Lou made his rounds of acknowledgments, while Gio made his way towards me. He looked exactly the same, a younger version of Lou: dark hair, olive skin, and the same cockiness about his persona. Since Lou never had children of his own, he always took care of his nephew like a son. Anyone that fucked with Gio was taken care of, no questions asked.
He reached his hand out to me with a grin. “Marky, hey how you been?” I took his hand, and he pulled me in for a quick hug.
“I’m good. How ’bout you? You back for good or just visiting?”
“Oh, you know, visiting, but it may be permanent.” He laughed. “So I hear you’re settling down now. When will I be able to meet this woman of yours?”
Buddy walked up beside us and shook Gio’s hand. Then he faced me with a wiseass grin. “He keeps her hidden. I haven’t met her yet, and it’s more like pussy whipped than settled down.”
Arching a brow at Buddy, I stepped into him. “Shut the fuck up, Buddy! And you’ll never get to meet her, anyways.”
Buddy’s expression grew cocky. “What’s wrong, Marky? Are you afraid the minute she sets her eyes on me she’ll want to suck my cock instead of yours?” He winked.
Every fucking thing around me turned red. The sound of others chatting went dead. My chest stilled as my fist clenched. My face burned as I held my breath, afraid that once I blew out air I would attack. It didn’t work. One minute, I was standing in front of Buddy. The next minute, I had gripped him by the neck and had begun pounding his face against the wooden table. I felt someone trying to pull me away, but I continued to smash his face along the surface, grunting with each impact as blood splattered.
Finally, I was pulled back and pinned down by Jimmie and Vinnie. “Let me the fuck go, now!” I yelled, wrestling to be free.
Buddy lifted his head from the table as blood gushed out of his nose. He cupped his face with his hands. “What the fuck, Marky! I was joking around with you.”
“Yeah? Well that’ll fuckin’ teach you that I don’t take jokes very fuckin’ lightly.”
Everyone immediately turned their heads in the direction of the door that just opened. The maintenance man stood by the doorway with seven angry guys glaring at him. “Ah, um, I got a call that something’s broken?” His voice was shaky.
“Yeah, his fuckin’ nose!” I huffed out, pointing my head at Buddy.
Gio shook his head and stared me up and down laughing. “Well, I can see your temper hasn’t changed.” His laughter went louder when Buddy glared at him. “Well, Buddy, Marky may be pussy-whipped, but he ain’t no pussy. Lesson learned.” Gio patted Buddy’s shoulder.
“Fuck off.” Angrily, Buddy shoved away and stormed out of the room.
Still pinned to the floor, my body jerked. “Let me go!” After a moment, both Jimmie and Vinnie hesitantly loosened their grip. Jumping up, I straightened my shirt. “What?” I asked, responding to Jimmie’s dubious expression.
Raising his hands, he shook his head. “Nothing little bro, it’s your show.”
“Fuck off, Jimmie.”
“Marky, go clean your fuckin’ face. You have blood all over it, and let’s get this fuckin’ meeting over with, eh?” Lou’s raspy tone pierced through my growing anger. I stared at Lou for a few harsh seconds before sniffing and heading toward the sink.
After a few minutes, we surrounded the sectional area. I stood and leaned against the glass wall as everyone sat. “Okay, as you all can see, I brought my nephew Gio back for a reason. He’s going to be working on figuring out who the rat is. Marky, don’t worry about it. Just keep doing what you do for me, and Gio will take care of the rat.” I nodded at Lou in response. “As far as the pigs sniffing the warehouses, we have to move to a different location. Marky, we’re doing it here.”
“No.” I blurted. “We’re not doing exchanges here. I refuse. You should know better than to ask that.”
“Did I fuckin’ ask?” Lou spat with a tightened jaw. Gio put his hand on Lou’s shoulder.
“We don’t have a choice, Marky.” Gio chimed in. “Unless you have a better suggestion?”
“Pick another fuckin’ warehouse, somewhere out of the city, or even a storage unit.”
“A storage unit don’t sound like a bad idea, boss.” Vinnie mentioned.
Lou shook his head. “No, too many people go in and out of storage units, and if a deal goes wrong, they’ll hear gunshots. It’s too risky.”
“We do exchanges at three sometimes two in the morning; storage units are packed during the day. There’s no way we’ll bump into anyone.” Vinnie argued.
“I fuckin’ said ‘no’ and that’s that. Anybody got a problem with that?” He looked around the room, and when no one responded, he went on, “Your job, Marky, is to come up with a new location for our exchanges by next week. Vinnie, you can help him with that, but no storage units. If you can find a warehouse outside of Boston that’s been secluded for years, I’m in. Other than that, it will be here.”
“You do understand this is a club, full of people six nights a week?” I clarified.
Cocking his head, his stare hardened. “Exactly, six nights a week, Marky. Our exchange dates can easily be changed to Sundays.” With that said, he and Gio were gone.
After the meeting with Lou and the men, I took care of a few issues regarding inventory at the Club and then headed home. By the time I got into bed, it was close to three in the morning. What a fucking night! Tossing and turning, I couldn’t get comfortable and had trouble falling asleep. My mind drifted back and forth between the night before when Mia and I were standing in the pouring rain as I begged her to take me back, and a few hours before when I found out about all the shit I was going to have to deal with in trying to locate a new spot for Lou’s exchanges.
I felt physically drained with all of the fucking stress between Mia and me, as well as the whole fucking Lou situation. I wished Mia was lying next to me so I could feel her warm soft skin, kiss her lips, and lose myself in those eyes. She made everything go away, even if it was for a few hours or just a couple of minutes. If it weren’t so early in the morning, I would have called her just to hear her voice. Not able to control myself, I sent her a quick text telling her that I loved her, and to my surprise, she responded immediately.