“It’s not a problem, Theresa. Go, you don’t want to be late.” She waved and ran out the door.
Elle’s sitter had surgery last week, so Theresa had been watching her. Though today she had to run to a doctor’s appointment she had forgotten about, and she called me immediately when the office called to verify the appointment.
Luckily, I was home doing nothing, just stuffing my face with Oreo cookies: the only craving in my pregnancy thus far. At ten weeks, I hadn’t gained any weight. I did feel bloated and had slight cramping, oh yeah and the “morning” sickness. Other than that, I’d been fine. Marcus and I were excited to share the news in a couple weeks with his family.
On my way to Elle’s room, I heard a knock at the door. I thought it was weird: there were never any visitors except for the family dinners, and Theresa has a spare key. Maybe she’d left something behind and forgot it. I made my way to the door, and I was shocked when I caught sight of Romeo, Marcus’ younger cousin.
His shoulders were slouched over; his hands were shoved in the front pocket of his jeans, and his clothes were filled with mud. He finally looked up; I gasped at the sight of his bruised face. He had a black, swollen left eye, the bridge of his nose was split open, and dry blood covered his nostrils and the side of his face. His lips were swollen and gashed open. “Oh my God, Romeo, what happened?” I reached out for him, grabbing his shoulders.
“He got himself into a little mess.” I was so focused on Romeo that I didn’t see Lou Sorrento standing just a few feet beside him. My heart dropped at the closeness. This was the first time I’d seen him face-to-face, and my anger began to slowly rise. He was responsible for Marcus’ other life, and I knew he was responsible for Romeo’s appearance.
Offering his hand, he brightly smiled. “Hi, I’m Lou. You must be the lovely Mia? It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.” Looking down at his hand, I didn’t take it. He would have no respect from me. I didn’t know what type of relationship he and Marcus had beside the obvious employment relationship, but I refused to show him any form of decency. His eyes widened with amusement, and then he rubbed the untaken hand against his chest. “Okay I need to talk with Marky; he’s ignoring my calls.”
“Marcus isn’t here, but when he arrives, I’ll make sure to tell him you’re looking for him. Goodbye.” Pulling Romeo into the house, I quickly walked in. Lou stopped the door with his foot, pushing his way in and shut the door behind him.
My heart began to race. What’s he doing here? Will Marcus be upset that he’s in the house? Has he ever been in this house? “I think I’ll stand here and wait for him. He needs to clear up the mess his idiot cousin made. I’m sure he wouldn’t miss any of your calls; if you call him, maybe I could be out of your hair sooner.”
Ignoring him, I walked over to Romeo, placing my hand on his face. He flinched in pain. “What did you get yourself into?” I whispered. Romeo couldn’t look at me; he was too ashamed. He clearly was not going to answer me … I had no choice but to call Marcus. Glaring at Lou, I wanted to smack the smart-ass grin off his face. Walking over to my purse, I grabbed my phone and made the call.
After one ring he picked up. “Hey, babe.” It sounded like he was in the car. I could hear wind blowing and other vehicles driving by.
“Marcus?” I failed desperately to hide the shakiness in my voice.
Knowing me very well, he asked, “What’s wrong?”
Taking a deep breath, I tried to think of the best way to explain this. I walked over to the corner where no one could hear my conversation. “Romeo is here. He’s badly beaten, and Lou is with him; he won’t leave until he speaks with you.”
There were a few seconds of silence before he yelled, “What the fuck!” A few thumping noises along with the horn sounding off rang my ears. I knew my man well enough to know that he’d just punched the steering a few times, upset. Taking a deep breath, he was silent for a moment before responding again. “Put Lou on the phone.”
Hesitating for a second, I intently stared at Lou. He was seated on a chair in the living room, facing me. His legs were crossed, his elbow was on the armrest with a closed fist underneath his chin, and still he had that stupid amused grin. Clearing my throat, I spoke. “He’s on the phone.” He stretched out the hand that was lying on his lap.
I flashed a cocky look and smacked my hand to my hip. I further extended my arm with the cell phone. I was not one of his employees. He could very well walk his ass over and grab the phone. When I tapped my foot, he laughed once, shook his head, and stood from his seat. Striding over, he took the phone from my hand and placed it to his ear, not taking his eyes off of me the entire time.
“Marky.” He grinned. Taking a few steps back, I watched him closely. He was only a few inches taller than me. He had a medium build, thick salt-and-pepper hair that was neatly brushed back, and light brown eyes that narrowed as he listened attentively over the phone. If I didn’t hate him so much, I might’ve thought he was a good-looking man. Then I thought of all the pain Marcus and I had gone through because of him. I only saw him as an evil, malicious, disgusting man.
Speaking in a low, raspy tone, his eyes grew darker as he continued to ogle me. “What can I say? He came to me asking for work … no … he screwed up … big time … sixty … yeah, sixty.” Slowly he began to walk towards me, his eager eyes staring into mine.
For every step forward he made, I took one step back, until my back pressed against the staircase. My breathing sped up when he was only inches away from me. “Your woman’s a feisty one, isn’t she?” He slightly pulled the phone away from his ear and cringed. I could hear Marcus’ loud tone throughout the phone but couldn’t make out what was said.
Lou laughed and fixed his gaze back on me. His hand slowly moved from his ear over to the side of my face. Because I was frozen, he pressed the phone along my ear with the tip of his fingers sliding across my cheek. His touch shot shivers through my spine and caused the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. He frightened me, but I made sure not to show it. Pushing his hand away, I grabbed the phone. He took a few steps back.
In a raspy, dry manner, I managed to say, “Hello.”
“Baby, I need you to do me a favor. Are you near my office?” Marcus’ desperate tone forced me to be alert.
“Yes,” I said, watching Lou as he cocked his head to the side, folding his arms on his chest. His stares were giving me the creeps. Swallowing, I focused back on Marcus.