Beyond Ruin (Beyond, Book #7) - Kit Rocha

CHAPTER ONE

From the time he was old enough to understand words,

people had been assuring Mad that he was blessed. He was

the cosseted grandson of the Prophet, a holy prince adored

and anointed by God himself. Everything he wanted should

fall into his open hand. It was his destiny to do great things.

For a blessed man, he had terrible timing.

He paused on the threshold of the garage as Scarlet

scowled at the broken-down amplifier on the bench in front of

her. Shitty timing or not, the sight of her still kicked him in the

gut as she pulled the wires away from the circuit board to get

a better look.

She was wearing beat-up jeans and an even more

battered tank top. Her newly blonde hair had a bluish tint and

was twisted on top of her head in a messy ponytail. The

cigarette dangling from her lips emphasized her frown, which

did nothing to diminish her overall impact.

Scarlet was hot. Not in spite of her clothes and her

attitude, but because of them. Because Scarlet was

unapologetically herself.

And

because

of

who

she

was—protective,

dangerous, stubborn—she was going to be trouble.

Mad had hoped to slip out of Sector Four without attracting

attention. Dallas had always granted him a certain amount of

autonomy, a choice driven by politics and cemented by trust,

but tonight he was treading a line dangerously close to

disobedience.

She pulled the cigarette from her mouth without looking

up. "Hey."

7 | P a g e

KIT ROCHA

"Scarlet." He pushed off the doorframe and headed for his

bike. She sounded distracted, so maybe luck was with him

after all. "You're working late."

"Amp's got a short in it. The garage has the best tools, but

you have to use them when some motherfucker's not banging

them on an engine." The soft glow at the tip of her cigarette

flared as she took another drag. "What about you?"

"I have an errand to run." Close enough to the truth.

"Alone?" Scarlet rolled her stool away from the workbench

and propped one solid boot on the shelf. Her brows came

together in a severe slash over her clear blue eyes as she

looked him over. "I thought O'Kane had rules about that

these days."

These days had started the moment Eden tortured one of

Dallas's operatives. Well, started all over again. Mad could

still remember the early years, when no O'Kane ever

ventured out of the compound without a partner to guard his

back. Success and relative safety had made them all cocky,

careless.

Now wasn't the time for cocky and careless. But he

couldn't ignore the unsettling rumors coming out of Sector

Two, either. "I'm just bending the rules, not breaking them."

Just like he was bending the truth when he finished, "I'm

meeting a friend in Three."

"Uh-huh." The corner of her mouth tipped up in a sly smile.

"Sure, Saint Adrian."

The nickname made him tense instinctively, though he

preferred the faint mockery in her voice to hearing the words

whispered in earnest. "You can't become a saint until you're

dead, sweetheart. That's not on my agenda."

"I bet." She rose and crossed the garage, passing within

inches of him before circling his bike. The proximity sparked

heat all over his skin, and her low, husky laugh was even

hotter. "Be careful anyway. And if— if—you happen to make

it all the way into Sector Two, do me a favor?"

8 | P a g e

BEYOND RUIN

That was the sexiest thing about Scarlet—her clever

brain. "It never hurts to ask for a favor."

"Mmm. Avery Parrino."

There was only one person in Four besides Dallas's

queen who cared about Lex's baby sister. "Jade's worried

about her?"

"Of course. They're friends."

Somehow, Mad thought Jade might worry even if they

weren't. She'd won her freedom from Sector Two, but she still

carried the place inside her, the same way Mad carried

Sector One. A duty and an obligation. A painful scar.

At

least

Jade

had

Scarlet.

Protective,

dangerous, stubborn Scarlet. Whatever crazy shit was going

on with Two, Jade wouldn't have to face it alone.

"That's why I'm going," he said, reaching for his helmet.

"We all know there's trouble over there, and it can blow back

on too many of our people. We need to be ready."

"Spoken like a good little soldier."

There was the mockery again. It dug under his skin this

time, scraping at wounded pride he didn't want to

acknowledge. He was a good soldier. Damaged and worn

down, maybe, but he held the line for his brothers and got the

job done. "You got a problem, Scarlet?"

"A problem? Nah." She crushed her cigarette out on the

sole of one boot and tossed the butt on the workbench. "Just

seems like you talk a big game about teamwork and

brotherhood, but when you get right down to it? You're gonna

do whatever the fuck you want. You always do."

She was leaning against the bench again, mere feet away.

He crossed the garage in two long steps that brought