Between The WallsbyTheLastNavigator©
Preface: Some Years ago......
"Okay I want........Allen."
Nine year old Louise Wellington stood arms crossed and kicking the dirt as pudgy faced Timothy Cades high fived an equally pudgy faced Allen Lowell. Allen waddled over after being picked for kickball before her, again. Louise felt like crying but of course she wouldn't, had she done so she would lose all hopes of not being picked last.
The numbers of eager faced children dwindled as more individuals were dissevered between the two opposing teams. The players within the two groups mimicked the usual pattern excluding a few swaps and replacements.
"Today is the day, I can feel it!" Louise turned to look behind her, running her tongue over the empty space in her gums that once held a back molar, "Please, please, please." Fingers crossed and soul willing Louise stood eyeing Jonathan Gallo, trying to send a message between their minds.
"Pick me Johnny," she knew he couldn't hear her, but she hoped he could feel her.
Eleven year old Jonathan Gallo wiped the sweat from his brow looking at the group in front of him. He realized that the only good player left was Louise, hell she was a better player than most of the guys already on his team but still, she was a girl!
"Uh I'll take Toad." Johnny averted his gaze away from the small black girl standing 10 paces in front of him, he noticed that her jaw had dropped open but did not want to see anymore.
Louise was infuriated! She whipped her head to her left and glared at the skinny white boy next to her, he was squinting his face, trying to stop his obviously too large a pair of glasses from sliding down the bridge of his freckled nose. She only partly heard Timothy snicker and call over the boy next to her. Immediately her shoulders slumped and she began to toe a small rock on the ground in front of her, the next moments she knew like routine:
Johnny would build the tension before calling out her name, then she would mosey over grumbling, he'd pat her on the back and give her his signature toothy smile and shrug. Then when no one was within ear shot Johnny would lean down and whisper that she was a better player than all the boys out there, excluding himself of course.
It was clockwork and she had the rhythm down long ago, being a girl, a black girl at that she had grown accustomed to being picked last as well as picked on. Luckily for her she had a strong father, one who had taught her to fight and stand up for herself. Between her Father teaching her how to hit from the left side and her summer stays with rowdy southern cousins she had grown into quite the fighter, it was her temper that got her into trouble. Louise had a quick tongue with licks that hurt; she knew how to bring people to their knees even at a young age.
She slowly trotted over to Johnny to receive her usual pep talk.
"Yeah Johnny you take Louise, you know you like her," Timothy stood laughing, "kiss here Johnny, go on!"
"Shut up Timmy!" Louise made a step toward him, "I mean it."
Timothy glared at her venomously, "Or what ugly, you gonna get your boyfriend to fight me?"
"No stupid I'll kick your ass myself," Louise moved closer to him even though she was smaller she knew she could take him.
"Oh yeah? You and what army," his friends laughed behind him.
Johnny shifted uncomfortably, he hated Timothy with his fat face and pot belly that always peeked from beneath his shirt when he raised his arms. He stood watching the feisty little black girl before him, she was tough no question. He had seen her with her dad a few times at one of the local boxing gyms; her dad was a coach he remembered.
Timothy continued to tease the small girl in front of him, "I'm bigger then you, and I'm a boy I'd kick your ass. Why don't you run home and play with your dolls or something."
"You think because you're a boy your better than me? Everybody in the yard knows you couldn't catch a ball with two gloves and Velcro!"
"Well you're still an ugly tomboy! Look at your stupid shirt, the Green Lantern? He sucks! Just like you!"
Louise was seeing red; his insults against her were not anything, but harsh words against Hal Jordon was blasphemy!
Timothy stopped laughing as soon as Louise's fist connected with his face, blood spurted from his nose before he could clasp both of his chubby hands to it. His nursing was interrupted when Louise's next solid blow landed on his bulging stomach. He fell to his knees shouting obscenities while the other boys rallied around laughing. One or two of his cronies helped him off the field.
"Run home Timmy!" Johnny was laughing so hard he had to clutch his stomach. He glanced at Louise who was watching Timothy run away; no doubt she was weighing the option of chasing after him.
"Chicken," Louise whispered to herself before Johnny slipped his arm around her shoulder.
"Hey Lou you showed his fat ass," his eyes twinkled lightheartedly, "you should give me a few pointers." He was shadow boxing now, trying to look goofy.
"I could maybe do that," Louise adjusted the brim of her baseball cap; her head was reeling from Johnny's compliments.
"No objection here Firecracker, I don't want to meet those brutal fists," he stopped her walking with both of his hands, "Firecracker, you like that right?"
"Firecracker Louise?" She looked up at him with a scrunched face.
"No No, you're Lou "Firecracker" Wellington," Johnny corrected with pride, "Hey that could be your boxing name, and I'll be your manager."
Johnny felt a strange tickle in his stomach when her big brown orbs lit up in her face, he liked that she was happy—he wanted to make her happy.
His head said 'MY GIRL' ferociously, he scared himself a bit but then he looked down at Louise and he felt better. She had a goofy smile on her face and he could see the excitement seeping from her.
Louise was still chatting excitedly about training and boxing when they walked of the field, Johnny and her. The kickball game was long forgotten.
"Please Lou," Johnny's blue eyes pleading with her; his bottom lip was poking out, "PLEASE!"
"Jonathan Gallo you have 3 minutes to vacate my shop before I--get off of me!"
"Lou louuuu," this was his second phase of his attack, "it'll only be for a little bit, I need you! C'mon!"
"Lou, the boys have been asking—"
"Do NOT try and pull that card. I know your 'boys' have nothing to do with this, you just want some protection from that girl you've been dodging," interrupted Louise while pointing a batter covered spoon at his chest.
She turned and focused on the Banana Crème tart she had been working on in her shops kitchen. Johnny slid behind her and wrapped his arm around her thin waist, he brought his chin down several inches to rest on her shoulder.
"It's not my fault darling," Johnny reached around taking her small face in one had to get her to look at him, "I am irresistible." He squeezed her tighter.
"Oh please," he was humming in her ear now, "Fine! Fine I'll go if you stop that fucking terrible tune in my ear!" She was never any match for his charms.
Johnny grabbed the spoon from her hand and threw it in the sink before he spun her around to pick her up in a bear hug. She was 5'2 on a good day, he was 6'0 on a bad one; she liked that he made her feel small.
Louise was placed back on her feet as soon as Johnny started to talk about dress shopping and some other things he was going to drag her around for. She enjoyed these little episodes of rapid thought Johnny seemed to have, they allotted her time to examine him.
Jonathan was a Gallo which by some ordained power meant he was fated to be one of the most beautiful specimens she was ever to lay eyes on. She'd grown up alongside him acting as his right hand man following the day on the kickball field. So over the years she'd had the pleasure of seeing him leave and return from family vacations tanner, fitter, and taller. He had worn his black tresses long in high school giving himself that bad boy look, his hair was shorter now, though when unkempt the front would fall into his eyes boyishly. With his long eyelashes and cupid bow upper lip he had no problem with the girls in school. His blue eyes were his weapon, when he turned those on you whether in lust of anger you had no choice but to pay attention.
She loved his smiles though, every single one of them, his eyes be dammed because when he turned his grin in her direction her breath still caught in her throat as it had when she was a nine year old. His body was heavenly but anyone could have a beautiful body, so that was just a plus.
"I'm thinking green?"
"Huh," Louise was snapped out of her thoughts by Johnny's incessant banter about the dinner party she was going to accompany him too.
"Your dress," he said flatly clearly upset she was not enjoying the topic at hand as much as him, "we are going to go buy your dress for Saturday."
"I have enough dresses that you've bought me—that I've only worn once I might add. Stop wasting money on me please," she immediately regretted it because his whole demeanor changed.
"Louise Joyce Wellington," he noticed her cringe at the use of her full name, 'good' he thought.
"It's not 'wasting' money if you enjoy it, and I do enjoying showering you with gifts and a second thing—
"Okay okay, Lawyer Johnny shut the fuck up," she didn't want to hear this rant again, "we can go to the mall later, but I will pick out the dress. Everything you pick for me is too—
"Girly?" He laughed
"Get out! I need to finish this tart before the lunch rush", she stated while pushing him out of the kitchen, "some of us have to work. You remember what that is?"
Johnny snorted and moved around her to the other side of the marble countertop island she was working on. Grabbing a banana slice he stood trying to look pensive.
'Here it comes' she thought.
"Riddle me this Lou, you were one of the toughest tomboys I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. So--" Johnny popped the slice into his mouth chuckling at Lou with her eyebrow cocked and her hands on her sexy hips, "how the hell did you end up baking sweets for a living?"
Extending her arm forward Louise popped him soundly on the side of his head, he stood shocked but ducked out of the way before she could hit him again.
She responded to his laughter with a stern 'out' while pointing him to the door. He placed a small kiss on her cheek before swiping another banana slice and darting for the door.
Louise laughed quietly to herself and glanced at the clock: 11:46am
She finished up in the kitchen as quickly as possible while still keeping details in mind, her customers expected the quality she was famous for.
Before long she finished 3 batches of Banana Crème Tarts and was just finishing the caramelized slices when she heard the bell chime alerting her of a new customer.
"Show time," Louise muttered as she walked out of her kitchen.
Jason Doyle eyed the small dessert shop across the street for a second time. Leaning back in his chair he returned his attention back to the beady eyed man seated across from him. He had agreed to meet Lenard Holloway after he was settled in his new condo about 8 blocks away from where they were now eating; it was some upscale restaurant with over-priced drinks that catered to primarily upper middle class individuals. He felt out of place.
Yes he made good money doing what he did but he didn't flaunt it, and he would never be caught in a place like this.
"I was a little wary hiring a private mercenary but these affairs need a certain type of finesse," Lenard took a sip from his scotch, "you understand."
Jason nodded allowing him to continue. He didn't like to waste words when details were still being provided.
"You'll be coming in as a sort of consultant. The waters have become a bit murky in the underworld if you catch my drift. It's becoming difficult to distinguish loyalties with so many changing of hands." He took another swig before rattling the ice cube around the glass.
He continued, "Some of the lads are getting power hungry and Terry needs a pair of eyes and ears he can trust."
Lenard meant Terry Birch, he was the boss of the city's criminal underworld. Of course there were several independent circles of smaller scale but nothing like the Birch territory. He had hooks in politicians as well as thugs, his power was indisputable—every so called criminal knew his name.
Jason had heard enough, "I understand."
A slimy smile crept onto Lenard's sullen face, "Fantastic," he lifted a hand signaling for another glass, "the boys will be wary of you at first so you'll have to infiltrate their defenses. They'll need to trust you're not just a hired gun keeping tabs."
"But that is exactly what I am," Jason interjected flatly.
Lenard's smile faded, "No J.D you are more than that, this is a service and favor to Terry Birch. Yes you are sniffing out a rat but that doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy yourself. You are going to be around these bastards for a long duration of time might as well make it entertaining."
He meant the perks of the criminal world, yes he was going to be knee deep in their mess but Lenard was urging him to roll around in the mud.
The waiter set another glass in front of Lenard; he waited for him to leave before continuing.
"Look, you'll need your head in this. Your one of Terry's men now, so act accordingly. You need to play the part not just read the lines understand? Terry doesn't need any snags in his plans or else you'll be staring down your own chamber J.D."
Jason narrowed his eyes as he listened through his growing impatience.
Lenard examined Jason's attire, "those clothes need to go, Terry's group is a step up from the boys your use too—style is imperative."
Jason snorted, "Are we done?"
Lenard placed that slimy smile on again, "For now? Yes." He reached into the inside pocket of his suit jacket and placed a card on the table, "this is the number of our weapons man, he'll get you what you need."
Jason placed the card in his front pocket and Lenard continued, "There is address on the back of that for a get together in a few days, the boys have things to attend to when it's through."
Lenard stood up preparing to leave, "And J.D," he turned back, "The dinner is a formal occasion black or gray suit."
Jason nodded his understanding before Lenard turned on his heels and out of the restaurant.
"Asshole," he placed a few bills down as a tip before walking out of the restaurant himself.
He eyed the sweet shop again; the sign read 'Wellington's'. Jason caught a delicious wafting scent across the street and before he could realize was walking over. He had a sweet tooth that was aching for a fix.
Walking inside he was thoroughly surprised, the walls were a dark green and there were gray, black and blue accents scattered about. Portraits of several different boxers, film stars, authors and directors covered the walls. The shop was fairly busy so he grabbed a menu and waited.
Finally he approached the register and a thin lanky girl gave him a flirtatious smile and asked what she could get for him. Jason smiled back, she was cute.
"I'll take an order of beignets and a coffee."
"Oh the beignets will be a few minutes, I can go ask when they'll be ready."
Jason was a bit disappointed, "Yeah that'd be great."
The thin girl beamed and whipped around and through a door. She returned and told him it would be about 10 or 15minutes.
Jason nodded and turned away ignoring the girl's upset expression at his dismissal. He moved over and picked up a book from the wall library on the left side of the restaurant, a sign next to it read. 'Don't steal any of the books, their brothers and sisters will miss them.' He chuckled quietly.
Jason sat at one of the tables with a book he picked up and his coffee, he placed the number card the cashier had given him at the edge of the table. Taking a sip from his coffee he savored the rich flavor, this was a damn good cup, he took note.
He was lost in his thoughts when he was snapped back by a plate of steaming pastries placed in front of him.
"Sorry about the wait sir."
Jason looked up and tried to keep from gawking at the petite beauty in front of him. The woman standing before him was wearing a blue and white stripped apron tied tightly around her thin waist. He could tell that her hips flared out giving her a sexy hourglass shape. Her eyes were dark and almond shaped with long lashed. Her nose was like a small button with a small silver ring on the right side. Her lips were full with a cute pout that was too kissable. Her hair was short, a few inches below her ear and pulled back half up and half down, with her bangs tucked behind her ear he could see several silver hoops ascending up its curve.
However, it was her skin that made him groan, it was a rich deep brown and flawless, he wanted to taste it and see if it was as sweet as the desserts she was selling.
"It's no problem really," he gave her a reassuring smile.
Jason had to clench his fist when she smiled in return; he wondered how she could be so cute and so sexy all at once.
"Would you like some more coffee?" He noticed how animated her eyes were when she spoke.
"Uh yes please."
She smiled again and turned to go grab the coffee pot giving him a great view off her backside. Her jeans hugged her ass perfectly and the visible part of her wife-beater hugged to her body setting off her curves.
She returned and poured his coffee, "Here you go, and again I'm sorry about the wait."
Jason assured her it was no problem and she turned to leave. He spent the next 20 minutes treating his taste buds to heaven; he had to stop himself from licking his plate of the powdered sugar. He kept stealing glances of the beautiful black woman as she came in and out of the kitchen to bring new desserts, help the girl at the register, and chat with people who seemed to be regulars.
Jason felt a pang of jealousy as one man came in and gave her a hug; he didn't like to see other men touching her. He gathered she was the owner of the shop by the way she carried herself, he also gathered that they must have been short staffed from the expressions of annoyance that kept crossing her face as she looked at the clock.
He downed the rest of his cup before standing up and walking up to the counter. The woman and the thin girl from earlier were talking when he walked up. The thin girl looked at him with hopeful eyes while the black woman turned around. Now that he was standing he could see that the woman was much shorter than him, he was about 6'1 so she had to be no taller than 5'3 if that,
She smiled again and Jason felt his stomach tighten, "Did you enjoy everything?"
Jason tried to play it cool, "Everything was delicious, really."
Jason cleared his throat when the thin girl suddenly spoke proudly, "Everything Lou creates is heavenly."
So her name was Lou, Jason wondered what it was short for.
"Rachel stop," the woman called Lou laughed softly.
"Well it's true," Rachel added nudging Louise.
She laughed again; Jason looked at his watch and knew he had to be on his way.
"Okay well Ms. Uh—"
"Louise," she cut him off, "but Lou is fine."
He responded, "J.D."
He grabbed a business card before telling both women to have a lovely day; he tried to etch the picture of Lou's smile into his mind before he turned to leave.
Walking out into the midday sun he fingered the second card he'd acquired today and smiled. Lou was too damn delectable for her own good and he wasn't one to ignore a craving.