Bound to Darkness(Midnight Breed,book 13)(14) by Lara Adrian
Slade swore under his breath. “Could be worse. What if they decide to turn the place into one of those damn sim-lounges instead?”
Jagger chuckled. “Trade the real fights for virtual reality shit, so all the tourists and wannabe hardasses in this town can sit in their simulation rooms and pretend they’d last more than half a second in the cage.”
Rune wasn’t amused by the possibilities either, although he doubted Jordana would do any of those things to La Notte. He had to admit, the future of the club was nothing if not uncertain. And given what he knew about Jordana now, he couldn’t imagine holding on to a business that profited from violence and debauchery was high on her priority list.
The other men were right. They needed to know where La Notte stood now that its proprietor was gone.
Vallan’s face was grave. “Been nearly a week and no one’s stepped forward to take the place over or shut it down. We’ve all been talking that maybe we should make other plans before someone else makes them for us.”
“What do you mean?” Rune asked.
“Move on,” Jagger said. “Go find another arena, or start a new one of our own.”
Rune shook his head as he came up off the barstool. “No one’s leaving. No one’s going off to fight somewhere else so long as I’m here.”
Vallan crossed his arms over his massive chest. “You’ve been acting as manager since Cass’s death, but how long are you gonna look out for a business that doesn’t belong to you?”
It was true, the club didn’t belong to him. Never had. Rune had never aspired that it could.
He and Cass had built it together—one providing the venue, the other providing the spectacle that would keep the crowds coming back for more. It had been a profitable arrangement. Rune had managed to accumulate close to a million dollars from his fights and shares of the gaming proceeds Cass took in every time Rune climbed into the cage.
The money was his future. His escape plan, should he need it, earned through sweat and blood and broken bones.
He’d never intended to put down roots in La Notte, but a decade at the club, and he felt an obligation to look after it now that he was the only one left to do so.
He met the questioning gazes of his fellow fighters and shrugged. “Someone has to keep an eye on the receipts and make sure inventory and supplies stay stocked. Someone’s got to pay the employees, including you three meatheads.”
They all chuckled. Jagger gave him a smirk. “Yeah, and someone’s got to keep one hand tight on the kitty for himself too.”
Jag was only joking, but Slade’s laugh held a sharper edge. “His hands are too busy with another kind of kitty. Kinda greedy, ain’t it, Rune? Keeping all that exotic daywalker tail to yourself? Save some for the rest of us before you get bored and—”
Rune lunged at Slade. He seized him by the throat, fangs bared, eyes blazing. “Say something stupid like that again, and those’ll be the last fucking words to leave your mouth.”
Slade choked, struggling for air. He grasped at Rune’s hand, his own fangs emerging.
Rune squeezed harder.
Neither Jagger nor Vallan made a move to intervene. Everyone on the club’s roster knew Rune hadn’t claimed his place as the most lethal motherfucker ever to enter the cage by demonstrating an iota of mercy for someone who’d earned a thorough beating.
Fury rode him, and before he realized he was moving, he had Slade pinned against the wall, his feet dangling three inches off the floor. The Breed fighter struggled for all he was worth—which wasn’t much when Rune was crushing his neck, mere seconds from ending the bastard.
Slade’s face turned purple. Spittle foamed at the corners of his mouth as he tried—and failed—to suck in precious air.
“Jesus,” Jagger finally muttered. “You’re gonna kill him, Rune.”
“Aye,” he growled. “I’m thinking about it.”
But at the last moment, he decided to let Slade go. The Breed male sagged, coughing and choking, sputtering as he wheezed in ragged breaths.
Rune stared at him, murder simmering in his veins. “Go back to the dressing room and pack your shit. Then get the fuck out of here.”
Slade swung a dark scowl on him, fangs bared. “W-what?”
“You’re done here,” Rune said. “If I see you back inside this club for any reason, you’re dead.”
“Fuck you,” he rasped, rubbing his injured throat. “You can’t kick me out.”
“I just did. You want to go on your feet, or you want me to drag your broken corpse out of here to wait for the morning sun to rise in a couple of hours?”
Slade looked to his fellow fighters for support, but got none. Glaring, he collected himself and stormed out, knocking over a table and chairs as he went.
After he was gone, Rune rounded on his two colleagues. “Anyone else got something stupid they want to say to me right now?”
Vallan raised his brows. “Uh, we still don’t have any answers about the club. Why should any of us hang around waiting for the new management to come in and fuck us over?”
Rune ran a hand over his jaw as his decision settled on him. “No one’s going to get fucked over.”
“You can’t be sure of that,” Jagger said, looking less than convinced.
“I am sure. Because I’m going to buy the damn thing myself.”
Lucan Thorne carried a small titanium box into the archives room at the Order’s D.C. headquarters. The container was slightly smaller than his palm, simply crafted, but inside was a treasure of legendary proportions.
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