Jagger broken doll book.., p.2
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       Jagger (Broken Doll Book 2), p.2

           Heather C. Leigh
 
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  The men nodded and began murmuring to each other. It wasn’t a secret I went after the previous boss, a slimy prick named Ricardo “The Wolf” Ochoa, because he held my sister as his personal sex slave.

  At the time she disappeared, the rumor was that Rose approached one of Ochoa’s dealers to buy heroin. The savvy dealer knew Ochoa sold women for sex and figured his boss would appreciate my sister’s beautiful face and body, so he brought Rose right into the Wolf’s den with the promise of more drugs at their destination. Ochoa liked what he saw and kept her for himself, using her addiction to his advantage by feeding her drugs to keep her complacent.

  Honestly, to this day, I didn’t know the exact story as to how my sister ended up at Ochoa’s compound. Maybe the rumor was true. Or maybe Ochoa happened to see her walking down the street and kidnapped her, or maybe Rose went to his home willingly, then wasn’t allowed to leave. It didn’t matter. I would never know the truth.

  Either way, the result was the same. My sister died in Ochoa’s home, and by the time I got to her she looked nothing like the beautiful woman I once knew. A mere shadow of Rose.

  Now my past was replaying all over again, like some sick déjà vu time loop. Someone I cared for was being held, unspeakable things being done to her, while I stood around with my thumb up my ass.

  This was exactly why I never allowed myself to feel anything for anyone. It was my mistake, my failure, to fall in love with Miri, but I’d be damned if she was going to be the one to pay for it.

  “So what are we going to do, Boss?” one of my dealers asked.

  I smoothed a hand down the filthy, torn suit I had been wearing when I was jumped. There was no time to change after I regained consciousness on the gravel lot behind the auto shop. My left temple felt as if it had been split open with an axe. Whoever hit me didn’t hold back, and if I had to guess, they used the butt of a pistol to knock me out. The nasty lump left behind was a testament to how much force was behind the blow.

  I ignored the pain in my head and the hole in my heart. “We’re going to get her back. Then we’re going to kill every single person involved. No mercy is to be shown to the fucking bastards who took what’s mine.”

  My men spoke to each other, both in agreement and in dissent. Not that I blamed the ones who weren’t all that excited to fight. War was always the last resort. I was left with no choice. Cuchillo forced my hand.

  “I want every single man under my employ back here at seven tonight. Tell them to bring their weapons and be prepared to do some investigating. Now go take care of things. I’ll have a plan by then.”

  I spun and stormed out of the room before anyone could speak to me. Without looking back, I hustled toward the small office Shade used to monitor distribution and arrange purchases of product with our contacts in Mexico.

  Fuck, I wanted a drink so goddamn bad. I curled my hands into fists. No. It was imperative I keep a clear head. I was no good to Miri, or anyone, if I was less than one hundred percent. My throbbing head was already making it difficult to think. Alcohol would only worsen it. I was about to get some ice to put on my injury when the office door opened and Sarge, head of security at my house, slipped inside and closed the door behind him.

  “What?” I snapped, my entire body tense and eager for something to hit. The crippling loss of Miri combined with the head-splitting ache had me a hairsbreadth from tipping over the edge.

  Sarge leaned against the wall, arms crossed over his chest.

  “Boss, I gotta problem with this whole thing.”

  I sighed and rubbed my eyes. The last thing I needed right now was a mouthy, argumentative employee. I was shocked it wasn’t Milo, but Sarge. The man followed orders to a T.

  “I don’t give a flying fuck what you got a problem with, Sarge. We’re doing this. Tonight.”

  “I don’t got a problem with the plan, Boss.” Sarge waved his hand dismissively.

  “What the hell is it then? Just spit whatever you have to say the fuck out, because I gotta tell you, Sarge, I’m not in the mood for games.”

  Sarge pushed off the wall and came over to where I sat. He crouched down until his dark eyes were level with mine. The seriousness in his expression pushed back my anger and replaced it with interest.

  “What I want to know is, how did whoever took her even know about Miri, Boss? I mean, it’s not like you two went out on dates and shit. The cartel we entertained thought she was a whore, so it’s likely they don’t know shit. For fucks sake, until she took off the other day, from what I saw, Miri never has even left the grounds. Just those couple of rides with you and shit, you’re not blind, Boss, or stupid. You’d know if someone was following you.”

  I sat and processed Sarge’s words. It took a minute, but when they sank in, I nearly hit the roof. “You realize what you’re saying,” I growled, my fury growing exponentially with every ragged inhale.

  Sarge stood up, took a step back, and put some space between us. Smart man.

  “I know exactly what I’m saying, Boss.” He tilted his head and gave me a knowing look. That’s when I knew Sarge was dead fucking serious.

  I stood up so fast, the chair beneath me crashed to the ground. “You think we have a traitor? You think someone I trust, someone in my organization, told one of my enemies about Miri?” My body wrestled between the urge to vomit and the urge to use my bare hands to rip someone’s heart out of his chest.

  Sarge nodded. “Yes, Boss. That’s exactly what I think.”

  Motherfucker.

  The office was unrecognizable by the time I was done.

  2

  Miri

  I had no idea how long I spent in the dark, damp room. It could have been hours, it could have been days. Food occasionally showed up, but not on any kind of schedule as far as I could tell. The food was hit and miss; sometimes I devoured it as if I were starving, sometimes just the smell of it made me sick to my stomach and I’d start vomiting. The constant vomiting really pissed off my captors and they’d make me scrub it while standing over me, brandishing a weapon to keep me in line.

  Several times a day, I was brought to a sparse bathroom just outside my cell and allowed to use the facilities and clean up. I was beyond frightened to the point my veins were pumping pure terror throughout my body. Despite my fear, I refused to let them see it. I would be strong. No way was I giving up or giving those assholes the satisfaction of seeing me break. Not after fighting and clawing my way through my shitty life. I worked too hard and had been through too much to die in some random cement room in someone’s basement.

  Days and nights became meaningless. Without windows, I couldn’t tell which was which. I slept when I was tired and even though it made my head spin, I paced the room when I was anxious. Most of my time, however, was spent working on a way out of there. I watched each guard carefully when he came into the cell—what weapon he carried and where he carried it.

  The short, fat guy had a pistol tucked in the back of his waistband. The tall, muscular guy had a gun in a holster under his arm. Raoul, the asshole from the first day, always wore a suit with a sports coat, so I had no idea what he carried or where. The kid who brought the chair and water to El Cuchillo that first day had a knife in a sheath on his belt.

  I figured my best shot would be to grab the gun from the short, fat guy or the knife from the kid. None of the guards considered me a threat. I certainly didn’t look like I could fight, and honestly, I was so weak I probably couldn’t. My chances of actually getting my hands on a weapon and escaping were minuscule, but I had to try. I had no idea if Jag knew who had me or where I was being held. He had to be alive, or they would have no use for me, but I refused to hang all my hopes on being rescued. It was up to me to get myself out of this hellhole.

  I was contemplating different ways to snatch the gun from Short and Fat’s waistband when the lock clicked and the door opened. Raoul entered, huge and menacing as usual. Only, his normally blank expression was gone, replaced by an amused sneer. This ti
me, he wasn’t alone. When I saw who followed the large Mexican into the room, my mouth fell open. I gasped and nearly doubled over from the pain of betrayal.

  “You.” The man laughed, his dark eyes sparkling with a familiar sick, twisted delight. Once my shock passed, I shot Raoul’s friend a dark look. “Boss will kill you for this,” I growled. “He trusted you!”

  The man chuckled. “He’ll be dead right along with you, and you should never, ever trust anyone in this business.” The newcomer slipped around Raoul and prowled across the dank, cement room. “On second thought…” I flinched when he reached out and caressed my jaw. “Maybe I’ll keep you alive. You know, as my very own personal bitch.”

  “I’d rather die,” I hissed, my back pressed against the cold wall.

  He shrugged. “I can arrange that.” The man hauled back his arm and backhanded me so hard, I fell backward and slammed my head against the concrete floor. Already suffering a head wound, I turned to my side and heaved, vomiting nothing but bile. My vision blurred, wavering in and out as images blackened around the edges.

  Raoul cleared his throat and interrupted our little reunion.

  “It’s time. You’re coming with me.” Raoul turned to his guest. “And you need to get out of here.”

  “Until next time, bitch,” I heard the other man say through the fog. There was a vague sense of someone leaving the room, only… was someone just here? What happened? My thoughts were like sludge, muddying their way though my brain, pieces left behind here and there leaving the memories incomplete.

  My stomach heaved when Raoul reached for my arm and despite the head full of quicksand, my instincts kicked in. I kicked and screamed and struck out with my fists, or at least, I thought I did. Weak as I was, I would do anything to keep the big Mexican from getting his hands on me. Somehow, just by flailing, I landed a lucky blow right between his legs. Raoul groaned in pain and buckled to one knee, clutching his family jewels. Seeing my chance, I attempted to sprint toward the door. My head rebelled and the room tilted. I fell sideways and landed in the arms of the tall, muscular guard with no name.

  The man easily overpowered me, dulled senses or not, and had my wrists trapped in one big hand while he gripped my throat with the other. He increased the pressure on my neck, digging his thumb into one side of my throat and his index finger in the other. There was no way out of his hold. I began to feel even weaker and the lights dimmed further around the edges of my hazy vision. The guard was pinching my carotid arteries to keep blood from reaching my already traumatized brain. Before I could panic, I slipped away.

  * * *

  I woke to someone slapping my face. When I tried to pull away from the sharp sting, I realized I couldn’t move. My hands were tied behind my back, my torso bound to a chair, and my ankles to the sturdy wooden legs.

  Another harsh blow rocked my damaged head. It felt as if my brain were bouncing around inside my skull. The multiple head injuries I’d sustained throbbed, my memories unclear. That damn persistent nausea returned with a vengeance and I was about to throw up, but there was a cloth tied around my mouth. If I puked, I’d end up choking on it. As my stomach lurched, I focused on breathing though my nose in an attempt to squelch the urge to vomit.

  Once I calmed enough to be eighty percent certain I wouldn’t lose the contents of my stomach, I took a blurry look at my surroundings. This could only be El Cuchillo’s house. The living area was expensively decorated, large and open, with comfortable leather furniture and tasteful art on the walls. And there were windows. The sun shone bright beyond the gauzy curtains, making my eyeballs ache. Daytime. For some reason, knowing whether it was night or day made me feel better. Until another blow sent my head reeling, my brain rattling around in my skull once more. If I got out of here, I’d be lucky to escape without permanent brain damage.

  I swore into the gag and was rewarded with a low chuckle.

  “Sit still, puta. You are about to be on camera. You want to look your best, do you not?”

  My stomach betrayed me and heaved once more. I closed my eyes and concentrated on fighting the nausea until it passed, ignoring the way the room spun. Once the sensation was gone, I wrenched my neck to make eye contact with my captor. El Cuchillo was grinning from ear to ear, his beady brown eyes alight with anticipation like a kid on Christmas morning.

  Sick piece of shit.

  I tried to tell him what I thought of him, but all that came out was a muffled shout accompanied by a string of drool that dripped around the gag and down my chin.

  “Tsk, tsk, tsk.” He leaned close and gently wiped the saliva with a crisp folded handkerchief. “We can’t have you covered in spit.” He laughed. “Unless, of course, it’s my spit. Then you would look like the whore that you are. Should I spit on you, puta barata?”

  I didn’t move, afraid of what he would do if I fought. I definitely did not want anything from his mouth on any part of my body. If he spit on me, there was no doubt I’d puke. Then I’d end up choking to death on it and that was not how I was going to die. El Cuchillo waited a moment, watching for a response.

  “I didn’t think so. Okay.” He clapped his hands together and rubbed them gleefully. “It is time for our little show. Raoul.”

  Raoul stepped into my line of vision, set a laptop on a table, and aimed its tiny camera in my direction. I could see myself on the screen—hollow eyed, bruised, and deathly pale. The skin on both of my cheeks was glowing from the harsh slaps, my mouth pried open by the bright red cloth gag clenched between my teeth, and my hair was a frizzy and knotted mess, blood matted on one side. Did I hit my head again? I couldn’t remember. It was as if the memory was right behind a curtain, yet I didn’t have the strength to push it open and expose the truth. One thing was certain, I was filthy and looked like I was already halfway dead.

  Raoul pressed a button and a red light came on. I stared at the screen, uneasy over what would happen next. Without warning, Cuchillo was behind me, his hand snaked around my throat. He put pressure on my windpipe and I began to cough. I heard his voice but had no idea what he was saying to the camera because all I could do was focus on pulling in my next breath of air as he gradually cut off my supply.

  Oh god. He was going to kill me on camera and send it to Jag. A single tear leaked from my eye and made its way down my cheek. This was going to wreck him.

  The hand began to tighten.

  I’m so sorry, Jag.

  Jag

  Sarge and I spent days holed up in my study. I thought I would go insane from staring at the same four goddamn walls. Fuck that. I was determined to hammer out a plan to not only find Miri, but catch the soon to be dead bastard that leaked her existence to my enemies. By evening on the third day, I thought I’d be numb, but no. I was tired, hungry, and my fucking head hurt like someone punted it through the uprights despite taking a handful of Advil and holding an icepack to my temple all afternoon.

  Dividing up my men to scrutinize every potential traitor in my operation was easy. Figuring out how to watch the group I sent to look for traitors—I had to make sure they weren’t the ones who betrayed me—that was the hard part. Who to trust, who not to trust, who to fucking listen to or who to beat the shit out of, was challenging and frankly, pissed me off. I trusted my men with my life, my business, my money—to think one of them might take part in bringing me down, hurting sweet, innocent Miri to do it, enraged me beyond all normal human limits. I wanted to kill the fucker with my bare hands, and for once, the thought of blood didn’t bother me in the least. In fact, the more blood, the better.

  But when I thought about it, isn’t that exactly what I did when I killed my predecessor? Worked my way from street dealer to area head, to underboss/lieutenant just so I could get close enough to sink the blade into the bastard’s neck myself. Someone was trying to take me out from the inside like I did to Ochoa.

  Fuck. It was too much. The fact that one of my own men was trying to kill me.

  “This way makes the most sense, Boss
.” Sarge stabbed a piece of paper with his finger, names and places scrawled in two even rows. He pointed at one list. “These guys will approach our various outside contacts and look for any word of Miri.” He moved his finger to the second list. “These guys will follow the men on the first list and see if anything seems off. Then, we’ll switch.”

  I glanced at the list of potential traitors, every man that worked for me, and uncontrollable, blinding rage burned deep inside, charring my innards for what felt like the millionth time in the three days since Miri was taken. I clenched my bruised and battered hands, ready to leap from my chair and destroy anything within reach. Not that there was much left intact in this God forsaken study at this point. Most of the office had already suffered my wrath and lay in pieces, scattered all over the expensive fucking rug. A rug that didn’t mean jack shit, along with everything else in this goddamn house. The study felt like a jail cell, sitting around staring at the walls, impotent, while my girl was being hurt, frightened, or shit, possibly even dead. My jaw ached as I ground my molars together.

  Without Miri, all of this material bullshit was just that—bullshit. I wanted my girl back in my arms. Her soft skin, her sweet smell… just the thought of never seeing her again fueled my rage. Fuck!

  Sarge shifted in his chair. The man wasn’t stupid. He knew I was about to lose my shit. Again. I was two seconds from detonating when my cell phone rang. I glanced at the screen. Unknown Number, with a San Antonio area code. My initial instinct was to fuck it off and let it go to voice mail so I could start destroying stuff, but something compelled me answer.

  “What?” I snarled, pissed at whoever interrupted my savage manner of stress release.

  “Now, now. Is that the proper way to greet someone?”

  Fucking son of a bitch. I immediately recognized the smooth voice with the carefully modulated Mexican accent.

 
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