Chapter X

Six weeks later

Roman stood in the empty parking lot, Lurch on his left and 5 of his newest goons behind him. He was one handshake away from cutting Erik off at the knees.

Two black sedans pulled into the lot opposite the posse. Their occupants exited and formed a barrier around the man last to exit. Hiro Shimamoto was the primary supplier for all the drugs Erik moved into the States. Roman had to pull many strings and call up a bunch of favors to get his number, followed by several phone calls to get a face-to-face. Shimamoto didn’t venture far from his compound, unless a lucrative offer was in place or an example needed to be made. Roman still wasn’t sure which brought him here. Shimamoto was a small man with a large arsenal. Old age was beginning to set in his joints, evident in the black cane he carried. Next to him was his son, Kato, who was soon to inherit his father’s empire. “Mr. Roman, good to see you,” Shimamoto said, stopping short of the group. Roman bowed the top half of his body, in respect. “Ah, please stand. I have not practiced the old ways in a while. I’m glad you did your research,” the man chuckled.
“I wanted to make sure you were impressed. Your business is important to me.” Shimamoto’s face changed from jolly to serious. “Why should I do business with you? What do you have to offer that your predecessor does not?”
“McLaren is only out for himself. All of the business he conducts is only beneficial to his end game and then he plans to leave everyone else in the lurch. Myself, included.”
“So this is retaliation?”
“Think of it as a lateral move. We both know McLaren has been lowballing you,” Roman said, looking over at Lurch, who retrieved a bag from the ground. He passed it to Kato, who passed it to one of their goons. He opened the bag to find it full of money. “He’s been cutting your product down to almost nothing. I know this can be harmful to your other business. I want to correct that for you.”
“With money? Not that I’m complaining.”
“That is the difference Erik has been skimming this quarter, plus a down payment on my first shipment. Think of it as good faith money.”

Shimamoto was silent for a moment, considering the proposition he had been given. “If I put you on my next shipment, how will you handle McLaren? I assume he will not be happy about your ‘lateral movement’,” Shimamoto said, chuckling. “I think I’ll be…convincing enough.”
“Will you be able to handle his standing order? He is one of my biggest clients.”
“Like I said, I got it all covered.” Shimamoto gave Roman a last once over before he nodded his head. “Ok. Kato will be in touch. Next shipment arrives soon,” he said, turning to leave. His crew piled back into their vehicles and pulled out of the parking lot. Roman sighed as his goons loaded into the car, leaving Lurch alone with his boss. “What are we doing about McLaren?” Lurch said. “We kill that son of a bitch.”

Andrew didn’t tell Alice that he was leaving. This was the 3rd day that had gone by since they had last spoken. The pair had promised to work on their marriage, which only lasted a few weeks before Andrew threw himself headfirst back into his work. Alice was back at work as well, her workload steadily increasing after Jackie’s death. He left the house for fresh air and wound up in his car, speeding toward Desiree’s. He hadn’t seen her since he and Alice began their reconsiliation and their messages had dwindled down to nonexistent. It had taken him until just then to realize that he missed her. His heart pounded as he pulled up to her building. His attraction to her had not been quelled; he found himself thinking of her randomly during his days. He exited his car and rung the bell on her door, his mouth dry in anticipation. She peeped behind the drawn shades and smiled before yanking the door open. “Hiya stranger,” she said, pulling him into an embrace. He held her, maybe a little too tightly, breathing her in. She stepped back and let him in the door. Andrew’s eyes never left her; she wasn’t dressed in her normal, grimy work wear. She wore a clingy maxi dress and sandals, appropriate for the summer heat and her errantic curls were straightened and slicked back into a ponytail. “Hey,” Andrew finally said, jamming his hands into his pockets. “You look…wow,” he said, giving her a once over.
“You probably say that to all the girls,” she said, making light of the compliment.
They stood silently for a moment, both shouting in their heads to do something, say something. Andrew took a step towards her, his brain coaxing him to touch her soft skin, a voice from the stairs snapped them from their trance.

“Hey babe, have you seen my…?” It took a moment for Roman to realize what was happening. He had only seen The Husband from a distance but now he was here, within striking distance. He had expected him to show up long before now, to come and claim the girl so he could make his move for Alice. In the split second he stood there, he imagined pulling the gun from his waistband and shoving it into his temple, much like he had done his partner. He resisted the urge; his torture needed to be slow and meticulous. Instead, he stuck out his hand as he continued his descent down the stairs. Andrew gave his hand to him and they both shook with firm grasps in a mental wrestling match. “Roman Kane,” he said, plastering a faux smile on his face. Andrew gave one final shake of his hand and broke away. “Andrew,” he said, swallowing some of the venon that had built up in his voice. Desiree looked between them quizzically. I thought they knew each other. “Roman and I have been….seeing each other,” Desiree said.
“You got yourself a keeper. That’s what’s up,” Andrew said, looking down at Desiree. He was wounded, even though he had no expectations from her. He’d never considered that she wouldn’t be waiting for him. “So, what’s up?” Desiree said, attempting to change the subject. “Nothing. I was just in the neighborhood and saw the light. Had to check on you,” he said, faking a smile. “Oh ok, we just came in from dinner.”
“Well, I don’t want to interrupt. I’ll come by some other time,” he said, touching Desiree’s arm before he turned to leave.

“Hey!” she said, as she crossed the street. Andrew stopped next to his car and waited until she came over to him. “Everything ok? At home?” she asked, folding her arms in a pointless attempt to shield them from the light rain that had begun. She had assumed that he and wife had succumbed to their wedded bliss once again. Him showing up that night disproved her theory. Andrew hesitated at her question, since, in truth, there wasn’t anything wrong. “I just got a lot on my mind. Talk to you helps.”
“OK. So talk.”
“I’m just…Nothing feels right anymore. Like I’m going through the motions. The only time things feel honest is when…I was with you.”

Desiree had never been one for self-control. She did what she wanted when she wanted and dealt with the consequences later. She wasn’t surprised that she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him. He pulled her close and held her, his giant hands traversing down her back and ass. “Should I make him leave?” she whispered, once again in the throes of passion. Andrew considered her proposal before separating the two of them. “I can’t.”
“Why do you keep coming here? Doing this to me, to yourself?” Desiree asked, throwing her hands ups. “I’m sorry,” was all Andrew could think to say.
“You’re seriously twisted. I care about you, I really do…but don’t come here again. Stop getting my hopes up then leaving me high and dry. Go home to your wife,” Desiree said as she turned and left Andrew’s side.

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