Kai’s shift is exhausting, but he cheers up once he gets a call from Paisley.
Trent got up quietly and left.
“Sorry I didn’t call you, it got crazy here. Then I slept like a dead man.”
“So Trent told me. Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m shiny. Just tired. How did you like your first hurricane?”
“Not so much. I spent it at Brill’s.”
“What?” Kai stood, completely shocked.
“TM and Sushi came over. We were pretty well hunkered down, then the rain started. Water came in under the door and partially flooded my living room. We thought about going to TM’s place, but the road was blocked because of a downed line. Instead of risking it, he turned around and went to Brill’s. It’s like a fortress here.”
“Yes. It’s been a lot of fun. Everyone has been really sweet. Brill promised to teach me how to rap and shoot a pistol like a gangsta, yo.”
It took Kai a minute to realize she was teasing. “Funny. Tease the sleepy, horny boyfriend.”
“Lighten up, Marcelo,” she said with a giggle. “When are you coming home?”
“Soon. I’ve got the next few days off.”
“Great. Swing by and pick me up.”
“Not all of Brill’s guys like me, babe.”
“Brill says it’s cool. They won’t give you a hard time. Besides, he threatened to beat their asses if anyone upset me, so you’re safe.”
“That’s not a threat, babe. That’s a promise. He’d do it.”
“Brill’s a sweetheart.”
“Under an unbelievably hard exterior, yeah. I like him, don’t get me wrong—”
“Don’t worry. Get your unbelievably buff exterior over here. The guys are going to help me clean up at the apartment.”
“Okay. Let me get some more liquid sunshine in my veins, and I’ll be there.”
“Have I told you how hot and sexy you are?”
“Not today—not ever?” Kai was puzzled by her words. She’d never spoken to him like that. “I’ll see you soon, babe.”
“I miss you, Kai. I love you.”
“I love you too, Paisley. Bye.” He hung up. Putting his phone down, he clunked his head on the table.
Trent came in. He moved quietly around the kitchen. Kai heard a mug click beside him. He sat up. Trent had placed a fresh cup of coffee next to his cold one.
“Thanks. So, she rode out the storm with Brill Williams and his gang,” Kai said in a sunny tone before slurping his steaming coffee.
“No kidding? Wow. Isn’t he the head of the worst gang in the area?”
“He is. But he’s taken Paisley under his wing, so I have to be grateful for that. She baked him cookies.”
Trent rolled his eyes, trying hard not to laugh. He couldn’t help it. It burst from him like a damn breaking.
“That man has a rap sheet longer than the ladder truck, and she made him cookies?” He giggled and choked. “I’m picturing Brill dressed like Beaver Cleaver. Oh, my god.” Trent wiped his eyes. “Oh, my god.”
Kai left Trent gasping and sobbing with laughter. He got dressed and gathered his things together, said goodbye to Trent, who was still laughing, and left.
Brill’s place was rather like a fortress. He and his gang had taken over an old mattress factory, converting it to a massive complex. Though the exterior was shabby, the interior was luxurious. Kai had to give it to Brill, he had good taste, and spent his money where it counted. It was rumored that his girlfriend was an interior designer. Seeing the inside of the building, Kai had to admit that was probably true.
He wasn’t sure what he’d expected, but it wasn’t what he saw. It was all very modern—lots of stainless steel and glass. There wasn’t loud rap booming. Instead, it was a Mozart symphony fluttering from hidden speakers. The floors were Mexican tile, the walls painted in subtle earth tones. Artwork, spotlighted by concealed lights, graced the walls. It put Kai in mind of a doctor’s house he’d visited once on a Christmas homes tour.
Kai mounted an open, concrete slab staircase. The banisters were painted a silky dove gray. The stair treads were covered in swatches of colorful carpet.
Brill and his girlfriend sat in the living room on butter soft leather furniture. Paisley sat next to them, admiring a picture on Brill’s phone. She jumped up when she saw Kai, rushing to him. She flung her arms around his neck, kissing him deeply.
“I missed you so much! Come see Brill and Lianna’s baby. He’s so adorable.”
“I didn’t know you had a baby,” Kai said. “Congratulations.”
“And she made an honest man of me,” Brill said, flashing a tasteful platinum wedding band. “Just shows what a man can do for the right woman, right baby?” He kissed his wife.
Kai’s expectations were further shattered when one of Brill’s homeboys came in carrying a tray with an insulated coffee carafe and delicate demitasse cups.
“I have to say, Brill, this isn’t what I expected.”
Lianna laughed. “Brill’s reputation has been well earned. Up until a couple years ago, every one of your expectations would have been right on the money.”
“I was a thug,” Brill admitted. “A hard assed criminal. Now, my boys and I are legit. We have an import/ export business that isn’t a front for drug running. The only weapons we ship are antiques, or reproductions, that are made in our factory downstairs.”
© 2019 Dellani Oakes