Home > Pride (The Elite Seven #2)(5)

Pride (The Elite Seven #2)(5)
Author: J.D. Hollyfield

“Better get ready to shoot me then.” I take another slow step, though I’m not sure what the fuck I’m doing. No end to this will be good.

“Boy, I’ll shoot ya, and you know they won’t tend to ya. You’re on the do not provide medical assistance list. You’ll bleed out right here.” I wouldn’t be shocked if he was telling the truth. I stop in my advance. “That’s right. Hand me the paper like a good little prisoner or I’ll shoot your hand off and take it myself.” Fuck! The defeat rips at my insides. He retrieves his gun, and I know I lost. “Down on your fucking knees.” My knees fall to the concrete, and I put my hands behind my head. The piece of paper falls from my grip, and victory spreads across his face as he bends down and unfolds it.

“Ah…smart little fucker. Having others do your bidding. At least Mrs. Griffin will be pleased at your curiosity.” He turns to a guard who’s arrived as back up. “Take him back down. Mr. Blackwell just doesn’t seem to learn his lesson.”

Six months later…

The whistle sounds from the speakers indicating it’s time for outdoor recess. It reminds me of when I was a kid, itching in my little school chair, waiting for that bell to ring so I could line up. The anticipation of knowing I was so close to a game of four square or the gigantic playground, or whatever other stupid ass outdoor games I played at that age, flowing through my tiny veins. I can almost still feel the excitement of being that young and carefree.

But it ain’t nothing like that here.

It’s more like the Hunger Games. Inmates stand in corners. Crews segregate themselves from the punks, to the stoners, to the gangsters—you name it. If the movies got one thing right, it’s who made friends with who in here and for what benefit. One being to stay alive.

I no longer had anyone doing my bidding. Once I came back up, I had to be even more careful. Some lifers didn’t care, but some were hoping for an earlier parole, so they backed off and no longer wanted to be on the warden’s naughty list. It seemed that while I was down, word spread. If I was assisted in any way, consequences would come. After being in lockdown for three months, it took me another three to finally get someone to help me out.

I walk down the hallway of the second floor and take the side stairs to get outside quicker. Ricky had a visit with his sister yesterday. In his recent letter to her, he asked her to ask around town about my sister. At this point, I’m only worried about her. I just need to know she’s safe. She’ll be turning eighteen soon, and I’ll be at peace when she does. She’ll be free.

I shove through the steel doors and walk out to the open area filled with orange jump suits. I shield my eyes, searching for Ricky, and find him standing in the corner, leaning against the barbwire fence. My boots hit the concrete, making it over to him. “What you got for me?” I ask, wasting no time.

“Today’s your lucky day.” He fumbles with something up his sleeve, then a small piece of paper appears in the palm of his hand. I go to grab for it, but he yanks it back. “Not so fast. You got something for me?”

I dig in my pocket and slip him the two packs of smokes I jimmied from the laundry room. He stares down at the packs, then hands me the paper. I know I’m not being smart, but I open it right there.

Public files show there’s been paperwork filed for the adoption of E. Blackwell submitted by L.P. Griffin.



“No!” I growl, shaking the ground below me.

Ricky takes a step toward me, catching me off guard, and raises his hand. The bright sun gleams off the rusty blade in his grip, and my eyes catch it just as it protrudes into my ribcage. The pain shoots through me, stealing my breath. He draws back, bringing the blade out of my punctured flesh, then stabs me again. My arms shoot up, trying to fight his grip on me, but the pain is too fierce. He lowers his head, his mouth over my ear. “Sorry, bro, but you know how it is. Every man for them self. They gave me a message for you too. Time to make a choice. You know they won’t tend to ya. Bleed out or give in.” He rips his shank out and drops it next to me. Blood seeps thick and fast from my open wounds. I grab his jumpsuit and pull my arm back to throw a punch, but I’m too weak. My closed fist falls to my side as my knees buckle, dropping myself to the ground. My mind goes to my sister. The regret—shame I couldn’t protect her.

My chest tightens, and breathing is more painful than the effort is worth. My body slams against the warm concrete. The strength in my hand weakens, and my palm opens, the small piece of paper falling out of my grip.

I can’t leave my sister.

Not in the hands of a monster.

“Tell her she wins,” I mumble, struggling to get words out. Using my hands to force myself off the ground, I slip and fall back down. I howl in pain, blurriness creating an overcast in my vision.

“What was that?” I see the steel boot of the warden.

A growl low in my stomach grows, giving me a burst of strength. I reach forward, grabbing the warden’s leg and tugging hard. Losing his balance, he howls, slipping and falling to the ground. I pull myself up over his body as he struggles to escape from my grip. “Get the fuck off me!” he yells, fighting and kicking out from under me. I grab the shank he dropped.

“I said tell her she wins, motherfucker,” I grit out, then stab him in the ribs.

She finally wins.

That’s my last thought before blackness consumes me.

I’m in and out of consciousness.

I remember screaming as they sewed me up. Of course, those motherfuckers didn’t use anything to numb me first.

I remember the infirmary. The white room. Beeping sounds of machines.

Then I remember her.

“You made the right decision, Mason. Now, rest. Your recovery puts a damper in our schedule, but we can work around this. I truly do admire the love you have for your sister. The things some do for family. Fast recovery, pet.”

I remember the coldness of her lips on my forehead before she left me to spend it in a recovery room—before I can walk out of Louisiana State Penitentiary into a worse hell.

Two weeks later…

The sun is angry, scorching all of Louisiana with its sweltering temperatures as I step through the prison doors. I shield my eyes, already feeling the heat on my skin, sweat forming into droplets down my back. While being discharged, they handed me a sealed bag containing the shit I came in with. Clothes I’ve long grown out of. My torn wallet, holding two dollars, a picture of Dahlia, and some receipts. Tossing it in the trash, I walk past the entrance guard. The moment the prison gates are behind me, I breathe a sigh of relief. Two fucking years. I’m finally out.

They don’t lie when they say the air smells different when you’re free. I inhale the humid air through my nose, and exhale. “Free air is fucking glorious.” I laugh, then turn to walk down the mile or so long street where a cab would be waiting to take me wherever I want to go. Fuck if I know where that is, but I have a whole mile to figure it out. A black sedan pulls up next to me as I begin down the gravel sidewalk. When it fully comes to a stop, my steps slow as well, until I’m halted, watching a suited man get out of the car to open the back door.

“Get in.”

I don’t need to bend down to know that evil voice or the hideous scent of her perfume seeping through the open doorway, choking me along with the humidity and heat. Dread quickly replaces the light feeling of being out of that hell hole, reminding me how fast I had forgotten why—I’d made a deal with the devil.

Lillian slides to the other side of the car and pats the open seat next to her. “Don’t make me repeat myself. In. Now.”

My eyes light with the fire that holds bright and angry when it comes to Lillian. A rumble deep in my chest sounds, and I throw myself into the back seat.

“That growl… You know, women nowadays have quite a fondness for that rugged, bad boy persona. You should be careful who you use that on. Might give someone the wrong impression.” Her hand slides across the seat and lands on my thigh.

I peel her fingers off my skin, throwing her hand off me. “Where’s my sister?” I demand, no bullshit in my tone.

She holds up a folder, and I reach for it, but she retracts. “Not so fast, pet. There are some rules we have to discuss first.”

“I ain’t doin’ shit until I see Evelyn,” I bark.

“And I think you forgot who makes the rules here. I’m calling the shots. Not you. It’s best you quickly realize that.”

My hands shake. Keeping them at my sides and not around her neck is almost impossible. I need to see my sister. “Fine. What rules?”

“Good boy.” She hands me the file. “As promised, here are all your registration papers. Congratulations, you’re officially a student at St. Augustine.”

I read over the documents. Acceptance forms, test scores. All bullshit of course. “And how the fuck am I gonna pull this shit off? I didn’t even graduate high school, no thanks to you.”

She waves her hand. “You have your GED from LSP, and that’s for me to handle. Just attend class. I’ll take care of the rest. No one will ever bat an eye at my underprivileged pet project.”

Fuck her. And fuck this. This is crazy. I continue scanning the papers. “This says I’m eighteen.” I look at her.

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