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Fuck this book left me in awe dang` lmaoo
04 December 2020 (13:42)
I have recently converted to Islam I love this book
12 December 2020 (20:08)
Do bad deeds and I’ll do this to you in hell ??
12 December 2020 (20:09)
That’ll make your pussy throb
26 January 2021 (05:50)
If you're looking for a spicy book, look no further because this was something ELSE. I did however have to put it down multiple times though due to how cringey the dialogue was. The plot was nonexistent and our MC had an I'm not like other girls type vibe
Overall, this is basically your average wattpad story
Overall, this is basically your average wattpad story
29 January 2021 (17:18)
This book got me into the reverse harem trope! So good if your looking for drama, steam, HEAT, and relationships. Recommend!!
30 January 2021 (11:39)
Please don't read books from this site. It's illegal and taking money from the author. If there is a book you want to read, but don't feel the author deserves compensation, if you ask them nicely, I'm sure they will send you the book for free. By supporting sites like this is makes it hard for the authors you do like to continue writing the books you love. Just please consider other forms of reading besides theft/piracy.
15 March 2021 (21:05)
GARBAGE, literally no plot whatsoever and the guys are all brothers who share one girl like what? but to each their own I guess
16 March 2021 (04:53)
What is a plot & who took it from this book?
30 March 2021 (23:32)
I’m so glad I came here before I bought the book, there is literally no plot .
01 April 2021 (14:53)
It is wrong to pirate books yes. but if you end up liking a book you should invest in a hard copy in order to support the writer
20 April 2021 (14:22)
Like okay??I need to seek the Lord's guidance after this
21 April 2021 (08:44)
Lmao its wrong to pirate? Thats like saying checking out books from the library isn't supporting the author thats so idiotic
24 April 2021 (01:47)
authors actually earn money from library checkouts dumb fuck
24 April 2021 (04:22)
How do I open the book so that I can read it?
24 April 2021 (10:19)
Considering readers who can't afford to buy books each other day,,I'm not sorry I found this site.
Oh and try reading A touch of darkness before reading this. Happy reading!
Oh and try reading A touch of darkness before reading this. Happy reading!
28 April 2021 (00:12)
A touch of darkness was great as well as its sequel a touch of ruin so I second you on everything you wrote in this comment~ Izze
06 May 2021 (23:35)
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09 May 2021 (20:23)
book was a little dark, basically no plot whatsoever, literally just sex, so if ur into that shit, this book's for u
11 May 2021 (05:04)
Contents Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20 Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24 Chapter 25 Chapter 26 Chapter 27 Chapter 28 Chapter 29 Chapter 30 Chapter 31 Chapter 32 Chapter 33 Chapter 34 Chapter 35 Chapter 36 Chapter 37 Chapter 38 Chapter 39 Chapter 40 Chapter 41 Chapter 42 Chapter 43 Chapter 44 Chapter 45 Chapter 46 Chapter 47 Chapter 48 Chapter 49 Chapter 50 Chapter 51 Chapter 52 Chapter 53 Chapter 54 Chapter 55 Chapter 56 Chapter 57 Chapter 58 Chapter 59 Chapter 60 Chapter 61 Chapter 62 Chapter 63 Chapter 64 Chapter 65 Chapter 66 Chapter 67 Chapter 68 Chapter 69 Chapter 70 Epilogue About the Author Also By K.A Knight Den Of Vipers. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to places, events or real people are entirely coincidental. Copyright © 2020 K.A. Knight, all rights reserved. Written by K.A. Knight Edited By Jess from Elemental Editing and Proofreading. Formatted by The Nutty Formatter Cover design by Celin Graphics Chapter One DIESEL “You understand what that means, don’t you, Rob?” Ryder murmurs as he straightens his suit, not that it was even wrinkled in the first place. Fucker always dresses like he’s ready to walk a runway. Though the cold calculation in his gaze lets you know he’s not just a pretty face. I told him once I could scar his face for him, it might make others take him more seriously. I don’t know why he said no. I, on the other hand, am covered in Rob’s blood, so is Garrett for that matter. His scarred, tatted up knuckles bleed from the punches he delivered to our unhappy host. Munching on the guy’s crisps, I watch in glee as Garrett deliv; ers another brutal blow before stepping back. There’s a reason they call him Mad Dog in the ring—you don’t even see the big bastard coming. I’d know, I’ve fought him a couple of times. They were good times, even if I did break some bones. Blinking, I look back at the man in the chair opposite Ryder. Rob’s eye is ballooned shut, his lip split and cheek already bruising. And those are only the wounds you can see. I know there are a few blisters forming under his shirt from where Ryder let me have some fun. Kenzo is leaning against the wall opposite me, his dice rolling between his fingers like always. His face, similar to Ryder’s, is locked in a death stare with the man, waiting for something interesting to happen. It was Kenzo who brought this man to our attention, after all. But Rob looks only to Ryder—good. Let him think Ryder is the only one in charge, we like to keep it that way. To have him as the face of our…company. I snort at that, fucking company. We do have a few legit businesses, not that I have anything to do with them. I was deemed too insane to deal with employees after I burned one of their eyes out for calling me scum. “Rob, pay attention, I don’t like to repeat myself,” Ryder snaps, so Garrett grabs Rob’s greying, short hair and yanks his head back, a blade appearing in his hand, which he presses to the shaking man’s throat. Sweat drips down his face as he cries out, and I wonder if Ryder will let me kill him. It’s been a whole two days since I got to kill someone, and I’m getting restless. “Yes, yes, I understand, take her!” he screams. What a prick. The loser would sell his own daughter to cover his debt to us. I suppose when you don’t have the money to pay, and the only other option is to take it from your flesh…you become real easy on what you’re willing to do. This city is ours, he would never escape us. He knows that, it’s written in the defeat in his brown eyes. I wonder if his daughter is better looking than him, either way, she’ll be ours now. We normally don’t deal in flesh, well, not live flesh, but beggars can’t be choosers. A debt is a debt, and it has to be paid or others will start to think we’re going soft. Ryder leans back, a smirk curling up his pretty boy lips. Rolling my eyes, I step forward from the dark, and that’s when Rob starts to cry. He knows what I am—death. Ryder might be the face, Garret might be the enforcer, the muscle, and Kenzo the dealer…but me? I’m the fucking Grim Reaper. “Have her!” he screams, thrashing in Garrett’s grip, whose face tightens in disgust. Me? I laugh. Leaning down, I get into his face, letting him see the madness in my gaze. My fingers itch to grab my lighter, to burn his house down with him in it until I hear his screams. Fuck, I can almost taste the fear, feel the flames licking me—my cock hardens in my trousers at the image. “Tell me, when I burn her, will you care or not?” I laugh. Garrett grins, flashing perfectly white teeth. The bastard is almost as crazy as I am, probably from one too many blows to his massive head. I smirk at him. “I wonder if she bleeds as pretty?” “Enough,” Ryder snaps, so I move away, doing as I’m told. “Where is she?” “She-she owns a bar on the south side of the city, Roxers.” He quivers, crying like a pussy. Big, fat tears drip down his face. I wonder if she’ll cry. It makes it sweeter when they do. I realise then I’m rubbing my cock through my jeans, and Kenzo is glaring at me, so I stop with a wink. “Rob, if we aren’t satisfied with her as payment, we’ll be back, you can bet on that,” Kenzo adds decisively, ending this deal. He knows the look on my face. I want blood. “Will you kill her?” Rob sobs pathetically. “Do you care?” Ryder counters, arching an eyebrow at the man. “You just sold your daughter to cover your debt without even trying to stop us.” “I-I’m a shit father, but she deserves better than you monsters,” he snarls, showing the first bit of balls I’ve seen from him. “Hear that, Ry? We’re monsters,” I boom, laughing so hard I smack my jeans. “I told you that suit ain’t fooling anyone, man.” Like usual, Ryder ignores my manic outbursts. “We’ll do whatever we want to her. Fuck her. Torture her. Beat her. Kill her. I just wanted you to know that,” Ryder remarks as he stands, buttoning his blue suit as he does so. Habitually, he swipes back his perfect hair and aims a business-like smile at Rob. “We will be in touch.” He turns and starts to walk away. Kenzo pushes off the wall, pocketing his dice. “Don’t be a stranger at the tables.” I laugh harder as Garrett releases Rob’s neck, tapping his cheek with the blade, all friendly like. Me? I get in the man’s face again, wanting him to look into the eyes of the man who’s going to wreck his daughter. When I’m done with her, there won’t even be enough to bury. “I’m going to make her scream, I might even record it for you.” “Diesel,” Ryder calls from the doorway of the shitty little two-story house we’re in. Leaning forward, I press my lips near the man’s ear. “I’ll let you know if she comes before or after I slice her neck,” I whisper, before lunging forward and biting off his earlobe. He screams as I howl with laughter, spitting the flesh and blood across his chest as I turn to leave, whistling to myself as the copper tang fills my mouth and drips down my chin. “You’re a crazy bastard,” Garrett grumbles. “You too, brother, now let’s go get our new toy!” I declare, suddenly in a good mood with the prospect of torture on the horizon. Rob should have known better, the whole city should… When you fuck with Vipers, you get fangs. That poor little girl has no idea what’s coming her way… Chapter Two ROXY “Alright, alright, I get it. You’re the prettiest butterfly in the butterfly farm.” I nod seriously as I grip Henry’s shoulder and press him down, helping him into the cab. “See you tomorrow, Henry. Try not to choke on your own vomit.” I chuckle as I slam the door shut. Heading to the front, I pass the driver some money and tell him Henry’s address. As a regular, he’s here every night. I asked him once why he drank. Honestly, I didn’t expect an answer. The poor bastard’s daughter died a few years back. Murdered. Ever since, he drowns his sorrows, and I make sure he gets home okay. He might be a drunk, but I have a soft spot for him. I can see the pain in his eyes, and any father who cares that much about his daughter is a good man. But maybe that’s my own daddy complex talking. Turning back to my bar, I grin at the exterior. She ain’t much to look at, but she’s all mine. “Roxers,” written in bright red LED letters, hangs above the door which has seen better days. She’s rundown for sure, a dive, but she’s one hell of a place to drink. The outside looks like an old cabin of some kind. Made from wood and mismatched brick. She has a porch wrapped all the way around where the patrons all smoke, with bike spaces in front of her. The two swinging doors are unlocked at the moment, and the filthy windows leave you unable to look inside. We get all types here—truckers, bikers, criminals. Everyone is welcome. There’s only one rule—don’t break the fucking furniture. It’s an old rule, put into place before I even owned it, I just carried on the tradition. The sandy parking lot is empty, apart from my beat-up muscle car that I won in a bet, so I head back inside, flicking off the sign as I go so everyone knows we’re closed. It’s early, almost time for the sun to come up. I guess owning a bar makes me a nocturnal creature, I did always prefer the night and all the fun that comes with it. Sighing, I brush back my silver hair and put it in a quick ponytail as I start to close up. I sent Travis home earlier, his grandma is sick and needed his help, so clean up is on me now. Picking up one of the mismatched chairs, I lay it on the table before collecting the glasses, as many as I can. I head towards the back, past the pool tables and dartboards, and march up the stairs to the left. I push open the kitchen door with my hip and rinse the glasses before running them through the washer. Flicking off the kitchen light, I walk back into the bar area to mop the floor, not that it stops it from being a sticky mess you wouldn’t want to walk on with bare feet, but it’s a habit. To my left is the old bar, the top made from beer tops set in resin, a gift. It’s clear of bottles at the moment, the differing stools empty before it. The old, wooden shelves hold every type of liquor you can imagine and the kegs waiting to be filled. I already sorted the bar and cash register while Henry was pretending to be a butterfly, so not much more to do now before I can collapse into bed. Fuck, I need to find a new bartender. It’s hard finding one with experience who will last here though. They either speak too freely or fall in with the bad crowd. Yeah, you can’t look on a job website for this one, folks. The last one we had was sent to jail for murder. Yeah, that’s the kind of place it is. Although, I gotta say, I miss the old bastard, he played a mean hand of poker. I stop when I pass the door, and it swings shut behind me. There, in my bar, are four massive men. Tattoos cover their knuckles and necks, one even has his head shaved. Unsavoury sorts, of course, but that ain’t different from the usual around here. Their clothing is all black, and I narrow my eyes, assessing them quickly. “We’re closed,” I tell them, hoping they will take a hint. Fucking sloppy, I didn’t lock the door. That’s what pulling pints and breaking up fights for fourteen days straight will do to you. I’m in desperate need of a day off, and now these assholes waltz in here like they own the joint. One cracks his knuckles as they all smirk at me. If they think that will scare me, they should think again. I drink beer with men who would make these guys piss themselves, and I usually drink them under the table. Everyone knows Roxers, and everyone knows me…and not to fuck with me. There’s a reason they all call me Swinger, and it ain’t ’cause I go to sex parties. Sliding closer to the bar, I slip my hand behind it, connecting with the smooth wood of my trusty bat, the bitch smacker. “I said we’re closed. Better get out, boys.” “Or what?” one of them challenges as he steps forward. The fucker has a scar right across his eyelid. “Going to cry for help?” He laughs, and the others join in. Rolling my eyes, I pull out my bat and rest it on my shoulder. “No, I’ll break your fucking kneecaps and toss you outside like the garbage you are. Now, one more warning—we’re closed.” They share looks again. “Is this broad serious?” “Broad?” I snap, low and deadly as I step closer. “Did you just call me a broad?” They ignore me, of course, so I palm my bat. That prick gets it first. Ain’t nobody insulting me in my own bar, that’s just plain rude. Heading their way while they’re still arguing about how best to grab me, I swing, letting the full force of the bat hit the asshole’s knees. He crumples to the floor, a scream erupting from his throat as I smirk down at him from my five foot six frame—well, five foot nine with my biker boots. “Want to call me a broad again?” “Fucking get her!” he wheezes, so I kick him in the balls, making him fall back with a cry as I turn to face the others, ducking their grabbing hands. Swinging my bat, I hit one of them right in the junk, and he goes down hard, so I bring up my knee and smash it into his nose, hearing the crack as it bursts like a peach. Fuck, now there’s blood on my floor. I just mopped! Angry now, I swing like a woman possessed as the other two duck and dive, trying to stay out of my path. One of them falls onto a stool, smashing it beneath his gigantic frame. I freeze, my eyes narrowing dangerously, and he scampers backwards. “Did you just break my stool?” I seethe. He gulps as I fling myself at him with a Braveheart worthy war cry. I smack him with the bat, making him grunt. He punches his fist out as I kneel down to get his face. It connects with my jaw, and my head jerks to the side, blood filling my mouth. Deadly fury fills me. Turning back slowly, I glare down at him and he knows he fucked up. Just then, arms come around me from behind, hoisting me to my feet. Smashing my head back, I connect with the guy’s chin, stomping on his foot as I elbow his junk and slip out of his hold while he grunts in pain. Thank you very much, Miss Congeniality. Lining up my bat, I swing, hitting him square in the face. He actually flies backwards from the force, landing hard on the floor and almost shaking the building. He stays down. One to go. I turn back to the guy who broke my stool. He’s just getting to his feet, so I kick them out from under him, sweeping my leg as I bring my bat down across his spine. He slumps forward, so I smash it down on the back of his head. Whistling, I look around to see the first guy struggling to his feet, so I throw my bat at him, and it does as its name suggests—hits the bitch. He’s out cold. Stomping through the mess and their bodies, I pick up my bat and wipe it on his shirt before putting it on a nearby table. Propping my hands on my hips, I sigh at the sight before me. Now how the hell do I get them out? Resigned, I grab one of their collars and start to tug, but he’s a big bastard, so I pick one of the smaller guys first. Bending, I hoist my hands under his shoulders and grunt as I yank him towards the door. The door that’s swinging open. I lift my head, blowing my hair from my face, and drop the guy I’m trying to drag to the door. Travis stands there, open-mouthed. He’s still in this black Roxers shirt, which is tucked into blue jeans, and boots, his deceptively thin frame shivering from the cold. He flips his blue hair from his face, his green eyes peering at me. “Jesus, Roxy, what the fuck happened?” “That one called me a broad, that one broke the furniture, I didn’t like the other two’s faces.” I shrug, wiping away the sweat on my brow with my arm. “Whatcha doing here?” “Forgot my key,” he murmurs, looking at my handiwork. “Good, you can help me toss these assholes outside.” I grin, and he shakes his head. “Never a dull day with you, babe.” He drops his bag, though, and heads my way. With his help, it only takes me five minutes to toss them into the alley out back. Dusting off my hands, I head back inside, making sure to lock the door this time as I dial the local police. I’m going to tell them what happened and where the guys are, no doubt they will get spooked at the sirens and run…if they wake up. Travis lifts his finger, showing me his keys as I lean against the bar. “You going to be okay?” he mouths. I nod and wave him away as someone finally answers, then I relay the information before hanging up, ignoring the questions they sputter at me. “Sure thing, tell your grandma I said hi. I’m going to shower and sleep.” “See you tomorrow, babe.” He snorts as he leaves. I lock up behind him, putting the deadbolts and chains in place before heading past the bar and turning off the lights. I activate the alarm and head down the corridor, past the office and toilets, and up the stairs at the back to my place above the bar, where I have lived since I was seventeen. I really need a day off. Chapter Three RYDER I’m going over tomorrow’s calendar when I get the call. Placing the phone back on my desk, I lift my head and narrow my eyes at Garrett, who’s prodding his split knuckles in the seat across from me. “Your guys are in lock up.” That gets his attention. He drops his dirty boots from my desk, leaving mud behind, making me frown. “What?” he snarls. Leaning back in my chair, I steeple my hands. “It seems Rob’s daughter managed to get the drop on them, beat them pretty good, and got them arrested.” He blinks, just staring for a moment. “You’re fucking kidding? A tiny girl beat up my guys? Four of my guys, for fuck’s sake?” “Yes,” I retort, raising my eyebrow. “Fuck.” “Exactly.” I nod. “If you want things done right, you gotta do them yourself. Go get your men free, tomorrow afternoon, we’ll pay…” I lift the bit of paper with her information on it. “Roxxane a visit.” Garrett nods, swearing as he stomps off to do just that. Leaning over, I brush off the dirt he left and go back to my calendar, but my thoughts are distracted by that call. She must have had help. No matter, we’ll get her ourselves. No one escapes our clutches. My office door slams open again, making me sigh as I lean back. Why doesn’t anyone knock? Kenzo prowls my way, his thumbs gliding deftly across his phone for such a big man. “Just sent you the info on the girl, I gathered as much as I could. Also asked around a bit,” he murmurs as he looks up. My phone dings, but I ignore it for now. “And?” “It seems Rob’s daughter is quite the legend. Name’s Roxy, owns that dive joint across town like he said. Lot of bastards even seem scared of the girl, others respect her. She ain’t going to be an easy take.” “Nothing worth having ever is.” I sigh as I pick up my phone and scroll through the information. Twenty-four, five foot six. Grey hair, brown eyes. Credit history is shocking, and there are some sealed documents from when she was seventeen. I’ll have to ask Garrett about them. I look over her bank information and everything else he’s gathered, thumbing through until I hit the end where her picture is. My heart slams in my chest, my blood roaring straight to my cock, which twitches in my slacks. “Exactly.” Kenzo snorts. “Why do you think I didn’t just text it? I wanted to see your face. I’m betting you weren’t expecting Rob’s daughter to be so hot.” “Not at all,” I mutter distractedly. Hot is an understatement. She’s fucking breathtaking. Dark eyes lined and smoky. Big, plump, red lips. High, arched cheekbones and eyebrows. Short, shoulder-length, unnatural silver hair, which suits her pale complexion. Her cleavage catches my eye in the AC/DC tank top she’s wearing when this was taken. Stunning. I actually can’t speak as I stare at the picture, but then I push it away. This makes it easier, since she’s easy to look at. Blinking, I meet Kenzo’s laughing eyes to see him discreetly rearranging himself. “I know, bro, first dibs.” I narrow my gaze on him. “Eyes on the prize, baby brother.” “Oh, they are, don’t you fucking worry, and Roxy is that prize,” he snaps, making me sigh. Whenever Kenzo sets his mind to something, he gets it. No need to bet on the odds on what he plans to do to Roxxane. But she’s a means to an end, a message not to fuck with us. Some of us have to remain smart about this, and as usual, it’s me. “Tomorrow, Kenzo. Think with your head, not your dick, until we have her back here.” “And then?” He snorts. “Then you can do whatever you want with her. She’s ours, after all. Though I would suggest you try to keep her away from Diesel.” I laugh. He grins too, not a nice one. “For sure, she’s exactly his type. Poor girl would be burnt to a crisp before she stepped through the door.” I nod. “He would, though I suspect he might have his fun with her first.” “I wonder if Garrett will,” Kenzo muses, darkening the mood. “Maybe, if she has that damsel in distress act down. He’s a fool for them. Only this time, he might not let her almost ruin him.” I sigh. Kenzo nods, his fists clenching at the reminder of how we had nearly lost our brother. It won’t happen again, that’s why I’ll remain smart even while the others think with their dicks. She might be attractive, but it’s not worth losing my family over. I can get pretty pussy anywhere, and I don’t have to buy it to get it in my bed. “I’ll keep my eye on him,” I offer to mollify my brother. “Now, we have a meeting with the Triad in the morning about the treaty issues. I need you and Garrett with me.” “Not Diesel?” Kenzo questions seriously. “Not yet, I want to scare them, not kill them. I’m hoping we can resolve this quickly. They’re stopping our shipments at the moment, and it’s causing a ripple through the business. One I don’t like.” “Got it, boss man.” Kenzo nods. “Don’t forget to try and get some sleep. You’re starting to look your age, old man,” he teases as he turns to leave. “Watch your mouth, baby brother. I can still kick your ass,” I warn, only making him laugh. Shaking my head, I turn back to the picture on my phone, my thumb caught just below her mouth. She’s going to be trouble, I can feel it. But a Viper never goes back on a deal, Roxxane is ours now. Let’s just hope she doesn’t cause too many issues, it would be a shame to kill such a beautiful woman. Dropping my phone to my desk, I get up and stretch. Kenzo is right. I need sleep. It’s been two days, and I want to be sharp for tomorrow’s meeting. With business plans whirring in my head, I pocket my phone and leave my office. The pounding of Diesel’s music hits me out in the hallway, so I head to my bedroom instead of the living area. Tomorrow is a new day. We’re coming for you, Roxxane. Chapter Four ROXY It’s too fucking early. My head pounds as my alarm goes off again. Flinging the stupid old clock across the room, I bury my face in the pillow, seeing the smudges of my makeup there that I couldn’t be bothered to take off last night when I crawled into bed after a shot of Jack. But the alarm goes off again, and thanks to my half-asleep brain, it’s now across the room. Sliding from the bed, I crawl over to it and smash it into the floor, groaning when it shatters. But at least the noise stops. I flop to my back in nothing but my panties and a tank top, then I debate calling Travis in to set up today and cover the dinner shift. But he struggles by himself, so me it is. Defeated, I climb to my feet and flick on the radio, rock pounding out as I head to the shower. Stripping as I go, I turn on the spray and wait for it to warm up. I frown and look at the tangled mess which is my hair, shrugging before throwing it up in a bun. No way am I washing that rat’s nest, it takes too long. That’s why dry shampoo is a girl’s best friend. I have a quick shower, scrubbing my tattoo-covered skin. That reminds me, I’ve got another one booked next week with Zeke to finish off the roses across my thigh and the mandala pattern. The sleeve on my left arm is done and took four whole, eight hour sittings. But it was worth it, not that the pain bothers me. In fact, I can admit to myself I even like it. Especially at the hands of the hunk who’s doing it. Flicking off the water, I climb from the shower and wrap a fluffy towel around my body before brushing my teeth and moisturizing. I manage to get a brush through my hair, and it decides to lie nicely for once and hang straight after I dry shampoo it to hell. I take more time with my makeup, applying my signature red lipstick, dark liner, and eyeshadow, making my brown eyes pop. Some call me a typical rocker chick, fuck, I even have the piercings to go along with the tats and makeup. It started out as a form of rebellion, a way to piss off my asshole father before I ran away. Then I grew to love this look and, well, now? Now it’s just me. But that’s enough dredging up ghosts from my past before breakfast. Letting the towel drop to the floor, I head into my bedroom again and get dressed. I slip into matching red, front closing bra and panties. My one vice...well, that and band merch. I add a signed tour shirt from The Killers and tie it at the side before slipping into some tattered black shorts and my trusty high-heeled biker boots. Checking myself out in the mirror once more, I grab my keys and head out, locking up behind me. I trudge down the stairs and flick on the lights in the bar. I saunter through the kitchen and check the alley, but it seems the assholes from last night got picked up. It makes me wonder who they were, but it wouldn’t be the first time someone has jumped me. Nor the last, I’m betting. I leave the back door unlocked for Cook and return to the front. I turn on the jukebox and get to restocking and tidying up, mad as hell when I have to throw the broken stool out back. One goddamn rule. Jumping me I can understand, but breaking my furniture? Not fucking cool. Right on time, I hear the telltale rumble of Cook’s bike as he pulls up out back, and it makes me smile, least I know he’ll feed me…unlike Truck, who works weekends, bastard is colder than a snake, even to me, who pays his bills and employs his ex-con ass. I meet Cook at the back door, smiling sweetly at him as he swings off his Harley. He groans. “Let me guess, sausage with ketchup?” “You’re a doll.” I blow him a kiss, but he stops dead when he sees the broken stool lying on the ground. His head comes up slowly, his eyes widening. “Fuck, is he dead?” “What?” I ask, way too tired for this. “The man who broke the stool?” he queries seriously, making me laugh. “He wishes he was, don’t worry.” Cook chuckles and claps me on the shoulder. “Rich would be proud, kid. Go on, get started out front, I’ll make you some food.” My heart cracks at the mention of Rich, but I brush it off, and with a now cheery smile at Cook, I head to the front. By the time the smell of sizzling meat wafts to me, I’m set up and ready, so when Cook pushes through the door, juggling two plates, I almost fall to my knees and worship him. That’s the way to my heart right there, food…or maybe just into my panties. We sit at one of the tables, my elbows sticking to the wood as I scarf down my breakfast, just as there’s a knock at the door. “Uh-oh, that’s all you, kid,” Cook murmurs with his mouth full, as he grabs both plates and heads back to the kitchen. Sighing, I march over to the door and yank it open. “Sign says shut, asshole,” I snarl, and then roll my eyes when I see who’s on the other side. “Fred.” “You really shouldn’t talk to cops like that.” He smiles and looks behind me. “Going to let me in, Rox?” “No,” I snap, crossing my arms. “What’s a matter? I heard or saw nothing before you even ask.” He raises his eyebrow, his fingers going to his trouser buckle. “I didn’t even say anything.” “Yeah, well, I know the routine. I ain’t pissing off my customers, so no. I don’t know them, I don’t know where they live, and I sure as shit don’t know if they did it.” He shakes his head. “Not why I’m here this time, it’s about the guys last night.” “Oh, you got them?” I ask, taking down the defensive attitude just a notch. “We did, but within two hours, they were bailed out. High friends, if you get my meaning. I don’t know who you’re messing with, but when the chief tells me to stay clear of them, I do as I’m told. So should you.” “Wait, they got bailed? Who the fuck are those guys? I thought they were just lowlifes.” He winces. “Definitely not. You’ve pissed someone off, Rox. Better figure out who before I’m cleaning your remains up off the street. Or better yet, get gone. On a plane as far as I’m concerned. Have a good day.” He nods, looking around before scurrying back to his car. Fuck. Gazing around like the paranoid copper, I slam the door and lock it, putting my back to it. Calm down, Rox, you’ve had worse. Whoever it is, is just trying to scare you…but to have the cops spooked and in your pocket? He’s right, high places. Maybe it would be best to leave, but fuck, this is my home! My goddamn bar. No. Shaking my head, I push away from the door. Ain’t nobody scaring me away from here, high places or not. Prowling to the bar, I pour myself a shot and neck it before slamming the glass to the wood. Get it together, Rox, ain’t no man making me run. I did it once, never again. This is my life now, I either stand and fight or die. No other options. Decision made, I throw another shot back before turning on the speakers, letting the music pump through the bar before unlocking the door. It’s opening time, and threat hanging over my head or not, I gotta work. I’ll ask around later, though, see what I can hear. If anybody knows something, it’s the people who come here to drink away the darkness. I’m busy after that, the place filling up, and I have no time to think on what someone wants me for. It’s mainly food orders with beer, so I’m just pulling a pint when the door swings open, revealing four newcomers. Four people who definitely don’t belong here. Chapter Five GARRETT The Triad sits before us, well, one of the Triad. They never keep all three leaders in one place at once. A smart move. Keeping my fists behind my back, I play the good little bodyguard, a scare tactic. I’m a big bastard, so I use it. My reputation as a fighter precedes me, even if they don’t know I’m one of the Vipers. Just how I like it. I want to fly under the radar, it gets me into places and lets me learn things I might not otherwise. “Are you here to hand everything over?” The cocky bastard smirks, his chunky cheeks pulling up in a sickening way, tugging on a scar across his face. Ryder chuckles, looking comfortable as he leans back in the opposite chair. We’re the only people in the restaurant, a neutral place to meet. No blood will be spilled today…especially with D being absent. “No, I’m here to give you a chance to give us back our shipments and go our separate ways as acquaintances,” he rumbles. The man loses his smile, and I feel Kenzo grinning next to me where we stand behind Ry’s chair. He has that effect on people. “You will all die. We rule this city,” the Triad snarls. Ryder casually sips his wine before looking back at the man. “You own a patch of land outside city limits, you were once rich and powerful. Not anymore. I will squash you like a bug. But remember that when you’re torched with your people. Remember the olive branch I offered.” He sighs and gets to his feet, buttoning up his suit jacket. To add insult to injury, he throws down the money to cover the bill. “It’s on me. I know you’re going through financial hardships, wouldn’t want you to go bust long before I destroy you.” Without another word, Ryder turns to us, his eyes dark and triumphant. I wait, any moment now… Boom. The Triad stands, a snarl on his face. “You’re children! You know nothing of this game! My family ran this city before you came along!” he roars. Ryder glances at him over his shoulder. “You did, not anymore. Get with the times, or die.” Kenzo and I part for him. I go last, letting Kenzo protect Ryder’s back. The man twitches, so I part my leather jacket and flash my piece at him. “I wouldn’t,” I growl, and when I’m sure he won’t shoot I turn my back. It’s a risk, he could stab me or shoot me, but this way, I’m showing him exactly how scared of him we are. He swears, and I hear the smashing of glasses, making me smile. Before the month is through, they will be ours. Nothing gets in our way, not when Ryder sets his mind to it. And the man just insulted Ryder and our family. They’re dead men walking, they just don’t know it yet. The man doesn’t attack, though, he knows better. He threw down the gauntlet, and now he has to live with the consequences. Exiting the restaurant, I pull on my shades and swing onto my bike as Kenzo shuts Ryder’s door and climbs into the driver’s seat. I nod and yank on my helmet. It’s time. We have a debt to collect. We race through the city back to the Viper Industries skyscraper. Roaring through the streets, I disregard the speed limit—this is the only time I feel alive—and pull into the underground garage before Ryder and Kenzo. I scan my hand and eyes in the security panel—you can never be too cautious—then pull into my spot before climbing off. Storing my helmet, I decide to go grab D before they get here. I head to the elevator, riding it all the way down to the basement that most people don’t even know exists. That’s where he’ll be, I know it. I was right. I find Diesel in the basement, which he calls ‘the fire cave.’ Seriously, if this guy wasn’t like a brother to me, I would be terrified. I’m pretty sure he’s certifiable, but he always has our backs, and he’s family. I hear the screams from the elevator, the smell of smoke wafting to me. One of these days, he’s going to burn the whole damn building down. Striding through the corridor, I follow the sound of heavy metal music and step into the room he’s occupying. I lean against the wall, watching as he bends down and lights a cigarette before going back to burning the man’s balls who he’s strung up. Smirking, I flick off the music, and he whirls with a glare, but when he sees it’s me, he relaxes. “How’d the meeting go?” he asks, ignoring the blubbering man behind him. He has burn marks all over his body and missing fingers, so he’s been down here for a while. “Fine, no need to kill them just yet. Who’s that?” I inquire, nodding my head to the guy. Diesel shrugs. “Some fucker who bad-mouthed us.” “Well, he won’t do that again.” I laugh, and Diesel smirks around his cigarette. “Finish up, we’re going to pick up Rob’s daughter.” His eyes light up even more. Poor girl, when he gets his hands on her, she’ll be toast. “Sure, one sec.” He turns back to the guy and slaps him around the face to silence him. “Sorry, love, our time is up. I wish I could stay, but I have a date, you understand?” He grabs the cloth next to him, the smell of petrol burning my nose as he sets it alight. Laughing, Diesel smashes it into the guy’s mouth, breaking his teeth and covering his mouth with his hand, forcing him to keep it there. “Brother…” I warn, not wanting to interrupt, since that tends to lead to us fighting. We have a deal. When people are brought to him, he can do whatever he wants, but we need to get moving. “Fine,” he snaps and, grabbing the gun from the small of his back, shoots the man straight in the head before turning to me. He starts my way as I shake my head. “Might wanna clean up, we don’t want to scare her to death…just yet.” I smirk. He laughs, grabbing a rag and wiping away the blood on his face before puffing on his fag. “Let’s go,” he murmurs with a sigh, draping an arm around my shoulders which I shake off. “Hear anything about the girl?” “Only that Kenzo, and I quote, jacked off four times last night since seeing a picture of her.” Diesel whistles, and I nod. To get Kenzo in such a tizzy, she must be something to look at. Ryder is the ladies’ man, while Kenzo prefers a good bet or a dare over a pussy any day. “I wonder if they’ll let me have her first…” “Doubt it, you’d kill her, so you’ll probably be last,” I mutter, as we hit the elevator and ride it up to where Ryder and Garett are waiting. “Fuck, fine.” He perks up then as he drops his fag to the floor. I stamp it out so it doesn’t set the place ablaze. “I bet I can still make her scream.” “I don’t doubt it, especially if you play with her like you do your toys,” I offer as the door opens, emitting us to the parking garage. Kenzo and Ryder are there, and when they spot me with D, they smirk. “D, you drive with Garrett, we need room for her.” D rubs his hands together and Ryder narrows his eyes. “No crazy stunts, I don’t want to pull you two from a fucking wreck off the bridge again because you thought you could jump it.” D rolls his eyes, even as I laugh. “I’ll drive.” “Like fucking hell you will!” D screams, before socking me right in the gut. Wheezing, I manage to thrust out a fist, hitting him straight in the side. He slams into the wall, making us both laugh. “Gentlemen, come, there is a lady waiting for us.” Ryder smiles, the evil one. He has something up his sleeve, that’s for sure. The girl is safe from me. Not that I won’t kill her, ’cause I will. I hate to do women like that, but sometimes I have to. Just because they have a pussy doesn’t mean they won’t try to kill you. But she won’t have to worry about me touching her, taking her. That ship sailed years ago, even the thought of a woman touching me makes me angry. Makes me want to hit something. It’s the others she should be worried about, because from the look in Ryder’s eyes…he wants her too. And badly. Whatever Ryder wants, he gets. That’s why we’re as rich and as feared as we are now. Clearly Kenzo wants her, and Diesel? Well, he’s due a new plaything. The girl would be lucky to survive through the first night. Chapter Six ROXY I stare at the four men in my doorway. They’re not my normal customers. One is wearing a suit that’s tailored perfectly to fit him and is probably worth more than the whole bar. The other three look like mean sons of a bitches. I’m pretty sure the one in the back is an actual giant, as he ducks his head to get through the door. And they’re all packing, I catch glimpses of the guns. So do my customers. The whole place clears, chairs scraping and falling to the floor in their rush to escape the newcomers. Cook pokes his head out, and I sigh. So this is them, the people hunting me. “Cook, go home,” I order, knowing I won’t be opening tonight. “Smart.” The one in the suit nods. His way too slick black hair is pushed back, styled flawlessly, long on top and short on the sides, so I have the insane urge to mess it up. But his eyes? They are black, cold, and calculating. They scan the room and me, noting everything. I bet if I asked, he could relay every single detail. His cheekbones are high and sharp, his jaw chiselled with stubble covering it, only framing his lush, plump lips. He’s tall, around six foot three, and his suit hugs his thick thighs and arms in the most tempting way. He’s just too perfect to look at, like a model. “Is this her?” One of them grins, strolling forward. His long blond hair is pushed behind pierced ears. Tattoos peek out of the top of his white shirt, which is partially tucked into ripped, faded jeans and black boots. His arms are huge and dotted with tattoos here and there, his skin golden and glistening, but he seems like the type to be covered in grease and dirt. His eyes are a bright blue and locked on me, but there’s something not quite right about them. His face is more angular than the first guy’s, but no less striking, and he prowls around as he stares at me like a hungry panther. “It is,” another one confirms. This guy’s facial structure is similar to the first one, but no stubble. He’s clean shaven with a slightly squarer jaw. His hair is longer on top and shaved on the sides, shoved back carelessly. He’s taller than the first and more stacked, not as put together, but hot as hell. The last one doesn’t speak, just stares at me from dark eyes. I spot his long eyelashes from here, the type girls would be envious of, but that’s the only girly thing about him. He’s massive, his arms are thicker than my whole body, and his white shirt clings to his bulging biceps and veiny forearms, indenting at his pecs and chiselled abs. His jeans are tight, like he can’t find the right size, and his hair is brown with blond streaks, styled casually to the side. Every single inch of him is covered in tattoos, and a black lip ring glistens in the light. I look back over them as the blond-haired guy flicks open the top of a lighter again and again as he stares at me. “Who are you?” I snap, refusing to be intimidated. “Won’t you take a seat?” the first one offers, and I laugh. “Why don’t you fuck off? Now tell me why the hell you’re in my bar or get the fuck out,” I snarl. The blond one chuckles. “Ooh, feisty, she’s so little though. Too easy to break.” He pouts, sighing like I’ve put him out. “I ain’t easy to break, asshole. I’ll smash in your pretty boy face before you can blink, so answer my goddamn question.” These aren’t the thugs from last night, no, these men are dangerous, and I’m clearly their target. I swallow hard as fear winds through my body. The man in the suit notices, since he’s watching me carefully, and his lips tip up slightly in one corner at my show of panic. “I like her,” the blond declares, and the big guy finally talks. “Poor her,” he scoffs. “Roxxane, please sit,” the first one suggests again, but I know it’s a demand. So I yank out a stool and do as I’m told as far away from them as I can be. I lean my arms back on the bar so I can reach the blade at my waist. “Why are you here?” I repeat. The first one looks around before selecting the closest table. The fucking bastard wipes down the chair and still frowns as he perches on the edge of it. I hope he stains his suit. “Roxxane, I’m Ryder Viper,” he introduces himself. I ignore his use of Roxxane, no one calls me that. A shiver goes through me. Viper. As in the fucking nut jobs that run the city? The goddamn mafia who controls everything? No wonder the police freaked, they’re in their pocket. So are the judges and the mayor. Shit, this is serious. “That’s Diesel.” He nods to the blond who’s licking the flames from a lighter. “Kenzo.” He gestures to the one who looks like him. “And Garrett.” “Well, nice to fucking meet you. Want to tell me why you had goons come here and attack me last night?” I snarl. When I get scared, I get defensive, sue me. His eyebrow arches as he leans forward, his hands dangling between his parted legs. Fuck, why is that hot? “As they explained it to me, you attacked them first.” I think back. Shit, maybe he’s right. “They tried to grab me.” “They did.” He nods. “But for engaging you in a brawl, they have been dealt with. That was not their orders. I understand one of them hit you?” I reach up to my still sore lip but drop my hand—it’s too late, he noticed. His eyes narrow. “That’s not on, they’re awaiting judgement for that.” “What does that even mean?” I yell. “It means, pretty bird, they’re going to die.” The blond laughs, the sound a bit crazy. “Why do you want me?” I question, holding my breath. “Your father owed us a debt,” Ryder starts, and I swear he arches an eyebrow again. “Yes, I understand your relationship is…rocky?” “Rocky? I’d kill the bastard if I could. Fine.” I slip from the chair. “How much does he owe you? I’ll pay it if I can.” The blond, Diesel, slides in front of me, his blue eyes locked on me as he licks his lips. “No, we made a deal with your daddy, pretty bird. Tell me, love, are you a screamer? Me and your dad have a little bet,” he queries. I react without thinking, yanking back my fist and punching him in the face. Shaking it off, I watch him lurch backwards. His hand comes up and prods his mouth and nose as blood gushes from the wound. He starts to laugh, making me jolt back myself. Lifting his head, he grins, his teeth covered in blood. “That was hot, want to do it again?” My eyes widen, but Ryder’s voice comes from behind him. “Enough, D.” Diesel sighs but winks as he backs away, only then do I notice the bulge in the front of his jeans…is he erect? Holy fuck. I jerk my eyes up, but it’s too late, he noticed and is laughing again. The crazy fucking bastard. “What kind of deal?” I snap, growing tired of this game as a sick feeling rises in my stomach. They don’t want my money, they made a deal… “For you.” Ryder shrugs. Oh, for me he says, casual as you fucking may. “He. Sold. Me. To. You?” I snarl. “She’s hot when she’s angry,” Diesel whispers to the big guy, Garrett, who rolls his eyes. “Yes, he did. To cover his debt, and we always collect, Roxxane. Now, would you like to pack a bag, or shall we do it for you?” Ryder asks calmly. Like I’ll just agree to go with them. Fuck that. They might be the Vipers, the scariest fucking assholes in the city, but that doesn’t mean I’ll go willingly. Leaping over the bar, I grab my bat. “Get the fuck out! I ain’t going anywhere with you crazy bastards. You want his debt? Take it from him, I don’t care.” “I can’t do that, love, a deal is a deal. You’re ours.” Ryder shrugs as he stands. “Can I?” Diesel grins, stepping forward, but Ryder puts out his hand to block him. “Go with Garrett and pack her bag,” he orders, and Diesel deflates for a moment before wiggling his eyebrows at me. “I’m going to jerk off into your panties. See you later, pretty bird.” The big guy steps forward and claps him on the shoulder. “Upstairs, they said.” Wait…they know where I live? I step into their path, and the big guy stares down at me, his face hard. “Move, little one.” “Fucking make me,” I snarl, and swing my bat at him. He catches it mid-air like a fly and rips it from my hand before frowning at me. “That wasn’t nice.” “Oh, well ex-fucking-scuse me,” I taunt, then I dart my knee forward. He’s too busy to notice, and it connects with his junk. He grabs his cock with a wheeze, his face turning red as he falls to his knees. I lift my fist, but the blond catches it mid-flight, tutting at me. “Sorry, pretty bird, we can play later,” he purrs, and then I see his fist coming towards me. I don’t have time to duck. It smashes right into my face, and I’m out cold. Chapter Seven KENZO “You could have at least caught her.” I laugh as I stare down at the beautiful girl out cold on the floor. Diesel punched her hard, her eye is already swelling, and I’m betting her head will hurt tomorrow. Better than what Garrett would have done to her for that cheap shot, but when I actually look over at the guy, he’s icing his cock and has a strangely impressed expression on his face as her bat leans next to him. Who is this girl? Definitely not the meek little good girl I was expecting, that’s for sure. Hell, she didn’t even seem scared when we told her everything. She tried to fight. I like that. It might keep her alive for a while. At least long enough for me to get my dick wet and see if she fights like that in bed. I bet she does. She’s a wild one. “Kenzo, go with Diesel and pack her a bag…more than just panties.” Ryder sighs, staring down at the girl. “Garrett, pick her up, will you?” The big guy grumbles, pulling the ice from his dick, but he lifts her up and cradles her to his chest without looking down at her, his teeth clenched. Nodding, I follow Diesel upstairs. “Shit, I’ll get the key,” I tell him when he tries the handle and it doesn’t budge. I’m turning to do just that when I hear a smash. Glancing over my shoulder, I see he’s kicked down the door. He grins back at me. “No need, it’s open now.” Shaking my head, I grab my dice, a habit, as we step inside. My eyebrows rise, it’s a fucking mess. Clothes and beer bottles are everywhere. Ryder would have a shit fit if he saw this place. Diesel, uncaring, heads straight for the half open wooden drawers on the back wall under a window. He starts grabbing handfuls of panties, I even catch him sniffing some. I snatch a bag from the built-in wardrobe next to the bathroom door and fill it with her toiletries and makeup. I take some clothes that are hanging up and other articles from the room, as well as some bits and bobs she might need. We can always buy her whatever else she wants, but her having her own stuff might calm her somewhat. I almost laugh out loud as I remember how she took down Garrett. It’s not often someone gets a drop on him. Hardly ever, in fact. This is going to be fun. A noise drags my head up to see Diesel bouncing on her bed, his arms under his head. “You going to help or jack off into her knickers?” I ask seriously, noticing a stringy pink piece clutched in his hand. “Remember what we said about touching yourself in public?” He frowns, tucks the panties into his pocket, and fluffs up the pillow under his head but freezes. With a slow move, he reaches under the pillow and pulls out a gun—a small revolver. Well, well, well, where did our little one get that? Diesel’s face splits with a grin. “I think I’m in love. Do you think she would shoot me if I ask?” “Probably, want to bet on it?” “Hell no, you cheat!” he snaps, making me laugh. I do, sometimes. Other times, I just read people, it’s a talent of mine I’ve honed. It makes me a bad person to bet against, and also the best bookie in the city. Peering above the mini fridge, I spot a photograph, the only one I’ve seen up here. It’s of a younger Roxy without as many tattoos, and her hair is longer and blonde. She has a nose stud, but it’s definitely her, and next to her is a large man. Huge actually, with a bald head and greying beard, scars at the corner of his chin, and a nose that’s been broken. Who is he? It’s not her dad, but it has to be someone important to her. So I take it, fold it away, and pocket it just in case we need to find him and use him as leverage. Looking around, I nod at Diesel. “I think that’s everything. Let’s go before she wakes up and starts punching people again.” “Do you think she would?” he questions wistfully. “Crazy fucker,” I mutter, as I hoist her tattered bag higher and head downstairs. Garett is still holding her, looking like he would rather be anywhere else, and Ryder is wandering around the bar. No doubt learning everything he can. I know how to read people, but Ryder? He’s made it a fucking game, a sport, to find people’s weaknesses and exploit them, destroy them with what he learned. Little miss Roxy will be no different. “All packed, she doesn’t have much.” I shrug. Ryder nods. “I don’t think Roxy cares about things other than this bar.” Garrett growls, “Fucking great, can we leave now?” “Scared she’s going to take a shot at your junk again?” I taunt, and he narrows his gaze at me. “I’ll carry her,” Diesel offers. I step in his path as Garrett turns her away from him. “That’s okay, man, he’s got it,” I say to the man who frowns and peeks around me to try and see her. Fuck, I look over at Ryder and he nods, he’s noticed it too. The last person Diesel became obsessed with ended up being burned to death. We want her to suffer, but not that much…not yet. That means we need to stay between him and her, at least for now. “Come on, we’ll head back.” I clap him on the shoulder, dragging him away as Ryder steps between him and Garrett to further block his view. Diesel moans but perks up when I tell him he can drive. “We’ll meet you back here, get the guest room ready so she can stay there for now,” Ryder calls, and I nod. Guest room? Like she’ll be staying in there for the long haul. It seems Roxy is going to live with us. And from just the moment I spent with her, I’m betting she’s going to try her best to kill us for that. I can’t wait. It’s been awhile since we last did something fun, this one just happens to come in a delectable package which I plan to open. Yes, I’ll have Roxy before we kill her. I’ll make her beg for it, crave it until she caves…then I’ll finally fuck her. She’s now lost the biggest bet of all—her freedom and her life. Chapter Eight ROXY My head is killing me, almost like I’ve had one too many drinks. My face is aching, and my whole body is stiff from being in one position too long. Groaning, I keep my eyes shut to try and let the pain fade away as I rack my brain for what happened. But it’s all a blur, and the more I try, the more the hammers dig into my brain. Feeling around with my hand for my gun, I freeze. This isn’t my usual crappy bedding…this is fucking silk. Who the hell has silk bedding? No one I know, that’s for sure. That’s when it all comes rushing back. The goons. The Vipers. The punch… Snapping my eyes open, I stare up at the white ceiling, and right above me is a goddamn crystal chandelier. My heart slams in my chest as I shuffle up to the headboard, leaning against it as I prod my aching face, that bastard. I don’t think anything is broken though. Breathing heavily, I panic as I look around at my surroundings. They stole me. Took me from my bar and left me in what looks like a fucking hotel room. It’s so…clean. Way too clean. All white walls and a deep grey carpeted floor. On the wall opposite the huge, king-sized bed I’m in is a flat screen TV bigger than my bathroom. To the right, the wall gives way to floor-to-ceiling windows which, when I slide from the bed and stumble over to them, show me the city. It’s spread out beneath me like a goddamn poster. We’re so high up and right smack bam in the middle of it. Turning away, I spot two doors on either side of the TV. I peek my head in one to see a built-in wardrobe. And by that, I mean a room with shelves upon shelves, mirrors with lights between them, and a sofa in the middle. Shutting the door with a disgusted sneer of my lips, I try the other one. It’s a bathroom. The left wall is taken up by an all glass shower cubicle with four shower heads aimed down, and a grey tiled seat in the back corner. To the back is a huge tub, big enough to hold at least six people. To the right are two sinks with a framed mirror above it. The toilet is tucked away next to me. It looks like someone spared no expense, the fucking rich bastards. Heading back into the room, I scan the space looking for anything I can use as a weapon. Next to the bed are two antique, grey bedside tables. With lamps on both. Perfect. I race across the room on bare feet, since some bastard took my boots. Ripping the lamp from the wall, I hold it like a bat as I head to the white door to the left which clearly leads out of the room. Trying the handle, I find it locked, of fucking course. I drop the lamp to my side and glare around at the room. These fuckers, they think they can own me? That I’m someone they can buy? They’re going to learn that money can’t buy obedience. I’m no man’s object. They are going to regret the day they took me. Vipers? Bitch, please, I bite too. I wait for over half an hour to see if they will come and unlock the door, but they don’t and I get bored. Pissed and bored isn’t a good combination for me. I have the insane urge to mess the place up, it’s too perfect, too clean. So I do. Grinning, I head to the bathroom and decide to take my anger out on their precious bedroom. Smashing the lamp into the mirror, I watch it shatter into pieces. I grin, picking up a piece, accidentally cutting myself. Hissing, I stare at the blood coating the glass and dripping to the pristine floor. Eh, fuck it. Sauntering back into the bedroom, I let my blood drip behind me as I walk to the bed and start slashing. I get it all out. My fury at them, my rage at my father. I should have known better by now, but every goddamn time I think I’m free of him, he does something. But this? Selling me? Even I didn’t think he would be so low. With a scream, I stab and slash until my arm aches and I’m panting. Feathers from the pillows cover me and the floor, the mattress has gaping holes in it, and the bedding is covered in blood and ripped to shreds. It looks like I feel and makes me smile. I’m laughing when the door opens. Hiding the glass in the back pocket of my shorts, I step away, my eyes narrowed. Ryder strolls inside. He looks around at the mess, and his arched eyebrow and the slight dipping of his perfect lips are the only signs of his displeasure. I’m a panting, sweaty mess, and he’s standing there in a suit like a goddamn model. I hate him, and not just because he kidnapped me and locked me in his creepy clean apartment. “Well, I see you’re making yourself comfortable,” he comments, his voice smooth and low. Like a good shot of Jack. Does anything ruffle this man? I want to run over there and wipe my blood all over his perfect suit just to see what he would do. “Let me go,” I demand, but he ignores me. Bending down, he picks up a pillowcase and holds it in the air with one finger, showing off the material that’s cut to ribbons. “Your father sold you, you are ours now.” His tone is so matter-of-fact that I want to explode again. “I’m a human! You can’t just sell another person!” I scream. “It seems we can.” He shrugs, dropping the pillowcase. “Your anger at the situation or disbelief will not make it any less real, I assure you. Your father did sell you to us, and you’re now ours. I suggest you find a way to deal with that.” Deal with that? Oh, this motherfucker. Gripping the glass in my back pocket, I storm closer, getting in this face. “Let me go or I swear I’ll—” “You’ll what?” He smirks, those ice-filled eyes finally thawing a bit to show a challenge there. A dare. The glass digs into my skin, cutting it anew as I whip out my hand and slice it towards his unprotected face. He blinks, his hand grabbing mine before the glass is an inch away from his cheek. He tightens his grip, making me gasp as it grinds my bones together, pain sparking through me. “You are ours, Roxxane. If we want to lock you up, we will. If we want to punish you for being a brat, we will. If we want to fuck you…” He leans closer, pressing into the glass, and a bead of blood bubbles on his cheek as he lowers his voice. “We will. If we want to kill you…we will, and there is nothing you can do about it. Deal with it, love, or you might find yourself in a worse place than this.” Leaning back, he snaps my wrist to the side, making my fingers spasm and release the glass which he pockets. I stare at him as fear and something I don’t want to name fills me, watching that drop of blood racing down his cheek. He pulls out a handkerchief and stops it before it can reach his suit, wiping it away like he didn’t just lean into glass to make a point. “I can see you’re in a bad mood, so I’ll leave you to think on what I said.” He turns, and I race forward, but I’m too slow. The door slams shut, and the deafening click of a lock slamming into place has me screaming at the wood as I batter my injured hand against it. When no one comes back, I cut up more of the pillow and bind my hand to stop the bleeding before looking around. It was petty, but I seriously do feel better. Sighing, I lie near the window, staring out at the city as the sky starts to darken. I used to live in this town, loved exploring it and seeing it grow. That was before I realised the darkness that hides beneath all the glass and glamour. And the Vipers? They are one of the worst. When you’re a kid, they tell you stories of monsters hiding under your bed or in the dark. They don’t tell you of the very real human ones. Those who prey on people weaker than them, or even the monsters that hide within ourselves. Rich or poor, it doesn’t matter, humans are still monsters. They hide behind pretty faces, loved ones, blood. Yet they are all the same. They all want you for something, the difference is…how far they’re willing to go to get it. It seems the Vipers will go all the way. And it’s all because of my piece of shit father. Is it not enough he ruined my childhood? That I’ve spent every day of my life paying for his mistakes? No, now my future is taken away too. Feeling sorry for myself, I close my eyes and try to rest my aching head. I’m a fighter, a survivor, always have been and always will be. I can get through this, I’ve survived worse before. Just because I’m locked up in a penthouse doesn’t mean I’m not locked up… The door slams open, waking me. It’s late, really late, and dark. My stomach is hurting from not eating for almost two days, aside from those leftover bits of bread I found. It’s late. That only means one thing. I cover my mouth, trying to slow my breathing so he won’t hear. My heart pounds so loudly, I want to cry. I hear his dragging footsteps as he stumbles up the stairs. Please, please let him forget I’m here. Let this night be the night he carries on walking. It’s not. He stops outside my door. I watch from my bed as his shadow blocks the light at the crack in the bottom before his big hand turns the handle and swings it open. He stands there for a moment, peering in at me. His silhouette is all I can see, so I can’t see his face or his expression. I know my mum’s passed out, she injected herself before I went to bed, so she’ll be out until morning. It’s just me and him. And he knows it. I can smell the whiskey on his breath from here, see the anger vibrating through his body. It’s always the same. He gets drunk, he loses money, he takes it out on me. It’s a vicious cycle. Every night, I expect it to be different, and every night, it’s the same. If you’ve never had a parent let you down, hurt you, and break your heart, then you don’t know how it feels. They’re supposed to protect you, love you, yet my parents are the reason I’m scared. I learned from a young age that they’re the ones who hurt me, no one else. They don’t care if I live or die, I’m just an object to them. To vent to, to take for granted. When I watch other kids at school talking about their parents, I get angry, the same anger my daddy has. I hate them for it, for being happy. For enjoying their life. Their parents love them, treasure them, shower them with gifts and happiness. Why can’t I have that? Yet even if my dad or mum ever tried to, I would flinch, expecting the punch that would come right after it. Because the truth is, I know at the base of all people, at their very core…all they care about is themselves. What something can bring them, do for them, and when push comes to shove, they will always choose themselves. Some people are born with a rage, a need to hurt. Some are born greedy, an addictive personality. Others hide it well, but in the end, we’re all the same. We all bleed the same colour, and we are all just searching for something to make the truth of our souls disappear so we feel like good people. I’m not fooling him, he knows I’m awake, so I sit up and face him. I refuse to cry, I refuse to beg. Not anymore. I did once, and I thought he might actually stop. I know better now. He won’t stop until he kills me one day, but until then, I’m just surviving from one day to the next with that truth hanging over me. “Get up,” he slurs. I purse my lips, but do as I’m told, knowing that will get this over more quickly. But every time this happens, something grows inside me, that anger morphing until I have to bite my tongue to stop from hitting back, from lashing out. I refuse to be like him. He stumbles my way, swearing when he almost falls over. “I lost two thousand tonight, you know whose fault that is?” he yells. I should say nothing, just nod and take the hit like a good girl. But maybe I’m not a good girl, maybe I’m just as messed up as he is. “I’m guessing mine,” I drawl. Dumb, real dumb. For a drunk man, the punch comes fast, he’s big, and it shows in the power behind his fists. It smacks into my gut, bending me over as I struggle to breathe. My stomach aches even more now than just hunger pains. He grabs my hair, making me cry out as he jerks up my head. His crooked teeth flash in the dark, his face blurry from my tears. He snarls at me, his rancid breath wafting into my face and making me gag. “Yours, you fucking little shit.” I’m so busy trying not to vomit—the last time I did, he broke my arm—that I don’t see it coming. He throws me into the wall, and my head hits it with a sickening thud. My body goes limp as I slide down it, pain fracturing through my skull until I can’t see. I can’t hear. Then it all goes dark. Gasping, I jerk upright. Sweat covers my entire body as adrenaline rushes through me. I lift my hand and press it to the back of my head where the dent still rests from that night. Fuck, that’s why I drink before bed, to keep the nightmares away. Blowing out a breath, I blink my blurry eyes to clear the sleep from them, knowing I won’t be going back anytime soon. Not with my memories so dark tonight. Instead, I stare out at the city, it’s still bright. All the light illuminating its angles and streets, even in the dark. Like a beacon. Another lie. That’s when a wispy, dark voice comes from behind me, sending fear surging through me. I’m not alone. “Can’t sleep, Little Bird? I wonder what you dream of…” Chapter Nine DIESEL She’s having a bad dream, I can tell. Her limbs are jolting like she’s trying to escape someone. Whimpers leave her lips, which does something strange to my brain. Just as I’m about to reach for her, she jerks away, breathing heavily. Sitting up abruptly, she places her hand on her racing heart, and it’s so loud I can hear it. I wonder if it would pound harder if she knew I was behind her? Reaching out, I brush my hand gently along her hair, so softly she doesn’t feel it. Such a small, little creature, yet it houses such pain…such anger. “Can’t sleep, Little Bird? I wonder what you dream of,” I murmur behind her. Her head whips around, her dark eyes widening as they find me sitting right behind her. I can see the panic fluttering through her gaze as she looks around for a weapon. Laughing, I leap at her. She lets out a scream that goes right to my already hard cock as I pin her hands above her, pressing my lower body to hers to keep her there, letting her feel how hard I am. The others thought locking her away from me would keep her safe. How foolish. This little bird is going to be fun, I can tell. And she’s ours now. I can do whatever I want with her. She thrashes beneath me, not freezing like most do when confronted with me. She fights, bucking and kicking. All it does is make my already hard cock twitch in my jeans as I imagine her doing that while I fuck her. I bet she fucks like she fights—hard, fast, and wild. She might not survive it, but I will have her. She spends herself, though, and stops, her eyes narrowing and flashing with anger and hatred as she pants. Her chest heaves, pushing her breasts against me. I lean down, and she turns her head away from me as I trail my tongue across her cheek. “Do you like pain?” An image of her chained up in my den has me rocking against her, trailing my fingers across her bloody, beaten skin. My knife marks bright and pink across her body, like a lover’s touch. Would she quake then too? Fight? Scream? I can’t wait to find out. I wonder if she would beg… “Fuck. You,” she snarls. “No, Little Bird, but I will fuck you.” I chuckle against her cheek. She freezes beneath me, turning rock-solid, and I lift my head. “But not tonight. When I fuck you, I want my toys there. I want to mark that pretty skin within an inch of your life.” I trace my hand across her tattoos. “When you got these done, did you get wet from the pain? Or did you cry and suffer through it?” Her head whips back around to glare at me, but I see a glint of truth in her eyes before she masks it. Ah, my little bird is scared of just how much she liked the pain. And I thought breaking her, killing her, would be fun. But this? Smashing those barriers until she comes while I torture her? That will be all the sweeter. I’m going to burn down everything this little bird holds dear, and reform her into my own little plaything. “You smell like smoke and petrol,” she murmurs, and then blinks as if she didn’t mean to say that, her lips rolling inwards, dragging my eyes to the plump redness. Does she taste like the tears she was shedding in her sleep? “Eyes up here, asshole,” she snaps, making me smirk. This girl really does like playing with fire. Fuck, I’ve even had men pee themselves just from a glance from me. Yet, here she is, staring me down, even as I pin her to the floor. I bet she would fight this hard as she died… I drag my eyes back up, but they catch on a stained, bloody white piece of fabric tied around one of her hands. Well, well, well, did the pretty bird hurt herself? Grabbing that hand, I slam it down on the floor next to her, making her gasp as she starts to struggle again. Peeling back the blood-stained material, I thumb the edges of the cut, making her cry out before she bites down on her lower lip, an instinct from years of hiding her pain. One I recognise. Eyes on her, I press my thumb right into the center of the cut, testing her. Blood forms on her lip, she’s biting it that hard, her eyes dilating with fear and desire, one she’s trying to hide. Her chest heaves, her nipples pebbling against the shirt she wears. Oh, my little bird likes it when it hurts… “Little Bird, dirty Little Bird, look how sweetly you bleed,” I murmur, leaning down and licking the blood from her lip before digging my teeth into it as I smash my thumb into her cut. She screams, lurching beneath me. I swallow her sound of pain and fear, feeding on it. I hear the door open, but she doesn’t. Lifting my head, I meet Garrett’s eyes. He takes in our position and sighs. “Leave her be, D.” “But she’s fun to play with.” I pout, digging my thumb in deeper, making her whimper. The sound makes my cock jerk again as I grind it into her. “D,” Garrett warns, crossing his arms and giving me his best don’t fuck with me face. “Go find someone else to play with, I heard Ryder was meeting with some new security people…” I debate my options. Scaring the new guards or playing with the dirty bird? Sighing, I look back down at her. “Sorry, pretty bird, next time.” Kissing her nose, I leap to my feet and stroll towards Garrett, who watches me with a worried expression. “This isn’t going to be a problem, is it?” he asks me, and I shake my head. “Nope, I didn’t kill her, did I?” I laugh as I clap him on the shoulder, but he doesn’t even budge, the big bastard. Sighing, he sweeps his hair back from his face. “Go on, I’ll clean up.” Whistling, I stroll away as I hear him step farther into the room. “Are you okay?” “Fuck you!” she screams, making me laugh. Oh yes, my dirty little bird will be playing with me again. I can’t wait. Until then, I’ll have to appease myself with others. Chapter Ten ROXY The big guy, Garrett, steps into the room, but doesn’t seem to want to come near me. “Are you okay?” “Fuck you,” I shout, as I sit up and press my non-injured hand to my bloody one to try and stop the bleeding. It’s not the worst I’ve had, but shit, it hurt…yeah, hurt. I cross my legs to stop myself from thinking about that other confusing…no, fuck that. Dropping my eyes to my hands to avoid his too bright, all-seeing gaze, I prod at the cut. The crazy bastard opened it up again. It’s not too deep, it doesn’t need stitches—I got good at realising what does and doesn’t need sutures after getting hurt every day. This one will heal, probably leaving another scar to add to my collection. I jerk back when I raise my eyes and realise the big guy is crouched before me, his dark gaze locked on me, his black hair falling across his forehead in an oddly endearing way as he reaches for my hand. “May I?” he murmurs, but I keep it clutched to my chest, and he sighs. “I won’t hurt you. I’m used to fixing cuts, bruises, and breaks.” “I bet you are,” I snap, and his eyebrow rises. “Not in that way, you should really avoid D though. He isn’t like…us. He’ll hurt you for fun,” he warns softly, his tattooed knuckles clenching. He’s so big, his hands must be bigger than my head. He could snap me in two and hurt me so easily. Yet he doesn’t…why? “Oh, avoid him? That didn’t fucking occur to me, and how would you like me to avoid him when I’m in a locked room, and the crazy bastard breaks in and stares at me while I sleep?” I huff. His lips twitch, and he nods at my cut again. “Let me at least clean it and wrap it. How’s your lip?” he questions, his big thumb coming up and prodding at my sore lip. I freeze as he strokes his thumb across it, his eyes scrutinising and clinical. Cold. Like he isn’t affected, like his touch isn’t doing strange fucking things to me. Things I have no business feeling when I’m his prisoner. He nods. “It’s not busted too badly, it will heal.” He releases my lips and takes my hand gently, turning it to regard the cut before standing so quickly I jolt back—a habit, a habit I thought I’d broken. He sees it, of course he does, but doesn’t comment. “Let me get a kit.” He leaves the room for a moment, and I scramble to my feet to run after him and escape, but he shuts the door and locks it. The bastard. Pacing, snarling, and swearing under my breath, I wait for him to return. There is no way I can take this big guy. I’m good, but I’m not that good. Plus, I’ve seen his scarred knuckles and crooked nose, which has been broken too many times, so I know he’s a fighter. By the fluid way he moves for such a big guy, I would guess a boxer. The door unlocks, and he comes back in with a first aid kit. He gestures for me to sit on the bed, so I do, hoping if I’m good, I can lull them into a false sense of security. He kneels down and cleans the cut, ignoring me completely. “What will happen to my bar?” I demand. I love that place. It’s my home, the only place I ever belonged, and I worked my ass off to keep it alive after… “We locked it up, it will stay closed for now,” he offers, uncaring about my questions or anger as he wraps my hand back up and stands. “You should get some sleep.” He turns then and starts to leave, so I leap into his path. “Why? Why are you doing this?” I whisper, tears finally filling my eyes. “I’m a person, a person! Not an object, please just let me go.” He sighs, scrubbing at his face. “No. Get some sleep.” Then he leaves, the click of the door signalling it’s locked again. I wipe my tears away, angry with myself for letting him see that weakness. All of a sudden, everything closes in on me. I’m theirs, they are never letting me go. I know that, I can feel it. I know too much, have seen too much…this is my life now. The question is, how long will I survive? Between the crazy bastard and the mean one…I’m betting not long. My father gave me a death sentence at the hands of these Vipers, and I’m betting he doesn’t even care. All my life, he’s been taking it out on me. I always thought he would kill me. Turns out I was right, but not in the way I thought. I don’t sleep, not really. I lie on the floor, watching the city come to life as the sun rises. All the while, thinking of a plan. I refuse to lie here and let these bastards do whatever they want to me and possibly kill me. I have a life. They picked the wrong fucking girl. I’ve been fighting longer than I’ve been walking. They want an easy slave? Tough fucking luck, ’cause I’m going to make them regret the day they took me. I need to gain their trust, make them think they’re breaking my spirit. Then I’ll escape. If they try to kill me, I’ll kill them. It’s that simple. This isn’t a normal day anymore, this is a dog-eat-dog world…or more accurately, a Viper world. And right now, I’m the prey… It should horrify me that I’m even contemplating killing them, but I’ve seen shit most people would never even be able to dream of, and if I have to kill four, corrupt mafia assholes to get my freedom, I will. I’ll never stop fighting them. I’ll be free again, and then my dad is going to pay for this. Feeling calmer with a plan in place, I get to my feet as I hear booted feet heading my way. Kenzo opens the door and peeks in, smiling at me. He always seems to do that, but it can’t mask the calculation in his eyes, or the way he watches me and everyone. Waiting, observing. His hair is shaved at the sides and slicked back today as he steps into the room. He’s got on a white shirt, with two buttons undone at the top to show his chiselled chest and glimpses of chest hair. It’s tucked into black trousers and shoes shinier than my life. He’s so put together, so perfect, and screams money and power. It flows from him. He’s used to being the center of attention, the most powerful man in the room. What they don’t realise? When you hit bottom, you only have one way to go, and that’s up. They took everything, including me. I have nothing left to lose. They have everything. “You must be hungry. Come on, we’re having breakfast and thought you might like to join us,” he offers, his hands tucking into his pockets as he tries to make himself seem friendly. It might work on others, but not on me. I see behind that mask to the monster hiding beneath. “Will I be chained like a dog?” I snarl, and he smirks. “Do you want to be? It can be arranged, I’m sure,” he retorts smugly, and I narrow my eyes. “Come, eat.” “And if I say no?” He loses his smirk, his face going cold. “You better realise now that you have no power here, love. It will make it easier for you. If I wanted you chained like a dog, you would be. I’m being polite, so do not throw it in my face, or we might not be so polite in the future.” Then, he goes back to grinning. “Come.” He nods his head and leaves the room. I struggle for a moment before following after him. He’s waiting right outside, giving me no time to try and escape. Like he can hear my thoughts, he chuckles, his hand going to the base of my spine, warming the skin there. He leans down, murmuring in my ear, “I wouldn’t. D is looking for an excuse to rough you up. Don’t tempt him to chase you, because when he gets you…well, you will have wished he was as nice as us.” “Do you always threaten people with death and torture over breakfast?” I snap, moving away from his hand. He laughs behind me. “Of course, it isn’t a good morning without at least one death threat or fight.” I stomp down the hallway, noting the other doors for later. It cuts off, opening up into the rest of the apartment, and I stop, gawking. “You’re all crazy,” I mutter distractedly. He presses against my back, his heat and hard body making me freeze. I feel his lips at my ear, his breath wafting through my hair. “You have no idea.” I ignore him, too busy staring at the grandeur around me. If I thought that bedroom looked like something out of a showroom, I had no idea…fuck, I didn’t even know places could look like this. To the right are floor-to-ceiling windows, which cover two stories, and there are doors leading out onto what looks like a terrace with a pool and a bar. To the left is the front door with a scanner next to it, and behind that is a floating glass staircase leading up to another level. Stepping into the room, I stare around further. The whole place is done in gold, white, and black. Marble floor with black accents squeak under my feet, leading to a living area. Sunk into the floor is a huge sofa, and when I say huge, I mean large enough to hold a full rugby team. It’s in a square and looks like expensive leather, and, I shit you not, a fucking open fire is in front of it. There’s a TV, which covers the whole wall next to me. Behind the sofa is a glass table that runs the length of an entire wall, with flowers and decorations across it and a grand piano. Next to it is an open kitchen, with a white and grey marble island and black stools with gold legs in front of it. The kitchen is bigger than my whole apartment, equipped with every gadget and gizmo you could imagine. Large, chandelier pendant lights hang down from the ceiling, and the fridge and oven are a shiny black. Gold flowers sit perfectly in a vase. Ryder is moving around it. “Bin open,” he orders, and the bin opens, letting him drop something inside. Of course they have fucking talking appliances. There are crystal chandeliers hanging low from the ceiling and art covering the white walls. It’s all so clean, spotless, and perfect—and screams money. Every gilded edge, every vase and feature meant to impress. Fuck, they even have stepping stones into what looks like a pond in a corner. How the other half lives. I shake my head as Kenzo pushes me forward, and I stumble before whipping my head around to glare at him. He’s grinning, flashing straight white teeth at me. “Asshole,” I sneer, and turn back to see all of them looking at me now. I’m so out of place, I feel tiny and insignificant. My clothes are cheap, but fuck it. They stole me, they knew who I was. I tip my head back and give them a haughty look as I stroll over to the table where Garrett is nursing a mug of what smells like coffee. Diesel is there too, his booted feet propped up on the glass table as he flips a lighter around in his hand. Ryder heads over, placing a platter on the table and sitting down in the head chair, setting a napkin delicately in his lap. He’s in another suit today—a grey, pinstriped one with a fucking waistcoat, the material tightening around his impressive thighs as he leans back, sipping from a goddamn teacup. He makes the thing look tiny, yet it seems to fit him somehow. His eyes watch me, analysing my every move as I stand there awkwardly before deciding to pick a chair and plop into it, very ungracefully. Slamming my own bare feet on the table, I cross my arms and narrow my eyes at him. “I want my boots back.” Those boots cost me a small fortune and are one of the only things I’ve ever splurged on and bought for myself. He sips from the cup and places it on a saucer on the table. It’s weirdly fascinating and kind of arousing, watching the man wrap his lips around such a dainty cup. Not that I’ll ever tell him that, asshole. Diesel leans forward, his dark eyes watching me as he pushes his long, blond hair behind his ears. Like usual, Garrett ignores me. Diesel is a fucking mad dog, Ryder is an arrogant asshole, and Kenzo is a charming psychopath…I can’t figure Garrett out. He seems to want to ignore my presence altogether. He doesn’t even look up at me. Kenzo sits next to me and grabs two mugs. “Coffee?” “Dark,” I reply, and he pours it for me. I wrap my hands around the mug, wincing as my injured one aches. Ryder notices, of course. I don’t think there is anything this man doesn’t notice. He has eyes like a hawk. “That serves you right for acting like a child and destroying your room.” Did he just reprimand me…like a fucking kid? I have the urge to throw my coffee in his face, and he narrows his cold eyes like he knows my thoughts. “Do not test me. Because of your outburst, I have some people coming to fix the room today. You can’t be left alone, so you will stay with Kenzo.” “A prison guard?” I laugh bitterly as I sip the coffee, which, annoyingly, is very fucking good. “For your protection, and yes, to stop you from hurting yourself or trying to leave,” Ryder replies matter-of-factly, as he picks up his cutlery and starts to slice into his food. “Eat, you must be hungry.” Then he ignores me like I’m nothing more than an annoyance. If that’s true, then why did he grab me? Is it because it was business to cover a debt? A warning to others? I don’t know, and honestly, I don’t care. Kenzo places food on my plate, a full English, but I feel too sick to eat. What do they think, that a fancy apartment and good food will make me stop trying to escape? Do they really just expect me to accept it? Yes, I can tell they do. They are used to being obeyed, to people doing as they’re told. “Is your hand still bleeding, pretty bird?” Diesel inquires, propping his chin on his hand as he watches me. It doesn’t escape me that Kenzo is between him and me. They did it on purpose, but why? Why do they care what Diesel does to me? After all, they said I’m theirs to do with as they please. Ignoring him, I turn to Ryder, knowing he’s the one who has answers. “My bar—” I start. He lifts those cold eyes, freezing me in place. Most people watch you, but they don’t give you their full attention. Not Ryder, he locks you in place, analysing everything until I’m sure he knows there’s a bead of sweat dripping down my spine and my hands are shaking slightly in fear despite my bravado. He notes it all, watching me, using it against me. This is a man who likes complete control. “What of it?” he challenges, his voice smooth and cultured. There is nothing rough about this man, everything is so perfect, but underneath all that…there is still a viper. A deadly, accurate snake. “What will happen to it?” I ask. “We’ll probably sell it or destroy it,” he answers unemotionally. Curling my fingers into my injured palm, I stop myself from lunging at him and trying to choke the bastard. That’s my bar. Mine. God, if Rich could see it now—it’s that thought that stops me. I promised to look after the place, to keep it running for him. I have to, even if it kills me. “Please, please don’t.” I grit my teeth over the words, the only hint of weakness I will allow. He sits back, his lips tilting up at the corner ever so slightly. “Fine, until we have decided what to do with it, I’ll allow your…associates to carry on business.” I snort at his use of the word ‘associates.’ He means Cook and Travis. “Do they know what happened to me?” He raises his eyebrow. “No, they think you had a family emergency and had to leave.” I laugh, outright laugh, and he watches me. “Something funny?” I can sense the others glancing between us, all sounds of eating stopping. Oh, Ryder doesn’t like not knowing something, at being the butt of a joke. “I have no family, they know that.” I snort. “You have a father,” he replies in confusion. “I disowned him years ago.” I shrug. “Everyone knows that.” He nods, wiping his mouth with his napkin before folding it perfectly and placing it on the table. “I saw you were emancipated at seventeen.” I lift my head then, wondering how. “How—” He smiles then, and it’s so cold and evil, I actually shudder. Fuck. “We have our ways, love. I could find out anything about anyone. Give me a moment, and I’ll know the basics. An hour, I’ll know your life…” He leans close, his minty breath wafting across me, he smells like mint and wood. “Give me a day, and I can destroy you with everything I know.” Tilting my head away, I keep my eyes locked on his, refusing to back down. “Fine, you know shit about me, who doesn’t? That doesn’t mean you know me.” “No?” he counters, arching a brow as he sits back. Surprise enters his eyes at my refusal to concede, to be scared or intimidated, and I can imagine it’s a first. “Then let me enlighten you. You have broken nearly every bone in your body since you were three years old. Your father, probably, since he’s a drunk. Your mother was a drug addict who finally killed herself when you were fourteen. You walk like someone who can hold her own, you know how to fight. Most likely took some lessons. You own a gun which shows you have some…unsavoury friends. You aren’t afraid to run a dive bar, which shows you’re brave and slightly stupid. You don’t have a boyfriend, probably because of your glaring daddy issues—in fact, it seems you just have passing lovers. None who even know your full name, just the way you like it, keeping you in charge. How am I doing?” “All right, apart from one,” I snarl, standing. “My mother didn’t kill herself. My father did that when he stuck the needle in her vein and pushed the plunger.” I turn away and Diesel blocks my path. “Where are you going, Little Bird?” “I did not dismiss you,” Ryder snaps behind me. “Sit down.” Grinding my teeth, I take a deep breath, balling my hands into fists, and spin back around and sit. He nods and carries on eating, ignoring me. “Today, I’m going to be in meetings until after lunch. Tonight, I expect you all here. Tomorrow, Garrett and I are away most of the day,” he informs them. “Where are you going, bro?” Kenzo inquires as he eats. “We have some matters to deal with up north, a disagreement on pay.” Ryder rolls his eyes. “It will be sorted quickly. In the meantime, I want your ears to the ground, Kenzo. Keep your eyes open for retribution from the Triad. They won’t give up that easily.” I sit there soaking it all in, noting as much about them as I can. They are talking freely in front of me. Why? Because they expect I’ll never tell anyone. It sends a bolt of fear through me, which burns away to anger. They plan to snuff me out like I’m nothing, just another business deal for them. It infuriates me, fuck fear. I’m angry, livid. These bastards need to pay. I spend the rest of breakfast silently fuming, refusing to eat. I’m going to make them pay. Chapter Eleven RYDER I watch Roxy out of the corner of my eye, or Roxxane, as her birth certificate read. Not that she goes by it. Overnight, I learned a lot about our new house guest. It seems I was right, her father abused her. Something she cemented when she told us about her mother a moment ago. I knew he was a bastard, but I didn’t know how much. It’s a surprise she’s even alive right now, the ER records made my blood boil. Even as a kid, she suffered. It all seemed very familiar and too close to home as I read back on the broken bones and internal injuries. Yet not one person tried to stop him nor cared enough to intervene. Another child lost in the system. Forgotten, unloved, left in the dark to suffer alone. Yet here she is, fighting even now. I expect her to be dainty and afraid, like so many survivors. I expect her to flinch and wither away, but if anything, she seems to have used that to harden herself to the world. Her scars cover her body, only highlighted by her tattoos, a way to draw attention to her. Her story is written across her skin. I read the judge ordered emancipation, but I’m still having it fully unsealed to see where she went after that. To destroy someone fully, you need to know everything about them, and I don’t yet, though she clearly thinks I do. It keeps her on edge, guessing. The way I like it. Her fists are clenched on the table, her lips taut and eyes flashing in anger. She sits bolt upright in her chair, not touching the food on her plate, even though I can hear her stomach rumbling. I’m betting she’s used to going hungry. Kenzo is scarfing food next to her, a habit he’s never broken. One ingrained into him from not knowing when he would next eat. It hurts me for a moment to see that, but I push those memories away, resealing that behind a wall of ice as I sip my tea. I watch Roxxane, my eyes roving over her appreciatively. Even behind all that makeup and anger, she’s beautiful. In fact, it only highlights her beauty. The colour of her hair is the shade of ice…the colour of my soul. Her eyes are dark rimmed and draw your gaze, and her lips are plump and red, even without lipstick and the puffiness to it. She truly is gorgeous, a natural beauty that’s clear to see. I’ve dated models, princesses, and some of the most beautiful women in the world, but Roxxane? She blows them away. She has an unadulterated loveliness and gracefulness they all strive for. Her curves are mouth-watering, not surgically enhanced like so many. Crossing my legs, I adjust my hard-on, trying to ignore it. I will never act on it. She might be beautiful, and her fight, her willingness to not back down is a massive turn-on, but she’s too wild. Too unpredictable to bed. I like my women meek, I like them there and gone when I order it. Never interrupting my life, just a primal urge that I have to let out. Roxxane wouldn’t be that, she would fight me the whole way. She would be memorable. I don’t have time for distractions, and she’s a massive one. I have a city to run and brothers to protect, and I won’t let a woman destroy us again. Not even one wrapped up in such a beautiful, tragic package like Roxxane. She catches me looking and narrows her eyes, unafraid of me, even though I hold her life in my hands. It almost makes me smile—almost. I can see why Diesel is so entranced by her and why Kenzo wants her. My phone vibrates, bringing me from my thoughts, and I check it to see it’s my alarm. I’m almost late. Unheard of. Standing, I glance at the others, who nod, knowing the drill. “Let’s go.” I look to her then. “Behave,” I order, and I see anger flare in her eyes again, that same need to push her washing through me. She sure is fun to annoy. I turn away, leaving Roxxane with Kenzo. I have an empire to run, and it’s time to remind a few unruly businesses who think they can fight back of that fact. Slicking back my hair, I straighten my suit and stride from the apartment, my brothers on my heels. Roxxane is nothing more than a disruption, one I will be rid of soon. Honestly, I don’t know what we are going to do with her. We took her as a lesson, a warning. The unknown aspect of it all is annoying me, leaving me unable to relax enough to sleep. A person is unpredictable, I have come to know that, but if you know them, how to control them, just where to push, just where to kick or hit—with both fists and information—you can get them to do what you want. Roxxane will not be like that, I can tell. She doesn’t react like a normal person, she’s wild. Uncontrolled. A nightmare for me. Not that I will let her see that. No, she will come to heel, or we’ll kill her. Either works. For now, I’ll ignore her the best I can. I have far more important matters to deal with than one trashy little girl from the southside with anger in her eyes and pain in her heart. Chapter Twelve ROXY Garrett and Diesel leave with Ryder, following behind him like little pets, only after Diesel blows me a kiss. Psycho. It leaves me with Kenzo, who I can feel staring at the side of my face. “You can explore the apartment if you wish.” “What? Not going to lock me back up?” I snap. “Only if you’re good.” He leans closer then. “So be good.” His phone rings, and he picks it up, standing from the table and walking outside. He leans against the balcony as he talks, and I watch him, wondering if this is a trap. Who fucking cares? Even though I know it’s pointless, I leap up and try the front door. But it’s locked. Sighing, I look around at the rest of the apartment before deciding to explore like he said. I have nothing else to do, and I might find something handy. I head upstairs first, my bare feet slapping against the glass. At the top is what looks like a library with a fur carpet in the middle and huge, floor-to-ceiling antique bookcases. It’s quite impressive actually. There’s a corridor to the left and one to the right. I choose left. The first door is locked, but I can hear the hum of computers behind it. Maybe a security room? The door next is also locked, but this one has a scanner on it, so I back away, knowing they don’t want anyone getting at whatever’s in there. The very next door is unlocked, so I slip inside and look around. It’s double the size of my room, but just as neat. A large, metal, low riding bed sits against the right wall. There are more floor-to-ceiling windows opposite me again. There’s no TV or even much furniture. Just a desk with nothing on it but a pen and a pad, but the drawers are locked—I tried them. The floor is a super soft carpet, which my feet sink into as I wander around. The bedding is so straight and perfect, I jump on it just to mess it up a bit. The silky grey material wrinkles under me as I roll around before getting up and smiling down at my handiwork. Like my room, there are two doors, one leads to a bathroom and the first signs of life with toiletries and a half filled hamper. The other door is a wardrobe, which is filled with suits on the left, and shining shoes on the back with two pairs of trainers underneath. Hard to imagine Ryder in for sure. To the right is what looks like grey joggers and shirts, pajama pants, and boxers. I run my hand across the perfectly ironed and hung clothing before an evil thought comes to my mind. It’s petty, but honestly, they didn’t just expect me to sit and wait for them like a dog, did they? I have this need to push them, to find out what they are willing to do. I head back to the bathroom, searching the cupboards until I find what I’m looking for then, giggling, head back to his closet. Picking the first suit, I drag the scissors through the material, slashing and hacking until it’s ruined. I leave only one untouched, grinning. I stare at the thousands upon thousands of pounds of perfectly tailored suits, which now lay in tatters. Proud of myself, I leave the scissors behind and exit his room. Now, what can I do to the other ones? Heading back past the library, I travel down the other corridor to three more doors. I poke my head in the first two. The first one is certainly Diesel’s room, it’s painted black with leather cuts and jackets thrown everywhere. His bed is unmade, his room messy. There are lighters across his side table and cigarettes, and I frown when I spot some panties on his pillow which look suspiciously like mine. Shaking my head, I leave his room alone. Who knows what he’s keeping in there. The next is neater, cleaner, but more lived in. There is a pack of cards on the side table, so it must be Kenzo’s. Not wanting to be caught snooping, I slip into the last room. This must be Garrett’s. The big guy is scary, really fucking scary. As in he could rip me apart without blinking, but he also doesn’t seem to know I exist, and that makes me curious. He isn’t like the others, why? He has a punching bag hung in one corner, and it looks well worn. A king-sized bed is pushed up in the other corner with dark sheets. His whole back wall is painted black with industrial style lights hanging above. The other wall is exposed brick. There’s a TV opposite the bed with stacks and stacks of DVDs under it. I spot some old-school horror movies, seems he’s a horror junkie. There isn’t much else here apart from clothing and toiletries. It’s like they barely live here, this place is so…empty. Is it new? Or do they just really not spend that much time here? Sighing, I sit on his bed and look at the side table. Pulling it open curiously, I root through the junk in there before hitting a velvet box. Pulling it out, I open it, and my eyes widen. It’s a ring, a fucking huge ring. What the— “You shouldn’t be in here,” Kenzo drawls from the door. Looking up, I meet his eyes unapologetically. “You told me to look around, so I am.” Clicking the box shut, I carefully put it back in the drawer. Is Garrett married? “I did.” He smirks. “I’ll have to be more careful of what I say in the future, but what I meant, Rox, is that you can’t be in here.” “Why?” I ask, tilting my head. “If Garrett finds you in here…well, it won’t be pretty. He might seem calm and in control, but he hates women, so just stay away, okay?” He sighs. “Hates women? Why?” I press, and he shakes his head. “You ask a lot of questions for a captive,” Kenzo mutters, not like it’s a bad thing. His eyes light up. “Do you want to play a game?” “Against you? No thanks.” I snort. “Why not? Scared?” he taunts. “I saw the dice you keep in your pocket, the way your eyes track, things and the cards in your room…it’s not hard to deduce that you like to play games. Probably win a lot.” I shrug, standing up. “That’s true. What if I told you I owned every casino, backstreet dealing, and bookie in the city?” he questions, blocking the door, his arm outstretched. “Then I would tell you that you have a gambling problem.” “Or maybe I just like to win,” he murmurs, his eyes darkening as they run down my body. I swallow hard but don’t back down. “Or you just like money, greedy bastard,” I snap, crossing my arms to block his eyes, but they drop to my exposed cleavage, and he licks his lips. “That too,” he agrees. “Are you going to move?” I growl. He watches me, seeming to deliberate my question. “Why aren’t you more scared of us?” My heartbeat triples at that. If only they knew that I am scared of them, but I get it. Why aren’t I a sobbing, catatonic mess? “I’ve been scared nearly every day of my life, eventually, you stop letting it control you and get so used to it that it’s just another day.” He blinks, probably not expecting that. “I can understand that.” “You can?” I counter, tilting my head. Shit, why am I talking to this bastard instead of smashing his head in and trying to escape? Because he’s too calm, way too calm, like he knows even if I do get past him somehow, I will never get free. Which tells me more than anything that this building won’t be easy to escape from. Which makes sense if it’s the Vipers HQ. “We’re not so different, Rox. You should remember that.” He drops his arm. “Your room is still being repaired, and before you go to beg them for help, they are ours and don’t care. Instead, let’s go relax.” “Relax?” I yell after him, as he starts to walk away. “Relax! It’s my day off, after all!” He laughs as I stand there, but I don’t want to be caught in Garrett’s room if what he said is true. Hates women…why? Fuck, why do I care? And why am I following Kenzo? Because, honestly, what else would I do? I might as well enjoy this lux penthouse before I escape. I was expecting torture, or at least one of them to try and fuck me before now, yet they haven’t, and that’s throwing me off. They say I