This book is not only unfinished, it hasn't got a proper title. I named the file after the main character, Kai Marcello. He meets a young woman, Paisley, who comes to teach water aerobics at his family's gym. He finds out that she's running away from a very bad relationship with a crazy guy who tried to kill her. She lives just up the street from Brill, who's the head of a gang and cousin to one of Kai's best friends. Brill agrees to have his men look after Paisley. Having something to report, they come up as Kai and Paisley are leaving her apartment.
They hopped in the Jeep and were just pulling out when a black Ford truck with spinners and a lot of chrome cut them off. Kai was grateful for good brakes.
Four thugs got out and came over to the Jeep. Kai recognized Brill, TM's cousin, and some of his heavies.
"Yo, Kai," Brill said, flashing a bunch of gold teeth. "This your lady?"
"Yeah. TM talked to you?"
"Yeah, man. Listen, reason I'm stopping by, we saw some dude we didn't know, hanging around. He looked kinda weasely. What's your ex look like, baby?" He directed at Paisley.
"I've got a picture." She shrugged. "My mom and dad are in it too," she added. "Otherwise, I wouldn't have kept it." She flipped through the pictures on her phone and handed it to Brill.
He slid his sunglasses down his nose, looking at the screen. He passed it to his men. One of them pointed to the picture.
"Nope. This wasn't the guy, but similar build. The guy I saw was a little taller, scrawny, fidgety, like he's got a snake up his ass. Dark hair—course that means nothing, hair dye, right? But this guy? No."
"Memorize this face," Brill said. "If that other guy comes back, get us a picture, dig? If they get a shot, we'll send it to you, baby."
"Thank you, Brill. Why are you being so helpful? I mean, you don't even know me."
He flashed a smile, leaning on the door of the car. "Cause you're pure, babe. Unspoiled. And you're a lady. Real men don't beat their women or try to kill them. My boys know how to treat a woman right. They raise a fist, they answer to me. I may be a criminal, but I'm not a wife beater."
She smiled, blinking back tears. "I feel like I've got my own army of knights protecting me. Thank you. Hey, what's your favorite kind of cookie?"
"You tell me."
"Peanut butter chocolate chip."
"Damn, you're right!"
"When I've got power back, I'll make you some."
He fiddled a moment with her phone, handing it back to her. "Got my digits. You'll really make me cookies?" He looked like he wanted to laugh, but didn't want to offend her.
"As many as you can eat."
"Kai, dude, you got a lady of quality there. You take care of her."
"Will do, Brill. And thanks. I feel better knowing you guys have her back."
They exchanged a complicated handshake and the gang members left. Kai sat a moment, hunched over the steering wheel, shoulders shaking.
"Kai? Are you okay?"
A stifled snort told her he was fine. He glanced at her tears of humor in his eyes.
"Babe, that guy's a bona fide bad ass. He's been in prison for assault and armed robbery, he's probably killed a few people—and you offered to bake him cookies." He couldn't contain his laughter.
Paisley crossed her arms, smirking. "And if more people had offered to do that for him when he was a kid, he might not be a bona fide criminal. Everyone likes cookies, even gang leaders, and I have a killer recipe for peanut butter chocolate chip cookies."
"Baby, I will personally help you bake them."