#RunningWilde Ch. 19 | Beautiful Ruins
Not about to see your light
But if you wanna find hell with me
I can show you what it's like
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.
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."
"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.
"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?"
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 visual? Watch 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