The Dark Matter Between Our Hearts, Season 2 Episode 18

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Season 2, Episode 18


From the first time Malik had clapped his eyes on Damien’s car, he immediately forbade Damien from ever driving his Monaro, or for that matter, bringing food and drink inside of it. On stakeouts downtown though, Malik had to admit, it was a good deal less conspicuous than his own bright yellow beast.

From the driver’s seat, Damien focussed his attention on one building in particular, across the street and about two hundred metres away from where they had parked. ‘So that’s where you reckon it’s all goin’ down tonight, huh?’

Malik chuckled. ‘By no means all. Just a really important part of it. When we make our play, he’ll have to make his. I think that will be here.’

‘Ya sure?’

‘No.’ Malik pinched the bridge of his nose, wishing he could pop his head out of the window for some air. A cool change had swept through Moonlake around noon, ending the unbroken heatwave of late and even promising rain later. But they were hiding behind tinted windows for a reason. ‘To be sure, I would need better information. All I’m doing is trying to read the mind of a well-resourced gangster, who also happens to be an old friend, as well as a violent, coercive lunatic and probably an unconvicted sex offender. So like…,’ Malik performed an exaggerated shrug in the confines of Damien’s Ford Laser hatch, ‘…seventy-eight percent sure?’

‘Would suck to be wrong,’ Damien rumbled.

‘Sure would. But proceeding on the assumption I’m right, expect him to spare no more than one operative for this. They shouldn’t be anticipating resistance. Wait for them to get to work on the security door. It won’t keep them for long, but it should be just long enough—’

‘Boss. Look.’


Damien directed Malik’s attention to the building he had been staring at. A young woman neither of them recognised stopped right by the front door, and spent almost a minute examining it, before taking a quick look around and resuming her course down the sidewalk, towards them. She was tall, well-built, and dressed in black casual clothes with a black baseball cap but was still too far away to make out facial features.

‘Hm. Make that ninety-eight percent sure,’ Malik observed. ‘Let’s rejoin the traffic before she gets much closer.’

‘Sure thing boss,’ Damien started the engine right away. ‘Not worried she’ll clock ya?’

‘Nope, my cunning plan is to bury myself in Chiko Roll wrappers and takeaway coffee cups until she’s passed us,’ Malik joked drily. ‘You just focus on not drawing any attention to your driving.’

Damien smirked as he pulled out into traffic, passed the woman without making eye contact, and made a loop around to Malik’s place, where a few new patches of grass were beginning to push above the singed garden already. 

‘Cheers for that Damo,’ Malik quipped as he exited the car. ‘That was instructive.’ He sighed. ‘Now to get myself ready for the best and worst party I will ever attend, all in one.’

Damien looked up from his car window, appearing to notice the change in the weather. ‘No probs. You reckon a storm’s coming?’

‘I wonder,’ Malik replied. ‘There’s no such thing on the actual weather forecast.’ He grinned wickedly. ‘Then again, storms flush out rats, Damo. Our entire plan is to create one.’

Malik knew what was expected of him at the engagement party of the woman he desired most in the world to the man he could tolerate the least: his role was to arrive alone (made explicit on his invite; no plus one), visibly pine for what he could not have from the sidelines, and sadly gorge himself on hors d’oeuvres before leaving, alone.

The first float on the evening’s envy parade would be the estate; his bright, modern, gaudy car could not have looked any more out of place rolling onto its grounds. It was massive, with near-unscalable fencing all the way around. In its centre, a building that had to have been some kind of colonial mansion once, five stories tall, yet so secluded in the scrub that for all Malik’s snooping uptown and around the lake over the years, he had somehow never known of it. Visible from the front gate was an inlet to the main lake, onto which the property itself jutted. It occurred to Malik that for all the security enclosing the grounds on land, anyone with access to the water could easily boat or swim ashore.   

Interrupting his thoughts came security staff at the gate, asking him to present his invitation. As he did so, the rough-looking man read his name, and his eyes narrowed sharply. Here we go.

‘Would you mind pulling your vehicle to the side just up ahead please, sir?’ he asked, indicating a space of roadside with a wave. ‘Random check. Someone will be with you shortly.’

‘Not an issue, sir,’ Malik responded, grinning brightly. ‘I am well acquainted with random checks.’

The man scowled, and wordlessly waved him on. The nerve of me, I suppose, Malik thought with a silent giggle.

The random inspection of Malik and his vehicle concluded without any findings or incidents, although Malik could not resist teasing poor Craig, as his assigned inspector identified himself, saying, ‘Don’t feel bad, mate. The cops never find anything. Why would you?’

Another scowl, another wordless wave towards the estate.

Wow! Only just made it to the event parking space, and I’ve already made two new friends! Tonight always was going to be about making my own fun.

With barely enough time to process the class-shock of beholding the grounds from the entrance, Malik entered through the double door at the front step, into a foyer easily larger than his own living room, where guests were already mingling, and the couple of the moment were flitting around greeting them. Of the two, Hayden spotted him first—figures, he’s probably already been notified of my movements twice since I got here. No wait, I refused the valet, too. Three times—and his eyes already sparkled with dark mischief. 

A moment later, Danni noticed him, and gave him a smile so genuine that all Malik could think to do was stand there and drink her in. He expects me to be impotently covetous, after all. May as well covet. He looked her over. White dress. Close-fitting, daring neckline, long skirt with a high split. Sure does it for me, but I wonder whose idea it was—

‘Now, now, Malik, I’ll take the compliment, but it really is rude to stare!’ Hayden’s voice, characteristic overbearing with joviality attached, like a heart emoji at the end of a death threat as always, boomed towards him. Oh joy. My turn. I’ll be happy to have this bit behind me.

So glad you could make it, old friend.’ Hayden approached with Danika on his arm—as they closed the distance, Malik was struck by two things: First, Danni’s face looked worn out already, as though at this early hour the strain of maintaining her composure in public was already cracking her mask.

Second, despite how graceful in their movements Malik knew both Danni and Hayden to be as individuals, they were having a very hard time keeping in step while moving together, as though they’d had no practice. 

‘Do forgive me if I embarrassed you there,’ Hayden continued, clicking his fingers at a passing caterer for drinks and helping himself to a glass of white wine, ‘the occasion has me in an unguarded spirit. Of course, there’s nothing I want more on this night than for every red-blooded male with eyes and good taste to be a little jealous of me.’ Hayden winked and planted a kiss on Danni’s cheek. If you weren’t looking out for it, you probably wouldn’t have noticed her wince. 

‘All in good fun,’ Hayden finished, suddenly fixing Malik with a glare, ‘as long as they…behave themselves.’

Following a tense conversation in which Hayden easily chatted his way over Malik and Danika anyway, Malik excused himself through to the ballroom, the dimensions of which drew his gaze upward past the chandeliers to the ceiling, which was almost too high up to make out.

As he gaped, a voice filtered through the din. ‘Your jaw looks a little too heavy to keep pickin’ up like that, friend. You may as well leave it down there.’ 

‘Oh, Officer Lamey,’ Malik collected himself and lowered his voice. ‘We shouldn’t be seen getting too chummy here. You might be called on to kick the shit outta me later tonight.’

‘True enough.’ As Brennan moved to make himself scarce, he surreptitiously slipped Malik a small paper note, then motioned to a passageway to the right of the big French doors that lead out to the backyard and the lake. ‘Kitchen’s through there.’ He winked and made his way out back.

As time passed, the majority of the guests made their way outside onto the lawn area by the lake. Guest seating and tables were set up everywhere, and the kitchen had direct access to a serving table by the house which was laden with more fancy food than Malik had ever seen in one place—he had decided to count the entire night as a single overwhelming rich-guy flex, rather than try to count them all one by one. None of it stopped him from doing what he was there to do; he took note of everyone present who he knew and lined up his ducks through messages on his phone.

Chief Wall and Officer Lamey, check. Justin Burrows, very much avoiding me with his arm in a cast, check. Grant Marshall, uh-huh. Grayson, too. I guess I did hear he was trying his luck at the Country Club. And Sam Rainer. I wonder if he’s planning on selling this as some kind of story. 

Stirling and Estelle Henderson, check and che

Malik shook his head in disbelief at what he had only just noticed.

Where the fuck are Hayden’s parents? Richie and Connie? You’d think if they were anywhere right now, they’d be—

A couple of buzzes from Malik’s phone brought him back to attention.

{Damien} She’s back waiting for signal. ready to move

{Alison} In position. weapons ready.

Right. Estelle came through big with the catering. Moment of truth soon. According to the notes Brennan made for me, besides him, there’s just four other security personnel, three of whom I can see from here. The other one is probably back at the gate. If we make enough of a scene now, Hayden will rely on his trump card, which should be covered. We can do this.

{Malik, to Damien} Your moment soon. eyes up.

{Malik, to Alison} Here goes. don’t reveal yourselves immediately when it happens. shadow us until their sec takes us somewhere private.


{Alison} I’m a mechanic. i don’t know how to shadow.

{Malik, to Alison} Just tell Tim it’s an xcom2 ambush. He’ll explain EVERYTHING.

Malik made his way to within earshot of where Hayden and Danika continued to schmooze with guests; tirelessly, but only in Hayden’s case. Danni’s eyes kept darting to Malik, and she looked ready to wrench herself free and jump into the water.

‘Oh, is that the time?’ Hayden interrupted himself with a start. ‘Honey, it’s speech time! Come on up!’

‘I need the facilities, my love.’ Danika replied, her face brightening. ‘Actually, why don’t you start? Get everyone’s attention, start thanking people, and call me up to join you when I get back? I’ll make an entrance.’ She winked at him.

You demon. You absolute monster. Right in the middle of the speeches. This will be brutal. I love you so much right now.

Three minutes later, at the back of the gathered crowd who listened to Hayden speak, a mild commotion erupted. A cacophony of murmurs, gasps and raucous shouts rippled outwards from the doorway leading back to the house. The crowd parted, to reveal to Hayden the source of the uproar: his betrothed and Malik Fadel in a tight embrace, locking lips, their hands exploring each other wildly.

Hayden was dumbfounded only for a few seconds before raising the microphone back to his reddened face. ‘Security. Get him off her and bring them both to me.’ His voice was gruff and threatening, but also squeaked.

His security moved; Brennan took hold of Danika personally, while two others roughly man-handled Malik up to the podium. 

Hayden would not meet their eyes. He had discarded the microphone and spoke only to those around him. ‘Not here. Let’s take a stroll near the water. Sterling, come with. You’ll enjoy this.’

They walked, stumbled, and were dragged in silence and near-darkness to the lake’s edge.

Hayden spoke to Danika first, smiling bitterly in the faint moonlight. ‘Entrance, indeed.’

Danika remained silent in response. Hayden turned to Malik, phone in hand. ‘As for you…’ Hayden typed out a short message and returned his phone to his side. ‘That you would try something wasn’t entirely unexpected. I’ve just fired the biggest gun I have at your life, save the one that finally takes it away. But after this…’ he shoved his phone screen in Malik’s face, showing a photo of a door. The front door to a house downtown, where Malik’s mother lived. 

‘I trust I don’t need to tell you what you have just done,’ Hayden growled.

Like Danika, Malik returned his words silently, with a glass-eyed stare.

‘Neither of you are any fun tonight,’ Hayden observed. ‘I should dunk the pair of you in the lake right now and be done with it.’

A small cracking noise at the edge of their gathering back towards the house alerted one of the security staff to people behind them. ‘Who’s there?’ he barked. ‘Rejoin the party until we return!’

Hayden caught a glimpse of the uniform of one of them. ‘Catering staff?’ He yelled. ‘How can I politely say we are not in need of any fucking canapés?’

‘Good,’ Brian retorted as he, Alison, and Tim each drew a pistol and aimed at a different guard. ‘We didn’t bring any.’ 

‘Oh?’ Far from intimidated, Hayden’s tone became curious, even as his guards and Sterling all began to squirm. He turned back to Malik. ‘A shootout? Without your big monkey? How unusual. Where’s Damien Millard?’

‘Got the day off sick,’ Malik lied flatly.

As realisation dawned on Hayden, a low chuckle escaped from him, growing into a full belly laugh accompanied by a slow clap. ‘Very good, Malik. Incredible intuition.’ He continued his withering laugh for a time before adding, ‘oh, but if he’s where I think he is, doing what I think he’s doing…’ Hayden lowered his face to Malik’s with a wicked grin, ‘then your boy Millard isn’t sick at all. Rather, he is already dead.’

A buzzing noise broke the silence that followed. Quiet at first, becoming gradually louder, as if approaching.


If Hayden insisted on small talk with anymore of his sycophants before the festivities ended, Danika knew her carefully constructed charade would crack and crumble. Her facial muscles ached from forcing too many smiles and the place where Hayden’s arms touched hers was starting to burn. Knowing Malik was nearby, feeling his eyes on her did not help her focus on the conversation eitherda. She kept glancing at him, returning his smouldering gaze with looks that conveyed her own licentious promises. I wish I could rip that cheap tux off his delicious body.

‘Oh, is that the time?’ Hayden interrupted himself with a start. ‘Honey, it’s speech time! Come on up!’

After excusing herself with the best excuse she could think of, she found Malik in the crowd. ‘Are you ready?’

A wicked grin lit up his face. ‘To misbehave? Always.’ His expression sobered. ‘Are you sure about this, though? You’ll need to live with the consequences for a bit, until we can get you out of here that is.’

She nodded. ‘It’ll be worth it in the long run. Hayden might hurt me, but he won’t irreparably harm me,’ At least not physically, she added silently.

Drawing her into his arms, Malik’s lips brushed against her ear. ‘That dress of yours is sinful. I could fuck you right here and now and I totally would if there was any chance of making you come before Hayden’s lackeys pulled you off me.’

She chuckled softly. ‘Best we stick to the plan, then huh?’ Reaching up on tippy toes, she slid her hands along his solid chest and pressed her lips against his.

He reciprocated with an all-consuming kiss, devouring her as if his life depending upon it while his hands ventured south of her waist. Clutching at the seam of her dress where it split along her thigh, his fingers brushed against her bare flesh, and she almost lost herself in the moment.

Hayden’s gruff voice boomed over the din and seconds later, men were dragging Malik off her and toward the lake. Brennan escorted her and she sent a little prayer of thanks heavenwards for the small mercy. The warmth of his arms and chest seeped into her, fighting the shivers that threatened to paralyse her. With any luck, I’ll catch a cold out here and Hayden will avoid me for the next few days.

When Malik’s crew drew their guns on Hayden’s guards, the party guests gathered closer to the scene, unable to resist a good spectacle. Idiots. If they had half a brain, they’d run for the hills at the sight of so many firearms. Murmurs and gasps filled the air as camera flashes lit up the evening sky and Hayden paid them no heed as he unleashed his malice on Malik. This event would surely dominate the tabloids and not just the social pages.

In the blink of an eye, Malik’s crew jumped Sterling and two of the guards, effectively disarming them and holding them in headlocks. Malik used the distraction to do the same to the guard on him, then he pointed the stolen gun at Hayden.

‘What are you waiting for, Brenno? Take the fuckers down!’ Hayden barked.

Brennan stiffened, either at the order, or possibly at the sound of an engine buzzing downstream and drawing closer. Breaking his hold of Danika, he stepped closer to the water to investigate. ‘Um, Archer.’

‘What?’ Hayden snapped.

‘Are you expecting any guests to arrive in boats at this late hour?’

‘Why the hell would I encourage such blatant disregard for etiquette at my own engagement party? Obviously, the answer is no!’ Hayden took Brennan’s place as Danika’s guard, wrapping an arm around her waist.

‘Then I think we should move away from the water,’ Brennan suggested.

Seconds later a speedboat came into view and Danika gaped at the men dressed head-to-toe in black who aimed large semi-automatics at them.

‘Everybody down!’ Brennan yelled as the men on the boat opened fire and he ducked behind a weeping willow to take potshots at them.

Hayden pushed Danika, her back hitting the ground, and he completely covered her upper body from the barrage of bullets showering them in shrapnel and blood. Turning her head to the side she glimpsed Malik using his hostage as a shield while ducking for cover behind a gum tree.

Everything happened so fast that she lost track of who was who and where they landed during the carnage.

‘Are you okay?’ Hayden asked, peering down at her with a furrowed brow and the hint of tears in his eyes. ‘Did they get you?’

‘No,’ she rasped, unable to breathe easily with his weight on her lungs. Liquid dripped from his shoulder and splattered against her forehead. It took her a moment to register what it was. ‘Y-you’re bleeding.’

He winced. ‘A bullet grazed the top of my shoulder.’

She gaped at him, whispering her shocked reply, ‘You took a bullet for me?’

‘Of course. I’d take a dozen more to protect you, my angel.’

‘But why? I’m not much good to your if you’re dead.’

Shifting position, he wiped the blood from her face and eased the pressure on his injury. ‘When are you going to get it? I love you, Danni, and I protect the people I love.’

A knot formed in her chest and her stomach churned at his confession. All these years she had thought him a monster incapable of love or empathy, yet here he was showing her a side of him that she had not seen since their childhood. ‘I’m sorry.’

He sighed. ‘Maybe now you’ll give me a real chance.’

The boat’s engine faded into the night, giving way to cries and groans as everyone took stock of the damage. Turning her head to the side again, Danika watched in horror as her mother limped toward them, clutching at her stomach with one hand while wielding a weapon in the other. Estelle stopped beside Stirling who cowered on the ground. Raising the gun, she aimed. She fired. Two shots, point blank. Then she collapsed.

The cacophony of the massacre muted as anguish thundered in Danika’s veins and her cry rang out through the night.

What’s Next?

This episode concludes Season 2 of The Dark Matter Between Our Hearts

Stay tuned for Season 3, due to commence July 2025.

In the meantime, please enjoy the return of Well I’ll Be Damned, with Season 2 starting January 2024.

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