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"Cage, stay put man. I know that'll eat at ya, knowing your boy is in there. But this is why I'm here. I'll be back. In the meantime, grab my black saddlebag outta the back of the van. Unzip it for me, will ya? Grab a gun, just in case. It's unmarked, no ties, if you should happen to need it. Leave the bag unzipped. My favorite toys are in there. And somethin' tells me I'm about to play." He lets out a few low laughs that are pure evil, and not for the first time, I find myself glad to call him a friend and not an enemy. Braxxon Breaker is not an enemy you want to have.

“Greg? What the fuck are you doing?” I hear Coop call over the line. Fuck.

“Forget you heard that, Zeke Cooper, and don’t you fucking tell me you wouldn’t do everything possible to make sure you came out the victor in this situation. Not going to let my woman or our family be threatened again.” He starts to speak but I disconnect and throw my phone down on the seat, waiting to climb out quietly and make my way to the back to follow Braxx’s directions. Folding myself back in the seat, I watch him move silently around the house. Careful to stay hidden while he checks all the windows, he pauses for a second by the front door before turning towards the van with a twisted smile on his face. He motions towards the back of the van and I climb out to figure out what has him tweaked.

Looks like it’s game fucking on.

He rounds the back and holds his hand out for his bag. After popping the hatch, he puts the bag down and starts pulling out his ‘toys’. I’ve seen just about everything, but when I see the shit he pulls out, even I get a little jolt of shock. Two railroad spikes, a sledgehammer, duct tape, and a 9mm. I understand the tape and the heat, but the first two throw me.

“Brother, not sure I want to know what you have planned with the spikes and the hammer, but this is your show now. Tell me what to do, where to be, and how to get my boy out.”

“For now, the less you know the better. Four total is the count, brother. Heard two bitches yapping and groaning, and another bitch yammering away at the front of the house. You leave them to me. You grab your boy and get the hell outta there. Don’t want blowback harming you or your boy. He’s gonna need ya. I go in first. You stay right the fuck behind me, man. You duck, you run, I don't give a fuck. Just stay the hell outta my way.”

I can work with that. I offer him a nod and follow him to the door. Braxx might sound harsh to some, but I know this is his show, his town, and I want this. I can trust him to get the job done without having a single trail follow me home, and if shit gets hot, he will make sure it cools quickly. Like I said, you don’t want him as an enemy, but you can’t have better with him as an ally.

The first thing I notice when we burst through the door is the smell. It smells as if this house has been used as a bathroom or mortuary for years. Mixed with the desert heat and no air conditioning, ripe is putting it mildly.

Braxx makes quick work of silencing the bitches that are sitting at the kitchen table snorting lines of coke, and then motions for me to follow the dark hallway towards the back of the house. Even as I move, my limbs start to loosen, my blood starts pumping, and I can feel the adrenaline coursing through my system. Almost as if my body knows that we are in the right place.

The closer I get to the back, the more I can hear the sounds of sex, bodies colliding roughly with the wet smacking of skin, and heavy thumping of what I can only assume is the bedframe banging against the wall. The low moans of a male cause my insides to burn, but when I hear the high-pitched squealing every muscle in my body spasms. I know those fucking squeals.

What the motherfucking hell?!

With a roar powerful enough to shake the foundation, I kick down the door and take in the scene before me. There she is, goddamn Mandy, in all her naked glory doing her best impression of a bucking cowgirl on top of the ugliest son of a bitch I have ever laid eyes on.

Her screams hit my ears, but I only have eyes for the motherfucker under her. He makes quick work of tossing her off his body; I have to fight back the bile when I see his dick spring up between us.

“You! I will fucking deal with you later.” I point over at Mandy. Bracing my legs apart and ready to take on anything, I level the man I just know is responsible for taking my girl’s mother from this world. With a tone that gives even me the chills, I bite out the only fucking thing I care about. “Where is my son?”

The commotion must have alerted Braxxon because I immediately feel his presence behind me.

“You know this bitch?” He asks, pointing to the side of the room where Mandy is trying to climb to her feet.

“Yeah,” I bite but don’t get any further when I see the man make his move.

I haven’t taken my eyes off the man, still naked, and spitting mad so when he makes to charge me, it isn’t hard to block his efforts. My fist connecting with his cheek makes a sickening thunk, and I can hear the bone shatter under the force of my blow. I spare Braxx a quick glance to see him dealing with Mandy. “She stays breathing until I have words, brother,” I spit over my shoulder. He gives me a jerk of his chin before dragging her out of the room by her hair.

Moving my full attention back to the other man, I watch as he stumbles slightly, but makes the move to come at me again. This time I don’t waste a second. Two quick jabs to his gut have him folding over. Another sharp punch to his temple has him wavering slightly. And when I finally take his head between my hands and slam it down on my raised knee, he crumbles. Blood is coming from his nose, mouth, and ears.

When he finally falls to the floor, I rear back and slam my booted foot into his stomach. “Where is my son, asshole?” I roar in his face.

I get no reply, so I kneel next to his prone form and ask again, “Where the fuck is my son?”

“Fuck… you,” he moans.

Wrong answer.

I lose complete sense of reality when my vision goes red, and I light into this motherfucker. It isn’t until blood completely covers my hands and I am panting harshly when I’m finally able to pull back, falling to my ass on the blood-covered floor.

I jump slightly when Braxx’s menacing growl filled the room. “Brother, you're done. Go, I got this. I'll turn that shit red, Cage. Go”

“I can’t find my boy,” I say, looking up and meeting Braxx’s eyes. Beneath the fury that is taking over his face, I can see the compassion and sorrow for me. “My boy, Braxx.”

“Dammit Greg, pull yourself together. Search the entire house, every nook and every fuckin' cranny.” His harsh tone sets me straight and I lumber to my feet, shaking off the despair that has started to overtake my system.

I stand from my position on the floor, and pull my shirt over my head to wipe my hands clean. No fucking way I’m touching anything lying around this room.

Besides the trash littering the floor and every available surface, there isn’t much in the room. Turning around and getting ready to leave, I notice for the first time a room off to the side. My feet are moving towards the door before I even realize I’ve had the thought. In my haste, I almost trip over the body Braxx is dragging out of the room in my haste.

Reaching for the knob and finding it locked causes my hope to spark a little. I can’t think of any other reason that would have only locked door in this piece of shit.

“COHEN,” I scream and pound on the door. “Cohen baby, are you in there?” I listen in silence for a few minutes, my hope slowly dying. “Cohen… son, please be in there.”

I am getting ready to knock the door down when I hear a faint sniffle and the one word that can bring my heart back to life. “D-d-daddy?”

“Braxx!” I scream. “I found him”

I try to break the door with my shoulder but it won’t budge. The overwhelming need to hold Cohen in my arms, to make sure he is okay, is what is driving me now. “C-Man, I need you to step away from the door. Okay, buddy?” When I hear his soft reply, I step back and kick the door with all my strength, watching it splinter, and pop open. Immediately my eyes start rolling over the small, pitch black room. Before I can even process the whole room, Cohen comes flying into my arms. I pick him up and tuck his head into my shoulder, for the first time since we got the call, feeling that everything is going to be okay.

“Cohen, I need you to close your eyes tight until I say open them, okay? There are some very bad ninjas here that one of my friends is fighting, and I don’t want you to see. You understand?” I can feel him nod his head against my shoulder, his tiny body shaking with the force of his sobs and his tears soaking my shirt. “Daddy has you now, Cohen.”

I waste no time powering through the house, sparing a quick glance at Braxx and seeing him busy making true on his promise. I doubt there will be one inch of that room that isn’t painted red when he is finished.

Only a few hours later, we are camped out in a roach bucket motel room so I can get Cohen cleaned and fed. Braxx has run to the corner store to stock up on some snacks for Cohen while I bathe and change him. Thankfully, in my rush to make it to Vegas, I had the foresight to bring a change of clothes for both of us.

Cohen has passed out in my arms shortly after inhaling every bag of snack food Braxx has brought back. He is out cold, but he is Safe. In. My. Arms.

Even with Cohen here, I won’t be able to rest easy without knowing what happened., without knowing that the threat is gone for good. I look up and meet Braxx’s gaze. He is waiting for it; he knows me too well and knows I will ask. “Well?”

He looks into my eyes for a few seconds. I can tell he’s trying to decide how much to tell me. Whatever he sees in my face must satisfy him. “Bitch number one is taped to a chair, slowly bleedin' out, bro. Long, slow death. Bitch number two... well, that bitch put up a fight, smashed in her skull. Bitch number three is taped to another chair; ain't no way she gettin' loose until my contact picks her up. She was beggin' me to let her go, beggin' for that shit. That cunt is so hung up on you, bro. Obsessed beyond belief. You weren't in the right mind to make that call, brother. You don't want that bitch to make it near your family again. I handled it. Dickhead in there? Well, let's just say he ain't getting up from his chair cause I nailed them spikes through his kneecaps, slit his throat, and bled him dry. You said to turn that shit red, Cage. I turned that shit red.” His eyes look tired, but I can tell he is still riding high on adrenaline.

It should be hard hearing that, but these people don’t deserve to walk this earth. I promised myself I wouldn’t let anyone threaten my family again, and even with the battle of right vs. wrong, I feel like I made the right play.

“What’s going to happen to her?” I question. My stomach clenches at just the thought that she could cause more trouble.

“She won’t be an issue. My contact has plans for her. She won’t ever fuckin’ touch your family again.” You aren’t friends with someone as long as we’ve been without knowing how to read between the lines. He knows what’s eating at me.

I nod my head and look back down at Cohen. “I can’t thank you enough for your help, Braxx. I really can’t. Next to Melissa, this little boy means the world to me, and you helped get that back. You need something, anything, you call, yeah?

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