Empty Bargains [Jason McCann]

"I have nothing else to offer you," Markus barked through gritted teeth, his fists clenched hard at his sides. Jason shook his head, chuckling. "I only want one thing, and it's in this room," he sneered. My brother took a step closer to me, trying to push me toward the door. Jason's eyes flashed over and caught mine, a glint in his eye while a shiver went down my spine. "What do you want?" Markus asked, impatient. Jason's head nodded in my direction. I froze and the room fell deafeningly silent. "I want her."

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16. ~9.27~

    “Tell me something I don’t know,” I spoke absently to Jason, tracing small patterns on his bare chest.

 

    “There’s a lot you don’t know,” he huffed, catching my fingers as goosebumps raised on his body.

 

    I smiled lightly.  “You’d think a week of making out with me would make you feel obligated to tell me a few things about yourself.”

 

    “Maybe.”

 

    We were lying on his bed, the sheets tugged up around our waists as one of my legs was resting around Jason’s hips.  My head rested on a pillow facing him and he was on his back, a muscled arm slung behind my neck.  A week since this whole thing had started, and I could say with reluctancy that my guilt level had died down.  In fact, there was a span of three days where Tyler hadn’t even crossed my mind.  All I’d really thought about was Jason.  It went against everything I’d ever been told growing up, but in recent days I had begun to question why.

 

    “Twenty questions?” I suggested, looking at him in my peripheral.

 

    His gaze turned to meet mine.  “What?”

 

    I rolled my eyes.  “You know…  I ask you twenty questions, you ask me twenty.  Truthful answers are required.”  His forehead pulled together.  I reached up to rub the creases with my pointer finger, grinning when he batted my touch away.  

 

    “Come on,” I said.  “Just one round.  I don’t know much more than what Sam has told me about you.”

 

    An edgy look from him told me I’d been close to saying the wrong thing.  Seeing as Jason was a sensitive subject for my brother, it would only make sense for it to be the same case for him.  But that didn’t stop me from wanting to know about Jason.  My intentions weren’t completely innocent, seeing as I wanted to know where my gun and phone were, along with what was going on outside the four walls of Jason’s place.  When I was still at Markus’s house, I got a constant feed of news from the guys, whereas here the guys — Blondie and Xander, to be specific — hardly talked around me without throwing a glare my way.

 

    Jason looked up at the ceiling, trying to remain unreadable by me.  He succeeded, leaving me clueless until he looked down a good ten seconds later.

 

    “I’ll give you five,” he said.

 

    I tried not to show my disappointment.  Five questions definitely weren’t enough to warm up to the ones I wanted to ask, and I couldn’t full out ask Jason where he was hiding my stuff.  I wasn’t going to pretend to think he trusted me.  Truthfully, the word ‘trust’ probably wasn’t even remotely in the vocabulary we used toward each other.  Would I ever trust Jason?  I didn’t know.  I didn’t want to think far enough down the road to the day I might trust Jason McCann, infamous to pretty much everyone in the whole state of California.

 

    “What’s your favorite color?” I asked — better to act harmless than to let him know I wanted to pry into his life.

 

    Jason snorted.  “You’re wasting a question on that?”

 

    I sat up and looked him in the eye.  “It’s so not a waste.  What if you died today and I’m haunted by the ever-present thought that I never knew your favorite color?”

 

    He rolled his eyes and rubbed a hand over his jaw, a shadow of stubble covering his face.  We’d stayed in bed most of the day, and I could only guess at the time.  It might have been three, or five, or maybe six.  The only time we’d gotten up was for a late breakfast, but even then that hadn’t lasted long.  Lately, things had become a lot more physical; a lot less talking, as if we really ever had before.  I’d decided to play the question game not only to figure a few things out, but also to at least know a bit about Jason.

 

    He sighed.  “Blue, I guess.”

 

    “You’re so boring,” I tsked.  “What kind of blue?  There’s more than just one shade.”

 

    Jason considered this for another moment.  “Like the sky.  And that’s question two.”

 

    “Dammit,” I laughed, thumping his leg.  He returned my smile and I sat back.  “Tell me your favorite food, then.”

 

    “I like Mexican food,” he replied without hesitation.

 

    “Favorite time of day?”

 

    “Night.  You have one question left.”

 

    I nodded.  I knew I should finish with another favorite-based question.  If I played the innocence right, I could probably get a few answers out of Jason.  My best bet would be that for now, I shouldn’t press my luck.

 

    “You know what?” I said.  “I’m going to save my last question for a more important moment.”

 

    Jason smiled lightly.  “Okay.  Do I get to ask you questions now?”

 

    I hummed for a second, considering it.  “You get one,” I told him.  Smiling at his playfully angry expression, I leaned in and placed a long kiss against his lips.  I was hit for probably the hundredth time in a week with the undeniable rush I felt while with Jason.  It was incredibly addicting.

 

    I drew back and breathed in deeply.  All at once, I climbed over Jason and slid off the bed.  I tugged my sweatshirt down and padded toward the bathroom, where I’d been leaving most of my clean clothes.

 

    “Where are you going?” Jason called after me.

 

    “I can’t stay in bed all day,” I grinned, not looking back at him.

 

    I closed the bathroom door and flipped on the shower.  As I peeled off my clothes, I tried to clear my mind of all thoughts.  It always seemed to be while taking a bath or shower that I thought about things outside of this house — more specifically, Sam and Tyler; Emmett, even, with his leg.  As I stepped into the shower I tried to flush from my mind the images of him blanching as blood pooled around him on the kitchen floor, to little avail.

 

    I cursed myself for getting stuck here, cursed myself for playing around in my own little world when I didn’t know what was going on with the people that mattered most to me.  Granted, I had no way to know, but that was no excuse to completely discard my brother and my boyfriend.

 

    Cringing, I pressed a hand against the shower wall to hold myself up.  I’d been trying to pretend like he didn’t exist this past week, and was ashamed to say I’d succeeded.  Jason just made it so easy — easy to ignore everything Sam had told me about him, and everything Tyler and I had gone through…

 

    I bit down hard on the inside of my cheek to snap myself out of my thoughts.  They — my rational thoughts, that is — had become a trap from me, dragging me into a spell of wallowing in self pity and trying to pull me away from what I was finding in Jason.  Contrary to what Sam had told me, this past week — these past few weeks, really — had shown that Jason wasn’t who he was made out to be.  He was a different person on the street than he was in here, just like we all had to be.  My brother just hadn’t seen this side of him because he and Jason had always been butting heads.

 

    I hurried and finished showering, twisting my wet hair into a bun and throwing on a pair of leggings and a long shirt from the pile Jason had brought me.  After peeking my head into the room, I noticed Jason wasn’t there and stepped out into the hall.  I walked down the stairs, eyeing the room I was sure held my gun and phone as I passed, and found Leo sat at the table in the kitchen.  He was scowling at his phone, looking much like he had the night Carter and Grant had argued about money and Grant’s “business”.  In fact, Leo had been pretty distant the whole week since then.  I’d been thinking about it almost every second that wasn’t occupied by the possible location of my weapon and Jason.  Not knowing what Grant was involved in was driving me insane.

 

    “What’s got your panties in a bunch?” I asked him as I passed, heading toward the fridge.

 

    Leo didn’t speak as I pulled out a carton of orange juice and a cup.  As I poured, he stole a quick glance at me before shaking his head and typing a few more things into his phone.  I scowled, expecting an answer from the person I trusted most in this house.

 

    “Leo?”  I put down the cup I’d lifted to my mouth.  “Tell me what the deal is.”

 

    He finished whatever he was doing on his phone and stood abruptly, hardly looking at me before turning away.  My teeth clenched as he began walking down the stairs, but temper rising quickly with his avoidance of me.

 

    “Leo!” I said forcefully, holding my position at the island.  “What is your issue?  You’re the only person in this place I can talk openly with, and it’s annoying as hell that you’ve been pissing and moaning and ignoring me for a straight week.”

 

    He stopped just before reaching the stairs leading down.  The phone in his hand was tucked into his back pocket before he turned to face me.  Leo wore a neutral expression, though I could tell he knew he’d finally been called out on something he shouldn’t have been doing.  What, exactly, that was, I had no clue.

 

    I sighed.  “What’s the matter?”

 

    Leo shook his head, remaining quiet for a second.  “There’s just a lot of shit going on outside this house, and I have no interest in bringing you into it.”

 

    I rolled my eyes, though I hadn’t expected the straightforward answer.  “You can’t honestly think that I haven’t heard the worst possible things going on in the streets — from your group, might I add.”

 

    His jaw clenched and I saw a hint of red on his cheeks.  “This isn’t my group, Phoebe!  I didn’t choose Jason — I owed a debt, and I’m still paying it.  Believe it or not, not everyone in Jason’s gang likes causing harm!  I would’ve thought you’d have noticed by now, since you’re still alive and well.”

 

    I blinked, surprised at his sudden outburst.  Up until then, I admit I hadn’t really thought of Jason’s group as anything but harmful.  Then again, everything I had experienced and heard about had been in support of that, with the exception of Leo.  I immediately felt bad, not excluding him from every insult I’d thrown at the guys, even after knowing how Leo ended up here.  But there must have been something bigger than me just categorizing him to have set him off like that, and from what he’d said it sounded like someone had been hurt.

 

    “Who was it?” I asked calmly, looking him dead in the eye.  If Jason had been out hurting people without reason while I was lying in his bed, I wanted to know about it.

 

    Leo’s forehead creased and the corners of his mouth tipped down.  He turned his face from fine.  “It doesn’t matter.”

 

    I didn’t say anything about it for a long moment, not wanting to press him in his already flustered state.  There were a few other things I wanted to ask him, and now that I had Leo’s attention I didn’t want to push him away.  For one, I wanted to know what Grant was up to.  I had to ask Leo, and even though I could talk with him more openly than with anyone here, secretly listening to a conversation between Grant and Carter wouldn’t really have me on a good foot with him.

 

    “How does Grant get off so easy?” I asked instead, carefully choosing my words after taking a sip from my cup.  “He seems like he makes more money than any of you, and I’m curious to know how.”

 

    If Grant made enough money to have Carter asking him to borrow several grand, pointing out that he would earn it back before he’d even feel the loss, business had to be booming for Grant.  It was hard to believe that Jason hadn’t found out yet, what with one of his guys potentially making more money than him.

 

    “How do you know Grant makes so much?” Leo questioned, his head snapping up with sharp eyes.

 

    I felt my stomach sink to my toes.  Mentally cursing, I realized that Grant never once had told me or anyone openly that he made a killing, nor did his clothes or his car or any of his belongings reflect the earnings.  Did Leo even know about his ‘business’, or whatever he wanted to call it?  If he didn’t, I was screwed.

 

    “I heard him talking on the phone with someone about borrowing money from him,” I said quickly, trying to play it off easily.  Apparently it was believable, because Leo’s stare let up a little.  He still watched me carefully, but I could breath again without worrying I’d lose his trust.

 

    He shrugged.  “I don’t know.  He has friends in the right places, I guess.”

 

    Bullshit.

 

    “It’s a little selfish,” I tried to joke, “making all that money and keeping it to himself.”

 

    Leo’s expression darkened again.  “If I could buy my way out of here, I sure as hell wouldn’t give it to anyone else.”

 

    “What do you mean ‘buy my way out’?” I asked automatically, my forehead drawing together.

 

    He huffed.  “Grant owes Jason money, apparently more than he’s got at the moment.  He’s been paying him back ever since he got here, about two years ago.  That was about the time Jason started pulling guys together.”

 

    Carter was asking for thirty grand — at least, that’s what Grant had thought.  Why not put the money he had toward getting out from under Jason’s thumb?  Maybe he liked the protection here, or felt some sort of loyalty to Jason from being here this long.  Either way, it didn’t sound like the Grant Emmett always used to talk about.  Which reminded me…

 

    “I want to know how the guys are,” I said suddenly, dropping all thoughts of Grant — if Leo knew anything, he wasn’t going to say.  But maybe he had an idea of what was going on back home.

 

    Leo cocked an eyebrow.  “The guys?”

 

    I shook my head.  “My group.  I want to know what they’re doing.  I want to know how my brother is; how Peter is; how Chloe and Bella are—“  I swallowed hard.  “How Tyler is.”

 

    “I don’t know if I could get near them without getting shot,” he almost laughed, but his tone was bitter.  “Sorry, but I’m not too fond of the people you live with.”

 

    I gave a small, dry smile.  “I don’t really live with them anymore, do I?”

 

    Leo’s expression almost immediately softened.  Sighing, he ran a hand through his hair.  “I’ll see what I can do.  If they come at me though, I’m out.”

 

    “I’d like to think they wouldn’t,” I mumbled, closing my eyes for a moment and trying to pretend I didn’t miss them as much as I did.

 

 

 

••    ••    ••    ••    ••    ••    ••    ••    ••    ••    ••    ••    ••

 

 

    Two hours later, Leo was gone and the only person still in the house was me.  I had wondered for only a second where Jason had gone before bigger things had taken hold of my mind — my gun and my phone.  The possibility excited me, and I’d promptly gotten up and tried the door I’d seen Jason come out of.

 

    Cursing as I realized it was locked, I closed my eyes and rubbed my temples.  The door hadn’t been locked the first day I’d been here.  Obviously, there was something important in there that Jason didn’t want me to see.  Thankfully, I knew a way around it.

 

    As fast as I could, I ran up to Jason’s room and began digging around in my duffel.  I silently hoped I’d brought some in my hurry to get Jason out of my house, but wasn’t sure.  My hand closed around a plastic bag and I nearly cried out in relief, pulling out what I’d been looking for — bobby pins.

 

    One of the first things Sam had ever taught me was how to pick a lock.  I had bobby pins in my hair at the time, and his method of being resourceful had them out of my hair and jiggling into a locked door in a matter of seconds.  He’d shown me how to slide one under the tumblers and the other adjusting them, and finally it was my turn.  It had taken me a long time to get it, but seeing as Sam had locked us into the room, we weren’t getting out until I’d done it.  Finally, after he’d made me repeat the steps at least twenty times, I was ready for real world application.

 

    I crouched down in front of the door after jogging back downstairs and bent the first pin to slide it into the keyhole.  After a few seconds of jiggling it, the pin lodged all the way into the knob and I was free to slide the second one in.  Ten seconds later I had the door open and was standing in the doorway of the storage room, heart pounding.

 

    Boxes lined the walls, still sturdy and seemingly unused.  There was another group of them in the middle of them floor, and my first impulse was to reach for them.  After tugging the pins out of the lock, my feet carried me across the expanse and I immediately tore into the already open boxes.  Pulse hammering in my ears, I grunted in frustration when I realized the only thing in the first box was packing peanuts.  The next four boxes revealed the same thing, and I quickly switched from the middle of the room to the packaging lining the walls.

 

    By the sixth box I’d gone through, I was convinced there was nothing beside packaging in this room.  I closed my eyes and cursed under my breath, wondering how the hell Jason had gotten rid of my gun and phone under my nose.  He hadn’t destroyed them — I knew that because I’d held it in my hand one of the first days I’d been here.  Maybe he’d added my gun to his collection, though, and one of them was using it as I scrambled to look for it.  How dare he keep me from protecting myself and prevent me from talking to the guy I loved—

 

    I stopped short, pain stabbing through my chest.  Yes, I was entitled to be angry about my gun and my phone, but was I really justified in my anger?  Over the past week I’d been basically cheating on Tyler, something I didn’t realize would effect me this much.  But Jason felt different, different in a good way from Tyler.  Did I really love my boyfriend if I could discard two years with him for a guy I’d hated up until two weeks ago?  The answer was no, and I knew it.  It felt like being blindsided by a train.  I screamed in frustration and stomped my foot—

 

    Only to stop in surprise.  I looked down to where I’d heard the unnatural echoing sound from the wood beneath my feet.  Backing up, I inspected the section I’d been stepping on.  The single board was fairly large and had a notch in the corner — a notch large enough for a few fingers to pry up the wood and see what was underneath.  Heart thundering, I set aside all thoughts of Tyler and crouched down to pick it up.

 

    “Why the hell is this door open?”

 

    I nearly yelped, my body jolting in surprise.  It was Jason.  He was back.  Shit.

 

    Knowing that if he caught me I could count everything we’ve worked up to as lost, my stomach sank even closer to the floor.  Jason couldn’t find me, couldn’t know I’d been snooping around while he was gone.  He’d obviously seen the door wide open, so slipping out wasn’t an option — but hiding was.  Jason must not have seen me yet, since I wasn’t dead just yet.

 

    My eyes searched frantically for a good spot, but every good option involved moving a few boxes, taking up time I didn’t have.  Luckily, I was on the opposite side of the middle boxes, out of Jason’s vision.  Seeing no other way around it, I flattened myself to the floor and prayed he didn’t come into the room.

 

    “Dammit, Leo,” Jason mumbled to himself.  I could tell he was standing in the doorway, and closed my eyes tightly.

 

    A long pause met my ears and I was almost certain Jason had either seen or heard me.  Several seconds later I was proved wrong when the door drew closed and the lock clicked into place.  I heard his footsteps trail away and I jumped to my feet, running as softly as I could to the door.  pressing my ear against it, I listened.

 

    “Where the hell is Phoebe?” Jason asked, probably to one of the guys with him.  The proximity of his voice made it sound like he was in the kitchen.

 

    I took a deep breath, clenching and unclenching my fists.  I had to get out of this room, or Jason would know I was in here.  My hand fell to the knob, luckily able to unlock without a key from the inside.  Carefully, I turned it.

 

    Casting a last, anxious glance at the hollowed board, I squeezed my eyes shut and opened the door.  No one was in the living room, and I almost cried in relief.  My arm reached back to lock the handle and I pulled the door shut as quietly as I could.  Heart still thundering, I realized I had to calm down before facing Jason.

 

    Quickly, I turned and tip-toed up the stairs.  Within ten seconds I was in Jason’s room, and flung myself onto the bed.  Breathing deeply, I let out a nervous laugh.  It seemed so frequently that I ended up like this, sneaking around and running to Jason’s bed for comfort.  The sheets smelled like him, and I found myself breathing in the scent.  Did that mean something?

 

    “Phoebe!” Jason’s voice called from downstairs, bringing me out of my thoughts.

 

    I bit my lip and breathed slower, trying to calm my heart down.  “What?” I shouted back.

 

    I didn’t receive an answer.  All I heard were footsteps on the stairs, and for a moment I thought Jason was angry and only coming up to express it, but I realized he couldn’t know.  He hadn’t seen me, nor would ever know unless I told him.  I needed to just relax and make sure he wouldn’t think anything was wrong.

 

    The door to Jason’s bedroom opened and he stepped in, looking a little annoyed and tired.  I smiled, sitting up to face him.  His frustrated expression lessened when he saw me, and he kicked off his shoes in the bathroom on the way to his bed.  I watched as he walked over, face intent and searching mine.

 

    “You left before I said ‘goodbye’,” I told him, playing with the fingers of his right hand.  He stood between my legs as I sat at the edge of the bed, looking only at our hands.

 

    “Lost track of time,” he said.  “I had something an hour away, and was almost late getting there.”

 

    I smirked.  “I’d say I’m sorry, but I’d like to think I’m a distraction.”

 

    Jason’s open hand reached to my chin and tilted my gaze up to him.  “I’d like to be distracted just a little bit more.”

 

    Smiling and heart pounding for a different reason, I tugged him down until his lips met mine and the taste of him was flush against my mouth.

 

    I’d like a distraction, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movella readers!  You're officially caught up to where I've been writing the story on my other site.  From this point on, I would ask that you not expect updates sooner than every two weeks.  This is because I have my Zayn Malik AU to update, as well as school work.  I appreciate all the likes and comments, and would definitely love more feed back!

 

If you're looking for a story in between updates, please check out my Zayn AU or Niall story.

 

Xx

 

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