Authors: Jennifer Bene
Text copyright © 2016 Jennifer Bene
All Rights Reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Cover design by James,
Many thanks to all of my readers who fell in love with ‘Lethal Sin’ and the whole world of the Dangerous Games series, and therefore made this prequel possible. Special thanks to my girl, Jessica Renée, for being my resident French expert, and all of my lovely readers who cheered me on as I worked on this book. It’s dark, like so many of my stories, but it tells how Camille learned to be strong, learned to kill, and became the badass she is in Lethal Sin.
I hope you enjoy it, lovelies.
“Just do it. Just fucking do it.” Her stomach growled as Camille muttered under her breath and pushed open the door. Just another seedy bar buried deep on one of New York City’s lesser-visited streets, but
one had something she needed. The bouncer barely glanced at her from his stool as she walked in, and the pungent smell of too warm bodies and spilled beer hit her like a punch to the nose from across the dirty floor. It turned her stomach, but at least it had shut the damn thing up for a bit. She’d have to earn some cash for food after this, because she was about to spend everything in her pockets on what she
needed – and it wasn’t a burger.
“Hey, pretty girl!” A man called out to her but she ignored him, heading straight to the back like she’d been told. Just under the glowing neon sign for
He was there. He was actually fucking there.
Dark hair, his eyes angled down towards something on the table, a pencil tapping in his hand. The rumble of voices and the scratchy speakers pumping out the sound from the television crowded her, making her itchy to get outside and away from the eyes that were already sizing her up in her tight tank top and shorts. They knew what she was, like wolves catching the scent of what they thought was prey, but she was done being weak.
Just do it. Go on. Do it.
Taking a deep breath she walked forward confidently and slid into the chair across from him. Jade colored eyes rose up to hers, surprise flickering across his face before a scowl appeared. “I’m not interested.”
“You don’t even know why I’m here.” Camille propped her elbows on the table, leaning forward, but he just sighed and returned his gaze to the paper in front of him.
He was doing the crossword puzzle? In this place?
“Not. Interested.” He lifted his pencil and pointed it over her shoulder without raising his eyes. “Now, get up from my table and leave. Go find someone else.”
“I’m not here for that.”
“Sure. Of course not.” The man huffed out a low laugh before he started writing letters in a line of tiny squares.
Camille slammed her hand down on the paper, halting his pencil. “I’m here to buy.”
He sat back then, those pale green eyes lifting once more, appraising her. There was a deep sigh in his chest, and then, “No.”
“I said no. Now, go.” The asshole jerked the paper out from under her hand, and she felt her rage boiling under her skin, heat flushing her cheeks.
This wasn’t how this was supposed to go. Thomas’ friend had
her that he sold. Guaranteed her that if she came to this bar, to this table, with cash in hand, that she’d walk out with what she needed.
“You can’t just tell me no!” she hissed, raising her voice a little, but she lowered it when she noticed heads turning towards them. “I have money,” she whispered, but the man just sighed again.
“You don’t have enough. Trust me.” Crossing his arms he faced off with her, his pencil flipping over his fingers, and she was surprised for a moment by how handsome he was. Most of the dicks in this place were haggard, run down by their hard lives, the drugs and the alcohol – but he looked clean and put together.
It made her hate him a little more.
“I’ve got six hundred. Cash.” Her voice was barely a whisper, but he’d heard her. One eyebrow lifted neatly and he seemed to really look at her for the first time, his eyes narrowing as he stared.
“Where did you get that?”
“Around.” Camille swallowed and leaned back in her chair, mimicking his posture. Casual, laid-back, but still clearly in charge.
“I don’t like liars.”
“I didn’t ask you to like me, did I?” She kept her stare leveled at him, but he surprised her again by laughing, low and quiet.
“No, you did not.” The man stood up and tucked the paper under his arm as he tilted his head. “Alright. Come with me.”
“Come with you where?” Alarms went off in her head, but she locked herself down.
No reactions. Never show fear
“Outside. I don’t do this in here. Bill would have my head.” He shrugged and walked backwards a few steps. “Either come with me, or don’t. Your choice.”
The man turned away and headed towards the front door and Camille cursed under her breath as she resigned herself to follow him. Just as she neared the exit, some asshole grabbed her by the hips and swung her over, laughing as he dragged her into his lap. Fetid breath was on her cheek as his voice slurred, “There’s my girl!” He brushed her hair back from her face. “You think you’re too good for me, pretty girl? I’ll show you a good time, I’ll show you just what you need. Right here.”
She felt the hard press of his cock under her thigh as he lifted his hips against her, his hand running up her waist to cup a breast, and she definitely did
have time for this shit. “Is that right, dickbag?” Shoving a hand into her pocket she pulled out her knife and flipped it open, ready to cut him where he wouldn’t quickly forget – but then she was suddenly yanked off his lap, her hand twisted painfully in an iron grip.
The low, steady voice at her side cut through the noise around them, “Didn’t I tell you to meet me outside?”
“Hey, man, back the fuck off! We were just getting to know each other.” The drunk dickbag in front of her started to stand up from his stool, but the man shoved him back onto it. It made her smile a little to see the panic on his face as he almost lost his balance and fell ass-backwards in front of the bar. Unfortunately, he caught himself on his friend at the last moment.
“No, you weren’t. She’s leaving, and you’re staying here.” The man didn’t wait for the asshole to respond, he just turned and kept her knife between them as he marched them out. As soon as they were on the sidewalk he twisted her wrist sharply and ripped the blade from her hand. He held it out and growled, “
wouldn’t have done shit for you in there.”
“Like you know -”
“Just shut it.” He gripped her upper arm tight and dragged her down the sidewalk, past a pile of garbage, before he stopped at a nice looking car. Pressing a button he unlocked the door and yanked it open. “Get in.”
“Fuck you! Like hell I’m getting in your car, and give me my fucking knife back!” Camille yanked her arm free and took a step back from the man. This was not how she had planned for the night to go. She was supposed to get the gun, leave, and start following Joe in the morning. But, now he had her knife. Her only protection from the scumbags she -
“I’m not waiting all night. You want to make a deal you get in the car. No loss on my part.” He had already tucked her knife somewhere, and his mild expression looked about as interested in her as he was in the bags of trash to her left.
You need a gun. You need a gun. You need a gun.
“Asshole,” she muttered as she dropped into the seat and he slammed the door shut. He joined her inside an instant later and the car hummed to life, his seatbelt clicking into place. His gaze didn’t even shift towards her as the air conditioning kicked on to cool the sweat on her skin, but as soon as they started moving she regretted her decision.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
This was how girls disappeared on the streets, and she was smarter than this. She knew better. Flicking her eyes around the inside of the car she noticed how clean it was – spotless.
Probably because he cleaned up from the last girl he killed who was stupid enough to get in his fucking car.
She contemplated jumping out at the next stoplight, taking off before he had a chance to follow – but then he finally spoke again.
“So, you want a gun.” His voice was easier to hear in the silence of the car, rich and full.
Be confident. Show no fear. Do whatever you have to do.
Camille sat up straighter, rolling her shoulders back. “Yeah, and I’m not giving you any cash if you’re looking to give me the gun in trade.”
Whatever he wanted from her wouldn’t be anything new, and if she could keep the six hundred dollars?
All the better.
The guy glanced over at her. “Buckle up, and tell me why you want one.”
“Fuck off.” She rolled her eyes, but a moment later he braked hard at the next stoplight forcing her to catch herself against the dash so she didn’t hit it face first. “What the hell, man?!”
“I said buckle up, now do it.” There wasn’t room for argument in his voice, and she wanted to just climb out, flip him off, and leave – but Thomas’ friend had told her this was the guy for a clean gun, and he had yet to make an aggressive move towards her.
Not like that
Didn’t people always say that those twenty-something white guys seemed so nice, so normal, just before they turned out to be serial killers? Camille was being a spectacular, desperate idiot tonight. If she ended up chopped into pieces in a dumpster, she’d deserve it. With a grumble she grabbed the buckle and slammed it home.
The car moved forward again and he shrugged. “So, tell me why you
you need a gun.”
“Just fucking sell me the gun, asshole.”
“Tell me why.”
Camille let out a short scream of frustration and slapped the dash. “Fuck you!”
“Alright, no gun. Tell me where to drop you off.” He pointed around the next intersection. “Which way?”
“What the fuck is wrong with you? I have the cash, I was told you sold guns. If I was some macho fuck you’d sell me the gun without a fucking question!” Camille kicked the floorboard as he stayed silent, his car idling at the empty intersection in one of the shittiest parts of the city. Growling under her breath she turned to face him. “What do you want? You want me to suck you off? You want to fuck me? Let’s get it done so I can get the gun and get out.”
There wasn’t an ounce of reaction in his blank expression as he stared out the windshield, the yellow streetlight casting half his face in shadow. He finally took a steadying breath and she noticed the way his hand gripped the steering wheel a little too tight. “Is that how you got the money? Turning tricks?”
“Go to hell.” She turned away from him, looking out the window at someone walking on the other side of the road. What a dumb fucking question.
she’d been turning tricks. There wasn’t anything else she could do to eat, there wasn’t anything else she was
at – and beyond that, she had plans.
And her plans required a fucking gun, and guns cost money.
“I’m not asking for your life story, I’m asking you to tell me why you want the gun.”
“To keep myself safe.”
“Do you even know how to shoot?” The car started forward again and she let out a breath to try and calm down, because with that question hanging in the air there was a glimmer of hope that he’d still sell it to her, regardless of the payment he took.
“Point and pull the trigger.” Camille looked over at him. “Not that complicated.”
He huffed out a short laugh and nodded slowly. “Right.”
“Listen, what the fuck do you want?” Her temper was short on a good day, and right now it was frayed by hunger and his bullshit mind games.
“For you to be quiet.” The exhausted tone in his voice tempted her to go off again, but she shut it down. He didn’t seem interested in using her for the night, which meant
he was just taking her to where the guns were. Then she could walk away from this infuriating fuck and get back on track with her plan. Pissing him off would only ensure she had to find someone else, and it had taken her long enough to find a decent source for a gun that didn’t involve a pimp or running drugs.
They drove in silence for another seventeen tortuous minutes.
The numbers clicked by on his radio one after the other. It was already after two AM, and he was moving away from the crash house she’d found with Thomas and the other heroin boys.
, it would take her hours to walk back, just as the worst drunks were leaving the bars.
She might as well serve herself up on a platter.
“Alright, we’re here.” He got out as soon as he stopped and she followed suit, standing in an empty parking lot before a dark, unmarked building.
“What the fuck is this?”
“You have such a mouth, why don’t you keep it closed for five minutes?”
was the exasperated tone again. He popped the trunk and pulled out a duffel bag, throwing it over his shoulder as he locked the car up and pointed at the door. “Let’s go.”
“You live here?”
“What did I say about keeping your mouth closed?” His keys jingled as he shoved one into the door and unlocked it before holding it open for her.
You’re a stupid, desperate bitch, Camille.
With a muttered curse she walked in ahead of him, and he flipped the light on as he joined her. There was an empty desk behind thick plastic to her right, but he ignored it and walked straight back down a hall. Camille followed as he turned right at the end and then opened a door and flipped on another light.