Fighting to be free, p.20
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       Fighting to Be Free, p.20

         Part #1 of Fighting to Be Free series by Kirsty Moseley
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  hard, making him stumble back against the wall. Gripping a fistful of his shirt, I smashed my fist into his stunned face. He grunted as his lip split, gushing blood down his chin. I didn’t stop at that, though; I wasn’t satisfied with just a split lip. Drawing my fist back again, I punched him in the stomach, taking out all of my frustrations on him.

  “I said eleven, asshole! Why keep calling me? I told you I was busy, you prick!” I shouted as I punched him in the ribs. He was trying to fight me off, struggling against my hold, but that didn’t matter, I knew his efforts were futile. He was a good few inches taller than me, and probably outweighed me by about thirty pounds, but I knew I could put him down easily.

  Arms wrapped around me from behind. “Kid, calm the hell down,” Ray hissed, dragging me back a couple of steps.

  I could barely hear him through my rage as Shaun reached into his pocket, bringing out a silver switchblade. As the blade snapped out, I elbowed Ray harshly in the ribs so that he’d let go.

  “I’m gonna fucking kill you,” Shaun spat angrily. I smiled at that threat. A couple of months ago, that probably wouldn’t have bothered me in the slightest. Now I had Ellie.

  I stepped closer to him, watching as rage, and maybe a little fear, crossed his broken face. He was definitely wary of me, and with good reason, too.

  “Calm down, both of you. Shaun, put that shit away,” Ray ordered, his voice tight and controlled. No one else moved or said anything.

  I smiled wickedly. “Yeah, Shaun, put that shit away before you hurt yourself. You really shouldn’t play with knives,” I mocked, raising one eyebrow.

  His lip curled up, exposing his bloodstained teeth. “You talk a big game for a street-rat, son-of-a-whore murderer!” Shaun mused.

  I knew he was trying to goad me into making the first move, but it wasn’t going to work. I’d been called a lot worse in my time. Truth be told, I was the murdering son of a whore, so I couldn’t exactly disagree.

  He moved quickly, lunging with the knife. Stepping to the side, I grabbed his wrist, roughly slamming it against the wall to get him to drop the weapon. He didn’t drop it, though; instead, he twisted his body, smashing his knee into my side. I hissed through my teeth as pain radiated up my chest from my almost healed ribs. I gripped one hand around his throat, putting my leg behind his, and stepped to the side, twisting his body so he lost his balance and stumbled over my foot. As he fell to the floor I let myself go with him, landing on top of him as I slammed his wrist against the cold concrete floor this time. The knife finally left his hand, skidding across the floor, going underneath a red convertible that was sitting ready for collection.

  Shaun made a strangled gurgle as my hand tightened on his throat. At the same time I pushed myself up to my knees and straddled him, my other hand colliding with his face in a hard punch. I knew I needed to show him that he wasn’t in charge here; I wasn’t going to be putting up with this nonsense all the time, and he needed to learn that quickly. I punched him over and over in the face and chest. I hadn’t lost control, though; I knew what I was doing. If I had lost it, then I wouldn’t have been able to hear the people shouting at us to break it up, and I wouldn’t be able to feel someone tugging at the back of my shirt, trying to get me up. I had lost control of myself only once before, and I never wanted to do that again.

  When I was satisfied he’d suffered enough, I gripped his shirt and leaned over him, my face inches from his. I looked into his watery eyes as I spoke. “You ever pull a knife on me again, and I’ll run it through your heart.” I let my eyes stay on his for a few seconds, allowing my words to sink in so he’d know I was serious.

  Ray was pulling at my upper arms as he shouted orders at me. Finally I let him lift me to my feet. I ran a hand through my hair, dimly aware that my hands were shaking from the adrenaline coursing through my system. Turning to look at Ray, I smiled reassuringly, showing him I was in control of myself. He was frowning angrily, but that anger was clearly directed at Shaun as he glared at him.

  “So, are we ready to get this show on the road, or what?” I asked, choosing to ignore the past few minutes and move on. I had a job to do, and the sooner I got it done, the sooner I could go home to bed. I didn’t look at Shaun as he struggled to get to his feet.

  Ray sighed, turning back to me again. “You okay, Kid?”

  I nodded, shrugging nonchalantly. Of course I’m okay, I’m always okay. “Yep. Where’s my pack?” I asked, looking around for the details of the boost tonight. Ray motioned toward the brown envelope on the desk. As I headed over to get it, something rammed into me from behind, making me crash against the hot little red sports car.

  “No! Careful of the car!” Ray screamed like a little girl.

  I didn’t have time to laugh like I wanted to; Shaun was obviously back for more. He pinned me against the car, so I thrust my head back, connecting with his face. He grunted in pain and his hold on me loosened. Pushing myself back, I threw him off me before turning to look at him warningly.

  Shaun’s eyes dropped to the floor off to my right. Following his gaze I saw the handle of the knife lying about three feet away, just under the car. I looked back at him and shook my head. I didn’t want to have to go that far, but if he came at me with a knife again I wouldn’t be lenient. Before I could open my mouth to discourage him, he dived for the knife, his eyes a little crazy.

  I stepped to the side, and as his hand closed around it, I raised my foot and stamped on his hand as hard as I could. The sickening crack of his fingers breaking rang in my ears for just a split second before he let out an involuntary scream. He pushed himself back up using his elbow and looked at me angrily. His eyes told me he still wasn’t ready to give up. I sighed as I raised my foot again and slammed it into his face, making him fall onto his back. The room had gone quiet again now; the only sound was Shaun’s ragged breathing as I stalked toward him. When I moved my hand, he flinched, thinking I was going to hit him. Instead, I pulled open the door of the sports car, hearing Ray’s little whimper behind me because I was touching one of his babies.

  Smiling wickedly, I looked down at Shaun, who was painfully scooting backward, trying to move away from me. “Did you know that if you break the bones in your hand enough times, you’ll never be able to use it properly?” I asked, keeping my tone light and friendly. He didn’t answer, just sneered at me angrily, glaring through his rapidly swelling eyes. “So, for example, when I slam this car door on your hand repeatedly, you’ll probably never be able to use it to jack off again,” I continued.

  “Kid, don’t …” Ray said behind me.

  I raised one eyebrow at Shaun. “I did say that if you pulled a knife on me again I’d kill you with it, but this tux is rented; if I get blood on it I won’t get my deposit back,” I mused, waving my free hand down at my white shirt and rented black pants.

  He shook his head, gulping loudly.

  Smiling, I reached out, gripping his injured hand, moving it quickly toward the opening of the car door. That was when the pleading started. He whimpered and begged as he tried to wrench his hand from my grasp, struggling and thrashing.

  “No, please? Don’t, please!” he begged, shaking his head fiercely, his eyes scared now as I pinned him to the ground and held his hand in place. He was finally admitting defeat.

  I grinned and shrugged, moving my other hand on the car door, swinging it inward. Shaun’s deafening, high-pitched scream reverberated off the walls as the door swung toward the hand that I was pinning against the metal, where it would connect in less than a second or two.

  I stopped it just a couple of inches before it made contact, though. I looked down at Shaun to see that he was lying there with his eyes squeezed shut, the scream still coming out of his mouth. I laughed and shook my head at the pathetic sight before me.

  And he accused me of talking a big game?

  “You scream like a bitch,” I teased, pushing myself off him, standing up, looking down at him. He slowly opened his eyes, the piercing
scream stopping as he looked first at me, then at his hand, which was untouched by the door. “Are we done?” I growled. I had no problem going through with the plan if he was still insisting on trying to prove himself.

  He took a couple of ragged breaths before he nodded. “Done,” he agreed.

  Nodding back, I offered my hand to help him up. He looked at it hesitantly for a few seconds before putting his good hand in mine, whimpering as I pulled him to his feet. “Just so you know, next time I won’t stop,” I told him, cocking my head to the side, meeting his eyes so he’d know I was serious.

  He shook his head. “No next time.”

  Before I could answer, someone applauded from behind me. “Bravo, bravo, what an awesome show of dominance,” Brett mocked. I turned to see him smiling a fake and clearly annoyed smile at us as he stood at the bottom of the stairs, leaning there with one leg crossed over the other. “Trouble is, now I’m down one team member, and I have an order to fill. If that’s late, then I’m going to hold you personally responsible, Kid.”

  I smiled reassuringly. “It won’t be late, don’t worry.”

  He grinned, seeming satisfied with my answer as he walked forward, patting my shoulder affectionately. “I know.” He turned and looked toward Shaun, who was cradling his hand to his chest, one of his eyes swollen, his lip split, his jaw bruised. He was favoring one side slightly, so obviously his ribs were painful, too. “Didn’t I already tell you not to mess with the kid? Next time maybe you’ll listen, huh?”

  Shaun nodded, dropping his eyes to the floor as he shuffled on his feet. “Sorry, boss.”

  Brett looked away from him distastefully. “Someone take him to see Marlon,” he instructed. Marlon was Brett’s brother-in-law. He was a doctor at the local hospital, and he and Brett had an agreement of treatment, no questions. Shaun immediately limped toward the exit of the warehouse with Ian following behind him. Brett turned back to me. “I don’t want to know what that’s about, and frankly I don’t care, but don’t think you can come waltzing in here and start shit with my employees, Kid. Talent or not, if you start messing with my business, our friendship will cease to exist, you get what I’m saying?”

  I smiled and nodded, laughing quietly. That threat wasn’t exactly subtle. “Sure. You’re saying, screw up again and go for the long walk.”

  He laughed and slung his arm around my shoulder. “Exactly.” He looked down at his watch and frowned. “You gonna get this order done?”

  “Don’t I always?”

  “Yeah, Kid, you do. That’s why you’re the best.” He winked at me before turning for the stairs. “I’ll be upstairs in the office. Someone tell me when it’s done.”

  Ray was busy running his hand over the car that I’d fallen into, a worried expression on his face. I grinned. “No, careful of the car!” I mocked in a high-pitched girlie voice.

  Ray sighed and turned around, looking at me exasperatedly. “Do you have any idea how long it took me to polish this angel up? Beauty like this needs to be respected,” he gushed, tracing his hand on the roof.

  “Thanks for being concerned about me, man. I’m touched,” I joked, putting my hand over my heart.

  He grinned and shook his head. “You can handle yourself. This little baby, on the other hand”—he bent down and kissed the expensive paint job—“she needs loving.”

  I laughed and picked up the pack from the desk, ripping it open, excitement building in my chest at what was about to happen. I couldn’t help but love the rush that coursed through my veins at the mere thought of boosting cars.

  “What the hell do you look like anyway?” Ray asked, coming over and sitting next to me, flicking the black tie that hung loose around my neck.

  I grinned over at him. “An American James Bond, apparently.”

  * * *

  As usual, when I woke in the morning, my first thought was of Ellie. Rolling to the side, I stretched my hand out for her but met nothing but air. A long groan escaped my lips when I remembered she hadn’t stayed over last night—instead, I’d left her at her prom to go and steal more than a million dollars’ worth of cars and one motorcycle.

  I finally cracked my eyes open, looking at my alarm clock. It was just after eleven o’clock. I sat up quickly and gasped. I’d told her that I’d call her this morning, but I knew I wasn’t going to be able to. I’d dropped my phone last night in the scuffle with Shaun and the stupid screen had cracked beyond repair. She was going to be even more annoyed with me that I hadn’t called her like I’d promised.

  “Damn it,” I mumbled, pushing myself up from the bed. I was still tired, my body refusing to wake up after a mere four hours of sleep. Today was going to be another crummy day. I was seeing Ellie for lunch, which was great, but tonight was my first shift at the strip club, which I wasn’t looking forward to in the slightest. I’d much rather be cuddled up with my girlfriend on the sofa, talking about random stuff and joking around with her like usual. I stretched my sleep-deprived muscles and then headed to the shower, setting the water to cold so that it’d wake me up a little.

  Half an hour later, I pulled up outside Ellie’s house unannounced, hoping she was already awake. If she wasn’t, then I’d use the spare key that I knew the Pearces kept hidden under a stone and sneak into her bed to surprise her. I smiled at the thought. But the smile faded when I saw the Pearce family car still in their driveway. They had usually left by this time of the morning to make the hour-and-a-half drive over to see Ellie’s grandmother.

  Pushing myself out of the truck, I strutted up to the door and knocked. I took a deep breath as I ran through the apologetic speech that I was going to make about bailing on Ellie last night. But she didn’t answer the door; her mother did.

  I winced as the polite smile that she answered the door with faded when she realized it was me. She frowned and looked me over distastefully, and immediately I was wishing I’d put on a nice shirt instead of the faded band tee I had thrown on. The woman never failed to make me feel like a scumbag.

  “Good morning, Mrs. Pearce. Is Ellie around?” I asked, forcing a polite smile.

  She raised one eyebrow at that and pulled the door closer to her body, closing the gap in a you’re not welcome in my house gesture. “And what are you doing here, Jamie? I was under the impression that you two had broken up,” she replied, her voice cold and emotionless.

  I frowned and shook my head. “We didn’t break up,” I corrected her, wondering why on earth she would think that.

  She frowned and cocked her head to the side, the way Ellie did when she thought hard about something. However, when Ellie did it, she looked cute, like a curious little puppy, whereas when her mother did it, she resembled a cobra waiting to attack.

  “Well, you definitely weren’t the one who brought her home from the dance last night,” she countered.

  I sighed and shook my head. “No, I wasn’t feeling well, so I left early. Paul and Stacey drove Ellie home for me,” I said, trying not to show my lie in my voice.

  She laughed quietly and rolled her eyes. “I think I can recognize Miles when I see him; my daughter dated him for long enough.”

  Miles? Miles drove Ellie home last night?

  I hated the thought of that guy anywhere near her. I didn’t begrudge her male friends, I would never tell her that she couldn’t talk to another guy, but Miles just rubbed me the wrong way. I think it was the fact that he was so much better suited for her and was the complete opposite of me. He was respectable, ambitious, talented, smart, and he wanted to be a doctor—every mother’s dream date for her daughter. I hated him because I knew that, at some point—and it seemed like that point might be now—I would lose her to him, or someone like him without the possessive edge.

  “Miles drove her home?” I checked, swallowing my unease.

  She smiled smugly and nodded. “Mm-hmm. I just assumed that you two had broken up because Ellison and Miles were kissing … maybe she just hasn’t told you?”

  Kissing? What the fuck!<
br />
  Disappointment and sadness settled in the pit of my stomach as my blood seemed to turn to ice in my veins. It was over. Ellie had finally come to her senses and wised up to the fact that I was a waste of space and she was better off with someone else. I wasn’t even angry about it because I just wanted her to be happy.

  I tightened my jaw as Ruth continued to speak while looking at me like I was something nasty on the bottom of her shoe. “So maybe you should run along and corrupt someone else’s daughter. Clearly your time with the rich little cheerleader is over.”

  “Is Ellie home? I’d like to hear it from her,” I replied tersely. If it was truly over, then I could accept that, but not from this hateful witch. If Ellie told me that we were done, then so be it, but I wasn’t walking away from here without asking her for one last chance—even just a chance to be friends would suffice. I just needed to keep her in my life.

  Ruth shifted on her feet, stepping out through the door and then pulling it closed behind her. Her gray eyes, which were the same as Ellie’s, just harder and less forgiving, locked onto mine as she turned her nose up at me. “She’s sleeping,” she answered. “Look, Jamie, let’s be honest here, we both knew this was coming. All girls go through a bad-boy stage at some point in their lives, and it looks like you were my daughter’s. But it’s done now. I’m not letting you ruin her future. She deserves better than you.”

  I gulped. I couldn’t even disagree with her words because they mirrored my opinion exactly.

  “So just leave. You’re neither wanted nor welcome here,” she finished. Before I could answer or even think of what I wanted to say, she turned her back on me and headed inside, closing the door in my face.

  I squeezed my eyes shut as my heart ached at the thought of not being with Ellie. Part of me wanted to walk away with my tail between my legs. Ruth was right, I had known this was coming, but that didn’t ease the pain one little bit. The more selfish part of me wanted Ellie so badly that I would literally do anything to keep her with me so I wasn’t facing the world on my own with no reason to keep trying to be the person I wanted to be.

  Instead of walking away, I bent down and picked up a couple of small pebbles from the ground and strutted around to the side of their property, scaling the six-foot gate and dropping down on the other side. I walked into the backyard, looking up at Ellie’s window on the second floor.

  I took a deep breath and threw the first little pebble. It hit its target, tapping on her window gently. When nothing happened, I threw the next one and then the next. I bent and picked up a couple more, throwing them, too.

  The last one had already left my hand as the window slid open. Ellie squealed before laughing and sticking her head out. “What the
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