Chapter One

Just My Luck

Chapter One

            People like to say that they’re not lucky. For example, they play a game of cards and continually lose, so they decide it’s because they’re down on their luck. Not that they’re awful at cards or anything like that.

            What’s really unlucky is when you’re walking down the street in the early evening and a car pulls up next to you. Of course, I didn’t think a whole lot about it until they grabbed me, smacked tape over my mouth, wrapped cable ties around my arms and legs, and stuffed me in the trunk of the car.

            This, right here, is unlucky. At the moment, I’m not sure if I should panic. Honestly, I kind of feel like I deserve this but my brain is trying to tell me that I need to figure out how to get out and run away before the car stops and the assholes inside the car notice I’m missing. While I’ve been complimented for being “bendy” it’s not helping too much, seeing as my hands and legs are bound and I have no way to squeeze out of the trunk.

            The car rumbles on and every time it hits a pothole, my head slams against the scratchy carpet that hides the spare tire. Supposedly, there are quick releases in trunks that glow in the dark for situations like this, but as I roll around, I see nothing glowing in the darkness besides the light from the taillights bleeding into the trunk.

            I have the worst fucking luck.

            I shift a little until my bound feet are aimed at the back seat and I just start hammering on it. There were four guys, so at least two have to be in the back seat and I’m determined to make their ride a living hell.

            “Knock it the fuck off!” one screams.

            I will never understand how or when I used up all of my luck. Maybe I wasn’t even born with any luck. That could be the issue here.

            Okay. Think rational thoughts. Think calm thoughts. Whaling on the back of their seat is doing nothing beyond annoying them.

            Now to get my ass out of here.

            I roll onto my knees and chest and hold my arms behind me. The way the men grabbed me, I hadn’t thought they were amateurs, but really? Just zip ties?

            First, I try working them this way and that to see if I can slip my hands free, but they’re too tight to budge, so I lift my arms up then draw them down to my ass as hard as I can. The first time, they just cut into my wrists, not planning on busting at all. It’s easier from the front, but I’m not sure I have enough room to get the ties to my front, so I try again. This time they break, leaving the skin around my wrists burning a bit, but my hands are free and that’s all that matters.

            Now on to my legs. It would be easier if I had more room to work and more light, but I pull my legs up and grab what is left of the broken tie from my wrist. I wedge the sharp edge against the locking mechanism until it gives, and I slide the tie free.

            These assholes clearly thought I’d be easy to deal with because I’m young and rich. A lot of people think I have stuff just handed to me and while they wouldn’t be completely wrong, there’s so much more to it. There’s so much they don’t know about my life that will never be seen from the outside.

            I roll onto my side and push the carpet up before realizing that I was completely wrong. It is my lucky day because these assholes forgot to cover up the tire iron with a tire.

            I pull the heavy metal tool out and feel it over until I decide which end is the best end to hang on to.

            And now I wait.

            While doing so, I decide to kick their seat a little bit more just for something fun to do. It makes them holler and threaten to kill me.

            When the car finally shuts off, I roll into position.

            I can do this. All I have to do is beat up four macho-looking men and run off. Yep. Just four men who look like they punch people for breakfast and probably have guns.

            I’m going to die.

            Nope. No. I can’t die. Dying’s no fun. I’m only twenty. I can’t just die now. I might not know what the hell I’m doing but I know that I need to try everything I can to get out of this alive.

            All right, butterflies in my stomach, it’s time to fuck off.

            The trunk lid pops open and I lunge for the man who reaches in for me. The tire iron catches under his chin, snapping his head back as I nearly ride his body down. There are three others hovering around but clearly none were too concerned with me because they’re not even reacting yet. I’m so shocked that the first hit landed that I’m a bit unsure what to do now, but I know I don’t have time to waste. I crack the second man across the side of the face before he even turns to me, and when I shift to the third man, I notice he almost looks bored.

            He won’t be bored when I break his teeth in.

            I swing the tire iron and he slips to the left, grabs my arm, then pushes it forward before easily pulling the tire iron from my grasp as I stare at him in disbelief.

            He’s a fucking magician! What the hell? Who does that?

            I decide, now that Mr. Kung Fu is holding my weapon of mass destruction, I only have one option left.

            Run.

            So off I go.

            What these assholes don’t know is that I was in track during high school. I was one of the fastest runners the school had. So without wasting a beat, I slip past Asshole Ninja and race off into the ditch. I jump the water at the bottom and disappear into a cornfield.

            The leaves whip me in the face, making it feel like they’re cutting into my skin, but I can’t let up. I don’t know where I’m at or where I’m going, but I know I need to get away.

            When I chance a peek behind me, I see that Macho Karate Kid is hot on my tail with the fourth man. This man must be the one from the back seat because he instantly takes to yelling at me.

            “I’ll fucking kill you, you little asshole noodle-looking prick!” he yells.

            While it is my first time being called a noodle, it’s not my first time being called a prick, and honestly, I’m not sure what he’s trying to do with those fighting words besides wasting his breath.

            I take a sharp left, hoping that putting some rows between us will obscure their view of me, because while I did run a lot in high school, I’m quickly remembering that I haven’t done a whole lot of running since.

            Fuck.

            My legs are burning as I break through the cornfield and out onto a road. I look each way, hoping to find a car coming this way with someone inside willing to help me. Another person on the scene might even be enough to scare them off because I honestly don’t know how bad this is.

            Do they want me for my money? Or is it something much, much worse?

            While the idea of running down the road looking for help sounds appealing, it’s also what stupid people do in horror movies or when someone’s trying to run them down with a car.

            I—well, I like to think—am not stupid.

            So I stumble into another ditch and off into the woods.

            I know I need to stop soon before my legs decide to give up on life and my lungs explode. If I could manage to break sight with them, there’s a possibility that I could hide and get away.       

            I see a spot where the ground drops, so I run for it, pushing myself as hard as my body will go. When I hit the hill I slip, nearly falling down it before regaining my balance and sliding partway down. Once up on my feet, I keep moving and disappear into the thicket before drawing to a stop.

            “Where the fuck did that little asshole go?” the man who refuses to shut up asks, immediately telling me that they lost sight of me.

            “Do you think you could ever just shut the fuck up?” the other asks, sounding pissed.

            I press my back hard into the tree while trying to calm my breathing. My legs feel weak and my heart is hammering in my chest as realization settles in that this isn’t going extremely well.

            When I glance down, I notice there’s a stick lying at my feet with the tip pointed where it snapped off from the tree. I’m tempted to reach down and grab it, but I don’t want to make a sound, so I stare at it and listen.

            I can hear one of the men tromping off to my right, announcing his every step, but I don’t hear the other. Has he stopped walking? Is he just trying to listen for me?

            “You can’t hide, asshole,” the loud one says.

            Oh, but I can try.

            I can’t hear the other guy but movement to my right tells me the loud one could see me if he just turned around. I peek to the left, wondering if I could slip to the other side of the tree. Carefully, I turn and slam right into someone. Slowly, I catch the eyes of the ninja motherfucker who was literally standing inches from me.

            “Let’s go.”

            He’s an attractive man in his late twenties or early thirties with blond hair and dark eyes. As he draws in close, I aim my knee right for his balls. He grabs it before yanking up and suddenly, I’m slamming down onto my back. Then he grabs my ankle and starts dragging me after him like this is everyday life for him. “Stop! Dammit! Why are you doing this?”

            “Hey, Shepherd, did you find him?” the other man asks as he looks right at us.

            “No, haven’t seen him,” the man dragging me says. Clearly, he’s a smart-ass, which I can’t help but appreciate, even if he’s planning on dragging me however far we ran.

            “Clearly you did find him,” the other man says.

            “Yes, Rod, I did. So why’d you ask?”

            I twist fast, onto my stomach, and with an expert-level maneuver, he switches hands so I don’t tweak his wrist and off we go, me being dragged on my stomach. “Dammit! Let go of me! Who the hell do you think you are?”

            The man casually looks back at me and I’ve never in my life seen a more nonchalant human. It’s like he’s bored. Like he’s used to dragging people around the woods after chasing them through a cornfield and tying them up in a trunk.

            “Do you have a problem?” he asks.

            “Yeah, I do, asshole. My father is the chief of police. He will find you and throw you in jail so fucking fast!” I growl as I grab a rock and chuck it at his back. It smacks him between the shoulder blades, but it was like I aimed a fly at him. No, a fly probably would have at least annoyed him.

            “You’re an asshole,” I say as I flail, twist, and kick. Eventually one of the maneuvers works because he lets go of me but the moment I pop up, he grabs my wrist instead and starts dragging me again.

            I drop all my weight as I claw and scratch at the hand around my wrist. Clearly my sniping and my fighting is getting me nowhere, so I decide that maybe tears will work.

            “P-Please. I’m really scared. I just want to go home. I didn’t do anything.”

            He looks back at me with dark brown eyes that seem almost amused. “Tough shit, kid.”

            No matter how much I beg, plead, cry, kick, scratch, and fight, he just pulls me after him back to the road. Once there, the Rod guy calls someone and tells them where to pick us up as I realize that it’s getting less and less likely that I’m getting out of any of this. I feel a little panicked, but I know I can’t let my panic get the best of me or I’ll stop thinking rationally. The issue is that I can’t stop thinking about how I know what both of them look like, and now I know their names.

            They don’t care that I know and I begin to wonder why.

            When the car pulls up, instead of stuffing me in the trunk again, they shove me in the back seat between the guy named Shepherd and Rod, the loud one.

            Now that I know their license plate number and all four of their faces, I realize that things really aren’t going to go well.

            Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

 

***

 

            I’m led into the bad guy’s lair, which is really just a shitty-looking building in the middle of bumfuck nowhere. My captors continue to be rather rude as they drag me inside.

            The Rod guy continually spits shit at me as I decide that my legs will no longer work so the only way they’re getting me in the building is by pulling me in there. Shepherd doesn’t seem to mind as he grabs my arm and drags me along. While he’s really not much more than an inch or two taller than me, it’s clear from his frame that he doesn’t spend most of his free time on the couch.

To make his life a little harder, I completely drop my weight and try not to notice when his muscles bulge from his skintight T-shirt. Who wears a t-shirt that tight when being a bad guy? Isn’t it restricting?

            “Why’s your shirt so tight?” I ask as I skid along.

            He doesn’t even bother to glance down at me, even though I feel like it’s a perfectly normal question to ask someone.

            “Hey, Shepherd?” I ask.

            Instantly ignored.

            As he starts to pull me through a doorway, I hook my feet on the doorframe, one on each side. It draws him to a whiplashing halt as he tugs.

            “Do you really think I’m going to just willingly allow you guys to abduct me?” I ask.

            “Yes, because you don’t want to know what happens when you try this guy’s patience,” Rod says as he jabs a finger in Shepherd’s direction.

            Shepherd doesn’t seem concerned in the slightest. There’s not even an ounce of annoyance taking over his face. He just gives me a little tug.

            “Shepherd, I feel like you’re a man of reason,” I say as he gives me a harder tug while I fight to keep my feet locked in position. “Do you not see what’s wrong with this situation? I’m an innocent victim and I’m scared and alone and just want to go home.”

            “So scared you’re worried about the tightness of my shirt,” he says.

            “That was just a coping mechanism. I’m trying to keep from breaking down. Do you want me to break down?” I ask.

            He shrugs and then just drops me. I’m not expecting it, so when I hit the ground on my back, my feet become unlocked. Then he grabs the hood of my sweatshirt and continues dragging me, but now he’s choking me.

            “You’re… choking… me!” I cry as I grab for it.

            He casually glances back at me as I duck my chin and raise my arms, letting the hoodie slide right off. I’m up on my feet and running for the door just as a man the size of a bull steps in front of it. I slam into his body and snatch up the gun at his side. What I’m planning on doing with it, I’m not quite sure at this moment.

            “Back the fuck off or I will murder all of you,” I shout as I switch the safety off. “Death is on the horizon. Would any of you like to pray before I murder you?”

            Shepherd starts walking toward me, so I swing the gun onto him.

            “Stay back or I’ll shoot,” I growl.

            He really doesn’t seem concerned as my finger hovers over the trigger. Does he think I won’t shoot him? Does he know that I have very little experience with guns?

            “Give me the fucking gun,” muscle man yells as he lunges for me. I turn the gun on him as I realize how close he is and pull the trigger. I don’t really know what I’m doing, so I aim low, since that feels safer. He screams out as I jump, realizing that I actually hit the man, which is kind of funny because I think I closed my eyes. And now there’s blood spurting out like it’s reaching for me. And I’m pretty sure I’ve just shot a human and they’re going to die and their death will be on my hands.           

            I am a murderer.

            Oh my god.

            I have murdered this man.

            “My fucking leg, you little fucker!” he yells as he stares down at it.

            “I didn’t mean to murder you!” I cry.

            The man doesn’t seem to be dying yet, but I’m positive I’ve killed him.

            “It’s so hot in here,” I whisper as the blood races down his leg. “I really didn’t mean to shoot you. Are you dying?”

            That’s the moment Shepherd steps onto the scene and yanks the gun from my hand before pushing me down to my knees so I get an up close and personal view of the blood pooling around the man.

            I can’t even focus on anything other than that blood at this point.

            “What the fuck is going on here?” another man asks as he pushes muscle man out of the doorway like he isn’t bleeding to death. No one really seems too concerned about any of this besides me. “You guys literally can’t handle a kid?” The instant I hear the man’s voice, I realize that I shouldn’t have stopped with the beefy guy. I should have shot them all because this situation just became much, much worse.

            “He’s a slippery little fucker and Shepherd let him run,” Rod says.

            The man who just walked in is Tony Warren. The talk on the street is that he’s an arms dealer with some small side business dealing with drugs and prostitution, but no one ever seems to pin him on it. What is true is that he’s a highly successful businessman who leaves his competitors in ruins. Just last year, the owner of a competitive company was found in the river, dead. Of course they couldn’t connect him to the case because Tony knows how to stay quiet and unnoticed.

            “Have a seat, Killian,” Tony says, and I realize exactly how bad this situation is. He targeted me for a reason, and the reason probably has to do with my father, but does he know something more?

            Shepherd lets me go, and I turn toward the chair in the room but Tony laughs, stopping me.

            “Oh, no, no. Scum like you don’t need chairs. Sit on the floor,” he says.

            I debate what to do. I want to be defiant and still sit in the chair because I know that if I start listening to his ridiculous orders, he’ll just keep wanting more from me. But if I don’t listen, what will he do to me?

            He steps up to me, holding my eyes as he grabs ahold of my chin. “Sit your ass on the ground before I have someone break your fucking legs.”

            I decide that the ground really does look comfortable. “You don’t need to threaten me. I just had to comprehend what you said,” I say as I kneel on the ground.

            “Don’t be a smart-ass.”

            “I’m not. Can I ask a question?”

            “No.”

            I decide to take my chances asking anyway. “What can I do to get you to let me go home?”

            “Shut the fuck up would be a nice step.”

            I decide that I’ll listen, so I shut the fuck up and watch.

            “You live with your father, right?”

            “Yeah.” At least it seems that way. “I mean, I don’t see him much, I’m generally busy and so is he. Do you want money in exchange for me?”

            He shakes his head. “No, I have plenty of money. I want information that your dad will give me if he wants you back. What you’re going to do is make a nice little video sobbing and crying to your wittle daddy about how you’re so scared, and won’t he please come save you?” the man says before laughing like this is a fantastic joke.            

            Joke’s on him. He just doesn’t know it yet.

            “Okay. I can do that,” I say.

            “But first we have to make you look a little… let’s say… beat up. Shepherd, punch him in the face.”

            Shepherd turns to me, clearly not hesitant about pummeling my face into the ground.

            “Fuck no!” my gunshot victim says. He’s still standing. The man has to be a fucking tank. “I get to punch the little asshole.”

            And that’s when he steps up and slams his fist into my face so hard that I’m flung onto my back. Blood instantly starts flowing from my nose as I grab for it. My eyes are watering as I realize how fucked I am at this moment. Don’t get me wrong, I knew I was fucked before this, but it’s nothing compared to now.

            I sit back up as Tony smirks at me, phone aimed at my face. “Ready?” he asks.

            I nod and he beams at me like he’s just so proud of me.

            “And action!”

            “Father. Please save me. Help. I’ve been abducted by Tony Warren and I also think I shot a man.”

            Tony lowers the camera, clearly unimpressed with my work. “Don’t say my name, you fucking idiot.”

            “Oh,” I say as if I really was that stupid. “Sorry.”

            He starts again, so I decide to give him a show. Sadly, I know the show doesn’t matter, but Tony needs to learn that the hard way.

            “Father, please help me!” I say and toss in a noise that kind of sounds like a sob. “Please! I’m scared and they’re going to hurt me or kill me. Please!”

            “Beautiful!” Tony says, like he’s proud of me. “Shepherd, take our guest to his room.”

            “Why me?” he asks, but when no one answers him, he grabs my wrist. I actually follow him this time since it means leaving the room where Tony and my victim are.

            Shepherd leads me down a hallway and pulls open a door before pushing me inside.

            “How about you let me go and I promise I won’t make fun of your shirt again?” I ask.

            He stares at me.

            “Or if you like me making fun of your shirt, I could do that too.”

            He still stares at me, clearly unimpressed. “You’ve hurt my feelings. This is my favorite shirt.”

            “It’s a nice shirt. So please let me go.”

            “Are you sure you like my shirt? I feel like you don’t like my shirt,” he says, and I realize that it was horribly stupid fucking with this man. “I suppose I’ll go cry in the corner, then. I probably would have saved you if you just told me you liked my shirt.”

            He closes the door, locking me in the dark room alone with just my thoughts and a bucket. The concrete room has no window and when I fiddle with the door, it’s heavy and made of steel.

            Well, isn’t this going to be a blast?

Just My Luck will release on June 16 and is currently up for preorder. Get your copy here!

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