DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU’VE READ THE REST OF THIS SERIES (that includes Pennies, Dollars, Hundreds, Thousands). It contains SPOILERS. I know some of you like to spoil the story for yourself and read the ending first (I’ll never get that), BUT if you have any intention of reading this series when Millions releases in a few weeks, then DON’T READ THIS! 🙂
To everyone who HAVE come on this journey with me, here is a different side to the story from a character you know. This is the ENTIRE prologue for Millions. It is subject to change, hasn’t been edited (typos are almost guaranteed), and is copyright protected.
I hope you enjoy it and I can’t WAIT to release the rest of this book and conclude the DOLLAR SERIES.
Thanks so much for your patience and support while following me on yet another adventure. I’m forever grateful.
Happy reading 🙂
(Don’t forget you can preorder and the release date in December WILL BE SOONER THAN STATED. I’ll be releasing the exact date in a couple of weeks.)
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1ZebBbC
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1sqgfcl
LIFE WASN’T KIND to anyone.
Some days it pretended to be kind, granting gifts and favours, delivering dreams and fancy, but the next, it fucking snatched it all away.
That was reality.
I knew that. Elder knew that.
We both saw the world for its truth, cutting through its many lies. I think that was why I hated him when we first met on the streets in New York. He carried the same toil. The same bitterness. The same heavy shame I did—shame we’d converted into hate and temper.
We’d scrapped over territory and possessions and sometimes we fought just because we were tired of being hurt by a universe that’d utterly forsaken us.
They said the human race was inherently designed to hate similarities in others. If someone had the same temper as you, instead of recognising that fact, you just hated them. Same legs as you, you’d say they were too short, same nose as you, you’d fixate on how out of proportion it was. Not because you hated that person but because, in some unspoken part of your soul, you hated yourself.
Our fatal flaw was to pick on ourselves. To tear ourselves apart by tearing others apart who remind you of you.
Strange but so fucking true.
Elder reminded me of me so I despised him.
I reminded him of him so he abhorred me.
Together, we beat the shit out of each other and in a way, beat the shit out of ourselves until one day…that self-loathing we didn’t acknowledge just gave up and accepted that what we hated most about ourselves was also the part we needed the most to survive.
After that epiphany, a friendship-truce was formed—or something akin to friendship anyway. We stopped trying to kill each other. We switched from enemies to grudging acquaintances and slowly to confidants.
Up until tonight, I still saw myself in Elder. I saw my past in his eyes and my heartbreak in his own. But as I’d stood in the shadows and watched him dance with Pimlico at Hawksridge Hall, I finally had to concede that he’d evolved.
He was no longer like me and there was nothing about him that I despised because there was nothing left of him mirroring my own. He’d started his journey of redemption and acceptance. Finally trading tragedy for true fucking love.
He’d left me behind by finding something he could never buy or steal. I was happy for him but also blisteringly jealous.
Jealous that he’d found what I’d lost so many years ago.
Jealous that he had a lifetime of fuck-ups and fix-ups to look forward to with the one person who would become his best-friend and partner.
I was out of the job.
I was no longer his mirror bouncing his mistakes back at him.
I was alone again and quickly drowning beneath everything I’d ignored for far too long.
Grateful for the empty car, I huffed at the whiff of sex and champagne still lingering from dropping Pimlico and Elder off. Only a few seconds had gone by since they’d climbed out and scaled the gangway, their bodies entwined and hearts sickly besotted, but time had an odd way of making it seem as though I’d been alone forever.
In a way, I had.
I’d been lost for decades and now they were disgustingly consumed with the other, I had no one to obliterate the memories gleefully descending.
Tomorrow, I’d get the lowdown from Prest on what exactly changed and how he said fuck it to a life of misery and threw in everything he had left to the girl he’d rescued. But tonight, I had every intention of being on my own—just the way it should be.
Driving the car down the wharf, I caught another glimpse of Pim and Elder laughing on the deck, stumbling toward his quarters like lovesick idiots.
I bet a fucking sea-gull could crap on them and they wouldn’t notice.
Rolling my eyes, I pressed on the accelerator, speeding down the impressive length of the Phantom to put the car away. The side already yawned wide and I turned onto the heavy-duty ramp, delicately easing the vehicle into the belly of the vessel.
The familiar switch from land to sea never failed to make my heart beat faster. Unlike Elder—who I swore was part fucking fish—I didn’t like the ocean. I didn’t like the feeling of instability beneath my feet. I preferred the firmness of dirt and rigidity of steel.
But on that fateful night when he’d stolen a winning lottery ticket and I’d somehow convinced him to borrow it—if not outright claim it, he’d invited me to explore a new opportunity: remain homeless by choice, punishing myself with a life of emptiness after having so much, or stand beside him and fight in a war that wasn’t my own.
Some men might’ve said no—especially when he’d mentioned a faction out for his blood and almost certain injury when they found him. But why hold onto the illusion of a life when really…it was just a big fucking sham?
I had no values left. No honour. No one to fight for. Nowhere to be.
I was alone and figured I might as well be alone with him.
Parking in the designated bay, I turned off the engine and hauled my ass from the car. Pressing a button on the wall, automatic chocks rose from the floor, wedging around all four wheels to prevent it from slopping around in a storm.
Placing the key in the cabinet with its neatly organised hooks for all sorts of toys on board, I raked both hands through my hair and sighed.
My job as chauffeur is complete.
Not that Elder ever asked me to do such tasks. I just found memories couldn’t find me as easily when I put other’s needs above my own and only thought of what I could do for them rather than myself.
A piece of hay fluttered from my hair, reminding me what I got up to while Elder did unspeakable things to Pim.
I didn’t know the woman’s name. I hadn’t seen her face. All I remembered was she wore a mask that looked like a spider’s web with morning dew twinkling on silver thread. Her dress kept up the illusion with silver panels and iridescent beads.
It wasn’t often I craved companionship but after a dance or two, she’d offered to give me a tour—even though she didn’t know the place, just like me.
We’d ended up in the stables, fucking like rabbits while a horse watched from the next stall. We hadn’t undressed; we hadn’t asked to see each other again. We both knew we were using the other for mindless company and parted with a grateful kiss, happy in the knowledge we eased some of the mutual pain in each other.
I should climb into the elevator and head to my quarters down the corridor from Elder. I should wash off stable sex and sleep so I was ready to kick Prest’s ass in the morning.
However, I wasn’t ready to be captive to the ocean just yet.
I wanted land beneath my toes for a little longer. I wanted to be free and not trapped inside when the clawing of my past found me and made me wish I’d died the same night as my future bride.
Stepping toward the open garage door, I pressed the button to close and lock it behind me, then traded yacht for wharf.
Stars glittered above and clear nights like these made me crave a cigarette. I’d broken the habit years ago—partly through choice and mostly through lack of funds. I knew it was better to be smoke free, but tonight I craved the tingly taste and sickly rush of nicotine.
With no drink to keep me occupied and no one to distract me, I prowled the wharf, spying a few empty crates piled high as a house against a warehouse.
I’d climb on top and be unseen, free to study the Phantom with her pretty lit windows and suffocate beneath my thoughts instead of burying them deep down tight.
Kicking off my dress shoes, I allowed some of my past from street living to ease into my bones as I launched myself up the crates, scrambling like a damn monkey. It only took a few seconds and a few precisely placed jumps to scale the crates and end skyward.
My heart rate didn’t change as I reached the top and sat heavily.
The Phantom was indeed pretty from this angle, swooping up like a dark sea goddess ready to decimate any who tried to destroy her. The world settled, the night quietened, my breathing was the only thing disturbing ultimate peace.
And that was where she found me.
As she always did.
The woman I loved and the unplanned pregnancy that killed her. I let the past take me; I allowed the merciless hate for the unborn baby who’d stolen her from me, and didn’t hear the arrival of war.
Down and down I fell, cringing against the last moments of blood and heartbreak. Wincing against the burn of tears and lamenting all over again at how I could give my very soul to someone, yet remain living when they left this earth with it.
I didn’t indulge in my pain often.
I hated self-pity and despised self-blame.
But tonight, after watching true love happen for a man I dared call a friend, I was fucking gutted—reminding me all over again of what I’d lost and he’d gained and just how different we truly were now.
No longer the same.
We’d never be the same again.
My ears filled with ghost-voices and ethereal-shouts. Of my begs for the doctors to do something. Of my threats when they failed. Of my curses when I was left with nothing.
So obsessed with my agonising memory-box of torture, I missed the first gunfire.
And the second.
The ra-ta-ta-tat of bullets morphed with the slap of gentle currents and crack of rigging as boats rocked on water.
My fingers grew slippery with past-shed blood. My mouth wide with historic-silent screams. My lungs empty for air, desperate to die to find her and stubborn enough to continue breathing despite the daily agony.
I lost track of time as I embraced the ghost of the woman I missed with every-fucking-thing.
But then another shot.
This one unmasked by tide or yacht.
The sound reverberated around the bay. Echoing in clock towers and ship masts.
My eyes snapped open.
Shit, they’ve found us.
Launching myself from my spot on the crates, I vaulted down to the wharf and ran. My socked feet were silent as I slithered into the darkness and flew toward the front of the ship. A small boat motor cranked, growling and shredding the night sky with rancid petrol fumes.
French mutterings interspersed with the engine as someone fed it and speed hurtled it forward. I caught a flash of a sparrow painted on the hood and a red and blue bundled figure sprawled in the back.
Fuck, it can’t be…
I’d only sat for a few minutes. They’d been safe. They’d been obliviously disgustingly in love—
They were ambushed.
The speed boat opened up, skipping faster over black tides. There was nothing I could do. No way I could swim after it and no harpoon I could use to shoot it.
I was helpless as white water sloshed around the wharf as I took off at a dead sprint.
They had Pimlico but where was Prest?
Tearing back the way I’d run, I gasped for oxygen as I spat profanities at how long this damn yacht was. Why the hell did I close the garage?
Finally reaching the gangway, I snatched the railing and snapped myself from forward trajectory into a sharp turn, digging my toes into the rungs, shooting me upward to the deck.
My skin turned icy as dread filled me.
Where the fuck is everyone?
Snagging a gun tucked into one of the many hidey holes around the deck, I charged toward Prest’s room.
Cocking the weapon, I wrapped my finger around the trigger. Ready.
His doors were wide. Blood smeared the polished deck. Corpses littered his quarters.
Men dressed in black with bright red gloves.
If they were dead…where the hell was Prest?
Skidding on the wooden floor, I bolted toward the side where the balustrade stood to attention, and the ladder was thrown to the water below.
I looked down to where bastards had stolen Pim and found the one man I called a friend.
Far below, barely noticeable in the silver moon shine and occasional wharf light, Elder gasped and coughed, treading water weakly, his face scrunched tight and hand clamped over his left arm.
He went under.
My fingers clutched the barrier as he reappeared, his mouth wide and eyes shut, barely holding on to life.
Not seeing me, too focused on survival, he went under again. And again. His legs useless at keeping him afloat.
Another few minutes, he’d tire and drown. Another few minutes, he’d be dead and I’d be alone yet again.
Not gonna fucking happen.
Throwing the gun to the deck, I ripped off my jacket and trousers, breaking my shirt buttons in my haste to tear it off. Prest might have minutes but I would only take a few seconds.
Naked apart from my boxers, I threw myself off the side.
I didn’t think about where the staff were or why there were dead Chinmoku bleeding on his bedroom floor. I didn’t worry about Pimlico and who’d abducted her. Elder was the linchpin in this floating family and was my top priority.
I landed too close, drenching him in yet more water.
He gasped and coughed, sinking beneath the churning waves.
He didn’t come back up.
Duck diving, my hands connected with cold flesh and I hoisted him to the surface. As his mouth found air, he groaned and inhaled, crying out in pain as I manoeuvred him into a recovery position. Seawater streamed over his face as I wrapped my arm around the front of his chest, making sure his chin was cocked for breath.
Back-stroking, I powered toward the wharf.
He cried out as my legs kicked one of his, his face a mask of torture. “Goddammit, Selix. Where the fu-fuck were you?” His teeth shattered from shock and cold, his blood spilling like oil.
I wouldn’t tell him I’d had a moment of weakness and reminisced. I wouldn’t admit that I’d committed treason while he’d been at war. “I’m here now.”
“Well, don’t worry about me. Go after them—” He wracked with coughs, flinching as more pain found him. “They took her.”
I glanced at the black horizon where no sign of the boat or noise of its engine existed. It was as if she’d never been. Even the scent of gasoline had faded to salty nothingness. “They’re gone, Prest.”
“They can’t be fucking gone. They can’t have—” He groaned as my legs once again kicked his, tangling in his dead weight as I swam closer to the pier. “They can’t have her.”
Warm blood flowed over my hand where I tucked it under his armpit. I’d seen enough bullet wounds to know he needed to get out of the ocean and fast. He needed to remain calm and collected. He needed to care about himself first then Pim.
“Let’s focus on you.” Gritting my teeth, I swam harder, very aware of his life rapidly fading. “Then we’ll focus on her.”
“Christ!” He bowed in my arm-lock, his body tense and pain-riddled. “Shit, it hurts.”
“What hurts?” I couldn’t see if the bullet in his arm was the worst or least of his problems.
“Fucking everything.” He howled at the moon as I crawled the final distance, hoisting him closer, accidently digging my fingers into a sore spot.
Where the hell is Michaels?
He needed a doctor. Immediately.
I could throw him in the car and screech to the nearest hospital but what if he didn’t make it? His skin was blue. His lips almost black in the night.
Reaching the wharf, I briefly worried how I’d haul his tux-waterlogged ass from the bay. Whatever injuries he had would hurt like a motherfucker.
But my worries were for nothing.
As my fingers lashed around the emergency stair rung and I took the first climb, Elder’s eyes rolled in the back of his head and he turned into a pasty corpse in my embrace.
My heart stopped as I placed my hand under his nose, checking for breath—fearing nothing and begging for something.
When the softest puff of heat revealed he wasn’t dead just merely unconscious, I stopped being so gentle and worked with speed instead.
I hauled his battered body up the stairs. I flopped him onto the wharf like a well caught fish. I landed on my hands and knees beside him, wringing wet and exhausted.
He didn’t wake up. But his heart didn’t stop pumping more and more blood from his body, slowly pooling beneath him, dripping back into the tide.
My job wasn’t finished.
His minutes were almost spent.
Standing, I bent, and with a silent apology, somehow managed to manhandle his useless dying form over my shoulder.
I began the long journey toward the gangway, making a deal with Death not to take someone else I cared about.
It took my wife-to-be.
It would not take my friend.
Not today, anyway.
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1ZebBbC
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1sqgfcl