Chapter 8

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Liam

Dank was a perfect word to describe the morning that loomed all around him as he drove through the streets of Tottenham, which reminded him of Wolverhampton where he'd lived with his mum after his father died and left them with nothing. It was in stark contrast to the life he'd known as a small child, though he'd been too young to truly appreciate it he could vividly remember all the poshly furnished houses they'd go to, the fancy clothes and cars they'd had, the way they had never to want let alone need for anything. He was driven by the desire to have it all back and that desire is what had him up at such an ungodly hour on such a dreary day on his way to a meeting in the back room of a pawn shop.

The Turks who were the well known lords of the drug trade in and around Tottenham were none too pleased about the mysterious young English man who'd suddenly and unexpectedly overtaken them and put a chokehold on their once thriving business in the area. He figured meeting with a couple of their representatives in a place of business to discuss if and how they could collaborate was a good idea. He could offer these associates the opportunity to sell and distribute for him and in turn they could give a share of their profits to the Turk bosses, whoever they were. Everyone could win that way.

He'd seen enough gangster movies to know that he could not go armed into the meeting, and that he'd give the wrong impression to show up with any bodyguards or muscle; he didn't want to be seen as that invested in the violent side of the business, he wanted to present himself as unassuming and harmless and so he parked his car on the curb a ways down the block from the shop on High Road, and looked around as he got out, taking in the evidence of the last round of riots still visible here and there. He shook his head, his hands in the pockets of his black jogging pants as he felt the damp chill of the morning drizzle. His eyes were trained on the sidewalk as he made his way towards the shop, but still he managed to stumble over two long, skinny, legs sprawled out in the middle of the pavement next to the door of the shop.

"You ought to watch where the fuck your going, Mate."

Spat the man sitting on the pavement, looking nothing less than irritable. Liam looked at the pale and almost gaunt appearance of the stranger, his eyelids rimmed in brown, his eyes red but not quite bloodshot and devoid of hope although they were a brilliant color. He knew immediately what he was looking at.

"Sorry sir. Didn't see you there."

He reached into his pocket for his wallet and sneered as he fished out a note to give the man. He threw the bill into the face of the stranger, who met his eyes and looked at the money, incredulity written on his haggard looking features.

"What the fuck is this for?"

He asked, crumpling the money as he clambered to his feet, Liam took a step back and chuckled; it was truly absurd to see an obvious junkie trying to behave with righteous indignation.

"You look like you could use it...I have a feeling when you do I'll be getting it back in a way."

The junkie furrowed his brow in confusion that quickly descended into anger. Liam was still chuckling to himself when suddenly a hand grabbed him by his jaw, pulling it open, and another forced the note of currency into his mouth, making his tongue push back into his throat and causing him to choke. The skinny man let him go and he spit the bill out before doubling over and gasping for air.

"Throw anything else at me and next time it'll be my foot shoved up your ass instead."

Liam stood up straight and had the collar of the junkie in his hand when another car pulled into the alley next to the shop and parked in a space clearly marked as reserved for the owner. He let go and met eyes with the stranger, locking into an intense stare with him, a stare made heavy and meaningful by the intense loathing present in the eyes of each man.

"Don't think for one second that this is over." Liam seethed as the strange junkie took his turn to sneer. "Do you have any idea who I am?"

"No...who the fuck are you?"

The disinterest and sarcasm in his tone made Liam cringe; this was a junkie who had absolutely nothing speaking to him as though they were equals.

"Are you the young wolf?"

Liam forgot his anger for the moment and rolled his eyes at the sound of the name; the rumor that he was from Wolverhampton had earned him the nickname 'the young wolf', apparently everyone in the game had to have a nickname, a code name, a street name. Liam despised his. He turned away from the stranger and faced the man who owned the shop. He nodded his head slowly and shook the outstretched hand of the tall man with the short deeply black hair and beard. His skin was olive and his eyes light brown, he was not imposing at all, his face was almost kind. Liam relaxed a bit and as they let go of each other he almost smiled.

"It's a pleasure to meet you..."

"Mike Tomlinson." He replied as he unlocked the door and ushered Liam inside. "I need to speak with the man outside for a moment before we get to business, if you don't mind."

"I don't mind at all, but you should know he's a junkie."

Mike smiled and nodded slowly, showing he knew and it didn't matter to him. He leaned his back against the door and shrugged as he pushed it open.

"He's talented and resourceful. What he does in his spare time is his business...and yours I suppose...but not mine."

Liam raised his eyebrows as Mike stepped out letting the door close behind him. He looked in the glass cases at the jewelry and trinkets and wondered how quickly the pawn shop owner's tune would change once he offered him the opportunity to play a key role in his rapidly growing empire.

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