Chapter 1: Inner Demons
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I stood silently with my arms crossed and my foot propped up against the cold stone wall. I was tired, too tired. Tired of pretending and fighting to become someone I did not want to be.
My father had been the soulless malicious leader. I however felt like an imposter everyday as I tried, and failed, to fill his sadistic shoes.
I sighed, glimpsing over at Ian, my third in command. He was clearly done with this situation, as well. He toed the ground, his light brown eyes half closed and his brown faux hawk falling slightly into his face. He rubbed his raw knuckles, wincing slightly.
I glanced down at my own bruised knuckles and wished I could allow myself to feel the pain I knew was there.
We had been here for hours and it was apparent we were getting nowhere.
I sighed again, looking around at the old abandoned warehouse, where I did most of my business. The building was dark, musty, covered with mouse and rat droppings, and littered with rusty pieces of metal. All of the windows were tinted, and the dim lights buzzed annoyingly overhead. Aside from that, the only sound was the thudding of my right hand man's fist hitting David repeatedly.
David stood with his hands tied behind his back, arms wrapped around a metal pole that jutted out of the center of the concrete floor. His pale brown hair was buzzed neatly. His normally fair skin was bruised and blood spattered. One of his hazel eyes was black and swollen shut, he also had a busted lip and broken nose.
He groaned and coughed, spewing more blood onto the grey floor.
I couldn't handle this anymore, he clearly was not going to talk. It was simply inhumane to continue trying to persuade him.
I winced realizing that I was being a weak stomached coward. My father would hate me for this, but he was gone. I was in charge and I was done.
"That's enough Adam," I forced a false grin, pushing away from the wall, "My turn."
"Should I call in a clean up crew, boss?" Ian cackled maliciously next to me, keeping up pretenses, as always.
He was better at pretending then I was, but just like Adam and myself, I knew he took no pleasure from this part of the job. It was a bad day when we had to kill, even to protect ourselves and each other. Killing one of our own was even worse. In this business however there wasn't always a choice.
"Liam..." David stopped short as I glared at him, raising one eyebrow.
Fear flooded through his face as I leveled my pistol at his forehead.
"M-Mr. Bly! You've known me forever. Marcus trained us together for years. I helped you talk him into leaving Scarlet out of all of this." He tossed his head, gesturing around before bending forward, as far as he could, and coughing up blood again.
I knew he meant this lifestyle, not just the broken down building.
I glared around at my surroundings, remembering training with David and my father, in this very warehouse, back when my father had maintained the title of "The Reaper King".
It was also true; he helped me convince my father to leave Scarlet out of this. However, things were different now; Marcus was dead and now I was in charge of his mafia.
David, he was nothing but a traitor who had leaked information to the yakuza. He put the lives of everyone I loved in danger, including my twin sister, who he was now claiming to have helped.
There was only one thing left I needed from him but I was running out of time. As a rule, I never held anyone hostage for more than three days; this was day three. David, having taken part in these dealings with us many times before, knew that his time was up.
"Who else is working with you?" I asked, apathetically.
By now, I knew how this was going to end.
"What would Jay say?" I felt myself stiffen as he smirked smugly, ignoring my question altogether.
He was right. Jay, my uncle, would hate this situation. However, if David thought he had me cornered, he was sorely mistaken.
Jay, and his wife, Sarah, had raised my sister and I since we were two days old. Our mother had left us on Marcus's doorstep wrapped in our hospital blankets and stuffed into a single car seat. Marcus had told us repeatedly: if he hadn't needed me as an heir to his domain, and aunt Sarah hadn't been visiting, he would have just left us there.
Even though Jay may not agree with this part of the job, he knew family had to come first. David had jeopardized our family.
"He would be glad I did what was necessary to protect our family." I snarled.
"I know you, Liam. You're not as heartless as you pretend to be." He laughed, which quickly turned into a gargled cough. "You're not your father. You're weak. I was there when you killed Devon. You cried like the bitch you really are. Who comforted you then?" He spat.
Of course, I remembered my first kill. David had been eighteen years old with no notches in his belt. But I, at nine years of age, was forced to kill a fifty year old drug addict who had caused Marcus one too many problems. If I hadn't, Marcus would have pulled Scarlet back into the business. I had to prove my worth.
That day, David had found me; hands shaking and covered in blood, tears streaming down my face, as I huddled in my closet. David had covered for me with Marcus while I took a few hours to get calm and cleaned up.
This too had changed, however. I had decided that day I couldn't afford to feel anything but the hatred and anger that had fueled me since then.
"I have grown since then. I am not a scared kid anymore." With that, I pulled the trigger. The shot echoed throughout the cold, dark room. David's body fell limp. "Ian clean this mess up."
"Seriously? Isn't this why we have low level wannabes?" Ian groaned.
"Fine, then call some of them." I snapped, spinning to face him. "But if it isn't done right it's your ass."
Ian raised his eyebrows surprised by my lashing out at him. I didn't have the energy to fight with him right now though.
All I wanted was to go home and sleep. I couldn't remember the last time I had slept more than a couple of hours in a row. Things had been so busy with the yakuza breathing down our necks, and it was my job to protect all of my people.
"Did you have to kill him?" A high-pitched, whiny voice sounded from the far door.
I groaned, hoping I was wrong though I knew that voice too well to have been mistaken.
I turned reluctantly.
Jessica looked beyond out of place in her strapless, hot pink body-con dress and wedge heels. Her blond hair was loosely curled and a thick layer of make-up covered her unnaturally tan face.
Typical Jess, always dressed to the nines no matter what's going on around her.
I waited as she took her time strutting towards me before stopping to look up at me with a cocky smirk.
She drove me nuts. If she wasn't my best hacker, I would have sent her away a long time ago.
"Like what you see?" She flirted arrogantly, tossing her hair.
"He was leaking information, Jess." I glared at her, ignoring her flirting entirely. "I'll kill anyone who crosses me, and I will not have any regrets. Remember that."
"Yes, sir. I apologize." She bowed her head slightly.
I hated it when she did that, and she knew it. Times like this I knew she was disrespecting me and undermining my authority.
She had never done that before I had put an end to our casual hook ups. She was furious with me, and I didn't feel I could trust her half as much as I used to.
"Go find his accomplice. I'll send Natalie to help. I expect an answer by the end of the week." I glared at her, waving my hand in a passive dismissal.
She nodded, then walked out frowning angrily.
I sighed running my hand over my face.
"Don't worry. We'll catch them. In the meantime, you have extra eyes on Scar, right?" Adam asked, massaging his bloody and bruised knuckles as he stepped up beside me.
"Absolutely. She won't leave the house alone. I'll need your help with that." I eyed him knowingly.
A faint blush colored his almond colored skin. His dark brown hair was pulled back tightly into a bun on top of his head, and his black eyes were suddenly fixated on his hands.
"Sure thing, Liam. Anything to help." He said, grinning in embarrassment.
I sighed, rolling my shoulders.
Adam stared at me for a moment and I knew what was coming. Adam, being my best friend of fifteen years, was one of the two people who could always see right through my facade; the other being Scarlet.
"You worried about the meeting tonight?" He asked, leaning against the wall nonchalantly. His eyes were piercing and I had to look away, glaring at the blood spattered floor.
I sighed, "I don't traffic or trade humans."
There was a short silence as I glared off into the distance.
"Well, your intentions are good." Adam sighed sadly.
He was the only one who knew why I had accepted this deal from the small gang bordering our territory.
Everyone else believed it was just as a peace offering. I, however, knew Dan's type. He was the type of man that thrived on conflict, needed it as much as he needed water or air. Peace wouldn't last long, if it ever even happened.
"That's not what's bothering you most though, is it?" He asked, raising an eyebrow.
I groaned, shaking my head.
"My father never had traitors, what if David was right?" I finally voiced my concern.
Adam was quiet for what seemed like a long time before replying confidently, "Oh shut up. The only true thing that asshole said was you are not your father. Your father led by fear and you lead by loyalty. You're respectable. It's not your fault that some people can't see that."
I sighed again, running my hand over my face.
"When you're finished here, I need you, Ian, and Asher at the docks by ten. Don't let anyone else know, especially Jess. There's something off with her lately and we all know she can't keep her mouth shut." I groaned, annoyed.
Adam chuckled, "Yes, sir." He mimicked Jessica's half bow.
I rolled my eyes, and turned to walk out the large metal doors.