Chapter 39

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I clench the gun in my hand. The metal is cool and the weapon is light enough to easily become a part of my arm. I wonder how many people's lives this gun has ended. How many bullets have penetrated skin, bones, lungs, hearts.

I held a gun like this once. Not because I had any choice. Like any other drug deal, we were meeting the suppliers down on the coast. It was a quiet area, perfect for two gangs to swap stories and hang out. But it all went wrong. The details are fuzzy – I was too busy making out with my boyfriend at the time. Next thing I remember, two of the other crew members had been shot and the gun slid along the ground to me. I picked it up. I pointed it at Rosso – the leader who started the fight and had blood on his hands – but I never fired it. Rosso got away and I paid the price. The Southbend bikers didn't let go of it for months and I wasn't allowed back in a deal until they made sure I could shoot someone right between the eyes without fearing it.

Thankfully we only practiced on targets.

Now, at the Warf with Morrison and his henchmen, I'm faced with a different story. When I arrived ten minutes ago, Sage opened up his crate of weaponry and made sure I could load a gun properly. I can. I'm pretty good with my aim too. A little rusty, but still fairly oriented. When Morrison was satisfied I know how to handle my weaponry, he brings out a man. The man is bound and gagged, dirty as hell with a purple eye and a terrified gaze. I don't recognize him but that doesn't mean I don't feel sick to my stomach.

"What the hell is this?"

Morrison draws a cigar out of his suit pocket, puts it in his mouth and lights it with a shrug.

"Target practice," he says and crosses his arms. "I know you can shoot Jess, but can you shoot a moving target?"

The man makes a whimpering sound.

"I'm not shooting this guy," I say. But unlike the night in the church when I told Morrison I wasn't going to become his little assassin, I don't sound so sure. I have to kill one man, what's another to add to my list? "What's he done wrong?"

"Louis Carter here has been on our radar for a few months now," says Morrison as he gets to his feet and walks over to Louis shivering beside Sage, who towers over everyone with his tank-like body and long, Swedish legs. "He's a slippery sucker I'll give him that, but we picked him up last night about to perform one of his usual routines."

I wait for the punch line with raised eyebrows.

"Louis is a sex trafficker. Owns an elite human trafficking ring down in Miami and is in town on business, right Louis?"

Louis says nothing, doesn't even look Morrison in the eye. He flinches at Morrison's grip on his shoulder and I feel suddenly sick being near him.

"Now Jess, I know you've come across a whole number of pathetic excuses for human beings in your time on the streets. You now have a chance to shut down Louis Carter's business from the roots. Think of all the lives you'll be saving if you pull that trigger."

I am shaking in my shoes. I know I'll have to kill Garcia soon and I've been training for it for months, but having to take my first life right here right now is something I'm not prepared for.

And yet Morrison makes a convincing point. There have been a number of men in my life who I would have liked the opportunity to shoot between the eyes. The guy who raped me. Rosso, the other gang leader. Nick's father.

But ... is it my responsibility to end their lives, or is it fate?

Maybe neither. Maybe it's God's.

"I can't do it," I say and shake my head. Louis instantly relaxes. "I will kill Garcia for you but I won't kill this guy. Get Sage to do it."

Sage chuckles and backs away to join Leon, Andreaz and Nate sitting on the sidelines. Morrison pinches the bridge of his nose. Flakes of ash from his cigar flitter to the ground.

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