An influential crime boss with an appetite for power…
A sadistic enforcer whose name alone strikes fear in the souls of the most hardened criminals…
And an innocent man who is forced to join their twisted games.
“This book was truly magnificent.” –Jessie Potts, USA Today reviewer
“Unrelenting and exciting…a palpable sense of danger.” –K. Harris, Top 10 Amazon reviewer
* * * A Top 10 Bestseller on Amazon UK (Mystery, Suspense & Thriller) * * *
Gabriel Morgan will do anything to save his sister. But when her captor, Marcus Slade, demands payment in blood, Gabriel finds himself plunged into the darkest of worlds–New York’s criminal underground, where violence is a commodity and the only rule is survival at any cost.
Forced to join Slade and his fiercely intelligent, twisted enforcer in their bloody enterprise, Gabriel plays the game–while in secret, he mounts a desperate plan to turn their own rules against them.
BROKEN ANGEL is a dark suspense thriller, packed with action and edge-of-your-seat tension–from chilling start to shocking, jaw-dropping finale.
Gabriel fought the light that edged the blackness, struggling to stay unaware of his battered body for as long as possible.
Cold ravaged his flesh and gnawed at his bones. Fits of shivers forced awareness into him. At first he thought they’d left him outside, but it had been a warm night. Maybe they’d stuffed him in a freezer. The surface beneath him was solid and unforgiving, and slightly damp.
He tried to open his eyes. Only one of them responded. The other, where Nails had struck him, had swollen nearly shut, and a gummy substance sealed the lids together. He suspected it was blood. His head throbbed a sickening rhythm that his stomach copied, and his throat tightened with every pulse.
He lay still and breathed slowly. The nausea lessened but refused to disappear. Wherever he was, it was fairly dark. Everything looked gray. After a moment, he realized the floor really was gray. Damp concrete, too smooth for a parking lot, extended far enough to convince him he was inside somewhere.
A parking garage? He’d heard no sound since he woke, not even distant traffic or the whisper of wind. He shifted, suppressed the renewed urge to vomit and tried to push himself up.
His arms wouldn’t move. He curled a hand, and his numb fingers brushed something rough. Rope. They’d tied his hands behind his back.
Fear pulled his senses into sharp relief. He rolled onto his side. An explosive groan escaped clenched teeth. At least his legs weren’t tied. He managed to sit up, and slumped forward with a gasp. A wave of dizziness threatened to knock him out again. He closed his eyes and willed it to pass.
At last, he lifted his head. A wall of cement blocks rose in front of him and stretched to an unfinished ceiling. Moisture glistened on the worn mortar between the blocks, suggesting a basement. The dim light came from a single fluorescent tube, the only one lit of several that striped the space beyond the beams at regular intervals.
He took slow breaths and forced himself to stay calm. This place could be anywhere. Diego and his thugs might have put him in storage until they contacted this Slade person, or they might have brought him to the man already. He had no idea how long he’d been out, and no desire to find out why Slade wanted him.
To his left loomed a steel door. Probably locked, but he had to try it. Even if the door was open and he managed to escape this place, he would somehow have to free his hands. He panned his gaze along the room, looking for something that might saw through the rope. The sight of pairs of manacles and chains hanging from the back wall stopped him cold.
Not a basement. A dungeon.
Heightened fear galvanized him into action. He pushed back with his feet and slid across the floor until his bound hands met the wall behind him. Using the surface for leverage, he struggled to rise an inch at a time. Gained his feet and leaned back. His breath left in ragged pants, and his legs shook beneath him.
Think, damn it.
The rough cement might erode the rope if he rubbed against it long enough. That might take hours, though. He tried rotating his wrists. The course fiber abraded his skin, but the ropes gave a fraction of an inch. Working his hands free would shred his flesh.
Unfortunately, he had no other options.
Drawing a fortifying breath, he clenched his jaw and wrenched his hands in opposite directions, back and forth, as quickly as he could manage. A burning sensation spread through his wrists. The rope ground away layers of skin and the burn became stinging pain as blood trickled from the abrasions. After a few minutes, his shoulders ached with the effort. He kept at it, gained enough to pull his hands through to the base of his thumbs. A bitter laugh escaped him when he realized his blood soaking the ropes made them more pliable.
Almost there. Another inch and he’d be free. Everything burned. Wet warmth drizzled into his palms. The pain drove him to his knees. He stayed there and kept working at the bonds. If the door was locked, at least he could try to surprise anyone who came through it. He’d have a sliver of a chance. Better than nothing.
A hollow click sounded in the stillness, followed by the groan of hinges as the door opened. His breath left him.
He stood and turned to face the door fully, concealing the evidence of his struggle from whoever planned to enter. A stranger walked in, closed the door and approached him. The man wore a tailored black suit with a white shirt open at the throat and no tie. Thick blond hair framed a granite face from which frigid blue eyes asserted dominance.
“I’m going to guess you’re Marcus Slade.” Trying to move slowly so the other man wouldn’t notice, he started on the ropes again. The door had to be open. If he could get past this guy, he might be able to escape.
The man flashed a brittle and humorless smile. “Smart boy. And you’re Gabriel Morgan. Now that we’ve been introduced, you can have a seat, and we’ll talk.”
Crazy motherfucker. “I’m not—”
Slade gripped his jacket and smashed him against the wall. His mangled wrists banged the cement and drew a cry from him. Slade dragged him down the rough surface, forced him to sit on the floor and hunkered in front of him without relaxing his grip.
“From now on, when I tell you to do something, you will do it.” One hand left his jacket, gripped his chin and forced his head toward the door. “There’s a camera up there. I’ve been watching you, and I saw what you did to your wrists. Stop it.”
“You’re insane.” Gabriel jerked his head from Slade’s hand. “I don’t even know you! Why did you bring me here? What do you want? You can’t do this. You can’t just keep me here and… What do you want with me?” He lunged aside, hoping to break the grip on his jacket.
Slade held fast and backhanded him.
Agony exploded behind his eyes. Hot blood filled his mouth, coated his tongue with a bitter metal-salt taste. He shuddered and stilled.
“We’re off to a bad start. Let’s try again.” Slade stood and stared down at him. “You are Gabriel Morgan. I am Marcus Slade. I’m a businessman, and I have a proposition for you. That’s why I brought you here.”
“A proposition,” he repeated numbly. “Funny, but this doesn’t feel like an offer.”
“Oh, I have no intention of allowing you to refuse. We can do this the easy way, or the hard way.”
His mouth opened, shut. This psycho was going to kill him. How could he get out of this? Struggling wouldn’t work. In his current condition, he couldn’t physically overpower Slade. The man was as strong as one of Diego’s goons. He’d have to play along until he could think of something else.
“All right,” he said. “What do you want?”
“It’s simple, really. I run fighters and girls, and they make me a lot of money. You’re going to fight for me.”
“The hell I am,” he snapped before he could stop himself. “You’re talking about those basement beat-downs your pal Diego does? No. And why do you want me?”
Slade laughed. “First off, Diego Mendez is no friend of mine. I don’t know how you ended up with him, and I don’t want to know. Second, those ridiculous little pissing contests you’ve been hanging around are not fights. The organization doesn’t even recognize them.”
A lead weight settled in his stomach. This bastard belonged to the organization? At once he recalled Diego’s reaction when he looked at Lillith’s picture.
He was definitely the right one. And Slade had said fighters…and girls.
Oh God. No…
“You’ll fight for me, Mr. Morgan. I happen to have something you want.” Slade walked to the door, opened it and leaned out. “Get in here.”
“What is going on?” came from beyond the entrance in a woman’s voice tinged with fright. “Apollo, let go of me! Please. Tell me what’s happening…”
Gabriel’s chest became unbearably tight. He pushed himself to his feet, no longer caring what Slade said or did, and took a stumbling step toward the door, and another.
He stopped. An enormous black man filled the entryway, glared at him and stepped through, pulling a dark-haired woman in after him. Her head bent forward and cascading hair hid her face, but he didn’t have to see it. He’d known the instant she spoke.
She lifted her face. Her eyes met his. “Oh, my God,” she whispered as one hand flew to her mouth.
He barely managed to remain standing. He swallowed hard, but the lump in his throat stayed.
* * * * *
BROKEN ANGEL: Available now exclusively from Amazon — coming soon to major ebook retailers.