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He was a beast covered in vicious scars, she was the beauty he would do anything to have.
Silas always knew that he was a monster, and not just on the outside. People feared him, but he liked it that way. It gave him strength, power.
But that all changed when he walked into a deserted bar and saw her.
It was supposed to be easy; collect his money and go, but she made him want more. He struck a dangerous deal that would change their lives forever.
But all the beast could think about from the moment he saw her was: owning Olivia.
Chapter 1 Reveal
Having a fucked up face doesn’t always make people stare like everyone says—it makes people avoid you. They look anywhere else they possibly can to avoid looking in your eyes, because pity and shame are emotions better kept hidden. My face wasn’t always marred like this. I was born a cute kid, took after my momma with dark blond hair and bright blue eyes. People treat you differently when you’re attractive. But in my line of work, I don’t need to be a pretty boy, instead I’m an avenging angel. I’m the last face criminals see before they face full justice. I’m a bounty hunter. I work for myself and I answer to no one.
Most people would think I’d have ended up on the wrong side of the law growing up on the streets as I did, but when I witnessed firsthand what drugs did to my family, I vowed to dedicate my life to making sure no other kids had to go through what I suffered. I now put criminals in jail. If they want redemption, that’s on them. My job is to get them to trial alive and let the powers that be judge them.
The place was disgusting, some abandoned dive bar off the highway leading to nowhere. The greyish building looked rundown, like it’d been ignored for decades The paint on the siding was peeling, curling into itself, and garbage floated aimlessly in the wind. The scent wafting in to the open window of the car was stale smoke and desperation. A place where dreams went to die—a no-way-out dead end.
I sat in the car looking the place over. I’d made a pretty good reputation for myself over the years as a ruthless man who got what he wanted—at any cost. I’d worked hard and liked the look of fear I’d earned in the eyes of my opponents. I liked the speeding of my heart and the pure exhilaration of adrenaline pumping in my veins when their eyes exhibited defeat. I still had a little of that delinquent left in me and that’s why so many of these so called criminals were petrified of me. One look at my face and most of them cringed or backed away like maybe they thought being ugly was contagious. I liked that they were scared of me; fear was the only way to cultivate power and I needed the power. I never wanted to feel helpless again.
No one messed with me. My reputation was enough to make men much braver than Paul Sutton quiver in their boots. He was becoming a regular, which wasn’t a good thing when it comes to running from the authorities. A life on the lam was no way to live, especially if kids were involved, and in this case, his daughter Olivia was my main concern.
I’d been on both sides of the law and I knew the ins and outs of everybody in the business. I had connections on both sides, loyalty to none. I’d gone from criminal to cop and come out a bounty hunter working on my own terms and making bank like I never saw on the force, and without the guilt that a life of crime had burdened me with. I worked hard to establish who I was. There were two types of criminals: bosses and henchmen, and I knew early on that I was never going to bow down to anyone—even the lords of the underworld respected me. Fear guaranteed they would. I worked alongside Kyle and no one else, he was a brother to me and there wasn’t anyone I trusted more. Kyle was a lawyer by trade, my best friend, and the only human I allowed to bring in a fugitive with me. We didn’t always work together, but whenever I needed back up, he was there. Kyle was my ride or die and I’d take a bullet for him without any hesitation whatsoever. He and his mother rescued me from the streets and they were my family. Annie always said that she and Kyle owed their lives to me, but it was the other way around—without them I’d have ended up an anonymous body in a morgue.
Our inside connections with law enforcement got us our marks, and our background in the underworld gave us the snitches to give up where they were hiding out. No one could keep up with us, let alone beat us. We delivered the most wanted into the hands of law enforcement and in return made an unintentional killing. Our reputation as ruthless bounty hunters wasn’t far off. Maybe we barked worse than we bit, but we took no shit and we took no prisoners.
Paul had no fucking idea how to run a business and to top it off he was a complete mess. He was busy shooting up what profit he made. It wasn’t the first time we’d brought him in. When we started doing bounty work, he was one of our first. Served his time, got out, but made even worse connections on the inside.
To make matters worse, Paul’s daughter Olivia had been left parentless when we put him behind bars. The schmuck had the wherewithal to ask me to keep an eye on his daughter. I did as I promised because I’m a man of my word. I checked in almost daily. Hired a security officer to camp out on the premises so that she wasn’t left alone—ever. Last thing I wanted was one of Paul’s piece of shit clients to show up and think Olivia owed them something on behalf of her father. I had groceries delivered and made sure her car was in working order so she could get to and from her classes. If it were up to me, I would have shut the whole shit operation down, gasoline, matches, problem solved. But the girl seemed to have an attachment to the place, or at least the routine. So I kept my distance, stuck to the shadows and took her in from afar. She was so fucking beautiful it broke my black heart. A girl like that would make any man beg on his knees. Delicate and precious and so very innocent. The girl flushed pink when she made eye contact and would lower her face. I’d stay silent in her presence, and the most she’d say to me was a whispered, “Thank you so much, Silas.”
I’d kill for a woman like that, an absolute slice of heaven on earth. Beauty and perfection all wrapped up in an angelic being—one hell of a girl. Quiet and contemplative. She knew the straight business side of the operation and balanced the books, pencil behind her ear.
If I blessed with someone as special as her, I’d do every single thing in my power to never let her go. That’s what made me irate when it came to Paul Sutton. He’d already lost a year with Olivia, and here he was, back at it, fucking up her chances of ever having the life she deserved. A woman like that deserved life handed to her on a silver platter, yet her piece of shit father had her constantly anxious, her face marred with worry lines and her eyes shadowed by dark circles.
“Silas, you’re too invested in this case. Bro, it’s like you’re taking it personally. You sure you want to do this?” My best friend and business partner asked as he looked at me. I could see the worry in his eyes. Kyle didn’t like the fact that I still got my hands dirty, but he didn’t understand. He’d never had to sleep on the frozen, hard pavement, bones shaking from the ruthless cold wind, so hungry that your stomach hurt too much to stand. I knew better. I had to go in myself and make him pay the price for his actions. Men like Paul Sutton were a stain on society. Worthless and completely selfish, they were the true monsters lurking in plain sight. No regard for anything or anyone other than his sorry self. My whole adult life I’d made it my mission to make sure that men like Paul knew there were people who would hold him accountable.
“You don’t need the money man. You don’t need to deal with any of this. Just let it go,” Kyle pleaded. He never liked seeing the monster come out. I think, deep down, the dark side of me made him nervous; he was never quite sure if I was animal or man. To be honest, some days I woke up unable to answer that question myself.
“I’ve come to take what’s mine. There’s no turning back.”
A few years ago, Paul had gotten in some trouble. He owed money to the wrong people, dangerous people who would have done anything necessary to get back what was owed them. Even if it meant hacking Paul and members of his family into pieces. That’s when I got way too involved. I wasn’t about to watch him put his daughter through the wringer again. His complete disregard for her well-being had me on the verge of slitting his throat already. So I made him a deal he couldn’t refuse, even if it meant I’d had to step back into the dark side for a spell. I lent the asshole the money he needed to bail himself out of his predicament. I told him upfront I was doing it for Olivia and I didn’t give a fuck about what happened to him.
I never intended to have any shady dealings with Paul. His property wasn’t worth a third of the money he wanted from me. After one of our early interactions, I’d gone back to the bar to tell him no, and that’s when I saw her. My whole world changed in that moment—she was it for me. One look and I was already ruined.
She was dressed modestly for such a beautiful girl. Wearing baggy jeans and a white turtleneck, her long dark hair pulled back in a simple ponytail. She was a masterpiece against the backdrop of that derelict den and I’d never seen anything so stunning. As soon as she put her books down after skipping in from school, she grabbed a broom and began cleaning up the trash all around her. She moved like poetry, gliding effortlessly, almost floating. I couldn’t stop looking at her. She had me, in that moment, under her spell, bewitching me when no other had before. Then the loud crash of a dropped glass brought me out of my hypnotic trance and I focused on the broken glass surrounding her feet. I moved toward her wanting to make sure none of the glass could hurt her. Nothing should ever touch such an angel, nothing. I forgot myself, my place, the fact that my appearance might scare her.
“It happens all the time. I’ve got it, don’t worry,” she said as I approached.
I was beside her in an instant, lifting her into my arms, cradling her delicate body. To this day, I’m not sure why I grabbed her like I did. It was instinct to care for her, to protect her. I didn’t want her to get hurt; the idea, for some reason, seemed unbearable. I felt my hands, which were normally steady, begin to shake. Fear of frightening her rattled my body. Her head was down so she wasn’t looking at my face. She didn’t need to know a monster had her, it would only heighten her fear. I shifted myself to ensure she couldn’t feel my rigid cock reacting just from the pressure of her slight body in my arms. The scent of her skin, so fragrant in that old dusty bar. From the first touch, I never wanted to let go.
“It’s okay, really, I’m fine. It happens all the time. I’ll just go grab the dust bin. You’re Silas, right? Thanks for helping my dad.”
That was it for me—there was no turning back.
Perhaps I was overreacting, but I placed her on the stool and proceeded to sweep the broken shards away, careful to angle my head in a way that ensured she wouldn’t have a good view of my face. My scars elicited fear and disgust in most people. It was the main reason I wore my hair shaggy, letting it grow to the length of my chin. It helped me conceal who I really was—a beast. She hopped off the stool, intent on helping with the mess. Instinctively, my right hand shot out and held her in place and took the dust pan from her.
“Glass can cut you,” I said matter-of-factly. Inwardly, I wanted to whip myself for being so stupid. I was never a man of many words. Words didn’t help anything and most people who speak too much dig their own graves. There was strength in silence.
I took the broom from her and meticulously cleaned up any remains of shattered glass on the floor. I wanted to make sure even the smallest sliver was removed to ensure that nothing could harm her. That was our very first interaction and looking back on it now, I can see why such a beautiful, young girl, surrounded by jagged glass and broken chairs, graffiti carved tables, mildewed sinks and greasy windows, gave me the impression she was even more fragile than she looked. I cringed when I thought of her working that joint when it was filled with bottom of the barrel, high on drink and power—the kind of assholes who treated women without an ounce of respect. I felt responsible for her right away; I wanted to take care of her.
“Thank you. This is very kind, but not necessary.”
Her voice was lovely, she sounded like a heavenly creature to my ears. I wanted to listen to her talk for all of eternity, but I knew that wasn’t possible. Once I was done, I handed her the broom and walked away as quickly as I could. I couldn’t stand being around her any longer, her light was too strong and I was pure darkness that could eventually contaminate her. Once I’d placed a safe distance between us and was shrouded in shadows, I dared to look up and saw her gazing at me, smiling softly.
I grew roses at home and tended to them meticulously. I used them to compensate for a life lived without beauty. My rose garden was full of every color and species. Tenacious flowers they were, built to withstand the harsh demands of nature. Olivia reminded me of a perfect rose, strong and delicate, gorgeous, fragrant silk petals armed with barbs underneath. Just like with my flowers, I watched her grow from afar, admired her strength and beauty, but held my feelings inside.
Then Paul came out and interrupted, like the sniveling junkie he was. How could such a worm produce the shining light that she was, goodness personified? Maybe her mother was a saint and Sutton nothing more than a lousy sperm donor.
“Silas, it’s nice to see you. Thank you for coming in. I see you’ve met my step-daughter.”
Sutton could act civil, but that’s exactly what it was—an act.
The angel came by and placed two beers on the table. I dropped my head again, avoiding eye contact with her. When she left, I looked up again and stared at Paul directly.
“Let’s not waste time. I’ll give you the money and you’ll have three years to pay it off. If, in that time, you don’t pay it off, I’ll be here to take your daughter as payment instead,” I said bluntly, and pointed to the young girl at the bar. It was a bold move even for me, but if Olivia never wanted me, at least she’d be safe, cared for, and comfortable in my charge—something her father had proved time and time again incapable of procuring for her.
“What could you possibly want with her?” He was less aghast at my proposal of owning his daughter than he was at my willingness to take her. I already knew he was blind to her value, but it made me hate him even more.
“That’s not your business. Do we have a deal?”
Paul took a sip of his beer and immediately spat it out. He walked over to the girl and, out of nowhere, pulled her hair, dragging her over to the table, yelling about how the beer wasn’t cold. Maybe he was putting on a show for me, but what he didn’t know was that I had no qualms about killing him on the spot.
Seeing men treat women like garbage wasn’t new to me, I always kept my cool, I always looked on, gritting my teeth because I had a job to do. But this time something in me snapped. I got up, broke a beer bottle on the side of the table and tossed the sharp edge at Paul, landing it right beside his eye. She looked at me with her eyes bulging in pure shock. I wanted to kill Paul in that moment. I wanted to break each one of his fingers, slowly, hearing him scream in agony. I wanted blood. His.
Paul placed his hand on his eye and looked shocked at the blood that was there when he pulled it away. I could practically smell his fear as his hands began to shake.
“You make a habit of harming women, Paul?” I askedquietly, walking toward him.
“No, but she should know better. She should never have served you a warm beer. She’s a goddamned barmaid for Christ’s sake!” I removed his hand from her arm patiently and looked into his face making sure he truly saw the beast that lurked inside me.
“Do we have a deal?”
The girl would be mine and he could live his life alone, just like he deserved to be.
“Yes, yes. I can have the money by then so it won’t be a problem.” It was always a problem with Paul Sutton, his word was worthless.
“Then you will never touch my merchandise again. If you do, and I will know if you do, I will come back and I will kill you.”
I looked at the sweet rose, lifted my hand, and gently pushed back a strand of her hair that had come loose from her ponytail. I handed her my card and watched as her delicate fingers took it from me.
“If he or any one of his friends hits you again, you tell me.”
I walked out of the bar then, but every day for years after that encounter, I went back to the shithole and checked in on her. I was there guarding her when Paul got tossed into the slammer shortly after for possession. I had no idea if she remembered our bargain, that more slip ups from her dad brought us one step closer to an eternity together. She barely spoke—she never touched me. But whenever Olivia approached me, she cast her eyes down avoiding my face, yet treated me with nothing less than tenderness. I chalked it up to her nature and not to any special treatment for my part.
During that time, I became consumed with her, memorizing every inch of her. I would drive up to the bar every day at the same time and watch her close up, make sure she let herself into the apartment without anyone bothering her. Those daily visits became an addiction to me, making sure she got home safe became an obsession. As the days went by, the stronger my urge to take care of her became. I would go from five minutes waiting outside the bar, to twenty, and then up to an hour. If she ever needed anything, I made sure she had it. I also wanted to make sure that Paul wouldn’t be able to pay off his debt so that I could really own Olivia. Ruining Paul took very little effort on my part. The man was a perpetual failure and I could basically step back and watch his world fall apart. I didn’t lift a finger to help him or hurt him unless it concerned Olivia.
Making her mine was the only goal I truly cared about.
About the author
Mila Crawford is a book lover and has been around them one way or another her whole life. She is a fan of happily ever afters, sassy heroines, over the top alphas, and most of all safe reads.