Rogue(2)By: Katy Evans
“What can I say, his blood runs through my veins.” I grab a black T-shirt and jerk it on, not out of modesty, but so that I can start loading up my babies. My Glock, a Ka-Bar, two smaller knives, two silver stars.
“Boy . . .” He steps to me, and I meet his lone dark eye—not the fake one. I haven’t seen him in several years. He’s the one who taught me how to use a .38 Special. “He’s dying,” he stresses meaningfully, curling his hand over my shoulder. “It won’t be long. He’s got six months, if not less.”
“I’m surprised he thought I’d care.”
“Maybe when you’re done womanizing, you’ll start to care. We”—he points at the men in the room—“want you to be the one who takes control. We’ll be loyal to you.”
I cross my arms and look at my half brother, Wyatt, the “Whiz”—my father’s pet. “As long as I’m his lapdog and do as he says? No thanks.”
“We’ll be loyal to you,” he stresses. “Only you.”
He jerks his head toward the guys. One of them cuts the center of his palm. Soon they all follow.
Blood starts dripping on my floor.
Eric ducks his head and slices his own palm. “We’re pledging to you.” He holds out his bleeding hand.
“I’m not your leader,” I say.
“You will be our leader when you realize your father is finally willing to reveal your mother’s location.”
Ice spreads through my veins, and my voice hardens as Eric mentions her. “What do you know about my mother?”
“He knows where she is, and it’ll die with him if you don’t come with us. Morphine makes him delusional. We need you back, Greyson.”
My face reveals nothing of the turmoil I feel. My mother. The only good I remember. I’ll never forget the look on her face when I made my first kill. Right in front of her, I lost my humanity and let my mother see that her son had turned into an animal. “Where is he?” I growl out.
“He’s flying to a fight location; we have a plane ready to meet him there.”
I shove things into a black duffel. A laptop. More weapons. When you deal with my father, you can’t deal with him straight. My father taught me to be crooked. Guess I learned from the best. I grab my Leatherman tool knife, cut deeply into my palm, and slam it into Eric’s hand, our bloods meshing. “Until we find her,” I whisper. The other men come over and shake hands with me.
I search their eyes and make sure they meet my stare. There’s a threat in my gaze and I know that if they know me, they’ll heed it.
No matter what words are spoken, what acts are committed, I never, ever take my eyes off someone else’s. The way they flick to the left or to the right, a tiny flicker, tells me more than when I hack into someone’s computer. But I do that too.
I trust no one. My right hand does not trust my left. But as the most powerful of the nine men I’m faced with, the one I least trust is Eric Slater. As it happens, he’s the one I most care about too. He and my friend C. C. Hamilton—but C.C.’s been visiting me even after I left, secretly helping me track my mother. I trust him as far as I could ever trust a human being. Which still means I interrogate the crap out of him every time he comes in. I can never be sure if my father knows he’s meeting me.
Hell, even with the blood oath, I’m going to have to test each and every one of these men’s loyalties before they can get any semblance of trust from me.
♥ ♥ ♥
NOW, AN AIRPLANE flight later, we find my father in a closed room wired with cameras, in the Los Angeles Underground. The Underground is our livelihood. A place where fighters square off against each other every season, two or three times a week. We organize events, sell tickets, program the fights in warehouses, bars, parking lots—wherever we can get the people in and get a good deal. The tickets alone make us a fortune. But the gambling on the side makes us ten times more.
Tonight, we’re in a warehouse-turned-bar crammed with screaming people and rowdy fights. I used to enjoy strategically planning the locations where the fights would take place, which fighter would face who next, but it’s all being taken care of by the rest of the team. Everything from the organizing, to the fights, to the gambling.