An underground fight club.
A woman who shouldn"t have been there.
And the man who owns it.
Ross Ward is bound by the chains of his past he never could seem to shake, leaving him living in darkness, detached from the world around him, and an obsessive workaholic with really only one rule : mind your own business.
Until one night, there was Adalind Hollis – scared, confused, in need of help. And for the first time, he couldn"t convince himself to walk away, to mind his own business.
Even after she was getting the care she needed, he couldn"t seem to make himself stay away. But keeping her close meant he would eventually have to let her in, would have to offer over the horrors of his past, and hope she could accept them.
But even if she would embrace his past, could she accept his plan to exact brutal, bloody vengeance against the man who hurt her"Books by Author:Jessica Gadziala Books
Another day, another ten-thousand dollars.
Fight nights almost always demanded my attention until around sun-up. It went with the territory when you ran an underground fighting ring. There were no pesky rules about when I had to stop serving alcohol since no one knew I handed it out like water. It meant that people stayed milling around long after the blood was sopped up, and the fighters went home.
I raked a hand down the scruff on my face, tapping the stack of bills together, and putting them into the safe under the desk.
It was a good night.
Most of them were these days.
If there was one thing you could count on people paying for – back from the Colosseum days – it was brutality. Society wasn’t getting more violent. The violence was just getting more televised.
I guess it didn’t say much for me that I sat there and capitalized on the bloodthirsty hoards like some Roman Emperor at arena-side.
But business was business.
And I took care of my men.
So if they wanted to put their bodies on the line in the ring to make some extra cash, what should I care" We lined both our pockets.
“Yo, boss,” Igor said, stepping into the doorway of the office.
I glanced up, checking the time on the wall.
Five after four.
“We’re all cleaned out. The bartenders are ready to head out.”
The female bartenders.
That he was under orders to walk to their cars.
And he likely wanted to leave as well.
“Yeah, go ahead. I’m finishing up here too,” I agreed, closing the safe. “Good fight,” I added as he turned away.
Igor was one of my best fighters. He was a giant, long-blond-haired solid mass of muscle. He might not have been the most wiry of my men, but what he lacked in speed, he made up for in brute strength.
It won him his fight tonight against one of the newer, hungry fighters, Kenny.
Win, lose, we all made bank.
I heard the click of heels followed by the swish and click of the heavy metal doors closing as Igor led the girls upstairs and outside.
I got up, grabbing my empty glass of bourbon, depositing it into the rack under the bar before making my rounds.
Hex had taken a lot of work, it, after all, being the basement to an old, abandoned school with cinderblock walls, cement floors, and a perpetually musty smell. Walls went up, hardwood floors went down, a long dark bar was brought in toward one end with a fully stocked back bar and taps, tables and seating areas were set up. Truly, if not for the giant, raised, hexagonal fighting cage, it might have just looked like some sleek nightclub.
I flicked off the lights, opening the heavy school doors that led right toward a staircase that went out into the school, or out into the parking lot.
The school part itself was still empty, just classes reminiscent of a time gone by. I was still debating what my options for it were. Having a thriving, illegal business in the basement that got rowdy at all hours seemed to limit my options for the space.
I would figure it out eventually.
The lot was abandoned save for my lone, sleek black sports car.
I bleeped the locks, climbing in, and turning on the engine.
I was just starting to pull out when my headlights flashed onto something behind the dumpster, something that didn’t belong there, something that looked suspiciously like a human foot.
I put the car in park.
“Just what I fucking need,” I growled, moving to get out.
Maybe that was insensitive, this person was currently – or had been – alive at some point. Human tragedy and all that shit.
But this was Navesink Bank.
Bodies happened frequently.
That was what happened in a hotbed of criminal activity, with syndicates that ranged from low-level gangs, gun-running MCs, and the local Italian mob.
People got killed.
There was no reason to get all heavy-hearted about that shit.
I grabbed a flashlight out of the side-compartment in my door and made my way out toward the dumpster.
The light flashed, catching what was, indeed, a human foot.
“Oh, damnit,” I growled, seeing the small, faux leather baby pink ballet flat beside the petite foot, toenails painted a robin’s egg blue.
It was one thing to take out some guy stepping on your turf, threatening your business, kicking dirt in your name. It was a complete other to put your hands on a woman.
The light moved upward, taking in the kicked-up pale pink skirt of her dress, already short, so pushed up, it exposed not only all her thighs but the lacy magenta edge of her panties.
I bit into my cheek as the light moved over her chest, sure it was going to be flat, sure this was a night where I’d have to call the cops and stand around answering questions for the few precious hours of sleep I would have normally gotten.