Chapter 3. Chemistry
A couple of months passed by without any incidents. Angel would turn twelve years old in a couple of weeks. Angel reached that age where he just wanted money. Angel had plans with a few of his friends to go out for his birthday.
I contemplated for quite some time about telling Angel. Angel wasn’t supposed to know until he turned sixteen. Sixteen was how old he was supposed to be to start his training. However, Angel was relatively mature for his age. I think it had a lot to do with his dad being gone.
Austin and I had been debating it. Austin wasn’t against the idea of Angel learning early. We currently had all the kids that were old enough taking Karate lessons just to start. Angel has been a black belt for over a year now. Angel was the future of the Latin Kings. Perhaps if he knew and started sooner, it would make him stronger than his father or me.
Austin strolled into the study, and he took in my expression. “What is going on in that little head of yours?”
“I’m going to tell Angel,” I said.
Austin stared at me, surprised, but he didn’t speak.
“Tell me what?” Angel asked.
Austin spun around, and we both looked at Angel.
“Hi, baby.” I smiled at Angel.
“Uh, hi? What is wrong?” Angel asked.
“Well, nothing, exactly. Come have a seat.” I gestured to the couch.
Angel sighed and plopped down on the couch in front of me. I stood up and moved around my desk. I sat in my chair as Austin poured a glass of bourbon for him and me. Austin slammed his drink and poured another glass.
“Damn, you’re taking this harder than I am,” I said and chuckled
“Are you sure about this? It might not hurt to way a couple of more years.” Austin raised his eyebrows and sipped the whiskey in his glass. “This is the first time anyone has found out at this young of an age.”
“I’m sure. Angel can handle this. He’s mature enough. I trust him,” I said.
“You guys are talking about me like I’m not here,” Angel said and huffed in irritation. “What is it?”
This time Austin and I slammed our glasses of bourbon.
Angel leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest in agitation, which reminded me of his father. A considerable part of the reason I knew Angel could handle this was because of how similar he was to Ace and me. Angel got it pretty evenly divided. He was like Ace in some ways and similar to me in other ways.
“Okay, Angel,” I said. “Now what I’m about to tell you is huge. You’re young, yet so it’s going to be difficult to explain. I need you to understand this is not something you can tell anyone. Not your sisters, your friends, or teachers. Do you understand?” My voice came out stern.
Angel nodded in understanding. “Okay, Mom spit it out already.”
Austin approached me with wide eyes. He looked as if he might grab me and make a run for it. I put one finger up to stop Austin. Austin grunted and leaned away. He rubbed his forehead.
“You know that I run businesses such as furniture stores, hotels, clubs, restaurants, and other stuff. You also know Grandpa ran this before me. You know that when you’re old enough, you will take over,” I explained.
Angel nodded. “Yeah, Mom, you’ve told me all of that.”
“There is a little more to it than that.” I intertwined my hands and placed them on top of the desk.
He stared at me in confusion. “Okay?”
“This is the original charter of the Latin Kings. It has been passed down from father to son for hundreds of years. However, Grandpa didn’t have a son to give it to at the time, so he gave it to me.” I watched as Angel’s face twisted.
Angel stared at me, dumbfounded. “Wait. What?” Angel paused. “Latin kings as in. . . the gang?”
“It’s a little more like a mafia or family,” I corrected.
“Holy shit,” Angel muttered.
“I’m going to let that one slide since it’s a lot to take in,” I grunted.
“So, what exactly is it you do?” Angel wondered.
“Well, we really do run businesses, but we also do some things that are illegal. We’ve gone to war with other mafias, cartels, and gangs,” I explained.
“Why are you telling me now?” Angel arched a brow and scooted to the edge of the couch.
“Austin and I think it might be best if you start your training a little early,” I said. “It will make you stronger in the long run. Your dad was supposed to do your training, but since he isn’t around, Austin and I will do it.”
“What does it consist of?”
“Well, you already know karate, but it is a bit more than that,” Austin said.
“How much more?” Curiosity burned in Angel’s brown eyes.
“A lot more. You will be trained as a weapon to kill. In this business, it’s kill or be killed,” I said.
“You’ve killed people?” Angel’s eyes filled with doubt.
It didn’t surprise me that Angel didn’t see me as the type to kill a person. Most young boys wouldn’t think that way of their mother. “More than I can count,” I told him.
“What about Dad? What did he do?” Angel asked
“He was my right hand. He helped me with everything. He protected me against other gangs, and he has killed many more people than I have,” I explained. “You can’t repeat any of this, Angel.”
“Damn, you guys are way cooler than I thought before,” Angel said and chuckled.
“Angel,” I said sternly.
“Chill, Mom, I get it. I won’t tell a soul,” Angel promised. “While we’re being honest. . .”
Oh boy. “What did you do?” I crossed my arms over my chest and raised an eyebrow.
“I beat the crap out of a kid at school today,” Angel admitted.
“Angel! Who? Why?” I scowled.
“Ricky Rivera. I fronted him some weed, and he didn’t pay me.” Angel shrugged.
Austin threw his head back and laughed.
“Boy, where the hell did you get weed?” I shrieked. I threw my arms in the air, and they fell back onto my desk with a loud smack.
“Your drawer,” Angel said and smiled.
Austin laughed harder.
I facepalmed. “Alright, enough honesty for one day, get out and stay out of my weed!”
“Did I mention I smoked it a few times? Some pretty good shit, Ma,” Angel said and chuckled. I pointed at the door. Angel jumped up from the couch and bolted out the door.
“I can’t believe that little shit stole my weed. I was wondering where the hell that went,” I grunted. Then again, it’s Angel. I shouldn’t be surprised.
Austin gripped his knees as he shook with laughter. “That kid. . . I love that kid,” Austin spoke between hysterics. I elbowed Austin in the ribs, and he groaned in pain.
“It’s a bit early to be telling him, isn’t it?” Kelsey asked worriedly. The girls and I decided it had been too long since we had a girl’s day.
“I don’t think so. Angel handled it pretty well, probably better than I did,” I confided. “The little shit has been smoking and dealing weed too. Sometimes I don’t think I know how to raise my kids, especially without Ace.”
We pulled up to the club and got out of the vehicle. The streets were lined with cars. The streetlamps lit up the sidewalk. The music from the club could be heard outside. We found a booth in the VIP section. It was a club that I opened right before Ace went missing.
“I think you’re doing great, Aria. It must help that Austin is always there too,” Kimmy said.
“How are things going with Austin and Kalia?” Bailey asked.
“It’s not,” I muttered darkly.
“What do you mean?” Carley asked. Even though Jackson died years ago, Carley was still one of our good friends. Carley was Jackson’s girlfriend. She did a lot of grieving. She even moved away for a while, but she finally came back. Carley didn’t hang out with us nearly as much as she used to, but she’s been around.
“Kalia is a cunt,” I muttered.
They all laughed and nodded.
“How are things going with Noel?” I asked Bailey. Bailey went on a couple of dates with a guy named Noel for the first time since Benny.
Bailey rolled her eyes and sipped her drink. “I thought I was ready to date, but I’m not. Anytime he does or says something. I cringe because I know it isn’t what Benny would have said or did,” she said. “God, I miss him.”
“Yeah, I know. That is exactly why I don’t even try to be honest,” I said.
“Kalia has been trying to tell all of us that you and Austin are having an affair.” Jenny scoffed and rolled her eyes. Of course, she didn’t believe it.
“She just wanted a fucking excuse to leave him,” I said. “Hey, have you talked to Sadie lately?” I asked Kimmy.
Kimmy was the only one Sadie would sometimes call. Sadie found out the truth about what happened to Gabe. Sadie was so ashamed of what he did. She moved to Florida and hasn’t been back.
“Yeah, she’s coming to visit soon,” Kimmy said and smiled.
“Really? Awesome,” I said.
A loud burp came from behind me. Arms appeared on the table. The person’s hand held a glass of whiskey between Carley and me.
“What up, ladies?” Austin smirked at us.
“Ew, what the hell are you doing here? No boys allowed,” Carley teased.
“We thought we would come crash ladies’ night,” Austin said. Austin leaned closer to Carley.
We all laughed as the other boys gathered around. We moved over to make room for all of them.
“Come dance with me, gorgeous,” Luis said flirtatiously to Kelsey. The fact that they had been together for so long and Luis was still trying was adorable. Kelsey giggled and let him pull her out to the dance floor.
Austin asked Carley to dance, and she said yes.
Everyone drifted away. Bailey and I were the only two left at the table.
“Do you think what I think?” I looked pointedly at Austin and Carley.
Austin pulled Carley into him. The way they looked at each other was strange. They held their bodies together with familiarity. There was a chemistry between them I never noticed.
“I’m thinking Austin is going to get some,” Bailey said and giggled.
Both of us bursted into a fit of giggles and clinked our glasses together. I started to raise the glass cup that held a little bit of whiskey. My cup shattered in my hand as the echo of a gunshot rang in my ears.
My lips parted in shock, and my heart fluttered. The sudden adrenaline rush made me somehow think clearer at that moment than I should have.
What the fuck was that?” Bailey screeched.
“Get down!” I ordered.
We dived down into the booth, and I covered Bailey’s body with mine as more shots were fired. People in the club made a run for the exits. Glass shattered across the floor. The floor was soaked with alcohol. The lights in the club turned on, and the dance lights stopped. The music stopped. I pulled Bailey down under the table, and we crawled through the running people until a set of hands grabbed ahold of both of us.
“Let go!” I screamed. I struggled against the person’s hold.
“It’s me!” Austin shouted. Austin pulled me toward the back of the club. Another shot fired. Screams echoed through the building. We ran out the back door into the alleyway.
I continued to run but looked back. A dark hooded figure held a gun and aimed it at me as we dashed around the corner. The figure fired the weapon, but it struck the side of the building instead of me.