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  The Smiths payed me eight dollars to mow their lawns both front and back. That was thirty two dollars a month if I mowed once a week. 

     If I did everything right I'd have enough to buy more paint for my project by next week. In general everything I bought had a purpose. Food was a priority, something that was vital. But I thought of paint in the exact same manner. Without paint there was no purpose. I was convinced that my purpose was to paint on canvases of all sorts. That being said, meant that everything else including school had to come after. I put art before eating most of the time no matter how unhealthy it was.

In my life nothing I did was meaningless. 

"Care to explain why there's nothing on your paper Nevi?" I ignored her and the rest of the class staring at me. I was tired and hungry, there was no denying that. 

"Unresponsive as usual." Someone whispered.  I recognized the voice. It made me shiver with disgust. 

     My teacher pressed her hands against my desk and sighed with disappointment,"I wish you would pay attention for once Nevi. Detention after school." 

     Palmer chuckled from the corner of the room. I could make out his exact words and they weren't pleasant. Last week he'd shoved his knee far into my stomach and I still hadn't fully recovered. Soreness didn't begin to explain the pain I felt from something as simple as breathing. I took my detention without much thought. Everyone there knew that I was a regular. 

     This afternoon I was feeling specifically nauseous due to my lack of food. I needed that paint by Friday, but in order to get it I would have to skip four more meals. That was on top of the three I had already skipped. I slept through the dizziness and woke up slightly refreshed and slightly buzzed. It numbed the hunger that was building up in my core. But only temporarily. 

     The walk home was short. I past a guy from school that I'd seen before. Short brown hair, confused eyes, and a rather nice pair of sneakers. Ones that no one I knew could afford. He looked at me and quickly looked away to avoid my glance. To some I looked intense. My eyes appeared grey at first glance, but under more observant eyes they were the lightest shade of cyan blue. 

     As a child I was bullied for such odd eyes, and not much changed when I made the transition from middle school to high school. Things only got worse for me. Each year there was more and more to bring me down. It was my purpose and my determination to paint that kept me sane. 

      Without a second thought I was opening the refrigerator. I knew better than to look in there, for it only made my situation worse. There was a small container with a corner of lasagna sitting on the top shelf. I bit my lip hard and stared at it. There was nothing else. It was the only thing eatable. 

     I didn't even bother heating it up. I didn't even use a fork. Each second was precious, and I didn't want to waste a single moment. My fingers gathered every precious piece of it and shoved it into my mouth within seconds. It was gone. I licked the container and nearly cried when the hunger returned to me, full force with no mercy. 

     Jon was going to kill me when he got home. But I didn't care. I slumped to the kitchen floor and clutched my stomach, gyrating with hunger and pain from where Palmer had beat me. I sat there for hours sulking in my own stupidity. 

      My heart dropped when I heard the lock twist and the door push open. The sound of Jon's boots shuffled against the carpet until he stood right in front of me. He picked up the container and chuckled to himself. 

"You ate it huh?" 

     I didn't answer. I was too embarrassed, to brittle, and too weak. Jon knelt in front of me. His beard was becoming uneven and his odor had the familiar smell of oil and rusted metal. His cold unfazed eyes moved over mine as he ran an oiled finger over my chest. 

"You're weak Nevi, you'll never be strong." As expected his fist connected with my jaw, completely blowing me over. Then he stood and nudged me in the stomach with his boot. I gasped in pain, the pain from Palmer. 

Jon laughed,"So you already took a beating. Looks like I don't need to waste my time then."

     I was exhausted and starving as I laid there. The bruises on my torso burned with pain and my throat burned with hatred for my own blood. Jon wasn't my dad, but my uncle. My own blood refused to feed me. Everything in the kitchen belonged to him and only him. I'd been feeding myself for months ever since he got the railroad job. 

     This was the reason my rib cage was visible when I changed in the locker room, forcing me to wear under shirts all year round.  

 Despite my current situation I hoisted myself up using the counter as support. Slowly, I shuffled into my room and grabbed the canvas I had painted. 

     It was one of my older projects, but I was sure it would get noticed in an art gallery near by. It placed high enough in the ranks to get viewed, but I had no idea how it would do tonight. No matter what happened tonight, it would be memorable. This was the first time I'd made it this far in the ranks and nothing that had to do with Jon or Palmer was going to stop me. 

     The art was covered by a thin blanket and hoisted onto the back of my bike. I shoved on a grey hoodie and slipped out of the front door. There was nothing visible except the dim glow of the street lights and a the smoke from cigarettes floating in the air. My lungs filled with the sickening smell but there was nothing to be done about it. 

     I pedaled fast, knowing that time was against me. A few times the handles locked up and I was forced to continue in a straight path. Straining my tired eyes in the darkness didn't help that much either. By the time I reached the building, the parking lot was loaded with cars. The lights were dim, and I could tell it had already started. Without missing a beat I ran inside, my painting in my bare hands. 

     As I suspected, everyone was gathered around paintings. Some that I'd never seen before. Nervously I searched for an empty stand for my painting. A few people eyed me and my attire with concern. The artists around here wore suits and dresses that cost more than everything I owned. But that didn't stop me from unraveling my painting and presenting it in front of the crowd. I stood next to it with my hands shoved in my pockets. 

No one paid attention to it. They walked past with a laugh and a snobby gesture towards the champagne they were drinking. I wasn't discouraged easily. For me, there was still faith that someone would look at it and notice the difference in the many strokes of my paintbrush. 

Unexpectedly, a child; around the age of three stood in front of my art. She furrowed her eyebrows and pointed a tiny finger at the easel. The small girl stood there for the longest, drawing more and more attention towards my painting. A man in his early twenties picked up the child and stared into the art with awe. People stopped and gathered around it with similar features. 

"Did you draw this, young man?" An older women questioned. Her sandy blonde hair covered the wrinkles in her skin, along with expensive jewelry. 

I stood a little taller and confirmed her question,"Yes ma'am. I did." The little girl finally put her finger down and started sucking of her thumb. My heart silently raced as more people crowded around to get a better look. 

"What is your name?" The girl's father looked at me with curiosity. 

I cleared my throat,"Nevi Louis."

The lady wearing all the jewelry approached me calmly. Her red dress glistened under the studio's lights. She placed a hand on my shoulder and smiled at me. 

"Nevi Louis, you have talent. Your detail is beautiful and the piece you've brought in is truly remarkable." 

My soul lit up with honor. Never, had anyone told me anything like this before. Her words touched me somewhere deep. She looked at the easel again and smiled with nostalgia. 

"It reminds me of my own adolescent years. I'd like to buy it from you." The lady stated. Her brown eyes waited for my answer. I froze beneath my skin and shivered as she continued. 

"What's your price? Whatever it is I'll double it." She challenged. I opened my mouth trying to find something to say. Before I could get a word out she interrupted me with a sigh. 

"I'm sorry for my hastiness. My name is Candice and I'm an sales supervisor in California. On the side I also collect art for a museum of mine. I'd like you to paint me one, identical to this." She gestured towards my easel and then focused her attention back to me. 

"I'll give you a down payment of 250 and pay you the other half when it's finished. How does that sound?" 

I nodded quickly and reached out to shake her hand,"I'll have it done in in four days, five at the maximum." Candice accepted my hand shake and continued to tell me about her museum. It hadn't opened yet, but when it did she would have over a hundred pieces from famous artists. The woman had two kids, both were grown living their own lives,  and a husband in the marketing business.  

I told her that I was a senior, going on eighteen in a few months. Candice was surprised by that. Apparently I gave her the impression that I was older. A college student, were her exact words. Despite my age she had already made up her mind that my painting was going to be in her museum. We traded information just as the last of the crowd exited the gallery. 

     That's how I ended up with a thick wad of cash in my inexperienced hands. Never, had I held that much money. Never, had anything worth that much belonged to me. To think, that it was only half of the final result made my stomach twist with excitement. 

     As the art showing closed for the day I stood outside and wondered what I would do first. I thought of everything I could buy and everything I could do now. How hunger wouldn't be a problem for me anymore. 

     I rode my bike to a burger place and ordered a double cheeseburger, an extra order of fries and a chocolate milkshake. For the first time in months, I was satisfied. Everything was going right. I leaned back in the booth and smiled to myself. Nevi Louis, the famous artist. It sounded good, but felt even better. I laid my head on the table and fell asleep with dreams surfacing in my head. Dreams that I hadn't allowed myself to have in a long time. 


     When I woke up, my back was killing me and my hand was soaked in my own slobber. A lady was sweeping the floor and stealing glances at me. I stretched, realizing that I was still at the restaurant. Memories from the previous night flooded through my head as I quickly got up. 

"I'm sorry." I apologized to the lady, shortly after I realized that she had earbuds in her ears. 

Feeling embarrassed, I walked outside and squinted my eyes from the intensity of the sun. Once they adjusted it was obvious that it was early. 

     The sun had just barely reached the sky, sending small ripples of light blue into the gloomy darkness. Where the light blue touched, the darker blue quickly left rapidly. As I stared into the sky, I noticed the many complex shades of colour. This motivated me to paint. 

In my mind a painting could capture much more than a photo from a camera. A photo showed the beautiful scenery and amazing contrast. A painting on the other hand showed the beauty and the pain. There was always two sides to a painting, but only one to a picture. I was determined to make people see both sides. 

Everything was split into two. The earth and the moon, the day and the night, the sun and the moon. Whether or not people realized it, there were two sides to it all. To everything. Including my life. 

     I got on my bike and rode to an art store, where I went for almost everything. The familiar smell of oil pastels and paint made me even more anxious. I shoved my hand in my pocket, feeling reassured by the wad of cash. 

A small smile found my face as I spotted Huey, restocking shelves. He waved at me from afar and climbed down a wooden ladder. 

"Nevi, haven't seen you in a while. How's it going?" Huey approached me with a full smile on his face. 

I shrugged,"Pretty well. I finally have enough for that paint." 

     His features lit up like the Fourth of July. Huey was indeed my biggest fan. Always gave me anything that got damaged in shipping for free, behind his father's back of course. 

"Good, I kept it in the back for you. I'll be right back." Huey ran through the store, leaving me to myself. I found some blank canvases on sale and a chocolate bar. He came back with the paint that I'd been admiring for months. 

As Huey scanned the items worry registered in his features,"How's the old man doin'? Not much trouble right?" 

     I nodded my head, silently hoping he wouldn't mention Jon again. Thankfully Huey didn't, instead he told me about the track scholarship he'd gotten. Unfortunately Huey hadn't been able to tell his father, due to his stubbornness. He really wanted Huey to become a doctor, or a lawyer of some sort. The only problem was Huey's heart just wasn't into any of it. All he wanted to do was run. We were similar in that manner. Both knew exactly what why we were put on this planet. 

Huey was to be the fastest man on Earth. Mine was to be one of the best artists to ever breathe air. 

"Let me know how your paintings come along. Don't be afraid to pop in sometime, you know I'll be here." He called as I walked out the door. 

     I placed my bags on the handles of my bike and rode slowly to the apartment. Right when I entered the complex I could hear a man yelling at his wife. The foul language he used to address her made me shrivel with disgust. It reminded me of Jon, the way he used to talk to my aunt. Right before she left him, and me for the country side. No matter what I couldn't forgive her, or him. 

She was the first person that saw the way he treated me. Her eyes saw the way he beat me up, and she didn't do a thing to stop it. Instead she ran for the hills leaving me behind. 

     I shook myself out of it and used my key to unlock the door. As I stepped into the apartment I could smell Jon's oil covered boots and rusted metal clothes. Quietly I shuffled into my room, passing his snoring body that laid on the couch. I grimaced as he shifted from left to his right side. Everything Jon did disgusted me. He made me want to vomit the cheeseburger I had eaten. 

I closed the door to my room and lifted the mattress. The money I had been saving was untouched and flattened out due to the weight of the mattress. I rolled up the ninety three dollars and put it with the rest of what I had in my pocket. Next, I pulled out my paint brushes and shoved my earbuds into my ears. 

The next four hours went by fast. 

     I was painting the base of the painting just barely filling in some colour. Eventually the sun went down and I had to let it dry and get some proper rest. I put the frame in my closet and shoved everything else under my bed, hidden from Jon's cruel eyes. Right when I was about to crawl into bed, an intense pound on the front door stopped me. I could hear Jon get up from the couch, muttering swear words of all sorts. 

I turned off my light and peeked through my door to see what was going on. 

"Who is  it?" His hateful voice yelled through the door. Another pounding surprised me, this time followed with voices. Jon backed away from the door swiftly and ran towards my room. I backed away from the door just as he entered. He flicked on the light so that the terror was visible in his dark eyes. 

His breathing was ragged as he grabbed my shirt and bawled it with his fist,"Go open the door and tell them I'm not here." 

     I shivered from the desperate edge of his voice,"Tell who?" Jon slammed me against the wall, but not as hard as he usually would. It seemed that he really didn't want to hurt me this time. Something about him seemed off, as if he was drunk but completely sober at the same time. 

"No questions Nevi, go open the door now." He growled before throwing me into the hallway. I slowly walked towards the pounding door and nervously undid the four locks we had. 

     Six angry eyes stared into mine with hatred. My eyes automatically caught onto the shiny object on one of their waists. The man's hand was gripping a silver gun. I couldn't breathe or move after that. I was frozen in my own fear and terror. It covered my body like a blanket and wrapped me in it. The guy who I assumed was banging on the door from how red his knuckles were folded his arms and looked me over several time. A bandana was tied around his head along with a silver cross hanging on his neck. 

"Where's Jon Louis?" His question was dark and full of hatred. The guys behind him peered down at me with the matching stone cold expressions. I opened my mouth and barely whispered the words,"He's not home." 

The man gripping the gun tilted his head to the side and chuckled,"Could've sworn I heard his voice." 

I screwed my eyes shut, anticipating for him to shoot me right there on the spot. Three seconds; I could be dead. But as those seconds past I realized that I was still alive. 

"Tell him that he's a day late." The first guy spoke before their many footsteps faded away. I closed the door and locked it as fast as possible. Slowly I took deep breaths to calm myself down. Jon came out of the kitchen and stared at me. He gave me a blank look before returning to the ouch to finish his nap. I glared at the back of his head for the longest. Jon was fully prepared to sacrifice my life for his own. I could've died for him. 

I would never give myself up for Jon, again. No matter what.

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      Gradually I built up enough information to give to Palmer. He was highly interested in Shiloh Smith. I knew her, but not by association. More like hearing the occasional upbringing of her name. Or accidentally viewing one or two of her soccer games. But never direct association. 

     Palmer walked up to me while I was hacking a complex server with only my mac book. His blonde hair swayed to the left while his hands were shoved into his jeans. Palmer was the guy who climbed the social ladder and economic as well. This made him untouchable to anyone with authority. I could bring him down, with one click. 

"Shiloh Smith. I want her, and I know you can make that happen." Were his exact words as he towered over me with his height. 

I chuckled,"Good for you." His features darkened, and I nervously closed my Mac Book to look at him. I might've been able to destroy him with one click, but that didn't mean he couldn't pound me to a pulp first. 

"It's gonna cost you. I'm afraid I'm not exactly cheap either." Palmer laughed and pulled a wad of cash from his pocket, as if it were nothing. He shoved it into my hand and walked away. Never, had I received that much for a job. Whatever Palmer wanted to know about her, was important. No one pulls out that much cash for a girl. But maybe she wasn't just a girl. 

     I began researching Shiloh Smith when I got home from school. It wasn't that hard. Scrolling through her social media I found out that she was an only child but I was sure Palmer knew that part already. What he wanted was the unfiltered version of Shiloh Smith. For that I would have to dig deeper.

     Never did I think his intentions were to hurt her. All Palmer said was that he wanted her. The following day I attended yet another one of her soccer games, but for a completely different reason. To gain further knowledge about her. To, in other words, learn from her. 

     She was the first one onto the soccer field, stretching and laughing with her teammates. From the bleachers I could tell that Shiloh was motivating them. Her teammates huddled up while their coach gave them further instructions. I watched the obvious intensity in her eyes when the game finally started. 

     Now, I didn't know much about soccer. But I knew that Shiloh was incredibly good at it. She was faster than the rest, more coordinated, and had a plan before she even needed one. Her foot coordination was more than enough to let me know that she had done gymnastics. A little research on her mom and I found my observation to be correct. 

     Shiloh had been a gymnast all the way up to fifteen, before an injury left her with a twenty percent chance to ever compete again. I scrolled back farther and found out that her father was a military officer. Her biggest fear was pain. I assumed that the trauma from her injury caused this. I looked up from my MacBook and frowned at Shiloh as she scored, again. A beautiful smile reached her lips as her team cheered her on. She was undeniably gorgeous, I'd noticed that a long time ago. But someone like Palmer would never do right by her. 

     When the game ended, I allowed everyone to flood out of the bleachers before me. I finished typing the last of my information before closing my laptop and shoving it into my backpack. 

"Hey you," I looked up to see the familiar blonde I'd been researching for the last three days. Her arms were crossed and a small touch of amusement was written in her features. Those sea green eyes gazed into mine softly, and I swore the current was rapidly taking me under. 

"You spent more time on that laptop than you did watching the game. Did I bore you?" Shiloh wore a smirk, causing her to look more beautiful than before. My face flushed with embarrassment because she had been paying attention to me the same way I was paying attention to her. 

     I stood up and hastily shoved my backpack on,"No. Of course not. It was a good game, I-I just had some last minute homework." I almost face planted right there on the spot. When did I start stuttering around girls? 

Shiloh shrugged,"Homework huh? That's odd because it seems like you were watching something else." 

     I could feel myself flush under her intensity and suddenly I felt unbalanced,"I assure you I was not watching that!" The blonde laughed, picked up her things, and urged me to follow her. 

"Calm down Kale, I was only teasing you." She chuckled again and I followed her into the almost empty parking lot. There were only two cars, her silver Mercedes S class and my used Dodge Dakota St truck that my father had given me. It was midnight black thanks to a recent paint job and ran pretty smoothly without many problems. 

     But compared to Shiloh's ride, I might as well been riding a bicycle. She waved at me before getting in her car and speeding out of the parking lot. As I got in my truck a cold slice of reality hit me. 

Shiloh Smith knew my name.

     I drove home to my large family of six, or seven if you include myself. All were smiling and laughing in the living room when I arrived. My eldest brother, Kai, was telling a story. Most likely something humorous about college since he had lots of experience there. Everyone erupted into laughter while I snuck off into my room to hide the cash that Palmer had given me. 

     My family wasn't wealthy; in fact we could barely afford what we had. But that didn't stop us from pitching in whatever we had. Our parents worked long shifts with only a few hours to spend resting and bonding with the rest of us. The youngest of our family were the twins, Karina and Kyla. Both were just barely seven years of age. 

     Then came Kana. She was sixteen now, able to drive and watch the twins when no one else was around. Next it was me, I was two years older than her but hadn't turned eighteen yet. My birthday wouldn't come until the Summer unfortunately. 

Finally Kai. He was just a year older than me. My brother managed to attend a community college nearby, that way he could drop in on the weekends and occasionally babysit the twins. 

     I locked the door and opened a compartment in my computer. The rest of my life savings were there in the storage compartment. I'd been saving up for college. Not community college, but a real one. It was pretty close to ten thousand dollars cash. If my parents knew I had this type of money, they would assume that I was drug dealing. Or even worse stealing. They would never understand my gift for technology or the jobs that people needed done. My parents would call it the work of a criminal. This was why I had to hide it. All of it. 

     A knock on my door almost caused me to jump out of my own skin. I closed the computer and carefully slipped out of my clothes. 

"Hey Kale, we didn't hear you come in." Kari's voice sent my heart rushing with fear. I shoved on an old shirt and a pair of sweatpants, then poured water over my head. 

"Oh sorry. I smelled pretty bad so I took a shower, but I'll be out in a minute." I opened the door just enough to see his features. Kai shrugged lightly,"Its fine. Just say something next time." 

I closed the door and sighed with relief. He had bought yet another one of my lies, but how long would he continue to? Kai was smart, he was indeed my brother. My IQ was higher, but not by much. Eventually he would figure me out, but I was praying it would take him a while.

After brushing my teeth, I left my room and got my food out of the microwave. My father was sitting at the table filling out his own paperwork. I took the seat across from him and smiled. 

My father eyed me quickly before returning back to his work.

"How's work going? When's your next paycheck?" Were the first questions out of his mouth. I took a bite out of my cold chicken and shrugged,"Work is good. It's been a busy week and I managed to pick up an extra shift for tomorrow. I get paid next Friday."

     My father nodded with approval, his favorite topic was work. More specifically money, and what I was bringing home. Don't get me wrong, I want to help out my household. But if I brought a thick wad of cash home and put it in his hands he would be suspicious. To my father, I worked at a warehouse unloading boxes. I told him that the pay was random but too good to pass up.

"That's good. I'm proud of you Kale, real proud."

     I nearly choked on my food. Never had my father said those words to me. To Kai, plenty of times but never me. Then I felt revolted by myself; someone like me didn't deserve to here those words. I hadn't earned them like Kai had. I finished my food quickly and went back to my room. My laptop buzzed from my backpack and I quickly unpacked it.

To my surprise it was a friend request from Shiloh Smith herself.

     I smirked to myself thinking of all the trouble she went through just to find me on social media. I didn't have any mutual friends and my username complex. My curiosity got the best of me as I wondered how she found me. As soon as I accepted her friend request Shiloh messaged me. 

I opened her message three minutes later, for my own amusement. If the information I had gathered about Shiloh was correct, then I knew she hated waiting. 

You don't have a lot of friends, do you?

I smirked and quickly typed a reply. Of course I didn't have friends, I was known as the school's freak. It was obvious that Shiloh didn't pay attention to anyone lower than her. 

Sorry to disappoint you, but I don't. 

Shiloh read my message immediately. This further confirmed my assumptions. She was addicted to social media. I wouldn't have been surprised if it was the center of her life.

Do you think you're too good for friends or something?

I almost laughed when I read that. Shiloh really had no idea. After waiting five minutes I finally replied to her. Subconsciously I loved messing with her, whether she realized it or not.

Most friendships don't last the duration of high school, so why try? I feel that it is all a waste of time.

It took Shiloh no time to reply. I could tell I hit a nerve somewhere.

That's debatable Kale, but at least you're opinionated. I can't stand people without a voice.

Without realizing this I smiled to myself and didn't hesitate to respond.

Glad we agree on something. Goodnight Shiloh.

Right on cue Shiloh answered, Night Kale.

To my surprise I actually fell asleep. 


I woke up at twelve in the afternoon due to my siblings arguing in the hallway. If it hadn't been for them, I would've stayed sleep. I jumped out of bed and took the fastest shower I'd ever taken. Everything else went by pretty quickly. As I was shoving cereal into my mouth, Kai came up and ruffled my hair. A small smile was written in his features,"Afternoon sleepyhead."

"I'm late." I mumbled through a mouth full of cereal. Kai nodded and rolled his eyes. Once I finished my cereal I shoved my mac book in my backpack and grabbed my keys.

"Hey Kale, drive safe." Kai called out to me. This time I rolled my eyes and sped out of my neighborhood. By the time I reached Napoleon's house, he was already outside smoking a cigarette. I noticed a new tattoo covering the side of his neck. From approaching him, it appeared to be a girl. Maybe his sister, Hope. 

     He took a long drag from his cigarette and gave me a gruesome smile. We were friends by association as he liked to call it. The minute we were done with this project would be the minute our friendship would end. After that, I'd like to think we would never cross paths again. 

"It isn't like you to be late Kale. Hope you don't plan on making this a habit. You know I hate waiting." Napoleon gave me another gruesome smile and I fought back the urge to grimace.

     I shrugged, hiding my annoyance without much trouble,"It's a one time thing. I brought your paperwork and further details about your attackers. Turns out there's two." Napoleon dropped his jaw and smushed his cigarette inside his bare palm. I waited for him to come to terms with my words before I continued. 

"One is named Oscar Venezuela, and the other is still unidentifiable. I'm assuming you don't know why they are after you. It's all really simple, you preformed a job with them that backfired heavily. Now, they're seeking vengeance on you." 

      Napoleon slammed his fist into the car, leaving a rather large dent in the metal surface. He narrowed his eyes at me and grabbed the fabric of my shirt. 

"The hell you mean he's unidentified? I'm not paying you five grand for nothing Kale. Find out who he is in the next hour or I'll do it myself." He snarled before shoving me aside and slamming the door to his house. 

I sighed, there was no way I could find out who the other person was in sixty minutes. There wasn't enough time or enough evidence. But Napoleon had a dark side, and I didn't want to see it. 


I pulled out my MacBook and started researching at a local cafe; one not too far from my house. It was quiet and the coffee was extremely memorable. 

The first guy after Napoleon was a sloppy worker. Finding him was easy, a few clicks and I found him. The second guy was meticulous. But that didn't mean I hadn't had a clue about who he was. His identity was hidden well, with few slip ups. Those slip ups were all I had though. 

Those slip ups were all I had.

A hand was placed on my shoulder. One with feminine blue nail polish. I looked up and recognized a very amused looking Shiloh. 

She wore an ocean blue blouse with shorts and a pair of sandals. Her nail polish complimented her eye colour perfectly. The light glow of the cafe lights did her well. Shiloh looked stunningly beautiful. She always did, but up close was even better. If I looked close enough I could almost read her expressions. 

Shiloh grinned,"Fancy seeing you here Kale. Are you studying on a Saturday?" My heart sent waves of panic through my head. I couldn't lie and say that I had a test, for Shiloh would find out otherwise. I couldn't say it was homework either, she was too smart for that one. I did the only thing I could think of and told the truth. 

"I'm helping a friend of mine find someone. This someone has been causing quite some problems." I spoke, trying to look casual. Shiloh raised a brow and folded her arms. She was buying my lack of detail, but just barely. 

"Does your friend go to our school?" I sipped my coffee and shook my head . I really didn't want to lie to Shiloh. Genuinely i liked her, probably more than I should have. 

The information I was going to give Palmer was already at home sitting in my files, ready to be in his possession. Just the thought made me crumble with guilt. Nevertheless I gave Shiloh the smile of a lifetime and prayed she couldn't read my mind. 

Shiloh sat across from me and rested her head in the palms of her hands. 

"Maybe your friend knows this person through someone else. Sometimes you have so many friends you can't tell who's down for you and who's not." Her eyes watered slightly before she walked away. My eyes followed her for as long as they could before she rounded a corner and disappeared from my sight. Shiloh's words caused my mouth to drop in awe. She was exactly right and suddenly things were starting to piece together, right in front of my eyes.

     It took me less than twenty minutes to find Napoleon's other attacker. Once I did, I headed back to his house. A silver Camaro was parked in the driveway crookedly. I parked on the side of his house and knocked on the door. It reeked of illegal substances, that were all too familiar. A crooked smile rested on his face as he pulled me inside and poured me some champagne. 

You never turned down anything Napoleon offered. I learned the hard way. See, Napoleon wasn't very generous. So when he was in the mood you took advantage.

     "You're back early. Then again you do work better under pressure." Napoleon chuckled to himself while motioning for me to have a seat. I turned around but instantly tensed when cold dark eyes landed on mine. I was motionless as he stared at me.

I cleared my throat and spoke with no emotion,"Napoleon we need to talk now." 

He scoffed,"Of course we do. Tell me what you know boy." I rubbed the sweat from my palms on my jeans and leaned into his ear,"In private please." 

"You should know this by now Kale, I don't have secrets to hide in my own house. Now say it, I'm tired of waiting for answers." My throat felt as if it was closing up under his intense glare, but somehow I managed to tell him. I pointed my finger at the man sitting on his white leather couch and screwed my eyes shut.

"I-It's him." 

     I watched in slow motion as the man on the couch reached for his gun, but it was too late. Napoleon was faster pulling his silver gun from his belt and firing twice at the man. The blood splattered my clothing as I was paralyzed with fear. I watched in terror as the man, known as Richard Fleece, died. Eyes wide open, but lifeless.

Furiously Napoleon called his guys in the room to get rid of the body. My champagne was all over the tile floor when he put a murderous hand on my shoulder and gripped my shoulder.

     His cold blue eyes stared in mine with a painfully twisted look,"You saved my life Kale. I won't forget that." 

I might've saved his, but in return one was lost. And hell, it was a bad feeling.

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