The Dark Matter Between Our Hearts Season 2, Episode 14

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Did you miss the last episode? You can read it here.

Season 2, Episode 14


Sterling caught Danika, Estelle, and Grayson just as they made their way to intercept him near the front door, each of them contriving their expressions to mask panicked shock with mild surprise at his arrival.

‘Finished up early, darling?’ Estelle shot first, looking for all the world like someone with nothing to answer for.

For his part, Sterling eyeballed his wife—showing Danika something she had not quite noticed to before, although it looked horrifyingly familiar. Her father’s face was at ease, grinning almost goofily, his shoulders bunched up in a casual shrug, while his eyes searched them all in turn, boring away with unspoken accusations. His mouth smiled; his eyes did not.

How did I not see this before?

‘Oh, hi Grayson,’ he said, radiating good humour. ‘Funny-lookin’ girly night. Anyway, yeah, no, I’ve still got to get back, but I left something I need here…,’ Again, he scanned his present company, appearing to reach a decision on the fly, his lips setting into a confident smirk. ‘…in the craft studio, I think’.

Danika’s eyes darted to her conspirators. Mum maintained a solid poker face, naturally, but Grayson’s entire face scrunched in a momentary tell, and Danika was quite certain she wasn’t fooling anyone either.

‘Oh?’ Estelle seized the moment before Sterling could move, folding her arms and gesturing towards the studio door, on the other side of which sat Malik, Brennan, and sensitive evidence of their budding conspiracy. ‘And what business would you have had messing about in my craft space, hm?’ She barked the words in the direction of the door for an audience, Danika realised, that included the two men behind it. ‘You’d better not have moved anything. You know I’m very particular about my adhesives.’

‘Now, now,’ Sterling chuckled. ‘You know I’d do no such thing. And is this not still my house, too?’ His words dripped from him, at once smooth as velvet and slick as black ice, a placation and a threat. He winked at Danika. ‘Won’t be a minute, my loves,’ he said as he made—almost skipping—for the door.

Danika kept her gaze low from the foyer as she listened with dread to her parents playing out their parts in the ensuing charade: “Daddy” looking for his “thing” and Mum, watching him with a resigned humour from the top of the stairs, neither one of them meaning a single word, glance, mutter or sigh they shared. My relationship role-models, ladies and gentlemen. Please, hold your applause as I hold down a boyfriend for all of three months before fucking it up. Say, he’s been down there a couple of minutes now, surely. Don’t tell me…

Sterling re-emerged from the studio, still smiling, but somewhat subdued behind the eyes. ‘Must’ve been mistaken.’ He shrugged. ‘It’s fine. I’ve got stuff I can do without it.’ He pulled Danika into one of his trademark bear hugs, and she felt a pang of grief for a recent past, before she had seen behind the veil of her parents’ marriage, when these hugs still felt real.

Only once Sterling’s car engine receded into the distance did the craft studio finally erupt with loud noises of crashing and swearing.


‘…fuck were you thinking, Lamey? Where the fuck’s your car?’ Malik stormed out of the studio, right past Danika and the others, with Brennan trailing behind. 

‘Dude, it’s right behind yours, one street over. I’m not stupid enough to leave it in the fucking driveway,’ Brennan retorted testily. The two of them continued to bicker as they marched outside to where their cars were both parked.

Malik grunted as he activated his phone torch and dropped to the bitumen on his back, searching under Brennan’s car.

‘Seriously?’ Brennan huffed. ‘A tracking device on my car?’

‘When was the last time you looked for one?’ Malik emerged from underneath the car. 

‘Find anything?’ Brennan mocked.

Instead of answering, Malik started to work his way back towards the intersection with Main Road, sweeping his torch before him as he went. About halfway he stopped, bent, and picked something up. Turning back to Brennan, he grinned. ‘Did you perhaps mount the kerb a little here, mate?’ 

‘Maybe,’ Brennan admitted. ‘There’s no streetlight here and the road turns—’

‘Save it.’ Malik presented a small black box, broken into two halves. ‘Your shitty driving is what saved your car from being discovered tonight.’

‘So what was all that about?’ Danika challenged them as they returned to the house.

‘Ah, no big deal,’ Malik replied. ‘Just giving a cop a driving lesson.’ 

Brennan glared at him.

‘I mean in there, idiot!’ Danika pointed to the craft studio. ‘I was wetting myself!’

‘You found the crawlspace,’ Estelle calmly interjected. ‘Nicely done.’

‘Oh, so you knew the whole time!’ Danika threw her hands up. ‘Thanks, Mum!’

‘We started looking for a hiding spot the moment you shut the door,’ Brennan explained.

‘Credit where it’s due, Brenno found it.’ Malik sighed. ‘I just grabbed the laptop and anything that looked surveillance-y and crawled in after.’

‘Well, it shows the two of you can still work together,’ Estelle’s laughed. ‘After all, that crawlspace is only really designed to accommodate one person.’

Malik and Brennan both stiffened, speaking over one another:

‘Longest five minutes of my life,’ Brennan blurted.

‘Not the intimate rendezvous I’d hoped for tonight.’ Malik glanced at Danika as an uncomfortable silence cloaked the room. ‘Fuck you looking at, Marshall?’

Quiet until then, Grayson was laying on a couch on his front, propping his head up on the palm of one hand while smiling sweetly at Malik and Brennan. ‘What? Do I really have to be the one to ask?’ When no response was forthcoming, he continued, ‘Fine then. Who was big spoon?’

‘What are you doing, Malik?’ Brennan hissed. ‘Get in here already!’

Malik quickly and wordlessly finished gathering up anything incriminating he could find before clambering in with Brennan behind the section of false wall he had found. ‘Uhhh…can you scooch a little, mate? Or a lot?’

‘Not an inch, dude. This is what we’ve got.’

Malik sighed. ‘Don’t you dare fart,’ he snarled.

‘Same to you. So… you still can’t trust me, huh?’

Malik swivelled his head in disbelief in the dark. ‘We’re really talking about that now?’

‘Yes. Quietly, but now.’

‘You are literally in the employ of my enemy, Brenno. How obvious does it need to be?’

‘That’s not all, is it?’ Brennan mumbled.


‘You’re more like Hayden than you think,’ Brennan retorted. ‘You have real friends, but you don’t say no to acquaintances of opportunity, either. If you were being totally logical about this, you’d look at me and think, “Hayden has control, but so do I. I know Brenno’s working for him, but the dick doesn’t know he’s also working for me. That’s an advantage, so I should use this person.”’

‘You’re not working for me. We’re both getting dragged along with Danni’s mum here, and it’s probably going to get us killed.’ 

‘Huh. Yeah,’ Brennan agreed. ‘I’m not a traitor in this, Malik. I’m a double agent, but I have a side I’m loyal to. And it’s not his. Not really yours, either.’


‘It’s hers.’ The word escaped audibly enough to remind them to school their volume. ‘I have no idea what could possibly give Danni the best chance at being happy; all I know is Hayden ain’t it.’

‘This is where I have to call bullshit,’ Malik interrupted. ‘I know what he offered you; it’s not just the threat of blackmail. If Hayden gets his way, you still get access to Danni. On his terms, but still.’

‘And now we get to the heart of it, I guess.’ Brennan breathed deeply. ‘Do you believe I can possibly love someone enough to place their needs before mine?’ He shuddered. ‘After Elise,’ he finished.

From the muffled exchange they heard taking place up the stairs, Estelle’s voice broke through with a few clear words ‘…my craft space?’

‘Fuck,’ Malik growled. ‘That’s a signal. We need to shut right the fuck up right the fuck now. Pull yourself together, Lamey.’

‘She wanted to be a mother,’ Brennan half-sobbed, ‘and I’m not going to ruin Danni. Not like that.’

With some difficulty, Malik placed an arm on Brennan’s shoulder in what he hoped felt reassuring. ‘I know,’ he whispered as they heard the studio door open.

Malik snapped from remembrance of their close call with a shiver and snorted in response to Grayson’s needling. ‘We took turns, okay? Now shut up forever.’ 

Season 2, Episode 15 is coming 8th September 2023.

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