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Chapter 20

Tyler was nervous.

Something that didn’t happen very often.

We all had different ticks when we felt on edge. Nikki twirled her hair, Michelle bit her nails, Seth couldn’t stop bouncing his leg, Scar got all jumpy, Mark would randomly hit things, and I would whip out my switchblade; flipping it back and forth and making everyone else around me paranoid.

Tyler’s nervous habit? Not saying a damn word.

He sat in complete silence, making you wonder if he went mute somewhere in the past 24 hours.

Which is exactly what we were doing at three in the morning in the garage. Me, Scar, Tyler, Mark and Seth. There was a huge hit on the Southside Bloods, taking a few of our brothers in the process. The Crip’s were getting ruthless, attacking in broad daylight for no valid reason. We had rules about territory that we followed at the beginning, but over time I noticed those lines were blurring and the violence becoming more and more ruthless.

“We have a problem.” Mark said, crossing his arms.

“No shit we have a problem.” Seth snapped and that made me look up in surprise. Seth never got angry or impatient. The happiest go-lucky guy around was even making me anxious with how he was acting.

“We’re in the middle of a goddamn war is what’s going on.” I said, looking at Tyler who still hadn’t said anything. “We were in the slums last night and I killed a damn Crip. This is getting out of hand.”

“You what?!?!” Tyler snapped out of his silence. “I’m sorry, Scar. Did I hear my brother right?”

“Yeah man, you did. We had to. He pulled a gun on us and kept going on about how the slums was Crip territory. He’s also the one who tried to kill Nikki and bragged about it and that’s when he,” He motioned to me, “Snapped and you know the rest.”

“Jesus Christ.” Tyler put his head in hands.

“Well we’d better think of something.” Mark replied, “What are they after? Territory? They want our drug connections? Business?”

“All of it.” Tyler said. “They’re not going to stop. Us jacking their drug shipment was just the tip of the iceberg.”

“What are we supposed to do? Kill them all?” Seth asks, “Seriously, when does it stop?”

Scar and I exchange a glance, shrugging.

“Brandon wants to meet with you.” Tyler said, looking right at me.

“Me? Aren’t you the one who’s in charge of us?”

“I’ll be there but he specifically asked for you.”

I suddenly had a strange feeling about what this meeting was about to entail.

“When are we doing it?”


I nodded.

“Well, this is maybe a good thing,” Seth cut in, “We can try to negotiate something or work something out.”

Tyler and I looked at each other, both knowing that this might be too deep to ever fully get out of.

I’d killed so many of his own that I knew the only way Brandon would fully accept a truce is if I was dead.


“Yeah Seth,” I said, patting his back, “We’ll figure something out.”

Nikki was sleeping when I climbed into bed, my mind racing.

I knew that Brandon wanted me dead.

But if I didn’t die, how many of my family members would?

I loved them all, more than anything in the world. They were the only family I’d ever known and I wanted them safe.

I’d easily give up my life for each and every one of them.

I eventually fell asleep but I still couldn’t shake the sick feeling in my stomach that my time was almost up.

Until Nikki coughed and sat up in bed.

“Babe?” I asked sleepily, putting a hand on her back. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m fine-“ She started as she ran across the hall into the bathroom.

I could hear her puking.

The sun had barely just started to rise, it couldn’t have been any earlier than five.

I got up and ran in after her, holding her hair up for her as she heaved.

“Babe…” I murmured, rubbing her back, “What’s wrong? This is the third time this week.”

Nikki shrugged, wiping her mouth on a towel and then reaching for her toothbrush.

“I don’t know, the flu must be going around or something.”

Literally nobody else that lived in the house had the flu but I wasn’t about to point that out.

A thought crossed my mind, but I shrugged it off.

Nah, there’s no way.

Brandon wanted to meet right at a park bench, right across from a playground in the Southside.

In broad daylight.

He requested that just Tyler and I came alone.

I honestly thought that it was a trap but Tyler convinced me that it wasn’t. While Brandon and I couldn’t be in the same space as each other, he hated Tyler less.

Sure as shit when we rolled up it was only Brandon and his second in command, Eli; sitting at a park bench.

“Tyler.” Brandon nodded. “Shane.”

We sat down across from them.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other.” I started, “So let’s cut to the chase. We’re obviously on the brink of an all-out war.”

“Tensions were there before,” Tyler said, “But ever since my brother got out of jail it seems to have escalated. People are getting murdered in broad daylight. Girls, Nikki specifically.”

Brandon crossed his arms. “Collateral damage. Shane’s killed so many of my own that hearing he got out in less than five years didn’t sit right with me. So, we got even.”

“With my fucking girlfriend.”

“We knew that we could hurt you, kill you and you wouldn’t give a shit Shane,” Brandon continued, “You’re a crazy motherfucker who’s always been borderline suicidal. There’s no satisfaction in that. But the one thing we knew would hit you where it hurt was goin’ after Nikki.”

Just as I went to lunge at him, Tyler put an arm across my chest.

“We can agree to disagree that there have been losses on both sides.”

“Look Tyler,” Brandon said, a smug smile across his face, “All we want is a little more space to sell our drugs.”

“Not happening.” Tyler crossed his arms. “You guys got caught importing heroin on our territory. We’re the ones that have access to the docks. You don’t.”

“We should’ve cleared it with you first, Ty.” Eli spoke up.

“There is one to make this even and the blood bath stops without us trying to push onto your territory. I’ll tell my guys to back off on one condition.”

Tyler sighed, “What?”

Brandon looked me in the eye.

“You have the better connection to drugs. I want two kilos of smack from you guys and for permission to run closer to downtown.”

“I can do that. Then this stops and we go about our business.” Tyler said.

“The deal goes down at the abandoned warehouse. Shane comes by himself.” Brandon replied.

Ah. There it was.

That “one” condition.

My head snapped up.

“No fucking way.” Tyler slammed his fist on the table. “I’m not letting my brother kill himself for your pleasure.”

Brandon shrugged. “I don’t really know what else to tell you, Ty. All my guys are itching to take a crack at Shane. The tension on the streets is just going to keep getting worse.”

“I do it.” I said.

Tyler looked at me like I’d lost my damn mind.

“No, Shane you’re not.”

“I’ll come, but I get to fight back. If I make it out alive that’s it, this shit stops.”

Brandon thought for a second before smirking. “Yeah, sure whatever. You against how many of us. If you make it out then we’ll have another conversation.”

He thought for sure this was a done deal, that I’d sealed my fate. But I planned on outliving all of those pricks if it was the last damn thing I did.

Once we were back in the SUV, Tyler smacked me upside the head.

“What the hell Shane?! I’m not letting you go by yourself, fuck that. I’m not losing you.”

“You won’t. Have you met me? I go in, throw the drugs at ’em, and then run.”

“That’s a fucking suicide mission.” Tyler shook his head.

“What other way is there, Ty? At what point does it stop? Next, they’ll be targeting Kristen or Michelle. They’re not above kidnapping. You know that.” I said referring to an incident a long time ago involving Michelle.

Tyler swore.

“What if you don’t make it out?”

“I’d rather have it be me than anybody else Ty. You just make sure that Nikki stays out of it and keep her home when I go.”

Tyler nodded. “You’re without a doubt the most fucking insane person I’ve ever met in my life.”

I shrugged. “I’m counting on my insanity to make it out of this fucking thing alive.”

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