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Authors: Sugar Jamison

Betting the Bad Boy

BOOK: Betting the Bad Boy
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Copyright Page

 

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Chapter 1

A 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz was a beautiful car, Duke King thought as he stared at his latest conquest. Or at least it would be when his crew got finished with it. Modern cars were boring. No style. Nothing to make them stick out from the crowd, but the beauty that sat before him in his shop was another story. The car was as shapely as a woman. Dipping in some places, beautifully curved in others, and with a sexy backside big enough to take out a small building. And just like a shapely woman, he couldn’t wait to get his hands on her and go to work on her body.

As the owner and founder of a billion-dollar car customizing empire, he didn’t have to get his hands dirty anymore. But as the poor kid and former convict who fixed cars to put food on the table, he needed to put his hands on the metal. He needed to play a part in turning his old heap of junk into the powerful, sexy beauty it was meant to be. He also worked on every car that came into his shop, because he never wanted to forget where he came from and how far he had come. He knew far too well that with a blink of an eye everything good in one’s life could disappear.

“Hey, Dukey!” Levi, his baby brother, came sauntering up to him with that semi-arrogant, super-confident walk that was his trademark. Duke thought of him as a baby, but Levi was nearing thirty, over six feet tall, and built like an athlete. No one would doubt he was a fully grown man, but he had never lost the mischievous bad boy look in his eye that he’d had as a kid. Levi was also the only one on the planet ballsy enough to call him Dukey. Anyone else was too afraid of getting their teeth punched down their throat.

“What the hell do you want?”

“I think what you meant to say was,
Hello, Levi. How are you today? I hope you’re well.

“Fuck off.”

Levi just grinned at him, showing off the smile that had made him famous on television and made the panties melt off so many females. “I wonder how out of the three of us, I was the one who managed to get all the charm, manners, and looks.”

Duke scowled at him, but Levi was partially right. He was the best looking out of the King boys, if you went for the Greek god kind of thing, and the most charming, which was why they’d made him the host of
King’s Customs Creates,
the television show that detailed how they turned cars from piles of junk to luxurious rides. “What do you want, Levi?”

“I just wanted to know if you saw this yet.” He pulled out his smartphone and showed him an article.
FROM PRISONER TO PRESIDENT
, the headline read.

Duke pushed the phone away. “I don’t need to see that. It’s all bullshit anyway.”

“It’s not bullshit, Duke,” Levi said seriously. “You’ve done good. It’s time you realized that.”

He hadn’t heard that before. He had never been good or done good. He’d just done what he had to do for them to survive with an abusive drunk for a father. “Are you through with this inspirational speech yet? Because I have work to do.” He stepped out into the middle of his shop and took in everything that was going on. The clang of tools and sound of tires being changed and all the space he had now when for years he’d shared a six-by-eight cell with another man. The article wasn’t wrong. He had gone from prisoner to president. Thirteen years ago he was a too-tough twenty-two-year-old kid looking down at a ten-year sentence for attempted murder.

Today he had more than he’d ever dreamed of, and he worked damn hard for it.

“Emilio,” he called to a twenty-two-year-old kid who looked more like a gangbanger than an expert mechanic.

“What you need, boss?”

“Put this car on the lift so we can take a good look under it. I want her purring like a goddamn cat when you’re done.”

“I got you.” Emilio nodded and walked away to do as he was told.

“You always have work to do.” Levi followed Duke, just as comfortable in the shop as he was. “It’s time you take some time off. We could go on vacation. A brothers-only trip. We could rent a villa on the beach in Mexico. Maybe meet some of the beautiful local women. Drink some fruity shit with umbrellas in it. We could even invite Colt. I’m sure the stick would fall out of his ass once he got some.”

Duke shook his head as the image of their stuffy middle brother in a full suit on the beach entered his head. He and Colt didn’t always get along, but there would be no King’s Customs empire without him. Colt had a talent for making money grow and a business head that was incomparable. Still, what he had in brains he lacked in personality. He was a cold son of a bitch, but he was exactly what they needed to get rid of the stink of poor trash that followed them throughout their childhood and become the kings of their industry.

“I don’t have time for this, Levi.”

They hadn’t reached their current position in just six years by lounging on the beach.

Duke had never taken a vacation. Growing up they had been too poor to go anywhere, even to dream of going anywhere—and then he went to prison. And the only thing he had wanted the whole time he was there was to get out, to have his space, to be his own boss. He didn’t need a vacation. He had all he needed now with his shop. Work was his life.

“Billy,” he called over to the guy with the shaved head and face tattoo sitting behind the desk. “I need the drawings for the pinstriping we’re going to do on the Ford in five minutes. We’ve got a customer coming in.”

Billy looked up at him for a moment and let out a grunt before he bent his head and went back to work.

Two years ago the guy had been in the same place Duke had been when he got out. Broke and hungry for a chance.

Duke believed in chances. Believed in ex-cons, even though the world thought he was crazy for hiring men most of society had deemed shit.

They may have been a rough-looking bunch with more tattoos and scars than an army battalion, but they were decent men. And Duke knew from experience that just because you had been locked up, it didn’t mean you should be written off.

“Come on, Duke. I can have the plane tickets in my hands by tomorrow. There’s something I want to talk to you and Colt about.”

“What?” He gave Levi his full attention then. Levi had seemed a little restless lately. Levi being restless wasn’t a good thing. He was a speed freak and an adrenaline junkie. It was why he’d become a Formula One driver, and he was damn good at it. But then he’d almost died when his car wrecked and he hadn’t raced again in over a year. “Just tell me now. I don’t have time for this shit.”

Watching that wreck was the scariest fucking moment in his life. And Duke didn’t do fear. He wasn’t scared when he was arrested, and he wasn’t scared when he was sentenced, but seeing that car smash into pieces and knowing Levi was inside …

Whatever it was Levi wanted to tell him, it had better not be that.

He’d break his damn legs if it meant keeping him off that track.

“I want to tell you and Colt together.”

“Why? You’d have a better chance of escape if you told us individually.”

Levi raised an eyebrow, but he didn’t seem too concerned about his well-being. “For someone who went to prison for attempted murder, you sure as hell threaten to kill me a lot.”

“Stop pissing me off and I won’t threaten to kill you.”

“Yo, Duke,” one of his employees called to him from the front office. “Phone.”

“Tell whoever it is I’ll call them back.” He didn’t feel like taking calls right now. He was more interested in what was going on with Levi.

“No. You need to take this phone call.”

“What did you say to me?” Duke never heard no. Especially from somebody who worked for him.

”Take the call, Duke. It’s your aunt. She’s in ICU.”

*   *   *

Duke had never been to the new corporate offices of King’s Customs since they’d opened two years ago. The big shiny glass building just off the Vegas Strip was Colt’s realm, where the real money was handled and made. Duke handled his shop, the day-to-day stuff. Tested the quality of the products that had his name on them. There was no need for him to come to this building, but as the founder and owner of this company, it pissed him off to no end that no one knew who he was when he walked in.

“I’m sorry, sir,” Colt’s harried assistant told him when walked up to her desk. “Mr. King is in a meeting right now. He is not to be disturbed. Please make an appointment and come back later.”

Duke had to admit he admired the little woman for standing up to him. She was a lot tougher than the lobby receptionist, who’d let him right up. Then again, she had to work with Colt every day. And Colt was the morose type of son of a bitch who could suck the fun out of a blow job. People were scared of him, too, and Duke knew his younger brother liked it that way.

Still, this was Duke’s company. He would be damned if he made an appointment to see his own brother. “I don’t care if the fucking queen of England is in there, I need to see him now.”

“Fine.” She took a breath and steeled herself as she pressed a button on her phone. “Sir?”

“I told you I do not wish to be bothered,” Duke heard his brother’s disdainful voice say.

“I know, sir, and I’m sorry, but there is someone here to see you.”

“Get rid of them.”

She took her finger off the button, looking thoroughly terrified now. “Sir, please make an appointment.” She was nearly begging.

Duke felt a little bad for her, but he was more pissed at his brother for ignoring his calls and not training his staff to know who the real boss was. He shook his head and made his way toward Colt’s closed office door. “This is bullshit. I don’t need to make an appointment to see the son of a bitch!”

He threw the door open to see a smaller guy in a suit sitting in a chair in front of his brother’s desk. The guy looked like he was going to shit himself. Duke was aware of how he looked. Big as a linebacker, tattoos up his arms, motorcycle boots that looked like they were designed to stomp a man into the ground. He couldn’t be more different from his brother if he tried.

BOOK: Betting the Bad Boy
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