I wish the tension in the room left with Gavin, but once he was out, Trent remained still. Corbyn stepped in and we all just sat there in silence for what seemed like an eternity. 

“We need to go,” Trent announced and as his hand started to slip out of mine, I found myself clinging onto it, earning an angry kind of confused look from Trent.

“You just got back,” I half whined, and what I was doing - even I didn’t know. I wanted him gone, right? But I also didn’t want to be left alone with Gavin. Nope. No, thank you. 

“Dee,” he sighed, gently getting me to stand with him. I thought he’d be upset, but he liked this. He liked me needing him. This I could work with. 

“Please, Trent,” I squeezed my arms around him and tucked my face into his chest, “I don’t need a new bodyguard. Just take me with you and then we never have to be apart.”

“It’s too dangerous and you know that,” he made me look up at him but his eyes were scanning behind us like he was thinking the same thing - the interaction with his dad was complicated and suggestive. In no way did I want to be left here without someone I trusted, and even then I wasn’t safe. 

Sure, Stone business was dangerous. Wasn’t it always when you were running illegal things like drugs and weapons? Trent’s dad may be at the top here, but that doesn’t stop others from trying to take what's yours. It’s why I’m never allowed out, why there are guards here all the time, and why our house was more like a fortress. 

“She could just stay in the vehicle today,” Corbyn half-whispered. This was bad. Even the nugget himself was trying to help me? 

“You stay where I tell you, Dee,” I squeezed him tighter as I half squealed because he just gave me sweet, sweet permission to go with them. I needed to get a lay of the land outside now that I was on my own, and I would be shamelessly using Trent’s adoration of me to get there as often as I could now. 

We leave before there are any chance interactions with his dad and even though they place me in the back of the vehicle alone, but I can still make out some of what they are whispering about. A shipment went missing, something that came in last night, something that must have been important enough for Gavin to send his son running errands for him like this. 

When we pull up, I realize why I’m in the back… child locks, and Corbyn’s sorry excuse for a smile told me who put them on. I smile sweetly back at him. Being locked in the back of a vehicle is still better than being at home.

There are several men waiting on them. I think I recognize one of them, but they are all a little rough looking, and I have to strain to hear anything. Cough, cough… abilities… anytime you want to give me my shifter hearing would be grand. No? Back to straining than because while I don’t think knowing will get me anywhere… I’m nosey. 

One of them point around the side of the warehouse, but I can only make out one word for every twenty they speak. Note to self: learn how to read lips. ‘Busy’... blah blah blah… ‘dead’... blah blah blah… and then Nugget notices me leaning in close to the divider like a Mark to hear better and casually turns his back to block my view. 


I half throw myself back into the seat in defeat, but as I land, I notice ‌Corbyn wasn’t the only one watching me. There’s one guy leaning against the side of the building with a perfect view of me and the way he rolls his tongue over his bottom lip makes my stomach want to roll too. 

Not only is he twice my age, but he's in no shape to be hitting on anything. He looks like he could use about ten baths to be clean, and it wouldn't hurt to chop off all the disgusting little chin hairs I think he's trying to call a beard. 

The door to the vehicle opens and Trent is standing there like Prince Charming, arm extended for me and everything. Everyone else has fallen silent when I step out with my back to them and hold Trent’s undivided attention. 

I touch the side of his face to gauge his reaction, but that one touch pushes him over the edge. His lips crash into mine, and his tongue sweeps through my mouth with a kind of possessiveness that’s sloppy and theatrical. His hand grips my butt tightly into him before slowly dragging their way up until he’s grabbing my face. 

In one smooth motion, he covers my ear with his palm, pressing my open ear to his chest just as a gun goes off. His thumb absently strokes the side of my head until my heart rate slows down to normal. 

“She’s mine,” he proclaims, turning me in his arms to see the guy that was staring at me with too much interest already dead on the ground, the gun still raised in Trent's hand. 

Corbyn’s at my side as I drop onto my knees and Trent moved forwards. 

"One guard is a traitor. That one guard told the competition that we would be preoccupied and then they killed him. They only got one shipment, so how are they going to continue to get information?" Trent looks back at us and shrugs before holding the gun up to the next guy, "I'm just not feeling the loyalty here." 

"Sweep it," Corbyn tosses out like he’s bored, and Trent shoots the guy in front of him without even looking away from us. The last remaining guard starts to plead for his life, and it finally occurs to me why I thought I recognized him. 

"Wait! I called out and Trent stops but doesn’t move from looking at him, "that's Piper's brother."

The loud bang that followed has me clutching my ears as someone picks me up and half throws me into the back of the vehicle. I scramble to get out, but the door is closed and it’s useless to try to open it. I press up against a small opening, as if there’s a way I can squeeze through the tiny open window that divides the back and the front of the vehicle. 

"You didn't have to do that!" I half lay on the seat as I kick the door. My screams ringing out in frustration with every kick and attempt to get out of the back as my chest starts to become so heavy that it’s hard to breathe a full breath of air. The door opens suddenly and I fall partly out of the vehicle, my chest visibly rising and falling and my hair dishevelled all around me.  

I wanted out. I was fighting to get out, but now that I am… what am I going to do?

Trent's brows are pressed together, standing over me in complete control of himself, a stark comparison to what I probably look like - a deranged animal at best. Completely out of control I continue to look up at him angrily. I should care more about self-preservation at this moment, but something here makes me bolder than before. 

"How long are you going to entertain this?" Corbyn yawns as Trent lifts me to stand in front of him. Freaking… yawns! 

Trent’s strong grip catches my hand while I’m mid-spin and halfway to Corbyn’s face. A shiver makes its way up my spine, settling on the base of my neck as he draws closer and his breath glides over my shoulder. 

"If they aren't loyal to ME, they don't belong here." 

"YOU," I turn quickly to face him, "didn't know that! You didn't even give him a chance to prove himself you just…" I look up and all that’s left is a trail of blood from where they dragged the bodies to goodness knows where, "you just…" I turn away and empty the contents of my stomach to the sounds of Corbyn's annoyance and Trent's huff of disapproval? Embarrassment maybe? 

"Giving them a chance is giving them an opportunity to ruin me," he grips my chin, ignoring the vomit that’s likely covering it, "YOU wanted to tag along, well, take a good look, Dee, because this is our empire. Deceit, danger, and death.” Our empire. The sound of cars rolling up doesn’t make his attention draw away from me. He expected them. “Get in the car and don’t say a fucking word.”

I stumble on my first step back towards the vehicle and as he tries to catch my arm, I twist violently to avoid his touch. I don't need to look back to know that I better be fine on my own. He wasn't going to catch my fall to be kind to me. He doesn't want me embarrassing myself now that his men are present. 

After a few minutes, the boys slide into the front and his cold vision lands on me. Every time I think maybe, just maybe, there is a piece of the Trent I grew up with left, I’m reminded of how truly wrong I am. His father ruined him, and his mother’s death only solidified his change.

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