War (Romanian Mob Chronicles Book 5)(3)By: Kaye Blue
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.
“We will,” I finally said. Then I smiled. “And remind me that this benevolent action is only getting me one step closer to supporting whatever this as-yet-to-be-determined goal is, and not just me sacrificing my only day off so my friend can go smash,” I said.
“I know it’s been so long that you don’t remember, but smashing is good, Milan. You should give it another try,” she said.
“No time. I have to cover for my bestie,” I said.
She laughed and together we left the building. Tiffany headed down the block, and I went to my car and got in.
I quickly scanned the e-mail that included the event details, one I noticed Tiffany had sent before she’d even asked me if I could cover for her. I called Tommy, the catering company’s owner.
“Tommy? It’s Milan. I’m going to cover for Tiffany today,” I said.
I couldn’t see Tommy’s face, but I heard his exasperated sigh. He did that all the time, usually exasperated at Tiffany, but he wouldn’t fire her, because he knew that where she went, I went, and he liked having me around.
“All right. I should have just scheduled you in the first place.” He gave another long-suffering sigh. “Things are a little different for this one, Milan. No cells and you’ll have to be searched before you can come in,” Tommy said.
“Some politician?” I asked, only half paying attention as I wound my way through traffic.
“Something like that. See you in a little bit, Milan,” Tommy said.
I hung up and then drove on, ready for what I hoped would be an easy day.
“Good job today, Milan,” Tommy said.
He was still buttoned up tight, though his black suit jacket looked boxy on his lanky frame. It was a part of the package. Tommy had owned his catering company for decades, and even now, as he neared sixty, he still hadn’t quite managed to find a suit that fit as it should. But he’d shaved, so his thin, weathered face had an air of professionalism that was usually missing when he allowed his wild, scraggly gray beard and mustache to grown in.
His appearance notwithstanding, Tommy was a pure professional and ran top-notch events, so his services were always in demand.
“Thanks, Tommy,” I said.
“No problem, kid,” he replied.
He accompanied his words with a hearty pat on my back that sent me hurtling forward so hard, I had to reach out to grip the metal prep table to balance myself. There was deceptive power in his thin hands, something he sometimes lost track of. I looked back at him knowingly and smiled.
“Sorry,” he said, blushing, something that was incongruous but adorable in the almost sixty-year-old man, “but you were clutch today.”
“Really?” I said.
He nodded and smiled as big as I had ever seen him. “Yeah. I might slide a little something extra in your check,” he whispered, though the basement kitchen was silent.
The cleanup crew had loaded our gear into Tommy’s vans, and he and I were alone in the kitchen that had served as our staging area.
“Extra?” I said, raising a brow.
He shrugged, the motion making his lapels flop against his chest. “Yeah, maybe,” he said.
I laughed again, knowing that Tommy, no matter how grateful, was highly unlikely to slide anything extra into anyone’s check. “Thanks, Tommy,” I said, deciding not to call him on that point. He paid a fair wage, so I couldn’t give him too hard a time.
“No, thank you, Milan. Take the next couple days off,” he said.
“I will,” I replied.
Tommy patted me again and then moved toward the kitchen stairwell as I left through the back entrance and began to walk toward my car.
It had been a long, grueling day, and I was more than ready to get off my feet. The church was huge and accommodated both the ceremony, which had begun about half an hour after the scheduled time, and the reception. Unusual, particularly since the alcohol had flowed unabated, but I hadn’t had much time to think about it.
We had been short-staffed, a fact that had surprised me given the size of the party, but Tommy had said something about not being able to find enough “acceptable” people, which meant I had ended up doing enough work for three or four.