There’s nothing like unwrapping a new, pretty toy.
Except I couldn’t decide if I wanted to keep her, or kill her.
Maybe a little bit of both.
Rolan pulled the black cotton hood off her head. She blinked, eyes adjusting to the bright white lights shining from the warehouse ceiling. Water dripped down a wall nearby and the concrete floor must have felt freezing under her knees. Crates loomed at the edges of the room. My guys stood around checking their guns and reading magazines. Viktor lit a cigarette and Rolan cracked the seal on a new fifth of vodka.
“What… where am I?”
The girl stared at me. Pretty blue eyes, long brown hair. Her body was tight and slender, her round ass stuffed into a pair of dark jeans, her black shirt cut low enough to show off a hint of her round breasts. Her skin was pale and smooth and I had the absurd desire to see her strip down right then and there in front of my men.
Of course, I wouldn’t do that.
No, I was the jealous type. I didn’t like to share.
“You’re in my warehouse,” I said. “Do you know who I am?”
She squinted. “I have no clue.”
“My name’s Owain.”
“Never heard of you. What’s going on? What are you doing?”
“Your brother heard of me.” I tilted my head and crossed my arms over my chest. “Me and Jason, we knew each other very well.”
I saw her eyes go wide then she sat up on her knees and struggled to compose herself. I had to admit, she did a pretty good job. Her face was almost neutral, though the fear still trickled through.
“How do you know Jason?”
“I was his piggy bank. For a while, anyway.”
Her breath came faster. Her chest rose and fell.
“I don’t know what you want from me.”
“I think you do.” I smiled a little. “It’s always about one thing, especially with Jason. And I’m not talking about the drugs.”
She looked away. I saw the pain in her eyes.
Couldn’t blame her.
Jason died last week. I heard she found him slumped over his desk in the back room of their little store. I could guess how fucked up and hard that must’ve been, but I didn’t really need to.
I had my own memories of finding dead bodies of people I cared about to deal with. I didn’t need hers.
“Money,” she said, her voice soft. She looked down at the floor. “All the money for our store.”
“That’s right, darling.” I smiled and spread my arms again. “You figured it out fast.”
“He was going to you.”
“Bingo. Like clockwork. I’d lend him some money and some drugs, he’d go back to you, and you’d be none the wiser. I didn’t know much about you of course, just that he was in business with you. I had no clue his sister was so hot.”
A flash of something. Anger, maybe? Excitement?
No, definitely anger.
She looked up at me. “I don’t have it. If that’s what you want, I don’t have it. All that money went into the store.”
“I know. You two ran a nice little business. You sold the stuff and designed the shirts, and he ran around town pretending to court investors. Really, he was getting high and begging me to write him checks.”
“Why’d you keep doing it?” She narrowed her eyes. “If you knew he was a junky, why’d you keep giving him money?”
I frowned slightly. It was a good question, I had to admit it.
“I’m an optimist.”
She snorted. “What?”
“I believe all people are good at heart.” I gestured toward my guys. “Look at these men. Do you think they’re good people?”
She opened her mouth then shook her head. “I don’t know them.”
“Come on, boss,” Rolan said. “We’re a bunch of fucking saints, right?”
“These guys are scumbags,” I said. “Rolan especially.”
Rolan laughed. “Fair enough, but if we’re scum, then you’re king of the scum. You’re the scum prince.”
I grimaced. “Not the nickname I want, but okay.”
“I don’t understand.” She sounded desperate and the fear was coming back.
“I thought your brother might be able to make good. Well, no, I didn’t think he could. But I did think you might be able to pull it off.”
“Why? You said you didn’t know much about me.”
“I saw the business. I came in once. Bought a couple shirts. I liked what I saw.”
She shook her head and tried to shift side to side on her knees. “I still don’t understand. You wrote him checks because you liked the store, but why give him the money and drugs? Why not come to me if you wanted to invest?”
“Like I said, I’m an optimist. And hey, maybe it would’ve worked out if he hadn’t tried to pump too much shit into his arm and ended up dead.”
Another wince. The wound was too fresh. She didn’t like hearing about her poor overdosed junky brother.
The asshole that hung her out to dry.
“None of this changes anything. I don’t have the money. It’s all tied up in the store.”
“Maybe I don’t want the cash then.” I took a step toward her and bent forward. I was a big guy, and she was a small girl. But I liked the way she looked down on her knees in front of me.
“What do you want?”
“I want you to come work for me.”
She let out a strange, half-strangled reply. I couldn’t tell if she was about to cry or throw up.
“Work for you?” she finally managed. “What… do you want me to do?”
“What the fuck do you think?” Rolan asked. “You’re a pretty girl. You seem smart. Use your fucking head.”
I gave him a look. “How about you let me do the talking?”
He grinned, shrugged, and paced off down to the other side of the warehouse. Viktor chuckled and smoked his cigarette.
I turned my attention back to Leigh.
“I want you to work for me. Can you do that, little Leigh? Can you pay off your debts?”
“I don’t owe you anything. My brother borrowed. I didn’t know. I didn’t… I didn’t know.”
“Unfortunately, that’s not how this works. You’re on the hook. So let me ask you again.” I got down on one knee and looked into her eyes. I saw the fear then—the uncertainty. “Can you work off your debt?”
“I won’t be your whore.”
I leaned toward her and looked into her pretty eyes. She stared right back, defiant and gorgeous.
God damn, I was half hard just staring at her.
“You’ll be whatever the fuck I want you to be.”
She took a sharp breath. “I won’t fuck for money.”
I stood up. “I’ll make this easy then.” I turned my back on her, pace away a few steps then turned back. “You come to work for me and do exactly what I tell you to do, and after a few months you’ll have paid off your brother’s debts.”
“Or?” she asked.
“Or, I put a bullet in your head and parade your corpse around the city so every mother fucker around knows that they can’t default on a debt to me without losing someone they love.”
She sucked in a breath and I could see the fear and panic return.
I could almost see the calculus going on in her head. She thought if she came to work for me, she’d end up being a whore. So she’s wondering, can she fuck for money and get out of debt? Can she even survive that, and if she does, what will she be when it’s over?
Or can she die here and now?
I’m not going to lie. I’m kind of a sick fuck. There was some part of me that enjoyed her little dilemma.
It was a pretty messed up situation she found herself in, and the way people reacted to difficult situations said a lot about them. I wanted to see what kind of person Leigh was. I needed to see if she’d fold under pressure, or if it would make her harder and stronger, like a diamond in a coal pit.
I had big plans for her.
But none of them would matter if she was going to break down into a dirty lump of nothing useful.
“Don’t think too long,” I said. “And don’t keep me waiting. This is your life we’re talking about and I’m not a patient man.”
“Owain, right?” She blinked rapidly. “Your name’s Owain?”
“That’s right, little Leigh.”
“Okay, Owain. Okay. I think we can come up with another solution, right?” She was talking fast, beyond panicked now. “Maybe I can tell all my stock off. You know, at a discount, just to get some cash. And then… I can break my lease… I have some savings. And a car. I can sell my car. Fuck, uh, I can sell clothes… I have some jewelry and a laptop…”
“Do you know how much your brother owes me?”
She blinked at the floor for a few seconds. “I don’t know. I don’t think I want to know.”
“He owes me two hundred thousand dollars.”
She groaned like I just kicked her in the guts.
“Fuck. All of it.” She let out a sick, pathetic sob. “You were all our investors.”
“Damn right I was. You think your loser brother could find a legit guy to finance your business?”
“We were doing so good. We were going to turn a profit soon, once we paid off the overhead. Another few months at most and then—”
“And then he died, leaving you on the hook.” I walked back over to her and stared down. “Come on, little Leigh. Can you work off two hundred grand? Or do you want to die here and now and be a cautionary tale? You’ll be an expensive cautionary tale, I’ll admit it. But I think the message will be loud and clear.”
“I don’t… I can’t…” She shifted on her knees, adjusting herself. “I don’t know what to do.”
“Work for me.” I knelt down again. “Come, little Leigh. It won’t be so bad. You’ll be all mine. I won’t share you, I promise.”
“I can’t… sleep with strangers, I just… I’m not a whore.”
“Your time’s almost up. You need to choose.”
“I’m thinking.” She squeezed her eyes shut. “Two hundred grand. I can… I can borrow from a bank and pay you back. That way… I’ll be on the hook, not you.”
“You won’t find a bank that’ll loan you that much so quickly. I’m an impatient man.”
“I can find someone. There has to be another way.”
“There’s no other way.” I leaned closer. I took a breath and smelled her soap. Her lips parted as my mouth brushed past her cheek and toward her ear. “You’re either all mine or you’re going to die here. I think you know the right choice.”
She let out another sob. I pulled back, a smile on my lips.
It wasn’t that I enjoyed her suffering. That wouldn’t be accurate. I didn’t want to hurt her.
But I did enjoy the moment. These sorts of moments, where the stakes are so high, they can say so much. They can be so revealing.
I loved them. I loved going through them and I loved putting people through them. I wanted to be tested over an over. I wanted to prove to the world how strong I was.
And I loved testing people around me.
“I’ll do it.” The words came out like vomit. She coughed, like she was gagging on them. “Oh my god. I’ll do it. I’ll work for you.”
“That’s a good girl.” I stood up. “Viktor. Bag her.”
“Wait, please.” She stared at me, panicking again. “Don’t do that. Please don’t do that.”
I waved my hand at her and walked away. Viktor flicked his cigarette onto the ground, stubbed it out, then walked over and pulled the bar over her head. She fought a little but it was no use.
Delicious. Fucking delicious. And my little diamond came through for me.
I stood and savored the sweet moment. I closed my eyes and pictured her face as she gave in.
My little Leigh. Beautiful.
I wandered down between the crates toward where Rolan stood under a single overhead light drinking from his bottle of vodka and looking at his phone. He looked up as I approached.
“You done?” he asked.
“And she’s working for you now?”
“Yes she is.”
He shook his head. “You really do like to fuck with people, don’t you?”
I laughed and leaned up against a crate. Inside was thousands of dollars worth of pills that needed to get sold, pills that had been sitting in this warehouse for weeks, waiting for my plan to come to fruition.
And finally, it looked like it would all work out.
“You know it’s not fucking with her. I’m testing her strength, her resolve. I’m putting her in a situation where she can find out what’s important to her and what kind of person she actually is.”
Rolan rolled his eyes. “Right, yeah, I know. You did that shit to me, too.”
“Ah, come on. You know how I operate.” I spread my hands, palms up. “If you want to challenge me to single combat for control of our little crew, you’re more than welcome.”
He grunted. “Might take you up on that one day.”
“Please do. But you know the rules. No weapons. Just pure strength.”
I saw a flicker of fear pass across his face. I was willing to bet he remembered the last guy that challenged me.
His name was Marco.
He was a big man. Had an inch on me, maybe twenty pounds. He was a fighter, loved to get into shit. Seemed to enjoy pain, like nothing could really hurt him.
I smashed his face into a curb over and over until his skull cracked under my palm.
“Maybe another time.”
“Okay then. For now, go help Viktor get the girl in the car. We’re bringing her to my place.”
He frowned. “Your place? Why not the cat house?”
“Fuck the cat house. This one’s for me.”
“Your call, boss.” He took another sip then capped the vodka and slipped it into his back pocket. He walked past me and back toward where Viktor stood with Leigh.
I ran my hand over the wooden crate and smiled.
I hadn’t been completely honest with Leigh back there. Yes, I was an optimist, and I believed there was strength in everyone.
But that wasn’t why I gave her brother money and drugs.
I had a plan. A long term plan. And she was a part of that plan, whether she knew it or not.
So far, things were going exactly as I expected.
My little Leigh.
She was going to sell every single one of these pills, and we were going to get very, very rich together.
She just didn’t know it yet.
I turned away and walked back toward them with a big smile on my face.