Skye shrunk back from the man and his rotted teeth. His breath was terrible, but what was worst was the grip he had on her arm. When she tried to yank away from him, he tightened his hold painfully. She bit her lip, holding back her cry of pain, and lifted her knee into his groin.
He yelled and let go, shoving her back. She fell to the ground and backed away. Rocks and something sharp dug into her back, but she ignored the pain.
He glared at her and cupped himself. “Stupid bitch, you’ll pay for that—after Mickey gets his money.”
“I don’t have that kind of money. How was I to know Joey borrowed money? I’m not his fucking mother.”
“That’s not our problem. He wrote your name down for contact. If he disappears, it’s on you. It’s the way of the streets.”
“Fuck,” she said, and glared before standing up. Her pants were torn and she felt the trail of blood sliding down her back. She looked down, saw the glass, and cringed. “I’ll have to figure something out.”
“Yeah, well you better. If not, we might have to think of some other form of payment,” he said, and licked his lips while his eyes traced down her full, curvy body.
She wasn’t small by any means. Short, yes, but she was busty, and clothing did little to hide her—assets. “I’ll figure it out,” she replied, tense, and definitely not liking his implication. She would die first. He wouldn’t touch her.
He stepped toward her, holding out a card. “Here’s a number to get in contact with Mickey. He won’t want to meet with you until you have all fifteen thousand.”
She gritted her teeth. “How much time do I have?”
“He was feeling generous. You’ve got two weeks.”
She sighed and shoved the card in her pocket. “Okay, well I suggest you let me go so I can figure this shit out. And if you see my brother before the two weeks?”
“He pays the debt and you’re left alone.”
She nodded. “If you see him, tell him to go to hell.”
The thug didn’t stop her when she walked away. Her back was killing her, and the fact that her brother dragged her into another one of his messes pissed her off. He knew better than to involve her, yet he always did it. She couldn’t take it anymore. After this, she was done, and cutting him out of her life. As much as she didn’t want to, he was more trouble than she could handle.
Skye walked out from the dingy alley and down the cracked sidewalk. She could really use a drink, but it was too early, so she went to her favorite coffee shop. Caffeine would have to do. She was lost in her own troubles and didn’t see the man coming. She smacked right into a hard and muscled body. She tipped to fall back, but his hands shot out and caught her. The scrapes on her back tore more and she whimpered.
“Shit, are you okay?” he asked. His eyes searched her for an injury, probably wondering why she seemed hurt.
“Yeah, I’m good,” she replied, but the tears that slid down her face told him a different story. Skye wasn’t one to cry, but it hurt.
The stranger’s nostrils flared, and he closed his eyes briefly before they shot open and stared at her in a way that melted her from the inside out. She should have been frightened. His grip on her shoulders tightened before he shook his head and dropped them to his sides.
“How do you know?” she asked, instead of denying it.
He ignored her question and spun her around. Before she knew what was going on, he lifted the back of her shirt and whistled. “This looks pretty bad. What happened?”
The tense tone sent a thrill through her senses. What the hell? She should have been terrified and pulling away from yet another stranger manhandling her.
“Nothing,” she replied, and turned back around. He let go of her shirt, but his eyes were firm.
“I can’t help you if you don’t tell me.”
“Why would you want to help me? I’m a stranger who ran into you.” She looked to the ground and sighed. “I knocked your coffee to the ground.”
“It’s what I do.”
She shook her head. “I don’t think you’d be able to help me with my problem.”
He looked behind him and nodded toward the empty table. “Try me. But first sit down, and I’ll go get coffee.”
Skye nibbled her lip and was about to say no.
“Please. I can help you.”
She doubted it, but walked to the small table anyway. He nodded and turned to go back inside the shop. She wouldn’t leave without her coffee, and there was no way he’d help her. He was a stranger for hell’s sake. She licked her lips because he had to have been the sexiest man she’d ever laid eyes on. The concern in his hazel eyes seemed so genuine.