Kane rules The Underworld with an iron fist and a loaded gun. He is judge, jury, and executioner. He expects nothing short of absolute, unquestioned obedience from everyone around him. The only place where his men are free to let loose is at The Playground, a brothel, and showroom run by the devil's own brother, Zion. Growing up in the Underworld hardens even the softest of hearts but not Anaïs. Somehow, her sweet nature shines through. When she is snatched from the streets and thrown into The Playground to work off her father’s debts, the darkness of the world tries to dim her light. What happens when the chronically bored ruler of hell finds a flower among the filth?
Age Rating: 18+
I fucking hate groveling. Nothing makes my trigger finger itch quite like a person begging for their miserable life.
“How much do you owe me?”
The sniveling worm choked through his sobs, “Twenty thousand.”
“Why, then, were you gambling at Hanzo’s?”
He sucked in a breath, wide eyes following me as I pulled myself to stand before him.
“Did you think I didn’t know about that?” His ignorance made me laugh. “You lost nine thousand there just last night.”
“You thought that I was too fucking stupid to keep tabs on you!” My voice was calm as I grabbed ahold of his wet, disgusting face. “That was my money you lost last night, the money you owed me.”
“I’m sorry, Kane. Please, I need more—”
“If you say ‘time,’ I’m going to blow a hole through your skull. You’ve had six months. Where the fuck is my money?”
“I can get it to you by Friday.”
“And how do you plan to do that? Sell organs on the black market? You useless fucking waste of space.”
“My…my wife can dance at The Playground! She can—”
My loud laughter stopped his whining voice.
“You’re offering me your wife?”
“Yes, I heard that some people transfer their debts—”
The deafening bang of my Glock silenced the room. I was done with the conversation.
I was done with him.
Wiping away a drop of blood splattered on my cheek, I turned to the group of trembling men lined up, awaiting their own judgments.
“What the fuck was he talking about?”
One of my enforcers shuffled slightly on his feet, and the ever-present cold rage started to boil in my veins.
“What the fuck was he talking about?” I enunciated each word.
The room was silent enough to hear the thumping hearts of everyone quietly praying. I didn’t call them forward.
“You.” I pointed to an older man in the back. My enforcer grabbed his arm and dragged him forward.
“Tell me what the fuck he was talking about, and I’ll spare you, no questions asked.”
“When someone dies, the debt moves to one of their family members. Sometimes, people transfer their debts to pay it off faster; wives, daughters…,” the man explained, his voice shaking.
My finger moved over the trigger as I turned to my men. No one would make eye contact. The motherfuckers.
“You”—I pointed to the man—“get the fuck out of here. My men... Who authorized this? I feel I have been very clear: debtors pay their debts, not their families. That fucking spineless rat was trying to shift his debt over to his wife.”
No one spoke. No one made eye contact.
I pulled the trigger twice. Two large bodies hit the floor.
“Who?” My voice boomed through the room.
“Zion, sir,” someone finally said.
I knew it was him. No one else would defy me. I just wanted someone to speak up.
“It stops today. Clean up this mess. Now.”
Leaving the trembling crowd with my men, I walked away briskly from the marble hall.
It was time to pay my little brother a visit. Thunder rumbled in the night sky as the first drops of rain landed on my shoes.
“The Playground,” I said to Declan as he pulled the car door open for me.
“Right away, sir.”
The grimy city streets flashed past the windows as he expertly maneuvered the back alleys and side streets.
Pouring whiskey into a crystal glass from the backseat bar, I let the liquid’s warm burn quell my rage.
The twinkling neon lights of The Playground illuminated the dark, reflecting off of the wet asphalt.
As usual, there was a line of drunk, disorderly men outside, waiting to get inside to pay for the privilege of watching naked women gyrate on stage.
Stepping out of the open door, I said to Declan, “Wait nearby. I won’t be here long.”
As the bouncer parted the velvet ropes for me to enter, I noticed my men standing quietly in line. The loud, obnoxious noise had died down.
“As you were, gentlemen. It’s your night off.”
Their hooting and hollering echoed through the street as the door closed behind me.
Animals, all of them.
A fully nude woman was on the end of the stage in a full split, her ass shaking to the loud music. I looked past her for my brother.
Where is that stupid fucker? I would like to get out of here as quickly as possible.
“Gentlemen, get your dollars ready!” His voice blasted through the speakers. “Buttercup has a special show for you tonight!”
I finally spotted him at the sound booth as “Buttercup” slinked across the stage.
Beckoning him with one finger, I walked through the door behind the bar toward his office.
The two-way glass window in his office offered a perfect view of the stage. Sitting on the stiff leather couch, I watched Buttercup’s “special show.”
Leaning back, I let my eyes close. There was nothing special about this show; a naked bitch dancing on a pole, the same as every other.
“Kane!” Zion entered the room loudly, ruining my moment of peace.
I stood and stared at him with folded arms.
“What?” he said.
“You know what.”
He thought for a moment.
“Is this about that fucker I shot yesterday? Look, man, he was coming after me—”
“No… That’s not what this is about. Who did you shoot?”
“Oh, just some guy. I was fucking his wife, and he had the nerve to show up here and burst into my office!”
I chuckled. “Yeah, no, I don’t give a fuck about that.”
“I’ve been informed that you’re taking debt transfers. Again. I hate that shit. It stops now. Tonight. Anyone who is paying a debt for someone else finishes the night and tomorrow; you deal with finding new dancers.”
Zion was looking at me questioningly.
“I don’t care what you have to do to get your money back from the fucker you lent it to, but don’t let them switch that shit over.”
He rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah, OK.”
“Stop fucking doing it, or I’ll shoot you.”
A wide grin split his face. “That’s what you said last time.”