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Too Sweet: Chapter 31


MY PHONE RINGS IN MY POCKET as Theo sets another round of beers on the table. I pull it out, my hands growing clammy when Johnny Q flashes on the screen.

“Is she okay?” I ask.

His voice fills my ear before the words fully roll off my tongue. “You need to get over here right now!” he booms. “How fast can you—” He pauses, then his voice drops in volume even though he’s still screaming. “Hey! Stay there, you piece of shit, or I’ll break your fucking neck!”

Fear clutches my throat first, closely followed by worry erupting inside my chest like a fucking volcano, filling my veins with hot lava. I never stop worrying about Mia, but it’s a controlled kind of unease. One I can cap to an extent.

At least I like thinking I can.

Now? Now it’s a mixture of unrelenting fear and fury jolting me upright in a split second.

“What the fuck happened?” I snap halfway out the building without one word to Logan or Theo. They read the tone of my voice perfectly, following suit, their chairs scraping along the floor as they scramble to their feet.

“I’ve got two guys here,” Johnny says, breathing heavily as if he ran ten flights of stairs. “One’s unconscious, one has a mouthful of his dick missing, and your girl is hysterical.”

My blood turns to cherry slurpy, and my stomach bottoms out like a runaway elevator. “Where are you?”

My brothers catch up with me when the engine of my G Wagon springs to life, disturbing the otherwise quiet evening. They hop in, both as tense as I am, both silent when the hands-free system activates, and Johnny’s voice seeps from the speakers.

“Restroom upstairs. This doesn’t look good. I’m so fucking sorry! I had her, I watched her all the time, but your brothers started a fight downstairs. Thirty assholes joined in! We were kicking them out and…” He pushes a shaky breath down his nose. “Mia went back in to grab her bag—” A loud thud sounds in the background, and someone cries out in pain. “What did I say?! Stay there! Don’t fucking move!”

“Johnny!” I snap, gripping the wheel tighter as I back out of the parking space, wheels squealing. “Where’s Mia?”

“She’s throwing up. Fuck, it’s a bloodbath here. I don’t know what went down but from what I can make out, this is too much to handle. She was gone five minutes tops before we started looking!” Another thud, quieter this time. More of a thump, really, as if he hit the wall with his fist. “Goddamnit! Where are you?!”

“On my way. Ten minutes. Pull yourself together.” I press my foot down, imagining the scene from the little information I have. Blood. Mia—scared enough to puke. Two men. I grind my teeth, praying those fuckers didn’t touch her. “Is she hurt?” I rasp, my throat tight, words struggling to come.

“I don’t think so. She’s not said anything. Just told me to get you. I think… oh, man…” he whines, clearly distraught. “There’s blood everywhere.” He takes a few steps; the sound of his heavy boots beats out of the speakers. Another thud—a kick to someone’s stomach judging by the cough and whimper. “What did you do to her?!”

“Johnny!” I boom again, hands shaking like I’m coming down from a week-long drinking session. “Tell Mia I’m on my way. Did you call the cops? Are the triplets there?”

“Yeah, they’re here. I’ve not called the cops, not yet.”

I don’t have to tell my brothers to get it done. Theo pulls his phone out immediately.

“Clear the club and don’t let those motherfuckers get away.”

“On it,” he says quickly. “I’m on it, boss.”

I hack the wheel again when he cuts the call. My pulse is going so fast the drumming in my ears borders on painful.

“Shawn’s on his way,” Theo says, weighing every word.

He knows I can barely hold my composure as I redial Johnny.

“Stay on the fucking line!” I snap when he answers. “Shawn will be there soon. How’s Mia?”

“She stopped puking. She’s okay, not hurt.”

I should be there with her. I should hold her. Calm her down. Calm myself down. Instead, I’m veering around traffic on Main Street, breaking too many laws and willing the miles away. “Are those fuckers still there?”

“Yeah, both unconscious now.” He lowers his voice to a whisper. “One isn’t breathing, Nico.”

My foot falters on the gas pedal.

Not breathing? Fuck. Gruesome scenarios flood my brain, but I push them away.

Mia’s safe.

She fought them off.

She’s okay.

Not hurt.

I turn left, then right, and left again, speeding down the street before I slam the brakes, stopping by the curb. I’m out the car in two seconds flat.

There’s a small crowd outside Q. Most guys are bleeding, and a few try arguing their way inside with the bouncers. Half the college football team watches me shove guys out of my way.

“Clear the fucking club,” I tell the head of security. “Right now. Everyone out!”

“We’re getting it done, boss. Ten minutes tops.”

I break into a sprint the moment I’m inside, my brothers hot on my tail. Every second stretches like bubble gum. I feel like I’ve been running for hours when I push the restroom door open, and stop, taking in the scene.

One guy lies on his side in the middle of the room, unconscious. Blood seeps from a large gash on his skull. His mouth hangs open, eyes shut, his back arched in an unnatural position.

The other guy’s half-sitting, half-laying under the sink, pale like a ghost. What looks like a scrap of t-shirt is tied around his limp, purple, injured dick. His hands and clothes are smeared with blood. There’s more all over the place, including the fucking walls. Red splashes here and there as if someone flicked paint all across the off-white tiles.

The floor is littered with broken pieces of what must’ve been a ceramic cover from a toilet’s water tank.

Images of Mia swinging the heavy cover fill my head. How scared—how pumped up on adrenaline—was she to rip that thing off in the first place?

I’m jolted back into motion when my eyes come across the triplets. Colt and Conor stand by the cubicle, and Cody crouches by Mia, gently stroking her back, his eyes on me, face twisted in disbelief. All three of them look as scared as I feel.

“Move,” I say, elbowing my way to her.

She’s on the floor, her shoulder against the left wall of the cubicle, hair, face, neck, and dress stained by blood. She looks like Carrie. Pale, tearful, covered in red, scared, and so fucking helpless it makes my heart break clean in two.

I cuff her wrist, lifting her off the tiles and into my arms in two moves, cradling her fragile frame into my chest, one hand under her thighs, the other around her shoulder blades.

“I’m here,” I say, pressing my lips to her temple when she shudders, nuzzling herself as close to me as physically possible. “I’ve got you, baby. You’re safe.”

I’m both relieved she doesn’t flinch at my closeness and on the verge of letting my rage take the scene. She’s so cold, trembling all over.

Knotting her fingers on my nape, she nuzzles her face under my chin. “I’m okay,” she whispers, sounding seconds from bursting into tears, but trying her hardest not to cry. “I’m not hurt. It’s not my blood.”

“I know. You’re okay.” I turn around, looking at Logan and Theo standing in the doorway. “Come on, I need you.”

I carry Mia out of the restroom, her tears trickling down my skin into my t-shirt. She’s not making a sound, though. I hate that she’s so vulnerable, but I also love that she trusts me enough not to pretend or hide how she feels.

“Shh…” I tut quietly and slide to the floor, readjusting my hold on her. “Shh, baby, you’re safe. I’m here. I take care of you, remember? I won’t let anyone hurt you.”

She nestles her face harder into the crook of my neck, inhaling me in short, ragged breaths. “I’m okay,” she utters again.

I pull out the keys to my car, tossing them to Logan. “There’s a hoodie in the boot and a pack of baby wipes in the glove box. Grab that for me.”

A single nod and barely audible, yeah, sure, is all I get before he jogs away.

Mia’s motionless, silently choking on her tears. All I can do is whisper in her ear and stroke her back as she processes whatever the fuck went down.

Not even two minutes go by before Shawn arrives, followed by four police officers and Logan.

“She said anything yet?” Shawn asks.

“Not yet. Deal with the motherfuckers first. You can interrogate Mia at home.”

He bobs his head, too smart to argue while I’m this close to turning into the goddamn Hulk. On the outside, I’m composed. I’m everything Mia needs: calm, focused, determined.

Everything happening inside is an entirely different matter.

I take the hoodie from Logan and pull it over Mia’s head, not bothering with the sleeves. I tug the fabric until it covers her butt, then press her to me, caging her in my arms.

She’s not talking, and I’m not pushing. Not yet. She needs to calm down first. She’s too stiff. Her muscles have no give. It’s fucking unnatural because she’s always like playdough around me: adjusting to my rhythm, submitting to my dominance. Right now, she’s numb. Detached.

My brothers move away a few extra steps when more cops arrive while I’m wiping blood off Mia’s face.

It’s not easy. Cleaning dried blood off her skin using wet wipes is like cleaning red wine off a carpet with paper towels. I’m not making much progress, but she’s calming down the longer I do this, so I don’t stop.

“You’re so fucking brave,” I whisper, one arm draped across her middle. “You want something to drink?”

She nods softly, and Cody walks away before I can ask anyone to fetch a bottle of water from the bar.

Shawn comes out the restroom, a phone to his ear for a moment before he tucks it away, scratching the back of his head. By the look of him, he’s not seen anything like this before. “Does Mia need medical attention?”

“No,” she whispers. “I’m not hurt.”

He looks her over as if making sure she’s not lying. “Alright, take her home, Nico. Get her cleaned up, and we’ll take her statement later. I’ll need your statements, too,” he tells the triplets.

“We’ll do it at my place,” I say before Shawn pulls Johnny to one side.

Mia grips my shirt tighter, panic etched into her expression when I try to get us off the floor.

“We’re going home. I’m not letting you go, baby.”

I want to.

I want to pass her over to Cody and get my revenge on the two unconscious motherfuckers just behind the wall. I’d risk being detained if it meant punishing the ones who hurt my girl, but regardless of how much pain I could inflict, it wouldn’t help Mia.

She’d spiral deeper into her fear.

There are women walking this earth who’d judge her lack of self-sufficiency. They’d point fingers, try to toughen her up, and teach her what feminism is all about.

The thing is… Mia can take care of herself just fine if she has no choice. She almost raised herself, dogging her mother’s lack of interest, Jimmy’s career, and Aisha’s love of guys and partying.

But she doesn’t want to be independent. She doesn’t want to count only on herself.

And that’s probably why I fell in love with her so fast… because she fits me so well. She’s all I ever wanted without realizing. I needed a girl like her. One who’d consider my protectiveness a good thing, not a leash.

She wants, needs, and expects to be cared for. I want, need, and expect her to let me do that.

We’re a match made in fucking heaven.


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