Five ~ Butch
“… by your ear is making this whole procedure much more difficult.”
I moved the phone to my left ear. The nurse who was trying to staunch the blood leaking out of my face rolled her brown eyes but continued sopping and muttering.
“I’m fine. Little gash on the head from a chunk of bumper. Yeah, good thing my skull is so thick. Ian, no. Do not leave the fucking factory! I have enough – Ouch!” The glare I got from the Black woman in the pink nurses uniform made me bite down on the next hiss of pain. “Shin will be fine. No, do not leave…Ian, if you leave that fucking office of yours I swear I’ll—” The line went dead. I lowered the phone and looked at Nancy the nurse.
“Left the office, huh?” She asked.
“Hardheaded asshole. Why can’t people do what they’re fucking told?”
“Yeah, I wonder that too.”
“You’re cute when you’re mad.”
She ignored my compliment completely. I reached to the left and ran my nails over the wall and got a scratch in reply. I winced when whatever it was Nurse Nancy was using to wash out my cut hit all that open flesh.
“Can you just slap some band-aids on this? I have to go get my boss before he does something stupid.”
“I can see your skull.”
Oh. “So the band-aids are a no, then?”
Her huff was stellar. Despite her attitude, she was cool and calm. They saw all kinds of emergencies here, from OD’s to gunshot wounds, so my little cut was a nothing in the grand scheme of things. So there I sat for an hour, getting a flap sewn shut so my bony forehead didn’t freak people out, slinging calls to Ian who had – of fucking course – left his office and all that security. When Doc McCoy entered the room to check on the job his PA Craig had done, I was beyond ready to go.
“Is Onyx okay?”
“He’s fine. Some major abrasions and bruising, as well as a goose egg on his head, but otherwise he’s doing as well as can be expected.” I exhaled in relief. “Okay, so, your x-rays came back clean. I still would like you to take it easy for the next few days,” he said while shining a light into my eyes.
“Right, yeah, will do. Can I go now?”
Doc gave me some shade over the top of his smudged glasses. “Butch, I think some rest would benefit you right now.”
“Yep. I’m all about the thinking. I think I need to get my people somewhere safe and put our heads together.”
The good doctor couldn’t argue with that. He didn’t know the exact situation with the local mob, but he’d seen some of the collateral damage. What ate at my jockey shorts the most was that the cops had been silent during the past hour. Color me a skeptic but shouldn’t someone with an CPD jacket be front and center when a car blows up? Sure, we didn’t have lab reports back to state that it was an explosive device. I also didn’t have a lab report to state conclusively that my dick leaned to the left, but it did. I’d bet my right nut on it being a car bomb. And, while I was laying down cash, I had a strong suspicion that Ralph was somehow involved in the murder attempt. I’d find out and if I discovered that he had put Onyx’s life in peril…Well, let’s just say whirlpools tell no tales.
I was turned loose about ten minutes later with stern warnings about being safe, resting, and how to take care of the stitches. Like I’d never been sewn up before. The scars on my left calf from a wild night in Syria before my Ian MacDougald hire proved that I knew how to heal. I rapped on the exam room next to mine. The door creaked open. There stood Onyx, looking like a rose that someone had plucked the petals from. Seemed the staff had dug up some clothing for him but the fit was terrible. The worn jeans were far too short, as was the sparkly pink crop top. But beggars and choosers as they say. Someone had given him some flip flips which were also too small for his feet. He looked like a puppy someone had tossed into a dumpster. His dark brown eyes were slick with unshed tears. He offered me his hand. It shook softly. Progress was slow due to his torn-up hip and thigh.
“We got all the time in the world, baby,” I whispered whenever he sniffled in pain and frustration. I curled my fingers around his, then led him to the check-out area. I threw a few hundreds at the harried receptionist.
“Bill me for the rest,” I tossed out then led my…Onyx outside. The heat had doubled-down while we’d been inside. I didn’t like the pallor to his skin or the way he seemed to need to cling to things to walk. Maybe he’d been hurt more badly than we’d realized. “Onyx, do you need to go back inside?”
He waved a hand in the air, his back against the graffitied wall of the clinic. “I feel great fear, and it’s…it’s making me…can we get off the street?”
Shit, he did look scared. Terrified. “Yeah, sure.” I took his elbow, the one that wasn’t buggered up, and led him to Ralph’s Mustang. “Now sit down easy. There you go.” Sitting was incredibly painful for him, given the grimacing and groans. “I can run to the corner bodega and get you a drink. Something to wash down a pain pill with?” A quick shot of something top shelf wouldn’t be bad. My head was pounding like a steel drum.
He smiled, or I should say he tried to smile. “No, Chere, I cannot take pain pills of any kind other than ibuprofen. They interact with my anxiety medication. You’re so kind, though, sweet as a puppy and gallant as a knight.” His fingers wound into my grimy shirt. “You saved me from that blast with your own body. I cannot ever repay you properly, but perhaps it is now time for you to call me Caliste.”
It was beyond funny. It bordered on fucking hilarious. The two of us, looking life refugees from a war zone, sitting in a stolen car parked along the curb outside a free clinic with hookers on one corner and pushers on the other, talking about using his given name as if it were some plantation ball or his coming out cotillion. Yet, it was perfectly him. Onyx. Caliste.
“I’d like that. You can call me Beauregard if you want,” I replied, prying his long fingers from my shirt then dropping a kiss to the back of his dirty hand. His gaze met mine. My phone rang from under the seat, Ian’s ringtone, and the moment was lost. We came crashing back to South Colchester as if we’d been spat out of a tornado. I closed the car door, turned from Caliste, and slapped the phone to my ear.
“So, I’m at Gems and we have a problem,” Ian said into my earhole.
“Other than the fact that me and one of our employees were nearly blown to confetti?” I took out my keys and walked around the front of the car, dragging the door key to what used to be my Caddy along the side of the Mustang. It might have been petty, but it felt so good. “And the fact that I stole the car of a top-ranking senatorial aide—”
“Constituent Services Rep,” Caliste mumbled while battling with the seatbelt and losing.
“Yeah, that.” I reached over to buckle him in. He gave me a thankful smile then let his head drop back to the head rest. He had a beautiful long neck and a prominent Adam’s apple, as well as a regal profile with a proud jaw and lush lips. Even if he was coated with soot and ash and caked-on blood, he was breathtaking.
“Yes, other than that,” Ian sighed and I was kind of disappointed he hadn’t asked about the stolen car, but then again his greatest concern was Shin. Kind of like mine was Caliste. “We just discovered Jet in the dumpster out back. He is exceptionally dead.”
“Are you sure he’s dead?”
A moment later, a rather gruesome image of one of our newest employees with a bullet hole in his brow appeared on my phone.
“I am reasonably sure the man is dead,” Ian snapped.
Fuck, that was worse than a stolen car.
“Christ, the poor kid. Let me make a call. I know a guy over at the Southside Crematorium who’ll pick up the body and give us the ashes back in a day or two, no questions asked.”
“Shin will try to track down his family. I think there was a sister listed in his files.” Ian sounded exhausted.
“So what next?” I asked, craning my head this way and that to look for the flash of a gunshot or the shimmer of the sun off a gun barrel.
“I was hoping you had a plan,” Ian replied.
“You’re the rocket scientist.” Yeah, it was a lame comeback, but I was all out of sass at the moment.
“You’re chief of security.” Also lame. Obviously, we were both grasping at straws now.
“We’ll meet at Blue Moon. Bring the guys with you. Once we’re off the streets, we can put our heads together.” It was all I had at the moment. “We’re not going to stand around with our thumbs up our asses while the CPD noses around with the Feds. We’re going dark until the heat clears. Blue Moon. One hour. I’ll have things set up.”
I hung up and turned to look over at Caliste. He was dabbing at his forehead with a handful of tissues, his chin up, his eyes closed like a movie star touching up his makeup under the studio lights.
“Shit went south. We’re going to Blue Moon. You going to be okay?” I enquired as I fiddled with some wires to turn over the engine.
“Yes, I’m fine. Just a little overheated from the near death experience. Is everyone at Gems safe?”
“Not yet, but they will be, baby. Just rest and let the wind blow through your hair.” He patted the short tight curls hugging his head then pouted. I leaned to the right and pecked his cheek. “Short hair or long, you’re still utter divineness.”
Oh poor Jet.