Kai finds out that Paisley spent the night at Brill’s, and is somewhat shocked. Then he picks her up, and finds out how much the gang leader has reformed.
“I always knew you had good in you,” Kai said with a smile. “Lianna, you’re a miracle worker.”
She patted her husband’s knee. “Nope, he did it all himself.”
“Cause she said she’d leave me if I didn’t straighten up. I couldn’t stand the idea of losing her.” Brill kissed his wife affectionately.
“I want to thank you both for taking Paisley in and watching out for her.”
“You’re welcome,” Brill replied.
Their conversation was interrupted by a piercing cry from a baby monitor. Lianna excused herself. Paisley went with her. When the door closed behind them, Brill leaned forward.
“Sushi says your boy is on the move. He’s seen all kinds of activity on the credit cards. He went up to Maine a couple weeks ago and he’s been working his way back down. He hasn’t hit on her location yet, but he will. Fortunately, Sushi is hella good, and is covering her tracks. Unless her ex has someone better, he won’t find her—yet. It’s just a matter of time, though. This guy is scary connected—at least his old man is.”
“Why doesn’t his dad put a stop to this?”
“Old man’s sick. He’s got MS or something. I don’t remember what. But he’s not in charge anymore, Lil Ralphie is. He’s a sick fk. Paisley told Li some of the shit that brute did to her. I see him first, I might have to kill him. And that’s not a threat, that’s a firm promise.”
“I don’t want his blood on your hands,” Kai said softly. “Your son doesn’t need a killer for a father.”
“Hell, he’s got one already. I’m no choir boy, Kai. I got here the hard way, and you know that. But that’s over. That ended as soon as I found out Li was pregnant. She wouldn’t marry me until I converted to legit business. She is, without doubt, the best woman in the world for me. And my son, he’s one cute little fk.”
The door opened and the women came back in. Paisley carried the baby. He was a very cute baby. He had big black lashed eyes and skin like creamy mocha. His hair was short and curly. He wore a UCF football jersey.
Brill rolled his eyes at his wife. “Dammit, baby. I gave you all the FSU stuff, so we wouldn’t be embarrassed in public.”
“When you change and dress him, you can put him in whatever you like,” she replied, tossing her head. “But I happen to like my alma mater.”
When he saw his father, the baby nearly hurled himself from Paisley’s arms. Brill caught him, tossing him in the air, catching him expertly. Lianna did her best to ignore it. Brill handed the baby over to Kai.
“This is Slick.”
“His real name is Henry, after my grandfather,” Lianna added. “But Brill calls him Slick. You don’t want to know why,” she confided in Paisley.
“Because of Brylcreem,” her husband persisted. “Because he’s my son and it was my cr—”
“Enough!” Lianna said, her caramel complexion reddening. “They get it.”
“A little dab’ll do ya,” Brill winked at Paisley.
“He has to say that—every time,” Lianna said. “It’s so gross.”
Kai laughed, tapping Brill’s knuckles. “Yeah, well that’s what passes for male humor, Lianna. We’re a crass bunch.”
“So, the men are helping you clean up your place?” Lianna abruptly changed the subject.
“Yes, whenever they’re ready,” Paisley said.
“Let’s go,” Brill said, taking the baby from Kai. He handed Slick to Lianna. “See you later, baby. You too, you cute little fk.” He bubbled the baby’s cheek, making the child gurgle happily.
“Language, Daddy,” Lianna complained.
“He’s eight months, babe. He doesn’t know fk from any other word.”
“Get in the habit now, because his little mind is a sponge. How would you like his kindergarten teacher to call us and tell us he’s the first child in the room to say—that word?”
Brill kissed her again. “I’ll try and behave, Mommy. Love you.”
Kai and Paisley rode to her apartment complex in his Jeep. Brill and some of his men followed in a convoy of SUVs. They descended on the building in a well dressed wave. Some of them started on Paisley’s place, the rest tapped on doors asking if her neighbors needed anything. Many of them were elderly, and needed strong backs to move furniture and clean up. The men pitched in, mopping, sweeping and toting damaged goods to the street for pickup.
At dinner time, Brill ordered pizza, and they all sat around outside Paisley’s apartment, eating pizza and drinking soft drinks. Kai couldn’t get over how very little like a gang these men appeared. A few years ago, they were stone-cold killers. Now, they were helping little old ladies clean their storm ravaged apartments. After their meal, the men picked up and headed back to Brill’s place. The electricity was on again in Paisley’s apartment, so she and Kai decided to stay there for awhile. A quick call reassured his mother that they were well.
“My mind is officially blown,” Kai said, making an exploding sound. “Who knew Brill was like that?”
“He’s a sweet man,” Paisley said. “He’s made some terrible mistakes and some bad choices, but he’s still a good man. Did he tell you that they are tracking Ralph?”
“Yes. Do you want to find him? Talk to him?”
© 2019 Dellani Oakes