CROW (Boston Underworld Book 1)

By: A. Zavarelli

“I’m doing this for you, Tal,” I whisper. “Whatever it takes.”

The tightness in my chest is almost too much right now. My motivation has never been clearer and I don’t need the pendant to remember that. I stash it with my other belongings and focus on grounding myself.

My dad was a boxing champion. The scrappiest, toughest, baddest dude to ever grace the streets of Boston. His father before that? The same. Now it’s up to me to continue the legacy. I might be a girl, but that means jack shit in my family. We’re Irish. This shit is in our DNA. We love to fight. We love to brawl. And we love to have an audience for it. I know I’m a damn good fighter, but I’d be lying if I said I still wasn’t a little bit nervous.

Those men out there? They’re fucking animals, every last one of them. They won’t take it easy on me because I’m a woman. It wasn’t easy for me to sweet talk Johnny into letting me do this. He wouldn’t have if he didn’t believe I could handle it. But Johnny knew my father, and he’d seen that his blood ran true in my veins. I’d proven myself again and again in his gym over the last six months. And it’s all led up to this moment.

One no holds barred fight with Boston underground’s biggest and baddest competitors. The first and most important step in my plan. There isn’t a fight that goes by the Irish and Russians don’t place bets on. It’s in their blood to love this sport.

Unfortunately for me, I can’t just walk into Slainte and ask for a job. In their world it doesn’t work that way. They hire people they trust. And the only way to get on that list is to build a rapport. So the quickest way for me to get their attention?

You guessed it. I’m gonna’ knock one of these motherfuckers out.

Which one of them takes the bait makes no difference to me. I only need one to take an interest in me. And there’s nothing the Irish respect more than a damn good fight.

I glance at myself in the mirror and steel my nerves with another deep breath as I crack my knuckles and do a couple of shoulder rolls. I’m in the best shape of my life and more ready than I’ll ever be. My long raven hair is braided and thrown over my shoulder. A light sheen of sweat coats my pale white skin as I shift from foot to foot. My blue eyes are electric, even without a scrap of makeup on my face. I can literally feel the energy humming through my body, breathing life into me as I recite my father’s creed in my head.

“You’ll knock em’ dead.” Scarlett smiles from behind me.

I spin around and cross my arms, hitting her with the meanest glare I can muster up. “What the hell, Scarlett? I told you not to come here, it’s dangerous.”

She shrugs, of course. “Do you think these guys are any worse than the ones I deal with on a nightly basis? And I came here to watch you fight. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

The pride in her voice is unmistakable and I smile in spite of myself. I really shouldn’t because it only encourages her. And I want Scarlett as far away from this as possible.

“The very minute it’s over you get out of here,” I tell her. “Go straight home and make sure nobody follows you. And while I’m out there, you’re just another observer.”

She nods to pacify me though I know she hasn’t listened to a word I just said. Before I have time to reiterate, Johnny comes in.

“You ready, Mack?”

I nod and slip into my robe, placing the hood over my hair to conceal my face. “Yep.”

Johnny grins and shakes his head just as the music starts up. I picked it myself. LL Cool J’s Mama Said Knock You Out.

Cute, huh?

Johnny slaps me on the shoulder, and if I didn’t know any better, I’d say that his eyes look a little glassy.

“Your dad would be real proud of you Mack,” he says. “Now go show them how a Wilder takes care of business.”

I nod and follow Johnny out of the room in time to the beat of the music. This sport is all about posturing, and even though they can’t see me yet, I’m going to give them the show they came for. Every step I take gets me pumped up to step into the makeshift ring.

My competitor stands across from me at the ready, and I already know he towers over me. I’ve seen him fight before, which helps to ease my nerves a little. He’s decent, but his fighting style is all street and not technically trained. Plus, he lets his arrogance and temper get the best of him and already, it’s plastered all over his face. He thinks he’s fighting a little man, and this is going to be the easiest money he ever made.

I wait until the music stops and Johnny starts his spiel.

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