Take Me Anywhere
Summary: It's been two years since Cook left Manchester, still on the run from the law and as desperate as ever to disappear. Everything was simple until he met her; Tess was the definition of the word mayhem. Can he survive in her world or can he pull her into his?
I: The Beginning
One year ago...
The flat he had been staying in was fine, nothing special. He had a couple of leaky pipes and when he put the heating on, the pipes rattled so loudly that it kept him up at night; but at least there was a roof over his head. He avoided trouble at all costs, he couldn't afford to go back to jail; he couldn't afford to be trialled for murder. London was too big for anyone to find him, he had disappeared once more, like he had been doing for years. He kept his head down, bought himself a taxi with the money he had from Manchester and did the occasional taxi run to keep himself ticking over. It was a simple life, it kept him out of harm's way; but it bored him. The only thing that stopped him from losing his mind was the girl that lived next door.
Tess was a breath of fresh air, when she wasn't at university or at her boyfriend's place, she would bring Cook round and make him something half decent to eat. She handed him a bowl of soup, homemade, and half a crusty roll as he flicked through the channels on her tiny TV. He glanced at her and steadied the bowl on his lap. "Ta, Tess. You not eating anything?"
"I'll get something later." She pulled her legs up to her chest and snatched the remote from Cook's grip.
"Don't turn that over, this is a good show."
"When you pay my TV license, then you can tell me what to watch." She changed the channel and rested her head on her hand.
"What's got you so wound up? Do you not want me to come over any more or something? I can make my own dinner you know."
"Cook, I don't mind you coming over, how else would I get my free taxi service?" she smiled a little and glanced at him from the corner of her eye. "Just eat your soup."
"Where are you heading to tonight?"
"Luke's club, he wants me to meet his mates." She ran her fingers through her hair and let out a breath. "But they're probably going to be a bunch of wankers. You should come with me, you could finally meet Luke."
"Partying's not really my thing no more."
"What're you scared of? There's nothing wrong with letting go once in a while. Please, Cook? I really want you to meet him."
He raised a brow at her and let out a sigh. "Fine, but only because this soup is awesome and if I said no, you wouldn't give me a second helping. What is it anyway?"
She grinned to herself and got onto her feet. "Butternut squash and sweet potato. I'm going to get ready, you can have the TV back."
"I forgot you girls need like a million hours to get ready."
She skipped towards her bedroom and called out to him. "A million at the least. There's still another bowl's worth in the pot. Help yourself."
'Imperial' was the hottest nightclub in Croydon and Cook never knew how Tess managed to meet the guy that owned it never mind date him. He knew very little about Luke except the tiny detail she told him; he was from Bristol too. She seemed to be smitten with him and as long as he kept his mate happy, then he'd have no problems with him.
He followed her up to the VIP area, watching her dance through the crowds of people with her drink raised in the air. "He's with me." She said to the bouncer at the top of the stairs as he pulled back the velvet rope. The upstairs was pretty much empty except for a round table of four guys and a barmaid that supplied them with their drinks. They wore flashy suits and kept themselves clean shaven; they were so different compared to Cook. He recognised the blonde guy that stood up from the table, he assumed that he was Luke by the way he slapped Tess' ass.
"Who's he?" Luke asked as he sank back into his seat, pulling Tess onto his lap.
When her skirt rode up her leg slightly, Cook noticed the end of a bruise on her thigh. "I'm Cook, Tess' mate." He took the empty seat beside the couple, his eyes flickering between Luke and the bruise.
Tess watched Cook and fixed her skirt. She seemed to be frazzled, she didn't want anyone, especially Cook to notice. "Are you playing cards?"
"Just finished a round, why don't you get yourself a drink and I'll deal your friend in?" he whispered something in her ear that made her blush.
She kissed him delicately and turned to Cook who was still watching her with a raised brow. "Do you want anything, Cook?"
"Just a pint, I'm your lift home, remember?"
"I can take the two of you home," Luke said as he shuffled the deck of cards with a smirk, "I don't drink."
"My car's here."
He shrugged and spread the cards across the table. "I own this place, just put the car round the back."
"We live next to each other, he doesn't mind taking me home, babe." She put her arms around his shoulders. "I'm sure you and your friends have some business to sort out when we leave anyway." She let her golden hair cover their faces as she placed another, more aggressive kiss on his mouth.
"Fine, but I'll be coming around to yours when I leave, so keep your door open." He bit his bottom lip as he looked up at her.
"Okay… I'm going to go get these drinks now." She stepped away from the table and mouthed to Cook, "Play nice."
"So why don't you drink? Is it just a lifestyle choice?" Cook asked as he leaned into his chair, staring down at the shit hand he was dealt.
"He gets angry when he drinks." One of Luke's friends said with a drunk leer.
Luke rolled his eyes towards him and just gave him a blank stare. "Getting drunk makes people sloppy. Makes them do things they regret," he glanced over his shoulder at Tess as she waited at the bar, "I like to stay sharp."
Cook rubbed the stubble on his lower jaw and shook his head.
"Do you disagree?"
He looked at Luke and scoffed at him. "Personally, I think that getting drunk makes you do the things you really want to do. The regret comes when you realise you've let go a little bit."
"Speaking from experience?" Luke leaned towards him and shook his finger at him. "I think I've finally placed your name and your face."
"I don't think so."
"You bought gear from a mate of mine back in the day."
Tess strolled over to the table and set the pint in front of Cook and took her space back on Luke's lap as she stirred her drink. "We all getting along?"
"Just peachy babe." Luke smirked as he wrapped one arm around her, pulling her closer to him.
Tess put her full glass on the table and sipped at the end of the other drink, watching Cook with an anxious look. "You okay, Cook?"
"Peachy." He played with the edges of his cards and kicked out his legs. "Are we going to play this game or just stare at each other all night?"
Luke let out a laugh, followed by his friends. He wagged his finger at Cook's direction and pulled a cigarette out from his top pocket. "I like him."
She gripped onto the full glass of double vodka and red bull and let out a quiet sigh of relief. Tess hated seeing Luke when he was pissed off and the last thing she wanted was for Cook to be on the receiving end of his temper. He was uncontrollable; a demon. She had saw him at his worst, first hand and his friends supplied her with plenty of stories about his ways when he worked in Morocco. She knocked back her drink and waved the barmaid over for another one as she watched them play; she had to drink to calm herself down, it was the only way she could survive in his world.
Trying to get Tess into her flat after the amount of booze she guzzled down was a difficult task that Cook had to do. She carried her heels in her hand as she tip toed up the cold, concrete steps. He looked down at her and scooped her up quickly, he was tired of watching her struggle.
"You look after me, don't you Cook?" she reached up and poked the bottom of his chin with her fingertip.
"We look after each other, we'll always look after each other." He looked down at her and nodded towards her front door. "You got the keys?"
She reached into her bag, almost spilling the contents onto the floor as she clawed her way to the bottom, pulling out her single key with multiple keyrings.
He switched on the lights with his elbow and took her into her bedroom, laying her down carefully on her shitty bed. "Get some sleep, your head will be splitting in the morning."
She clung onto his arm and pulled him down beside her. "Stay with me for a while."
"Luke will be coming to pay you a visit. I don't fancy having to explain to him why I'm in his girl's bed."
"Luke won't come here until the morning, I doubt he'll come at all." She sunk into her pillows and wiggled out of her tight dress. "He never comes around here."
Cook couldn't help but look at her body. She had little nicks and bruises all over her and when he saw the rest of the bruise on her thigh, he made a face. "Tess, how did you get them bruises?"
As soon as he mentioned marks on her skin, she pulled her duvet around herself and rolled over onto her side. "I don't want to talk about it."
"Did he do this to you?" when she didn't answer him he rolled her onto her back, propping her up against the headboard. "Tess, you need to tell me if he's beating ya."
She leaned up quickly and kissed him, just a sharp peck as she stared into his blue eyes. "Just leave it, please."
He was taken back by her kiss, it made his heart jump, but he shook off the thoughts that had got him in trouble before; he learned his lesson when it came to getting involved with a taken girl.
"You know where to find me when you want to talk about this."
The sun had just come up when Luke rolled into Tess' flat; she was waiting on him with a fuzzy head. She placed her hands on the sides of his face and leaned in as he wrapped his arms around her.
"What're you doing waiting up for me?" he placed his forehead against hers before kissing the top of her head.
"I slept, for a couple of hours." She closed her eyes and took in the scent of his sandalwood aftershave mixed with the smell of stale cigarette smoke. "Did you get everything sorted at the club?"
"That's actually why I came here." He let go of her and made his way over to her fridge. "I want to ask you to join my business."
"What do you want me to do? Be a barmaid?" she folded her arms across her chest and leaned against the arm of the sofa.
"Not that business," he glanced at her and took out her only bottle of milk, "the bit on the side. You're almost finished your finance degree, right?"
"Yeah, when I take my exams in the summer. Why?"
"I want you to keep the books for me because I haven't a clue. Maths is your thing, not mine." He took a swig of milk and wiped the top of his lip with the back of his hand. "What do you think? You're the only one I can trust to keep it right."
She placed her hand over her mouth, tapping her finger against her lips. "If you need me to do it, I'll happily keep records for you."
"I knew I could count on you, you're a good girl." He set down the bottle and stepped over to her, placing his hands on her hips, moving his hands down. When she made an almost silent wince he raised his brows. "Let me see the damage."
"It's not that bad, I'm just being a wimp." She dropped her head and pursed her lips.
He made her look at him and glared at her face. "Show me."
Slowly, she opened her robe, shrugging it off her frame. She kept her eyes on him as he crouched down and kissed every cut and bruise he had left on her slender body.
"You believed me, didn't you? When I said that I would never do that to you again."
"You were just messed up from the drink and the drugs," she whispered as he got to the biggest mark on her outer thigh, "you didn't mean to."
He placed his hand over the dark purple bit of skin and looked up at her. "It's you and me, Tess. It'll always be you and me, I'm never going to do this again."
She pulled him up onto his feet and wrapped her legs around his hips as he picked her up off the floor. She nodded at him even though she wasn't fully convinced. It was hard to let go of someone that you love, even if they were the reason you were hurting. Tess just had to figure out if she could continue living in fear of that side of Luke. He was danger personified.
A:N Thank you for taking the time to read this, hope you enjoyed this chapter. Next one coming soon!