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

That night Judd knows that he has to arrange to meet Obo. He’s put it off long enough. Emmet has been texting him since the day before, insisting that Judd sorts out the meet as soon as he can. Judd wasn’t ready though, he was still too angry. If his meetings with Mr Big have taught him anything it’s that he needs to rein in his temper if he wants to be taken seriously. Judd has known he needs to do that for a while but now he feels ready. He has to stay calm and in control when meeting Obo or things could go really badly, really quickly. If he lets his temper flare up he runs the risk of losing control of the meeting and perhaps even losing his business. He’s calm now though, his hands are steady and his head is clear. The anger he feels towards Obo and the entire situation simmers quietly in his belly but it isn’t pounding through his veins or clouding his judgement. Even when he calls Obo and hears the man’s voice on the other end of the line he stays calm. He’s pleased with himself and smiles in satisfaction.

“Judd,” Obo snaps, “Stop pissing around and tell me what you want,”

“We meet tonight,” Judd says firmly, “Over at the Big Copper pub. It closes at midnight and we should meet there after 12 in the small bar near the back. Do you know it?”

“Yeah I know it,” Obo drawls, “I know the owner. I reckon I can make sure that it’s just us there. We can still get drinks.”

“Good, good,” Judd says.

He’s about to hang up but Obo speaks, stopping him.

“Judd, come alone,” he orders, “There’s just going to be me, you and Right Stuff there, three sides of the issue. No one else. You don’t get to take suggestions from your guys and I don’t get suggestions from mine. Right Stuff acts as Charlie in the whole discussion.”

“Why do we need suggestions?” Judd asks harshly, “We’re sorting out who’s in charge of what till Charlie gets back, that’s all,”

“Yeah mate but it’s not enough,” Obo says. He sounds tired, “We need to talk about what’s going to happen if Charlie doesn’t come back at all. It’s been almost a week now and we ain’t heard nothing from him. We gotta talk about it now while we’re still calm and all in one place,”

“Fine,” Judd says with a sigh, “We’ll talk about it all. See you tomorrow,”

“See ya,” Obo says.

Judd falls back on to his bed and closes his eyes for a minute. He supposes that Obo is right, it just doesn’t make sense for him to be the one suggesting it. Judd can’t understand why he didn’t come up with the idea first. He’s usually so on top of things like this, coming up with the plans and ideas before everyone else does. But tonight Obo beat him to it. Judd sighs and picks up his phone again. He calls a number.

“Right Stuff,” he says quickly when the other man answers, “I’m meeting Obo tomorrow night,”

“At the Big Copper after twelve,” Right Stuff says, interrupting him, “Yeah I know, Obo already got in touch about it. I know I’ve got to be there to represent Charlie. I’ll see you then,”

Right Stuff hangs up before Judd can say anything else and he looks at his phone in confusion. Right Stuff is normally so happy to talk to him. Tonight though he just blew him off, barely saying more than he had to. The hairs on the back of Judd’s neck stand on end and he gets a sense of dread in his stomach. There’s something more going on here, his mind screams at him, there are other plans being made that he can’t control. He needs to talk about it so he calls the only person that he thinks of.

“Reece, I need your help,” he says when Reece greets him tiredly.

“Can’t it wait until the morning?” Reece mumbles down the phone, “I’m knackered mate,”

“No it can’t wait,” Judd snaps, “I am in deep shit and I need your advice.”

“Fine,” Reece says. Judd can practically hear him rolling his eyes, “What’s going on?”

“It’s my meeting with Obo,” Judd says quickly, “I think there’s more going on than there seems.”

“Judd, I told you already,” Reece snaps, “I’m out. I’m not coming back and no matter how much you try to draw me in again I’m not going to take the bait,”

“I need you mate,” Judd pleads, “You can’t just up and leave without warning. It’s not right. I need you by my side if things are going to keep going.”

“And I told you I’m out,” Reece says harshly. “I’m not going to come back! This isn’t the life that I want. You should get out too, while you still can.”

“Whatever,” Judd snaps.

He hangs up the phone and throws it across the bed.

He can’t believe that Reece has left the crew. Judd had been sure that it was just an act, a temper tantrum. He thought that it was a spur of the moment decision that Reece would regret in a matter of hours before he came crawling back. Judd had been all ready to forgive him and welcome him back with open arms. But Reece isn’t coming back, he means it and Judd doesn’t know what to do.

He does understand where Reece is coming from though. They’re on the edge of a gang war and that isn’t something that any of them really want. They wouldn’t have created a truce if they didn’t. But now it was threatening to crumble and Reece couldn’t face that fact. Judd was doing all he could, meanwhile, to hold everything together. The more that he thinks about it, the more Judd wonders whether he should do the same thing. Whether he should step back and let everything else happen without him there. He’s had a good run after all but he’s got more things going on in his life that need his attention. Things are getting dangerous and Judd knows that he’d never forgive himself if something bad happens during this deal.

That thought reminds him of Obo, seeing the man who keeps escalating things and of the business. There are people, dealers and runners, who he’s created a bond with and who know him very well. Obo has wronged him, committed a crime by the unspoken rules of their world. The anger flares back. Judd needs to keep his business going, he needs to make a point and he needs to confront Obo to do it. Even though it could end badly Judd won’t show Obo that he’s a coward by not coming to the meet. He has to go and confront the man who tried to fuck with him. And he’s going to need help to do it.

When he calls Emmet though, trying to make sure that he will have back up tomorrow night, there’s no answer on his mobile. In fact that call doesn’t even ring, it just goes straight to answerphone. Judd wonders whether Emmet has gone somewhere and left his phone behind or possibly just let the power run down. A quick glance at facebook tells Judd that Emmet is actually at home, playing a computer game, at least he was 15 minutes ago. He tried again and again, at least three more times with twenty minutes in between each attempt. He has no luck though and once more he turns to Reece.

“What do you want now Judd?” Reece asks with a sigh.

“I can’t find Emmet,” Judd says, “I’ve tried calling him but he won’t pick up.”

“You mean you haven’t heard?” Reece asks in surprise. “You don’t know what’s happened?”

“What’s happened?” Judd snaps, “Is Emmet ok?”

“Shit!” Reece cries, “You really don’t know do you?”

“Know what?!” Judd cries, “What am I supposed to be knowing,”

“Jud mate…” Reece says slowly, “I thought you know. Emmet works for Obo now.”

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