to yelp as it rubbed against her shallow wound. “If you don’t want me to be nice to you then you are going the right way about it,” he growled, undoing the knot to free her. Ava bit down on her tongue to keep from retaliating and angering him further whilst she tried not to notice the electric warmth that consumed her body when his fingers came into contact with her skin. “So let’s try this one last time before I give up and resort to other methods; good morning Ava-Marie.”

“Good morning,” she said quickly.

“Who, Ava-Marie? Good morning, who?”

Ava scrunched her eyes shut and gritted her teeth, “Good morning, Sir,” she grumbled.

“Good girl.” He freed her other hand and began sliding the blanket down her body. Her nipples sprung to attention when the cold air hit them and goosebumps spread like wildfire once the sheet passed over her hips; the t-shirt Aiden dressed her to sleep in had ridden up in her sleep, barely covering the top of her thighs. Ava couldn’t bear the embarrassment of him seeing the evidence of just how much she couldn’t help but want him glistening like honey at her apex, so with her hands free she quickly yanked the t-shirt down as far as it would go and her cheeks turned that flattering rose gold colour Aiden was fond of.

None-the-wiser to her affliction, Aiden undone her ankle restraints and handed Ava her breakfast, then pulled the chair out from under the table, turning it to face her before he sat. Ava furrowed her brow at the tray of food and lifted it to her nose to sniff it. It smelt all right but so had the chocolate cake and that had been laced with cannabis. She lowered the tray and peered suspiciously at Aiden.

“Don’t worry, it’s all vegan friendly,” he told her with a small smile. “Eat.”

Ava furrowed her brow; how did he know she was a vegan? And even then, why did he go to the effort of making sure she had food that complied with her diet if she was only a prisoner? “What did you do to it?”

Realising why she had looked at him so mistrustfully Aiden’s small smile vanished and he scowled at her, “Nothing. Eat.” Ava hesitated. It wasn’t that she didn’t believe him, he seemed very believable, but how much could she actually trust the word of the person who meant to harm her? “Would you like me to feed you again?” He leant forward in the chair, rested his elbows on his knees and pressed his large hands together, drumming the tips of his fingers against each other as he stared her down, itching to put her over his knee for her accusation. “I quite enjoy putting things between your lips,” he purred. Ava’s eyes widened as vision of sumptuous chocolate, rich fruity wine, commanding hands and Aiden…all of Aiden, passed between both sets of her lips.

She looked away from him and picked up her fork, shovelling a heap of tofu in her mouth. If her father could only see her now he would frown at the unladylike manner with which she was conducting herself -he hadn’t spent all of that money on finishing school for her to behave so commonly. She slowed her chewing, crossed her legs and sat a little straighter when the thought crossed her mind that had it not been for her father she wouldn’t be here now. She slouched -slightly -and made an appreciative noise; the tofu had been seasoned and cooked to perfection. It was bit of hit and miss when other people prepared it for her as they didn’t always know how to make it taste good, but Aiden’s staff knew what they were doing. She cut a piece of the rye bread and tried the vegetarian sausage and made the noise again.

Aiden stopped drumming his fingers together and frowned at her, not because she was eating like she was borderline famished, but because her small moments of enjoyment made him want to smile at her again. There was sweetness in Lockewood’s little princess that only exaggerated how much she had been shielded from the nuances of the underworld. He found it quite endearing; the girl who was in the thick of it all but had been untouched by it…until now.

“Good?” he asked, smoothing out his features.

Ava stopped chewing and looked at him. She swallowed and cast her eyes down into her lap and begrudgingly mumbled, “Yes Sir.”

                “What else do you like to eat?”

                “Why?”

                “Answer the question.”

Ava shrugged, “Most things as long as it’s vegan. I’m not fussy.”

Aiden regarded her and leant back in his chair. Her vagueness bothered him. He needed to know exactly what she liked and exactly how she liked it. It was important to know these things when trying to seduce someone into submission, how they liked to be cared for, it made it easier for them to forgive you after you wronged them and Aiden intended to wrong Ava in many ways. “What’s your favourite thing to eat?”

                “Why, are you going to get it for me, Sir?” she sneered, sarcasm dripping from her bitter tone.

“Yes, Ava-Marie.”

Ava drew a breath and looked at him, studying his serious expression and his almost relaxed posture. He looked so alpha-like in his black suit with his air of superiority and irrevocable power vibrating around him making him seem untouchable in a way that made Ava ache to touch him. He was the most dominant being she had ever encountered, so sure of himself and his position that it made her feel small and helpless beause she felt she would never know that feeling for herself. Aiden carried himself like all things were created to serve him and only him, and even as she fought the desire to do so, a part of her wanted to serve him, just a little, just so she could experience the feeling of completion and satisfaction that awaited her as a reward if she did. That feeling would be enough. She shook the thought out of her head and drank her orange juice. “Sweet potato mash and baked beetroot chips. Together.”

Aiden cocked his eyebrow, “That’s an odd pairing.”

“You asked me what I liked, that’s what I like.”

“Then I will get it for you, Ava-Marie.”

Ava picked up her toast. She had planned to cut it with the knife and fork but what use was there standing on ceremony when she was nothing more than a prisoner. She took a bite out of it, “Why will you get it for me? I’m not your guest and it’s not like I like you.”

Aiden drummed the tips of his finger together again, “You’re my enemy either, and I kidnapped you, I don’t expect you to like me.”

“But you want me to?” she guessed, narrowing her eyes at him.

“No.”

Ava held his steely gaze for as long as she could, up until her bravery ran out and his inexplicable power overruled her. She looked at her plate and continued eating. She could still feel his eyes on her and it made her feel so uncomfortable in her own skin, like he could see something in her that she couldn’t, as if he pinpointed something in her that she wasn’t aware was there but he could tap into anyway.

After about a minute of uncomfortable silence he asked, “Why are you a vegan?”

“The usual reason, just doing my part to save the world,” she replied with an exaggerated grin and thumbs up to rival an over-acted American style infomercial for cleaning products.

Aiden’s eyes flashed and he almost smiled at her sass. How she remained so flippant even though she was caught up in a whirlwind of a storm that someone like her wasn’t built for intrigued him. It was like she had constructed a skin tight cocoon to slip into to protect her sanity, and in that cocoon existed a world no one else could enter, a place that not even someone as formidable and determined as Aiden could disturb. “And how is trying to save the world working out for you?”

“Depends on what day you ask me.”

“I’m asking you now.”

Ava tucked her braids behind her ears and braced herself to look at him again. His expression wasn’t as discerning as before, there was something a touch warmer that wasn’t there before, a hint of a sparkle in his eyes that hinted at something more, but she couldn’t put her finger on what the more was. “I’m out of my depth,” she said, “I feel like I’m standing on quicksand and everything around me is on fire. If I stay I get swallowed up, but if I venture out there I get burned alive. I’m starting to believe that maybe the world can’t be saved, that the odds are against all of us and that it’s because of people like you and my father.”

The hint of warmth vanished from Aiden’s obsidian eyes and the cool impenetrable hardness returned. “That’s quite an answer.”

“Does it upset you?”

“No,” he said completely unruffled.

It bothered Ava that he wasn’t bothered, but how could she expect him to be when his occupation was peddling narcotics and killing anyone who crossed him. This wasn’t a man that felt bad about the things he did, his heart was set up differently to hers. In his head, his way of life was just. It was all skewed reasoning backed by street principalities and whatever harshness life had dealt him. Ava could never understand someone like Aiden because they were two different ends of the scale. She had grown up surrounded by love and what she now knew to be tainted luxury. A girl like Ava had options that a man like Aiden would never know and it had made him cruel, and that made her feel for him a little. “It should,” she frowned with a sadness that made her judgement less harsh. Having nothing more to say, Ava went back to her food.

Aiden clenched his fist him lap. Ava’s statement may not have bothered him much, but the way she frowned at him did. Disapproval Aiden could deal with, he was a black man from one of London’s known ghettos,  he had been living the life of the lowest of the working class and now he was a criminal, he was used to being disapproved of, but Ava looked at him like she pitied him and that was something Aiden detested. He was a proud man. He worked his ass off doing what he had to, to get where he was today so that he could be respected. Pity was for the downtrodden, for those still in the struggle. Aiden had everything now, money, power and the kind of notoriety that could strike fear into a man at the sound of his name alone, there was nothing to pity and before the day was through he would make sure she knew that.

Aiden got to his feet and pulled the black velvet box out of his suit jacket. 

***

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#RunningWilde Ch. 11 | Hearts on The Frontline

Aiden held fast to Ash’s throat and stared into the darkness between her scarlet lips in anticipation of the myriad of sounds that would escape them at his will. He wanted to hear her, this freckled nymph-like creature that looked like art, which he could turn into a masterpiece; he wanted to orchestrate her vocal chords into a melodic symphony of sighs, whimpers, moans, and screams until she could no longer make another beautiful sound.

He backed her up against the charcoal grey wall of the meeting room, and with burning eyes he leant in closer, “Are you sure that this is what you want?” he whispered.

Ash squirmed against him, the familiar firmness of his powerful physique brushing against her body made her heart race and her nipples hard. The tattoo adorned chocolate Adonis that was Aiden Michaels, always possessed the power to make her lose herself, with even the slightest contact. Every touch, no matter how insignificant, triggered her memories of the countless mornings, afternoons, evenings and nights that he would take her at whim, wherever they were, whenever he wanted to –and back then, Aiden always wanted to. He was exceptional; the kind of lover that could erase every other man before him, with a kiss made to sever soul ties and a stroke deep enough to bury the remains. After being with Aiden no one else mattered. Aiden made you feel things you never thought you could, and do thing you never thought you would -and you would love every immoral, dizzying, filthy, liberating minute of it.

“Yes,” she breathed.

Aiden pressed his body onto her and grazed his full lips over her parted, painted ones; “We’ll see.” His kiss collided with Ash’s mouth, hard, heavy and unapologetic, crashing through the ache that had filled the space between them for so long. Aiden could taste his carnal salvation on her red, red lips and it was just as maddening as he remembered, like strawberries, sex and sin. His other hand reached into her hair, grabbing a handful of her fiery curls to hold her in place as he slaked his desire.

Ash moaned, savouring the throes of his forcefulness and the dark passion that bled from him into her like a poison that walked hand in hand with its own cure. She wrapped her arms around Aiden’s broad back, holding onto him and whimpering for him like she did when she was his good girl, and then she smiled and bit down on his lip, like a bad one.

Aiden tore his mouth from between her teeth. “Behave yourself,” he growled, tugging harder on her hair.

“Make me.”

Aiden’s eyes flashed and he dragged her from the wall to the table, flinging her lithe frame across it and bending her at the waist. He placed his large hand onto the back of her head and pressed it into the surface, and then with the other hand he unbuckled his thick leather belt. “Make me, who?” He tore the belt from around his hips so fast that it made a whipping sound as it came free. Ash fell silent but Aiden wasn’t having that. She had gone this far to prod him and provoke the beast within him, even when he asked her not to, so now she had to face the consequences –she had made herself into a shot of the finest cognac, then paraded herself in front of a recovering alcoholic with no witnesses around to deter him from drinking every last drop. Aiden leant over her and pressed his throbbing hardness against her backside, watching her breath escape her, feeling her slender frame tremble beneath him. He slammed the belt down on the table next to her head so she could see and hear the full force of the way the folded leather slapped together sharply, cutting the air in two.

Ash closed her eyes and bit down on her lip, then tilting her ass up into him she moaned, “Make me, Sir. Please.”

“That’s better.” Aiden closed his eyes and buried his face in the sweeping curve of her swanlike neck, inhaling her soft lavender scent to calm himself down before he went any further. “Good girl,” he purred.

Ash smiled and reached for his hand. The soft pads of her fingertips danced tentatively over his clenched fist that was closed tightly around his belt buckle, rising and falling over each taut knuckle. Aiden closed his eyes and let her touch him; she missed him terribly, he could feel it in the way she indulgently re-familiarised herself with every available inch of him that she could reach.

He sighed and grabbed her face, twisting it so she was forced to look at him. “Do you remember the safe word?”

“Yes Sir,” she replied tenderly, still caressing his clenched hand.

“What is it?”

“Midnight,” she whispered, as if it were a dirty word that had no place where she and Aiden were concerned.

Aiden moved it out of her reach. “If you need to use it_”

“I won’t.”

“I’m not so sure about that.” He dragged the belt up Ash’s pale, freckled arm, towards her torso. “It’s been a long time, Ashleigh,” his touch rose and fell as he traced the curves of her breasts, her ribs, her waist, her hips and then underneath her, cupping her warm sex with fingers and leather, “Too fucking long.” He kissed her on the mouth again, gently this time, catching her lips between his and sucking on them softly each time he pulled away. “Open your legs for me, baby,” he growled sending shivers up her spine. Ash parted her legs for him, grinding back and forth in-between his thick leather laced fingers and his swollen shaft that was still safely encased in his trousers. Aiden’s kiss became more fervent, and it lingered longer, stealing her breath and smearing her lipstick. “Go faster, baby,” he groaned into her mouth. Ash sped up, curling her waist to increase the euphoric friction between his hand and his dick. Aiden pressed harder into her, his girth threatening to burst through the confinement of their clothes and plunge deep inside her, like she wanted.

He cursed and knotted his fingers back in her hair before straightening up and pulling the hand she’d been rocking against so fervently, from under her, gripping his belt with renewed determination. The red tendrils of her hair curled around his knuckles, glinting with gold and auburn undertones as her body undulated under the soft glare of the Diamond Mafia meeting room spotlights. Aiden raised his hand and the belt sliced through the air and down onto her gyrating ass.

Ash gasped and froze; feeling Aiden’s unchained force after so long was a welcome shock to her system. She’d had other lovers that spanked her occasionally, but they always held back a little, afraid of being too aggressive in case they really hurt her, but Aiden didn’t have that issue, and it both excited and frightened her.

He yanked her face back to meet his by hair, “Did I tell you to stop?” The belt came down again. Ash’s spine jerked and curled to absorb the shock.

“No sir.”

“Then don’t stop.”

Ash squeezed her eyes shut and clenched her jaw, “Okay, Sir.”

She began to move again as fast as she could to avoid another strike. The table rocked and creaked in time with her as she moved ferociously over Aiden’s member. Her breaths came harder as the pressure in her lower region intensified. She was nearing her climax already, even though Aiden hadn’t really done anything to her yet. Truth be told, Aiden never had to do much to make Ash cum, because to her, Aiden felt right even when the things he did to her would have other people deeming them wrong.  He wasn’t ready for her to cum yet.

“Stop,” he commanded. Ash stilled immediately. She blew out a breath and tried not to let her frustration show. She hated when he teased her like that, getting her so close to the feeling of sexual free falling then being told she had to wait right before she jumped -Aiden knew this. He smirked and carefully laid his belt horizontally on the table in front of her face, silently telling her that she would be spared for the moment. He kissed her behind her ear; “Put your hands flat on the desk and do not move them.” Ash did as she was told. Aiden slipped his hands under her front again and undid her jeans, only pulling them down to her knees so that her movements were restricted. He noted that she still didn’t wear underwear, a habit she had picked up with him after learning that he would tear apart any and every Secret that Victoria had, to get Ash to open up and confess her longing for him.

She stretched out before him, swaying her ass and susurrating, “Are you going to fuck me now, Sir?”

Aiden cocked his head to the side, “Who said I was going to fuck you, Ashleigh?”

She stopped swaying and looked back at him, “We had a deal.”

He jerked her head back to its original position, “The deal was for me to do what I was doing to Ava-Marie, to you,” he said matter-of-factly, reaching for the belt again. Aiden pushed up the back of her shirt and trailed wet kisses down her spine as he spoke, “You said that in order for things not to get out of control, that I am to use you instead, and despite what your jealous mind may think,” he reached the top of her ass and bit into it, hard, making her jerk for him, “I’m not fucking Ava-Marie. Ava-Marie is my prisoner.” Aiden straightened up and folded the belt in half, grinning at the sight of her bare ass with red circle of teeth marks imprinted in one cheek. Ash jumped as the cool leather of his belt lightly hit the top of her back where Aiden had first started kissing, squirming as he dragged it down the path his lips had marked out on her bare skin. “I’m torturing her.” The belt came down across both cheeks with the same force he’d used when Ash’s clothing was there to protect her from the full sting of it. A thick red line came up instantly, its perfect outline highlighted by the stark alabaster tone of her skin.

Ash’s mouth opened but no sound came out. Her knees gave way beneath her and she was forced to put all of her weight on the desk. Aiden went in again, underhanded this time, leaving a red strip that shot up near the ending of her thigh. Ash gripped the table.

“This isn’t what I wanted,” she squeaked.

“Say the word and I’ll stop,” he said coldly.

“Please Sir, can’t you just_”

“No,” he snarled knowing that she was going to ask him for the one thing he refused to grant her; the endlessly insatiable heaven on the cusp of hell kind of love that made him weak for her. He repeated the underhand action on her other cheek. “I warned you to leave me be,” he struck again, “But you wouldn’t listen. You kept pushing,” he went over hand and diagonal, “And pushing,” diagonal again, “And pushing.”

Ash swung her hands behind her back to block the blows. “Aiden, please!”

“Say the word, Ashleigh!”

“No!”

“Say it!” He swiped the crack of her ass from top to bottom.

“Midnight,” she sobbed, “Midnight.”

Panting with beads of sweat glistening on his forehead, Aiden dropped the belt. It clattered to the ground marking the end of the short-lived interaction. Aiden yanked up her jeans then stepped back against the wall with his lips pressed together in a hard line, glaring at her.

Trembling and completely dishevelled, with knotted hair, mascara running down her face, and her once perfectly painted lips now violently smudged and swollen from his amorous kissing, Ash righted herself and turned to look at Aiden. “What the fuck, Aiden? What the hell is wrong with you?”

Aiden narrowed his eyes at her, “Nothing. I am exactly as I am, exactly as I have always been.”

Ash shook her head, “This is not who you were with me.”

“I gave you what you asked for, Ashleigh. I told you I would hurt you.”

“But not like that! You do not fucking treat me like that.”

 “You seem to have a lot of opinions about how I am supposed to treat you, as if I owe you something just because once upon a time we were something. We are nothing; I owe you nothing! What we had has long since been over, so whatever power you like to think you have over me does not exist.” He pushed himself off of the wall and stalked over to her, with his shoulders tense and eyes on fire making Ash shrink back under his gaze. “You will not Siren me or twist my arm to make me be with you in any way. I am not one of your conquests Ash, I am Aiden fucking Michaels, the leader of the most dangerous group of organised criminals in South London, and no matter how much you want to be, you are not my redemption, you cannot save me or placate whatever is inside of me that makes me this way, so stop trying and do your fucking job,” he boomed.

Ash looked up at him with tears in her eyes and a heavy heart; “I did not try to Siren you, Aiden” she choked.

“Yes you did,” he sneered, “You tried to manipulate me into exposing my weakness and once you thought I was vulnerable you preyed on it because you thought that what we had was passionate and exciting, and you needed it again, you need me to help you feel again because none of your other lovers can do that for you. If they could you wouldn’t bother with me.”

“That’s not true!”

“Yes it is. You’ve spent most of your life giving your body to faceless men so that they could get their rocks off, and so that you could get your own way, and it made you numb -I changed that.”

“Because I fell in love you, Aiden!” she cried thumping her fists against his chest.

“Because you fell in love with the rush! You don’t really want me Ash, you just want to feel something, but I am not an object for you to get your kicks with,” Aiden grabbed her hands, “I am a deeply disturbed man with an unhealthy way of letting out my problems. I’m not a thrill, I’m a hazard.” He pushed her away from him and returned coolly to his chair at the head of the table.

Ash quickly swiped her tears away and smoothed her hair back from her face. Closing her eyes, she breathed deep and waited for the lump in her throat to subside and the dull ache in her chest to become somewhat bearable. She swallowed, “Why do you want me to hate you so much?”

“I don’t want you to hate me, I want you to stop thinking that you love me and help me run my fucking empire.” Aiden kicked his feet up on the desk, “I’ve kept up my end of the bargain, now you keep up yours. Go and fix yourself up and when you come back I’ll tell you who you’re going to first.”

Without another word Ash stormed out of the room. Aiden released a deep breath and relaxed into the chair. It felt good to not have to tense his muscles anymore in fear of what he might do if he let go. It felt good to be back in control.

“I thought you had forgotten yourself for a minute there.” Aiden looked up to see Dougie standing at the door with a stern look on his face. He hadn’t heard him come in.

“I almost did,” he confessed to his best friend.

“I know. I’m glad you didn’t,” Dougie came and sat on the right hand side of Aiden. He clasped his hands together on top of the desk, “She can’t be here anymore.”

“She has a job to do first. We’re losing contacts to move the weight cause of this Lockewood thing.”

“And you think she’ll fuck them back on side?” Dougie guessed.

“I know she will. She almost got to me, she can get to them.”

“I suppose, but are you sure you want to risk it?”

“Risk it? Dougie, it’s Ash, I can handle her.”

“She’s going to leave,” he replied pragmatically.

“No she won’t.”

“You didn’t see the look on her face. You’ve pissed her off.”

Aiden shrugged, “Okay, well even if she does, she’ll come back.”

Dougie clenched his jaw and reached into his jacket, pulling his gun from his holster. He placed it on the table and looked at Aiden steadily, “If she does, she’ll be dead.”

Aiden frowned at Dougie and grabbed the gun from off of the table out of his reach, “You will not kill her.”

Dougie pulled out a second gun but said nothing.

“Dougie, you will not, under any circumstance, kill Ash, is that clear?”

 Dougie pulled out a third gun, “We’ll see how you feel once she fucks us over.” 

#RunningWilde Ch. 10 | Femme Fatale

I know to be there
When and where, I'll be there
You know what's to be said
We said out loud, we never said

-Together, The xx

If a volcano could be a person, in that moment it would be Ash. Her bright eyes glowed with indignation, her cheeks and neck flourished with heated hues that burned all the way out to the tips of her fiery red hair, and her lips, those permanently scarlet painted lips, curled back over her white teeth into a snarl that was to be the beginning of her eruption. Nobody could erupt quite like Ash; the Siren, a mythological beauty famous for luring men to their deaths.

                She locked her bright eyes onto Aiden’s dark, unwavering ones and settled back into her chair. “Mighty, Stone, may we have the room.” It wasn’t a question.

                “That won’t be necessary,” said Aiden.

                Something silver shot through the air, whistling as it went, narrowly missing Aiden’s face and landed in the wall behind him with a heavy thud. Aiden didn’t flinch but Mighty and Stone did. They looked at the wall to see one of Ash’s Mora knife blades lodged deep in it.

“Get the fuck out.”

Mighty and Stone looked at Aiden. “Give us five minutes,” he growled through gritted teeth; why did she have to be so irritating? He shot her an annoyed look and Ash smiled. Mighty and Stone left and Aiden got to his feet.

“Find another way,” Ash demanded.

Aiden sighed and yanked the blade out of the wall. “Ashleigh_”

“Aiden,” she snapped, clenching her fist in her lap, “Find another way.”

Aiden turned the blade meant for his head over in his hands, “There is no other way.”

Ash slammed her fist against the desk, “Then fucking make one!”

Aiden walked over to her and held the blade out with the sharp end between his fingers, “So is that a no?” he asked coolly.

“Is that a fuck you?” she snatched the blade from him.

“It’s a question. Give me an answer.”

Ash looked up at Aiden from under her eyelashes and brought the tip of her blade to the inner curve of his knee. Slowly, she dragged the gleaming weapon up his inner thigh until she reached his apex. She pressed the blade into the seam of his black trousers and nicked one of the threads so it popped apart, “I already did.”

Aiden’s mouth subtly quirked up at the corner; she was really testing his patience today. Holding her pretty indignant gaze, he wrapped his thick fingers around her pale wrists and pulled her hand away. She fought against him of course, Ash was never one to give up when she wanted something, but Aiden, with his rippling muscles and unrivalled strength, overpowered her with next to no effort. He let go of her hand, “Then this conversation is over.”  He turned his back on her to return to his seat.

“No it’s not,” Ash snarled and lodged her Mora knife blade into the table top, “You are going to find another way.”

“Am I now?”

“Yes,” she jumped up from her seat, closed the space between them with two determined strides and tugged on his arm to turning him back to face her, “Aiden, you can’t force me into some bullshit ultimatum like this. It’s not fair.”

“Not fair?” he scoffed, “Ash, I’m telling you to do your job.”

“My job is more than that Aiden. I am more than that,” she screamed slapping her freckled hand into her chest with every syllable.

Aiden lowered his voice to a low growl and squared up to her, “As true as that may be Ashleigh, this is what I am telling you to do, this is what I need you to do. You don’t have to like it you just have to do it, because that is how this works. I am the boss, I give the orders and you follow them, and if you can’t follow orders then you have no place here.”

“Send someone else. You have other females at your disposal.”

“They’re amateurs.”

Ash shifted her weight onto her right leg, popping her hip out to exaggerate her sweeping curves, “If that’s the problem then I can teach them a few tricks. It’s not hard to get a man to have sex with a woman, trust me I know,” she jested with a suggestive wink.

Aiden bit down on his back teeth and lifted his chin. She was shifting tactics, flirting as he knew she would eventually. Ash was tenacious in her endeavours; if one way didn’t work she would find another, but so would Aiden. He admired her tenacity once, how she slinked, swooned and seduced her way through life to get what she wanted, but over time Aiden figured her out. This beautiful woman that looked like art and fucked like poetry would always fall to sex as her final attack -it was what she was good at. Aiden was better. He’d enjoyed her seduction countless times, refusing her every now and then to see what trick she would pull out of the bag next until she had run out of techniques, until Aiden knew all of her harmonious lyrics and had memorised the enthralling choreography she displayed that had made so many men fall. After that she was no longer a challenge to him, the mystery was gone and the Siren stripped of her super powers because her victim had learned her ways and had made himself deadlier than her. He had become her kryptonite. That was how he’d gotten her to cave to him and crave him the way she did. She should have chosen a better tactic.

Aiden’s brooding brown eyes stared down at her, “It’s not just sex with you Ash, it never has been. It’s you,” he lifted his hand to touch her face, bringing it close enough to her skin so that she could feel his heat, but not him; “All of you.” He waited and she waited, but his touch never came. Instead Aiden caught a loose tendril of her red hair between his fingers and twirled it slowly. It wasn’t much of anything, but it was Aiden and she was Ash so it was enough. Ash exhaled through parted red lips. Aiden leaned in a fraction of an inch and his voice came softer, “Ashleigh, you are altogether something else, and you pretend like you know, but you don’t; not really. Many women have loved me, but you were the only one who made me love you back. No other woman has been able to hold my affections the way you did, no other person drove me to the point of insatiable insanity that you did.” He tucked her hair behind her ear and she quivered. “You were almost the ruining of me, of everything. You we’re spectacular. What you have can’t be taught.”

Ash fought not to function more than necessary, because if she breathed too deep, looked too hard, listened too intently or attempted to move even a little, she knew she would move closer to him. Aiden would consume her senses. How intoxicating it was to stand centimetres apart from the love of her life and hear him speak of her as if she were something to be worshipped. He had worshipped her once and she missed it; everyday she missed it. Having the heart of Aiden Michaels was a wondrous thing; he was so intense and passionate in his way once he finally let her in that Ash was convinced that no other man on the planet was worth loving or being loved by because they would never be able to love her like that. But he didn’t love her like that anymore.

“Nor can it be given away so freely,” she whispered unintentionally. She cleared her throat and stepped backwards. Aiden stepped with her. “I have brought world leaders to their knees.”

“Yes.”

She stepped back again, “I brought you to your knees.”

Aiden stepped forward, “I remember,” his eyes burned into hers, “Vividly.

Ash continued to walk backwards but Aiden kept close, “I’m no angel, I know that, so I made sure to be a perfect sinner.” Her back hit the wall.

“So sin,” he purred, staring her down. He pressed his large palms to the wall on either side of her frame, trapping her against the wall and keeping her there with the intensity of his gaze, reminiscent of a time when they were so lost in each other that the world stopped when their lips touched.

“Don’t do that,” she whispered.

“Do what?” his eyes fell to her red lips. She ran her tongue over them and pulled the bottom one into her mouth.

“Don’t manipulate me this way, Aiden. Don’t make me choose between myself and you.”

“I’m telling you to choose your family.”

“No you’re not, not anymore because you know it’s not enough. The Mafia is my family and I love them, I swear I do, but you…” she was trying to delay saying it out loud, she hadn’t said it in so long, “Aiden you are my life.” A strange sensation came over Ash. This tension that had knotted itself around her ribs since Aiden pushed her away suddenly burst inside her chest and it felt like breathing. Ash could breathe. She gasped and blinked up at him.

Aiden clenched his jaw. He forced himself not to acknowledge the brutal sincerity in her sparkling turquoise eyes. He wanted to look away from her but he couldn’t because Ash looked like a Monet; a picturesque freckled fantasy crafted out of dots and a dream. He had kept her once upon a time; this beautiful woman was all his to do with as he pleased and she was so willing to belong to him again…but Aiden shouldn’t keep beautiful women. He frowned and dropped his arms then turned his head from her, “You can’t say that.”

Ash boldly grabbed his face and forced him to look at her making Aiden’s dark eyes burn bright and wild, torn between what he wanted and what he knew was right. Her grip on him loosened to something more affectionate and she sighed; he had said that she was spectacular, but looking at him Ash could only think, ‘he has never seen himself?’

“I just did,” she said stubbornly, “And I don’t give a fuck about how you feel about it because I love you Aiden. I am in love with you to the point that I will do anything for you and you know it, so I am asking you, please Aiden, please do not make me do this.”

Aiden regained his resolve, “Ashleigh,” he said quietly, standing taller and glaring down at her. She couldn’t do this, not right now, not when they had so much on their plate to handle. He needed his Siren, his soldier, not his fallen ex-lover, “Understand this now because it is the last time I’m going to say it; this is not about you, this is bigger than you, this is more important than how you feel. My brother has been kidnapped, Sofia is dead, my baby nephew is in hiding, we are in hiding. I have soldiers guarding my mother twenty-four hours a day whilst we have a street war on our hands and not enough soldiers to fight it and survive, and the only reason we are still alive is because of that pretty little girl tied to the bed, so right now we need everyone to do their job, and I am getting tired of telling you to do your fucking job Ash, I really am, so if you are not going to play your role then I don’t need you, okay. We don’t need you.”

“But seven men, Aiden_”

Aiden slammed his hand against the wall silencing her in an instant, “We are not good people, we don’t do good things. We are bad, Ash, we are very, very bad. In fact we are the worst kind. We lie, we cheat, we steal, we torture, we kill, and sometimes we even fuck to get what we want. That is who we are, that is how we survive, we could be more but we’re not because that isn’t the life we chose. We. Chose. THIS! So let me reiterate that how you feel doesn’t matter, okay? In the grand scheme of things, if you’re not down with us, YOU don’t matter!”

“What about to you?” she screamed in his face.

“What?”

“Do I matter to you?”

                Aiden pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed, “Did you hear a word I just said?”

                “Yes, and now I’m asking you, do I matter to you?”

“Do you want to matter to me?”

“It’s all I want, Aiden,” her voice broke as she spoke his name. She was used to his harshness; he had been dishing it out to her by the truckload since they ended things to get her to keep her distance, but having him talk to her the way he used to meant that she couldn’t take it so easily. Breathing again felt too good.

“Then do as you’re told,” he snarled.

“Fine,” Ash lowered her eyes and lowered herself onto her knees, “But only if you make me.” Ash dropped her head , rested on her thighs and parted her knees whilst keeping her ankles together just how Aiden had trained her to do in their other lifetime.

Aiden’s eyes widened and he took in a shaky breath. This was an unexpected turn of events. Aiden thought that he would be able to navigate her at every curveball she threw his way but he wasn’t prepared for her to do this.

“What are you doing?” he said staring down at the top of her bowed red head, “Ashleigh, stand up.”

“Is that an order…Sir?” she purred softly. That made his heartbeat quicken, the way she said it so well and so willingly. He shoved his hand into his pocket to stop himself from stroking her head for being such a good girl.

“No. Yes. I mean…Goddammit Ashleigh, stand up!”

“Only if you make me,” she repeated.

Aiden stepped back from her. He wanted to make her stand up. He wanted to reach down and grab a handful of her soft curls and yank her to her feet, listen to the way the pain made her whimper and how the fear would make her eyes glisten as the tears made them glassy, then feel it all fall away as he clutched her trembling body against his, and kissed her and kissed her until her lips were sore with how much he truly missed her. That would only be the beginning, the careful part. After that all hell would break loose and he would do terrible things to her, terrible, wonderful things that would make him regret ever keeping himself away from her, but he’d sworn that he wouldn’t.

Aiden closed his eyes so that he couldn’t see her with her knees apart waiting for him, “Why are you doing this?”

“Because you said that it was different. You said that it was different with me,” she whispered into her chest.

“What are you talking about?”

“Ava. You said that it was different, but it wasn’t and if it’s not different then I don’t matter, and if I don’t matter then what’s the point of me doing any of this? I know we’re bad people and we do bad things but there is good in us Aiden, there is love. I could do what I did up to this point because I knew that no matter how many men I was with, I was still yours. You were the only man who could see past all of my fuckery and love me anyway, and I loved you for it but most of all I love that you were the one who loved me. No one else mattered to you like I did, but now she’s here and you’re doing the same thing. You’re giving her you and you swore you wouldn’t do it ever again. You swore it was different.”

Aiden opened his eyes, “It was.”

Ash’s head snapped up and although she was on her knees she was no longer being submissive. She glared at him and it made him relax. “No it wasn’t so don’t fucking lie to me. I heard her. Tell me what you did to her.”

“No.”

“Tell me,” she screamed.

Aiden narrowed his eyes at Ash. He wasn’t about to explain himself to her. What for? He was the one in charge here, not this beautiful ruin with painted lips and freckled alabaster skin. He knew that if he told her what he did with Ava-Marie to make her call out for him the way that Ash once had that it would only fuel Ash’s fire.

She rose up from the ground, “Don’t look at me like that,” she hissed before she turned her back on him. She couldn’t take the weight of his lead eyes anymore; it was too heavy with something that made her feel like an insolent child and she hated it. “I have a right to know Aiden.”

“No you don’t.”

She whipped back around, “Yes I do! You said that it was over and that that was it, that for the sake of the Mafia you wouldn’t go to that place with anyone again. That’s why I came back, Aiden. I came back to you because I knew that this way no matter who you had after me, we couldn’t be touched, but one look at her strung up and you reopen Pandora’s box then tell me I have no right. I have every right!” She shoved him, “You got to me, you were relentless. You made me need you, but as soon as you couldn’t control what we were you abandoned me! You forced me to be without you when you knew I didn’t want that. You do what you do for the Mafia and I do what I do for you. I have a fucking right!”

“NO YOU DON’T,” he boomed, “What I do with my prisoner is none of your business. You’ve given me your answer, you’re not going to help us so get your shit and get out.”

“I will help you, but you have to compromise with me,” she said.

“No.”

Ash shook her head at him, “I know you Aiden, you’ve scratched that itch with the Lockewood girl and now you need it.”

“I don’t need it.”

“Yes you do. I bet you can’t wait to resolve this little spat with me so that you can take your frustrations out on her and then call it torture. It’s not torture, it’s heaven and she’s this untouched angel that you will drag to hell screaming hallelujah in tongues.” Ash moved closer and pressed her palms to Aiden’s proud chest, “She’s not used to a man like you and you will go overboard because she doesn’t understand how to handle you, but I do,” her hands slid u and caressed his broad shoulders. “I’m offering you your solace Aiden. We can do it differently this time, we can both work together to keep it under control and to keep the Mafia up. It can be me and you again.”

Aiden pulled her hands off of him. She was saying all of these things and they sounded so good and he wanted so badly to believe that they were doable, that he and Ash could actually function as a couple in their world but he knew it was impossible. Ash didn’t understand the magnitude of what he had felt for her and even though he had weened himself off of her he couldn’t be sure that if he had a taste that he wouldn’t devour her again. He needed to keep his head in the game. “No,” he repeated standing taller.

“Well then you have to stop, Aiden. You’ll ruin us if you carry on.”

“There is no us Ashleigh,” he grunted. Why couldn’t she just stop? Did she see Ava-Marie being such a threat that she had to push so hard not to be disregarded from his heart? Ava was a prisoner, Ash was his first love; her place would never be taken. She needed to let him be because the more she pushed, the more irritated he became, and the more irritated he became, the more he was tempted to act on it, and he only had one way of acting on it when it came to Ash.

She scowled at him, “I meant the Mafia. You will ruin all of us if you don’t get your shit together!”

“I’ve got my shit together, you’re the one that needs to wake the fuck up. Here tryna give me a lecture just because you’re so caught up in your jealousy that you can’t do what the fuck you’re supposed to do.”

“Jealous?” The volcano erupted once more. Ash’s eyes flashed and she shoved her hand in Aiden’s face, “I DID WHAT THE FUCK I WAS SUPPOSED TO DO. IF IT WASN’T FOR ME YOU WOULDN’T HAVE THE BITCH IN THE FIRST PLACE. I CAUGHT HER, NOT YOU!” she screamed getting up in his face and shoving him in his head again. “I FUCKED LIKE A GOD DAMN PORNSTAR TO BRING HER HERE AND YOU WANNA HAVE THIS BITCH SCREAMING DOWN THE WHOLE FUCKING COMPOUND, DISRESPECTING ME LIKE I DIDN’T GO UP AGAINST MAX YANG FOR YOU, LIKE I DIDN’T KIDNAP VINCE LOCKEWOOD’S CHILD FOR YOU, AND NOW YOU WANNA MAKE HER YOUR GOD DAMN PLAY THING!” Her hand went for his face again but Aiden caught it, nostrils flared and growling viciously, but Ash was too fired up to care. “I risked my life so that we could get Keegan back and now you’re throwing that away and pretending that you can’t see the way this is going to end.”

“Don’t put your hands in my face.”

Ash sucked her teeth and thrust her other hand into his forehead, “Or what? You’ll put me across your knees and make me call you ‘Sir’?” she asked mimicking the way Ava-Marie had whimpered it. Aiden mouth tightened and his palm twitched at his side –he would love nothing better than to put this insubordinate woman across his knees and remind her who she was taunting. “Like I said, we all fucking heard her. You’re so fucking twisted Aiden,” Ash said snidely. She grabbed his hand and placed it at the base of her creamy swan-like throat. Aiden’s eyes widened and he sucked in a short sharp breath as memories of Ash gagging and clawing at his hand before her eyes rolled back in her head as she climaxed before passing out catapulted to the front of his mind. He hadn’t touched her like that in years and doing it now made him want to. Fucking Ash was phenomenal. How easy it was to make her porcelain skin flush under the strength of his dark limbs, and oh the many ways he could paint her body shades of red, purple, black and blue until she looked like living expressionism. Ash always looked like art, but when she was Aiden’s she was a masochistic masterpiece. “I bet you loved having something wild and vulnerable in front of you to tame, break and piece back together with your immorally capable hands, didn’t you Sir?” she laughed, mimicking Ava-Marie again.

He clenched his teeth and his fingers twitched, so tempted to tighten... “Stop it.”

“There’s nothing quite like having complete control over a woman and discovering that she likes it,” Ash purred, “It makes it okay to be what you are, to want the things you want and not have to feel like a monster for taking such perverse pleasure in it, isn’t that right Sir?” She let go of his hand. Aiden didn’t remove his, he just let it rest there around her long white neck as he tried to get his breathing under control, clenched his jaw and stared down at her and imagined squeezing, pressing into her windpipe and hearing that strangled gasp. “Look at you, you need it,” she stated, watching him struggle to keep his composure. Aiden’s lips parted. “You miss me, don’t you Aiden?” she asked softly, staring up at him with her long black lashes and hopeful eyes.

“Yes,” he admitted with a gruff pant.

“Then show me,” she stepped forward pressing her throat into his hold and gasping the way she knew would drive him wild. Aiden closed his eyes and grunted feeling himself harden. “Show me, please,” she begged. She knew Aiden liked it when she begged him

“Stop it Ashleigh, I can’t.”

“I’ll do whatever you want me to, I promise Sir.” This time she said it in her own voice and Aiden fingers snapped into position.

“Why are you pushing me,” he rumbled.

“You need it and I need you. I’m your fix, not her.”

“But I told you it’s not the same with her.”

“It could be. This is the start of it and if you don’t stop this you will get us all killed, so do it to me.”

Aiden’s arm began to tremble. He knew he should let go but he didn’t want to, not yet. “I’ll hurt you Ash,” he warned.

She gulped and said, “I know. I want you to.”

The sound that followed Ash’s admission resembled the last huge intake of air before being dragged down into the depths of the sea and not knowing if you were ever going to get the chance to see the sun again. Aiden closed his eyes and smiled.

***

#RunningWilde Ch. 9 | How To Lose You

The sticky red bottoms of Vince’s Louboutin brogues treaded into the main office with cool measured steps. The smell of blood and death clung to his tailored suit, his usually perfectly slicked back hair was tousled and his icy blue eyes wild with redemption. He felt better now, he felt like himself. Beating that little punk to death was therapeutic, the only problem was that now he didn’t have anything to leverage getting his only child, Ava-Marie, back with.

Chris -Vince’s underboss -and three capos were in the office. The capos were discussing the move they had made on the Diamond Mafia’s salon earlier that day and were busy plotting their next move while Chris was on the phone to Max being updated on the aftermath. He hung up the moment he saw Vince walk in looking like a massacre.

                “Lemme call you back… Boss what the hell happened to you?”

                “I’m fine,” Vince huffed fanning his long-time partner and friend off as he made his way to the minibar in the corner and poured himself a double shot of scotch, the good kind he saved for special occasions.

Chris noticed the wounds on Vince’s knuckles and his jaw tightened, “Vinny, what did you do?” He only called him Vinny when it was serious, when he had to be more than The Syndicate underboss; when he had to be a friend.

Vince ran his bloodied hand through his tousled chestnut locks and took a deep swig of his scotch. He wasn’t fond of Chris referring to him as Vinny in front of company and Chris knew that, but the fact that he had done it anyway meant that Vince must look a sight. He sunk down into his leather desk chair and took off his suit jacket then handed it to Chris, “I need some fresh clothes,” he replied flippantly. He took another swig.

Chris held the bloodied suit jacket out to Bruce, one of the capos, “You heard the boss, go get him some clean shit.” Bruce nodded and left the room. Chris turned back to Vince who was now in the process of unbuttoning his ruined white shirt; that much blood was never going to come out of the previously pristine fabric properly. Chris sucked his teeth, “You shoulda taken off your outerwear; you taught me that.”

Vince glanced up, his wild blue eyes glinting under the bright spotlights that were embedded in the low dark ceiling like an electric starry night; “I know,” he said lowly through gritted teeth, “I got carried away.”

“Doing what? Vinny you gotta start talking. What do we need to clean up?” Chris pressed holding out his hand for Vince’s shirt.

“The basement,” he replied morbidly looking away from his men and glaring into his now empty tumbler. He fucked up big time and now he had to admit it. Vince never liked admitting that he fucked up.

“The basement?” Chris’s forehead wrinkled, “Boss, are you serious? That kid was all we had_”

“YOU THINK I DON’T KNOW THAT?” Vince boomed slamming his palms down on his desk and jumping to his feet. The capos flinched but Chris didn’t even blink, he simply waited for Vince to compose himself and continue. Vince sighed, “We need to find something else; we need a new plan because K. Dot is dead.”

                “What else? The whole reason Michaels took Ava-Marie is because we took his brother. What the fuck do you think he’s gonna do to her once he finds out you offed him?”

                “He’s not gonna find out, not until we get Ava back, so think Chris.”

Bruce came back in the room with a navy suit by Tom Ford for Vince in a clothing bag. “Here you go boss.”  

Vince looked away from Chris’s disappointed face and removed the remainder of his tainted clothing. This was a real rookie move for him, something he would have been stupid enough to do when he was just a solider, and something he knew better than to do as the boss. But it had felt so good when his fists pummelled the boy who had started all of this mess, the stupid boy who made Vince put his little girl’s life in jeopardy at the hands of the notoriously dangerous Aiden Michaels, and it had been so long since Vince had gotten his hands dirty -as the boss he usually had other men handling the gritty stuff so his hands could stay clean. As good as it felt, Vince was quickly wishing that his hands were clean because the longer he spent in Chris’s presence the more it weighed down on him about what he’d just done. The risk of losing Ava-Marie was realer than ever before, and if he didn’t find some way to get her back before that bastard Michaels found out, he would lose her forever.

“Leave us,” he snapped at his capos. He had to speak to Chris alone, Chris would figure out what to do. They’d always made a good team, Vince and Chris. They’d met in their late teens working under the previous holder of The Syndicate, Harry Thronton -God rest his soul -and had worked their way up. When Harry got popped Vince was his successor and had taken The Syndicate to a whole new level with Chris as his right hand man. Whenever he went off the rails Chris was the one who helped him get back on again. He needed him to do that now because he was so far off the rails that he couldn’t think straight. Once the room was cleared Vince looked over at his friend and waited.

Chris pulled a black and gold Sobranie cigarette from his breast pocket and slotted it between his thin lips, “Vinny, you fucked up, big time,” he said patting his jacket for his lighter.

Vince slid open his desk draw and grabbed one of his spares and tossed it to Chris; he was always losing his lighters. “Chris you don’t understand. That bastard put my baby on the phone…and he was doing things to her…” he trailed off and closed his eyes, forcing his mind to sing a melody over the memory of the illicit song that Ava-Marie whimpered for their enemy. He needed another shot of that scotch. “The fucker told her about Louise too.”

Chris froze mid-imported Russian cigarette lighting; “Oh shit! How the fuck did he know?”

“His team is exceptional. We never should’ve fucked with them,” Vince admitted quietly. Yup, he definitely needed that scotch now. He poured himself another double.

“Vinny, we’re The Syndicate, we run this fuckin’ city, which means that we can fuck with whoever we want. The DM is getting too big for their boots and it’s up to us to put ‘em back where they belong; in the fucking gutters of the ghetto.” He lit the fancy cigarette.

“They’ve got Ava, Chris! We got cocky and we weren’t prepared for this. I wasn’t prepared for this and now I’ve fucked up and there’s a dead kid in our basement.”

“Don’t even worry about that; clean-up will clean up and there will be no trace of him. We’ll be all right, Vinny,” Chris replied confidently, not because he believed it, but because for the sake of their livelihood he needed his boss to.

Vince frowned at his underboss, “How? We have no leverage.”

Chris pursed his lips around the gold filter then clicked his fingers promisingly, “We might,” he smiled.

“Well let me hear it ‘cause we got two days left and nothing to trade Ava for.”

Chris leant over Vince’s desk and ashed his cigarette into the empty glass tumbler –Vince had had enough to drink. “I just got off the phone with Max. He’s down at the salon watching who shows up to handle business.”

“And?”

“Right, so the front owner of the salon, Trish, ain’t been around since the day after I got K Dot.”

“So?”

“Turns out that K Dot’s girl, Sofia, had a kid with the little punk and Trish is the God mother. I sent some guys round to his place to see if we could find the baby, figured that a little more leverage with Michaels’ nephew might make him a little more cooperative with Ava, but the place was swept clean, no fingerprints, no evidence of where he went, so we asked around. One of the neighbours said he was probably with Trish.”

“Michaels’ probably shipped them off. We won’t find ‘em.” Vince sighed.

“Not exactly; Aiden sent Dougie down to the salon to talk with the police and try to get shit sorted. Trish’s last name is Monroe; she’s Dougie’s sister. We get Max to bring him in we may be able to lure Trish out of hiding and that way we get the kid.”

“No,” Vince shook his head. The plan had sounded promising up until then. “Max can’t handle Dougie. He’s not ready.”

“Ahh Vinny c’mon; you’ve been schooling this kid for years, of course he’s ready! He’s a Syndicate solider; let him do what he’s supposed to do. You had him trailing after Ava-Marie for the past three years, wasting his talents, and then he fuckin’ loses her to chase after some pussy and you don’t even top him!” Vince glares angrily at Chris. “All I’m saying is the kid needs to earn his place back among us. Make him prove that he deserves this second chance Vinny, make him bring in Dougie.”

“And what if he can’t? I practically raised Max since he was fifteen, he’s loyal, he’s family; what if Dougie kills him?” Chris looked away. “Dougie Monroe ain’t like the rest of those DM fuckers_”

“Neither is Max!” Chris snapped. “Look Vinny, if you don’t get this kid to do this we have nothing, and if we have nothing we don’t have a chance in hell of getting Ava back. I know this shit’s fucking with your head right now but you gotta get it together. You’re Vince Lockewood; people don’t fuck with Vince Lockewood cause you do whatever the fuck you need to do to keep your house in order.” Chris thrusts his phone in Vince’s direction, “So keep your house in order.”

*

Max was stood at the bus stop across the street from Diamond’s hair salon watching smugly as the locals gaped at the ruin The Syndicate had unleashed on it. Crowds milled about, stylists fluttered in and out, police tried to keep everything under control, and in the middle of the chaos he could see Dougie.

Dougie was like the eye of the storm; chaos surrounded him but he was calm and collected as he answered the necessary questions the feds fired at him. You could see that they didn’t trust him; Dougie didn’t look like a business man. Aiden could pull the act off if he put on a suit, but not Dougie; his entire persona rejected the idea. Dougie never rocked suits because he couldn’t move in them the way he wanted too, it threw off his lethal skills, so he rocked his Diamond Mafia uniform of black proudly, with a bit of thug in every drop. As much as the police had nothing on him it didn’t stop them from looking at him sideways, but Dougie didn’t care, they couldn’t touch him. The Diamond Mafia were no secret but Aiden had their operation sewn so tightly with crooked cops in one pocket and happy, cooperative, community members in the other that they had to let them all be.

Max watched the way Dougie moved among them, steadfast and self-assured, but not cocky. He’d heard about the likes of Dougie Monroe and how he was a silent and deadly force, that as soon as he wanted you dead, you were, and no amount of protection could save you from him. Dougie was the living hand of death. Max respectfully admired him; Dougie was a legend in their line of work. You never wanted to find out that Dougie was looking for you because it was a notification to let you know that your time was almost up. It was better not to know if he was coming for you –at least that way you didn’t waste your final hours trying to hide how scared you were to be on his radar up until the time his weapon of choice brought your existence to a swift and brutal close.

Max’s phone vibrated in his pocket; it was Vince.

“Yeah?” he answered.

“You still got eyes on Dougie?”

“Yeah.”

“Bring him to me.”

“Got it.”

Vince hung up.

Max tucked his phone away and tried not to lose his cool as he tried to digest that Vince wanted him to bring in Dougie Monroe, the living hand of death. Either his boss believed in Max’s capabilities that much or he was punishing him for losing his only reason to live; his little girl, the girl Max loved more than life, Ava-Marie. The thought of her forced him to calm his nerves. He would do it, he would get Dougie Monroe and bring him to Vince; for Ava-Marie he would do anything.

He swiped his spiked jet black hair out of his face and looked up to re-evaluate his new target, only to see his new target staring right back at him with a smirk that made Max’s blood run cold. He thought of Ava again.

*

With a towel hanging precariously off of his sculpted hips, flaunting his deep v that led to the part of him that caused many women to cross their legs at the mere thought of it, Aiden carried a sleeping Ava back to her room wrapped in a fluffy black towel. The effect of the wine and the cake and the ever tempting Mr Michaels had taken their toll on her. Her underwear and the long black satin robe still lay in a delicate heap on the tiled slate grey floor of the bathroom. To be honest they were both quite worn out after a further forty-five minutes of talking in the hot, scented bath. Yes, Aiden and Ava-Marie managed to have an actual conversation.

Naturally Ava was suspicious and hesitant at first, but Aiden was persistent. He liked the way her voice sounded soft and husky like a thousand waves crashing against the shoreline, and how expressively she used her pretty little hands when she spoke. It was like she couldn’t keep still, like she couldn’t contain herself once she let go. Everything was so much more with Ava-Marie and Aiden liked that too. Maybe it was because he was still high off of his sadistic addiction, but there was just something about her. She was so alive it was like she wasn’t even real; this cinnamon skinned fantasy with romantic lips and eyes of autumn, who blushed rose gold, whose existence thrummed through her with every breath she took…and every breath she missed. Ava missed many breaths with Aiden, he’d noticed, and it wasn’t because she was scared, it was because she felt him. Whatever black magic a man like him was made of, she could sense it, and she responded to it with a breathless enchantment that made him only want to continue taking her breath away. Even as she lay against him, if he so much as shifted in any way, or spoke too deep, or too softly, she would squirm.

There were moments there with her in the deep oval tub where it was almost as if they had forgotten that they were captor and captive, both of their realities and its pressing demands quieting for a little while to allow them exist together, but she’d remember in random spots of clarity when the weed and alcohol took a brief break from dulling her logic, and she’d freeze up. Aiden liked that also, it reminded them both of who was in charge, and Aiden was a man who loved being in charge and having his formidable power acknowledged. Every time she’d show fear and remember her place, he’d ask her questions, purely to hear her begrudgingly call him ‘sir’ when she answered. It kept his hard-on going, which he used to persuade her to warm up to him again by gently bumping his length against her slit.

His fullness ached from being stood at attention for so long. God he longed to ram himself deep into her pink velvet and unearth her secret self, the secret self that women like Ava only revealed in the throes of passion -but he didn’t. As fun as it was for him to torture her, he found solace in torturing himself too. He was strong, he had will power, he would not break his control, not for anyone, especially not for a woman with wild hazel eyes that blushed rose gold, and hated him as much as she craved him. Not for her.

They spoke about Ava’s childhood mostly; Aiden was curious to know how Ava-Marie had no idea about her father’s dodgy dealings, and how it felt to be sent away to boarding school, and what it was like to lose her mother. Ava didn’t say much about that last bit. Every time she tried to talk the hurt came back, teamed with the recent heart-breaking discovery of her father’s betrayal. It was so much worse than before. You never really get over losing someone, no matter how much time goes by because you’re haunted –the people who touch your life never really leave you, so you just learn how to live with it. You build a wall around it and you try your best not to visit that dark place inside of you where their ghost resides, but you do eventually. Whenever you do something that you were used to having them around for, their ghost speaks, and its voice carries over the wall saying all the things that person would say, and suddenly you’re on the other side of the wall imagining yourself talking with them…and then that God awful twinge of realisation that none of it is real comes, and you miss them again. You miss them and it fucking hurts. So no, Ava didn’t say much when Aiden asked about her mother, she just told him, “I’m living with it.”

There was silence after that. Ava had closed her eyes with a heavy heart, the feel of Aiden at her back and his soothing scent mixing with the expensive bath products, and she fell asleep. Aiden let her sleep because somehow even silence with Ava-Mare was something to be revered. The silence wasn’t empty with her. He was so used to empty silences that when he shared this reverential one with Ava-Marie sleeping beautifully in his arms, surrounded by water and bubble kingdoms that had formed over the surface, he wanted them to exist together some more. It made him want to keep her, but Aiden shouldn’t keep beautiful things, especially not beautiful women.

***

Aiden lowered Ava’s sleeping frame onto the bed of her temporary prison and unwrapped the plush black towel from around her slowly, pinching the top corners of the material that he had tucked tightly around her pert brown breasts and dragging them away slowly to reveal her body to him all over again. He sucked in a breath as his dark eyes examined her peaceful naked form covered in tiny water droplets that made her golden skin glisten in the light, and the physical start of her ruin around her neck, wrists and feet. The corner of his lip quirked upward; she had come to him an image of exotic perfection and within a few hours he had made her flawed. He preferred her this way; not because she was marked up, but because she wasn’t perfect anymore. Perfection was overrated in Aiden’s book. A little bit of damage was far more interesting to behold.

He slipped a t-shirt over her head, refastened her restraints which were still attached to the four bed posts and pulled the duvet over her. She could rest for now while he checked in with the team and handled some outstanding business, but he would be back for her later on. He grabbed the discarded towel and headed for the door, turning out the lights as he twisted the door handle when Ava shifted and strained against the ropes thenspoke his name.

“Aiden...”

Aiden froze and his back stiffened as his name fell from her blushing lips like a prayer. She wasn’t meant to call him that, he had warned her many times and surely after today’s experiences she knew better. He turned back on the light to glare at her only to find that she was still asleep. He frowned. Why would she speak his name in her sleep; was she dreaming of him? He found himself wondering briefly if it was a good dream…or a nightmare. Aiden shook the thought from his head; it wasn’t like it mattered either way. Ava-Marie was just his captive, living collateral damage that he would be thrilled to be rid of once he got his baby brother back. He turned from her and left the room, flicking the light back off and plunging her back into darkness where she could continue to dream or have nightmares of him.

*

Once Aiden was dressed in his signature Diamond Mafia blacks he ordered the maids to clean the bathroom and headed back to the meeting room for the evening check in with his crew. Stone sat in his usual seat in the corner smoking a blunt, this time with three large black duffle bags in front of him. Mighty was tapping away at his laptop with his headphones on. The music he was playing was loud enough for Aiden to hear that it was that death metal shit that he didn’t like. He tapped Mighty on the shoulder as he passed to let him know he was there so he could put an end to the electric guitars and satanic howling.

Mighty pulled the headphones off his ears grinned up at Aiden, “You all right boss?” he wiggled his eyebrows making Aiden furrow his.

“Yeah, I’m good,” Aiden replied sank down into his usual seat at the head of the table.

“I bet you are,” Mighty scoffed switching his music off and running his hands through his shaggy blonde hair.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“She’s a loud one,” Stone smirked.

Aiden furrowed his brow further, confused as to what his pot head capo was on about.  “What?

Stone took a quick drag of his blueberry blunt, “Lockewood’s daughter fam, she was loud as fuck; the whole compound could hear her. Gina’s cake had her loosened up nicely, yeah?” he laughed making cannabis smoke fill the air in small translucent grey bursts.

“It must have,” Mighty said wide eyed, “I mean Jesus, Aiden, what were you doing to her? One minute she’s crying and the next she’s_”

“Coming.”

Mighty, Stone and Aiden looked over to the door to see a very disgruntled Ash staring them down. Aiden clenched his jaw; if what his men said about Ava’s moans filling the compound was true then there was no doubt that Ash heard her too, and if Ash heard her too then that was another problem on top of the many Aiden already had to deal with.

Mighty looked away from Aiden’s jealous ex-lover and back to his computer screen where he didn’t have to deal with the weight of her scrutinising turquoise eyes shooting daggers at them. “I told you she was loud,” he said quietly. He leant a little closer to Aiden, “But if you’d like to give me a few pointers I’d be much obliged.”

“Mighty!” Aiden warned stiffly, shooting a cautious look at Ash who still hadn’t made a move to sit down.

Ash raised her perfectly arched eyebrow at him with controlled annoyance. She was seething inside but tried her best not to show it because she knew there was no place for her personal emotions when they were discussing business. “No don’t mind me. It’s not like I care or anything.” She sat in the chair the furthest away from Aiden, kicking out her long legs as she crossed them, with her infamous siren smile on her painted red lips.

“Sorry bro but not all of us have the luxury of being a handsome, rich and powerful, six foot tall black man. I can use all the help I can get,” Mighty chuckled, “I’ve never made one of my girls scream like that.”

“And you never will,” Ash snapped. She didn’t want to hear another word about Aiden and that little Lockewood bitch, she was having a hard enough time trying to block out the memory of her innocent moans echoing down the hallway as her former lover did the things he used to do to Ash to his so called prisoner. “Now can we stop wasting time and talk business like we came here to do. You lot will have plenty of time to trade tickle dick tips later.”

                Aiden rolled his eyes; Ash knew better than anyone that Aiden didn’t have a tickle dick. He’d made her scream louder than Ava had once upon a time. “Stone, how we doing?” he asked choosing to jump right in rather than waste more time talking about things that would piss Ash off.

Stone rose to his feet in his fluid high fashion, and unzipped the three duffle bags to reveal the wads of cash stacked by the thousands and held together with thick rubber bands. He chucked two stacks into the centre of the black top table, “We made about eighty G’s,” he said neutrally waiting for Aiden to decide how he felt about their recent takings before he decided to voice how he truly felt about it.

Just like Stone thought he would, Aiden frowned; “Eighty grand! What the fuck is this, Stone? We should be raking in one-fifty minimum, and that’s on a bad week. What the fuck is going on?”

“This shit with the Syndicate is too hot, fam. Some of our distributors are either laying low for the time being, or they’ve pulled out altogether,” Stone explained tightly.

Aiden gritted his teeth in an attempt to try and keep a lid on his temper. As the boss, he couldn’t get mad the way he used too when the Mafia were just a bunch of small time hustlers. They were a well-respected criminal organisation on the come up so even if everybody was running around screaming, Aiden had to keep his cool. “What do you mean some of them pulled out?”

Stone sat back down and took another drag of his blunt, “Bruv, we’re up against Vincent Lockewood. They’re more shook of him than they are of us.”

“Then they’re even dumber than they look.” Aiden growled.

“The real idiot here is the person who’s stealing our business,” Mighty chimed in unexpectedly, chewing on the corner of his lips, deep in thought. They all hushed and turned to look at him. Once Mighty stopped being irritating and was actually making good use of his genius, he was worth listening to.

“You think someone’s stealing from us?” Ash asked uncrossing her legs and leaning forward.

“It’s possible; I mean there has to be another source. All these distributors can’t drop us without having a back-up.”

“You think they could be going to the Syndicate instead?”

Mighty shook his head, tossing his dirty blonde tresses and making them fall back into his face, “No, Vince would never reach that far down the food chain, not even to piss us off.”

“We run the south. There is no one out there on our level that could take our spot,” Stone interjected arrogantly.

“No one that we know of...”

Aiden lifted his elbows onto the table and rubbed his large hands together mechanically -he was itching to hit something. His mind instantly went to Ava-Marie, tied to the bed and sighing his name in her sleep. He cracked his knuckles. “I want a list of every mother fucker that is stupid enough to think they can fuck with our cash flow, including the ones who are laying low. If Mighty’s right and these pricks have found another source I wanna know who the fuck it is so I can put them and every single one of these pussy’oles out of business.”

“How are we gonna do that? Aiden, we’ve already got one war on our hands, do you really think we can afford to start another one alongside it?” Ash asked.

Aiden’s dark, stormy eyes peered at her over his still moving hands. He licked his lips, “Simple, a little bit of divide and conquer,” he said darkly. He rested his palms on the table and cocked his head to the side, “Work ‘em from the inside out.”

Ash shifted in her seat and dropped her once withering gaze to the less intimidating blackness of her top. She watched her cleavage tremble within the low cut confines of her top as she tried to control her shaky breathing, trying not to let on how much his gaze was affecting her. It had been a while since Aiden looked at her like that, like he wanted to bend her across the desk and take his frustrations out on her until she was swollen and sore between her long pale legs. Whatever he had done with the Lockewood girl in that bathroom had triggered the part of him he had sworn off of. Aiden’s sexual predatory demon had been reawakened and was hell bent on making it hard for Ash to focus on doing her job.   

“Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter,” Mighty grinned, cottoning on to where Aiden was going with this.

Reluctantly, Aiden ripped his eyes away from Ash and looked ordinarily at Mighty. That gave Ash the opportunity to look up again without fear of whimpering and blushing. She crossed her legs and sat straighter as if nothing had happened, as if Aiden had not undone her with just one heated look and two sexual innuendos.

“Once the sheep scatter we recruit them for our cause,” Aiden said; the corner of his moist lips quirking upwards smugly at how easy it was to make Ash react to him.

Back on form, Ash narrowed her eyes at him, “And if they refuse?”

Aiden cocked his eyebrow, “What makes you think they would refuse us?”

“We’re on shaky ground right now Aiden, our name might not be enough,” Mighty said, “The streets know a war is coming and they’re picking sides. We’re up against the Syndicate, ain’t no way in hell they’re pegging us as the victors.”

“Are you bitching up on me Mighty? ‘Cause if you are_”

Mighty threw up his hands, “I’m not, I’m just saying it how it is boss. Until K Dot is back they ain’t gonna hear us and you know it.”

“I’ve got Lockewood’s daughter,” Aiden pointed out.

“Lockewood’s got the whole of London,” Stone countered.

“So what, you got a better idea, brainbox?” Ash snapped at Mighty, irritated that they were back at square one.

“As a matter of fact I do,” he smirked at her.

“Well let’s hear it then.”

“You.” Ash stiffened. Mighty turned to Aiden, “We can’t afford to make new enemies right now and nobody wants to lose out on money, so how about instead of pissing the distributors off, we send in the Siren to make friends with them for the time being?”

“I don’t fuck small timers,” Ash sneered narrowing her eyes at Mighty. She wanted to slap him for even suggesting something so beneath her.

“That could work,” Aiden said settling back into his chair “Good thinking, Mighty.”

“What?” Ash blinked at him in disbelief, “Have you lost your fucking mind?”

“We need to send you out there Ash. You play nice with them and get them back on our side so that we can get our money right, and when this shit blows up we’ve got enough soldiers to take on Lockewood. Once it’s over we can send in Dougie for Aiden’s divide and conquer plan,” Mighty explained in a logical manner.

“I like it,” Aiden nodded. This was a good plan and if they pulled it off right then not only would they have a better chance of beating The Syndicate, but this could elevate them to the next level in the game.

“Aiden, the shit hasn’t even blown up and yet and these fuck boys are already running, and you expect me to lay down with them? They’ll fuck you over the first chance they get,” Ash yelled, her perfect freckled alabaster face turning a deep shade of red.

“No they won’t, Ash. You’re good at what you do. I’ve got faith in my little Siren,” he said firmly, the undertone of a warning for her to remember her place evident in his tone.

“In your little whore, you mean!”

Aiden glared at her. Stone and Mighty shifted in their seats.

“Ash, babes, we’re under a lot of pressure right now, we can’t afford to rock anymore boats. You down with us like you say you are or what?” Stone asked gently, hoping that his mellow approach would diffuse some of the tension.

Ash huffed, “Of course I’m down with you lot, but_”

“But nothin’!” Aiden snarled, “If you’re down, then be down. Do it for the crew.”

Ash bit down on her red lips and closed her eyes to gather her thoughts. “Everything I’ve ever done has been for the crew,” she said quietly. She looked at Aiden, “And look at how the crew is doing me.” Aiden’s jaw tightened and he looked away.

“How we’re doing you? What? This is what you do, Ash,” Mighty stressed confused as to what the big deal was when Ash did this sort of thing all the time.

“Yes, with the odd world leader, sheik and mob boss, not with these run of the mill dope boys.”

“A dick’s a dick Ash,” he shrugged, “I don’t get why you’re being difficult.”

“Of course you don’t get it, you’d jump at the chance to fuck something other than your hand,” she hissed. She sighed and put her head in her hands, “Stone, how many guys are we talking, roughly?”

Stone shrugged like it wasn’t a big deal but diverted his eyes, “I dunno b, about seven man_”

“SEVEN! I have to spread my legs for seven fuck-boys, basically one after the other,” she was back to glaring at Mighty, “And you don’t get it?”

“I don’t have time for this,” Aiden sighed. Every moment they wasted arguing was another moment nothing got done. “Are you down or not Ash, yes or no? ‘Cause if you’re not, you know where the door is.”

***

#RunningWilde Ch. 8 | Afflictions & Addictions

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Aiden released Ava’s shuddering frame and stepped down into the large oval bathtub. Ava watched in wonder as his towering chocolate frame melted away into the abundant eucalyptus and Ylang Ylang scented bubbles, down, down until all she could see were his perfect pecs, tattooed arms and his undeniably striking face. His nudity was a lot easier to observe like this, but even though his more intimate areas were covered it didn’t take away the eroticism that Aiden exuded as effortlessly as breathing. There was something in his genetic makeup that reached out and grabbed Ava by the heart making it race and skip vital beats, leaving her in a constant state of something between light-headedness, fear and arousal. Aiden extended his illustrated arms out along the edge of the bathtub, then staring at her in his intensely dark way he licked his lips and gestured for her to follow through with his throaty orders –Take off your underwear.

Ava was gravitating between two realities; the real one where she knew that she was Aiden’s captive, and that this current intimate situation was only taking place because she had to make a choice, and she chose not to experience the brutal kind of pain that he had inflicted on her earlier that had led to her being strung up from the ceiling with tears pouring down her face and blood dripping from her sore wrists. In the other reality however, she was intoxicated to the point where her morals, dignity and inhibitions were out of sight and out of mind; she actually wanted to get in the tub with all six foot four inches of Aiden Michaels –that was the side that was winning right now. The way he made her feel in his presence was something that she had never experienced before; something she never knew was possible to feel for another person she barely knew. Aiden was her enemy, the bad guy whose only intention was to destroy her in the name of street principalities, but something intangible about him drew her in. Yes he was the most erogenous looking man she’d ever laid eyes on, but it was more than physical, so much more. There was something inside of Aiden that sparked beneath his shield of sex and cold indifference, she could see it when she looked into his daunting ebony eyes; it was dark, it was dirty, but damn if it wasn’t delicious. She knew it was bad and that it would cause the kind of irreversible damage that she would have to bear the scars for, for the rest of her life, but whatever it was, she wanted it more than she wanted peace. She wanted his arduous destruction. So she began to strip for him, because his eyes called for it the way they glinted under the dim lighting like they held unexplored galaxies inside of them, hinting that if she was ever to connect and become one with this beautiful chaos of a man that she would discover places that no one else would ever be able to take her to.

She reached behind her back and unclasped the hooks of her bra one by one while Aiden watched her in silence. Of course being a female with a lifetime of practice at removing her own bra she could have unhooked it in one go, but along with the fear of Aiden in general, there was a virginal hesitancy in her that wouldn’t allow her to rush this. She removed the padded lace away from her breasts then let it fall to the floor, letting her shy hazel eyes follow it before bringing her arms up to hide herself from him. She couldn’t look at Aiden while she was stood before him like this because she knew what she would see; that carnal energy composed of dark fire burning behind his eyes that would cause her breath to stop short and make her tummy flutter and twitch.

Ava had shied away from her sexuality for her whole life. She had always been daddy’s good girl; the polished apple of his eye whose goal in life was to make him happy and proud, especially after her mother passed away. Ava witnessed what her mother’s death did to her father; it robbed him of some of his light, it changed him. When the wounds of her loss were still fresh, Ava and Vince would spend time together remembering her mother, and then Vince would tell Ava how proud he was of her and how wonderful she was because she was the only good thing he had left in his life (now that she knew what his life was really like, Ava realised the true weight of that statement). She had wanted him to keep thinking of her that way so she kept her head in her books and her body away from boys. When she was younger it was easier to do because she didn’t find boys all that interesting, but as she matured mentally and physically, keeping the boys at bay was a conscious decision that she had to make. Once Max was appointed as he personal bodyguard Ava found that this particular task wasn’t as hard to carry out anymore because Max was always nearby watching out for her with his stern mouth and trained eyes that made most men not want to see what would happen if they did try. Ava was a beautiful girl with a mind and heart to match, and yet she’d only ever been on a handful of dates and had only had one short-lived relationship which ended shy of three months because the guy had a problem with Max guarding her so heavily and also was a little intimidated of her being as wealthy as she was. But Max wasn’t here now and Aiden definitely wasn’t intimidated by anything about her. Ava was completely outside of her comfort zone and although she was being held prisoner, for the first time in her life Ava felt free. She knew what her father really was now so she no longer felt any obligation to play daddy little princess any more, Max wasn’t around watching over her every move, which although she missed him, was a nice change, and then there was Aiden, the key to and keeper of her freedom. God she didn’t know what to make of him. He frightened and excited her with the way he handled her so mercurially. One moment it was hand cuffs and harsh words, then in that same breath he’d speak to her with a voice made for phone sex and caress her body like a long lost lover rediscovering the other half of his soul.

                “Did I tell you to stop Ava-Marie?” Aiden’s smooth voice stunned Ava back to consciousness. She had forgotten herself in her thoughts and hadn’t realised that she’d been standing there staring aimlessly at the ground. She swallowed and looked up at him to see that look that she’d been trying to avoid. His crippling eyes wrapped her up in his invasive aura, his potent eroticism seeping into her pores and stirring something under her skin that made Ava’s lower half twitch. All of this with just a look of heady admiration, all of this heaven and hell held in those damn eyes of his.

Ava shifted her footing, “No... I mean, no Sir.”

                “Then why have you?”

                She looked away from him again and her cheeks lit up with the warm rose gold colour that Aiden was steadily growing quite fond of; “Because I can’t.”

                 “It’s just a bath Ava-Marie. I’m not going to fuck you if that’s what you’re worried about,” Aiden said rolling his dark eyes as if he was already growing bored of her. Ava didn’t know why it bothered her so much, but she didn’t want Aiden to become bored with her. She liked the way he looked at her like she was this fascinating new breed of woman complied out of sex and secrets. The part of her brain with sense reasoned that maybe his boredom would be a good thing because then he might leave her alone, but the uninhibited side of her that was drawn to him didn’t want him to and was admittedly a little disappointed that he wasn’t going to fuck her.

                “I know but…” she trailed off. Suddenly she felt silly for having to admit that she was twenty-one years old and no man had ever seen her naked, let alone touched her while she was. It was her personal business which she rarely disclosed to anyone and now she was contemplating telling him.

                “But what?” he snapped impatiently.

                “I’ve never been naked in front of anyone,” she mumbled into her chest.

                Aiden blinked at her; he hadn’t realised that she would be a virgin, not looking the way that she did but he couldn’t show her sympathy now, not when he had gone this far. He had told her to make a choice between two paths and this is the one that she’d chosen, so until she was out of his custody this would be the one that they followed. “Ava-Marie, take of your panties and get in. You’re filthy,” he stopped looking at her.

Ava’s mouth pressed into a tight line. She didn’t know why, but she had hoped that he might show her a little sympathy and understanding, because lord knows how daunting it can be to reveal all of yourself to another person for the first time in your life. You really are exposed in all senses of the word, and you worry -my god do you worry -about what they might think, and what you think of yourself gets in the way too because no matter how damn near perfect you are there’s always that one flaw (or more) that bugs the hell out of you that you hope the other person doesn’t notice or mind because you don’t want the real you that you hide underneath your adornments, to put them off. Instead of making her feel like that fascinating woman made of sex and secrets, Aiden’s sharp dismissal of her shyness had managed to make Ava feel like this naïve, unimportant little girl who he was barely entertaining himself with. ‘Oh Ava-Marie, stop deluding yourself, you silly girl.  This man doesn’t care about you; you are his entertainment and you must remember that,’ she mentally scolded herself, her hurt feelings allowing her common sense to make a brief re-appearance. She placed her fingers along the edges of her lingerie with the intention of approaching her full nudity the way one would approach ripping off a band aid, but as her hands shifted the material a fraction lower, she found herself pressing the black lace edges into her skin reluctant to go through with it. Aiden’s mouth tightened and he lifted his arm into the air, gesturing at her with his middle and index fingers to approach the tub. Ava slowly stepped unsteadily towards him, this being the first time she had to move without him there to support her made her realise exactly how intoxicated she really was.

When she reached the bath Aiden finally looked at her again from under his long lashes, but even from below there was just as much of his formidable power held in his steadfast gaze. “Perhaps I haven’t made myself clear,” he growled lowly, “When I tell you to do something, you don’t get to contemplate it or make a fuss, you just do it. If you don’t comply then I will resort to methods that will make sure that you do in future. Turn around.” Ava swallowed and shook her head, so afraid of what was to come that she dared to defy him some more. Aiden’s eyes flashed dangerously and she caught a glimpse of that black flame below the inky surface starting to burn through, “Don’t fucking play with me Ava-Marie,” he warned.

She drew a breath and turned so her back was to him with only the string of her lace thong to protect her. She blushed furiously and her switched footing trying to imagine what thoughts were running through his mind as she stood with her pert round ass to him, and she wondered if they matched the red and blue ones that ran through hers. A timid whimper escaped her lips when his hand came into contact with the small of her back. She shivered as he slowly dragged his intimidating touch down her spine, down the middle of her ass cheeks and buried his hands in the tight space between her trembling legs. She puffed out a bewildered breath as Aiden hooked two of his thick fingers u and over the tiny seam where the triangle and the slim slice of her thong were connected. Ava closed her eyes and felt her face get warmer; there was no way that he couldn’t feel how wet she was, but Aiden didn’t pause or make any comment to indicate that he did, he simply got a good grip on the material and then tore it away with an animalistic force that made the lace it burst at the seams. The delicate threads frayed and snapped and the sound filled the large bathroom like a whip tearing through the thick and heavy air. Ava gasped; she was naked. Instinctively, she brought her hands around to her front, shielding her sex from him, not that he could see it from behind her, but just the thought of knowing that there was no longer a barrier to conceal her decency made her want to hide away. Ava had seen naked men from afar, not men like Aiden, but she had seen them. No one had ever seen a naked Ava. Her knees wobbled underneath her and Aiden took her hips in his large palm to hold her steady. Once she was able to maintain her own balance again he let her go. His eyes ran over the expanse of her uninterrupted skin and he ran his tongue over his lips.

“Bend over and place your hands on your knees,” he ordered her in a controlled flat tone so as not to highlight the tightening sensation in his abdominal muscles through his vocals. Ava glanced back at him with wide eyes to silently beg him to reconsider but Aiden’s eyes weren’t on her face, they were studying her smooth caramel planes, romanticising her slender curves, counting her freckles and watching the tiny ash blonde body hairs rise up as her goosebumps spread across every available surface. He looked up and glared at her, “Don’t make me tell you again Ava-Marie. You’re in enough trouble as it is.”

Ava took a short sharp breath and blocked out everything her pride was screaming at her from the other side of her dual reality. She leant forward timidly, resting her grubby hands on her knees, wincing a little as the sore skin around her wrist bunched up and pressed and stretched the circular wounds. Aiden’s hands were on her again, this time with a handful of frothy scented bubbles. He wiped the white froth across her ass, spreading it in a figure of eight motion moving from cheek to cheek with slow, sensual swirls. Ava closed her eyes and bit down on her lip, quivering with anticipation every time his thick fingers dipped low enough to brush across her swollen slit. Her breathing grew hard and sluggish and she was about to let out an embarrassed moan come tumbling out when Aiden’s huge hands disappeared them came back down on top of her ass cheek with an almighty thwack that sliced through the air and turned her moan into a scream. She stumbled forward and grabbed her bottom trying to sooth the sting of his slap, but with her wet skin and heightened senses it seemed to go on forever.

Aiden glared at her and beckoned her back to him with his two fingers again, “I’m not finished,” he panted. Ava pouted hesitant to return for more, but she knew she had no choice. Meek and whimpering she returned to him and resumed the same position, bent over, wet and trembling, waiting for another blow. Instead she got another dose of bubbles being caressed into her backside in the lulling figure of eight motion, feeling the tiny bubbles melt into water and drip down her as the heat from the mark of the previous slap powered through them. Aiden kept going, stroking her with measured breaths, up and over then down and under, slow and steady, and just when she begun to feel the pleasure begin to rebuild itself his hand disappeared and he whacked her again. Ava gritted her teeth and growled through the pain, digging her fingers into her knees and holding her ground. Aiden’s breath quickened and he hit her again, and again till finally she screamed and fell onto all-fours with soap suds, water and wetness sliding down her and rosy ass cheeks. He grunted, closed his eyes and settled back into the tub, giving them both time to catch their breaths and abate their individual throbbing. “Now get in,” he said and there was a calmness to his voice that wasn’t there before.

Aiden hadn’t touched a woman that way since Ash. He had forced himself to take it down a notch with the throwaway lovers that came after her because he knew how addictive that level of sexual interaction could be. The kind of intense submission that Aiden craved frightened most women, but that was the appeal of it; not that they feared him or because he got to hurt them, it was just that when he did, that was when their every feminine pretence fell away. In their wildest moments was when these women were most human and he loved that –causing them pain them whilst in the throes of pleasure made them real. The soft moans and the pouty painted lips were replaced with wild screams and smudged lipstick. He felt better for spanking Ava. Her moans turned to screams, turned to growls, turned to howls made his shaft pulsate under the water, and feeling how wet she was for him made him want to take back what he’d said about not fucking her. He was ready to sink into her and pound himself against her g-spot until she clawed at his back and whispered the safe word in staccato...but he had to wait until she wanted him to. He would do nothing invasive until she wanted him to –it was more fun that way.

Ava got up off of the floor and turned to face him with her hands in front of her sex and a deep blush warming her cheeks. Aiden reached out his hand and she took it, timorously stepping into the hot water and settling her back against his hard body. The hot water felt good on her flustered skin, the eucalyptus adding a surprisingly pleasurable element to the experience that made her skin tingle all over. Aiden pulled Ava’s long braids up and wound them into a high bun before he proceeded with care to cleaning the sweat, blood and dirt off of her glowing skin. He smiled behind her back; her glowing was a good sign, it meant that he could be like that with her again. He reached his hand underneath the bubbles and pulled out a sponge then started with her back, getting the sponge sopping wet before squeezing it and letting the warm water gush over her, then he took her arm and wiped gently around the cuff wound. She winced.

“How do you feel, Ava-Marie?” he asked softly, taking his time to dab away the dried blood without antagonising her skin further.

Ava watched him and shrugged, “I’m not sure.”

Aiden paused and pulled her head back so that she was forced to look at him; “Don’t be so quick to forget your manners sweetheart, I’m only going easy on you right now because I imagine that you have never done this before so it will take some getting used to, but soon enough I won’t let you off at all.”

Ava tightened her lips and sneered, “I’m not sure, sir!”

Aiden glared at her; this kind of defiance made him want to grab a handful of her hair and slam all of himself into that tight wet space at the meeting of her thighs, but he had to control himself –Ava was increasingly making that harder to do. He hadn’t expected her to have such a tumultuous effect on him, but she was so beautiful and the fact that he wasn’t meant to have her made her all the more tempting. He was guiding her right where he wanted her so he couldn’t afford to give in to temptation now otherwise he’d be passing over the control to her, and he would be damned if he let this young naïve girl get the better of him. He was the man who had tamed Ash ‘The Siren’, better yet the man whose name put fear into thieves and murderers all over South London, so Ava was not going to be his undoing, not if he could help it. “Your attitude will do you no favours either,” he growled making it rumble in his chest and send small vibrational waves across the water. “We’re having a conversation, I’m being nice. Don’t ruin it.” Ava swallowed and looked down. “So, why aren’t you sure if you’re okay?” he asked releasing her head and continuing his cleansing of her.

“Because everything is wrong,” she half sulked, “Because I feel like I’m in hell but I’m not sure if I hate it. Because what I thought knew of my heaven is ruined to the point where I don’t know which is worse, sir.”

He offered her a silver-lining, “At least hell is honest.”

“It is,” she nodded, “But hell is also terrifying. You are terrifying, sir.”

Aiden dipped the sponge back into the water and began rubbing slow soapy circles across her shoulders, watching as the lather cascaded down and around the curves of her pert breasts. Ava sucked in a breath. “Are you saying that I am hell, Ava-Marie?” he smirked.

“You’re something like it.”

Aiden let go of the sponge and used both his hands to circulate the thick white lather over her chest. Ava’s breath caught in her throat and she shifted against him growing more and more aware of his length pressing into her back. Aiden leant forward and kissed the space below her ear. His voice was low and raspy, “You don’t know hell Ava-Marie. If anything this is limbo; that place in between, simply because I have shown you mercy. I gave you a choice.” His hands slipped lower beneath the water and grazed the outskirts of her sex. Ava shuddered and fell back against him, slipping lower to try and get him to touch her there, but he wouldn’t. “What is happening to my brother is not happening to you. I gave you a choice,” he repeated, gripping the inside of her thighs right at the crevice and pulling her up into his lap, “You should be thanking me for this so-called hell.” Ava squeaked feeling his fullness lying directly under her opening and high curiosity persuaded her to try and tilt her pelvis so that she could feel more of it. Aiden held her still. He lifted himself against her discreetly and curled his hips once.

Ava’s breaths we’re ragged and Aiden could tell that he had her close to losing herself. The mixture of the wine, the weed, the pain and the forbidden pleasure was something she wasn’t used to and it made her responses unhinged and her body ache. Even as she tried to fight him mentally, reminding herself that Aiden was the enemy, her body was succumbing to him willingly; it didn’t matter that her head didn’t understand what was happening, her body did and it liked the way he made it feel so much that it was persuading her thoughts to come around. Aiden shifted down so that his member had enough space to spring up and then he came back up and let it rest against her slit. Ava gripped the sides of the bath and groaned, fighting against Aiden hold to press against him a little more, but Aiden wouldn’t let up. He grabbed her by the hair and put his lips to her skin, pressing amatorial kisses along her shoulder blade

“I haven’t heard you thank me yet?” he groaned giving her a little more.

Ava whimpered “Thank you…”

Aiden bit down on her shoulder and she cried out and gripped the edge of the tub harder. “Manners, Ava-Marie,” he reprimanded her.

“Thank you, sir.”

A slow satisfied grin spread across his sinful lips and he kissed her where his teeth marks lay.

*

Vince stormed into the compound and headed downstairs into the basement without a word to any of his men. He punched in the security code and unlocked the door to the room where Keegan Michaels was shivering on the floor still covered in his own blood, his wounds seeping with infections and he smelt of urine. They hadn’t fed him or taken him to the bathroom since his arrival and the nineteen year old was quickly falling into a destitute state. 

Vince glared at him with hate in his eyes; this little punk started this shit. If it wasn’t for Keegan then Ava would be safe because Vince wouldn’t have had a reason to mess with the Diamond Mafia in the first place and this bastard’s cunt of a brother wouldn’t be doing things to his little girl that made Vince bite down on his lips so hard that it drew blood just to keep from crying. He had to get Ava back and he wished it was as simple as simply handing the boy back to the Diamond Mafia, but the overall risk was too great. He couldn’t’ have people saying that some young thug on the come up muscled The Syndicate out of £20 million after his brother stole £10 million of their gear in the first place. Vince had no choice but to make an example of them because once he got Ava back there could be more rookies trying to use her for bait to take him down now that they knew she existed. Ava would never be safe again so Vince had to make sure that people didn’t want to fuck with her, period. Once she was returned to him he’d send her far, far away, change her name, double…no, triple her security and he would keep his distance. It would be hard but Ava was the only good thing Vince had in his life, plus even if he got her back she’d probably never want to speak to him again now that she knew who he really was and what he’d done to her mother.

Fuck Aiden Michaels!

Vince reared back and stomped down on Keegan’s wrist that was still tethered to the iron pipe along the wall. A terrible crunching sound came from under his shoe and Keegan woke up howling. “You did this you little prick! You got my Ava taken away from me!” He kicked Keegan in his already bruised ribs, “Your fucking brother put his hands on her; he touched my little girl.” Vince got to his knees not caring that he was kneeling in the bloody, urine soaked mattress and grabbed Keegan by the collar of his grubby shirt, his icy blue eyes blazing and his usually neat chestnut brown hair unruly and flopping over onto his forehead, “This is your fault and I am going to make sure I get the lot of you fuckers, starting with you.” He drew back his fist punched Keegan in-between his eyes. He punched him again, and again, and again.

Keegan howled through his distorted mouth, his once handsome face now in complete tatters, so destroyed that even if it did heal he would be deformed. He was too weak to try and firm Vince’s murderous blows and in no position to escape from them, everything was just pain and more pain like his body has been thrown into a pit and large rocks were being launched at him, bruising his flesh, breaking his bones and then in the end his tormentors set him on fire and all he could see was the light of the flames burning brighter and brighter until they consumed him whole...

Vince kept on going, even when Keegan stopped howling he kept going. Even when his fists became sticky with blood, he kept going. And when Keegan stopped moving, he kept going. Even when Keegan took his last breath and his soul vanished from his eyes, Vince was so enraged that he just kept on going, and going, and going...

When he finally stopped and realised what he’d done, his suit was spattered with bright droplets of warm red liquid that smelt like sweat and rust and it was far too late. K Dot of the Diamond Mafia lay dead at his feet dead. Aiden could not find out, not until Ava was safe.  

#RunningWilde Ch. 7 | Rock-A-Bye Baby

Six hours, forty-seven minutes and twenty-two seconds. It had been six hours, forty-seven minutes and twenty-two seconds since Aiden had walked out of the basement and left Ava dangling from the ceiling in tears. He knew because he had been timing it on his phone the moment he set foot outside of the bleak grey main room in the basement with the bright fluorescent lights. For six hours, forty-seven minutes and twenty-two seconds, Ava-Marie Lockewood was denied comfort, human contact and nourishment. By the time the seventh hour struck she would have run through every emotion pertained to her situation –anger, fear, resentment, denial, self-pity, sorrow, and once the seventh hour arrived -surrender. She would be so exhausted from channelling all of her energy into trying to process and escape from the mental and physical prison that Aiden had constructed from the jagged pieces of her shattered reality that she would just give up, and that was when he would finally acknowledge all of her unanswered cries for help.

It was always tiresome to wait out the first few hours with a hostage; they made such a terrible racket as they stormed through the phases, but if you kept them uncomfortable enough and didn’t attend to their basic human needs, sooner or later they would fall silent and accept that their tragic fate was in your hands. Of course you had to make sure that you caught them before they wore themselves out and fell asleep, because once they had had a rest from their living nightmare and actually had a chance to dream of better days, they’d wake up and realise that they had something to fight for, and then you’d have to start the waiting process all over again. Aiden was anxious to get Ava out of there so he could initiate the next phase of his torture.

Over the years, Aiden studied the people he captured and found that a certain personality type followed a certain pattern. He had passed some of his waiting time by thoroughly scouring through her Facebook profile to better understand her so he knew what to do with her next. Ava was a humanitarian. Like Aiden, Ava had a saviour complex, but hers was pure. She was passionate about making the world a better place for everyone else, even if she couldn’t benefit from it, which is why she participated in so many good causes. Ava’s father had provided her with an exceptional life, making sure she wanted for nothing, making sure that she knew that she was loved, cared for, and that she had his support (no matter how radical her charitable endeavours). Ava was happy, and all she wanted was to spread that happiness to other people, requiring no personal gain, not like Aiden did. 

Ava was something beautifully rare; she was made of so much unfiltered light and love that it almost bothered Aiden that he had crashed into her world so hard that he left cracks in her skin. Although she had proven to be an angel on paper, Aiden could sense wildfire in her veins. It flared to life when he touched her, making itself known by the wicked way her cinnamon skin flushed rose gold and burned like a double shot of Appleton rum, the way her toasted early autumn eyes flashed like afternoon sunlight peeking through the quivering leaves, and the way her short, sharp, shallow breaths became heavier, struggling to take flight from between her pleasantly parted lips. That inner fire was craving to consume her and burn her golden halo of virtue to blackened ashes of pleasurable sin.

That is how Aiden would ruin her; his darkness was going to slip between the cracks in her skin and fill them with gasoline, then present her with a match disguised as a new cause to fight for; him. Once she reached for him she would catch alight and it would be all over for her -the price of Aiden’s ‘salvation’ was Ava’s destruction.

“Isn’t it about time you let her down now? It’s been seven hours.”

Aiden looked up from his computer screen to see Ash in his office, leaning over his desk with her scarlet hair falling unintentionally seductively in front of her deep turquoise eyes. He pressed his lips together and leant back in his padded leather desk chair, “This doesn’t concern you,” he growled quietly.

Ash straightened up and folded her arms across her chest, “Mighty told me what you did to her, so I had to go and see for myself.”

“Why?”

“Because I know what it’s like to hang from those chains,” she murmured silkily, raising her perfectly arched eyebrow at him, “Or have you forgotten?”

Aiden scowled at her. He didn’t have time for Ash to make more of Ava’s torture than it was. He didn’t have time for her to make it about her. “Ash, this is different,” he said firmly, providing no further explanation.

“I noticed. Her wrists are cut up pretty badly,” she smiled approvingly.

He cocked his head to the side, his dark eyes studying her carefully, “And that makes you happy?”

“Yes,” she replied without hesitation or shame.

“Why?”

Ash’s smile became tainted by a nostalgic sadness; “Because you never hurt me like that,” she said quietly.

Aiden clasped his large hands together on top of his desk, forcing professional formality into the informal conversation that he didn’t want to have. “Like I said; this is different.”

“It’s not that different though. Mighty said you…touched her.”

“I did,” he admitted in a clipped tone, his patience was wearing thin.

Ash closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and forced herself to swallow the aching lump in her throat, fashioned from envy and her lingering heartache. “Will you touch her again?” she whispered.

“Ashley…” Aiden breathed heavily. His tongue was weighed down with a tarnished apology that he had uttered so many times that it had lost its value. He wouldn’t say it again; one more time or a hundred more times wouldn’t make a difference. Things were the way they were and they had to stay that way. He cleared his throat, “Ash, this doesn’t concern you. If there is nothing else you want, leave now and go and do your job.” He turned his attention back to his computer.

Ash’s stance changed; she stood straighter with her shoulders back and her nose in the air, looking down at her boss with a controlled expression. When she spoke, her voice was void of her previous emotions; she sounded clear and concise. She was following orders. She was doing her job. “There is something else; The Syndicate hit the salon.”

Aiden stopped typing, “Fuck! What’s the damage?”

“It’s bad, A. Polly’s in a state; she said there was a shootout and that Vince’s men completely wrecked the place.”

Aiden growled and slammed his fist against the table so hard that Ash jumped. A barrage of curse words shot from his mouth like bullets from a semi-automatic. He'd known that Vince’s men were going to send a message, he had mentally prepared himself for it, but that didn’t make it any less frustrating now that it had actually happened. “Is anybody dead?”

“No. Femi and Q got shot, but they’re okay.”

Aiden exhaled with relief, “Good,” he said, a little calmer.

Ash’s professional stance melted away in an instant and she smiled at him admirably; it was just like Aiden to worry about his people before anything else. He barely had anything growing up, what with his mother being so neglectful and destructive, and Aiden taking it upon himself to take care of her and Keegan as best as he could. Whilst poverty tended to make some people selfish, greedy and materialistic because they were so afraid of their circumstances robbing them of the pleasures that others took for granted, it taught Aiden what really mattered. He knew that money and fancy things were fleeting, but that the people you could call family weren’t so easy to come by. That was why Ash was in love with him, because underneath all of his misdemeanours Aiden loved everyone else.

“Did they get into the vault,” he asked next, now that he knew that his people were okay.

“No. Polly said they tried though. Thank God for that security system Mighty installed.”

“Thank God for Mighty.”

“Thank God for Mighty,” Ash agreed. “The police are down there questioning everyone. They want to talk to you.”

“I can’t speak to them right now,” he said tightly. Naturally, being a young black man from the hood, Aiden wasn’t exactly fond of the feds.

“I know. It’s not safe for you out there…” she reached out to touch his hand but Aiden shifted away from her with a warning look: ‘Do your job’. Ash cleared her throat and put her hands behind her back with a sharp nod. “I don’t want anything to happen to you, A.”

“I appreciate the concern, Ash. You’re a good friend.”

Ash’s face tightened as she tried not to frown. They were friends; she knew that and she was okay with it -well that’s what she told herself anyway -but that didn’t mean that she didn’t miss him. It annoyed her that Aiden acted as if she didn’t have a right to let him know how much she missed him, and constantly forced her to reign in her emotions, but she understood why he did it; it was easier this way…for him. It was only easier for him. For Ash it was like suffocating slowly; constantly walking the line between living and almost dying.  

Ash was ‘The Siren’. She was exceptionally good at her job, but when she belonged to Aiden, he wouldn’t allow her to do everything that she had to do get things done because he didn’t’ like sharing. He made her bad at her job. Ash didn’t mind being bad at her job because she loved Aiden. She would have given it all up for him, but he wouldn’t let her. As much as Aiden had wanted to keep Ash back then, he thought his desire made him selfish. He had to make sure that the whole team was good; having Ash to himself jeopardised that so he had to let her go. That had hurt Ashley more than anything; the fact that he would throw her away so that everyone else could be happy. Ash and Aiden had had as hard a life as any of the members of the Diamond Mafia, she felt that they deserved to be happy too, but Aiden promised everyone that he took in that he would take care of them, and he wasn’t about to break that promise for some pussy…so Ash left. She couldn’t be around him wanting him the way she did, like air to her lungs to end the suffocating. Eventually she came back because even though suffocating wasn’t breathing, it was something that let her know she wasn’t dead yet. Despite his damage, his love for his people made Aiden a good man underneath it all, and the DM was her family. Even though it killed her, she knew he had made the right choice, and at the end of the day, that was what mattered. Ash became the moon to his sun, resigning herself to the darkness without him, but still glowing only because even though they couldn’t be together, he wasn’t far away.

“What do you want us to do?” she asked.

“Send Dougie down to the station to talk to PC Morden. I’m assuming the greedy fuck put himself on the case?”

“You know he did. You pay him too much.”

“I pay him enough, that’s why he’s so reliable. Tell Dougie to tell Morden that I’m out of the country, so he’ll be filling in for me. After that, get Driver to take him down to the insurance company, a face to face consult should speed up the process. I don’t want the HMRC nosing about in my taxes, so the salon needs to be up and running again, pronto.”

“Got it.”

Aiden’s phone timer beeped -the seventh hour had arrived. He smiled and shut his computer down, “Vince wants to break my things? I’ll break his.”

***

 

The room was pitch black, and would have been silent if it weren’t for Ava-Marie's rattling dry heaves of that reverberated dramatically off of the concrete walls sounding like she was trying to hold onto her soul with every skirmishing breath she took. Aiden flipped the switch and the blinding florescent white light glared from the ceiling, filling the room with its unforgiving harshness. Ava squinted and moaned wearily. Her bare feet were curled beneath her in shades of scarlet and sooty black from the painful friction of the hard floor and the dirt that covered it. Her arms were red and swollen, with her dark blue veins embossed and pulsating against her skin, under pressure from holding up all of her weight for so long. Her late summer eyes had run out of tears by the fifth hour, and were puffy and red, shadowed underneath by depressing dark circles. Her lips were so dry and chapped that the delicate layer of skin covering them had shrivelled into flaky, translucent patches, that split and bled if she moved her mouth out of the confines that the paper thin skin allowed. Her body smelt like sweet salty sweat, decorated in thousands of tiny goosebumps from the lack of heat in the room and the lack of blood circulating through her veins properly. Small rivulets of her blood trickled from the sores around her dripping wrists where Aiden could see some pink flesh exposed around the base of the metal handcuffs, half way down her forearms.

Aiden stroked her tear-stained face from her temple to her chin then lifted it, forcing her to look at him. “You’re a mess, Ava-Marie,” he said quietly. Ava looked shattered; like she had stumbled across a landmine site with her loved ones, barely making it out alive by the skin of her teeth, only to find that everyone she held dear had been blown to smithereens; like her happiness had been ripped from her chest and she knew she would never get it back. She was broken. Aiden had broken her. He reached above her and tugged down the chain that the thick hook was attached to, pulling it low enough to unhook her. Ava’s body folded into itself as she descended stirring the strained muscles, the relief reminding her of how much pain she had mentally forced herself to endure. She cried out in anguish; her wail was a heart-breaking strangled sound that pretended he couldn’t hear as he scooped her up into his thick arms. It bothered him. “Let’s clean you up.”

Ava didn’t want Aiden to touch her, but she had no choice; she was too sore and too weak to do anything but lay catatonically in his in his arms with her head lolling back as he cradled her to his chest and carried her back upstairs. He took her down the hall to a large granite bathroom fitted with silver fixtures and charcoal grey furnishings. Aiden sat on the edge of the deep oval bath with Ava in his lap, as it gradually filled with hot water and a stimulating mix of frothy eucalyptus and ylang ylang scented bubbles. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out the small silver key that would unlock the dreadful handcuffs. The cuffs clicked open and Ava howled again -the removal of the cuffs not providing the relief she had expected.

“Ssh,” he hushed her, touching the tips of his fingers to the translucent flakes of split skin scattered across her lips. “I know it hurts, but I’m going to make it all better. Do you want me to make it better Ava-Marie?” Ava’s blood ran cold and she immediately stiffened at his intrusive contact, lowering her eyes to her mouth, watching Aiden’s index finger glide across it slowly, as he touched her like she was made of glass...glass that he only intended to toy with before he pushed it off a ledge and watched it fall to the ground and smash. She was too scared to say a word. “C’mon Ava-Marie, tell me what you want,” his finger trailed down from her lips, rising and falling over the dips and peaks of her skin, leaving more prominent goosebumps in its path as it reached her damaged wrist. His hand clasped her wrist and Aiden brought her it to his mouth, hovering his lips over the shallow wound that decorated the circumference. “Do you want me to make it better?” he purred, pressing his lips to it with a soothing languid intensity that made Ava wince a little and gasp in spite of herself. Aiden smiled amused by how she seemed incapable of shielding her forbidden longing for him, before his dark eyes hardened, “Or do you want me to make it worse?” Suddenly his careful grip tightened and he pressed pitilessly onto the wound, restraining Ava with the arm he was using to hold her so that she couldn’t wiggle away.

“AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH, STOP IT PLEASEEEEEE. PLEASE AIDEN, PLEASEEEEE!” she cried, tussling with him to free herself, but Aiden was far too powerful for her, especially up against her current fragile state. She didn’t have the energy to do more that scream, thrash and hope that he would stop.

His bottomless eyes looked right through her; he had to numb himself to her anguish because he had a job to do. His voice was flat; “You have to make a choice Ava-Marie. Life is made up of choices and every choice guides the course of your life, and right now your life is in my hands, so I am telling you to make your choice and be prepared to live with it.” He released her completely and she fell to the floor with an ungainly thump. He loomed over her “It’s very simple; do you want me to make it better or worse Ava-Marie? It’s your choice. Make it now.” 

Ava didn’t know which option to choose, only that she had to choose right now; Aiden had established that he wasn’t fond of unanswered questions so she couldn’t fall back on silence and hope that he would just leave her be. He wouldn’t give her the luxury of being stubborn and sulky; she was his captive she needed to remember that. Bearing that in mind made Ava’s decision even harder; it was obvious that opting to let him make it better was the less painful option, but that didn’t mean that it wouldn’t be torture. Aiden was not here to make this experience a pleasant one –they weren’t fighting for the same side. Regardless of how innocent Ava was in all of this, Aiden was using her for revenge and as bait to get what he wanted from her father. Aiden would not be good to her because Aiden was bad, and anything good he did would surely come with a price. That was basically what he was demanding of her, to pick between two evils; two different forms of torture -one that would bring her pain and the other that would bring her pleasure but was just as undesirable because she knew that it was wrong. Both were humiliating, both would break her, but both were at completely different scales of the sensory reaction chart. She didn’t want to pick the first option, it made her feel cheap, but after spending what felt like an eternity hanging from the ceiling trapped in her own personal hell on earth, what other choice did she have? She couldn’t go through that again.

“…Make it better,” she whispered pathetically underneath her sobs.

Aiden knelt beside her and rolled her onto her back, “I didn’t quite catch that sweetheart, what did you say?” he leant his ear close to her mouth.

Ava closed her eyes and swallowed her pride, for it had no place here. If she didn’t give it up on her own, Aiden would only find a way to take it from her. “Make it better,” she said more clearly. Aiden turned his head and stared into her sad autumnal eyes with such intensity that Ava was forced to hold his gaze. She wanted to look away but he was so close to her now that he was everywhere. Even if she turned she would still feel his heat, still smell his scent, still be trapped by his presence that demanded to be felt and felt and felt.

“Where are your manners, Ava-Marie?”

“Um…please,” she murmured through gritted teeth and angry tears. Was it not enough that he had her in this position already by coercing her into making this degrading choice? Had he not shamed her enough?

Aiden narrowed his empty eyes at her, “Please who?”

“Aiden.” She spat his name out venomously.

Aiden’s eyes burned like hot coals as he placed his large hand on her throat, wrapping each long, thick finger around its girth one by one, but he didn’t squeeze, he didn’t have to; Ava’s fear of what he might do alone was enough to stop her breath short. “No,” he barked, “Sir. You will call me Sir, do you understand Ava-Marie.”

Ava blinked back tears as she began to grasp what Aiden version of ‘making it better’ really meant. His new weapon was something Ava had shied away from for her whole life until Aiden happened to her. His new weapon was sex and as much as she detested the idea, there was still that traitorous part of her that was inexorably drawn to this dark and dangerous man. Her voice quavered; “Yes.”

Aiden squeezed her throat with brute force, pressing the inner curve of his knuckle into her windpipe so sharply that her air was cut off in an instant. With his other hand he caressed her face affectionately, leaving Ava confused her as to whether she should panic or not. He leant closer to her, hovering close enough to taste her tears if he chose to. “Yes Sir, Ava-Marie. You must say Sir,” he wiped her tear away with his index finger, brought it to her lips and spread it over thedamaged skin with a sardonic smile, “You must always refer to me as Sir. Do you understand?”

“Yes Sir,” she croaked.

 “Good girl. Now stop crying and tell me what you want. Don’t forget your manners this time.” Aiden stopped squeezing her throat but he didn’t remove his hand. Ava gasped dramatically for air, panting under his chastening grip and trying to put an end to her tears. She closed her eyes and took in a deep breath, preparing herself to sign her impending surrender on the dotted line that hung heavily in the air like the black promise of a death sentence. She opened her mouth to speak but Aiden stopped her; “I want you to look at me when you say it.”

She opened her eyes and stared up into the face of hell’s angel, “Make it better please…Sir.”

Aiden’s lip turned up at the corner triumphantly, “Well since you asked so nicely.” He let go of her throat, wrapped his arms around her satin swathed waist and picked her up again. He placed her on top of the cool granite counter and slipped his large hands down onto her thighs. “Do you think you made the right choice, Ava-Marie?”

Ava nervously bit the inside of her cheek. This was a trick question; there was no right choice, she just got to choose which hell she wanted to endure at his hands. “No,” she hissed.

Aiden’s dark eyes flashed like a storm at midnight and he grabbed a fistful of her braids, roughly tugging her head to the side, “No who?” he growled

“No Sir!”

“Would you rather the other option, Ava-Marie?”

“No; I would rather my freedom, Sir.”

Aiden furrowed his brow and let her go, “I’m sure that my brother wishes for the same thing, but for some reason, even after hearing the way you screamed for me as I fucked with you, your father still hasn’t handed him over.” He fetched a bottle of Shiraz from a mini-fridge under the counter and an indulgent slice of rich chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. He set it down on the counter next to her then pulled a fork out of a draw, and then a large glass out of a cupboard mounted on the wall behind her. “If someone like me took my kid, I’d do whatever I had to do to get them back, just like I’m doing for Keegan, which is why you are here.” He poured the dry, dark berry coloured wine into the glass, “You must never forget that the only reason that you are still here is because your dad isn’t doing whatever he has to do to get you back, Ava-Marie. Know this; I do not want to keep you…”he reached out and stroked her hair as if that was his way for apologising for tugging on it so viscously before, “A man like me shouldn’t keep beautiful women...” he trailed off and removed his hand.

Ava stared at him; he was so befuddling. It was like he enjoyed playing the villain, but that wasn’t who he really was. One moment he’d terrify her and then he’d just stop, as if to take a breather before getting back to executing his role.

Aiden noticed the curious look in her eyes and thrust the glass at her. “Drink,” he growled.

She looked thoughtfully at the glass of fermented fruity liquid. Originally she wasn’t in the mood for wine, but the mention of her father made her reconsider. She would drink it, not because Aiden told her to, but so that she could temporarily forget the life-altering fact that her father was a murderous international drug lord who kidnapped people and killed her mother.  A lonely tear slid down her cheek and she tipped the spicy liquid into her parched mouth. It burned her throat –all of her dehydrated screaming had made it raw and tight -and she immediately wanted to stop drinking but she was so thirsty and so desperate for liquid oblivion that she couldn’t stop until the glass was empty.

“I bet that feels better already,” Aiden smirked watching how desperately she had drank it. “Would you like some more, Ava-Marie?”

“Yes,” she panted. She hadn’t stopped for air whilst drinking; she didn’t want to breathe, she wanted to get drunk and now she was out of breath. She saw Aiden frown at her reply and quickly corrected herself before he punished her for not addressing him properly, “Yes Sir...I mean yes please, Sir.” Aiden smiled, took the glass from her and filled it again. Ava drank recklessly again, partially wishing that he had given her something less acidic, like water, but grateful that he hadn’t because the alcohol was beginning to shift her state of consciousness. Everything was beginning to feel a little less like the sky was falling and more like she was rising up to meet it. She polished off her second helping in record time and hoped he would offer her more. He didn’t. Instead he took the empty glass from her and put it to the side, then picked up the small plate with the chocolate cake slice and the fork, cut away a small piece and lifted it to Ava’s wine-stained lips.

“Eat.” Ava opened her mouth and let Aiden slide it in. She noticed the way his gothic eyes dropped just as the fork entered, observing her mouth intently as her lips closed around the long metal prongs. He cocked his head to the side elongating his tattooed neck; “You have a lovely mouth Ava-Marie,” he murmured erotically, pulling it out with a deliberate slowness. He put one hand back on her bare thigh midway between her knee and her hip, with his thumb extending inward so that it lay against the warmer skin on the supple flesh inside of her leg. He rubbed it back and forth, lightly massaging the sensitive nerve endings that connected to the carnal hollow at the meeting of her thighs and said, “It’s good, isn’t it?”

Ava didn’t know whether he was asking about the cake or the erogenous mini massage he was giving her. She wished she hadn’t drunk the wine so fast because either way she looked at it, her answer was: “Yes Sir.”

His hand crept up her thigh, stopping only an inch away from her sex. Ava bit down on her lip and stifled a gasp. Aiden leant closer so that the tips of their noses touched and their Cupid’s bows whispered against each other’s. He licked his lips, catching hers with the smooth underside of his tongue as he did so, making her cheeks blush rose gold and her wine-stained mouth fall open. “Do you want more?”

Ava puckered her lips, tasting Aiden in her mouth. Did she want more what; cake or Aiden? Did it matter? The wine was talking to her, singing songs of inebriated liberation through her veins, answering for her; “Yes Sir,” she breathed.

Aiden made a bemused sound. “Okay,” he cut off another piece and offered it to her, “Open your mouth.” He continued feeding her in silence, offering her more and more of the delicious cake–it was the best chocolate cake she had tasted in her life, the frosting was creamy, the sponge was moist and had the right amount of sweetness balanced out by another ingredient that she couldn’t quite put her finger on. She moaned appreciatively. “I think that’s enough,” Aiden put down the cake, “It’s laced with high grade. Too much of this will have you seeing stars, and only I want that privilege.” Aiden smiled and cut off a piece for himself, “Stone’s girlfriend makes these. The best weed cake there ever was, don’t you agree?”

Ava gritted her teeth and mentally scolded herself; how could she not realise that she was eating space cake? The wine was already stirring her senses, and now that the cannabis was added to the mix her wish for oblivion would come much sooner and much harder than she anticipated -her mouth was already beginning to feel like cotton. In her defence, the cake had been made so well, and she was so hungry, that the pungent earthy flavour of the weed had been overpowered by the chocolate.

He poured her some more wine, “Here. Drink.”

“Go to hell!”

 He thrust her legs apart and spanked the inside of her thigh, hard. Ava yelped. The slap stung, but it didn’t hurt as much as it should have; the dual intoxication was taking effect and slowly her fatigued body was re-awakening, translating the sensation into the something it shouldn’t. She could feel the area where Aiden’s open palm made contact and it made her ache, and it burned, and it resonated in lulling waves of masochistic satisfaction that reached the deepest, darkest parts of her. “I said drink.”

“But_”

He slapped the inside of her other thigh –harder, “Do not play with me Ava-Marie,” he warned.

She took the wine and sipped it. The unpleasant cotton mouthed sensation subsided as the alcohol seeped into her taste buds. It tasted even more delicious after the cake a side effect of her impending munchies. She drank more.

Aiden stepped away and went to turn off the tap. The tub was full. He turned his back to her and began peeling off his clothing, tugging his top over his head, kicking off his boots, unbuckling his belt, unzipping his leather trousers, popping the button and sliding them down his legs before stepping out of them, pulling off his socks, and then his finger slipped under the edge of the waistband of his boxers. Ava choked on her wine. Aiden was naked, and if she had found it difficult to admit before, the weed and the wine were certainly making her confession a whole lot easier to express; he was a God. He stood tall and glorious with his deep cocoa butter brown skin encasing his huge rippling muscles as if someone had poured dark chocolate on him and it had set perfectly over every plane and groove. There were even more tattoos from this angle; a huge tribal piece to mask several scars, that swallowed his entire back and curled around his sides, hugging his obliques and intensifying his warrior like resemblance. His ass was firm and toned, sat on top of legs as thick as tree trunks, giving him the perfect top to bottom body ratio. He looked over his shoulder at her and Ava could see the full length of is lacy black lashes that added an element of androgynous romance to his destructively handsome features.

“Are you finished?” he asked.

Ava ran her tongue over her chapped wine-stained lips, “No…no sir.”

Aiden turned to face her, gracing her bewildered eyes with all of his glory. He bit down on the corner of his lips and cocked his eyebrow, “Am I distracting you, Ava-Marie?”

Ava blushed rose gold, embarrassed that she was staring so hard. She had never seen a naked man in real life before, only the suggestive glimpses of nudity in movies, in art galleries, and anatomically correct drawings in biology text books from her secondary school days, but didn’t prepare her for seeing Aiden. She didn’t even think that women who had seen their fair share of naked men would be prepared to see Aiden. Seeing Aiden naked was like being caught in an avalanche; he was made to crash into you and freeze time. She watched with a hammering heart as he sauntered over. He looked erotic; not in a sordid pornographic way, because he wasn’t even trying to be sexy, he just was. Aiden exuded an intimate demeanour that didn’t make you want to shy away from him; he made you want to admire him the way you would admire Michelangelo’s ‘David’, appreciating every carefully sculpted part of him that God had crafted. Unlike the statue of David, Aiden was exceptionally well-endowed…and he wasn’t even aroused yet. Ava’s breath caught in her throat and she too another sip of wine. He was fucking magnificent.

Aiden settled himself between her legs. His hips brushed the heated insides of her thighs. “I asked you a question…”

“You’re naked,” she giggled. The weed and the wines effect was becoming stronger and Ava’s fears and inhibitions were quickly dissolving into nothing. She knew she was being held captive, but there in the granite and silver bathroom, high, with a glass of wine in her hand, dressed in nothing more than underwear and a satin robe, while the beautiful man who had spanked her thighs and fed her cake stood naked between her legs, she didn’t feel like it.

“I am,” he nodded.

“You look really good naked.” Boldly, she reached out and touched his stomach. He was so hot and rigid. He made her stomach tie itself up in knots that the butterflies couldn’t unravel.

“How do you feel, Ava-Marie?”

Ava gulped down the rest of the wine and grinned, “Never better, Sir.”

“Hmm,” Aiden hummed. He took the wine glass from her and set it on the side before lifting her off of the counter to stand in front of him. He walked behind her and brought his large hands to her shoulders then pulled off the robe. The heavy material dropped to the floor in a pool of black satin around her feet. Aiden stepped closer to her, pressing his steadily swelling member against her backside. He brushed his parted lips against her ear and groaned gutturally, “Take off your underwear.”

Ava swallowed a mouthful of hot air and squeezed her eyes shut to try and regain some focus and common sense. “Why?” she whispered shakily as she tried to remind herself that her mind was compromised, and that this -this enlivening feeling so much of his brown skin rubbing directly onto her brown skin -was wrong. Dear God, it was so very wrong.

Aiden wrapped his arm around her waist and used his fingers to trace circles around her navel; small tight ones followed by larger explorative ones. “I’m going to bathe you.”

Ava shuddered.