Love and commitment might be great. You know, for my brothers. Not for me. But then, in a chance meeting, I came across her. Why was she different" I couldn"t say for sure. Maybe it was the fact that she was the most gorgeous woman I had ever seen. Maybe it was the the sharp edges she wore like a shield that made me want to see what was beneath. Or maybe it had something to do with whatever secret she was trying so desperately to hide.
Love and commitment weren"t even in the realm of possibilities for me. My life had one purpose, one mission, and I couldn"t afford to let anyone get in the way. But then there was Mark Mallick – ladies man, loanshark enforcer, and very determined to know my secrets.
That was problematic any day, but especially so with him. Why" Maybe because the things he would offer me, the things he would show me were possibilities for me, could make me reevaluate the mission that had completely consumed the last ten years of my life.
But could I have those things" Could I escape the life I had been trapped in for so long" With Mark Mallick by my side, I was thinking maybe it was possible"
** For possible triggers, please visit my website and find the “triggers” section from the main navigation bar.Books in Series:Mallick Brothers Series by Jessica GadzialaBooks by Author:Jessica Gadziala Books
“Whose blood is that"”
This wasn’t an altogether unusual greeting in my family, especially among me and my brothers. Being in our line of business, it was a valid question. On any given day, it could belong to one of fifty people who had defaulted on a loan Pops gave them. Most days, the answer wouldn’t be what mine was right then.
“My own,” I said, lifting up my hands to look at them, seeing the dried blood there like I had forgotten it existed. I had. What can I say, when you lived a rough and tough life like we did, bloodstains were as normal as sweat stains. “Fucking engine on one of the machines didn’t want to start today. Guess I got a bit overzealous with the wrench. Whose dog is that"”
Eli was a lot of things- an artist, good with words, laid-back, dangerous as fuck. But a dog owner he was not. Yet there he was, standing outside Chaz’s with some ugly as fuck mutt on a bright orange leash. See, I was a dog person. But ugly was ugly, even if it was man’s best friend. And this beast looked like he had lived a rough life. You know, all ten weeks of it. His hair was sticking up in patches, a mix of colors like that of a border collie, but with a flatter snout, straight-up ears, giant feet, one bright blue eye, and one gray one.
“Some asshole left him next to the dumpster out back last night.” Eli’s voice was low and livid and, given that it was dropping down to twenty at night and the dog was too young to be away from a mother, let alone withstand that kind of temperature drop, that shit made sense. “So I guess he’s mine now. It’s fine. You can pet him. It’s not mange. I had him at the vet. He’s just got a fucked up coat like that.” I bent down to pet him, surprised when he rolled over and invited it. “Best bet, he’s like some fucked up border collie and husky mix. Really lost the genetic lottery.”
“Hey even ugly dogs are a chick magnet,” I said, shrugging. “Did you give it a name"”
“The girls are gonna be over all the time seeing him. Were there any siblings left that you could drop on Hunt’s door" He’d really appreciate it,” I added with a smirk, knowing Fee wasn’t a huge dog person, though it was likely because she had three wild animals in her house already, also known as her three daughters.
“Only one we could find, and we looked all over just in case. Last I heard, Becca wanted a snake, not a dog anyway.”
“It’s fluffy and it has four legs, they’re gonna be all over him. Did you get the text from Pops"” I asked, bringing it back to business. “Shane already talked to the asshole last week. You’re up.”
“Yeah,” he agreed, nodding, knowing the drill. He was the last resort. He was who made men really, really wish they had paid off their debt before he darkened their door. And, for the most part, he was the most underutilized of the whole team.
Pops made the deals. Ryan had a mostly-civil visit with you if you are due to pay and you haven’t yet. Then I was called in to get a little more firm, sometimes shed some blood, but just as often not. Then if I wasn’t enough, in came Shane who stained your carpets with your own plasma. Chances were, you paid up after Shane was done with you. Who would sign up for more of that" So Eli was free and clear most of the time to do whatever he wanted, run his businesses, do his art shit. If he had one call a month from Pops, that was a lot. Which, in all of our opinions, was for the best. When Eli raged out, it wasn’t pretty.
“Pops said he is tagging along this time. He fucking hates this bastard.”
Eli often needed a babysitter when he was on a job, someone to call him off before shit got too out of hand. Usually, it was me. Occasionally, Shane would step in. Rarely, Ryan. Pops almost never went out on the job anymore. But this asshole was supposedly using the money he got loaned to take care of his sick daughter, making Pops a lot more lenient on the interest and the timeframe. Turns out the fuck didn’t even have any kids.
Pops had been loansharking long enough to know that shit came up and people didn’t always make their payments. It was part of the job and he wasn’t bothered by it. But being lied to" Yeah, he didn’t tolerate that shit.
“Interesting,” Eli said, still as calm as ever. That was the thing with him. His rage was a switch that could get flipped. It wasn’t a part of his daily persona. “Alright, well, I have to dog proof my place. I’ll see you at Ma’s tomorrow.”