It was the scream that woke me. I shot straight up before realizing it wasn't coming from me. Another high-pitched scream rang out, and then another, coming from the direction of the windows. Almost immediately following the screams, a loud crack of thunder reverberated against the apartment.

"Son of a—" A voice rang out in the dark, and I could hear feet hit hard against the floor. A shadow flashed across the room. It was Luke. He was out of bed and moving toward the windows.

Before I could say anything, he swung the closest window wide open and headed out onto the fire escape.

What the heck was going on? I got up and went to take a look. It was raining outside. The water was coming down in sheets, and as I leaned over the windowsill, raindrops pelted against my face.

I could make out a group of guys standing under the streetlight, surrounding a woman in the alley. The woman was lying on the ground with her hands pressed against her head. High-pitched screams were coming from her every few seconds.

Luke was going down there to confront the guys. Were they Triads?

"What's happening?"

I jumped at the sound of Darla's voice. I'd been so focused on the scene in the alley that I hadn't realized she was now standing next to me. We were wearing almost identical outfits, except her T-shirt was pink.

"A woman's in trouble. I think Luke went to help." My voice came out in a rush.

I couldn't stay inside and watch something awful happen like a helpless bystander—not this time. I made my way back to the couch and flipped on a lamp on the side table. I grabbed my shoes, which were sitting next to the couch.

"You aren't going out there, are you?" Darla sounded scared.

"Your brother might need help." Though I wasn't sure what kind of help I could be. I had learned lots of healing arts—practices to soothe and mend, not maim and hurt. I wouldn't be much use in a fight. Death dealers might be bulletproof, but I was not.

"Do you have any weapons?" I asked while slipping on my shoes.

"Like a gun? No, we don't have guns in the house."

"What about a knife?" I headed toward the kitchen and spotted a baseball bat leaning against a cabinet. It was better than nothing. Bat in tow, I hurried toward the windows.

"You can't go out there, Colina." Darla grabbed my arm.

"He might need help."

"Luke can take care of himself."

"Against a gang? Stay here and call the cops." I pulled away from her. Baseball bat in hand, I went out over the windowsill and onto the fire escape.

We were two floors up. The rain seemed to be coming down even harder, if that was possible. I made my way down the metal stairs, bat over my shoulder. If I wasn't careful, I would lose my balance on the slick surface and do a header over the rails. I slowly inched forward until the stairs ended and then made my way down the already-extended metal ladder. Unfortunately, it didn't go all the way to the alley floor. There was a six-foot drop to the bottom. I let my body fall and tried to remember to bend my knees as I landed. It wasn't a graceful descent. As I hit, I pitched forward and lost my balance, ending up sprawled face-first in the mud.

I scrambled up, grabbed my dropped weapon, and headed with more resolve than courage toward the alley entrance.

Luke stood at the edge of the group of guys.

"I told you to leave her alone," Luke said, the threat in his voice unmistakable.

The guy closest to him was big, much older, and dressed in dark jeans and a jacket with an orange-and-black bandana tied around his right arm. The guy turned and laughed. "Or what, man?"

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