Home > Chaos at Prescott High (The Havoc Boys #2)

Chaos at Prescott High (The Havoc Boys #2)
Author: C.M. Stunich

Two months earlier …

Victor Channing

“We can’t do this to her,” Aaron says, looking me dead in the face. I try to keep the ugly smile off my lips. He doesn’t stand up to me often; he must really love Bernadette.

I almost scoff but manage to keep the emotion to myself.

Of course he loves Bernadette.

We all do.

But none of them more than me.

“Do this to her?” Oscar echoes, looking askance at Aaron. He’s sitting in the front row of the school theater, iPad in hand, as shrewd and calculating as always. More often than not, I let him come up with Havoc’s price. He understands numbers and risk in ways I never will. I’d trust him with my life.

Just … not today.

Things are going to be a little different today.

“You know what I mean,” Aaron says, pushing up off the prop he’s leaning against to come stand near the edge of the stage. I look up at him, but even though he’s a good six feet above me, I’m not intimidated. I’m not intimidated by anything anymore. Shit, I haven’t felt real fear since I was five years old. “We owe Bern in a way we don’t owe anyone else.”

“Let’s just give her something easy, smack her ass a bit, and send her on her way,” Hael says, taking a black leather devil mask from Callum’s fingers and slipping it over his face. “Shit, I’d pay to kick Principal Vaughn’s ass for her.”

I slide my fingers into the pockets of my jeans and lean back against the stage, pretending to contemplate their words. I’ll admit, when Bernadette stormed up to me in the hall on the first day of school, opening up those poison-painted lips to call Havoc, I was surprised. Then pleased. Then desperately, unbelievably sad.

Because if she’s calling Havoc, then it means she has nothing to lose. It means the butterfly I tried to set free no longer has wings. I can keep her, but she’ll never fly again. Instead, if she wants to rule in this world, she’s going to have to do it crawling on her belly like a snake.

A gruff laugh escapes me as I light up a cigarette and take a long drag, the cherry crackling in the quiet theater.

I know all about snakes. I’m one myself, a venomous motherfucker who knows where and when to strike to inflict the most damage. That’s what I specialize in now, inflicting damage, dispensing nightmares.

Victor, you lonely, desperate asshole, I think, as Oscar makes a sound of disgust.

“She came to us,” he says, but I know he’s just like the rest of them. He doesn’t want her around, not the way I do. Nobody wants her around the way I do. “We have to at least give her a presentable price or our reputation is shattered.”

“Hasn’t she paid more than her fair share for our bullshit?” Cal asks, his broken voice like a shattered star. There used to be light there, but now … ain’t nothing but a black hole. I frown and lift my head up. Aaron is still staring at me, always fucking staring at me. He blames me for taking his girl away. If you ask me, he should’ve fought harder if he wanted her so bad. “Ask her to kick Kali Rose-Kennedy’s ass for us.” He flashes a dark grin before slipping a monster mask over his face. Not much difference between the mask and the man, not for any of us.

We are all monsters.

And you’re about to make Bernadette one, too, aren’t you, Victor?

“We need to make use of her,” Oscar muses, like he’s actually considering that bullshit price. “But I’d prefer it if she were as far away from us as possible. Let’s have her move, say, fifty thousand in product. As pretty as she is, it shouldn’t be hard to do by the end of the year.”

This time, when I laugh, the sound is loud and raucous, echoing around the dark space of the Prescott High School theater. Really? My beautiful Bernadette’s time wasted selling weed? Not while I’m still breathing; my girl has potential.

“No, I don’t think so,” I say, studying my cigarette. I can feel Aaron’s eyes narrow on me, even before I turn around. He knows how selfish I am, how much I want the girl that was supposed to be his. “If Bernadette wants Havoc’s help, she’ll have to become one of us.”

“What?!” Aaron roars as I turn my head slowly to look at him, a wicked smile blooming across my face. He looks at me like he wants to kill me. Maybe he does, I don’t know, but this is Havoc. Blood in, blood out. Who knows what might happen?

“I want Bernadette Blackbird to be …” I almost say my girl, but I don’t. That’s not a fair price for anyone. Everything we do, it has to be for Havoc, for the benefit of Havoc. “Our girl. A Havoc girl.” I stab my cigarette out in the built-in ashtray on one of the theater chairs. That’s how old this place is; the chairs haven’t been replaced since the early nineties. “I want her to be one of us.”

“You’ve lost your fucking mind,” Aaron snarls at me, visibly shaken. He runs his fingers through his chestnut hair and looks down at me with violence brimming in his gaze. “You can’t wish that on her.” He slaps the back of one hand into the palm of the other for emphasis. “You can’t want that for her.”

I just shake my head, turning and putting my palms on the edge of the stage. Without much effort, I haul my body up and over the side, rising to my feet in front of the kid I used to protect on the playground. He’s come a long way since then, but he’ll always be little Aaron fucking Fadler to me.

“But I can. And I do.” I smile. It’s a patronizing smile, I’ll admit, but I can’t help it. When it comes to Bernadette Blackbird, I’ve never been very rational. Once, in the tenth grade, when I was pretending to hate her, and lying with every breath I took, Sheldon Ernst murmured something about how sweet her cunt must taste.

I beat him until he couldn’t stand.

Because I’m jealous.

And I’m in love.

I’ve always been in love with that girl.

Now, without any guilt or regret, she can be mine.

I intend to see that through.

“Don’t do this, Victor,” Aaron pleads, gritting his teeth, his hands curling into fists at his sides. I just keep smiling at him. If he wants Bernadette, he’s going to have to fight harder than that. In a surprising move, he falls to his knees and puts his hands together in a prayerlike position. The move pleases me far more than it should. I must be wicked. “Please. Don’t bring her into this mess. Our lives will never be normal, and that’s all she’s ever wanted.”

I stare down at him. Maybe he thinks I’m being cold or apathetic; I’m anything but. On the inside, that careful numbness I’ve tended and stoked for years is starting to disintegrate. I feel alive in a way I haven’t since I locked that girl in my closet.

Does she know I used to press my palms against the outside of that door, put my ear to the wood and close my eyes, just to hear the sound of her? When she cried, I broke. When she screamed, I shattered.

“You don’t really want to rope Bernadette into all of this?” Callum asks, but I don’t turn around to look at him. Instead, I keep my focus on Aaron. Despite his outward appearance, he’s the one I need to watch, the one I need to worry about.

Bernadette loved him, probably still loves him. This’ll destroy them both, I bet.

“Come on, boss, that’s taking it a little far, don’t you think?” Hael adds, but I don’t look at him either. He always acts on impulse, and even if he can be brutal in a fight, he’s too soft on women. Bernadette, in particular.

I crouch down in front of Aaron, putting us on eye level with one another.

“I think that Bernadette has had her chance.” Aaron’s mouth opens and closes in response to my statement, but he doesn’t actually say anything. Maybe it’s my eyes? Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I have no goddamn clue who the man is that’s looking back at me. My brown eyes seem black, like a reflection of my heart. “We did our best, but you know what they say: if you love something, let it go, and if it comes back, it’s yours forever.”

“That’s such bullshit,” Aaron grinds out, on the verge of angry tears. He wants to kick my ass right now, more than anything. Last night, when I was gripping my cock in my hand and dreaming of Bernadette’s narrowed green eyes and pursed lips, I wanted to kick my own ass.

She’s going to bleed for this; she’s going to hurt.

Ultimately, though, she’ll be right where she belongs.

“I strongly advise against this,” Oscar says, now standing at the bottom of the stage, inked fingers tight around the edges of the iPad, like if he squeezes it hard enough, that’ll erase all the feelings he keeps trapped inside. “The last thing we need in Havoc is a slice of trouble with tits.”

I rest my elbows on my knees as Aaron drops his hands to his lap. He’s shaking all over, murder in his eyes. He’ll never forgive me for this, but who cares? He hasn’t forgiven me for asking him to give up Bernadette in tenth grade. What’s so different now? He’ll never truly have her again, not to himself.

“We will have Bernadette,” I say, and I only use the word we because these boys are my family. My gang, if you will. We were here first, but our prologue was Bernadette. Apparently, she’s desperate enough to become our epilogue, too. Just … hopefully not our epitaph. “I will have Bernadette,” I emphasize, staring into Aaron’s eyes.

On the outside, I’m as calm as I always am. On the inside, I motherfucking burn.

Bernadette, Bernadette, Bernadette.

Her name repeats in my head like it’s on a loop, and my cock stiffens inside my jeans. I squeeze my hands into fists, and Aaron notices.

“You’ve never been able to accept that she really did love me,” he growls, and my smile turns into a maniacal smirk. I’m probably showing far too much teeth.

“I’m a jealous, selfish man, Aaron Fadler. And you no longer have the protection of the innocent. Your hands are just as covered in blood; your soul is just as dark.” I shrug my shoulders and rise to my feet before turning to Oscar. “Write it down.” I nod my chin at the screen of his iPad, but he doesn’t move to obey, not right away.

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