Have you ever felt like a damn puppet unable to cut the strings that are tying you even if you had the chance? Have you ever felt so lost and frustrated that you wanted to scream at the top of your lungs enough is damned enough? Have you ever felt used by those who claim they love you and care for you even if they don’t realize they are using you? Have you ever felt so terrified about what future has in store for you than you can’t seem to find the courage to keep on but at the same time you can’t stop going ahead? Have you ever wondered where your limits are?
I know I shouldn’t be wasting my time asking myself those damn questions but I can’t help it. My brain seems to have a life of its own and no matter how hard I try to avoid them, I just can’t do that, at least not now.
First I had to become Reynaldo’s best friend, partying harder than ever before in all my damn life, doing drugs, drinking and fucking chicks like there was no tomorrow, keeping up with his sick lifestyle. I killed a man, his own blood brother, to gain his respect and I was a silent witness to two murders in cold blood; two guys that crossed him.
Now I gotta race against a drug dealer to prove I’m worthy of his trust and respect so he sends me in a car loaded with his drugs across the border. Drugs I know kids are going to inject, or smoke or snort. Drugs that I know are going to cause more than one overdose. Drugs that are going to cause who knows how many deaths.
How am I going to be able to live with that shit on my shoulders for the rest of my life? How am I going to look at myself in the mirror knowing what I’ve done? Knowing my acts caused the death of dozens maybe even hundreds of damned souls?
There’s this old saying ‘all is fair in love and war’, and sometimes I think God has a sick sense of humor and Fate is a fucker that loves to play too much with people’s lives.
I can’t help but think about the real reasons why we’re here in Mexico. Is it for justice or revenge? All is fair as long as we reach our goal?
I already know that life is not fair, but still, who are we to serve justice? No matter what we do, Magdalena is not coming back. Hanna’s pain is not going to vanish just because we kill that fucker Reynaldo and her physical and emotional wounds are not going to disappear just because Ricardo kills Snake. Why the hell can’t we call a halt and leave behind all this shit? Why the fuck can’t we just pretend everything is fine and go on with our lives?
The answer is so simple that it’s scary. And once more Hanna’s words spread in my mind.
We have no other choice. We have no other fucking choice.
It’s that or death, our death. And not only Hanna and mine but also Mia, Ricardo, Elaine and the kids. The death of those I love and care about.
So no matter how I feel about all this shit I have to go ahead, all the way in, because in spite of the fear. In spite of the uncertainty and the doubts, and even though I’m wondering where my limits are, I have to keep going because there’s no other way out.
I didn’t say anything to Ricardo but it’s not the first time that I’ve been thinking about using my racing skills to pass drugs across the border. I’m not like these guys, but I’m not a saint either. There was a time when Vince and I talked about different ways to get fast and easy money. Back then we thought the risk was too high and it wasn’t worth it. So we decided to steal trucks.
The fucking irony is that now, two years later and after the living hell I went through, the only thing that may save our lives is the same thing that brought me to my current situation in first place. Talk about damn Fate and God’s sick sense of humour.
So, here we go again, down the rabbit hole but this time with a death sentence hanging over our heads.
Fabio’s taller than me and at least 220 pounds of tight muscle. His skin is darker than mine and he’s wearing a sleeveless white shirt and jeans. Fabio’s hair is short and combed with at least half bottle of hair gel. Fuck, he looks like one of those Latin lovers from those soap operas William is addicted to. Funny how the fucker is always the one you least expect.
As soon as Ricardo recognizes him, he narrows his eyes in suspicion and tells me to get ready to pull my gun out at his signal. It seems Fabio never goes out there himself; he is like the Arellanos. He belongs to ‘El Padrino’s’ old school, just like his dad and that’s the reason why Ricardo went on alert in seconds. It doesn’t make sense that Fabio was sent to meet us in the flesh and bones, unless he already knew who was coming.
Ricardo looks at me as a soft growl escapes his lips. That cold hard gaze is flashing in his eyes, almost blinding me and I already know what that means. Something is wrong and not even big dark guy knows what it is yet. I already didn’t like this shit one damn bit and since I’m sensing Ricardo’s danger radiating all over I like it even less.
However, Ricardo heads toward Fabio and they greet each other like they were old friends. They keep a respectful distance and not only physically, so I guess they both know who they are dealing with.
I follow him at a safe distance, looking around absently, taking in everything I can without raising suspicions. Elaine and Hanna are walking a couple of steps behind me. I know Hanna is packing and I bet Elaine is like Ricardo regarding shivs. I don’t need to see hers; I know she’s carrying at least a couple if not more.
Ricardo and Fabio talk a little in Spanish, laughing until Elaine, Hanna and I join them. It’s then when Fabio turns serious in a second flat and taking a step backward, he looks at Ricardo, waiting. Fabio seems to be waiting for something to happen and the tension in his broad back is almost visible.
Ricardo introduces me as ‘Dom’, no surname and then turns his attention to Elaine and Hanna, saying they are two of the Cuban’s dancers, adding in a cold tone of voice that they’re our women and not to be touched. In response, Fabio nods ‘yes’ in agreement and then he glances at Hanna from the corner of his eye, narrowing in suspicion. After a second, the guy turns around and gestures for us to follow him, not saying another word.
Ricardo and I look at each other. No words are needed because our suspicion has been confirmed. Fabio knows.
I don’t move an inch from where I’m standing with Hanna’s hand in mine as I keep staring at Ricardo’s eyes, a silent question flashing in mine. What the hell are we going to do now that Fabio knows Hanna is ‘El Padrino’s’ granddaughter? In response, Ricardo shakes his head a little, grinning evilly, and taking Elaine’s hand in his, he heads towards one of the SUVs, saying he will be the one driving.
The driver looks back at Fabio and in response, the Mexican just shrugs his massive shoulders, replying in Spanish that what Ricardo says, goes, and with that he gets in his SUV, taking the passenger’s seat.
I sigh hard as I turn my head, looking at Hanna. It’s getting dark and her eyes are sparkling, catching the sunset lights, and causing those greyish sparks to gleam like little stars.
We didn’t say a word to each other after Hanna took a seat again at my side in the plane. I was still digesting Ricardo’s words, trying to make sense of my own thoughts, and Hanna was playing her ‘Ice Queen’ role once again. Anyway, not even that cold pose could hide how she was feeling at that very moment. Her eyes were slightly puffed and I hated myself for being the one who caused her tears. Less than eight hours ago I had sworn to myself I wouldn’t let anyone hurt Hanna, not even me, but here I am again, making her cry as a consequence of my doubts and fears. Damnit!
“Hanna…” I whisper, staring at her eyes. “We…I need to tell you something, baby, and” Before I can finish my line, Hanna kisses my lips softly, brushing them, cutting off my words with her tender gesture.
“Later.” It’s all she says, narrowing her green eyes slightly as a heavy sigh escapes her lips.
Later? Later, my ass! Ricardo was damn right maybe if I wait some more I’ll be dead before I can ask Hanna to marry me. I shake my head, pulling her to me.
“No. This can’t wait until later, Hanna. I gotta tell you now.” I say frowning, trying to put some order inside the chaos my mind went to in a matter of seconds.
Damn! I hate this situation and how things are turning out to be. We went from the pan to the fire in just hours and who knows when Hanna and I are going to be alone again. I can’t get Ricardo’s words out of my head but I desperately need a moment to pull myself together so I can tell Hanna what I want to tell her. Otherwise I’m afraid that at this rate we’re not going to be able to find the perfect moment anytime soon. Fuck! I don’t want to wait any longer but I can’t help but feel somehow pushed to do this.
I was being completely honest when I told Ricardo I wasn’t having second thoughts but this is not the way I wanted to do this. I feel so overwhelmed, so under pressure that I can’t even think clearly anymore. And all of sudden it doesn’t feel like a decision taken freely but more like a damn obligation. It doesn’t feel like my free choice and more like a damn race against the clock.
I spent many hours thinking about how I wanted to ask Hanna to marry me, playing different scenarios and situations inside my mind, even rehearsing the words I was going to use. Something like ‘Hanna, baby, do you want to marry me?’, or ‘Hanna, I love you and I wanted to know if you will marry me’, or even some shit like ‘hey, Hanna, let’s get married!
But there’s a voice in the back of my head, nudging me, and it’s screaming that this is not the way to do something as serious as asking Hanna to marry me. Right now it’s not the best moment to ask Hanna to be my wife. And for once in my life I don’t want to run blindly, rushing things. I want to do the right thing but when I feel I’m ready; when I feel we’re ready to take that crucial step in our lives. And my guts are telling me we’re not ready, at least not yet.
“Ok, we’ll talk later.” I finally say and kissing Hanna’s lips, we get in the SUV, not saying another word.
For the second time in all my life I’m wondering seriously if time travel is possible. I swear if we weren’t in the middle of the desert and the four cars weren’t customized, I would say that I was back in LA and it’s a Friday night street race.
There are several SUVs, two big trucks and a little crowd composed of chicks. The place is lit by flares and surrounded by armed guys.
Fabio doesn’t beat about the bush and before he even talks to me directly he wants to know if I have enough balls to race against him. This fucker has gotta be kidding me. Fuck!
Here Fabio is the one who says who, when and where and he always races cars with souped up engines. They don’t use NOS or shit like that, here all the cars are stock, and even then all of them will do 0-60 in less than 4.8 seconds. We used to spend a fortune customizing cars to get every last ounce of speed out of them; Fabio races cars that will do that right out of the showroom.
Now we’re talking business. My business.
He might be Fabio Rodriguez, a dangerous drug dealer but I’m fucking Dominic Toretto and damn it all if I’m gonna let this motherfucker beat me at what I’m the fucking best at. This fucker Fabio is in for a hard wake up call.
From inside the two big trucks four exclusive sport luxury cars are pulled and Fabio tells Ricardo I can choose which one I want. Not an easy task though. I always wanted to ride a Lamborghini even though I’m not much of a fan of Italian cars but I wouldn’t mind to ride that TVR Tuscan Speed or that Saleen S7 Turbo too. Oh, hell, I’m not gonna start being fussy.
I slide my hand slowly, drawing an invisible line over the chassis of the Lamborghini Diablo, sensing the powerful soul I know lives under her exclusive design. This beauty has my name engraved on her and I’m gonna drive her to hell and back. Oh, yeah, baby, come to daddy.
I get inside, making myself comfortable, already feeling the adrenaline starting to run through my veins. Taking a deep breath, I switch on the ignition, closing my eyes as I think about my dad’s words, exhaling the air slowly.
He used to say cars were like women because under the chassis was a beating heart, providing a flawless machine with soul and spirit. In no way can you tame them just like you can’t tame a woman. You have to listen to what they are saying, learning their secrets, letting that beautiful and precious creature guide you wherever you have to go. You have to show them your respect and devotion or they will destroy you in a second.
I open my eyes, blinking as I feel that powerful energy wrapping me in an invisible veil, breathing in her essence, like she’s a beautiful woman, like she’s my woman, Hanna.
Grinning inwardly, I look at my right side, finding Fabio looking back at me with a ‘you’re gonna eat shit, man’ expression written all over his damn face while he makes himself comfortable inside the Ferrari Enzo.
Whatever, fucker. Get out of here.
I fix my gaze ahead of me, staring at the path that has been drawn with flares along both sides of this clandestine runway in the middle of the desert and then back to Hanna. She’s smiling and those beautiful green eyes are sparkling like never before under those same flares.
I can hear Hanna whispering my name in her hoarse sultry voice inside my head. Dominic. And in seconds everything fades around me, leaving just those beautiful green eyes with grayish sparks around the pupil, shinning so brightly I bet the stars in the sky are jealous.
Now, thinking about that night at the race, the very first time I stared mesmerized and bewitched at those eyes, I know that was the exact moment I fell in love with her and all of sudden I realize I just fell in love again with Hanna. Holy shit!!
There was a time when I used to say I lived my life a quarter mile at a time and that during those ten seconds or less nothing else mattered because I was free. The rush of adrenaline was so powerful, so intense, that not even sex or drugs had comparison. Then while locked in Lompoc I lost count of how many times I searched desperately for a little comfort inside those fucking walls, wishing with everything I had I could race again. Back then I thought I would die if I couldn’t drive like hell once again. Not anymore.
I hadn’t realized until now how much I’ve changed over the last year and even more during the last weeks. Now that I’m here and that I’m about to race again all of sudden I don’t feel that excited anymore. I’m realizing right here right now that I don’t need that quarter of a mile or those ten seconds to be free, to feel I’m alive. Not anymore.
All I need is to look at the eyes of that brave woman who would die for me without a second thought, without hesitation or doubt. Hanna. A woman who has gone through more shit than anyone could stand and there she is, still standing with her face defiantly rose, watching the crowd as if she owned the air they were breathing. A woman who trusts me more than I trust myself and that knew exactly the words I needed to hear before I do this one more time.
“Smoke him, Dominic.”
And that’s exactly what I’m going to do, Hanna, baby.
I don’t know why Fabio was so mad. Not that I blame him, I mean after all he was challenging the wrong guy even if he had no clue. It’s true I won by an inch but Fabio knows, like any real racer know, that no matter if you won by an inch or a mile; winning is winning. And damn it all but I’m still a winner. I’ve been locked in prison for a whole year, but I still have the touch. No matter how much I’ve changed I’m still the fucking best around racing cars.
Ricardo laughed out loud as he tapped my shoulder, Elaine kissed my cheek and Hanna grinned wickedly as she pulled me to her, kissing me with so much sudden passion I felt my knees buckling. Damn! That woman is something else. I swear. One minute she’s crying her eyes out, the next she’s giving me a hard on with just a kiss. Holy shit!
However, in spite of the fact that Fabio was still mad, he’s a business man just like he said and he’s not going to let his bruised ego get in the way of his fucking business. So the Mexican shook hands with me and he insisted on us having dinner with him at his restaurant.
Ricardo asked Fabio where our two partners were. Fabio tensed visibly but we pretended that we didn’t notice.
It seems Reynaldo and Santos have been a little busy lately, especially Santos. Fabio told us the Italian was missing for almost an entire day and when he showed up, he seemed like another person, more arrogant and self confident even though he’s walking around Fabio’s dad domain.
Fabio didn’t say anything else but those words were enough to arouse our suspicions, and I have the strong feeling that Fabio doesn’t like the Italian one bit. I bet he’s seeing in Santos a serious threat to his current situation. No wonder. Santos may be a sick perv who loves to cut up women, but he’s not stupid. Santos is as serious a drug dealer as these fuckers and he knows too damn well what the deal is. I wonder if he has more cards up his sleeve apart from the fact that he’s going to set up Reynaldo in exchange for a privileged spot inside the Arellanos’ organization.
Speaking of the devil, Fabio just said that the Cuban has locked himself in the mansion he rented, hosting wild parties and surrounded by a little army. I narrowed my eyes, thinking about the Mexican’s words. From the sound of that I wonder if Reynaldo is suspecting things may turn pretty dangerous for him and that’s the reason why he’s not leaving the mansion at all. The fucker is addicted to coke and he’s almost 24/7 wasted but he’s not that stupid, he never was. At the end he has been doing fine for years, avoiding being caught, and I don’t think for a minute it was all a matter of damn luck.
Reynaldo hosted a party in Fabio’s honour because he wanted to show his endless gratitude to the Mexican. Fabio doesn’t like Reynaldo’s lifestyle too much judging by the tone of his voice, his gestures and by the face he had on while talking about that party. However, the fucker didn’t have any problems enjoying Reynaldo’s hospitality. Oh, well, I guess people in hell want ice-water too; sweet things never made anyone bitter.
Reynaldo sent a car to pick up Fabio and the car was driven by a beautiful naked chick. The party turned out to be an orgy with four males, Santos, Miguel, Fabio and Reynaldo and ten chicks. Everybody was walking around naked and switching partners. The tequila was running all over the place as well as little mountains of Colombian coke and marijuana. Fabio said that it was like Sodom and Gomorrah. And that reminded him of when his brother Mateo was running his dad’s business as his dad’s second in command.
At his words I couldn’t help but remember my own experience in one of Reynaldo’s orgies. Only difference is back then there were only three guys. Rey, the blonde kid and myself.
Hanna glanced at me from the corner of her eye and even though she was sitting a few feet from us I could sense her sudden pain and anger boiling inside her veins. And I regretted that I had told her about that fucking party. I should have known better than to open my big damn mouth, following my sudden need for being honest with her, telling her the entire truth. Fuck!! There are things that shouldn’t have been said no matter what the circumstances were. Not all lies are that bad.
The fact that Fabio added that the Cuban’s little whore was hot as hell even though she was so high she didn’t even know who was fucking her anymore sure as hell didn’t help to soften Hanna’s anger at this point. However, she managed to remain cold and emotionless. God knows what Hanna was thinking at that very moment because all of a sudden she shut me out and getting to her feet she headed towards the dance floor with Elaine.
“This is how it works, Dom.” Fabio says, leaning forward slightly. “I send 12 cars at once, knowing in advance that at least 6 are going to get busted. But as long as fifty percent gets through, I’m making a good profit.” He explains, glancing at Ricardo from the corner of his eye.
“From where do you get the cars?” I ask, sipping from my bottle of beer, watching as Hanna danced on the dance floor with Elaine.
Fabio chuckles and gulping a shot of tequila, he answers my question. “I get them from gang bangers, stolen cars, shit like that and I make them legitimate here in Mexico through the junkyards. And then, bang! They’re legit cars, a brand new Suburban or a Cherokee with professionally made stash holds.” Fabio explains, grinning from ear to ear. I glance at Ricardo who shrugs his shoulders as he keeps smoking.
“And the dogs?” I ask, frowning slightly, pretending to be really interested and concerned at the same time.
I’ve been talking about all this shit with Ricardo so that way I know what kind of questions I have to ask to not look like a damn moron. Fabio looks at Ricardo, making a slight gesture of appreciation at my words. It seems that so far he’s pleased with me.
“I’ve got a guy who trains the dogs for the DEA; he actually makes sure his dogs aren’t trained to smell my loads.” He answers, his voice full of pride. I knit a brow, looking at him.
“That would cost a lot.” I say, frowning. Fabio rolls his eyes, chuckling.
“It costs me a fucking fortune but it’s the cost of business, and I’m the only one among hundreds that can do that though.” He pauses, lifting his hand, signaling the bartender to bring another round. “Anyway, a lot of the times I went broke. Not all of us are rich, you know?”
Yeah, whatever. I bet that shit is what he says to the kids that want to get into his damn business so they don’t start having fantasies about a life they sure as hell would be able to get if they are smart enough and if they have balls. And at the same time he’s already anticipating the fact that some of those kids may turn into serious competition for him in a few years.
“It takes a long time to make real money in this business and it’s very risky. Mi papa spent almost five years before he could afford his house.” Fabio says, sighing hard. “It’s very hard. It takes investment and it takes know-how. Just because you become one of us does not mean you make money. A lot of times you lose your ass and you’re broke, and you’re selling your legitimate stuff to pay off the load you lost.”
“What if the military shows up?” I ask, sipping from my drink. Fabio grins widely as he clears his throat.
“The Arellanos have contacts with the commandants. They have contacts with top people that they could pay off.” He replies, his grin widening in seconds.
“What’s that shit? They have to pay all his damn soldiers?” In response, Fabio shakes his head ‘no’, grinning.
“No mames, güey, that’s not the way they deal with those fuckers.” He replies, chuckling. “See? A commandant doesn’t have to pay off his soldiers. What he says next week we’re going to have combat practice and we going north. Why? Because I’m bringing my load through south.” He pauses anew, sipping from his drink. “It’s above suspicion.” He adds, grinning like a damn loony.
“You pay this general or that commandant and he takes his troops out to the sticks to do their little mission practice or whatever during the time you’re bringing in the load, right?” I say, arching a brow. Fabio nods ‘yes’ and then he elaborates a little more.
“But unfortunately, there are different people from . . . let’s say different groups, the feds, the DEA, marines. . . So, depending on where you’re bringing your load in, you have to take care of these groups. Sometimes one group, sometimes all, depending.”
“By the time you get working well, you already meet everybody and everybody knows everybody. It’s a very small circle.” Ricardo says absently, like he’s thinking at the same time. “Everybody knows everybody. And that’s where the problems start occurring.” He adds, rubbing his chin, his dark eyes narrowed. “People start mixing.”
At big dark guy’s words Fabio nods in agreement, going serious in a heartbeat as he keeps talking.
“And we don’t like that shit because kids from good families start to get killed and the government gets nervous because legitimate people start to demand actions, solutions, saying shit like we’re sucking in their kids and in their sorry excuse of lives.” Fabio explains, stroking his bottle of tequila. “Mi papa doesn’t like that shit; ‘El Padrino’ doesn’t like that shit.” He adds, frowning in concern. “They keep a low profile and they demand exactly the same behavior from all of us. If we get too flashy them we end up like Mateo.” Fabio says as a heavy sigh leaves his mouth.
I know Mateo’s history because Ricardo already told me. Mateo was Fabio’s older brother. It seems some of his closest friends got arrested and the government went through all the legal process to put them in jail or whatever they were going to do with them. Mateo demanded to get his friends back and when the government ignored him, he went crazy.
The fucker got on one of his airplanes and taking boxes filled with money, he started to thrown them all over the city as a damn joke, like saying fuck you, motherfuckers, I don’t give a shit.
As soon as ‘El Padrino’ knew about what Mateo had done, he took Fabio’s brother and got him inside a plane and threw him out in the middle of the ocean, in a place full of sharks. Nobody said shit, not even Mateo’s dad because all of them knew the deal. Mateo no longer was seen as a serious person. He became a clown and consequently, he lost his credibility. Just like Fabio said, this is a business and Mateo’s behavior threatened the business.
Fabio left a couple of hours ago, saying he had business to take care first thing in the morning, and he made sure there was no option to decline his ‘kind’ offer about leaving us with six of his best men because in his own words ‘Mexico is an extremely dangerous place when the sun goes down’. Anyway, he told us to stay as long as we wanted because everything was on the house. But before he left his club, he gave me a little medal with an image engraved on it, saying I was now one of them. Fuck you, motherfucker. I’m not one of yours, asshole.
“So who the fuck is this Jesus Malverde guy?” I ask Ricardo, frowning deeply as I try to read the other words that have been engraved on it.
“Jesus Malverde is their patron saint. A legendary bandit who robbed the rich to give to the poor.” Ricardo says, stroking Elaine’s thigh softly up and down.
“Yeah, like Robin fucking Hood.” Elaine snorts, rolling her eyes. “All of them have his image dangling from their chain necklaces.”
“Jesus Malverde has his own chapel where you can offer up flowers, asking for his blessings.” Ricardo adds as he glances at Hanna from the corner of his eyes.
According to legend Jesus Malverde was a thief who robbed the rich to give to the poor. He was hanged in 1909 by Sinaloa’s governor. But the legend of this bandit’s defiance and style of justice was passed along which helped turn him into a people’s saint.
Funny how a bandit who was robbing and killing ended up becoming a saint with even his own chapel and people wearing his image hanging from their necks.
“Hey, princess, are you okay?” Ricardo asks Hanna, narrowing his eyes. Hanna looks up at him, nodding ‘yes’. “You sure?” he insists, arching a brow in suspicion.
“Yeah, I’m sure.” She replies, staring at his eyes for a couple of seconds and then she heaved a hard sigh looking down again. Elaine takes one of her hands in hers, squeezing gently.
“Hanna, we’re going to get Crystal out of this mess, honey. No matter what, we’re not going to leave her behind.” Her voice sounds gentle yet firm. Hanna lifts her head, looking at her.
“I know Elaine. It’s just that I hope is not too late to save her.” She sighs and with that she picks up one of Ricardo’s cigarettes, lighting it up. I look at her, frowning in concern.
Hanna has been pretending for the last hour that everything is okay between us but I know better than that shit. We have a talk pending and I have the feeling she’s avoiding that moment. But what I don’t know right now is if it’s because she’s thinking that what I want to tell her is something bad or if is because she’s having second thoughts about us herself.
Ricardo clears his throat as he gets to his feet, pulling Elaine with him. “We better get going, kids. Tomorrow will be a bitch of a day.” He says, putting out his cigarette. Hanna gets to her feet and so I do.
Tomorrow night Ricardo and I are crossing the border with Fabio’s load and Reynaldo is hosting his birthday party, and the fucker is expecting his dancers to be at their best. I sigh hard and encircling Hanna’s shoulder I pull her to me.
“Are you sure you’re okay, baby?” I whisper with my lips pressed against her temple as I linger on my kiss. Hanna closes her eyes and sighing hard she nods ‘yes’.
“Yeah, I’m just a little tired, that’s all.” She replies, releasing herself from my embrace, heading towards the entrance of the club. I look at Elaine and she shakes her head in disapproval, hurrying her steps to catch Hanna.
“Damn.” I mutter under my breath.
“There’s no such thing as perfect, Dom.” Ricardo says, tapping my shoulder as we both look at Hanna and Elaine who are now talking, close to the entrance of the club. I look down at the little medal in my hands.
“Are you wearing some image dangling from your neck?” I ask quietly to Ricardo as I look back up at him. In response, he frowns deeply, clearing his throat.
“St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes.”