Assumption, p.19
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       Assumption, p.19
 

         Part #1 of Underground Kings series by Aurora Rose Reynolds
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  He starts coughing and his body begins to convulse out of control in the chair.

  “Now you killed him and he didn’t even tell us anything,” I hear Sven say, but my eyes are locked on Carlo’s mouth as I lip-read the word ‘slaughterhouse.’

  “Where’s the slaughterhouse?” I ask Sven.

  His eyebrows come together and his hand goes to his suit’s pants pocket. He pulls out his phone and types something in it before looking at me again. “There’s a club named The Slaughterhouse downtown.”

  I pull the blade from Carlo’s chest and watch as his body fights for air, hearing Sven ask, “You gonna end him?”

  “He’ll die.” I wrap my knife up in a thick piece of cloth and tuck it into my bag.

  “Remind me not to piss you off, Mayson,” Kai mutters as Sven laughs.

  *

  “What kind of fucked-up place is this?” I shout over the music as we walk into the club.

  The room is dark, with an eerie, red glow. Hanging from the rafters, acrobats of both sexes are naked and dripping blood onto the crowd below them. Around the room, there are spotlights that shine down on different BDSM scenes being played out.

  “Well, we now know where they got the name from,” Kai says as we make our way through the groupings of people in various states of undress.

  After the cleanup crew came and got rid of Carlo’s lifeless body, I sent Justin a message and had him look into The Slaughterhouse. His search turned up the name of a woman named Abigail Soscia. She’s a twenty-six-year-old woman who has a police record as a prostitute but has been clean for the last ten years. How she got the money to open this place is the information I’m interested in.

  We make our way to the bar and Sven leans across, talking to the bartender. Then his eyes come to me and he lifts his chin towards the door at the side of the room. As soon as we make it through the door and head down the hall leading to the bottom of a set of stairs, a guy who I’m assuming is a bouncer comes down the stairs and blocks my path, crossing his arms over his chest.

  “Move,” I tell him, not in the mood for bullshit. I need to get home to my woman, and the only way I can do that is to get this shit handled.

  “No one goes upstairs.” He glares. “Go back to where you came from. This part of the building is off-limits.”

  “Look, I know you got a job to do, but you do not want to piss me off right now.”

  He raises an eyebrow, obviously finding me lacking.

  “A word of advice—move,” Sven says, and the bouncer’s eyes go to Sven and then Kai before coming back to me.

  “Fuck this,” Kai says, and his arm swings around my head and coldcocks the guy right in the jaw. I watch in slow motion as his eyes roll back in his head and his body folds to the floor.

  “That’s one way to do it,” Sven mumbles.

  I step over the guy. When we reach the top of the stairs, we see that there are three doors, one on each side of the hall, and a set of blood-red double doors at the end face us. I head straight for them while Sven and Kai stay behind, blocking the first two doors.

  I knock once, putting my hand on the gun in the waist of my pants, and I hear something mumbled from the other side, footsteps, and then a lock being turned. The door swings open and a tall woman with dark-red hair, which I can tell is natural ’cause it looks almost identical to Autumn’s, wearing a pair of jeans and a black, skintight T-shirt looks at me with wide eyes.

  “This area is off-limits,” she says.

  I scan the room behind her and see that it’s an office with a desk, a chair and a couch. I can’t see any doors, so I know she’s alone.

  “We need to talk.” I start herding her into the room.

  “No, we don’t. Justice!” she yells, backing up.

  I’m sure Justice is her bodyguard who is currently taking a Kai-induced nap.

  “Do you know a guy named Vincent?”

  Her eyes flash with understanding and she shakes her head, looking around the room.

  “Where is he?” I ask as she goes behind her desk, trying to put space between us.

  “I don’t know,” she whispers.

  “Where is he?” I roar, my hand going to the top of her desk, sweeping everything off.

  Her chest is moving rapidly as her eyes go from me to the floor. I look to where her eyes are pointed and they land on a photo that is now on the floor lying faceup. The painted, black, wooden frame shows off the photo of a little boy, a man who I know to be Vincent, and Abigail. They look like an everyday American family, all of them wearing the same dark jeans and white button-down shirts. They are sitting out in an open field of grass, and Abigail is looking down at her son with a smile on her face that says he is the love of her life. Vincent has a smile on his face as well, but his seems forced, and even through a picture, I can see the kind of man he is, almost like he has no soul.

  “How long have you been together?” I nod towards the picture. Her eyes come to me and tears begin to fill them. “He shot my fiancée at close range two times, once in the face and once in the shoulder,” I tell her, reminding myself why I’m here. “I won’t stop until I get him. I’m sure you know I’m not the only person looking for him. I’m sure members of Lacamo have been here looking for him. I would hate for something to happen to you or your boy ’cause you’re protecting him.”

  Her face softens and her hands wring together. “I found out he was having another affair two weeks ago and kicked him out. Last I heard, he was staying with his latest piece in the penthouse at The Guardian.”

  I pull my phone out and send a text to Justin. It takes two minutes to get a message back letting me know that the penthouse has been rented out for a little over a week to a woman named Layla Harden. I look up from my phone after reading the message. I have a feeling that anyone who has any kind of relationship with Vincent at this time is in danger. He has screwed over the wrong people, and those people’s moral compasses are fucked up.

  “You need to get your boy and get out of town for a little while.”

  “I have a business to take care of.” She shakes her head.

  “Find someone you—” I’m cut off mid-sentence when there is a loud bang in the hall followed by a lot of grunts.

  We both turn towards the door when it’s thrown open. I pull my gun as the bodyguard from downstairs crashes into the room with both Sven and Kai trying to hold him back. If this situation weren’t so serious, I would laugh.

  “Justice, stop! I’m okay!” Abigail shouts, covering her mouth as she watches Kai and Sven attempt to take this guy down.

  His eyes go to her, and I can see worry etched in his face. “Get the fuck off me!” he barks, batting Sven and Kai off him. He storms over to her, holding her face and looking her over. “You okay?”

  “Yeah,” she answers as tears slide down her cheeks. “I have to get out of town.”

  I watch understanding light across his face, and he nods, looks over at me, and says, “You’re lucky I didn’t have my gun on me or you would have a bullet in your head.”

  “Justice.” She slaps his arm, bringing his attention back to her.

  “Babe,” he replies softly, and her eyes lower from his as a light blush creeps across her cheeks. “I know a place we can go. Dex will love it.”

  “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” She looks away.

  “No more bullshit, Abi.”

  “I told you I can’t see you like that,” she tells him.

  “And I told you I don’t give a fuck what you say anymore. I know you feel the same way I do.”

  “But Dex…” she whispers, closing her eyes.

  “I love that kid. I’ve been a part of his life since he was born. Do not use him as an excuse,” Justice growls.

  “As sweet as this moment is, we’ve got shit to do,” Sven says, breaking in.

  I look at him and nod.

  “I’m sorry about your fiancée,” Abigail says sincerely. “I know it doesn’t make it any better, but I
’m sorry, and the Vincent I fell in love with years ago would have been sorry too.”

  I doubt that, but love is blind.

  I turn to look at Justice and pull my card out of my pocket. “If you find you can’t keep her and her boy safe, you call me.”

  His eyes narrow, but he takes the card with a nod of his head.

  “Are you going to kill him?” Abigail asks, looking at me.

  “No,” I say, telling her the truth.

  “Amidio is looking for him, and I doubt he wants to have afternoon tea. If I were you, I would find a way to prepare your boy for what’s to come,” Kai tells her.

  She nods and understanding flits across her face before she grabs Justice’s hand.

  “Let’s roll,” I tell Kai and Sven.

  *

  I watch from down the hall as the small housekeeper I just paid a thousand bucks walks up to the large double doors at the end of the hall and knocks.

  “Housekeeping!” she shouts through the door.

  When I see the door open and a woman wearing nothing answer, I make my move, pulling my gun and heading down the hall. The housekeeper runs away and the woman, who I’m assuming is Layla, screams at the top of her lungs when I shove her inside. Vincent comes around the corner with a towel around his waist and a gun in his hand.

  “Drop it,” I grumble.

  “Fuck you.” He raises the gun towards me and an almost silent shot goes off from behind my back. He falls to the ground, clutching the hand he was holding the gun with to his side.

  I turn my head, expecting to see Sven or Kai, but it’s one of Amidio’s men who has his gun raised. Kai and Sven are both behind the other three members of Lacamo, looking ready to kill.

  “You following me?” I ask.

  He shrugs, and I walk over to Vincent, putting my boot to his hand, which is trying to pick up the gun, and I crush a few bones. He grunts pulling his hand to his chest.

  “We’ll take it from here,” one of Amidio’s other men says, bringing Vincent to his feet.

  His face is now pale from the amount of blood he’s lost; I’m sure an artery was hit. One of the men brings over a towel, wrapping it around Vincent’s wrist while the others start to clean up the mess.

  “We had a deal,” I remind them.

  “Deal still stands. Right now, boss has some questions for him. We’ll be in touch,” he says as he and another man drag Vincent from the room while another man talks to Layla, who is crying hysterically.

  “Now what?” Sven says, looking between Kai and me.

  “Now, we wait.”

  It isn’t until two in the morning that Kai gets a message to head downtown. When we arrive at the location, I’m surprised by the amount of cars gathered outside.

  “What the fuck is going on?” Kai asks, looking over at his man, Frank, in the driver’s seat. How the hell he got the name Frank when he’s Hawaiian and looks like he could be a sumo wrestler is anyone’s guess.

  “Don’t know. You want me to come in with you?”

  “Nah.” Kai shakes his head, looking around at all the cars. “These men know not to fuck with me.” He gets out of the SUV and bends over, pulling something out from under the seat and putting it in the waist of his pants. “Keep it running and use your gun if you have to. If something seems off, leave, get Myla, and head to my parents’.”

  “You just said they know not to fuck with you,” Frank tells him, pulling his gun from his inside coat pocket.

  “Doesn’t mean they aren’t stupid, brother,” Kai mutters, slamming the door.

  “Myla won’t be happy,” I hear Frank say as I slam my door.

  When we get to the building’s entrance, one of the guys from the hotel earlier meets us out front and escorts us inside and down a hall.

  “What the fuck is going on?” I ask when we’re taken into a large room.

  It is full of men of all different ages yelling at the top of their lungs as a man in the center of the room pulls a pair of metal cutters from his pocket and walks to Vincent, who is strapped to a chair. He picks up Vincent’s hand and touches each of his fingers with the tip of the clippers before settling on one.

  Vincent doesn’t even flinch when his finger is clipped off and it rolls across the floor. His body is now black and blue, and he’s bleeding from his nose, mouth, and other wounds. I can tell just by looking at him that he’s in shock. The good in me fights to the surface, not wanting any human being to suffer like he is, but then I remind myself of the shit he’s done and how much pain he’s caused and the urge to end his pain is beat back as anger is put in its place.

  “You’re up next,” Paulie Jr. says, walking up to me and handing me a knife. “What’s going on?”

  “Payback. He betrayed a lot of people, and all those people get their pound of flesh before he’s ended,” he explains.

  “Take this back.” I hand him back the knife and pull my gun.

  “You can’t kill him, and you only get one hit,” Junior tells me.

  “I won’t.” I walk past him to the center of the room.

  Vincent raises his eyes, but at this point, with the kind of damage that’s been done to his body already, I would be surprised if he even understands what’s going on. When I reach his side, I put the gun to his shoulder at the same place he shot Autumn. Then I think about her face, the damage that’s been done, and how, regardless of how much she heals, every time she looks in the mirror, she will be reminded of what happened. I pull the gun away from his shoulder and walk around to the front of him. My hand moves to his jaw and I pull it open.

  “I told you, you can’t kill him.”

  I ignore him, put the gun in Vincent’s mouth, and lean it to the side so the muzzle is sitting against the inside of his cheek. I feel a gun come to rest at the side of my head, and I start to say something when Kai comes over and whispers inaudibly to Paulie Jr., making him back up.

  “You shot my girl,” I say quietly, tilting his head back and forcing his eyes to mine. “You know I could kill your son and wife and you can’t do shit about it,” I taunt only loud enough for him to hear.

  His eyes widen and I know he understands. Before he can respond, I pull the trigger, and blood and flesh spray out across the room and onto some of the people who are standing too close.

  A loud cheer goes up as I make my way back to Sven and Kai. When I reach them, I notice a man talking to Kai. He’s young—I would guess mid-twenties. He’s wearing a suit and his blond hair is pulled back into a ponytail. His posture is casual, but the expression on his face is anything but.

  “We good?” I ask, stepping into the mix when the man presses his chest into Kai’s.

  His eyes come to me and he looks me up and down before looking back at Kai. “Tell Myla I send my love,” the guy says, starting to walk off.

  I put a hand to Kai’s chest when I see a look I’ve become familiar with over the last few weeks come across his face.

  “You don’t even get to say my wife’s name!” Kai growls, grabbing the guy around the throat.

  Wife? I look at Kai’s hand and notice for the first time that a very thick band is wrapped around his left ring finger.

  “What’s going on here?” Paulie Sr. asks, walking up and putting a hand on Kai’s shoulder.

  “Just making a few things clear,” Kai says, shoving the guy away from him. The guy looks like he wants to say something before thinking better of it and walking away. “Let’s get the fuck out of here,” Kai says, shrugging off Senior’s hand.

  I look at the older man and give him a chin lift before leaving the warehouse.

  “You okay, man?” Sven asks Kai, and he nods, but I notice that his body is still tight and his fingers have started rolling his wedding band around his knuckle. I don’t say anything, but I do watch closely as he and Frank have some kind of silent conversation. Sven looks at me and shakes his head, saying, “I’m gonna call and have the plane ready.”

  “Thanks, man,” I tell him, sitting bac
k. I pull out my phone, sending a message to Autumn, telling her that I love her and I will be home soon. It didn’t take long for her reply to come through. The simple “I miss you” message has me smiling to myself. A few more hours and I would be home with my woman, leaving all this shit behind us.

  Chapter 11

  Future, Meet Past

  Autumn

  I look in the mirror and turn my head to the side, taking in my face. My jaw is still slightly swollen, but for the most part, I have healed completely. I know I’m the one who said that I hated being beautiful, but when I was able to see myself in the mirror at the hospital for the first time, all I could think about was how disgusting I looked. My face was swollen and deformed, my lips cracked from being so dry. It wasn’t so much that I cared what I looked like, but I was worried Kenton would see me and the look of love I was so used to receiving from him would turn into something else. I didn’t want that.

  I should have known better though. The first time he saw me without the bandages covering my face, his hand gently cupped my cheek while his eyes told me everything I needed to know. I knew he loved me before everything happened, but now, I will never doubt it again.

  I look down at my hand and remember when I saw my engagement ring for the first time. I was sitting up in bed, my head swimming due to the pain medication I was on, but Kenton was there to see me and I never wanted to go without spending a single second with him. We were talking. Well, he was talking; I was writing everything down on a white board they had given me. My face was bent towards my hand when my eyes caught on something on my finger. At first, I thought it was a bug, but then my eyes focused on the sapphire and diamonds and my breath caught in my throat, making me feel like I was going to pass out from lack of oxygen.

  “Breathe, baby,” I heard him urge, and I gulped down a lungful of oxygen as my eyes filled with tears. “Will you marry me?” His hand covers mine on the whiteboard before I could write YES. “I already told everyone you’re my fiancée, so you have to say yes. Maybe I should take your pen from you so you don’t have a say,” he mumbled, and I growled. “So what will it be? You gonna make an honest man out of me?”

 
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