Floods of noise caught my ears as I was dragged up stairs and taken to the hall where the huge metal cage stood on top of an arena in the middle of the rush of people.
“Good evening! Midnight Rose welcomes you all to tonight’s festivities! Tonight, we have a glorious night of battle. My niece has returned in order to fight for the lives of her beloved friends!” Karlos shouts from the middle of the cage as everyone cheers for him.
“Every fight she wins she will earn the release of one member and I remind you, that I keep my word, if any of you touch these people, I shall take your life myself” He added as a murmur spread across the crowds of people.
“Let’s get started! Place your bets and don’t forget if you wish to bid on my niece then see one of my men, she’s quite the catch!” He said as I was tossed into the cage I got to my feet as I looked around me, everyone was getting their money ready, looking at me like a piece of meat as they made bets and bids on my life.
The other door of the cage opened, and a huge guy boomed into the cage. He was easily seven feet tall, with huge muscles.
Rob better be right about that wound or I was dead meat.
“You’re going down sweetheart” He growled as he brought out a knife.
“No one said about fucking weapons!” I shouted looking at my uncles smirking face.
“Ready!” He shouted at the crowd as they cheered on the man in front of me.
“Set!” I readied myself, fists in front of me as I looked over every inch of this guy, looking for other signs of weakness.
“Fight!” The final call sounded as the guy stormed towards me as I ducked out of the way of one of his slashes, rolling to the side, kicking his right leg as he barely made the slightest grunt.
Punch after punch he tried to get me as I kept avoiding his blow.
I managed to jab him a few times in the stomach before he caught my arm with one of his knives as it sliced through my skin, the crowd cheering.
“Big man, cutting a girl smaller than you” I taunted.
“I’m gonna do more than cut you little girl” he growled getting ready to punch me again as I slid under him kicking him on his left thigh as he screamed out in pain, dropping his knife as I picked it up and jam it into his back.
He goes down, screaming in pain.
“Now who’s a little girl” I said as I kick him in the face hard, knocking him unconscious as the crowd goes wild.
My uncle joined me in the ring.
“We have our winner! Pick your person to be released” He said to me as I stood in shock that he would keep to the deal.
“I…Uhhh…” I stammered.
“Pick now or lose out” He growls.
“Taylor” I said quickly.
“The man known as Taylor is to be left alone!” He shouts as he gets his gun from its holster and shoots the man I fought in the head.
“Why?” I murmur.
“He’s weak, you are proving to me who is worth my time, if they can’t defeat you, they aren’t worth it.” He says as one of his men comes in to take the body away while telling Karlos the amount of money he had made.
“A billion in one night, sir, it’s the most money we’ve made in one night. Everyone’s craving more” he said as I looked at my uncle he smiled towards me. Money signs were probably rolling around in his mind as he looked me over.
“You are going to get me a lot of money my dear. Take her back to her cage!” He shouts as I’m lifted and taken away.
It went on and on like this for months, I had already won three more fights, I was covered in bruises, some were yellowing while new ones were black.
I had already released Taylor, Damien, Savannah and Shaun. They were the biggest and most difficult decisions I had to make. How do you choose from a group of people who you love equally, knowing the next fight could be your last which meant the others were open to be killed?
My uncle let men in all the time, earning more money by letting them do what they wanted to me, it was like Vern all over again.
Today had been no different as I heard yet another set of footsteps come down the stairs.
“You bought two hours with her, have fun buddy” one of my uncles’ men chuckled as he opened the door.
I hadn’t even bothered looking to who it was before a voice I recognised started to speak to me.
“What have they done to you princess…” Tom said as I whirled around, wincing at the ache from a broken rib.
“What? What are you doing here?!” I cried out as he took me in his arms.
“Rob’s been keeping us updated. I couldn’t bare listening to people getting their way with you. Your uncle knows nothing of me, so we hatched up a plan. I’m bidding on you…” he says as I look at him wide eyed.
“You’ve got to be kidding…” I answer as he shakes his head.
“Taylor’s pissed with you right now… He knows you chose him first. Luka is grateful you chose Savannah though, she’s pregnant” He said.
“Seriously?! I’m going to be an aunt… Oh no. Luka… I have to win my next one, the baby can’t be without a parent…”
“No, no more fighting, you’re getting out of here. You are going to die if you keep going like this. You’re black and blue all over. Enough of this. He’s using you like a toy, princess” his hand wipes a tear from my face.
“I have to save them. Karlos barely comes near me. If I’m not in here I’m in the cage. I can’t get to him… I have to get to him”
“It’s too late… Luka is having his men come get you. When your next fight begins be ready”
“My next fight, that’s in a few days… I can’t get to Karlos that quick… They are going to get themselves killed. This has to end. Get everyone out from this. No one has to die for me.” I say as he shakes his head at me.
“They need you princess, everyone does. I can’t stop this, its not my call” He says as he checks over my wounds that I keep wincing at when he touches me. His anger fills his eyes as he sees every scar and bruise.
“Don’t. I’m fine. Bruises heal, so do cuts” I push his hands away, he looks hurt.
“You know, the day before Bradley died he sent me a letter about you, made me promise to look after you. Told me how stubborn you were, how beautiful and bright you were. I didn’t believe he could find such an amazing girl, now I’ve met you, I can see what he saw. I swore to protect you and I’m not breaking that promise princess. You can fight against it as much as you want” He murmurs, moving a loose piece of my hair behind my ear.
Footsteps are suddenly flying down the stairs as Tom panics and crashes his lips against me and pulling my legs around him as he pins me against the wall.
“Out! I need a word with my niece” my uncle flies into the room, shoving himself between Tom and me.
“I paid for two hours!” Tom growls.
“Get your money when you leave. Get out!” He says while pulling a gun on Tom. Tom leaves but not before giving me a worried look as he hurries out the room.
My uncle turned, glowering at me.
“My men have uncovered a few things lately and I want the truth” He puts his gun to my chest.
“Truth about what?” I stammer.
“Rob… has he been giving you cheats on how to win?” He says as I try to think of an answer.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about…” I mumble
“Don’t lie to me!” He pushes against my broken rib as I scream.
Suddenly Tom is flying into the room as he punches my uncle and they begin to fight, his gun goes flying into the corner as they forget all about me in the room.
I had collapsed to the ground in pain as I dragged myself towards the corner as they threw punch after punch.
I finally made the gun as I loaded it and aimed.
“Enough!” I shout as they notice the gun. Karlos has Tom pinned beneath him as he slowly lifts up off of him.
“You won’t shoot me Sammy. I’m your uncle…” Karlos says with his hands up as Tom limps to my side.
“Is that what you think… I shot my own brother because he became a monster because of you. You don’t think I won’t shoot you too…” My hand shakes in anger.
“I’m your uncle, I had no choice in this life. Don’t do this, I loved your mother, my sister and I wanted to protect you. Your grandfather did this…” He begged.
“You might have loved my mother once, but you turned into the monster that Gregory and my grandfather both were. You could have changed the whole gang, made it better, it didn’t have to be this way” I cried.
“Please, don’t do this Sammy” He cries as my hand lowers slightly, I notice his eyes change, he’s smug.
I shot, his body drops, and his eyes roll back into his head as my hand shakes and tears begin to fall.
“Sam, we have to get out of here. Right now.” Tom tries to drag me out.
“No. I’m leader now… I’m next in line…” I say slowly.
“There are men out there who will never be faithful to you Sam, they won’t hesitate to kill you” Tom adds as he places his hands either side of my face.
“Go to Luka, tell him that Karlos is dead. I have to stay here. I have to face this” I say as I look to the blood pooling around my uncle.
“I’m not going anywhere. I’ll call him from here” he says as he gets out his phone quickly and dials.
“Luka it’s me, Sam got him, he’s dead, I’ve got her right here, she’s not looking good dude, bruises, cuts and broken bones. Yeah, hold on” he says into the phone before passing it to me.
“Sammy?” His voice comes through the phone.
“Luka, it’s good to hear your voice brother” I cry.
“Dad’s already on his way to you with the men, I have to stay here, Savannah… She’s pregnant. I wanted to come and get you, but I couldn’t leave her…I’m sorry” He says as I hear the wobble of worry in his voice.
“No, don’t you dare apologise, you have a family now, they are your everything. You keep them safe. I love….” I begin before the sudden sound of gun fire as shots fire into the room, I drop the phone as it smashes against the cold cement.
I shoot back at the man in front of me as I get him in the head, and he falls to the ground. Tom takes his gun and drags me out of the room.
We run quickly up the stairs into my old house, the walls were still the same, plastered with old photos of my family as men come booming through the door as we hide up against walls as we fire back at them.
“Is there another way out?” Tom asks firing at a guy who was trying to sneak to our left.
“Back door, but there’s no cover!” I panic looking around me, firing. I didn’t have many bullets left.
“I’ll cover you, on three we move, understand? Don’t look back princess” He says
“No way, I’m not losing you too.” I say as I notice the old safety shutter my grandfather had placed into the ceiling. The button for it to fall was a mere few meters away and it would make the shutter fall between us and the men shooting at us and give us the time to get out. But we had to get to the button first.
“You see that button under the desk?” I say nodding towards it.
“Yes, what is it?”
“It brings down the emergency shutters, we’ll have ten seconds to get out the back door. Think we can get it without getting shot?” I ask as I take another shot at the men firing. A bullet flying by my head as Tom grabs me and pulls me out of the way of fire. My body flush against his.
“Cover me” He says as he hands me his gun which had more ammo than mine as I begin to shoot cover fire.
He quickly ducks the flying bullets as he presses the button and the shutter comes flying down behind us.
“That’s not going to hold them for long! Move!” I shout as I drag him out the back door, sliding under it as it shuts.
“Where now?” I look around as I point to the old gate which led to the woods behind our house.
We run to the gate but its stuck and he hear the crash of the shutter being destroyed.
“Come here” Tom grabs me as I wince in pain as he lifts me up to climb over the fence.
“Come on!” I shout as I grab his hand as he climbs over with me as bullets begin to fly once again.
We run through the woods as I struggle to breathe, my broken rib causing pain throughout my chest.
We zigzagged through the woods as I led Tom to an old hiding spot I used to have as a kid, an old bunker covered with vines.
“Get in!” I shout as I opened it and we rushed into the darkness.
Staying quiet and listening out for the guys following us I suddenly heard someone stop next to where the entrance was. Hoping it was still hidden.
“Where the fuck did they go?!” A voice called as I held my breath.
The footsteps got further away, and I let out my breath again.
“What the hell is this place?” Tom’s voice whispered from next to me, I could feel his arm bump mine in the dark, his breath close to my head.
“Old bunker I used to hide in as a kid. There should be a torch somewhere…” I answer as my hands feel around me.
“Oh shit” I cry out as my hand finds a huge cobweb. Spiders… I hate spiders.
“You ok?” Tom says urgently.
“Yeah, cobweb, hate spiders.” I muttered, embarrassed.
“Hold up, I’ve got something…” Then suddenly there was light.
The bunker was filled with drawings that I had done when I was younger, this place had been my haven when I needed a break. The only people who knew about it were my mother and Damien.
“Now what?” I murmur as I look at the old drawings. Badly drawn images of my family covered the walls. Then there was a photo in the middle, covered in dust as I wiped my hand over it.
It was the family photo of Mum, Gregory, me and Jason. Everyone was smiling, but what I had never noticed before was that this was taken in the rec, with two figures standing in the back, Trent and Luka.
“Is that Trent?” Tom said looking at the photo just as intently.
“Yes, I never noticed it before…” I said as I took the photo in my hands and put it in the pocket of my trousers.
“You dropped my phone didn’t you?” Tom sighed.
“Yeah… sorry…” I grimaced.
“How do we tell them where we are now? We will have to wait a while before going back out there. What if your dad turns up? God damn it” He paces.
I had a sudden thought which caused me to look around quickly, looking for an old box. Damien had always loved technology and had come up with a device that if one of us pressed their ring then the other would feel a small shock. He knew I left it in the bunker so if I needed him he would know where I was.
I tried to reach up to the shelf above me as I cried in pain from my broken rib.
“What are you doing?” Tom rushed over, checking my side.
“Can you get that box down?” I asked wincing in pain pointing to the old metal tin. He reached it with ease as I turned the number lock in my hand and opened it.
Old toys and photos filled it as I rifled through it, finally finding the ring.
“Do you know if Damien was wearing a similar ring to this?” I ask as Tom shook his head.
“Please let this still work…” I murmur as I press it.
“What is it?”
“Hopefully our salvation” I say as I pressed it a few more times.
I began to pace and occasionally keep pressing the ring as I explained to Tom what it was.
“Do you think it’s working?” He asks.
“I don’t know…” I wince as he checks my wounds over with the old first aid kit we found under one of the bunks.
“I’m sorry, I don’t want to hurt you, but I have to clean these wounds, or they’ll get infected.” Tom apologised.
“I know. I’ve had worse” I answer as his fingers make light work against my skin as I watch him intently.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” He says as he carries on wrapping up my ribs.
“It’s just weird, I barely know you, but I feel like we’ve known each other for a lifetime…” I say quietly.
“Then get to know me. We have time” He answers with a smile.
“It doesn’t feel right, I love Bradley…”
“My brother died Sam. I’m not asking you to fall in love with me. Just get to know me” He replied.
“Ok. How old are you?” I start and he smirks at me.
“Seriously? That’s the question you start with. I’m twenty-six” He smiles
“Just starting off with the basics, no harm in that” I smile, “Your turn”.
“If you could do anything except for being in this gang, what would you do?”
Now that was a question I had no idea how to answer, the Midnight Rose had been in my life for so long that I knew barely anything else.
“I don’t know. I guess I liked my job in security with the guys. So maybe something like that” I shrugged.
“You’ve known nothing but that gang, you deserve so much more. A normal life, a family…” Tom began.
“I have a family, Luka, Savannah, Taylor, Damien, Shaun, my Dad, the boys, they are my family.” I pushed.
“You know what I mean Samantha, a future with kids and a house while they play in the garden while you haven’t got a care in the world. You shouldn’t have to worry about gangs and who is going to die” He placed a hand on mine, looking in my eyes.
“That’s not the world I live in Tom. I can’t get out of this. The gang is my life and if I want something I will have to change the gang to my will. It’s going to take time. Plus, I don’t think I can have kids, not since Vern” I sighed.
“What did he do to you?”
“He raped me, took my virtue and destroyed me, inside and out. I had four miscarriages…” I said sadly as Tom brought his hand up to my face.
“I’m so sorry Sam, no one deserves that. Did they ever check…check to see if you could bare a child?” he asks.
“The doctor said there was a huge chance I would never bare a child”
“But they didn’t say there was no chance?” He asked.
“Well… no, I guess not.” I sat there wondering if Tom could be right, could I bare a child one day? Could I have my own child?
“Then don’t give up on the dream. I will help you change your life. I will be here while you change the Midnight Rose as will the others. We’ll work it out” Tom pushes.
“I still love him… I’m not ready yet…” I say sadly as a tear drops from my eyes.
“I get it, I do, and it will get easier. You will find love again.” He smiles lightly.
“Thanks…ouch!” I shout as I get a shock from my ring…it works…Damien pressed his ring…
“Its working?!” Tom said as he took the ring and it shocked him too.
“Hurts doesn’t it” I smirk.
“Sammy?!” A voice shouts as the door to the bunker opens.
“Damien!” I cry as I jump into his arms, wincing in pain once again as I cry in happiness that they were here.
“You’re safe Sammy, I got you” He says stroking my hair, nodding at Tom.
“Sis?” Luka’s voice came from the entrance as I was let go from Damien’s arms and went to my brother.
“You shouldn’t be here. Savannah…” I said hugging him.
“We heard you on the phone… I thought you were dead… I couldn’t just leave you there…” His eyes glassed over as I hugged him tighter.
“Thank you, for everything” I smiled.
“Dad’s sorting things out, he’s taken over the Midnight Rose until your ready. But, you don’t have to go back. Dad will do it…” Luka started.
“I have to go back. I have to change things, its my legacy.” I answer with tears in my eyes.
“Take a break, that’s all I ask” Luka says.
“Ok” I answer as they lead us out back towards the house. Bullet holes were everywhere. A few bodies laid on the ground, all Karlos’s men.
“Houses can be fixed Sammy” Damien took my hand in his as we walked through the house, it had been trashed.
We walked down to the basement and my father was sat there just staring at Karlos’s cold, dead body.
“Why is it that my family are always the ones to destroy my life…” I mumble.
“They weren’t your family, not really. We are and its time for change” Dad comes up to me and hugs me tight.
“Careful there Trent, she’s wounded” Tom comes up behind warning him.
“What?! Where? Go get Beck!” Dad calls out as Damien rushes off.