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It's the anniversary of the date he lost his family and Jack doubts he'll ever find those responsible. Depression has taken hold and he can't take it anymore. He's ready to end it and pulls out his Beretta, but as he fingers the trigger, Ray shows up at the eleventh hour with news that may finally answer what happened to Jack's family.

Jack soon finds himself pulled into San Francisco's underbelly and his life threatened at the hands of the city's more deadly Chinese gang, the Jade Dragons, and their leader, Li Zihao, has the answers Jack’s looking for. Including who the man was who killed himself in Jack’s house and left the note simply saying I’m sorry.

Is Jack ready for the truth?


San Francisco, California
Thursday – 25th of March

Grief was a monster. 

It had taken up residence inside Jack the night he lost his family. Every day for four years, his squatter took pleasure in eviscerating him until he no longer recognized himself and every inch of his body cried out in anguish.

His leather jacket creaked as he reached for the bottle of Jameson he'd taken from Nick's office the day of his funeral. Jack's hand shook as he poured a measure into the two cut crystal tumblers then set them aside.

Not yet.

As was tradition, he'd wait until he was ready before downing his.

He'd switched off his phone's ringer earlier, but it started vibrating again, telling him there was another incoming call. He pushed it away. He didn't want to talk to anyone, and certainly didn't want anyone talking him out of what he was here to do.

Hot tears coursed down his cheeks like liquid fire. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block the burning pressure behind them. Hard pounding in his chest forced blood into his head until it felt like his skull would explode. The firm whoosh in his ears drowned out ambient sounds around him. He raked his fingers through his hair, pressing his palms against his head to force away the pain. It didn't help.

He pulled the leather jacket tightly around him, hugging his arms around his middle, and rocked back and forth, trying to suppress his sobbing.

This was Jack Slaughter, losing his shit.

Not yet, he kept chanting.

He hadn't been back to the house since the day he'd found the dead man slouched behind the dining table—where he currently sat—chunks of his brain, skull, and hair stuck to the wall in the splatter. The forensic team had removed as much of it as they could, but the blood stain still fanned out across the plasterwork where the man had held his head before pulling the trigger. Memory forced the man's distorted face into the splatter void. Jack looked away with disgust.

The man had broken in to commit suicide, but there was still no answer why he'd done it or chosen Jack's house to do it in. Just the note he'd left behind simply saying I'm sorry.

Jack wasn't upset about the man's suicide. No, not that. Once someone decided to take their own life, there was no talking them out of it. He was pissed eight ways from Sunday because, in his last moments, the guy could have explained a few things before calling it a day. I'm sorry wasn't a confession or the typical last note suiciders left behind.

What had this asshole's note meant? Was he sorry for breaking the door glass when he accessed the house and that's why he'd carefully stacked it on the table and left it beside his vague note? Was he sorry for choosing this house to kill himself because it looked abandoned? Or was he sorry because he was the one responsible for destroying Jack's family and he could no longer live with himself? 

So many questions Jack would never have answers to, and without them, he felt his monster pulling him so deep into his anguish that there was only one way out.

For all Jack knew, the guy was probably the only link to what had happened to Leah, and the only one who could have told him why his daughter had to die—she'd only been two, for fuck's sake. Jack would never know the truth because the jerkoff had killed himself.

Of course, Jack was no longer on the job, so he wasn't privy to the investigation. Even though Ray was close to Jack, his friend was being unusually tightlipped. Probably on Haniford's orders. So was Cutter. Jack understood but it didn't mean he was happy about any of it.

His phone vibrated again. He didn't know who was trying to reach him and he didn't care. Why hadn’t he just turned off the damn phone completely? Why couldn’t he do it now?

He gazed past the phone to the opposite end of the dining table. Zoë's highchair had been moved into the living room so investigators could examine the crime scene before the coroner removed the man's body. The table had been pushed out of the way too, but Jack had moved it back before sitting down.

I should have moved the highchair back too.

He considered going to get it but didn't. Would that have made a difference or changed things? Probably not.

He inhaled long and slow then closed his eyes again and let his memories replace everything that had been taken from him—the light from the evening sun filtering through the front window and moving across the living room to brighten the dining area; the sound of Leah singing in the kitchen while she cooked and the smell of her marinara; Trax rushing to meet Jack at the door and stuffing his nose in his hand, wanting to be petted; and Zoë in her booster chair at the end of the table, clapping her hands and trying to sing along with Leah. He smiled and let the feelings of love and joy fill him. This is the final vision he wanted in his mind . . . when it was time.

Abruptly, in his mind, he stood in the center of the kitchen and the horror of that night flooded back. He started shaking again.



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