Authors: L.J. Shen
Tags: #contemporary romance, #Mafia, #dark, #organized crime
Copyright © 2016 by L.J. Shen
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any way, including electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or any other means without the explicit written permission of the author, except for brief quotations of the book when writing a review.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, brands, places, incidents and even facts are the product of the author’s imagination. Come to think of it,
facts. Any resemblance to actual people – alive, dead, or somewhere in-between, is completely coincidental and is just in your head.
All song titles and lyrics in this book are the property of the sole copyright owners.
Letitia Hasser at R.B.A. Designs
Vanessa L. Bridges at PREMA Editing
For coffee, thanks for seeing me through this journey.
For the Beat Generation authors, without whom I would’ve never become one.
Last but not least, for my readers. You awesome motherfuckers.
“She’s mad, but she is magic.
There’s no lie in her fire.”
Once upon a time, there was a boy.
The boy was sad and lost and violent, but inside him, lay peace.
He is sitting on the porch in his ivy-laced, putrid front yard, fisting his hair, his eyes blank and clean. He is beautiful, the boy. The lord gave him a bad life and good looks, even though the boy would have preferred it the other way around.
A woman standing behind him is screaming and bawling and pounding her bloody fists against his back.
That woman is his mother.
Under his feet lies a man with a fractured skull, the contents of his head spilling on the yellowed grass. Broken pieces of a vase adorn his head like Jesus’ crown of thorns and a sharp shard is stuck to his temple.
That man is his father.
Up above, heaven frowns at what the 22 year-old boy has just done, and down below, hell shakes its rusty gates open.
In the distance, sirens are wailing their arrival. Closer. Nearer. Louder.
Once upon a time, there was a girl.
The 20-year-old girl was sheltered, privileged and of pedigree, but inside her, laid a storm.
She dangles a shiny pair of new keys in her small palm, an unusual smile playing on her face. These keys will soon unlock a glitzy apartment she has rented all by herself. Her parents are thought to be rich, but every dime paid on this condo belongs to her. The money is bloody and tainted…
but it’s hers
In this same exact moment, the boy is being plucked by two burly officers from his porch as they read him his rights.
His run-down house in Stockton is only an hour away from her swanky apartment.
She is smiling.
He is not.
This is the story of a boy and a girl fighting storms and trying to find peace in the most unexpected place.
They try and find it in each other.
A wise, vile man once told me that it moves differently according to circumstances. Sometimes it’s slow. But sometimes. . .it slips so fast between your fingers, your life is over before you had time to reflect on it.
See, life is like an hourglass. Sometimes you’re up, and sometimes. . .well, you’re
And right now I’m down, baby. So. Flipping. Down.
“My idea of fun is killing everyone. . .”
I hear him before I see him, his voice sing-songs in a whisper. He loves whispering. A whisper is much more powerful than a scream.
“My idea of fun, is killing everyone. . .”
. Shit. God, no.
“My idea of fun, is kill…Oh.
Prescott, darling, fancy bumping into you this late at night.” His posh English accent cuts through my ears. Seb’s hands find the back of my neck and he thrusts me face-first into the nearest graffitied wall with a thump. I drop the stress ball I was squeezing a second ago, knowing that now I need it more than ever.
Warm blood snakes from my forehead into my mouth and I lick it wordlessly, careful not to show any sign of distress. He twists my arms behind my back in one hand and shoves my head into the wall with the other.
“Here, Love, you look thirsty. Might want to get another taste of your own blood. After all, that’s the only thing you’ll be feasting on for the next few days, I suppose.”
My head is smashed against the concrete before swinging back from the impact. Seb spins me around so I face him. A polite smile tugs at his lips. He grabs my pink duffel bag—a girly Nike—and tucks it under his arm. The sleepy Oakland pavement seems absurdly narrow and suffocating now that he is here next to me.
Pointy nose, non-existent lips, delicate frame and pasty skin, wired with blue and purple veins. He sways his hips when he walks, his fingers long and thin like a ballerina’s.
: flamboyant suits, Gucci loafers, screwing young boys, preferably between the ages of thirteen to nineteen.
: the law, sloppy attire.
“Let me guess—blow? Meth?” He tilts his head down, his grin spreading like a contagious disease. “
“If I tell you, I’d have to kill you.” I head-butt him on a whim and feel his skull crashing against mine, ignoring the sharp, white pain that’s dotting my vision. “And that’s just too tempting.”
Fisting my hair with a snarl, Seb jerks me toward a white van with tinted windows that’s blocking my way out of the street. I guess our small talk is over. “Still got a sense of humor, I see. Lovely. You’ll need it where you’ll be.”
I spit blood on his suede shoes. My head feels like it’s split in two, but I’d never let him see how much it hurts. Seb rolls open the sliding door of the van and shoves me in. I roll across the dusty floor, my back hitting the opposite door.
He towers over me, leaning his narrow waist against the van.
“I see Blackhawk’s aristocratic life is still not enough for little Prescott. Oakland? Really?” He shakes his head with a laugh and slams the door. The vehicle rattles. So does my heart.
Time is definitely not on my side right now.
We ride for about an hour before the van comes to a full stop. I spend the journey trying to crack the doors and windows open, bang the divider between the back and front seats and knock on the walls until my hands are swollen and purple.
Hysteria burns my throat, sending flames of panic through the rest of my body. I know exactly who he is taking me to.
The door to the backseat swipes open and Seb stands in front of me again, equipped with two of his muscle men, one on each side. Godfrey’s bulldogs, no doubt. I draw a breath and sit at the corner of the van, making a show of examining my nails.
These very men taught me how to look darkness in the eye and defy it, even when I stand no chance. If I show weakness, they win.
I will die a graphic, painful death wordlessly just to spite them.
“Happily.” He shrugs, snapping his fingers once and nodding toward me. The two gorillas climb into the van and pull me out, each of them clasping an arm. I’m not dumb enough to try and break free; they can tear me limb from limb and make potpourri out of my skin, so I just watch the floor as they carry me—my toes floating above the sidewalk—into a warehouse I don’t recognize in an area I’m not familiar with.
Once inside, the florescent lights hit me hard.
Then Seb hits me harder. Elbow shot straight to my cheek.
I collapse to my knees, blood trickling from my split lip and my chin, and it’s when I’m on all fours that I catch the footfalls of Godfrey’s orthopedic shoes. Rumor on the street is those are the only ones he wears nowadays—his legs will never be the same after what I did to him the night of the barn—and they’re squeaking against the tiles like chirpy mice.
“Prescott. So nice of you to drop by.” He rolls the word
on his tongue, not allowing the pun to escape me. I may be down on the floor, but my chin is still high and defiant. “Funny, I don’t remember you paying me any visits when I was in state prison.”