Authors: W. Lynn Chantale
Forever in Love
W. Lynn Chantale
Copyright © May 2013, W. Lynn Chantale
Cover art by For The Muses Designs © May 2013
This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this novel are fictitious or used fictitiously. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.
Sugar and Spice Press
North Carolina, USA
“You’ve been ducking me.” Buck stared at the thin young man in front of him. The Black and red cap he wore sported a packet of drink mix affixed to the bill, while his oversized sweatshirt and baggy pants was too much for the unseasonable warm May weather.
The smaller man shuffled his feet from side to side then knocked his hat from his head when he tried to drag his fingers through his spiky blond hair. “See, it’s not like that man.”
Buck stooped to pick up the fallen hat, his gaze never wavering from the thug in front of him. For weeks he’d had Red, his first in command, keep an eye on this dealer. Twice his money had been short and now it was time for Buck to make an example out of him.
“Jus-just give me a couple of more days. I’ll have your money.”
“That’s what you said last week, Cool-Ade.” Buck dusted the cap off, his nonchalance belying the anger boiling in his gut. “And now you’re in debt to me for six grand.”
Cool-Ade flinched when Buck set his cap on his head, then brushed off his shoulders.
“I’ve already extended you one courtesy, because let’s face it, everybody screws up and has a bad day.” Buck stepped closer, the other man’s eyes widened as they darted from side to side looking for an escape. A mirthless smile twisted his lips. On either side were two of his enforcers, both big mean dudes who liked cracking heads. “This is a business, not a charity case.”
“I just need a few more days.” Cool-Ade bargained. Sweat popped on the man’s brow and trickled down his face.
“A few days?” Buck chuckled. “I’ll give you to the end of the week to get my money and if you don’t have my money or my product I’ll be back to take a limb. And I will take a limb until the debt is paid in full. This is the part of my job I detest, making an example of those who try to steal from me.” Buck stepped back, signaling to the two brutes waiting. “Enjoy your chat.” He glanced from one to the other. “One step shy of the hospital gentleman and he needs to walk home under his own power.”
Both smiled. “Will do, boss.”
Buck turned his back as the first body blow knocked the air from Cool-Ade’s lungs. Buck pushed his sunglasses on his nose and stepped into his vehicle. He needed to talk to Red and find out how his runners were doing. They had acquired a new one in the last few months. She was smart and kept a cool head. The first few time she went out he’d had Red follow her, just to be certain she knew the route and drop sites. On one of those occasions someone tried to rob her and she’d deterred her assailant with little more than pepper spray. She escaped with his product intact and annoyed that someone tried to mug her.
That took guts and most of his runners had been robbed once or twice, but they were older, but Bonnie...there was something different about her. She was smart and most would’ve asked to leave afterwards, she’d asked Red for a favor. When Red came to him with the request, Buck gave the go ahead to grant it. Something about fake documents that would pass legal scrutiny.
Buck parked his car beneath a carport and exited the vehicle. One booted foot landed in a shallow puddle while the other on dry concrete. He slammed his door and surveyed the area. He was on the fringe of the neighborhood, but nothing escaped him. He knew exactly what was going on at any given time.
A stocky black man, his dark hair cut short on his round head approached. The baggy shin-length shorts were held in place with a belt low on his hips, while a multicolored red shirt flapped open to his white tank beneath.
“I got those papers, and she’s supposed to make a drop tomorrow night.” He held out an envelope.
“Good. How’s everything else, Red?” Buck grasped the packet and slipped it in his pocket.
“Other than our Cool-Ade problem, everything is butter.”
Buck nodded. “Good to hear. Lemme know if anything else jumps off. I gave Cool-Ade to Friday to get my money and if he doesn’t I think he should lose the use of his fingers for awhile.”
Red inclined his head. “That can be arranged.”
He thought a moment. “Actually, break them anyway, just for the aggravation.”
The other man chuckled. “Anything else?”
“Didn’t Spoon recommend him?”
“Uh yeah, I think so.”
“And how has his sales been?”
“Not a problem, he’s on time every time.”
“Keep an eye on him.”
Buck fingered the envelope in his pocket. He would make this delivery...personal.
“Shh.” Bonnie glanced behind her at the window. Large shadows passed beyond the curtain. Loud pounding on the front door rattled the metal security door in its frame. Bonnie stared into light gray eyes and read the same fear twisting at her belly. She placed a hand on her brother’s shoulder and squeezed.
She held his frightened gaze. “I mean it Dexter. No matter what they say or ask, you cannot tell them Mom and Dad left us here by ourselves. If they find we’ve been taking care of ourselves they’ll send us to live with someone else and probably not together.”
Her brother slowly nodded. “Okay.”
“Okay. Go in the kitchen and finish your homework.” She glanced at the door when the pounding resumed, accompanied by yelling.
“Miss Carson. I need you to open the door. We’re only here for your welfare,” the strident female voice shouted from the other side.
Bonnie scoffed. Welfare indeed. She witnessed too many families being torn apart under the guise of good intentions. That was not going to happen to her, she was keeping her younger brother safe and sound no matter what she had to do to accomplish that, but first she had to answer the door.
She strolled forward, caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and stopped. Her curly sand colored hair was pulled in a sloppy ponytail and she looked all of her fifteen years. That wouldn’t do if she were going to convince the social worker she was of legal age to be a guardian for her brother.
She snatched the rubber band from her hair and winced when a few strands ripped from her scalp. Tossing the band on the rickety hall table she grabbed her purse and rummaged through the bag for her cosmetics. Five minutes later she’d managed to add a few years to her age, but not much. She fluffed out her hair, the tight curls just brushing her shoulders in a soft afro. It would have to do. There wasn’t anything else she could think of to make herself look older at the moment.
“The pack,” Dexter said.
He pointed to the small black backpack sitting in one corner of the tattered sofa.
“Thanks.” She grabbed the bag and hurried to the closet. The last thing she needed was for the overly curious people on the other side of the door to ask questions about what was in the pack. What was contained inside would send Dexter to foster care and she’d go to juvie if they didn’t try her as an adult.
She twisted the knob, knelt on the floor and patted the wood near one corner.
“I’m coming!” Bonnie snapped. Once the board was pried loose, she dropped the pack into the waiting opening and replaced the wood. She stood and dusted off her clothes. She closed the closet, then yanked open the front door. A quick glance at the heavy wrought iron screen door, as much for decoration as it was for security was sufficiently locked. She twisted the deadbolt for added insurance. “Do you have identification?”
The slightly plump, white haired woman huffed, her smooth walnut skin held tiny lines around her mouth and eyes. Those lines only deepened when she pursed her coral lined lips. “Young lady, we’re here to investigate a complaint that there are minors in the home without proper supervision.”
Bonnie lifted her chin in defiance. “Who made that ridiculous call?”
“I’m not at liberty to say.”
“We need to come in.”
“No you don’t. This is my home and for all I know you could be some sort of serial killer pretending to be a social worker,” Bonnie said with a slight sneer. “I watch the news. Just last week some couple called this co-ed and said she needed to come home right away because something happened to her mother, when she left her dorm two men kidnapped and killed her.” She shook her head. “I’m not letting you in my home.”
Behind her Dexter giggled and it took all her willpower to maintain a straight face at the woman’s wide-eyed shock.
“Now do you have ID?”
With a huff, the woman and the male officer behind her produced the required items. “Now open the door.”
Bonnie scoffed. “Pu-leeze. I let you in and that gives you a license to go through my underwear drawer. You can say what you have to say from here and if I open the door wide enough you can see the whole house.”
Metal scraping concrete pulled her focus from the couple standing in front of her to the tall lean figure at the bottom of the stoop. As she met his gaze her breath stilled in her throat. She always loved the deep blue of his eyes, but he never noticed her and why should he, she was just a kid. Just another runner on the block whose only edict was not to look in the bag. She kept her end of the deal and he kept his, but it didn’t stop her from fantasizing about his chocolate brown hair or full lips. What would it be like to steal a kiss from an older man?
“Hey, sassy. You didn’t tell me we were having company, I’d have come home sooner,” the newcomer said shouldering his way past the couple on the porch.
Bonnie stood dumbstruck. Was he really coming to her rescue?
He twisted the knob, then patted his pockets. “I seem to have left my keys.”
That pulled her from her stupor. “Right, right. I found them on the dresser,” she replied smoothly and turned the locks. “They surprised me as well, Buck.”
Buck flashed a knee-weakening smile. “That’s all right. You should’ve called me,” he admonished as he entered the house, then leaned down to hug her.
He was a little sweaty, but not unpleasant and his scent, outdoors, fresh cut grass and musk teased her senses. If she could hold onto him forever it wouldn’t be long enough.
“Reach in my shirt pocket and grab the envelope. Everything you need’s inside,” he whispered in her ear.
With trembling fingers she obeyed, he shifted to mask her movements as she jammed the paper in her pocket. He released her and straightened, but kept an arm around her shoulders. For the first time since her parents walked out just before Christmas five months ago, she felt safe.
“You live here?” This was from the woman, her face all scrunched and frowny.
Buck glanced over his shoulder. “Is that a problem?”
“We thought they were unsupervised.”
“Since when did a legal adult require supervision?” Buck demanded, a hint of a smile on his lean face. “I know my girl here looks young, but she’s of age. Finished her first semester at the local college didn’t ya babe?”
Bonnie nodded. “Mid-terms are this week and I really need to get back to studying.”
“What exactly is it you need to see?” Buck gently nudged Bonnie behind him as he blocked the entrance.
“We need to know that the minor in the home is taken care of,” the woman said.
He glanced at Bonnie.
“Fine,” she muttered. She did not want these people in her home, but if it got them out of her hair faster than so be it.
The social worker filed in, while the officer stayed on the porch and lit a cigarette. Menthol trailed the woman into the house. Bonnie stood to one side watching her.
“You’ve a very nice home.”
She opened her mouth to say something snide and Buck squeezed her shoulder. “Thank you,” she said instead. Did this heifer think everyone who stayed in the hood had nasty houses with rats and bugs crawling over everything. That was not how she was raised, even if her parents decided they were no longer fit to finish raising them.
The woman nodded and continued into the kitchen. Dexter paused long enough to look up from his homework, shook his head and returned his attention to the book on the table.
“If she’s staying for dinner, I’m eating in my room,” he muttered.
Bonnie bit back a laugh while Buck chuckled then coughed behind her. “She’s not staying for dinner.”
The worker flashed a tight smile. “No I have my own family dinner to get to.” She walked over to the cabinet and opened each one. “Kitchen seems well stocked.”
Bonnie opened her mouth and again Buck squeezed her shoulder. “I do my best,” she managed through clenched teeth.
The social worker nodded. “Very well. Thank you for your time Ms. Carson, but you understand we have to check out these complaints.”
She nodded as the worker left the house. Bonnie waited until her unwanted guests walked down the porch and entered their vehicles before she confronted Buck. Fists on hips, she gazed up at him. “What do you want?”