Authors: Ashley Jade
I had to stop myself from looking at him in shock. I also had to stop myself from acknowledging the small pang I felt when he praised me.
He peered over my toolbox. “I've just taken on two new fighters. Two great fighters actually. Tyrone Davis and Jackson Reid.”
I shrugged. “Never heard of them.”
He chuckled. “No, you wouldn't have. Seeing as I just bailed them both out of jail. Tyrone was innocent so it was fairly easy...but this guy, Jackson... he actually committed the murder.”
“Sounds like he's right up your alley then.”
“He killed the man who murdered his sister. And the man who beat his sister to death happened to be a professional MMA fighter.”
I wiped my hands on the rag beside me. “Sounds like he never should have been in jail to begin with.”
He waved a hand. “Doesn't make a difference to me. But...they both have serious potential. Potential I haven't seen since
He paused. “Well, you.”
I smirked before I repeated his words, “Doesn't make a difference to me.”
I leaned against my mustang and lit a cigarette. “Why's that?”
“I think if you trained them. You might
” He paused appearing to choose his next words carefully. “You might be the very thing to save their life.”
I stayed silent trying not to let his words affect me. He knew my kryptonite.
I hated watching people that didn't deserve to...die. I saw plenty of that over the last ten years. But even though I was surrounded by death in that club...l still loved fighting and motivating myself to make it to the next level. Hell, I loved that club...it was like home to me.
It was the only place I felt like I ever really belonged
the only place I had control over my life.
The place where I fought and earned my control and power...it wasn't just handed to me because I was DeLuca's son.
Shit, if he threw in a beautiful broad he'd have all three of my weaknesses at his disposal.
“Perhaps, I'll even change the way the fight club runs,” he gritted through his teeth. “Not right away, but in a few years. If you agree to train Jackson and Tyrone.”
I ignored him and took another drag off my cigarette before slamming the hood down on the mustang.
When I still didn't answer him, he said, “Maybe I'll turn it all over to you one day. I know you love that club, son.”
I could feel myself giving in but I didn't open my mouth just yet.
“You'll be the one in charge
for the most part, Ricardo. I won't ever step foot inside that club again. I'll just set up a video surveillance so I'll be able to watch every fight.”
He took a step forward. “ Of course, it is still my club right now, so you'll have to run most things through me, but I won't interfere with your training and I'll let you have a say in any and all final decisions regarding the club.”
“What's your game plan, DeLuca? What are you hoping to accomplish by all of this?”
“Yeah, that would be nice for a change.”
He looked me in the eyes. “I want my son back.” He sighed deeply. “I realize what I did to you was wrong and unforgivable.”
He looked like he was swallowing a box of nails before he uttered his next statement, “I guess what I'm saying is that I'm sorry and I want to make amends. You're the only son I have and I want to try and be the father I should have been.”
I shouldn't have let his words impact me the way they did. But the fact was, DeLuca never felt bad for a single thing in his entire life. It still wouldn't take back all that he'd done, but a small part of me wanted to believe that he wanted to change, that he could be a better person.
“One condition. Actually two.”
no one is to tell my two fighters that I'm your son. There's no way they would respect me or my training if they knew the spawn of Satan was the one guiding them through the pits of hell. I need them to trust me first and foremost. I need them to believe in me so I can get them through this.”
“Fine, consider it done. As long as you agree to meet with me on a monthly basis for dinner at my house. This way we can discuss both the club and the fighters.”
“I guess I could manage that. As long as you adhere to my other request.”
“Never set my fighters up for a fall. I'm okay with testing their limits and pushing their boundaries so they become better fighters, but I will never be okay with purposely setting them up to get killed or seriously injured. It's a deal breaker.”
I stomped on my cigarette. “I hate the way you run the club but I know I can't control it until the club officially becomes mine. But you damn well better not kill my guys. Understood?”
“Understood. The club will be all yours in 10 years.”
He shrugged. “You know the length of my deals. Now let's get the hell out of this shithole. We have a plane to catch and a business to run.”
And that conversation is how I currently find myself pulling up to his home. Almost 3 years since I agreed to coach Jackson and Tyrone.
Two men who have become more like brothers to me rather than my client's.
Two men I'd do anything to protect.
Two men I consider my family and DeLuca knows it.
But even so, there's nothing he can do about it.
Because if he did, he knows he'll lose me and ruin what little relationship we have with one another.
I ring the doorbell again and curse the beginning of July heat; despite DeLuca's house being near the water, it's hot as a motherfucker outside.
Finally deciding I had enough, I open the door and walk right in―only to find him on the staircase, buttoning his shirt and fixing his fly.
It's obvious I interrupted him in the middle of something.
I’d heard through the grapevine that he had a girlfriend but I still had yet to meet her.
I also heard that she was beautiful,
than he was and they were serious enough to be living together.
“I rang the doorbell, but you didn't answer,” I say.
He nods his head in the direction of the dining room. “I was busy. Come on, let's eat.”
I follow behind him and take a seat at the table. “Tyrone needs a day off from training in a few weeks because his mother's coming into town and he wants to spend the day with her. I told him it was okay,” I say, getting right down to business.
Besides, even if it wasn't okay, I couldn't care less. Tyrone's mother is the sweetest woman in the world. I would never refuse her anything.
He sits up in his chair and looks around the dining room. “That's fine.” He snaps his fingers. “Marlene, are you serving dinner or not?” he barks at his housekeeper.
“Coming right up, Mr. DeLuca.”
I try not to roll my eyes and tell him off. I hated the way he spoke to people.
Less than a minute later, Marlene walks into the dining room and proceeds to serve us. “Thank you, Marlene. It looks great,” I say, before giving her my signature panty-melting smile that makes her blush.
She looks at DeLuca and frowns. “Will
be joining you for dinner this evening?”
I don't miss the hint of snarkiness in her tone when she says that.
Apparently, his girlfriend doesn't make friends easily.
He looks up from his plate. “Yeah, she's supposed to be down here already. Go fetch her for me and make sure she's suitable.”
This was unusual. I've been here once a month for almost 3 years and not
have I ever met his girlfriend.
Marlene finishes filling our glasses with wine and nods.
I ignore my own wine but DeLuca takes a hearty sip before he focuses his attention on something behind me. “There you are, Bambina. Get in here.”
I turn my head and all I can think is―
She certainly looks like a
, and it has nothing to do with her small stature either.
This girl can't be more than in her late teens, maybe early 20's at the most.
I point my thumb in her direction. “I take it this is your girlfriend's daughter?”
I hear a giggle erupt behind me and DeLuca narrows his eyes. “No this is not my girlfriend's
,” he spits. “This is
Lucianna. I figured it was about time you two finally meet.”
I sit back in my chair and watch as some broad with long dark hair wearing a tight black tube top dress makes her way to the table.
Then I watch in both amusement and concern as she proceeds to guzzle the full glass of red wine that Marlene poured for her.
Marlene fills up her glass again and she guzzles that one down just as quick as the first one.
Either she's a sorority girl in the making, or this girl has some
Marlene finally just gives up on walking away and stands by her side, filling the glass up one more time.
I've never seen anything like it before, and DeLuca doesn't even bat an eye. He just tears right into his ravioli.
After she finishes her third glass in less than 10 minutes, she motions for Marlene to fill it up again. “It's
,” she informs her curtly before walking away.
The girl pouts, folds her arms across her chest and makes a face at DeLuca.
DeLuca raises a finger. “No. I won't tell you again. Have all the wine you'd like, but you're off the
stuff for good, Bambina. Deal with it.”
What the hell is going on?
Then it dawns on me. It's obvious his
is some stray that he brought home.
But then again, she
pretty hot. You know, if you like that glazed over, drunk, party girl look.
She groans and pushes her plate away like a 5-year-old. “Then I'm not hungry.”
He pinches the bridge of his nose. “Fine, starve for all I care. You're still not getting your way, Lucianna.”
She mumbles something under her breath that I don't catch but DeLuca must because he stiffens. “Care to
She tosses her napkin in her dish and runs a hand down her body suggestively. “I said then
not getting any of
That's when I start laughing, I can't help myself. I've never heard a female speak to him like this before.
Hell, DeLuca may have just met his match after all.
It's times like these that I
I could tell Tyrone and Jackson about DeLuca being my father. They would get a kick out of watching this.
My laughter quickly dies though when my father stares at her.
His gaze is so intense and threatening she immediately slinks back down in her chair, appearing to come out of her haze momentarily. “I'm so sorry, mio amore. I'll never embarrass you in front of your son or anyone else again.”
He reaches over and kisses her hand. “You better not, or
. I'll have Marlene bring you more wine.”
Since I'm not drinking any of mine, I hand her my glass.
“Thank you,” she whispers before she closes her eyes and downs it.
That's when I notice a few faded track marks on her arm. They would hardly be noticeable to the untrained eye, but growing up with a mother who was an addict for the first eleven years of my life made me aware of the signs.
, this girl is a damn heroin addict.
It's obvious he doesn't want her to use anymore. Just like it's obvious why she keeps downing wine like it's water. I wish I never handed her my glass now.