Chapter 21

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At eight thirty I dress in simple work-out pants and a sweatshirt and catch the bus to the east barges. I hate it here. The boats creak and bob eerily on the water, the abandoned warehouses a typical hang for some street crews swaying dangerously on the edge of the harbor. I walk toward Lot 63, remembering the last time I was here. I rode in with the Southbend Bikers to meet with another crew. Mercy told us nothing, but we knew we were near a rival's clubhouse and entering that kind of territory was asking for trouble. It was the first time I witnessed a murder. As I stare at the looming warehouse, glowing lights beaming from the inside, I can almost hear my screams again.

I push through the painful memory and force myself to enter. I have motivation now, and it isn't to protect my own reputation but to protect other's lives. It helps that the target deserves to die. Maybe I'm doing the right thing, training with the Mafia. Maybe I'll eventually become so strong I can take down anyone, even Morrison.

That thought puts a smile on my face just in time for my entrance.

Before me is a dim section of the warehouse surrounded by columns of empty shelving. Chains and hooks hang from the ceiling for moving storage and Morrison and his crew are waiting for me in a loose clump. Two of them are smoking cigars. They don't wear masks now, which somehow makes it worse for me to see their faces. Including Morrison, there are five men in the room. They all carry weapons.

I should be nervous. I trust none of these men and I have nobody to back me up if things get ugly. But they need me. I'm in no immediate danger here.

"Miss Knight," Morrison greets me and holds out his hand.

"Just call me Jess," I say harshly and don't acknowledge his greeting. "Let's get this over with."

Morrison exchanges glances with a few of his men, a smile playing on his lips. I notice a large trunk sealed with silver flip-locks on the ground next to the men. My guess is it contains the weapons and training gear I will be using tonight.

"Alright," says Morrison and he crosses his arms. "Tonight we're going to start with some basic weapons training. You won't be needing weapons until you are within Garcia's vicinity. To get you there, however, we're relying on your uniquely charming personality."

A few of the men snicker.

I make a face at Morrison and let out a huge sigh. "So let's do it then."

"Not so fast," he tuts and shakes one of his fingers. "The key to being a good assassin comes with patience."

"I'm pretty sure the key also comes with actually wanting someone dead," I mutter, but listen all the same.

Morrison begins with the three basics even I know: self-defense, close-quarters combat and armed combat. I train with two of his men whom he introduces as Sage and Leon. They are both burly and well-built with rough voices and unshaven beards. I like Sage a lot more because he is clever with a weapon and has brown hair that reaches past his shoulders, keeping it tied up. I guess he reminds me a lot of Todd.

Morrison makes the two of them square off as a demonstration first. I don't like to admit it but I actually enjoy watching them fight. Sage holds a knife as if it were part of his own hand. Leon has blonde hair and blue eyes the color of police lights. He holds no weapon – his strength is a weapon of its own. They dance back and forth in a lethal display of skill and precision.

Once they demonstrated how completely badass they both are, I am ordered to show my set of skills with two one-on-one fights. For an hour I try desperately to dodge hits and kicks from the both of them but end up falling on my ass more times than I can count. I have so many bruises, I'm sure I'll wake up tomorrow looking like a purple berry. It isn't a fair fight at all. Even though I am quick and tough, having had to learn how to defend myself on the streets and fight with other street crews, Leon can crush my bones with his fingers and Sage can likely slit my throat in the blink of an eye with a paper clip.

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