LIVE on MARCH 6th
KEPT FROM YOU
Kept from You
Published by Nashoda Rose
Copyright © 2017 by Nashoda Rose
A FIST SLAMMED into the metal locker beside my head and my math book cradled in my arms slipped and fell to the floor with a loud clunk.
I sucked in a mouthful of air and froze.
The fist belonged to Killian Kane.
The Killian Kane.
Rumor was he’d been suspended from school numerous times for fighting, and the only reason he hadn’t been expelled was his father donated a lot of money to the school.
And yeah, I was scared of him. You’d be stupid not to be.
Thankfully his fist indenting the locker wasn’t to get my attention; it was to get Josh Clery’s at-tention—the guy who unfortunately had the locker beside me.
“Ki… te,” Josh stuttered as he turned around, his face pale, hands at half-mast.
Killian’s nickname was Kite. And at first thought, the word conjured a beautiful kite flying through the air in a gentle wind.
This was not the origin of his nickname. Far from it.
Because the word Kite also meant “to prey on others.” And Killian lived up to that nickname. Although in his defense, he did it sort of fairly.
He fought the older kids who bullied the younger ones. He banned wedgies after some kid was found in the changing room hanging on the wall hook by his underwear.
If Killian heard about shit like that, he dealt with it.
Often that meant dealing with kids older and bigger than him.
He was fearless, and there was a part of me that was awestruck by him because nothing de-terred him from his purpose.
My perception of a Greek god was pretty much Killian. One of the god’s who had a temper and knew how much power he wielded and used it.
He was good looking, but that wasn’t what made him attractive. It was how he drew you into him like a string on a marionette with his steady green eyes.
I’d never spoken to him, and he’d never said a word to me, which was a good thing since no one wanted Killian Kane’s attention.
Although, on a few occasions when I saw him in the hallways, I swore he watched me. And when our eyes would lock briefly, he always looked away while I’d lower my head and walk away as fast as I could with my heart racing and legs quivering.
He did that to me, made me breathless, which wasn’t a good thing.
Killian supposedly moved here from Ireland a few years ago, but I’d been at a different grade school than him. He was also a year ahead of me, so even though we were now in the same high school we didn’t have any classes together. And I was glad because I’d never be able to concentrate with him so close.
The first time I’d witnessed Killian in action was in the cafeteria.
He was in a rock band with a few guys from school, until ‘the fight’. The second Killian walked into the cafeteria that day there was tension. I’d heard the hushed whispers and the rumor that Killian had hooked up with the lead singer’s girlfriend. I hadn’t thought it was true because Killian had never been seen with any girls.
His band mates had stood when he’d approached, and I’d been terrified for him because there were three of them and only him. I’d wanted him to turn around and walk out. But Killian would never have done that, and he didn’t. He’d walked right by them and went and got his food.
It was when he had his lunch in hand that it happened.
The lead singer stepped into his path and dumped Killian’s tray on the floor.
Killian remained completely calm. But that was where his nickname came into play.
Because he’d bent, picked up his tray and now ruined lunch, then threw it in the garbage. Then he’d strode back to him.
The predator approached his prey. And there was no doubt they were prey to him.
I’d never heard the cafeteria so silent before. The only sounds were Killian’s footsteps and his ex-band mate’s chuckles. They’d either been really brave or completely stupid considering Killian’s reputation. Maybe they’d thought since they were on school property, he wouldn’t do anything.
I had no idea how Killian did it as it happened so fast, but in one move he had the lead singer on his back and on the floor. Within seconds the guy was begging. I couldn’t see exactly what Killi-an did to him, but it was calm, controlled, and without a flicker of fear.
A new guy, Sculpt, who I didn’t know except by name, had stood up from his table and moved closer to Killian. I assumed to back him up if the other band mates jumped him.
They didn’t, probably because Sculpt was even scarier than Killian. Sculpt’s tattooed, bulging arms and dark, almost black, intense eyes were pretty intimidating.
Ever since that fight, Killian and Sculpt hung out together, and I’d heard they started their own band with a couple of guys from another school.
And now I stood frozen at my locker, an arm’s length away from Killian Kane. Afraid to move, breathe or otherwise, lest I gain his notice.
My math book lay at my feet, canvas school bag slung over my shoulder and Killian so close to me his broad shoulder brushed mine when he grabbed Josh by the T-shirt and slammed him into the locker.
My heart jumped at the loud bang of Josh’s spine hitting the metal.
“I fuckin’ warned you,” Killian growled.
And it was a growl or maybe a snarl because he said it between clenched teeth. He tilted his body in close to Josh, and Josh had nowhere to go, trapped between furious Killian and his locker.
“I warned you what would happen if he came to my school and dealt that shit.”
Dealt that shit was drugs. Josh’s older brother was a big-time dealer, and anyone who wanted drugs went to him.
Josh sold them too, but not the hard stuff, and neither brother sold them at our school—until recently.
Killian landed a couple of guys in the hospital after they’d tried to sell drugs on school proper-ty. One guy had a busted nose and a broken right arm. The other had cracked ribs and lost three front teeth.
Neither kid admitted it was Killian, but everyone knew. Especially since the day after the inci-dent, Killian had a bandage above his right eye, and his knuckles were bruised and cut up.
My best friend, Mars, whose brother Aiden was in Killian’s class, said when the teacher told Killian to go to the infirmary to get checked, he told the teacher to “mind his own fuckin’ business.”
That got him sent to the principal’s office. No one knows what happened there, but he pretty much lived in detention.
“I… I know. I told him, but”—I kind of felt sorry for Josh, because he looked like he was going to piss himself—“…he said it wasn’t your school,” Josh stammered. “I swear. I told him not to.”
It wasn’t Killian’s school, technically, but you still followed his rules, and one of his rules was no drugs.
Killian straightened, but he didn’t release Josh’s shirt.
“Where is he now?”
“He took off when he, uh… heard you were looking for him.” Josh briefly glanced at me, and I half smiled. It was my small act of kindness, because even though I wasn’t a fan of Josh as he and his brother were drug dealers, I sympathized with him for being on Killian’s radar.
You did not want to be on Killian’s radar. And exactly why I hadn’t run, but kept quiet, motionless, and barely breathing. The rabbit in the hole waiting until the coast was clear for my quick escape.
Besides, I had a math test tomorrow I needed to study for so I wasn’t leaving without my books.
“Tell him to meet me at the river,” Killian said. “Five o’clock. He doesn’t show, I’m coming for him another way, and he won’t like it.”
I knew exactly what meeting at the river meant. He was going to fight Josh’s older brother. Older meaning he’d graduated last year.
“I swear, Kite, he won’t do it again,” Josh said.
Killian’s voice lowered. “Too late for that. You were supposed to tell him the rules. He either didn’t listen or you didn’t tell him. Either way, now I have to do something about it.”
Maybe it was my fiery red hair that caught his eye, or that my heart thumped so loud he heard it, but whatever it was, Killian’s gaze sliced to me.
I stiffened, inhaling a quick breath and my heart fluttered.
We stared at one another.
It was the first time I’d been this close to him, and it was terrifying, and at the same time capti-vating and intense.
His eyes reminded me of the green Popsicles my dad used to pick up on his way home from work on hot, humid days. We’d sit on the front porch of the house and eat them before they melted, which was hard to do in the heat and we’d both end up with sticky hands.
Killian’s eyes were like that. Green and cold with ice chips in them, so clear it was as if I saw my own reflection.
And they were absolutely beautiful.
Cool as ice, Savvy. He is not a nice guy.
“Breathe,” Killian said.
I swayed to the side as my lungs screamed for air. I couldn’t look away even if I wanted to, lost within the cool depths of his eyes.
“Jesus Christ. Breathe,” he barked.
That snapped me out of it, and I exhaled.
His piercing eyes stayed on me for a second, and I swear they softened, warmth simmering briefly before they hardened again.
He shifted his attention back to Josh at the same time as a voice called out, “Kite?”
Sculpt strode down the hall toward us then put his hand on Killian’s forearm. “Not fuckin’ here.”
“His brother was dealing drugs on school property,” Killian retorted, glaring at his friend.
“I know, but not here. The school won’t give you another chance and your dad—”
Sculpt tensed. “I get it, man. You know I do, but you can’t risk it.”
Killian swore beneath his breath then released Josh’s shirt and stepped back. “Tell him to meet me.”
“Yeah. Okay. Sure, Kite.” Josh scrambled to pick up his books, slammed his locker and took off.
“You’re going to get expelled,” Sculpt said. “The principal said no more chances. If he saw that, you’d be history.”
“Josh and his brother are bad news.” Killian leaned up against the locker beside me, but it was as if I no longer existed because he completely ignored me.
I thought it was fairly safe to move, grab my things and slip away, so I crouched to pick up my math book.
“You’re Savannah, right?”
I looked up with my hand on my book, and Killian was looking at me, but it was Sculpt who had spoken.
Ummm, why was he talking to me?
Neither guy had spoken to me before. Even when I’d seen them in a local coffee shop they hung out at with a couple other guys not from our school, they didn’t acknowledge me.
“It’s Savvy,” I corrected.
“I’m Sculpt. You meet Kite?”
For a millisecond, I considered laughing because it was so ridiculous that he was introducing himself and Killian.
Seriously, what person did not know who they were?
Within five seconds of the first day of secondary school, I knew Kite’s name. I found out weeks later his real name was Killian, and ever since that was who he was to me.
I loved his name, and I didn’t like what his nickname meant. There was more to his fighting than him preying on others. It was like… he was so angry and tormented by something that he had to fight, but maybe he didn’t want to. So, he fought the bullies and assholes.
Or I was just making up my own excuse for him.
“You help out the school nurse,” Sculpt said.
“Yeah,” I replied.
I placed supply orders, dressed the odd scrapes and wounds, nothing substantial, but I had my first aid certificate. I’d never treated Killian or Sculpt for anything.
I suspected Killian wouldn’t have a nurse or anyone else treat him for minor cuts or injuries. It would have to be serious before he saw the nurse. Plus, I imagined he was accustomed to injuries and bandaged himself.
“You good at keeping your mouth shut?” Sculpt asked
What kind of question was that? I wasn’t outspoken by any means, or prone to gossip. Actually, I only had a few friends to gossip with anyway. “I’m not going to say anything about this, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“Nope. Wasn’t asking for that reason,” he replied.
Killian’s eyes narrowed and his back stiffened, but he remained silent.
Even though I was scared and nervous of Killian, he was hard not to admire because he was striking. And you’d know if he kissed you, it would be absolutely incredible.
My bestie, Mars, said he was cute.
But you didn’t call a lion cute. Majestic. Magnificent and maybe even beautiful. But definitely not cute.
Sculpt bent and curled his fingers around my elbow to help me stand.
I stood, and my gaze locked on Killian. He was still watching me, his expression cold and un-readable.
Sculpt’s hand dropped from my elbow.
Killian turned away first, and I thanked God because there was no way I was able to stop my-self from peering into those eyes. And my heart wouldn’t stop doing those thrills.
He is not a god, Savvy.
Just a guy with beautiful eyes who I wanted to have my first kiss with.
I cleared my throat and raised my knee to balance my bag on it while I unzipped it and quickly shoved my math textbook inside. I rezipped, lowered my leg and shut my locker.
My hand trembled as I fiddled with the padlock and I couldn’t get the shackle of the lock to catch.
“I have a job for you,” Sculpt said.
Damn it. I had to redo the code.
“Sorry, pardon?” I asked, then dropped my bag between my legs and spun the dial one way then the other, then back the other way.
“A job,” Sculpt said. “It’s fast, quick cash, and most of the time you won’t have to do anything except show up.”
“That doesn’t sound legal.” But regardless of what the job was, I was anxious to pay for dance classes, and I couldn’t get a job because most places wouldn’t hire me being only fifteen.
Since my dad died, money was really tight, and my mom paying for dance or even helping out was out of the question.
My lock finally latched and I spun the dial.
“Not her,” Killian said.
My eyes lifted to his through a strand of my wild, red curls, and suddenly I wished I hadn’t be-cause he was watching me again, and it wasn’t emotionless this time.
It was annoyed.
I didn’t know why. It wasn’t like I’d done anything. Maybe he was pissed Sculpt had a job for me. But what did he care?
Trapped in Killian’s ice-green eyes again, I felt as if an elephant sat on my chest.
Why couldn’t I look away?
I so did not want to be on his radar.
But it wasn’t like I had a choice. His gaze had me locked to him, and the only way I’d be able to look away was if he allowed it.
“Why not?” Sculpt asked him.
Killian’s jaw clamped and he jerked his eyes from mine, pushing away from the locker. “She’s a damn freshman and terrified of her own fuckin’ shadow. I bet she’d run out of there crying the second she saw what was happening. Not fuckin’ her!” Killian repeated. Then he turned and headed down the hall.
“Shit,” Sculpt mumbled. “Don’t take it personally. You’re one of the few he actually likes,” he said, but he didn’t say it like a compliment, just a fact.
That made no sense. He didn’t even know me, and I wasn’t sure I liked that he liked me.
Sculpt gave me a once over with his black eyes, and it was unnerving because it was like he was checking to see if I measured up to something. “You want to make quick cash, let me know.”
I wanted to say yes for the fact alone that Killian said I was scared of my own shadow and would run crying out of… wherever he was talking about.
Sculpt turned and jogged down the hall after Killian before I had a chance to ask what the job actually was.
He body checked Killian and Killian punched him in the chest.
I watched them until they disappeared around the corner then flung my bag over my shoulder and ran to meet my mom outside.
An hour later, I sat on the school steps studying math because my mom hadn’t shown—again. It was the third time this week. Mom was getting worse.
“You always do your homework on the steps after school?”
I gasped, twisting at the waist to see Killian standing on the top step looking like one of those Greek gods again. I wasn’t an expert on gods or anything, but I’d decided that he was definitely Zeus. Powerful with a temper and if you pissed him off you were totally screwed.
I stuffed my math book into my bag. “Sometimes. When my mom is late.”
“And how often is that?” he asked.
Shrugging, I said while collecting my bag and standing. “She’s really busy.”
He’d walked down five steps so he was beside me. He smelled fresh and clean with the linger-ing scent of soap, as if he’d had gym his last period and had showered.
I dragged in a deep inhale then stopped when his brows lifted as if he knew I’d been breathing in his smell.
He continued, “Doing what?”
I hitched my bag over my shoulder. “I don’t know. Stuff.”
She probably took too many of those pills again and was passed out. I didn’t know what they were because she’d peeled the label off.
“Come to the river with us,” Killian said. “After the fight one of the guys will drive you home.”
I was so not doing that.
First off, watching a fight made my stomach churn. Not because of the blood, but because I hated the idea of fighting.
The second reason, I didn’t know any of ‘the guys’ and I wasn’t getting in a car with them. I’d rather walk the six miles home.
“I’m okay. It’s not far.”
“Bullshit. I know where you live,” he retorted.
He did? It was odd that Killian would know that. Why would he?
“Well, I’m used to it.” And according to my mother, I needed the exercise. That was her excuse for when she forgot to pick me up. That I should walk home so I could lose a few pounds. I wasn’t exactly overweight, but I was short and had bulk, but I danced, so I was toned and in shape. My body wasn’t a dainty China doll like hers.
I headed down the stairs, praying I didn’t trip and fall because pins and needles surged through my legs from sitting cross-legged on the stairs for so long.
I was also nervous because I couldn’t figure out why Killian was talking to me again. That was twice in one day.
I hadn’t done anything. I had nothing he wanted. And I certainly wasn’t a threat to him or would break any of his rules.
Everyone whispered that Killian Kane only noticed the people he meant harm.
And he’d noticed me.
But Killian randomly talking to girls, and especially girls like me, didn’t happen as far as I was aware. I bet his father would have a fit if he knew his son was talking to a girl in second-hand clothes who lived in a trailer.
The Kane’s were wealthy, lived in the nice part of town and belonged to the exclusive country club, and supposedly, his dad had a number of horses and played polo. Rumor was his dad owned several nightclubs downtown, and that was where he made his money.
If I didn’t take the shortcut home, I passed their house, and it was stunning like something out of a fairy-tale book. Manicured lawns, five-car garage, and gardens my dad would have loved.
But I didn’t think it was a fairy tale inside the massive stone house because the one time I’d seen Mr. Kane, he’d looked mean. I’d never heard anything about Killian’s mom or if his mom was even around.
Mr. Kane came into the school office at the beginning of the school year when I’d been filling out what supplies we needed for the infirmary.
He hadn’t hesitated or knocked on the principal’s door. He’d strode in, and I’d caught a glimpse of his face when he’d looked at Killian standing in front of Mr. Merck’s desk.
Hatred. It was all over his face—the sneer when his lip curled, the throbbing temples and dis-gust in his eyes as he’d glared at his son.
The door had then slammed shut.
Then shouting had vibrated through the office before the door opened and Mr. Kane had walked out.
Killian had been behind him, his face impassive as to whatever trouble he’d been in.
Mr. Kane’s piercing eyes had landed on me, probably because I’d been staring at him with a gaping mouth.
My stomach had flipped then plummeted into a cesspool of thick sludge. The hairs on the back of my neck had darted to attention and prickles of warning had tingled across my skin.
He reminded me of the devil, the monster in the closet, and the bogeyman under the bed all in one.
He was what nightmares were made of, and I’d known that because several nights after that, I woke to those hard eyes looking at Killian with such hatred.
“The job isn’t for you,” Killian said. “You’re going to get hurt. Don’t take it.”
I stiffened, pursing my lips together then tilted my chin up and flung around and said, “Well, I am.” I hadn’t really decided yet, but now it was a definite yes. He wasn’t telling me what I was scared of. He had no clue who I was. Before today he had never spoken to me.
His brow lifted with what I assumed was surprise at my firm retort, because I bet not many were stupid enough to snap at Killian.
There was a long pause, and I nearly turned and walked away thinking he wasn’t going to say anything when he said, “You won’t like it.”
I was so taking the job just for the fact that he said that. “You don’t know what I like,” I said over my shoulder.
“Sure, I do. You don’t like fighting, and trust me, you won’t like this,” he replied.
I stopped. I wasn’t sure how he knew that. Maybe because I’d never been to one of his fights when most of the students had. But again, how did he know if I had or hadn’t been to a fight of his.
I turned to face him. “Why do you care, anyway?”
He huffed. “You have the wrong impression. I don’t give a shit about you. I give a shit about you putting the rest of us in danger.”
Whoa, I knew Killian was pissed off, but he was also an ass. “Wow, you’re a jerk.”
He shrugged. “And a good reason for you to stay away.”
I slowly turned to face him again. “From you or the job?”
“What are you going to do? Challenge me to a fight at the river if I don’t listen to you?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” he barked.
I was pissed and I rarely got pissed, but he pushed my buttons. “You know what, why don’t you worry about your stupid fight rather than what I do or don’t do.”
He stepped closer.
I backed up and my heart skipped a beat. But I raised my chin and refused to back down from him.
“Stupid fight? Do you think it’s such a stupid fight when it’s your mother buying drugs from him?”
I was aware of my mom’s drug habit, but she took prescription pills, and I thought she got them from a doctor. Still, fighting didn’t solve anything, and it wasn’t Killian’s responsibility; it was the police’s.
“Fighting won’t do anything.”
“Sure, it does. It makes me feel better,” he replied.
“When I get angry or upset I dance.” I danced before classes in the gym blaring my iPod. It was my favorite time of day.
“You dance when you’re mad?”
“Yeah.” Dancing was my passion and the movements filtered through me like raw emotions. Sometimes, when the music played and I was lost to the sounds through my dancing, tears trickled down my cheeks.
“How long have you danced, Savvy?”
My heart skipped a beat when he said my name. His Irish accent elongated the “a” so it sound-ed like “ah.”
“My dad signed me up for jazz class when I was five, and I’ve danced ever since.” I loved dancing, and I think some of that was because it was all I had left of him. He used to come watch all my recitals. I’d heard him and my mom argue about him spending money on classes for me, but no matter what, he made sure I had my dance classes. Then when I was ten, he was diagnosed with cancer, and within months he was gone.
He paused a minute as if contemplating his words before he said, “Are you any good?”
I laughed. “Not really.” At least that was what my mom said. She hated me dancing, and I didn’t get why. But I’d never give it up because dancing lived inside me. I wasn’t currently able to pay for any classes, but I still practiced every chance I got.
My dad used to say I was his little fiery sprite. I wasn’t very fiery, but I had red hair. I missed my dad every single day. I think my mom did too in her own way, and that was why she started on those pills the doctor gave her after he died. She was so different, sad all the time and well, not very nice.
“Then why bother?”
I huffed. “Wow, your jerk meter is getting higher every time you open your mouth.”
There was the slightest twitch at the corner of his mouth. Or maybe I imagined it because I wished he were mildly amused.
I continued, “You’ve obviously mastered the art of being a dick. Maybe you should learn some-thing new like being nice.”
“No, I’d suck at it.” I tried to stop the smile from emerging but failed and found myself laugh-ing. “Easier to keep doing what you’re good at.”
“Maybe you’d be good at doing something else with your hands other than throwing punches.”
“Mmm,” he drawled, and this time I was sure I saw his lips twitch. “Please, educate me, Savvy. What do you advise I do with these hands?”
I stiffened, and at the same time, my belly flipped. It was like all that anger and scariness melt-ed away with a simple lifting of the corners of his mouth and a bright spark in the depths of his green eyes.
I licked my lips then swallowed. “That’s not what I meant.” I may be young and a virgin, but it was pretty clear from his tone what he was making a reference to.
I should’ve kept my mouth shut and kept walking.
“I know. I’m attempting to keep up with your low opinion of me. Tell me, what do you have in mind for my hands?” he asked.
I tried to ignore that sexy undertone, but it was hard with that Irish lilt he had. “Well, you play the drums, right?” He nodded. “When you’re angry, you could hit them instead of people. Or maybe take up boxing or something.” Or maybe get some help. Like my mom needed, but refused to do.
He remained quiet. Expression void. Yep, void. He wasn’t angry, amused, just… nothing.
“Never mind,” I muttered under my breath and went to leave when he snagged my arm and stopped me. My breath hitched, and everything in my body went on high speed.
My heart pounded so hard that the sound echoed in my head.
“No fuckin’ clue, orchid,” he said.
Whoa. What? I didn’t care what he said. It was what he called me. I stared at him like he’d grown wings, horns, and a dragon tail. Orchid? Why did he call me orchid?
Killian Kane had a nickname for me?
And it was a nice nickname. Not like Ryan from English class who called me “sniper dream.” I wasn’t sure if that was because I was slightly overweight or I had red hair.
He released my arm. “You need a ride. We’re at the river.” Then he said in a firm tone, “There is no job for you, Savvy. I’ve told Sculpt the same thing.”
The school doors burst open and a bunch of guys barreled out, excitedly talking about the up-coming fight.
Craig, a beefy guy, jumped on another guy’s back and they nearly tumbled down the stairs. I heard him say to Killian, “How did you get out of detention so fast?”
I didn’t hear a response because I quickly turned and walked away as fast as my trembling legs could carry me while trying to appear as if I wasn’t running away.
“What the fuck is she doing here? I told you I didn’t want her here.”
This was Killian, and he was not cool with me taking the job Sculpt offered. I wasn’t exactly cool with taking the job Sculpt offered either because of where it was, but the money was too good to pass up. And the fact was I wanted to prove to Killian and myself that I wouldn’t run away cry-ing.
“She wanted the job and we needed someone,” Sculpt said. “I told her it’s only this once.”
He had. Actually, he’d said no at first, but then I begged because it was a hundred bucks an hour and I could use it for dance classes.
Besides, no one my age would refuse that.
The hitch was that the job was at an underground fight. An illegal, underground fight that changed locations every week, so the police didn’t catch on to its location.
I’d never done anything illegal, and my rationale was I wasn’t doing anything illegal by going. It wasn’t like I was fighting or anything.
According to Sculpt, all I had to do was look after a few minor injuries after the fight, and since I had my first aid certificate and volunteered at the hospital as well as with the school nurse, I was more than capable.
I asked him if I had to actually watch the fight and he’d shrugged and told me he didn’t give a shit what I did as long as I was there and could do the job.
The thought of watching the fight made my stomach curdle. Thankfully when I told Mars about the job, she totally freaked and insisted on coming with me.
Sculpt told me the location, time, and then a warning if I called the police about any of this, he’d deal with me.
I guessed what deal with me meant.
Killian I didn’t want to mess with, but Sculpt even less because he had the mystery factor. He showed up at school on his motorcycle looking the epitome of a bad boy, stuck to himself until the cafeteria fight with Killian that day, and then hung with the most feared guy at school.
But despite Sculpt’s quietness, it didn’t take long for the girls to latch onto him like bees to honey because he was really good looking and had that danger aspect about him. The difference between him and Killian was that Killian didn’t like the girls around him.
And even tonight, Sculpt had chicks around him and Killian didn’t, although they were certain-ly looking.
We were in a basement of an office building for the illegal fight, and Killian wasn’t paying at-tention to the girls staring at him. No, he was glaring at me.
Sculpt had a pretty blonde girl on his arm who I recognized from school, but didn’t know her name. She also glared at me.
I certainly didn’t feel welcome, but no chance in hell was I running even though my legs were already out the door.
A hundred dollars, Savvy. Dance classes.
Sculpt nudged Killian, and both guys looked to the right where a guy came out of the men’s washroom a few feet away, bouncing on his toes as he made his way to the ring.
He was huge and older. Much older. Maybe twenty-five and covered in tattoos. He was also ripped. Bulging arm muscles. Legs like tree trunks. And he wore a seriously pissed-off scowl. I also noticed he didn’t wear any boxing gloves, had just wrapped hands.
Holy shit, was Sculpt fighting this guy? “Umm, you don’t wear boxing gloves and a helmet or something?”
Sculpt snorted with a grin while shaking his head. He eyed Killian. “You might be right.”
God, what if he really got hurt and needed a doctor? I had my first aid certificate, but I wasn’t prepared for serious injuries, and that guy looked like he could do serious damage.
What had I gotten myself into? What if someone died? What if he was knocked out? Or broke bones?
“Fuck,” Killian muttered then grabbed my chin, thumb bruising, and forced me to meet his eyes. “Breathe.”
I inhaled a ragged breath.
“I warned you not to take the fuckin’ job,” he said between clenched teeth. He released my chin but remained close so his heated breath wafted across my face, smelling like mint and pine.
He had. And he was right. I didn’t like this. At all. But it was a hundred bucks for an hour of my life. A hundred bucks toward dance school.
“I’m fine,” I replied, straightening my spine.
“You’re not fuckin’ fine,” he growled.
“I am,” I argued.
“You hold your breath when you’re scared, and you get pale as fuck. You’re not fuckin’ fine.” Killian looked at Mars. “Make sure she doesn’t pass out.”
Lips firm, I glared. “I’m not going to….” I stopped because he was already moving away to talk to Sculpt.
“He looks good,” Killian remarked, his focus also on the tattooed monster. “Bulky.”
Sculpt nodded. “Yeah. I’ll drag it out. Get him moving and tired first.”
They continued talking about Sculpt’s opponent while I looked around. The place was packed with mostly guys, but there were some girls, and all appeared older than us. I guessed we were the youngest here.
A lot of money exchanged hands, and the noise was loud with a constant buzz of excitement. It was infectious and even though I wasn’t looking forward to witnessing my first fight, I couldn’t help but feel the vibe, too.
“You want to pay attention, so you don’t get killed,” Killian barked.
Mars tugged on my sleeve.
Killian stood in front of me again. Sculpt was gone.
“Sorry,” I replied.
“Stay in this spot. Don’t go wandering or talk to anyone,” he ordered.
“Can we bet?” Mars blurted.
“No!” he said, but his focus was still on me. “Do you understand, Savvy?”
I nodded. “Yeah.”
“You hear sirens, don’t fuckin’ run with the crowd. You’ll get trampled.” Sirens? He must have recognized my shocked expression because he said, “Fights are raided all the time. Not a big deal if you know what to do and don’t panic.”
Police raiding seemed like a big deal to me, but I wasn’t going to tell him that. “So, where do we go?”
“You wait for me or Sculpt. We’ll get you out.”
“What if you can’t get to us?”
“One of us will,” Killian replied.
“But you might not.”
He groaned. “Yeah, if you leave this fuckin’ spot, we won’t. So stay here and don’t panic if an-ything happens.”
I rambled when I was nervous, and I opened my mouth to do just that and go on about the pos-sibility that he wouldn’t be able to get to us if the crowd blocked him. I was also going to point out that he wasn’t Superman and able to fly over everyone to get to us.
But I never said anything because Mars knew exactly what I was going to do and latched onto my arm, shaking her head.
“We got it,” she said.
Killian briefly glanced at her, back at me, then nodded just as a guy announced the fighters.
Before Killian walked away, my fingers curled into the back of his T-shirt and tugged. He peered over his shoulder at me. “Are you fighting tonight, too?”
“No.” He stared at me a second then added, “I don’t fight for money.” His shirt stretched, my fingers slow to react as he strode away toward the ring.
We were at the back wall, near a storage closet and only a few people lingered near us. Most hovered and jostled one another to get closer to the ring.
“Kite likes you.” Mars bumped me with her shoulder, grinning.
“What? Are you insane?” I blurted loudly because Sculpt and the guy, appropriately called Hannibal, got in the ring and everyone cheered.
She shrugged. “Just sayin’. Sculpt doesn’t look at you like Kite does with those incredible green eyes.”
“He’s looking at me like that because he’s mad that I took the job.”
“Exactly. He’s worried about you.”
I didn’t have time to process that when I heard the first punch. The sound was like a paddle slapping the surface of the water.
My gaze shot to the ring, as did Mars’s and the conversation about Killian liking me dropped as we stared transfixed on Sculpt and Hannibal.
I didn’t know whether to be mortified or fascinated by the fight. My heart pounded and knees trembled as I leaned against the wall for support.
The atmosphere was electric and deafening as they went at each other. I knew nothing about fighting, but it was obvious Hannibal was getting tired as he threw punch after punch at Sculpt, who easily dodged them and threw in the odd fist to the side of the head or gut.
I winced, and the crowd hissed when Hannibal got a good shot into Sculpt’s cheek and sent him back a few steps. He lifted his head and blood dripped down his cheek from the cut Hannibal just wielded.
But it wasn’t the blood that had me worried; it was Sculpt squinting his eyes and staggering. The next blow Hannibal dealt to the side of his head sent Sculpt sideways, then to his knees.
“Oh noooo,” I cried.
My stomach curdled, and I bit my lip so hard I tasted blood.
“Look,” Mars said, “he’s getting up.”
I grabbed her hand and squeezed, holding my breath as Hannibal approached the downed Sculpt.
But he never got a handle on him because Sculpt swung hard and fast as he leapt to his feet and didn’t stop.
Hit after hit.
I looked away, and my eyes darted to Killian instead standing next to the ring, his expression calm and focused on Sculpt.
I hadn’t expected to see him calm, especially during a fight. But it was as if the crowd, the blood, the excitement, everything vanished and there was a quiet stillness in him.
And it was beautiful. He was beautiful.
I realized that the anger he carried with him ate away all his beauty. Physically he had it, but this was different. This was the beauty inside him.
I released my breath as I watched him and then as if he sensed my eyes on him, he turned.
Our eyes locked, and there was an intense craving to have him next to me. I’d never had it be-fore, but I knew what it was.
I liked him. Shit, I liked Killian Kane.
“Police!” There was a horrendous bang as the doors of the basement burst open.
I gasped, eyes widening.
Screams wrenched the air.
My eyes shot back to Killian and he mouthed, ‘Stay,’ and then he headed for us. But within seconds, the crowd swarmed him as they scrambled to get out of the basement.
“Oh, my God, Sav. Shit. My parents will kill me if I’m arrested,” Mars yelled. “We have to go.” She yanked on my hand.
“Killian. He said to stay here,” I argued, but she was already dragging me into the herd of spooked people.
“Yeah, well he doesn’t know my parents.”
She didn’t know his. I could only imagine what Mr. Kane would do if his son was arrested for being at an illegal fight. It would be the talk of the country club.
We were caught up in the herd and shoved through the door of the stairwell. I looked over my shoulder for Killian, eyes searching.
I couldn’t see him. All I saw were blue uniforms swarming the place.
We ran up the stairs to escape the building, but suddenly everyone scrambled in the opposite di-rection. The police were coming through the doors at the top of the stairs, too.
“Shit,” Mars yelled.
Someone pushed me from behind. My knees hit the edge of the stair and I cried out in pain. People hurdled over me, and Mars blocked them from stepping on me as I tried to get up, but I kept being pushed.
A hand grabbed my elbow, and with one jerk, I was hauled to my feet.
“I told you to fuckin’ wait,” he growled. His gaze went to my knees and for a moment there was a flicker of something other than anger. “There’s another way out.”
He locked his arm around my waist and I clutched Mars’s hand as we headed back to the base-ment. It was easier pushing through the herd because Killian was like a bulldozer.
We veered right as soon as we were in the room where we started, and there were people lying on the ground, hands on their heads and cops handcuffing them.
Oh, my God, we were all going to be thrown in jail. I’d never even had detention before.
Killian’s palm slammed into a door that said storage and he dragged me into the darkness.
“There’s a vent,” he said as he led us to the back of a large room with numerous floor-to-ceiling metal shelves.
The vent cover was already on the floor. “The other fighters already went through. We always check escape routes.”
“Sculpt?” I asked.
“Don’t know,” he said. “He was looking for you and Mars.”
God, we should’ve stayed where we were.
Light filtered into the storage room as the door opened. We were out of sight, but footsteps headed our way.
“Go!” Killian hissed.
Mars leaped into the vent, and I went in after her, but Killian didn’t follow.
I peered over my shoulder as he replaced the vent cover. “Killian!”
“Fuckin’ go,” he said.
“Police. Stay where you are!”
I held my breath, watching as Killian put his hands up and moved away from the vent.
“On your knees. Hands behind your head,” the officer said.
Kept from You excerpt Prologue
Published by Nashoda Rose
Copyright © 2017 by Nashoda Rose
Formatting graphics by Champagne Formats
AUDIO Book by Audible Studios