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
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.”
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).
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: