He exhaled at my touch and shut his eyes, contemplating, and then he lifted his eyelids open. “Do you trust me?”
With all my heart, I trusted him, but he obviously didn’t trust me. “Do you trust me?” I shot back.
His eyes focused on mine as if the question was difficult to answer. I couldn’t believe him. I’d never for one second given him a reason not to trust me. I’d stuck by him through all of his decisions, good or bad. I’d accepted his lifestyle, because I knew deep down it wasn’t what made him who he was. Whether he believed it or not, he was a good man.
My eyes blurred as he continued to stare at me but didn’t answer my question. Removing my hands from his face, I studied his features. “Wow.” I couldn’t believe it. He didn’t utter a word, but, judging from his actions, it was clear that he did not trust me.
“Mia, listen.” He reached out to grab my arm.
I pulled away, stepping back. “No. I get it.”
“Mia, no, you don’t.”
“I’ve done everything in my power, Marcus, to show you what you mean to me—that I love you more than I care to breathe. It hurts me, and I mean a terrible heartrending pain, for you to stand there, look me in the eyes, and basically admit that you don’t trust me.” Sniffing back, I couldn’t keep the hot tears from streaming down my face. His expression broke at my words. “What do you want from me? What else can I give you?”
He leaned into me and stared down. We were so close I could feel the heat from his body against mine. With his unsteady breathing, his tortured eyes danced along my face. For a moment, it looked as if he was going to crack, but then he contained himself, took in one deep breath, and shut his eyes. “I need you to trust me when I say it’s important for you to grab Megan and go home.” His eyelids opened, and my heart swelled in pain at his words. He reached up and grazed my cheek with the back of his fingers. I was beyond angry. He was pushing me away when he should’ve been able to confide in me. Before the warmth of his touch seeped through my skin, I tore my face away and stepped back again.
“Mia.” He tenderly whispered.
“Whatever you say, Marcus. I’ll just go home with Megan and sit around and wait for whenever I get to have my Marcus back. Because the one in front me at this very moment . . . I have no idea who he is. I want my Marcus: the loving, caring, and passionate one.” His face was broken, but I needed to say how I felt. “Let me know when he’s back.”
With my back turned to him, I stormed out the door, dragged a highly intoxicated Megan off the dance floor, and grabbed a cab.
Something deep down within me knew that Marcus was involved in something deeper than he had disclosed. It left me nervous and unsettled. Guilt began to seep through me as I thought of the way we had left things. I should have kissed him and held him tightly against me. My deepest regret that night was that I didn’t pull him in and hold him, even if it was just for a few seconds.
“Marcus. Marcus. Yo, Marcus!” I broke out of my daze as Jimmie hovered over my desk, snapping his fingers. “What the hell? I’ve been trying to get your attention for the past five minutes.” His brows bunched together, concerned. “You alright, Bro?”
Having had no sleep, I blinked my dry eyes and ran a hand over my face. There was nothing that could rid me of the exhaustion I felt. When Mia left the club the night before, I wanted to tell her everything that was going on, but it was better to keep it from her for now. It was the only way I could keep her away from the Club and the only way I knew to protect her. It was the day of the bust, and I would be fucking lying if I wasn’t running all the possible scenarios of what could go wrong through my mind: the thought of possibly not coming out alive, never having a chance to express the love I had for Mia, to show her that it was always true, and that my reason for everything was her.
Then I thought of my niece and mother as I looked into Jimmie’s same fearful eyes. “Sorry, Jimmie. When will Vinnie be here?”
He slumped back in the seat of my home office. “Soon. I told Mom that you and I were dealing with inventory at the Club today. She took Elle out for breakfast and then a trip to park since it’s nice out.” He quickly glanced at his watch. “It’s still early, only nine. Vinnie said the bust will happen at two this afternoon.” He nervously ran his hands along the thighs of his jeans. “Marcus, I need to ask you something.” Jimmie looked up at me. “If anything happens to me, I need you to take—”
“Don’t talk like that!” I slammed my hand against the desk in frustration. The last thing I wanted to hear was my brother being weak. “We are going to get out of this. You’ll be home with Elle, and I’ll be home with Mia. It’ll all be okay. We are going to be okay.” It felt as if I was trying to convince myself more than him.
His eyes clouded over as he cleared his throat. “You’re right.”
“Listen, Jimmie, I want you to stay here, okay? There’s no need for both of us to be there.”
“No.” Jimmie shook his head adamantly.
“Jimmie, just stay here.”
“I said, ‘no.’ We got in this together. We’re going to leave it together.”
“You’re a stubborn fuck, you know that?”
“Yeah? Well, it’s a trait I picked up from my little brother.” He gently laughed and sniffed. Then he stood from his chair as he turned his back to me. He didn’t want me to see the emotion prickling his features. “I have to go to the bathroom.”
Jimmie walked over to the door of my office. He froze with his hand on the knob. “Marcus?”
He bowed his head as he opened the door. “I love you, Bro.” He whispered and left the room.
“I love you too.” I whispered into an empty room. I let out a heavy breath and sank against the chair.
Half an hour later, I had my brother, Vinnie, and his two men in my office. Jimmie stood by the door listening for Elle and our mom. Vinnie’s two men, Eric and Liam, sat on the chairs in front of my desk. Vinnie stood beside me hovering over the desk and pointing his finger on a plan that showed the entire layout of Club21.
“Okay, so you see this entrance right here?” He pointed to the left side of the building. I nodded and he continued, “This is where Lou is planning on bringing the shipment in a few hours. Since there are double doors, they open flush against the brick wall outside. Lou plans to have his men back the truck in as close as possible and unload the drugs here.” He pointed to the wall inside next to the door. “Once his men unload everything, the truck will leave, and they’ll await Salvatore Lombardi and his men.”