Getting home and settling in was difficult, I can’t lie. I didn’t feel safe living home alone anymore. I slept on the couch for the first few nights with my loaded Sig in reach on the oak coffee table.
My fourth night home alone I had a horrible dream that men were beating down my door screaming at me, threatening me through the metal fortress that hung in my foyer. But it wasn’t a dream, my muffled name being called woke me…
“Loreina!! OPEN THE DOOR NOW!” I rubbed the sleep from my eyes as my hand found its way to my gun. I steadied it in my hand like I had been taught, right hand applied outward pressure and elbow straight but not locked. Left arm bent pulling against my own force to absorb any kick the weapon would provide. I pulled the slide back and readied a bullet. Slowly walking to the door, the banging was so loud now it resonated in my chest.
BANG! BANG! BANG! Cautiously, I stood on tippy-toes and looked out the peephole and saw a familiar face. My body stayed tense as the adrenaline had just taken over me. I let my weapon down and unlocked the locks, deadbolt, sliding pin, chain and handle.
“GOD DAMMIT WOMAN! What were you doing drunk again tonight?!” I rolled my eyes, not feeling like explaining that I wasn’t able to sleep anymore on my own and that’s exactly what had happened.
“And good morning to you too, big brother.” I sauntered back to the couch and dropped the magazine out of the gun and cleared the bullet that had been itching to find its way out before dropping the pieces on the table. My thighs met the leather couch cushion and my eyes, Alex’s.
“What do I owe the pleasure of this visit to at- six am?!” my eyes met my iphone screen in disbelief. Last time I saw the time was at three am. This had better be very, very good. The liquor still in my veins grew hot and made me a little more on edge than usual.
“The Vilettos are pulling out of the game. They’re selling their shell company to a legitimate buyer and we have nowhere to conceal our laundering. We’re a battleship that can’t sail away. Were sitting ducks.” a long deep sigh made its way from my lungs as I reached for the glass on the table in front of me. Empty. Great.
“How much have you been drinking?” His tone was laced with judgment and concern. I wasn’t a drinker. Hardly ever. But the recent events were an exception. Makers Mark was winning my sleepless mind’s affection. I poured a small glass and watched the bubbles spin and float in a chaotic pattern. How fitting. It mocked what my brain felt at the moment. Spinning. Swimming. Frantic. I took a small sip before hopping up onto my kitchen breakfast bar, not wanting to be so close to Alex, who was livid.
“The Laundromats and service repair stations are both being sold?” The laundromats exchanged so much coin, cash and credit it was easy to make our money there. But the car service station, where my office was located, was our protection. That’s where we received and shipped out the guns. In car tires. Hollow engines. You name it, if it was coming or going it held arms and ammo.
He nodded and stood, walking to me he took my glass and downed it like a shot. His wince faded as his sigh blew against my arm.
“Why don’t you move in with Howie if you don’t feel safe here, Lo?” His hand met my shoulder and I jerked it away, immediately regretting it. This is what the liquor did to me. Made me want to be alone and wallow in whatever feeling I couldn’t repair.
“Oh come on Loreina!” anger snapped me back to his eyes and hit my heart. He never called me that. Just Lo or Little Chick. My hands met my face and tried to rub the frustration and cloudiness away from my brain. But it danced with exhaustion and I couldn’t contain it.
“Just go Alexander, we will deal with the shells another time. I can’t do this right now-” my voice croaked and threatened to turn sour.
“Lo, it’s been two weeks. I can handle the books but I can’t shop around for new business partners too. I need you back. I’ve missed you.”
Those words haunted me. ’I’ve missed you…’ a shudder ran through my body and I grabbed the nearest object and threw it and Johnathan’s image burned into the darkest memories that hid down my hallway, in that damned bedroom where he had hurt me so many times. My knees met the hard wood as I fell off the breakfast bar when the world started to spin. Alex’s embrace softening the blow before my head met the same fate. I wrapped my hands around his forearm that stretched across my chest as I tried to wrestle away from him but he was like an anchor as he crouched down behind me.
“NO! Let me GO!” he did, the shriek loud enough to hurt my own ears. The ringing lingered and my shoulders heaved the liquor. Gasp, heave, gasp, heave, heave, heave. And when there was nothing left inside my stomach I slumped back into Alex who held me tight. My quivers prevented me from pushing him away.
“Shhh… deep breaths for me now. Calm down little chick…” I closed my eyes and admitted defeat. I welcomed the black cloud that rushed into my tunnel vision like a freight train.