Better When He's Bold(10)

By: Jay Crownover

I was nervous, I was scared, but I wasn’t going to give up the Mustang without a fight. It was the most “real” my life had ever been. All the numbness melted away. I got a lucky punch, saw the big, dark guy go down at a weird angle with all of his weight falling onto his hands. Bone crunched in an ugly way, and I collapsed in the middle of the street across from a kid who was no older than me, but looked like he had lived a hundred more lifetimes.

Bax was holding his wrist, blood oozing across his face and out of his nose, and he was just staring at me. The girl got out of the car and screamed she was calling the police and all I could do was marvel at how fast my heart was beating, thrill at the adrenaline that was coursing through my body.

“I never thought a pretty boy like you could throw a punch like that. Even if it was just lucky.”

It was the best compliment I had ever received. I flicked blood and hair out of my eyes and asked him if he needed a ride to the hospital. It was strange, he had just tried to carjack me, had beat the crap out of me, but it was a defining moment in my life. Bax, his life, his world, woke me up and I couldn’t go back to my fluffy dreamland.

I wasn’t as immersed in the underground as he was. I didn’t have the street cred, the attitude to pull it off. But I was smart and I was an asset, and before too long, we were a team. I didn’t steal cars, didn’t break the law, but when he needed help, I had his back, and I liked to think that long before he fell in love with my sister, I was his voice of reason. It was exciting; living hard like that opened up a whole new world to me. There were girls, women really, who showed me things no teenage boy should know. There were drugs, there was excitement and challenge around every corner, and it was a blast until things got too deep.

Bax was taking more risks, Novak was using him more and more. We were getting lost in the mire and poison that was the lifeblood of the Point, and I wanted out, wanted to save us both before we went under. Only Novak was far smarter than I ever gave him credit for and far more twisted. He wanted Bax and had no qualms about using me to get to him.

My father, like most rich men, couldn’t keep his junk in his very expensively tailored pants. Dovie was my half sister, born to a junkie who got paid off after agreeing to abort her. No one should trust a junkie; the next fix matters more than anything else. Dovie was lost in the system until she wasn’t.

Novak used her, used my dad’s need to keep his secrets, to play me. My dad paid Novak to have her killed, only Novak double-crossed him, recorded the entire conversation, and pulled me into his dark and twisted game. There was no way I was going to let anything happen to my blood, my sister, even if I didn’t know her, so I blackmailed my dad, pulled Dovie out of the system, and agreed to Novak’s twisted scheme that had been designed to tie Bax to him forever.

The mobster was smart, but I was smarter. I set Bax up. No two ways about it. I betrayed my only friend, sold him up the river so I could save Dovie, so my dad would be forced to be Novak’s puppet. I led Bax into a trap, knew it was going to end badly, but because Bax was Bax, he had made everything ten times worse by running from the cops. An arrest that should’ve resulted in six months at the most turned into a total shit show that had him getting locked up for a solid five years and had me taking Dovie and disappearing until he got out and I could exact my revenge. I lived with the guilt and the threat of Novak hanging over me for five fucking endless years.

As soon as Bax got out of jail, I set things in motion, took over the chessboard, and started moving pieces around that would free all of us from Novak’s hold. Only once again, Bax had thrown a wrench in the plan by falling in love with my sister and giving a really bad man a vulnerable place to attack him from. Bax was ready to sacrifice himself, to burn the entire Point to the ground if it meant Dovie made it out alive. Luckily, things hadn’t had to come to that, and everyone made it out, beaten, broken, and slightly worse off than before. But Novak was no more, and now we were rebuilding the underground, the foundation of this horrible place, brick by oily, soiled brick, because if we didn’t then somebody else would.

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