Home > Third Debt (Indebted #4)(9)

Third Debt (Indebted #4)(9)
Author: Pepper Winters

Cut grinned; the evilness I was used to overshadowed his pity for me. “I’ll never forget, Jet. A true Hawk never forgets.” Pointing at the white bottle in my hand, he muttered, “That will fix you. Make you my true son instead of this diseased creature before me.”

I winced as if he’d struck me again. Nothing like a few kind words from a father to make a kid feel adored.

“Get yourself under control. No matter what you think of me, I want you to inherit.”

Putting the water bottle down, I summoned strength and twisted off the lid of the small vial. I glanced inside. It was hard to see with the meagre light, but the tiny moon-shaped tablets gave me equal measure of despair and hope.

I looked up. “Drugs?”

Cut nodded. “Before this shitty debacle, you’d impressed me the past few years. You listened and obeyed. You showed such promise. I can’t dispatch you when I still believe you can be cured.”

I blinked. Was this my father? The man who’d threatened me all my life. He’d had a sudden change of heart?

“You know these don’t work on me. We’ve tried enough in the past.” Nothing worked. From antipsychotics to beta-blockers and downers. They were all the same—useless.

Cut put the safety on and shoved the gun down his waistband. The cocky confidence of winning already infected him. “These are different. Not even on the market yet.”

“How did you get them?”

“Doesn’t matter. All you need to know is they’re stronger than anything you’ve tried and come with a guarantee of success.”

Suddenly, I had choices. Before, I had the daily toil of self-harming to give myself something to focus on. I had death to look forward to in order to save Nila. But now, I had to stay alive if I had any chance of saving her and putting an end to the Final Debt. I also had an option to help me survive in order to do that.

That same taunting hope fluttered with new wings. Will they help?

For a moment, I was selfish. Could it be possible after all this time? To live a normal life? To be free?

I couldn’t stop the overwhelming rush of gratefulness. The past couple of months in Nila’s company had been utter torture. She’d forced me to change—to grow—to look for other ways to exist.

But this…

What I held might be the end to all my problems.

“You believe them? That they’ll work?”

Cut shrugged. “We can only hope.” Picking up my water bottle, he held it out to me. “We won’t know until you’ve taken a course. Five a day, every few hours. Take more if you need to. Don’t worry about the side effects—not if you want to survive in order to keep Nila in your control.”

The threat was there—disguised as a helping hand but still an ultimatum. Drug myself and become everything he ever wanted, play puppet master with the life of the woman I was in love with, and carry out his wishes…or perish at his hands and have her subjected to Daniel’s murderous plans.

I hated all those choices.

“And you won’t let me leave? Disown me and give the estate to Kes?”

Then I can have Nila and live far away from here.

“No negotiation.” Cut crossed his arms. “You take the drugs and embrace your proper place, or you die and she lives a life of horror until her death. Your choice.”

I stopped breathing.

“Get that bitch out of your mind and heart, son. Take the drugs, find your way back, then we’ll see if you get to live.”

Could I be strong enough to obey Cut all the while double-crossing him by loving Nila? Could I last to my thirtieth birthday, so I could tear up the Debt Inheritance and eradicate it once and for all?

I have no choice.

I had to try.

I tipped a tablet into my palm and tossed it onto my tongue. Locking eyes with my father, I took a swill of water and swallowed the first drug of many.

Nila had my heart.

But my father had my very existence.

THE CAR ROLLED through the gates.

The tyres inched closer to the front porch.

The front door opened.

My brother appeared.


Before I could take a breath and prepare, the car door was jerked open.

He hadn’t changed.

His black hair still fell roguishly over one eye. His body was fit and toned—wiry with model-perfect lines. He sported a slight beard—tight and dark—it made him seem like some modern day Robin Hood stealing me from the Hawks and returning me to my rightful place.

“V—” I wanted to say more, but my throat gave out. Tears spurted from my eyes.

Vaughn was here.

He could fix this. He could mend my defective heart. He could fight for me so I wouldn’t have to.

We have to save Jethro. Before they do something terrible.

His hands captured my cheeks, holding me firm as his mirroring black eyes drank mine. “Threads.” He pressed a kiss against my temple. “Threads. Fucking hell, you’re here.”

I sucked in a breath, fumbling with my seatbelt. I wanted to be closer to him. To let him erase my breaking pieces.

Because I was breaking.

Jethro had stolen my everything.

But this was my brother.

The brother I’d betrayed.

A sob latched onto my lungs, making me cough, making me relive what the Hawks did to me in the lake.

I coughed again. More tears fell.

V groaned under his breath, tearing off my seatbelt and dragging me into his arms.

My legs dangled as he crushed me to his chest. His heartbeat was steady and strong as I cried into his white shirt.

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