A Liberated Decision

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You're offered the world, and then you're a slave. Rival gang members, Ash and Dom fight for a life not allowed. Will they get their happy ending? Ashley Malone is quickly realizing what gang life is really like. You're offered the world, and then you're a slave. Enough's enough; now she wants out. But is she strong enough to escape? Rival gang member Dominick di'Liardo is struggling with his own demons. Thrown together, he wants to protect Ashley but his past might just get them killed. With tough lives behind them, Ashley and Dominick have even tougher choices ahead. They're looking to a future together, but they might not have a future at all.

Thriller / Romance
JJ Holmes
4.0 1 review
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

Dominick di’Liardo watched the intruder inching her way across their domain. A small smile teased the edge of his mouth. He didn’t mind seeing Ashley Malone try to sneak around once in awhile. He’d have to catch her so she knew not to keep doing it. He swore she purposely came through his corner intentionally to get caught.

He decided to wait to make a move until she was closer to his spot in the morning shadows. His breath came out in a white puff that faded into the cool air. The briskness of the morning didn’t bother him all that much, in fact, he kind of liked the coolness in the air. It made him alert to stop intruders and prevent drug runs through their neighborhoods.

Spring was on its way around, but it was still chilly enough to shiver in a coat. He watched Ashley’s long, unruly brown hair swish to her side as she looked to see if anyone was following her. He knew that she was transporting something for her devilish boss. Trent McKinton was anything but friendly. He was ruthless. Cruel. And Dom hated him with a passion that stemmed farther down than anyone could ever possibly imagine. The gang leader had no respect for or from anyone – not even his own men. Dom would never understand why they followed him blindly. Maybe it was out of fear? Or for a debt that they couldn’t pay back?

One thing that Ashley had going for her was his sympathy for however the hell she had gotten involved with such a wicked person. He had heard rumors that Trent had picked her off of the street and took her in. Possibly even saved her life. He had also heard that Trent had her hooked on drugs and that she blindly followed him, waiting for her next fix. He seriously doubted the second rumor was true. The one thing that he knew about the girl was that she was as independent as they come with no regard to consequences. She wasn’t one to let someone push her around. He remembered her in high school. She had had a hard life and was as stubborn as he was, if not more. He was a little older than her, but not by much. She had always stood out to him, but he had had his own set of troubles to deal with that still seemed to haunt him.

Dom watched her thin figure move closer. He inched his way out of the shadows. “Kind of a ways from home Ash. What are you doing over here?” He watched her freeze up. A slow smile pressed against her plump lips, but she didn’t indulge him with the pleasure. Dom copied her and kept his mouth in a straight line.

“Figured I’d go for a walk.” She said calmly. Her dark eyes lashed a challenge. “Do you have a problem with that Dom?”

Dom stepped forward, but Ashley stepped back. He lightly snorted. “What you do ain’t any of my damn business, but coming into Miko’s neighborhood makes it my business. Answer the question.” With Ashley being from Trent’s side of town and part of his fold, he couldn’t have her anywhere near Miko Zareavo’s neighborhoods. Miko made sure that the people in his area stayed safe. He didn’t approve of drugs after a dark past with them, and would do what he could to keep them out of his area. Ashley was an unnecessary danger, not to mention threat, that either needed to get out or he’d get her out.

Ashley’s jaw set hard. She began to walk away from him. Obviously doubtful that he’d do anything to her. “See you later, Dom.”

Dom’s eyes narrowed. Walking away from him was a no no and not one that didn’t warrant a response. They were in enough of an alleyway with a chain-link fence at the end of it to provide a little cover for a confrontation. He grabbed her by her arm, swinging her around until her back hit a brick wall. Dom was wiry, but strong. He pinned her in place. “I asked you a question, Ashley. You’re in my hood now, do not disrespect me.”

Ashley swallowed hard. Alarm and surprise rang loud and clear out of her big brown eyes. He could feel her quick pulse from his grip on one of her wrists. “Whatcha going to do Dom? Teach me a lesson?” Her face mellowed out with a smile that glimmered with her clear defiance.

If he didn’t know better, he’d think she was enjoying his hands on her. Or being pinned against a wall close enough to feel his body against hers. “Don’t get any ideas baby girl.” He said smoothly.

“Wouldn’t imagine it.” She wriggled around in his grip. Shifting her hips against him.

“Liar.” He spoke clearly. He didn’t allow himself to get turned on by her small, provocative gestures.

“I remember when we were in middle school and you’d pull my hair during the classes that you sat behind me in.” She reminisced with a small laugh. Her eyes danced at the memory. “Do you remember?”

Dom was confused by the reason for her to bring that up. He hadn’t thought very much of that moment, it seemed like ages ago. He had failed a semester just to be held back in a grade that she was in. It had helped that some of the grades were meshed together in middle school because they were learning basically the same thing and because the school was short staffed. “That was a long time ago.” He didn’t loosen his grip or back away from her. He could see her avoiding his first question. He had some time; he’d play her game for a little while.

Her head bobbed up and down. Her eyes stayed locked on his as if she were weighing something out. “I don’t remember seeing you as much in high school. It was like you weren’t there.” A little sadness seemed to creep up into her voice, but her eyes rang a question in her statement.

“I had a lot going on during that time. We didn’t exactly run in the same groups. Hell, we didn’t exactly stay in the same neighborhoods either.” He said simply, still trying to figure out her game. The past wasn’t something that he cared to dwell on. It only harbored the mistakes he’d made and the pain that he had endured. It reminded him of how cruel this world could be.

Ashley looked down at the ground. She eased her free hand down in a more comfortable position at her side. Her black, zip-up sweatshirt had stuck to the bricks, making a crunching sound as she had pulled her arm away. “We don’t exactly stay in the same neighborhoods now either.” Her body had tensed a little as she looked over his shoulder. “Guess it’s time for me to leave now.”

Dom glanced back just as a loud whoop sounded. A cop had pulled up and had caught him holding a woman against her will. He knew it wouldn’t take but a mere few seconds before they’d have their guns drawn and on him. He turned around in time to have Ashley push him out and off of her. Without thinking he let his knife slide out of his sleeve and into his hand. He gave her a quick swipe, gentle enough to just lightly cut through her clothes and make her bleed a little.

Ashley stopped. Her eyes wide as she looked at him in disbelief. “Bastard.” She breathed out. A lazy smile lit up her face quickly though as she kissed his cheek and threw a small bag at him that had been in her pocket. “See you in a few months. She peeled away from him and scaled the fence, away from him and the approaching cops.

Dom hadn’t wanted to cut her. It had just been out of habit. He looked down at the bag that he had reluctantly caught. It was a small, plastic, ziplock with a white powder in it. Cocaine. She had been on a drug run across the neighborhoods. Shit. Someone must be dealing them. Miko would want to know that. The leader didn’t let drugs touch his neighborhood. He was going to be pissed.

“Hands where we can see them!” A voice rang out behind him. Dom could guess that they had their guns drawn on him.

“Okay, okay.” He said calmly and threw his hands above him so they could see what he had in them. He let the knife and the bag fall to the ground. He felt hands grab him and push him against the brick wall.

“Look what we have here, Fletcher.” A cop’s voice rang out loud and clear.

Dom knew a few of the cops. Tom Fletcher was a name he’d heard plenty. He was one of the better cops that usually tried to help people out. He had a heart, but he was still damn good at doing his job.

“It’s not mine.” Dom said wryly. He knew they wouldn’t believe him. He’d probably get a few months in jail with a long probation, all for possession and carrying a weapon.

“Save it for the judge.” The other cop said as he put the drugs and knife in a bag. They padded him down for any other weapons and pulled him to the squad car.

Some anger laced its way through Dom. It was a bad move for Ashley to do this. She probably had known the cops were in the neighborhood the whole time. She had been buying her time until they had come to her aid. Smart, but stupid, considering this wasn’t even her domain to take control in. He’d make her pay for it later.

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