Promise Me Always(2)

By: Rhonda Shaw

I reeled on Terrell. “What the fuck?”

He held up his hands in a gesture of peace. “I was just givin’ you a little help, my man. It looked like you needed it.”

“I don’t need your fucking help.” I backed away as I reset the safety and shoved the pistol into my waistband. At my retreat, the rival gang member’s expression filled with shock and disbelief.

Terrell narrowed his beady eyes at me. “Where you goin’, D?”

“I’m out.” I shook my head and crossed my arms. “I’m not doing this.”

“I’m not doing this.” Terrell’s tone mocked before he dropped his sneer. “What? You think you got a fuckin’ choice?”

I held out my hands. “Do whatever you’ve got to do.”

Terrell stepped in front of me as the others flanked behind their leader in support. Noting my defiance, he snorted. “I don’t know whether to laugh or be impressed.”

“I’m not here for your fucking amusement.” My insides churned as I waited on his reaction, but I refused to throw away my dreams.

He chuckled, his breath showing on the air in bursts. “Well, well, well. I see how it’s gonna be now, D.”

“This is how it’s going to be.”

“And we’re just gonna forget everything I’ve done for you? Everything I’ve gotten for you, so you can follow this fuckin’ dream of yours?”

“I never asked you to—”

“No, you didn’t!” Terrell’s eyes flashed hot before he took a deep breath. “But I did it because that’s what family do. But you seem to want to forget that. You seem to want to forget we’re your family. The only one you have, my brother.”

Silence passed as Terrell continued to size me up. Then he relaxed and smiled, a gold tooth gleaming in the one flickering streetlight struggling to stay lit. “So, I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do.” He waved his hand, signaling his men to stand down when the click of a gun hammer sounded behind him. He stood close, and I was thankful we were the same height, eye to eye. “I’m gonna be watching you. Very closely.” His voice dropped to a threatening whisper. “And when you finally have something you can’t live without, something you want more than fuckin’ life itself, I’m gonna be there and I’m gonna take it.”

The threat hung in the air between us before he backed away and led his family out of the alley, soon disappearing out of sight into the dark, seedy corners of the city. I let out the breath I’d been holding and dropped my head, very thankful to be still alive.

But Terrell’s final words were cemented into my brain, and I knew from this point forward, neither me nor anyone in my life would be safe.

Chapter 1

~ Danny ~

Present Day

The stark white room drove me fucking crazy. My eyes darted around, desperate to find a hint of color somewhere. The walls were white, the drapes over the bolted window also white—well, more of a musty yellow with age and smoke from cigarettes—and the vinyl floor gleamed white under the bright lights. The fluorescent light fixture on the ceiling buzzed and flickered, the effects of which, combined with everything else, gave me a pounding headache.

“Do you know why you’re here, Danny?” The counselor’s voice pulled me back to my miserable reality.

My eyes flicked around at the others in the room, staring at me, curious about my reasons for being here and desperate for juicy gossip. But each had signed an agreement to keep their damn mouths shut about everything discussed within these walls, and each one of them knew I wouldn’t hesitate to sue their ass if anything leaked I hadn’t disclosed to the media.

There were other programs I might have gone to that were more like a resort than a prison, such as this one, but I didn’t want the fluff. I needed fucking help, not a goddamn pampering vacation. I chose this center back in my hometown because of its notoriety for hard-fought results, which was most important if I had a chance in hell of turning my life around. It made it even harder when everyone only saw me as a celebrity and kissed my ass, rather than a person who needed support and deserved privacy. But if dealing with the unwanted attention led to getting clean, then I’d deal.