“She shouldn’t be there, Ty.” I said, crossing my arms and meeting Tyler’s hard glare with my own.
I stood in the garage with Tyler, X and Curtis. It felt like it was three against one and I was the only remotely sane person in thinking letting Nikki come with us was a bad idea.
Then again, these fucking morons seemed to think making her a drug runner was another brilliant idea so I was outnumbered either way.
“Nikki’s an adult, Shane. She can make her own decisions.” Tyler snapped back at me. “You think I want her out there anymore than you do? The fact is, she’s the one who set this up and found the location. I can’t tell her not to come.”
“She can hold her own, it’s her right to want to come.” Curtis looked at me, his cold eyes calculating. “She’s hard, she doesn’t need a babysitter.”
“She almost died not even a fucking week ago!” I couldn’t control my temper anymore as I threw my beer bottle at the garage wall, shattering to the floor.
Tyler and Curtis exchanged a glance.
“How the fuck can I protect her? What if this is a suicide mission and she’s the weakest link?”
“What does it matter why she wants to come?” Curtis asked me. “At the end of the day, Nikki’s our blood homegirl. She’s the one who joined, she knew the risks of it when she agreed to start running for us. If something happens, she knew it was a possibility. You wanna swim with sharks, you gotta be a shark or get eaten. Love will kill you every time.”
I had to resist the urge to lunge at him and crack his head off the cold concrete. Tyler couldn’t meet my eyes. He knew what really happened between me and her.
X grabbed my arm, murmuring in a voice only I could hear.
“Get your shit together. You’ll figure it out. You can’t be going off on people.”
I nodded reluctantly.
Get my psychotic temper under control and somehow find a way to stop Nikki from coming with us.
Fuck my life.
A few days had passed and it was finally time for the big drug interception to go down. If we managed to pull this off, it would mean a lot of cash for everyone involved. But it would also add flame to the fire that was our rivalry with the Crips. Were we really prepared for a full-blown war?
Tyler sat at the head of the table, Curtis on his one side, I was on the other. Nikki came walking into the room in black jeans and a hoodie. There was an empty seat in between X and myself and she reluctantly sat down. Mark was across from me, his green eyes darting away when we made eye contact.
The last time I saw Mark was when I was threatening to put him six feet under.
The best fighters, the strongest, the notorious, the most dangerous all sat at this table.
“Thanks for finally joining us, Nikki. Now, let’s get down to it. This is going down in two hours. We’re intercepting the shipment at the dock.” Curtis explained, “Once their connection gets back on that boat and takes off, they’re gonna wait about twenty minutes or so, just so it doesn’t look completely obvious. That’s when we ambush.”
“Who’s coming with me?” She asked.
“That’s why we’re here to make a game plan. We need people standing guard, we need runners to grab the shipment and take off in enough time that they don’t call backup or more Crips come down when they realize what’s happening. We might be killing a few people tonight, so prepare yourselves.”
I didn’t miss how her eyes widened. She could pull the tough girl act on everyone else but me. I saw how she flinched when a shootout was mentioned.
“Don’t pull guns first?” She asked.
“Fuck that.” X answered, “If we’re gonna jack ’em we’re gonna need our guns. Don’t be scared to shoot first.”
“I think we should all go.” Tyler said.
“We don’t know how many people are going to be there. If it’s their big deal, they’re probably going to have a lot of brothers there.” Mark replied.
“Or not.” X interjected, “The less people, the better. That’s how I would think anyway, they probably don’t want a lot of people in on it because of snitches and the attention it would draw to them. Drug lords from Mexico, Colombia, or wherever it is they’re getting their shit from probably don’t want a crowd there. Puts them on blast with International shit, y’know?”
“Colombia.” She confirmed.
“X is right. But at the same time if we want to get their shipment, we’re gonna need people to pickup the drugs and transport them. We have a small-time frame before it gets out we hijacked them.” I said, looking at her.
“I say Curtis and Tyler take the vehicles, Shane, X, Nikki and me go out there and take them down. Yeah?” Mark said.
“Sounds good.” Curtis said.
X just sat there. If he didn’t agree, you would definitely know it.
“Nikki, do you really want to do this? Are you sure you’re okay?” I asked, ignoring everyone else at the table. This might be my only chance to convince her not to go.
“Go fuck yourself. Of course I’m in.” She snapped, “I’m the one who went after them and found out the location.”
“I’m just saying, you were jumped not too long ago-”
“Don’t even start with me. I’m fine, we’re doing this. But by all means, Shane if you want to sit this one out feel free.”
“Enough.” Tyler barked. “We need the both of you. You two are the most psychotic and savage members, we need that.”
Curtis looked at the clock.
“You guys ready?”
“Fuck yeah.” X crossed his arms over his chest.
“Let’s do it.” Mark threw up his hood to cover his shaved head.
I nodded once, stealing one last look at her. Damn it.
“X, Shane go with Tyler.” Curtis said, opening the front door. “Nikki, Mark come with me.”
Before I could stop myself, I reached an arm out to stop her from walking out of the door.
“Nikki, you don’t have to do this.” I said, trying to plead with her. I didn’t care at this point if I had to get down on my knees and fucking beg.
“I have to Shane.”
“I’ll talk to Ty, just stay here.”
She shook her head. “Are you fuckin’ insane? I set this deal up. I’m not letting you assholes take all the credit and money for it.”
“Is that it? If you’re that hard up for money Nick I can help you with that.”
“I don’t need your help. What the fuck do you care if I go anyway?”
“I don’t want you to. You almost fuckin’ died last time getting jumped.”
“I made it four years without you, Shane. I can do a few more without you telling me what to do with my life. You’re nothing but a fucking murderer who can’t be bothered with feelings. Do us both a favour and just stop whatever game you’re trying to play with me.” Her words were sharp as they pierced me.
Fuck. Shane, keep it together. Don’t let her know she hurt you. That’s all she thought of me was a murderer who ruined her. Well fuck it, she thought I was an asshole, why not prove the point?
I let my temper get the best of me as I snapped back words, I wished I never said to her.
“Judging from what I heard, I’m not the only murderer.” I smiled smug when her eyes widened. “When were you going to tell me you had an abortion?”
Her mouth popped open as she fought for words.
“Fuck you, Shane.”
“But I guess that’s okay, right? Who even knows if it was mine.” I couldn’t stop my mean streak as much as my conscious was yelling at me to.
“Liar. You know damn well that it was yours.” Her voice shook and cracked while she let out a small cry.
For the first time I saw a tear roll down her cheek as she ran past me and into the SUV without looking behind her.
I’d never felt worse in my life.