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Home > Beneath These Chains (Beneath #3)

Beneath These Chains (Beneath #3)
Author: Meghan March

I fucking hated people who stole from me. Which was ironic, considering the only thing that had kept me from starving as a kid had been picking pockets and snatching purses. I dropped my elbows to the desk and rubbed a hand over my buzzed head.

“Goddamn, karma’s a bitch.”

“She the bitch you fucked last night, bro?” The leather of my office couch creaked as Mathieu sank his tall, lanky frame into it.

“How many times do I have to tell you not to call women ‘bitches,’ boy?”

My words were met with a long sigh from Mathieu. Ever since he’d walked into Chains and tried to grab a guitar and run back out the door—only to be tackled to the ground by yours truly—he’d been a fixture in my life. To be fair, his choices had been to work off the price of what he’d attempted to steal, or go directly to the nearest cop shop. The entire situation had been such a blast from the past, I’d caught myself smiling when I should’ve been glaring and scaring the piss out of the kid. But apparently I’d done an okay job of it because he’d decided starting a rap sheet at seventeen wasn’t a good plan. Thank fuck. Almost two years later, the kid was my right hand.

And now that Chains was mine, someone was stealing from me—but not just someone. An employee. Someone I should’ve been able to trust. The cameras I had installed on her day off had already paid for themselves.

I rolled my head from side to side, cracking my neck. I hated firing people. It never got easier. And this time? This time it was going to be even worse … because there would be tears. And quite possibly claws.

Pushing up from the chair, I strode to the door without looking at Mathieu. Over my shoulder, I tossed, “You might want to stay here; Brianna’s ass is about to get canned.”

“For real?” His words followed me out, but I didn’t bother to reply.

Every time I stepped foot onto the shop floor, a feeling of pride surged through me—pride that I’d helped build this business into one that was not only honest, but profitable. At least, it was profitable when one of my employees wasn’t skimming off the till and messing with my bank deposits.

Finger twirling in her long, dark extensions and gum snapping between her teeth, Brianna flipped the pages of a magazine with a giant black Sharpie in one hand, circling shit. Probably shit she wanted to buy with the money she’d been stealing from me. The store was empty, which made what I was about to do a little easier.

“Bree, need a few minutes.”

Her head popped up, lips pursing as she took me in. “You can have all the time you need, boss.” Her gaudy fake eyelashes batted at me in what I assumed was supposed to be a sexy move. I stowed the urge to tell her to save it for someone whose dick got hard at the sight of her … but since I was about to fire her, why add insult to injury? The woman had been unsuccessfully trying to add her notch to my bedpost since I’d hired her. Bringing her on had been a mistake, and I’d known it from the minute she’d walked in the door, but a friend had called in a favor.

“Boss? You had something to say?” she prompted.

I watched her, not speaking.

She stopped the hair twirling and capped the Sharpie, resituating herself on the stool and folding her hands in her lap.

“Lord?”

“You’re done.”

Bree’s dark eyes flew wide. “Done? You mean done for the day?”

“Done. For good. Get your shit and get out.”

Bree lost the innocent pose as she crossed her arms and stared me down. “Not until you tell me why.”

In two long strides, I closed the distance between the register and me and pressed my hands to the counter.

“I gave you a job. Gave you a paycheck you didn’t have to suck a dick to get. But that wasn’t enough for you. You had to have more, and instead of coming to me and asking for a raise, you decided to make it happen yourself.”

The color faded from her face, leaving her mocha-colored skin sallow. “Wh-what?”

“Get your shit.”

“I swear, I didn’t—”

“Don’t fucking lie to me. I can show you the tape if you want to see what I saw.”

Her lower lip started to wobble. It wasn’t going to work. I’d given her the benefit of the doubt, hoped I was wrong or it was just a one-time thing. But she’d gotten too bold.

“But I need this—”

I cut her off. She wasn’t even going to deny it. Not that she could. We both knew she’d done it, and I wasn’t in the mood to listen to her beg or justify her actions. Even though she didn’t know it, I’d already given her a second chance. And all that had done was cost me even more than I could afford to lose. “I needed someone to work the shop—someone who wasn’t going to fuck me over and steal from me. You weren’t capable of that, so you’re out. Now get your shit.”

“But—”

“Save your breath, Bree. I ain’t listening unless you’re here to tell me you’ve got all the money you’ve taken, and you’re putting it right back where it belongs.”

Her face twisted into an angry glare even as the tears started falling. “You … you don’t understand.”

“No, I really don’t understand.” I crossed my arms and waited her out. When she realized the water works weren’t changing my decision, she spun off the stool, grabbed her giant purple purse from behind the counter, and stalked toward the door.

“You get all self-righteous with me about a little cash while you basically steal from people? Giving ’em twenty dollars for their shit? Like you’re one to judge.”

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