Content warning: Strong language
Dom burst through the back door of Duke’s and out into the dark alley.
The door crashed behind him but he didn’t stop. What good his half-drunk brain thought running away would do wasn’t clear, but he did it anyway. Arms pumping furiously at his sides, he ran like his life depended on it.
It was no use. With a primal roar, Jeremy launched himself at Dom, tackling him to the ground. Given how small and lean Jeremy was, Dom would have been impressed had he not been the one slammed into the gravel and dirt.
There was a struggle; a mess of confusion and fists. In the end the booze worked against Dom’s coordination. He found himself staring through bleary vision up at his assailant.
“Why did you lie to me?” Jeremy demanded, one fist clutching Dom’s collar, the other cocked and ready.
Dom winced and sputtered, trying to right himself without doing anything to encourage a beating.
“Answer me!” Jeremy hauled Dom onto his knees with a force that did not fit his size. “This is fucking important!”
“What do you want with her?” Dom shouted back, wrestling his way to his feet. His bearings were coming back to him. He focused on the forest just beyond the next row of buildings, calling for support in case things came to that.
Trina and Matti scrambled out into the alley, clamouring through the back door like animals on the hunt.
“Hey!” Trina bellowed, storming over to where Jeremy stood blocking Dom’s path. Matti scrambled in her wake. “What’s going on? Let him go!”
To Dom’s surprise, Jeremy released his grip, letting him go without averting his intense glare. Dom rolled his shoulders and stood up straight, returning the stare with one of his own.
“You haven’t answered me,” he growled. “What do you want with Em?”
There was a flicker of uncertainty in Jeremy’s eyes and he licked his lips before answering. “We need her help. Why did you lie about knowing her?”
Trina and Matti, flanking the stranger on either side, flashed Dom looks that mirrored his own skepticism.
“Because you’re not the first person to come sniffing around here looking for her.” Dom took a step forward into Jeremy’s personal space. Jeremy didn’t flinch at the display of dominance. “And we’re not about to sell out a friend.”
With a sharp inhale, Jeremy’s demeanour changed. No longer on the offensive, his shoulders slumped and his expression fell.
“So the Loyals have already been here,” he muttered, more to himself than to the others.
With a huff, Trina stepped up. She flexed her fingers, the tips calloused from scaling mountainsides, before balling them into fists.
“Who is she to you, anyway?” Being petite in both frame and height didn’t stop Trina from holding her own in an altercation. She was a swing-first kind of girl and it was evident just by looking at her.
Jeremy eyed her fists before giving both Dom and Matti withering looks.
“Listen,” his voice was calmer now. “I’m not trying to pick a fight-”
“Could’ve fooled me,” Trina snarked.
“We’re not looking to hurt her,” Jeremy pressed on, ignoring the interruption. “But I mean it; we need her help. Do you know where to find her?”
The three friends shared another look.
“No,” Dom answered, his voice impassive.
“Why does it have to be her?” Matti asked, less confrontational than the others. “Can’t someone else help you?”
Jeremy rolled his eyes but corrected himself when he caught Dom glowering in his direction.
“No,” Jeremy answered through clenched teeth. “If she’s who I think she is, it has to be her.”
“And who exactly do you think she is?”
Closing his eyes, Jeremy let out a long, slow exhale. He seemed to be weighing his options between being honest and possibly getting somewhere or keeping what was clearly an uncomfortable truth to himself.
“She looks different, but I’m sure it’s her.”
His next words sent a shock through the trio.
“She’s the love of my life.”