A/N: Please read Hands of a Monster! I'm not going to try very hard to make this easy to understand for those who aren't already invested in the characters and the plot of the main story.
Also, I've actually shipped these two so long that the name I had for the story – Fifty/Fifty – makes absolutely no sense to me anymore, although I'm sure there was a reason. So let's just move past that, okay?
There were too many things about Ashton Singleton's personality that made him a despicable creature. One being his insatiable desire for anything that moved, and another, he was spoiled and rich beyond belief - mixing together to create what was usually mistaken for courage.
No. Ashton Singleton was not brave.
He simply thought he was invincible.
So you can imagine the type of shock it must have been when he was forcibly put in his place by a British brute less than a month ago.
The man was large, tall - at least six four or five - and he towered menacingly over Ashton with his freckled and dangerous face that fateful day. That's right; the beast slammed Ash's jaw into the hood of his car, rendering him physically incapable of stopping Colby – his very best friend – leaving for good with some fucking doctor. Lucas Aaron had taken away his most important person; not only that, but forced Colby to throw away years of friendship in the blink of an eye.
Okay, so there was the very small problem that had to do with the fact Ashton had definitely been adding trace amounts of Rohypnol to Colby's drinks for the last few years. It's not like it happened often, anyway, so Ash didn't see what the big deal was. If and when they could convince Colby to come out with them, Ashton simply took it upon himself to ensure that his most treasured friend had fun – let loose – and didn't have any of the burdens of regret the next morning.
Wasn't that a really nice thing to do for someone?
The truth was, Tristan had no idea about any of it – but that was beside the point which was cold-blooded revenge.
Ashton didn't know who the auburn-haired giant was until he hired a private investigator and opened up an envelope with literally nothing but the obvious.
James Hoadley, aged twenty nine, associate attorney at Briggs & Madison law firm. No children. No wife. No girlfriend, boyfriend, or strings attached of any kind, although the PI insisted he'd seen the man cat-calling women on the streets. He held a dual citizenship for the United States of America and the United Kingdom and no criminal record to speak of. There was absolutely no dirt on this guy and it seemed to be the same for Lucas.
So Ashton decided to take matters into his own hands, starting with the damn doctor.
After all, he couldn't let this motherfucker get away with ruining everything.
Colby had been so important in ways even Ashton didn't really understand. Since they'd met, he'd been charmed by the way Colby looked at him. He was the only person in Ashton's life – besides Tristan, who he'd known since Kindergarten – that didn't treat him like he was God's gift to mankind and Ashton liked that. He really liked the way Colby grounded him, the way Colby was independent and didn't ask for a single cent even if he really could use it because, let's face it, he was poor as fuck.
Those beautiful round eyes were always serious. Colby focused on academics and only really let loose when he played Call of Duty or visited that stupid fucking ocean.
Plus, before this asshole doctor, it was determined that Colby wasn't the slightest bit gay. Believe it, because Ashton had tried going down that road before and was met with a fist to his face.
That, in itself, was disappointing, but Ashton was long since over his crush – although one could argue those intimate feelings never truly disappeared and manifested itself in other ways.
It was a good thing Ashton was an expert at protecting his sensitive ego. What might have been mistaken as jealousy was simply a due diligence to protect his best friend from this nightmare of a man.
In Ashton's eyes, Lucas had swooped out of nowhere, like a fucking bird of prey, and carried his best friend away in a long-taloned grip. He'd never felt this kind of rejection before in his life. He simply didn't know how to deal with it other than to act on the impulsive instinct to destroy those responsible.
The past month had been so difficult. Colby had removed Ashton as a friend on Facebook, stopped responding to his messages completely, and worst of all, moved out of his dorm to live with this Lucas guy.
Or at least, that was currently what Ashton was confirming for himself as he prowled around the high-rise condos he'd been told Lucas moved into. The building was really nice. His family had a significant investment in the property, so Ashton knew first-hand the kind of luxury apartment the two shared. It boggled his mind how someone like Colby, who only a few months ago adamantly refused to leave the dorms due to it being too inconvenient to live away from the University, ended up in this situation.
He had to see it for himself.
The gleaming, secured entrance to the building revealed nothing obvious. The buzzers listed Lucas' last name, but nothing about Colby, and as Ashton stared at it – debating a ding-dong-ditch – he was startled with a sudden shake and sent into a near heart-attack.
"Eh - look'oo it is! Billy no-mates!" The blood drained from Ashton's head as he turned to look at the freckled monster that haunted his nightmares. "Comin' 'round ta settle things, in'cha? 'N here I thought you was a fuckin' no good shite."
Ashton's body was rendered stiff and useless at the way this guy – this James Hoadley - shook his shoulders and beamed down at him. Large hands invaded all kinds of personal boundaries as the man crushed the rigid body into his chest in some kind of excited bear hug.
For a complete slut, Ashton Singleton didn't just let people touch him like this, least of all, people who had a lot more physical strength than him and knew how to use it. He was just too shocked about the sudden encounter he couldn't do anything about it and when he was finally released his mind blanked completely. It was instinctive, yet altogether embarrassing, the way Ash turned on his foot and ran to the exit.
Even before he debated the fact that he'd never run from anything before in his life, he was caught around the middle and lifted off the ground.
"Ahhh! Don't touch me! Let me go! I'm going to call the police!"
"Woah woah, easy does it 'ya bleedin' knob. Don' need'ta fall arse over tit. C'mon, easy – thassa good lad."
Kicking and screaming was useless. James carried Ashton around to the side of the building before placing him back on his feet and grinning broadly down at him. Ashton's invincibility returned to him after several moments, and he drew himself up to full height, staring into gleeful, squinted green eyes.
"Tell me what'chu doin' lurkin' 'round here 'n maybe I won' clobber 'ya," he said.
"Fuck you," Ashton spat, although his back was pressed against the brick of the building with nowhere to run and a very high chance this muscle-head would actually beat the shit out of him. "My family owns this building, I'm not trespassing. If you lay a fucking finger on me…"
"Oh?" James said, actually pressing a thick finger right into Ashton's forehead and pressing hard so that the back of his head knocked against the brick. "S'you gonna do? Try leggin' it again? You won' get very far wi'that, mate."
Ashton had no idea what James was saying, but he smacked the finger out of his face anyway and scowled at the look being given to him – one of intense, childish joy.
"What are you, some fucking body guard or something? This is a free country, dicknose. I'll give you five seconds to back off or else I'll sue you for everything you've got, James Hoadley."
The reaction was unexpected. At his name, the man's thick, dark eyebrows lifted, and finally that showy enthusiasm faded from his face. As green eyes darkened, Ashton could practically see the gears turning in this guy's head and it was intensely satisfying.
"How'dya know me name?"
"I know a lot of things," Ash said, voice cold with warning, "and I'm going to make your life miserable, fucker."
"Bit bold of 'ya eh? But'chu was just shakin' like-a leaf a secon'ago. Wass'yer name?"
"Go to hell," Ashton bit back, but he flinched when the ham-sized fist made contact with the wall behind him.
"Just'a dodgy lil' fox aint'chu? One las' chance or 'm gonna drag you up 'n tell'em I found 'ya diggin' 'n the rubbish," James threatened, before sticking up fingers as he counted his questions. "What'cha doin' here, how'd'ya know me, 'n wass'yer name?"
It was taken seriously, at least. Ashton had no doubt the man was more than physically capable of fulfilling his promise – although his eyes snapped away to judge how far he could probably get on foot.
"'Yer daft if you think'n 'bout runnin'," James said, looking awfully smug about intimidating him. "Do it, but I'mma catch'chu." Ash hated this feeling. No one had ever threatened him before – not seriously, anyway.
Still, he refused to open his mouth. He wanted to stare coldly at the man, but found all he could do was nervously glance to the bulging muscles of a thick arm that was situated right near his head – James' hands still placed on the brick either side of him.
At his stubborn silence and refusal to answer him, James shrugged and then grabbed Ash's collar, yanking him roughly and suddenly.
Ashton was tossed back at once; spine hitting the stone harder than he would have liked, but all things considered he was surprised James wasn't actually living up to his word of dragging him up.
Green eyes were hard and expectant as they bore into Ashton's and waited for him to cooperate.
With no choice, Ashton heaved a deep sigh.
"I'm here to see if Colby's living with that asshat psycho," he said, choosing the least annoying of James' questions. But he wasn't let off that easy – the lawyer prompted him to continue. "And I know your name because I'm going to ruin your life – right after I'm done with Lucas'."
Once again, James didn't care about personal space. A large hand found the top of Ash's head and patted it like he was dealing with a puppy. "C'mon – a right 'lil thin' like you? S'cute, but'ya can' do nuffin' to me luv."
"Don't call me that," Ashton snapped, once again smacking that hand away from him. It made James chuckle and the tight, horrible feeling Ash wasn't used to started to crawl up from his stomach and make his heart beat irregularly. It was a frustration he'd never known. People listened to him – and when that didn't happen... well he supposed the anger was normal.
"How 'bout darlin'? Y'like that'n better?"
Ashton scowled, feeling the heat of anger flushing his face. "Fuck you."
"Aw, 'chu gettin' pissed 'fer hun? Proper tell me 'yer name – s'only fair innit?"
There was a small silence as James waited for it, and in the meantime Ashton battled the foreign feeling of helplessness. If he refused, the guy would just figure it out anyway. He'd end up asking Colby – or worse, Lucas – and the story would be revealed.
"O-okay," Ashton agreed. "But, you'd better not tell them I was here."
"Lookit'chu, hagglin' 'n wut… sure luv, 'yer secret's safe wit' me," James agreed. The man finally crossed his arms and Ashton felt at least a little better not having to expect them to invade his space again.
"Ashton... yeah I heard'o the name, now you mention it," James informed, looking thoughtful.
"Whatever, I'm out of here," Ashton said coldly – dismissing the fact that James Hoadley had pretty much butchered his name. He needed to leave, now, and as he made to walk away, the strong hands forced him back against the wall.
This time, James' smile was almost animal – revealing some sharp canines as the man literally looked down on Ash. Being scared was also an unfamiliar sensation. Ashton almost confused it for being sick, the way his stomach squeezed and dread coursed through his veins.
"Ah, where 'ya goin? We're not dun'here, luv," he said. "I got some words fer spoilt, well minted babes like you. Colby's 'bin well bother'd 'bout'cha, right… 'n 'yer still gutted? 'S'all gone pear-shaped, ain't it? 'S'cuz 'ya know you cocked up."
"Okay, I literally have no idea what the fuck you are saying, but leave my cock out of it douchebag."
That dumb smile widened – cheekbones emphasized and freckles practically popping out of his skin.
"Nah, blimey, cocked up – like 'ya screwed up. Lyin' to yer mate. Got'ta fess up, haven't you, 'n I'm sure Colby'll forgive 'ya, even if Lukey don't."
Ashton took a while to process the words – not only because of the accent, but also because he'd never really considered confessing and the idea was absurd, but somehow, James was confident he knew what he was talking about. For a wild, crazy moment, Ashton even considered that it could work – before he realized he was face to face with a lawyer, one of Lucas' best friends, and a brute he was currently working on destroying.
"You don't know what you're talking about, so just fuck off asshole," Ash bit out as fiercely as he could – that anger a really nice blanket to these confusing feelings; this uncertainty… "I don't need your advice."
He made to leave – half-expecting James to stop him again – but when he didn't meet the resistance of a hand on his shoulder slamming him back against the wall, he all but sprinted back to his car and threw himself in, breathing heavily to regain himself.
Yet, no matter how long Ashton sat, the hammering of his heart wouldn't go away.
A/N: Whyyyy oh why did I make Hoadley Britsh AF?! LOL. Like… there's normal British, then there's cockney British, and I'm sorry if I offended anyone. O_O
This is just for fun.
I'd love to hear your feedback. So please spoil me, and I give you more?