Chapter 2: Thugette , Carmela

02 ] Thugette , Carmela

Welcome to the Kiss Kiss Bandits apartment!

Step beyond the front door onto our Ikea mat – that feels so nice, you’ll want to roll on it – and you’ll see the three-seater and widescreen TV staring at each other in the petite living area to the left. The TV was courtesy of our lovely Diva Tae, the doll. Oh, and over there in the corner is the desk where little Shaire does her school homework. The apartment is barely big enough for it. See the glossy black statuette on the window sill? Yeah, that’s our cat.

We got an open plan kitchen to the right. It’s surprisingly big, actually; we could get a table in there, shove four chairs around it and still have space to walk around it without having to shuffle sideways.

Just beyond the kitchen is the only bathroom. Do not, ever, underestimate the savagery that can arise in a girl who has to share a bathroom with three other girls. Shit, with anyone. It is war. And war is not the fucking playground.

Opposite the front door is the door master bedroom – I don’t know who in hell designed this apartment – which is the bedroom of the vibrant Kaidyn and Tae. We call it the Red Room. Standing ineffectually between the Red Room door and Shaire’s desk is the creaky Blue Room door, bedroom of the relatively quieter Carmela and Shaire. Despite that the Red Room is bigger, Kaidyn and Tae fight over the space like Amazonians. I knew they were used to having their own space of a certain size, but it took a stern word from me to get them to ‘make do’.

I want you to realise that it is not, nor has it ever been a ‘smooth ride’.

I want you to understand how much we had to work and strive and sweat and bleed to get this place. Look at it. So small, so neat and cosy, so homely; smelling of Tae’s fancy Nag Champa incense and Kaidyn’s perfume; Sierra’s black fur all over our favourite blanket that we drape over like legs when we watch a movie together; Shaire’s scraps of paper containing lyrics and poetry and homework covering every flat surface; Carmela not leaving a trace of her existence apart from a hi-tech laptop that Tae gave her, which always remained open on her latest music project. Literally everything they – we... have worked for, is contained within those four walls, the value dispersed between shampoos and big value packets of pasta and rice in the cupboards, our clothes, the furniture, the little pieces of decoration that we had.

Me, Tally and Kaidyn had managed okay when we were there. The New Bandits – as I didn’t discover for a long time – were seriously struggling. Besides Kaidyn’s job and the extra Carmela earned doing ‘confidential’ jobs with Redeye, most of the finances were being covered by Tae until her hideously wealthy parents cut off her allowance. Shaire was still at school and earnestly looking for work, joining the ranks of thousands of frustrated graduates. And each month when the rent was due... the fear of losing this sweet little place, and everything in it, hung over them all.

So that’s why I wasted five, six hundred words on it.

“What is this?” Carmela whispered as she hovered her hands over Kaidyn’s. The kitchen was immersed in the eerie eleven o’clock gloom, and the pair sat at the table. Vixen’s pale, trembling hands were spread flat.

“I think I know what it is.” Carmela said, with some uncertainty.

“Are you sure? Because only a minute ago you were asking ‘what is this’ and looking clueless.”

Carmela ignored the remark. “It’s... well, it feels like a...” Kaidyn fixed dark, burning eyes on her. “Physically, your hands feel cold, yes. With my powers, though, it feels like nothing, ‘cuz cold isn’t energy, is it. Cold is just a lack of heat. And no heat is going in at all. Your hands aren’t getting back to room temperature.”

“Yeah, I know that,” Kaidyn rolled her eyes, even as she shivered and winced with pain. What a soldier. “How does that help us? I mean, me?”

“My powers can’t pull the cold out, so I’ll try and put some heat in. Hold on.”

Carmela boiled water in the kettle and pulled heat energy out of it gradually, letting it seep into her hands and wrists like tissue absorbing water. Her hands began to shake with the intensity of it, even though she couldn’t actually feel the heat. Even so, she knew that the temperature of the energy in her hands could blacken bread in a second.

Feeling as if she was carrying a miniature sun that she was afraid to drop, she carefully glided over to Kaidyn and let the energy slowly shift from her hands to Kaidyn’s, trying hard not to let it burst out like when she was attacking. The relief soon eased Kaidyn’s expression. A moment later she screeched with agony.

“Ow! Ow! Too hot! Did you let the kettle boil all the way? Fuck, that hurts! I asked you to cure me, not reverse it!”

Carmela jerked, deeply offended. Inwardly wrestling her natural aversion to talking, she finally spat out, “Excuse me for trying to help. You should be more worried about the person who did this to you. Or maybe you used your teleki-bullshit powers so much that you made yourself supernaturally ill.”

Kaidyn didn’t hear the last part; I can probably guess that her mind was on Chris Black, thinking about how absurd it would be if he had powers. She didn’t remember any tattoos on him, but then again, he could’ve had one hiding on his buttocks.

“To be honest, I’m not quite sure how this all happened, but I will find out.” Kaidyn promised, standing and stretching, exercising the joints of her fingers and knuckles. It was clear on her face how much this ordeal had made her relish the use of her hands. “And now if you don’t mind, I’m goin’ bed. I got a job in the morning. Thank you and goodnight.”

A deathly quiet curse left Carmela’s mouth. “I don’t know why I do anything for you.”

Kaidyn stopped. “What your problem? I said thank you, what do you want me to do, get on my feet and fuckin’ grovel? I said thank you! Thank you, thank you, thank you, most glorious majesty Queen Carmela the Third!”

“When you walked in here, you were in so much pain you had tears in your eyes.” Carmela was shaking with rage as she stood and stormed to the Blue Room. “You forget that I’m not normally inclined to help dumb girls like you.”

We’ll pause for a second while I explain something.

Thugette walked the uneasy path of giving her devotion both to girl gang Kiss Kiss Bandits and secret crew Redeye. She’d been in Redeye for a long time and it had suited her fine until her boyfriend Kel, one of the Redeye leaders, broke up with her. That was when she began to fall apart. Then her family went from cereal-box-happy to dysfunctional, and then she got a tattoo... and screwed up almost everything she touched.

Thinking about how close to ruin she was then still scares me. I don’t know what would have happened to Carmela if I hadn’t found her and insisted that she stayed with us. Tae and Kaidyn helped her reign in her powers, thank God. Although the Kiss Kiss Bandits didn’t have any answers, it gave her was the feeling that we were all in the same boat, lost together.

It’s worth remembering that when the three original Bandits got together it was out of friendship. When the four new Bandits formed, it was only about the powers, so it’s not terribly surprising that there were personality clashes. But Carmela was so hopelessly lost in every other area of her life that she was trying her best to make it work. I guess my warning about being around Kaidyn didn’t sufficiently prepare her for the reality of it.

The morning after Carmela had ‘fixed’ Kaidyn, she didn’t leave her room.

After Tae had danced out the door for her posh performing arts school and Shaire had skipped out to meet her friends on the way to school, the KKB apartment was still. In silence, Kaidyn waited by the door wearing her mahogany, faux-wool, double-breasted trench coat, idly scratching her temple with the tip of a long, cherry nail.

Thinking everybody was gone, Carmela shuffled out of the Blue Room, bleary-eyed. She bodily recoiled at the sight of Vixen.

“Thank you.” Kaidyn said suddenly. It must have been surreal to hear her voice saying those words and sounding wholeheartedly genuine. At the sound, Sierra glanced around and observed from the window sill, flicking her black tail. “And I won’t say it again,” Kaidyn added. “You’re lucky I even said it once, and if I’ve said it, that means I meant it. You know it’s dumb to act like I’m not grateful. Yes, I was in pain, you helped me, and I won’t forget it. But do not expect me to grovel or go out of my way to do you favours. I don’t roll like that. I don’t roll, full stop, for anyone.”

She slotted a beret on her head and mock-tipped it at Carmela. “Au revoir.”


Like I said, Carmela earned money through Redeye, and the likelihood of getting work was kind of touch-and-go. Sometimes she visited her family, but usually she stayed in the KKB apartment. She’d been about to make an early dinner for four – Mac and Cheese – but Shaire must’ve used that last block of cheese for her sandwich. After a moment’s thought, she reached for the silver pan. Pasta it was, sorry girls. Then she’d turned around and – there he was, appearing at the kitchen doorway like a ghost.

I lived in the apartment directly below the Bandits and happened to be home at the time when Carmela’s scream rang out.

“The hell are you doing here, Din?!” she demanded.

Kai, who loved using her telekinesis a.k.a. ‘floaty powers’ to move and rearrange shit, frequently scared the crap out of the girls – but this was something else. For a split second, fainting, hyperventilating, or having a cardiac arrest were all on the cards.

He chuckled, easing onto the kitchen stool in the most athletic way a human male can do so – and Din was the type of human male who certainly liked to show off. A first look at him, and the thing that stood out most had to be those eyebrows. I have never known somebody who could change the entire look of his face merely by positioning his eyebrows a certain way: raising them, knotting them, wriggling them, arching and burrowing them, making his eyes look ten times darker. It was the reason why nine out of ten girls couldn’t stop looking at him. Shave the eyebrows, and Din was decidedly average, although I suppose the hard-earned muscles had to count for something.

“The door was open.” Din raised an eyebrow. Yes, he honestly did. “What? Don’t be blaming me if you can’t shut a door properly.”

Stupid Kaidyn.

“I’ve been calling.”

“And I haven’t been answering. Don’t you think that’s try'na tell you
something?” she muttered, wiping her hands on her wifebeater. She liked to wear the authentic men’s style and loved the fit of it – even though she detested the name and went out of her way to call it anything else.

Din traced his bottom lip with his tongue. “Have I ever told you I love it when you get mad?”

He was joking, but still, it disgusted her. The other three Bandits would have giggled if they had been there, but Carmela found nothing funny about the one who’d manipulated her relationship with Kel, being both the reason why Kel asked her out and the reason why Kel dumped her. In Kel’s eyes, Din was King. Din’s word was law. Whenever Din laughed, it infuriated her.

“Chill. I’m fuckin’ wi’ chu.” I can count of one hand the amount of boys I know wiht the ability to speak full words and sentences. “You can’t keep avoiding me, Mel.”

“I can and will. It’s not open for discussion.” she said quietly.

Carmela’s phone rang out for attention, buzzing sharply on the countertop. “Hello? Oh!” It was me. “No, I’m fine. I’m sure. Thanks for calling. Bye.” She ignored the alert that displayed the number of missed calls from Din.

Din and his brother Kel were the joint leaders of Redeye, and they sure had their eyes on Carmela. She could be an incredibly aggressive girl. I think I’ve got it figured out. Her logic and fearlessness appealed to Din as a leader, while her sudden silences and disinterested expression appealed to him as a dude. It wasn’t like she was unattractive. She simply preferred that people thought she was so they wouldn’t look at her.

Din casually cast a glance around the kitchen, slouching on his stool, conscious of the same muscular physique that Carmela owned.

“I’ve found you a partner.”

BANG – as Carmela slammed down the metal sieve in her hands.

“Aw, don’t be like that. You’ll like her, for real.” He stood. “C’mon, the boys are outsi –”

“I don’t want a partner. You never listen to me. This is why I don’t respect you.”

In an instant, he was by her side with a hand gripping her arm tightly. At first, she felt nothing but a rush of air, heard nothing but the stool he’d been sitting on clattering to the ground in his haste.

And I, lounging on my bed in the apartment below, frowned at my ceiling and wondered if a fight was going down.

“Who is the one in charge here? Who?” he demanded. “I do not listen to you, you listen to me. I don’t need you to respect me, I just need you to what I say! Will it kill you? Huh? Will it fucking kill ya to have a partner?”

Then he gave a long, deflated sigh and tried to put his arms around her. She shoved him away violently. “Look. This is for your own protection, Mel.”

It was harder for him to say ‘sorry’ than it was for Kaidyn to say ‘thank you’.

She gazed at the water the pasta had boiled in. As much as she wanted him to burn, she knew what I would say. Shoving past him, she grabbed her phone, keys, mini-wallet and black hoodie that displayed the words Hood Rich on the back, and held open the door for her chief without a word. His eyebrows pulled into a calculating sort of frown, and a moment later, he’d swept out of the door.

The streets were bright with white skies overhead when they got out of the apartment block. She spotted Din’s extravagant drop top car immediately, with the other fools of Redeye – Jae, Rain and Seven – waiting inside and fussing like nannies.

“Aaaayyyy – YOOOO!” hollered Seven from the backseat, holding up his fist so that she could knock it, and then Jae’s and Rain’s in turn. “What’s uuuup, sexy ladaaay?”

“Hello to you too, Seven.” was her wry response. Jae, the sincerest of the whole group, smiled at her. Rain acted like she didn’t exist and Seven was another story completely. With mischievous eyes and a wicked grin that never failed to mesmerise, you could be sure that if there was a ‘fine piece of ass’ about, he was getting it. Carmela to extra care not to encourage him. As she squeezed into the back, Din turned around in the driver’s seat to arch his eyebrow and pout his mouth at her, making his expression inquisitive and expectant.

“Why you looking at me like you expect me to sit next to you? Is Rain invisible or what?” She gestured to Rain in the passenger seat.

“Damn, calm down, babe,” Seven said, trying to pat Carmela’s head. She gave him a Chinese burn for the liberty.

“Nah, leave it.” Din said dismissively, turning back around. “One of these days, she’ll –”

“If you don’t stop patronising me, one of these days I’ma fuck you up.”

A deathly silence took hold, but not for the reason you think; Seven and Jae were shaking with suppressed laughter, and even Rain, who didn’t like her, looked amused. I guess they all thought Din had it coming.

“Let it go, and start the fuckin’ car, Din.” Rain sighed, rubbing his brow with a hand.

“I guess we’re going to meet my ‘partner, then.” she murmured to Jae.

“Yea. She a sweet chick.” he nodded, as the engine finally rumbled. Carmela did a double take. Chick?

“Yea, as sweet as candy laced with poison.” Seven said cheerfully. “And you know me, I’m not picky about girls but this one’s as mean as a mothe – ow, ow! Ay! Don’t hurt me, I’m a virgin! You rapists. Wait ‘til I hunt you in your beds, bitches.”

Rain laughed scornfully. “He talks so much shit.” Jae snorted. Carmela gave Seven a black look and turned her head to watch the neat Torino streets go by. She noticed Din kept glancing at her in the rear-view mirror and it was making her on edge; her Dad had died in a car accident, and following that she was heavily critical of whoever drove the car she was in. To her relief, Rain scowled at him, “Din, stop looking at her and drive the fucking car!”

“Right, who’s hungry?” Jae complained suddenly.

“Meee. Get me a blonde bitch, pleeease!”

“Seven, I’m not sitting here and listening to you –”

“Ay, ay, I’m jokin’! But serious, can we stop at McDonalds?”

“We’re not stopping anywhere!” Din fumed, and they stayed quiet until they reached the courts. Carmela threw herself out of the vehicle the moment it was still.

The outdoor asphalt basketball courts were a popular spot for kids to hang and stood right beside the most popular concrete park in Torino. The actual hoop was rusting and looked ready to drop, but as long as you had a ball it was all good. School hadn’t yet let out so the place was pretty empty. Carmela breathed a sigh. Her best childhood memories took place on these courts, this hard ground. Ma's house was only ten minutes away.

“Din. What’s up, man.” nodded the final two Redeye members Kel and Emmanuel, in their shirts and long shorts. I don’t expect you to remember all of the members of Redeye so don’t bother. Just accept that they exist and may occasionally appear in my tale.

Kel and Carmela’s eyes met and there was an awkward smile between them. She exhaled, closing her eyes briefly as she turned away.

As the boys mumbled in a huddle, Carmela’s eyes fixed on a figure zipping across the court with a swift fury – the only girl playing. She was small in stature. Her hands moved fast and she practically danced around the opposing team, showing huge skill as she dribbled the ball, not allowing a single person to steal it from her. Carmela mentally tagged her as the ‘Ninja Girl’.

When she dunked it in the net, there was at once a loud cheer and groan clashing in the air from the small group of players, but she didn’t seem to care. She was wiping her forehead with a black bandana on her way over to Redeye, who stopped talking and watched her. Seven was biting back a grin.

The girl joined them silently. Something about her kind of unnerved Carmela, and she couldn’t explain what it was. Not to me, anyway.

“Boys,” Din gestured to her. “This is Chante. Chante, these are my boys; Jae, Seven, Rain, Kel, and Emmanuel. Oh... and Carmela. Your partner.”

The girls watched each other in silence. Chante said nothing. Did nothing.

“The way you moved out there...” Carmela said suddenly, and all eyes were on her. She thought about the way the girl seemed to know where the ball and the players would be even before they did. “... was... pretty cool.”

Chante looked away.

Now Carmela knew what she reminded her of. She looked like somebody who’d been scarred for life. Maybe she’d seen things she wasn’t supposed to see, or maybe she believed there was nothing left to life or die or. The scariest part about it was that Chante reminded her too much of herself.


I’m sorry – I’ve forgotten something. We need to backtrack.

On the day that Kaidyn met Chris Black for first time, Redeye went to negotiate with the relatively new but notorious gang Ebony, who thought they could make themselves immortal if they became drug lords.

Gangs in Torino weren't as frequent or as deadly as the neighbouring town, but I suppose that only meant that it was easy to rise to the top due to lack of competition. That said, I suppose that's why such a fuss was made about the Kiss Kiss Bandits, being the only named and recognised female legion in the neighbourhood. I don’t know if that’s inspiring or pitiful.

“Okay boys.” Din said, giving Carmela a look that indicated he expected her to behave like one. “Emmanuel’s at church with his Granny, Rain… I dun’ even know where that boy is, and Seven’s gone AWOL, he’s probably picked up some girl so don’t count on him coming.”

Din’s car pulled up to a well-kept family house with Kel, Jae and Carmela peering at it. The outer walls were painted prettily; the front garden was freshly mowed; and a trio of boys lounged on the lawn in deck chairs smoking, chatting and doing jack all. She mentally tagged them as the ‘Cap Guy’, the ‘Shades Guy’, and the ‘Peanut-Head Guy’.

“So it’s just us. Be respectful when you’re talkin’, no mouthin’ off. Keep your head down and say nothing. Unless you’re C, in which case do what you normally do.” he said with a quiet chuckle. She didn’t honour him with her glare.

As always, she wore a baggy hoodie that hid a body honed by years of pain, with what I call ‘messy bottoms’ which is the raggedy-looking shit you wear on your legs when you can’t be bothered to put on proper clothes. She walked in black running shoes, her older brother’s Nike cap slotted sideways over a head of short caramel hair. She pulled the visor to the front. As long as no-one looked too hard at her face, they would never guess she was female.

Carmela had only ever seen the shadows of this town, but you can learn a hell of a lot standing in the shadows – like how, as far as a lot of crews were concerned, the streets was no place for chicks unless they were prostitutes or plain stupid. They didn’t care for drug addicts, thrill seekers or anybody else who would get in the way of getting paper.

“D! Hey, man.” The Cap Guy got up assertively the moment he saw them, knocking fists with each of them. Quick introductions were made; Cap Guy was actually the headman for Ebony, Ron. Shades and Peanut Head – Drury and Mario respectively – were other members of this little group. Din tried to keep the attention fixed on him as he spoke, but Ron held a fist out to Carmela even so. She kept her head down and made no move. Ron shrugged it off and dropped his hands, but stole curious glances at her.

Peanut-Head inquired about something, dropping his voice low. She couldn’t hear the words, but his expression and body language insinuated something criminal. Kel sighed and shook his head.

"We don't do that anymore. Tell ya the truth, the money weren’t worth the hassle.” Weren’t - ! Ugh.

Din added, “If you think you brave enough to take over the Torino drug trade, go ‘head. We won’t stop you. But when the big bad motherfuckers stand up, we won’t help you either.”

“The ‘Big Bad Motherfuckers’? Who, you mean CT?” Ron frowned.

“No, I mean like Jengo Goujen. He don’t play.” Kel looked around the garden disinterestedly. “That’s who we work for now, obviously, tha’s why we’re here. Nothing to do with drugs though. Do what you like, but leave us out of it.”

It was nearing ten o’clock. The temperature of the night air was plummeting and so was Carmela’s patience. One illuminated window of the neighbouring house went black. Her little brother would be sitting up waiting for her because she promised she’d visit him before his bedtime, but Din’s detours took way longer than he’d said.

“Have you got it, or not?” she said abruptly, keeping her voice low, feeling the chill of the night air stinging her cheeks. “I'm hungry, I’m tired, I’m cold, and I don’t have time for this."

All six boys stared at her. Din looked slightly pissed. “Take it easy, C. We’ll get there when we get there. No rush.”

She narrowed her eyes accusingly at him. “You promised we’d be done by seven.” she whispered. Jae looked anxiously between them. She couldn’t stand the thought of her little brother crying himself to sleep over her absence. She’d be no better than her mother.

Peanut-Head Mario jerked his head in a weird and trying-to-be-cool upward nod. “Bro, what your name is?”

She gave him a cool look. “Where are you from? Didn't anyone teach you speak properly?”

The guy called Drury smiled with amusement. Mario stared, then threw his head back and laughed, folding his arms smugly. “I think this little shit is asking to have all his teeth taken out! I ain’t no dentist, bro, but I think I can help you out.”

There was an immediate outcry from both groups, the loudest coming from Kel. “What did you say? You'd better say that again. For your sake, I hope I misheard you!”

“Oh Jesus. A bunch of delicate children.” Mario pouted teasingly.

“Don't come into our territory bringing that garbage, bitch. You’d better shut your mouth.” Kel’s threat barely sounded above Din and Ron’s respective orders for silence.

“Mario, for fuck’s sake, Mario!” Ron barked. “Go inside and cool off! Now!”

“Now look what you done.” Din shot at Carmela. He grabbed Kel’s forearms with Jae at the same time Drury and Ron grabbed Mario, the shouts increasing in volume.

Her eyes darted to Kel and her stomach lurched with fear. She held her left hand away from her body and pulled in electricity from the nearest streetlight. It flickered. Energy jumped to her fist and pulsed dimly, making her hand look like it had a light bulb inside of it, illuminating her blood. The argument was raged on a few feet away, with Ron still holding Mario, and Din and Jae struggling with Kel, all unaware. She was deciding whether she should fire at Mario or Kel when a hand grabbed her wrist and the crook of an elbow locked around her neck.

A sound of frantic, furious indignation was trapped in her throat. Flailing her free arm, she let the electrical energy discharge, anyhow, anywhere – her wrist and neck were immediately free. The next moment, her eyes were level with the grass and she was panting. To her left, Shades Guy Drury – who wasn’t wearing shades any more – was on his knees.

Without warning, quiet fell. She stared at Drury, he stared at her, Din stared at them, Kel glared at him, Mario glared at him and Ron glared at him. Jae looked confusedly at everyone.

“Carme... lo! What are you doing?” Din barked, then asked Jae curiously, “How’d they end up on the floor?

“You should know better than to do that in public.” Drury whispered. “You'd better not try it again.” To her utter surprise, he smiled.

“I d-don’t know what you mean.” she murmured back.

“Oh, I know. I just saw you prove it.” He sounded pleased. Carmela’s heart must have been racing. I’d explicitly told her not to give away her powers to anyone.

“C? C, get over here.” Din ordered. Jae had his hand on Kel’s shoulder, who was breathing fiercely. Reluctantly, she obeyed.

“I thought girl thugs were a myth.” Drury said amusedly.

“I’m not a girl.” she said quickly, her voice as deep as possible.

He picked up his sunglasses, grinning as he pointed at her chest. “Some curves you got there, bro.” She immediately realised her mistake in pulling the hem of her hoodie down as she stood up. Swallowing, she walked furiously back to the others.

 He tried to match her stride, “So... you’re with Din.”

“No, I’m with Redeye.”

“Not a huge difference.”

She desperately wanted to know how he knew about the powers. This world she’d accidentally stumbled into was suddenly no longer exclusive to a bunch of temperamental girls.

“Well, just be careful,” he warned in a playful tone, “Fellas around here…”

She wasn’t sure how she felt about the teasing, but it felt light-hearted compared to Din’s patronising tone. “I am in as much danger of being mugged or raped as you are.” she said calmly. “I know damn well how to be careful, thank you.”

He grinned again and walked ahead of her, his arm tucked behind his back and a palm outspread. Carmela slowed to a halt. Dancing in the palm of his hand was a small, emerald flame.

“So I got Mario starting fights, and you, what the hell are you doing?” Ron scolded Drury, letting Mario go.

“I’m sorry,” he said earnestly, jerking a thumb behind him, “When I found out she was a chick, I couldn’t control myself.” Redeye went still. A pause.

“It’s a she?” Mario cackled, talking to Din as if he owned her.

“Who the fuck are you calling an it?” Kel shouted at him.

“What does she do? Get the coffee?” Mario sniggered.

“Why don’t you ask her? She’s standing right in front of you.” Drury pointed out, looking directly at her. He seemed to be trying to make a point about being respectful. She took off her cap and shook her hair loose. “She might not talk back though,” he added.

“I talk.” she said blankly. “I fight too.” Silence.

“Alright, alright. That’s enough.” Ron looked at Din, “You came for the package, right? You wanna come in?”

“No.” Carmela spoke for him, pleased at Din glare. “Bring it to us in the car. Get it out here in under five minutes, or we’re gone, and when Jengo Goujon asks us why our hands our empty, your names are gonna be the first thing out of my mouth.”

“Phew! Better not fuck with her,” Drury raised his eyebrows, looking flirtatious where Din would’ve looked comical. “I’ll bring it out, Ron.”

Carmela strode purposefully back to the car, gesturing for the others to follow. She snatched Din’s car keys from his hand the moment it was out of his pocket and got in the driver’s seat.

“What do you think you’re doing?” he bellowed.

“Thanks to you, I’m beyond late for a family engagement. You drive too slow. Get in the back.”

“You’d better give –”

“Din, dammit!” Jae said loudly. “I’ve had enough of arguments today, man, get in the car so we can go home!”

Din threw himself in the back, bursting with rage. Kel kept giving Carmela apprehensive looks. When Drury finally brought out the package, he barely had time to grin at her again before she slammed on the accelerator.

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