Six Years Ago
I’m handcuffed to a stripper pole wearing only my boxer briefs when I look up and see nothing but ass and pussy twirling expertly above me around the shiny metal rod and headed straight for my greedy face.
What did I do in a past life to deserve such a gift?
I can’t believe my damn luck as I stiffen in excitement. It feels like I haven’t tasted a woman in months as I hungrily wait for the skilled dancer to drop down closer, and my wrists in handcuffs only heighten the anticipation.
I lick the corner of my mouth as the flexible bronze goddess spins her exquisite flesh down the pole and the moment I stick out my tongue to take my first taste, I am jolted by an unwelcome sensation.
Cold fucking water.
“Time for you to wake up, little Masterson.”
A heavily accented command and a splash of fishy smelling water against the side of my face forces me to pry open my eyelids which for some reason feel like two heavy pieces of steel soldered together.
What the fuck?
I’ve been high on a lot of shit but right now my head feels like two fat chicks are sitting on top of it and not in the good way.
“Where am I?” I say to the vertically challenged stranger standing in front of me with a pot belly poking through an outdated Nike track suit that should be in someone’s Red Cross giveaway pile. “And what the fuck did you give me? I literally thought I was in the Rainbow Room…not wherever the fuck this is.”
As the fuzzy edges around this situation start to come into focus, I realize that I am in the middle of some deep shit and one of my father’s many long instructional car rides start to kick in. He was always worried (in his uniquely intense way) that something would happen to one of his kids, so he made sure to prepare us if something ever did.
Step one, assess your immediate surroundings.
Based on an initial scan of the room, I don’t think I’m any where near campus because it’s eerily quiet and I’m sitting in the middle of a rustic cabin. The kind of cabin I remember staying at in the Pocono Mountains when we went skiing as kids; not the type of structure I’ve noticed anywhere near the University.
There are two men in the room. One doesn’t look that much older than me, but he’s sitting quietly in the corner looking particularly menacing wearing a biker jacket with eyes that are as cold and dark as his skin. He’s sitting next to what appears to be the only exit out of here. And the main guy, standing in front of me, is gnawing on a toothpick with a smug expression across his weathered face. He’s enjoying this. Obviously, this is personal for him.
Then it hits me.
Step two, identify your enemies and your allies in the room.
I’ve identified the two obvious enemies around me but my number one ally is no where to be seen. My twin brother Seven isn’t here, but the little voice inside me assures me that he’s not in danger.
It’s true what they say about connections between twins. If he were in this cabin, I would know it. If he were in trouble, I would feel it. That fact that he isn’t here is a plus, but knowing my brother, he is probably losing his shit right about now wondering where I am. We’ve spent very little time apart since the moment we were born.
The last time I was awake, Seven went back to our dorm room to grab some more quarters for the laundry room. We were doing some late night laundry because it’s the only place where you can smoke pot in the dorm and not get caught.
I never heard these douchebags coming. The machines were too loud. My older brother, Knox, is going to kill me for being so careless. He already thinks I’m a fuck up and I’ve just proven him right.
“What do you want?” I ask, trying to remain calm.
The asshat squints his eyes at my question then turns and says to the stoic dude,“Demanding like a Masterson, ain’t he?”
My blood starts to rise from a low simmer to a high boil.
“You got a fucking problem with my family?” I ask through gritted teeth.
I’m totally blowing step three, do not show any emotion. Instead, I’m getting upset and forgetting that I’m the one in a vulnerable position and zip tied to a chair.
I remember my father’s instruction and take a beat, then change my approach.
Step four: try and get into your enemy’s head.
“Do I know you?” I ask facetiously. “I can’t really place the accent. Sounds like you’re from somewhere cold and uncivilized. Maybe somewhere in Eastern Europe?”
He glares silently at me.
“Wait, did I fuck your daughter or something?”
He still says nothing.
“Hmm, maybe your mother?”
I notice that his left eye twitches ever so slightly but then he calms himself and continues standing in front of me in the same position: feet shoulder width apart, hands tucked into the pockets of his sweatsuit jacket, and his beady little eyes trained on me.
I try again.
“Listen, dude, you woke me up from a nap that was just about to get really good, so what do you want? Because I’m going to be honest with you, I’m letting you know now that you’ve made a big fucking mistake grabbing me and the longer you keep me the worse it’s going to be for you. You don’t even realize the hell you’re about to unleash by kidnapping me.”
“Teach him what we do with talkative ones,” he says to the man in the corner.
Without saying a word, the other guy walks over and suddenly throws three hard jabs in my gut then strides back across the room and sits down again.
I can barely catch my breath as the main guy opens a door to what I can only assume is a bedroom. He enters it, turns around and smirks at me, then slams the door behind him.
Fuck, that dude hits hard.
After the feeling of nausea passes from being pommeled in the pancreas, I turn my head around to look for the guy. Although he just knocked the wind out of me, he doesn’t seem the type that would be hanging around with a random Russian mobster or whatever the fuck he is. Minus the lifeless eyes, he looks exactly like one of the many students I see on campus everyday and it makes me wonder how he got involved with someone like this. What’s his story?
“You hit hard as hell, man,” I say to him, but he doesn’t respond.
“Do you go to UD? Have I seen you around campus somewhere?”
“Listen, I’m flying blind here, man. Do you know anything about this?” I ask sincerely.
He still doesn’t say a peep but he does in fact finally respond by nodding his head no.
Damn, this shit actually works. I’m making headway with him, so I keep going.
“You look like you’re my age or maybe a year or two older and you damn sure ain’t from wherever he’s from. I don’t know how you got mixed up in whatever hell this is, but if you let me go, I’ll pay you whatever you want.”
He just stares at me with those dead eyes of his.
“My family has money,” I lower my voice, worried that I might poke the bear in the other room. “No bullshit. Name your price.”
At this point, my head is pounding because I must be coming down from whatever poison they used to knock me out. They’re probably drug dealers or something, but they haven’t thought this kidnapping thing through. They’re not good at it. They don’t seem to be making any demands yet, and I think the old guy went into the bedroom to take a damn nap. This is clearly my window to execute Step Five: if you identify a way to get out, use it.
The quiet guy refuses the money (for some asinine reason) and so I do the only other thing I can think of and that’s to try and work my hands free from the zip ties. I might stand half a chance of fighting my way out of here if I can get loose. If there’s one thing that I’m good at other than fucking, it’s fighting.
My guard dog keeps an eagle eye on me but does nothing as I contort my hands in an attempt to wiggle them free, the sharp edges of the plastic dig into my skin. It hurts like hell but I just keep focused on how badly it’s going to hurt if one of these assholes decides to shoot me. That is until the old guy unexpectedly exits the bedroom and catches me trying to free myself.
“You’re wasting energy,” he says and I still can’t place the accent. My guess is Russian or maybe Ukranian but that’s only because I don’t know much about Eastern Europe. I think I was asleep for most of that segment of world history in school. “We made them tight for a reason.”
“Are you even watching him?” he asks the watch dog.
“Doesn’t seem like it.”
My watch dog unaffectedly shrugs his shoulders as if to say, so what. But I’m sitting here stunned that the guy actually talks and that he has a similar accent to the other man. I didn’t even know black people lived in Russia (or whatever godforsaken country they’re from).
“You called me little Masterson before,” I say to the pot-bellied one as I remember more about the moment I was jarred awake. “You know who I am.”
“Then you know my father will pay you whatever you want if you let me go.”
“You people think everything is about money,” the man scoffs. “We don’t need your money.”
Who’s we I wonder.
“You speak for the consortium?”
The man cocks his head to the side and asks sinisterly, “You know consortium?”
Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.
“If you don’t want money then what else do you want?” I change the subject quickly.
“Very simple, little Masterson, I want your father.”
“And what does he have to do with this?”
The man flashes a set of very grey-colored teeth as he grins at me, and for the first time since I woke up in this predicament I am starting to truly worry about my future.
I don’t think these two have any intentions of letting me go and if I had to guess, I am simply bait for them to catch and kill my father.
I guess Grandpa Joe wasn’t just talking out of his ass about our family being targets of some sinister revenge plot. I’m starting to really regret shaking the security detail my parents put on me and Seven. It was a dumb thing to do and now I’m paying the price.
Actually, that’s a selfish thought. It’s not just me who’s affected by abduction, this puts my entire family at risk and has probably sent my mom off the deep end.
“Why take me?” I ask with little emotion but with deep purpose. I need to get into the head of this man if I have any chance in hell of getting out of here alive plus redeem myself for getting caught in the first place.
“Because I did my homework and out of all your father’s weaknesses, you were the easiest to exploit.”
“You specifically, little one. You’re loud and brash, so you’re easy to track. We just waited for right time and here you are.”
The arrogant smirk on the guy’s face as he tells me his reasoning hurts me harder than the binds around my wrist.
He only affirms what I suspected long ago. I’m not hard and formidable like my father, or confident like my older brother Knox, or as smart as my twin brother Seven.
What I am is the weakest link of the Masterson clan and now my entire family is going to pay the price for it.
My captor pulls checks his cell phone and grumbles. “He’s not answering his cell and I’m starving,” he tells the watch dog. I consider what he says and deduce that he is not actually the one in charge. There is somebody else who sanctioned this. He answers to a higher power.
“I’m going to get us some Chinese. They don’t deliver out this far and we’re going to have to post up here for a while.” The old fucker gives me a stern warning glance. “And keep eye on this little shit.”
There is an uncomfortable silence in the air after the main guy exits the cabin, and now the watch dog is focused on me in a way that’s different from earlier but still he says nothing.
Fuck it, I don’t care if he’s watching me.
I start wiggling my wrists again. I’ve got to get out of here. I’m not just going to let them kill me. I may be a fuck up but one thing I can do is fight.
After ten long minutes of struggling, the open wounds on my hands are starting to burn and hope that I’m going to get out of this is starting to wane.
Suddenly, the watch dog stands. I can’t see him but I hear him as he approaches me from behind. He slowly walks around to face me and bends over, looking me square in the eyes.
“Have you ever killed a man?” he asks with a deeply accented tone.
I swallow thickly. “No.”
“You’re a college boy, right?”
He pulls out a large hunting knife from an interior pocket of his leather jacket.
“So, you’re not like your father then?”
“Are you saying that my daddy is a killer?”
I’m offended by the accusation. My father may be many things but I’ve never thought him capable of murder.
He begins to twirl the sharp point of the knife against his middle finger.
“Are you like your father or not?”
Step six: tell them whatever they want to hear if it aids in your escape.
So I do.
“No, I’m not.”
“So, if I let you go, you’re going to go back to that school of yours and become something other than what he is…and what I am.”
“And what’s that?”
“I’m in business school.”
“You’ll be a banker?”
“Yeah, sure, something like that.”
“A real job though.”
“Yes,” I repeat the words this weird fucker wants to hear. “It’ll be a real job.”
He steps back and looks at me oddly. “But you don’t want to do that, do you?”
Tell him what he wants to hear, Bronx, you’re losing him.
“You’re wrong, I absolutely want to do that. I’m good with money. It’s what I’m meant to do.”
“But a banker sits in an office all day.”
“That’s all I want,” I lie again and this time I try to make it sound convincing. “A banker’s life. I want a wife, two kids, a dog and a house in a quiet suburb. Maybe even a summer house somewhere in Florida. I don’t want any drama.”
The guy stares me down with a menacing expression, still twirling a very sharp knife in his hand. I can tell he’s battling with a decision in his head. Maybe he’s considering whether he should kill me now or wait until later.
God, I hope it’s later.
I’ve never realized until this very moment just how much I want to live.
“Do you promise?”
His question takes me by surprise.
“Do I promise?”
“To live a banker’s life.”
Step six, dummy!
“Yeah, I promise.”
I hold my breath as the sociopath surprisingly slides the blade between my wrists and breaks the plastic ties with one single slice and suddenly I’m free.
“Thank you!” I say to him as I finally stand on wobbly legs.
“Remember what you said,” he says again. “And remember what I did for you.”
Whatever, jackass, I think to myself.
Suddenly the front door flies open and guy number one is standing in the doorway with his hands full of take-out food. When his eyes quickly shift between the two of us the bags fall to the ground with a thud.
“Dobitoc!” He exclaims a word which I can only assume is an expletive in his native tongue.
Then he pulls a large hunting knife from a belt behind his back and holds the razor sharp tip at the base of my throat. It looks almost identical to the one the other guy has.
“Sit back down, little Masterson.”
“Fuck you,” I spit and then I lunge toward him. If I’m going to go out, I might as well go out fighting.
Because I’m without a weapon, I’m at a disadvantage, and in the melee one of my captors uses a knife to slice my neck from east to west. I quickly grab my throat as the searing pain leaves me breathless.
I’m bent over in excruciating pain as I notice a continued scuffle between the two men.
“Get out, college boy!” the watch dog suddenly yells with a blood stained knife in his right hand.
That’s my blood.
I’m confused as to why the dead-eyed man would try to kill me then offer me a chance to escape, but I don’t have the luxury to understand the motivations of a scumbag– so I run.
I’m under the complete darkness of nightfall when I exit the cabin on foot, blood oozing between my fingers from the gash in my throat, but I follow the driveway toward a main road and then walk along it for what seems like miles, hiding myself along the tree line. I don’t know how things ended at the cabin or if either one of those assholes is coming after me, so I don’t trust flagging anyone down for help. There aren’t many cars out here anyway.
I continue to walk until I can’t take another step. My raw wrists and neck are bleeding, I’m cold, tired, and have resolved myself with the fact that I’m okay dying under the cover of a large oak tree. There are worse ways to die.
I take off the t-shirt underneath my hoodie and try using it as a last ditch effort to stop the blood oozing from my neck. I think about my family as I sit my tired ass down on a bed of fallen leaves against the rough bark of the tree. It hurts like hell to swallow, so I figure I’ll close my eyes for a moment and hope that helps with the pain.
Surprisingly, I live through the night, but this time when someone awakens me in the wee early hours of the morning, it’s with watery deep set eyes that look exactly like mine.
“Seven… you found me,” I croak out in relief.
“Don’t I always, brother.”
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A hot new enemies-to-lovers romance featuring a deliciously damaged bounty hunter and a curvy maid in deep trouble!
Bronx Masterson owes me a favor and I’m coming to collect.
The tall, tatted, brooding son of a wealthy and dangerous family is not my cup a tea.
But I’ll have to find a way to work with the monster and then walk away.
Even if he is responsible for giving me the hottest night of my life.
Karma Moore is a maid who barely has two pennies to rub together.
She’s in a toxic relationship and in deep trouble.
In complete desperation, she asks for my help.
Actually, she demands it.
But there’s three reasons why I shouldn’t get involved.
1. Her ex is stalking her. Way too much drama.
2. Her brother is the devil. I’m going to kill him.
3. And she consumes my every thought. I have to have her.
Too bad I still want her and I’m willing to blow up my entire life to have her, especially when there’s a secret that lies between us which may be the destruction of both of our damaged souls.
BRONX is a stand-alone, enemies-to-lovers novel. It contains a ridiculously hot, but damaged bounty hunter and the curvy, damsel in distress he’s using to find the man who ruined his life. It's a hate-to-love, antihero, and forced-proximity romance with no cheating and bad language. You’ve been warned!
Warning: The story contains explicit content, violence, profanity, and topics that may be sensitive to some readers. Recommended for 18+.