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War (Romanian Mob Chronicles Book 5)

By:Kaye Blue



I tightened my tie, fastened my cuff links, and then buttoned my suit jacket, all without glancing at a mirror.

I knew I was dressed to perfection.

So a double check wasn't necessary because I had long before mastered  the art of looking impeccable, an integral part of my aura and legend.

Of course, I couldn't entirely decide why I had bothered to get dressed  at all. I had cultivated enough of a reputation that my attendance  wouldn't be expected.

Probably not something that most would have been able to get away with,  but I wasn't most. Still, Vasile Petran had gone out of his way to  personally deliver the invitation to his wedding, and when I had asked  him why, he hadn't given me much of an answer.

We weren't friends.

I didn't have those, but I respected him in a way I did few, his  intelligent stewardship of his clan and his reliability having made our  business transactions smooth and mutually beneficial, something that was  far too uncommon. Some part of me, distant but still present, wanted to  acknowledge that respect.

So I'd go to his wedding, watch him publicly pledge devotion to the woman I knew he would go to any lengths for.

And maybe I would even hope for the best for them. Another futile thing,  because I knew how their story ended. Someone would kill her, kill him,  or if not, the inescapable fragility of the human existence would claim  one of them.

People died, one way or another, so it was best not to get too close  because they could be taken at any time, and they would be. In the end,  all of us would end up alone, broken.

I'd thought Vasile knew that, but it seemed now he wanted to pretend, especially given all they had been through together.

Yes, I was definitely going to attend.

There was nothing there for me, but I could use the reminder. Because  sometimes, even though I knew better, even though my entire life had  been a testament to the fact that there was no such thing as happiness,  love, I still thought about what happiness might be like if it was  possible.

Those thoughts didn't change me, and whenever they sprang up, I shut  them down completely. But they still came, more frequently now, and I'd  get that prickling sensation at the back of my mind, the question of  what it might be like not to make the long and increasingly joyless trek  from one day to the next completely alone.

So this wedding would be helpful. I'd go, see their joy, happiness, and hope, and know that it was fleeting.

Be reminded that alone was the only way, especially for me.

Besides-I looked around my empty house, as silent as a tomb-it wasn't like I had anything better to do.



"Pretty please?"

I looked at my roommate, best friend, and current extortionist Tiffany  as she batted her big brown eyes at me. She'd tilted her head so it  almost rested on her slender shoulder, and her pixie-like features were  set in her most innocent expression.

I started to shake my head, and she blinked.

Her dark auburn lashes were longer than should be humanly possible and a  hundred percent natural as she was happy to remind me and anyone else  who asked. Currently, they were covering soft, imploring eyes that would  have sucked anyone in, and still managed to get even me sometimes  though I should have been immune to her tricks. But I kept up a good  front.

"Tiff, I don't fall for that anymore, remember?" I said as I dropped  onto our couch and tucked one thick leg under me as I always did.

She blinked again and added a head tilt. Tiffany was pulling out the big guns today, but I was determined not to be swayed.

"Come on, Milan. Please?" she said.

I shook my head and then made a big show of grabbing the remote and turning on the TV, deliberately not looking at Tiffany.

"Nope. I've already worked six days this week. I want to take today off,  relax, so there's no way I'm taking your shift, especially not to work a  wedding," I said. "You know weddings are the worst."         



Tiffany nodded her agreement. As much as she wanted to convince me to  take her shift, even she couldn't deny that weddings could be hard on  the staff.

You'd think everyone would be so busy congratulating the happy couple,  they'd be too distracted to harass the catering crew and waitstaff, but  you'd be dead wrong. I've never gotten more dirty looks, rude guests,  and unwelcome ass pinches than at a wedding.

From what Tiffany had told me, this was an especially high-profile event, which meant high-profile assholes who were even worse.

Tiffany put a freckled hand on her small hip and turned to face me,  blocking my view of the TV. Then she lowered her gaze to mine, her eyes  serious, brimming as though she had the most important thing to tell me.

"What, Tiff?" I asked.

"We're getting double," she said.

I said nothing, but Tiffany knew me well enough to press on. She lowered  her head and lasered her eyes on mine, narrowing them at me, giving me a  get-real expression. Her chin dropped farther, and she tilted her head.  "Can't you see the dream fund getting a nice boost?" she asked.

I sighed, frowned at her before I answered. "I can see it. But what I  can't see is how the dream fund has anything to do with me taking your  shift," I said.

She smirked. "Double, Milan."

Then Tiffany paused, waiting expectantly. I was tired, exhausted,  really, but she knew my weaknesses. We'd been friends for over twenty  years, from elementary school on. She knew everything about me, just  like I did her, and she knew money was my weakness. More specifically,  she knew I'd never miss an opportunity to make a few extra bucks to  stash away.

I called it the dream fund, and I worked hard to fill it. I didn't mind  that I had no idea what the dream was yet. That didn't matter, because I  knew with every fiber of my being that one day I would, and when that  day came, I'd be able to go after that dream with everything I had.

Until then, I'd work and save, and wait until I figured out what direction I was headed in.

I glanced at Tiffany again, saw that her expression hadn't changed. It hadn't needed to.

Dammit, she had me.

I flicked off the TV and tossed the remote control aside, a sign of  defeat, and then scowled at Tiffany when she smiled, not that doing so  would change anything.

I stood and looked up at Tiffany, who was far taller than me.

"Fine. I'll do it, but don't smirk like you knew I'd do it all along. At least give me that," I said.

Tiffany smoothed her features and then wiped her hand across her face. "Okay. No smirk," she said.

"Such a smart-ass," I replied as I began to move my weary bones toward my bedroom.

As I walked, my feet groaned in protest.

Yesterday had been a long day, with two weddings and two birthday parties, the last of which had gone late into the night.

I showered quickly and dressed in one of the three clean catering  uniforms I always kept on hand just in case a job came up. When I went  back into the living room, Tiffany was there, also having recently  dressed. But where I was wearing starched black pants and a stiff white  shirt, she was dressed in a soft, flowing dress that hit midthigh, the  pink contrasting nicely with her hair, and the tight cut showing off her  flat stomach and full, perky breasts.

She twirled. "How do I look?"

"Ha-ha," I said, playfully smacking her arm. "Don't rub it in, Tiff. But  you look gorgeous as always, not that you needed me to tell you that."

Tiffany shrugged. "Of course I didn't need you to, but it's nice to hear  all the same. You don't look so bad yourself," she said, staring me up  and down.

I waved her off. "I already said I'd go. No need to lie to me to try to butter me up," I replied.

"No lie, Milan. You rock that better than anyone else, including me. All  covered up so they can't see the goodies, but the body is still  banging," she said as she bumped her hip into my much fuller one.

"Yeah, well just remember banging bodies is not on the agenda when you  design the uniforms for the business, whatever it might end up being," I  said.

Tiffany smiled. "They're going to be awesome. People are going to hire  us just to see the uniforms." She paused and looked at me. "And, you  know, for the business stuff," she said.

I laughed out loud, and Tiffany joined in. Fashion first, she always  said, and she lived it too, little matters like function rarely of note.  "You know the boss has to look better than everyone else?" I said.

"She will. And if you'd let me dress you now, I could have you on point," she said.         



I shook my head. "Nope. Not opening that topic. Because we've covered  this ground before, and I'm sure you don't want to keep your boyfriend  waiting."

She checked her watch. "I do need to run. Thank you, Milan," she said,  hugging me. Then she pulled back, looking down at me. "We're going to  make it happen."

Tears pricked at the corner of my eyes as Tiffany looked at me. My  friend's unwavering belief in me was humbling. Tiffany never doubted me,  and even though I didn't yet know what I wanted, had no clue where I  would ultimately end up, one thing I knew for certain was that she'd  always be there for me no matter what.