Shadowed (Team Zero #4) - Rina Kent
Lurking in the shadows is an addiction.
I didn’t choose darkness. The darkness chose me. It seeps under my skin and flows in my blood.
Stepping into the light is out of the question.
Light is full of people and people are fucking annoying. Darkness allows me to watch everyone without their notice. I stab them and retreat back to the shadows as if nothing happened.
I should’ve known that one day, someone would notice and it’d be all fucking over.
Waking up to find both your parents dead doesn’t leave you.
People say they love you and that they’d never hurt you. But then, they lock you up and asphyxiate you with gas.
No matter how much I’ve tried to move on, I simply can’t.
The time has come to do something about it.
I look down at myself. My black, low-cut leather dress hugs my body and reaches to the middle of my thighs right above my leather boots. Strands of grey-blonde hair fall straight to my shoulders.
I pinch my cheek for encouragement and make my way through throngs of people.
The underground fighting rings’ walls are a brownish colour and I’m going to take a wild guess that they haven’t been renovated for decades.
There’s no need to, anyway. Boxers come here to fight and the audience is only interested in gambling. Pretty sure no one is interested in clean walls or floors in this poor side of East London. A few bulbs of light – whose naked wires are hanging from the ceiling – cast an eerie feeling on the place.
The smell of beer and smoke and the occasional disgusting male musk waft in the air as I push my way through. Shouts, curses, and bets fly all around.
A big match between two notorious fighters is tonight’s highlight and the reason why the place is jammed. The spectators are arguing about who will win and none of them speaks two words without a curse in between.
When I pass by, a few stop and whistle or make some suggestive remarks. I rein in my discomfort and don’t pay them attention. Living on the streets for too long, with worse scum, taught me how to turn blind eyes to many things.
Granted, this isn’t the ideal dress code for such a place, but if I’m to catch the attention of my mother’s killer, I need to look the part.
I round the corner and slip into the women’s fighting rings. Compared to the men’s rings, fewer spectators watch from the side lines, but the energy isn’t any less contagious.
Leaning sideways, I peek over and grin as I stand amongst the crowd. Elle, my sister from another mister, is kicking a bigger woman’s arse. Her blue eyes are hooded – from the adrenaline, I’m sure. The crowd goes wild when Elle takes momentum.
“Woohoo!” I yell along, placing both my palms near my mouth. “Go, Rage Ball!”
That little sucker is as fired up as her nickname. My gut does that twisting thing that happens whenever I think about leaving her. My fingers snake to the lotus bracelet Elle gifted me when we were teens. She’s been my family ever since I lost mine, and the thought of lying to her splits my heart open.
But I can’t risk putting her in danger. She’s already living in an adrenaline haze with all these underground fights. I can’t expose her to the monstrous world I’m heading into. I’m only one year older than her, but she’ll always be my baby sister who I’ll protect with all my might.
“What did I miss?” Liam calls from a distance, his dark green eyes glued on Elle. He pushes the crowd to join me — or more like, they step aside to let him pass. From the outside looking in, he’s tall, broad and intimidating as hell.
Add in a well-groomed dark blond hair and a slight scruff and the ladies fall at his feet, but he’s too much of a workaholic to pay them attention.
My smile widens. Liam is mine and Elle’s foster brother and the best brother in the bloody world. I’m forever thankful that he taught us how to take care of ourselves. Someone else would’ve said ‘I’ll protect you.’ Not Liam, though.
He dragged us to the park and taught us our first punches. He kicked our arses on the way, too. I had the bruises to prove it.
He always said, ‘I can’t be there for you the whole time’ – a lie, by the way, he never stopped being our big bro — ‘so you