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Chapter 21

Nikki was pissed at me.

That always seemed to be a given, but earlier in the day I had taken her out for a ride on my motorcycle to the edge of the city, practically begging her to take her brother and Kristen with her and get the hell out of Harlow and start over.

I wanted her to be safe if this went bad.

She took that about as well as a cat getting sprayed with water.

If this was my last day on this earth, I hated the fact that she was mad at me.

I made sure to tell her that I loved her before she stormed off to bed.

If only you knew what I was about to do, Nikki.

I walked out into the living room to see Kristen on the couch.

“Where are you going?” She asked.

I sat down beside her and I could still feel her flinch when I was near her.

“I hate how you’re scared of me.” I blurted out and her eyes widened.

“I’m not scared of you; you’ve just been gone for so long I feel like I don’t really know you.” She murmured quietly, hugging her knees to her chest.

“You’re right. I’ve done terrible, unforgivable things and I’m sorry that I’m such a shitty brother.”

“When I was younger you always used to hug me and make me laugh,” Her voice cracked, “You don’t do that anymore. You left me just like mom did. I missed you.”

Damn it if her words didn’t pierce right through my non-existent heart.

“You never came to visit me.” I said, and taking a chance I moved a little closer to her.

I could see the tears well up in her big blue eyes as she said, “I’m the reason you went to jail. I thought you hated me because it was my fault.”


She was crying now, big heavy sobs just like she did when she fell off her bike at ten and just like when she came crawling into my bed because of a nightmare at five.

I broke the distance first, pulling her in and hugging her tight against my chest.

“I could never hate you. It wasn’t your fault.” I ran a hand through her hair. “Don’t ever think that I could hate you. I’ve loved you more than life itself. Always have, always will.”

I went to jail for killing the guy who tried to have his way with her.

Kristen didn’t pull away. Instead, she hugged me tighter and suddenly I was taken back to when we were kids and I’d shield myself over my mom’s shitty boyfriends and take the beating instead of her. I protected her since the day my mom brought her home.

“The rose I have tattooed is for you, you know.” I whispered and she looked down at my wrist.

“Why?” She asks.

“The rose that grew from concrete. You’re the rose.”

She was probably way too young to get the Tupac reference.

Kristen pulled away and brushed the hair out of her face. “I love you Shane. I’ll see you later.”

I stood up and pulled on my hoodie, trying to ignore the stinging feeling that I might not be coming home.

“I love you too, kid.” I said, shutting the door behind me.


Tyler told me a long time ago that the only way out was in a body bag.

Deep down I always knew that there would be an end to this lifestyle one way or another. Either I’d get busted and do life in jail for murder or drugs or I’d end up dead by Crips. It was always a distant thought for me, something that I didn’t fully grasp the concept of until I got older. When I was younger, I felt invincible, nothing could touch me.

But as I’m driving down the road in the middle of the night, I don’t feel so indestructible.

That’s how Lucky, the hitman before me; died. He ended up getting hunted down by Crips who wanted revenge. He got shot in broad daylight with his girlfriend and kid watching. When Lucky was gone, the head of the Bloods also got locked up for drug trafficking.

All the other OG’s were either in prison or had a countless list of felonies, they didn’t want to be in the center of drug dealing and keeping the Crips in line. So, they thought Tyler and I were the best option; we were young, with no serious charges on our records.

Tyler was the first one to join. He wanted security in the neighborhood for me, Landon and Kristen. We were denied affection and a safe place all of our life so Tyler craved a sense of belonging. And that’s exactly what the Bloods gave us. Tyler felt like he belonged to something and was valued, something our mother never gave us.

I didn’t want Tyler to be the only one involved in a gang so I joined to help him.

And, here we were. It seemed like we had come full circle and I was pretty sure I was destined to the same fate as the ones before me.

This was a top-secret deal, only Tyler and I knew about it. If the gang found out, they’d be so against it that they’d ruin it by trying to stop me or interfering and getting caught in the crossfire. Especially Nikki. If she found out that I was coming to a drug deal where the Crips were certain they were going to off me, she wouldn’t have let me leave.

But I was the only one who had a fighting chance of making it out alive.

The warehouse was in the very old part of downtown, not far from our neighborhood. This part of downtown was the industrial, abandoned section that nobody went to in broad daylight, let alone in the middle of the night. The only ones occupying this space were the occasional construction workers, but even that was few and far between.

I started making mental notes of windows and exits surrounding the building for later.


I could feel vomit in the back of my throat but I swallowed, parking my SUV a block away.

You’ve got this, Shane.

I had my nine-millimeter on my hip and various knives strapped across my body. Tyler had also given me one of the bullet-proof vests so I at least had some sort of protection. It was no use if they aimed for my head though.

There was nobody at the entrance, which I thought was a bit strange.

I walked through the hallway, where I heard the murmurs of voices and into a big area where there were ten Crips.

I recognized them because I had seen them on the street and fought with them enough times.

The room went silent as Brandon stood in the center, a sadistic smile playing along his lips. He drew his gun and pointed it at my chest.

I knew he wasn’t going to shoot just yet, he wanted to torture me, he wanted to drag it out.

“Shane. I’ve waited a long time for this.”

“You and me both, Brandon.” I knew taking out a Crip leader was going to bring a shitstorm upon us but I was so tempted to kill him.

“We’re going to have a good time tonight torturing you for every single brother you’ve taken from us.”

“I might have killed you scumbags, but I’ve never killed women or children.” I said, looking pointedly at him. “You can’t say the same.”

Brandon was downright disgusting. He had a rap sheet just as long as mine, but his victims included women and kids. I didn’t fuck with that at all.

Before Brandon could respond, I heard a blood curdling scream and turned to see Nikki running towards me.


“Shane!” She screamed as she ran in front of me.

"Nikki, no!" I yelled as Brandon pulled the trigger and a deafening pop going off.

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