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This book is dedicated to the people who kicked my butt to make it better, Katy and Mary, and to the people who said it could happen, would happen.

To the ones who supported me and didn't give me crap for spending all of my spare time attached to my laptop.

And to the rockingest friends the electronic age can offer.



















Chapter One









It wasn’t yet eight, but the streets were pretty bare. It was dark, street lights just coming on and not yet warmed up enough to do more than emit a weak glow or illuminate much more than the dirt in the air.

Alarin didn’t mind the shadows; they kept him hidden while he waited. It was a simple job. Tap and his guys would come out of the club; Alarin would do a little panhandling, combined with some fancy foot work, and make off with a package from Tap’s pocket.

Not many on the street were ballsy enough to try to pick Tap. After all, the man was a legend. Alarin was hungry, though, and that meant more than balls. He hadn’t had real food in so long he almost didn’t remember what it tasted like ... and the payday for this job was enough to buy him food that still resembled the living thing it was taken from.

Incentive enough to be here, three levels up from where he belonged, scoping out the front of a club where Tap and his boys were known to be. Simple job. Easy, even.

The door opened and Tap emerged, accompanied by his newest protégées. They were barely Alarin’s age. This was going to be easier than he’d imagined; they’d been drinking, and young meant green. Alarin put on his best drunken behavior stumble, moving toward his mark as soon as they cleared the windows of the club. “Gots spare change?” he asked, losing his balance and stumbling into Tap.

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