We walked closer to the patio and I saw a bunch of people standing around laughing and having a good time. Griffin stepped in front of me and lead the way as a good bodyguard. But I stopped short when I heard one particular laugh in particular.
Dan was smiling and flirting with Alex. It wasn’t that he was flirting that bugged me it was the way he stood. I felt my heart racing with Dan leaning over Alex like he was ready to push him to the floor. He’d stood like that over me dozens of times. It wasn’t attraction or even my normal reaction to Alex’s presence. It was almost fear.
Dan wasn’t a bad boyfriend. Just abusive in a way I didn’t recall even when I broke up with him. I did that because I trusted those closest to me. They saw what I didn’t and I felt it now. Saw it in my own memories. The way he pushed and pulled at me – manipulated me.
I stood frozen in the sand. Dan saw me first and pushed past Griffin despite the bodyguards much larger size. He put his arm around my shoulder and I recoiled from his touch and moved quickly to Alex. Alex was leaning against the patio wall and watching everything. Alex shifted to lean with his back against the patio when I arrived a satisfied smirk on his face as I leaned into him and pressed a soft kiss to his neck. It was sweet but I’d done it to bury myself in his scent.
My body was still under panic and Griffin stood behind me, his shoulder would be pressed into the middle of my back if I stood up. Which I didn’t.
Dan chuckled, “I see he’s still needy.”
“I think you need to leave.” Griffin said.
“Who needs to leave?” Ant said as he walked out the double doors from the house on to the patio. He looked around and his eyes rested on Dan. I stole a glance at my ex and saw the fear in his eyes. There was nothing vampiric about the speed in which Ant was in front of Dan. “I thought I told you never to come near him again.”
Ant’s finger was wielded in Dan’s face and the blond man’s face was drained of all blood. “I was only visiting with him and his _husband_.”
“That” Ant turned towards me, “is not the emotional state of just visiting. Now get the fuck out of here before I call the cops.”
Ant wouldn’t call the cops, he’d beat the shit out of him, but maybe he was being a good little boy.
Ryan, Jae and Seraph were there with Ant, and Griffin stayed where he was protecting me, while the others formed a line on the porch.
Dan laughed, “He’s so fucking weak. Needs to stand behind everyone else.”
Dan knew nothing. He was human and only human.
Ant growled, “Leave now.”
Dan stood his ground and looked like he wanted to fight but he backed down moments later. “Come on Anne Marie, we aren’t wanted here.”
Anne Marie mouthed, ‘sorry’, as she left with her friend, or maybe it was cousin. Didn’t matter I didn’t care as I relaxed into Alex but Alex was still stiff and I was afraid of the impending fight. Jealousy was a two edged sword.
Once Dan was out of sight Griffin moved. “So I’m protecting him from assassins and exes. Great!”
Ant turned around and glared at Griffin but he saw me still in the middle of the panic attack. He walked past Griffin and grabbed my arm. “Well enough to throw a veil for me?”
I gave him a small nod. “Why?”
“You need to work out that issue.” Ant said then looked at Alex. It was neutral and said nothing, “Can I steal him?”
Alex lifted his hands from my hips where he’d placed them during the whole thing. But it hadn’t been a loving gesture, it hadn’t even been possessive. Alex was mad.
I looked at him and frowned. Alex smirked, “Go. Let Ant beat the shit out of you. That’s what you want.” He stepped around me and went into the house closing the double doors behind him.
I stared after him and Ant pulled me towards the sand but I didn’t budge as I looked on the closed doors. “I’ll be out in a minute.” I said.
Ant let go of my shoulder. “I’ll get it set up.”
I opened a single door and shut it behind me, Alex was in the fridge getting some ice for the whiskey he had in his hand. “I didn’t invite him here.”
Alex turned to look at me, glass full of ice and he didn’t hesitate to pour the brown liquid over it before he took a long draw of it and poured again to top it off. “Why does every fucking person from your past manipulate you so fucking easy?”
“You know why.” I said. My gaze fell to the floor. It was the same fight. The same problem. The same thing we were always going to get into. I was submissive to my partners and Alex hated it.
“You are so much stronger than you let on and you let assholes like that run over you.” Alex growled, “I don’t get it. You can be king of the fucking City and yet dip shits like that run over you like its nothing.”
I sighed, “You do the same thing.” I said and turned around and opened the door to the patio and closed it softly behind me. Alex relied on the submission just as much as everyone else. He didn’t like it then, but he still did all those things. And then some because Alex could actually control my actions. And I relied on it sometimes.
Ant was drawing a circle in the sand and threw up a veil six feet to the outside. People would see what they wanted to see in the veil even just in case Ant and I got too out of control control. It was a test of our skill to act human. And it was difficult to maintain once we got started.
Ryan stood there waiting. He frowned at me and Ant wasn’t doing much better. “Alex is pissed.” I said matter of factly.
“We know.” They said.
“It’s all pat of the gig.” Ant said.
Ryan smiled, “Come on. Let’s do this.”
We started circling each other and soon it was two against one. Ant and Ryan worked well together as a team. They had been one for more years than anyone else here combined. Their shared connection made their teamwork all the more powerful and I found myself on my back in the sand more often than not.
But we went round after round and I held my own against both of them just as often. Ant went for a right and Ryan went low to knock me off my feet, but I dodged both in a feat of extraordinary agility. It wasn’t a usual move that I could perform at that speed.
But short of the seconds of hesitation it was something that we’d discuss later. The onslaught came again. And again, and I was moving better than I ever had. It was like something else had taken over.
Even as I found my footing, Ant was losing his. We were both getting used to our new situations. While he and Ryan worked as a team, Alex was inside drinking, making Ant work that much harder. I could see sweat beads forming on his brow from the effort.
We moved and danced and sparred. It was glorious and I felt better than I had since we’d gotten to the beach.
Griffin watched from outside the circle and stared in awe. He saw me looking his direction while we circled again catching our breaths – Ryan and I anyway.
Griffin smirked, “How’s he against three?”
Ant laughed, “Join us and find out.” He looked to me and I gave a simple nod.
Griffin was there and he didn’t work as well with Ant and Ryan. But soon there was three sets of hands and feet aimed at my body. I moved and dodged and hit my way until Griffin was dead to rights on his back. Ant and Ryan laughed as I offered Griffin a hand up. “Okay. Why do you need a body guard again?”
I shrugged, “Ask them.” I said and headed for the house. I didn’t expect to find Alex anywhere.