* * *
Ash was dumbfounded when he received a text message from Pascal that read: There's trouble. Stay sharp.
He was about to call Pascal and ask him to elucidate on the text he'd sent when he received several notifications. Clicking on one, he saw that a bounty had been placed on him and Jo for the death of Matteo Salvador. He pinched him to make sure he wasn't dreaming.
Other notifications were comments on the post by people who were interested in getting the sixty thousand dollar award.
“This must be the trouble Pascal's talking about.” Ash mused. He knew that if he stayed in his apartment, he'd be french toast.
All of a sudden, his door burst open and three men in green jackets, cut-off jean shorts and green baseball hats.
Ash groaned. Just what he needed, to be taken in by the Green gang. From the
Ash cursed his vivid green eyes and his superstar looks. They made him too noticeable. He'd long since raked his hand through his hair, pulling locks forward to shield his eyes. He kept his head low, and stuck to the alleys.After a while, he became tired and sat beside a puddle like a homeless person. He shielded his face with a piece of cardboard that had been lying around and closed his eyes, intent on getting some rest.Ash was on the verge of falling asleep when he heard cautious footsteps coming towards him. After his encounter with the Green gang, he'd developed a healthy dose of paranoia, thinking that everyone was out to get him.He clenched his fists in the dark and waited.Seconds later, the footsteps sounded nearer and he tensed.When the person was directly in front of him, he lashed out and pulled the person's legs, causing the person to fall on him.He immediately, rolled the person over and straddled him, holding
“Lenny, what you did was wrong. Those girls are underage. They shouldn't have been working at your sleazy massage parlor.” Jo said.“There you have it,” Lenny said to Ash, “She destroyed my massage parlor and took my stash of cash with righteous fury just because of a little misunderstanding. Now, I need money to renovate. Just bear in mind that this is happening to you because of her.”Ash pushed Jo behind him, “I'm sorry, Lenny. But we aren't going to hand ourselves over. Now get out of our way.”To Jo, he whispered, “I'm going to draw their focus on me by engaging them. When I do so, run.”Before Jo could reply, Ash attacked one of Lenny's men. This one was actually the least muscular, but Ash still looked like a matchstick when compared to him.He hit the man in his groin and he went down one knee.The other four descended on him, kicking and punching him.Jo was about to
Ash and Jo got to the doorstep of a bungalow. Ash knocked on the door and they waited for a response.Jo took that time to scrutinize the house. Although it had seen better days, it was cleaner and sturdier than other houses in the neighborhood. Their lawn was freshly mown too. Jo nodded, anyone who'd try to preserve their house as well as they could despite living in such a dismal place, was commendable.The door opened, and a matronly woman wearing an apron opened the door.When she saw Ash, she looked happy. Upon seeing the bruises on his face, her happiness turned to alarm, “Good God! What happened to you, Ash?” she asked as she let them in, she gave Jo the once over and obviously decided Ash's injuries were in need of very urgent attention, because she didn't say anything to Jo.“Some thugs came after us. I know you've seen the bounty on our heads.” Ash said, as without waiting for an invitation, he plopped onto one of the thr
Kiss him! Kiss him! Kiss him! An inner voice chanted to Jo, but for the life of her, she couldn't break the spell of his gaze, even to kiss him.Ash was about to lean in and take Jo's sweet lips when Masha burst in, “My boys are home and food's ready. Come to the kitchen and eat.”Ash and Jo jerked apart as though they'd been shot at.Masha was oblivious to what she'd interrupted, and led them to her kitchen with pride, humming happily under her breath.The kitchen was small but cozy and when they entered, two males were already seated at the table awaiting their own share of food.“Umberto, David, how do you do?” Ash asked as he sat down.Umberto, who was Masha's husband replied, “Very well, Ash. Too bad I can't say the same for you.”“Umberto!” Masha admonished as she dished out spicy hot pasta on various plates, “Don't be rude to our guest.”“What can I
Early the next day, Jo and Ash were awakened by Masha. She told them to have breakfast and a bath before they left.Jo agreed and left the room without talking to Ash. Ash knew she was angry with him, and he actually deserved it for how rude he'd been to her the night before. He could still remember how surprised he'd been, when she'd said he had Gulden tastes. Although she'd meant it as a joke, it didn't make it nothing less than the truth.First, she'd seen his tattooless torso, and then she'd found out about his tastes. What else would she be privy to if he let her?It actually wasn't her fault that he couldn't keep his mouth shut when he was around her. Not Capo or Pascal, his most trusted men, knew most of the things he'd told her, but for some reason, he'd wanted to spill all his secrets to her. He knew that would not bode well for him.* * *Jo looked at herself as she put on the shirt Masha lent her. The shirt was loose
“Get out of the way, Ash!” Jo growled.“I won't until you start talking to me again!” Ash said.Jo sighed, “I tried to talk to you, and you gave me the cold shoulder. I'm just giving you a taste of your own medicine.”Ash replied, “I know. I'm sorry for the cold shoulder. It won't happen again. I swear.”Jo nodded and kept on walking.“Hey! I just apologized! Why are you still angry at me?” Ash asked.“I'm not.” Jo replied.“Yes, you are.”“Honestly, I'm not angry at you. I just get angry thinking about the mess Masha and Umberto could be in at the moment.” Jo said.“Don't worry, Umberto is pretty smart. He has to be, to have lived this long.” Ash assured Jo.“This long? Umberto is probably in his late forties.” Jo said.“Exactly.” Ash said, “Umberto and Masha were
Ash and Jo walked until they got to a convenience store. They entered, startling the geriatric sales lady who was taking a nap.“What can I get you young couple?” The woman asked as she sluggishly adjusted her glasses and smiled at them.“We'd like to see Jean.” Jo said, not looking at the woman, but rather at the security camera behind the woman.The woman scowled and fixed her with a stern look, “Look, I sell a lot of things, but I don't sell jeans. If you're not interested in buying anything, you better leave.”Ash felt like a child who'd had been caught stealing from the cookie jar, “We're quite sorry, Ma'am. We'll just be on our way.”“No.” Jo said intractably, “I'm not leaving until I see Jean.”“Are you crazy?” Ash whispered to Jo, “She doesn't know what you're talking about.”The old woman was about to wag her finger at Jo, when the
Jo and Ash argued over how to get J-Cane to talk to them.“I say we get to his lair and hide so whenever he comes in, we'll question him.” Ash said.“It's that easy, isn't it? We just waltz into his lair? Do you know how many men he has? How armed they are? We might just be walking to our deaths.” Jo said.“Then what do you recommend?” Ash asked, hands akimbo.“I don't know.” Jo said, and pulled out her phone. She opened a social media app and began to scroll through her feed.“Oh sure! There's always time for the gram.” Ash said sarcastically.Jo ignored him and continued scrolling until she got to a video clip.She clicked on it and showed it to Ash, “See. He went live a few minutes ago. At Sassy's. He's probably still there.”Ash was skeptical, “How is this any different from the plan I hatched?”“Sassy's a strip club. What are t