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Authors: Isabella Starling,Marci Fawn

Savage: A Bad Boy Fighter Romance

BOOK: Savage: A Bad Boy Fighter Romance
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Savage
A Bad Boy Fighter Romance
Isabella Starling
Marci Fawn

C
opyright
© 2016 by Isabella Starling

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 written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

Prologue

Memphis


C
ome on
, you piece of shit. You think you can take me?” I growl, motioning for the big lug to come at me again.

He is already woozy, tipping back and forth, completely forgetting about keeping his hands up and his legs moving. I love seeing them in this state. Meat for slaughter, just waiting to be pounded into the ground.

The crowd jeers at him, egging him on. I grin, raising my hands and inviting cheers on my behalf, blood and sweat dribbling down my wide chest and tight abs.

I’m not sure whether the blood is his or mine. It probably doesn’t matter.

Bear Buck comes at me again. It’s his fighting name. Just as ridiculous as he is, if I’m honest.

He is like an ox, charging at me, head low and eyes read and beady. His gaze is filled with hatred, the blues of his irises barely distinguishable because of the red swirling behind them, vessels having popped in his eyes from one too many head-on hits. I have been giving his cranium a beating and it’s showing in the way he moves, with a bit of a lumbering sidestep.

“Come on, Angel! Fucking finish him!” some jerk yells, making me snarl.

I hate that nickname.

Maybe you’ll be next, asshat,
I think, stepping from foot to foot, taunting Buck.

At the last moment, right when Buck thinks he is going to collide with me and take me down on the mat, I jump out of the way. The movement is effortless, just like I’ve been taught all my life.

The cage rattles as Buck hurls himself against it, his momentum too great to stop himself. Like a freight train, he plows into it, making the chain link enclosure rattle precariously. Barbed wire loops over the top of it in dangerous twists. I’ve seen a guy get gutted on them, when a big bastard like Buck had thrown his opponent on top of the wire.

It’s been a good night for Wilson, though. Blood always pays better than anything else.

Growling, I meet Buck’s charge again. Sure, he is a big, dumb animal, weakened by being run around for the last few rounds, but that only makes him more dangerous. If he catches me once, I’m done for.

95…

The number plays in my head as the bright lights of the arena shine down on me. There is barely any air left in the room, slammed thick with writhing bodies, angry old men trying to see more of the fight. It’s like they want to be in here with us, pushing themselves up against the fence, wanting to taste the salt and copper of sweat and blood.

“Fucking hell, Angel! Put him to the ground!”

I recognize that voice. My head snaps to the side, catching a glimpse of Wilson as he sits in his plush leather chair, smoking a cigar and watching me make money for him. The smug grin he wears makes my blood boil, adrenaline pounding through my veins.

This time, when Buck comes at me, I don’t make any effort to get out of his way. Instead, I duck down when he’s already on me. I shoulder him in the stomach and flip him over. He lands on his back with a thud that rattles the ground beneath me, and before he can even attempt to get up, I am on him.

I slam my knees down on his shoulders, leaning my body forward so he can’t twist up and grab me with his meaty, stumpy legs. He looks like a former wrestler, maybe even All State. Whatever brought him here though, it hasn’t prepared him. Not for me.

The gargling noise he makes the first time my wrapped up fist connects with his cheek makes the crowd erupt in screams that are nearly deafening. I feel a calm fall over me, wrapping me up in a cocoon of silence and the pure, undeniable desire to win.

Like ninety-four times before, I am going to win. And I’m not going to stop before I get out of this hellhole, and as far away from it as I can.

I stop counting the punches. Between keeping Buck down, one knee on his neck and the other holding his shoulders down, I punch him in the face as fast and as hard as I can. Blood sprays around us and I’m not sure how much of it is mine, and how much from the battered pulp that is his face.

He twists and screams beneath me, trying to throw me off like an angry bull, bucking and snarling. He slams hits into my sides and back where he can, the angle being all wrong for him. His massive strength still makes each hit rattle through me like I’ve been hit straight on by a wrecking ball.

Any other man would have given up a few punches in, but not him. No, he keeps trying to grapple me until his lights go out. When he finally goes limp beneath me, all that is left of his face are a couple of holes, whimpering with each breath, and two swollen eyes that are shut tight.

Slowly, I hear the world come back into focus. My hearing creeps back and the world around me turns from complete silence into deafening screams. The men in the underground fighting pit are grabbing the links of the fence and shaking them, screaming and hollering at my defeated opponent and me.

As if in a daze, I stand up, giving one last look at my latest victim. The ninety-fifth one.

Every inch of my body hurts. I’m sure I’ve cracked a few ribs with that last onslaught, having given Buck too much space to pummel me while I tried to knock him out. But I stand tall.

At 6’4’’, I am built lean but strong, wide shoulders and broad chest tapering into a narrow waist and hips. My legs are thick and my biceps bulge with the pump of the fight, sweat streaked lines over the intricate patterns of my tattoos, which snake down my arms and chest.

Absently, I notice that I am breathing hard, but it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. I’ve won.

And I’ll keep winning.

No matter what.

One
Adrienne

I
’m not
daddy’s little girl anymore.

Not when daddy’s six feet under the ground, his coffin being lowered into the hungry earth as my mother and I watch with tear-filled eyes. I raise a handkerchief to my face, patting my face dry. The tears just won’t stop coming, and I can’t stop myself from sobbing loudly.

I should be embarrassed. Daddy raised me to be a strong girl, not a mess like I am now. I know he wouldn’t be pleased with me never getting over his passing. I need to be strong for him. And I need to help my mother, who is already completely broken over what happened.

Supporting her on my arm, I haul her up when she collapses to the ground. I know this is going to destroy her. Despite his shortcomings, my mom really loved my father. They shared something special, something that I could only hope I’d find myself one day… Not that the chances for me finding love are looking great.

Not with dad dead, and Wilson Cobb taking over everything.

The funeral officiant recites some speech that has nothing to do with my father. It’s generic, and I’d rather be without it, but mom insisted we do this the traditional way. There’s not a lot of people here today.

Just a few business associates of dad’s, not that they give a damn about him or his passing.

They’re just vultures, here to quarrel and pick over what’s left of his crumbling empire.

I wipe another tear off my face as I hear daddy’s coffin finally hit the ground. Gruesome images of his rotting body overcome me, and I nearly collapse myself. But I manage to keep myself up, making myself stand tall and proud.

The way he’d want me to be.

My father was James Hanson. Infamous gang leader, head of the city. The man who held all the puppet strings in his hands, pulling on them as he damn well pleased. Something I’d only come to find out days after his death.

It is news that I might never recover from.

And now he’s gone. Murdered. Leaving only my mother and me in his wake. And apart from sharing a last name with him, I have nothing in common with him.

Where he was strong, I am weak - in both my mind, will and body. His hardness has not been passed on to me. I am soft-hearted where he was cruel and always efficient. I let my emotions rule over me, but my daddy never allowed for feelings to get in his way.

I stumble through the rest of the funeral, barely understanding what’s going on around me. I need to stay strong though, because the moment I give in, my mother will, too. So I do my best… Until the officiant finishes his speech with disinterest, getting ready to move on to the next dead man. It’s all a routine to him.

I feel angry for some reason, and I feel my fists itching to wipe the bored look off the officiant’s face. He buried someone’s husband, someone’s father today, and yet he is cold and nonchalant as if it were nothing. I need to hit something. I need to feel the skin on my knuckles split open.

I need to feel
something
.

My mother and I stumble away from the cemetery after spending the obligatory few minutes staring at daddy’s flower arrangement laden grave.

We’re approaching a parking lot when we’re interrupted by a tall man dressed completely in black. He simply steps in front of us and blocks us from passing with a big, meaty hand extended in front of his body.

“What are you doing?” I ask him.

I feel angry, angry and tired as hell. I need to lie down and forget this day ever happened, and I don’t need this guy stirring up trouble for us.

“Let us pass, please.”

“Your presence has been requested,” the guy says in a monotone, robotic voice.

“By whom?”

My response is bitter. I’m in no damn mood to play catch-up with one of daddy’s associates. We can deal with the business aspect of things when we’re done with our mourning period. And we need it. I need time to clear my head so badly.

“Follow me, please,” the man says, forcibly taking hold of my arm and yanking on it.

I twist my hand helplessly, but his grip is strong. My eyes go up to his and I glare at him. My mother whimpers behind me, being assaulted by a different guard.

“I don’t think so,” I snap at him. “You don’t just get to come here and boss us around!”

He looks indifferent to my words, so I grit my teeth and ram my elbow into his belly, thinking he’ll topple over and I’ll be free to leave.

But my punch does absolutely no damage. The guy’s abs feel rock hard, and I think I only managed to hurt myself in the process.

“Let me go!”

He ignores my plea, and my mother and I are dragged to a limousine that’s parked a little way off. I struggle the whole way there, trying desperately to break free of the guard’s grasp. It’s hopeless. He overwhelms me in stature and strength.

The limousine door opens and I’m shoved inside headfirst, with my mother following closely behind. Before I get the chance to object, the door is shut in my face and the car begins to move away. It takes a moment for my eyes to adjust to the darkness we’ve been plunged into, but the voice that interrupts my thoughts could wake me from death.

“Hello, ladies.”

It’s the voice of my father’s killer. And I know exactly what’s happening. I’ve known it would happen for days now, yet I still hoped and prayed he’d take mercy on us, somehow forget that we ever existed.

Wilson Cobb emerges from the shadows of the vehicle, his Cheshire cat’s grin making me want to throw up.

“Get the fuck away from me,” I snarl at him, glaring daggers at him.

“Oh, Adrienne,” he responds with a syrupy-sweet voice.

I hate him. Hate him so damn much, from his expensive, custom tailored suit to the expensive watch he flaunts on his wrist.

“I’ve been so very kind to you both. Did I not let you attend your father’s funeral?”

“You’re a monster,” I tell him, already fighting back tears.

Why am I so weak?

I should be able to defend myself, protect my mother from this crazy son of a bitch. Yet there’s not a thing I can do, impotent rage all I have on my side. He’s here to reclaim what was once my father’s. It’s what their fight was all about, anyway.

“A monster you’re going to be calling daddy in no time, sweet thing,” Wilson grins at me.

He’s a handsome guy, but his features are tainted by the pure evil that seeps through every pore of his body. You don’t even need a narrator to realize that he’s one of the bad guys.

He reaches forward, gently stroking my mother’s face. She whimpers, and I hiss when he touches her.

“You’ll see. It’ll all be for the best, and you’ll learn your place,” he says, his voice little more than a growl.

I’ve known for years now that Wilson wants my mother. She’s always been a beauty in her own right. The years have passed and somehow, she’s only gotten prettier, her gentleness adding to her beauty.

While my father and Wilson begrudgingly worked together, I could feel something was always off about their relationship. The way Wilson would look at my mom, and sometimes at me, it made my skin crawl. When my father was there to protect us, it didn’t matter.

But now there’s no one to protect us and here we are, practically homeless and without anything to call our own, at his whim and mercy.

The shit-eating grin he wears tells me he knows exactly the kind of situation he has us in. That we have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. That he is calling all the shots.

One day, I’ll have my goddamn revenge, and I’ll stab him in the back and watch him bleed out. I will do what my father couldn’t and get rid of him once and for all. But until then, I’ll be forced to play the eternal good girl.

The sweet daughter. Daddy’s girl.

Except Wilson Cobb is not my father.

And he never will be, as hard as he may try to convince me otherwise.

The car takes off, my mother and I trapped inside. After our stand-off, I fall into a sort of dreamy haze, leaning into the cushions. I pretend none of this is true. I pretend I still live in the world where my father has a boring office job and my mom is happily in love with him.

In my daydream, I’m a teenager, sullen at times, but sweet and happy most of the time. But every time I picture the happy family in my mind, the image fades into the background, leaving only cruel reality in its stead.

My father, gone.

My mother and I, owned by his killer.

Part of the deal,
Cobb had called it.

We belong to him now, like we’re goddamned property. He’s going to take us in, just like he did with the rest of my father’s things. He took ownership of his business, took his men, his family. We all belong to the man who killed our leader now. And there’s nothing in the world I can do to stop him.

The drive to Wilson’s house doesn’t take too long, and we’re pulling up in front of his mansion in mere minutes. My mother hasn’t spoken for the whole trip, and I’m worried sick about her. She’s a fragile woman, and I’ve witnessed her breaking far too many times over the past few weeks.

I couldn’t stand it if something happened to her.

When I’m pulled out of the car forcibly, I glare at Wilson with hatred. I need to do something. While I’m not shackled, I am still a prisoner. And I need to know I at least tried to get away from this madness.

With all my might, I raise my leg and kick Cobb hard in his side as he passes by. Except it doesn’t work, because he grabs ahold of my ankle before I manage to kick, and throws me on the floor. I land in the gravel in the driveway, inhaling dust and choking on it.

I stare up at Cobb, ready to hiss insults at him, but he grabs my mother by the waist and makes a show of pulling on her hair, hard. I let out something between a whimper and a growl, and he laughs. The prick actually laughs in my face.

“Sweet thing, you’d better watch yourself,” he tells me in his stupid taunting voice. “You don’t want mommy dearest to get hurt because of your mistakes, do you now?”

I hate him with every fiber of my being. Every cell screams of it as I struggle to get up and follow them meekly inside Cobb’s mansion. I may start to act like the perfect, obedient daughter, but I’m planning my escape every damn step of the way.

And I’m sure Cobb is aware of it, and it probably amuses him… Not for long. Not if I have a say in it.

We walk into the house to find several people in uniforms lined up against a wall. Wilson makes a big show out of showing us around the house, and I do my best not to try and hit him again. Instead, I follow in their path like a good girl, nodding when I’m shown to my quarters.

I know I won’t be left alone for a moment, and once my mother is safely in her own room, Cobb turns to face me.

“Don’t give me any trouble,” he snarls at me, his voice miles away from the sweet tone he uses on my mother. “You mess with me, you will fucking die. Though I think I don’t need to make that clear, after daddy dearest?”

I can only stare at him, hatred filling me to the brim. I can’t react. That’s what he wants - a knee jerk reaction, so he can punish me. So I stay quiet and obedient this time. Like a puppet.

Cobb smiles before motioning for the guards to bring someone else to the room.

A petite, plain looking girl enters, her gaze fixed on the floor and her cheeks lightly blushed. She’s twisting her hands in her lap, and my attention goes to her fingers.

She’s missing a pinkie on her left hand, and noticing that makes me shiver. I don’t ever want to find out how she lost that finger.

“Adrienne, this is Hannah,” Cobb introduces us. “She’ll be your personal maid.”

“You mean she’ll be watching my every move and reporting it to you?” I ask bitterly, and Cobb gives out a hearty laugh.

“Precisely,” he grins at me with no amusement in his hard smile. “I’m glad you’re catching on so fast, sweet thing. Why don’t I leave you and Hannah to get acquainted while I take care of your mother.”

He tips my chin back with a long pointer finger, and I raise my rage-filled gaze to his cold eyes.

“Don’t do anything stupid now, sweet thing.”

I don’t reply, and he lets go of my face with anger, twisting my head to the left. He leaves the room with his entourage and then it’s only me and the maid.

I collapse on the floor immediately after the door closes, too weak to stay up and argue, shaking. She can pick me up from the floor or ignore me. At this point, it’s all the same to me.

The girl kneels down next to me, gently pushing my hair off my face as I sob.

“Are you alright?” she asks me softly, and I just shake my head.

She looks at me with concern, and I decide she might actually be a decent human being. But that doesn’t change things. There’s nothing she can do for me in this hellhole.

“Is there anything you need?” she asks, almost desperate to make me feel better.

She’s one of those people, then. The ones who try - and mostly fail - to try and make others happy.

“I don’t know,” I sniff. “I… I don’t want to be here.”

“I know,” she whispers.

Our eyes meet, her grey gaze filled with concern.

“I… May be able to give you something for the anxiety. Would that help a little?”

I nod lifelessly. I don’t care at this point, to be honest. I just need something to numb the pain.

She slips a packet from her apron and gives me a few pills. I hold them in the palm of my hand while she gets some water, then wash them down with the cool liquid. I hope they kick in soon.

Before I get the chance to talk to Hannah some more, there’s a rap on the door. She’s the one to open it, because I’m still in a crumpled heap on the floor. I hear her talking to a man in hushed tones, and closing the door after he leaves.

“Miss Adrienne?” she calls out to me.

I look up, tired and worn. Whatever it is, I’ll have to deal with it. I know Cobb won’t go easy on me. Not now, not fucking ever.

“Yes?”

“Mr. Cobb has requested your presence in the hallway,” she tells me with an apologetic look.

“Oh, for God’s sake,” I murmur to myself, picking myself up from the floor.

I smooth down my dress, looking helplessly at Hannah. There’s nothing she can do though - I assume even giving me the pills could get her into trouble.

BOOK: Savage: A Bad Boy Fighter Romance
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