Lyons had been forcing drugs on the team right under my nose for months. Rage unfurled, threatening to turn my heart black again, but it was guilt that worried me the most. They hadn’t just been wary of me. They feared me. The power I once drew from fear didn't consume me now.
Coach’s small office came into view. My steps slowed, and I realized for the first time since leaving the parking lot that I had no idea what I would do once I confronted Lyons.
You can always kill him.
The monster whispered in my ear and licked at my skin, seducing me into letting it free. What surprised me even after five years was how little I was tempted.
There was only one way I’d know for sure.
I walked in his office before doubt could make me turn away. The door closed behind me with a soft snick. There was no turning back.
Behind him, the wall held photos of the school's former teams, college trophies, and accolades he didn’t deserve. “Masters?” His bushy brows pulled in tight as he slowly pushed closed the desk drawer he’d been intently looking inside. “What’s this about?” he questioned. His tone wasn't welcoming.
“You’ve been giving the team steroids.”
Guilt flickered in his eyes before disappearing. “I’ve done no such thing.” He tried hard to keep his voice level and his hands steady as he pulled his keys from his khaki pants pocket and locked the drawer. The move was meant to be subtle, but instinct screamed at me to push.
“You’ve been forcing them to take it since the championship. You’re telling me that’s bullshit?”
“I’m telling you to get the hell out of my office," he frigidly replied.
My chin jerked toward the desk. “What’s in the drawer?”
“That’s none of your business, and you have ten seconds to leave my office, or I’m calling the police to have you removed.”
“Call them.” I leaned a shoulder against the cold glass window in the door. “I’d be willing to express my concern. Suspicion of drugs on school grounds will force a thorough investigation.” My smile was wide. “I should know.”
“Leave,” he ordered again as he sat back and calmly laced his fingers over his paunchy stomach. “And don’t bother coming back. The team doesn’t need another coach.” He may have thought I was bluffing, but the sweat trailing from his hairline down his forehead was a reminder that I never bluffed.
I shrugged and pulled my phone from my pocket. “You won’t mind if I make a phone call first, do you?”
“You're trespassing, Masters.”
“You're guilty, Lyons.” I dialed nine.
“You don’t have proof,” he sputtered. His face turned red as he watched as I dialed one.
“I have a witness, a team who will piss hot, and the evidence sitting in your desk drawer.” I waved the phone tauntingly. “Shall I finish?” My finger hovered over the number one.
“So what if I gave them the drugs?" He pounded a fist on the scarred wood. "We need an edge to bring home the championship this year. You’ve seen them play!”
I shook my head, hating to agree with him. It was true that the team’s skill was lacking, but with effective training and leadership they could pull together and bring home trophies without the drugs.
“It’s over, Lyons. You’re done.”
“Who do you think you are?” He surged to his feet, sending his chair crashing back into the wall, and causing the frames attached to it to rattle. “I made you.”
I laughed at that and pocketed my phone as I stepped further into the room and closer to temptation.
“There are people out there, some of them I had the pleasure of killing, who would have made you look like a boy scout. They made me.” I was close enough now to grab him. Threaten him. Hurt him.
“But you did see something in me when no one else did. You gave me a chance and an outlet. If you hadn’t, I would have reached the end of a path I would have never come back from.” I reached out and ignored his flinch as I clasped his shoulder. “This is me returning the favor.” Like lightening, too quick for him to anticipate, I forced him against the wall with an arm pressed against his throat. I used enough force to detain him but not cause pain as I dug into his pocket and pulled out his key ring. I let him go as soon as they jingled in my hand. He gasped and clutched at his throat.
It took a few tries before I found the right key and unlocked the drawer. “Don’t!” It was a weak protest, one that went ignored as I yanked open the drawer. Rage twisted like vines around my heart as I took in the syringes and vials.
My fist curled.
See? He deserves to die. Kill him.
Calmly, I closed the drawer and turned to face a man I no longer admired but still owed a great deal.
“Tomorrow morning you’re going to speak with Principal Lawrence and inform her that you're retiring.”
“Excuse me?” His face resembled a wrinkled tomato.
“Don’t question my mercy, Lyons. I’m offering you to keep what little dignity you have as well as your freedom.”
“No one will believe you if I deny it. You’re the one who should be in prison.”
“Maybe so, but I’m not, and you will be if I show anyone this.”
“I’ll tell them you planted it to force me out.”
“And what about the team? What will they say?”
“They’ll damn well say whatever I tell them.”
“How do you think I found out about the juice?” I watched him, letting the facts sink in.
“I don't believe you," he lied. Panic made his eyes wild.
“Doesn’t matter." I knew he wanted a name but giving up Jeremy wasn't part of the plan. "All it will take is one little tip. It won’t matter if it comes from the resident black sheep. The school will be forced to launch a full investigation. When they test the team, and their dreams are suddenly over, how many of them will keep quiet then?
“I should have never given you a chance,” he snarled. “You’re nothing but trouble, just like they say. You’re worth nothing, and you’ll die nothing.”
“Go home, Lyons.” My phone chose that moment to ring. He watched me wide-eyed as I answered the call. “Yeah?”
“Uncle Keiran,” my niece huffed once she heard my voice, “what’s taking you so long?”
Damn. I’d forgotten tonight was date night for my brother and his wife, Sheldon. Kennedy was staying overnight which meant getting Lake into my backseat tonight became next to impossible. “I’m on my way. What’s wrong?”
“I made macaroni, and you’re not here.” I bit back a laugh knowing she was pouting. Keenan had created a monster. I could hear my wife’s snicker in the background as Ken continued to fuss over cold mac and cheese.
“I’ll be there soon. Save me some?”
She huffed again. “I suppose, Uncle Keiran.”
There was shuffling on the other end which meant Kennedy was done scolding me. “Hey,” Lake breathed into the phone. I could hear the worry in her simple greeting and knew she was also curious, if not nervous, why I wasn’t home yet.
“I had a meeting with Coach, but I’m on my way home now,” I offered as I stared down Lyons.
“Is something wrong?”
I hesitated and could have sworn I heard her breath stop. Deep down did she also fear that I’d hurt Lyons? “We’ll talk about it later.” My tone was final, telling her not to push.
“Kennedy is going to pace a hole in our kitchen floor so be quick about it,” she chuckled nervously. “I love you."
“Forever, Lake.” Her sigh filled my heart, erasing the blackness that tried to fill it. I hung up and turned my back on Lyons as I pocketed my phone. In the far-right corner sat a green and gray team duffle bag. I picked it up and then strolled back over to the desk. I ignored the man trembling behind his desk as I removed the drawer completely from the railing and dumped the syringes and vials in the bag. Once the bag was zipped up, I gave Lyons my full attention.
“Along with your letter of resignation, in exchange for my silence, you’ll write a glowing recommendation to hire me as your replacement.”
“Why don’t you just kill me, you murdering shit.”
I smiled. For the first time since I took my first life, my monster was silent. I didn’t feel it lurking, waiting for the chance to free itself.
“Because this isn’t a negotiation and I’m late for mac and cheese.”
End of Part Two