Read Kissing the Canvas (Fighting For Love Book 3) Online
Authors: Evelyn Glass
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, events, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
Kissing the Canvas copyright @ 2015 by Evelyn Glass. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews.
Book 3 of the
Fighting for Love
Could she have had second thoughts? Maybe he had pushed her too far too fast. If that is true, then the present in his pocket is going to have to wait for longer than he had hoped. He’d gone into the jewelry store that day on an impulse, but he was completely sure that it was what he wanted, that he’d never wanted anything in his life so much.
Dammit, he’d scared her off, and now she doesn’t know what to say to him. That is the only explanation. She’d said she would text him when she got home, but he hasn’t heard anything. He’d been at the gym, checking his cell compulsively, but that hadn’t made a message from Adriana magically appear. He’d been trying to call her since her shift at the hospital is due to finish; but, there’d been no response. That’s when the tingling sensation at the back of his neck started, that feeling that all is not right in the world.
He drives like a bat out of hell towards her apartment, trying to figure out what to say to her when he gets there. If she thinks he is moving too fast, then he can move slower and give her more time to get to the place where he already is. Grayson knows exactly what he wants. It’s all bound up in one word, in one person: Adriana.
He throws the Jeep into a parking spot and bounds up the stairs of her apartment building two at a time. He literally can’t wait to see her. He takes a deep breath as he gets outside her door and goes to knock before stopping abruptly. The door isn’t closed. That’s when the tingling sensation turns into more of an alarm bell.
“Adriana?” He pushes open the door the rest of the way, preparing himself for a fight. Awful scenarios run through his mind, of Adriana being robbed, of her being hurt; but, nothing troubles him as much as what he finds in the apartment.
Grayson steps inside, and there’s a crunch of glass and metal underneath his shoe. He bends down to see what looks like whatever’s left of Adriana’s phone, the screen smashed to pieces. That’s when his body kicks into gear.
“Adriana? Adrie?” He moves through the tiny apartment, throwing open doors, searching for someone who he already knows isn’t there. Finding every room empty, he circles back to the kitchen, his eyes scanning for any clues that will tell him what the hell happened there.
There aren’t any signs of a struggle, except the broken cellphone. But he doesn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out what’s happened; he’s been left with an explanation. His eyes land on a pristine white envelope with his name written on the front in handwriting that he wishes he didn’t recognize.
“What the hell have you done to her, you bastard?” Grayson rips open the envelope with shaking hands, remembering Morrison’s words from earlier that day.
I’m going to have to find a way to incentivize you.
His whole body freezes at the memory. He squeezes his eyes shut at the words, which might as well be written in blood, on the page in front of him.
This isn’t something I wanted to do, Grayson. But you left me with no other choice. Either you throw your next fight or your beautiful little girlfriend won’t be so beautiful the next time you see her. Tell no one or you’ll regret it and so will she.
For a few seconds, Grayson feels his emotions overtake him—the anger, the guilt, the fright, the need to fix it, and his love for Adriana. He turns around and punches the first thing that he comes into contact with, which happens to be a wall. His knuckles are red with blood, but he doesn’t feel any pain in his hand. The only pain he feels is in his chest, as if his heart is being squeezed and squeezed.
This is his fault, and what has happened to Adriana is on him. He had ignored Morrison’s warning. Too sure of himself, he’d baited a man who didn’t back down and who had no intention of losing. When Grayson was still working for him, back in Philly, and Morrison had asked him to throw his first fight, Morrison had come up with an explanation that summed the man up completely. “It’s just business. Don’t think of it as losing a fight, think of it as winning a whole heap of cash. Kid, that’s the beauty of this system; no matter what you do, you always win. That’s the only way I know how to play.” Morrison’s smug smile of self-satisfaction is still burned in Grayson’s mind. He has to stop himself from going postal and letting out all the rage that he’s bottling up.
He leans over the kitchen counter, breathing deeply and trying to clear his head, trying to think about anything other than the myriad ways in which he wants to hurt Morrison. Grayson knows that’s not the way to get Adriana back, but it would be a lie to say that it doesn’t make him feel better. He breathes deeply, clearing his mind, practicing some of the techniques that West had taught him after he’d found him in Philly. He needs to focus and come up with a plan of action. Morrison is already ten steps ahead of him, and the more time Grayson wastes, the longer it will take for him to catch up.
He has to get Adriana back, whatever it takes. He picks up her broken cell and lays it gently on the counter, as if it were an extension of her rather than just a wrecked piece of technology. He takes a last look around the apartment and walks out, closing the door softly behind him. He doesn’t notice the way the blood drips from his split knuckles onto the floor. It’s not important. The only thing that’s important right now is getting Adriana back.
He jogs down the steps, a plan beginning to form in his mind, and he calls the one person he knows he can turn to in a time of need. Morrison had said not to tell anyone, but short of tapping Grayson’s phone, he would never know about this conversation with West. Besides, no matter how much he wants to, Grayson knows that this isn’t something he can handle on his own. Where Adriana’s concerned, he can’t think straight. The last thing he wants to do is fly off the handle and make a mistake that gets her hurt or worse. No, he can’t think about that, just the idea of something happening to her makes his entire being feel like it might shut down, and he couldn’t afford for that to happen. Adriana is depending on him; he can’t let her down.
“West, something’s happened. I need your help.”
She slowly opens her eyes, but it’s harder than it should be. Her eyelids feel heavy, like they have weights attached to them. When she finally manages to keep them open, her surroundings seem as dark to her as her own fuzzy mind. Her mouth is dry, and her head is aching, like she’s been hit over the head with a hammer.
She tries to get to her feet, but her legs don’t seem to want to cooperate. It’s like they’re not part of her body anymore, not under her control.
What happened? Why is everything so out of focus, so hazy?
She moves to brush her hair out of her eyes, only to find that the simple action is not so simple after all. Her hands are bound in front of her; she can feel the restraints rubbing against her skin, cutting into her. That’s when it all comes rushing back: the mystery man and his goon in her apartment, the comments he’d made about Grayson not being the person that she thought he was, and the hand that covered her face and brought her to her knees with chloroform.
The memory of what happened in her apartment brings with it a sense of panic, of blind fear. Adriana feels her breathing quicken and a lump form in her throat, as she tries to work through her feelings.
she tells herself,
Grayson will come for you. He’ll find you.
After a few attempts, she manages to stand up shakily and, in that instant, the lights go on. She blinks against the brightness that feels like it’s seared into her eyes. The grim realization hits her that she is not alone; someone is watching her, watching what she’s doing.
“Hello?” She looks around at the damp brick walls of what looks to be a basement. “Is anyone there?” She strains, listening for a response, but none comes. She is alone.
Adriana scans the room. In the corner, she sees a table with a glass of water. She has no idea how long she’s been in this place or even what time of day or night it is, but the sight of the water makes her realize that she’s desperate for a drink. She grabs the glass, gulping the cool liquid down greedily and when she’s halfway through she stops abruptly. What if this is the last water she’s going to get for a while? She has to make it last. She tries to train herself to take small sips, but it’s like asking a man dying of hunger not to eat when food is put in front of him. It takes all her strength to leave some water in the glass, and she pushes it away from her clumsily with her tied hands.
That’s when she notices the other item on the table. It’s an old newspaper article, from
The Philadelphia Chronicle
. Her eyes scan the date, telling her that what she’s reading is over ten years old.
, the thought echoes in her mind. Her senses get jacked up to red alert, as she processes the headline.
Suspected Underground Fighter Found Dead
A chill goes through her, but she forces herself to read on. It talks about a body being found in an underground warehouse, which had a reputation for hosting underground fights. It looks like he was pummeled to death, the injuries catalogued ghoulishly by the reporter. The man—Vinnie ‘Destructor’ Jones—had been known to the cops. He’d been in and out of jail for burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, rape, and the list went on. From the interviews with the local cops, it wasn’t hard to get the impression that no one particularly missed Vinnie.
There was speculation on the part of the reporter that he had been killed in an underground, unlicensed fight where bookies ran the show. Apparently, it wasn’t uncommon for these kinds of matches to end with one of the fighters dead or in a vegetative state. In a fight where there are no rules, no medics, and no accountability, anything goes—including homicide. There had been a sighting of a young man fleeing the warehouse in the early hours of the morning, but details were sketchy at best.
The article ends with the reporter’s opinion that despite the police asking for anyone who knows anything to come forward, it’s likely that this case will rest among the many unsolved crimes of the city. These fights are underground for a reason; they’re organized by people who believe themselves to be outside of the law. This wasn’t the first and wouldn’t be the last body found under these circumstances.
Adriana reads the last few lines with tears forming in her eyes. She brushes them away with her bound hands, as her mind races through all the possibilities of what she’s just read. She looks at the date again, knowing exactly why it makes her feel feverish—hot and cold and then hot again. It was the day after she had last seen Grayson all those years ago. It was the first day he hadn’t been there to walk her home, the first of what would stretch out to be an endless number of days.
Grayson had said to her that she didn’t know what he was capable of, that he had left because he didn’t have anything to offer her. Even last night he had said that there was ‘more’ he needed to tell her, but she hadn’t given him the opportunity. Now, she wonders if that was because whatever he had to say it didn’t matter, that nothing he could say or do would make her feel any differently about him. Or perhaps it was because she didn’t want to hear what he needed to confess to her; perhaps she was scared of what he might say.
All it takes is one article for you to question everything about the man that you love, Adriana?
She shakes her head in disgust at herself. She’s more willing to believe some newspaper article that was probably bogus anyway over Grayson, over the man that she fell for instantly all those years ago.
Grayson can’t be involved in what she’d just read; it isn’t possible. He isn’t a killer; he is a fighter. By all accounts, he’s one of the best in the state, maybe even in the whole country. But why then is he so cagey about the time he spent in Philly after he’d disappeared from her life? She thinks about all the possibilities, all the things that he’d said or omitted to say that never quite added up.
Just because he’s not a big talker doesn’t automatically make him a killer, Adrie
, she reminds herself. But her eyes go back to the article, scanning it over and over again, searching for something that will exonerate Grayson from any wrongdoing. However, there’s no proof of any kind. It seems that no one knew what had happened to Vinnie Jones.
Yet, she can’t stop her hands from shaking. She tries to persuade herself that it’s just a result of being in this cold, damp basement, but she knows it’s more than that. It’s not just about the fact that she’s been assaulted, kidnapped, and hidden away in some dark hole where no one may ever find her. She’s scared and alone, but those aren’t her only concerns. It’s not just for her sake that she’s shaking. The same question goes round and round in her head, refusing to be quieted.
Grayson, what did you do?