Echoes of silence unquie.., p.34
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       Echoes of Silence (Unquiet Mind Book 1), p.34

           Anne Malcom
 

  I laughed again; I couldn’t help it. I felt Kill’s dark gaze on me as I did so. He didn’t move toward me, which was strange. He always gave me some sort of physical gesture when he saw me, regardless of the audience.

  “Congrats, bro,” Wyatt said, moving forward to shake his hand. “On getting the patch, it’s awesome.”

  Kill’s face went blank, but he nodded and shook Wyatt’s hand back. “Thanks.”

  Noah and Sam followed suit, but Sam gave him the man hug, clapping him on the back with one hand while the other was clasped at his chest.

  No one else noticed because they didn’t watch Kill like I did, but he flinched slightly when Sam’s hand came down on his back.

  Once they had given their congrats, they all packed up.

  “We’ll let the lovebirds celebrate,” Sam declared with a wink. “Remember, practice tomorrow,” he said seriously.

  Wyatt rolled his eyes. “Like we could forget. You’ve written out a goddamn timetable for the entire day, including bathroom breaks.”

  Sam put his hands on his hips, looking comically like some kind of angry housewife. “Well excuse me for being serious about the record company meeting we have in two days,” he exclaimed.

  “No one could ever accuse you of being serious, bro,” Noah said, clapping him on the back. “Bye, babe,” he said, giving me a chin lift.

  Sam scowled at his back. “Just remember, a keyboardist is much more replaceable than a sex symbol drummer,” he yelled at his back, giving me a distracted wave.

  “I’ll sort him before he combusts, don’t worry, Lex,” Wyatt reassure me, hoisting his guitar over his shoulder and kissing my cheek. “Catch you tomorrow, 0900,” he joked, lifting his head in farewell to Kill.

  “Bye,” I called.

  Kill and I both watched the boys leave in silence.

  I narrowed my eyes at him once they pulled away.

  “Freckles—” he began in a strange voice.

  I stormed forward. “Turn around,” I commanded in a quiet voice.

  He jolted slightly. “Lexie—” he tried again.

  “Turn around,” I demanded, eyeing him sharply.

  He sighed but did as I asked.

  First, I grasped the top of his cut, pulling it off and laying it carefully on the sofa beside us. Then I put my hands on the bottom of his tee and very gently pulled it up. I gasped when I uncovered his back. His back covered in plastic covering, a very red, very fresh tattoo covering the entirety of it.

  I knew what it was. It was the same insignia on the Sons of Templar patch. A grim reaper brandishing a sword and riding a Harley through a road of skulls. And Kill had the thing tattooed on his entire back. I visibly flinched at the pain I knew he’d been in. Without me there. Without telling me. I carefully traced my finger along the edges of the plastic covering.

  “Why didn’t you tell me?” I questioned in a hurt voice.

  Kill turned and I lost purchase on the shirt. He grasped my neck. “I couldn’t, Freckles. I wanted to. Fuck it’s the best news I’ve had my entire life, apart from hearing your mom was okay that day, and apart from the day you agreed to be my girl.” He paused. “Every good thing that happens to me is usually connected to you. If it’s not, it doesn’t become real until I share it with you.” He stroked my cheek. “But it’s the way the club works, babe. Stays within the club.”

  I brought my brows together. “Why didn’t you tell me today?” I asked, hating that I sounded like a whining girlfriend. “About the party? Lucky was the one who told me.”

  Kill’s face was hard. “I didn’t tell you ‘cause I’ve been trying to get it canceled,” he bit out.

  I reared back. “Cancelled?” I repeated. “Why the devil would you want to do that?”

  “’Cause it’s on Friday night,” he elaborated like that was meant to mean something.

  I waited for more. “And?” I asked when more didn’t come.

  “And that’s the night I’m meant to take my girl to prom,” he murmured.

  I jolted. “You think I care about prom?” I asked him in disbelief.

  He was the one who looked shocked now. “Babe, you’re a girl. Every girl cares about prom.”

  I grinned at him. “I thought we’d established that I’m not your normal girl,” I teased.

  Kill’s face went serious. “I knew that already, Freckles. I know that,” he said, something moving in his eyes, something I couldn’t recognize but something I didn’t like.

  “I don’t want you missing out on your prom, not for me,” he continued.

  I put my hand over his wrist. “Prom is nothing to me, silly. Nothing could be more important than the boy I love getting the one thing he’s always dreamed of.”

  His eyes blazed. “No, Freckles. I’ve already got the one thing I’ve always dreamed of,” he murmured. Then his mouth descended on mine. It wasn’t hungry and desperate like our kisses of late had been. It was slow, gentle, full of feeling and something else that mirrored the look in his eyes.

  It took a few moments for me to get my heart back to its normal rhythm after that.

  “Can I play you something?” I asked when I got my breath back.

  “One of yours?” he asked softly. Ever since the night I sang “Echoes of Silence,” Kill had damn near demanded I play him every song I’d ever written to him. He’d sit for an entire afternoon, watching me, listening to me sing. He’d done it at the beach one day until I decided enough was enough and put my guitar to the side. Kill immediately brought me into his arms, kissing me softly.

  “Makes me so proud hearin’ you, Freckles,” he murmured.

  I snuggled into him, not saying anything, just watching people around us, happy to watch the world go by in Killian’s arms.

  “I want that.” I nodded to the old couple, holding hands and smiling to grandchildren squealing with laughter around them.

  “What? Wrinkles?” Kill teased.

  I sat up and punched him in the shoulder. It was like punching a rock. I rubbed my hand absently. Kill saw my movement and brought it up to his lips. The moment they touched the knuckle, the pain disappeared.

  “No,” I said finally, gazing into his eyes. “I want roots. I want them curling into the ground beneath my feet and giving me somewhere to belong.”

  Kill stiffened. His eyes flickered over to the couple once more. “You don’t want roots, Freckles,” he disagreed. “You don’t want roots when you’ve already got wings. When you’re poised to take flight.”

  “Who says I can’t have both?” I asked with a grin.

  “Physics.”

  I shrugged, letting him pull me back into his arms. “Who says physics has to dictate anything?” I said into his chest. “I’m making my own destiny.”

  Kill didn’t say anything. His body stiffened and he squeezed me a little tighter.

  I shook my head, both to get myself out of my daydream and to answer Kill. “Not this time.”

  Kill kissed me again. “Couldn’t think of better than hearing my girl sing at the end of the day.”

  I stepped out of his arms, and he went to sit on the sofa, slipping his cut back on with a slight flinch.

  I hated to see that but put my guitar on and sat on a stool in front of him. Without breaking eye contact, I sang “Lost Boy” by Ruth B to him.

  When I finished, he stood immediately. The guitar was gone from me before I even knew what was going on. His mouth was on mine once more and it wasn’t gentle. It was hungry. It had an edge, one that all of our kisses had these days.

  For a year it had been the desperate kisses that we tried to drain as much out of as we could. It was the prolonged make out sessions stolen in the back of his car or on top of a blanket at our spot on the cliffs. But it never progressed past those feverish moments. Sometimes it got close. Sometimes all I wanted was everything the kiss promised. But Kill always pulled back. Said it wasn’t time. Somehow sensed I wasn’t ready when I had lost all thought.

  But I was now. I
’d made the decision. I just hadn’t known when. Now I did. The night when he finally got everything he wanted was when I’d finally give him all of me.

  Unaware of my decision, Kill pulled back. “You think I’m lost, baby?”

  I shook my head. “No. You’re free,” I clarified. “I was lost until I found you. You’re my Neverland, Kill,” I whispered.

  Kill’s eyes darkened. “I’m only free ‘cause I’ve got you,” he replied. Then he claimed my mouth once more.

  I stood in front of the mirror, regarding myself skeptically. I had spent the better part of the day on this outfit. My entire wardrobe was scattered on the floor, every piece of makeup my mom and I owned was scattered on my desk. It was reminiscent of the day I had been freaking out over my first gig. Apart from that, the nerves at the bottom of my stomach were much more intense. It wasn’t just a gig. This was it. The day. The day I’d give Kill everything. He already had my heart. My soul. The one thing I’d been holding back was finally going to be his.

  “Wow. Excuse me, young woman, can you please tell me where my teenage daughter has gone? About yay tall and answers to the name of Lexie,” Mom said from the doorway, holding her hand up to her shoulder.

  I turned fully to her. She was looking amazing as usual. She was invited to Kill’s party, obviously. She’d gone all out like usual. Her hair was straightened so it was long down her back and she was wearing a clingy black dress with a high neck and long sleeves. She had multiple strings of necklaces dangling on top of it. She didn’t look like she was going to a biker party. She looked like she was going to a cocktail party, but if Gwen and Amy were there, which they would be, she’d be in good company. They were always dripping in designer duds.

  “Is that your way of telling me I look okay?” I asked, tugging at the bottom of my dress.

  I could not be mistaken for going to a cocktail party. Unlike my mom, I hadn’t tamed my white blonde ringlets. I had piled half of them on top of my head in a messy bun while the other half tumbled down my back.

  My rainbow crochet dress was a vintage store find I’d never thought I’d find the occasion to wear. That was because it was very short and pretty skimpy. It was a halter neck that tied in the back. The multicolored fabric was stripped down and swirled into a circle at the scalloped hem. It was like tie-dye in crochet. The hem finished well above my knees. Well above. I compensated with the amount of leg I was showing by wearing over-the-knee, suede-heeled, black boots. Multiple silver bracelets jangled on my wrists and I’d gone for a dark brown smoky eye.

  Mom walked forward, her eye running over every inch of me. When she made it to me, those eyes were watering.

  “I think you look more than okay, doll. You look like a woman that I always knew you’d turn into but I didn’t realize it would happen this soon.” She continued in a shaky voice. “I’m not ready for you to grow up. Not yet. Can’t you stay my little girl forever?”

  I felt my own eyes glisten. “I’ll always be your little girl,” I promised.

  She searched my eyes, and I felt uneasy like she could see my plans for tonight. I’d always told her I’d come to her when I was ready to go further with a guy, but I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to turn it into anything but mine and Kill’s. For now, at least.

  I took a deep breath. I might not be able to tell Mom about what tonight had planned, but I had to make it possible.

  “Since tonight’s... special, and I’m almost eighteen....” I started.

  Mom leaned back. “Oh, I know this tone. This ‘almost eighteen’ talk,” she interrupted.

  I grinned. “Well, I am almost eighteen. Almost a grown adult. One with a meeting with a record exec tomorrow morning,” I reminded her as if she’d forget.

  Yes, tomorrow. The meeting after the gig had gone well, more than well considering the exec was actually traveling to Amber to meet with us on a Saturday. I was beyond excited. I knew what this meant. My dreams might just be coming true. Somehow, the prospect of a recording contract tomorrow paled in comparison to what I was going to give Killian tonight. What we’d have.

  “So such circumstances require a renegotiation of curfew,” I explained.

  Mom raised a brow. “Is that so?”

  I nodded. “I think so, especially if you want me to recognize you in my Grammy speech.”

  “You know blackmail’s illegal, right? I could have you prosecuted for this,” she threatened.

  “Then you’d never get to meet Adam Levine,” I countered.

  Mom dismissed him with a wave of her hand. “Adam who? Have you seen my husband?” She paused. “The husband I’m going to have to distract from watching the clock so he doesn’t go postal when you don’t arrive home at your previously agreed upon curfew,” she added.

  I grinned wide. “Thank you, thank you,” I chanted, throwing my arms around her.

  “Don’t thank me now. Do it when the cameras are rollin’, babe,” she replied when I released her.

  “Done,” I agreed.

  Her face turned serious. “I trust you, kid. You’ve been an adult for longer than I have, it seems. You’ve never been a normal teenager. Always been special. Mature. But that doesn’t mean you still aren’t seventeen years old. I trust you, so just make good decisions, okay, doll face?”

  I nodded again. “Always, Mom,” I promised.

  I had never been more certain about any decision in my life. How could this with Kill and me be anything but good?

  ****

  “Holy crapballs, I’m nervous,” I exclaimed, jiggling my knee.

  Noah put his hand on it, stilling my jerky motions. He gave me a smile. He didn’t say anything, just gave me quiet support, as was his way.

  Sam turned around. “Dude, why are you nervous? You never get nervous. This is your boyfriend’s—no wait, old man’s party.”

  “Which is exactly why I’m nervous,” I replied. “It’s a big night for Kill, the biggest. I don’t want to screw it up.”

  Sam’s eyes popped out. “As if us playing could screw it up. That biker club isn’t going to know what’s hit it,” he said confidently.

  That wasn’t what I was nervous about. Playing in front of a crowd, singing in front of one, it didn’t worry me. It came naturally now. It was the after. It wasn’t the crowd. It was the lack of one. Just me and Kill. I hadn’t seen him all day. We’d been practicing for the meeting and he’d been busy with “club stuff” so he couldn’t pick me up. Not that Sam would have let him. He was a force to be reckoned with at the moment. We’d practiced within an inch of our lives. I thought we were going to be okay.

  We pulled up outside the party. It was already spilling out with people and we could hear the base from inside the car.

  I took a deep breath and exited with the boys, my guitar over my shoulder, my heart in my throat. It dropped right to my stomach when we waded through the people who greeted us fondly and my eyes landed on Kill. Kill with a new patch on his back. A full patch. All he ever dreamed of. It was not the patch I was looking at, but the bright red nail attached to a very female hand trailing down that leather.

  She was wearing a red dress. Much shorter and much tighter than mine. I couldn’t see her face, but I could tell she was older than me, a woman. Experienced. One of the women who hung around the club. Mom, Zane, and Kill had all tried to protect me from finding out the role of such women, but I wasn’t an idiot. I wasn’t blind. I knew what they were. Women who hung around the club but didn’t belong to anyone; they belonged to everyone. In the biblical sense. I hadn’t judged them as I knew many people already did. Everyone was fighting their own battles, had their own stories. I couldn’t judge them based on the cover.

  I fought very fricking hard not to judge that cover. I realized I had stopped in place when Sam collided into my back.

  “Dude, what gives...?” he started to say, but then his eyes followed mine.

  “Oh shit,” he mumbled under his breath, all lightness gone from his voice.

  Kill s
hrugged the hand off, while he turned, a beer in his hand. His eyes met mine the moment he turned. He froze for a second. Then he moved, pushing through the crowd and ignoring the shouts and claps on the back.

  The guitar was gone from my hands and over Kill’s shoulder the moment he got in front of me, his hand in mine and he dragged me through the crowd, ignoring everyone as he took us up the stairs into the clubhouse. He didn’t stop in the common room, just lead us into a hallway and into the room I’d slept in one horrible night.

  It was a lot more decorated now. The moment he started prospecting was the moment he moved out of his mom’s. He hadn’t spoken to her as far as I knew. I did know he got groceries delivered there once a week and paid the electricity bill.

  The room was small and only had an unmade double bed and set of drawers. His photos were scattered everywhere, the one of me and him on the table beside the bed. There were a lot more scattered around it now. Ones of him carrying me into the surf at the beach, a photo both him and Zane had grumbled about being in, with Mom and me at Valentines. Kill leaning against his bike in his prospect cut, his arm slung around me. Me and Kill dancing at Mom’s wedding, his forehead touching mine and him gazing at me like no one else existed in the world.

  Memories. Beautiful memories of a beautiful year that had been the happiest of my life. We didn’t have drama like other couples our age did. There were no misunderstandings that separated us or passionate fights. Only passion. Only love. Love that made me crazy and sane at the same time. Love that spread to every part of me.

  He threw my guitar down on the bed and his eyes landed on me. They were dark.

  “What are you wearing?” he clipped.

  I looked down self-consciously, my stomach dropping. Then I remembered that painted nail. My head snapped up. “You don’t like it? Obviously, you prefer red dresses,” I shot at him.

  We may not have had a proper fight yet, but it looked like it was going that way.

  His eyes flickered with confusion. “Come again?”

 
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