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Chapter 39 – Gregory

Groaning, I press my face in my pillow as I am still waiting for Tay to respond to my last text. He is never this slow. Wonder if something is up with him. The thing is that I haven’t spoken to him since he dropped me off after visiting him at the gym. Even at school he seems to be distracted and I don’t like the look of the woman that drops him off and picks him up after school.

“Well,” Nance’s voice seems to filter through my misery and I lift and turn my head to face her. “It seems that the woman in question is Tay’s dad’s younger sister.” Her brows pinch as she rereads a text on her phone. Her face loses a good bit of colour as the device is slowly lowered. “Rafa says that she is here to take Tay and Syl back to Italy to have them work in the ‘family business’. Her fingers make quotation marks when she mentions the family business.

Meaning she wants then in them be more active in the mob business. Something Tay has worked hard for to not have any of it involve Syl or himself.

I lean up on my forearms with a frown. ” I thought that Mickey guy said that something like that wasn’t necessary?” I can vaguely remember Tay and Mickey having an argument in too rap Italian for me to follow. When I ask Tay about it, he said that it wasn’t something to be worried about. Said it was their Italian blood coming to the boil, and that all would be well after a few days.

“Apparently that is not the case.” She waves her phone as it chimes again. “Rafa says that she had a prearranged marriage to someone from another powerful family in the north, and their father hoped that this would combine their hold on the country. Sadly with his father and grandfather passing on at the same time and Gordo being here it left a power void in the family.” Nance looks drawn, as if she is terrified of what is coming next. “Try as he might, Mickey isn’t a real Camino blood member and they just let him think so until the void is rightly filled by a blood member.”

I sit upright, a dreadful feeling pooling in the bottom of my stomach. “Like her. And she recalling them all back to Italy, for whatever she is planning.” I look sadly at my phone, understanding it’s sudden silence. My frown turns into determination, “She will not take him away from me. I won’t give him or Syl up for anything.”

As the saying goes; easier said than done, I only have time to actually see Tay during break and then only for a few minutes, 20 tops before he gives some feeble excuse of needing to be elsewhere or checking with a teacher about his homework. The third time it happened in a week, I had enough, this farce had gone on too long already.

Time to face the music.

“Tay!” I call out to him as I see him sneak off school grounds towards a dark coloured sedan. I don’t need to look inside the car to know it is that woman in there, forcing all of this shit.

It is really pissing me off. This has to stop!

Tay is like a statue, staring at me with wider eyes with every step I take. “Chambers..” I try not to let the numb mutter of my last name get to me, chin up and lock down your emotions. Don’t show any weaknesses.

The fact that my mother’s most whispered words is like oil on the burning rage inside of me and I shake with effort of keeping it all contained. I don’t stop until we are mere inches apart, “This shit needs to stop, right now.”

He opens his mouth to respond, probably going to day I don’t understand. But I do, likely better than he thinks. “I will not put up with it.” I state, my heart breaking, crumbling to dust inside of my chest. “I don’t want to be part of this, I have seen more than my fair share of the misery we humans are capable of.”

His eyes soften, and his hand reaches out to my face. “I will end it right here and now if you are going down this path. You will never see me again.” Declaring these words has his hand dropping, confirming that he can’t let it go, and feels that it is necessary for him to do this.

My shoulders drop, swallowing thickly, straighten my spine and take a step back. “Then if that is your decision, it was nice knowing you Thompson.” My voice wobbles slightly, betraying my emotional state, something I have been desperate to hide.

My muscles tense as Tay closes the distance between us and embraces me tightly. “Don’t leave me.” The whisper is so soft that I think that I must have imagined it. Just then the car door opens and Gordo steps out.

“I told you Raggazo, don’t give up on this. It’s not right that we should give up our lives here just for her. Don’t let her pressure you into something you don’t want to do.” Gordo, looks the part of a mafioso: expensive three piece suit with a long woolen coat, shawl, black leather gloves and Italian leather shoes. “Looks like I need to remind her and the rest of the family why your father choose me as his replacement should anything happen to him.”

After delivering his speech, he gets back in the car and reverses off the parking lot. “What is he going to do?” My curiosity has the words spilling from my lips before I can stop them.

The look in Tay’s eyes is hard to decipher and he shrugs. “Probably kicking up a fuss. Making them remember why my dad picked him like he said.” Looking in his eyes, it feels like he has hesitantly opened the door to his true feelings, and the delicate moment is ruined by the shrilly sounding bell, announcing that break has ended and that we need to go back to class. “Wanna bounce?”

Nodding my head without a thought, I follow Tay to his car. Only to remember my backpack is in the canteen. “Don’t worry, we will come back for it.” Shrugging, I text Nance that I am with Tay and will not be there to bring her home.

Our phones chime at the same time as we strap ourselves in and Tay reverses off the parking lot and down the street. The ride is spend in comfortable silence and I can’t fight the smile on my face as Tay laces our fingers together and gives them a light squeeze.

“Here we are.” The words have me blinking as Tay parks the car near a abandoned part of a cliff overlooking the sea.

“Wow.” I take a deep breath of the slightly salt air as we get out. Tay just smiles and holds out his hand to me beaconing to take a seat on the hood of his car. “I have never done this before.” I say a while later as we lie there staring up at the ever changing sky.

“I come here to think or just to enjoy the view.” Tay murmurs, looking for the entire world relaxed as he leans against his windshield. Yet, I can see the subtle signs that betray his anger. He brushes his hair out of his eyes, looking quite natural in doing so. However, being around him as much as I have I can see the slight tenseness in his hand and fingers.

“It’s beautiful.” My words are soft and the squeak of my shoes on his hood are unnaturally loud as I shift and lay my head on his shoulder, staring out to the horizon.

“Just like you.” Words are murmured in my hair and lips pressed to my scalp. I can’t fight the shiver as the cold night air rushes over us. Since the sun went down a while ago, it has been steadily getting colder by the minute. Tay chuckles slightly as he rubs my arms to warm them up through my thick jumper. “Let’s get you warned up and home huh?” A sigh of appreciation left me as I scoot onto the passenger seat with seat heating the heat blasting towards me.

I am glad that Nance had state of mind to bring my backpack with her and drop it off at Tay’s house under the pretence of studying. The house is dark and silent when we arrive and Tay hops in after turning a few lights on, he comes back handing me my backpack and we’re away again within five minutes of arriving.

Mom has a knowing look in his eye when Tay drops me off and I walk into the house. “Everything okay? You look a little sunburnt and windswept.” He continues to wave at Tay as he turns and leaves before facing me as he closes the door with his hip. Everybody knows I am a lousy lair, so all they need to do is wait for me to open my mouth and jumble everything and end up spilling everything.

“For a break we went to a cliff near the sea for a bit.” I said. “Must have been burned without knowing.” I rub the tips of my fingers along my face, looking for places where it starts to peel. I do register that my skin is hotter than normal.

“Go to the bathroom and put some aloevera on it, it will help with the heat.” Nodding my head, I run up the stairs, drop my bag in my room and head to the family bathroom. Winching at the bright light, I see to red spots on my cheeks and forehead. Great, cant wait until it starts to peel. I will look like a clown. Opening the left cupboard I root through the three shelves and find a opened tube of the cream and apply it royally onto my skin.

During dinner I am the butt of every joke, yet I smile whenever it comes up. Still, worry gnaws on my nerves as my mind wanders from time to time to Tay and what he might be up to.

My sleep that night is all but restful as I kept tossing and turning. So by the time I needed to get up to go to school, I feel like a wreck. The looks I receive when I go down confirm that I indeed look terrible.

I feel better when I see Tay stand outside, looking like he slept badly as well.

At school we have to endure at lot of questionable looks and snickers. Annoying questions like ‘Thompson kept you up all night Chambers?’ are ignored, including the over the top laughing that ensues.

The coach clicks his tongue, but says nothing as I continue without complaining. Knowing full well that should I open my mouth, Coach will unleash his endless tirade and I am in no mood to deal with it.

It’s no surprise that I have zero energy by the end and am dragging my sorry ass to the lockers and then to the car park. Thankful for small graces that Tay will be driving, I let my eyes close as soon as I am buckled in.

I can’t believe it when Tay wakes me, it feels like it was only five minutes ago that I closed my eyes in the school car park.

Throughout the rest of the evening I fight hard to keep my eyes open. I don’t fight it when I am shooed up to bed at nine o’clock. In fact I am sound asleep before my head hits the pillow and wake up feeling refreshed the next morning.

Ready to face another day and even Tay’s aunt if need be.

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