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Greyson. What in the fuck am I doing?
What in the fuck am I doing?
The surveillance camera screens flare bright when I get home after days of nonstop working, of chasing my marks, city to city, home to home. The house is asleep. Father, the guys, everyone in the rental. I bite off one glove, then do the same with the other while I bring a loaf of bread, a jar of PB, and a steak knife over.
We’ve set up the surveillance cameras that watch the entries, exits, windows of the home. Pounds of computers weigh down several tables, lights flickering among tangles of wire. I spread the PB onto a slice of bread, slap another one on it, and gobble it down as I search the boxes of recordings and pull out a card from last year, labeled with the date of the fight. I’ve been thinking about her. Every second of the day, I remember her.
Wet and vulnerable, in the rain.
Wet and warm, in my arms.
Telling me her name is Melanie.
Inviting me to her best friend’s wedding.
She triggers every synapse in my brain until she’s alive in my mind, laughing a laugh I’ve only ever heard her laugh . . . cuddling with me as she watches her movie . . . pushing me out the door like she can’t stand the sight of me, then pulling me back and kissing the bejezus out of me.
I stood there like a moron leaning on her door, my heart slamming in my chest as I waited for her to open it. Hell, I was ready to kick it open.
Instead, I left and went to rent a tuxedo and then I started looking at apartments nearby.
I’m dangerous to her; hell, she’s dangerous to me. I can’t let myself get distracted for this shit.
So what the fuck am I doing?
I slide the recording into a card reader and play it, my eyes straining for the glimpse of her, my daily dose of Melanie I need to see.
“And nooow, ladies and gentlemen . . .” the announcer begins with his usual flair, “Remington Tate, your one and only, RIPTIDE!! RIPTIDE!! Say hello to RIPTIDEEEEE!” he yells.
One of our fighters trots toward the ring, into the screen. It’s Riptide.
He’s not good; he’s the best I’ve ever seen. The most lucrative fighter my father has ever sponsored in the Underground—and one we all hope to continue to sponsor, thanks to his reckless streak.
“Riptide, Riptide . . .” I hear the crowd through the speakers.
I drink my soda as I keep watching the screen, waiting to spot the blonde on the sidelines. Melanie. She’s about to appear, jumping up and down as usual, and I’m tensing with anticipation when the image freezes, blacks out, then cuts to the next fight.
I smash a fist down to get the computer going. Nothing. I scowl, rewind, play. Same shit happens. Draining the last of my soda, I toss the can in the trash can and roughly scrub a frustrated palm over my face, then I stalk to Wyatt’s room and flick the light on. “Who the fuck messed with the tapes?”
“You tampered with them, Wyatt?”
“They’re from fucking last year. What’s so important about it? What do you see nobody else does, huh? What does my father think you can do nobody else can’t?”
“He wants to break me. That’s all there is. You’re fucking lucky he didn’t try the same with you. Tomorrow I want the full footage, I don’t care what you need to do.”
I flip the switch back off and go to my room and stare at my phone.
What the fuck am I doing? I grab a knife and feel its weight, somehow satisfying me. I set my SIG aside, pull out several knives, slide them into my slacks’ back pockets, six inside each, then I start sending them flying, over and over, rapidly twirling them a dozen times in the air, so fast you don’t realize the blade is turning until it slams into the wall. I pull them out of each pocket, one every second. One. Two. Three. Four . . . five, six, seven, eight, nine, teneleventwelve.
I’ve got a rental tux. I’ve got a place in Seattle, a ticket to Seattle. I’ve got an itch in me and her name’s Melanie.
My phone rings. “Yeah?”
“She’s home now. Safe and sound.”
My eyes flick to the clock. 11:34 p.m. So late? “C.C.’s coming to relieve you tomorrow. I’m working a mark and then flying in. Why’s she out so late?”
“ ’Kay, boss.”
I wait for Derek’s answer. “Alone. She had dinner with the friend and the blond guy who hangs out with them. And no, he didn’t sit close to her.”
“She’s fucking wearing some sort of dress. Floral.”
“It’s pink, boss. With yellow tennis shoes and her hair loose and lots of bracelets.”
I see her in my mind and breathe out through my nostrils while a strange sensation of peace and longing flow through my muscles, tensing then relaxing me.
“Keep an eye out.” I click the line off and stare at her name in my phone. I’m not a fucking teenager to be texting a girl. I don’t like leaving traces. I need to change this fucking phone.
I rub a hand roughly across my face. If my father knows I’m chasing after her, I don’t know what he’ll do. What Eric will do. Anybody I’ve ever come after could come after me through her.
So leave her alone. . . .
I pull out the knives, stick them back in my pockets, and swing again. “Can’t,” I say. Can’t leave her alone. Don’t fucking want to.
She makes me feel like I’m not a robot, like I’m flesh and blood, a man, not a number, not a job . . . not a monster, not a bastard, not a zero.
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