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Trust Me

By:Christine Bell

Chapter One


"Got a job for you, sweetie."

I shoved back a lock of hair that had sprung loose from my ponytail and scowled at the phone, struggling to keep the irritation out of my voice. I was already at work on a Saturday. Seemed like twisting the knife to ask me for a favor on top of it. "Mick, I've already got a ton on my plate right now, and you said you wanted me to focus on getting the books straight-"

"I know what I said, and now I'm saying something else. This is important. This is the big one."

That he’d even said that much was a real improvement. Mickey Flynn wasn’t big on explaining himself. He expected to give the orders and have them carried out, no questions asked.

When we’d first met, I was thirteen. Enough had happened to me in my young life that I was done playing the victim and wasn’t about to follow anyone blindly. Needless to say, we’d locked horns more than once over the years, but the longer I knew him the more I trusted him. He might not be the most moral man in Boston, but to my knowledge he hadn’t murdered anyone, and he cared about me. That was more than I could say about anyone else in my life.

I huffed out a sigh and leaned back in my chair. “Okay, let’s hear it.” The tension was already building between my shoulder blades as I waited for the other shoe to drop. That was another thing about Mickey. He was always on the lookout for the next big idea. The one thing that would take him from thug in an expensive suit to a real mover and shaker.

“I’ll give you a hint,” he said, the grin on his face evident in his voice. “Three letters. M. M. And A.”

That piqued my interest and I set down the file I'd been reading onto the desk in front of me. I’d been bugging him for months to get out of the underground bare knuckle boxing game and try to go legit. Was it possible he was finally listening to me for once?

"Go on."

"I got you a guy. He’s an MMA fighter."

My heart kicked hard in protest and then quieted. I should've known better than to get my hopes up.

I snorted out a laugh and picked up the folder again. "I can't think of anything I need in my life less than a guy right now." Or ever, maybe. In my experience, men brought nothing but problems to my already complicated life.

"Not a guy to date,” Mick corrected with overly exaggerated patience. “I mean a guy to manage. He’s pretty damn good, too.”

I straightened in my chair and held the phone closer to my ear, sure I'd heard him wrong. "What are you talking about, Mick?"

"You said you wanted to get into MMA. Well, here's your chance. His name's Matthias McDaniels. They call him Matty. From what I hear, he's going to be the next big thing in MMA."

"Great, but what does that have to do with me? I never said anything about wanting to manage some hometown bozo. I told you I thought you should get into MMA and manage some fighters. Then I said I’d been working really hard at the gym and maybe you could start with me."

Funny how selective his memory could be.

He chuckled and I could almost see him rolling his eyes at whatever hunk of brainless muscle he had in the room with him, like "This kid, am I right?"

"You know that's a bad idea. I don't want you out there getting hurt. This is the perfect solution. You get all the excitement of the sport, without putting that pretty face at risk. Plus, it will take the business in a new direction like you wanted."

Leave it to Mick to think my own dream of fighting MMA would be realized by booking fights and watching a guy in the cage doing what I wanted more than anything else to be doing. Men could be so dumb sometimes. "I'm coming up to your office so we can talk more about this."

There was a long, tense silence before he spoke again. "There's nothing to talk about. It's a done deal. I can count on you for this, right Kayla?"

His tone —short, with that edge that made my insides curl up— told me everything I needed to know. His mind was made up and not even threat of death by shark could move him once his heels were dug in.

I squeezed my eyes closed and slumped forward to bang my head on the desk softly before answering. "Sure. Sure, you can count on me, Mick."

Because Mickey Flynn, mobster extraordinaire, was the only person in the entire world that gave a good shit about me. Right or wrong, stupid or not, that meant something.

I pushed away from my desk and stood, tossing the paperwork I'd been working on into a drawer. At least I could go upstairs and grill him about this guy he'd found. It might not be what I'd hoped for, but who knew? Maybe Mickey was right. Maybe this Matthias McDaniels really was the next big thing, and wouldn't it be awesome to be part of that?