The Man’s Cave was the talk of the town. Ray decided that he’d open it up to the public for the first 2 days, but after that a membership was required. He figured that he’d gain more members, if they knew what he had in store for them.
Opening night had a real cool turn out. I believe that Raymond’s reputation in the city gave him one up. There was a lot of people who were truly there to support, but I’m sure it was some haters too. Security was tight, Ray made sure to hire the best security team in the town. You can never be too comfortable, got to stay on your toes.
“Ray, it’s a lot of people in here.” I called out to Ray.
He smiled and nodded his head, “Yes it is baby girl. A beautiful sight to see. We did it baby.”
I looked up at Ray, “No, baby you did it! This is your spotlight! This is yours!”
“Whatever I got is yours and you know that. Ain’t no I in team.”
“Ray, I love you and I’m so very proud of you.” Ray reach down to rub my belly and the baby flutter.
“My baby boy in there beating you up, huh?” He laughed.
“Our baby girl is moving.” I emphasized to Ray.
“Well, I guess we gonna find out tonight, huh. Where’s Pops anyway?” Ray stated. He was too impatient to wait until the wedding reception for the reveal. So he asked Pops to help announce it at the grand opening. He wanted the city to know of our new prince or princess. I’ve been trying to get Pops to spill the beans. He wouldn’t even let Mama know what was cooking. He knew Mama would tell me, maybe not on purpose, but she would definitely slip up and say something. Mama sat this event out tonight. As much as she wanted to support Ray’s big night, she couldn’t build up enough strength today to come out. Pops was going to FaceTime her once it was time for the big reveal.
Ray and I went to search for Pops. We found him at the bar eating chicken wings and drinking a beer.
“Hey Pops,” I said greeting him.
“Hey wassup Baby girl? Ray?”
“Nothin much. Just waiting for the old man to finish dogging them wings so we can let everybody know my Jr is cooking.” Ray laughed as he rubbed my belly.
“I got your old man.” Pops stood up.
Ray put his hands up in submission, “No beef, no beef.” Ray continued to laugh.
“You guys are crazy,” I added. Loving every bit of their sense of humor. “Pops we’re going to the DJ booth, we’ll meet you over there.”
“Okay, okay. I’m coming. These wings good as hell though.” Ray and I just laughed at Pops as we went over to the DJ booth so he can make the announcement for everyone’s attention. Pops was right behind us beer in hand.
“Okay, Okay, everybody listen up. We got a special announcement tonight.” DJ 12 stated over the mic, “We got my man Johnnie Mike in the building.” The entire place roared. Everybody knew bout Johnnie Mike, Pops was a hood legend. He carried so much respect in the hood it wasn’t even questionable that back in his day he use to get it in.
“Wassup everybody?” Pops hyped the crowd even more. “Iight, iight calm down. I’m glad ya’ll enjoying ya’ll self tonight. Shout out to my boy Ray on this lavish establishment we got here. And shout out to the chef for them bomb ass wings!” The place was now filled with laughter and hollers.
“Iight, iight. I’m not gon’ hold ya’ll up. Ray and my baby girl Tee wanted me to reveal the gender of my first grandkid tonight. I tried to think of a fancy way to do it, but I couldn’t think of it. So, I asked my beautiful wife to help me out. Margaret can you do the honors.”
Ray and I looked at Pops with much confusion. How was Mama going to help and she wasn’t even here? It all became clear when one of the screens popped on, showing Mama’s face. They were so unpredictable. Not too bad for some old folks.
Mama began to talk, “Heyyy everybody.” She waved. “I’m so excited to be able to share this moment. Sorry I couldn’t be there, but I’m sure you all are having a good time. Aint that right?” The crowd roared in abundance.
“Ok Tee, Ray. You ready?”
“Yes!” The whole establishment yelled.
Mama laughed okay than.“ I guess it is safe to say that, I am the proud Grandmother of a…BABY GIRL!”
I jumped with excitement, with tears of joy in my eyes. Ray smile was spread across his face, so much he looked like Chester the cat. I knew Ray wanted a boy, but you couldn’t tell because he was just as excited as I was.
Pops interjected, “There you have it folks! A Princess! Ray I wish you the best of luck, you’re gonna need it!” Pops joked giving the mic back to DJ 12. Pops embraced both of us in a bear hug as we shared such a special moment with almost the entire city.
“There you have it ladies and gentleman. Congrats to you too. Now ya’ll ready to get back to the party?” The crowd roared again as we tried to fathom the great news we just received.
“Ray we are having a baby girl!” I screamed.
“This helps motivate me more, I got a Queen and Princess to make proud.”
“I’m already proud of you, Ray.”
“And I’ll do my best to never let you or our princess down.” Ray kissed me on the forehead.
“You better not.” Pops was serious, but he had a smirk on his face. Pops and Ray slapped each other up.
“It’s hard living with two ladies, Imma tell you that now,” I nudged Pops, “But it was all worth it. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.” Pops tried to smooth over his comment as he patted my head. We all shared another laugh and warm embrace.
“I’m going to call Mama.” I kissed Ray and Pops and headed to my office.
“Hey, Mama!” I yelled into the phone.
“Hey, baby girl. I meant Tanya. You’re no longer baby girl.”
“That’s right.” I smiled rubbing my belly, “I’m so excited Ma.”
“Yes, you ought to be. Just like I was when I found out I was having you. It was one of the best days of my life, but giving birth has got to be the most precious day, along with marrying your father.
“Awe, Ma.” I cooed.
“Yes, honey. I’m so glad that you are getting everything that you deserve. Just like ya Mama did.”
“I owe it all to you and Pops.”
“Yes, just a little bit. But, we can’t take all the credit. You’re an amazing woman. You work hard, you have a man that loves you and you’re going to be an excellent mother.”
“Just like you Ma. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome sweetie.”
“Wait, ma. I thought you didn’t know what I was having?”
“I didn’t! Johnnie just called me a little before and told me to reveal it for him. He knew better than to tell me any sooner. I can’t hold water when it comes to such exciting news.”
“Yeah, I know.” I smirked, “Well Ma. I love you. Get some rest okay?”
“Of course baby, I will. Elisa has already been getting on me about it.”
I laughed, “See that’s why I love Elisa. She cares so much about your well being.”
“Yeah, Yeah.” Mama chuckled.
“Okay, Ma. I love you.”
“Love you too baby.”
I sat in my office chair looking around at the space Ray designed for me. The walls were pink. Ray hated pink, but he knew I loved it. I was the only color different from the rest of the place. Ray made sure it sparkled and shined as if he had it bejeweled. Anything for my Queen. I could hear Ray saying just like the day he showed me my office.
I rubbed my belly as I watched the monitors of the different levels in ‘The Man Cave.’ People were laughing and having a good time. Pops and Ray were conversing at the bar like they were the best of friends. Ray still showed him respect and Pops treated him likewise. He respected his hustle and he respected him as a man.
I couldn’t help but notice a beautiful woman sitting at the bar scoping out Pops and Ray. She was very tall and slender. Her hair was slicked back into a neat long pony tail. Her skin complexion was that of milk chocolate which beamed underneath her well fitted, red pants suit.
She sipped on a drink, the whole time not taking her eyes off my guys. She stood up and walked over to Ray and Pops. They exchanged a few words and shook hands.
Ray excused himself from Pops and looked around before he followed the woman. What the hell was going on? I leaned up close to the screens as if I would be able to hear what was being said. I was beginning to feel uneasy.
The security cameras seemed to follow Ray and the amazon chick from the bar level down to the game room. Ray and Amazon had a brief conversation. Although I could not tell what was being said. I could see that whatever it was, is didn’t sit well with Ray. He shook his head in disbelief as she walked away. I could see her leaving out as Ray just sat leaned against the pool table with a blank stare. I called him on his cell to see what was up. He looked at his phone and didn’t answer. That infuriated me. He put his phone back into his pocket and walked out my office to find him.
Ray met me in transit as he forced a smile.
“Don’t hey baby me. I know you saw me calling you.”
“Yeah I did, but its loud down there. I had to come check on you.”
“What else did you have to check on?” I snapped, rolling my neck and crossing my arms at my chest.
“What? Ma you trippin.”
“No, you trippin Ray. Who the fuck is that chick who was all in your face?
Ray face showed a look of confusion at what I was implying then a light bulb went off as he started laughing, “Damn, Ma you bugged.”
I said nothing.
“Tanya, that’s Red.”
“Red?” I’ve heard that name on many equations.
“Yes, Red. She came by to holla at me real quick.”
“Not now, Tee. We’ll save that for another day. Let’s just finish this night out strong, okay?”
“Ray what did she want?”
“Tanya Jae.” Ray said through clenched teeth. “We will talk about it another time.” I rolled my eyes again at Ray. I could tell that whatever was on his mind, was weighing heavy. Along with me nagging he was bound to clap back. I let him off the hook because I knew he’d tell me. Besides he was right, the night was going good. And now was not the time or place for any bullshit. It was clear that, that message was nothing, but bullshit.
Ray kissed my cheek and lead me back out to the party. It was hard for me to focus on the present moment because I couldn’t stop imaging what Red wanted. I also couldn’t stop trying to feed off Ray’s emotions.
I never met Red before. I didn’t even know Red was a woman, let alone an exotic beauty. I’ve heard Pops and Ray talk about Red. Tim has mentioned her as well. I was never allowed to be in too deep with Ray’s street life, but I knew Red played a big role in that. She was a heavy hitta. She was the connect. She was a woman. I wanted to know what it is she wanted from Ray. Why did she come with bad news? Well, I’m assuming its bad news because the look on Ray’s face when they talked spoke volumes.
Glancing at him for the rest of the night I could see he was a little uneasy trying to go with the flow just as I was. I would let him rest tonight. After all, this was his night. There was no more talk about Red once we got home from The Man Cave. I was tired and Ray had worry on his mind. I soaked in the tub as Ray showered. We dried ourselves and drifted off to sleep body to body.
The next night at ‘The Man Cave’, was just as productive as the first. There was people from the previous night and there was even fresh meat. I didn’t stay long though. I left it up to Ray. There was still no word on Red and by what I saw there wasn’t any sign of her there.
When I got home I noticed a red envelope sticking out our mailbox. This was odd. I had already gotten the mail out today. I looked around to see if there was anything suspicious around the neighborhood , but there was none. The envelope was addressed to Ray. It was also unsealed. I tried my best not to open the envelope. I took a shower, watched a bit of TV, but curiosity was killing the cat.
I wanted to just see what it was. Then, I’d let Ray handle it. Inside was a note that read, “MEET ME AT THE DOCK AT 4AM.” There was no signature of who it came from , but my intuition and that bright red envelope lead me to assume it was from Red. I put the letter back into the envelope and sealed it. I did not want Ray to know that I saw the message. I made sure to put it in a spot visible to him when he came in tonight.
I was in bed sleeping when I heard Ray come in around 2:30. I pretended to be sleep in hopes of hearing Ray discuss the letter, but he didn’t mumble a word. Ray made sure to kiss me and hop in the shower. I tried my best to stay awake and not get caught. I was going to find out what that letter was about.
The alarm clock read 3:30am when Ray got up from bed and proceeded out the front door I waited 15 minutes before I slipped out of bed and put on my jogging suit. Ray was headed to the dock and so was I. If he was going to keep secrets from me, I would find out myself. 5 months pregnant and all.
By the time I reached the dock, Ray was already inside the warehouse. I parked far enough for them not to hear my company. I slid through the door to hide behind some crates, close enough to hear what was being discussed.
Ray stood before a short bald guy, Red, and 2 big black guys.
“Raymond, when you told me you wanted out, I had no idea you were that serious.” The short bald guy spoke up.
“Yes, Mr. Bianchi. I’m out.”
“Well, you’ve said that before.” Mr. Bianchi returned.
“Yes, I know, but this time I am serious. I got a family to provide for.”
“And what better way to provide for your family than, the way you’ve already been?”
Ray paused, trying to choose his words wisely, “You see sir. I’ve paid my dues. I’ve lived this life. I have enough money to retire out and that’s what I’m trying to do. It’s not about me anymore. I want to be sure I’m returning home every night. This is not the life I want.”
Mr. Bianchi laughed as cigar smoked left his lips, “But yet, this is the life you choose, you see Red has been very good to you and your friend Tom.”
“Yeah, whatever his name is. She’s supplied you with our finest. She treated you nothing less of family.”
“And she feels like you have betrayed her?” Red spoke up.
“Red, how am I betraying you? You’ve got all the money from the last flip. I’m not with a new connect. I am out for good. Ain’t there someone else out there that can slang for you? ‘Cuz I’m out.” Ray began to walk away. He stopped at the sound of gun cocking. Ray put his hands up and turned around slowly. I could not believe what was happening before me. My heart was pounding out my chest. All I wanted to do was help him. Some way. Some how.
Ray laughed which shocked the hell outta me. “So you gonna have me killed Red?”
“Don’t turn your back to me, I am not your bitch.” Red spat.
“Aye watch your mouth about my wife Red. She aint got nothing to do with this.”
Red answered, “She was plenty to do with this, I know it was her idea to get you out, not yours.”
“It was my decision, Red.” Ray said matter of factly. I can tell he was irritated, but he kept his cool. After all he had two guns pointed at him.
“Every since you proposed to her, you’ve been acting different. Like I aint been there for you.” Red had a lot of emotions in her words like she had some kind of deeper connection with Ray. Mr. Bianchi must have sensed it to because it caused him to look at Red with one eyebrow up.
“What do you want from me Red?” Ray asked.
“Move one more pack?”
“Just one?” Ray asked as if he was considering it.
“One.” Red announced with lots of emphasis.
“What?” I yelled from behind the crates. Dammit, I was busted. There were now five guns pointed in my direction including Ray’s.
“You brought your bitch here for back up?” Red laughed as Ray shot her a dirty look that could kill.
“Tanya, what the fuck are you doing here?” Ray said putting down his gun.
“What the fuck did you just agree to Ray? I thought you were out?” My eyes filled with tears as I pleaded to Ray.
Mr. Bianchi spoke, “We don’t have time for this shit. Handle your bitch.”
“I ain’t gonna be too many more bitches up in here.” I spoke directly to them. I knew it was bold, but I did nothing to be disrespected.
“Tanya, chill the fuck out. Mr. Bianchi there is no need for that.”
“There’s no need for all this Family Matters shit on my business time either. Get your shit together Ray before I shoot the both of you.”
Ray grabbed my arm and basically dragged me out of the warehouse. I didn’t bother fighting him. I knew I was wrong and by the look on his face I knew whatever was to happen next would be nothing nice. He took me all the way to my car and shoved me in.
“Take your ass straight home Tanya, now!” The way Ray looked at me was so cold. He looked at me with so much disappointment and I could not be more upset at myself. I knew I crossed a boundary that I should not have. I could have got us both killed. Ray slammed the door and walked back to the warehouse. He shot me one last look and I started up my ignition and began to drive home.
I am so stupid. I don’t know what I was thinking. I could not stop thinking about what was going to happen to Ray. My concern was no longer if he was going to take their offer, but if he was going to make it home to me tonight. I was so wrapped up in my head that I did not notice a car following behind me. It wasn’t until I pulled up into the driveway that the car pulled behind me, blinding me with its bright lights.
I was beginning to panic. Who was this? And why were they following me? I kept my engine running and said a silent prayer. Praying that whoever it was, was not there to harm me. I looked on the dash and the clock read 4:53. It was still dark out so there was no movement. The car finally killed its lights. I let out a small relief, closing my eyes to pray again until a knock on the window startled me. It was a guy dressed in all black, all I could see was his cold dark eyes because he was wearing a ski mask.
“Get out the car!” He yelled. I began crying and shaking my head vigoursly. “Get out the fucking car!” He yelled again when I didn’t move. My princess kicked inside of me. She knew mommy was scared.
“It’s okay baby. Mommy’s okay.” I whispered to my unborn child as I rubbed my belly.
Glass particles hit my left side suddenly causing me to yell. The guy reached in to unlock the door and dragged me out the car. I kicked and screamed until he covered my mouth with his gloved hand. I continued to kick him, but it was useless. He was much stronger it didn’t even phase him. He threw me into the back of the vehicle so hard I hit my head on the window, knocking me on conscious.
Be sure to tune in next Sunday to find out what happens next!