Panting out heavy breaths, Jake swings wildly at the punching bag in front of him. Each strike synchronized with the beat of an Eminem song he was listening to.
Hes been at this all morning, pushing his body to the limit as he released everything he was feeling from the previous day.
This was the right time to let everything out; his anger towards Lonnie for kidnapping him and hurting Madison,
the frustration from finding out the lunatic had escaped custody with knowledge of his past, of her. The girl he considered to be his first...everything.
It was just him at the moment, shielded within the confines of his uncles cabin on the outskirts of the city. Alone and away from everyone else.
He could finally expose the monster that had become of him recently. Away from the people he cared about and wanted to protect.
When the song ends, Jake yanks out his ear buds and thrusts his left leg back, kicking away the sparring dummy that was behind him.
He then slings a towel over his naked shoulder and shoves his MP3 player into the pocket of his black basketball shorts.
He stands still for a moment in the center of the room, his bright blue eyes scan over the area around him. It was a somewhat small basement with fairly bright lighting.
There was a small stairwell with wooden banisters situated to the left, leading to the leaving room.
A messy, makeshift lounge area with a cushioned recliner sat over on the right side in front of a desk space.
Racks of weights stood against concrete walls on the right along with an adjustable pull-up tower. Various cases of guns and ammunition were scattered around in the back.
Jake moves over to the desk space, grabbing his phone and an opened bottle of water. He sighs in mild frustration after checking his text messages.
Hes been trying to get a hold of a contact he met in Brazil since last night, a hacker that could find anyone with just the push of a button.
He knew the kid, Nico, when he was in the Santa Muerte and after he fought his way out. Nico knew Maia better than he knew her himself.
So, along with his technical expertise, he had a greater chance of finding Maia. And right now, Jake needed to find her.
He couldn't stop thinking about her and how strong-minded and lively she was when they first met.
March 2012- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
"Seriously, fuck this shit." Jake mutters quietly with a scowl as he lifts a heavy package of cocaine.
He's been doing this since February, picking up and unloading drugs from Rio and Salvador. He hated doing this, being a lapdog and working for an asshole like Philippe.
Although, the Brazilian drug lord wasn't Jake's main issue. His head lieutenant, Paolo Santana, was the thorn in his side that was needle deep.
Paolo Santana was a cocky son of a bitch who was up on Jake's case ever since his "initiation" and branding. He enforced Jake on a daily basis, along with teasing and pushing him around.
In fact, the only time he ever punished Jake for actually doing something wrong was for when he'd smoke some of the weed he was supposed to bring back.
After unloading the rest of the cocaine and stacking it next to the back entrance of the warehouse.
He turns around to close the trunk, moving his dark curls back and wiping the sweat that accumulated on his forehead.
He then walks away from the rusted truck and enters the opened garage, pausing beside the staircase when he hears voices upstairs in the office.
"What in the actual fuck are you thinking?! This plan of yours is gonna get all of us killed!" Paolo's angry yell echos off the office walls.
"Not if we're smart about it and no one fucks it up! Look, just trust me when I say that this is gonna work. But for now, this stays between us.
The bastard won't even know what hit em!" Philippe whispers loudly with enthusiasm.
"You better be careful." Jake jumps back, moving away from the stairwell as he turns around to face the source of the voice. He relaxes slightly after realizing who it was.
A tan young woman with blue eyes stood before him, running a swift hand through her long and dark brown hair. She wore a purple tank top with black jean shorts and a pair of sandals.
Her black leather jacket was wrapped snugly around her curvy waist.
There was a brown leather cord around her neck, along with a triangular Damascus steel arrowhead that hung in the center of her chest.
He's seen her in the warehouse most of the time, fixing up her bike and keeping track of the weapon stash.
She would usually hang around in the makeshift weight room and train with some of Philippe's men during the day.
Jake didn't really know much about her, other than the fact that she's been working for Philippe for about two and a half years now.
She crossed her arms with a subtle smirk, her pale azure eyes glinted with amusement.
"Snooping, out in the open with the possibility of someone walking in and noticing. Not a smart way to eavesdrop." Maia sends Jake a pointed look as she steps back and turns around.
"No ones gonna notice. Besides, I don't do careful. Its too slow paced." Jake laughs as Maia waves him off, shaking her head as she walks off towards the weight room.
He turns back to the stairwell as Paolo storms out of the office in a rush, his feet pound against the concrete steps like thunder.
"What the fuck are you looking at, pequena puta?!" He roughly bumps his left shoulder against Jake, shoving him out of the way and storming past him.
Jake sends a heated glare towards the aggravated man and flicks him off with both hands.
He then lets out an annoyed exhale, moving over to the garage door and exiting the warehouse.
Later that day...
Inhaling the chilly breeze of the night, Jake pauses his trek through an urbanized area of Ipanema and stares up at the sky in wonder.
He could hear singing and upbeat Latin music down the street he was facing.
Carnival, the most anticipated event of the year in the capital of Brazil. Colorful bird costumes, parades, hundreds and thousands of people chanting, and dancing. All over the city.
Jake loved the idea of this record breaking event, something that was fun and brought all kinds of people together.
As he watched confetti litter the ground and a round of fireworks shoot off into the sky,
he realized that this was something he could look forward to during his unexpected and unfortunate situation.
He turns around at the sound of subtle footsteps behind him.
He watches Maia as she curses under her breath, shoving what looked to be some cash and a bottle of pills down her duffel bag.
She zips it up and slings it over her shoulder, turning her attention back to the street in front of her, smiling slightly as she notices Jake staring at her.
"Hey, stranger! Enjoying the most exciting event this corrupted city has to offer?" She jokes with a playful scoff as she makes her way over to Jake.
He smiles, looking over to the bustling street ahead. "You could say I'm a fan of the party scene. You?"
"Easily my favorite thing about this place, besides the beaches." Maia pauses, glancing over to the same street that was now filled with people dancing and drinking.
She then turns back to Jake with a sly grin, her sapphire eyes were filled with mischief.
"What do you say we join the party? Y'know, since you followed me all the way over here. You forget to ask for my number?"
Jake scoffs, letting out a laugh as he looked down at his feet. "You kidding? I barely know you, why would I know where you hang out?"
He steps up to her with a grin of his own.
"But, I was looking to have a little fun tonight. I'm not sure about the date, but its definitely a yes to the party."
Maia sends Jake a small smirk before walking over to an unattended table.
The young Filipino-Brazilian snags two bottles of Corona from its package and offers one to Jake. "No one cares if your underage around here."
Once Jake grabs a bottle of the famous liquor, he follows Maia as she leads him through the rambunctious crowd of people.
Its past midnight when they find themselves sitting cross-legged on the sandy shores of Ipanema Beach. It was just the two of them, facing the ocean.
They gazed off into the foggy horizon of the night, occasionally staring up at the moon from time to time. Bottles of Corona littered around their bodies.
Jake suddenly breaks his gaze from the sky, remembering Maia's suspicious behavior from earlier. He turns to her with a raised eyebrow.
"So, how'd you start working for a prick like Philippe?"
The girl in question turns to Jake briefly with shocked eyes. Being visibly caught off guard by his question, she turns away from him to gaze up at the stars above.
Her next words are almost as quiet as the wind whispering around them.
"What's the most important thing in life?"
Jake makes a noise as he slowly leans back, sinking himself into the sand.
Maia snickers quietly with a smile, shaking her head as the young man next to her drunkenly moves his messy curls back into the sand.
He turns to her after a moment with a smile of his own, thinking about all of the people he's ever cared about. His mother and father, Benji, Sara, Laurel, Thea.
Maia nods her head, bringing her knees up to her chest. "What's the point of living if you don't have people you can count on?"
"Yeah..." Jake slurs with a sigh, closing his eyes.
"I was just curious. I mean, you don't seem like a bad person."
Maia turns to him again with a blank facial expression. "I'm not exactly swimming in money right now. The job pays well. It doesn't matter what kind I get, drug money is still money."
Even though he was mildly drunk that night, Maia's words stuck with Jake. They replayed over and over again like a mantra.
What was the point in living without being surrounded by people you could truly love and care about?
When Jake thought about it, he realized that he wouldn't want to live without that. Without his friends, his family. He'd die for them, kill for them.