Chapter 1

 

DRAKE WALKED toward the back of the club and leaned against the smooth, cool, tiled wall. The crowd, though small compared to on the weekends, was still a moving, organic mass of limbs and gyrating bodies that smelled of sweat. Each flicker of the strobe light showed a new form, unique from the one before it. Squinting against the light, Drake tried to make out the individual people on the dance floor, but the chaotic rhythm of the lights didn’t make it easy to spot specific faces.

Willy never had been one to blend in, so Drake figured if he was around, it wouldn’t be too hard pick him out. Willy seemed to think loud patterns were all the rage, no matter how much flack he took for it. Drake had to give him credit. The kid stuck to his guns, he would give him that.

However, tonight people weren’t going to be giving Willy trouble over his lousy fashion sense. No, tonight the sharks were out, and they smelled his loud Hawaiian-clad blood.

Drake thought Willy would have bolted or at least gone underground for a while after being picked up by the cops, but sources had told him the kid was heading back to the club. Willy had long ago made his bed. He’d gotten himself in deep with some of the smaller sharks in the city. When he couldn’t make good on his loans, he’d sought guidance from the larger predators in the pond.

In this town, only the Boredega cartel could get you out of trouble and bury you alive at the same time. The poor kid should have stuck with the small fish, but instead he started dealing for Boredega to pay back his loans. The thing about being higher on the food chain is that in order to stay on the top rung, you had to be pretty fucking badass. Unfortunately for Willy, he didn’t have what it took to climb the ladder.

“Hey, Boss Man,” a static-laden voice said in his ear. Drake put a finger to the radio so he could hear around the pounding bass from the DJ.

Drake huffed at the nickname. He had tried to break Frankie of the habit, one, because Drake wasn’t his boss, he just happened to run the club, and two, because if anything, Frankie was his boss. However, no matter the argument, Frankie continued to use the endearment. Keeping up appearances was what he called it, making it so the club staff didn’t get confused. As if they would suddenly turn into a chaotic swarm if Frankie didn’t remind them who their boss was on a regular basis. Drake had fought the fight, but Frankie never backed down, and after a couple of years without there being any indication of change, Drake stopped making a deal of it. He’d sigh now and again, but he no longer commented on it.

“Yeah, Frankie? You got eyes on Willy?”

“Nah, maybe he grew a brain and decided to book it before Tony could find him.” Frankie was a born-and-raised Chicagoan, which was clear by his rough accent. When Drake had first met him, he had thought Frankie was trying to put one past him, imitating an old gangster film or something, but as he worked with him, he found that it was truly his speech.

“Then why are you talking to me, Frankie?” Drake asked with a snort. He knew Willy wouldn’t be smart enough to leave while he was ahead. He was one of those young kids who thought he could do no wrong.

“I thought you should know that I watched Natasha sashay her way into the club.”

Drake pinched the bridge of his nose. It was Wednesday; why was everything going down on a fucking Wednesday? It was hump day, for God’s sake! It was like the night world’s day of rest.

“Is she working?” Drake asked hopefully. Maybe if she were distracted, she’d be in and out without bothering him.

“I didn’t see a john with her, but that don’t mean she ain’t got one.”

Ugh, just what he needed, another problem. Somehow, Natasha always seemed to know when shit was going to hit the fan or when something important was going to happen because that was always when she showed up.

“All right, thanks for letting me know. And hey, let me know if you catch sight of Willy.”

“You got it, Boss Man,” Frankie said.

Drake sighed. Well, today was already looking like it was going to be an interesting one. So much excitement wasn’t unusual at the club, but Drake always held out hope for a quiet evening. He’d had his fingers crossed and his hopes high, so he should have known better than to think the night would go off without a hitch.

Breathing another sigh, he pushed away from the wall, making one last scan of the crowd, and then made his way to the bar. By the time he did a double tap on the counter, his notorious signal for get me a drink, quick, Scotty, the head bartender, already had his drink ready for him. Two fingers of scotch, neat.

With a grateful smile, Drake took a long swallow, letting out a whoosh of breath with the sharp burn the liquid left on his tongue.

“Rough night, already?” Scotty asked, popping the top off two beers for customers down the bar.

“Huh, you could say that.”

“I could pull the fire alarm and we could call it a night.”

Drake snorted into his glass. “You have no idea how appealing that sounds right now.”

Scotty threw him a smile as he seamlessly made two mixed drinks and handed them off to two scantily dressed women. They giggled as he winked at them, and threw a couple of dollars’ tip on the bar. Scotty nodded gratitude at them, sweeping the singles into his jar under the bar as he grabbed the top-shelf scotch to refill Drake’s glass.

“Looks like you you’re doing well for a Wednesday night.” Drake gratefully took another sip of his scotch. He was going to nurse this one.

Sure he was….

“It’s all in the wink.”

Yeah, the wink and the perfectly sculpted arms that moved flawlessly around the bottles on the bar, completing their designated tasks. Possibly even the washboard abs that threatened to pop out of his snug white button-up. Or his sandy-blond hair that fell perfectly along his forehead enough to frame his sparkling golden eyes.

Drake huffed into his glass, trying to shake himself out of it. Yes, the man was good-looking, but he was his employee and therefore off-limits.

Didn’t mean he couldn’t watch, though, did it? Drake smirked to himself as he snuck another peek only to find Scotty back directly in front of him. Elbows on the table, Scotty leaned toward Drake, who felt his heart practically explode at the neared proximity. Just over half of the counter, Scotty dropped his chin onto his hands and batted his lashes at Drake. “It does help that I am absolutely adorable.”

Drake coughed, trying to ignore the small tug in his stomach as Scotty flashed his goldenrod-brown eyes at him. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat as he felt a familiar heat start to warm his blood. Mentally shaking it off, he grinned.

“Yeah, a face only a mother could love.”

“Then how do you explain the mountain of tips I made today?”

“Everyone knows you can’t witness the freak show for free. I put a sign at the door.”

Scotty grabbed his chest in mock pain. “Ouch. Okay, I concede on this one, but don’t expect such submission next time.”

“Maybe submission is exactly what I want from you.”

Drake practically choked on his own words. Where the hell had that come from? Thank God it was dark enough that the flush heating his face was most likely hidden.

While the words had shocked Drake to his core, they didn’t seem to faze Scotty, who leaned back, observing Drake with a cocked brow. “Well, I do declare, Mr. Clane, was that an invitation?”

“In your dreams, barkeep. Now, make yourself useful and get me a drink.”

“And what pleasant dreams they are,” Scotty said dramatically, fanning his face with his hand.

“I wasn’t kidding about that drink, Scotty!”

“Aye, aye, Captain!” Scotty gave a mock salute, then went to put glasses away at the other end of the bar, blatantly ignoring Drake’s request.

Scotty’s predictability tugged a smile to Drake’s lips. Scotty was the best damn bartender who had ever worked for Drake, but for some reason he always seemed to forget to refill Drake’s glass. It was probably a good thing. Drake would be the first to admit that he probably drank just a little too much, but when you were doing the things that he was doing, sometimes you needed a little bit of an inhibition blocker. Sometimes you needed more than a little.

Drake propped his head onto one hand and spun his empty glass with the other as he watched Scotty confidently work his way around the bar. Scotty moved fluidly as he poured drinks and mixed cocktails; he smiled and winked, never missing a step between one patron and the next. And Drake couldn’t help but notice how perfect his ass looked in his tight dark jeans.

Scotty laughed with one of the regulars, and Drake’s lips quirked. Scotty was all sunshine and roses. Thinking back, Drake had a hard time remembering an instance when he had seen Scotty angry. Even when he was overwhelmed and overworked, he still kept his smile on. The way he easily struck up conversations was an asset, and Drake couldn’t help but feel a little jealous at the ease with which Scotty flirted. Drake envied him his rose-colored glasses, glad that Scotty had been given a chance to still see the good, while Drake saw only darkness.

That innocence—that happiness—was the reason Drake hired outside staff to work the club. Sure, he could always hire some of Boredega’s crew or bring his staff into the fold, but he didn’t. He kept the dark of the club as far from the light of his employees as possible. It may have been easier to only employ Boredega’s men, but even the darkest of corners needed some light for the shadows.

Scotty’s full-throated laugh dragged Drake back to the present.

Jesus! he thought, pulling his spine up straight. He hadn’t been drooling, had he? Shit. Drake shook his head at his ridiculous conduct, then quickly wiped his lips with the back of his hand, just in case.

Still deeply absorbed in his own thoughts, Drake started when Scotty set a glass of scotch on the counter in front of him. Drake raised a brow at the unexpected offering. Scotty tilted his head, using his chin to point behind Drake subtly.

“Incoming,” Scotty warned with a wink as he turned to make his rounds.

Drake tensed at what was behind him. Shit, instead of sitting here daydreaming about his staff, he should have gone back to his office. Thinking quickly, Drake drained his glass in one gulp and moved to get up, possibly hide, when he felt a familiar hand caress his shoulder.

“There you are!” Natasha’s high-pitched voice sent a chill down Drake’s spine. He closed his eyes, preparing himself before turning around to face the dark-haired beauty.

She was exceptionally dressed this evening, which meant that she probably did have a john waiting for her somewhere around the club. But with Natasha, you never could guess. When sex was your business, you tended to forget that sometimes the store was closed.

She was what Drake had considered a onetime deal, but apparently, she didn’t quite see it like that.

Natasha was what you would call multifaceted. It was amazing how little attention people tended to pay the whore. Prostitutes were objects, a means to an end, which left some nice wide-open doors for Natasha. Open doors, drawers, safes, and closets full of secrets. She was beautiful and seemed so innocuous. It was what made her good at her job. Sure, she was a prostitute, but she also had some of the best information sex could buy.

Drake had made the mistake of letting her get a little too close to him. He’d seen a young naive girl working the streets and had thought himself a knight in shining armor ready to save the damsel. Flaw with that was that the damsel had to want to be saved, and while Natasha did want to be saved, it wasn’t in the way that Drake had expected.

He took it as a case of assumed identity. He’d assumed her innocent, and she had assumed him much more powerful than he actually was. It was a tale as old as time. Unfortunately, this story never seemed to end.

“Natasha, what a pleasure,” Drake said darkly, crossing his arms over his chest.

Natasha brushed back her black curls to reveal more of her corseted, very squished breasts. Her definition of flirting, Drake supposed. That’s what happens when you don’t have the personality to back up the goods. You flaunt yourself and hope it is good enough. While it made her good at her job, Drake had given up trying to tell her that when guys weren’t paying for the sex, they didn’t necessarily want to see the whole package all the time.

Drake took a step back, leaning against the hard edge of the bar. “What brings you into the club on a quiet night like tonight?”

Accentuating her lusty curves with a roll of her shoulder and practiced tilt of her hips, she smirked at him with painted, bloodthirsty lips.

“A job.” She stuck out her bottom lip to make a pouty face. “But he left me here so he could go meet with someone in the back. I figured you could enjoy my company in the meantime.”

Drake shook his head at her words with a sigh. If her client was in one of the back rooms, that meant he probably worked for Boredega in one form or another. In this town, it was hard to find people who didn’t work for Boredega in some way.

“He dealing or using?” Drake asked.

Natasha rolled her eyes. “He didn’t tell me, and I didn’t ask. I try not to make a habit out of interrogating my clients before they fuck me.”

“Cute,” Drake said, feeling a migraine start in his temple. He didn’t know why he was letting her stress him out. It wasn’t as if her line of work was a safe one. She sold her body, and she wasn’t picky about her clientele. She had also made it clear to Drake that if her clients bought her drugs, she wasn’t going to turn them down; she would simply raise the price. Something about it then becoming a “risk bonus.”

“Aw, are you worried about little ole me, Drakeybo?” she asked, laying her body along Drake’s. She brushed her lips along his chin.

Drake put a hand on each of her shoulders and pushed her back. “Hey now, you wouldn’t want your john to get the wrong impression, would you?” She frowned as she was moved back, but the expression didn’t last long before returning to its voluptuous sex goddess mask.

“I don’t know, with his type, he might like it.”

Drake snorted, turning back toward the bar for his empty glass. He looked for Scotty, but he was busy across the bar leaning against the counter and chatting with some young blonde sporting a low-cut shirt. Drake frowned as he spotted them and set his glass back on the counter with a sharp smack.

“You haven’t seen or heard anything about Willy, have ya?” Drake asked, trying with difficulty to ignore the gnawing feeling in his stomach.

Natasha, completely oblivious to Drake’s disinterest, pressed forward again, letting her curves mold to Drake’s side. “You know, my client said it would only be a few hours tonight. Maybe you could come on over after the club closes. I could really make it worth your night.” She ran her tongue along her full top lip.

“Um, yeah, I don’t see that happening. I’m not into sloppy seconds.”

The insult didn’t faze her. She let her hand rub its way down the front of Drake’s body, stopping at the top of his beltline.

“I could tell my date to hang around, and we could really make a night of it.” The whispered words blew hot into his ear.

Drake shook his head. He didn’t know why he had thought he could help her. She clearly didn’t want it. She seemed quite content and comfortable with the life she led.

“That really didn’t make the offer any more appealing. I’ll pass, thanks. You didn’t answer my question.”

“You don’t know what you’ll be missing, Drake,” she said, swinging around so fast that her hair slapped him in his face.

“Yeah, I think I do,” he muttered under his breath.

Natasha made it about four steps before she turned around with a huge smile. She pointed a bloodred fingernail toward the dance floor and gave a “there you have it” shrug.

“Don’t say I’ve never done anything for you, babe. Now you owe me one, and I plan to collect.”

Drake’s gaze followed the long stretch of Natasha’s perfectly manicured finger.

Willy.

The idiot had come to the club. He was probably walking straight for the back, or dancing his way to the back, whatever, as if he didn’t have a care in the world. As if Tony wouldn’t have the entire crew looking for him. They knew his supplies would be low after the bust; they knew he would have to return to fill up the tanks. Unfortunately for Willy, he was too stupid to know better.

The least he could do was wear a less conspicuous shirt. Shit, the kid stood out like a sore thumb.

Drake turned a frown on Natasha. “I don’t think pointing at a person counts as a favor.”

“Hmm, maybe not for you,” Natasha purred, “but I never sell myself short. See you around, Drakeybo.”

Drake shook his head as Natasha departed, turning on his mic. He headed in the direction that he had last seen Willy. “Hey, Frankie, Willy’s in the club. I saw him headed toward the back.”

“What a stupid fuck. He should be halfway to Alaska by now.”

“I am heading that direction now.”

“Where? Alaska?”

Drake snorted. “Aha, ha ha, very funny.”

“You want me to take point on this, Boss Man?”

Drake caught sight of Willy again, toward the back talking to a woman who looked like she desperately needed a savior. Drake shook his head. Not only was the man stupid enough to return to the club to get another fix, but he wasn’t worried enough to not pick up women on his way. He was a fool, but in Drake’s experience, those who got involved with Boredega usually were. Drake knew he was.

He should have let Frankie take point. He wasn’t in the mood to deal with this shit tonight, but you didn’t get anywhere sitting on your ass. If he wanted to take over Frankie’s position, he needed to prove he was capable of handling these types of situations.

“No, I got this. I’ll let you know if I need you.”

“You got it, Boss Man. Keep your mic on so we know what’s happening. I’ll keep an eye on the club.”

“You got it.”

Drake approached Willy from behind. The woman’s eyes darted to Drake as he moved toward them. She gave him an approving up-and-down before settling into a confident smile. However, as he approached, her once-approving invitation turned to wide-eyed concern, and she took a half step back, almost tripping over her own feet. Drake felt a self-satisfied tug curl his lips. Her reaction was from the expression on his face. Whenever he had to deal with one of Boredega’s men or any jackass who made a scene in his club, he put his intimidation face on. It was a good look, a mean look. He knew it was. It had taken a lot of practicing to make it right.

The woman wasn’t paying attention to Willy any longer, keeping her cautious eyes on Drake. He raised a brow at her as he put a hand on Willy’s shoulder, fingers digging in tight. Willy turned at the touch, eyes wide.

Drake grinned, knew it wasn’t pretty. “We need to talk.”

“Hey, Drake,” Willy began but stopped as Drake’s look hardened even more. Willy tried to back away, probably just realized what type of trouble he was in and wanted to run, but Drake held him firmly by the shoulder.

“Excuse us, ma’am,” Drake said to the woman, who was already quickly retreating into the pulsating crowd. Drake shifted his glare back to Willy, who visibly swallowed. “Come with me.”

Drake didn’t give Willy a chance to respond, to decline, to beg or plead; he dug his fingers in Willy’s shoulder and shoved him ahead of him, pushing him toward the back of the club.

Stumbling, Willy trembled as he headed the direction Drake led him, past the bathrooms and storage rooms and down the narrow hallway that would take them directly to Drake’s office. Willy didn’t struggle against Drake’s grip; he knew he wasn’t going to get out of the club if Drake didn’t want him to.

Drake pushed open the door to his office, dragging Willy in by his arm. Drake forced Willy up next to his desk and stopped, opening his top pencil drawer and pressing a button hidden at the top. A quiet snick let him know that the hidden door was unlocked. Willy watched the door open with wide eyes. He looked up at Drake, who, though he wasn’t an exceptionally tall man, towered over Willy’s smaller stature. Drake watched him swallow hard as he was led into the dank white room.

The room had many purposes, but the most common of them was an interrogation room for Boredega and his men. The walls were reinforced and had extrathick soundproof insulation. There were no windows and only the one entrance. The chair that sat in the middle of the room had cuffs attached to the arms and the legs. There was only one other piece of furniture: a tall cabinet containing a multitude of different instruments used to extract information from the room’s guests. Drake made it a rule never to open that cabinet. Nothing from that cabinet would get him what he needed, but the stories told by those who were victims or witnesses to the cabinet made it a very effective tool.

Drake put Willy in the chair and clicked the cuffs into place. Willy looked at his restrained hands blankly, then back up at Drake, who closed the door with a loud clank.

“I don’t know what you think happened, Drake, but it was nothing like that. I didn’t tell them cops anything! I swear it!” Willy’s voice trembled as he faced Drake.

Drake didn’t say anything, just leaned back against the wall in front of Willy, letting him talk. He knew the silence was unnerving, and the threat of what could happen in the room created loose lips. While he waited in silence, he clicked the cord by his neck that kept his line of communication open. He preferred to do this type of thing radio silent, but Frankie rarely let him do anything without a presence in the room. Drake was lucky that he had allowed him to leave his radio on instead of coming into the room with him. It made his job a little easier. He could work around a sound device.

“I got picked up by the cops for a breaking-and-entering thing. I didn’t even do it. That’s why they had to let me go. Could only hold me for twenty-four hours. I had nothing to do with the house being busted. I didn’t say anything.”

Drake smirked. “If you had nothing to do with it, then why do you know that’s what we are here to talk about?”

“Because! It happened when I was in the clink, man! I heard about it when I went to get my fix down in the Loop. They were low on supplies because of it. That’s why I came here. Come on, Drake! You know me! You know I wouldn’t say anything.”

Drake shook his head. “You know that it doesn’t matter what I think, Willy. It only matters what Boredega thinks. And right now, he thinks that you gave up the drug house to save your ass from more drug charges.”

Willy shook his head adamantly. “No, no, I wasn’t even in for drugs this time! It was on suspicion of a breaking and entering! I had nothing to do with it.”

With no warning, Drake shot forward and punched Willy across the face. Backing up, he clenched and unclenched his fist. He hated the feel of flesh breaking along his knuckles. “You gotta give me something to work with here, Willy. If you didn’t rat out the house, then who did?”

Willy hung his head, eyes blurry from the punch. Blood worked its way down from his nose. “I don’t know. I don’t know how the cops knew about it.”

Drake punched him again, this time from the opposite side. “You gotta do better than that.”

I don’t know!” Willy shouted. Drake punched him again and then again, switching it up. He would do two straight to the face, then one to the gut. It had to sound good, and gut punches always had a dramatic effect with the huff of forced air.

He paused every couple of swings to see if Willy had anything to add, but besides some whimpering babble and a spit of blood, he didn’t have much to say.

Drake almost wished Willy would give him something. Some name, or some wild goose chase to send them on, anything to make the beating stop. But Drake had to hand it to the kid. He stuck to his guns. Another reason the kid was too stupid to survive this shark attack.

“Please, please stop,” Willy whimpered from his chair. Drake backed up, tilting his head so the mic was close enough to Willy for his words to be heard clearly. The distance made it easier for him to see Willy, and he couldn’t help but cringe as he looked him over. The man’s nose was obviously broken, his lips cut, and eyes already swollen. Blood dribbled down his chin, his nose, and the side of his face.

He knew it didn’t seem like it, but Drake was doing his best to keep Willy from becoming dead. He didn’t know what would be happening if Frankie had been the one to bring him in, but he knew that Willy wouldn’t have been walking out of the room after they were done, if walking again ever.

“You finally think of something?” Drake asked.

“I don’t know who gave up the house. I don’t know. Please, don’t hurt me any more.”

Drake sighed, “That’s not what I was looking for, Willy. You gotta give me something.” Drake willed him with his eyes. Come on, kid. Give me something so this can all end. Give them a show so I can let you go.

But for all the hard times they had given the kid over the past few months, for all the jabs the kid had taken about his choices in life and in fashion, he really did have moxie.

“I told you! I told you I don’t know anything. I told you I didn’t say anything. I don’t know. Please stop. Please, please stop.” His words leaked out of his lips.

Drake reached into his pocket and pulled out a syringe he had grabbed in his office as he dragged Willy through. He held it up so Willy could see what it was.

“You know what this is?” Drake asked, knowing full well that Willy knew exactly what it was. The man was hooked on it, after all. “Willy, look at me! Do you know what this is?”

Willy slowly lifted his head to look at the syringe. He eyed it with a mixture of fear and relief. He must have been jonesing after being in lockup. He nodded, then looked at Drake full on. “You gonna kill me, Drake?”

Instead of answering, Drake moved so he could crouch down by Willy at eye level. “You know what is very interesting about this drug? It was originally made by pharmaceuticals as a short-term anxiety suppressant. Kind of like a Xanax on steroids. Selecure, the magical elixir. They even sold it for a bit over the counter. It worked, I mean, it really worked. What am I talking about? Of course you know it works. You use it regularly.” Willy’s head lolled as Drake continued his lecture. “Weird thing about Selecure, though, if you take a small dose, the dose intended, you get high. High enough that people started driving off the road and hallucinating at work—that’s why they took it off the market, you see. But if you take more than what’s intended, then the drug does a jacked-up thing to your brain. It stimulates your pain sensors. Nothing can be happening to you, no physical harm, but your body will feel as if it’s being torn to shreds.” Drake paused dramatically, watching a thin stream of blood course down Willy’s cheek to his chin. The putrid stench of fear filled the air as Willy’s eyes followed any movement Drake made with the syringe.

“Add just a little bit more—” Drake tipped the syringe toward Willy, who unconsciously struggled against his bonds. “—like what I have here, and it signals your body to shut down, leaving you in intense pain but unable to move or scream. All you can do is wait it out or hope for death.”

Willy eyed the syringe warily. Drake watched his face carefully, searching for any sign that he knew who sold out the house or that he had any information that would be good enough for him to stop.

“I’ll give you one more chance, Willy. What do you know?” Drake watched as Willy debated what to say. His face changed from calculating to formulating, then returned to resigned complacency.

“I told you I don’t know. Just get it over with,” Willy said, then turned his head away.

Drake paused to blink. Well, that was unexpected. They had all underestimated him. He was stronger than they thought. Drake had brought many men into this room, and not many of them left without telling him everything they knew or making something up to get them out of there. An iron will like that, the guy could be useful.

Drake looked thoughtfully at the syringe he held. It held enough to cause Willy some serious pain. But he knew he didn’t need to get any information from him anyway. Willy didn’t know anything.

Holding the syringe up to the light, Drake depressed the plunger, letting a stream of liquid jet to the floor.

Reaching up to the collar of his shirt, Drake clicked off his mic. He knew it was loud in the club, and he hoped Frankie wouldn’t notice the radio silence. Grabbing Willy’s wrist, Drake ignored his pained whimper as he pushed up Willy’s sleeve so it was tight around his upper arm, cutting off blood flow. Drake tapped the crease Willy’s elbow. “It’s your lucky day,” Drake said, wringing another pained moan from Willy.

Drake readied the needle against Willy’s skin and then used his free hand to hold Willy’s chin up to him. Willy was beyond panic, eyes rolling in his head.

“Willy, look at me,” Drake demanded, pressing his fingers roughly into Willy’s chin. “Hey, hey, look at me.”

Willy’s swollen, bloodshot eyes met Drake’s. Drake just stared at him for a moment, making sure he was there and that he was listening.

“I am about to do this,” Drake said, nodding toward the needle. “It’s not enough to do anything but give you a nice high, all right? But I need you to do something for me, okay? When I put this needle in your arm, I need you to scream. You hear me? Scream, okay?”

Willy’s wide, panicked eyes narrowed slightly before he gave a small nod. Drake released Willy’s head and turned his mic back on. Then before he could think about it anymore, he pushed the needle under Willy’s skin and depressed the plunger.

Willy stayed true to his word, letting out a strangled scream as the liquid flooded through his system. He moaned loudly and then let out a short cry.

Drake could tell the moment the drug fully took over because Willy’s head dropped back and his eyes drooped to half-lidded. He worked his jaw, trying to speak, but no words came out, just garbled sounds.

Covering the mic with his hand, Drake knelt close to Willy, their heads only inches apart. He spoke in a low voice so the mic wouldn’t pick him up.

“You’re going to be okay, all right? I’m going to put you in the back storage room and lock it from the inside. As soon as you feel able, get the hell out of here. Go out the back door at the end of this hallway. Don’t talk to anyone, or stop to see anyone, and definitely do not get any more drugs. Got it?” Drake waited for Willy’s loose nod. At least he thought it was a nod and not just a fall of the head.

“Once you get your shit, get out of here. Leave and don’t look back. Get out of the city, hell, get out of the state. Just fucking go. You got it?”

Willy nodded again, this time more clearly. Drake clasped him on the shoulder and then undid the cuffs to release Willy’s hands. Drake pulled him up, supporting his dead weight as he opened the door into his office. He half dragged, half supported Willy as he walked through the office. As soon as he opened his office door leading back to the club, he glanced out into the hallway to see if anyone was around, then quickly pulled Willy to the first storage room available. He lowered him to the floor and then covered his mic.

“Remember, don’t go home…. Leave. Got it?”

Trying to push himself up into a sitting position but failing, Willy collapsed so he was flat on his back. “Why?”

Drake licked his lips. Why what? Why didn’t he kill him? Why didn’t he torture him more? Why did he make him scream?

Drake had lots of reasons. Because he had never killed anyone. Because he didn’t like the look or smell of blood. Because he wasn’t the bad guy everyone thought him to be.

Because he was the one who had given up the drug house.

But he couldn’t tell Willy any of that.

“Because it’s your lucky day,” he said instead, glowering down at Willy. “I never want to see your fucking face again.” With his last words, Drake locked the door and closed it behind him.

Fucking Wednesdays, Drake thought as he headed back to the bar.