The single singsong word was barely more than a dangerous whisper, the tone thick with the effects of tequila and beer. It was a dangerous combination for a man with a horrible temper. I’d seen it in action more than once, his savagery leaving bruises and cuts on my mother. She was so small, incapable of defending herself. I’d tried and failed, bearing scars for my efforts.
The fucker preyed on the helpless, enjoying every moment of tormenting them with whatever disgusting method he chose for the night.
And tonight, I’d become his prey.
He was furious, a deal gone wrong as so many of them had lately. When he didn’t get what he wanted or didn’t win at the tables, his moods worsened, his appetite increasing. I knew the signs, had learned years before how to avoid any contact.
But I’d been careless, and he’d known I was there watching him.
The creaking sound thrust my heart into my throat, my entire body shaking from repulsive apprehension.
I opened my eyes, taking several deep breaths. Please. Please. Please. Even without his announcement, I’d know the sound anywhere, the loose board only three feet away from my bedroom door. I held my breath, staring at the window as lightning flashed in the distance.
I could pray but no amount of wishing or hoping would get me out of this.
If I could just get through tonight, then we’d be free. Free to start a new life. Free from watching my mother wither away. And free from his repulsive touch. One more night but this time I would do it my way. I could do it. I was a strong girl, more so than anyone understood. I had our bags packed, money tucked away, a destination secured.
You’re strong. You can get through this.
All I needed to do was fade into the blissful music that kept me sane. I started to hum softly as I curled into a ball. Tears filled my eyes but I refused to allow the bastard to win. No one would ever hurt me again. I’d make certain of it.
When I heard a creaking sound just outside the door, I stiffened.
No. No. No…
Then he opened the door.
There was no lock. It wasn’t allowed. Even if there was, he’d break it easily, refusing to be kept in a cage. He was a dangerous man and that my mother hadn’t left him disgusted me. She was too weak, her only method of fighting him falling into drugs and alcohol. Sadly, I didn’t blame her. I glanced at the bed, thankful I’d had a premonition tonight would be the night. The lump looked enough like me I could get a jump, but my timing had to be perfect.
If I knocked him out long enough, I could get Mama and our things and get the fuck out here. Then he’d never find us.
“Well. Well. The perfect little doll likes to watch. Don’t cha? Did you get an eyeful, baby girl? That’s what happens to snitches and people who fuck with me.” He swaggered inside, closing the door behind him. “I think it’s time you and I had a talk. Don’t you?”
Fear tore through me, my heart racing. His breathing was labored, the sound rattled. I sensed his rage and desire, another dangerous combination.
Tonight I’d followed him, hiding inside a warehouse, unable to get away. And I’d watched him murder a man in cold blood. I’d held my breath as blood dripped from horrific wounds, gashes created by my stepfather’s intricate knife work.
I’d covered my ears when the man had screamed in agony, the sound still echoing in my head.
And I’d cinched my eyes shut when I’d seen the flash of steel from the machete.
Now I would pay the price for knowledge.
The door was closed, his footsteps drawing closer.
Then I heard the brutal man unfastening his belt.
“I think it’s time we got to know each other better, don’t you, my sweet little Kerri?” He moved closer, yanking the comforter away, the pillow molded in the shape of my body pitched aside. “What the fuck? Where are you, you fucking whore?” He spun around, his rage uncontrollable.
Then my fist connected with the asshole’s nose as soon as I lunged from the shadows. The crunch of bone from his nose shattering was satisfying, maybe more than it should be. The brass knuckles had been an excellent purchase. I took another swing, catching him in the jaw.
And down he went.
The darkness prevented me from seeing blood seeping from his nose, but the coppery stench filtering into my nostrils was delicious nonetheless.
I wanted for a few seconds, controlling my breathing as I listened to his. Then I headed for the door.
The hard snap around my leg and the quick jerk brought me down with a hard thump, my head bouncing off the hardwood floor.
Moaning, I scrambled to get to my feet only to have the bastard almost snap my neck when he grabbed my hair, pitching me onto my back. Then he crawled over me, straddling my thighs and pinning them down.
“I like it when you fight, little girl. Tonight, you’re going to learn what it feels like to be with a man.”
Even as a scream bubbled from my chest, I realized no one was coming to help me. There was no one who could ever save me.
And all I could think about was how much I wanted to die.
Nine years later…
“Thanks, Mike. I’m sorry I interrupted your beauty sleep.” I sounded as exhausted as I felt, my eyes burning from the long day. I grabbed the grocery bag, thankful his small store still stayed open twenty-four/seven. They were rare in small neighborhoods given the security difficulties. Violent crimes were on the rise again.
“God knows I need it too but no worries, Kerri. So, you got yourself another job?” He gave me a lust-filled look even though he knew his flirtation wouldn’t go anywhere. I’d shut down any concept of dating almost a year before.
Reality was a cold, hard bitch, but it was something I’d been forced to face. I’d wanted so much out of my life but there were no dreams left inside of me, only the bitterness that would eventually eat me alive. I’d fought valiantly to try to create a better life, but after the fifth form email telling me I wouldn’t be allowed an audition, I’d finally had enough. There was also no Prince Charming riding in on an ebony steed ready to sweep me off my feet. That didn’t happen to a girl like me.
Hence, taking the job at the Blackout Club. While I wasn’t stripping, I might as well be given the ridiculous outfits I was required to wear.
I’d left the club still wearing my costume, although I’d ripped the kitten mask off my face as soon as I’d walked outside. I couldn’t imagine what kind of fantasies Mike would have after crawling into bed. “Yeah, you know how it goes.”
“I sure do. Take care and say hello to Casey for me.”
“I will.” As I walked out onto the sidewalk, I took a deep breath. After dancing all night in the thigh-high boots, my feet were shot. Only the rush of adrenaline had kept me going. I had a feeling on my hike back to the apartment it would wear off.
Only six blocks. You can do it. You’re a superstar.
The pep talk was lame as fuck. I rolled my eyes and headed toward the street, yanking the thin coat around my waist. With it being so late, thankfully there was limited traffic. That didn’t mean people weren’t awake and watching. I could feel eyes on me coming from every direction. I’d learned to be very observant, and I was certain one of the night crawlers had slithered out of his hiding place, interested in the female in fuck-me boots.
A few seconds later confirmed my suspicions.
Instantly, hairs rose on the back of my neck. I stopped for a few seconds, which was a stupid thing to do, horror movie stupid, but my breath was instantly ripped from my body. I couldn’t allow the fear to claw into my system. After swallowing, I quickly glanced over my shoulder. As if the boogeyman was going to offer me a few seconds head start before dragging me into the darkness for a little sexy time before slicing my throat.
Seeing nothing, I picked up my speed, crossing the street early instead of maintaining the same path. I’d been stupid not to wait until in the morning, but very little calmed Casey down when he was having a fit. Chocolate milk for the win.
I was stupid to think I could walk the six blocks without an issue. I’d prayed that being after one in the morning, I could get away with it.
Footsteps. I was certain I heard them falling in behind me.
Nights like tonight made me rethink my decision to stay in LA.
Why had I abandoned the car? Oh, yeah, because it was the last space near the apartment and because I needed to save gas. Crazy. I was nuts.
Metal hitting metal. I was as certain of it as I was the person was getting closer. The jerk was smacking something into every light post he passed. Two more blocks and I’d be home free. The neighborhood wasn’t considered particularly dangerous, although the various gangs were eating up real estate, forcing good people to close up their shops and move their families elsewhere. I didn’t have the luxury of doing that.
Just like I didn’t have the luxury of being able to drive everywhere. Conserving gas had become another method of trying to save every penny, something I needed even while working two jobs. It was exhausting, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I picked up my pace, which seemed to entice the person behind me. Laughter floated in my direction, dark and ominous as if a promise of things to come. I pulled my purse closer, trying not to be obvious about sticking my hand inside, yanking out my small can of mace.
One more block.
“I like it when you fight, little girl. Tonight, you’re going to learn what it feels like to be with a man.”
Fear tore through me in an unexpected way, the threatening voice seeming to be right beside me, even if I knew better. An ugly dream from the night before had driven me to the horrible moment in the past, the one I swore I’d never return to again.
I could swear I felt the asshole breathing down my neck. Keep walking. Don’t stop. You can make it. No, I had to make it. I was the only person Casey had in his life. While fear crawled into every muscle, I’d never allow myself to become a victim of anything and wouldn’t do so now because some piece of scum was taunting me.
“I think you and me need to party, pretty bitch. You got de boots. Ya got de hair. I bet you got a hot pussy. I feel de need to lick it. Fuck it.”
Christ. One of those. His voice was low and husky, grating to the point my nerves were frazzled. I ignored him, although murderous thoughts raced through my mind. The fucker didn’t want to bother me. Not tonight. I was already on the edge, my sanity slipping a little bit further into the abyss.
“Come on, sweet thing. Suck. My. Cock.”
Hold on. Recognition threatened to explode in my brain.
I almost stopped again. Keep going. His voice sounded familiar. One of my students? No, that wasn’t possible. Or was it? I was certain I’d heard it before. Ignoring him was my best option. I didn’t have far to go. At least the block where my apartment was located was well lit, several streetlights adding an eerie yellow glow to the worn-down buildings.
“Hey, bitch. I’m talking to you.”
I’d lived in the dark bowels of the city long enough to know the sound of a switchblade being opened. Without hesitation, I spun around, aiming the nozzle of mace where I believed his face would be. Why hadn’t I brought my knife? I made a promise that I’d never go out at night again without carrying it with me. It had been the first purchase I’d made after leaving Vegas, a gift for all the horrors I’d endured before being set free. “Fuck you,” I managed.
As the spray hit the dude in the eyes, I had a sense of satisfaction, even sporting a slight smile. But it was short lived. He howled, screaming obscenities and I took two steps back before sprinting the rest of the way, struggling to get my keys into the lock on the outside door of my apartment building.
Relief flooded me when I managed to jerk it open, ready to flee to safety.
Then I heard his voice, the deep growl he issued. “Bitch. He knows where you live. Watch your back.”
I slammed the door behind me, pushing myself against the wall so I could try to catch my breath. The warning wasn’t typical for a gangster out for a good time or to grab some quick cash. And I wasn’t some random chick. I’d heard the warning before. The kid was nothing but a paid messenger. I was certain of it.
Someone was out there. Waiting. Watching.
Preparing to strike.
Shaking all over, I tried to shove the ugly thoughts aside. Casey couldn’t see me like this. He’d freak out. After taking several deep breaths, I headed up the stairs to my third floor apartment, almost calm by the time I unlocked the door. I could hear him wailing from where I stood. That wasn’t good. My caretaker had called me in a panic, her usual methods of calming him down failing. Thank God my neighbors were understanding, but I knew their patience could last but for so long.
At least it had been a few weeks since he’d had an occurrence. Why tonight? He’d been doing so well, but I’d sensed an episode coming on. I’d almost called in sick from my new job, but I needed the money too badly.
Rebecca immediately rose from the chair, her demeanor highlighting how frazzled she was. “I’m sorry I had to call you,” she said. “I tried everything. Reading. Cuddling. His favorite movies.”
“It’s okay. Thank you for staying longer than expected. I’m glad you called. I’m so sorry he was such a handful.” The college-aged girl was a godsend, one of very few people Casey could tolerate.
She nodded and I sensed she wanted to say something else, but I moved past her into the small kitchen, grabbing a glass then tearing open the carton of milk. Right now, I couldn’t take anything else thrown my way, my limit reached when my broken-down POS of a car had needed some work done.
My hand was shaking as I poured the liquid, enough so several precious drops spilled. The half-gallon would need to do until I got paid from my new job. The money from teaching was already spoken for.
And then some.
As soon as I walked into Casey’s room, he stopped moaning. His fists were still balled, his face covered in tears. “Hey, buddy. I’m here. Look what I brought you as a surprise.”
“Kerwi.” His face was beet red, his room a mess from where he’d thrown a fit. I didn’t have the energy to clean up at this point, the exhaustion starting to take a toll.
“I’m right here, little buddy.” I was relieved that he hadn’t hurt himself, which he’d done twice before, the small scars on his face a constant reminder. I’d also lost him to social services once, thankful I’d had the nanny-cam on to prove that he’d acted on his own in the blink of an eye. That didn’t make the situation any better.
“Why is your hair bright pink?” he asked, giggling immediately.
For some reason, my fake hair color calmed him down almost instantly. I made a mental note to purchase several more of the cheap bottles. Maybe chocolate milk and fuchsia hair was the ticket for the entire lottery. If only it could be that simple. If only I could fix his little brain.
“Because I’m pretending it’s Halloween!” I made every word exaggerated, tickling his tummy. His giggle continued, a sound I was certain I’d never hear, the first few months spent with me so horrible.
Then I eased onto his bed, gently taking my time to unfold his fingers from one hand, slowly wrapping them around the glass. The tension began to ooze from his body, allowing him to function almost normally.
Only then could I take a deep breath.
My life was in shambles.
My nerves frazzled.
My bank account close to zero.
And I had nobody to count on in case of a crisis.
A wave of sadness and anger spiraled together and suddenly, I couldn’t stop the tears.
Tomorrow was another day, a chance to excel in my new parttime job and I had to be on my game.
“I’m ending the call, Elizabeth. I’m not going through this again.”
“But we need to talk,” she insisted. “I have something you need to hear.”
“We don’t have a single thing left to talk about.” Jesus Christ. I’d gone from being in a decent mood to wanting to bite the head off a bat in less than ten seconds.
“Don’t shut me down, Grant. This is important.”
It was always important. To her. Not to me.
I laughed and continued to head toward the Blackout Club from my office, jogging down the stairs. “We’re finished. This is the last time I’m going to tell you. Goodnight, Elizabeth, and lose my number.” I ended the call before she tried to ply me with excuses for the umpteenth time. I wasn’t the kind of man to fall for that bullshit a second time. My ex had a way of weaseling her way into my life when I least expected it. I should change my number and would if it wasn’t one of two phones I also used for business.
Hissing at my stupidity, I remained agitated as I headed into the club. Every time I walked through the crowds, I was amazed at the number of people packed inside. I noticed Blackout’s manager and headed toward him, following his gaze toward the ceiling. You have got to be kidding me.
I thought I’d seen it all inside the club, including the wackiest neon/blacklight decorated uniforms but this took the cake. I wasn’t running a goddamn strip club, no matter what was written in the press.
“Cages? Really?” My snarl was darker than normal. I planted my hands on my hips as I stared at the four massive steel enclosures secured to the ceiling by neon cables. The metal bars were wrapped in strings of pulsing lights in shades of fuchsia, lime green, and electric blue accenting two male and two female dancers dressed like… tigers.
I slowly turned my head toward Parker Dyson. He’d been the manager of the popular nightclub for over five years. While the entire club consisted of Blackout and the private side, Carnal Sins, had both seen recent updates given decisions I’d made with my two partners, Parker had creative control over Blackout. Up to this point, he’d followed the company line. However, cages had yet to be installed in either Miami or DC.
Parker shrugged as we both stared up at the ceiling. Lately, I’d been in more piss-poor moods than I’d been in my entire twenty years of doing business. Sadly, Elizabeth always added fuel to the fire. Sighing, I scrubbed my jaw and glared at the steel bars glistening in the neon light. The enclosures were large enough a single dancer had plenty of room to stand and perform sensual moves without hindrance. They were also low enough to the dancefloor that an extremely tall individual could touch the bottom platform. When I noticed that streamers were being tossed to the huge crowd below, I shook my head.
“They’re popular with the crowds. Tonight is kitty-cat night. Tomorrow is all about sexy devils,” he said over the loud roar of primal music, the rapid thumping of the bass drums energizing the capacity crowd. The public side of the massive structure I owned always had a waiting line outside of at least three hundred eager partygoers, while the exclusive members-only kink club had a private entrance allowing for complete anonymity.
They both made millions of dollars every quarter.
I was a lucky man, my wealth exponentiating every year.
“And the next night?” I was afraid to ask at this point.
“Aliens that glow in the blacklights.” He laughed nervously when he saw my face. “Trust me, boss. I know what I’m doing. Business is up by more than ten percent. I attribute it to the cages. When you get a chance, look at the comments on our Facebook page. Outstanding. People want more. Their needs are increasing and changing. We need to exceed our limits.”
Yes, apparently increasing to a frenzy.
Blackout was the hottest club in LA, at least according to various social media sites. Lines of people waited to get in every night. Between the neon lights, the special glasses allowing guests to see bits of information about the person standing in front of them, and the hot music, the club was standing room only every night.
However, Carnal Sins was my baby. Our services were geared mostly to men, although women were welcome as members. Almost every kink was catered to from humiliation to flogging, voyeurism to impact play. With a special, very private entrance and a secure four-level garage, members had complete anonymity.
“Did my sister approve of these… atrocities?” I asked with the same disgust in my voice, curious if he’d managed to get through her hard outer shell.
“I’ll have you know the lovely Anastasia thought the idea was what she called a ‘chef’s kiss.’ You can call her if you don’t believe me.” Parker held a hint of arrogance in his tone as well. Hell, I couldn’t blame him.
Exhaling, I shook my head again. My sister was not only controller of the entire corporation, but she was also one kinky woman preferring her submissives be buff and rugged. She had an appetite for sex more than most men I knew. “Then I guess they stay.”
“I knew you’d approve.”
That remained to be seen.
“Incidentally, some guy stopped by earlier looking for you,” Parker said over the din of the crowd.
“You’ll need to be a bit more specific.”
“He didn’t tell me his name and I didn’t ask. Slick around the edges. You know the type. We weren’t even open yet. I was just coming into work.”
I was used to politicians hovering around every so often, conservative God-fearing people who thought they’d try to shut us down, and they were almost always in slick suits with an entourage behind them. “Ever see him before?”
“No, but he reminded me of an FBI agent for sure. The slick dude had on a cheap suit and had no personality.”
Parker’s repetitive words meant not only had I made him nervous, but the mystery visitor had as well.
Unfortunately, I knew the type all too well. The entire Carnal Sins Corporation had been under scrutiny at one time or another. The intended demise of all three clubs had been used for political gain over the years, fortunately to no avail. “What did you tell our surprise guest?”
Parker snorted. “That I wasn’t your keeper.”
Chuckling, I gave him an approving nod. “Let me know if you see him again. If I’m here, keep him on lockdown.”
It had been quiet the last few months. No issues with members, no hounding from the press trying to garner their fifteen minutes of fame. Even movie producers, who’d once flooded me with requests to use the club as a backdrop for a kinky movie, hadn’t bothered me as of late. I should have known it wouldn’t stay quiet for long.
“Will do. You sure about the cages? I don’t want them to drive you into an even worse daily mood.”
“Very funny.” I rubbed my jaw, noticing the girl in the closest cage was being taunted by a group of men. She was handling it like a wildcat, using her ‘paw’ and clawing through the bars. “As long as things don’t get too rowdy, then I’m fine with the cages being here.” I studied her for a few seconds, drawn to her stunning hourglass figure and long pink hair. While the costume and makeup, including whiskers hid a good portion of her face, there was no disguising her incredible beauty.
My cock stirred and that hadn’t occurred in a hell of a long time.
“Brak, Abe, and Luis can handle the assholes.” He seemed certain of that.
Our regular bouncers, men built like tanks, their backgrounds including military training. They were necessary to keep the riffraff out. Trouble was the last thing I needed on my plate, especially when LA’s finest had been on my ass lately. There was no reason the chief of police continued to hassle us other than the mayor was up for re-election and the chief was in his right hand pocket.
My Miami partner, Jameson Stark, had experienced the same thing over the last couple of years. Even though everyone who was anyone in the city belonged to Carnal Sins, it didn’t seem to stop the ‘God-fearing politicians’ when they needed to bask in the limelight. I snickered at the thought. Jameson’s club was exceeding expectations this year while Lachlan McKenzie’s DC Club had a waiting list of two years. “Maybe so but let me know if you experience any disturbances.”
“You got it, boss.”
“You can call me Grant. We’ve worked together long enough.” I don’t know why I felt the need to remind him other than issuing an olive branch for being a complete asshole as of late.
“No can do, boss. You’re the man of action.”
Even when I was in a piss-poor mood, he had a way of making me laugh, refusing to take the business too seriously. I checked my watch, realizing I had another fifteen minutes before my meeting with a potential new Carnal Sins member. Why the man has insisted he meet with me kept a red flag in the back of my mind. The candidates usually filled out an application and waited for approval or denial. They knew the requirements, a half million dollar initiation fee, at least as much per year depending on their level of involvement.
Parker seemed to notice my stare and chuckled. “She goes by the name of Star Angel.”
“Creative. Somehow, I don’t think our little feisty kitten is an angel.”
“Why don’t you meet her and find out.”
Growling, I threw him a look. It seemed everyone was trying to set me up.
He laughed and threw up his hands in retreat. “From what I heard she wanted a job in the sinful side of our world but didn’t have any experience.”
In watching her moves, I sensed she’d make an excellent addition, but the few women and men selected to work the rooms knew exactly what they were getting into and thrived off the attention. “Well, she is spectacular but not tonight.”
“That’s right. You’re in a shitty mood.” He walked away before I could say something.
Gritting my teeth, I headed toward the bar, catching one of the bartenders’ eyes almost immediately. Shilo didn’t need to ask what I’d prefer, grabbing my favorite bottle of Kentucky bourbon from the shelf and pouring a glass. Neat.
As she placed a cocktail napkin, she gave me a pensive look.
“What’s up, Shilo?”
“I heard an entire baseball team is coming for a post win party this weekend?”
“You’re assuming they’ll win.”
“Oh, for God’s sake, Mr. Wilde, the LA Robins have lost very few games this year. They are almost guaranteed to win the World Series.”
The tension from Elizabeth’s earlier phone call finally easing, I took a sip of my drink. “We shall see. Your concerns?”
“Uh-huh.” It was true. The last time a group was in Blackout, fights broke out. “I’ll add additional security.”
She smiled and the entire bar lit up. “Thank you. Anything else I can get you?” She’d flirted with me since she was hired over a year before, but she knew the rules as well as anyone.
No fraternizing among employees was allowed. I had few rules, but that was one I strictly enforced.
Including for myself.
Had I been tempted over the years? Without a doubt. We hired some of the most incredible talent and beautiful people in all of LA. But none of the gorgeous women suited my needs. My time with Elizabeth had erased certain needs. While my reputation as a dangerous man preceded me, few women knew how sadistic I was. However, in my mind, the woman had to be special. Maybe I had no clue what that meant. At this point, my mother would tell me I was wasting my life away, just like my baby sister had ribbed me for the last ten years to find a wife.
That wasn’t on my radar.
“Not a thing, Shilo.”
She pouted, pursing her pretty fuchsia lips before backing away. Maybe I’d call it an early night after my brief meeting. I remained where I was at the bar, watching the same kitty-cat as she gyrated her hips in time to the music, amazed she managed to use every inch of her cage, her moves graceful. I could easily get lost between her long legs for hours, savoring the delicious scent of her pussy.
Shit. My cock was throbbing just thinking about all the filthy things I could do to her. Apparently, I needed to get laid. I did what I could to shove the thoughts aside, taking another gulp of my drink, hoping the smooth taste would help.
I watched as the cages were lowered, doing what I could to shove my libido back into its cage-like prison. Nothing good came from indulging in my proclivities.
When I heard a ping coming from my phone, I was almost grateful for the interruption. Seeing Anastasia’s text amused the hell out of me.
Tick. Tock. Dearest brother, don’t forget the charity event…
I was a grown man being reminded by his baby sister that I had an awards dinner to go to the next night. She had a better handle on my schedule than I did, and she lived across the country.
I quickly texted her back.
Why would you think I’d forget?
Duh. Because I know you. Remember?
That’s not nice.
I never said I was nice.
Huffing, I shoved the phone into my jacket. Next, she’d demand pictures from the illustrious by-invitation-only event for our website. As I returned to my drink, something caught my eye. Star Angel was out of her cage and currently being hassled by three customers. It was impossible to take my eyes off her, the way she was able to handle herself professional yet with purpose. But there was no denying she was already close to getting into a physical fight, her stance reminding me of a boxer ready to throw a punch.
While I’d normally allow the bouncers to handle the situation, I couldn’t allow things to get out of hand. I took long strides toward the group, scanning the three gentlemen I’d never seen before. That meant nothing on the Blackout side of my club, the expansive location open to the public after a hefty entrance fee.
“Gentlemen. I’m going to need to ask you to stop hassling my employees.” While I wasn’t known for charming demeanor, I thought it best to try a positive approach first. If I didn’t succeed, there would likely be bloodshed and my face on the morning news. That wouldn’t bode well for business. Or maybe it would.
It had before, although the scandal had followed me around like a noose hanging from my neck for three months. Still, the asshole shouldn’t have attempted to strongarm me inside my own club. Maybe I was just in the mood to start a fight.
Or a war.
“Fuck you, buddy. She belongs to us.”
The guy was almost as tall as I was, carrying a few more pounds, and he had trouble written all over his bald, inked head. I might have snagged one or two of my burly bouncers had the man not made the critical mistake of snapping his hand around Star’s wrist, yanking her against his chest. He was also stupid enough to flick his tongue like a serpent, the godawful sound cutting through the primal music.
Before I had a chance to say or do a thing, the stunning kitten elbowed him first, stomped on his foot with the tall heel of her boot second, then spun around and kneed him in the groin.
“Take that, you fucking piece of shit.” Before I had a chance to react, she cold cocked him under the jaw. His two buddies remained in shock. I couldn’t help but grin.
My God, I wanted to applaud her efforts, but only after I thrust my cock into her tight channel.
Get a grip, bubba. Keep your dick in your pants.
“Whoa!” the two other dudes said at the same time.
When the first guy reared back, his fist already in motion, determined to deck a lady, I had no choice but to step in. Issuing a single savage punch to his nose, I was provided with the joy of hearing it crack upon breaking as well as his guttural whimper as he was pitched to the floor. At least this time I didn’t break any furniture in the process.
The two other guys were stunned but Star Angel glared at me defiantly. “Hey. I don’t know who you are, but I can take care of myself. I didn’t need your damn interference.” Her lilting Spanish accent was delicious music in the overheated environment.
Her tone was caustic, accusatory. And it was obvious she had no clue who I was. That suited me just fine. I’d have allowed her to continue believing I was some dumb schmuck vying for her attention if Brak and Abe hadn’t joined the party, both with their arms crossed as they surveyed the scene.
She was shifting back and forth, drawing attention to her cheap yet sexy thigh-high boots, which accentuated her shapely legs.
“Well, I would prefer it that a beautiful woman wasn’t accosted. If I can do something to keep that from happening, then I will.” I heard the continued antagonistic tone in my voice and sighed. It had been a long week, sleep difficult.
“A regular hero. Where’s your cape?” she asked snidely.
“At the cleaners. May I suggest that you take a break for a few minutes and collect yourself.”
The girl glared at me, the garish makeup unable to hide her annoyance. “You don’t rule me, buddy.”
Brak was waiting for the opportunity to jump in, amused at the banter. There was a fire in the girl that I appreciated, but not tonight. I had a mindset of dragging her to my office, forcing her over the edge of my desk for a harsh reminder that I was in charge. I envisioned her reddened bottom as I spanked her and my cock immediately flickered into life.
Oh, good. Do exactly that.
The jerk on the floor moaned and Star Angel acted as if she was ready to punch him again.
“Can I help you, boss?” Brak asked, his tone full of amusement.
My attention was drawn briefly to the fallen jerk.
“The fucker broke my nose. He broke my nose!” the thug wailed, flailing on the floor like some idiot.
“You’re lucky you won’t need a stay at the local hospital, buddy. The owner of the club doesn’t take kindly the female employees being harassed.” Abe jerked the asshole off the floor by his shirt, shaking his head and muttering under his breath.
I felt the heat of the girl’s glare as she realized I owned the place.
“Fuck,” Star Angel muttered. “This can’t be happening.”
“Kindly escort our boys to the door,” I told my bouncers, momentarily ignoring her. “This is your single warning, gentlemen. If you bother any of my employees again or create any issues whatsoever, you will be banned permanently from the joint.” I didn’t ask if they understood. I didn’t give a crap.
I returned my attention to Star Angel, resisting complimenting her on her technique. I also didn’t need employees beating the shit out of my customers. However, the little hotheaded kitty was by far the most intriguing woman I’d come across in a long time.
Or maybe it was my throbbing cock talking.
“Um. You’re the owner?” she asked, and I detected a heightened level of disbelief, more than a hint of rebellion. She was daring me to lie to her.
“No, just the guy who pays the bills.”
“Shit. Shit. Shit.”
Why the hell was I egging her on?
Because you’re in a pissy mood.
The thought about dragging her into my office, tossing her across my desk for a hard spanking to remedy her insolence returned. The other part wanted to shove my shaft into her tight pussy. Way to go, bud. You don’t even know the girl.
True, but I wanted to.
“You really are the boss?” At least her tone held additional embarrassment.
“It depends on the day and my mood. Who am I, Brak?”
The heavily inked man folded his massive arms across his chest. “You’re the dude who signs my paycheck and from time to time kicks me in the butt. You’re also on the cover of the latest Hollywood Life as… what did they call you? Oh, yeah, the most eligible and powerful bachelor in the city. Something like that.” He grinned as he turned his attention to the girl. “Oh, and if I were you, I wouldn’t get on his bad side. He has a mean streak like nobody’s business.”
What the fuck? I lifted my eyebrow as I glared at him. He and I had been buds for a few years, spending time in the basement of his house shooting pool and talking smack about the power hitters who were members of Carnal Sins. He could barely keep from laughing.
The stunning, mouthy girl on the other hand was close to hyperventilating.
“Oh, shit. Oh, shit on a shingle, my life sucks. Why does my life need to suck so badly?” Without managing to look me in the eyes, Star Angel pushed her way through the crowd, disappearing within seconds.
“Why in God’s name did you say that shit to her?”
“Because you’re fun to fuck with.”
“I should fire your ass right now.” The three bullies snickered and I was ready to punch each one of them. “Get them out of here before I lose my temper.”
Brak laughed from beside me. “Hey, I was trying to help you. Sadly, your technique with women isn’t getting any better, boss. You want me to toss you some pointers?”
As he gave me an evil grin, I resisted giving him the finger in my show of appreciation for his oh-so kind offer.
Unfortunately, the man was right.