#RunningWilde Ch. 21 | Gravity
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.
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?"
"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.
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.
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