Previous: Chapter 8 – Violet Paintballing
If you would like a soundtrack to go along with this, check out my playlist on Spotify or YouTube. This chapter’s songs: “Play with Fire,” “Don’t Take the Money,” “Bitch Better Have My Money,” “Bad Girls Club,” and “Sober.”
What am I getting myself into? I wondered as I sat in the backseat of a black Towncar next to Violet, who punched furiously into her phone. It’d been ten days since I started living under Izaak’s stupid rules, and for the first time, I savored the taste of freedom, feeling rebellious and liberated. Too many restrictions had me grasping for chaos in any way possible, so when Violet bolted from the paintball game, my natural urge was to follow. Nevermind that the purple-haired brat was high as a kite. She needed a partner in crime, and frankly, so did I.
“They won’t fucking leave me alone,” she griped at me. “Always talkin’ about Gabe, but what the fuck good is he gonna do me? I don’t wanna stop partyin’, ya know? Life is too short. Too many regrets already, I don’t want more. Molly needs to shut the fuck up, and Toby needs to dump this hoe already. I don’t get what he sees in her. Do you think she’s pretty?”
No use in answering. As soon as I opened my mouth, she kept going.
“She’s using him for something, but I’m not sure what. Can’t believe that bitch laid on me.” She eased up her shirt to show three purple bruises in perfect circles, wincing as she touched them. “And Toby had the nerve to get mad at me. Fuck him, yo. And all those bitches.” Releasing her shirt, Violet looked up at me. Her eyes were glossy like she was ready to cry. “I’m gonna take you to a place in my old hood… it’s my high school hangout. Honestly, if Gabe knew I was back there, he’d kick my ass more than Izaak’s gonna kick yours for comin’ with me tonight.”
Eek, that kind of made my stomach twist into knots. A vision of Izaak’s glare flickered into my mind. Not that I had a specific rule about going out, but during his month-long… whatever it was… he preferred being in control of my every move. Exactly why I needed this time with Violet right now.
“Oh well, as you said earlier about Toby, he’ll get over it.”
That’s what I wanted to think, too, but then I glanced down at my phone to see the three messages I’d ignored from my roommate:
4:32pm: Where did you go?
4:47pm: Please be safe, don’t do anything crazy.
4:52pm: I’m glad you’re being friendly with Violet, but be careful. And remember we’re still having a discussion tonight about your smoking.
Groaning, I answered with my future location and assured him I’d be home before sunrise. Then I tucked my phone back away (on do not disturb) because I’d rather ask for forgiveness than permission.
It was happy hour when we arrived at Dominic’s, a grimy second-floor lounge nestled between a liquor store and boarded up pawn shop. Most of the patrons were around my age, long unnatural-colored hair, covered with piercings and tattoos. Heavy music blasted on the speakers, distorted guitars with screaming vocals and pounding drums. A bar sat in the center, neon lights causing the wood to shine red, and a middle-aged man stood behind it, chatting up a group of bikers. When we approached, he gave my new friend a dirty look.
“Two mojitos for my tab.” Violet grinned at the bartender who didn’t seem half as amused as she.
He flipped the towel over his shoulder and shook his head. “Your tab is gettin’ up there, chamaca. We’re gonna have to cut you off.”
“Aw come on, bro. Put it on Vic’s then,” she said with a laugh, patting him on the arm.
Lips pressed together in irritation, he started making the drinks, poking in the straws and sliding the glasses towards us. When she reached to grab it, he took ahold of her wrist. “After this, no more until you pay some of your shit off. Entendido? Bring me your first poker winnings.”
“Si, señor!” But looking back at me Violet rolled her eyes, taking a big sip of the mojito.
As we squeezed through the crowd by the pool table, a skinny guy with messy black hair approached us. “Esperanza, a word, please.”
“Bro, Andy, I know I owe you mad money, but I swear I got you. My friend Clo here got me a job.” She patted me on my shoulder, winking. “So I’ll have your dough in no time.”
His eyebrow cocked in doubt and he responded in Spanish, something that Violet didn’t like.
“Gimme til the end of the night and I got you.”
Violet kept her hand on my shoulder, leading me to the back of the bar where a group of guys huddled around a large circular table, blue cards and poker chips scattered about. “You play?”
“I’ll teach you. You’ll be great cuz everyone’s gonna think you dunno what you’re doing. You’re too pretty.” She spoke to the dealer in Spanish then sat, patting the chair so I could squeeze next to her.
There were seven people seated among us, all macho Latino guys in their 30s. They chatted in Spanglish, roaring insults at each other and reminiscing about past games. Violet whispered in my ear during each hand, giving up intel about our competitors’ weaknesses. Simultaneously she won four hands in a row, much to their disapproval.
“Here, pay some of my tab and get us more drinks,” Violet instructed as she exchanged a few poker chips for cash. She pressed a wad of bills to my palm, sending me away. With the rest of her earnings she paid one of our competitors for cocaine, not bothering to hide it from me at this point.
Beverages in tow, I returned and sat through another few hands, quietly at first, until the alcohol kicked in. “You must be really cool with the people here?” My words slurred.
“I’ve been comin’ since I was 15. The owner and I have a special relationship… I helped him with his immigration case a few years ago, kept him from getting deported. That’s why they treat me like fam here. The bartender says I have to pay, but honestly they don’t give a fuck.” She discarded from her hand, picking up the new cards and checking out her opponents’ expressions. “You got someplace like this where you come from?”
“Nah, I preferred to crash private parties in hotels, scarf down fancy food, talk my way into an elite suite, and pass out after binging on the open bar.” I sighed remembering fun times back home as Violet finished her hand, winning again.
With a displeased grunt, the dealer called for a short break. Violet’s eyebrows danced mischievously, and she invited me to the bathroom where she locked the door and offered to share her drugs with me. I’d tried coke before at parties, not caring much for the effect, though I didn’t hate it. But since everyone had been taking bumps during the game, talking so fast it was tough to keep up, I figured, what the hell. I’m going hard tonight, might as well join the crowd.
The white powder stung as it blew through my nasal cavity, numbness spreading to my throat. I wanted to gag, instead chugging my drink and watching Violet inhale two lines back-to-back.
“Time to get this party started! And now it’s your turn to show everyone who’s boss.”
Nervous about playing, I opted to stall. “We need more cigarettes. Let me buy you a pack.” An offer she couldn’t refuse, so I left for the liquor store. The warm summer wind brushed my hair away and felt so good. Being bad felt so good. It’d been too long since I had this much fun.
Pack of Camels in hand, I tore the wrapper open and tapped a cigarette out. As I lit it, I spotted Violet’s poker mate standing near the staircase, taking puffs off a joint between flirting with an uninterested female. As he drunkenly leaned over, I noticed a wallet hanging out of his back pocket, bulging with cash. My heart raced as a memory of swiping credit cards crossed my mind. I’ve behaved for so long… it won’t hurt to have one night of fun! And he’d been making sexist comments at us all night, so deserved to be taken down a notch or two.
When I finished my cigarette and stepped it out, I staggered back towards the bar, “accidentally” bumping into the guy and snatching the wallet. In one quick motion, I deposited it in my handbag and apologized profusely about my clumsiness with a pat on his arm. He was none the wiser. I grinned to myself as I ascended the stairs and slyly moved the bundle of cash into a zipper pocket. And as I entered the bar, I tossed the wallet into the nearest trashcan, ready to buy our next round of drinks.
Sitting in the back of the bar, drinking, drugging, playing poker, it was easy to lose track of time. Despite still being dressed in paintball clothes, our afternoon adventure felt like days ago. Izaak was a distant memory as dopamine dominated me and I was no longer concerned with rules or laws. I’d broken several that night and wanted to keep breaking more.
Violet was now on a losing streak and sloppy drunk as she slammed her hand on the table at her third loss in a row. “Goddammit!”
“You’ll get ’em next time!” I said in a chirpy, annoying voice.
“I need a cigarette,” she grumbled and scooted out of the chair. “Play my spot til I’m back. I’m gonna beat these motherfuckers in a minute.”
After about fifteen minutes of enduring dirty looks from my competitors, I cashed out the poker chips and went to check on Violet. She stood at the bottom of the stairs with an ashy cigarette between her fingers, arguing with Andy. Behind him were two bigger guys, his muscle. It felt like a scene out of a gang movie and my body trembled as I watched.
“Goddammit!” Violet said, stomping her foot. “It’s been a long day, would you get out of my fuckin’ face already! I told you I’ll pay you back when I can.”
“I warned you, Esperanza.” Andy stepped forward, trying to appear intimidating but barely an inch taller than her and much bonier.
Violet blew smoke in his face, then tossed her cigarette butt to the ground. “Fine, you know what…” She reached into her pocket but instead of getting out any money, she wound up and decked him on the cheek, running away, only to be stopped by one of the bigger guys. Something was off about the scene, though… Violet halted too peacefully for her rebellious spirit. That’s when I realized that he was holding a pistol pointed at her ribcage. She winced, frozen in place.
Horrified that this would end like a movie torture scenario, I sprinted down the stairs. “Hey, Violet!” I shouted when halfway down. Everyone turned to look at me, none of them aware I’d been there. “Here’s the cash you wanted.” I dug into my purse and came out with a handful of $20 bills.
Violet looked at me, then Andy. “You heard her. Take it.”
Glaring, he snatched the bundle, then nodded at the bigger guy to put the gun away. I watched him tuck it into the waistband of his jeans and fold his arms, never breaking eye contact with Violet.
“Surprised you didn’t need me to break out the whips and chains,” Andy sneered with a laugh, smacking her on the ass.
Teeth curled around her lower lip, Violet formed the words “fuck off” but before she had the chance to speak, we were interrupted.
“HEY!” came the familiar angry voice, startling everyone. I turned in time to see Izaak jogging towards us, black Suburban parked across the street. “Did the lady give you permission to touch her?”
Andy shook his head in disbelief, letting out a chuckle as Izaak arrived beside me, hands on his hips. He towered over the crowd, radiating authority. I wondered how much he’d seen. “Your girl here owes me a lot of money, and I happen to know she doesn’t object to an ass beating now and then.” He winked at her.
“Shut the fuck up, culero. I’ll…” Violet lurched forward to punch him again, but Izaak held her back, looking at me for help.
I took her hand and peered at my roommate with pleading eyes. “We should go.” Ignoring Violet’s angry gibberish, I pulled her across the street, motioning for Izaak to follow. He stared the guys down for a moment, then came after me.
Voice amplified, he said, “You couldn’t answer your phone? I thought something bad happened to you, which looked like it was about to…”
“Awww look at Izaak being all over-protective,” Violet gushed drunkenly, giving his arm a friendly squeeze. “You take care of my girl Clo here. She’s good people.” Then she tripped over her own feet and nearly landed face-first on the pavement.
As we shoved her in the vehicle, Izaak turned to me and said, “You have a lot of explaining to do, kiddo.”
“Tomorrow,” I promised. “Let’s just get her home.”
Izaak walked to the driver’s side while I climbed in next to Violet, choosing the back seat to keep a safe distance from my perturbed roommate. “He’s so beefy and protective,” she cooed, all dreamy-like as she leaned against me. “Must be mad hott when he spanks you.”
I giggled. “It is.”
Both of us watched him open the car door, phone pressed against his ear, barking orders. “At least one has a gun. They’re possible drug dealers with gang affiliation.”
“What the fuck is he doin’?” Violet questioned, sitting up straight as he continued describing Andy and friends. When it clicked, she furiously pushed herself towards Izaak and spat, “Bro, are you serious? Don’t be a narc!” Then as he sat, she yelled, “He’s lying!” while trying to snatch the phone. It was too late, though, because Izaak had already given the info and soon ended the call.
His head whipped towards us, eyes blazing. “What the hell!” he shouted at Violet, so forcefully that it made me jump.
“Call those bitches back and tell ’em false alarm! Don’t rat out my boys.”
“Your ‘boys’ were trying to kill you!” Izaak’s face burned crimson; he was ready to snap.
“Fuck this, I’m out of here.” Violet tugged on the door handle, punching when it didn’t budge. “Unlock the door!” she demanded.
“Stop beating my truck. You’re not going anywhere besides home. I promised Molly I’d bring you back.”
That wasn’t the answer she’d hoped for. “Fuck Molly, who cares?” She jerked on the handle again and launched another assault, now kicking, too.
In a flash I heard Izaak growl and reach for her right arm, twisting it back so that she bent forward. It stopped her long enough to mildly shriek, then fib in a cocky voice: “That doesn’t hurt.” Eyebrows raised and taking her statement as a challenge, Izaak twisted her arm even farther until she was pleading, “okay okay!”
But he didn’t release her, demanding eye contact. “You’re going to sit back, put on your seatbelt, and behave, do you understand?”
“If I have to pull over, I’ll handcuff you and throw you in the back.”
She laughed. “Can’t you restrain me here? I don’t wanna be in your trunk.”
“I think we can arrange that,” Izaak responded, reaching in his back pocket. Seconds later he enclosed the metal object around Violet’s right wrist, much to her disapproval.
“Wait! No! I’ll behave!”
“Too late.” He jerked her forward so she almost fell off the seat and reached for her left wrist, clicking the other metal ring into place so that both hands were locked behind her back. Then he eased her onto the seat again, looking at me. “Buckle her in.” My heart pounded as I crawled towards her, imagining that Violet would be as pissed as Izaak, but she was grinning.
“I love the rough treatment,” she half-whispered, giggling. I reached for the seatbelt, a little high myself, off the adrenaline especially. When it snapped into place and I pushed myself up, Violet and I locked eyes. “Hey, you saved my life, bro. I owe you. I’ll pay you back.”
“No worries,” I mouthed and hopped back into my spot.
As Izaak sped off, a patrol car pulled up to the group of guys and Andy looked over at us with contempt. A shiver crept down my spine at the visual reminder of Izaak’s loyalty to the government. He’ll always choose his job first. Will I be able to handle it if he finds out everything? The question lingered in my mind until we turned the corner and Violet started chatting, overwhelmed with boredom. She didn’t shut up the rest of the ride.
When we arrived, Izaak parked the car on the street, urging me to go ahead as he pulled Violet out. He didn’t care about the couple smoking a cigarette outside and didn’t hide the handcuffs as he dragged her through the front door. Violet was stumbling a little, much drunker than me, looking like she was about to pass out.
“You don’t have to be so mean to her,” I scolded Izaak when we ducked into the elevator.
He glared at me. “Not now, Chloe.” The firmness in his voice made me gulp. Also that he called me by my first name, not ‘kiddo’ like normal.
Molly was relieved when we knocked on the door, Toby a few steps behind her, messy hair and worried face. “I’m so glad you’re okay!” our red-haired friend said, giving me a hug first, then Violet. She wasn’t surprised about the handcuffs, just kind of smirked and said, “she gave you a hard time, huh?”
“We need to have an intervention,” Toby muttered. “This is getting ridiculous.”
“Fuck you and your interventions,” Violet howled, then started laughing again. Izaak didn’t allow the criminal to stay for conversation, dragging her to the back of the apartment, much to her disapproval. I idly wondered if a spanking would happen (it didn’t).
When Izaak came back, my three friends decided that it was interrogation time.
What happened? What did she use? How much? Did she gamble? And lose? Is she in too deep? What are we going to do with her?
“It’s definitely time to call Gabe,” Toby said. “He’s the only one who can reason with Violet when she’s like this.”
My new boss radiated no-nonsense disciplinarian, and the thought of him as a spanker made me tingle inside. Gabe didn’t like excuses or unreasonable behavior and had a fuse about the size of Violet’s. I’d love to be a fly on the wall for their confrontation.
“Thanks for being with her, Chloe… I know she can be a handful sometimes.” Molly took my hand in hers and smiled.
With that, Izaak put an arm around my shoulder and we said goodbyes, then left.
In the car we didn’t speak for a while, and I didn’t mind, feeling warm and fuzzy from the “spanko family” bond, and too high to sense Izaak’s negative energy. I smiled at the colorful lights as we sped through the city. Tomorrow I’d regret it all, but at the moment I felt pure euphoria. My body craved the adventures I could have with Violet. I dreamt of new schemes, no longer interested in living by Izaak’s restrictions.
“Are you not even a little sorry?” my roommate finally asked, heaving a sigh.
“What did I do?” I asked innocently, turning to look at him with a half smile, batting my eyelashes.
Nostrils flaring as he gripped onto the steering wheel, Izaak took a deep breath to calm his anger. “If you’re trying to have a healthier lifestyle, does anything you did tonight seem like a good idea?” He turned to look at me as he stopped at a redlight, shaking his head. “You’re high, there’s no use in having this conversation.”
Eyes widened, I looked away. My cute puppy face didn’t work, so maybe I could take the Violet approach. “You can’t prove that.”
“Are you really going to deny it?”
I folded my arms and looked at him with attitude, rolling my eyes. It was hard to keep myself from laughing. The angry girl look didn’t suit me well.
Jaw clenched, Izaak stayed quiet for a moment, not finding any humor in the situation. Rather than lash out with hostility, he focused on driving, weaving through the one-way streets towards home. When we finally turned into the garage, he said, “We’ll discuss it in the morning after our workout.”
“I’m getting tired of your fucking workouts,” I scoffed. Not to mention it was already after midnight… there was no way I’d get up so early!
He didn’t respond for a moment, brows furrowed like he was having a hard time keeping himself together. “I don’t like this influence Violet has on you.”
“Well, you’re gonna just have to get over it,” I grumbled, pushing the car door open. Then in response to his smoldering glare, I added a big grin and said, “thanks for saving us tonight!” as I hopped out of the car.
“Your ass will need saving in a few hours.” The door slammed and I turned to study my friend more closely. He stared at me with humorless and tired-angry eyes, body rigid, hands balled into fists. Nothing would convince him to be softer on me. “Come on, let’s move. It’s late and we need to get to bed.” To further prompt compliance, his large hand smacked against my butt, causing me to yelp.
Gulping, I obeyed, suddenly hit with the gravity of what I’d done. Izaak wasn’t just playful-upset like usual during our nightly chats. This anger was legit.
Shit, what HAVE I gotten myself into?!
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