Home > Vandal (Ashes & Embers #2)

Vandal (Ashes & Embers #2)
Author: Carian Cole

Vandal

I’m balls deep in my latest blonde when my cell phone starts to vibrate, skidding across the nightstand beside my bed. I ignore it as I drive harder into her, her mile-long legs wrapping tightly around my waist, cherry-red nails digging into her palms, chains clanking against the mahogany headboard.

“Ignore it,” she hisses when I glance over at the buzzing device.

I should have gagged her too.

I might have ignored the call if I liked her more and if I didn’t hate being told what to do, but instead I stop moving, my dick still stuck deep inside her, and reach across her face to pick up my phone.

“What?” I say, holding the phone against my head, ignoring the writhing chick beneath me.

“You’re late.” Her voice in my ear is bitter and annoyed. As usual.

“Uh, I left you a voice mail hours ago saying I’d bring her home tomorrow. She was exhausted and cranky, so I just let her go to bed.”

“You know I never check my fucking voice mail. I’ve been out all day and then fell asleep. I only just realized what time it was.”

“She’s sleeping. Just let her stay here, and I’ll bring her back in the morning.”

Things crash and bang on the other end and I hold the phone away from my ear. “No, Vandal. You know the rules. You bring her back by eight o’clock. You don’t get to just extend your time whenever you feel like it. It’s after ten already.”

I shift my weight, my dick softening. Renee shakes her head at me with annoyance, pulling at her chained hands.

Join the club, honey.

“Deb, it’s late. She’s sleeping. I’m fucking flat-out exhausted. By the time I wake her up, deal with her crying because she doesn’t want to leave, and get her packed up and to your place it will be after midnight.”

Her voice is razor-bitch-sharp. “I don’t fucking care, Vandal! And don’t think I don’t hear metal chains in the background. I know exactly what you’re doing. I will call my lawyer right now and tell him you’re violating the agreement. I want my daughter home. Now. You’ve had her for a week.”

I narrow my eyes at the clanking chains and the bitch purposely making sure she was heard making them clink. I can’t go to court. Not again.

“So, what’s a few more hours? She’s asleep in her bed. She had a great day at the zoo, and she’s tired. Let her stay. I’ll take her for breakfast and have her home by nine. What’s the big fucking deal?”

“The big fucking deal is you don’t get what you want whenever you want it just because you’re a rock star. I want her here tonight or I’m calling my lawyer!”

Click.

I let out a long, aggravated breath and roll off of Renee.

“Seriously?” she asks as I release her hands from the shackles. “Tell me you are not giving in to her. We’re kinda in the middle of something.”

I swing my legs over the edge of the bed, toss my condom in the trash, and reach for our clothes on the floor, throwing hers over to her.

“I don’t have much of a fucking choice, do I? I can’t deal with any more lawyer-shit. I love seeing my kid; I can’t risk Deb getting her tits twisted and trying to take more visitation away from me.” It took me two years to pass enough drug and alcohol tests to get the visitation I have. I’m not fucking it up. “Put your clothes on,” I growl.

“Can’t I just stay here? I don’t feel like driving around all night.”

I stand, pulling my jeans up to my hips and zipping them, not bothering to button them.

“No. Last time I let you stay here alone you went through my shit. That privilege has been revoked.” I pause. “Unless I leave you chained to my bed while I’m gone.”

“Asshole,” she mutters under her breath as I leave the room. Ignoring her, I kick my boots on as I shuffle down the hallway to my daughter’s bedroom.

Katie, the one ray of sunshine in my life, is fast asleep in her bed, the pink comforter wrapped snug around her. I sit on the edge of the tiny mattress and turn on the small lamp above it.

I give her a gentle shake. “Wake up, baby girl.”

She stirs, hugging her teddy bear tightly to her chest. Her big brown eyes flutter open and stare at me sleepily.

“Come on, sweetheart. I have to take you home.”

She scrunches up her face. “Nooo, Daddy. I sleep here with you.”

I brush the dark curls off her face. “I know, sweetie, but Mommy misses you a lot and wants you to come home now.”

The tears start, cracking my heart in two. I hate that witch for making me do this.

My daughter clutches my hand. “Daddy, I don’t want to go.”

I pick her up and hold her close to me, and she immediately wraps her tiny arms around my neck. I breathe in her baby scent, knowing I’m not going to hold her for another two weeks. Every time I see her she’s bigger, talking more. I hate Deb, but I refuse to let my daughter have a fucked up childhood like I did, with a father who skipped out and never looked back. It’s bad enough she’s got a selfish bitch for a mother and a recovering addict father who’s in a rock band and likes to chain women up. I make sure that when she’s with me she gets tons of love and attention—no matter what.

“Don’t cry, Katie-bug. I’m going to see you real soon.” I wipe her tears with my thumb.

She pushes her favorite teddy bear into my face. “Teddy wants to stay with you, Daddy. He’ll take care of you.”

I laugh and take Teddy from her. “I’m going to let him sleep in your bed. He’ll be right here waiting for you when you come back,” I tell her, tucking Teddy under the comforter.

She gives me her best smile as I kiss her soft cheek. I carry her out to the living room where Renee is perched on the couch, clad in a mini skirt and high heels.

“Can we go so we can get back here and finish what we started?” Renee has a one-track mind, and willingly spreads for me like peanut butter. Any time. Anywhere. That’s something I like when I’m getting what I want, but she becomes annoying as all hell when I’m not screwing her.

Balancing Katie on my hip, I grab her duffel bag of clothes and my car keys. “Renee, I’m completely exhausted. I just want to sleep when I get home. Take it or leave it.”

Katie rests her head on my shoulder, already falling asleep again. The past few days have been crazy with visits to the zoo, a carnival, and two local hospitals, where Katie and I visited sick kids and brought them teddy bears. It’s something we started doing last year when a little girl in her daycare program had a long hospital stay. Last night, after putting Katie to bed, I stayed up all night, laying tracks for the band’s new CD. According to my quick math, I haven’t slept in more than twenty-six hours.

“If she wanted her back so damn badly, why couldn’t she drive here herself and get her?” Renee whines as she follows me into the garage. I buckle a sleeping Katie into the car seat in the back, and motion for Renee to get into the passenger side.

“Let’s go. Get your ass in the car.”

Yawning, I get behind the wheel of my new Mustang and push the button for the garage door as Renee slides in next to me.

“This fucking blows,” she mutters.

“Look, I said you could stay for a few days while your apartment is being painted. I didn’t agree to have you bitching at me non-stop. So shut it.”

Renee shakes her head and slouches in her seat. “Whatever, Van.”

I check Katie in the rearview mirror as I back out of the driveway. She’s fast asleep, her head tilted to the side, her lips parted. I can’t help but smile. I love that kid.

Fifteen minutes into the drive and Renee is asleep too. I’m fighting to stay awake myself; the dark, tree-lined roads are almost lulling me. I pop some gum into my mouth, hoping the sugar will give me some energy, and turn the radio up a tiny bit more, eyeing Katie in the rearview mirror to make sure it doesn’t wake her. She’s used to loud music, but I don’t want to risk her waking and having a meltdown.

Fingers strumming on the steering wheel, I start making a mental list of what I need to do tomorrow. Sleep late. Drink a gallon of coffee. Pick up Lukas. Drive to the studio and practice. Ignore Ash and his shit. Maybe go to dinner with Lukas and try to be all fuckin’ brotherly. Go home, chill with some good movies, and …

c-r-a-s-h …

CRASH

Vandal

A faraway voice is saying my name. It’s echoing, as if it’s coming down a long tunnel. I try to shut it out, but it keeps breaking through, rousing me from the deep, quiet space I’m floating in.

“He’s awake. Vandal, we’re here.” Lukas is leaning over me, and he looks pretty fucked up, as if he’s wasted. But I know he’s not. One thing I know about the brother I don’t know is that he doesn’t party.

“Can you hear me?” Concern rips across his face.

“What the fuck?” I try to sit up. “Where am I?” A mix of severe confusion and pain slams into my skull as I try to figure out how I got where I am.

Another face peers over me. “Vandal, just relax. You’re in the hospital. We’re here.” Aria. My aunt. She’s clutching my hand at the side of the bed.

I’m in a hospital bed.

“What the fuck is going on?” I yank my hand out of hers. I hate to be touched, and she fucking knows it.

“You were in an accident. You’re going to be all right.” Aria’s voice is calm, as it always is, but her eyes darting over to Lukas tell a different story. She glances over to Lukas again and then flicks her gaze towards the door. “Go and find the doctor,” she tells him. He looks at me for a moment and then nods at her before disappearing from my view.

I turn back to my aunt. She looks so distraught that I almost feel bad for wrenching my hand away from her. Almost.

“What the fuck’s going on?” I ask her. Behind her, white blinds cover the window, but the sun is visible through the slats. The sun seems out of place to me. Like it shouldn’t be there right now, because just a few minutes ago I was driving Katie home in the dark. My head snaps back to Aria.

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