32. The First Regret

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   "Are you okay?" Darius scoots up and closer to me in bed. I snap out of my thoughts and turn to look at him. Right then he stretches his arm around me and gives me a kiss on the cheek, leaving a spot of hotness in the wake of them. "Yeah." For some reason, I've been craving to be nearer to him all night, and to him, my behavior might seem strange, but I squish up to him and lean my head on his shoulder either way. Who knows how long he'll be around, right?

   Devon hasn't texted me since the car ride home, but it doesn't calm in any way. It feels like I'm under surveillance and I can't make a move until he tells me what to do. I hate that he has that kind of power over me. If it was me on the line, I would tell Devon to go to hell, but I'm not the one on the line and it changes everything. I wish I could talk to the boys about this, but I can't.

   On top of it all, I don't think my mind realized the seriousness of it all until now. Earlier I thought of Devon's words as an empty threat used to keep me in line. I don't why he would want that, but I could just avoid him and there would be no harm. I thought maybe it was just a plain old bruised ego and a desire to show off power. There's no harm about a cocky bitch. I though he and his brothers was all bark no bite. But that's not the case. Now I have to do something for him in order to keep the boys safe. To keep Darius safe.

   "You're not bummed about last night, are you?" Ugh. Did he need to bring up last night desperation too? As if I'm not already in a bad mood. I shake my head.

"No. I'm not. I'm glad..." I cut myself off, not knowing the right words. "I'm glad it didn't happen last night. It wouldn't be right." Darius was right last night. I'm not saying it just to say it. Despite how much I want him, I don't want to rush it.

   "You wanna go downstairs? I can make you toast or pancakes." I shake my head. "No, I'm not that hungry." Shit, I need to get my shit together. I can't be this emotional mess in front of him. I need to act normal, if not he's going to start asking questions and God knows I won't be able to keep the answers away. I'm already caving.

   "But I can make you something," I offer in return. When I meet his gaze, his eyes are already scrutinizing me. I need to come up with some silly excuse just to get him off my back. Quickly. "Okay, maybe I am a little bummed about last night..." I hate coming off this desperate. "I just... I wanted to give you a good birthday present."

   A soft laugh escapes his pink lips, but he stifles it as soon as he notices my brows pulling in. "And a trip to Italy wasn't good enough?" He chuckles as he brushes a few strands of hair away from my face. His hand lingers on my jaw, sending shivers through me. Then he leans in and kisses me softly on my lips. I close my eyes and focus on the feeling of his softness against mine.

"I can't wait to do you in Rome," he whispers seducingly, tilting his head towards my ear. The sexiness of his gravelly voice travels straight to my hot spot. I almost whimper out loud.

   "I love it when you talk like that." And I really do, because for at least during the ten seconds the kiss lasted, I didn't think about Devon.


   After lunch, Collins, Elias, and Grae leaves to work out - training for a big fight, in other words. Collins is just there for mental support though. Darius is taking a shower, and so I find myself alone in the living room downstairs. Against my better judgment, I pick up the phone and text the little devil spawn.

   Me: Well? What the hell do you want me to do? I'm fucking tired of this game.

   The response is almost immediate.

   Unknown number: This is far from a game, love. I'm all business.

   The last word sends a shiver of coldness through my spine. Business... That's what Darius had said to me, early on this year. I think back to the time in the alley where my body was pressed against his. When it's business, it's strictly business. His words sounds strange in my mind, but I push the memory aside. It's not that far fetched to think that Devon is the same way, though.

   Me: I don't fucking care, just tell me what you want me to do.

   I glare at my phone, waiting for the reply. It's fucking purgatory waiting for another text. I suck in a gasp when a speech bubble swoops in on the screen.

Unknown number: Be at the corner of Macy's at 10 PM tonight. Don't come late.

   I've lived in this area to know that Macy's is on the outside of town. Not much out there besides, well, Macy's - a pawnshop. What the hell does he want there? With me?

   Another text buzzes in and I look down, hoping to get an explanation.

Unknown number: Take Darius with you.

  And of course there's no explanation. I crinkle my nose. Bring Darius? Why is Devon being so weirdly obsessed about Darius? Does he want some kind of off-the-records revenge fight against Dare? I've never even heard about any fight between them. Besides, no audience? That would be totally out of character for Devon. If he wanted to kick Darius' butt he would want an audience, that I know. So it can't be that. Why can't I take one of the others? Is there something between Dare and Devon that I don't know about?

That's not even the biggest question. I have a new dilemma: How the hell am I going to get Darius with me.

Me: And how do you suppose I get him with me without telling him about you?

I hope he senses that it's written through gritted teeth with angry touches against the screen.

Unknown number: One thing I always liked about you is that you're smart. Figure something out.

I let out a loud groan. Fuck this.

   Me: What do you even want with Darius?

   It doesn't take long before he replies.

   Unknown number: It's simple. Don't you get it?

   Me: No.

   Annoyance is riling in the pit of my stomach. I'm sick to death of this. Devon is playing games with me - with us - just for the hell of it, it seems. He has no other motive than simple revenge. He's a petty son of a bitch.

But however childish he might be, the last text makes my breath hitch.

   Unknown number: If one fall, they all fall.

   Unknown number: If one fall, they all fall

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