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I leaned back, nonchalantly placing my hands in the pockets of my slacks. Eyeing them up and down with a threatening regard. “You ever held a gun before?” I mocked, cocking my head to the side.
“Please… Martinez… please… just stop…”
I snidely smiled. There was no way in hell I was going to stop. I was just getting fucking started. “Your hands are shaking. First rule of holding a gun. Never let your enemies see your fear. It just makes you a fucking pussy. So, what's your next move? I am right here.” I spread my arms out at my sides. Sticking my chest out. “This is your chance to get rid of me. Do it! Pull the fucking trigger! Do it!” I viciously baited. Not giving a flying fuck anymore.
“Stop! Please! Fucking stop!”
“I'm a bad man! I've done unforgivable things. Here's your chance! Fucking take it! Send me straight to fucking Hell! Now!”
I always knew this day would come. I had made so many fucking mistakes throughout my life, but this moment would never be one of them. I lived far longer than I ever thought I would. Always hoping I’d meet my maker from a loving hand, but we don’t always get what we want.
I had killed.
I had avenged.
I had loved.
I had destroyed lives and now it was my time to pay for being the Grim fucking Reaper, taking lives that didn’t belong to me. I just never thought my life would end like this.
Lying in a pool of my own goddamn blood.
Provoking my assassin to pull the fucking trigger.
“Let’s go, Martinez. The girls are waiting for us,” my friend Leo stated for the tenth fucking time.
“Alright, hold the fuck up. I'm coming. Besides, you know they'll wait all night for us,” I replied with a cocky grin as I walked toward the back door. Careful to make sure the bodyguards and cameras were set up throughout the house didn’t see us.
“Alejandro! You’re not allowed to leave. Dad warned you. He doesn’t like you leaving the house when they’re not around, especially without taking a bodyguard with you,” Amari scolded while grabbing my arm, stopping me dead in my tracks.
My older sister Amari was always the perfect little angel. I, on the other hand, was the devil. I think my dad was secretly proud when I acted out, but he never voiced it and never let it slide, keeping up pretenses was what he was best at. He raised and molded me to take over his empire since the day I was born, like all the generations of the Martinez men before me. I was fourteen, almost fifteen, but being a kid was never in the cards for me. Which was why I took every opportunity to do whatever the hell I wanted, especially when there wasn’t someone constantly on my ass telling me I couldn’t. I didn’t give a shit if I got grounded. I knew I only had a few years to live a semi-normal life, and I took advantage of it every chance I could get.
Amari was a year-and-a-half older than me, though it was of no importance. She always acted younger than her years. She had been sneaking into my bed ever since I could remember, because every little sound in the night frightened her. I didn’t have the luxury of being scared. Fear wasn’t a part of the life I was expected to lead. It was only a matter of time until I was the one who frightened her, too.
Exactly the way our father did.
He called it respect, but I knew it was nothing more than intimidation. Amari had always been weak, and it bothered our father in ways I had to make up for. I had to protect her even though I was younger.
“I don’t want you getting in trouble, Alejandro,” Sophia murmured loud enough for me to hear.
I grinned. Turning my attention away from Amari, my eyes locked with Sophia who was standing at the end of the foyer.
Sophia was my sister’s best friend. I always thought their friendship was unconventional because she was my age. Her bright green eyes, pouty lips, and the smell of her long, dark brown hair had been doing things to me since the first time I met her a few years ago. She was from the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak. She attended our New York private school on a scholarship offered to a select number of low-income housing kids with exceptional grades. My sister took to her immediately. She hated the pretentious pricks in our school.
Amari and I had that in common.
Leo and I had been friends since the first day of high school. He was a geeky-ass kid who was getting picked on by all of my so-called friends. One day we were all standing around our lockers before the first bell rang for class, just shooting the shit. The boys were arguing over who got the furthest with Catherine "Big Tits" St. James. I was too focused on watching Sophia trying to reach the top shelf of her locker down the hall, not paying them any mind.
"Well, look what we have here, boys," Jimmy announced. We had gone to school together since we were little. I turned to see who he was talking about. Five lockers down there was a scrawny kid with glasses. He looked like he didn't belong in our school. Jimmy went barreling up to him, knocking the books out of his hands.
"Are you lost? The school for under-privileged kids is on the other side of the city."
Leo ignored him, picking up his books.
The bell rang, warning us to get to class. Jimmy and a few other guys shoved Leo into his locker, shut it, and walked away laughing. Needless to say, Jimmy and the boys were no longer laughing once school let out. I made sure to set them all straight, and ordered them not to fuck with Leo ever again. Or else. There was something about the kid, and to this day I don’t know what made me come to his rescue.
After that, he became a permanent fixture in my life. He was still a geeky-ass kid, but it no longer mattered. My friendship was his shield. Nobody would dare to fuck with him anymore. Even at that young of an age, I never pussyfooted around. I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. I never apologized for who I was or my actions. People could take it or leave it. I didn't give a shit. My don’t-give-a-fuck attitude only made people want to hangout with me more, when in reality they should have been staying as far away from me as possible.
Everyone knew who my father was, and they feared me because of it.
I had never been a fan of those who preyed on the weak. Maybe it was because I saw so much weakness in my sister. I’d sacrifice everything just to protect her if need be. My father knew Amari wasn’t cut from the same cloth, which was why I was never allowed to leave the house when they weren’t around. It never made any sense in my eyes. There were always bodyguards everywhere, just waiting to pull the trigger if shit hit the fan. I assumed they were getting paid a fuck-load of money to do a job my father seemed more inclined to give me.
“Amari, they’re not going to be back until late. If they even come home at all. They’re at someone’s initiation or some shit,” I replied, pulling my arm out of her grasp.
“Aren’t you tired of being grounded all the time? Why can’t you just listen for once? It’s not that hard,” she sassed, waving her hands in the air.
“Just keep your mouth shut. If they come home, you didn’t see me.”
“I’m a terrible li—”
“Carajo, Amari! Haga lo que le digo pues,” I shouted, “Fuck, Amari! Just do it,” annoyed with her persistent nagging.
She sighed, looking away from me.
She hated it when I yelled at her. Our dad did it enough for everyone. He believed in tough love. Hugs and kisses were few and far between. We rarely heard the words “I love you” from his mouth. Our mother was the only one who showed us love, tenderness, and affection. I stepped toward Amari, lightly grabbing her chin, forcing her to look at me again. She peered up at me through her lashes. I knew what this was really about. She worried something would happen to me. She worried constantly about everything. Especially what harm could come to her if I wasn’t around.
“I’ll be fine. You’ll be fine. I promise, you got Dad’s new goons here. I won’t be back late.”
I kissed her forehead, glancing one last time at Sophia before I turned and left. I could tell she wanted to ask where we were going, but she knew better. I winked at her with a sly grin, and she warily smiled. It wasn’t until later that night I wished I had never left the house, and by the look on Sophia’s face, she felt what my sister might have expected all along.
“You fuck, I’m so late. If my dad catches me, it’s my ass he’s going to lay out, Leo,” I stated, shooting him a death glare.
Those girls were definitely not worth the shit I’d be in if my parents got home before I did. Of course, my mother would try to defend me like she always did, but it wouldn’t matter. At the end of the day, what my father said ruled, end of story. The husbands word was the law in Hispanic marriages. The wife was subservient to her husband. She raised the kids, made sure the house was clean, and dinner was on the table every night. Now, add in the fact my father was a crime boss, and you get the picture. He was one of the most feared and hated men in the world, but to my mom, he was God.
He laughed, throwing his head back while we pedaled our bikes as fast as we could.
“You smell that?” Leo replied with a shit-eating grin.
“Smells like pussy to me,” he chuckled.
“I’m the pussy? Who had to save your sorry ass, once upon time? I sure as hell wasn’t a pussy then, besides, you wouldn’t know what pussy smells like if it was sitting on your fucking face.”
“Relax, they’re not home, it’s barely past two in the morning. I’ve never seen your dad leave a party first. He knows better than to turn his back to anyone,” he chuckled. “Alright, bro, this is my street. Talk to you tomorrow.”
Leo disappeared into the darkness as I pedaled even harder and faster. Praying I’d make it on time. My heart was beating out of my chest, sweat pooling at my temples. My mind was already racing, imagining every punishment he could bring on me.
I opened the side door of the garage, breathing a sigh of relief when I saw their limo was still gone. Looking down at my watch, I calculated where the cameras would be directed at that time. I had snuck out often enough to know they were on a fifteen-minute rotation. I quietly walked in, making sure none of my dad’s meatheads were around. When the coast was clear, I ran up the backstairs, taking three steps at a time toward Amari’s bedroom. I wanted to let her know I was home safe, since she probably spent most of the night worrying about me.
“Amari? Sophia?” I called out, lightly knocking on her bedroom door a few times. “I’m home,” I whispered, knocking again before opening the door. “I’m coming in. You up?”
I looked around the dark room not finding them anywhere. Her bed was still made from this morning. “Where the hell are they?” I asked myself.
Amari hated staying up late, she was always an early riser. Something wasn’t right. A disturbing, unsettling feeling I couldn’t describe, washed over me. Before I knew what was happening, my body turned, moving on its own accord. I ran out of the room, making my way down the long, narrow hallway toward my bedroom. All I could hear were the sounds of my footsteps echoing off the walls. My shoes pounded into the floor, one right after the other. I couldn’t get to my room fast enough.
“Amari!” I was calling out her name before I had even made it into my bedroom. “Amari, where the fuck are you?” I shouted, when I found my room empty, too.
Our house was fucking huge, but we never strayed too far from our bedrooms. They were the only rooms in the house with no cameras watching our every move. At least that’s what our mother told us. Who knows if it was true. I ran out of my room like a bat out of Hell, desperately needing to figure out where my sister and Sophia were. If anything bad happened to them, I’d be responsible for it. I’m the one who made the choice to leave them home alone with the bodyguards.
The sick feeling in my stomach intensified with every menacing thought crossing my mind. I ran faster, only stopping to check rooms. The silence was deafening all around me. I never realized how quiet our house was at night, or how every little shadow simply heightened the darkness, lurking in every corner I ran passed. The only sounds that could be heard were resonating off of my body. My adrenaline hammered so fucking hard while every room I looked in turned up empty.
“Amari! Sophia!” I screamed, knowing it was useless. The walls in our house were all soundproof.
I stopped in the living room, hunched over with my hands on my knees, hyperventilating to the point of pain. After checking every last inch of the house, no one was to be found.
“What the fuck?” I breathed out, peering around the room in confusion like they were going to suddenly appear out of thin air.
I felt my face pale. All the blood drained from my body, causing shivers to course through me. I shuddered, suddenly cold. The hairs on my arms stood on edge when I realized the only room I hadn’t checked was my father’s office. We were ordered to never go in there unless he requested our presence. Before I gave it anymore thought, I ran toward the other end of the house. Frantically trying to ignore the nervous and fearful feeling I felt in the pit of my stomach and focus on the task at hand.
My heart pounded so profusely I found it fucking hard to breathe. My mind raced and my chest heaved with each passing moment, escalating with every step bringing me closer to his office. Panic began to set in, and I could no longer control my thoughts from running wild. I anxiously tried to find my resolve.
I was a Martinez.
Not a fucking pussy.
But I was still a kid who was terrified he’d let something happen to his sister and Sophia. There would be no coming back from this. I knew that before I even made it into his office. Everything played out in slow motion like it was a dream. I ran to the door, reached for the handle, turned the knob, and shoved it open. It made a loud thud as it bounced off the back wall. I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw the brutal scene playing out in front of me.
My night quickly turned into my worst fucking nightmare.
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✰✰From USA Today Best Selling Author M Robinson ✰✰