Home > Third Debt (Indebted #4)(7)

Third Debt (Indebted #4)(7)
Author: Pepper Winters

Transcriptions of such punishments executed hundreds of years ago came to mind. Aristocrats dealt in different conduct when a crime had to be paid. Fists were a gentleman’s weapon rather than stocks or floggers.

Daniel’s fist collided with my jaw, snapping my head sideways. I groaned as my equilibrium turned to shit. I stumbled sideways, fighting every instinct to defend myself.

Cut stepped back as Daniel round-housed me, planting his boot squarely in my chest. With flaring pain, I tumbled to the earthen floor. Fuck, it hurt. Every inch of me was on fire—pounding with agony.

“Take your sentence like a man, Jethro. Then we’ll see if you deserve my proposition.”

I scrambled to my feet.

Daniel cackled as he kicked my ankle, sending me face-planting into dirt. I braced myself on all fours, presenting a soft target of my belly in line with his boot.

He kicked me like a fucking animal, breaking a rib and hurtling me into Hades.

I would’ve given anything to fight back. I howled inside—handcuffed by the illusion of leniency. I took each blow, not for my downfall of being what I was, but for what I’d done.

Every strike was my penance for what I did to Nila.

Each kick was a purging for my disastrous behaviour.

I nursed Nila in my heart and found a strange healing, even in such unjust brutality.

My eyes watered as Daniel yanked my hair and cracked his knuckles against my cheekbone.

Cut muttered, “I want you bleeding in apology, son. Only then might you deserve another chance.”

“WE’RE HERE.”

Powerful buildings and iconic landmarks replaced the rugged landscape of Buckinghamshire’s countryside. There were no trees or sweeping hills, no foxhounds or horses.

London.

“Bet you missed your family, Ms. Weaver.” The policeman driving had tried small talk over the course of our three-hour drive. I’d ignored every topic.

Instead of focusing on grey concrete and overpasses, I thought of Jethro.

Where was he? What were they doing to him?

My emotions split into an unsolvable jigsaw puzzle. I was smooth edges, crooked edges, and awkward corner edges. I was cutthroat and fierce, betrayer and deceiver, loved and lover.

Only a few hours had passed since I’d left Jethro, yet I felt as if I’d been adrift forever.

I have to go back.

I was no longer a girl who would bow to her father and submit to her brother. I wasn’t content with letting others be in charge.

I was a fighter.

And I owed Cut Hawk payment for what he’d done.

A fog rolled in over the busy cog-work city of London as we journeyed through ancient streets and new.

Every streetlamp and road sign spoke of home.

My home.

My old home.

I knew this place. I’d been born here. Raised here. Trained here.

You also met Jethro when you were too young to remember here.

The car came to a halt outside my family’s sweeping Victorian manor. The whitewashed bricks looked fresh and modern. The lilac windows decorated in my mother’s favourite colour. It was quaintly feminine despite its three-story grandeur.

It’s a dollhouse compared to Hawksridge Hall.

I missed the gothic French turrets and imposing size. I missed the richness and danger that breathed in its walls.

I missed Jethro.

The glass of my window on the second floor winked through the grey drizzle, welcoming me back.

The driver pressed the intercom on the wrought iron gate, barring the Weaver Household from the rest of society. We lived in an affluent end of town. No one asked for a cup of sugar here. Everyone guarded themselves behind camera systems and armed fences.

“Yes?”

The moment my father’s voice came through the speaker, vertigo swooped in and held me hostage. The world spun.

“We’re here, Mr. Weaver.”

A crackle then a panicked bark, “Do you have her?”

The driver threw me a smile. “We have her.”

SOMETHING HARD THUMPED against my chest.

It roused me, dragging me from the bowels of hell and back into a body sobbing with pain.

“Open your eyes, Jet.”

I flinched, fearing another kick or punch. How long had Daniel punished me?

Long enough to break a couple more ribs and swell my left eye completely shut.

“He’s gone.” A presence squatted in front of me—a blurry figure obscured by blood and dirt.

I tried to swallow, but my throat was too dry. Incredibly, a water bottle was pushed into my lifeless hands. When I almost dropped it, Cut wrapped his warm fingers around mine, clasping the bottle tightly.

A wave of compassion and sympathy lapped around my sodden form, forcing my vision to focus. “Tha—thank you,” I whispered brokenly.

Cut nodded, sitting on his haunches while I sipped from the already open bottle and slowly wrangled my body into life.

Struggling to sit upright, Cut moved so I could spread out my legs and recline against the frigid, dripping wall.

“Better?” he asked. As if he cared about my welfare only moments after beating me to a pulp.

Still alive, unfortunately for you.

I fought my sarcastic response and glared instead. “Did I pass your little test, Father?” In that second, I hated him. I fucking despised that this man was my patron and relation.

He didn’t reply. Only motioned to the thing that’d landed on my chest and rolled to the side with an odd rattle. “That’s the second requirement of this last chance.”

I couldn’t make out what it was. My eyes flickered as my system organised my pain into filing cabinets of life threatening, throbbing, and liveable.

   
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