Did you miss the last episode? You can read it here.
This episode, Danika finds an unlikely ally in her plight…
Season 2, Episode 9
White lace and tulle billowed out from Danika’s hips as she sashayed out from the change room. Glancing in the mirror, she sighed. ‘It’s pretty, but it’s just not me.’
‘I agree.’ Putting an empty champagne glass aside, Estelle Henderson rose from the chaise and approached the young dress shop assistant. ‘What else have you got? My daughter deserves perfection.’
The girl’s expression drooped. ‘I’m sorry, but you’ve tried everything we’ve got.’
‘I guess we’ll have to go elsewhere, Danni.’
Danika groaned. This was already the third wedding boutique they had exhausted in the city, and that spa visit Hayden promised was calling to her.
An older woman appeared from the back room in a glimmer of sunbeams and glitter. ‘What did you say your budget was?’
With a scoff, Danika held out Hayden’s credit card. ‘He told me there’s no limit, so spare no expense.’
The dress-shop angel beamed. ‘I may have just the thing.’ She ducked into the back room and appeared moments later with a sparkling off-the shoulder mermaid gown with a long train.
The young assistant gasped. ‘But that’s—’
‘Shh, Cassandra,’ the woman hushed her, ‘It’s about time you took your tea break. ‘After ushering the girl out of the front door, she turned her attention to Danika. ‘This one-of-a-kind garment features real pearls and crystals, all stitched by hand. Would you like to try it on?’
Knowing the dent it would cause on Hayden’s bank account, she grinned. ‘Absolutely.’ Truth be told, she hadn’t cared much about the price tag until now. She was looking for a statement gown, one that told the people of Moonlake their queen was back on the throne while also pushing Hayden’s limits. She’d already found the perfect engagement gown, and this would be the perfect icing on the “fuck you” wedding cake. As she admired the way it hugged her figure and revealed a tantalising amount of skin, she inhaled a deep breath of confidence. ‘I’ll take it!’
Dress-shop Angel clapped her hands together. ‘Excellent! It looks much better on you. Let me work out what alterations are needed, if any.’
While the woman busied herself with pins and tape measures, Estelle drew closer. ‘I know you’re less than pleased about this wedding, Danni. You may be fooling everyone else, but I can see through the hairline fractures of your mask. We may not talk often, but I want you to know you can confide in me about anything.’
Danika bit back a bitter wave of emotion. Where was such an offer when I needed mum seven years ago? ‘That’s great, Mother. Let’s go braid each other’s hair and spill our secrets over hot chocolates.’
Estelle sighed. ‘I’m serious, Danni. You think I don’t know what goes on in the shadows of our glamourous home? I’m aware of the manipulation and corruption that rules our lives. Sometimes, the only way to survive in their world is to play the part they expect of you. No one expects a saint to sin.’
She stared at Estelle with wide eyes. Is mum suggesting we collude? ‘I appreciate the sentiment, Mother, but he has ears everywhere.’
‘Not in here, he doesn’t. I made a point of leaving our phones in the car, and Beth here won’t be repeating a word. She and I go way back, don’t we?’
Dress Angel, or Beth, nodded and winked, a glint sparking in her eyes.
‘What does he have over you, Danni?’ Estelle asked.
‘You mean aside from the lives of all my loved ones?’ She didn’t trust her mother enough to mention Malik, not yet. ‘He also promised to help Elise recover.’
‘I see.’ Estelle paced in front of her for a full minute before halting directly in front of her. ‘Please don’t worry about your father and me. Hayden needs Sterling too much to waste his life, and he knows that if any harm comes to me, he’ll lose Sterling’s loyalty. I appreciate your concern for Elise, but is she worth sacrificing your happiness? It’s not like her bad lifestyle choices are your fault.’
Danika shook her head. ‘I wish it was that simple. Friends aside, Hayden knows where my heart truly belongs, and he is looking for any excuse to destroy the competition.’
‘I was afraid of that,’ Estelle admitted. ‘It was the same when I agreed to marry your father.’
Her jaw dropped. She had always thought her parents madly in love with each other.
‘I’ll save that story for another day. Right now, our priority is devising a plan to free you from Hayden’s evil clutches.’
Thinking about how much detail she could safely share with her mother; she chose her next words carefully. ‘I have someone on the inside, gathering evidence against him. I just worry that it might take a while.’
Estelle simpered. ‘It’s a good start, but we need to look at the bigger picture. Evidence of Hayden’s activities won’t do much when he can buy his way out of prison.’
Her heart sank. What good will any of it do, when Hayden has the entire legal system in his pocket?
Soft hands stroked her chin, lifting her shimmering gaze. ‘Fear not, sweet girl. I’ve been plotting against them all for decades. Continue with your current approach for now. When the time is right, we’ll share intel.’
‘All done,’ Beth announced as the front door chimed. ‘Go slip out of this beauty and leave it with me.’
Covert warriors in an invisible war, the Henderson women marched side-by-side, drilling their stilettos into the pavement as they approached Perth’s most prestigious day spa. As Danika reached for the door, it swung open, and a familiar face greeted her. ‘Taylor?’
Her bestie’s countenance turned white as a sheet moments before the grimace formed. ‘Stay away from me, bitch!’ Pushing past, Taylor attempted to flee, but Danika caught her by the wrist.
‘Tay, wait! What’s going on?’
Snarling, Taylor ripped herself free of Danika’s grip. ‘I discovered what a poisonous skank you are, that’s what. Now stay the hell away from me.’ When she hurried away, Danika didn’t try to stop her. The barbs from Taylor’s verbal lashing stung too much as they ripped at her heart.
‘What the hell?’ Danika mumbled as she gaped after Taylor’s retreating form.
‘Hayden must have gotten to her,’ Estelle whispered.
‘But how? I never imagined Taylor, of all people, would abandon me.’
‘Fear is a powerful motivator.’
Danika handed Hayden’s credit card to Estelle. ‘Here, treat yourself. I can’t relax right now, so I’m heading back to the hotel.’
‘Are you sure?’
Nodding, she forced a smile. ‘I’ll be fine.’ Once Estelle vanished inside the salon, Danika dug her phone out of her bag and dialled Brennan.
‘Hey, princess, what’s up?’ he asked eagerly.
‘How soon can you get to the city?’
‘A couple hours, maybe less with the siren. Why?’
‘I need you. I’ll text you with my hotel room details.’ She cut the call short, wasting no time with useless pleasantries. The sooner she could escape into his arms, the better.
A knock at the door pulled Danika out of her dark thoughts. Rising to her feet, she greeted Brennan in nothing but a sheer, black chiffon babydoll and a sly grin. ‘Hey.’
‘Hey, yourself,’ he replied gruffly, shoving her back into the room and letting the door slam. One of his hands slid behind her neck, the other dipping down to her bare backside as his lips smacked against hers. Like a spark in a tinderbox, his tongue lit her on fire as it traced her bottom lip and slipped inside her mouth. Digging his fingers into the flesh of her buttocks, he swallowed her groan and unravelled her tension with expert ease. Each strike of his hand lifted her higher, each flick of her sensitive flesh pushed her closer to the edge, and before she knew it, she was tumbling through the chaos of their own personal blackhole.
She collapsed in his arms, and closed her eyes as he stroked her back. Goosebumps pebbled her flesh as tears trickled down her cheeks.
‘Hey, what’s wrong, Danni?’ he asked while wiping a tear away with his thumb.
Her lids flickered opened and she peered into his gaze.
‘Did I hurt you?’
‘No. You were perfect, like always. It’s Taylor.’
He hugged her against his chest, his heart thumping hard as he kissed the crown of her head. ‘I promise I’ll find her.’
‘I saw her today.’
‘You did?’ He pulled back just enough to meet her eyes. ‘What happened?’
She explained the encounter outside the day spa. ‘I suspect that Hayden has threatened her. Is this part of some scheme to isolate me from everyone I love and trust? If so, I’m afraid it might be working.’
He cussed and glanced at her bag on the bedside table.
‘Don’t worry. I left my phone in mum’s room.’
Cupping her face in his palm, he grazed her cheek with his callouses, sending a delightful shiver through her nerves. ‘I swear I’ll get to the bottom of it. And please rest assured; that arsehole will never scare me off. I meant it when I told you I love you. Even if your heart belongs to Malik, mine will always be yours.’
Hooking her leg over his broad torso, she climbed on top of him. ‘You’re too good for me, Brennan.’
He chuckled, ‘Hardly.’ He trailed a finger across her breast, letting it settle on the stiff peak. ‘But I came to terms with my lot years ago.’
Gazing into the depths of his soul, she recognised a familiar darkness, as though his eyes reflected her own sins, her own desires, and her own trauma. Blinking, she felt his arousal grow against her and sank into the oblivion he offered.
When consciousness returned, she detected a malicious presence in the room. As she stirred, a clicking sound brought her crashing back to reality. Sitting up, she glared at Hayden who aimed his pistol at Brennan. He sat on the opposite side of the bed, beside his target.
‘Don’t do anything foolish now, Angel,’ he threatened in a low voice. ‘It’d be a shame if my finger slipped.’
‘What do you want?’ she hissed.
‘I’m just going to have a chat with my mate, Brenno here. Bro to bro, and you’re going to keep your mouth shut.’ He slid the gun along the side of Brennan’s sleepy head before smacking it against his cheek. ‘Wakey, wakey!’
Brennan jerked upright. ‘What the f—’ the word died on his tongue as he met Hayden’s death glare and froze.
‘I think it’s time we had a chat about some ground rules, don’t you?’ Hayden grinned as he coaxed a nod out of Brennan. ‘Believe me when I say that I know better than most how enticing my gorgeous fiancé’s sweet pussy can be.’ Tugging at the quilt with his spare hand, he exposed her chest and licked his lips at the sight of her bare tits. His attention turned her stomach. ‘And yes, I did give you free access to my girl’s body for all those years I was away, but I’m back now, so the rules have changed again. Are you following?’
‘You’ll have to speak up, I didn’t quite hear that.’
‘Yes, Sir,’ Brennan stammered.
Hayden flashed his teeth. ‘Good. From now on, you’ll only touch her when I tell you to, and that will only happen when I’m present.’ He pulled the quilt away entirely and aimed the pistol at Brennan’s crotch, ‘If you ever break this rule, I’ll put a bullet in your dick. Do you understand?’
Brennan squeezed his hands into fists. ‘Yes, Sir.’
Reapplying the safety catch, Hayden slapped Brennan on the shoulder. ‘Good man. Now go clean yourself up, we have work to do.’ He laughed as Brennan scurried out of the bed, but otherwise ignored him as he fixed his gaze on Danika’s naked body. ‘Are you sure you want to wait until our wedding night? All this excitement has me quite hard.’
‘As tempting as your offer sounds,’ she replied in a saccharine voice, ‘I think it will be that much sweeter if we wait.’
His expression turned to ice as he grabbed a handful of hair and yanked her into his lap. ‘As much as I enjoy watching you squirm, you don’t need to put on the act when it’s just the two of us.’ With scalp burning, her eyes watered as he forced her attention on his vindictive visage. ‘That said, if you ever want to fuck Brennan again, you’ll have to make me believe you want me.’ He pushed her away, letting her fall to the floor as he stormed out of the room.
Refusing to shed any more tears over Hayden’s cruelty, she pulled herself together and joined Brennan in the bathroom.
Copyright © 2022 L. Starla & J. Wake
Season 2, Episode 10 is coming 14th April 2023.
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