If you haven't read Part One yet, click HERE
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Hot and sticky and absolutely everywhere. Danny tugged Pike away from the worst of the glass. Jumped up to grab a clean bar rag, then pressed it to the worst cut on Pike’s shoulder. He eyed another high on his cheek that probably needed pressure on it as well, but he was out of hands. And more than a little worried the rag was going to give Pike a nasty infection. Did that happen fast? Was there time to call anyone? Get Pike to the clinic before sepsis or blood poisoning set in?
Panting, face white where the blood wasn’t slicking his skin, Pike tipped his head back. “Seth is gonna be so pissed. I promised him I’d be careful.”
“And he believed you?” Danny clamped his lips shut at the hurt look Pike immediately hid behind a shuttered expression, then blew out a breath. “Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that. I was going to tell you it was a bad idea to stuff the bottles onto the shelf when you couldn’t see how little space there was.” He glanced over as the galley door opened and Keiran strode up to their side, bending over, another rag already in hand. His pulse pounded in his skull, some of the panic seeping in now that someone was here who could take charge. “I don’t know how many places he was cut. He needs a doctor. Jared—”
Keiran shook his head. “He’s in surgery. Avery went over to the clinic to let him know what’s going on the minute he gets out because his phone’s off. Wren’s meeting us in the club clinic. He knows enough to patch him up, at least for now.” Giving Pike a bracing smile, Keiran brought the younger man’s hand up to hold the rag against his cheek, then slid an arm behind Pike’s back and under his bent knees. “We’ll take good care of you, okay?”
Throat working, Pike nodded, then lowered his gaze. Tears glistened on his lashes, which he quickly wiped away with the sleeve of his oversized blue sweater, clearing his throat. “I’m good. Not like I haven’t gotten through worse. Fuck, Seth and Quint get cuts like this and they slap a few BandAids on and continue with their day. I’m Gucci.”
“Uh huh.” Keiran’s lips thinned as he lifted Pike, then carried him across the bar, his measured pace making it easy for Danny to keep up at a slow jog. “It hurts like hell, Galletita. And you’re scared because Seth and Quint aren’t here. There’s no need to put on a brave face, we’re family.”
Pike’s brow furrowed a bit before he closed his eyes and drew in a shaky breath. “That hasn’t meant anything good for a long time until...until Curtis.” His eyes shot open and he stared at Keiran as Danny held open the gym door for them. “Don’t tell him. He’s busy and this is stupid shit to bug him with.”
The last got him a raised brow from Keiran, though the other sub didn’t comment as he carried Pike to the clinic, where Wren already had the door open.
Inside, Rhodey was waiting, arms folded over his broad chest, his expression unreadable. He watched Keiran lay Pike on the exam table while Wren went to scrub his hands and begin collecting all the supplies he’d need.
The Dom was scary on a good day. This definitely wasn’t one. Danny hung back, not sure if he was needed anymore or if he’d annoy the big man by sticking around.
So far, the Dom hardly seemed to notice him.
“I promised your Dom I’d keep you in one piece.” Rhodey clucked his tongue as he pushed away from the wall. “If you wanted some pain to take the edge off, you could’ve just told me.”
Brushing his hand over Pike’s hair as Wren began cleaning the wounds, Keiran gave Rhodey a look. “That’s not funny. He’s had a rough morning. Don’t scare him.”
Pike made an irritated sound, speaking through gritted teeth as Wren poured a clear liquid over one of the deeper cuts on his shoulder. “I ain’t scared of him. And I am in one piece. All body parts accounted for.”
“That’s true, but I wouldn’t have minded if you’d lost part of your ear or a finger.” Wren’s comments were made in a distracted tone, his focus on following the procedures he’d been taught so intense he didn’t really seem to be paying attention to his own words. Or their potential impact. “I’ve done a lot of research on how to reattach small body parts. The chance to practice would come in handy.”
The edge of Rhodey’s lips quirked as Keiran groaned. He moved up behind his sub, squeezing his shoulders and whispering in his ear. “I don’t think I’m the one you have to worry about scaring him, sweetling.”
“You are impossible, sir.” Keiran leaned back into his Dom’s hold and glanced toward Danny. “Could you stay with him? I need to get cleaned up and finish up those pastries, unless…” He met Pike’s eyes. “Do you need me to stay?”
Bottom lip between his teeth, Pike quickly shook his head. His words were sharp when he spoke. “I said I’m Gucci.” He shrank a bit under Rhodey’s glare, blinking fast. “I’m sorry, I’m being a dick. This is just...I thought I was doing something useful. Curtis was gonna restock this morning, but he had to work fast to seal up some open spaces on the fifth floor before the storm rolls in. Everyone’s been so busy. And you’re still busy. It’s bad enough Wren’s gotta take care of me.” He turned his attention to Danny. “You don’t gotta stay either.”
Stuffing his hands in the pockets of his loose jeans, Danny looked from Pike to Keiran. He didn’t know Pike well, but he knew Keiran. The other sub wouldn’t leave if he had any doubt Pike would get the comfort he clearly needed—whether he’d admit it or not. Wren was great at a lot of things, but he didn’t always know how to be gentle in a way most people understood.
With all he’d been through, Pike deserved to feel secure and cared for. He should know he had friends here.
Family, like Keiran had said.
The kind who actually gave a damn what happened to him.
He gave Pike a small smile. “If you don’t mind the company, I’d like to stay. I don’t have anything to do until the club opens tonight and I don’t want to get in anyone’s way. I don’t have anything important to do like everyone else, so...I get it. Only...well, I know all the things that could go wrong, so no way would I try to help without supervision.”
“You could help me.” Wren looked up from where he was applying a skin adhesive to Pike’s shoulder. “I think most of these could do without stitches, but I want to bandage the worst ones. The faster I work, the less chance of infection, so you opening packages and handing me supplies would be useful. I know you don’t like seeing blood anymore than Jamie does, but you don’t have to look. You can’t cover your eyes with your hands, though. Or hide under anything. Until we’re done.” Warm understanding filled Wren’s soft brown eyes. “Then there’s plenty of places if you need to.”
For some reason, the way Wren accepted that hiding might be something Danny would need, the way neither Keiran or Rhodey even blinked at the suggestion, settled something inside him. Maybe it was the bit of adrenaline still coursing through his veins from Pike’s near fatal disaster, but the idea of seeing the bloody cuts didn’t bug him so much anymore.
Wren knew what he was doing. Pike was being taken care of.
One crisis averted.
“Yeah, I can give you a hand.” Danny grinned at the sigh of relief Keiran let out. The man loved Wren, he’d do anything for him, but his protective instincts seemed to have him torn between wanting to shield Wren from people, while also shielding those he cared for from Wren’s tendency to go into gruesome fascination mode.
Almost like the man lost the little bit of social filter he had the moment something caught his interest. Sometimes, it freaked Danny out. Others, he couldn’t help admire Wren. He was brilliant. His mind didn’t work like everyone else’s.
And there was nothing wrong with that.
The warm look of approval from Rhodey had Danny ducking his head. “That’s a good boy.” His tone took on a serious edge. “You come get me if there’s any complications.” He turned his attention to Wren. “You’re good, but know your limits.”
“Yes, sir.” Wren kept his focus on Pike, moving to another wound as Rhodey and Keiran left the clinic. He stopped when Pike hissed in a breath. “Danny, there’s still some glass in here and it’s going to be painful to get it all out. I need a syringe and the lidocaine. Scrub in first.”
Following Wren’s directions, leaning on his confidence in everything he was doing, took away the fear of what could go wrong. Instead of his mind latching onto the possibilities, Danny just trusted Wren. It was easy. Almost soothing.
Before he knew it, Pike was all fixed and resting and Wren was nudging Danny toward the sink.
It wasn’t until he reached it and had a second to wonder why he needed to wash up again that he noticed the blood on his gloves. Saw the splatters of it on his cheeks in the mirror above the sink. A shudder ran down his spine and he jerked back. Air came in short little bursts. He twisted at a grip on his arm.
Get away. I need to get away before...before...
“Danny?” Wren turned him, stroking a hand over Danny’s hair, searching his eyes as he spoke like he might to a spooked dog. “You’re here with me and you’re safe, you know that, right? Nothing bad will happen to you. I know that look.” He kept petting Danny’s hair. “Keiran gets it sometimes. I probably do too, but I don’t remember. Sometimes, I think I’m lucky because of it. Not remembering everything? You remember and that’s normal, but you need to be here with me.”
“I’m here.” Danny closed his eyes, letting Wren’s touch soothe him. A lot of the time he managed not to make it obvious when he had little freak outs. He’d push them aside and smile the right way and it would be like it always was before he’d come to The Asylum.
No one noticed except his Doms. Sometimes Jared or Lawson, when they weren’t busy. He could fade into the background and not take up the spotlight, because it didn’t belong to him.
“Good puppy.” Wren’s smile was a bit shy, like he wasn’t sure how Danny would react to being called that. He did it sometimes, almost automatically, but this was the first time he seemed fully aware the praise might not be welcome.
Inching closer, Danny rubbed his cheek against Wren’s hand with a playful, “Woof.”
Wren let out a quiet laugh. “Much better. You made a really good nurse. I’m sure Pike will thank you.” He looked back at the exam table, where Pike was groaning softly in his sleep. “When he wakes up. I don’t think we should let him sleep there, though. It’s sterile, but since he’s all bandaged up he’d be fine somewhere more comfortable. He’s not big, but I can’t carry him.” He gave Danny an assessing look. “Neither can you.”
“I’ve got him, thank you, Wren.” Stepping forward from where he must have slipped in silently during their exchange, Lawson approached the bed. Concern darkened his green eyes as he looked Pike over. “I’m sure you did well, my boy, but I hope you’ll understand if I ask Jared to check on him when he gets back.”
“Of course, sir.” Wren wet a cloth, speaking matter-of-factly as he wrung it out, then gently wiped off Danny’s face. “He would in any case. I wouldn’t have done this without him, but most of the cuts were small and I’ve done stitches on Curtis. He said I could and he won’t tell, so Jared won’t lose his medical license.” He glanced over. “I did stitches on you, too. But that was different. And it was my choice. I didn’t want you to die and Jared was telling me…” His voice trailed off as he shook his head. “No, he wasn’t really there. I know that.”
Lawson’s smile was soft with understanding. “He was there in the way you needed him to be. And he has faith in you. As do I.” He lifted Pike carefully into his arms without waking him. “Besides, you get plenty of practice around here. I’m grateful you could care for Pike. He hasn’t had much of that in his life. Maybe he’ll finally begin to believe he can have it here.”
“He will.” Wren set down the rag on the edge of the sink and went to get the door for Lawson. “He’s not as bad as he thinks he is. That probably scares him a bit, because he was supposed to be bad to be accepted. Curtis talks to him about it a lot which is good, he listens to his cousin. I don’t think me talking to him would help as much, but I could tell him he’s only killed two people. And he had good reasons. Avery and Rhodey have killed more—so have you.” His brow furrowed as he glanced up at Lawson. “Will knowing that make a difference?”
Chuckling, Lawson shook his head. “Let’s avoid that topic. Spending time with him will make enough of a difference. He needs to feel welcome here. Given a chance to learn and adapt. He could also use some limits while Seth and Quint are gone, but the core Doms will handle that. You did well, Wren.” He nodded to Danny. “As did you. Keiran told me how quickly you reacted. It might not have been life threatening, but with all that glass there was a chance of him getting hurt worse if you hadn’t managed to move him out of harm’s way.”
Cheeks heated, Danny shoved his hands in his pockets and shrugged. “It’s what anyone would’ve done, sir. I’m glad I was there.”
Lawson inclined his head. “So am I.”
After the Dom left, Danny helped Wren clean up the clinic, then went with him up to the fourth floor to take a shower and borrow some clothes to change into so the blood could be cleaned off his. Not having Shea’s hoodie was like losing his only safety net, and Wren’s clothes, even though they fit pretty well, felt awkward. Like Danny was playing dress-up.
And not the fun kind he played with Jacks.
They went back down to the bar, Danny stumbling to a halt as Reed tossed him a massive bundle of material from where he was sitting on the bartop. Blinking, Danny lifted it in front of him.
A big black hoodie, bigger than even Shea’s.
He shot Reed a questioning look.
“It’s Rhodey’s.” Reed spoke around the lollipop stuck in the side of his mouth, looking up from the comic book he had open on his bright pink flannel pajama clad legs. “He said you might need it.”
“Thank you.” Danny tugged on the hoodie, which absolutely buried him, but he was okay with that. It was like carrying around something he could disappear into at a moment’s notice. He slid onto a stool, tugging the sleeves over his hands as Wren went behind the bar to put on some tea.
All the glass had been cleaned up. Wren gave the area an assessing once over as the water boiled, then nodded with a smile of satisfaction before lifting his gaze to Reed. “You did a good job.”
“I have plenty of experience.” Reed winked, then lifted his hands so Wren could see them, wiggling his fingers. “And no damage. Are you proud of me?”
Wren moved closer, taking hold of Reed’s wrist and inspecting his palms. He let him go almost immediately. “Why are you sticky?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know.” Reed burst out laughing as Wren’s brow creased and he picked up some hand sanitizer from behind the bar. “Relax. I had some of Keiran’s cinnamon rolls and got icing everywhere. Rhodey smacked my ass for asking if he wanted to lick it off when he said I was making a mess.”
Lips parted, Danny stared at Reed. “You asked Rhodey that?”
“No. Keiran.” Reed snorted. “I value my life.”
Lifting his brow, Wren shook his head before going back to making the tea. “You made that comment to Keiran in front of Rhodey. Your self-preservation needs work.”
The tea Wren served Danny had a subtle spiciness that warmed him all the way through. Closing his eyes, he enjoyed the music playing quietly in the bar, along with the voices of the other subs as they discussed the schedule and changes around The Asylum.
In moments like this, the idea of moving here wasn’t so overwhelming. He could imagine it feeling like home.
With Jacks and Shea here. And all their things.
But...he’d miss the condo.
“Reed, could you come help me with these loaves? You did a great job with the last batch and we’re expecting a lot of orders tonight with your fight against Sin.” Keiran hesitated, his tone going from strained to worried. “Speaking of—”
“Nope. We’re not discussing it.” Reed’s jaw clenched. “This time isn’t for some rough play. I ain’t even betting the usual. We just got a score to settle.”
Keiran sighed, holding the galley door open as Reed approached. “That’s what I’m worried about, Dulzura. You need to let Ezran and Garet—”
Holding one hand up, Reed frowned, cocking his head like he was listening to something.
Reed frowned at Keiran as he went over to the front door, opening it a crack.
What had been a barely audible low hum of voices became a roar. The flashes, the shouted questions, made Danny’s stomach drop.
Reporters. Were they here because of the album? Why wouldn’t they go to the Center like they usually did? Jamie had done a good job at making sure they understood they wouldn’t get a word out of either him or Danny if they didn’t respect their boundaries.
The questions being shouted weren’t about him and Jamie, though.
“How could you do that to your little sister?”
“Will you address the allegations, Reed? Reed! This is your chance to set the story straight!”
“What kind of monster would let a little girl die?”
The door clicked firmly into place as Keiran pushed it, while Wren drew Reed away. Back against the door, regret shadowed Keiran’s face. “I’m sorry. I didn’t want you finding out like that.”
Looking stunned, Reed let Wren guide him to a stool. That he sat there, rather than climbing up on the bar, made it feel like they’d entered some kind of Twilight Zone. Reed rubbed his hands over his face, speaking from behind them. “Finding out what, Keiran? What’s going on with my sister?”
Reed has a sister?
“Rhodey got wind that something was up and he’s been looking into it. He didn’t want to tell you anything until he knew for sure your father wasn’t pulling some kind of stunt for an easy paycheck from the media, like he did last time.” Keiran rubbed Reed’s arms as he spoke, his voice quiet. “She just went on the waiting list for a liver transplant. A reporter decided to make a story of it because your name’s connected to Jamie’s often enough to catch people’s interest. When your father was asked if you’d volunteered to help your sister...he claimed you refused.”
Reed lowered his hands, tears glistening on his cheeks. “He never asked me. He never even tried to get in contact with me.”
“I know.” Keiran closed the distance between them, pulling Reed into his arms. “He’s a cruel man and this is his way to get some attention—probably some money, too. It’s sick and I wish…” Shaking his head, Keiran inhaled slowly. “We’ll get rid of them. Find out what your sister needs without you ever having to see that man. Unless you want to.”
“I’ll do it.” Reed nodded, as though to himself, then eased gently out of Keiran’s embrace. “If I’m a match, I’ll be a donor. Just because I didn’t get to know my brothers before they died, and I might never get to know her...she’s still my little sister. If I can save her, I will. And I’ll make sure those fuckers don’t have her believing otherwise.”
Before Reed could stand, Danny slid off his own stool and grabbed the other man’s wrist. “Let me do it. You wouldn’t even be in this position if the media wasn’t trying to get some kind of story from me and Jamie. If I go out there, I can kill the rumors and...and give them something else.”
Reed’s eyes went wide. “Danny, you hate this shit. I can handle it.”
“But you shouldn’t have to.” Danny blew out a breath, then squared his shoulders. “I was trained for this most of my life. Even if I’m not as good as Jamie and Trevor, I can hold my own when I have to.” The idea of facing a horde of rabid tabloid journalists made his stomach turn, but picturing Reed in front of them, so soon after learning what he had about his father and his sister? No. Hell no.
He started for the door. A heavy hand settled on his shoulder. Glancing up, he blinked as Rhodey moved to his side.
“I’ll be right there with you. When you’re ready to end it, just give me a signal.” Rhodey reached over to lift Danny’s hood. “This is your show, my boy. Don’t let them forget it.”
It’s never been mine. I’ve always played the supporting role. I never took the lead.
But he had to this time. To protect Reed, Danny had to control the narrative.
How, though? What can I give them to steer the focus away from him?
Scandals always sold well. They’d eat that right up.
Except...Danny had no idea how to create one.
You can always walk out there naked.
That wouldn’t cut it. Only some of the tabloids could print nudes and people would get bored of censored pics way too fast. He needed to buy Reed some time and space from this whole mess. If Jacks and Shea were here, he could just make out with both of them and give a few juicy details that the press would have a field day with and be demanding exclusive interviews about their relationship for weeks.
If Jacks was here, he’d probably come up with an even better idea.
Shea would probably go out there and punch someone.
Neither of them are here. This is all on you.
Blood running cold, Danny stepped past the front door. The shouted questions started all over, none of them clear. He stared into the sea of faces. Tension froze him in place and he reached back blindly to grab Rhodey’s hand, needing some of the Dom's strength to keep moving forward.
The frenzy of flashing lights gave him an idea.
A terrible one.
But it’s all I’ve got.
Click Here for PART THREE
I hope you've enjoyed part two and your weekend has been awesome! Let me know what you think in the comments!
Also, I'm thinking of doing this every weekend. Would that work for you or would that be too long of a wait?
Take care of you and stay tuned for the next part! Things are about to, as Danny would put it, get even more tragic! (wonderfully so! lol)
Bianca Sommerland is the USA Today Bestselling author of The Dartmouth Cobras series. Tibby Armstrong is the author of the acclaimed Hollywood series. Together they've created the breathtaking and brutal world of The Asylum Fight Club. A place where men live and love by their fists, and ropes are for more than just the ring.