CHAPTER: 12345, 6789101112131415161718192021222324252627, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32EPILOGUE

“You ok?” Reece asks once he knows that Emmet is out of hearing range. “It’s gotta be tough hearing about your dad,”

“Yeah, I’m good,” Judd says, shrugging, “I’m as ok as I’m going to be,”

“You’re doing the right thing you know,” Reece says, leaning forward to look Judd in the eye, “Going to his trial I mean. He needs you there. And I know it’ll be hard seeing him in cuffs but if you don’t go you’ll regret it later,”

“Yeah I know,” Judd says. He sighs heavily. Then he smiles, a little awkward and it feels wrong. “Let’s just hope none of the coppers recognise me and try to arrest me.” His smile drops away and he frowns, “That’s the last thing that Sally needs right now, her stepson and husband both being arrested. And it wouldn’t reflect well on my dad either, his only child being arrested and charged with drug dealing.”

“Like they’d arrest you,” Reece says kindly, patting Judd on the shoulder, “You practically do their job for them, keeping the drugs away from kids and taking on crappy dealers who try and cause violence,”

“Yeah I suppose so,” Judd says after a moment. He shakes himself and clears his throat. “Enough of that though. Let’s just focus on getting through tonight and forget everything else,”

“You sure?” Reece asks, his face creased with concern. “We can talk later if you want,”

“Just go,” Judd says, patting his friend on the shoulder and laughing. “Thanks for the thought. Keep focused on what’s happening,”

Reece pats Judd’s shoulder again and turns away. Judd watches his friend walk off and turns to look down the path where Obo should be coming from. He can hear Emmet or Reece rustling around in the trees and hopes that they will both stay still and silent when Obo gets here.

The wind picks up while Judd waits and he checks his watch again, shivering hard against the wind. He hopes that Obo will soon appear and before he even has a chance to finish the thought he sees Obo in the distance. The other man is alone, wandering along the darkened path from the direction of the bright estate. The light catches Obo’s face, brightening it suddenly and he’s looking right at Judd. Obo raises a hand and waves at him, Judd returns the wave. As Obo gets closer Judd steps forward a few paces so that he is standing right beneath a streetlight, bathed in its orange glow.

“Judd,” Obo finally says once he is close enough.

“Obo,” Judd replies, nodding.

“So…” Obo says slowly. “What do you want?”

“We need to talk,” Judd says slowly, his voice carrying across the park, “About Charlie and what it means for us,”

“I thought we already talked about that,” Obo says sharply.

Behind him the trees rustle. A twig snaps. Obo looks around, clearly on the alert. Judd smirks as shock appears on Obo’s face when he sees first Emmet and then Reece appear from amongst the trees.

“What the fuck is this?!” Obo demands, turning back to Judd, frowning, “I thought we said to come alone,”

“Well I know you,” Judd says shrugging, “I know you’d try to pull some sort of shit so I came prepared.”

“You shit,” Obo spits.

Judd steps forwards, hands raised. He’s ready to grab Obo’s jacket and shove him against the tree trunk nearby. He has the entire conversation planned in his mind already. His fingers brush the fabric of Obo’s jacket, but before he manages to get a grip Obo takes a sudden step back. He reaches in to his pocket and grabs something. Judd takes a step back, the hairs on the back of his neck starting to stand on end.

Something isn’t right here.

He takes another step back as Obo pulls his hand out of his jacket and reveals that he’s holding a gun. Judd stares down the barrel, the metal of the gun glinting brightly in the streetlight. His heart is pounding and he starts breathing heavily.

“Yeah, that’s right,” Obo says harshly. He lowers the gun to point towards the ground. “I came prepared.”

Judd glances at the gun and steps back again. Emmet and Reece come around either side of him. Reece’s mouth is hanging open and he’s staring at the gun, eyes wide. Obo catches the look and shifts the gun slightly. Judd hears Reece jump and swear under his breath. He looks at Obo and sees the smirk on his face. Obo nods his head quickly at Judd. Judd reaches out to take a grip on Reece and Emmet’s wrist and pulls them back with him as he steps back. Obo’s smirk widens, growing prouder, smugger and more arrogant with every second that passes.

Judd can’t believe that this is happening. Sure he has a knife on him, Emmet and Reece do too, it’s standard procedure for all of them. Not having a knife on you can mean the difference between staying safe and staying alive in their line of work. He’d made sure that he was carrying one before he even left the house to meet Obo. Obo was a dangerous man and he couldn’t be too careful when dealing with him.

But carrying guns is a step too far for Judd. He’d never allowed his guys to carry guns, even when they insisted it was a good idea. It was a step that he was just not willing for himself or the others to take. He’d never allowed it and anyone who hadn’t liked it was made to walk away and find someone else to work with. They are a small time operation, he is a small time dealer in a small town. Carrying guns is for gangsters in the big city. But now Obo has one and things are just a lot more dangerous. He takes another step back.

“I thought you might pull some shit like this,” Obo says eventually, “You’re smart but not smart enough sometimes. I just knew you’d have two of your pussy boys hiding in the woods or something, ready to jump me. And I knew you’d try and get me to listen to you with force.”

“So you’re smarter than you pretend then,” Judd says, “You seriously need a gun to make a point though? If anyone’s the pussy it’s you,”

“Big words for a guy with a gun near his face,” Obo says, his tone suddenly serious, “But here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to keep the deal I made with Mr Big and you’re going to step back and leave him alone,”

Judd’s eyes widen in surprise. Obo smirks.

“Yeah, I know you’ve been trying to change that shit up and you’ve been trying to make deals behind my back.” He says, almost proudly, “I mean I should have expected it, you’ve always been a sneaky bastard. AND a two faced liar. I guess I just sort of hoped that you’d actually stick to our agreement for once. But no, I have to hear, from Mr Big that you’ve been trying to get him to deal with you instead of me. And you’ve been mouthing off about me and losing your temper like you always do.”

Judd says nothing. He just keeps looking at Obo, waiting for him to say something else.

“Yeah,” Obo says harshly, “You know you’ve done wrong there and you can’t even deny it. But we’re going to put that all right, now at least. I keep the deal with Mr Big, the one that I made when I told him what was happening with Charlie first. And I expect to see Right Stuff bright and early tomorrow morning. From now on I’m supplying him and his customers. He comes to me, I give him the gear and he leaves you alone.”

“And what do I do?” Judd says, arching an eyebrow.

“Oh he speaks!” Obo cries, laughing and leaning his hands on his knees, one hand still gripping the gun, “I was starting to think you’d shit yourself into silence when you saw the gun. You, my friend, are going to back off, leave Charlie’s patch alone for me to deal with. You’re going to go back to your own patch and stay there for the time being. Got it?!”

Judd stares at Obo for a few long moments. His brain races, the thoughts swarming through his head. He glances at Reece who shrugs. He looks at Emmet who doesn’t say anything, he’s just stuck staring at the gun. He knows that he has no choice, the other options that he might have had are all gone now that Obo’s got a gun.

“Fine,” he says reluctantly through clenched teeth. “I’ll go back and stay on my patch. Then you leave me and my boys alone. Agreed.”

“For now,” Obo says, smirking. “Now go.”

Judd turns away and walks back down the path they came down. Reece and Emmet walk beside him. Emmet keeps glancing over his shoulder, back towards Obo with a strange expression on his face. Judd can’t figure out what it is but knows that it isn’t fear. Judd can practically feel Obo’s eyes burning into his back, in to the spot between his shoulder blades. He’s fighting the urge to turn back and look, keeping his eyes fixed straight ahead, towards the car that he can now make out between the trees. Reece catches his eye for a brief second, the other man’s eyes are wide before he looks away quickly. Their shoulders brush and he swears that he can feel the other man shaking slightly.

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