Home > Destroyed(6)

Author: Pepper Winters

Oscar nodded. “True enough.” Giving me a smile, we headed off down the black carpeted staircase. Every step had a silhouette of a fox embossed in silver thread. “You have a habit of demanding respect by the aid of physical abuse.”

Oscar was right. People owed me respect because I’d damned well earned it. Every scrap, every shred, I’d pulled with my bare hands from men who thought they could wipe the floor with me. I’d shown them I might live in a body scarred to shit, but I’d earned every single scar. Each one spoke of what I’d done, of what lurked in my past.

The sound of music disappeared as the howl of artic wind and icy prickles of snow stole me from present to past.

“Kill him, Operative Fox.”

I’d never disobeyed an order till now, but I shook my head. Already shitting myself at the retribution such a refusal would bring, but unable to pick up the blade and stab the kid in front of me.

Just a kid.

Just a kid.

I was just a kid myself. Barely into my teens and yet I was a seasoned killer.

“You know what we’ll do to you if you refuse.”

I knew, but it didn’t change anything. I slammed to my knees in the snow, hating the shrieking winds and negative temperatures. Tonight would be a bitch.

“Throw him in the pit until he learns his lesson.”

The memory exploded into splinters, stabbing my brain with an illusion of the present and past mixing for a brief moment.

Shaking my head, I turned to Oscar. “Call Dawson and his security team. I want Everest and his minions hauled out after this.”

We paused at the base of the stairs. “Will do.” Oscar raised his hand for me to high five. “Here’s to dishing out respect.”


I didn’t move, just switched from personable to my old self; the self that’d been trained and sculpted by hatred and discipline.

The click from normal to killer happened instantaneously.

Oscar hastily withdrew. “Crikey. You need to get over that shit, Fox. It ain’t natural.”

When did I ever say I was f**king natural?

Ignoring him, I strode from the shadows and into the organized chaos. The rings were operating at full capacity tonight. Waiting lists hung beside the scoreboard with many a denied request for a session.

The Muay Thai ring had been reserved for the evening by the Stingrays. A group of men who looked tough, but had the art of a real group of fighters. They weren’t there just to draw blood but also to improve their craft.

I wanted to go head-to-head with their top guy, a man named Corkscrew, but I hadn’t found a reason to get him in the ring—yet. But I would. It was only a matter of time before he pissed me off.

As I passed, my eyes narrowed on the very man I wanted to fight. He stood with his arm around a stunning Asian woman while touching another delectable creature dressed in gold and silver. Women meant nothing to me. I neither wanted them nor needed them. But the instant my eyes landed on thick mahogany waves draping over porcelain shoulders, I wanted with a ferocity that I’d never felt before.

It was as if all the coldness in my blood suddenly erupted into f**king steam, hissing through my veins. My back locked as I fought the urge to stare. In a flash, I memorized her face, catalogued her weaknesses, archived her mannerisms. Medium height and lithe muscles, she had just enough curves to entice, but not enough to call her voluptuous. She held herself stiff while her face split into a smile, hiding her true thoughts.

The longer I looked the more I noticed: weakness, anger, strength, resilience, but beneath it all, the same raging confusion that lurked inside me. The same helplessness for a life we couldn’t do anything about.

I didn’t need my training to taste the sheer hatred she hid so well. I recognised it as a twin to my own. My eternal anger would never die—directed at a past I could do nothing to change.

Fuck. I hated the burst of connection while salivating at the thought of more.

There wasn’t anything unusual about her apart from her obvious beauty, and yet, there seemed to be a cloud over her. Her body introverted, eyes glossed with unknown sadness.

I want to know why.

I stopped short. No, you f**king don’t.

I didn’t care. Not in the slightest. She was a woman, and I didn’t succumb to their charms. I found relief in other addictions.

Pain mainly.

I’d wasted enough time acting like a moron. Making a deliberate effort to ignore the woman who’d sparked something deep inside, I glanced around the room. Everywhere people moved silently and respectfully. The hired women who earned more working for me in a week than a year on the streets moved sexily, serving patrons in classy outfits. Drinks were free, but hardly ever accepted by fighters, only the audience.

If someone wanted a private fight or a room to f**k in, the whole bottom floor of my residence had spaces for hire. Nothing was cheap, and everything was exclusive.

I’d never been around wealth until recently, and I had to agree, the warmth and shelter money provided was a damn sight better than shivering in the snow while waiting for something to kill me.

Two ends of the spectrum.

Two lifetimes that could never mix.

The scar on my cheek twinged like an old enemy, reminding me that no matter who I created from the ashes of my past, I would always be the kid who killed.

“Ah, f**k, he’s back again.” Oscar nodded at the well-known trouble-maker in the MMA ring. The guy sneered, raising his taped-up fist in a mock salute. “He’s one step away from an ass-raping at the local jail. I heard he runs a meth lab down in Coogee.”

Kissing his fist, he bared his teeth and laughed.

Slamming to a halt, I pinned him with my stare. With one steady finger, I dragged it from the top of my right cheekbone all the way down my face to my chin. I barely felt it—the scar tissue desensitized to anything but brutal force. Once I’d traced the contour of the scar, I dragged the same finger across my throat in the universal sign of ‘you’re dead’ and pointed at him.

“He may be a douche, but he’s a client.” Oscar groaned. “Fox. Stop that. You can’t scare off all the clientele. What sort of business model are you following?”

Muttering under my breath, I answered, “A damn good one if I don’t have to deal with little shits like that.”

Oscar sighed. “Whatever, mate. He’ll f**k himself up without your help. Who do you want to go after? Him or Everest? You can’t do both.”

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