smoke over the city's soul pollutes our sons and daughters.

The upbeat tune of Jack Winston's favorite Uptown Funk parody filled his ears as he was brought from his sleep. He groaned as he simultaneously reached for his phone and tried to figure out what time it was. 11:14, he noted as he squinted to see who on Earth had woken him up. When he saw that it was his girlfriend Scarlett, Jack smiled as he swiped to respond to her invitation for lunch by asking where she wanted to meet.

My place, popped up before he could put his phone down, and that surprised him. His girlfriend wasn't much for staying in and definitely wasn't much for slaving in a kitchen - that was his job. All the same, he figured maybe she wasn't feeling well or wanted to watch something on television for once, so Jack didn't question it. Instead, he jumped out of bed and rushed to shower and get dressed, making sure to pack something to wear to work in case he ended up staying there longer than he expected.

By 1:30, he was knocking on her door, shuffling his feet as he waited for the familiar sound of her footsteps to indicate she was coming to let him in. In those few moments, he tended to think about what it would be like if he had a key, if he lived here and didn't need to knock. Those thoughts were usually brushed away, but, lately, he had been thinking about it more and more, smiling at the thought of sharing a living space with her. Maybe it was time, maybe he'd ask her soon.

When the footsteps he heard approaching were loud and heavy, Jack was momentarily worried until he remembered that Scarlett's brother Paxton was staying with her for a while, and that realization made it dawn on him why he had thought her request to meet at her place was so strange. For the past week, all she had done was complain about her brother mooching, stinking up her living room, and eating all of her food. They had barely spent any time here because of it. It was evident her brother was still here when he opened the door, looking at Jack like he wanted to kill him, so why had Scarlett requested they meet here?

Things took a turn for the weirder when he asked if Scarlett was home and her brother shook his head in response and told him that she had left an hour ago to run some errands. Given their lifestyle, how they spent some of their evenings, this immediately put Jack on alert. Something was wrong, but he managed to keep a straight face - if his years undercover had done anything for him, it was make him a decent actor. As Jack turned to leave, Paxton grabbed his shoulder, a little rougher than Jack would have liked. In the back of his mind, he imagined all of the ways he could break Paxton's fingers, and it brought a smile to his face, which was a little horrifying since Jack didn't really care to hurt people. He silently chalked it up to have something to do with all of the other weird things that had been going on lately as he politely pushed Scarlett's brother away and turned around to ask, "Did you want something?"

Paxton stepped aside, notifying Jack to come in, and Jack did, however cautiously. His eyes were on Scarlett's brother the entire time, and it didn't take long before, out of the corner of his eye, he caught Scarlett's phone sitting on the end table next to the sofa. Had she left it, or had he done something to her? He clenched his fists as he turned to face Paxton, and Jack took a step back when her brother was right in his face. As threatening as Paxton Nolan was trying to be, he wasn't feeling it. It was pathetic, really. The guy hadn't even showered, was still in the clothes he'd worn the day before, and smelled like burnt popcorn and sweat. "What do you want?" Jack repeated.

Paxton grinned. "I don't like you, pig. I want you to break up with my sister so she has no reason to defy me." It was obviously a threat, to both him and Scarlett, but what on Earth could this man have on him or do to him to make him comply? Jack crossed his arms, his silent way of asking that question, and it was then that Paxton pulled out his phone. "Let me show you something."

Jack watched in horror as the gaps in his memory about their recent trip to New York were filled. He watched as he referred to Scarlett as his wife and they discussed in a not-subtle-at-all way how she was going to kill those two girls with fire. There was no denying this. Paxton knew it. Jack knew it. By now, he was sure Scarlett knew it, and that's why she had left in such a hurry without thinking to grab her phone. This evidence would put her away for life and him away for quite a long time for being an accomplice. He was grateful that, at least, their friend Rob (he still couldn't determine why he had been there) wasn't visible in any of this footage.

"So, let me get this straight - if I don't do as you ask, you turn this over?" Paxton nodded, the disgusting grin still on his face. He thought he'd won, and Jack was pretty certain he had too. Jack had something Paxton didn't, though: a lawyer as a best friend. He would play along for now, but he would seek Anna's advice on how to proceed. This was messy. It would get his girlfriend in trouble, and, if breaking her heart happened to be the one way he could save her from a life in prison, he would. He sure as hell wasn't about to let Paxton control her, though. The thought of that made his blood boil.

But he was stuck. Jack couldn't say no, not yet. It was too dangerous. So he didn't. He nodded his head, lowered it in defeat, and Paxton started to laugh loudly. It was too much for Jack to take. Before Paxton knew what hit him, Jack had punched him square in the jaw with all of his strength behind the punch. Blood and a few teeth went flying across Scarlett's living room.

"You're a pathetic son of a bitch. I'll do what you say, but only because I love Scarlett. Don't for a second think she'll put up with your bullshit, though." Jack stepped closer, a grin of his own forming as he stared Paxton right in the eye. "You saw the video. You saw what happened to those girls. You know what she's capable of, and it's just as much your fault as anyone's." He stepped away, grabbed Scarlett's phone and went to leave, figuring he'd find her at Lolita's. Before he closed the door on a recovering Paxton, he looked at him again and said, "Think about that before you do anything stupid."