Chapter 1 - Prologue
FIVE YEARS AGO
*****Hagan - age 23
The knot in Hagan’s stomach tightened then his heartbeat started to rise. The adrenaline rushed through his body as it always did in situations like this. Eyes closed, he envisioned the possibilities and then took a deep breath as he kicked the door open with such force it cracked the plaster wall. In seconds he scanned the room, knowing who was where and what needed to be done. The waft of stale nicotine only made him angrier.
Hagan’s icy blue eyes rested on the other man.
Pavel got up from a worn leatherette tan sofa that creaked under his weight. He wiped his eyes as drinking and snorting set his sleep schedule. Pavel’s greasy dark hair made rat tails along his jawline. When he realized who had kicked down his door, his legs shook. Hagan was an entity like no other. The kind of man you didn’t want kicking down your door for every fucking terrifying reason you could think of.
Hagan growled, pointing at the bed. “She’s barely screwing age!”
Hagan shook his head at the girl. “Go home to your parents. Now!” Her green eyes squinted as if she needed sunglasses. When she looked at Pavel, he swallowed and then nodded for her to get the fuck out.
A pair of teenage breasts and black panties slid out from under the rumpled sheets. The girl grabbed a T-shirt, jean shorts, and white sneakers from the floor. The motion stirred dust to mingle with traces of white powder on top of a glass coffee table with fake brass legs. An overflowing ashtray sat in the center of it. The place was a pigsty.
Hagan could smell the sweat on Pavel, along with the stench of fear. Glaring at him, Hagan kicked over the coffee table. Smashed glass and cigarette butts skated across the scuffed off-white vinyl floor. This hastened the girl to run out the door and not look back.
Pavel’s voice caught in his throat, but now his eyes were wide open. A whiny plead finally came, “Come on, man, you don’t have to trash the place. Be cool. I don’t want any trouble with the likes of you.”
“The likes of me? You motherfucker. I wasn’t going to break your face today, but after the girl, I think I am.” When Hagan stepped closer, Pavel moved back, hitting the sofa’s edge and falling. The cushion ripped when his ass found it.
This wasn’t going to be a standoff, not for Hagan anyway.
Pavel held up his hands, “No rough stuff. I mean, look at me. I’m a mess. So give a guy a break, huh?”
“Get up!” Hagan postured.
A bead of sweat trickled down Pavel’s forehead. It took him two attempts to finally stand. The weasel tried a sucker punch. Hagan ducked and hit him with his left. Connect, then two more shots to Pavel’s ribs. Crack!
Pavel crumbled to the floor like corrugated cardboard.
Hagan looked down at Pavel, curled up in a ball, “Get the fucking money by tomorrow, and stay away from high school girls.”
As another reminder, the tip of his size twelve shoe dug into Pavel’s side. “Ahh, sh...” Pavel groaned in agony.
Hagan couldn’t care less. “If I come back, you’re a dead man.”
Pavel managed a nod, groaning again as he tried to roll over.
Strutting to the door, Hagan didn’t even look back. He had a busy day ahead of him.
*****Shelby - age 20
The music blared through the house, but that was okay because they were dancing. Eyes smiling, Shelby held Aunty Jean’s hands as they moved to the beat, dancing around the coffee table and into the front hall. Uncle Ken would’ve been laughing. He passed two years ago from the Big C. Shelby hated that word.
Music was soothing to people with Alzheimer’s. Besides, Aunty Jean always loved music and baking Shelby’s favorite thing - lemon squares.
How Shelby wished she could turn back time, just another day with Aunty Jean before the signs started. They would chat and laugh. Shelby would sit at the table, watching Aunty Jean as she puttered around the kitchen. The shuffling sound of her slippers meant home to Shelby.
“Always see the bright side,” Shelby sang. At that moment, Shelby swore she saw a flash of clarity in her Aunt’s eyes. She smiled, and Aunty Jean smiled back, then squeezed her hand and twirled. Shelby’s heart ached. Her aunty had so much life before this, so watching her memories and health dwindle was hard.
Shelby’s life was changing drastically. How could it not? She adored her aunty. At least she would never worry about Shelby ever again. There was no more staying up late and falling asleep on the sofa until Shelby came home on a Friday night. A pang of pain circled in Shelby’s gut. It hurt to see someone she loved so much like this. A mere fraction of her real self, “Oh, Aunty Jean,” Shelby sighed with a smile to mask her pain.
Before Alzheimer’s, Aunty Jean doted on Shelby. Her world revolved around her beloved niece. It all started after one terrible day, and then Shelby moved in. She shuddered as the horrible thought lingered until she twirled Aunty Jean two more times. It was a good thing that aunty would never remember that dreadful day.
One good thing.
Shelby held her aunt’s blank gaze and then snapped her fingers to the music, making her giggle. She remembered when Aunty Jean put her to bed that first night. She was only seven then, “Sweetheart, it’s not going to be easy, but we’re going to make lemonade out of the lemons we’ve been handed. I promise.”
The first year was rough, but Shelby never forgot those words and wondered if that was the reason she loved Aunty Jean’s lemon squares so much. They were sweet and gooey and just delicious.
How their roles had reversed, Aunty Jean was now Shelby’s world, but not for the reasons she’d hoped. Shelby had planned to make something of her life and take Aunty Jean on that Caribbean Cruise she had dreamed of. Sadly, Aunty Jean’s world was fading fast. The doctor had told her - early-onset Alzheimer’s. Shelby dropped out of Uni to care for her.
Time was ticking, so they danced into the night until Shelby got Aunty Jean ready for bed. Another day, one more day. “Thank you,” said Shelby kissing her aunty good night and pulling the comforter over her.
Family, friends, and love are the perfect trio.
Aunty Jean lived by those words. Shelby wondered if she would too.
The following day, Shelby’s life turned to lemonade, the sourest kind.
Note to readers:
Well, gang, here we go again. The rest of the story will be in the current day. Those who know my work, you’re aware of my explicit sensual scenes and imagination. For those who don’t, I’m telling you now. Also, there’s a criminal element in the story. Expect some violence, mainly through dialogue describing past events between some characters. (Drugs, Gambling, Sex Workers).
Mature Audience / Explicit Sensual Scenes
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Thanks for reading.