Title: Her Ruthless Warrior
Series: The Syndicates
Release Date: 16/05/2022
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐫𝐞𝐝𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐚𝐦𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐢𝐬 𝐫𝐚𝐳𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧—𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐢𝐭’𝐬 𝐜𝐫𝐨𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐝, 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞’𝐬 𝐧𝐨 𝐠𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤…
Nothing wrecks an already bad day faster than almost getting hit by a car.
But then he rescued me.
My mysterious, sexy savior wore danger as easily as he wore his black-on-black clothes. And still, I wasn’t afraid of him.
I should’ve been.
Because after one misunderstanding, the man I thought would love me forever showed me just how ruthless and cold he really is.
I trusted him with my heart once and it broke me. I can’t afford to make that mistake again…
She was my ikigai—my life purpose.
Loving her was inevitable.
But I’m king of the Japanese mafia. Softness like hers doesn’t exist in my world.
Maybe that’s why it was so easy for me to believe she betrayed me. Why I burned us to the ground.
Now that I know the truth, I’ll do anything to get her back.
I know a good man would let her go.
But I’m not a good man…
Chapter 1 – Violet
“I’m not sure I’m following.” I breathed slowly as I fidgeted in front of Mr. Reynolds’ desk.
He cleared his throat and leaned back in his chair, his round face much redder than usual. “Well, I’m not sure what there’s to follow here,” he snapped defensively. “This was a six-month training program. The six months are over, so you are not needed anymore.” He pointed at the door behind him. “Turn around and leave.”
Of course, he expected me to bow my head and leave. I was non-confrontational; I always followed every rule and every command to stay under the radar, to make sure I wasn’t too much of a burden on my mother. I just remained like that, even after her passing.
He expected for me to just walk away because he was the marketing director and I was the assistant of his assistant, but it was time for me to put my foot down. It was time for me to ask why, once again, I was losing the little something I had worked so hard to get.
I had nothing left to lose.
Please, God, cut me some slack. I really need a win.
“Sir, I’m sorry to insist, but when we were brought into this apprenticeship program, we were told that the best performer would be offered a permanent position. I’ve been assured through the monthly assessments that I would be offered this position. Mrs. Taylor even asked me to come back this morning to sign my contract and start the permanent position.”
His face grew redder as he adjusted his position on his seat, his imposing belly squeezing against his desk as he leaned forward. “Things change every day in the corporate world, Ms. Murphy. You would know that if you’d tried to educate yourself and didn’t drop out of school at sixteen.”
I inhaled sharply as I took the verbal blow. That one stung more than I expected, especially based on the reason I left school as young as I did.
It had never been my choice—no, it had been just another good thing life had stolen from me.
I blinked and looked down, having lost the small fire of injustice that had been burning—what had driven me to fight for myself.
He sighed. “Listen, companies are going through restructuring all the time—the position that once was to be filled doesn’t exist anymore.”
A flash of red in the corner of my eye attracted my attention, and I looked out the glass office wall to see Mr. Reynolds’ niece sitting at what was my desk for the past few months.
“I see…” I trailed off, too defeated to even try. It was nothing I had done, nothing the company had really done; it was just a simple case of nepotism.
He followed my eyes and glared at his niece, who gave him a sheepish smile before she twisted toward the screen.
Should I feel better that he wanted to hide this from me? Was it to preserve my tender feelings or to make sure I wouldn’t make a scene?
He sighed. “Listen, Violet.”
Ah, it was Violet now, was it? He obviously knew I was bright enough to catch up on the situation.
“You were good, very good even, and you’re not leaving empty-handed. We—” He looked around his desk and stopped on the leather-bound corporate checkbook. “If you’d let me finish before, you’d know that we decided to grant you a gracious, two-week bonus to thank you for all your hard work. Also know that should any entry position become available, your name will be at the top of the list.”
I looked at him as he grabbed the book and wrote me a check. Gracious? This apprenticeship barely paid minimum wage, and I had to work a few nights a week at the dry cleaner down the street just to make ends meet.
I was supposed to start a job today where my salary would have been forty-five thousand dollars a year. Nothing to write home about for most people, but for me… it would have changed my whole life.
Instead, I would leave with broken dreams, wasted time, and a check for… I extended my hand to grab the white piece of paper he extended and read the amount. $932.15?! Was he serious? I looked up at him. That asshole even took out taxes!
“This experience is invaluable, Violet. You’ve spent six months working for one of the biggest real estate companies in California. It’s not negligible, you know, and I’m willing to provide you with a stellar reference should you ever need one.”
I knew what he was not saying. Leave without making a scene, and I’ll help you.
I looked down at the check again. Lord, how I wish I didn’t need the money. That I could just crumple it up and shove it so deep down his throat he wouldn’t be able to breathe anymore.
I recoiled. Where did that even come from? I was not violent, never had been, but this compulsion…
It’s in your genes.
I shook my head and blinked as tears burned the back of my eyes.
“I… Yes, thank you, sir.” I was thanking the man who probably stole my only chance to make it out of my situation, just to give the job to his spoiled niece, who only wanted it as a whim or as a punishment.
“Don’t mention it. I wish you all the luck in the world.”
I nodded silently, completely exhausted and out of words, and turned around to leave.
“Violet?” he called just as I reached the door.
I turned my head toward him, hope blossoming in my heart against my own advice. Maybe he realized it was unfair, maybe he found a solution. Maybe he just—
“Don’t forget to leave your badge with security downstairs.”
My heart plummeted once again as shame at my own stupidity joined my other raging emotions.
I should have known better… When did life really cut people like me some slack?
I pulled the strap of my thrift store handbag higher on my shoulder and walked down the corridor with as much dignity as I could muster, trying to respond to the small, sad smiles people were giving me along the way.
Sandra, an assistant for the finance department, snuck into the elevator just as the door closed on me.
“It’s bullshit!” she spat, her cheeks red and eyes shining with a self-righteousness that somehow made me feel both better and worse.
“Everything!” She made a wide gesture with her hands, forcing me to take a sidestep to avoid getting poked in the eye by one of her sharp, pointy nails. “That fucking old pervert once again fucked this company by hiring one of his backward relatives, and no one bats an eye,” she huffed. “I swear, that man knows something to get away with that much shit.”
I agreed with her, of course. I had seen a lot of shit in the past six months, including the leering looks he had no place giving young women barely in adulthood, but I was not in the mood to fuel the fire. I was angry, yes, but mostly sad and tired, which all wrapped up in an overwhelming sense of defeat and doom.
“It is what it is.” I shrugged, willing the elevator to make its way down just a little faster.
It is what it is… The story of my life.
“I’m going to be fine; I’m not worried.” Maybe if I said that enough, I’ll believe it. I sighed with relief as the elevator beeped, announcing my destination had been reached. “You better go back up now before you get into trouble. See you around,” I added, quickly exiting the enclosed space, tightening my hold around the plastic pass in my hand, feeling it bite painfully in my palm.
I stopped by the white reception desk and met Reginald, who gave me the same sorry eyes as they did upstairs. He was from the same part of town as me, so he knew the extent of the opportunity that had been stolen from me.
“I’m sorry, little one,” he said soothingly, resting his big hand on top of mine.
I looked down at his gentle gesture and my shaky composure cracked, letting a few burning tears escape.
Reginald was a gentle father figure who had been showing me nothing but kindness since my first day here and had managed to make me feel comfortable when I was on the verge of hyperventilating.
“You’re twenty-one, baby girl; you’ll get back on your feet. I know you will.”
I sniffled, still keeping my eyes down, looking at my few tears shining on the white counter.
He squeezed my hand. “Let me call you an Uber; you deserve it. The company owes you this ride.”
“Thank you.” Normally I would have said no, fearing he would get into trouble.
But I didn’t feel like making the thirty-five-minute, two-bus trip back home wearing an itchy dress and the uncomfortable heels I bought at the charity shop down the street to help me look professional.
I had felt like a fraud all the way here, and now, on top of a fraud, I felt like a failure.
“The car will be out in a couple of minutes.”
“Thanks, Reginald… for everything.”
“You’re welcome, little one. Don’t be a stranger.”
I walked out, deciding to wait for the car outside, hoping the warm sun would help me feel a little better.
I got my phone out and called Jake. I needed my boyfriend right now. I needed him to make me feel better, even if he had warned me from the start not to get my hopes up.
The phone went straight to voicemail. He was probably in ‘the zone,’ working on some of his freelance projects.
I sighed, putting the phone back in my bag as a green sedan slowed and stopped in front of me.
“Car for Violet?”
“Yes, thank you.”
I sat in the back and instead of giving him my address, I gave him Jake’s. He lived much farther from the downtown area and somehow, the small pettiness of knowing this ride would cost them double to take me there, instead of my small studio apartment, made me feel a little better. I was sticking it to the man—even if it was for a meager thirty dollars.
Jake didn’t live in my run-down neighborhood. He’d managed to escape and take a few steps up the ladder of life and live in an area with fewer guns than people. He ‘made it,’ as he loved to repeat every chance he had.
I was sure he could take a break from his current project and make me feel better. I closed my eyes and leaned against the headrest, letting the car vibrations lull me and relieve some of the stress.
I couldn’t help but wince at the thought of going back to work at Sunset Strip, the supposedly ‘high-end’ gentlemen’s club that was harboring the same type of perverts as cheap strip clubs had, except clients had thicker wallets… and blacker hearts.
I sighed, opening my eyes and meeting the driver’s curious gaze just before he looked at the road again.
I could already picture Liam’s smirk when I go back and ask for my barmaid job back. How he would give me part two of the speech he gave me when I told him I was leaving. He would tell me, yet again, that Sunset Strip was a family and you don’t just walk away from your family. Then, in his magnanimous kindness, and in memory of his father and my mother, he would give me my job back.
I couldn’t help the little grunt of annoyance that escaped my mouth at the thought.
“You belong here, Violet, like your mother. Why are you trying so hard to make it out?” Because I didn’t want the same life she had; because she wanted nothing more than for me to make it out. Because I owed it to her to try my hardest.
My eyes shot open and I looked out of the window, startled to have been nudged out of my thoughts.
I stared at Jake’s small bungalow across the street, trying to regroup my thoughts and composure, at least long enough to tell him everything.
”Is it the wrong address?” he asked, not even bothering to hide the irritation in his voice.
“No, I’m sorry.” I shook my head and opened the door. “It’s right, sorry.”
He mumbled something under his breath, and I’d barely closed the door behind me before the car had shot off.
I crossed the street and stopped on the sidewalk, frowning at the small red car parked just behind Jake’s Volvo.
It was quite a popular little car, yet something made me take a few tentative steps toward it as a bad feeling settled in the pit of my stomach.
My frown deepened as I noticed the pair of mini red stilettos dangling from the rearview mirror. It might have been a very common car, but that keepsake? It wasn’t.
This was Serena’s car. Serena, my supposed friend and one of the most popular strippers at Sunset. Serena, who lived on the other side of town and who had only met Jake twice before.
I turned toward the house and walked slowly as the bad feeling turned into ice in my stomach.
The closer I got to the front door, the more I was hyperventilating, imagining the worst.
There must be an explanation. It could just be a coincidence.
Jake wouldn’t do that to me, not after all the things I’ve been through. I told him I wanted to wait, that my virginity had value to me, and he said he was okay with that. He said he would wait as long as necessary, and despite being together for over a year, he’d never pressured me. I was scared to find out now why it might have been the case.
Bile rose in my throat as I reached the front door, unsure I wanted to face what could be happening or, if nothing sordid was happening, face my own unwarranted mistrust. I thought I was past my trust issues. I thought I was ready for the next steps in this relationship, but if a simple coincidence could shake the whole foundation of our relationship, then maybe I was not quite there yet.
I raised my hand to knock but thought better of it, and looked around, trying to figure out where he hid the emergency key.
I looked under the potted plants on his patio and under the door mat without any luck before I remembered he bought this stupid fake stone during one of our Target trips.
I looked around and, despite the worry brewing inside me, I smiled when I noticed it at the foot of the bushes brushing the wooden stairs.
I grabbed it and let out a little huff of relief when I found the key nestled inside it.
If nothing seedy was happening, he’ll probably question my uninvited pop-in, but I was too concerned to think more of it right now.
I opened the door slowly and didn’t have to question my decision as I heard a guttural moan of pleasure.
I tightened my hold on the key, feeling its ridges on my palm as I took one slow step after the other, trying to make sure he would not hear my stupid square heels thunk against his wooden flooring.
The closer I got to his room, the louder he became. I could also hear Serena call his name, asking him to fuck her harder with his big, fat cock.
I stopped, resting my hand against the wall as my stomach heaved violently.
I almost wished I could vomit right now and have him clean it after he sealed my horrible day with the worst betrayal.
I shook my head. I had enough! I couldn’t continue to torture myself, listening to the sound of their pleasure. They needed to know that I knew.
The door of the bedroom was ajar, and I shoved it open, making it slam against the wall—the lovely yellow wall I’d painted for him last month.
How fucking stupid had I been! I wanted to help him have a nice home—where I thought I would move into one day, but clearly, not in the optic to have him fuck another woman.
Despite knowing what I was going to find, it was almost too much to see.
Her, on all fours, on top of the sunflower bedspread I had picked to match the room, and him, fisting her long ponytail as he hammered into her from behind, his head thrown back in pure abandon.
She shrieked when she saw me and fell face-first onto the bed.
He looked back and his face shifted from unadulterated pleasure to shock in an instant, and despite the ripping pain, I felt a little better knowing I’d ruined his pleasure—just as he’d just ruined a year of my life.
I would not become my mother!
I turned around and started to run when he shouted my name. I ran out and down the street, my vision blurry with tears and my legs wobbling, both from the painful turmoil inside me and the heels I was not used to wearing.
I heard him call my name again and realized he was following me into the street!
Fuck! I ran faster, despite my burning eyes compromising my vision. I took random side streets just to ditch him.
I crossed a street without looking—a mistake, one of many, really—but the one I realized was going to cost me my life as I saw the shape of a black car come racing toward me.
My ankle twisted as my heel met an unevenness in the middle of the road, and I fell heavily.
I heard the horn, the squealing of the tires, and closed my eyes tightly, bracing for impact.
Yep, I was going to die today, in disgrace and in shame… It was ironic how things had come full circle.
I was going to die the same way I was born.