The Villain

Page 31

We both put on our leather gloves.

“What would that be?” Byrne gulped.

Sam smiled manically. “Your fucking bones.”

An hour later, I finally felt I was getting my money’s worth.

“Can I tell you a little secret?” Sam’s lit cigarette hung from his lips as he tied a thoroughly beaten up Colin Byrne to his own bed, cuffing him to the rails, tugging hard. “I’ve always had a weakness for numbers. Don’t know what it is about them, Byrne, but they calm me down. They make sense. My son of a bitch sperm donor was good at nothing but numbers. Guess I got the knack from him.”

“Please,” Byrne sputtered, teeth chattering, chest caving. “I already told you, I didn’t know she was under your protection. I had no idea, man—”

“Stop begging, unless you want me to cut you a nice smile to remind you how cheerful you were when you paid her your weekly visits.” Sam dumped a towel over Byrne’s head. The heavy fabric muffled his desperate pleas. “Now, here’s what this math enthusiast wants to know. Why would a loan shark inflate his interest by two hundred percent when the market standard is fifty? Is it possible you took advantage of the lovely creature Paxton Veitch had left behind and decided to whore her out, knowing she could make you a fast buck?”

Before Byrne could answer, Sam grabbed a bucket of water and slowly poured its contents over his face, waterboarding him.

Bracing the top of the doorframe with both hands, I watched Brennan handling Byrne while his assistant, Kaminski, hung by his arms from a hook in the ceiling where the chandelier had been. Kaminski looked like a skinned pig with his head covered in a burlap sack.

Sam dropped the empty bucket, tipping the cigarette ash on Byrne’s bare stomach. He removed the towel from Byrne’s head, who took a greedy gulp of air.

“Veitch wanted to whore out his wife all by himself before he fucked off!” Byrne coughed, desperately trying to unchain himself from the bedrails. “He wanted to kidnap her and give her to me. I told him not to bother. That I didn’t want the FBI on my tail. Human trafficking will get you a shit-ton of jail time. I even gave the bitch extra time to pay me back.”

Sam tsked, turning his head in my direction. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“We’re dealing with a patron saint,” I deadpanned, strolling into the room. I’d asked Sam to allow me to be present during this job even though I knew better than to accompany him to any of the other errands he usually ran for me. This felt personal. Not because I had any feelings toward my future wife, but because Kaminski and Byrne had defaced my property, and for that, they needed to pay.

Sweat, blood, and tears were my preferred currency.

Grabbing a fire poker hanging by the mantel, I brought the tip to the dancing flames in the fireplace, heating it up before swinging it in my hand like a golf club as I approached Kaminski.

“I just can’t help but think that, despite your devout intentions, you could have done without beating the shit out of the poor girl.” Sam dumped the towel back on Byrne’s face and emptied another bucket of water on it. Brennan was definitely in his element. He was in the business of inflicting pain.

Kaminski whimpered at the sounds in the room, dangling from the ceiling.

“It was Kaminski!” Byrne gurgled through the towel. “He did it! I told him to threaten her, maybe slap her around, but no more. He was the one who hurt her!”

“Where’d you hurt her, Kaminski?” I asked the hanging man in front of me, my eyes leveled with his stomach. He flinched, realizing how close I was. Neither man was going to rat me out. Crossing Sam Brennan was something very few people in Boston did, and those who were stupid to go that route didn’t live to tell the tale. Even if Byrne and his brawny assistant did run their mouths to the feds, I had half the judges in Boston in my pocket.


“Her eye?” I asked serenely. “Why, yes. I do remember my fiancée sporting a nasty black shiner.”

I swung the poker to his face, crashing it above his nose. The hot metal hissed against the burlap fabric, melting it into his skin. He let out a carnal snarl, twisting violently like a worm on a hook.

“I also remember you got her cheek.” I struck his cheek blade through the sack. “Her brow.”


“The ribs.”


“Her knees, too.”

Smack! Smack! Smack!

I beat Kaminski while Sam drowned Byrne in his own bed. Ten minutes later, when both F-grade mobsters were barely conscious, Sam threw in the towel. Literally. On the floor. I wiped the tip of the poker on Kaminski’s pants, then returned the stick to its place.

“Keep the money.” Sam stubbed the cigarette butt he threw on the floor with his boot on his way out.

“And don’t ever go near my future wife again.” It was my turn to address the room. The air was heavily perfumed with sweat, blood, and violence. I tugged my leather gloves as I looked around. “If I hear you so much as breathed in her direction, there will be hell to pay. In fact, I’ll be checking in to see you keep your distance from her. If I find you in her zip code…” I trailed off.

I didn’t need to finish the sentence.

They knew.

An hour later, we were at a local Irish pub down the road from Colin Byrne’s apartment.

“Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds ricocheted through the paneling. Sam flirted with the two busty waitresses, helping one of them fill out a tax document.

Not for the first time, it occurred to me that Brennan was definitely on the spectrum of sociopathy. I’d been smart to keep him away from my sister. I, too, reserved a spot on that scale but somewhere in the middle.

But Persephone was not my sister. I had zero obligation to save her from myself.

At any rate, my plan was to avoid her at all costs as soon as she was with child. Sooner, if I could help it. She had no room in my day-to-day life.

Hurting the men who hurt her left me oddly satisfied. Peculiar, seeing as getting a hard-on from violence was more of Sam’s thing.

“What’s crawled up your ass?” Sam eyed me over the rim of his Guinness pint, poetic as always.

“Just thinking.” I sprawled back in the old wooden booth, scanning the mixed bag crowd of young professionals and blue-collar workers.

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