Vicious Love (Barrington Heights #1), page 7
“Why, yes, it is. My father immigrated here in order to marry my mother. What do your parents do, if you don’t mind me asking?”
Audrey was almost jumping now. She was very excited for some reason. Maybe she was just bubbly, or maybe she was playing a different card altogether. She was friends with Chris.
“Not at all. My mom and dad own a small accounting firm in town—Dozier and Dozier. Do you mind if I ask what your parents did when they came here? Or, your father, that is?”
I guessed it was only fair. I’d inquired into her life, and she was asking about mine. I usually didn’t touch the subject of my parents, but I felt like I had to make an exception here.
“My father is a chef down in Los Angeles. He owns a couple of restaurants down there and he’s moved into politics recently.”
Her eyes widened. “What are their names? I love visiting L.A., and I may have gone to one.”
“He owns La Petit, a breakfast and lunch restaurant, Brave’s Steakhouse, and Chateaux Beaumont.”
“Really? Chateaux Beaumont is one of the most exclusive restaurants in L.A.! It was so good.”
“Yes, really. That’s the one he started by himself.”
“You must be so lucky growing up with a father who’s a famous chef. The food must’ve been amazing.” She looked at her watch—a Rolex nonetheless—and said, “I’m sorry, but I have to get going.”
“Go, go. I kept you after the bell. Don’t apologize. Have a nice day, Audrey.”
She thanked me as she went out the door, nearly running, and I was left alone with my thoughts.
Audrey, a senior in high school, had a Rolex watch. That was very impressive, even for a place like Barrington Heights where nearly everyone was wealthy. But that didn’t matter. Chris might have given it to her. His family sure as hell had enough money to do that. There I go again, thinking about Christopher Wells. Who is he? He’d brought up business, but what type of business? He wouldn’t have to work with his family’s money. Hell, the next ten generations of that family probably wouldn’t have to work. So what business did he have?
Christopher was stuck in my head as I left the classroom and headed to my car. The halls were empty, which felt strange for some reason. I felt vulnerable, like someone was watching me. I turned around to see if anyone was behind me, but there was no one.
“How odd,” I said to myself as I was turning around.
I jumped and turned to see Mrs. Nugent standing in front of me. Where the hell had she come from? No one had been there just a second ago.
“Are you all right, Jennet?” she asked.
I nodded my head, but my heart was still pounding.
“Oh no. Did I scare you on accident? I’m quiet, so I tend to accidentally sneak up on people without them noticing.”
That was it. She was quiet. That was why I hadn’t noticed her before. My mind had been occupied with other things, so I might have looked right at her and completely missed her.
“Yeah, you scared me. But just a bit.” I laughed, still trying to calm myself down.
“Oh, I’m sorry about that. I’ll try my best not to let it happen again.” Her smile wasn’t genuine. It was maniacal. Something was off.
“Well, I’m just headed to my car—”
She cut me off before I could finish. “Oh, I’ll walk you to it, then. I’m headed in the same direction.”
We walked together down the hall for a while in silence, listening to the smooth jazz playing over the intercom and recovering from another day at work. It might have been the second day, but both of us looked beat.
“How was your day?” she asked me, turning her entire body rather than just her head to address me.
“It was great. My last class seems to be very excited about this year, which makes me excited.”
“Oh, the joys of teaching,” she responded. “How I do miss them.” My face must’ve looked puzzled because she quickly went on. “After my husband’s accident, I had to take this new job in order to take care of him.”
An accident? I hadn’t heard about this yet.
“I’m so sorry to hear that, Mrs. Nugent.“
“Denise, Jennet. Call me Denise. Remember?”
“Right. I’m so sorry to hear that, Denise. What type of accident?” I asked with widening eyes. I had no clue that Denise used to be a teacher, and I didn’t know that her husband had been in an accident that had required her to find a different job.
We walked the rest of the way in silence after that. I guessed we were both thinking about our own demons. Hers seem far worse than my silly concerns, but Denise never readdressed the issue. Denise’s eyes looked tired, her body stiff. It seemed as if she hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in a long time.
When we finally reached my car, I turned to her and took her hands. “Look, Denise. I may be new here, but I want you to know that you can come to me when you need me. We can be more than just boss and employee. We could be friends. I also need a friend. I’m in a brand-new place.”
We both looked at each other for a couple of seconds, still holding hands.
“That sounds great, Jennet. I would like to be your friend, too.”
We hugged and then left for our own cars.
“I’m so ready for that bubble bath and box of chocolates,” I breathed to myself as I pulled away from the school. “God knows I’m going to need it.”
My Corvette was a missile launching down the toll way at one hundred miles per hour. The pedal was nonexistent, pushed all the way to the floor, and Hinder blocked out all surrounding sound. It was only me, my car, the music, and the road. There were other cars on the road, but they were easy to maneuver around—just sticks in the mud. I needed to get this girl, this teacher, out of my head, because she was driving me crazy. Insane. I swear, fucking insane. But now wasn’t the time to focus on her. More important things needed to be taken care of.
“Spades, we need to meet. There’s shit to be done. Bring the Club brothers, too.” I flipped my cheap burner off and continued down the street.
It’d been a year since I’d last had a problem with competition in Barrington Heights, but something was up. Mrs. Nugent had never confronted me like that, and somehow, her husband’s operation had continued even after his ‘incident.’ She must have been running it now, and I felt stupid. I never would’ve predicted that she was capable of continuing it, but, clearly, I was wrong.
It took me another three minutes until I reached the meeting spot—Johnson’s Mill. When I got there, Tim, the guy who owned the Mill and worked with my grandfather, was already waiting for me. He opened my door and gave me the information I’d asked him last night to gather about Mrs. Nugent.
“Denise,” he said, “seems to be a busy girl.” Tim and his family had been providing information to my family for three generations. His great-grandfather and his father had both worked for my grandfather before he died.
“What has she been doing? What is she selling or providing? And what does she know about me?” These were all vital questions.
Mr. Nugent, other than being a degenerate fuck, was the boss of a rival growing operation in town. He had been forced to stop due to his paralysis, and it had seemed like his business had gone under with him. His wife had never seemed interested in the business, but that proved to be wrong.
“She’s been heading the operations of a small growery just outside of town.” That bitch. “She’s selling Purple Widow and has a medium-grade gambling operation.”
Purple Widow is a strain of marijuana, and it was one of our top sellers. It’s one of the best types of bud in the world, and I’d cornered the market here. The pot was not what I was worried about. My family, at least my grandfather, had started out with gambling operations, and it had grown from there. We could compete with the pot, but I couldn’t stand for someone else coming into my gambling market.
“And, Chris.” He looked me dead in the eyes. Something was wrong. “She knows.”
“She…knows?” My body went numb, and I almost collapsed. “Are you sure?”
Tim just shook his head. He didn’t need to say anything else, and he went inside to leave me to my thoughts.
“How the hell could she know?” I asked myself. “I covered my tracks, and it was four years ago. There isn’t any evidence that it was me. He can’t talk, and he didn’t even know who did it.” My mind was racing, my blood was boiling, and my knees were weak. I immediately remembered this morning, before I’d gone to school. It had only been this morning, yet it was blurry. I blocked out my memories about weakness, and collapsing and crying were weaknesses.
Mr. Nugent was a monster who deserved what I had done to him. He’d blackmailed my sister and forced himself on her. He’d caused her suicide, and I’d taken his life from him. I hadn’t killed him. That would’ve been too simple of a punishment for him. He’d needed more. So I’d destroyed him. I’d taken his sight and his abilities to walk, to talk, to be independent, and to ever hurt another woman again.
After I’d discovered my sister, I’d set out to enact my revenge. I was fourteen, but I knew what I had to do. I couldn’t be a boy anymore; I had to be a man. My father wasn’t going to do anything—the coward—and my grandfather died a month earlier. I was the only one left. The only one who could provide justice to a degenerate swine. The only one who would do anything. When I rushed to my grandfather’s office, I discovered it hadn’t been touched yet. I found his notes about Mr. Nugent and called Devin. Together, we took Nugent down.
Mr. Nugent had always taken the same way home from work every day. Devin waited a mile up the road to inform me when Mr. Nugent’s car was coming. Once Devin saw his car, he called me, and I laid a spike trap over the road. It’s amazing what resources you have when you inherit a Mob family. Nugent’s car hit the spikes and flipped. No one was there to call for help, and I had him all to myself. Devin and I pulled him out of his car, which was in a ditch. He was unconscious, which worked perfectly. We threw him in the back of a dune buggy and drove off to an abandoned shack. Once he woke up, we went to work.
He didn’t see us at first. He was tied to a chair facing a wall when he awoke. Once his eyes were open, I took a sponge soaked in battery acid and pushed it into his eyes, all from behind him. His screams were muffled from behind a ball gag, and no one else could hear him. After he was blind, which took a lot of screaming and two sponges, I told Devin to leave and never come back.
I took my time with Mr. Nugent, enjoying every second of agony I inflicted upon him. When I used a crowbar to smash his knees and shins, he especially screamed then. Probably because I shattered every single bone in his legs as I bashed him repeatedly. He was lucky I knew how to give him adrenaline. Otherwise, he would’ve passed out from the pain and felt only a bit of what I was doing to him. He’d enjoyed destroying my sister, so I thought that he would enjoy being destroyed, the fuck.
After his legs were taken care of, I took a knife and slashed his Achilles tendons. I went too deep, and blood gushed everywhere. I stopped the bleeding and branded his injuries shut, but he couldn’t walk after that. Next, I crushed every bone in his hand with a hammer, breaking them. He couldn’t even cry anymore—the battery acid had stopped that from happening.
After that, I enjoyed myself. I shot a gun in the air a couple of times and then untied him, saying that I was the police and he was going to be okay. I believe he even tried to hug me while trying to say, “Thank you.” It took him a couple of seconds to realize that I was fucking with him. It was probably after I’d pushed him on the floor and stomped on his arms a few times. That part was truly hilarious.
He was crying, “But you’re the police! But you’re the police!”
I actually had to explain to him that I wasn’t the cops, that no one was coming for him. His voice after that was too much, just too much. It was so funny. He was begging for God to save him and everything. I just toyed with him for a while, but I had to put myself back on track. I was following a list: First, blind him. Next, break his legs and hands along with slashing his Achilles tendon so he couldn’t escape when I threw him on the ground. Then I had to break his back and paralyze him. I’d crossed some of the items off the list but not all.
I grabbed a baseball bat off the wall and went to work. I could actually hear his spine breaking. There was a crunch, crunch sound that made me laugh until I couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t breathe either, but that’s because I’d just broken his back and told him he was never going to walk again.
Finally, my list was almost complete. I just had three more things to do: cut out his tongue, brand the word ’rapist’ across his face, and cut off his penis. The tongue part was hard to do. I had to pull out his teeth first so he wouldn’t try to bite me. He needed another adrenaline shot because even I had to admit that it was a bit much. He still deserved it though.
After I was done pulling out his teeth and he couldn’t bite me, I cut off his tongue and branded the wound shut so he wouldn’t die. Then, of course, I carved the word ‘rapist’ across both of his ass cheeks. Now I was left with the grand finale—the removal of his penis. It was small and pathetic, so I didn’t feel too bad about cutting it off, but man, was it bloody. He actually passed out with that one, overriding the adrenaline, when I cauterized that wound so it would close.
After I was done and happy, I drove him to the middle of a road—not the one he’d crashed on—and left him there. I went back to Mr. Nugent’s car and set it on fire. Finally, I went home to where my sister was still lying and called the police. I had an alibi, and no one would suspect me anyway. Who would think that a fourteen-year-old boy was capable of doing something like that to Mr. Nugent? Just to be careful though, I kept my sister’s suicide letter and the blackmail photos Nugent sent her.
If Mrs. Nugent knew what I’d done to her husband, then she was going to come after me. Whether or not she knows that her husband was a rapist pig, it wouldn’t matter. She would look for revenge. But how had she found out?
My thoughts were interrupted by a Hummer pulling up the driveway, and when it stopped, three men got out—Spades and the Club brothers. My family had always used card references when referring to members of the family. I was the Ace of Spades, the boss. Spades was also known as Jack of Spades; he was my top dealer. The Club brothers didn’t have face cards like we did. They were the muscle. So we simply called them the Club brothers.
The Club brothers’ real names were Drake and Boone Adriano. Their family had emigrated here from Italy, and their father had worked for my grandfather. We weren’t the Italian Mob, but we did respect the Italian immigrants and hire them whenever we could. That and we had ties to the Outfit dating all the way back to Capone. At least, my grandfather had. I was on my own out here. The two brothers looked very similar. They both had short, brown hair and brown eyes, and they were both around six foot four. Boone was the younger, muscled brother though, weighing in at two hundred twenty pounds. He was twenty-five, I believe. Drake, the older brother at age twenty-seven, was skinnier. Both served in the Army underneath the 74th Rangers Regiment, and they were both skilled killers.
“Boss, what’s the problem?” asked Drake while stepping out of the car.
“The Nugent family.”
Drake’s eyes grew wide. Their father had been killed by one of the Nugents’ men, and the Club Brothers had a grudge. They had been out of the country with their regiment when everything had gone to hell and the Nugents had fallen apart.
There used to be three families in Barrington Heights. There was the Wells Family—us—the Remingtons, and the Nugents. The Remingtons and the Nugents were miniscule compared to my family, and the Remingtons eventually disappeared in the ‘80s. The Nugents, however, were survivors who fought back against us and died because of it. By the time of Mr. Nugent’s operation, th
“How? Every one of them is dead or disabled. You ordered the hit against Nicholas yourself after you gained control.”
“It’s the wife,” I said. “She’s started back up again and knows about what I did to her husband.” Boone was already grabbing a gun from the back of his Hummer. “Boone, we can’t just go charging at her guns blazing.”
“Why not? It’s only one person according to you. Let’s finish her and her husband and live happily ever after.”
I wanted to let him just go out and do it, but we didn’t have enough information to make a move yet. That’s the one thing my father taught me—to follow the evidence and only act when you knew what to do.
“Because we don’t know the situation yet. We don’t know who’s working with her, and we don’t know what the repercussions will be. Denise is the principal of my high school and will be missed if just found dead with a shit-ton of bullet holes. People will ask questions, lots of question, and demand an investigation. She’s revered by the community, which makes her hard to take out. We have to get more information before we do anything. Do you understand me? If anything happens to her and I find out it was one of us, there will be consequences.”
Everyone shook their heads.
“Now listen. We need a plan before we do anything. Spades, I want you to talk to Hearts and Diamonds to start lowering the price of Vortex in order to keep control of the market. Denise can’t have a large grow, which means she has to keep prices high in order to make a profit. Drake, work with Tim and his guys to find out where her gambling house is. Once you do that, call me immediately. Boone and Jack, take a couple of guys with you and find out who Denise is working with. She couldn’t have just started out of the blue like this without help. We need to focus on cutting her revenue, which will take her out of the game without violence. Let’s try that first before anything else.”