Rules of attraction, p.30
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       Rules of Attraction, p.30
 

         Part #2 of Perfect Chemistry series by Simone Elkeles
Page 30

 

  “No, you don’t. Last night freaked the hell out of me, Kiara. Because I felt somethin’ I haven’t felt—”

  “Since Destiny,” I say.

  “I won’t let myself fall that hard for a girl ever again. ”

  “So am I still supposed to pretend I’m dating you at school?”

  “Just for a couple more weeks, until Madison decides she’s movin’ on. ” He looks up at me. “Then we can create a fake reason to break up. We made a deal, right?”

  “Right. ”

  Back in my mom’s office, I look down at the tallies in front of me. The numbers are a blur. Tossing my pencil aside, I put my head in my hands and sigh.

  I was so stupid last night to tell Carlos I was falling in love with him. I definitely scared him away. All my life, until now, I’ve held back. And then I met Carlos, a guy who makes me want to forge ahead and never regret a single moment.

  When he played soccer with my brother, and I saw a glimpse of generosity that he only gifts to the few he thinks are worthy, I knew that what you see isn’t necessarily what you get when it comes to Carlos.

  At the end of the day I find him in the back room, carefully measuring the various ingredients for my mom’s homemade blends.

  “I came up with a fake reason why we’d break up,” I tell him.

  “Hit me with it. ”

  “Because you’re still in love with Destiny. ”

  His fingers go completely still. “Pick somethin’ else. ”

  “Like what?”

  “I don’t know. Just somethin’ else. ” He puts the ingredients back on the shelves. “I’m gonna walk to the auto-body shop to talk to Alex. Tell your parents I’ll be home later. ”

  “I can drive you,” I tell him. “I’m leaving now, too. ”

  He shakes his head. “I want to walk. ” I watch as he heads out the back door a few minutes later, leaving me wondering if he just wants to get away from me as fast as he can.

  41

  Carlos

  When I’m far enough away from the tea store, I pull out the cell phone Brittany gave me. I punch in Devlin’s number and wait.

  As soon as I hear him pick up, I say, “It’s Carlos Fuentes. You wanted my attention, you’ve got it. ”

  “Ah, Señor Fuentes. I was waiting for you to contact me,” a smooth voice says from the other end of the line. It’s got to be Devlin.

  “What do you want from me?” I ask, letting him know right away I’m not fuckin’ around.

  “I just want to talk. ”

  I keep walking as I talk because I’ve got a crazy feeling the guy has people tailing me. “Couldn’t you have done that without havin’ Nick Glass set me up?”

  “I needed to get your attention, Fuentes. But now that I have it, it’s time for us to meet. ”

  My entire body tenses. Whether I want to meet Devlin or not, it’s gonna happen. “When?”

  “How about now?”

  “You have guys tailin’ me?” I ask, even though I know the answer before I even ask the question.

  “Of course, Fuentes. I’m a businessman, and you’re my newest apprentice. I’ve got to keep my eye out for you. ”

  “I haven’t agreed to do shit for you,” I tell him.

  “No, but you will. I’ve been told you’ve got what it takes. ”

  “From who?”

  “Let’s just say a little Guerrero told me. Enough talk. When you see one of my guys drive up, get in. ”

  “How will I know it’s one of your guys?” I ask him.

  Devlin laughs. “You’ll know. ”

  The phone goes dead. A few minutes later a black SUV with tinted windows stops right in front of me. I take a deep breath when the door opens. I’m ready to face whatever lies beyond. No matter whateveryone in mi familia thinks, this is my destiny.

  I slide into the backseat and recognize Diego Rodriguez sitting next to me, a Guerrero who was so high up he was always talked about but rarely seen. I nod and wonder what he’s doing with Wes Devlin. I know some guys consider themselves hybrids and jump gang affiliations, but I’d never actually seen anyone so high up in an organization get away with it.

  “Long time no see,” Rodriguez says. Up front are two white guys who look like they’re both bodybuilders or at least trained to kick ass. They’re definitely here to protect someone, and that someone definitely isn’t me.

  “Where’s Devlin?” I ask.

  “You’ll meet him soon enough. ”

  I look out the window to see if I can tell where we’re headed, but it’s no use. I’m totally lost and at the mercy of these three guys. I wonder what Kiara would do if she knew I was in a car with a bunch of thugs. She’d probably tell me I shouldn’t have gone in the car in the first place. I’m not letting my guard down for one minute, that’s for sure.

  Thinking about letting my guard down makes me think of Kiara. Last night as I had her in my arms and felt her soft skin beneath my fingers, I totally lost control. Hell, I was ready to take anything she had to offer without caring about the consequences.

  “We’re here,” Diego says, pullin’ me out of my thoughts of Kiara and what might have been.

  “Here” is a big house with a cement wall surrounding the estate. We’re buzzed through. Diego directs me through the front door and leads me to an office big enough to intimidate any corporate CEO.

  The blond guy sitting behind a dark wooden desk is obviously Devlin. He’s wearing a dark suit with a light blue tie that matches his eyes. He motions for me to sit in one of the guest chairs in front of his desk. When I don’t, the two overgrown guys from the car ride stand on either side of me.

  I’m in dangerous territory, but I stand my ground. “Get your trained dogs away from me,” I tell him. Devlin waves them away, and the two guys immediately back off and block the door to the room. I wonder how much he pays them to be his guard dogs.

  Diego is still in the room, a silent second in command. Devlin leans back in his chair, assessing me. “So you’re Carlos Fuentes, the one Diego here has been telling me so much about. He says you skipped out on the Guerreros del barrio. Bold move, Carlos, although I assume if you step one foot back in Mexico you’re as good as dead. ”

  “Is that what this is all about?” I ask. “If you’ve affiliated yourself with the Guerreros and they told you to get rid of me, why have Nick set me up?”

  “Because we’re not going to get rid of you, Fuentes,” Diego chimes in. “We’re going to use you. ”

  Those words make me want to lash out and tell these guys that nobody is going to control me or use me, but I hold back. The more these guys talk, the more information I can get.

  “Truth is, Fuentes,” Diego says, “we’re doin’ you a favor by not bringin’ you back to the Guerreros in pieces, and you’re gonna do us a favor by being our bag boy. ”

  Bag boy. He means I have to be their newest street dealer, and willingly take the fall if I get caught. The drugs in my locker were a test to see if I’d turn Nick in. If I did, I’d be pegged a snitch and probably be lying in the morgue right now. I proved I’m not a narc, so now I’m a valuable commodity. It reminds me of Brandon’s video game, although this game is lethal.

  Devlin leans forward. “Let’s just put it this way, Fuentes. You work with us, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Besides that, you’ll be a rich kid. ” He pulls out an envelope from the desk drawer and slides it over to me. “Take a look. ”

  I pick up the envelope. Inside are a bunch of one hundred–dollar bills—more than I’ve ever held in my hands before. I set the envelope back on his desk.

  “Take it, it’s yours,” Devlin says. “Consider it a taste of what you can earn with me in one week. ”

  “So the Devlin family has aligned with the Guerreros? When did that happen?”

  “I align with whoever and whatever gets me to my ultimate goal. ”

  “What’s your goal, world domination?” I joke.
>
  Devlin doesn’t laugh. “Right now it’s to bring in shipments I’ve got coming in from Mexico and make sure they don’t get misplaced, if you know what I mean. Rodriguez here thinks you’ve got what it takes. Listen, I’m not the head of a street gang that fights for territory, the color of your skin, or your damn nationality. I’m a businessman, running a business. I could give a shit if you’re black, white, Asian, or Mexican. Hell, I’ve got more Russians working for me than the Kremlin. As long as you benefit my business, I want you working for me. ”

  “And if I don’t want in?” I ask.

  Devlin looks to Rodriguez.

  “Your mamá lives in Atencingo, doesn’t she?” Rodriguez asks casually as he steps forward. “And your little brother, too. I think his name is Luis. Cute kid. I’ve had a guy watching them for weeks now. One word from me and bullets will fly. They’ll be dead before they even know what hit ’em. ”

  I lunge toward Rodriguez, not caring that he’s most likely packing. Nobody gets away with threatening my family. He’s shielding his face with his hands, but I’m fast and get a piece of him before the two big guys grab my arms and pull me away. “If you hurt mi familia, I’ll rip your fuckin’ heart out with my own two hands,” I warn as I struggle to free myself.

  Rodriguez cups his cheek where I clocked him. “Don’t let him go,” he orders, then swears at me in a mixture of English and Spanish. “You’re loco, you know that?”

  “Sí. Muy loco,” I tell him as one of the guys makes the mistake of loosening his hold to get a better grip on me. I kick him away and send him crashing into a painting on the wall. When it cracks and smashes to the ground upon impact, I turn to see what other damage I can do to show I’m not someone who’ll shrink back in fear if my family is threatened.

  Two more guys storm into the room. Shit. I’m tough and can kick some ass, but five against one is bad odds. Not counting Devlin, who is sitting in his big leather chair watching the rest of us duke it out as if we’re doing it solely for his amusement.

  I manage to break free, then hold my own for a few minutes before two of the guys rush me and slam me into the wall. I’m dazed from the impact when another guy starts pounding on me. It might be Rodriguez, or it might be one of the four other guys. At this point it’s all a blur.

  I struggle against them, but each punch to my stomach is taking its toll and hurts like hell. When a fist connects with my jaw once, then twice, then three times, I taste blood. I’ve become their damn punching bag.

  I gather all my energy, ignore the intense pain, and break free. Lunging forward, I connect hard with one of them. I won’t go down without a fight, even one I have no chance of winning.

  My advantage is short-lived. I’m pulled off the guy and shoved to the carpeted floor. If I get up maybe I can do more damage, but I’m being pummeled and kicked from all directions and feel my energy fading fast. A solid, painful kick to my back tells me one of the guys wears steel-toed boots. With my last ounce of energy, I grab the leg of whoever is kicking me. He tumbles forward, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve got nothing left. No fight, no energy . . . just piercing pain with every move I make. The only thing I can do is pray to pass out soon . . . or die. At this point, either one would be welcome.

 
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