Runaway Highway

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Chapter 12 - New Family

Mia’s POV

The days at the salon were long and exhausting. By now, my arms had gotten used to the pain of doing blowouts for almost 7 hours a day and my feet were accustomed to standing for about the same time. On top of that, having my mum breathing down my neck the whole day was enough to make me wish I was in hell. I was sure I’d have a better time there.

During my lunchbreak I walked outside and called my little brother. He had lunch at school and he didn’t have much time to talk since all he wanted to do was play with his friends, but I always managed to squeeze in his busy schedule a few minutes to ask how his day was going.

“Hey!” My mum shouted from inside “Get your lazy ass inside!”

“I’m talking to Scottie!” I shouted back, growling at her while covering the phone so my brother wouldn’t hear me shout.

“Well hang up, you can talk to that brat at the end of the day when you get home.”

I got up, my hands in fists “Don’t call him that! He’s your son! Don’t you want to talk to him too?”

She shrugged her shoulders “Ah whatever, I’ve had enough of that snotty kid. If you don’t come inside in 2 minutes you might as well leave and take him with you.”

My mum always spoke like this. I had always believed she just said these things to push me over the edge and make me do what she wanted, but now that I was older I was starting to think she was actually saying what she really felt.

I was sick and tired of her being so cold. I got up and dragged her to the back of the salon, away from the customers.

“I’m not doing this anymore. You treat me like shit, you treat Scottie like shit! You act as if helping out at the salon is an inconvenience! You don’t even pay me what I deserve! I’m sick and tired of you not caring for us!”

“Oh, so now it’s my fault that life is hard? That you need to work to put food on the table? To pay the bills? You have no idea how the real world works honey. You act like you know it all, like you know how to take care of Scottie, but you haven’t the faintest idea!”

“Oh really?!” I was fuming. Was she that clueless of just mean? “What do I know about the real world, Mom? Who took care of Scottie when he was sick? Who takes him to school every day? Who dresses him? When he was a baby I was the one to wake up in the middle of the night to put him back to sleep. You know nothing about the real world, you no nothing about being a good Mom!”

With that, she spalled me across the face. The clients were peeking through the windows and saw the whole thing. I felt a mix of embarrassment and betrayal. How could she do that in front of everybody?

“You know what,” I said, trying my hardest to keep my voice straight “You are a fucking disgrace. You never took care of me, and you definitely couldn’t care less about Scott. Go back to your drinking and passing out on the couch, see where that life leads you. I’m out of here.”

I ripped my apron and dropped it on the floor. I stormed out and walked to my car. I gritted my teeth, refusing to let my tears fall.

What was I supposed to do now?

I dialled Johanna’s number. I was still so furious that I had to talk so someone and vent.

I turned on my car and put my phone on speaker.

“Hey Mia, what’s up?” She asked when she picked up.

“Hey. Is it a good time to talk?”

“I’m at Gazelle’s house. You sound anxious, is everything okay?”

I stopped at a red light. “No. I just quit. I stormed out of the salon after figthing with my mom. She’s such a bitch.”

“Oh shit Mia, do you need any help?”

“Not at the moment. I don’t know what I’m gonna do. I can’t stand her and I don’t want to see her again. I just want to get out of the house and take Scottie with me.”

“Girl, you know you can always stay at my house, we’ll figure it out. However, if you take Scottie your mum has every right to involve the police. She is his guardian after all.”

“I know.” I slammed my hand on the wheel “Fuck! He can’t stay in that house! My mum doesn’t take care of him, she’s always drunk... And my dad, God knows what he’s up to... They are always fighting, they don’t take care of him. I just wish I could call social services and get him out of there.”

“I hate to be the devil’s advocate, but what would you achieve by doing that? Even though you’re an adult and you could technically be his guardian, you don’t have a house of your own, you don’t have money to go to court and fight for his custody... Scottie would just end up being taken away from all of you. At least this way you can be with him.”

Tears started falling down my face. She was fucking right.

“I need to find a job, quickly.”

“Yeah, I agree. Look, if you want you can go grab some stuff at your house and you can stay in mine until we find a solution.”

“Thank you Jo, but as much as I hate that woman I’m not leaving Scottie alone in that madhouse to fend for himself.”

“Alright. Call me if you need anything. I have to go back to work now.”

“Thanks. I’ll talk to you soon.”

I hung up. Johanna was a sweetheart, but there was only so much she could do. She couldn’t find me a job which was what I desperately needed to get the hell out of that house and never go back there again.

I knew what I had to do. It didn’t make me happy one bit, but I had to do it. Johanna would kill me if she found out.

I called Stark. He didn’t pick up at first, so I tried again. When I was ready to give up, he picked up.

“What is it Mia?” He asked, annoyance laced in his voice. I hated that he was my only choice.

“Hey. So... I just quit my job and I was thinking... Do you need help selling the stuff?”

He paused for a second and breathed through the line. “Uh, yeah I guess, but are you sure you can do this? It’s no joke Mia, this is serious business.”

“I know it is, that’s why I want to help. I know you guys are making big bucks and I know I can-”

“What will happen if you find yourself in a sticky situation? What will happen if someone tries to take advantage of you? What if you’re jumped?”

Oh, now he was concerned about me?

“We can’t lose a single gram of dope, you understand? Not a single gram. This job is of great responsibility, it’s not like giving haircuts.”

And there it was. The only thing he cared about was the dope.

“Stark, I know I can do this. No one is gonna suspect of a girl like me. I’m gonna be a great dealer. I just need you to trust me. When can I meet you and your people so we can talk business?”

He pondered what I said, then answered “Meet us tonight at my house. Come alone. You might be of use to us.”

He hung up immediately, not letting me say goodbye. Tears started streaming down my face again. I was so scared, but this was my only choice.

Later that night I went to Stark’s house. His people knew we were messing around, but I still got some looks when I entered the room filled with men. They all looked at me up and down as if I were a piece of meat. Worst of all, they were all Stark’s cousins and uncles. Where had I gotten myself into?

The patriarch of the family, Andre’s older uncle, Mr Ambrose Senior, lead the meeting. He was a sullen man, but his physique, even for a man in his sixties, was imposing.

“So,” he started, looking directly at me “I heard you want to become part of this family, is that right?”

My heart stopped and I froze. Everyone around me exchanged looks and chuckled as if they were all in on a secret I knew nothing about. I was afraid of looking at Andre and seeing his facial expression. Was his uncle suggestion we were getting married?

“Uhm, I’m not sure what Andr- Stark told you about me.” I said quietly. I almost called Andre by his name, them remembered he didn’t like it.

“He told me you want to work with us, but you are aware that once you accept you’re part of this family from that moment on, right? For better and for worse.”

I must have expressed confusion because he went on “By joining our operation, you’ll inevitably be exposed to sensitive information and that information is very valuable. The nature of this business, my dear, is that you will be trusted with handling this information, and that is the most important thing of all. No one, and I mean absolutely no one, can know of our dealings. Not what we sell, where we get the substances, who we sell them to, and how we conduct our operations. If there is a loose end, if there is a weak link, the whole web is compromised. Your task at first will be selling some of our goods to specific clients that we trust, that way we decrease the chances of... altercations.”

I nodded, soaking in all the information.

“If you chose to do business with us, it’s for life. Even if one day you stop selling, you’ll always be tied to us. Take this warning as my gift to you. Not everyone is made for this life, I get that, but the moment you say yes, you’re set for good. We’ll protect you and you protect us, just like a family.”

For the looks of it, it seemed like Stark’s family, although heavily involved in some shady activities, was solid. They trusted one another. They were all in the same room, cramped together, and they weren’t shouting over each other. They respected one another. There was a real sense of community in that room.

I had no idea what that felt like, and the idea of belonging somewhere while also making good money was too good to pass.

“You know,” Mr Ambrose Senior continued “Andre told us about your situation. It’s a harsh world out there, but you’re safe with us. You don’t have to be from our blood to belong, you just have to respect us and value us, as we do you. We’ll always take care of you. So, what do you say?”

I knew it was now or never. I had to give an answer. Truth be told, I didn’t really like Stark, but I liked his family. I knew that by allying myself with a gang I’d instantly make an enemy of all the others, but I didn’t care. I was so desperate that I would have taken any offer.

I gathered all the courage in my body to speak loudly and clearly. “When do I start?”

--

Hello everyone! So, as you can tell, Mia is not going in the best path... Obviously you can expect the story mentioning drugs from this point on since Mia will become a dealer. As always, thank you for your continuous support and I can’t wait to publish the next chapter!

Don’t forget to comment <3

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