A/N Read my other new book ‘The Fae Wolf’ too. I would love the feedback!
Enjoy the story :)
J O H N
He was knocking back shots like it was his day job, one by one down the hatch, the scratching burn barely noticeable against his throat anymore. He habitually did so. The drink numbed everything, stopping him from ever feeling anything real. It blocked out the world and aided in burying his demons.
Meanwhile, the waitress was eyeing him like a slab of meat, just waiting to carve into him, dig her claws into the ruggedly handsome man. He could take her back to the shitty motel he was lodged at and establish just who belonged to who. He most certainly belonged to no one, lived by no other man’s rules. He would dominate her, ruin her with his fierce masculinity, but he was too damn exhausted and not drunk enough.
Chasing degenerate criminals or traitorous snakes he was hired to hunt equaled tiring work. Time and again, he asked himself why he kept at it, but it was all he knew. The hunt was his life. That was why they named him ‘the human hound’.
He didn’t support the name. Though, he was branded with it now, and, for some reason, many felt intimidated by the title. So, he let the name be. It wasn’t harming his reputation.
The human hound.
He was a bounty hunter, somewhat. He was paid by criminals to hunt the worthless dirtbags and pathetic narcs that most likely deserved to die. No guilt swallowed him up. Guilt never even entered the shithole of utter abyss he called a mind, though he served people to the gates of hell.
“You the human hound?” A subtle voice whispered, almost so faint that it wouldn’t reach John’s ears. If this fucker didn’t even have the balls to speak in an audible voice, John wasn’t going to waste his time with him.
Over the past few years, he had become a popular choice as bounty hunter in the criminal underworld. He preferred taking the higher profile cases that fell into his lap, the ones that allowed him to drink for the entire week still with a few Franklins in his pocket. For his seasoned skills and his soulless expertise, his worth was in the high thousands to the richer clients. He took odd jobs to make ends meet in the meantime.
“Who’s asking?” John grunted out. He didn’t like his time wasted, particularly when he had just come off another job. He’d scheduled the meet with the dickhead, but he was in no mood for any roundabout bullshit.
When it came to the job, he would take no bullshit from anyone, no matter how powerful they might be. He had rules, to keep himself and everyone else in line. He desired control in such an uncontrollable field, and that was what thrilled him. The thrill of the chase. The thrill that the bounty thought they could outsmart him and get away. But none could.
Occasionally, he let them go just for the challenge of catching them again. There were a couple of bounties that made him step up his game, but none who could escape his persistent clutches. He was comparable to a predator on a hunt.
“I need you to find someone.” He was too drained for an eye roll and he wasn’t even worthy of it. The guy couldn’t even answer his simple question. He needed a name, obviously, known aliases and friends that they would run to. They would give him leads to chase down.
In response, John merely grunted. If he had more energy, he would have had fun messing with the idiot. He was quite the playful guy on the job, his attitude a way to keep him entertained. He was a contradictory man for sure, which made him unpredictable. Others rarely saw a pattern in his behavior; that was because there wasn’t one.
In fact, that was what made him so skilled at what he did. Whilst he remained mercurial, he saw patterns in other people’s behavior that allowed him to hunt them down. People were inevitably unsurprising. On the run, with nowhere to go but the places they know, fear would drive them into the arms of familiar places or people. And John would use that.
“His name’s Gareth Blackwell.” His words finally peaked the bounty hunter’s interest. Gary Blackwell. That good-for-nothing asshole who used to sell on the corner of his neighborhood when he was a kid. He was part of the crew that sent his neighborhood to shit.
Suddenly, he had a spurt of energy, a thirst for revenge, a thrill for the chase. He knew Gary wouldn’t be difficult to find, at all. As he was back then, around fifteen years ago, he was just a thug, a dim-witted thug that could only be a sheep, that could only follow along. He tried to act the hardass, but everyone knew what he was, just another brainless slinger.
Sheep could never outsmart John. Neither could shepherds. No, it was the wolves that had a chance. The ones who knew the game, who could attempt to think a few steps ahead of him.
Some didn’t even know they were being hunted. If they didn’t have contacts, they couldn’t be very established in the criminal world. They would never get far anyway. What John did could be considered a mercy.
He was a hunter, a man connected to the wild and savage nature of humans. He could understand them. He understood them so well that it became his job so long ago. Growing up in a shitty place, others thought John would amount to nothing. His own parents told him as much too. His teachers loved to taunt every student in their class that they would be so lucky to work at a fast-food joint for the rest of their miserable lives or they would be pathetic losers rotting in jail soon enough.
John strived to be far from that, and he was. The job he had wasn’t anything minor. He required skills, brains, stamina. One had to be a hunter through and through. They had to understand human nature. He was still human, even though some had evidence that could protest to that, so he could understand.
John started to converse with the knucklehead next to him. Answers to succinct questions was all he needed, but he ended up listening to the idiot’s embellishments. Once the guy left, John could finally breathe again. The stench of the client alone was enough to melt his nose off. And his voice was like a terrified little girl hiding from the ghastly monster under her bed.
John followed the leads he had been given to various places through the night. He knew it would be a quick job, a night job, and he didn’t want to be in town any longer than he needed to be. The motel was a rathole at best, the walls so paper thin he could hear the skanky couple next door each cheating by screwing someone else at different times of the night. The pipes in the building clanged like they hadn’t been replaced in a millennium, or perhaps that was just the scurrying of rats. But it was no different to any of his other places. It was enough for a few nights. He was constantly moving, constantly doing jobs across the country. His work took him all over. He never stayed in one place for too long and he never saw his family. His sister cashed in his checks, enough for food and shelter to keep her in high school and out of the strip clubs. His parents weren’t reliable and barely of sound mind. He was the one looking out for his sister, even though he wasn’t physically there for her.
He couldn’t take her with him. One, she would slow him down, make him less mobile. Two, she was a kid who needed a somewhat stable life, not out of school and chasing down scum for evil people. Three, she didn’t need an influence like her big brother. He needed to keep her away from crime, to set her on a better path. He would pay her way through college and help her get onto her feet. She would do better than anyone ever told him he could do.
He had Blackwell tracked to the parking lot of the apartment complex he was staying at with his good friend. People always ran to those who were familiar. Someone who impulsively ran away were the easiest to be tracked. They ran to those they could trust.
With a watchful eye, John waited by the door, in a darkened corner, lurking in the shadows, stalking his prey. He was a hunter through and through. Every instinct, every thought, every notion of what could possibly happen all went through his undeniably useful filter: his hunter filter.
When he caught the sight of Blackwell’s thick back, he lunged forward with a composed attack strategy, gripping his shoulder and vehemently jolting him back to his chest. John’s arm wrapped snugly around Blackwell’s torso, locking him up and trapping him in his hold.
Another bounty caught, another night ended, another job complete.
The delivery of Blackwell didn’t feel half as good as he thought it would, but, as they say, revenge was always that way, never that sweet. But he righted his community’s injustice; he was serving them as well as his own personal agenda. He was rewarded a decent sum for a short night’s work and a little retribution served neatly on the side.
Swiftly, he packed up his limited items at the motel: his duffel bag filled with the basic essentials. He dumped plenty of trinkets that he previously had along the way. He couldn’t risk being slowed down by the baggage of personal items. Fuck sentimentality. His job came first. His job, asides from his sister, was all that was important to him.
He wouldn’t let anyone get in the way of that.
The irksome ring of his phone broke him away from his seventieth drink of the night.
“Yes?” he answered with the annoyance disguised by the exhausted gruff of his voice. He didn’t want to insult high-paying clients.
“John Keller?” a deep, monotone voice stated, as if telling John his own fucking name. John knew immediately that this was a job he would take. He followed the money, like any self-serving man. And he knew this client would pay his worth for his services. “My boss has a job for you. You’ll meet with him at Impero tomorrow night at 12. Don’t be late.”
The phone hung up without waiting for a single response. Even though it irked him that they thought he had no say and viewed him as just some tool to be used, the nightclub Impero was incredibly known. The owner, Alessandro De Luca. And one thing was for sure, this was high profile.
He’d be working for the mafia. Again.