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Too Sweet: Chapter 33


I PEER UP FROM SHAWN’S PHONE when the clip ends. My hands shake, and my mind is alive, in constant, jittery motion like a nest of snakes. I’m practically fucking glowing with all-consuming wrath.

If I had Jake here, I’d tear the fucker apart.

Mia’s cries resonate inside my head on repeat, adding a brand-new layer of evil to my messed-up mind, but everything comes to a screeching halt when I spot the triplets in the doorway, faces pale.

I’ve not heard them come in.

Once Mia bit a chunk of Jake’s dick off, he dropped his cell, and nothing more than the ceiling was visible, but her face and blond hair flashed up on the screen a few times as she rammed the toilet cover across Jessie’s head. There’s a second where you see him fall, and then it’s just the sound of Mia puking, Johnny on the phone with me, and my brothers bursting in, their voices raised before they tend to Mia.

They look worse now than two hours ago as they stare at me, waiting for my move. Cody wasn’t bleeding in Q, but he is now, his lip split, knuckles bruised.

It’s nothing compared to what Brandon Price looks like, standing between Colt and Conor, face swollen, nose broken. Large blood-mixed tears slide down his cheeks, creating a Halloween-worthy mess.

He’s not looking at me, his gaze glued to the floor, both arms held by my brothers, though I doubt he’d run.

He wouldn’t get far.

Anger barges into my battered mind like a Soviet icebreaker, diminishing the composure I’ve assembled thus far. It’s overwhelming without Mia by my side. Without her magical ability to pacify the worst kind of fury.

But she’s not here. She’s upstairs, asleep after suffering what no woman should ever suffer, because of this fucker who stands in my living room, crying.

I don’t give a damn about his remorse.

A soul-burning, primal madness buzzes in my head, burrowing into every muscle. “Shawn,” I grind out, teeth gnashing between my lips, eyes searing into the fucker responsible for Mia’s hurt.

In my peripheral vision, I catch Shawn leaning forward, either to see me better or get ready to do as I say. “Yeah, bro?”

“Get out.”

He’s off the clock now, no longer in uniform, but he is a cop. I don’t want him watching what’s about to go down and turning a blind eye. He would. He did in the past when I took my anger out on Jared and when Logan battered Asher a few years ago. If any one of us asked, he’d fucking do it, but jeopardizing his career isn’t my intention.

A distressed whimper builds in Brandon’s throat. His hands ball at his sides, and he has the fucking audacity to open his mouth.

“Say one fucking word, and I’ll make sure it’ll be your last,” I snap. “Get out of my house, Shawn. Now.”

I can tell by how his knee nervously bounces that he’s torn. On the one hand, he has Jack, Josh, and his job to think about; on the other, he wants to have my back and maybe stop me going overboard.

Neither Logan nor Theo will get in my way unless things get out of control, and their definition of out of control is different from Shawn’s.

“I’ll stay,” he says, leaning against the couch. “I’ve got a shitload to deal with, Nico. I don’t want to be back here in an hour, detaining your ass, and we both know your brakes will give out without me.”

Cody and Colt shove Brandon forward. He stumbles over his legs—a sight to fucking see… the almighty quarterback almost falling to his knees. Not so cocky today.

His attitude betrays he knows I’m unpredictable. At least, I used to be while I was with Kaya. No one could stand toe to toe with me and say he won.

I broke too many bones back then.

And I’m about to up the number. Mia broke his nose, but I intend to snap his fucking spine.

“Man, I’m sorry. It was just a prank, alright? Just for laughs, you know? How—”

“Just for laughs… Was Mia laughing when you forced her into your lap at the Spring Break party? Was she laughing when you told her she had to fuck you for the broken nose?”

My restraint dies a sad death two sentences in. I spring to my feet, and my older brothers do the same, ready to either grab me or help me. Two will help for sure. The verdict’s out on Shawn. He might be the mellowest of the Hayes, but he has an unpredictable side.

Neither one reacts when I grip Brandon’s collar, shoving him against the wall. The sound of his head bouncing off the brickwork flips my stomach. It’s dangerously close to the sound of the ceramic water tank cover connecting with Jessie’s head.

“Was she laughing when she was harassed? When she had to knee some fucker in the balls, so he’d let her go?” I ask, getting in his entitled face. “Was. She. Laughing?”

“No.” He clears the clog of fear lodged in his throat. “No, she wasn’t. No one was supposed to touch her unless she allowed it.”

I shove him back again. It’s fucking unnatural that I’ve not knocked him unconscious, that I’m controlling myself even though Mia’s calming magic is two floors up.

But the thought of her works, too. To an extent.

My elbow falls back, and my fist connects with Brandon’s already broken nose.

I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t land at least one punch.

His head cracks off the wall again, and I step away before his blood stains my t-shirt.

“You’ll call it off.” I pause, cracking my neck. “You’ll call off the hunt, scrap the prize and inform everyone not to lay a finger on her. You’ll apologize on your fucking knees, and you’ll swear on your dick that you’ll deal with everyone who says one foul word to her. That includes your psychotic girlfriend. Got it?”

He nods repeatedly, up and down like a bobblehead. Yeah. You got it. I’ll call it all off, but… I don’t know what girlfriend you’re talking about, man. I don’t have a girlfriend.”

“Better you never get one,” Theo mutters, settling back on the couch beside Logan.

“Blair,” I supply. “Deal with her. And if I ever find out you’re playing games, gambling on another girl’s safety, you’ll choke on your dick.”

“Never, I swear. Now I know what can happen…” He trails off, his eyes pooling with fresh tears. “Shit, man. I’m sorry. I didn’t think it’d end like this. It was just a game.”

“Girls get raped for much less than twenty-five grand,” Shawn says, still on his feet, still ready to intervene.

He’s right not to trust me. I’m not sure I’m done.

“They get raped for fucking free, kid,” he continues. “You’re loaded and apparently clueless if you can’t put yourself in the shoes of anyone without money. You’d puke your fucking guts if you saw some of the shit I did over the years. You have no idea what people do for money.”

“I’m sorry. Really, I am,” Brandon chokes, meeting my gaze as he wipes his face on his sleeve. “You know I’d never do anything so stupid if I knew Mia’s yours.”

“What difference does it make whose she is?!” I snap. “Grow the fuck up. You have a sister! Put her in Mia’s place for a second. Would it still be a game if it was Kathy in that restroom tonight?”

“No, of course not. Fuck, man… this is so surreal. That clip you played will haunt me in my sleep.”

“I hope it eats you alive. What Mia went through is your fault. Make no mistake, kid. Anyone touches her again, there’ll be fucking hell to pay. Now get out of my house.”

“I’ll take care of it. I promise. I’ll call it all off.”

Colt grips his shoulder, ushering him toward the door. As soon as it bangs closed behind him, the Holy Trinity unites, standing arm-in-arm and blocking the doorway.

“Listen, we’re sorry, Nico,” Cody says, sounding like he’s barely holding it together. “We had her, we always have her, but when Grayson told us about the prize, we jumped Brandon, and—”

“I know,” I huff, massaging my temples.

“No, you don’t. We fucked up. We should’ve paid more attention; we should’ve…” Colt cuts himself off. “We won’t ask you to let us take her out again.”

“No, you won’t. I’m not her fucking owner, so you don’t ask me. You ask Mia. And you better do. She needs those nights, Colt. I need her to go out and party so she doesn’t regret not doing it later.” I plop down on the couch, accepting a glass of whiskey from Theo. “I don’t blame you for what happened tonight. You were looking out for her when you jumped Brandon, weren’t you?”

They all nod, each taking a glass from Theo, who’s playing bartender, fixing drinks in silence.

“I didn’t ask Johnny to keep an eye on Mia because I don’t trust you to do it right,” I say, taking a big sip. “I just… I’m working through my shit, trying to tame that controlling side. It takes time.”

Cody lets all air out of his lungs, then grits his teeth like he’s trying to get a hold of himself. “She’s in love with you, you know? And she’s scared you’ll leave her.”

“I know,” I huff, setting the glass aside. “I’ve made a few mistakes along the way, but I’m learning how to navigate this. She’s not what I’m used to, and I’ve fucked up a few times, but don’t worry. I promised I won’t hurt her, and I won’t.”

He stares me down, in a mixture of apology and relief. “How is she? You need us to do anything?”

“No. She’s asleep. I don’t think it hit her yet, but we’ll all be here for her when it does.”

“She’s tougher than she looks,” Colt admits, taking a seat on the piano stool.

“Yeah…” Conor drawls on a long exhale. “Too tough for her own fucking good sometimes.”


Mia didn’t wake up screaming.

Not once. She didn’t move much all night.

And she’s still asleep, lips pursed, one hand across my ribs, the other under the pillow.

So fucking gorgeous.

I ghost my fingers up and down her arm under the comforter, getting ready for whatever comes when she wakes up.

Her hair is sprawled on her pillow, which she hardly ever uses, nestling her face in the crook of my neck or my chest, and I fucking love when she’s so close.

It’s not the most comfortable position, lying on my back most of the night, but if it means having Mia curve into me, I’ll gladly suffer the lower back pain.

She only sleeps in my arms on the weekends. It’s starting not to be enough. Every night without her warm, body beside me, it gets harder to fall asleep.

My wristwatch tells me it’s nine-thirty when she starts stirring, changing positions every few seconds like she’s trying to find one that’ll let her sleep a little longer.

I’ve been awake almost two hours but didn’t dare untangle myself from her hold.

“Morning,” I whisper, kissing her head.

“Morning,” she breathes, pulling the comforter so high nothing south of her nose is visible. “Did Shawn come over last night?”

“Yeah. He’s coming back today around eleven to talk to you.” I tug the comforter and nudge her until she lies on her back. A nasty bruise on the side of her pretty face kick-starts the bright-white freeze of anger worming my mind.

The bruise is larger than my fucking hand. Red and purple from her cheek to her jaw.

“That bad?” she asks, combing her blonde locks over one shoulder. “I wouldn’t have this if not for the clotting factor deficiency. It’ll be gone in about a week.” She pinches her lips together, and a hot glow of pink spills over her cheeks. “Did you see the clip?”

I grip her waist, pulling her under me. “I did, baby, and before you ask, it changes nothing. I’m sorry you went through that.” I kiss her forehead, moving my elbows flush against her ribs. “I’m sorry you didn’t feel you could trust me. I won’t let you down again.”

“It’s not your fault. Please—” she whispers, biting the inside of her cheek. “Don’t do this. Don’t blame yourself, the triplets, or anyone else, okay? It doesn’t help anyone. It happened. It’s done. We can’t turn back ti—”

“Don’t act like it didn’t happen. You need time to process it,” I cut in, anticipating where this is going. She’s invalidating the whole thing, lessening its severity and consequences. “Don’t rush. I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere.”

“I’m not rushing, Nico, but I’ve been through this before. After Asher, I kept everything in. I didn’t talk to anyone for weeks. Ask your brothers. I spoke in monosyllables, replaying that night over and over. It took me a long time to heal. I don’t want to make that mistake again.”

“You can talk to me. I saw what happened, but I’ll listen if you want to let it out. I’ll find you a therapist if that’s what you need.”

“I was in therapy last year. I know how to deal with this. I don’t want to keep thinking about what Jake did or wonder what would’ve happened if I had done one thing differently. I don’t want to look back because if I do that I can’t go forward. I’ll talk to Shawn and tell you everything you want to know, but then I want to move on, okay?”

“Can I help somehow?”

“You can start by repeating what you said last night.”

A small smile curves my lips when she beams, eyes sparkling. She’s so fucking strong…

“What did I say?”

She huffs, bracing both hands against my chest, trying to wriggle out from under me. “I won’t tell you.”

I take her hands in mine and box her in again, looking into those green eyes that hold my soul hostage. “I love you, baby.” I dip my head to kiss her, but she slaps one hand over her mouth, shaking her head.

“I love you, but I won’t kiss you until we brush our teeth.”


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