16| Moods and Malice

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Lola was a saint in the company of sinners—that much was obvious. Her innocence was like a blip of light in a sea of darkness, constantly being tossed around in the violent waves by gangsters with guns and bad intentions. She was trying her best to manoeuvre through the murky waters—trying her best to figure me out and trying not to get killed in the process. Yet, it wouldn't be enough for the bullshit that was in store for her.

Lola might have grown up in Cullfield, but she didn't know the true cruelty of this place the way that I did. She hadn't been bred in the brutality that I had made a home in, instead she had little to no experience when it came to dealing with men like me and absolutely nothing to defend herself within the process—even still, she had smacked and spat at and stood tall despite it all.

For the most part, I admired the courageous little act she was putting on, but keeping a brave face could only get her so far, and from the looks of the way I had left her this morning, I knew she was beginning to break.

If it was anyone else, I wouldn't have given a shit.

Life was unfair, sometimes you just had to suck it up and get over it, but as each day moved on and as I watched her, as I got to know her, and as I got more attached to her—the more I was starting to feel guilty for the hand I had played in forcing her into this life.

It kept me up at night, more than the thought of the men I had murdered and the blood I had spilt. I was fixated on her in every way, obsessed with her attention and enamoured by the way she watched me, touched me, and talked to me.

She was gentle where I was harsh, compassionate when I was heartless and most of all—she was everything I knew that I couldn't have.

She was the punishment for all my sins, an angel painted in gold and held just out of my reach. Having her body in my grasp was one thing, but to have more than that—to command her heart and to consume her thoughts was an act of redemption I knew I would never amount to.

Our feelings for each other were like a gas leak just before an explosion hit and we were both just waiting for the moment we would ignite, but after the initial blast and after everything I had done to destroy her, I knew there would be nothing left of her for me to take when this was over.

The world I lived in wasn't made for the weak, all it took was one moment, one stupid move—one second of lost focus and everything would crumble.

My father knew that more than anything considering what had happened to my mother, and that was why he favoured strategy above all else. And it was why he hadn't taken her away from me just yet even though it would have been so easy for him to. He knew that a time would come when he'd be able to use her against me, and he knew that by giving into this one request would keep me focused on staying on his good side.

But as the time passed waiting for the tables to turn, just as much as he thought she would make me weak, she would become my strength too.

The change in me was cementing little by little, and maybe it wasn't just my fault—maybe it was because of all the choices my father had made to try and control me.

I had never felt rage the way I had felt it this morning when I had watched the way she had helplessly undressed in front of him, and I had never realised how absolutely fucking useless I was in the face of my own father when it came to the people I wanted to protect. I had protected my brothers from the true amount of his evil for two decades now, but whilst he had been training me to be obedient, he hadn't realised the bomb he was wiring inside of me—it had been ticking away slowly for years, but as soon as she had come into my life it had begun to speed up.

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