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Chad's Chase: Loving All Wrong, #2

Chad's Chase: Loving All Wrong, #2

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Chad's Chase: Loving All Wrong, #2

Length:
405 pages
9 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Sep 18, 2014
ISBN:
9781393180241
Format:
Book

Description

He wants to claim her, possess her, rename her. 

But she has a different agenda...


JHAY BYRD

Chadrick needs to die.
I'm ruined. My life is ruined. Because of him.
Soulless, heartless, unremorseful, he took everything from me.
Everything.
Now, I'm after his soul.
And no, I will not allow his good looks, suave style, or panty-incinerating body to distract or dissuade me.
Nor will I allow his deadly dark eyes to scare me.
Unlike everyone else, I'm not afraid of him.
The. Chase. Is. On.

CHADRICK NIIVEUX

Jhay needs saving.
I've ruined her life. She's lost, roaming the darkness all on her own, because of me.
Bitter, impulsive, seething with revenge, she thinks she hates me. Thinks she wants me dead.
I know I should kill her. Kill or be killed, right?
Except, I can't.
I'm shot down. Infatuated.
I've always been.
And while she's after my life, I'm after her heart.
The. Chase. Is. On
 

Publisher:
Released:
Sep 18, 2014
ISBN:
9781393180241
Format:
Book

About the author


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Chad's Chase - S. Ann Cole

Author

PROLOGUE

TWELVE YEARS AGO...

Rublevka, Moscow, Russia

HE WOKE UP IN A NIGHTMARE.

No, not from a nightmare. In a nightmare.

The shrills echoing from his piss-scared little sister were jarring, rattling his nerves. The sight of his mom and dad lying face-down on the floor, hands bound behind their backs, was a merciless, bone-cracking kick in the face from reality.

Reality. This was reality.

The world was evil. Humans were sharp-toothed creatures. No better than cannibals tearing each other apart in the forests for food, instead of sharing the fucking carcass and living in lazy peace.

Evil.

Evil had a smell. Raw. Evil had a color. Black. Evil had a taste. Bitter.

Evil overpowered.

Dad was bawling actual tears. Trembling, begging, and pleading for mercy.

Mom, on the other hand, was calm, whimpering not a peep, patiently awaiting her fate. With the life that woman lived, moments like this were expected and prepared for.

The key to living, son, is to know that death is inevitable, and always be prepared for it, she’d told him. "Then you will have no reason to fear or waste tears. And death shall have no dominion over you."

Easy for her to say.

Standing at the hallway with wide, green eyes, was his little sister, screaming. Just screaming. Loud, piercing, ear-splitting. The fear in her eyes breaking him, beating him into the ground.

Ricardo tried to move against his bindings, to go to her, to snatch her up and run. Run fast and far and hard. But before he could get even two feet toward her, a sharp pain impacted the back of his knee and he face-planted, busting his nose.

Howling out like a man-bitch, he rolled over onto his back and grabbed onto his knee, his face twisted in pain. When he felt the wetness seeping through the soft cotton of his pajamas, he knew he was shot.

Well, fuck. Tonight would be the night. The night death won.

Just eighteen years old. Still a boy. And he was about to die—

A pair of shit-kickers appeared in his periphery, and before he could raise a hand to protect himself, one of the booted feet slammed into the side of his head.

Momentarily, he blacked out. Seeing nothing but blinking stars on a black backdrop, streaks of red, squiggly lines dancing up and down like a graphic equalizer. As the stars disappeared and clear vision returned, the voice above him spoke, words in their Russian tongue, Stay down, son of a fucking traitor. No escaping. Tonight, you die.

Resigning to his fate, he gave up all hope, all fight, and relaxed his tensed-up muscles, his limbs falling limp and unstrained on the hard, black and white marble tiles.

Slowly, he turned his head in the direction of his sister, to see her face one last time before they died. To apologize through his eyes for not being able to save, protect and defend her, the way a big brother should.

His sister was only ten. Ten. She deserved none of this.

But when his eyes landed on her, he noticed all of a sudden, through the loud rushing of blood in his ears, that her screaming had stopped, the threats of the assailants had ceased, and thick silence plunged into the atrocious waves of this unfortunate night like a heavy anchor. 

He watched his little sister as she watched the front door, hope refulgent in her bright green eyes, her hand halfway reaching out, as if she knew who or what she saw would save them. 

Her hope revived his own hope, and so he followed her gaze to see what she saw.

And that very moment was what made it all a nightmare. Not the fact that the whole Byrd family was about to be eliminated, but that the head man in charge, the man who would be pulling the trigger, had arrived.

And this man—no, boy, because they shared the same age—was Chadrick Niiveux.

A boy whom he grew up with. A boy whom he called ‘brother’. A boy who sat at the Byrds’ dinner table every night, whom they shared their home and lives with. A boy whom they all loved and treated like their own blood.

Chadrick. Niiveux.

As the betrayer gracefully attached a suppressor to his weapon, all false hopes dissipated, as it was clear Chadrick was not there to save them.

Hope was wasted on him. Because the evil they needed saving from was him. He wasn’t the savior of this night’s dark tale, he was the soulless villain.

Chadrick’s attention went to his wide-eyed, mouth-hanging little sister, and there was no emotion in him as he gestured to her and, in Russian tongue, ordered the henchman looming over Ricardo, You, subdue her. Take her to her room and keep her there.

When the henchman non-hesitantly did as he was ordered, dragging his wailing and flailing little sister down the hall until her screams of Blood! No! Please, Blood! No! were no more, Chadrick moved as calmly and quietly as a panther over to Mom and Dad.

Dad, bound and shaking, angled his head to look up at him. Why—why are you doing this, Chadrick? We treated you like our own. We love yo—

Dad’s word cut short as Chadrick aimed at his head and fired. As smooth and easy as honey overflowing from a spoon.

Stepping over Dad’s lifeless body, he crouched down next to Mom, who was still acceptingly quiet, and whispered something lengthy in her ear, then positioned the gun directly into the shell of her ear, and fired.

Dead.

This could not be happening.

By this time, Ricardo was full-on shaking, throwing dices with fear.

Like an incontestable king creature, Chadrick rose up from his crouch and walked over to him, his feet making no sound whatsoever on the floor tiles. He didn’t even seem real, or tangible, but like a black, evil spirit moving on thin air.

As Chadrick stooped down next to him, Ricardo stared up into his frenemy’s endless dark eyes, silently asking ‘why?’.

But this man was a total stranger. Not the ‘brother’ he knew and loved. Not best friend he played video games with only hours ago. Not even an iota. His eyes were nothing but infinite nights filled with terror. His face a steel wall—straight, blank, inanimate, inhumane.

Knowing it was his turn to be executed, but not knowing what awaited him on the darker side, Ricardo began trembling violently as Chad raised his free hand and touched the side of his face, whispering, Don’t be afraid, Ricardo. Trust that you are my brother, and I love you as such.

The hand on Ricardo’s cheek moved slightly, and he felt the coldness of Chadrick’s silver ring on his skin, and, with a more subtle move, felt something puncturing the soft flesh of his cheek.

Chadrick kept his hand on his face for a while, and when Ricardo’s vision began to blur, he stood up.

Ricardo got swept up into vertigo, consciousness slipping in and out.

But it wasn’t enough to blot out the reality of Chadrick standing above him, three-headed, then two-headed, then three-headed again.

Consciousness there, consciousness gone. Consciousness back just in time to see Chadrick aim the suppressed weapon at him, and fire.

One

Amazing grace...

NADIA...

THERE WAS SOMETHING different about the new girl.

The dancers at Empty Cage gentleman’s club surreptitiously eyed her with fairly concealed envy, or rather covetousness. They’d known without a flicker of doubt, the second she’d walked into the club, that she’d become club favorite.

She was too physically perfect—naturally so. And girls this naturally perfect weren’t usually found in exclusive gentleman’s clubs. They were found on runways and big screens. They were socialites and trophy wives. Millionaires’ arm candies, and billionaires’ spoilt mistresses.

If all a girl like her had to do was wink at a man and own him, it was beyond baffling why she was working at Empty Cage.

Her strides were so confident. Her shoulders perennially squared, her chin perpetually jutted up and out, as if working in such a place was an honor. Nothing short of peculiar.

The other girls whispered about her behind her back. Good things, incidentally—which was rare when it came to women who competed for attention in a four-walled work zone.

Have you seen those green eyes? She’s unbelievable! She looks high-born. What’s a girl as refined as her doing in a place like this? You think she’s a rich runaway? She doesn’t fit here. Ohmygod, I’d kill for those tits!

New Girl was like a diamond among broken shells. Customers gaped at her as she swayed by. Men and women alike.

At an estimated five feet seven inches, she had hair the color of midnight—jet black, and whenever the light bounced off the straight, long tresses from a certain angle, it glinted midnight blue. Covetously long, but always pulled up in a tight ponytail.

Unlike the other dancers, she wore little to no make-up, never trying to hide under thick layers of face concealer, fake lashes and eyeliner. No bright colored wigs or mysterious costumes.

She wore fearlessness like it was an expensive fur coat gifted from a powerful drug lord. And she moved as smooth and graceful as a legless snake slithering in a clear pond.

The weaponless killer was her body. Perfect C-cups, slim waistline ending where her hips began and shaped out into wide curves. Abs like no woman should have, and arms that needn’t be so toned. Runway models would slit throats for her legs, they were so long.

Whenever she was up on that stage, wrapped around the pole like a goddamn contortionist, she was magic. Pure magic.

She didn’t dance for money. She performed.

And during her sessions, the entire club would pause to watch. She was a spotlight all on her own, that girl. Shining brightly on herself. Glowing from the inside out.

A beautiful enigma.

But while she left the majority in a whirl of mesmerizing entrancement, a few of the honed, acute ones were left in suspicion.

The ones who took note that she didn’t drink alcohol or flirt with men. The ones who noticed her unnatural maturity for a girl estimated to be no older than twenty-three. The ones who took note that she didn’t work the floor like a stripper hunting the next dollar, but instead constantly eyed the club entrance. The ones who noted that her money purse was a little too big, and noticed the questionable bulge in her right boot. The ones who noticed she hadn’t the mannerisms of a normal new adult, but was always alert, poised, ready. But...for what?

The ones who knew, unequivocally, that she was no one innocent, no one to be trusted, no one to be underestimated.

New Girl was a beautiful disaster waiting to happen. Beautifully dangerous.

Dangerously beautiful.

ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE was Nadia, a spy for the owner of Empty Cage, also covering as a stripper. Nadia wasn’t instructed to spy on the enigmatic new girl, but something had been so off about her since she arrived a week ago that Nadia’s natural instincts had her monitoring her every move.

And after a week of spying, Nadia was convinced New Girl was bad news.

Very bad news.

She was out for someone, and this stripper job was a cover.

Sitting on this conjecture, Nadia waited for her boss to show up on one of his guaranteed days: Monday, Wednesday or Friday. But when the entire week flew by and he didn’t show up, she figured he was out of state.

She couldn’t call him to ascertain. She wasn’t allowed to call. No spy was allowed to call. No matter how important. He called whenever he was ready.

So she waited.

Wednesday rolled around again, and as Nadia exited the changing room after primping for another night on the job, the shift in the air told her the boss was in for the night. The entire atmosphere felt different whenever that man was in the building: a little ominous, yet a little safer.

Nadia glanced over to the right where her boss’s two grim, hulky guards were blocking off the stairway leading up to the boss’s office. 

Before heading over to the guards, she inconspicuously scanned the club for New Girl, her eyes finding her a minute later.

More like a customer than a dancer, she was sitting coolly unconcerned at a high-table, and one of the strippers was giving her a slow, sexy lap dance, while she stuck dollar bills into the stripper’s thong. But New Girl’s eyes weren’t on the stripper. No, they were watching the guards over at the stairway. Hard.

Abruptly, that gaze shifted across the crowd so fast and latched onto Nadia’s, that Nadia stiffened, suddenly intimidated.

Those green eyes, they held something. A threat.

New Girl knew Nadia had been watching her. Hell. She knew.

With her threatening eyes still on Nadia’s, New Girl palmed the stripper’s throat and roughly yanked her head back, then she brought her mouth to the side of the stripper’s neck and licked it, then sucked on it, her other hand drifting up to cup to squeeze the stripper’s breast.

The unexpected effect that viscerally unfurled inside Nadia had her questioning her sexuality. She shouldn’t have been turned on by New Girl. But she was. She bewilderingly was.

Swallowing hard, Nadia resumed her jaunt to the stairway, her steps quicker.

The guards knew her role there so they nodded respectfully when she got up to them, but didn’t give her pass.

I’ve got word for him, she told them.

One of the guards, whom she knew as Ronnie, held up a hand in a ‘hang on’ signal then took out his cell and hit a number...

Nadia’s got word, boss...yeah...no...’kay.

Ronnie hung up and moved aside to grant her pass, and she went ahead and navigated her way to the boss’s office. The door was ajar but she knocked anyway.

Come, Nadia.

Nadia went in.

Sitting in his office chair behind his modern glass desk, flipping through a mess of photos scattered across a large manila envelope, the owner was a torturous sight to the female eyes. Too damn good-looking to be doing—whatever it was he did that was so bad he needed bodyguards.  She never asked questions. And she knew she was better off not knowing the gore. She just did what was expected of her and collected her lump sum every fortnight.

Tall and lean, the man behind the desk wasn’t packing with muscles, but just enough to fit his body type. Dirty blond hair that didn’t have one particular style to it. Sometimes he trimmed it in a rocker’s style, sometimes he let it grow out in limp, loose waves like a surfer, and sometimes he trimmed it like an Ivy League gentleman. Whichever way he wore that lovely hair, it worked for him. Nadia was sure that, even on his worse day, he looked a lot better than every other man she’d ever come across in her entire life. He was just that undeniably, irresistibly mouth-watering.

With dark eyes and lips that didn’t smile, Nadia often wondered what it would be like to have sex with a man so sexily fierce. With her open body language, she’d made it obvious, loud and clear, that she desired him since the moment he hired her. But the man wasn’t interested. In her or anyone.

Cool and detached, never screwing around, never messing with the dancers.

Hey, boss—

What do you have for me? he asked without looking up from the photos in front of him.

That familiar tone told her to get on with it. There’s a new stripper. Been working here for over a week now. She goes by the stage name ‘Blood’ and—

Blood? Really? his smooth voice asked, accompanied by a light chuckle. Does she make money with that name?

Momentarily taken aback, it took Nadia a minute to respond, because she’d never heard this man do anything even remotely close to chuckling before. Lots. Without even working for it. She’s...flawless.

Hmm... he hummed, clasping his hands above the scattered photos on his desk and raising his head to give her his undivided attention. Well, if she’s so ‘flawless’, why’re you reporting her to me?

"Because I think—no, I know she’s dangerous."

Slowly, his lips tipped up in a breath-stealing smile, as if ‘dangerous’ was his all-time favorite word. And this time Nadia wasn’t just taken aback, but dumbstruck that this man actually smiled. He must be in an extremely good mood tonight.

With all these uncharacteristic gestures—chuckling, smiling—she wondered if he would let her suck his dick if she offered. Sweet Lord, she’d give anything to get on her knees in front of him, suck him deep in the back of her throat, and swallow his cum like it’s a goddamn elixir of life.

Now I’m beyond intrigued, he said. I’ve never met a flawless-dangerous person before. That’s an almost impossible combination.

Now he was jeering her.

No, I meant flawless physically. People just stare at her like she’s a new species or something. But she, as a person, is not just a normal girl. She’s here for a reason. And stripping is not it.

And how have you come to this conclusion?

I’ve been watching her since she came. When she gets dressed, she puts something like a dagger in her boot, a Ruger .38 in her purse, along with a vial of something I’ve no doubt is poison.

Boss’s eyes drew tight at the corners, but still he shrugged. Maybe she’s just trying to be careful. Stripping is a risky job.

Nadia knew he didn’t believe that. He was trying to screw with her head. He did it all the time. It was a game to him.

Yeah, except she isn’t working. Once she dances onstage for the night, she sits and watches the door. Waiting for something.

Expressionless, he tapped his finger against the desk, just staring at her.

She only works three nights a week, boss, Nadia informed, trying to get it across to him that this girl needed to be detained and questioned, or at least monitored closely until she slipped up.  "Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The only three nights you might show up here."

Taking a step further into the room, she said, "That girl is here on a mission, Mr. Niiveux. And I think her mission is you."

How sweet the sound...

CHAD

CHAD SAT WITH HIS EARS wide open, listening out for the deejay to call on a certain ‘Blood’ to the stage.

After Nadia’s report thirty minutes ago, he’d believed every word of it, but he’d wanted to make her think she was paranoid. Because, well, that’s just how he operated.

On a serious fucking note, though, ever since he’d gained custody of his little cousin Alina, who was worth a staggering $12 billion, a ton of hits had been coming after his head. Sure as shit, he’d landed himself in someone’s cross hairs. Needless to say, he wasn’t an easy ass to fuck. He was as straight as they came, tighter than a newborn, untouched, which meant they’d have to grease the hell up in order to be able to bend his inflexible ass over and fuck him. If they wanted him dead, they needed to send smarter men than the ones they’d been sending to assassinate him, because every sloppy idiot who came after him wound up dead.

Rubbing his forehead, Chad sighed. Tired of this shit.

He couldn’t believe his whole life in San Francisco was being uprooted. He’d fled there to escape the evil, bloody mess that used to be his life back in Russia. He’d started a new, normal life. Found some new, normal friends.

But now all the bad was following him there like a plague of locusts, thick and black, like a fucking funeral blanket.

It’s been a year since he’d been targeted, almost leading him to believe the son of a slut who wanted him dead had given up. But now Nadia was alerting him about this strange new chick who called herself Blood. And based upon everything Nadia had described, the subtlety, the nuances, this one was trained. She’d gotten as far as inside his club, disguised as a stripper, right under his nose, undetected. Unlike the others before her, she wasn’t sloppy.

She was patient.

The muffled sound of the deejay calling up a certain ‘Blood’ onstage had Chad shooting up from his chair and striding over to the one-way glass that overlooked the majority of the club, including the stage.

Hands crossed over his chest, he waited to see this Flawless-Dangerous Blood.

A silhouette of a girl he evaluated to be around five feet seven inches without her heels walked out onstage with long, confident strides, as though she were on a runway, not in a strip club. And as the club lights danced across her body, it was like she owned every soul in the fucking club. Everyone, customers and dancers alike, stopped whatever they were doing and looked toward the stage.

Unbelievable.

This girl had to be one helluva dancer to command the crowd like that.

Swinging up on the pole, she climbed all the way to the top, almost touching the ceiling, and then she began to perform to The Glitch Mob’s Our Demons.

Chad had traveled around the world and seen some amazing pole swingers before, but this performance had him stunned. Whoever she was, she was boss at working a pole. Mastered it.

As the song ended, melding into another, she abandoned the pole and sashayed to the front of the stage, tipped her head up, and looked straight at him.

Ah, okay...the glass was one-way, so she wasn’t exactly looking at him, but...she was staring right in his direction. Like she knew he was there watching her.

With her face tipped up in the light, unhidden in shades of darkness, eyes staring at what he knew she couldn’t see, recognition hit him.

Holy. Fuck.

Two things happened. His cock swelled solid hard in an instant, damn well aching. And his heart bulldozed through his ribcage, crashing through his chest with a traumatizing force.

He was both balls-achingly aroused, and shocked clean out of his skin.

And Chad had seen it all, so it took a fuck lot to shock him.

If he’d had any doubts about her being a threat, those doubts shattered right then.

Because that girl was there, in his club, for one reason only: to kill him.

And he didn’t believe this was Alina-related either, nor that she was sent. He believed she was there of her own accord.

For revenge.

Maybe she wasn’t expecting him to recognize her, now that she was all grown and curvaceous and fucking beautiful. Or else she would’ve better disguised herself.

Wrong move.

Chad might have forgotten the faces of the people he’d killed in his short life. But he never, ever, forgot the faces of the people he let live.

Uh-huh, he agreed, this girl was physically flawless. And judging by the way she was staring up at his one-way glass, she was daringly dangerous.

But she wasn’t ‘Blood’.

He was Blood.

Her? Her name was Jhay.

Jhay Byrd.

Two

That saved a wretch like me...

JHAY

BABE, YOU’LL BE LATE for work if you don’t get up now.

The delicate touch of Sydney’s palm sliding under my Cami tank and up my stomach to cup my breast had me smiling in my sleep.

Moaning my approval of her caress, I stretched and rolled onto my back.

Sydney flipped off the sheets and crawled on top of me, pulling my Cami tank up and off in the process, her curly blonde hair spilling down around her cherub-like face, her naked body warm and supple against mine.

I really don’t feel like working tonight, I grumbled, pinching her nipples. Would much rather stay home and let you suck me dry.

Though what I should have said was, "I really don’t feel like chasing Chad’s life tonight. I just wanna live a normal fucking life."

Fatefully, this job had to be done.

Most importantly, it had to be done not just because it was an assignment that would grant me a payment I’d dreamed of for ten agonizing years, but because it was also a gift to myself. Tied with a neat little red bow, and a little black card signed with a blood-inked pen, Sincerely, Revenge.

For the past six months, I’d been in the States, studying Chadrick Niiveux. Yep, I literally had to study him because he wasn’t the easiest person to get close to.

He was a very important man. A very dangerous man. A very wanted man. A very hated man. A very loved man. A very protected man.

He was Chadrick Niiveux.

The man who murdered my family. The man who once, when I was a stupid, stupid, stupid little girl, I thought of as...the rich, handsome prince I would grow up to marry one day.

He used to take care of me, buy me gifts. He used to read me stories, fall asleep in my bed. And I used to stare at him and dream of us together, because I used to love him.

Even though I was too young to know what love was, I’d known without a doubt that I loved him. Even though we were eight years apart and I was too young for anything like what happened in my fantasies to happen in real life, I still fantasized, because I loved him.

But then he turned into a monster. Into an invincible black spirit.

Death.

Pulling the rug from under my feet, he took everything from me. My mother. My father. My brother. My freedom. My sanity.

Never again would I be the same, because of him. Never again would I trust, because of him. Never again would I believe in anything or anyone, because of him.

Chad needed to die. By my hands. Not because he murdered my parents. Not because he murdered my brother. But because he made me live. 

He. Made. Me. Live.

And I wished like hell he would’ve done to me as he’d done to the rest of my family. Because death, I believed, would’ve been better than the heavy cloak I now wore; this hideous, insidious thing called life.

So I watched him from as close as I could get, which wasn’t very close. The guy didn’t have a pattern. His movements were never the same, always throwing me off, making it near impossible for me to snipe him.

Except for this one club of his, Empty Cage, which I deduced to be his haven. That was the only loop in his seamless life. Empty Cage was his only pattern.

But it was still difficult, because, even though I knew he would turn up on either Monday, Wednesday or Friday, I could never be sure which of the three days it would be each week; and sometimes he didn’t show up at all.

So I sought a job there. Which was perfect, as pole-dancing was compulsory as part of my training. And over the years it became my preferred method of exercise.

Metaphorical brush on my shoulders, I mastered the thing. An easy cover-up.

But my plan went only so far; stagnant at this point. For me to get any closer than that to him would take a whole new miracle.

Using sex to get to him was the next-best option. I knew I looked good. Taking special care of my body and staying fit was another compulsory, and I’d been taught how to seduce with my walk, my eyes, my words.

But seducing men was my least favorite thing on the list. Men, I hated them with a churning, bitter passion.

And even if I did chose the seduction route, I’d probably have to work three times as hard to win him, because I’d heard through the loquacious strippers that he wasn’t a fuck-around. He was the relationship kind.

If he had a girlfriend, it would’ve been easier to befriend her and use her as a channel to get to him. Become BFFs, turn her gay-for-me or some shit. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen him with anyone for the months I’ve been watching him.

So basically I was stuck. For now.

I just had to wait it out.

Therefore, as much as I didn’t care to go to Empty Cage tonight, I had to. Because every Monday, Wednesday and Friday was an opportunity. One never knew when an opening would come. I wasn’t sent to San Francisco to fuck, relax, and live a normal lesbian life. I didn’t have that privilege. I was there to kill a man who some anonymous moneybag wanted dead real bad—badly enough to have sent one dozen different men who’d failed to succeed, losing their own lives instead.

But you have to, Sydney mumbled, kissing along my collarbone. How else are you gonna take down that big, bad drug lord you’ve been investigating for months?

Sydney was my temporary girlfriend for five of the six months I’d been in SF. She believed I was an FBI agent, undercover as a stripper, sent here to investigate a notorious drug lord—thanks to my fake badge and ID.

Just as I liked them, she was blonde, pretty, and had a wicked tongue. Convenient for the time being.

She thought she loved me. She thought I gave a shit.

I had her move in with me because I liked having her around. Being alone was possibly my only fear; so wherever I went, I always tried to have at least one innocuous person around me.

After my family was murdered, I was captured, imprisoned, and enslaved. Abused and raped.

Trained to fight. Trained to kill.

So now that I was loaned freedom on a short string, I made use of it by inviting a harmless person every now and again into my space. Preferably someone who could bring me both normalcy and pleasure. They crossed me, I killed them. Though no one ever actually did.

Sydney was six years older than me. I was freshly twenty-two.

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