Chapter 11, part 2
Logan sighed, but he did leave. He didn’t hear from Tasha for days. Then the days turned into weeks. And then the weeks turned into months. His life rolled on. He continued his hits, and he assumed that Tasha was done with him. He tried to forget her. Tried to replace her with countless other women. He never succeeded. All other women just seemed so much more unappealing after he had dated Tasha. Then, out of the blue, his cell phone rang and the name that appeared on the scree was hers.
“Tasha?” he asked, trying very hard not to let the wealth of emotion that he was trying to hold back crack through in his voice.
“Hi, Logan,” she replied softly.
“It’s good to hear from you,” he said quietly, after it became apparent that she had no intention of saying anything else to him at the moment.
“So, I’ve tried to forget about you, Logan,” she sighed, her voice thick and heavy. “I’ve tried every trick I’ve ever heard about getting over a guy and none of them have worked. I can’t get you out of my head. Why? Why am I still stuck on you, Logan? I’m stuck loving someone who is probably going to die in the next two years. It’s not fair. Make me fall out of love with you. Please.”
That last part had been near a cry, as though she were begging him to disappear from her life, her head, her heart, her everything.
“I don’t know how to do that, Tasha,” Logan finally said after four or five minutes of silence. “If I knew how to do that, I would have gotten over you by now.”
“What?” she asked, sounding actually confused by that statement.
“I love you, Tasha. I know it’s crazy; we only dated for like, a month, but you are the only girl I’ve been able to think about for months. I’ve tried everything I could think of to get you out of my head, but none of it has worked. So, I’ll make a deal with you - you get out of my head and I’ll get out of yours.”
Logan could hear her grinding her teeth through the phone. He knew she was upset, but so was he. He didn’t know that he would meet someone and actually care about them. Especially someone that was not part of their gang lifestyle.
“I want to go out with you again,” Tasha whispered. “Is that wrong?”
“Probably,” Logan said softly. “But I would love to take you out anyway.”
So they went out on a test date. And just like before, it went perfectly. It took her another four dates before she kissed him on the mouth again. It took another two dates before they developed into French kisses. It took a whopping six months before she fucked him again. After that first time since they had gotten back together, the two of them fell back on the bed, panting just as heavily as they had the first time they met.
“Fuck,” Tasha said, gasping for breath. “It’s better than I remember.”
“Same here,” Logan whole-heartedly agreed. “So, what do we do?”
Tasha thought about that for a while. As she lay there, draped lazily across his chest, she began tracing circles around his ribs. Her touch so excited him. When she finally spoke, she began with a heavy sigh. “I think I can deal with you being in a gang right now. But I cannot deal with you being in a gang forever. You need to get out of it, Logan.”
Logan frowned. “I don’t know if I can do that.”
“Look, it’s really very simple. If you want to date me, you have to promise that you are going to try to get out of the gang. I’ll give you time to do it, but you need to promise me that you will be out of that gang within five years. Can you do that? Can you promise me that?”
Though he wasn’t sure that he could actually promise her that, five years was a very long time. Surely she would lose interest in him by then or she would become less attractive to him by that point, so Logan agreed easily, “Ok. I can do that.” That conversation had happened almost a year ago. With Steven and Harding dead, though, it became a much clearer choice than it had ever been. Logan wanted out of the gang; he just needed to figure out the best way to do that. Part of him wanted to try escaping today, while he was out giving the necklace back to Steven’s brother, but he knew that he was most likely being followed. And if he were being followed, then he best just keep acting like nothing was wrong.
Finally, he reached Tasha’s street. Walking over to her front door, he tapped lightly on it. He heard movement inside the house. A few seconds later, he saw Tasha’s head. It took her a few moments to register who was standing on her porch, but once she did, her face lit up.
“Hi, Logan,” she said brightly. “I wasn’t expecting to see you today, was I?”
“No, but I had some errands to run, and I figured now would be a good time to see you.” After a moment, he added, “And, to be perfectly honest, I could really use a good fuck.”
“Why is that?” she asked, letting him in to her home. “Did something happen?”
“Yeah - Steven and Harding were killed a couple of days ago,” Logan said. The words were cold and distant, as if he were afraid to have them be too close to him.
Immediately, Tasha threw her arms around him and pulled him close. Inhaling deeply, all Logan could think was, My God - she smells so good.
“I’m so sorry to hear that, Logan,” Tasha said, still clutching him tightly. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“No,” he said, again, his voice distant from his body. “I just really need a fuck.”
Tasha gave him a concerned look, but ultimately shook her head, as if she were waving herself off. “Ok,” she told him. “Let’s go fuck.”
The two of them went into her bedroom and Logan fucked her long and good. It took him a while, but that was because he wanted it to last a long time, it had nothing to do with Tasha (because if it were based solely on Tasha, he would have come in two minutes every time they fucked). Then they finally collapsed, exhausted from the romp, Logan allowed himself to cry. Tasha had seen him cry before; she was the only person that he had ever cried in front of. Even Steven couldn’t lay claim to that.
Tasha just let him cry. She didn’t bother him with questions, she just slowly rubbed his back and occasionally kissed his cheek.
Once Logan was finished and he had no more tears to cry, he asked in a soft voice, “Why do you stay with me, Tasha? I’m no good for you.”
“I know that, Logan,” she said, her voice quiet as well, “but apparently, I don’t care.”
“I love you, Tasha,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper.
“I love you, too, Logan,” she replied, her voice strong and steady.
“I want out of this gang, Tasha. I didn’t realize that until Steven and Harding were laying dead on the pavement five feet away from me, but I want out. I need out.”
“You can do it, Logan. I know you can.”
Logan wasn’t so sure about that, himself, but he wasn’t going to deny it tonight. He didn’t think he would be able to get out of the gang, but he was sure as hell going to try. If he could do it, then he could be with Tasha all the time. And if he couldn’t, then he would be dead, and it wouldn’t matter. But he really hoped it didn’t come down to that, because he really wanted to survive and come back to this woman’s arms.
“Why were you able to see me in the morning today?” she asked after about ten minutes of silence had passed between them. “You usually can only see me when I’m working, you know, when everyone in the gang is passed out or too high to remember you skipping out on them.”
“Damian got voted the head of the gang, and he gave me twenty-four hours to keep a promise that I made to Steven.”
“What was that?” she asked, resting her head on his chest.
“He had a necklace that he wanted his brother to have if he ever was killed. We made a promise to each other, and I told Damian that I needed to keep the promise.”
“What did he promise to do for you, if you would have been killed first?” she asked softly, her voice so quiet that he almost couldn’t hear it.
“He was supposed to give this back to Seth,” he told her, grabbing the chain that held a ring on it. “I stole it from him the year before I joined the gang, and it is the only thing I have of his. I’m not sure he realized I had stolen it; I think he just figured that he had lost it somewhere. It’s not expensive, I think he may have won it in a cracker jack box of something similar to them. But anyway, it’s the only thing I still have from my old life at home. And if I died, I wanted him to know that I did have something to remind me of him.”
Tasha kissed his cheek again and said, “You should let him know that you had something to remind you of him sometime.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Tasha.”
“I’m not saying you should do it today, or this week, or even later than that. All I’m saying is that you should let him know that you never forgot him. I think that may be where some of the problems before you starts.”
Logan considered that for a minute, but ultimately, decided that it wasn’t the case. But he didn’t feel like getting into that can of worms at the moment. Instead, he told her, “I probably need to get going. I have two more stops to make today and I only have 24 hours to do them in. I’ll try to come back later this week . . . but I can’t promise that.”
Tasha looked up at him and kissed him long and good. “I’ll be waiting.”
Logan grinned at her and got up. He got dressed, took one last, long look at her, and then left. They didn’t say “goodbye” and they didn’t say anything like it. They never had liked that word. To Logan (and to Tasha, too) it felt more like the word “goodbye” was something that one of them would say if the other died or stopped seeing them. It seemed too . . . final.
Shaking his head, Logan walked around aimlessly for a while. It wasn’t that he had gotten lost; he remembered where Steven’s brother lived. Unlike his own brother, Julian did not completely write Steven out of his life. Maybe it was because Steven was the older kid; Logan got the feeling that if he were the older kid, Seth wouldn’t have written him off so completely when they were growing up. Or maybe that was just what he wanted to believe. The truth of the matter was, Julian was just an easier push over than Seth was. He couldn’t say no to Steven forever, as the boys learned over the years.
Logan thought about trying to lose any tail that Damian may have sent him, but he figured that the tail could follow him to Julian’s place. It was after he visited Julian that he would have to make sure he wasn’t being followed. Briefly, he wondered if he should have been more careful when he went to see Tasha, but then again, he knew that Damian and all the other guys already knew about her. Sort of. Logan had told them that Tasha was a high end stripper that was hired for his brother’s bachelor party. It wasn’t true completely, but it had enough of the truth hidden in it that everyone bought it pretty easily. The only person he had ever told the truth to was Steven. And now, it didn’t matter. Steven was dead.
Sighing, Logan figured that he may as well head on over to Julian’s apartment. Man, this is going to be a difficult conversation to have, he thought. He hadn’t seen Julian in three or four years. But it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that this was going to be difficult. Logan promised Steven that he would do it. And Logan always kept his promises, no matter how difficult the task seemed to be at first.
The blinds to the house were open, so Logan could see that someone was home, as the TV was on. It was a police show of some sort. Logan couldn’t tell if it was a reality TV show or a fictional one; hell, all fictional ones looked real nowadays . . . Or maybe it was all real ones looked fake nowadays . . . either way, Logan crossed to the door and knocked three times.
Shuffling. He heard the footsteps from inside approach the door. He heard the chain lock being undone and pulled away. Then the door opened, and Logan could see Julian, looking pretty much the same, just a little taller with a thicker build than he had the last time. When Julian’s eyes recognized the face of the man that was waiting outside the door, they took on a very solemn look. He was bracing himself for whatever Logan was going to tell him. It didn’t surprise Logan that he saw that still look in Julian’s eyes; he had seen it once before - the las time he saw the kid, he had to tell him that Steven had been hurt badly in a hit and run that the Cripps had planned, and chances were he wasn’t going to make it. But, Steven pulled through those injuries. He was not so lucky this time around though.
“Hi, Julian,” Logan said quietly.
“Logan,” Steven’s brother said with a slow nod of his head.
“There’s no easy way to say this,” Logan said, his voice breaking shortly after he started. “Your brother was killed two days ago. I promised him a long time ago that if he ever died, that I would bring this to you. I’m here to settle that debt.” Extending his hand, Logan dropped the necklace into Julius’s hand. “I’m so sorry, Julius.”
As the last bit of chain fell into Julius’s hand, the kid began crying. Logan stared helplessly at Julius for at least ten minutes. He wanted so badly to leave, but he couldn’t. Steven made him promise that night, all those years ago, that if he ever died, he had to tell Julius, give him the necklace, and stay until he was sure that the kid would be all right.
So, he just stood there. He stood there for ten, fifteen, even twenty minutes, while Julius cried, grasping the necklace that his brother wanted him to have.
After nearly half an hour, Julius finally stopped crying. Looking to Logan, he said softly, “Thanks for letting me know. He didn’t suffer, did he?”
“No,” Logan replied softly. “Took a bullet straight to his chest. He was dead before he hit the ground.”
“Serves him right,” Julius growled, clutching the necklace harder still. “Dumb bastard.”
The accusation was well deserved, at least, Logan thought that. They had all been dumb fucking bastards when they joined this gang. Now he was the only dumb fucking bastard left.
“I am truly sorry, Julius. I promised your brother that I would make sure that you got this necklace back. He wanted you to have it.”
Julius grunted and mumbled, “Thanks.” Then, he shut the door.
Well, Logan thought, staring at the door knob, that could have went better, but really, it could have been a whole lot worse than it was.
Turning away from the door, Logan started walking down the street once more. Whether he liked it or not, he had to go see his brother. He wasn’t sure where his brother lived, but he did know that his brother worked for the Chicago Tribune. Seth had always wanted to get hired by a newspaper. He should have been born about fifty years ago, back when being a newspaper man was a well-paying job. But, whatever the probability of Seth making a lot of money or not was moot; that was what his job was. And Seth was a responsible guy; he always had been. He would be at work today, just like he was the day before and the day before that. So, Logan started off towards the newspaper building, where he knew he would see his big brother. The only thing he had to do before he tromped on up to the newspaper building was lose the tail that was probably following him. Once he dropped them, though, he was going to make a bee-line straight to his brother’s news-desk.