Jagger_ A Caldwell Brothers Novel - Mj Fields

Prologue

Jagger

With paper-thin walls and a bastard next door, I hear the whimpers, the slaps, the crashing of shit in the apartment beside mine. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard the noises in the six months since I moved in. After Momma died, home wasn’t home, I needed the escape. The apartment complex isn’t upscale by any means. No, it’s a dive. What the hell do I need to live in some nice-ass place for? I’m only here to shit, shower, and sleep.

Standing at my door, I grip the handle, knowing I need to hold back. This will become another trip to lockup, another case against me. I give my lawyer more of my winnings these days than I get to keep.

Leaning my forehead against the door, I fight the memories of my old man, who used to toss Momma around. He tried to get to us boys, too, but she took the heat until Hendrix, and then Morrison, were big enough to step in.

I gaze down at my bulging forearm as I struggle against opening the door, and the black and gray script of my tattoo dances as my muscles flex.

Legacy.

Momma asked us boys to be the legacy of good in a world full of bad.

With that thought in mind and not a second thought to the consequences, I take off, storming toward the source of the noise and halt, realizing whose door it is.

My landlord.

Mr. Rand, the Russian motherfucker who pretends not to speak English when anyone tries to complain, yet who can certainly understand the language enough to have you sign on the dotted line and take your money.

I feel the vibration of a body hitting the door on the other side, hear the whimper of a female, and I see red.

Nothing matters except saving her. Once upon a time, I couldn’t save Momma, but I damn sure won’t be in that position again.

I feel the door give as the weight is removed on the other side, allowing me to open it safely. As the door swings open, I’m not prepared for the rage that builds so rapidly inside me.

The apartment is tidy, which is more than I can say for my own place. Although small, someone has put effort into keeping it clean and clutter-free.

I watch as this frail young woman is tossed across the living room, and then she immediately gets up and runs down the hall, halting when she finds the end, and falls into the corner, planting herself against the wall. She curls into herself, her dark hair stringy and matted in blood and tears that roll down her swollen face. Blood trickles down her nose and off her lips. Her right eye is swollen shut and multiple shades of red and purple. Her arms are skin and bones as she holds her knees to her chest. When she lifts her head, I see the welts across her neck.

She looks up at me with the one dark-brown eye she can open. It’s so glassed over in tears I’m not sure she can even see me. There is a slight shake of her head I assume is an effort to stop me. Her mouth opens and closes slowly, but no words come out.

I sense movement beside me, and that’s when I see the bear of a man who is my landlord lunging at her, the belt in his hand swinging wildly over his head. He’s a dark-haired, beer-bellied asshole with one giant chip on his shoulder.

Without hesitation, I storm toward him, crashing us into the wall, and pictures fall as the place rattles from the impact.

“You wanna pick on little girls, huh? Why don’t you try out a real man for size?” I grab him by his shirt collar and shake him as the anger consumes me. I can smell the alcohol on him. Cheap bourbon is his poison.

I draw back and slam my fist down into his face as he paws at me. Then I kick out at his knees, bringing him to the ground. Straddling him, I pound away at his head, face, and torso while he lies under me, swinging at air, grasping for anything as I continue my onslaught.

I feel the burn in my knuckles as they bust open on his jaw. Lights out, motherfucker.

He goes limp, yet I can’t stop the last few hits from being thrown before standing up and taking a step back to look at my prey.

His face is immediately swelling, and I’m pretty sure I broke