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If I had hoped it’d be that easy leaving, I was bound for disappointment. The back was privacy fenced and partially on fire, so our only choice was to head out the entrance where the front door had been.

“We need to get going.” Mom stated, her expression turning serious as she pulled me toward the car.

Anna had gotten out, and she was now trying to push her car back over the rubble and out of the house to no avail. London grabbed her as we passed by.

“W-wait! My car!”

“There is no saving it,” London spoke without giving her room for argument.

I felt a bit bad. Anna was probably going to be in a lot of trouble because of that. You couldn’t drive a car into a drug dealer’s house and expect things to go easily. Leaving it behind meant that they’d be able to find out information about Anna. I wanted to say something to her, but the best we could hope for was that the fire took the car and all the evidence burned up.

Mom continued to drag me out onto the front lawn. In the commotion, most of the people had already fled the scene. When you were up to illegal activities and something loud, dangerous, and noisy went down, it wasn’t uncommon for everyone to scatter like roaches. I had hoped that Julie was one of those people, but as we walked past the fog and came out into the lawn, my hopes were immediately dashed.

Even if it was just her and her bodyguard, I wouldn’t have been so worried, but Julie was standing there with several new cars that had arrived in the intervening time while we were falling over each other in the house. There were at least ten girls in front of the house, and they were all armed. As soon as we walked out, I could hear the clicking as nearly a dozen guns were pointed in our direction. When Julie saw who it was, her serious expression turned into a mocking one and she threw her head back and laughed.

“You? This was because of you?” she spoke with incredulity. “I thought we were being raided by the FBI or attacked by some rival gang. Instead, it’s your family? I can’t believe a mere whore caused so much damage in so short a time.”

“He’s not a whore!” Kristy shouted.

“He’s our brother,” Kelsey added.

There was no point in hiding their identities, not that they were trying that hard in the first place. Since Julie knew everything already, we’d just have to go all out.

“Hmmm…” Julie looked over the family members around me.

There were seven women in all, including Anna. London, Dawn, Mackenzie, Kelsey, Kristy, and Mom were all involved. It looked like they had left Bethany behind. As the youngest, this was a situation too dangerous for her. Then again, I would have preferred Kristy and Kelsey didn’t get involved. Or Mackenzie. Or Dawn. I didn’t want any of them to get involved, but there they were.

“I’m going to go home with my family,” I stated.

“You think you can go home after causing this much damage?” Julie raised an eyebrow.

“Dead people can’t pay you,” I responded. “We’ll send you the money to make up your losses. I’ll work for it… um… legitimately… even if I end up working half my life.”

The girls had all glanced in my direction when I said I would work. Naturally, I wouldn’t be working that kind of life anymore, that was obvious. I meant every word too. If I could walk out of this situation without any of my family members being hurt, that would be for the best.

“Pay…” She made a face. “You think it’s about the money? I don’t give a shit about the money.”

I frowned. “Then why did you bother to even kidnap me.”

She made an irritated noise in the back of her throat, turning her head. “Why does anyone? It’s about control. It’s about taking some pretty, middle-class boy and corrupting him into a slutty hoe. It’s about making you into a sex object that does whatever I say. You do whatever I want, whenever I want. That’s how this relationship is supposed to go.”

“You bitch.” Mackenzie snarled.

“Oh?” She smirked. “You sound rather passionate. Are you sure you’re just his sister? It sounds like you might have some special feelings for him. Are any of you normal in the head? You thought you could just crash my party, literally, and then walk away unharmed?”

“You said it yourself, we’re middle-class white women. This is a free country. You think you can just gun us all down in the middle of the road without repercussions?” Mom asked.

“E-exactly!” Kelsey took some confidence from her mom’s words. “The cops will be here any second.”

Julie let out another laugh, lifting her hands and gesturing in either direction. “You see any cops, girl?”

Kelsey shrank back. She was still younger, and no matter how fool-hearty she normally was, there was a gang with guns trained on her and her family.

“She’s right, the cops really should have been here already.” London analyzed.

“They won’t come. I have control of this area, and connections in the department.” Julie chuckled. “I own this town. You don’t know who you’re messing with.”

“I know who I’m messing with,” Mom responded angrily. “You’re the bitch who stole my son from me. If you thought I wouldn’t come after him, you’re sorely mistaken.”

“Well? Take him?” She gestured with a grin. “If you think you can. Frankly, I don’t think you’ll get very far. This isn’t a movie, and you aren’t some action-star mother.”

Although Julie was being relentless, I could feel mom tensing. It felt like she really might just run up and attack the other woman despite all of the guns on us.

“What is it you want?” London asked, trying to diffuse the situation before mom did something reckless. “You could have already shot us, so what are you waiting for?”

“London!” Mackenzie glared at her, while the younger girls visibly shook.

“Want? I was my slut back. If you want to walk out of here in one piece, Noah stays with me. More than that, he’ll have to work extra hard and do whatever I want, and you’ll all get to know what I’m doing to him all the time, and won’t be able to do a thing about it.”

“Outrageous.” Mom took a step forward, but Julie moved faster, pulling a gun and firing it.

The bullet hit mom’s leg, and she let out a cry, falling to her knee and nearly pulling me down with her. I grabbed her to keep her from collapsing while also putting my way in front of her.

“Mom!” Kelsey and Kristy shouted.

“Stop!” I shouted instead. “Fine! Fine, I’ll stay with you.”

When mom had burst in, I had some kind of hope that things would turn out. However, the second I saw Julie waiting there, I feared things would end up like this. This was why I hadn’t contacted them in the first place. I didn’t want any of them getting hurt, and now my mother was shot. There was no point in continuing anymore.

“Noah… no.” Mackenzie cried out, although all of the girls were looking at me now with shock and concern.

Even mom, who had just been shot, gritted her teeth as she squeezed my arm. “I’m not abandoning you.”

I reached out and pulled the lock of hair from her ear. “I’m not abandoning you either. I love you, mom. I love all of you. I can’t let any of you be hurt.”

“No,” She shook her head defiantly. “You’re my man. I won’t give you up.”

“I will always be your man,” I spoke softly. “That’s why I need to leave. I will take care of this by myself, and I will be back. You just need to wait for me, okay? Just wait for me.”

“N-no! I can’t lose you again. We can’t…” Mom did something I had rarely seen her do since the world changed, I saw her cry. “I can’t…”

“Ooh… how sweat…” Julie spoke mockingly. “You all love your little weak house whore so much…”

“He’s our man!” Kelsey shouted. “Get it strait!”

“I’m sorry… wait for me.”

I pulled away from mom. She tried to grab me, but she stumbled on her bleeding leg. London moved forward and grabbed her, partially holding her up, and partially keeping her from coming toward me. The girls all watched as I walked over to Julie. My thoughts were on their safety though. Once I reached Julie, I lowered my head and stood next to her. Julie finally lowered her gun and grinned.

“That’s more like it,” Julie stated. “Now girls, break all of their limbs.”

“What?” My head whipped up. “You said they wouldn’t be harmed!”

“I said they’ll leave in one piece. Technically, all of them will still be together.” Julie snapped and the other women started advancing on the girls.

With their guns up, my family could only allow themselves to be beaten. I felt a furious anger explode inside me. It erupted to the surface like an explosion, and I reached out and grabbed Julie by the throat. She was surprised, fumbling for her gun, but I swatted it aside and lifted her, slamming her onto the hood of a car.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” She snarled in a shocked and raspy voice.

“You fucking bitch.” My fingers began to squeeze. “You think you’re strong. You think you’re hot shit. You’re nothing but a piece of shit.”

“You…” She reached up as her eyes bulged, her hands striking me several times, but I didn’t budge.

“All of this time, I merely humored you. Did you ever think you had control of me? Bullshit. You have no control. Do you think you can just break all of their bones? In that case, I’ll just break one of yours. You’re fucking neck!”

“Ggerrrgggl…” As her attempts to hit me failed, her expression turned to panic and she started to grab at my hand.

“Hmm? I can’t hear you. Where is your laughing? Your gloating? Where is that power you have? All that strength? If I’m a weak whore, do you know what that makes you?”

“Gggrrrggg…” Her eyes were bulging in disbelief.

“You’re the asshole who was strangled to death by a weak whore.” I whispered in her ear.

She started to slap the hood of her car desperately to get the attention of the other women. They had noticed and all of their guns were trained on me.

“Stop!” One of them shouted.

“Or what? You’ll shoot?” I snorted. “You better fucking make sure you kill me because I’m coming for each of you next!”

“Noah!” Mom cried out.

I was expecting the next moment that I was going to be shot a dozen times and collapse in a pool of blood. I planned to make sure I took her with me, either pulling her up in the way of the bullets or breaking her neck. I didn’t care which way. All I knew was that she would die. However, when I heard the first shot, I didn’t get struck. Blue and red lights appeared, and a dozen people seemed to appear from nowhere with their guns drawn.

“It’s the police! Put down your weapons!”

A few of the women who were previously pointing their guns at me dropped them and took off running. The rest were quickly tackled while other cops were in pursuit of the runners.

A hand grabbed my chest, and I jerked slightly. I looked over to see Abigail looking up at me.

“It’s okay. You can let go. It’s okay, you’re safe.” She spoke softly, her hand on the back of mine still around Julie’s neck.

I let go, and Julie rolled off the hood, gasping for air. She practically ran into the cop’s hands.

“Get me away from this freak!” She croaked, tears running down her eyes as the cops pinned her down and handcuffed her.

Like that, my ordeal seemed to have ended, but how?

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