Here’s the first chapter of Needing Her. This is actually a prologue so is shorter than a typical chapter. This scene is a flashback of something that happened to Pearce when he was 16 years old.
The limo drives through a part of New Haven I’ve never been to before. Police sirens are going off in the distance and I see nothing but old brick buildings with windows that are either shattered or boarded up with cardboard. Graffiti covers almost every surface; benches, billboards, traffic signs. We pass a woman pushing a shopping cart filled with cardboard boxes and ratty blankets. Her hair is wiry and matted and it looks like she hasn’t showered in weeks.
“What are we doing here?” I ask my father.
He has a slight smile on his face. “You’ll see.”
I don’t like it when he smiles. When other people smile, it’s good. It means they’re happy. But when my father smiles, it’s either because he’s in public and has to comply with the rules of proper social interaction, or it means something bad’s going to happen. Since I’m the only person in the back of the limo, there’s no need for him to smile. Which means he’s up to something.
My stomach knots and my muscles tense. I don’t know what he’s planning to do, but he took me here for a reason. And I know it’s not good.
I look at him sitting across from me. “Tell me what we’re doing here.”
He points out the side window. “You see those people? The two men and the woman?”
He’s pointing to some homeless people, dressed in ragged clothes, their skin sweaty from the sweltering August heat and humidity. The woman is sifting through a trash can, and the two men are talking closely, likely doing some kind of drug deal.
“What about them?” I ask.
His gaze remains out the window as we pass by more homeless people. “They’re dregs of society. The remnants that bring us all down. Taking up space and resources. Straining our economy by their dependence on our government.” His gaze returns to me. “And yet they serve a purpose. They allow people like us to look good in the eyes of the masses. We donate money to the shelters. Fund job programs. Host charity events. And in return, we’re put on a pedestal for our good deeds.”
I’m getting more nervous as he talks. Something’s about to happen. Something bad.
“Tell me what we’re doing. Please, Father. Just tell me.”
We’re sitting at a stoplight and he watches as a homeless man carrying a duffle bag crosses the street. “They serve another purpose. One that I’m about to show you.”
“I want to get out of here,” I say. “Let’s go home.”
“We will.” His eyes are still on the man crossing the street. “But first we must accomplish our mission.”
“Which is what?” My heart’s pumping fast, my hand gripping the seat.
My father looks at me. “Relax, son. It gets easier each time.”
“What gets easier? Please, just tell me what we’re doing here.”
My father reaches up and lightly taps on the glass that separates us from the driver. The limo slows down as we pass a homeless shelter. It’s evening and people are lined up out front, likely waiting to get a meal. Our driver makes a right-hand turn down an alley. And then he stops, but leaves the limo running.
“It’s time, Pearce.” My father gives me a full smile now, but his eyes are dark, almost black. I watch him reach into a compartment in the side of the limo. He pulls out a handgun with a silencer attached.
My heart pumps harder, fear prickling the back of my neck. “Father, what are you doing?”
He doesn’t answer. He presses the button to lower the window. I look out and see a man with his back to us, urinating on the side of the building. His gray hair is spiked up all different directions and he has on torn jeans spattered with mud, and a dingy white t-shirt covered in stains.
I flick my eyes back to my father and see the gun pointed at the man. And then, as if in slow motion, I watch my father’s hand depress the trigger and then release.
“No!” I hear myself yell. But it’s too late. The gun already went off. The sound it made was just a blunt pop instead of the loud, echoing cry that it would’ve been without the silencer attached. I shift my eyes to the man standing by the building, but his body is now crumpled on the ground, the back of his shirt displaying a circle of blood that’s growing outward from the hole made by the bullet that went through his back and straight to his heart.
My view is disrupted when the tinted glass from the window rises. I feel the limo pulling away. I slowly turn to look at my father. The gun is put away and he’s pouring himself a glass of scotch.
He looks at me, a smile still on his face. “And that, my son, is what it means to be a Kensington.”
Want to read another excerpt? Here’s a scene with Pearce and Rachel.