The Token 7: Thorn (A Token Novel) (6 page)

BOOK: The Token 7: Thorn (A Token Novel)
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9

Thorn

 

Chet's pansy cologne fills my lungs, burning my nerves along with insulting me with the cost.

Fucker.

He laughs in my face.

I want to punch his teeth down his throat.

Not liking the way he's sniffing around Kik. I wouldn't like it even if she dug him, but it doesn't seem like she does.

“Wrecking my shirt, caveman,” Chet says in a low voice of warning.

Thing is,
I tighten my grip to a stranglehold,
he would be tough to put down.

Chet's put himself through the paces of every kind of body conditioning and martial arts available. He's got the money for it. The time. God knows he probably smokes cigars while chucking bundles of cash in an incinerator at his McMansion somewhere in a neighborhood like Medina.

I drop my hands and slash my eyes to Kiki briefly.

She's dressed.

“Thorn!” a female screams.

It's like I hit my funny bone. Nails down a chalk board. Sticking my finger in a light socket.

That voice lights me up from the inside out.

Simone.

Her throaty tone has vanished, replaced with a high-pitched keening not of fear but warning.

I turn back to Chet and meet his fist.

It's not a glancing blow, and I see stars. I begin to topple like a mighty tree.

My focus spins.

Sharpens.

I've been blurry and disoriented so many times, I absolutely go automatic. I let the primal boy out to play in the sandbox with Chet.

I slash out blindly, striking hard where the mass of his body is located. I automatically guess where his sternum would be.


Holy fucking crow!”

I don't listen to Kiki. My red veil of rage descends, and I roll with my strike, landing on Chet. He maneuvers in a hip swivel, dislodging me in a classic counter.

I bounce to my feet, and so does he.

His perfectly tousled hair looks pretty fucked up.

Loving it.

I move my punch from my shoulder, and he blocks it with a forearm. He grunts, and I know I've numbed his arm.

Chet moves in tight. At six feet two, he's an inch shorter than me and twenty pounds lighter, but he's so fast, he floats.

Lunging low, he rolls from the hips and grabs me around the waist, tossing me on a table.

I bring my knee up, aiming for his balls.

Assuming he's got some.

He turns, protecting the jewels and I palm his head into the table.

Boom.
The crack of his skull resonates in time to the music.

He jams the heel of his palm into my chin.

Something pulls on me, and my instinct is to backhand whatever is on me.

“Thorn.”

A soft voice pulls me back as my chin strains against Sinclair's hand.

“Chet!” Kiki screams.

His hand releases my chin as he smoothly rolls off the round table by the stage.

We square off, the table between us.

Kiki looks like a Barbie dipped in pink. So small and curvy, sitting on the stage glaring at Chet.

He laughs, wiping his bleeding mouth. His eyes shoot a glance over her shoulder at me. “Have the girls protecting you now, Ty?”

I hate his rich ass.

I go to move around Simone when she moves into the line of Chet's body. His eyes widen.

Then his head rocks back. The sound of slapped flesh eclipses the music.

Simone doesn't hit like a girl. I know that first hand, Sinclair doesn't.

Sinclair shakes his head to clear it. His fists clench.

I move Simone.

“Don't, Thorn. If he thinks he's man enough, he can bring it,” she says.

“Oh my God, Simone,” Kiki says, worry lighting up her face. “Don't... Fuck this, don't get between two dudes. Just sayin'.”

“Their gender isn't relevant,” Simone says, her eyes never leaving Chet.

Chet narrows his gaze on her. Her palm print is an angry mar against his fair skin.

“I don't strike women.”

There’s a beat of silence as the music cuts to a new song.

“I don't need your help, Simone,” I say.

“I'm aware. I'm stopping the violence,” she says.

What?

“We through?” Simone asks.

Sinclair butchers her with his arrogant stare.

I want to beat him twice for the way he looks at her.

She lifts her chin in response. Unflappable.

Hot as fuck.

Chet dismisses her and turns to Kiki.

“Nice performance, Kandace.”

Kiki looks at me then Simone.

Finally, she looks at Chet. “Thanks, I guess.”

It's a rare thing to see Kik flustered—speechless.

Kiki walks over to stand in front of him. “I—listen, I don't know what this is about...” She glares at me.

I step back, throwing up my palms. “It's his bullshit. Chet Sinclair can visit the Black Rose anytime as a paying lech. Doesn't need to come at practice time.”


It was my understanding Kandace was no longer employed here. Yet, for the sake of being thorough, here I am. And here she is.” He spreads his hands away from his body with an arrogant smirk.

I hate when he calls Kiki Kandace. Lots of hate for Chet-boy.

Kiki exhales in a huff. “I don't... but I'm training a new girl.”

Chet runs his eyes over Kiki, and I want to beat on him again. I must make a move toward him, because Simone puts her hand on my arm.

I look at her.

Green pools of water look back. Calm like the sea. Endless.

She gives a little shake of her head, so
I notch my shit down, but it's ugly.

Kiki fumes. “I can't have you coming here and beating up Thorn.”

I make a noise. “He was not beating me up.”

“I'm no pussy, Thorn,” Chet says.

Why does that word sound so great coming out of the right mouth and so wrong out of his?

“Well, I have one, and I'm not one either,” Simone says.

My lips quirk. I cover my smile with my hand, faking a small cough. God
damn
, does she have one.

Chet tries not to smile and blows it, laughing. “Clearly.”

“Fine.” Kiki’s hands going to her hot pink hips. “Does everyone have the stick out of their asses so we can begin acting like adults?”

Chet glares at me but gives the chin dip that serves as nodding for the dickhead.

“Yeah,” I agree, folding my arms.


Okay... God, ya pack of infants.” Kiki throws a look at Simone and stalks off. “Come on, doll. Let's kick it into gear.”

Simone turns, and I snap my eyes to hers. They'd been glued to her ass.

Again.

“You two get lost.” She looks at Chet. “You especially.”

Chet Sinclair just grins, hands in his pockets.

He's got a torn silk shirt that costs more than a week of my pay, and I make good bank.

His face is swelling where I love-tapped his jaw.

But he'll go away and get all doctored and adored because he shits money.

Unlike my billionaire best bud Mick McKenna, this prick was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

I frown.

Nah, it was gold.

And he's jonesing after Kiki. That's not my problem even though I'm a little overprotective of that chick. The girl I'm distracted over is getting ready to dry-hump the pole.

I'm dying to watch.

I'm not proud of not being able to stay away, but it is what it is.

I want to slide into her while she writhes underneath me on the stage. I shift my weight, hiding my boner.

Kiki looks at me as I stare at Simone.

Simone doesn't see me watching because she's wrapping her sexy ankles in strappy heels.

Kiki points at the hall that leads to the exit.

Fuck.

I stalk off. My injuries where Sinclair hit me throb; my ego is bruised to the core.

That's the worst pain of all.

10

Simone

 

I breathe a sigh of relief as Chet and Thorn leave.

“Is that... normal?”

Kiki crosses her arms, hiking her considerable tits. “Well, Thorn and Chet don't get along that great.”

I laugh. “Yeah, obviously.”

I bend over to stretch, warming up for my practice set. Silence around Kiki is so unusual I look up, my fingers wrapped around my toes, my knees locked.

My ponytail swings into my line of sight, and I toss it behind my shoulder.

“Thorn has become overprotective since this bullshit happened with my friend last year,” Kiki said.

“What bullshit?” I press my forehead to my left knee.

“Some crazy-ass was stalking her, and... he tried to kill her.”

I whip my head up and stand. “Are you kidding?”

Kiki jerks her face back, insulted. “Do I look like I'm kidding?”

She doesn't.

I blow out some air and press my forehead to the opposite knee, thinking about Thorn.

Actually, he's never left my thoughts.

“Faren used to do this revolving lap club Thorn had going on...”

“Above board?” I ask against my right knee.

I hear Kiki's hair swish against her outfit and realize the music's been turned off.

“Nah, it was illegal.”

So Thorn’s willing to do things his boss isn't. Like screwing the dancers on their kitchen tables.

I stand.

Kiki looks around. “Damn, they cut the music. I'm gonna go get the musical loop started. Be right back!”

Kiki walks off, and I practice walking down the runway. I'm used to heels from all the traveling I've done. I’ve walked irregular stairs, pathways, airports, and hauled luggage in those things. Under duress.

I get into the zone: feeling nothing, thinking nothing.

It's like taking a breath. My body remembers and cooperates.

I prowl down the runway. The goal is the pole.

I move to the pole and grip it with my left hand as my right knee glides up the cold, smooth metal. I arch and undulate like a snake.

The metal kisses my pussy then my stomach. My breasts wrap around it, and I throw back my head. My hair whispers along the lowest part of my spine as I reverse the serpent's ripple.

I glide down the pole, my legs widening and toes pointed out.

I land in a perfect parody of the splits, my flexibility superb because of the dojo.

My head grazes the pole as though in supplication.

I take a breath in the stagnate quiet.

I look up and see him standing there. I startle, hitting my head hard on the pole with a sharp, ringing clap.

My Shepard. He has found his missing sheep.

I bounce to my feet, keeping my arms loose.

He keeps his distance.

Shepard has one testicle now.

I bashed in the other.

We eye each other like opponents on the mat.

“Simone,” he says casually, though it is anything but.

“Shepard.”

“You've led us on a merry chase.”

I don't change my ready stance. I wish I had better shoes on, though I can fight in heels if pressed.

“You look beautiful.”

He smiles, and it doesn't reach his eyes.

“Fuck off,” I say in English.

It fades and he raises his hands.

“Keep them where I can see them, Shep.”

He inclines his head. His arrogant and handsome face is feral, dusky and resolute.

“Simone, you know you've left us in”—he rolls his eyes to the ceiling—“a lurch, as the charming Americans call it.”

I bark out a laugh. “That's rich. I served my time. I no longer answer to
la foule Français.”

Shepard's face grows dark. “How beautiful our mother tongue rolls off your lips; how vile are the words you speak.”

I take a deep breath. He's being reasonable. For now.


Use another girl.”

His eyebrows lift. They’re black like his hair, dark like his midnight eyes. “There are no other girls who have your unique... attributes.” He knots his hands behind his back.

Hands that have beaten me.

Hands that have loved me.

His hands make me shake with fear. I’m so pissed I want to scream.

A small noise comes from behind me, and though I wish to turn, I don't. I won't make an amateur move like that.

Music pours out of the sound system, thumping.

A spray of colorful lights land like cut glass on my skin. They land on Shepard as well.

They cut his face in multicolored shapes that look like jeweled blood.

I shiver, then Kiki is at my elbow.

“Okay, sweet thing, let's see what you got.”

I know when she sees Shepard.

She moves in front of me. “Who the fuck are you?”

I smile. The better I come to know Kiki, the better I like her.

Shepard sighs in frustration. He hates witnesses. Kiki comes off as bold and mildly crude, but the reality is she's smart, and she doesn't take the time to impress others with how they perceive her.

“I am an acquaintance of Simone.”

The ultimate lie.

I can't risk Kiki's life, so I hold my tongue.

Kiki turns to look at me, and Shep blows me a kiss when she can't see him.

My hate blooms like a horrible flower, rolling off the petals like stamens exhausted of their poisonous dust.

She turns back to Shep. “Y'know, I don't believe you. Simone doesn't look like she wants to be very
acquainted
with you, so why don't you just take your pompous ass out that door?” Kiki points at the brightly lit exit sign. “This is off hours, pal. We don't want any scrubs until it's time.”

She shrugs.

He doesn’t move. His dark eyes find mine.

“Are ya thick?” Kiki asks as his gaze slides to her.

“Who are you?” he asks.

I tense.

“I'm the chick who is showing you the door—now skedaddle.”

A subtle flutter erupts in his jaw. Shepard isn’t accustomed to being told what to do.

He steps toward us.

I lower into a crouch, stepping beside Kiki.

I see her turn toward me in my peripheral vision.

“What. The. Fuck? This day has a case of The Dumbs!”

Things get complicated when Thorn walks in, sees the three-way tension, and strides over to us.

Mon dieu!

BOOK: The Token 7: Thorn (A Token Novel)
12.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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