“I have an idea if you’re interested,” he said with a mischievous smile.
Her eyes lit up. “I like ideas.”
He laughed. “Your bodyguard might not like this one.”
“He’ll deal with it. Let’s go,” she said excitedly.
Once they were back in the car, Everett gave them an address almost clear across town. Much farther out than she had ever been. She waited for her bodyguard to recognize that it might be dangerous and refuse them, but he said nothing. She kept waiting for the other shoe to fall. But they drove all the way across the city without one word.
They hopped out of the car with her camera safe in her bag again, and Everett directed the driver where he could park. Her bodyguard followed behind them as they walked three blocks away from their drop site.
“Why didn’t you drop us off in front of the place?” she asked when they came upon a large warehouse. It reminded her of home.
“Driving up to this place in a Town Car is a good way to get knifed,” he whispered.
Reyna shivered against that assessment and followed close to Everett. They reached the front of the building and walked through a slate gray door.
An enormous man with bulging muscles stopped them before they could walk through a second door. “No guns. No fangs. No trouble. Ferrier House rules.”
The guy quickly checked them over, rifled through her bag, and then let them inside.
“Wait, buddy,” he said, stopping her bodyguard, “didn’t you hear me? No fangs.”
Her bodyguard gave him a terrifying look and then produced a card out of his wallet. The bouncer read it over once and then nodded his head.
“Fine, but if you make any trouble, we have authority to stop you at any cost,” he said menacingly.
When they walked inside, Reyna had to keep her mouth from dropping open. Everett had said this place was going to be a little different than what she had been shooting, but this was…beyond anything she could have imagined. Much of the warehouse was open space, but at its center there was a giant fighting ring. Two people faced off in the ring, wearing nothing but tight-fitting shorts. All the while an enormous crowd cheered for their champion. A makeshift scoreboard hung from one wall, and there was a box for betting on the matches.
“What is this?” she asked. She was already itching to take her camera out.
“Ferrier House. It’s owned by some Irish mobster. But everyone just calls it Hell,” he said. “Because that’s where so many people who fight here end up.”
“Stick nearby,” her guard growled. “I don’t want things to get out of hand and have no exit strategy.”
“Okay,” she agreed, rolling her eyes. As if it wasn’t bad enough having a bodyguard in this kind of place, he wanted her to stay as close as possible. He could just keep up with her.
“Come on,” Everett said. He grabbed her arm and drew her through the thick crowd.
The people they passed were a mixed bag. Some looked like the homeless and destitute she had been photographing on the streets. Others were dressed up in suits, not quite as nice as Beckham’s but not horrible either, and they were cheering on the people in the pen just as hard as the others. Still there was another group of people who reminded her so much of her brothers. Not hopeless but not prospering. She could see in their eyes that this was the way to escape the captivity of their daily lives. She had seen it countless times in her brothers’ eyes, but with her waiting for them at home, they had never participated in anything like this. She hoped they stayed on the straight and narrow with her gone.
An ache crept into her heart, and she had to force it down. It was good to think of them. She never wanted to forget them, but it was difficult. She knew the money had to be helping, but she was terrified that their faces were fading from her mind.
She couldn’t think about that right now. It wasn’t any help.
Everett reached a spot in the middle of a group of people and a man approached him, asking for a bet. Everett handed over a five and bet on the man losing.
“As you wish,” he said. “For the lady?”
She shook her head. She didn’t have cash and a black card would surely draw attention. “No, thank you.”
When he was gone, she leaned over to Everett. “Why did you bet on the scrawny guy?”
So, she did. She knew nothing about fighting, but watching the movements of the two men was like a choreographed dance. The bigger of the two had the upper hand in height, weight, and strength. He was all bulk and threw it around with a prowess that clearly had been established over many matches. The smaller guy was quick on his feet though. He dodged and blocked, striking out at the bigger guy when he least expected it. Despite this, it was pretty clear that the bigger guy was going to win any minute.