by Lara Wilson

Maybe it was inevitable he'd become a killer. Growing up on the mean and poor streets of Chicago, he ran with a tough crowd. Big for his age, he was always accepted by those older than himself. By eight he'd had his first cigarette, by nine, his first drink, by twelve, his first girl.

At fifteen he killed his first man.

He did it to protect a woman--a whore with two babies at home and emptiness in her eyes, being threatened with a knife by a burly, thug of a man who smelled like too much whisky and too much desperation. He turned the knife on him, and was surprised at how easily it sank into the fat neck and released a torrent of sticky red blood.

He didn't feel bad about it. He felt almost proud--like a hero, but heroes didn't kill, and Illinois had the death penalty.

Joining the army at sixteen seemed the smart thing to do. The military taught him to kill in ways he'd never imagined.

And it gave him something he never expected--a family.

But, dealers of death aren't supposed to have such things, because he couldn't stop killing, and in killing, he lost them.

For the rest of his life Slade would regret that what he'd been born to be lost him everything that meant anything to him.


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