Authors: Doris O'Connor
Evernight Publishing ®
Copyright© 2016 Doris O’Connor
Cover Artist: Jay Aheer
Editor: Karyn White
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
For Susie, enjoy!
The Cleaners, 1
Copyright © 2016
Incoming bogies in five, Ren.
Ellis Reynolds, known as Ren to his friends and enemies alike, smirked at the crackle in his earpiece, and pushed away from the wall he’d been leaning against. Pulling one long, last drag of smoke into his lungs, he threw the stub on the floor, stamping it out in the process. It wouldn’t do to give his position away by the glowing cigarette end. In truth, it was a filthy habit that he needed to break. With a wry grin and a nod into the CCTV camera mounted in the corner of the backyard to indicate he’d heard his boys’ warning, he gathered his shoulder length salt-and-pepper hair into a ponytail, and stepped back into the shadows behind the large trash cans.
He heard the fuckers before he saw them. The two goons made enough noise for a herd of elephants. They did have the good sense to stay in the one spot the CCTV couldn’t reach, which would only work in his favor. While it would be a matter of seconds to swipe the relevant data, he didn’t need evidence of his kill on camera. He was never that careless, which was why he got the big bucks.
The back entrance of the club creaked open, and his target for the night stuck her head out. Myrtle’s shiny ebony mass of hair hid her expression as she cautiously looked around, making sure to stay under the camera mounted next to the back door.
The devious little bitch shivered in the cool air, and goosebumps broke out across her dark skin. Clad in only a silk robe, which disguised none of the curves that made her famous at
, her stunning figure hid an evil, money grabbing soul.
Ren had no problems with working girls.
He rather enjoyed them, had lain between this one’s thighs a time or two when she first started working for
owner. Owen Huntly was an old friend, and that made this cunt’s betrayal personal. No one stole from Owen and got away with it, least of all a woman London’s foremost crime lord had made a success.
Ren amused himself by visions of having his big hands wrapped around her throat as he squeezed the life out of her, while Myrtle took out her ever present chewing gum and stuck it over the lens of the camera. So, she thought she was clever, did she?
A low whistle alerted her to the presence of the two goons waiting for her ‘round the corner, and a slow, seductive smile spread across her face. Hips sashaying to and fro, she teetered over to them, as though she owned the fucking place.
“It’s okay, you can come out.”
Thug #2 was pulled back into the shadows by thug #1, who clearly had more brains then the youngster.
“We’re good here. You’ve got the goods?”
Myrtle pouted and dropped her hips, while she fished a small bag of crack out of her panties, of all places. Ren chuckled to himself and made a mental note to search all of the bitch’s orifices when he got rid of her, or maybe while she was still alive. It sure would be fun torturing her a bit. He’d have to cut her tongue off first though, ‘cause that bird sure could screech.
“Right here, big boy, and I’ve got more stashed up there, but I need to see the money first. This wasn’t easy to come by.”
“Not here for your sob story.” Thug #1 gave thug #2 a shove. “Go, check it out, boy.”
With a lecherous grin the youngster stumbled forward. Judging by the acne marks on his skin he could only be a teenager—poor bastard.
Ren suppressed a groan when the back door creaked.
“Ah, there you are, Myrtle. The boss wants you on stage and … oh.”
Another far too young person he’d be forced to kill now, dammit. He didn’t recognize this girl, and he most certainly would, had he seen her before, because she was just his type. Shoulder length red hair framed a heart-shaped pale face, devoid of any make-up. She was too thick to be one of the dancers, so she had to be the new waitress he hadn’t had a chance to check out. Owen had mentioned something about her being under his protection. Her blue eyes widened in fear, as it seemed to dawn on her what she’d stumbled into, and Ren readied himself to intervene. His gut twisted at the thought of killing such an innocent, but if she started to scream the place down this whole thing would be fucked, for sure.
“Who the fuck is that?” Thug #1 stepped out of the shadows, and Ren tensed when he drew his Glock on the girl. Of course, the fucker would have a gun. His type always did. There was no fucking skill in killing anyone with one of those, and besides guns could be traced so easily.
Snapping on his gloves Ren came up silently behind the gun wielding idiot, willing the curvy redhead to stay silent.
“Ah, she’s nothing. Kill the stupid girl, for all I care.” Myrtle’s immediate dismissal of the redhead made Ren’s temper spike.
Oh, you’ll pay for that, bitch.
Thug #1 laughed.
“Might just take her with. The boss likes the fat ones.”
“Hey, I do. More to hold onto when you fuck, and I bet she’ll scream nicely.” Thug #2 added his foul mouthed assessment, and the girl they were so carelessly discussing blanched. Hands up in the air, she took a step back until Thug #1’s barked order stopped her retreat.
“Don’t you fucking move, bitch, or I’ll blow your head off right now.”
A strangled gasp escaped the redhead, and her eyes grew to impossible size when she spotted Ren. Their gazes locked, and Ren held his finger to his lips as he silently came up behind the little group. With Myrtle’s attention on the girl and Thug #2 distracted by checking the merchandise, the pathetic trio had no idea he was there. Ren silently willed the terrified girl staring right at him not to scream. Shivers overtook her, but she didn’t say a word as he came up behind the thug, who lowered his gun and chuckled.
“I do like a chick who can take orders. You and me wi—”
The sound of his neck breaking put an end to that little speech of his, and the redhead clamped her hand over her mouth as though to stifle a scream.
Ren winked at her, as he let the now lifeless body of Thug #1 slide to the floor. The astonished expression in the other man’s dulling eyes made him smirk.
“What the fuck? Argh.”
Swinging around he shattered Thug #2’s kneecap with one well-placed kick, before the goon even had a chance to pull his gun out. Another kick to his windpipe shut off his screech, and this guy, too, went down, silently twitching his last on the floor.
Ren cut off Myrtle’s scream of terror by clamping his large hand around her throat. He indulged himself for a second, holding the lying bitch off the floor. Her hands clasped around his wrists in a desperate effort to get free, and he drank in the sheer terror in her eyes before he brought his free fist up to her temple and knocked the bitch clean out. He flung her on top of the now dead Thug #2 and turned his attention back to the redhead.
She still hadn’t screamed, just stood there, both of her hands now held up in a defensive move, which was really rather adorable.
Ren smirked and advanced on her. The fear that literally poured off her curvy frame made him hard as nails, and he made up his mind there and then. This little redhead was his, for the night at least.
Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, he’s going to kill me.
Susie couldn’t move, couldn’t scream, could barely think bar those terrifying few words, which bounced around her brain, as the man she’d just seen kill men twice his bulk with his bare hands slowly walked toward her. He had the long limbed gait of a predator, all sleek lines and deadly intent, and try as she might Susie couldn’t tear her gaze away from the intensity of his amber stare. Like a deer trapped in the headlights of a car, she simply stared up the man. Her hands made contact with his hard chest, and a gasp escaped her at the strength of those muscles flexing under her fingers. He didn’t stop until he’d stepped right into her personal space, forcing her to step back until the door stopped her. Using his considerable height advantage, he crowded her against the door. The cool metal at her back was a startling contrast against the heat of this stranger’s body. He placed his gloved hands either side of her head, while he pushed his body into hers. With her hands trapped against his chest, she had no leverage, and closing her eyes, Susie whimpered.
“Please don’t kill me.”
Something hard and long twitched against her lower belly, and a shiver of an entirely different kind ran through Susie when she realized what that was. Had he got turned on by killing those guys, or was it her he was responding to? Maybe he got off on the thought of killing her, and what did it matter? She would be dead in seconds anyway.
She felt the low chuckles in his chest before she heard his gravelly laugh in her ear. Puffs of heated air traveled along the sensitive skin on her neck, and Susie pulled in a sharp breath at the sensations that left behind. She was sick in the head, clearly, but being at his mercy like this did something to her. His heat, his strength, the virile scent of aroused man all enveloped her, and had her body react to him against her will. It was insane, that’s what this was. This man was a killer, and she ought to be fighting him off, not getting aroused by his harsh breathing in her ear.
He inhaled sharply against her neck, his stubble creating tingles of awareness against the sensitive flesh. She could feel his lips curve into a smile.
“Relax, pumpkin. If I wanted you dead, you’d be toast already.”
As if to prove his point, he stepped away to wrap his fist around her throat with just enough force to remind her that he could snap that neck in an instant.
The grin softened the intense lines of his face. Dimples appeared in his cheeks, and laughter lines crinkled the corner of his eyes, deepening the grooves running from his lips to nose. The stranger cocked his head to one side as he studied her. Susie was dimly aware of several men approaching behind him, and her throat went dry when one of them addressed him.
“Usual clean up, boss?” he asked. The burly guy she recognized as one of the bouncers from the club gave her a visual once over that made bile rise in her throat. She was
dead. There was no way they would let her live, not after everything she’d seen.
“For the thugs, yes. Take Myrtle to the cellar. The boss will want to ask her a few questions, when the bitch comes around.”
Bouncer guy smirked.
“Want me to search her for the rest of the stuff?”
“Oh, no, I’ll be doing that, once she’s awake and I’ve broken everyone one of her thieving fingers. That’ll get her to talk, I should think.”
Susie gasped in horror, and he shifted his attention back to her with a smirk.
“Tell my pumpkin here what else we’ll do to bitches who steal and can’t keep their mouths shut.”
The glint of a knife appeared in Suzie’s vision, and she struggled against his hold. The hand on her throat tightened imperceptibly. Not enough to cut off her air supply, but more than enough to get his point across, and she stopped struggling immediately.
“Good girl. I do believe she understands us now, Ty. Give me five to deal with her, and I’ll give you a hand with the mess.”
“Sure thing, Ren.”
Suzie wanted the ground to swallow her whole when she heard the other man call him that, and Ren’s grin deepened as he took in her expression.
“Heard of me then, pumpkin?” he asked. At her silent nod, he laughed, and then, much to her surprise released her. Susie felt strangely bereft without his body heat surrounding her and wrapped her arms around herself in a futile attempt to stop herself from shaking like a leaf. Now that the immediate burst of adrenaline was wearing off, she felt sick to her stomach and utterly disgusted with her reaction to this man. Of course she knew who he was. Ren’s reputation preceded him. The best in the business, ruthless, deadly, and fiercely loyal, he was the head of the Cleaners, Huntly’s assassination squad. He was also a player, who left a trail of broken hearts behind. No one crossed Ren and lived to tell the tale, and the unfortunate women who snared his attention … rumor was he was into some seriously kinky stuff, not that it should be surprising. The man simply oozed dominance and leashed aggression.
Susie firmly shut down that trail of thought, and squaring her shoulders as best she could, she looked up at him. She had to crane her neck to do so, because he was a good head taller than she was. Amusement danced in his amber eyes, and from somewhere deep inside her, she found the gumption she needed.
“My name is not pumpkin,” she said. “It’s Susie.” When he simply quirked one bushy eyebrow at her, she bit her lip and tried her best to glare at him. Not that it had the slightest effect on him, and besides, her rapid breaths and the heartbeat thudding in her ears gave away her agitation as clearly as though she’d announced the way he affected her.
She was afraid of him, but with that fear came a rush of arousal so intense her knickers were soaked through.
“I’m a waitress, not one of
” She spat that word out, and his other eyebrow rose while a slow grin spread over his rugged features. No one knew exactly how old Ren was, but with his weather beaten rough looks, and his shoulder length salt-and-pepper hair, he had to be at least in his late thirties. A good fifteen years her senior, if not more.