SACRIFICE | MAFIA | THE LONDON CRIME KING | TWO

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Summary

This book contains adult language and subject matter including graphic violence, drugs and explicit sex that may be disturbing to some readers. {COMPLETE) *This is book 2 of The London Crime King Series!* ------------------------------ While London grieves the lost souls of loved ones, Alexa resides with the ghosts of her past in the hope Liam will save her from the consequences of Jace’s betrayal, but if nobody knows she’s still alive, rising from the ashes might be her only salvation. Liam mourns the only way he knows how: drugs, alcohol and women. Although all three vices are ineffectual, the man endeavours numbness and almost loses himself in the process until a previous hook up holds more promise than a nine millimetre to his head. He can’t bring Alexa back, but with the right amount of sycophantism, he can avenge her by ending the man who destroyed her. (Written in British English) Please be aware this is an unedited edition. Some scenes may be altered. Copyright © Lindsey Marie 2018

Genre:
Romance / Action
Author:
Lindsey Marie
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
46
Rating:
4.9 75 reviews
Age Rating:
18+

CHAPTER ONE

(Note: Sacrifice is a very old draft. I am due to edit, revise and fix grammatical errors in my free time. At the moment, I am writing book five, Command. I hope you can enjoy this storyline regardless).

"I personally hate Cherry.” Nate twisted in the driver’s seat to antagonise Brad, who relaxed idly in the back seat of the Bentley. “She’s a leach, man.”

My right-hand man has grown rather fond of the redhead back at Club 11 and Nate’s fiercely protesting the idea.

“You could not pay me to tap that gold digger.” Nate’s pierced eyebrow arched. “Is that what you want, Brad? Some club bitch profiting off you. Dirty goods. Toss her in the trash, where she belongs.”

“Hey, I never said I was going to marry the bird,” Brad rebuked as we soared from the vehicle in tandem. “What do you think, Darren? You would bone the bitch, right?”

Rubbing a hand over his bald head, Darren grunted. “I am not interested in those women. Grow up, Brad. Nobody cares about your limp dick.”

“Have you seen the size of my cock?” Brad gestured to his trouser-clad groin. “There is nothing limp about my manhood, thank you very much. And what? Are you too good for club whores all of a sudden? I am pretty sure you begged Natalie to blow your pecker last night. What was it she said again?” Hand behind the ear, he mocked, “Oh, yeah. That’s right. I would rather fuck my dog, Darren.”

Nate busted out laughing, clapping his hands.

“Screw you, Brad,” Darren spat. “If everyone was like you? Club 11 would be crawling with sexually transmitted diseases.”

Brad stepped up to him, his humorous expression diminishing. “I am three seconds away from ripping out your voice box.”

“Enough,” I ordered, pushing open the door to the coffee shop. “Save animosities for the enemy.”

Reading a text message on my phone, I waited in the long queue of anxious customers.

Darren argued with another team member outside. Brad’s need to get under everyone’s skin has left him in a ruffled state.

“Howdy, pretty lady.” Brad sent a bodacious blonde woman a lascivious wink. “Christ, get a fucking look at that arse.”

I watched his female interest strut toward the exit, appreciating those thick thighs and swaying hips. “You scared her off,” I joked, feeling a familiar tingle climb up my neck. “Behave yourself.”

While Brad prattled one, I furtively glanced around the coffee shop, sensing someone’s scrutiny. Like every Friday, nothing was out of the ordinary, but it was there, that intense unease and horripilation sheathing my skin.

“Mr Warren,” Audrey, the barista, chimed. “Same as last week?” Deliberately hiking her voluminous chest to vaunt her ample cleavage, she taunted me with inviting grey eyes. “Black coffee?”

I handed over my debit card and paid for the purchase without a word of utterance.

“Now that,” Nate murmured in my ear, “I would make time for.” His gaze set on Audrey’s figure-hugging dress. “Damn.”

“Audrey is Cherry’s doppelganger,” Brad highlighted the obvious. “Honestly, Nate. You need...”

My skin pricked again.

Head tilting to listen to my surroundings, I drowned out their umpteen debate. The woman sitting by the window is arguing with her husband on the phone, snivelling about divorce, ingesting coffee. Two male co-workers complained about their boss, restocking the chillers. The man talking quietly to his mistress needed to work on his technique; those flirtatious promises had my lip twitching in distaste.

“Cherry sports a tongue piercing,” Brad continued to convert Nate to the dark side. “It is a standard procedure. Everyone pegs Cherry at some point. Who knows? You might actually like her.”

Why is he so obsessed with Cherry?

“Been there. Done that.” Nate’s brows merged into a tight-knit frown. “Almost lost my balls in the process. And why are you so invested in my sex life? Stake your claim if you are so smitten with the girl.”

Brad’s chin hit the deck. “One woman isn’t enough to quench thirst...”

I could not shake the feeling of someone watching me.

Glimpsing over one shoulder, I scanned the room. Everything appeared normal, the same overly optimistic barristers and tired commuters passing through for the morning dose of caffeine.

Audrey placed the coffee on the counter. “Here you go, Mr Warren.” Her finger dragged across mine in our exchange. “Enjoy your day.”

Brad and Nate moved ahead to open the door, but I merely achieved five steps when someone collided into my chest. Boiling coffee doused my shirt, clinging to my skin. It burnt like a motherfucker.

“Fuck. You need to watch where you’re going.” Seizing a napkin from the chrome holder, I wiped my ruined shirt vehemently. “Fucking hell.”

“I’m sorry,” a soft, breathless voice said. “I was in a rush and...” Her sentence stumbled. “I was...”

I looked up and lost the ability to speak. This woman, whoever she was, wherever she came from, is stunning. Her tall height almost put us at eye level. If she wore heels instead of flat, tattered footwear, I would be in her direct line of vision. I marvelled at her beauty, slender physique, heart-shaped face and full, kissable lips. It was her eyes that got me the most, though. I could not decipher the exact colour, green and brown, speckles of gold. I was lost in them.

Clearing my dry throat, I leaned over her, chest to chest, to discard the coffee-stained napkin. Again, with our noses virtually touching, we locked eyes, and I waited for her to continue that unfinished sentence.

Panic flickering in her owlish gaze, she put her hands on my chest in a futile attempt of removing the mess she’d caused. “I didn’t mean to do that.”

My muscles bunched together under her innocent touch. “What are you doing?”

Her hands withdrew abruptly.

I am almost sure I had never met this woman before—I would remember someone with such beauty if I did—but there was something oddly familiar about those transfixing eyes. I was drawn to them, which was unfathomable. “Do I know you?” When I stepped closer, her body seemed to wither within my presence. “I feel like I have seen you before.”

“No. I am sorry about that.” She pointed to the brown mark on my shirt. “I know your clothes are expensive.”

I seem to have an admirer.

“Are they?” My voice was huskier than I’d have liked. “And you’d know that how?”

“Well, it is an Armani three-piece, and you often wear Saint Laurent shirts...” To maintain some level of dignity, she zipped her mouth shut. “Can you get him another coffee?” she asked Audrey. “I’m paying.”

Not on my watch. “That’s not necessary.”

Audrey poured black coffee into a takeaway cup and rounded the counter with a look of confusion. Before Audrey could deliver the goods, the girl stepped between us. “I got it,” she said with a rather infectious smile. “Here.” Her eyes lit up as she extended the coffee. “Peace offering.”

My finger grazed her knuckles. “Thank you,” I said, accepting her proffered peace offering. It then dawned on me that I was staring, quite fixated, so I adopted nonchalance by pretending her innocuousness bothered me. “Are you alright in the head?”

Her jaw slackened.

Fuck. I affronted her.

That was a dickhead move, Warren.

Why am I silently chastising myself?

She is just some kid. Leave the shop and get a fucking grip.

I did precisely that,

Rudely shouldering past the girl, I tossed the coffee in the bin and headed outside.

“Bossman—hey,” Brad scolded behind me. “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

The girl from the coffee shop dashed towards me.

What was the look in her eyes? Fear? Dread? Desperation?

Darren reached out and snatched her jumper before she could get any closer.

“What the hell?” she yelled, thrashing in his unyielding grip. “Let go of me!”

“Darren,” I warned, the man snickering in amusement. “Release the girl.”

And then, to add humour to this bizarre encounter, her fingernails attacked his face in murderous retaliation.

Shoving her forward, Darren hissed, “You bitch!”

“Please stop.” Her voice was a mere whisper. “I’m sorry.”

Darren snarled, “You put your hand on my face, little girl.” He hurled the girl into the nearest wall, and the unexpected impact had her legs buckling. “Docile bint.”

I acted on instinct, catching her in my arms before she face-planted the floor. Her body went boneless, her limbs heavy yet limp. “Fuck’s sake, Darren.” Her eyes were shut now, but her sibilant whimpers ensued. “She’s only a fucking kid.”

“The bitch dragged her talons across my face.” He used tissues to dab the blood on his split lip. “Crazy bitch. I say you bin the rat.”

“Who is she?” Nate crouched beside and pressed two fingers on her neck, checking her pulse. “She fainted.”

Brad chortled. “Darren, your ugliness drops bitches like shit drops flies.”

Darren’s jiggling jowls were crimson. “Piss off, Brad.”

“Hey.” Tapping the girl’s pink-stained cheek, I tried to bring her back. “Wake up.” Her chest rose and fell at an irregular rhythm. “What’s wrong with her?”

Nate’s head tilted as he studied her. “Strange.” He checked her pulse once more. “Holy fuck. Surely that’s not normal.”

“What?” Resting her back on my thigh, I pulled down her raised hoodie to cover her exposed stomach. “Nate?”

“She needs to wake up before she has a damn heart attack,” he drawled, rising to his feet. “I don’t know what kinda nightmare that chick is having, but it sure as hell puts satanic fear into her.”

Her throat hollowed as she grappled for breath.

“Wake up.” Shaking her shoulders, I slapped her cheek a little harder. “Hey, kid. You need to calm down. I think you might be having a fucking panic attack.”

Inhaling a sharp breath, she returned to consciousness. Wide eyes snapping wide, darting in multiple directions, she scampered out of my arms and hit the brick wall back first. And that’s where she stayed, cowering and flinching.

Gingerly, I touched her arm, urging her to look at me. “What happened?”

Slapping my hand away, she staggered to her feet, tugging her hoodie restlessly as if the material restrained her oxygen supply.

I sored to my full height and took a cautious step away. I meant no harm.

Her body trembled. “I am not a fucking child.”

Her fearless response had the opposite effect. I knew she was scared. Raising her voice appeased her humiliation and trepidation, though.

Brad licked a toothpick to the corner of his mouth. “Are you sure about that?” His head dipped. “Your Jumper says otherwise.”

Her wardrobe malfunction was ostentatious. I mean, who left the house in a black hoodie adorned in hugging turtles?

The girl wanted the floor to open up and swallow her whole. I could see it in her eyes, the sheer embarrassment. “It’s not mine,” she stuttered, removing the ridiculous choice of attire and stuffing it in an old, threadbare backpack. “I borrowed it from a friend.”

“Don’t worry about what’s on her jumper, lads.” Gaven, the head doorman from Club 11, gestured to the girl’s skin-tight T-shirt, where two small yet perfectly rounded breasts peeked through the flimsy material. “Her tits tell a different story.”

Not wanting to humiliate the girl further, I looked away. It was wrong to ogle, but expunging the image was impossible. I’d already caught a glance and, although far too small, her tits looked decent enough to feel the touch of my hands.

I put the brakes on musings. I am not attracted to some twitchy, nervous girl, so why the fuck am I considering the idea of us and intimacy? She’s not even my type. I like women—flawlessly curvaceous women with generous assets and tantalising confidence--not some young, coy, unattractively slim loose wire that passed out for no apparent reason.

As if sensing my deriding thoughts, she glanced at me with a tight, morose smile.

My heart skipped a beat. No, she is hardly unattractive. This girl is dangerously beautiful. And I had to get the fuck away from here before I do or say something uncharacteristically stupid.

“That’s enough,” I admonished the laughing men into silence. “We are leaving.”

Of course, the men listened. It’s their job to do as they’re told, whether it irks them or not. Tapping each other on the back, they dispersed in multiple directions, ducking into parked Bentley vehicles.

I, however, never budged, nor have I broken eye contact with the skittish girl.

She rubbed the cold chill from her arms. “I feel like an idiot.”

“You banged your head when you fell.” Feigning concerned, I captured her jaw and examined the fabricated graze on her cheek. “You might want to get that checked.”

Her forehead creased. “Is it serious?”

No, I caught you before any damage followed. But I wanted an excuse to talk to you without the intrusiveness of my men. “I am sure you will survive.”

Walk away, Warren.

You don’t have the time to entertain damsels.

I released her jaw as though the touch of her skin burnt.

When I walked away, I felt her eyes on me, but I never looked back, even though everything inside me screamed to go back for her.

I slid into the back of Nate’s Bentley. “Drive.”

“Who the fuck was that?” Brad stared at the girl through the black-tinted window. “She had a great ass.”

She is nobody. “Forget about it.”

People attired in all-black mourned their loved ones, bled painful tears and whimpered harrowing guilt throughout.

Our dark, depressing skies complained above as thunder rolled in the distance. Rain splattered the memorialised ground that once offered accommodation to over four hundred people. Few survived that catastrophic, fateful night. The rest went up in smoke as they endeavoured to escape the flames.

Previously, Law enforcement restrained me and filed charges for assaulting an officer and possessing a firearm. Those do-gooders confiscated the Desert Eagle. Yeah, I was pretty fucking pissed about that. I have access to weapons, but that personalised gun held sentimental value. Its customised solid-gold exterior and engraving have been in my possession since I started building my empire.

Fortunately for me, Chief Superintendent Reginald Burton returned such belongings alongside buried evidence regarding the judge who pre-decided my prison sentence (I’ll touch upon his situation later).

I am a free man—a numb, grieving, devastated man—who stands before Alexa’s graveside. Like all the victims, her wooden cross and plot number remain at the burial ground where beautiful homes once soared. I haven’t slept properly in over two weeks. Every night, when lying in bed at the penthouse, I call her phone, hoping that by some miracle, she will answer. Or I stare at the screen, reading through old text messages. I miss her. It is painful to breathe without her near.

I would quite literally sell my soul to the devil to have Alexa back in my arms.

People don’t want me here. Their resentment and disdain emitted from their quivering bodies. Their overt anger was unwarranted. I don’t know the mourners, I have no personal issues with them, but they seem to know me, and my appearance added fuel to the fire.

Ignoring hushed conversations, the type of conversations that ruined a man’s reputation, I stepped into uncharted territory to pay my respects, to say goodbye to Alexa. Still, they talked about me as though I was the devil himself. I am accustomed to the abhorrence of others, but I had every right to be here.

Brad squeezed my shoulder.

Adjusting my black aviators, I tucked my hands into my trouser pockets, preparing myself for Chloe’s lambasting.

Blundering on high heels, Chloe waded through sobbing throngs of people, handbag to her chest, blonde hair dragged into a tight ponytail. “You shouldn’t be here,” she cried as the blond male, someone I recognised, told her to calm down. “You’re not welcome here, Warren!”

I have killed for less.

Tapering down furiousness, I turned while reaching for something inside the inner pocket of my suit jacket.

“Don’t put your back to me.” She shoved me in the shoulder. “Face me like a man, Warren—”

I lost all sense of awareness. “Like a man,” I said angrily, putting us nose-to-nose. “You don’t want to see me at my worst, Chloe.” My hand snatched her throat, and her teary eyes rounded. “You couldn’t handle it.”

Her fingers coiled around my wrist. “I hate you,” she whimpered, tears streaming down her blotchy cheeks. “If it weren’t for you? Alexa would still be alive!”

“Watch your mouth,” I spat through gritted teeth. “You know absolutely nothing about my relationship with Alexa. I tried to protect her.”

“Your protection put her in a box. You did that.” Once more, the insane woman tried to attack me, her fisted hands landing far too many blows to my chest. “It’s your fault she is not here! You--”

I slapped her in the face, the merciless blow resounding in our distressing propinquity.

If Alexa were here, she would attack me for that harsh display. That woman loved her best friend. They were closer than most sisters, lived, laughed and cried together. Only she is not here today. She is gone and never coming back. Without her, I have no reason to accept anything but respect from inferiors.

The troublesome blonde will learn her place.

Brad pinched the bridge of his nose.

Chloe’s knees squelched into the muddy ground. Dabbing her cheeks with bunched-up tissues, she unclasped the bangle on her wrist and draped it on Alexa’s wooden cross,

I do not watch Chloe and her friend leave or to the scornful voices in the distance. I wait for Brad to drop back and give me a moment, the lower one knee to the ground.

Alexa Haines.

Gone but never forgotten.

I hated the thoughtless engraving. It was everyone’s go-to phrase when burying their loved ones. It was unmeaningful, rushed and halfhearted.

“Where is her body?” I asked Brad. “I will not believe it without a body.”

“Alexa is dead, bossman,” he said cautiously. “Reginald confirmed it. She went down in the fire.”

I felt a single tear roll down my cheek. “I refuse...” My throat tightened. “I refuse to let go. It is not the end for us...” His hand locked around the nape of my neck as he strived to comfort me. “I failed her. I promised to protect her and failed.”

Hundreds of mourners soon became one.

Everyone disappeared, including Brad, but I could not walk away.

How can I sleep tonight, knowing whatever is left of her remains were beneath the very grounds I stood upon.

Kissing the bud of a red rose, I placed it on the floor. “I love you. In this life or the next, I will always be yours. When death knocks on my door, you better be the one that comes for me.”

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