Authors: Ashley Claudy
Book Two of
Outside The Ropes
she had found a new life.
she'd found something to love in the ring.
she'd found someone to love outside those ropes—Someone who loved her.
But what she found was danger. And there's no easy way out.
Copyright© 2015 Ashley Claudy
All rights reserved. No parts of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written consent from the author except for use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Cover by R.B.A. Designs.
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.
THE GUN PRESSED INTO MY SKIN AS I climbed out of the cab. I tugged on my shirt, pulling it low with clammy hands, trying to keep the gun and my nerves covered.
I had no clue what I was about to get myself into as Silas approached dressed in a dark suit, but his sly smile reminded me that it wasn’t anything good. Not that I needed a reminder; the gun tucked into my jeans, an almost burning presence, was enough.
His smile faltered as he dragged me away from the line of people waiting to get into the building. “What are you wearing Regan? I told you this was a club.”
“I wanted to be prepared for anything.” I pulled my arm out of his grip and shrugged.
He let out a puff of laughter and his breath clouded in the cool night air. “You’re not turning criminal tonight. You don’t need to be in all black.” His eyes scanned over my dark top and jeans, a frown dropping into place. “Fuckin’ eh. Did you bring a gun too? Give it to me.”
My heart stopped at being called out so quick. The outfit was supposed to pass for dressy but also allow me to move. I wanted to be prepared for anything since this meeting was a mystery to me.
No one was in listening distance, but there were plenty of eyes from the line of people trying to get into this place.
Silas nodded his head to the side of the warehouse and we walked around the corner, out of view from everyone.
“I’m serious. Give me your gun and anything else you might have. These people don’t know you and walking in armed could get you hurt. They’re meeting with you because I said they could trust you. Don’t make me regret it.”
I didn’t trust him, but I was going to have to follow his directions if I wanted to go through with this. And I did want to go through with this. Stepping further into the shadows of the building, close enough to touch him, I pulled the glock from the back of my waistband and handed it over.
He knelt down and slipped the gun into the top of his boot, covering it with his dress slacks. Rising, he cocked an eyebrow at me. “Good girl. Anything else you need to hand over?”
The pit in my stomach was bottomless, and I shook my head. I recalled Nan’s tiny body in the hospital bed with machines hooked to her and let the fiery anger fill me, strengthening me.
“We can go in the back.” He jerked his head to the side door at the far end of the building.
Each step into the darkness was bringing me closer to fate, and with each step I dropped any hesitation; there was no turning back. I needed to go in confident and sure. By the time I reached the door, I was.
Danger may be on the other side but it was better than the fear I lived with now. At least this way I was doing something instead of running. I was fighting for her, Nan, even if it was too late to do any good. But I was also fighting for him whether he wanted me to or not. I was done fighting for me, it wasn’t worth it; nothing good ever came of it.
Silas pulled out his phone, thumbs gliding across the screen as he texted, and then the door opened. A man with a buzzed head and a smirk as dark as his eyes let us in.
“Come. Nick’s waiting.” His voice was flat and low with the hint of an accent. He nodded to me and then turned down a hallway with dim fluorescent lighting. The muffled beat of music and stale smell of alcohol filled the air, intensifying as we walked around a corner.
The man knocked twice on a door before opening it. He gestured for us to go in, sending a cold chill through me as I brushed past him. Even though he was only about my height with a slight build under his cream colored sweater, something in his face and the way he held himself was sinister.
But if he chilled me, the other man in the room nearly sent me into hypothermia. He had the size of Gage and a close resemblance, but was older, harder. His dark hair was pulled back in a low ponytail, and a fitted button up shirt covered muscles that were a bit softer than his nephew’s but still held obvious strength.
He turned from the monitor he was looking at, surveillance footage from around the club in tiny squares on the screen, and his eyes struck me. Gages light blue eyes always seemed cold, but this man’s dark ones were worse. I didn’t need the introduction to know who this was, but it was given anyways.
Silas put a hand on my back, nudging me further into the room. “Nick, this is Regan. Regan this is Nick and that’s Demetri.” He gestured to the man closing the door behind us.
“Want a drink?” Nick asked us, eyes still locked on me.
My mouth was dry and stuck together, but I shook my head.
“I’ll have one,” Silas said.
Nick inclined his head to Demetri and crossed the room to sit on the couch, gesturing for us to sit in the two chairs opposite him.
I took the chair closest to the door and Silas sat in the other one.
Demetri made drinks from a small bar cart in the corner of the room. He set two glasses filled with amber liquid and ice down on the low glass coffee table in front of us. Sipping on one himself, he leaned against the desk off to the side of our sitting area. I didn’t like how he was just behind my vision if I faced Nick, especially since his sharp eyes were on me.
Nick set his phone on the table and picked up his drink, sipping it slow. He watched me with narrowed eyes as he leaned back on the couch.
Holding the glass in mid-air he addressed me, “Silas told me a little about your situation. You’re willing to help us out, if we help you out?”
I looked to Silas, but he nodded back at me. I needed to do the talking.
“Depends what you mean by help out.”
The corner of his mouth turned up, along with one eyebrow. “Well let’s make it clear.” He set his glass down. “Let’s make sure both parties understand what they’re asking for. It’s important. Especially since I can’t imagine a young thing like you wanting what Silas said ya wanted.”
Pulling a cigarette out of his shirt pocket, he balanced it between his lips as he lit it. “You don’t strike me as cold hard bitch,” he mumbled around the cigarette and then pulled it from his mouth, exhaling in my direction. “So tell me, what exactly is it you want?”
“I want…” I flicked my eyes to Silas who nodded for me to continue. “There’s a man I want dead.” The nerves that tightened my throat made it hard to breathe.
Nick took another drag of his cigarette and leaned forward, resting his forearms on his spread legs. He pointed his smoke at me and shook his head. “You mean you want someone killed, murdered. Say it straight, ‘cause wanting someone dead is different than wanting them murdered. Ya understand?”
I sucked in a sharp breath and nodded.
“Say it then.” He relaxed back on the sofa and extended an arm along the top, but his eyes were full of challenge.
“I want him killed,” my voice came out clear and emotionless.
His lips pulled up in a chilling smile as he nodded at me. “Who? Who has pissed ya off so bad ya think they deserve to die, little one?”
His condescending tone turned on my anger and steel ran through my veins, strengthening me. “Damien Jallow. He’s involved with Rock, do you know him?”
“I know Rock. I don’t know this Damien, but if he’s one of his soldier’s then shits tough but I can deliver. Now I’m curious though, why?”
Nan’s face flashed in my mind. “He murdered my friend.”
Silas set down his glass and got our attention. “He’s also been threatening Regan, want’s her dead, but he wants to be the one to do it. Gave directions to have her brought to him.”
Bile rose in my throat and I tried to meet Silas’s gaze, but he avoided looking in my direction. He had only told me that Damien wanted me dead, not that he wanted me brought to him. I knew Damien was sick and dangerous but this took it to a whole new level. Unless Silas was lying, but I couldn’t figure an angle as to why he would at this point. I had already agreed to this. I was here.
“Well fuck, then this needs to be done sooner than later. But first, let’s work out terms. What do we get for doing this?”
“Silas said as long as I continued to fight for him.” The minute the words were out I knew it wouldn’t be enough.
Nick looked between the two of us and tapped the table with the tip of his finger. “Nuh-uh. Yes, ya need to keep fighting under our gym, but we need a guarantee of something more. Let’s say a cash value. ‘Cause what if ya lose and we end up with nothing?”
“She’s good. I know she’ll bring in money,” Silas defended; it seemed like Nick had poked his pride.
“Maybe so, but we’re gonna need ya to bring in fifty thousand dollars for this risk. We’re in a tight spot with Rock as is, and this will stir it up if he finds out.”
Silas and Nick ran over numbers and what I could potentially make for future fights. Silas already had one lined up for me in two weeks and another next month, but the time it would take to make their money was too long. It didn’t surprise me when they started talking about setting up my fights, but I wasn’t sure I could do it.
“I can’t guarantee a win in a certain round; I’m not that experienced. I could throw a fight, but even losing in a called round—I can’t promise that.” And, again, I was amazed at how level my voice sounded. Inside I was a quivering mess, but I was keeping it together on the outside, where it mattered.
“How ‘bout we practice first? This next fight, let’s pretend. We have to wait till the odds come out to pick a round, but we’ll see. You can’t lose just yet, that’s a ticket we won’t cash till ya got a larger win column.”
As he talked, his phone vibrated for about the dozenth time. He picked it up, pressing on the screen without breaking his conversation.
“So, do we have a deal?” he looked up from the phone, like everything had been worked out.
“I’m not quite sure I understand what’s expected of me. What if I can’t win in the rounds you choose? What then?”
Gage had won in the fourth but they bet on the third, and I hadn’t seen him since. Silas assured me he had seen him, though, and he was okay. But it had been a week since he walked out of that hotel on me, and I wanted to know what was next. I was tempted to ask Nick directly. He was his uncle, he should be on Gage’s side but I couldn’t be sure.
“That’s why we gave a cash value. You’ll come up with it one way or another.” Nick lifted his eyes from his phone to me. “Deal?”
“What about Damien? How will that be done?”
“Ya ask a lot of questions. Leave the details to us, we’ll let ya know when and how after it’s done.”
I wanted to ask who ‘we’ was, he kept saying that, but he was dismissing me.
“If we’re done here, I’ll walk ya out.” He went to his desk and slid on his jacket.