Home > Third Debt (Indebted #4)(6)

Third Debt (Indebted #4)(6)
Author: Pepper Winters

Daniel snickered, moving to take his place beside Cut. Equal breadth and height, they matched in their leather jackets and complementing smirks.

“I’m here to teach you a lesson, brother.”

Fuck. All the tormenting and lording my firstborn status came back to haunt me. This was my true punishment. Not being shot or maimed but being disciplined by my fucking brother.

My gut churned. I had to will every cell to stay upright and stoic. In my mind, I conjured Nila. She possessed my thoughts—not in the everyday attire she’d worn around the Hall—but in the black feathered couture from Milan. Her skin was faultless. Her ebony eyes depthless. She’d been utterly perfect.

Then I’d stolen her. Degraded her. Fucked her. And ultimately loved her.

I pushed her image away as fast as I’d invoked it. It hurt too much.

“I don’t understand you, Jethro.” Cut entered the cell, his boot scuffing a pebble. “You were so fucking close to throwing away, not just a fortune, but sentencing your sister to the grave as well as yourself.”

My blood turned from liquid to rock. “Leave her out of this.”

“You’re saying you believe Jasmine doesn’t deserve repentance? After all, it was she who convinced me you could be fixed. She’s the one who gave her livelihood for yours that day…or have you forgotten?”

I breathed shallowly. “I haven’t forgotten, and it’s not her fault. Don’t fucking touch her.”

“Oh, we won’t touch her…if you do everything we say.” Daniel brushed past Cut, encroaching on my space. His aftershave of spice and musk overpowered me. My gullet fought to retch—to vomit right on his shiny black boots.

I glowered. Everything about this felt wrong. As if we were boys again playing games we didn’t understand. “What do you want?”

Cut chuckled. “Isn’t it obvious, Jet? I want a firstborn that I can trust. I want a man who will oversee my empire. I want a fucking heir who isn’t some sort of fucked-up delinquent.”

I straightened my spine. “Life is full of disappointment.”

“Yes, but at least I can get some enjoyment out of this.” Looking at Daniel, he nodded. “You’re up, Buzzard. Teach him a lesson.”

My eyes flashed to Daniel’s. I kept my expression blank. I refused to beg for mercy or let him see the fear percolating inside.

Daniel smiled, cracking his knuckles and slinking out of his jacket. “Hear that, Kite? Time for a little payback. And I have to say, it’s gonna taste fucking sweet.”

Tossing his jacket into the corner of the cell, he clenched his fists and danced like a seasoned fighter. I instinctually raised my arms, preparing to spar. Daniel was third born—the mistake—he was also the smallest out of all of us, but he was still strong. Plus, he had something I was missing: savage with no mercy.

“Ah, ah, ah, Jethro.” Cut tapped the gun against the bars, sending a god-awful twang around the cell. “You aren’t to fight back.”

I snarled, “You expect me to let him pummel me and not defend myself?”

Daniel laughed, circling me like some rabid hyena.

“I have a deal to offer you, Jethro.” Cut’s words fell like stones. Everything had new meaning. That ridiculous hope swelled in my heart again.

“What deal?”

“Last chance,” Daniel sneered, never stopping his aggravating circles.

Cut ran a hand through his hair. “I was fully prepared to kill you, son. Ready to put you out of your misery because—let’s fucking face it—you’re not happy.” Sympathy coated his features, confusing the shit out of me.

“You’re saying you were prepared to put me down like some rabies-infested dog? For my sake?”

Cut frowned. “After everything that’s happened between us, you still think I’m some kind of monster. I care for you. I care for all my children.”

Bullshit.

“It’s only natural that I want to help you.”

Crossing my arms, I tried to ignore Daniel and understand this new development. “What do you propose?”

“It comes in stages.”

“Go on.”

“First, you need punishing. I won’t tolerate any more disobedience.” Toying with the gun, his eyes bored into mine. “Part one of this new deal is…”

“Let me beat your ass with no retaliation.” Daniel laughed, socking a punch into my kidney from behind.

White-hot heat scorched my system, setting fire to every organ. I gasped, holding the throbbing bruise. Sickly sweat sprang over my skin. I sucked air between my teeth. “You can’t be serious.”

Cut’s eyes narrowed to slits. “I’m more than serious. Fight back or try to harm your brother, and I’ll put a bullet through your skull with no hesitation.”

Daniel threw another punch, right into my intestines. A grunt escaped as I staggered forward, bending over to spit on the slimy floor. Only once I’d straightened, trembling with adrenaline, did Cut grant me the next part of his rehabilitation. “When you’ve accepted a thrashing to what I deem payable, then I’ll tell you the next part of the deal.”

Coming forward, he pressed the gun under my chin, holding my eyes on his. “You say you hurt. That life is a constant hardship. Well, I have news for you. It’s not enough for me that your innards fucking hurt. I want your body to scream, too. It’s fitting and a worthwhile punishment for the son of a nobleman.”

   
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