Cover Design: Robin Harper, Wicked by Design
My eyes find the printout of Carrick ‘The Beast of Boston’ Ferguson’s picture sitting in the passenger seat. It’s a newspaper article from a few years ago before he retired from professional boxing.
He’s in his iconic deep green, satin boxing shorts and has the coldest, most aloof stare. A shiver wracks my bones at the sight of those strange, dark eyes. My attention goes to his body. He’s big and has various tattoos here and there. The one inked in the center of his chest catches my attention and I wrinkle my brows trying to figure this one out. It’s odd to see a large tattoo across his chest of a fully bloomed red rose. The blood red petals are splayed wide showcasing the intricacies of the velvety blossom. The stem is thick and thorny with the little beasties that resemble shark teeth more than anything else. It’s a weird tattoo for a menacing man like him to sport. An unladylike snort slips out as I realize the paradox in front of me.
Mom used to have a rose bush that really was more like a tree. The damned thing was gargantuan. It flooded with vivid, deep, red blooms every spring and she personified the thing by naming it Beast. She originally gave it that name as homage to Lan’s favorite Disney movie. Lan used to beg Mom for a rose from Beast so she could put it under Mom’s upturned tea pitcher, pretending she was Belle in Beast’s castle attempting to see the man beneath the monster. Mom always carefully chose a long stem with a perfect bloom at its end and gave Lan the rose but forbade her from trying to touch it herself.
Thorns and all.
We used to walk out to the small garden behind our house with mom and watch her prune Beast while she’d tell us all about the looming presence. She used to say the same thing every year. She’d gather us close at her side and kneel down in front of Beast and get animated as she said, “This is Beast. Beast is the size of a Volkswagen and has an impossible amount of buds, and blooms a thousand or more. Beast also has thorns. Big ones. But if you can sneak close enough to catch a whiff, and avoid the gnarly thorns, you’ll be ruined for all the other roses for the rest of your life. The sweetest scent amongst the thorns.”
How funny that this monster—this Beast of Boston—is also gargantuan and happens to sport one lifelike red rose of his own. He too has thorns, just not the type you can see. His are hidden, and they’re that much more dangerous for it.
He’s a pretty monster.
That’s not quite accurate though. He’s not pretty. He’s beautiful. Well, if you can look past his thorns, that is. There isn’t a female on the planet that would deny him. I’m no fool. May as well call a spade a spade. The Beast of Boston is a hell of a man to look at. Being in the heavy weight division, he’s a mammoth of a man. The specs for his last prizefight—a fight he won, pocketing a substantial purse—says he weighed in at 218 pounds and towered at 6 feet 4 inches. He’s a solid foot taller than me and almost one hundred pounds heavier. The photo shows him at the weigh-in before the fight. Despite being a fighter, his face is enchanting, with sharp features and striking eyes. It’s only too bad that he’s rumored to be a fucking murderer and happens to be one of the leaders of the criminals who I suspect took my sister.