Home > American Savages (Ruthless People #3)

American Savages (Ruthless People #3)
Author: J.J. McAvoy

 


FOURTEEN YEARS AGO


His fist collided with her face, sending her to the ground so quickly that her hair whipped around her face before she hit the mat. She stayed there for a moment, frozen on the boxing ring’s floor, almost dead, before she tried to push herself up. Her arms wobbled, and her chest rose and fell as she desperately tried to get the air back into her lungs. She managed to get to one knee before crumbling back onto the mat.

Pitiful.

“Get up, Melody,” I said to her, as I leaned back against the wall of the old boxing gym outside of the city. It was just as run down as the town itself. No one but our people came over here anymore—sweat of sweat, hot blood of hot blood, we were Italians; one people. And she was disgracing herself in front of the very people who needed to respect her the most.

She didn't move, she just lay there like a dead thing. Neither a human nor an animal.

“I said get up, Melody!”

With a small, frustrated cry, she pushed herself to her feet, and threw herself onto the ropes of the ring in order to stand, as Gino held on to her.

“Miss? Miss Giovanni? Are you alright?” Gino asked her, glancing at me, wide-eyed when she did not answer.

“Let her go. And I swear to God Almighty, Melody, if you fall again…”

“I’m fine.” She pushed the loose strands of her dark hair behind her ear and stood straighter as she raised her wrapped fists. She shook her head a few times, and tried to maintain her composure.

“See? She’s fine. Now start again,” I said to him.

“Sir, it’s been two hours—”

“I don’t care if it’s been two days!” I snapped, and it was then that I saw it. All the eyes in the gym looked upon my daughter with pity, and at me with disdain as if I were some kind of monster.

“EVERYONE OUT!” I called suddenly, causing them all to jump and run towards the door.

Gino looked between Melody and me before he exited the ring.

“You and I will be having words later,” I said to him, and he nodded before walking out.

The gym was dim. The only source of light came from the center of the ring where she waited without a word. Stepping inside as well, I grabbed the padded mats, circling her as I placed them.

“You are a disappointment, Melody,” I whispered. “And not just that but you’re embarrassing me and your goddamn self. How old are you now, twelve or four? Do you still need someone to save you? To baby you? Is that what you want?”

“No, sir.” She held her head up. “I’m fine, I can keep going.”

“Fine? A minute ago you looked like a newborn deer. Is it because we’re alone now that you don’t want to put on a show?”

She glared at me. “I’ve been doing this for two hours, Dad. Any normal person—”

“You are not normal! You are Melody Nicci Giovanni, daughter of Iron Hands—my daughter! Normal is never the adjective used to describe you! Exceptional. Notorious. Unstoppable. That is what you should aim for. You’re in pain? Your body aches? Guess what? That’s your life. You think those idiots outside helped you because they cared? Because you’re so precious? They stepped in to make you weak, to drag you down to their limitations, their weaknesses. A helping hand is a selfish one. If you can’t save yourself, you have no right to be saved.” I met the glower of her dark brown eyes. “Do you understand?”

She didn’t answer, she just kept staring me down.

“I asked you a question.”

“Yes, sir. I hear you,” she barely uttered.

“Good.” I raised the pads. “Now, fists up.”

“Ti odio,” she said under her breath as she beat into them.

“I’m sorry, you hate what—?”

“Nothing.”

I thought so.

One day she would thank me for this.

 

 

SEDRIC

 

 

FOURTEEN YEARS AGO


“Liam, I’m heading to lunch in the next hour with Neal and Declan, would you like to come?” Evelyn asked, more like pleaded with him to come.

Liam sat, surrounded by books, in the corner of my study. His long legs were stretched out across the ground, and his back rested against the bookcase. He paused for a moment and looked to her, my wife, and she withstood his icy gaze.

“Thank you, mother, but I already had lunch,” he replied as if he had no emotions to spare her.

“Well then, I will leave you both to do whatever it is you do in this dungeon.” She grinned at me and I tried to return the smile, but for some reason I couldn’t.

“I will call you later,” I said, when she kissed my cheek before leaving.

It was only when the door closed that I walked over to his corner and smacked him over the head.

“Ouch! What in the—”

“Why must you be so much like me?” I sighed, as I took a seat beside him. “You’re supposed to take the good traits from me and drop the bad ones. Holding grudges against family—”

“I’m not holding a grudge.”

I stared at him, my son. It was almost funny how well he could read other people, but failed to understand himself.

“You’re still mad at her…”

“No, I’m not—”

“I’m still mad at her too sometimes,” I cut him off and he froze, averting his eyes whilst his grip on John Steinbeck’s In Search of America tightened. “I try not to think about it. The years she spent pushing all of us away. How you had to—”

“I’m fine,” he snapped.

“So fine you can’t let me finish a sentence?”

He took a deep breath.

“Be the bigger man, Liam. Let it go. She wasn’t there for you as a boy, I know, but let it go and love her more for the fact that she desperately wants to be there for you now. You’re never too old for a mother.”

“I thought you said I was like you? You always give advice you don’t take.” The smartass mumbled, and I fought the urge to smack him once more.

“We have dinner as a family, and your mother and I have dessert every night.”

“Ugh, dad! Don’t say that, it sounds like you’re talking about sex.” His face scrunched up before he buried it into the book.

Grabbing his head in a lock, I pulled him towards me. “That’s not what I meant, you idiot.”

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