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Jack & Coke (The Uncertain Saints Book 2) by Lani Lynn Vale (1)

Chapter 1

Don’t try to tell me that hungry is not an emotion. I feel that shit in my soul.

-Annie to Mig

Mig

I stepped out of my house, clad only in a pair of jeans and nothing else, and slowly started towards my neighbor’s house.

I’d been in the kitchen, taking a sip of some orange juice straight from the jug, when I’d looked over to see two black-clad figures entering the back of my neighbor’s house.

My neighbor that was a woman.

A very beautiful woman.

Instead of walking around to the back, I went to Annie’s window, the one that was directly across from mine, and slowly entered it.

Most people didn’t realize we kept our windows open since our houses were so close together.

Which was a good thing, too, since the intruders had thought it better to go through the back of the house instead of this easier to access window.

If they’d done that, I would’ve never seen them until it was too late…if at all.

The moment my feet touched down on Annie’s hardwood floor, I moved silently over to the bed where she slept soundly.

My hand covered her mouth, and she startled awake like a scalded cat.

She tried to scream behind my hand, but I moved onto the bed until I could flatten my body on top of hers.

The air left her lungs in a rush the moment I gave her all of my body weight.

“Shhh,” I said, barely audible against her ear. “It’s Mig. You’re okay.”

Annie immediately went limp.

“Where’s your dog?” I asked, removing my hand.

“In her cage,” she answered almost tonelessly.

As I listened to her, my heart started to pound for a completely different reason at feeling her soft body underneath mine.

“I’m going to go check your house. Call 911. Don’t speak. They’ll trace your call and dispatch units. Get off the bed and go to the corner of the room beside the dresser,” I pointed in the direction I wanted her to go.

She nodded against my chest. Reluctantly, I moved up and over the bed, finally stopping at the door.

With the utmost care, I opened the door and started to move down the hall.

I could hear the scuffle of feet now, but not much more than that.

Following the sounds to the living room, I paused at the corner of the mouth of the hall and aimed my gun at the uninvited guests.

“Freeze,” I said, menace leeching out of my steely voice.

The flashlights stopped bobbing around and both men froze.

“Put your hands behind your head and link your fingers,” I ordered.

They both complied.

I moved slowly to the side of them, keeping them in my line of sight, as I stopped in front of the light switch and hit the lights.

Both men, dressed in black, with their masks up around their foreheads, blinked at the suddenness of the light switching on.

I recognized the one on the left instantly.

He was Annie’s screw up ex-husband.

I’d met him at the diner in town when he’d tried to sit down at the booth that Annie had been occupying.

In her haste to get away from him, she’d bumped into me as I made my way to a table with my wife.

I’d caught her before she’d hit the ground, and immediately turned to put Annie at my back, allowing me to place my body in between her and her ex-husband.

He hadn’t liked that much, and I’d made a friend and an enemy all in one day.

My wife already hated the fact that I was a ‘protector’ by nature and had made sure to let me know she didn’t appreciate me having my hands on another woman. Regardless of the circumstances.

Annie had instantly liked me, extremely happy that she’d finally found a man she could count on.

And Mr. Autrey, Annie’s ex-husband, had made sure to harass me every chance he got.

“What are you doing in my wife’s house?” Ross Autrey snapped at me.

I raised an eyebrow at him.

“I could ask you the same thing,” I answered instead.

Ross narrowed his eyes at me, and I smirked.

“Go on,” I goaded, smiling congenially at him. “Try it. Make my day.”

Ross proved he wasn’t stupid.

The friend with him, however, proved he was.

He let his hands slowly slip from his head, and I laughed.

“Ross. How about you tell your friend how good of a shot I am,” I invited.

Ross turned his head in the direction of his friend, and shook his head, whispering frantically at him. “Don’t move, man. He’s gonna blow your head apart.”

The friend saw the error in his ways, luckily.

“Annie,” I called. “Tell the cops there are two intruders. One is your ex, and the other is…”

I looked at the man.

“Howard. Howard Ryan,” he replied grudgingly.

“You got that?” I called.

“Yes!” Annie called from the bedroom.

Hopefully she was still in her spot, but it sounded to me like she’d been closer than I wanted her to be right then.

And I knew she wouldn’t spend much more time hidden away.

“Go get the door for the policemen I can see outside,” I called. “And tell them you have a DEA Agent in your house so they don’t try to shoot me when they enter.”

“I already did,” I heard Annie say as she got closer.

I saw her for only a few seconds before she disappeared around the edge of the hallway into the entryway beyond it.

Then the door was unchained, unlocked and swung open.

Three cops were the next to enter, and I nodded at the one I knew.

“Hey there, Officer Kirkpatrick,” I called to my good friend.

We had drinks every week, sometimes multiple times a week.

I had to do some creative maneuvering to get away from my wife, and Officer Kirkpatrick, a.k.a. Bullseye, was one of my moves.

Well, I didn’t do him…but I hung out with him.

Often.

And Bullseye had a hell of a wife that didn’t care if I was over there as much as I was.

“What’s shakin’?” Bullseye asked.

“These two men here decided to break into Annie’s house. I’m just here making sure that they don’t get off with anything valuable,” I answered.

The other officer, Antonio Juarez, I didn’t know very well.

He was new, and hung out with the young’uns instead of us old folks.

Well, I was thirty-four, which wasn’t ‘old’ per se, but it sure as fuck wasn’t young, either.

“What’s that in his hand?” Juarez asked.

I looked down at Howard Ryan’s hand, and narrowed my eyes.

“That’s Annie’s purse,” I answered.

Annie’s ‘purse’ was more of a beach bag, and I didn’t know how the hell she found anything in it.

But I wouldn’t know what to do with her if she didn’t have it with her.

She’d been able to supply me with an ice pack, and a water on two different occasions, so I wasn’t one to complain when it was beneficial to me.

“Well, boys, let’s go for a ride downtown,” Bullseye said, walking behind Howard Ryan and handcuffing him.

Ryan shot me an evil look as he left, promising retribution, and I smiled at him.

Bring it, little boy. You can’t handle this, my look said.

Forty-five minutes later, the cops were leaving with both men in the back of two separate cars, and I was left standing on Annie’s front porch with her next to me.

“Thank you,” she said, looking up at me with all sorts of promises in her eyes.

I touched my fingertips to her cheek and smiled down at her.

God, she was beautiful.

Long, wavy brown hair that went down to her mid back. Beautiful, full lips.

A smokin’ ass.

Light bronze skin that was nearly the color of mine.

She wasn’t Italian like me, though.

She was Puerto Rican, and she wouldn’t let anyone call her otherwise.

I’d give anything to be with her but my life, and name, belonged to my wife.

God, if there was any way I could rewind a year, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

I would’ve never invited my now wife, Jennifer, to the club party.

Jennifer was the exact opposite of Annie.

Rude, opinionated and selfish.

Now she was six months pregnant with my child, and I hated every fucking second of my life.

“You’re welcome,” I said roughly. “I’m gonna have a few men over here in the next few days to install an alarm and make sure nobody can ever do that to you again.”

“Mig, what the ever loving fuck are you doing over there?” My wife screeched.

I winced and slowly dropped my hand, looking over at Jennifer like one would a pile of fish heads and vomit.

Then I turned around when I saw she was dressed in little to nothing.

How not surprising.

The woman didn’t know what the fuck clothes were.

I’d get home in the evenings from work, and she’d be wearing clothes that revealed her ass, her breasts and belly.

And honestly, for a six-month pregnant woman, she looked great.

But nobody needed to see that.

And I hated that she went out in the front yard to ‘greet’ me when I got home from work.

What she was really doing was trying to make me jealous.

Little did she know, I couldn’t get jealous of any other man when it came to her.

I would have to care about her first, and I didn’t.

And I’d give her up in a heartbeat if she wasn’t having my kid.

“Be safe. Make sure you lock your doors,” I ordered Annie.

I saw the pity on her face as I turned and walked down her front walk, crossing through her yard into my own.

I walked into the house, completely ignoring the fact that Jennifer was still looking at me with suspicion in her eyes.

I’d never cheat on her, but she constantly accused me of it.

“Annie’s house was broken into,” I said by way of explanation as I made it to the kitchen.

I grabbed a beer.

And just in time, too.

“I can’t fucking believe that you left me here to go save another woman,” my wife hissed at me.

I narrowed my eyes on my beer bottle as a thousand different things went through my head at once.

I can’t believe you trapped me into marrying you.

I can’t believe you gave me a date rape drug to make me fuck you.

I can’t believe we now have a baby on the way and I can’t fucking leave because my morals don’t allow me to leave a woman that’s carrying my child.

I can’t believe you think I care even a single bit about you. If you weren’t carrying my child, I could give any less of a crap about you.

I didn’t answer her.

Instead, I stayed quiet, even though every inch of my being wanted to yell at her…tear her apart with my words.

I slept next to the woman every single fucking night, and my skin crawled the entire time.

Instead, I stayed awake and watched the window beyond my room, wishing it was Annie in bed with me instead of the woman currently looking at me like I’d skinned her pet rabbit in front of her eyes.

I flipped on the TV once I reached the living room, ignoring Jennifer and the fact that it was nearly four AM.

I had to be up in less than an hour anyway, so what was the point of trying to go back to bed?

Then again, I hadn’t slept well in over four months since I’d married Jennifer.

“Are you just going to fucking ignore me for the rest of the night?” She hissed.

I finally looked away from the TV, unaware what was even on, and stared at her.

“Go away.”

Jennifer narrowed her eyes.

“You’re my husband, I can talk to you whenever I fuckin’ want to,” she murmured.

I narrowed my eyes at her.

“That’s crass. Stop talking like a piece of trash and leave me alone,” I growled, turning my eyes back to the TV.

“I don’t even know why I married you. I should divorce you,” she hissed.

I wish you would. Then I’d be off the hook.

She wouldn’t do that, though.

Not with my father being who he was.

What Jennifer saw was dollar signs, meaning she would never leave.

I smiled to myself.

What she didn’t know was that I couldn’t touch my money until I was forty years of age.

I kept my accounts to myself, too.

I paid for Jennifer’s doctor bills, the house note, all the utility bills and food.

What I didn’t pay for were Jennifer’s clothes, her car note, nor her credit card bills.

I’d also made her sign a pre-nup that was not only iron clad, but it gave her absolutely nothing.

Nothing.

And the first time she cheated, she’d get slapped with a custody suit a mile wide.

And she would cheat.

It was only a matter of time.

I didn’t expect it to happen yet, seeing as how she was pregnant with my kid, but I wouldn’t put it past her to try.

Nobody in this town would do her, though.

She’d have to go find it somewhere where everyone didn’t know me.

“I wish you didn’t treat me so badly. I’m your wife and the mother of your child,” she hissed.

I looked back at her.

“And how did you get to be that again? Was it my beer that you dropped the drug in, or my Jack and Coke?” I challenged.

She snapped her mouth shut, knowing when it was time to shut up and leave.

Which was good for her, because I was about to fuckin’ lose it.

She left with a stomp of her feet, and I smiled.

Goddamn that woman was a piece of work.

I turned back to the TV, groaning when Annie’s commercial came on.

God, now that woman was somethin’.

She was a fuckin’ beauty, and I’d give my left nut to have her.

Come down and visit me,” my Annie on the commercial smiled at the camera. “I’ll give you a massage and style that you’ll love.”

Maybe a massage was in my future.