A long, thick silence follows.
They all look lost in thought. After a moment Max asks quietly, “How does she do it?”
I turn to my brother. He looks pained. This conversation must have brought back memories of Ceecee’s accident. I ask just as quietly, “Do what, bro?”
He turns his sad eyes to me and replies, “Live.”
I shake my head and shrug.
I don’t know.
For the greater good
The first thing I wake to this morning is my phone chiming. I can’t believe my eyes when I find a text on my phone from Omarr. It’s a message asking to meet with me.
Has the guy lost his freaking mind?
He killed my cat!
Nik and the guys have been talking about Omarr and the Sixes a lot lately which means I’ve been eavesdropping a lot lately.
I know Uncle Jerm is worried about Omarr and now classifies him a rogue, whatever that means, and that Nik is worried about me because Omarr is a psychopath. I found out Nik has spent over ten thousand dollars on Safira’s security alone. I don’t even want to know how much he spent on the security at the apartment. Nik also mentioned to Max the other night that Uncle Jerm needs evidence to prove Omarr is going behind his back before he can punish him.
I think I can help with that. But I need an extra pair of hands.
I call for Nat. When she appears at the doorway, I sit cross legged in the center of my bed and use my best professional voice “Take a seat, Miss Kovac.”
Her eyes narrow but I know Nat, she’s intrigued. She sits on the edge of my bed and nods her head for me to continue.
I hand her my phone. As she reads the text I explain, “So, Nik and Uncle Jerm have a big problem in Omarr. What can we do to help, you ask? Well, I have a plan. But I can only do this if you’re in, too. I can’t do it alone, babe.”
She nods and asks, “What’s the plan?”
I cringe and explain it to her. With wide eyes she says, “You’re crazy. But I love it. I’m in.”
I squeal and bounce on my bed. Nat’s laughs and hands me back my phone, I immediately text Omarr to meet tonight at my apartment.
God, I hope this works.
Nik and I met for lunch today like always.
He kept watching me with narrowed eyes. He knew something was up.
I was a little too skittish and anxious and no matter how hard I tried to soften my body, I was as rigid as a broom handle.
As we were walking back to Safira Nik asked, “Everything okay, babe?”
I didn’t trust myself to answer him so I just jerked a nod and smiled.
Everything will be okay, Nik.
Mark my words.
Nat and I have just walked through the door. Its six o’clock and I have half an hour to get ready for my meeting with Omarr. I jump in the shower but I don’t sing ’Working 9 to 5’ today. That’s my happy day song; today may not be such a happy day. I have to get my head in the game. Once out of the shower I find clothes that Nat has laid out on my bed.
Oh, God. Yuk!
They’re the skimpiest clothes I own. There’s a black thigh-high mini dress which I’ve only ever worn with tights underneath and a pair of white pumps. Nat storms into my room with handfuls of makeup and hair products. She teases and primps my hair then applies a lot more makeup that I ever would.
She sprays me with perfume just as the doorbell rings.
She holds my shoulders steady and says, “Relax. I’m just in the next room. You know what to do. We’ve gone over this a hundred times.”
I nod. This was my idea. My stupid freaking idea!
WHAT THE HECK WAS I THINKING?!
It’s too late now, answer the damn door.
I close my eyes and breathe deep. I count. One—two—three—four and open the door.
Omarr leans against the doorframe looking so damn gorgeous.
Too bad he’s bat-shit crazy.
I put on my best sultry smile to match my sultry voice and say slowly, “Wow. You look good enough to eat, handsome.”
Omarr’s eyes bug out and his mouth parts slightly.
Oh, yeah. I got you. Hook, line and sinker.
He clears his throat and asks, “Can I come in?”
Still smiling, I step aside but not a lot, as he walks in my body grazes his and I press forward against him.
I put a hand on his chest and lean close to his ear, my lips rest on his earlobe and I whisper, “We need to talk. In private.”
He looks stunned but nod slowly as if he’s in a trance. I wink and nod my head toward the hall. As we reach my room I yell out, “Nat, I’m in my room with company.” A few seconds pass and Nat responds a muffled, “Okay. Do not disturb. I get ya.”
Perfect. Nat is good at this.
We enter my room and I motion him to take a seat on my bed. Just as I’m about to sit, I straighten dramatically and say, “We need drinks. Be right back.”
I run back to the kitchen, grab my phone and dial Nat’s number. She answers and whispers, “It’s on. Go get him, baby.”
I head back to my room with two beers and my phone. As soon as I enter I look down at my phone, roll my eyes and mutter, “Sorry. I have to keep it near me in case Nik calls. I’ve put too much effort into that man to lose him now.” I place my phone on my bed side cabinet, screen side down and sit close to Omarr on my bed.
Omarr’s brows are furrowed and he asks, “What do you mean you put too much effort into him to lose him?”
I respond as seriously as I can put on, “Well, Nik has money. And lots of it. I’m not in a good way right now and I need cash. Like, pronto.” I shrug and roll my eyes. “Nik loves me, O. He’ll give me anything and everything I want. I just have to hook him a little more.”
Omarr eyes widen and he repeats, “Nik has money. Lots of it.”
I nod and smile as though I’m saying now you’re getting it.
Omarr smiles and takes a beer from my hand, clinks it on mine and toasts, “To manipulating bitches!”
Oh my goodness, it’s working!
I fight off the urge to throw up and state ,“You’re fucking things up for me, Omarr. I can’t have that, baby. If you want me you’re going to have to wait your turn. You get me?”
Omarr nods solemnly and utters, “That sucks. I’m sorry, baby. I know I’ve done some fucked up things to you but I do want you. Not just because of Nik. I just want you.” He turns to look into my face and says, “I don’t know if I can wait for you, mami. I want you now.” He leans forward and I just know he’s going to try to kiss me. At the very last second, I turn my head and he kisses my cheek.
Disappointment crosses his features so I quickly shake my head and lie, “Honey, this isn’t the first job I’ve done. I can’t have any distractions around. It’s happened to me before and I’ve lost out. Big. I won’t let it happen again.” I put a hand on his chest and fiddle with his collar. “Now are you going to lay off Nik or what?”
Omarr doesn’t look happy but he nods.
I slide my hand up to his jaw, lean close and place a slow kiss on his cheek. I whisper, “Thank you, honey. You won’t regret it.” His eyes are closed when I move away from him.
He quickly opens his eyes and says, “Did you ask him about Marcus?”
I nod, pout my lips and respond, “Yes, I did. I’m so sorry, baby. I didn’t know Nik killed your brother. That’s a tough thing to go through. I can’t believe your uncle wouldn’t get back at Nik. It’s like he just got away with murder. What’s up with that?” I sound almost genuinely curious. I hope he’ll open up more.
Omarr’s eyes harden and he responds, “Uncle Jerm doesn’t like wars. Nik was part of Chaos and Marcus was killed in a member of Chaos’ house so they think Marcus got what he deserved.” He looks into my eyes and real pain shines through him. I feel sorry for this broken man. He goes on, “I get that Nik was a kid but on the streets it’s an eye for an eye. I want to make his life as miserable as mine has been. Besides, I wouldn’t worry too much about Uncle Jerm…he may not be around much longer to worry about.”
My insides drop.
I lean my head on his shoulder and rub his knee. I ask in a ditzy voice, “Why? Is he sick?”
He chuckles and kisses my hair.
Mental note; shower after Omarr leaves.
He boasts, “Naw, baby. You’re not the only one who can work a job.” He strokes my arm and whispers loudly, “I’ll have my own army by the end of the year. Uncle Jerm is in for a mutiny. If he doesn’t kneel before me, he’s a dead man.”
I gasp and whisper shout, “You would kill your own uncle?!”
He catches me by surprise when he pulls my face to his and kisses me. I force myself to calm and warn myself to keep breathing. He breaks from my lips and chuckles, “You’re too cute. I knew you were the one for me from the day we met, baby.” He lets go of my flushed face and straightens. “And yeah, I’d kill my uncle. In a heartbeat. Nik is still alive. I should’ve been allowed to put a bullet in him.”
Oh wow. The level of psycho this guy is on goes higher than any chart I’ve ever seen. He talks about death like it’s nothing. Just a job.
I swallow hard and whisper, “Why did you kill my cat, O?”
He has the decency to look ashamed as he apologizes. “I’m sorry, Tina. I just wanted to hurt you because you hurt me.”
I look up and lie, “But my hurting you was only an act! Nik is nothing to me. Just a pay check.”
He nods and assures, “He went quickly. Decapitation is a very painless way to die.”
My face pales, my breathing heavies, and I feel ill.
Oh dear lord. He decapitated my cat?! I think I’m going to throw up.
Instead I stand and say thickly, “Well, now that we’ve worked things out and called a truce, I can forgive it.” Over my dead body.
He gets my cue and stands, too. He comes close to me and mutters, “Maybe we should seal this deal with a kiss.” His hand traces my collarbone and I shudder in disgust.
Omarr takes my shudder for something else and smiles. I state, “Sure, just so we both know what we are dealing with. I continue to work Nik and once I’m paid, I’m yours.” He nods and I continue, “But you have to back off. I can’t be distracted. You want Nik hurt and I’ll hurt him, baby. For you, I’ll do anything.” Then I walk a step forward and kiss him closed lipped but enthusiastically.
After I mentally count to fifteen, I step back and force a smile. Omarr is beaming and suddenly I don’t feel bad about doing this anymore. Omarr needs help and his uncle is the only one who can do that.
I’m doing the right thing.
For the greater good.
I take hold of Omarr’s hand and walk him to the door. He hesitates as I open it then leans down and kisses my cheek. With his lips still against me, he whispers, “I love you, mami.”
Then he’s gone.
As soon as I shut the door my stomach knots and I slide my shaking hands up my cheeks and into my hair.
This’ll all be worth it in the end.
Standing, I kick off my heels and runs to Nat’s room. When I enter she beams, “I’m so proud of you! You did it!” Her laptop is open and she’s transferring the recording onto a USB.
Why do I feel so awful if this is such a good thing? I have a bad feeling.
Nat burns two discs. One for me to give Nik, one for me to give Uncle Jerm tomorrow morning and she keeps the USB as insurance.
I hug her hard and whisper, “I hope this works.”
She responds with a squeeze, “It has to.”
God help me if it doesn’t.
My head pounds from lack of sleep.
Anxiety kept me awake all night so I decide to get up earlier than I normally do. I shower and dress.
Uncle Jerm isn’t expecting me so I’m hoping he won’t refuse to see me. I get into my car and drive.
Trying to be inconspicuous last night on the phone with Nik I asked him where Uncle Jerm worked and he tried to be vague when he said the docks. So that’s where I’m heading. Surely, someone can point me in the right direction when I get there.
I arrive at the docks and the gates are shut and locked.
What the frick?
Checking the time on my phone, it’s just past seven. I sigh and exit my car. I walk over to the huge wire gate, press my forehead against it and breathe in the salty fresh air.
This is nice.
“Can I help you?” says a deep and loud voice.
I open my eyes, jump back, and squeal for a good five seconds. The man on the other side of the fence is large, African American and scowling at me. The look in his eyes says some rude cuss words.
Taking a second to compose myself, I breathe deep and put a hand to my chest. When I’m good I step closer to the fence and ask, “How do I get to Uncle Jerm?”
The man’s face hardens and he replies coldly, “If you don’t know how to get to him you shouldn’t be here, shawty.”
Anxiety clogs my throat and desperation sets in. I croak, “This is an emergency. I haven’t slept all night because of that freak Omarr. I need to see Jermaine.” I close my eyes and beg in a whisper, “Please. This is important.”
My eyes are still closed but I hear the large man sigh. He asks, “What’s your name?”
I open my misty eyes and reply, “Tina. Jermaine knows me.”
The man’s eyes widen and he repeats, “Tina?” I nod and he continues, “As in Leokov’s woman?” I nod. He lets out a long, low whistle and says, “He said you had balls but I had no idea you’d be stupid enough to come here. He won’t be happy about this but if I leave you here he’ll have my ass.” He looks me up and down then nods to the side gate and sighs, “C’mon, shawty.”
Large man walks me to the first warehouse then leads me to an office. He says, “Uncle Jerm will be here soon. Make yourself comfortable.”