Fiction Series: Playing With Fire - Chapter 4
Big Pax stands to embrace me as I enter the dining room. He takes a step back to look at me. “Big Pax, you remember my brothers…” I point towards Mario, Miguel and Isaiah, my youngest brother, as they walk in behind me. They’re followed by Mrs. Camren.
Big Pax chuckles. “Of course, of course…” He embraces each of them before pointing towards the empty seats at the table inviting us to sit. “We’re just waiting on…” He’s cut off by the sudden opening of the service door.
“Father, you’ve started without us?” Cruz, Big Pax’s eldest son, enters first. He’s followed by Paxton who greets his wife before taking his seat to the left of his father. Cruz takes the seat to his right. Mrs. Camren stands behind Paxton with her hand rested on his shoulder.
My brothers appear anxious. Paxton nods addressing the twins. “The first person to speak often loses.” Mario looks at me and sits back in his chair. Paxton and Cruz look at one another and burst into laughter. Mrs. Camren smiles. “Ignore them. They haven’t seen each other in a while.” She moves to the bar and reaches for a bottle of bourbon. “Gentlemen, let’s drink.”
“Lani, a double…” Big Pax pulls out a cigar. Mrs. Camren walks over to him and takes it from his hand. “You know better.” Big Pax shakes his head. “You get rid of one and inherit another.” He throws his hands up in defeat. “I guess now’s a good time to discuss your situation.”
“So, you’ve seen Nuri’s face…” Cruz speaks as he accepts a drink from Mrs. Camren. “If he has revealed himself to you, he’s serious about what he’s asking.”
“No disrespect but I thought you handled legit business. What you know about what we do?” Mario questions Cruz. Paxton looks at Cruz with a smirk on his face.
Cruz stands downing his drink. He walks over to Mario. Before my brother can react Cruz kicks his chair back and takes him by the throat. Miguel stands ready to defend his twin. I shake my head at him. “Enrique, I think this one’s my favorite.” Cruz says sadistically.
“Let him go.” Mrs. Camren commands Cruz.
He holds on to Mario for a moment longer. He looks back at Noelani slowly releasing his grip on Mario’s neck. “Young brother, things change.” Mario gasps for air, anger visible in his eyes.
I ignore Mario and look to Big Pax. “We just need to make this delivery so I can get back to business as usual. The problem is… this isn’t our lane. It’s like a suicide mission. If anything goes wrong, my entire operation will fall apart. Everything I’ve built…”
“It’s not our lane and we lose our connect.” Miguel adds. Isaiah follows his lead. “Mr. Camren if we lose our supply, a lot of people will be unhappy. This is about you, too.”
“Nigga, he already know that.” Mario speaks again seemingly annoyed. Cruz pours himself another drink. “We’ve already decided to help you with your supply. You need to decide what you want to do with Nuri.”
“…and the girl.” Mrs. Camren looks to me. I look away.
“Enrique, look at me. My son and daughter are right. Today’s meeting is a simple formality. I’ve been watching you for quite some time. Supply is not an issue. Delivery is not an issue. Consider those handled.” Big Pax reassures me. “What I need to know is what you want to do about Novia and how you want to handle Nuri…”
“This is an opportunity for you to decide what kind of man you want to be.” Paxton taps his finger on the rim of his glass. “Whatever you decide will have its consequences.”
Mrs. Camren has taken the seat beside her husband once more. “…and since my father-in-law has allowed you to bypass protocol in order to sit with us at our table those consequences will impact us directly.”
“So, what will it be?” Cruz has also returned to his seat.
My brothers look to me. I take time to look at each of them. I consider the possibilities. If we go after Nuri, I put all of their lives at risk. If I don’t, I leave Novia to die. I promised to take care of all of them. I’ve been taking care of all of them since we were kids.
Isaiah watches me the closest. He can see my reluctance. “Rique, we all she got.” I nod my head in understanding and after a moment I speak. “I want to take over Nuri’s entire operation. His network, his accounts, his properties...” My baby brother looks at me proudly. Miguel and Mario shake their heads in agreement.
Big Pax sits back in his seat. “It’s important that you and your brothers each understand that you answer directly to me moving forward.”
“We understand.” I respond.
Big Pax continues. “…and not just me…”
Mrs. Camren interrupts him. “This…” She points to the Camren men. “…is my family. So, really… you answer to me. Understood?” She looks around the table.
“Yes ma’am.” Isaiah answers first.
“Understood.” Miguel and Mario speak in unison.
“Yes, Mrs. Camren.” I respond last.
Mrs. Camren stands. The Camren men stand with her. My brothers and I follow their lead. “Good. Now, let’s go get what belongs to you.”