Sunday, November 18, 2012
Pepper went to Sooky’s and had a couple of beers. He thought about Michelle, wondering what she was doing. He dismissed it and pulled out his cell phone.
”Yo bro? What you doing?”
”Hey Pepper, man. Long time no speak.”
He scowled. “Donnie we just talked a couple days ago. Jeez. Meet me at Sookie’s and I’ll buy you a beer.”
“Alright. I’ll be there in ten.”
Donnie looked bad. It was pretty obvious that he was using. If big Don saw that shit Donnie would be wearing cement boots. Son or no son, Don didn't play around when it came to his employee’s using.
Pepper found himself thinking grimly that if Donnie wanted so badly to walk in Pepper’s footsteps, then he should have never started using. For the first time ever, Pepper felt what it was to be Donnie; pathetic man wanting to be something else and not appreciating what he did have; a mother, a father and a legacy—whether it was good or bad it was his. Under the circumstances, Pepper didn’t feel very sympathetic.
Especially when five years ago he had taken the fall for a murder that he hadn’t done. Donnie had committed the crime but somehow it was Pepper going to jail for it and his father asking him to take five for the family.
“You know,” Pepper said after Donnie’s third beer. “I’ve been looking around. It’s pretty interesting.”
"That you're still alive."
Donnie blanched. "What? You’re the one that said Charlie Blue doesn’t want a blood war. What the fuck am I supposed to do? I can’t sell out Daddy. He would have my balls! I tried to tell the old fucker to cut Charlie Blue in on the action and let him have Over the River but he kept saying that he wasn’t giving anybody outside The Family a cut! That stupid mother fucker is going to get me killed because he wants to hold on to a piece of land! It’s bullshit!”
Pepper ignored the looks that they were getting. “Don’s not going to cut Charlie in. So if you’re not going to hand over the territory to him then we need to think of another way to save your ass. The thing is that they all see you as weak.”
Don scowled. They see my white ass and don’t know me from a hole in the wall. They look at you; you’re one of them-”
“Stop being stupid about race. You being white has nothing to with it. Look at Don. He’s white and they give him his respect. It’s because you are weak, Donnie. You don’t have any street creds, no kills. The only thing you got is a rep for bath salts and stealing pussy from strippers! The only kill you have is that drug dealer you took out but everyone thinks I did it.”
Donnie thought about it. “You think I should take out someone else?”
Pepper bit back his comment that he wanted him to do time for him again? Instead he said; “You could always take credit for the kill.”
“Are you crazy? I don’t even think about that, Pepper.”
“You better start using what you got. You can’t afford to sit on your ass hoping this shit will disappear! You’re going to have to do something!”
Donnie didn’t speak. Pepper watched him quietly before turning back to his beer.
“No, that probably wouldn’t work anyways. Everyone will think you’re just trying to ride off my coat tails and take credit for something I did. Besides, that will just make me look like a bitch…”
“Ride off your coat tails?! I offed that two-bit drug dealer and I stomped him! He was a bad ass-”
“Keep your voice down!”
Donnie’s eyes were alit with fire but he lowered his voice. “He wasn’t badder than me, was he? In the end I was the badass!”
“Well it doesn’t mean shit if no one saw it and can vouch for it. Mother fuckers always trying to create bullshit to make themselves look good. But how you know its true is when it doesn’t come from them—but somebody else.”
Donnie seemed in deep thought. Pepper stood up. “Wait. Where are you going?”
“To take a leak.”
When Pepper returned Donnie had taken some time to think. “What do you know about Tre who rolls with the Fourth Street boys?”
“I know that he is a two bit hood and dealer. That’s where you’ve been scoring from, isn’t it?”
Donnie nodded. “Yeah. He ain’t connected and it won’t get back to Don.”
“He was stealing milk money when I got sent up. I’m assuming he’s progressed since then?”
“He has a good little hustle; a few hoes some dope. But he was there when I took out Markiff.” Pepper’s brow lifted. Pepper hadn’t known any of these details. Back then before he was sentenced, Donnie was playing stupid. Now he was talkative; now that it was his ass that was on the line.
“What’s kept him quiet all this time?”
“I told him that Big Don would kill him and everyone he knows.”
“I guess you better un-tell him.”
The next day when Pepper went to the club he spent most of the day in the office doing payroll and other administrative duties. He was absorbed in the books when there was a knock on the door.
Michelle poked head inside. “Hey Pepper. You busy?” He closed the ledger.
”No. Come in.” She closed the door behind her.
”I wanted to show you something.”
She smiled widely. He noticed instantly. The wires were gone from her teeth.
”So soon? Is your jaw okay?”
The pleasure left her eyes as she briefly looked away. “Yeah. My jaw is fine.”
”What’s wrong, Michelle?”
She smiled then. "Nothing."
She was dressed for her set in a leather miniskirt and a leather bra with thigh high boots.
"Have you already done your set?”
”Yeah. Just finished.”
”Let me buy you something to eat. Something you can actually bite into.”
She smiled again and the sadness almost disappeared. Almost.
Pepper ordered them hamburgers and French fries and then cheesecake for dessert.
Michelle ate enthusiastically. “I haven’t had solid food in forever.”
Pepper watch her eat heartily. “Is it good?” he chuckled.
”Very good. Thank you.”
” Jaw doesn't hurt?"
"Not at all. I had a good time last night. I haven't had a platonic sleepover in years."
"Me neither. Well, actually I shared a cell so…”
Her eyes lost some of its light. ”Pepper? What was jail like?”
“Bad. Prison is not jail, though. I was in prison and that is dog eat dog.”
"Is it too painful to talk about?"
"It's not something you would want to know. Not really. I've seen men bent over backwards and beg for their manhood. I’ve seen young boys turned into animals, fathers and husbands made into prostitutes. Prisons make animals.”
“I’m sorry. You fared okay, though. Didn’t you?”
"I met some people in jail that told me how to work the system, so I did. I got a GED, a couple of degrees, and read a lot of books.”
Michelle sighed. “Damn Pepper. You weren’t kidding when you said you worked the system.”
"I’ve been waiting all my life for someone to get me out of the system. They only got me in deeper."
"My father and mother."
"You never talked about your mom.”
"There's nothing to say. She lived fast, died young and left me and my brothers and sisters to make it on our own."
"You have other brothers and sisters?”
”A lot. Some from my dad, some from my mom. Anyways, she died when I was young. I went to my dad, and here I am now."
"Your life in a nutshell."
Pepper smiled. “I’ll give you my memoires.”
"I read down." She looked at him sadly.
"What's wrong, Michelle? Really."
"I didn't get my period."
He watched her speechless. “What? But don’t they have a morning after pill?”
"I didn't go to the doctor, remember? I didn't want to do a police report."
Pepper sighed in frustration. Michelle mistook it for irritation at her.
”Well what was I supposed to do? Start an investigation? Have Donnie put a hit on me?” She stood up and stormed out of the lounge.
“Hey!” He chased after her. “I’m not blaming you!” He grabbed her arm to stop her from running away. “Michelle! Stop! I know this isn’t your fault, okay.”
She looked at him trembling. “What am I going to do, Pepper? I can’t have an abortion. I don’t want to raise Donnie’s child. I don’t want my body to be fucked for nine months! I have to start this internship. But I don’t believe in aborting an innocent child! I don’t want to do that!”
“Okay, honey, you don’t have to. No one is going to make you do anything you don’t want to do.”
“Why did this have to happen to me?” She cried against his chest. He pulled her into his arms and grit his teeth in anger. In that second he could see Donnie dead. It would make his life so much better…but death was too easy for Donnie.
He thought about his brothers and sisters—many of which were products of rape. In jail he’d had time to think about the face of his mother and the hate he felt began to disappear. How could she spread her legs for someone right after being brutalized? He couldn’t understand that until much later. Much later he realized that she did what a lot of victims did; they pretended that it wasn’t happening. She wasn’t the person that had been born to her mother and father. She was just a husk; a shell.
He sighed. "It's going to be okay. I'm going to be there for you. You won't have to do this alone."
He felt her nod her head. “Donnie’s going to be gone in just a few days. I promise.”
She looked up suddenly. “What are you going to do? Pepper, please just leave it alone.”
”Michelle, you need to go home and relax.”
”But I have another set in a few minutes.”
He led her back into the lounge. “Do your set, then go home. You have my cell phone number. If you need me call me.”
He gave her firm look. “Donnie’s not getting off easy. He beat you, raped you and probably got you pregnant. My time in prison was courtesy of my brother. I got sent up for a murder rap that I didn’t commit!” Pepper dropped his hands from Michelle because the look of fear in her eyes pained him.
"You know, all of my life I've had to see that same look you have in your eyes. If I can help it, you’ll never have it again. I couldn’t take it away from my mom, but I won’t let you have it too.”
He walked away.
"Pepper!" She followed him to his car. "Don't go." He ignored her and got in. "Pepper! Please…" his mouth went dry.
Years before those had been his mother’s last words. A trick had run out of the house and Pepper had hurried into his mother’s room. She was sprawled on her bed with several stab wounds to her torso and he remembered the sight of her life blood coating the mattress. She looked at him and said; “Pepper. Please…”
He shuttered and shook his head and then look at Michelle. "I'm sorry. Michelle, I'm sorry. What do you want me to do?"
"Take me home, hold me in your arms.”
They look at each other. “Hold you?”
His mouth grew even more dry. "Loving you wouldn't be hard for me. But loving me, can you do that?"
Michelle's face off. "How can I not? Will you wait for me while I get my things? I’ll be right out. I’ll be right out.”
“I’ll be here.” When she left pepper closed his eyes. Where was he going with this? Kitten the stripper; possible mother to his brother’s unborn baby.
He had never wanted to live his adulthood as he’d lived his childhood. But he couldn’t continue to delude himself. He was feeling something for this woman. Michelle was educated, technically a virgin…and yes, he could see himself falling for her.
He knew that despite recent events, she was not going to end up a victim of the ghetto and he was proud of that; proud of her. He wanted to love someone like that but more importantly he wanted to talk to her and laugh with her and to know her.
"I'm back." He opened his eyes and smile.
Pepper and Michelle went to her place where she led him directly to her bedroom.
“I’m going to change. Be right back.”
”Can I take off my pants? Do you care?”
She smiled. “That’s fine.”
When she left the room Pepper stripped down to his boxer briefs, laying his clothes neatly across her rocker.
He pulled the comforter down and climbed into the bed lying on top of the blankets and sheets. A few moments later Michelle came out of the bathroom wearing a T-shirt and black panties, her hand mysteriously behind her back.
Pepper has seen her in less. But somehow this turned him on instantly.
She stood at the bed and watched him. “I…uh…like your underwear,” she said hoarsely.
Pepper smiled. “Thanks.” He patted the bed next to him.
She climbed into it I’ll awkwardly because of the thing she was hiding behind her back. With a grin she showed him a brush.
”Can I? “
Pepper cracked up. He removed the ponytail holder from his hair and shook out his long hair.
Michelle came up behind him on her knees and he glanced down at two mahogany knees on either side of him. Good he was imagining her core pressed against the small of his back. He closed his eyes and tied to get rid of the image. His tight briefs left little room for inconspicuous arousal.
“Oh God! Your hair is so silky. What did you do to it?”
"I went to the barber and have a long drive."
Michelle froze and he looked over his shoulder at her.
"You paid someone to do this for you? Pepper? Come over here whenever you want it done.” He wasn’t paying attention to her words. He reached out and stroked her hair and then her face.
He came up on his knees facing her and stroked her throat then her shoulders.
Michelle side and let her fingertips touched his tattooed biceps.
“Your arms are so…hard,” she murmured. It wasn’t the only thing, he thought. Michelle ran her fingertips over his chest. She hesitated at his nipples. Gently she grazed him with her nails.
“How does that feel?”
His breath caught in his throat. “Good.” He licked his lips and leaned in to kiss her. Women, he thought, probably kissed each other softly, sweetly, so he made sure to do it aggressively, sensually.
Immediately Michelle groaned. He pulled her close until their bodies molded to each other. He reached under her shirt and clutched her ass. He was much slower when he pulled her against his erection. Careful. He had to be careful. He didn’t want to scare her. But he wanted her so badly.
Slowly he pulled away.
She looked at him confused. He leaned forward and kissed her being more gentler. He slid his tongue into her mouth the way he wanted to slide his cock into her. He teased her mercilessly until she panted.
“I want to…touch you.” She said against his lips.
Pepper lay back against his haunches. Michelle's lips were swollen from the kiss, her lids hooded sensually. He knew that he didn’t look much different.
Boldly she reached out and touched the hardness in his underwear. Her fingers traced the outline of his erection.
Pepper shivered and was surprised to feel himself grow even harder.
“Are you okay?" He asked.
"Can I see you?"
He climbed out of bed and slipped out of his underwear. His penis jutted upwards to his bellybutton and he prayed that it didn’t scare her. He studied her eyes. She seemed anything but afraid. Boldly she climbed out of bed and swept off her shirt. She watched him carefully, noting his every intake of breath. She pulled off her panties instant close to him.
Pepper swallowed. "You're beautiful."
"You are." She said.
He took her hand and placed them on his penis. She didn’t stroke him like a virgin.
“Slow…slow. Yesss,” he hissed. “Ohhh, fuck. Okay, you might want to stop now.”
Michelle lowered her hands. “I’m sorry. Too fast?”
He put his hand over hers and replaced it. "I'll show you how I like it. Every man is different. Slow with me. Like this. Long strokes. Sometimes harder; oh yes. You can squeeze. Harder. Ow!” He smiled suddenly. “I’m just kidding.”
Michelle canceled. She put one hand into Pepper’s hair, the other she kept firmly planted where he had placed it. She leaned in and delivered another amazing kiss.
Gently Pepper removed her hand in order to pull her taut against him. He caressed her ass and slowly rotated his pelvis against her. Michelle’s mouth and her eyes blinked. She threw her head back and moaned.
”Do you want me in you?”
”Oh God, yes.”
He swept her into his arms and her eyes widened as she wrapped her hands around his neck. She seemed surprised and he smirked to himself. Score one for the men. He held her a bit longer, wanting her to remember what it was like to be with a man. He finally lowered her to the bed and then covered her body with his own.
”Are you okay?” She nodded. Gently he rubbed himself against her soft core until he felt her thighs tremble and whimpers began to slip from her lips. Then he slid himself into her.
”Oh,” she moaned. When she was sure that she was okay he slowly began to move in and out. It felt amazing but after a moment he realized that she was no longer moving with him.
”Are you okay?”
”I don’t know.” He thought she was crying. Instantly he wanted to pull out of her and hold her in his arms. Instead he lowered his mouth to her breasts. He nuzzled her nipples, drawing one and then the other into his mouth, prodding and teasing with his tongue.
He could hear her moaning. Again he began to move in and out of her. She raised her knees and he felt her body quivering as he went deeper into her.
Somehow that movement sent him over the edge.
”Baby, are you ready to come? I’m going to pull out-”
Michelle clutched his arms. “Faster.”
“Ah…” Pepper pumped faster.
He clenched his teeth trying to allow her to ride her orgasm to the end, but her gyrations and moans made it difficult. Finally she slowed and then came to an exhausted stop.
Pepper pulled himself out of her and his orgasm was quick and powerful. He made sure to aim at her belly so as not to mess her blankets. He wondered if the sight of his semen splashed against her dark skin would excite or disgust her. He got his answer when she brought her fingers down to trail along the pearly essence. She brought her fingertip up to her mouth and licked it.
He watched her face. “What does it taste like?”
She gave him a questioning look. “You don’t know?”
“Oh I know.”
Her brow quirked up. “How do you know?”
“This is how I know.” He leaned over her and kissed and lapped at her lips.
The two showered together while Michelle asked him questions after question from how often can you do it? Can you pee with an erection? Can you have an orgasm without ejaculating? What does it feel like to get hit in the balls?
He answered all of her questions patiently--and a little amused.
“Let me ask you a question. Was it like you thought it would be?”
Her eyes gleamed. “More. It was different. I just…didn’t know it would be so different.”
"What do you mean?"
"The orgasm. There's a clitoral orgasm, and now I see that there is a vaginal one." He pulled her wet body against his.
”What you want to do now?”
”Oh God, Pepper. Don’t ask me that. Then you’ll know how much of a freak I really am.”
“Lord have mercy.”
The next morning the pair lay exhausted in each others arms after a night of engaging in every fantasy that Michelle had ever had involving a penis including those that Pepper himself had never entertained.
”Pepper, baby-” she murmured.
“I don’t have anymore body fluids.” He interrupted.
She chuckled I wasn’t going to ask you for sex--yet.” She sighed. “What did you mean when you said that Donnie set you up for murder you didn’t commit?”
Pepper looked at her seriously. "Michelle, it's not that I don't want to tell you, but that's a dangerous topic. The less you know well…you know the rest.”
”Pepper, you trust me don’t you?”
”Baby,” he set up. “I didn’t mean to make you think it’s a matter of trust.” He twisted his lips. “Look, I’m not a good guy. By no means am I trying to make you believe IM. But there is a cold among these, as corny as it sounds. Donnie killed a two bit pusher and it was dirty. The man was too cracked out to defend himself and Donnie kicked to death and then robbed him.”
Michelle didn’t flinch. Pepper licked his lips and continued.
”My job was to maintain compliance. A smart man builds his reputation fast and furious. There were fistfights, knife fights and gunfights. Sometimes people lived and sometimes they died. But the game was played by mutual agreement. Right now, I could be lying in a grave instead of them. I understood the risks and I was willing to take them. But I never laid in wait for anyone. The playing field was even.” Pepper looked into the distance aware that he was trying to validate his actions.
”Donnie fucked up and came running to me to clean it up. And I did it because that’s what I do best. That’s how I got busted.” He looked at her hard. “Somehow my finger prints were found on a pair of sunglasses found with the body. My sunglasses. Only thing is I wasn’t wearing sunglasses that day.”
Michelle gasped. “My god…your brother?”
Pepper grimaced. “Donnie’s not my family. He’s just a fucked up man fathered by the same individual.”
“Did you ever confront him about it?”
“I don’t need to.” Gently he pushed her away and stood. “I’m going to pee.”
When he returned to the bedroom Michelle politely changed the subject.
They enjoyed the rest of the day in each othe’rs company. By evening, though, Pepper had to part company from her.
On the drive home he turned on his cell phone. He had a number of messages; two were from Bonita wanting to see him. And jackpot, the second was from Donnie.
He called him back. “What’s up, bro?”
“Yo, Pep. You at home?”
“On my way.”
“I’ll meet you there.”
Donnie was waiting in his car when Pepper pulled up. They slapped fists. Pepper looked at his younger brother, searching for the smallest bit of love. He felt empty.
“You talk to Tre?” He asked.
“Yeah. Last night.”
“Is he going to spread the word for you?”
“Doing it as we speak.”
“Good deal. Come on in, man. Sit down. I don’t have any liquor.” Why buy it when he managed a club hat served anything he could want?
“Man, you should drop some of this X. It’s a good high, brother.”
“Yeah it’s a good way for me to get sent back to the pen. I’ll pass.”
Donnie reached into his pocket for a miniature pill box and he dry swallowed the little white tablet.
“Man, you don’t know what you’re missing. Good high. Make you want to fuck.”
Pepper’s lip twitched and he gave him a prophetic look. “That shit is going to get you fucked.”
That night before going to work Pepper stopped at a pay phone and made a call.
“Hello, police. I need to report some information, but I don’t want to reveal my name. It has to do with a drug deal.”
At the club Bucky nudged him in the ribs. "You notice how Kitten’s been watching you?" They were short on bouncers so Pepper was helping out at the private rooms. “I think you got her nose open.”
Pepper smiled and Bucky gave him a knowing look. "I was wondering when you would give into temptation. Man, nobody can work here for long without testing the merchandise.”
Pepper ‘s cell phone rang before he could respond.
”This is Pepper.”
”Pepper! What the hell is wrong with Donnie?!” It was Jay.
Pepper turned to Bucky. "I'll be right back." He headed to the office.
"What are you talking about?"
"Donnie’s going around telling people that he killed Markiff!”
Pepper paused. "Really?"
"Yeah, really. Is he on crack?!"
"He's telling people he did it?" Pepper feigned surprise.
Jay continued. “He said that he and Tre were copping from Markiff. Supposedly Donnie was fucked up and started pushing the guy around. Then he took all of his shit and stomped him.”
Pepper knew why Donnie stomped. It had been the one thing that he had done that Donnie had admired so much. Pepper paced.
“There’s no way that’s true. Do you want to know what he told me? Five years ago he told me that Tre stomped Markiff and he just stood back and watched.” Pepper lied. “He told me to help him clean it up because Tre would roll on him if he got caught.”
“Everybody knows…” Jay stopped himself, remembering that they were on the telephone. “So somehow you got it cleaned up and left your sunglasses behind; with your fingerprints?”
“I see.” Jay said quietly. “You going to tell me what’s going on?”
“You, my friend, are one of the few that will be able to figure it out all by yourself. But I need you to do me one last favor.”
“Spread the word that my brother didn’t kill nobody. Tre did, but it’s all cool. I had to protect my brother from Tre rolling and so I did. But if I find out somebody is selling drugs to him, I will stomp them.”
Jay sighed in confusion. “I will do that. Later, Pep.”
Pepper was waiting for Michelle at the end of the night. She wordlessly gathered her things and followed him outside.
“Your place or mine?”
“Mine.” She smiled.
“I’ll follow you.”
As soon as they entered the apartment he snaked his arms around her and pulled her close.
“Were you dancing for me tonight?”
She giggled and nodded, her arms going around his neck. He kissed her and nearly stole her breath away with its intensity. She hooked his ponytail around her fist and hung on to him. He looked at her with dark piercing eyes.
“I’m going to admit something to you.”
Her face looked solemn. “What is that?”
“There is something that a woman might be able to do better than a man…but I will give it my best.”
She looked confused and then he lifted her in his arms and carried her to the bed. He left her sitting on the edge and he went down on his knees between her chocolate thighs.
Her mouth formed a big ‘O’ as she watched him. She was wearing jeans and he undid the button and then slipped big hands into them and with a little help from her, pulled them over her ass.
He eyed her boy pants; black with a pink Hello Kitty right on her pussy. Hello Kitty, he thought while pulling her panties down her smooth legs. He trailed kisses up her inner thighs until they reached her mound.
She was watching him, her breath coming out in soft gusts. Even in the relative darkness she could see that his eyes were captivated by the sight of her pussy. She spread her legs, planting her feet on the end of the bed, knowing that the move spread her wide for his eyes and hopefully his mouth to feast.
Pepper groaned and then lowered his mouth to her succulent flesh. She was shaved clean and her pussy was the prettiest that he’d ever seen. Maybe because she was a show-girl, but she was waxed very smooth and his tongue took full advantage as it glided from her asshole to her clit.
Michelle’s back arched and she gripped the sheets and threw her head back. Damn…that was good. He licked like a lion; as if he was the owner of her pussy.
Pepper gripped her thighs and held her in place as he ate her pussy, dipping his fingers into her hole and collecting sweet, tangy juices to suck. He covered her clit with his mouth and then flicked his tongue back and forth across it until her body began to shiver uncontrollably.
Her hands fell into his hair and held him in place, not that he was going anywhere. Her pussy was like heaven. He moved further down and thrust her legs back until her ass was there in full sight, her asshole twitching. He kissed it and she screamed in pleasure. He slipped his finger into her wet pussy and when it was coated in delicious honey he pushed it gently into her ass.
“Fuck, Pepper! What are you doing…? That feels so good.”
He removed his finger and kissed and licked her there, teasing.
“I’m going to eat that beautiful ass.” He buried his face between her legs, licking and sucking at her smooth flesh until the damn broke and Kitten came violently.
Pepper stood and released his cock from his pants. He quickly plunged into her wet and vibrating pussy. Her legs went around him and her body bucked. Her cries of pleasure were renewed as he pounded her pussy.
He didn’t let up until his balls pulled up and prepared to explode! He came up on his knees and pulled out enough to pump his cum all over her pussy. When every drop was released he rubbed his cock head against her smooth flesh and then rolled onto his back.
He was breathing evenly, nearly asleep when he felt something warm on his shaft. He opened his eyes and saw Kitten licking his nuts clean. “That’s my girl.” He mumbled. “I gotchu next, baby.”
When Pepper got home the next morning Donnie was waiting for him on his porch.
“Let me change out of these clothes and then we’ll go grab some breakfast.” He said neutrally.
“Pepper. I need you to do me a favor.”
Pepper opened his front door and Donnie followed him in. “What?”
“I need you to cop me some X.”
Pepper entered his bedroom and opened his closet. “Get your own fucking drugs. I ain’t your pusher.”
“Bro, nobodies selling to me! Fucking, Tre won’t return my calls and them other nigg…brothers don’t even talk to me!”
Pepper pulled off his shirt and tossed it on his unmade bed. Donnie scanned his brother’s chest and then tried to suck in his gut. Pepper knew that his body was cut. He worked out like he was in training camp. Years of discipline had created a body that he could be proud of. He pulled on a shirt that showcased that hard work and then changed into fresh jeans.
After a minute he looked at Donnie. “I’ll see what I can do. But you’ll have to cop from Big Don’s supplier until I do.”
“What if Don finds out…”
“Donnie, stop being a bitch! Fuck!”
Donnie raised his hand. “I’m not being a bitch. I don’t take anything harder than X because I know Daddy will shit if he caught me on cocaine or heroine. I don’t even smoke weed because I don’t want him smelling it on me! That old bastard won’t let me have a real vice. He sucks the life out of everything!”
Pepper swept his hands through his lose hair and then pulled it back into a ponytail. “Whatever. I gotta brush my teeth.”
They had breakfast at a nice diner. Pepper ate slowly and enjoyed his steak and eggs and coffee. Donnie looked anxious and annoyed. He barely touched his pancakes.
“You hooked?” Pepper asked.
“Nah…” He wiped his sweating lip. “I’m stressed. Tre ain’t calling me back and shit feels yanky out on the streets. I got a drop tonight and I need something for my nerves before then. You have no idea what its like to have to watch your back because everybody is mean mugging your white ass.”
“Do you want me to come along with you?”
Donnie’s eyes lit up. “Fuck yeah.”
Pepper took his napkin and patted his lips. “I gotchu brother.”
“Damn, Pep…” Donnie looked at him for a long time. “I appreciate that. You know?”
“Don’t mention it.”
After he returned home from breakfast he called Don. “I need to talk to you.”
“Okay. When and where?”
“My house. As soon as you can get here.”
“I’m on my way.”
Don was there in less than half an hour. He looked around the small house.
“It is nice. Please tell your wife that I appreciate what she’s done.”
“I will.” Don took a seat on the couch. “So what’s going on?”
“Don…you said that you had a secret protégé that owns the club.” Don looked at him and then pulled out a cigar. “You don’t, do you? It’s my club, right?”
Don lit his cigar and looked at the end. “I can’t give you everything. Donnie is already jealous. But yes. The club is yours, lock stock and barrel. But that information is between you and me.”
Pepper rubbed his chin. He sat down across from his father. “Why?”
“Because I want you in. You don’t think that you want it but deep down you know it’s in your blood. You know how it works. You know the street and you know the game. You had a fall…but it don’t have to break you, son.”
Pepper’s eyes closed momentarily. “What will Donnie do when I’m his boss? He might be lazy as shit but he wants to sit on top and control everything.”
Big Don was nonchalant when he spoke. “Donnie is soft. I want him tough, otherwise he’s no use to me. The way he is now, he can go work for a car dealership for all I care. I’m not going to let my business go down because of him. Over The River was his test…a test that he’s not going to pass.”
Pepper went into the kitchen and retrieved two bottled waters. He handed one to Don.
“I want to pull Donnie and put you on it. It’s your rep that made that territory successful. Hell it’s your rep that’s been keeping Donnie safe.” Don gave him a piercing look. “But there is only so far that a five year rep is going to carry.”
Pepper was shaking his head. “I have five years of hype. It’s you and your connections that keep everyone in order.”
“Pepper, you of all people know that I ain’t got any backing. I pay MY boss and as long as I’m productive he keeps me around. Fuck, I ain’t a mobster. I’m a gangster and there is a difference! Over The Rhine is my big money maker. If I lose that than I’m lost.” He leaned forward. “I need your commitment to The Family. And not because I’m telling you to, but because you want it!”
Pepper swallowed his water. He wanted to be sure and now he was. Don wasn’t connected…
“I want it,” he said.
Don leaned back and smiled. “Good deal. You know, despite everything it turned out okay.”
For you, Pepper thought grimly.
“I…felt very bad about your mother’s death.” Pepper stiffened. “I really cared for her. But, she got on that shit and…fucking drugs! It makes people into waste of space!” He stood and looked at Pepper. “But I want you to know that I tried to get her help. But every time I gave her money it went on drugs. I had to cut her off and…I know I made a lot of mistakes. Your mother is one of them.”
Don headed out the door when Pepper didn’t speak. Pepper walked him out and Don turned to him before climbing into the car. “When your mother…passed away, I wanted you to live with me. It was the only time that I ever went against my wife. But when she said she would pack her things and take off I backed down.”
Pepper felt like something had slammed into his stomach. He felt as if he had been sucker punched. He swallowed back his emotions.
“It’s been my biggest regret. You were so tough and you took care of yourself. You made me proud. But I always regretted that I didn’t take better care of you, Pepper. You are my son and I’m proud of you.”
Five years ago that would have meant something. Today it was just bittersweet. He nodded silently, not sure if he could trust himself to speak.
Don climbed into his Cadillac and Pepper finally spoke. “The ownership of the club is in my name?”
“Yes, son. It is. Only you, me and City Hall knows.” Don drove off and Pepper licked his lips and closed the door.
“Pepper, where the fuck are you with my E?! I thought you were going to hook me up. Fuck!”
Pepper listened to the message and then erased it. It was the third one left by Donnie.
He had just left the post office and was on his way to a garage. He had slipped an envelope in the mail addressed to Lane. It named him as the new owner of the club. He went inside what appeared to be a run down garage and scanned the area. It looked legit but he knew it was a chop shop.
A young Asian man was under the hood of a car when he noticed Pepper. His eyes lit up in recognition and he headed to him while wiping his hands on a greasy rag.
Neither spoke, Pepper followed him out of the garage and into the main part of the building. They walked silently down a corridor and into what appeared to be a little used storage room. The Asian man moved some things and then pressed for a hidden elevator. Both men entered it and went down into a lower level. The man turned on a set of lights and they came on showcasing an ultra clean show room lined with expensive cars.
Pepper walked directly to a black Jaguar. The corner of his mouth lifted into a slight smile.
“Are you sure you don’t want to sell this? I can get you a newer model-”
Pepper reached into his pocket and pulled out a packet of money. He handed it to the man who reluctantly handed him a set of keys.
“It’s a beauty. I kept her clean for you.”
Pepper walked around the black Super sports car. Custom plates; PPace had been updated and he nodded his approval. With its customizations this car had cost him nearly 200K over seven years ago and it was his baby. He wouldn’t sell it for twice that.
He got in and drove out of the underground garage. He headed for Michelle’s place and blew the horn.
She came out holding an overnight bag and froze. She covered her mouth and then hurried down the walk. Pepper got out and gave her a quick kiss and then tossed her bag into the trunk.
“Uh…wow.” Was all she could say.” He chuckled and opened the door for her.
“Are you going to tell me where we’re going?”
“I thought you might want to take a trip to Miami for an extended weekend.”
“Miami?! Wow! Hell yeah! I thought we were going to The WildWood Inn or something.”
He chuckled. He had a place in Miami that no one knew about. He thought Michelle would like getting away for a while—maybe for longer than just a weekend…
He wasn’t planning on coming back. But that would be up to her.
She buckled herself in and then ran her hands along the tan leather seats.
“Road trip, I hope?”
~3 Months later~
Michelle hurried down the stairs clutching her bag. She climbed into the car. “Hi Papi.” She kissed Pepper.
“You starting to sound like you were born and raised here in Miami.” He appraised his woman’s toned dancer’s body. She’d gotten her cycle that first weekend of their arrival…and neither of them were disappointed.
“How was class?”
“Awesome, but my feet are killing me. Foot rub?”
“What?” He chuckled. “And what do I get out of it?”
“Hmmm. Blow job?”
“You were going to do that anyway.”
“Kidding, Mami. I got your foot rub.” His phone rang and he answered so that it came through the car speakers.
“Yeah?” He answered.
“Pep. Did you check the news?”
It was Jay calling from Cincinnati. “Yo bro, what’s up?”
Pep was quiet.
“The indictments came down. Donnie’s sentence was reduced to fifteen years after rolling on Big Don. Big Don got life.”
Pepper was quiet and Michelle reached out and touched his knee.
“They thought Big Don was the King Pen, and of course he’s taking one ‘for the team’.”
“And Charlie Blue?”
Jay chuckled. “Pissed as fuck that he owes you. But evidently he proved whatever he had to prove to The Supplier and got a big chunk of territory.”
Pepper nodded. “Anything else?”
“Everything is straight. So you can come back, you know.”
He grinned. “I’m cool.” He looked at Michelle. She smiled at him too. “Yeah, I’m cool.”