Authors: Marci Fawn
© 2016 by Marci Fawn
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
on't even think
of getting the police involved in our business, baby.
That's only one of the twenty-four new messages on my cell.
I haven't felt this popular since one of the coolest guys in school asked me to the prom, totally surprising me. I told the poor boy no, though. All I wanted was
... and look where that got me, standing on the sidewalk, alone. God, I'm so glad I'm not in high school anymore. What a horrible time it was.
I wish I could say that all the calls are from boutiques going wild over my new collection, but honestly they're not. I shut the door to my office before checking them, although I can make an educated guess. Not that the room gives me any privacy—for some reason every indoor wall in Mellina Fashion is made of glass. If I align myself right and strain my eyes, I can see through five other offices. I'm pretty sure half of Boston can see into mine.
Honestly, I'm afraid to see the texts. I was in the meeting for a mere hour. It's been two weeks of silence from Ricky. This is, frankly, terrifying. Not the "oh, I fucked up" kind, either. More like "he's gonna kill me".
Most girls have that one guy in their past they wish they hadn't dated. Well, mine insists on being my present too.
At least I am not a person prone to panicking, even if Ricky has the charming quality of bringing that out in people. I sit back, take a calming sip of my lemon tea and mentally prepare myself to dial 911. Not that police would ever knock on Ricky's door. He's much too smart to give me any proof that could be harmful to him.
Time to see the damage.
And... it's not as bad as I'd feared. Nine are work-related, mostly company-wide memos. Another two are from friends I'm supposed to meet this weekend. One from Aunt Susan. Huh?
So that leaves only twelve from Ricky Gerrard. Calling in my debt to him, but the price is high. Too high. I'm the girl that sold her soul to the devil.
Only twelve. He must be getting over me
, I think bitterly.
I dial no one.
Mostly because of the first text warning me about not calling the cops.
Yeah. That's sound advice. It's a firm statistic that the ex-girlfriends of mob bosses don't have many heart-to-hearts with cops. Not if they want to wake up the next morning with all their limbs still firmly attached to their bodies. I'm still half-expecting to find a severed horse head in my bed every morning when I wake up.
The lemon tea isn't helping. As I skim through the messages, forcing myself to read every one of them twice so as to not miss anything, cold dread sets within me. He's being very thorough in explaining to me in excruciating detail that I'm his. Not in the cute way that makes a girl feel wanted.
. His property, his girl. He seems very intent on making me understand that.
I do, really. I understand. Accepting that is another thing entirely. I'm done with belonging to someone. Even if it's hard to escape. And he is. I made a conscious decision to be brave, because I can't take responsibility for the way I initially reacted. In hindsight, I don't know how I could have been so foolish, but at least I got out as soon as I understood.
I thought I'd gotten away too. I truly did.
That's twice now that Ricky has made a fool out of me.
My heart still beating itself out of my chest, I check the other messages too. Work is fine, friends want to go out of town for a little hiking trip, and Aunt Susan... what does she want?
It's been a while since I last heard from her. I wish Ricky was more like that.
," reads the text. "
Long time no see. Are you free this evening? I have big news. Can you drop by around 7?
That's my Aunt for you. I don't think we've spoken for almost a year, but she makes it sound like we hang out every weekend for family breakfast. Part of me wants to say no, but I'm too curious what would make her reach out to me like that. I reply, saying I'll be there and clear my schedule for the evening.
There, that was easy. I am quite good at playing like I have a normal life, even as I shake in my chair.
I should be working now, but I can't even look at my designs. I'm no coward, but Ricky is a very dangerous man, one that makes anyone think twice before challenging him.
My mistake. Not even one. Ricky is
of my mistakes. In a creepy, unthinkable way, he's kind of right. I'm bound to him, whether I want it or not.
I always wanted to be a designer. It's my dream. And young and naïve as I used to be, I thought I'd do anything to get what I want. By pure chance, I met Ricky in that time of my life. I didn't know anything about him, except that he had money to spare. When he offered me a loan to work on my first collection and get me started, I accepted. I figured there would always be opportunities to give up, but chances to actually try don't come along that often.
It was a sweet idea that turned out to be a contract with the devil himself. I took the money, legally signed for and all. Ricky has many businesses; some of them just happen to be clean. When he asked me out, I figured why not? He's not a bad-looking man and he helped me. It kind of felt like whoring, but I silenced that alarm bell within me.
Dating him was pretty much what you'd expect. I was his and he was his own. In public I felt like an accessory, in bed I felt like a whore. When I finally found out who he was... it took me a lot of courage, but I broke it off. In public, of course.
The look in Ricky's eyes back then still haunts me.
I've had silence for weeks, until... I thought he'd accepted our breakup, but now I'm thinking he was merely preoccupied with something. He was talking about some match when we had our last lunch.
Seems I'm still as naïve as I used to be.
A knock on my door rips me out of my grim thoughts. It's Edward, my boss, looking all worried for me. His crush on me is as transparent as the door between us. I nod to him to enter, forcing myself to smile.
"Everything all right?" he asks. "You look pale."
"Yeah," I say, but I guess my voice shakes a bit, because Edward frowns and crosses his arms on his chest.
It would look more impressive if he wasn't the walking cliché of an aging male fashion designer. Chestnut hair combed neatly from the front to the back of his head, eyes shadowed. A suit he created himself. The scarf around his neck and a vest that works like a corset complete the package. I can't believe this man is straight.
"That guy bothering you again?" he guesses correctly.
I don't know what made me tell him about Ricky. Quite possibly it was the tequila shots at the party last week that did me in. I shouldn't have done that. I can already see him walking up to Ricky and asking why he's bothering me, puffing his narrow chest and trying to be menacing. The image is the first thing to make me smile today, but the next one shatters the smirk on my lips. Ricky would think Ed's funny too, but he has a much more morbid sense of humor than I do.
"It's no big deal," I say, trying to make it better.
"Like hell," Edward protests. "This is harassment, Raina. You should report him. Get a restraining order."
Oh yes. Another great joke.
I glare at Ed, willing him to understand that cops aren't an option. I search for words, but the day is full of surprises.
"That bad, huh?" Edward says. "All right, we'll make it work another way then."
"What do you mean?" I ask, befuddled.
"I don't know much about him, but I thought the name sounded familiar. From your reaction the other night, I take it he's some kind of a crook."
"You could say that."
"Then if we can't take any other action, I'll find a way to protect you."
I want to laugh again, but I'm afraid he's being serious.
"Don't bother, Ed," I say. "I'll deal with this."
He shrugs, but I see he doesn't believe I can do this on my own.
"I'll look around," he says, and is gone before I can tell him no.
I consider going after him and explaining that Ricky needs the National Guard to rein him in, but I decide against it. I'd only make it worse. He'll forget about it in a few days.
In the meantime, I still have a couple of hours before I get to hear Aunt Susan's big news. I get back to work, telling myself I'm fine.
the crowd roaring outside.
Their stomping makes the floor shake beneath my bare feet. I can hear them as if they were standing right beside me, hungrily demanding a great match. The noise they make is threatening to bring the roof down on all of us.
I grin, enjoying their madness—their blood lust—echoing my own.
They're here today because they want the best. And I’m the best.
I focus on listening to the fans make noise instead of the people in the room with me. They want to crowd me, I know it. All of them have something on their petty little minds, a way to make this night about them. I've heard it all before. They want to be associated with me, to cash in on
. Fuck that. I'm the one bleeding out there. I don't need a manager, or sponsors. I won't wear someone's logo on my shirt. Do I look like a sell-out to them? The guys who think they could coach me are a joke too. What could I learn from a fat guy who hasn't worked out a day in his life?
None of them dare to approach me. I'm dangerous before a fight; my mind is already set on the ring and my opponent. It took some hard punches for a few idiots to learn that lesson.
There's a poster on the wall. Complete waste of time to advertise this fight. Max, my agent, tells me they sold the seats out in a few hours. We're fucking superstars, Carson and I.
We had to pose for that. It's the only part of all the publicity bullshit I'm willing to play along with, but even that tested my patience. The photographer was a pussy who didn't know jack shit about anything. He told us to look like we're fighting, so we gave him a little show, nothing too serious.
That fucking twat had the nerve to correct us, saying our faces didn't show. So I had to teach him what MMA is like. Don’t mouth off if you can’t take the consequences. He went out like a light. The paper can say what they want; I barely touched him. Carson agrees with me. He was standing right there, laughing his ass off. He's all right.
Lee Mason versus Carson Bull, reads the poster. We look fierce.
like a bull. He's huge, shoulders hunched, growling on the poster. It makes him look like a snarling beast ready to charge. It's his signature look. Idiotic, but it works. The fans go nuts for that shit.
I don't do stuff like that. I'm Lee fucking Mason. I don't need a nickname or some acted-out rivalry to win my fights. I'm six foot three, not an ounce of fat on my body, and every inch of me is charged with raw power. The poster captured that well. Black hair cut short so it doesn't get in the way, the shirt hiding most of my tattoos, eyes alight with the promise of hellfire.
See? That photographer had nothing to bitch about. The poster's fine.
"Lee?" a voice snarls.
The only voice in my waiting room that I'm willing to address.
"What do you want?" I snap at the guy. "I told him I don't want to be disturbed before a match."
He grins, broken-toothed. If I wouldn't get disqualified for fighting before the actual fight, I'd break a few more.
He comes closer and bends toward me to speak quietly so the others won't hear.
"Mr. Gerrard wants to remind you that you have an arrangement with him. There is a lot of money at stake tonight."
I step up to him, grinning to see him take an involuntary step back. Pathetic.
"Is he calling me stupid? I remember."
He tries to justify himself. "Carson is a strong favorite, Lee. Mr. Gerrard wants to make sure you know what to do. It can't look like you're losing on pur—"
I take ahold of his cheap shirt and pull him to me. He nearly pisses himself.
"Get out," I growl and throw him out of the door.
I don't have time for that. I have a fight to prepare for.
s I walk
to the octagon, I feel my blood boiling. I've riled myself up. My body is pumped, aching for release, for violence. My mind is focused on the fight alone. Nothing else matters in this moment. This is man versus man, the match all these people around me have come to see. Both Carson and I have beaten plenty of strong men into bloody pulps barely resembling human beings. Now they demand to see us do it to each other.
I intend to give them one hell of a fight.
Carson is waiting for me. The Bull is standing in the cage already, looking as bloodthirsty as I do.
I barely notice the thousands around us. Screaming, pressing closer, cursing, and cheering. I don't even care if they cheer for me or him. It doesn't matter to me.
His first punch nearly hits me. That's Carson. He favors traditional boxing, no surprises there. With fists like chunks of steel, I've seen plenty of men being carried away from him on a stretcher. If they're lucky, it's a simple concussion.
I almost bend myself in two to avoid that. He's big, but that fucker is fast too. The next one catches my shoulder, but the angle is bad, so I shrug it off. I get my footing and give him a solid kick to his fat stomach with my right foot. It's a bitch of an angle to defend against. His only option would have been to catch my leg, but he's not
fast. I can hear him groan and quickly follow up with a powerful upward punch to his chin that probably leaves him with stars in his eyes. He reels back and I bounce on him. He falls, but grabs me along as he does.
We roll together. I can hear Carson snarling, blood trickling from his mouth. I must have caught his tongue between his teeth. He ends up under me, but the bastard has me in a headlock now. His thick, hairy arms are pressing down on my windpipe. The judge is coming closer and I don't have to look up to see the dollar bills in Mr. Gerrard's eyes.
I'm starting to black out from the lack of oxygen. Carson's got strength to spare when it comes to choke holds. I do what I have to and slam my elbow against his chest as hard as I can. Then I do it again, pummeling air out of his lungs, even as his hold slips, just for good measure.
He yells curses at me, but I feel like laughing. The poor prick. He walked in here, all buddy-buddy, thinking his boss had settled things with me, bought me off. Fuck that. I ain't losing to no one. Not for money and not for anything. My matches are my own. There may be rules in this cage, but it doesn't mean I'll play nice, or play fair. The only ones who thought they had this in the bag were Carson and Gerrard.
He's on his feet as quickly as I am, but he's off his game now. It was supposed to be easy for him, but I see confusion in his eyes. He thought he'd get to add Lee Mason into his victory list, but now he has to fight me for real.
I cash in on his surprise. One, two steps and I'm pounding at him as fast as my hands can move. He blocks every second one and it hurts us both. I can feel my hands start to shake from the tension, and they tremble as he blocks my blow with his arm. And Carson is not standing there waiting either. His boxer instincts kick in. I get careless in my cockiness and he lands a good one straight to my cheek. I spit the blood into his face, laughing.
It's been minutes, long minutes. Not so much in the real world, but in the cage it's an eternity. Carson's feet are getting slower. I see my opportunity to go in for the kill.
I let him get a punch in easier than he should, and fuck, it feels as if he cracked a rib. Then I land a hard roundhouse on him, sending Carson stumbling back. I am on him before he gathers himself, mercilessly pounding at his head, trying to catch his brow and knock him out cold. The crowd is insane, their howling is so loud it buries everything under it. They like what I'm doing.
I pummel Carson's face, feel my knuckles hit his skull under his skin. Again and again and again until it hurts
and still the Bull stands. I back away from him. He barely has the strength to raise his hands in defense and give the crowd something to see.
I jump and kick Carson straight in the chin, sending his head knocking back with a nauseating snap. He falls like a log. The judge rushes over and the crowd loves me. I've pleased them, given them blood and pain, exactly what they want.
As I watch the judge slap Carson back to his senses, I grin. This was supposed to be a long, drawn-out match between equals, with Carson ultimately winning. Mr. Gerrard had a lot of money riding on his boy, but I'm no one's bitch.
I raise my fists to the air and roar in victory, a gladiator on the sands. Why the fuck would I lose when I bet a considerable amount of money that I'd win?
don't stay around
for congratulations and the after-party. Mr. Gerrard is an asshole, but he has a lot of other assholes working for him. I don't doubt they're all packing tonight. It's better I don't show my face to him for a while. Rumor has it the man has not been in a good mood lately. Something about a girl walking out on him. He never had a long fuse, but being left by his own woman has only made his temper worse.
I need a place to lie low. Dad's invitation couldn't have come at a better time. He wants me to tag along for a visit to the outskirts of town and that the purpose of it would be to introduce me to his new woman and her step-daughter. I couldn't care less about which gold-digger Dad is sticking it to this time, but why the fuck not? I need to be somewhere they'd never think to look for me, and isn't family important and shit?
With plenty of money to spare now, thanks to my unwitting sponsors, I buy a decent bottle of wine and get on my way. Dad texts me the address, clearly surprised I'd show up. He disowned me years ago when I got kicked out of the Marine Raider Regiment.
He had been so fucking proud to have a Marine son, which made him all the more mad when I was let go, to put it nicely. Now old age is making him sentimental. Lately he's been trying to get to know me again. Hah,
He never knew me to begin with. We're not cut from the same cloth, he and I. He's a top-notch lawyer now that he's a civilian, and me... I'm a fighter. The military was the only connection we had and after my dismissal it's only one more subject we don't bring up. I can't imagine what we will talk about now.
The fucking weather?
I cover up my wounds as well as I can. No use getting into an argument with the old man, drawing attention and causing trouble.
Turns out the new chick, Susan-something, is pretty hot for an older broad. An ex-homecoming queen, she quickly informs me, smiling as she sneaks a peek at my pecs. Wow. Classy pick, Dad. Apparently we have more in common than we thought. Men are the same everywhere it seems.
I haven't been forced to make bullshit small-talk for a very long time when the doorbell rings. As Susan runs to the door, Dad quickly hisses that I better behave myself in front of the girls. I shrug and grin, making him glare at me, but what do I care? I'm twenty-six. He can't fucking ground me.
I hear the girl asking something about a blind date. The voice sounds familiar somehow, a blast from the past. Dad goes to introduce himself. I get a beer and then join to check the newcomer out.
Oh fuck yes
It seems that fate doesn't want me to be bored while I have to avoid the ring for the time being. The knock-out at the door... I know her. Look at little miss Raina Feston, all grown up now. We went to high school together. I'd recognize her ridiculously long golden brown hair anywhere. I can feel my cock growing hard instantly, the remaining emotions of the fight only urging me on.
Fuck me, she's hotter than a firecracker. Big green doe eyes, lips made for sucking cock, ass out of this world. I remember her tits fitting perfectly into my hands. My palms are bigger now, but thank the Lord, so is her rack. I grin in anticipation, forcing myself to stay still and wait.
Oh yeah, I know Raina Feston well. In high school, she wore her light brown hair in two long braids. My cock throbs painfully when I think of holding onto both of them as I rode her tight, thick ass. She screamed her voice hoarse, howling my name like she knew no other words. She probably didn't by the time I was done with her. I wonder if she's still mad I stood her up for the prom.
Her pussy was one of the best I ever had, not that I told her that. She was a mousy little brat then, but look at that girl now. I have to have her like my life depends on it.
Judging by the way her eyes are eating me up, I don't think she'll protest much.
This evening just got so much better.