Xavier Cold

Page 24


“About what?” I ask briskly, not liking all the secrecy.
Kai lifts his chin. “It’s Bishop’s place to tell you, but trust me, you won’t want to turn it down.”
My jaw muscle clenches as I try to figure out if that was a threat or not. “And if I say no?”
Kai sets his gaze firmly on mine, his dark eyes almost appearing black. “Trust me when I say, you won’t want to do that. Now, come on. Bishop doesn’t like to wait.” He heads toward a metal door leading into the building with me close behind. Before he opens it, he turns to me and smiles. “This is going to blow your fucking mind.”
I tilt my head as he opens the door, and music wafts outside, sounding like a party with the hip-hop bass thumping. We walk through the large open space and then round a corner before heading through a set of double doors into a room illuminated by blue and purple neon lights.
It has the feel of a nightclub, complete with a bouncer, who happens to be the other guy who showed up at the house last night.
His eyes narrow as I pass by him, and I notice he has a split in the center of his lip, no doubt caused by me. He doesn’t say anything though. He just remains on the stool he’s sitting on while guarding his post.
“What’s up, G? How are the ladies looking tonight?” Kai asks the man, like having me with him is no big deal.
The man’s gaze flicks from me to Kai as they clasp their hands together. “Some hot asses in the spot tonight.”
“Good lookin’ out, playa. I’ll see you later.” Kai grins at me after he speaks to the bouncer. “This way, X.”
We finally make it into the main room, and the man who drove us here disappears into the crowd of bodies in front of us. This place is like a full-on underground nightclub. A few topless girls dance on a small stage in the center of the room and men stand around throwing money at her.
“Where the hell are we, Kai?”
“We’re at Bishop’s place. He got tired of going to bars where he couldn’t control who came in and out, so he made his own spot. It’s the hypest place in town.”
“What’s all this got to do with me? Bishop has all the money he needs. I don’t owe him any money, and I never snitched on anything that had gone down while I ran in his crew. Why can’t he just let me be?”
Kai turns and shrugs. “Look, X, we’ve known each other for a long time. Things have changed since you’ve been out of the game, and the thing you have to get through that thick skull of yours is that Bishop gets what he wants. There’s no refusing him, and there’s no walking away when you have something he needs.”
“Like I told you before, I don’t have any money.”
He gives me a stop-fucking-with-me look and then motions for me to follow him. “Explain that to Bishop.”
He weaves us in and out of the writhing bodies on the dance floor until we come to a sectioned off area with two men standing guard, both about my size. Bishop has certainly upped his protection. Back in the day, I was his only hired muscle. Bishop can afford a lot more than one bodyguard nowadays.
“Stay here,” Kai orders as he slips past the men.
My eyes stay trained on Kai as he struts over to a plush black couch, and I spot Bishop sitting between two women. Kai leans down and whispers something into his ear, and Bishop’s eyes snap in my direction.
A huge smile sweeps across his face as he shoves off the couch and walks in my direction with his arms out. “Phenomenal X, my man. What’s up?”
He looks older than the last time I saw him. The last ten years haven’t been kind to him. His light-brown skin has a few lines etched around his eyes, and his signature goatee is graying. The Afro he once sported is gone, replaced by tight braids against his scalp. The black pin-striped suit he’s wearing is perfectly tailored to fit him. The tiny bowtie wrapped around his neck and the glasses on his face finish off the outfit. He looks like a pimp to some high-class hookers.
I raise my chin and stare down at him. “What do you want from me, Bishop?”
He cocks his head to the side. “Is that any way to talk to an old friend, to someone who helped you out when you were at the lowest point in your life?”
While that might be true, he sure as fuck didn’t do it out of the goodness of his heart. Every scrap he gave me, I earned it by doing his dirty work, like beating money out of people who owed him.
When he sees there’s not going to be any open-armed reunion, his smile disappears, and he motions toward the couch where he just came from. “Come in. Let’s talk.”
“You’re wasting your time, Bishop. Whatever it is you want from me, the answer is no. Like I told Kai, I don’t have any money. I have nothing of any value to you.”
He squares his shoulders and meets my stare head-on. “As you can see, money, I have. What I need is a legitimate name, so I can open a business—a real nightclub—to pass my money through. And seeing as how you’re on the straight and narrow now, I think you’re the man I’ve been looking for.”
It’s common practice in the drug world to have businesses to make the large amounts of money moving through hands appear clean, and I have no desire to get mixed up with anything that could hurt my wrestling career.
I lick my lips. “No, not going to happen.”
Bishop’s eyes flit to Kai, who shrugs.
“I told you, man,” Kai says. “This isn’t the same X who ran with us.”
Bishop sighs. “I was hoping things wouldn’t have to get nasty, but I need this, X. I need you to do this for me, and I’m afraid I won’t take no for an answer.”
Even though the threat doesn’t sound so menacing the way he presents it, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s a vicious one. I need to tread carefully with what I say next because Bishop seems to have quite a bit of power around here now. That still doesn’t mean I’m going to give in to him though.
“I’m sorry. I can’t help you out. I’m not the right partner for you,” I say.
Bishop shoves his glasses up the tip of his nose. “Are you close to that bitch of yours?”
Anger rolls through me, and I clench my fists at my sides. “Don’t,” I growl. “She’s off-limits to you.”
“Now, that depends. If you agree to do as I’ve asked, then your Anna won’t be touched by me or the crew, but refuse”—Bishop lifts one shoulder as he pokes his bottom lip out a fraction—“and it’ll be open season on her.”