Chapter One: Her Neighbor
Zane Cruz pounded on the wall that connected to his neighbor’s living room wall. They’ve been screaming at each other for almost an hour now.
Why don’t they just fuck and get it over with?
“Get out!” The woman screamed.
Zane shook his head as he turned away from the wall. He heard a scream, and when something hit the wall, he turned back to stare at it. That wasn’t a fist. The woman screamed again and the banging continued against the wall.
“Bitch! I own you!”
“Fuck,” Zane grumbled as he pulled his Glock from the table’s drawer and checked to make sure it was loaded, then headed for the door.
The woman had stopped screaming, but the noise hadn’t stopped.
Zane pounded on his neighbor’s door and the banging didn’t stop, then the woman began screaming again. She must have passed out for a minute.
Zane took in a deep breath and stepped back, then kicked the door in. The door broke off its’ hinges and he pushed past it into the apartment.
The man was over the woman slamming the back of her head again and again against the wall. Blood was smeared all over the wall as well as the woman’s face and body. The knife in the man’s hand dripped with blood as well.
“Let her go,” Zane said as he stood there staring at the bloody mess.
“Who the fuck, are you?” The man asked as he paused and turned to Zane.
Zane sneered. “Let. Her. Go.” He repeated, saying each word slowly so the crazed lunatic could understand him.
“Fuck you.” The man said, then went back to slamming the woman’s head against the wall.
The woman looked at him and pleaded with her eyes, for him to save her. Okay, he’s not much of a hero right now, but he can’t very well stand by and watch this man kill her...
He pulled out his Glock and pointed it at the man. “I said, let, her, go!”
The man stopped when he saw the gun and stood up with his hands in the air.
“This is none of your business.” The man sneered.
Zane smirked. “Maybe not, but I’m not going to let you kill her.”
The man laughed. “How else do you tame a woman, then to beat her?”
Zane growled. He may be in a gang himself, but he and his men respect women. Well, most of them do.
The man noticed the tattoo on Zane’s neck and snorted.
Zane knew his tattoo announced what gang he’s a part of, but it’s not like he can cover it or anything, besides, Tallens, the leader, would have his hide if he even tried to cover it.
The Russian Roulettes are a proud gang, any coverings of any tattoos would be a slap in the leader’s face. The tattoo is, of course, a Russian Roulette of a gun cylinder with a skull in the center and a single bullet in the chamber. He had had a choice to have it tattooed on his neck or the back of his hand...it was his first tattoo, and he thought the neck would be less painful.
Heh. Not quite.
But he hadn’t shown any sign of pain, or he’d have gotten his ass beat. The tattoos seemed to get easier to handle the more he got, but he drew the line on tattooing his dick.
“What does a Russian Roulette care for a Bloody Notes whore, anyway?”
Zane looked at the blood on the wall and the unconscious woman on the floor with blood smeared all over her body, then looked back at the man. Figures he’s a member of the Bloody Notes. They aren’t afraid of spilling blood; if it gets them what they want. He looked at the woman again, she needed an ambulance, and soon.
“Step away from her,” Zane said, trying his hardest to keep his cool and not shoot the asshole.
“Get the fuck out.” The man said as he pointed to the door. “Or I’ll have my guys slice up your pretty face, then you won’t be so pretty anymore.”
Zane snorted as he raised his Glock up to the man’s head. “Not before I shoot your ass.”
The man’s face paled when Zane took off the safety. He wasn’t fooling around, if he didn’t leave and let him call an ambulance for the man’s girlfriend, he’s going to shoot him...
“Alright, Roulette.” He said as he moved towards the door. “You win.” He said as he lowered his arms and headed out the door. “This time.” He said before he was gone.
Zane rushed to the woman. He had never met her before, except in passing. But she has been a decent neighbor, up until tonight...
“It’s alright, I’ve got you.” He said when her eyes started to open.
She whimpered when she saw him.
“Don’t worry.” He whispered. “Your boyfriend is gone.”
“Ex.” She mumbled around her swollen lips.
“I’m going to call an ambulance.” He said as he pulled out his cell phone.
She saw his gun and her eyes opened wide as she whimpered and tried to back away from him, but she was already up against the wall and couldn’t get any further away.
He looked at her face then at his Glock and shook his head. “Don’t worry, this isn’t for you.”
She eyed him for a moment, then seemed to believe him. Her eyes closed as she laid back with a heavy, painful sigh.
Zane called 911 and told the operator what he had walked in on and told her that he will stay with the woman until the paramedics got there.
Zane hung up the phone and looked at her once pretty face. Her long blond hair was caked in blood, and he was afraid to move her, in case there was more damage to something vital...
“I’m Zane.” He whispered.
He knows he should keep her awake, even if the operator hadn’t told him to.
Her eyes opened and she tried to say something then whimpered.
“It’s okay.” He said with a smile. “I know your name. It’s Karleen Thompson, right?”
She slowly nodded as she looked at him with wide eyes.
He smiled. “I live next door. I saw your name on your mailbox.”
She sighed then coughed softly. “Thank you.” She said as she continued to watch him.
He nodded. The sound of the sirens outside had him quickly hiding his gun at his back, under his shirt.
Karleen noticed the tattoo on her rescuer’s neck and sucked in a breath. Another gangbanger. She can’t get involved with another one.
But the man isn’t asking you to get involved with him, you idiot.
That pesky little voice said in the back of her mind. But he was so good looking she couldn’t help but think of their naked bodies... Oh God, stop that Karleen. You’re just torturing yourself.
She studied his handsome face as he looked over her, while they waited for the paramedics to come to her door. He had black hair that was a bit long and shaggy, but the good, sexy kind of shaggy, his beautiful blue/green eyes bore into her as he stared at her.
She swallowed, then let her eyes roll over his body, he had broad shoulders, large arms, with many tattoos, like most in a gang, even Spencer, her abusive ex, has a few tattoos. But none like this man’s. What had he said his name was? Zack? No, Zane.
She liked his name, very exotic.
“They’re here,” Zane said as he got to his feet and helped the paramedics get through her broken door.
Why is it broken? She wondered as men gathered around her to survey her and her injuries.
“Sorry about your door,” Zane said as he watched her.
It was as though he had read her mind.
“It was locked, the only way I could get in to help you, was to break it down.”
She gave a slight nod, then winced.
“Don’t move your neck, ma’am.” One of the paramedics said.
“Sorry.” She whispered.
The paramedic smiled at her.
Zane watched Karleen as they loaded her onto the stretcher. What is a woman like her, doing with a Bloody Notes member?
Hell, she’s too good for even him... And he’s more than meets the eye.
“Zane.” She whispered as they passed him.
The paramedics stopped as she reached her hand out to him.
He took her hand and electricity zapped through his body. Her eyes widened as she stared at their hands. She had felt it too, but she didn’t let go, she held onto him tighter.
“Thank you.” She whispered as she looked up into his eyes. “For saving me.”
He smiled. “Any time, neighbor.”
She smiled as the paramedics rushed her out of her apartment.
Their fingers tried to stay connected as she was wheeled away.
What the fuck is wrong with you, Cruz! He cursed at himself. She’s too good for the likes of you.
He knows that, but can’t a man dream?
A police officer entered the apartment and took his statement. Zane told the officer everything he knows and left out the part where he’d threatened the other man with his gun.
Two hours later, Zane had already paid the maintenance man to put up a new door at his neighbors, since he’d broken it, and was in his apartment, fighting with himself on if he should go to the hospital, and see about his beautiful neighbor.
In the end, he decided to stay home. He didn’t know her, and she didn’t know him. And she already had problems with that asshole of an ex of hers.
A knock on his door had him reaching for his Glock. He moved over to the door and looked out the peephole, then sighed. It was Tallens.
He shoved the gun in his pants at his back, then opened the door. “Tallens, what do I owe the honor...”
“What the fuck were you thinking, Cruz!?” Tallens bellowed as he entered Zane’s apartment.
“What now?” Zane asked as he watched the leader pace his living room.
“I just got a message from the leader of the Bloody Notes, telling me that you threatened one of his lieutenants with your gun...”
“I can explain,” Zane said before Tallens decided to shoot him himself.
“I’m listening,” Tallens said with a puff of agitated air.
“He was beating on my neighbor; I didn’t know he was a Bloody Notes member until he saw my tat.”
“I heard you interrupted him teaching his woman a lesson.”
Zane sneered. “Is that what he called it?”
“Look, Zane, I know you have a soft spot for women, especially since your mother was beaten half to death, but you can’t go interfering when a man is slapping his woman around for disobedience...”
“Slapping....” Zane took a deep breath. “Come with me.” He said as he turned to the door and left his apartment, not even waiting for his leader to follow.
He knew the door was still broken; the maintenance man had said he wouldn’t be able to get to it until tomorrow. Good thing Karleen will be in the hospital for a while.
He heard Tallens follow him into Karleen’s apartment and stop cold when he saw the blood.
“Holy fucking hell,” Tallens said as he made the sign of the cross over his chest.
Zane caught himself from laughing. Tallens is the only gang leader he has ever seen or heard of that was as religious as Tallens. Guess you can’t shoot the fear of God from a man like him.
“He cut her up really bad, and beat the crap out of her, he was banging her head against the wall when I got here. She had already passed out at least once, and he never stopped.”
“Shit,” Tallens said as he moved closer to the wall.
“And,” Zane said as he followed his leader. “She’s his ex.”
“Asshole,” Tallens growled.
“I just hope she’ll press charges this time,” Zane mumbled.
“This time?” Tallens asked as he turned to one of his lieutenants.
Zane nodded. “I had seen her a few times in the halls with a shiner, but nothing too serious. Then about a month ago, she started to look happy, and I didn’t see any more bruises. Until tonight.”
Tallens shook his head. “Well, keep your eyes fixed to the back of your head; because Spencer is gunning for you. He thinks she’s still his property.”
Zane snorted at the word property.
“I’ll let the leader of the Bloody Notes know that you’re protected and was in your right to protect your neighbor.” Tallens looked at him. “Is she pretty?”
Zane just smiled and Tallens chuckled.
“Be careful with this one, Cruz.”
“I’m always careful,” Zane said, affronted by the man’s words.
Tallens snorted. “The last time you rescued a woman, it blew up in your face, or did you forget?”
Zane groaned. Yeah, he’d forgotten. He wished he hadn’t remembered. The last time he had helped a woman, she had turned him in, to the cops, for being a gang member, luckily, he was clean, and they had to let him go.
“She won’t do that,” Zane said with assurance he wasn’t so sure of himself.
“Just watch your back, man,” Tallens said as he slapped his back.
“Thanks,” Zane grumbled.
“And keep an eye on your neighbor.” He said as he headed out the door. “I have a feeling that Spencer isn’t through with her.”
Zane grumbled as he left Karleen’s apartment and headed to his own. Tallens turned right and headed down the stairs. At least the leader of The Russian Roulettes wasn’t totally heartless.
But what is he going to do now that he has a bullseye on his back?
Do what he always does.
Keep his head low, eyes appealed, and stay the fuck away from Karleen Thompson and her crazy ass ex-boyfriend.