Authors: Skyla Madi
Smoke & Metal
NEW YORK CRIME KINGS
Smoke & Metal
Copyright © 2016 by Skyla Madi.
All rights reserved.
First Print Edition: May 2016
Limitless Publishing, LLC
Kailua, HI 96734
Formatting: Limitless Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
Kelly, Megan, and Lisa
Thank you for putting your hand up to help when I needed it the most.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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On The Run
The cold wind blasts through my hair, causing sharp, black strands to whip across my face. My heart slams into my ribs over and over, and the ruthless pounding drums through my ears, vibrating across my brain. Out of sheer terror, I clench the strap of the seat belt as it bites into my torso. Squeezing my eyes shut, I pray to a God I suddenly believe in.
Jai’s warm, damp palm glides over the top of my knee and rests on my thigh, pulling me from my thoughts.
“Don’t look so scared, Kitten.” He teases as I reluctantly open my eyes. “I know what I’m doing.”
I don’t drive. In fact, I don’t even have a license. You wanna know why? Because I’m absolutely petrified of being in a car accident. Even at normal speeds uneasiness sits in my stomach. It remains there, feeling uncomfortable and heavy, until my own two feet are on solid ground again. We’re currently going one hundred miles an hour down a deserted strip of asphalt somewhere in the outskirts of New York and it feels worse than I could have imagined. My stomach squeezes, my heart pounds, and my blood thins, making me dizzy and nauseous all at once. Like a rollercoaster from hell.
“Do you have to drive so damn fast?” I breathe as bitter bile from the deepest pit of my stomach burns at my throat.
“It’s a stolen car.” He points out over the roar of the engine, his lips quirk into a smug smile. “So yeah. Kinda.”
I’ve never broken the law. Not really. I mean, I’ve smoked marijuana here and there but that’s hardly a crime. Tonight, however, I’ve assisted in grand theft auto. I was there when Jai broke into a dealership and stole the keys to a sleek, black Camaro. I have no idea what the name means exactly, but judging by the way Jai’s eyes lit up as he stood before the black beauty, weighing the keys in his hand, he did. How many years will I get for assisting in a crime as big as that? To be honest, I wish we had never made it out of the car yard.
He drives fast—so fast I feel weightless, like an asteroid hurtling through space. The car doesn’t feel heavy like it did when I got in. It feels as light as paper as it cuts effortlessly through the night air. It doesn’t help I know that the faster things go, the harder they crash.
People speed all the time and they love it. They claim it’s
How lucky for them. I find it absolutely terrifying. There’s nothing
about the way my heart beats, causing my blood to rush through my body. There’s nothing
about the way my ribs clench my lungs making them compress against my spine, lessening the amount of air I’m able to breathe. To top it off, I can barely rationalize my thoughts because my subconscious keeps screaming three little words at me. Somehow, amongst all of the chaos raging inside my small body, I hear the same three words over and over.
!—the car down side streets to get to my apartment isn’t—
!—exactly subtle.” I manage to squeeze out.
A dense pressure squeezes my ribs and I’m surprised my heart manages to stay in my chest as opposed to being shot out of my throat and embedding itself deep into the dashboard.
“I’m not aiming for subtle.” The steering wheel creaks as he squeezes the stitched leather. “Don’t worry so much. We’ll ditch the car closer to your place and do the rest on foot. Once you’ve grabbed some things, I’ll find us another car and we can make the final leg of the trip. It’ll be fine.”
Trip? It’s a trip now, is it? I’ve never been on a trip, but I know they’re supposed to be fun. Nothing about any of this is fun. Where are we going anyway? Is it a country environment or will we be in the city? Do I pack for harsh, cold weather or does he plan on sticking us in a warm and damp underground tunnel again? This is critical information when packing! I don’t want to pack skirts and dresses and then end up at the damn North Pole.
“Where are we going?” I ask, swallowing hard.
Effortlessly, he changes gears and casually brings his hand back to the smooth, leather wheel. He’s driven at these speeds before—that much is obvious. His movements so far have been flowing and relaxed. He leans back into his seat, completely at ease, as if we’re driving under the speed limit instead of doubling it.
I squeeze the strap of my seat belt tighter, feeling lighter without Jai’s heavy hand anchoring me down.
“You’ll see when we get there.”
I’d glare at him if I could bring myself to tear my eyes from the world that rushes past me.
Up ahead a corner is approaching at an insane speed and if the last corner is anything to go by…
. I lower my hands to grip the leather seat.
“Shit.” I swear under my breath, as the palms of my hands slide over the leather. Anxious sweat leaks from my pores, making my grip weaker than I want it to be.
I squeeze my eyes shut.
Pain radiates through my jaw as I clench my teeth and the car slides into the turn.
The tires screech and Jai sighs, reveling in the motion and the noise.
He hits the gas and the car shoots out of the turn, leaving the smell of burnt rubber and the sound of angry squeals behind us.
With ease, the car rolls between two dense bushes before stopping completely. Heat, a nervous and uncomfortable heat, blooms in my armpits and rolls down my spine. No random streaks of light leak in through the windows from the street, drowning us in darkness. The only sound inside the car besides the soft rumble of the engine is my panicked gasps for air.
We made it.
Jai pulls on the parking brake and turns the key. The rumble of the engine cuts out, exposing my anxiety. Deep heavy breaths I can’t stop is the only sound besides the ticking of the cooling engine.
“You okay?” Jai asks, the embodiment of calm.
Of course he’s calm. Jai has a handle on just about every situation. When I’m a fucking mess he’s cool and composed. Despite that, I nod, keeping my stare locked on the front windscreen. I’m unable to bring myself to look at him. If I do and he betrays even the slightest hint of worry or fear, I’m done. I’ll crumble like the edge of a weak cliff after a hurricane has smashed into it. Jai is a rock, the solid foundation that keeps my fears in check. When he is calm, I have faith in our situation, but if I look at him now and I see fear I’ll lose confidence.
We wait in silence and even though the wheels of the car are immobile underneath me, my heart continues to thrum painfully in my chest. The reason for it is blaring its sirens in the distance, getting closer and closer. Cops are the last thing we need, but at least they’re an expected problem. I can almost taste the metallic bars of the cell they’re going to cage me in as the sirens ring through my ears, sending vibrations over my brain.
“Fuck.” Jai swears, looking over his shoulder.
Panic rises. I can’t go to prison. I’m too skinny for prison! My hair is too long and my breasts are too firm. Does it work the same as a male prison? Can I become someone’s bitch in a female prison? I don’t want to find out.
The wailing sirens grow louder and my fingers find their way into my mouth. I wince as I suck my thumb between my lips and gnaw on my nail. The tips of my fingers are sore from weeks of nervous chewing. At this rate they’ll never recover.
We’re like sitting ducks here. If they decide to use a spotlight, we’re done for. There’s no disguising the bright light that’ll reflect off the body of the car, even if it is shrouded in sticks and leaves.
I look at Jai. His face is stern, his lips pressed into a thin line.
“We should run.” I mutter and he shakes his head.
“Wait for them to pass. Then we’ll move.”
“You’re a cop. Isn’t there some kind of bro code?”
Jai shakes his head again. “Bro code? No. Who knows which ones Skull has in his pocket.”
I jump as flashes of red and blue light illuminate our surroundings. It disappears in a flash and I hold my breath as the blaring sirens fade into the distance. We wait in defeating silence for what feels like an eternity before I ask:
“Do you think we lost them?”
“For the moment. C’mon.” Jai turns the key and, without starting the engine, small LEDs on the dash light up.
I watch as he reaches for the roof of the car and presses a little, black button. Soft whizzing fills the air and hums against my eardrum as the small window in the roof opens.
“Since we can’t get our doors open we’ll have to through the roof." He smiles at me. "You first.”
With shaking hands, I exhale and unclip my seatbelt. Somehow, I manage to turn in my seat and reach up and grip the edges of the roof. This car’s sun roof isn’t designed for averaged sized humans to climb out of. Groaning, I pull myself out of my seat and straighten my legs. The ropes of muscle in my arms and legs scream at me, making me hiss through my teeth. A few hours ago, I was running for my life and I barely felt pain then. Now it seizes my muscles and grips my bones. We have to stop soon or I’m going to collapse.
The cool night air blows against my heated skin, making the clammy beads of sweat that line my brow cold and uncomfortable. Still, as shitty as my current situation is, I have to remind myself I’m no longer trapped underground and I no longer have to fight for my life. That alone deserves a celebration. Skull will come after us, that much is guaranteed, but I can handle that. I’m good at running. I’ve been doing it my whole life. Fun fact: I was born in Sacramento and was shifted between there and Oregon until I was fourteen. Once I realized no one wanted me I ran and I made it as far as Colorado too, but I was caught as soon as I hit the state line and thrown back into the cesspool that is foster care. Two days before my fifteenth birthday I ran again and this time I was more careful. I stayed off the streets, never lingered in one place for too long, and I did my best to look like a kid who had a family who cared.
I’ve slummed around in all of them. It wasn’t until half a year later, when I ended up in Trenton. Admittedly, I got too comfortable and it was my own fault I got pulled in by a “Detective John McCabe”. Within a day I was placed into another children’s home on the outskirts of New York City. I remained in the children’s home until I aged out and was left to fend for myself. I didn’t mind. I graduated from high school—
—and was able to land a job at a fast food joint, flipping burgers. During that time, I slept on a random Japanese woman’s couch who I met back when I crashed bingo games for free food and (occasionally) booze. She let me stay with her until I saved enough cash to put myself through my nursing course. She passed away the week the hospital began paying me. Her landlord let me rent her apartment to save the hassle of advertising. As strange as it sounds, I lived with Sue for months…but she was still a stranger to me. I had no connection to her, nor her to me. It also didn’t help that I couldn’t speak Japanese. Now that I think about it, I didn’t even cry when I found out nor did I attend her funeral. What kind of sick shit is that? Anyway, I don’t mind fending for myself. I’m used to it and though I’ve never had a proper home here in NYC I’ve always felt like I belonged, that my blood is linked with the trash, rust and dregs of this otherwise beautiful city. As I climbed the roof of the children’s home every night and watched the lights of the city flick on level by level, building by building, I knew that even if I never found a home, I would always have a home…and in some twisted way that made sense to me…to my damaged teenage mind.