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Tarnished Embers: Chapter 39

EMBER

While I was at Serene Haven Mental Health Centre, the guys all took a week-long crash course in driving and passed their tests, so we take a black Land Rover Discovery they bought and head to the old house. Kit and Oct met with Hunter, Roman, and Rowan, the leaders of The Shadowmen and apparently Iris’s boyfriends. Called it. I didn’t realise that they’d met, but apparently they hit it off when they were visiting me and the Shadows were visiting Iris.

The Shadowmen have some experience in this sort of thing, according to Prince, and as they’d offered to help make my tormentors pay, we brought them in as we’re complete novices. Just thinking this has a nervous chuckle trying to escape my lips. Who casually thinks about murder like this?

Hunter assured us that taking these monsters off the face of the earth also ensured that no one who came under the protection of the gang would be at risk in the future. The ones they protected were often vulnerable people who all too easily could succumb to the lure of money or who wouldn’t be much missed if they disappeared.

The night sky is full of stars as we head to the city, the twinkling lights getting less as we draw nearer to the Big Smoke, aka London. Light pollution prevents all but the strongest being seen, and I snuggle into Prince in the back of the car the closer we get to where I used to live.

My heartbeat picks up as we turn into the driveway, the gates closing behind us as we make our way in the dark, the only light the beam of our headlights. No lights can be seen inside once we pull up, all the curtains are drawn shut, though I see several cars parked, only one of which is the other black Land Rover that belongs to us, Kit and Oct having gone ahead.

“The Shadowmen will take care of any other cars, Cinders,” Cas assures me, not for the first time as he takes in my puckered brows as I stare at the vehicles. “They have connections and a clean-up crew.”

“I know,” I say before purposefully taking a deep inhale and a slow exhale to calm my racing heart as I sit here, Prince quiet next to me. It doesn’t help much because I’m too keyed up to be calm.

“We have all the bases covered, Sugar. This will not come back on us.” Prince gives me a squeeze, placing a light kiss on my head before letting me go, opening the door and stepping out. The warm, summer night air filters into the air con-filled space, and I breathe in again, my chest feeling tight at the familiar scent of roses from the garden.

Time to pull your big girl panties up, Ember.

I take Prince’s offered hand, letting him help to pull me from the vehicle. The gravel crunches beneath my boots, sweat instantly pooling at the base of my spine as I look up at the house, the place of my nightmare. Though maybe after tonight, the place of salvation? Or more nightmares, the jury is out on that one.

“Let’s go, Cinders,” Cas says from my other side, taking my free hand in his, and Prince keeps ahold of my other as we make our way into the quiet property.

A shudder runs through me as we cross the threshold, a shaking exhale leaving my chest as we make our way deeper into the house, towards the kitchen at the back. My eyes widen, a gasp lodging in my throat when the distinct sound of flesh hitting flesh reaches us.

“Rapist piece of shit!” Oct yells, and we rush through the door to find him standing over one of four men, all tied to chairs, all bleeding. Oct’s hands are clenched, his knuckles split and his whole body racked with tremors. I watch, frozen to the spot as he draws his fist back and punches the man in the face so hard that his chair topples backwards and he falls to the ground, moaning as his head smacks against the tiles.

“You got the party started without us,” Prince drawls, and there’s an air of violence in his tone, a darkness that I’m not sure I’ve heard before. I feel numb, taking it all in as if it’s some kind of warped dream.

“Apologies, brother,” Kit answers back, stepping away from one of the other men, who slumps and looks to be bleeding from multiple slashes across his naked torso. I swallow bile when I realise that all the men tied down are naked, my gaze flitting over them but not pausing for too long before moving away. “Are you doing okay, Pretty Thing?”

Blinking, I realise with a start that Kit is now in front of me, reaching out with bloody palms to cup my face. I take a sharp breath when his hands make contact, the skin slick with the blood of my tormentors. He pauses, looking deep into my eyes, concern and worry clear by the tightness of his jaw and his own lowered brows. He goes to pull away, but I release Cas and Prince’s hands, placing mine above Kit’s, holding them to my cheeks.

“I’m better now seeing you and Oct,” I whisper, unable to make my voice any louder. I lick my lips, trying to will my racing heart to slow down. The blasted organ won’t listen though, pumping a mile a minute, but I just focus on Kit, on the way he holds me and blocks my view of the men who hurt me so badly.

“I love you, Ember,” he murmurs, dipping his head and giving me a sweet kiss. I can feel the tension in him, his muscles coiled and ready to keep doling out punishment on my behalf.

“I love you, Kit,” I reply when he pulls away, finally letting his hands drop. His eyes dart over my cheeks, and I flush when I see them getting darker with heat.

“You look good covered in our enemies’ blood, Little Sis,” Oct rasps, barging Kit out of the way to grab me by my throat and pull me to his lips. I hear the others curse, but I don’t care because I’m drowning in Oct, clinging to him as he devastates me with his lips and tongue. He embraces the chaos that’s running through his veins, the violence clearly turning him on as he presses his hardness against my stomach.

“Try to wait before you fuck her, Oct,” a new voice teases in a deep baritone, and I pull back sharply to look at the stranger. He’s stacked, built like a brick shithouse, muscles on muscles that his vest does nothing to hide. Tattoos cover one arm, peeking out of his neckline. His dark blond hair is cut short to his head, a little longer on the top, and his jaw is reminiscent of a Disney prince.

The dark look in his green eyes is more Grimm fairy tales than Disney though, and he seems to be older than the rest of us by a few years. “Nice to finally meet you, Ember. Iris talks highly of you. I’m Hunter.”

His voice is deep, so deep it makes me think of an abyss that you could fall down in and never return.

“H–hello, Hunter,” I stammer, Oct moving to the side so I can see the two others in the room. They must be the twins, identical with their dirty blond hair tied in man buns to their sparkling brown eyes and stubbled chins.

“That’s Roman and Rowan,” Hunter introduces, but in all honesty, they look the fucking same, so I’ve no idea which is which.

“Thanks for being a friend to Iris,” the one on the left says, his lips quirking up in a cheeky grin that has my lips twitching. “And for giving her some new ideas to try in the bedroom.”

“I’ll be sure to text her later with a couple more,” I sass, which has all seven men looking at me. Hunter and the twins with wide eyes and my guys with knowing smirks.

“Now we know your names, you little shits,” a broken, rasping voice sneers from behind the Shadowmen, and I flinch, a sudden flashback of that same voice telling me he was going to fill up my filthy mouth making me stagger slightly.

Strong arms wrap around me from behind, and it takes everything in me not to thrash and scream. I take a deep inhale, drawing in the scent of summer meadows as I remind myself I’m not back in that attic, then willing my muscles to loosen and the tension to leave my body.

“Give her some space, Oct,” Prince orders firmly, and shaking my head, it’s like my vision returns, finding my guys surrounding me, the Shadowmen a few paces away. Oct releases me and tears spring to my eyes as my jaw tightens. I didn’t think the monsters still had me in their clutches. I thought that I was more over what happened than maybe I am, my nightmares lessening until I’ve only experienced the odd one.

“I’m sorry,” I mumble, looking down, the first hot tear tracking down my cheek.

“You have nothing, fucking nothing to be sorry about, you hear?” Cas grits out. “Look at me, Cinders, please.”

I glance up, finding him standing close but not touching me, and the gap between us hurts. Releasing a breath, I step towards him, snuggling into his chest and just breathing him in. Toffee apples fill my nose, calming me and letting me know that I’m here, not back in that attic, and the monsters who hurt me are about to experience a world of pain.

Cas’s arms come around me, tentatively at first, then pulling me closer until there’s not a breath of space between us. We hold each other for a few moments, then taking a deep inhale, I pull away.

“Will you come with me?” I ask, my gaze darting behind him to where the four beaten-up men await.

“Always,” he answers without hesitation, taking hold of my hand and waiting. I take another steadying breath, then slowly step towards the man who spoke. From our research, it’s Lord Blackthorn and I can’t stop the slight tremble that starts up at the sight of him, even powerless as he is.

“Well, hello there, petal,” he coos, and bile stings my mouth at the memory of him calling me that before. His blue eyes are bloodshot, one almost swollen shut, and his lip cut and bleeding. There are marks across his torso, but I pull my eyes up before I get to between his legs, knowing that will most likely set off another panic attack.

“You don’t fucking speak to her, scum,” Cas snarls, baring his teeth like he’s about to rip out Lord Blackthorn’s throat with them.

“It’s okay, Cas,” I say, placing my free hand on his chest and looking up at him. His heart pounds against my palm, and I use its steady rhythm to draw strength from. “I just wanted to clear up a little misunderstanding.”

“And what would that be, petal?” Lord Blackthorn asks, and I switch my focus to him. He’s trying to act like an aristocrat, all noble and shit, but I know all about his depravity, and it makes my lip curl.

“You seem to be under the impression that it makes a difference if you know who we are,” I tell him, my voice strong and sure. I straighten my spine as I look down at him, and the power that rushes through me knowing that he’s at my mercy is a heady feeling.

He arches a brow. “Doesn’t it?”

“Dead men can’t talk, Lord Blackthorn,” I inform him, the sound of liquid being sloshed around the room making him look around, the whites of his eyes beginning to show. The other men squirm, pleas ringing out as they’re each covered in alcohol that was bought here for this.

I can hear some of the others leaving the kitchen, presumably heading to the rest of the house to spread the alcohol around and make sure it all burns.

“P–p–please, I can get you anything you w–want,” Lord Blackthorn pleads, and Cas hands me an open bottle of vodka, his other palm warm in mine as he keeps hold of my hand. I look into my rapist’s blue eyes as I pour the liquid over his head and body, making him splutter and cough. They all fight their bindings, but it’s no use, they’re only causing themselves more pain as they try and fail to get free.

“I don’t need anything you could give me,” I tell him, my voice ice-cold as I watch the realisation sink in. His shoulders slump, seeing no mercy in my hard stare, his tears mixing with the alcohol as he comes to terms with his imminent death.

Finally, stepping away from him, I pass the empty bottle back to Cas, the others all coming back into the room. Hunter stops in front of me, handing me a glass bottle with a rag stuffed in the top, filled with clear alcohol and elastic bands. I raise a brow.

“Elastic bands?” I ask, taking the lit lighter he also passes to me.

“They act like molten rubber bullets and stick to the walls. Helps to spread the fire,” he says before stepping back.

“Light her up, Little Sis,” Oct commands, coming up behind me to wrap his arms around me. “You’re so fucking hot causing destruction.”

I laugh, bringing the lighter to the rag and watching it catch with my heart racing and tingles spreading across my body. I feel fucking alive, like for the first time in a long while all the colours shine brightly again. I pull my arm back, mindful of Oct behind me, and then launch the missile at the wall, the shattering glass and the whoosh of fire making my hair fly back from my face.

“Best kind of cocktails,” one twin says with a sigh, and I look to the side to see his face limned in firelight looking all kinds of devilish. “Time to go before it gets too hot.”

I take in the hellish scene before me; the men tied to the chairs all begging and pleading with us to let them go, but they didn’t show me any mercy, didn’t show any of their victims an ounce of mercy, so they shall receive none in return.

Turning my back, I let Oct and the others lead me to the back door, and we all exit the house as an orange glow spreads along the windows.

“We’ll stay and make sure it all burns,” Hunter states, giving each of my guys a handshake. “There’ll be nothing left by the time our guys are done.”

“Thank you, Hunt,” Prince says, looking into the other man’s eyes. “Really appreciate it.”

“It was a pleasure,” one twin says, a dark grin plastered on his face. “Dealing with scum like that is a special treat.” Then he reaches into his back pocket and gets out a bag of fucking marshmallows, pulling out some kind of extendable prong and placing one on the end before strolling over to the burning house and holding it out.

“Fucking degenerate,” Hunter scoffs, turning to me. “You’re welcome to visit Iris once things have settled.”

I tilt my head to the side, wondering exactly what things he’s talking about. Iris and I never fully shared our stories, though I believe she went through something similar to me, and as far as I know, she’s been released now, but I definitely got the impression that although she’d somewhat gotten over the initial trauma, there was something, some danger that she was still worrying about.

“I’d love that. Tell her I say hi, and thank you,” I reply, deciding that it’s none of my business, but that I would love to see her again. It was nice, is nice, having a female friend. There’s only so much testosterone that one girl can handle before she needs some girl time.

“Let’s go home, Sugar,” Prince suggests, taking my hand and leading me to our car. The twins each give me a kiss before heading to their car, and then I’m in the back with Prince again, snuggling into his side as the glow from the fire grows in our rearview mirror.


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