Home > Dare to Stay (The Sons of Steel Row #2)

Dare to Stay (The Sons of Steel Row #2)
Author: Jen McLaughlin



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


First and foremost, I’d like to thank you, my readers. Without you, I wouldn’t be able to tell stories and live in worlds where Lucas, Chris, and Scotty existed. Without you, I’d be lost.

I’d like to thank my family, like always. Greg, Kaitlyn, Hunter, Gabriel, Emmy, Dad, Mom, Tina, Erick, Danny, Riley, Connor, Cynthia, Ashley, Greg, Carole, MeeMaw, PeePaw, and everyone else in my family, thank you for always being excited to hear about my latest book deal or my newest idea. And for understanding when I’m just too busy to talk.

To my friends Jay, Jen, Brittany, Jill, Tessa, Megan, Liz, Joanne, and every single one of you out there who means something to me, you’re my world. My life. Thank you for being there for me whenever I needed you, however I needed you. You rock.

To my agent, Louise, and Kristin and the rest of her team and the Bent Agency, thank you for always working hard to make sure my career goes as far as it has already and for always trying to push it a little bit further, too.

And Kristine, my editor here at Penguin, thanks for loving this book as much as I did! And to everyone who had a hand in this book in any way here at New American Library/Signet Eclipse, thank you for that, too! You’re the best!

To anyone out there who reads books, please keep on reading. Keep on dreaming. And more important, keep on living vicariously through these stories we authors are lucky enough to make up for you. Without you, we wouldn’t be who we are.

Thank you.

 

 

This one goes out to the readers out there

who fell in love with Lucas Donahue in book one.

 

 

___________________

 

 

CHAPTER 1


___________________

 

 

CHRIS

 


Sometimes you’ve got to take a look at your life—a good, hard, brutally honest look—and admit that somewhere along the way, you fucked up big-time. Just as importantly, sometimes you had to accept that the reason you were in an alley, bleeding and dying behind a busted-up Laundromat, was because, those choices you made? The screwups, the wrong turns, all the things you wish you could take back?

Yeah. Those were the reasons why you deserved this.

To die alone, as violently as you lived.

I turned my head to spit out blood, painting it across the dirty concrete wall next to me, and laughed at the almost–smiley face it made, because why the hell not? But my laugh made my aching ribs hurt more than before, so it ended on a groan. Clutching my ribs, I gingerly rolled over and glowered up at the sky. The uneven cement under my back dug into my already sore spine. The docks were nearby, the smell of week-old garbage and rotting rat corpses the only thing surrounding me.

The moon was absent tonight, and there wasn’t a cloud to be seen in the sky. The stars shone down on me—never changing, always steady—mocking me with their bright futures. While I probably wouldn’t last the night.

Because I tried to kill my best friend . . .

And he let me live.

Lucas Donahue should’ve killed me instead of just shooting me and cracking my ribs. He was the closest thing I had to a brother, and I’d engineered a bloody coup that had nearly cost him everything. He should have shot me down in cold blood, should have put me down like the rabid dog I was. I deserved it. But instead, he showed me mercy. He let me walk away.

What the hell was I supposed to do with that?

The moment he let me walk out of his apartment, a crumpled-up, bloody note in my hand giving me everything I wanted, I knew I’d made a huge mistake. I never should have attacked my blood brother to get ahead in a gang that—more likely than not—would end up killing me, anyway. I’d stupidly wanted to show my pops that I could be a harder man than he was. That I could beat him at his own game. Be cold. Ruthless. A killer.

I was all those things, but not to Lucas.

Betraying Lucas was the single biggest regret in my life. Normally, I didn’t wallow in the what-ifs or the shoulda-beens. I didn’t waste my damn time with what I could have done or what I could have been. But if I could go back in time and undo all the shit I’d done to Lucas . . .

Man, I would turn that damn clock back so quickly, it’d snap in half.

The bloodstained note in my pocket burned against my thigh. It named me Lucas’s successor, just like I’d wanted. And just like I’d wanted, Lucas was out of the picture, out of the gang. When his younger brother, Scotty, had shown up at his place, gun in hand, I knew that, no matter the outcome, I wouldn’t win.

But truth be told, even before that, I knew I’d made a mistake.

Lucas had looked at me with hope, thinking I’d come to help him, and part of me had died back in that apartment with the rest of the men who’d dared to attack Lucas. When he realized I was the mastermind all along . . .

There was no coming back from that.

It had been too late.

Too late to say, “You know what, man? Never mind. We’re cool.” The second Lucas found out I was trying to kill him to move up the ranks, I was a dead man, whether he pulled the trigger on his gun or not. All along, I’d thought our friendship was more a friendship of convenience at this point. That Lucas had used his connections to me and Pops to get into the gang, and he’d remained friends with me because he couldn’t afford to lose that connection.

But the betrayal Lucas had felt hadn’t been feigned, and he’d chosen to let me live even after I’d tried to rid the world of him. My own father would have laughed and shot me in the face, but not Lucas. And that’s when I’d realized in trying to prove I was the better man, I’d become my father.

The one thing I despised more than anything.

Angry at what I had become, I’d lashed out at Lucas. Tried to get him to pop me, to put me out of my misery. But he hadn’t. He’d done the honorable thing and let me live. He hadn’t wanted to kill me, even after all the shit I’d done to him. He’d told Scotty to let me walk away . . . and I had.

Now with Scotty’s help, Lucas was gone.

Dead. Only he wasn’t. By now, he was probably miles outside of Boston, and away from this slum we called Steel Row—while I would die in the worst section of Southie, knowing I had put power above brotherhood.

I should have lived the life that Lucas led. He was the type of guy who put friends first. Family first. The type of guy who saved a guy’s neck, even if that guy had just tried to kill him, because he’d made a promise he’d be blood brothers with him when they were kids.

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