Aven Brooks

(two songs suggested to be played while reading this to reflect the intensity)


Harry Edwards


“What time is it?'' Jax asks, squinting up at the blistering sun, as if he could figure out by staring at its position in the sky. The black Ray-Bans stay perched on his nose, his black hood up over his blonde hair.

Celab looks down at his digital wristwatch, “4:24.”

“Only fourteen minutes to get prepared '' Rayn drops the black duffel bag off his shoulder, squatting down to unzip it.

With my sunglasses on, I look up at the sun and squint. My skin is boiling under these black clothes. There’s a gentle Vegas wind high up here on this roof, it makes the heat easier but I’m still sweating like bread in an oven.

Today is a robbery, not a bank robbery, but a museum robbery. I guess it's more of a heist. The four of us just got on the rooftop of the museum, and what we have to do isn't going to be easy. Being broad daylight, this is going to be tough.

But the museum is closed today, giving us easier access to get in and out. We have to steal some priceless painting -- Rayn usually has all the details from Malikai, I just simply show up. Stealing paintings was very James Bond meets Oceans 8 of us. I prefer robbing banks but as usual, who cares what I think? Stealing a painting sounds more convenient than a mountain of cash, but nothing is ever as good as it seems.

What makes this so difficult is that one of us has to propel down through a skylight by a cable and a harness. It isn’t going to be simple, especially considering that we haven't discussed who's the unlucky bitch that has to actually dangle down into the building. We just need one person to do it. The other three have to keep the suspension rope under control and make sure that the person gets back up safely.

So now here we are, the four of us standing on a roof in matching black hoodies with black bandanas tied around our neck for when we have to pull them up on our noses. We all have sunglasses on too. It’s kind of stupid of us not to do this thing at night.

We all circled around one rectangle skylight, the four of us in all-black attire. We even have black latex gloves on, that's how efficient we are. This rooftop is multiple stories high, so nothing but a helicopter can see us. Let's just pray there isn't one passing anytime soon.

Marina was waiting down in the locked car a couple of blocks away, sitting patiently in the driver seat with a running engine. She wasn't going to drive the gateway, only if things went terribly wrong and we didn't have time to switch seats. That's never happened before though. I left her with a weapon she can use to defend herself if she gets approached, but no one should be able to get in the car.

"Alright boys, let's get a move on." Ryan interrupts my thoughts, unfolding the duffel bag jam-packed with items for this process: a black harness, a suspension machine, a laptop, drill, cables, glass cutter, etc. "So we crack open this skylight, suspend one of you down into the building which will be right over the centre of the room. If you turn to your right there will be 5 paintings hanging over the wall and you have to pick the third one from your right. It's a horse painting. Pick up the painting, then we will pull you out."

"So who's the unlucky one that's going in?," Jax asks, hands in his pocket, looking down at the skylight we’re huddled around.

"I vote Jax", I say immediately.

"What?" his head shooting up as he looks at me.

"You are the pickpocket. we have to steal the painting." I shrug. "It's a painting, not a ring, anyone can do that, berk" he shakes his head, obviously not wanting to be the chosen one.

"I vote Harry" he says, looking at me while working with the security cameras. "Jax has got a fresh wound, and if by any chance the stitches are open he will drip blood all over the crime scene. You are the tallest, we wouldn't have to propel you down as much as we would Caleb."

Caleb immediately put his hand up to vote for me. "He has a point."

"Bullshit!" I shake my head.

"Sorry about it, "Jax says under his breath, in a cold tone, as if he’s angry at me for something I did.

"F*ck off Jax."

I open the harness that was supposed to strap around my chest, along my stomach, and in between my legs.

"You will be in, and out." Caleb eases the situation.

"God forbid something doesn't go your way once." Looking to his right again, he adds his input via a bitchy comment.

"Is there an issue here?" I look up at him across the length of the single skylight.

"I don't know, is there?" he fires back with the same confrontational tone, shrugging his shoulders.

"Why have you been such an ass to me today?"

He drops his head with a chuckle, shaking it slightly with his hand in his sweater pocket. Caleb stands to his left, Rayn paying little attention to this conversation.

"I don't know what you are talking about." He plays off his sour behaviour.

"No, you do. Did I do something?" I pry.

"I don't know, did you?" He acts like I know what he's talking about.

"I'm pretty sure I didn't. You were fine at breakfast and I haven't talked to you since." I was honestly confused about what was wrong with him. Maybe Marina told him something when I was gone? I haven't said anything about him in a while though so I still don't understand why he's been such an arse.

"Do you have something you wanna tell us, Harry?" He lifts his head up, looking ahead at me and using the term US specifically.

I freeze, furrowing my brows in utter disarray. I have no clue what he's talking about. He is implying I did something to everyone and not just him.

"What?"

"Really?" He says, like he doesn’t believe my confusion.

"Is there a reason Marina is wearing your ring on a specific little finger today?" He answers pensively, crossing his arms in a challenge.

Both Caleb and Rayn look up at the two of us at Jax's abrupt statement, a shocked expression on their faces. My blood runs cold, my heart is pounding. I go completely silent, not expecting what he was going to say. It really is none of their business. I was not hiding, it just happened last night, not like a week ago.

"What is Jax talking about?" Rayn stands up from the duffel bag, staring at me in shock.

The roof is silent, everyone staring at me like they knew the answer but didn't want to believe it was true.

"I married Marina last night,"

Jax drops his head with a smile, not a smile of happiness, a smile to express my act of stupidity. Caleb shuts his eyes in grief, Rayn is completely taken back by it putting his hands on his hips--- it's obvious everyone is disappointed in me.

"You f*cking bastard," Rayn mutters under his breath with his back to us.

"Relax you shits" I shake my head, all of them are making such a big deal out of this. It's no one's business but Marina and I's.

"Us, relax? Maybe you should relax. What the f*ck are you trying to do here? Take matters in your hands?" Jax jumps up and points a gun to put me in my place.

"I'm doing everything I can do to keep her safe and undo the things I have done!"

"You are digging yourself into a deeper hole with Malikai. You realise that, right?" He shakes his head.

"I don't care what happens to me, if I'm assured she lives a safe and normal life, then I'll do anything."

"You married her, you idiot! Regardless, she's going to be tied to you and all of this! Why'd you do it? She needs to know the truth Harry!" Jax shouts in frustration at my choices.

I still don't understand why he's so fired up about all this, once again this has nothing to do with him. This is about me and Marina and keeping her safe from her father, I don't need the added stress of the guys trying to shove their fists down my throat as a reaction to my actions.

"I love her," I say these foreign words that sound so unfamiliar while leaving my lips. "That's why I married her. I tried to tell myself I did it drunk, for fun or maybe as an elaborate safety plan, but I know I love her. I understand I am the one to blame for this mayhem. I am doing everything I can to fix it because Marina deserves so much better than this world we

live in. She knows I'm hiding stuff, but because she's the most selfless and understanding person on the planet, she would rather I fix whatever I've done before I tell her the truth. She has hope in me and believes I'm a different person."

There is complete silence. I take a deep breath from my shouting. Seeing that no one speaks, I begin again. "Look, I know I made a deal with Malikai to replace myself with her, to set myself free! I also am hiding that she is his real daughter, who I said is lost. I know I did all this before. I know I let my feelings take over. I know I made a mistake by letting myself feel anything for her, but I couldn't control it. I did what I did out of love for her and for no other reason. I know, if she gets to know about this, she will be angry and might leave me and this tour. Yes, I was a little selfish also for not telling her because I wanted to spend as much time as possible with her. This is not forever, I know it, but I'll love her till my last breath."

I spit all these thoughts out.

Nothing but empty stares fill the tension, all eyes on me and my prominent statements. It was very unlike me to admit such a thing to them, especially given I just admitted it to myself last night when she was asleep. She doesn't know I love her yet, I wasn't planning to tell the boys. But, they needed to know this wasn't just a plan I had. I understand marrying her upheld the possibility of protection from the mafia, of course, I had it on my mind but it wasn't something I was actually going to do. It was in the spur the moment because I'm in love with her.

"I know Harry, " there’s a very familiar voice I hear from a distance. It's her voice. It's Marina standing at the door which takes us to the top of the roof. My blood runs cold if it’s because of looking at her or the words she just said.

"I know Aven Brooks is my real name." She states the name with tears in her eyes, she is trying so hard not to cry. I can literally feel my heart breaking into a million pieces. H-how does she know all this? How does she know her real name? I'm speechless, just like the other guys. All in shock about what is happening.

"H-how long hav--," she cuts me off opening the door." We have to leave right now!" She states in a hurry. I’m really confused about how she came up here. What is she talking about?

"They are coming, they got to know there are people up here. Cops are here!" She states while we are running for our lives towards the door up to the roof.

(play kill my mind by Louis Tomlinson)

"Attention attention, due to an outsider threat we are entering a perimeter lockdown. All exits will be sealed and rooms will be blocked. Please stand by." An automated voice states in the echoing museum, only making our adrenaline pump more.

Suddenly in the direction we were sprinting towards, a black door to a cage starts coming down at the end of the stairway, about to block us out from where we needed to be.

"F*ck..." I shout and try to run faster, still a stretch until we make it.

"There!" A booming voice echoes hauntingly from behind us before we hear the ear-splitting sound of gunshots fired towards us.

"Shit!" Jax cusses in reflex, taking our guns out and shooting blindly.

We manage to get up the stairs in time and the doors close as soon as I exit. Perfect time. “Hurry up" she shouts as we waste no time running over to Marina and Caleb.

As we run over there, Marina departs off the roof through a zipline. In less than a second, she’s out of our sights and soaring along the sky to the motel across the way. I never in a million years would have thought she would be able to do it. The zipline was slanted downwards so we knew for sure we'd fly along it very quickly.

Rayn flew rapidly along with a deadly height in the air, holding on tight to the handles on the zipline. He had the duffel bag to weigh him down too so hopefully he was strong enough to hold on for the ten whole seconds.

Caleb nonchalantly jumps up on the edge of the building and reaches up to grab his handles. He gives Jax and me a quick nod behind his bandana before hopping off the edge of the building, following Marina and Rayn down the suspended cable in the air. He flies furiously with the hood up and the bandana over his face, cutting through the wind.

"Go," I tell Jax, wanting myself to be the last one so I know for sure I wasn't leaving anyone behind.

Jax nods and leaps onto the big step up on the edge of the rooftop.

"Jax--" I said again, something suddenly coming over me.

He turns his head from the towering position on the edge of the building. With his face hidden behind the bandana like mine, I speak again.

"I'm sorry," I murmur, keeping my eyes on him.

Maybe it was the fact that he was about to potentially risk his life jumping off the building that opted me to get this out in the open. Regardless, I was sorry. I was sorry for putting him in this situation with Aven. I know it only made everything harder. This was really not the time to talk about this. I just need to get it out. So he knows. I never apologized to him before.

He turns around, so his back faces the edge of the roof, reaching up to grab the handles. Once his arms are up in the air and he's holding on tight, he turns his head to me. His eyes crinkle in a grin.

"See you down there, f*cker." He laughs before jumping off the roof backwards.

Facing me instead of forward, he flies down the zipline with an echoing cheer between the buildings and a cocky expression on his half-covered face. He takes life like a video game. He never misses an opportunity to take the danger one step further.

I think this was him forgiving me? I'm not sure how this apology process works. I chuckle and grab my handles and jump off the edge.

It's interesting to know that all I had to do was let go and that will be it.

One by one, all four of them get to the balcony of the run-down motel, leaping onto solid ground and opening the balcony sliding door. I eventually reach them too, jumping off so my feet touch the ground. Once I’m off the zipline, Rayn unhooks it from the wall to remove the connection to the building.

Once the cables are severed, we race into the dirty motel room across the brown shag carpet. Marina and Rayn lead us all considering they seem to know all the directions. Marina shocked me today. She saved our lives right now.

Opening the front door of the motel, we make a sharp left. The hallway had a dated marron wallpaper that’s peeling from all directions, the old yellow lights flickering on the ceiling and cheap wood doors along the walls. Every room we pass, we can hear either music or loud chatter.

At the end of the hallway, there’s another stairway exit. Rayn burst through and led us down the flights of stairs. Luckily we were going down and not up this time. The concrete stairwell filled with our frantic unsynchronized steps as we went down to the eventual emergency exit. I had no clue where the exit door was leading us, hopefully not to the general public.

At the bottom, we all wasted no time ramming through the steel push door to exit the motel, ending up in an alley. I let out the stress I was holding inside me, knowing we weren't led to the front of the building.

But all I could hear were police sirens.

"This way...." Marina made a rushed left down the alley that would lead us back to the back street. With all our hoods up and black bandanas over our faces, we jog between their buildings in broad daylight. Approaching the end of the alley, I started to remember where we were heading and how the car was just around the corner.

"Put your hands up!" I hear the echoing demand, making my body turn back to see three cops at the opposite end of the alley and holding up their guns.

“F*ck”

The guns started firing before I got to finish my thoughts. Lucky for us, we were right at the end of the alley, so it was easy to jump off the way and behind the building. The second we’re out of their line of fire, we sprint again.

Parked a few meters up along this backstreet is our red convertible that had its roof on it. Marina, without wasting any time, runs the engine while sitting on the driver's seat.

There was no time to switch.

She has already unlocked the car. We waste no time throwing ourselves in the vehicle. I automatically get in the passenger seat as the other three hurl themselves in the back.

After all the running I see her with a completely shocked expression, turning her head to me with her hands on the steering wheel, her knuckles white. Dressed in her baggy high waisted jeans, a small unzipped lilac sweater and a strapless white crop top underneath -- she was not ready for what was coming.

"Where---"

"Drive!" I shout, no time for hesitation.

Her eyes go wide like she’s in a nightmare.

"Where?"

Police cars suddenly skid around the corner from a block behind us, sirens on. She catches a glimpse in the rearview mirror and it looks like her whole world is coming crashing down.

"Marina!" I shout.

"Marina!" They all shout from the back.

Without a second’s delay, she steps on the gas pedal and floors it, so the car makes a loud screech before darting away. The speed of the car jumps from zero to sixty in a matter of 7 seconds, the car propelling us down the street with two police cars behind us.

"Where am I going, I don't know this place!" She shouts.

"God, we're all going to jail, aren't we?!" Jax rolls his eyes like it was an inconvenience rather than fear. "I hate jail..."

"Jax shut up!" I turn my head back. "”No one is going to jail!"

"Marina's driving us, we’ll get away!" Rayn shouts in defence.

"Someone tell me where to go!" She shouts again with her eyes frantically on the road, everyone in the vehicle being in a complete state of frenzy.

"Pull over. I repeat, pull over." I hear the sound of a megaphone coming from the police cars behind us. I flick my eyes up at the rearview mirror to see the cops holding up the device.

"Don't listen to them, princess!" Jax adds like it’s an important point.

"No shit I'm not going to listen to him!" She snaps back at the unnecessary comment, spiralling by the second. "Someone needs to tell me where I'm going!"

"Wherever you don't see cops." Rayn states.

"That's not helping!"

"Make a right, coming up." I give her the real directions.

She makes a harsh right, so the car skids on the asphalt, bringing us to a more public street in Vegas, which was a good and a bad thing. Bad because we can get stuck in traffic, good because we can maybe lose the cops in the traffic.

"Try to weave through these cars as much as you can. The more vehicles you put between us and the cops, the better," I instruct.

She nods, her chest rising up and down so rapidly. I can see how pale her face has become from nerves. She’s broken out into a sweat, and her ocean blue eyes are blinded by horror. I shouldn't have let her come today. I never wanted her this close to danger. What the hell was I thinking?

Despite being so neurotic, she weaves through the lanes smoothly. She’s speeding up and twisting through all the cars as I said. Her fingers are wrapped around the wheel so tight that I can see how white her knuckles were becoming from blood flow.

"Good, baby.." I intend to encourage her and hide the fact that I don't feel confident in the plan working out. We didn't expect cops to find out even before the robbery. Apparently, she came on time and saved us but our gateway literally turned into a hot pursuit.

"Pull the vehicle over!" The cop shouts through the megaphone.

"The sirens are freaking me out!" She shouts in panic, shaking her head while weaving through traffic. "Oh my god, we are going to jail."

I need to give her any sort of solution within this nightmare of a situation. I click the radio on and turn the volume up so music drowns the car and blankets the police sirens in-out trail.

( Rolling in the deep is playing on the radio)

"Cut between these two buildings coming up on your right!" I shout, pointing at the gap between the two buildings.

"I'm going to hit someone on the sidewalk!"

"No, you won't. Do it!" I yell over Adele screaming through the speakers.

She does not fight me anymore, honking her horn abruptly before making a sharp right up onto the sidewalk and through a wide alleyway between buildings. Pedestrians shriek and leap out of the way of the speeding sports car but she doesn’t hit anyone.

"F*ck, f*ck, f*ck!" She shouts over the music, in need to let off steam, the revved engine of the car echoing in such a narrow alley that it barely has a space for one car.

"We need to get out of town!" Rayn shouts from behind.

"What?" I shout back, it's hard to hear over the music.

"The freeway! Get her to start driving out to the freeway where there are no locals to catch us and recognize our faces!" Rayn raises his voice over the music, this time I can hear him.

I nod and look back at Marina, "Sweetheart, make a left on the street when you get out of this alley."

She nods, swallowing with her back pushed hard against the seat and her arms straight out ahead of her like she can’t relax her elbows. I've never seen her so tense.

She pushes a prolonged honk when emerging from the alley in the hope people would get out of the way of the sidewalk, making the left turn on the new Vegas street. Stepping on the gas, she straightens herself out on the road and aims to run right through the upcoming intersection.

But we aren’t that lucky.

Firing around the corner from that intersection are three cop cars that block the crossing by slamming into the park so we can’t get around them.

In reflex, Marina stomps abruptly on the brake to avoid colliding with the cars blocking off the street only a few meters ahead of us. Our car wheels screech from the ear-bleeding brake, stopping the whole vehicle.

"Dammit!" I slam my fist on the dashboard.

"F*ck sakes.." Rayn cusses in frustration.

I shut my eyes and drop my head in my hands, the music still blasting as we’re blocked from going any further. We're royally screwed now, blocked by the cops ahead. It

wasn't her fault at all; we just weren't quick enough. I couldn't even begin to think about what all this meant.

But the car starts moving.

"Duck," I hear Marina demand.

I open my eyes and turn my head to see her one hand on the back of my headrest and the other on the wheel, her chin angled back over her shoulder so she could see out the back window. All the guys were ducked down so she could see the car suddenly racing in reverse.

"Mar-"

I stopped myself as I noticed how she was weaving us through the cars backwards on oncoming traffic. The reversing car zigzags through the lanes in need to not make any sort of mistake. My jaw falls to the floor as she keeps her sight on the back window with a driven look in her eyes. A distressed blonde lock is in her face as she does everything she can to get us out of here and takes matters into her own hands.

Wait... What the f*ck?

Eventually, when she got enough space, she slammed the brake and swung the wheels left so the car skidded in a circle and we’re suddenly facing the opposite direction of the cop cars. With that she switched gears from reverse to drive and floored the gas pedal again, ripping away.

I turn back to face the windshield, seeing how she’s driving full force again against the oncoming traffic. To fix this issue, she accelerates over the concrete island between the lanes and emerges onto the right side of the road again recklessly.

In awe, I stare at her as she manages to get herself out of the situation so easily. My lips stay apart as my widened eyes can't perceive what actually happened.

She flicks her eyes to me, catching me in shock. With a bit of double take, she speaks up. "What?" She furrows her brows, stress written all over her face.

I look at the three guys who all have their hoods up and jaws on the floor, sitting back up and staring at her with their bandanas resting around their neck. Even Caleb is shocked, and Caleb usually never has any emotions on his face.

She catches their expressions through the rearview mirror, her chest rising up and down with the pressure of the situation.

"Stop staring at me!" She shouts in hope we snap out of the shock we had for her driving abilities.

They all flinch and quickly look elsewhere; Caleb out his window, Jax at the back of my seat, Rayn to the roof.

"Where did you learn that?" I was still in shock.

"Tell me where to go!" She ignores my question.

"We need to loop around and head west to the freeway like Rayn said. That way we can try to lose them," I instruct, “A left coming up."

She rips into the intersection and makes the course left like I said, the back tires of the car screaming at the asphalt.

"Keep going straight for the next few blocks," I say before turning towards her and reaching for her hair.

I start gathering her blonde locks back between her head at the headrest, trying to get it all together.

"What are you doing?" she says with her eyes glued to the road.

"Trying to hide some of your key features," I say while grabbing the hair tie off her wrist and quickly looping it in her hair so it was back out of her face, bringing the purple hood over her head to further hide her hair.

"The windows are tinted."

"Not the windshield." I clarify, reaching behind my head to untie the bandana on my nose so I can use it to cover her face instead.

"Harry no---" Rayn stops me from his head behind me. “Anyone can recognise you through the windshield, leave that on."

"I need to cover her fac--"

"Here" Caleb leans forward and hands me his bandana for her instead. “Caleb no, you need to hide your face too." Marina shakes her head. "The windows are tinted back here, no one will be able to see me, take it." He insists.

I nod and take it from his hand, bringing it over her nose and tying it behind her head under the hood. It's the least we can do to cover her face.

I turn back to Caleb, who’s diagonal to me, "Stay back there where no one can see you."

"Marina!" Rayn shouts, pointing ahead.

I turn back forward to see the three cop cars jetting around the corner towards us on our current street. In a quick decision, she makes a last second right at the intersection, cutting

the corner of the sidewalk so the car mounts the curb. Pedestrians scream and jump out of the way, Adele screaming through the radio, making the situation more chaotic.

"Can we f*cking turn down rolling in the deep! You're ruining the goddamn song for me!" Jax fights from the middle seat like that’s important.

"It calms her down!" I shout back over my shoulder.

All the cars coming our way slam on the brakes and honk, Marina swerves between the lanes and manages to just get out of the way of most cars. The vehicle flies left and right all on the wrong side of the road, dodging all potential collisions. She makes another harsh left, blaring her horn so everyone can hear her coming.

I don't think she'll ever live with herself if she hurts an innocent person on the street --I won't be able to live with myself knowing I put her in that situation.

"Sorry! Sorry I'm-" she repeats frantically to the people while making the bend and mounting the sidewalk corner. They definitely can’t hear her through the music and the windows but I think she needed to say it for her own conscience.

"Straight ahead is the freeway!" Rayn shouts.

I look in the rearview to see the flashing cop cars on the trial. The music covered the sirens but we still knew they were there.

"Take the roof off the car so I can stand up and start shooting at them!" Jax says.

“No! They'll shoot her!" I dismiss the option immediately, turning over to look at Jax.

"Not if I shoot them first!"

"No."

"Regardless, they're going to start to shoot! We might as well beat them to it!"

"If I retract the roof back then it's easier for them to aim at her through the seats! No!" I say one last time before turning back around. She's the driver, they'll aim for her first.

"We're not going to get away from them if--"

"I'm not having fun!" Marina interrupts with a scream of panic she needed to get out, a very random statement to say at least. "This isn't fun!"

"You're doing great ." I try to encourage her as we move onto the freeway.

"Marina, it's like a video game," Jax adds. "Except when you hit the game over you don't get to retry."

"F*ck off Jax!" I snap, knowing it only makes her feel more frantic.

She gets out to the freeway, swerving between the staggering traffic while leaving downtown Vegas. The further from the town the more open the road we have to escape. This may still work, but we don't have a concrete plan. We've never run into a high pursuit like this, the getaway was supposed to be easy if the method went right.

"Where am I going!" She begs for direction.

Staring out the windshield, I get lost in thought trying to find a solution. I didn't know what to do, where to go. My heart was racing in fear, only because she was here. I have never felt concerned before.

"Harry!" She shouts, because I wasn't answering, her hands gripping the steering wheel tensely.

I just need to make sure she will get out of this safe and free. That's the goal, not all of us, just her.

A quick thought pops up into my mind, and I have no time to contemplate it any longer before I act on it.

"I need you to take the next exit so we can get off the major freeway and into the desert." I point to the sign.

She nods and swallows, speeding through the cars and making the right exit branching off the freeway and detouring down to less busy highway. The police cars and their sirens follow us down off the exit, the speed of our convertible pushing 120km.

"The desert? We'll be singled out !" Jax protests.

"We have about ten minutes to get out of this before they start firing at our tires!" Rayn states to only add the pressure.

"We're not gonna let that happen." I shake my head, taking the gun out of my waistband, popping out the barrel to see how much aim I had before clicking it back into place.

Marina peeks down at the gun on my lap.

"What are you doing?" She murmurs in fear.

"Jax was right, we have to start shooting them before they shoot us...." I state making sure my bandana is tight on my face.

"Yeah! Listen to Jax!" Jax agrees, reaching to the front seat in an attempt to click the button that would extract the roof back over our heads.

"Not yet idiot!" I smack his hand before he clicks the button." Wait until we're on a secluded road first!"

"Harry, I don't like this." Marina starts to spiral behind the bandana, shaking her head, her chest rising up and down.

"You'll be fine we will block your sea-"

"No, for you guys. Someone's going to get hurt." She clarifies.

"We have to do something. Rayn is right, they will start shooting our tires and we all will be screwed. I have to do something. Just keep driving." I nod at the inevitability of the situation.

I had no choice as she was the bigger target driving the getaway. So I had to be one step ahead of them and start shooting it, pulling the danger away from her.

She turns into a two lane road, reaching barren terrain as we drive deep into a vacant territory with sand on either side of us. No one was around, we were travelling to start on the run to reach the sun. This road went straight for miles it seemed.

"Incoming on your left!" Rayn shouts as a cop speed up to the drivers side of the car, looking over through our tinted windows and holding his gun out to shoot.

Marina barely got to turn her head and look before I threw my body over the middle console and ducked down with it. Bullets flew right through the window from one side to other of the car, three bullets that luckily missed from our cover but shattered the glass all over us.

I lose my head and grab the wheel Marina is gripping, jerking it aggressively to the left so our car rams into the cops. It’s such a powerful slam that the wheels hit the dirt and slid off the road in a twist, doomed the minute the wheels moulded into the sand.

We all sit up fully, both our windows gone. I lift her head to make sure she has no glass slicing her face or skull, her eyes peeling back in the open road.

"You okay?" I say quickly for reassurance.

She nods slowly with her racing chest.

"Okay f*ck this!" Jax launches forward before I can even process, clicking the retracting roof button.

"Jax!" I shouted in protest but was too late as he already pressed it, the roof unhooking from the windshield and starting to retract back towards the trunk of the car. The wind mixed with police whirling through the car cutting against our ears.

"We can't wait any longer! I don't care, I'm firing!" He puts on his sunglasses and tucks the bandana over his nose, his black hood up.

"Slump down! All you have to do is drive straight so try to stay as low as possible!" I have to shout over the wind, Adele, and the police sirens.

I made sure my hood was up on my head, ready to stand up and shoot any second the roof was completely down.

"Please be careful!" she shouts, knowing I was going to be right in line of fire the minute I stand up on this now topless convertible.

I lean forward and kiss her through the black bandanas, closing my eyes for a split second in this chaotic time. Holding her jaw, I feel her lips against mine through the material.

I pull back and catch those eyes, she nods and looks back to the road through those delicate blue eyes, trying to control her agitation.

I turn to Jax in the back seat, flipping my body around completely so my knees were on my chair. With the gun loaded in his hand, he looks at Caleb.

"You stay down! You don't have anything to cover your face. If you get recognised then we're all screwed." Jax shouts to Caleb who slumps down with a nod.

The roof completely reclines against the trunk, making us fully exposed now, in unison; Jax and I shoot up and face the back of the racing car, holding our guns out and start shooting at the cops. I'm standing tall on my spot like a tower, shoes on the passenger seat, firing, while Jax was on his knees on his seat, shooting down at the tires.

There were three cop cars on our trail, chasing us. With only so many bullets, I made sure I didn't just start rapid firing. I have to be precise.

Rayn flips around and starts shooting too, on his knees like Jax. A bullet blew right into the cop’s tire, spinning him out off the road into the sand.

A cop in the passenger seat leans out of the window and starts firing, a bullet hitting the back of the car so you could hear the broken metal of the exterior. He shoots again but this time it’s aimed right towards me, making me duck down before it can impale me. Crouched behind the seat, I stand back up and shoot.

Just two cars were now on our trail, one in front of the other. In most of the gunfight, no one was shot yet but we had only so many bullets to spare. Once we are over with the bullets then it's game over for us.

We had to get two birds with one stone somehow.

I felt a delicate hand tug my pant leg, looking down to see Marina with her eyes on the road but trying to get my attention. I crouch back down behind the seat and look at her quickly.

"Ahead!" She points forward.

I turn around and see another cop car coming but against us so we would be sandwiched between them. The car flying towards us was in the centre of the road, mirroring us so we

couldn't get by it. It was still far away, but there was no turning road between us and them. With two cars behind us and one in front of us, this was going to be bad.

Jax and Rayn sit back down in cover, checking how much ammo they have. Jax cusses to himself realising he doesn't have much.

"We have another problem," I say, in reference to the oncoming police car about to trap us between three.

Jax and Rayn look ahead and see what we were seeing, a police car coming our way with sirens blaring. In their quick glance, they looked lost as to what to do, knowing we didn't have time to make plans as the car was going to be forced to stop first.

"F*cking hell, I don't have many bullets left. Not for all three cars”. Jax says.

“Me neither!" I look to see I only have two.

"We are done for. Might as well shoot ourselves at this point before they trap us." Rayn says, losing hope.

Shit.

Marina suddenly steps harder on the gas pedal, gripping the wheel tightly and speeding up. In confusion, I look ahead and see an oncoming car getting closer and stunned by the fact Marina was speeding up to it.

"What are you doing?" I say as it seems to be the last thing we would want to do, now we had less time to think about the solution.

She doesn't answer, she just keeps ripping down the road towards oncoming cop car with two behind. Her eyes are cold, racing the car so fast that she wouldn't be able to hit the brake in time to stop us from colliding with it.

She peers through the rearview, looking at the two cars aligned right behind us. I turn my head back to the guys slumped down to their seats, watching Marina with concern. At this rate, we were going to collide with the oncoming car and the fact she wasn't answering me made this even more of a fact.

"Marina!"

"It's like a train!" She shouts back over the wind, keeping the eyes glued on the oncoming car that would kill us all at the speed we will clash with it.

It reminded me of Nashville, visualising her standing on the train track in a game of one-man chicken.

"I had to yank you off that train or you would've been killed!" I clarify. That narrative would not be the best analogy for this scenario, I know what she's capable of and ramming into that car is a quick death which she isn't scared of doing.

"We're not going to jail." She mumbles, shaking her head.

My heart skips a beat, enough to make me sick to my stomach. I look back at Jax, Caleb and Rayn to see them shocked at what was happening.

"Harry.... What is she doing?" Jax asks in concern.

I look at Marina again.

"Marina, we will figure something else out. Slow that car down." I warn.

She doesn't listen to me, keeping the death grip on the steering wheel and a harsh hold on the gas pedal. The sound of the accelerating engine only adds to chaos. Seh isn’t going to stop.

"Marina!"

"Trust me!" she snaps back , not showing mercy.

"You're not playing chicken when Jax, Rayn and Caleb are in the back seat!" I shout because I don't think she understands what she's about to do.

I wouldn't let her do it with the boys behind in the car. This was so unlike her, ready to take everyone's life in order to not go to prison. All she does is try to protect people.

But then again, this was her way of protecting them.

She glances in the rearview mirror again at the cops tight behind us, ignoring me. I look ahead and see the oncoming car getting closer, showing no mercy like Marina. We are going to collide with this vehicle in the next ten seconds. I’m shocked by her behaviour, taking lives in order to be free of this.

I look back at the guys again, shaking my head with a shocked face. It was enough to spark all their worries.

"Marina" they all start spiralling, shouting her name frantically to get her to stop bringing them closer to destruction. “This is not going to be a suicide mission”. Rayn states.

I stay back in my chair and just watch her, seeing how determined she is, like she couldn't hear anyone's pleas for mercy. I wasn't freaking out or trying to get her to stop, I just started watching her and how she was reacting to this situation. She was lost in her own world. I wanted to believe that she wasn't actually going to do this, I had faith. I don't know what she would do but she is not going to kill us all just like that.

"I trust you!" I responded to her previous statement, hoping that that was enough for her to make the right decision of us not hitting the vehicle.

"Marina, this isn't funny!" Rayn shouts, but I know she can't hear them in this state of mind.

If this was anything like a train, I knew she was not afraid to collide with the car. She has never been scared when it comes to deadly outcomes of adrenaline, she loves looking at it right in the eye.

Unless it was heights, she hates heights.

The cops weren't going to show mercy either, that's how bad they needed to catch us.

I don't fight her choice anymore. Instead, I just reach my hand out to her thigh and give it three squeezes. I wasn't pulling her off the train track this time, if she was going to make this decision, I’d let her do it. I trust her though, I trust she will not do this.

Looking at the car barreling right towards us, I lean back in my seat and don't take my eyes off it. She keeps the same speed of nearly 160km/hr, passing the point of no return. Whether she collided with this car or brakes, we were going to get there somehow. The anticipation of it was making everyone in the back seat freak out to get her to stop.

Keeping my hand on her thigh, resting my other on the windowsill, ready to accept my fate in the palms of her delicate hands. I don’t shut my eyes. I want to watch as long as I can. With my heart racing as fast as a fire engine, I turn my head to her at the very last second to catch one last glimpse before things go to hell.

Right as I thought we were going to crash headfirst in a harsh but quick death, she unexpectedly swerves the wheel sharply to the right, around the oncoming cop.

Dodging it.

Right as she swerved around the potential collision, the oncoming police car ended up not only flying past us but clashing aggressively with the others that were following behind.

I couldn't turn to catch the collision fast enough before the sounds of a loud explosion blasted behind us, as we felt hot exhaust at the back of our heads.

All of us flipped around to look back at what was happening, the loud blast shaking the concrete as fire ignited from the colliding vehicles. The one that was incoming flew into the air in orange flames, landing harshly on the top of the last police cars to create a massive pile of twisted metal.

That would have been us if she didn't slide out of the way at the very last second.

The explosion became further away, the blackened smoke disturbing the blue sky on the desert strip. I couldn't peel my eyes away from the collision, flipped around my seat like

everyone in the backseat. The sirens went quiet in the fire, nothing but the scratchy sounds of our weak-signalled radio playing now. Twisted metal, upside down vehicles and fire was all we could see in the distance.

But, we escaped.

I turn back around in my seat, staring out at the clear road ahead. No one says a word due to the shock from the situation. I pinch the front of my bandana, pulling it down so it falls around my neck.

With the wind blowing through the roofless car, I try to take in what the hell just happened. My eyes glance at the passenger seat mirror seeing it getting smaller in the distance.

She did it, she got us out of it.

I turn my head to her in the driver's seat, zero expression on her face behind that bandana still on her nose. Her eyes stay dead on the road, clutching the wheel.

“Are you okay?" I lean over the centre console to ask, my hand moving from her thigh to her stiff arm. She's never done anything like that before, hurt someone. What just happened was something that may haunt her for a long time, and for that, this felt worse than just letting the cop car hit us. "I don't think they are dead, the cars are still in solid pieces."

She doesn't answer, just staring at the road with half face covered.

I turn my head back at the guys, seeing how they’re all staring at her in anticipation of her reaction. They knew this wasn't her, the accident she just created even though it wasn't her fault. It was our fault, we're the ones that put her in this situation. I'm the one that put her in this situation.

They all had a nervous look on their faces, waiting for her reply. She might just start crying, she might just start freaking out, she might just feel numb. The possibilities were endless, maybe she will just start spiralling.

I look back at her and realise she wasn't answering, she must've been more in shock than I thought. I reach up and pull down her bandana over her nose and mouth, wanting to see her face.

She's smiling.

The smile was small, more like a grin. It was enough to make me smile though. The second I saw it I thought, maybe we did die in this explosion and this was nothing but a delirious state of purgatory.

"Mar?" I was confused.

She turns her head to look at me with a bandana down on her neck so I can see her full face. Her smile only gets brighter before she speaks in broken syllables of shock.

"Ho-ly shit..."

There’s a slight pause after her statement, my eyes flicking back to the three who haven't said anything yet. They stare at Marina in the front, seeing how she’s actually taking this in a positive way.

The second they realise she isn't upset, they start cheering in victory.

The roofless car is very rowdy as the three of them start screaming in triumph. Caleb tosses his head back and shuts his eyes in thankfulness that we are free.

"Marina- no f*cking way!" Jax shouts in shock at her ability to get us out of that.

I’m in awe of her, sitting in my seat with my jaw on the floor at the fact there were no police chasing us. Jax cocks his head back on the exterior of the car, staring up into the sky with shock.

"Wait!" Rayn says. "We didn't get the ring. Malikai is gonna kick our as"

“No need for it!" Marina says with her head turned back, looking at Rayn with a smile.

Okay now I'm confused, what the hell is she talking about. "What do you mean?" I look at the boys who are as confused as me, all of us looking at her in confusion.

There is complete silence for what feels like forever, us waiting for her answer. Then she points her finger to the front. There is a car waiting for us some 500meters away. With a woman and 3 men in suits. Two of them standing like bodyguards.

Oh my god, it's Malikai and his wife with the two guys who always kick our asses. I gasp at the scene, looking at the boys behind. They look like they have seen a ghost.

"What the f*ck?" What is she trying to do here? Why is she so calm, she should be freaking out or angry at this man who had killed and ruined many lives. "Marina, turn back, we have to leave now." I shout, because I don't want her to go through shit again.

"No! It was a test, Harry." she says sternly.

What does she mean it was a test? It struck me the time at the rooftop when me and Jax were fighting she came in and said “I know harry!”. No, it can't be that she knew this was going to happen. She met him before, it was a test for her. For her to join the gang in place of me.

"No, no it can't be, I won't let you do this!" I shout in panic, shaking my head. This can't be it, I'm free just like that. No, I can't let her get into this prison. I won't be able to live with myself if she joins the gang, setting me free.

Then the car suddenly stops. I look at the boys behind, they still have the same ghost-like expression on their faces. She then opens the door and jumps out of the car.

"Come on, I'll explain later!" she says while waiting for us to get out.

We all get out of the car and walk towards Kai and Ruth, Marina's mother. “Mar-" I say, hoping she understands what she is doing.

She nods, tapping my fingers three times, as if she understands and is asking me to trust her. But I don't know what to do, I'm literally panicking inside.

"That's my blood!" Malikai states with a smile. He tosses his cigarette on the ground, the smoke disappearing in the air.

“Like daddy, like daughter!" she says, with confidence.

She takes out the cigarette from a pocket and lights it with her cheap yellow lighter, inhaling the smoke, filling her lungs and tossing her head up.

"Did I pass daddy?" she says.

I look behind the boys, with a shocked expression. Am I dead, where is this coming from? It's like I don't even know her anymore. They widen their eyes at the statement.

"Aven Brooks, welcome to the family!” he says, walking forward and instead of shaking hands he hugs her tightly. "You passed the test, the deal is on princess!" he says, smiling.

Then Ruth comes in and gives her a tight hug. "Oh, I have missed you honey!"

She melts in her hug and a smile spreads across her face. I have no words at this scene. I feel like I'm going to faint.

"Looks like you four have seen a ghost." Kai states with a grin on his face. I can't even process the cops chasing us, and now this feels like my worst nightmare.

"Let me fill you in, Harry." he says, walking towards us. "When you four were up on the roof, I met my daughter in your little convertible. Well I filled her in with the missing information you probably forgot to tell her about. So we had a little family reunion before all this."

Marina walks towards me and says, "They both came and told me everything. I was upset and angry. I didn't know what to do or think about at the moment. My whole life was a lie. But then he told me that I have two options," she sucks in a deep breath.

"One was to leave you guys up there in the hands of the police, and let myself free. And second was to pass the test and get you guys out of there, permanently joining the family."

There is silence, we are all waiting for her to continue, "So I chose the second, I just can't let you guys die in there with the cops. I love you Harry! And I can't just let you die knowing the reason was me. So I wasted no time in talking and ran towards the roof to save you all." she says with tears in her eyes and a smile across her face.

I really don't know what to say. I just grab her chin and kiss her. This was my answer for her act of saving us all risking her own life in it. I truly love her. I whisper in her ear before leaning back, saying " I love you more than I planned!"

She begins again "So I also made a deal with the devil, I asked him if I pass the test then the deal you made to free yourself would have a final decision in your favour. And Kai has to agree to it." She smiles. "Now choose what you have to do, am I right daddy?"

"Absolutely, Harry, you have the final decision." he says proudly, looking at his daughter.

I have nothing to say, my mind was on cloud nine from all the information I received a few minutes ago. Should I be shocked? Should I be proud? I don't know what I should be doing right now.

"Thank you baby!" Is the only thing I'm able to say.



Present Day

September 20th, 2026


Harry Edwards


Daddy, daddy.”... I hear some voices shout for me, tugging at my hands. I immediately look down at the tiny figure, looking deep into my eyes with her beautiful ocean blue ones, waiting for me to respond.

"Daddy what happened? You have been quiet for 10 minutes." She says in concern in the childish tone of a 6 year old.

"Yeah, yeah I'm a fine muppet." I say.

Realising that it was just a memory of the past. Craziest thing Marina has ever done. She saved our lives, set us free.

"Daddy... you seem lost!" Daisy says.

"No baby! I just remembered how crazy your mother is." I say in a childish tone. Good old times they were, just the two of us roaming around the world. Just us having fun.


Author: Eshani Kashid

Editor: Ananya Chaure



Credits:


https://www.wattpad.com/story/138202651?utm_source=android&utm_medium=com.whatsapp&utm_content=share_reading&wp_page=reading_part_end&wp_uname=eshanikashid&wp_originator=mXdZuikxzQEoA41smVTpiDr8xPgLe%2Fw0qTl2kfuj7KmL4pijtTrMA4QB1w0wYirIk5hVGrNL5iNkMtDxRM4FxkLcTi2WqcJrhrpIGZSaJmXYRWrTCoB%2BSMtQ8E0hQnqS


This is duplicity by @happydays1d. Credit to the owner.

This is my improvised version of Chapter 88 of the same story.


And I have changed the names as well as the stolen item mentioned so as to prevent spoilers, so if you have read the story and are aware, then you can change it back accordingly.

Thank you!




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