WARNING: Foul Language. Pictures may take a moment to load. It is recommended you read the chapter on my blog, not Reader.
The kick to my left comes fast, almost nailing me in the head as I drop and spin, swinging my leg out. Lucifer’s face is a mask of brutal concentration as he dodges my own kick, his foot nearly crushing my fingers as I roll backwards onto my feet, my breathing coming fast and panicked. I can feel my heart thudding against my ribs, like a terrified bird in a cage. His technique is too fast and strong compared to mine, and in the space of a second, his hands lock around my arms with enough strength to break my bones, before-
“Again.” Luc releases me and I groan, slumping against the wall. “But I’m tired! I’ve been training for two hours and you still haven’t let me have a break!” I snap, knowing that I sound exactly like a five year old, but I am too exhausted to care. Luc rolls his green eyes, and I note with annoyance that his shirt is as clean and dry as when we began. I know he works as a boxer, or something, but am I really that easy to beat? Is my training simply not good enough for this city? “In real life, your attacker isn’t going to wait for you to catch your breath, dumbass,” He snaps impatiently.
“Well, it’s not real life, and besides, I’ve only been training with you for a week. I am not getting back up right now, you jerk!” I shoot back at him, crossing my arms petulantly. Luc acknowledges my childish stubbornness with an irritated shake of his head. “Fuck, whatever.” He turns his back on me and flops down onto the nearby couch, throwing his arm across his face with an exasperated sigh. “I should have said no when Gabriel asked me to teach you. You are such a girl.”
I scramble to my feet, anger rising to eclipse my tiredness in an instant. “What is that supposed to mean?” I demand. Lucifer smiles slightly with his eyes still closed. “I am not getting back up right now, you jerk!” He mimics in a falsetto. I should probably recognise that he’s just teasing me for the fun of it, but I’m too hungry and fatigued and pissed off to register it. “And what does that have to do with me being a girl?” I stride forward, ready to smack the smirk off his face. “Are you even listening to me, you- hey!”
Lucifer’s hand darts out and wraps around my wrist, and before I can do anything but yelp, he pulls me onto him and I find my face inches from his. “I was listening,” He says calmly as I gasp, trying and failing to push myself off him. “I meant that girls can be hell of a lot more stubborn than boys.” Lucifer pauses, one corner of his lips quirking up. “Take that as a compliment.” Asshole.
“What are you two doing?” I finally manage to wriggle free of Lucifer’s grip, falling off the couch and looking up to see Gabriel in the doorway. He must have just come back from work; teaching at one of the city’s Muay Thai gyms. His dark eyebrows are raised and his arms are folded. “Nothing!” I say crossly, deeply embarrassed at the thought of what we must have looked like to Gabriel. “Blame your brother.” I turn pointedly away from Lucifer, who has a maddeningly satisfied smirk on his face.
Gabriel gives me a look that clearly says he doesn’t believe me. “Well, you can get back to whatever you were doing.” He finally says, his tone steady but cold. “I can talk to you later.” The door shuts rather loudly behind him and my heart sinks. “This is all your fault!” I accuse Lucifer. “Can’t help that your reflexes are shit,” He says lazily.
I storm out of the room, cursing him under my breath. I know that he’s riling me up on purpose, and that’s why I’m acting so irritable, but something about Luc Torres is so damn infuriating. He thinks he can play around with any girl he wants! I will give it to him that he’s been blessed with undeniably good looks, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to punch his stupid, annoying, attractive face every time he speaks.
Gabriel is entering his bedroom when I catch up to him. “I was telling the truth,” I say pleadingly. “We weren’t doing anything- I was just yelling at your brother and he pulled-” Gabriel cuts me off by turning around and looking me in the eye coolly. “No offence, Cherry, but I don’t really care.”
I recoil, stung. “But I thought that from the way you reacted-” “That I what?” He replies sharply, his tone cutting through me painfully. I look down, my face suddenly burning. “Oh… I just assumed…” Gabriel’s silver eyes narrow at my stammered words. “You assumed that I felt jealous?”
I draw in a shocked breath, feeling as if I had been slapped. “You were the one who almost kissed me last week!” I say furiously. Gabriel is the one to flinch this time, closing his eyes and then opening them again with a chilling anger. “That was a mistake.”
To my horror, my eyes instantly fill with tears and I step back from him, covering my face with my hands. “I’m sorry,” Gabriel sighs quietly. “I’m sorry I keep on doing this to you.” He gently takes my hands away from my eyes, a resigned expression on his handsome features. “I want to talk to you.”
Gabriel’s bedroom is exactly as I would have imagined it to be; it is bare and impersonal, with the same floor-to-ceiling window in the other rooms casting sunlight across the floor. There’s no photographs, or paintings, nothing that gives away who he is. But I suppose that’s the point.
The door shuts gently behind me and I bite my lip, unsure of where to sit or what to do. Gabriel leans on the wall heavily, his head turned to the still grey ocean outside the window. “Cherry, I know my behaviour towards you lately has hurt you.” The word hurt lingers on his tongue, and we both know it’s a light way of putting it.
“Yes,” I snap. “Why are you so hot and cold all the time?” Gabriel sighs and tucks his hands in his pockets, something he does often, I’ve noticed. “I… don’t know.” His voice is troubled. “I do like you. And that worries me.”
“Oh,” I say in a tiny voice. Gabriel doesn’t turn and just stares out to the cloudy harbour. “I just can’t forget,” He says heavily, and I get the feeling he isn’t quite focusing on me anymore. “I want more than anything to erase everything, but I can’t.”
“What happened, Gabriel?” I ask softly. He doesn’t answer me for a moment, just pressing his palm to his forehead in frustration. “Look… there was this girl.” He takes a deep breath. “I loved her. With everything I had.” Gabriel looks at me, and I bite my lip, sure that something much worse had happened than he was letting on. “I’m afraid, Cherry,” He says faintly, obviously struggling to keep his composure. “I’m afraid that I’ll hurt myself and you if I… I’m sorry. It’s not your fault.”
I nod once, feeling as if I’m going to begin crying again. “I understand, Gabriel.” And I haven’t just understood why he acts so bipolar towards me. I have understood that even though Gabriel hasn’t moved, he is walking away from me, slowly pulling at the invisible string between us until it breaks.
And there is nothing I can do about it.
Raphael looks back at me, his amber eyes gleaming in the night like a cat. “Are you ready?” I nod tersely in reply. Tonight, it’s my first robbery. The word robbery sounds strange in my head, and the freshly exposed idea brings nausea bubbling in my stomach again. What am I doing? I can’t steal… it’s against the law. It’s morally wrong. But I remember what Gabriel told me a few nights ago; in this world, money equals status, or importance. The rich don’t care about the poor. In the end, the biggest wrong being committed is not stealing some cash that a celebrity won’t even miss, but the fact that those celebrities, rolling in their wealth, are deciding to ignore the poverty in their own city.
The reminder cements my resolve. In a few minutes, I’ll be sneaking into someone’s multi-million dollar mansion and robbing it. Who would have thought, sweet little Cherry Kingston, daughter of Sunset Valley’s most revered police officer, would become a thief? I must have laughed out loud at the thought, because I realise Raphael is giving me a strange look.
“Sorry,” I whisper. He simply nods and I can tell what he is thinking; my laughter is out of nerves. And that’s true, for the most part. I focus my attention through the trees and to our target. A large contemporary home shining dully under the moonlight, surrounded by a tall fence. Somewhere on those cash-flushed walls, security cameras will be silently guarding the house — but not unless Michel does his job.
We wait for a couple of minutes in silence. I can feel my leg jittering uncontrollably and my gloved hands are beginning to slick up with sweat, yet Raphael is completely still, simply watching the house. How long must he have done this sort of thing? Raphael isn’t an open kind of person, and despite having lived with him for a week, I know nothing more about him than his name, and that he works at a tattoo parlour downtown.
A small beep cuts through the night air, and Raphael glances down at his watch. “We have ten minutes. Do you remember everything Gabriel told you?” He says urgently. I incline my head, the words suddenly sticking in my throat. And just like that, Raphael begins sprinting towards the house and I scramble after him, adrenaline erasing every thought out of my head except for: I’m actually doing this.
Raphael pulls himself over the fence with an incredibly easy grace, and then reaches down to pull me up as well. The cold concrete scrapes against my skin as I clumsily scale the wall, and land with a small thud on the grass inside the property. A second later, he jumps down without a sound and beckons me to enter the house.
A couple of hours ago, Michel had told me about this mansion. Built by an architect twenty years ago, occupied by an old man and woman, respectively 72 and 64, famous film stars in the 50’s. Both of them languish in their wealth, with six servants that wait on them all day and night. There is no record of charity or donations given by them, in all their long lives. The old man was a strong protester against the civil rights movement in the 60’s, the woman is a notoriously snobby lady who likes to wear furs and at least a thousand dollar’s worth of diamonds at all times.
Oh, this is going to be fun.
The back door is obviously locked, but Raphael begins fiddling with the mechanism with the aura of someone who has done this a million times. In the few seconds he takes to do this, I look around carefully. There are security cameras close by, but they are blank, no red blinking lights. Michel does his job well. They’ll be off for exactly ten minutes, a timeframe that is easy for him to manipulate so suspicion won’t be aroused. The door clicks open and I feel a strange surge of excitement that eclipses my constantly beating fear for a tiny moment.
The inside of the mansion… is extravagant, to say the least. Even in the dark, I can tell the floors are made out of marble, the walls gilded with golden leopard print. The lounge is double height, the enormous windows offering breathtaking views of the city. How much did it make to create this vista? How much did the old couple pay for this grand piano? Their wealth practically screams out of each orifice of this house. It’s so beautiful that it’s awful.
Raphael analyses everything before telling me what to take, carefully, carefully. I can tell that he is choosing things that the owners won’t even notice the absence for a long time. A handful of cash from a carelessly left wallet. A pearl necklace in a drawer of identical pearls. Antique buttons, small things. Things they won’t miss, but are still worth more money than the Torres apartment. Every time I slip something into my pocket, my heartbeat speeds up a little more, expecting an alarm to begin wailing or someone to jump out at us. But the house remains without life. It’s only me, Raphael, and the faraway skyscrapers watching us through the windows.
Eight minutes is up when Raphael leads me out of the mansion and over the fence. I release a breath I didn’t know I was holding when we are safely in the trees. “How are you feeling?” He asks me after a minute, while we are walking down the road, the wind softly blowing through my hair. The lights of the city glitter pleasantly in the distance. “Like I just did something good.” I smile, and I do feel good; there’s an odd happiness bubbling through me. I just robbed a house. What would my mother think if she knew? I don’t care anymore.
My pockets clink against my hips as I walk. We’ll trade it all in, at the tiny shop between an antique store and a dusty bookshop which no one visits. A little of the money will be kept to pay our bills and taxes, but the rest will either go towards blankets or clothes or food that Lilith will buy and give out, or be handed straight to the people Michel has determined to have no drug or alcohol addiction history. That’s the best part of it all: seeing the homeless, or poor single mothers with six kids in a dingy apartment… just smile.
After we trade in the bounty for cash, we begin walking home. Raphael is silent as we pass through the twinkling streets, his hands shoved in his pockets. The city is fairly empty tonight; an important football game is on at the stadium, which was where the old couple were. There are fairy lights around street lamps and trees, promising of festivities in the coming winter, of frosted Christmas displays in the now closed shop windows, of ice skating and hot chocolate with whipped cream in the now deserted parks. But there are still some citygoers around, paying for tickets in the movie theatre, or their chatter and clinking of plates drifting over from the Thai restaurant, Mix Moon, across the road. The smell is so good — satay chicken, green curry, the spicy prawn pad thai that Lilith adores. “Can we have Thai sometime?” I tilt my head at Raphael pleadingly, and surprisingly, he nods with a hint of a smile.
I think we are about halfway home when he suddenly begins walking faster, by so much I have to run to keep up with his long legs. “What’s up?” I whisper once I draw level to him again. “Don’t look on the other side of the street,” He says shortly. I fight the urge to do the exact opposite and my eyes flit over for a second. I don’t see what he’s worried about for a moment, but then I see a group of three young men and two women, who look around our age. A couple are smoking cigarettes. The vibe they give off is dangerous — the vibe of a gang, looking for trouble.
I’m not quite sure why Raphael is so tense, but I follow him anyway. If he gets scared of anything, there is a pretty goddamn good reason behind it. “Shit, they’ve noticed me,” He curses, and I see what he means a moment later. “Hey, Raphael!” A woman’s voice calls. The tone is playful and friendly, but I can sense it’s a thin veneer over a much darker intention.
We ignore the woman, and I can hear her footsteps over the rumble of cars flowing between us. “Raphael! Raphie!” At his nickname, Raphael jerks to a sudden stop, and I look at him in confusion, not sure exactly what is going on or what I am supposed to do. I’m surprised at his expression; an intense anger that I have never seen before on him, although it seems bitterly familiar. It reminds me of Gabriel, and this kind of potent fury is strange on a face that seems to always be impervious.
The enmity is so brief, however, that I’m left wondering if I had imagined the emotion as Raphael turns around, his face now arranged into his usual smooth, cool disinterest. “What do you want, Ebony?” I turn around to see who he is talking to, and draw in a quick, sharp breath. Just looking at the woman standing in front of us sends a hot rush of jealousy through me. Her face is beautiful, with piercing golden eyes, full lips, high cheekbones. Her hair is dark and shiny, and she has a gorgeous figure. She’s so pretty, I feel like crying. For what must be the hundredth time, I ask myself why there are so many attractive people in Bridgeport.
Ebony smiles. “I just wanted to say hello, Raphie.” At this, I can see his muscles beginning to work again in his jaw. “Don’t call me that,” He snaps. The other woman just gives him a sweet pout. “Aww, sorry, baby Lilith is only allowed to call you that, right?” She croons. “We just haven’t talked in a long time, I forgot, my bad.” It’s obvious she hadn’t forgotten at all, and I feel a slight pulse of anxiety at the hint of poison I can hear behind her words. This woman knows exactly what she is talking about, picking at Raphael’s nerves so acutely like that. As if just noticing me, Ebony looks at me with her lips in a perfect little o. “And who is this?”
“Cherry,” I say bravely. She gazes at me for a moment, her eyes sharp, in contrast to her beguiling voice. “Nice to meet you, Cherry.” She says silkily. I give her a half-smile in return, watching her warily. Her purpose is unclear. Why is she talking to us? It’s quite obvious Raphael dislikes her presence. “I hope everyone is well,” Ebony continues, when both of us stay silent. “How is dear Gabriel doing?”
I can tell from the way Raphael flinches beside me that we have reached the real reason behind this conversation. “He’s-” And there must be a whole lot of things he wants to say, but he clamps his mouth shut. “Goodbye,” He growls, and grabs me by the elbow to pull me away from her.
“Who the hell is she?” I ask once we are far out of earshot, the apartment looming into view. “No one,” Raphael says cuttingly. I stay quiet, not believing him. Something about the woman makes me think that she knows the Torres well. Too well. The way she spoke was… almost nostalgic. Ebony unnerved me, in a way that I can’t exactly pin down.
I think our conversation is over as we walk along the pavement, towards the welcoming light of the foyer. But just before we enter the elevator, Raphael stops me. His amber eyes are dark and serious. “Whatever you do, Cherry, don’t mention Ebony to Gabriel.” “Unless what?” I frown up at him. He closes his eyes briefly, and a sigh flutters his long hair.
“Unless you want him to murder you on the spot.”
Hey, I posted this way earlier than I thought I would! *pats self on back*
I am happy to say that writer’s block is nowhere to be seen and I am writing a couple of chapters in advance. I’m incredibly excited to unravel some mysteries and create some more, and show you all the history and plot I’ve been cooking up in my head. It’s starting to come together, finally, which feels great! By the way, I know Ebony looks like Lilith… please ignore that o__o
Anyways, a small favour! Could you tell me who your favourite character in Generation 3 is so far, please? I’m curious to see what image each one is presenting to the readers. Also… who do you ship? Thanks 🙂
I hoped you enjoyed Chapter 3.7 and I would love to hear your theories/thoughts! ❤