I named myself. I took the word animal out of their mouths, wore it like a badge of honor, then shoved it down their throats. I’ve fought for what I have. I see you coming before you even know you want a piece of me. In a city riddled with warring families, I’ll rise up between them. My people, the broken souls I gather, will have power by the time I’m done with them.
I protect mine.
Him. My brother, Nix.
Her. The girl that is the only home I’ve ever had. She knows me.
I’m coming at you, sweetness. Stay ready.Books by Author:Debra Anastasia Books
I looked from one mob boss to the other. They were sitting in my friend"s house, but I was clearly in charge.
Bat Feybi"s son was on my left. Mitch Kaleotos was on the right. They were unhappy. I didn"t give a damn.
"Those are the terms. You both report to me. Understood""
They cursed under their breath, but they agreed. I stood and they did the same. I folded my arms over my chest instead of reaching out for a handshake. We were not equals. I was better than they were. I was harder, smarter, and meaner"if I needed to be.
Kaleotos responded using my street name, "Yeah, Havoc."
I lifted my eyebrows and they shuffled toward the front door.
Nix came into the room. Both Feybi and Kaleotos startled at his presence. Nix didn"t have on his ever-present hoodie, so they could see his full skull face tat. He widened his eyes and hissed at them.
I had to bite the insides of my cheeks to keep from smiling. My man. He was my brother in the only way it really counted"in our souls.
I followed the two men into the foyer. They seemed like they wanted to say something more. I settled my command of the atmosphere in my chest. My inner essence was calm, cool, and collected.
They wouldn"t fuck with me, simply because I wasn"t scared of them. A mountain of a man with a reputation that had burned up the town.
Both Feybi and Kaleotos reached for the doorknob. Kaleotos was faster and yanked open the huge door.
On the other side, with three backpacks, a suitcase, red heart-shaped sunglasses tangled in the hair at the top of her head, and a miniskirt that made everything below her waist illegally good-looking was Nix"s baby sister, Ember. Her long brown hair was streaked with all different colors and her fingers were littered with glittery rings.
I saw the whole scene play out in my head like I was a psychic. Ember was going to tease me, and I"d tease her back. Nix would immediately lose his scary demeanor and worry about his sister being too close to these murderers that we were escorting out. And Ember would get made as family. In this lifestyle, connections were best kept murky if possible. Giving people information on who was most important to you might have consequences.
I rolled my eyes briefly. Because the most obvious answer was surely going to get me punched in the dick.
I swooped forward and grabbed Ember around the waist. I hefted her against my chest like I"d just come home from war and she"d already birthed three of my kids.
"Baby." I kissed her hard on the mouth. On her nineteen-year-old mouth. I could almost hear Nix"s anger engulfing him like a wildfire.
If I were anyone else, I would have been dead four times already. As I walked Ember back into the house, she clung to me like she shouldn"t know how to do.
I pushed on Nix"s puffed up chest and peered around Ember"s forehead to see that his eyes were wild as I predicted.
I was barely kissing Ember now that my back was turned to Feybi and Kaleotos, but Ember was all into it.
Shit. Double shit. All the shits.
I was able to slam the door with my foot, thankfully before Kaleotos or Feybi could make out the farce for what it was.
I pulled Ember off of me. Her hot pink lipstick was smeared around her mouth, and I was betting mine as well.
"Step away from Animal, Ember. He and I are about to beat the fuck out of each other." Nix rolled his head on his neck. Snapping, cracking noises accompanied the movement.
Another gorgeous woman stepped between Nix and me, her face half-etched in a faded version of his skull tat. His girlfriend, Becca, put her hands on both of our chests, and she looked at Ember and me and then turned to Nix.
"Hothead. Animal would never touch your sister." I couldn"t see her face anymore, but it was clear from her tiny sweat shorts and tank that Becca had been relaxing upstairs.
"He kissed her. Kissed her!" Nix was fuming. I considered Ember. She looked frazzled. And embarrassed. And slightly infatuated.
Becca shook her head, her ponytail bouncing all around. "No. Hear them out." Becca grabbed onto Nix"s arm. It was tatted like a skeleton"s bones as well.
Nix looked at me with venom, but I wasn"t dead yet, so I knew he still loved me.
Then he glared at Ember. Instead of words, he just pointed from her to me and back again. The question was undoubtedly what the fuck"
Ember grabbed her own hands and kicked her sandaled foot against the tile behind her before answering, "I"m in love. That was the best kiss of my life."
I felt my jaw drop. "Ember Ann Fenix Mercy Churchkey!"