#RunningWilde Ch. 24 | The Edge
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
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.
"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."
"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.