Chapter 1

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It wasn't safe. He could feel sweat dripping down his back as he held his breath. His left hand tightened around the hard stones hidden in the pocket of his hooded sweater.

"Where are you, cabrón? Come out now and I'll take it easy on you," a thick-accented voice called out into the darkness. "You seriously gonna punk me like that? I brought you into the family. Made you one of us. I gave you everything you needed and this is how you repay me? You know we'll find you, so save us both some time and come out!"

He pursed his lips and waited, the brick wall digging into his back as he tried to stay hidden in the alley behind an abandoned pawn shop. He needed to escape. His eyes veered to the right, catching his reflection in a broken mirror that had been discarded near a large dumpster. The tattoos emblazoned on his bare head belied the terror that filled him. He glanced at the solitary wolf painted on his right hand. Originally, it was supposed to be a symbol of strength. Tonight its golden eyes mocked him.

"Was it worth it?" a female voice asked him.

He looked to his left to see a woman in her late twenties staring at his pockets. The bricks continued to dig through his sweater, scraping his back as he edged away from her. He almost lost his grip on the gun he held in his right hand.

"Y-you're supposed to be dead!"

"Was it worth it?" she asked again.

"I-I killed you! What are you doing here? Go away! Leave me alone!"

"Those diamonds you stole are now cursed by your greed. They were supposed to go to my daughter. You'll never get away with it. Never."

She was coming closer, a floating angel angered by the injustice of her own death.

"Go away! You're not real!" he shouted before closing his eyes and lowering his head.

A heavy hand on his shoulder caused him to jump forward.

"Gotcha," a low voice chuckled.

He felt the barrel of a gun pressing into the back of his skull as the familiar male voice continued, "You think you can take a slice for yourself and not share with the rest of the crew? Think again, cabrón. Now drop your piece."

His right hand opened, releasing the weapon. "I left the necklace behind. I don't have it anymore."

"You think I'm gonna fall for that? You don't have the balls, cabrón. You think one murder makes you strong? Makes you a man? Think again. Now turn around and take your punishment."

He didn't want to turn around but the choice was no longer his. The Grim Reaper was behind him in the form of a tall thug dressed in khakis with a wolf tattoo painted on his arm.

"If you don't turn around and open your eyes, I'll make it real painful. Got it?"

Without thinking, he turned around and began pleading, "I can give you the diamond necklace. Just don't kill me. My mom needs me."

"Too late," the man responded before lifting his gun and pulling the trigger.

Dani Deleon woke up, gasping for air. She was soaked in her own sweat, as were her sheets. She didn't have to look at the alarm clock on her nightstand to know it was 3:15 AM. She cursed under her breath as she plopped down onto her lumpy mattress, the damp sheets chilling her back. She could hear the steady hum of her apartment's air conditioner kick in as her vision settled into the darkness. Dani lifted a hand and softly passed it through the row of dream catchers that hung above her. Despite their number, the superstitious ornaments were failing to do their job.

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