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Pound of Flesh
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Beast saw Beauty. And the hunt was on.
A beast has just kicked down my front door.
He’s made it clear what he wants—my untouched body beneath his giant, damaged one.
But when he slips and shows me his desperation…
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So. He’s not how I pictured Prince Charming.
Oh no. The terrifying giant who just kicked in the door of my house is more like the Prince of Death. Or an ogre escaped from a dungeon. His head is shaved, giving the world a perfect view of the scars bisecting his cheek, the crooked angle of his nose. There he stands, ducked below the splintered doorjamb, his lips peeled back in a snarl. Hulk fists curled and shaking. His eyelids are hooded, but the twin slivers of glittering green that zero in on me start my knees knocking.
My brother and his current girlfriend dove behind the couch when the Prince of Death entered the house by incredible force, but I froze. The closest hiding place is the laundry room behind me, but it’s too late. He’s seen me. And I doubt there’s a lock on the planet that could keep this man out.
What does he want?
Very aware that I’m the center of the giant’s intense focus, I cut my gaze toward Roger, my brother. As he peeks over the top of the couch, recognition dawns in his expression, and now I’m really scared. This isn’t just some random robbery; this is yet another person my brother has screwed over. When is he going to learn?
Judging the situation, he might not get the chance. Because we’re all about to be savagely murdered by someone who usually only exists inside nightmares. How unfair is that when I just graduated high school last month? I’ve recently been made a manager at the frozen yogurt shop, guaranteeing I’ll be able to pay for community college classes come fall. My life has barely begun, and now I’m going to be eaten alive.
“Are you going to stand up and face me like a man?” The giant roars the question at my brother, but he’s still staring at me. “Or leave this little girl to fight your battles?”
Roger winces, looking to his girlfriend for guidance. She shakes her head and motions for my brother to stay down behind the couch, earning a scowl from me. Oh, real nice. Shows up whenever she pleases, runs up the water bill and eats the food I buy, but now that I’m fixing to get slaughtered, I’m no longer useful.
Resigned to an early death, I figure I might as well go out with some dignity.
“Are you going to pay to fix that door or what?” My voice is shaking, so I lift my chin to compensate. “Our security deposit on this place probably could have covered some cheap funeral expenses. Now the landlord is going to keep the whole darn thing to cover the damage you did.”
Prince of Death’s head tilts so slowly, I swear I hear his neck joints groan. “You’re so sure I’m going to kill you?”
“Well I don’t think you’re here to make me a sandwich.”
Is it my imagination or does the corner of his mouth twitch? “I don’t kill little girls.” He grunts and rests a hand on the broken jamb. Apparently, this is going to be a casual triple murder. “Speaking of which, why are you dressed like a boy?”
Is he trying to make me drop my guard? Seems like a futile exercise since he could snap me like a twig. Glancing down at my navy-blue Dickies work pants and hoodie, I shrug, wishing the ball cap hiding my long, blonde hair was pulled lower so he couldn’t see my self-consciousness. “It’s easier when men come into the shop. They don’t look as much.”
Oh Lord. His frown is so thunderous, my knees start knocking again. In a swift movement, he rips off a chunk of the doorframe, crushing it in his enormous fist, forcing me to trap a scream in my throat. “What. Shop.”
“I’m the manager at Swirly Betty.” Out with some dignity. Out with some dignity. “Best frozen yogurt in the county.”
Nice one, stupid.
“Roger!” the giant shouts. “Why is she working when you stole enough money from me to live comfortably for a fucking decade?”
My brother is now pale as Casper. His girl is definitely contemplating a sprint for the back door. Neither one of them speaks up, though, so once again I fill the silence. “Roger isn’t very good with money management.”
With a look of disgust on his scarred face, the giant scans the living room, taking in the giant flat screen, the collection of gaming consoles, three fish tanks, the lines of cocaine on the coffee table. “I can see that.”
“How do you know I stole your money, Raider?” Roger calls. Finally. “Could be I was just waiting for you to get out of the pen.”
A convict named Raider. Well at least I know the identity of my murderer. Sure, he claims he doesn’t kill “little girls,” but forgive me for being a little distrustful of the devil’s henchman.