“Go make him wish he never fucked with you,” Mal says, letting me go.

I step back, going to my closet and pulling out my backpack. It’s the same one I had when I lived on the streets. This time it’s filled a little differently. I could disappear with this if I had to. Fade away. All I have to do is pull the trigger and go. I glance over at Mal, thinking how much it will hurt to never see her again. But how much more would it hurt to come back here? To remember Ryan.

I head to the living room, grab the laptop and shove it into the bag. I look around my apartment, wondering if this is the last time I’ll see it.

“You’re thinking about running after, aren’t you?” she asks.

“You have Miles. You’ll be fine.” I don’t know if I’m reassuring her or myself.

“I know I’ll be fine, Paige. That’s not that point. Can I live without you? Yes. But the point is, I don’t want to. We’re a family.”

“My only family,” I tell her. “No matter what happens tonight, I have to go for a little while. I can’t come back here. It’s too much,” I explain. “It hurts. Everywhere I look, I see him.”

“You do what you have to do. Don’t worry about me.” She walks over to stand in front of me. “You know where to find me. I’ll always be here, and I’ll always come if you call.”

“I love you,” I say, feeling the tears rise again.

“I love you, too.” She grabs me and pulls me into a hug. We hold tight before I finally let her go. Then I walk away from the only family I’ve ever known.

Chapter Twenty-Six


* * *

“YOU’RE SURE HE’S in there?” I ask into my headset, staring at the vacant-looking warehouse that’s seen better days. Alexander is scurrying to clean up the mess Miles made of his life, and desperate men do desperate things. Like get sloppy. It doesn’t help when the people around you are only there for money, and with how unsteady things have been for him, I’m guessing his security isn’t as great as it once was. I’m counting on it.

Alexander’s men are bottom feeders. In all the time I worked with him, never did I meet one worth anything. They’d drop Alexander and be on to the next. Whoever pays the most gets their protection. There is no loyalty, but there never is with men like this.

“If I wasn’t the best for this job, I wouldn’t be in your ear right now. Yeah, he’s in there. There’s two at the front and two at the rear entrance. You’ll need to go silent once you leave the vehicle. There isn’t much traffic down here at the docks, but you never know if a beat cop will make a drive-by.”

“Thanks, Kearns. We’re even, man.”

“Good luck, Justice. Hope I’ll see you on the flip side.”

I take off the microphone and slip from the vehicle. I’m parked far enough away that I can see the small building, but they won’t see me coming. From what I could make out, they’ve finished packing up a shipment of what I presume is guns on a boat, and are about to clear out. I need to strike while they think they’ve gotten away with it. I shake my head, thinking about how poorly they are protected here and how things have really gone to shit for Alexander. Normally he’d have twenty men watching his products on a job like this. He was also never at the drops and moves. I’m guessing he’s trying to offload as much shit as possible as fast as possible, with the Feds crawling through all his business deals now.

Making my way around to the side of the building, I stay in the shadows and don’t make a sound. I take out my Beretta and screw the silencer on the end. I want this to go quietly. Just as I finish, I hear someone coming. It’s from the back of the building—the two guards in the rear Kearns warned me about.

“Let’s load up the truck and get out of here. I’m tired and I’m ready to go fuck that blonde.”

“Maybe she likes the both of us.”

I hear the two of them talk as they walk within feet of me, and I hold my breath, waiting for my opportunity. I’ll have to make it fast so they don’t give me away. It takes another ten seconds before I can get a clean shot, and I pause before I step out.

Picking the guy farthest away, I take my aim straight between eyes and pull the trigger. Not a heartbeat passes before I’m turning to the next, and I take him out, too. They both fall without a single sound, and I tuck back into the shadows, slowing my breathing.

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