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Even puppets need masters. Especially her.
She was his.
Authors Chelsea Camaron and Ryan Michele team up to push beyond the boundaries, going darker than ever before and crossing a line into a deep, dangerous, forbidden world. One where no one escapes, even if they beg to.
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The lighter felt heavy in my hand, much like it did all those years ago. Funny how time passes, but some things simply never changed. I flipped the top back and struck the flint. The flames danced in their shades of yellow and red blending into orange. With my right hand holding the lighter in place, I lifted my left over the flame. The heat against my palm grew. The sting intensified.
I remained steady.
To feel pain was to feel life.
Long ago I learned to stop feeling. Emotions, that was; those feelings inside got me nowhere. When shrouded in loss, gripped by grief, and despondent to life in general, one quickly grew … cold.
That was then; this was now.
And I was still a cold-hearted motherfucker.
The only thing I was willing to feel in life was physical pain, and that was simply to remind myself my heart did indeed still fucking beat.
I flipped the lighter shut. The flame snuffed out quickly. If only things in life could be so easily shut down like the flame in the lighter. My mind started to travel back to those moments, the ones where everything changed, forever linking the four of us. My brothers.
I wouldn’t go there. Couldn’t. Not right now.
No, my focus needed to be on one thing and one thing only … a man named Charles Beacon and his request.
Reaching out, I moved the tablet on the table beside me so I could better see the screen. Pressing play on the device in front of me, I listened to him speak again as I rolled the lighter over in the palm of my right hand. The metal now warm from my hands and the flame, but still as always hard and unbreakable—like me.
Yes, I recorded our meeting. I recorded everything I ever did with this prick and others like him. One never knew when these videos would come in handy.
There wasn’t a single thing about Charles that was upstanding. Therefore, I covered all my bases anytime I was with the likes of him. Was it illegal? Yes. Did I give a fuck? Absolutely not.
Currently, I was sitting on a gray Adirondack chair that glides because Ellen Sue told me she loved the view from my balcony when she needed a break from cleaning, and she loved the gliders.
Personally, I liked the idea of a wicker sectional out here, but Ellen Sue got anything she wanted for putting up with all of us. Frankly, after the shit we put her through, the woman shouldn’t be cleaning, but rather be awarded for sainthood or something. Except she loved to do for her boys, and she said if she stopped working then she’d know she was truly old.
Ellen Sue refused to feel old.
So she hopped from house to house, week after week, cleaning and catering to Onyx, Paxton, Dane, and myself. Whatever made Ellen Sue happy, we did, period; end of story. We owed her everything.
Which was why I had a balcony with Adirondack gliders in some eco-friendly material that came with some bullshit thirty-year warranty. I didn’t pick the shit out, Ellen Sue did, and I proudly handed over my credit card. Every house I owned, she picked out the furniture. Except my bed, I always chose my beds.
I could count on my two hands how many times I’d sat in this seat, looking out into the city building lines. When the times came, and they came more often than I’d like lately, I got stuck here in this space. Lately, I had been tied to the city and this penthouse. For different reasons, I couldn’t seem to find time to get away.
I didn’t like to live in the city, but I worked here, so it was convenient. Only time and again, being here felt like it would smother me. That was the other reason I didn’t buy the wicker furniture; I would rather be anywhere but here. So Ellen Sue could have what she wanted because truthfully this place was more home to her than me.
I hated the penthouse.
I hated the city.
I hated this chair.
I hated it all.
This life I had, well, the only thing I loved was the power.
His voice boomed in my earbuds. I took my eyes back to the tablet and away from the skyline. My mind went back as if I was still there as I watched the video in front of me and the request I had yet to accept or deny.
“Gonna need extra services, Monroe.”
I nodded but did not reply.
The video was clear as day, as if I had it on a big-screen television with high definition. Those cameras were worth every fucking penny. We were in my office. A fancy, overpriced building with a view that happened to be two buildings down from where I currently sat in my penthouse. The very office with a solid glass wall overseeing the city and a sleek black desk where day after day I signed documents helping and hurting people, equally.