Final Debt Page 2

My eyes had scoured the trees, their silhouettes growing stronger as the sun tinted the sky with pink blushes. Daniel and Cut sat opposite me, toasting each other with a chilled bottle of champagne. However, I hadn’t been alone on my side of the limo—I had a guard.

Marquise, Bonnie’s damn henchman, sat beside me; a mountain of muscle, unyielding and impenetrable.

“Come along.” A strange voice raised my gaze.

A man in a captain’s uniform smiled from the top of the aircraft steps. The private plane’s fuselage glinted in graphite grey. Sparkling diamonds, inlaid in the shape of a windswept ribbon, decorated the tail.

“I don’t want to leave England.”

Daniel laughed behind me. “Like you have a choice.”

“I always have a choice, Buzzard.” I glowered over my shoulder. “Just like this choice of yours will not end well for you.”

If I don’t kill you, Jethro will.

As far as Daniel knew, his slain brother was supposedly rotting in some unmarked grave. Jethro was right. The element of surprise trumped any of Cut and Daniel’s grand delusions.

He snarled, “Watch it, bitch. Everything you say to me here will be paid in full when we’re there.”

“Now, now. No need for threats.” The captain climbed down a rung, holding out his hand. “She’ll get on board. Won’t you, my dear? No need to be afraid of flying. I have an exemplary record.” White hair tufted from either side of his pristine flying cap. In his mid-fifties, he looked fit and toned and impatient to take off.

“I can’t leave.”

I can’t be so far from Jethro.

The captain smiled, waving at his vessel. “Of course, you can. Plus, I bet you’ve never travelled in such style.”

“It’s nothing against your mode of transport. It’s the destination I disagree to. I’m staying here.” I dug my heels into the metal grate, fighting against Daniel’s perpetual pushing. “I don’t have my passport, visa… I can’t travel across borders, so you might as well let me return home.”

Home.

Had Hawksridge Hall become my home?

No, don’t be absurd.

But Jethro had. It didn’t matter where we ended up. What we did for work. How our lives panned out. As long as I was alive with Jethro by my side…I would be home.

“Don’t fuss about that.” The captain waved his hand in invitation. “Travel is good for the soul.”

Not my soul.

Travel meant my soul would become untethered from my body, thanks to Cut and the Final Debt.

The sun barely peeked over the horizon, hidden by soupy fog and reluctant night. The world refused to warm, unable to shed the morning frost or dislodge the claws of winter. England didn’t want to say goodbye as much as I did, its reluctant dawn wanting me to stay.

“If you don’t get on the motherfucking plane in two seconds, Weaver, you’ll live to regret it,” Daniel growled.

I glared at the youngest Hawk. “Haven’t you learned by now your threats don’t scare me?”

Forcing myself to stand taller, I hid the quaking in my bones, the quivering in muscles, the rampant terror scurrying in my blood. “I know where you want to take me, and I refuse.”

Daniel pinched the bridge of his nose. A second later, he cuffed me on the back of the head. “Behave!”

I gritted my teeth against the wash of agony.

“Almasi Kipanga is a fucking treat for the likes of you, Weaver. Get on your knees and show some goddamn appreciation. Otherwise, I’ll rip out your fucking tongue and ensure peace for the rest of the trip.”

“Ah, as I said, there’s no need for violence.” The captain took another step, prying my hand off the railing and tugging me upward. “Come along, my dear. Let’s get you inside. And don’t you worry about visas and things. Leave it to me. Airport control won’t be an issue.”

Vertigo cast the world in monochromatic greys as I swayed toward the captain. “But—”

Cut barrelled past Daniel—reaching the end of his patience. Grabbing my arse, he shoved me upward, forcing me like unwilling livestock up the final steps. “I have your passport, Nila. Get on the plane.” His breath skated over the back of my neck. “And don’t think about refusing again. Got it?”

Gripping the fuselage, I looked over my shoulder. “My passport? How did you—”

He waved a black binder in my face. “Everything is in here. You have no more excuses, and I won’t ask again. Get on the fucking plane or I’ll knock you out and you can wake up when we get there.”

Daniel laughed as one last shove sprawled me up the final step and into the captain’s arms.

Shit.

“Ah, there you go.” The pilot steadied me, holding my shoulders as I stumbled with another swoop of imbalance. The sickness stole my eyesight before dumping me back into hell.

Find an anchor, hold on tight. Do that and you’ll be alright.

Vaughn.

His little poem for me.

My heart cried for my brother and father. Would I ever see them again?

The captain led me further inside the immaculate plane. He puffed proudly. “See how nice it is? All your concerns are over nothing. We’ll take great care of you.” Patting my hand, he let me go. “Take any seat you like. Don’t forget your seatbelt.”

My eyes widened. He spoke as if this was an innocuous vacation between father and adopted daughter. Did he not see the animosity? Not hear the pre-designed fate?

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