#06 Enter Marquis

I grabbed my luggage from the luggage return and checked the time. My suit was slightly wrinkled but after a fifteen hour plus flight from Italy, including a London layover, the state of my clothing was the least of my worries. Despite my disheveled state I caught several heads turning my way. There were plenty copious looks from beneath long lashes, from the females checking me out. None of it fazed me however because I was on a mission.  I made my way through the terminal, with my luggage and Hermes attache case in tow. I was dying for a shower and a shave but all of that would have to wait. My brother needed me.

As I exited the terminal, I heard my name being called and turned. “Yo Quis, over here!” I tossed a nod in acknowledgement towards the man in question. One of my  brother’s lieutenants, Javier Ramos, was heading my way. After the pull in for the hug, back slap, then break, Javier grabbed the large rolling bag indicating the direction we were taking.  “I wondered if he was sending a car, but he did one better, good to see you again, man.”

There was an affable camaraderie between a few of my brother’s inner circle and myself. You couldn’t work in the family business and not deal with some of the more questionable staff. However Javier was more than a paid henchman, he was a good friend—in fact he was family. I was technically an honorary member of the Set, DaVeon’s name for his boys. My brother was determined that I stayed legit, clean hands, so he made sure that I was only brought in to handle the legal ends of the legitimate business practices.

I admired my brother’s commitment in keeping me from compromising situations and my personal code of ethics. Naturally, I didn’t judge my brother because of his questionable activities and was just as committed in keeping DaVeon, one step ahead, in the dangerous game he played. I would never give up hope that he would leave that world behind. If you wanted to call that a conflict of interest, so be it but in my mind, I saw it much differently.

So how did I end up on this path? I started off playing ball in the Italian leagues. I had hoop dreams, plain and simple but life has a way of throwing you for a loop. Mine happened after sustaining an injury, that’s what led to my early retirement from sports.  DaVeon had been extremely supportive during my rehabilitation and subsequent reinvention. Part of the reason I was wealthy, was because my brother hooked me up with sound investment advice. He was gonna make sure I didn’t blow the ends I had acquired during my short reign has a hoop king. DaVeon’s former background on Wall Street made him savvy when hunting down various capital ventures; a boon I myself  had benefited from. Unlike many of my peers that lost their fortunes, sometimes within just a few years of retirement, my brother made sure I had invested well. I never got off on the flash either so I spent within my means.   Having my brother and my entire family’s support boosted my own determination not to wallow in self-pity. The love and belief they had in me was the catalyst which prompted me to obtain my corporate law degree. In fact, I was just one of a battery of attorneys on my brother’s payroll; my specialty in contractual law had become a much needed commodity within La Grange Enterprises. Given DaVeon’s latest pitch…yeah I was going to be extremely busy.  

Although I turned to law, my passion for sports never waned. In addition to working for my brother, I made my services available to fledgling athletes and their families for contract negotiations. I never forgot how I got on. I remember the sharks that circled the pool, willing to prey on their own for a piece of the action. If there was one thing that got me ready to knuckle up, taking advantage of your own was it.

Once I got inside the whip, I turned to Javier to ask him what had been on my mind ever since I got my brother’s call. “He can’t be seriously considering taking on Ford Wilmington, the casino mogul? This woman he’s involved with must be something.”

“Yeah man, she’s pretty cool, kinda cray-cray but in that good fun way. She’s quite a looker too.” Javier was taking the highway into the city, heading downtown, where we were meeting up with my brother at his headquarters.  My brother might be  one of the leading crime bosses in Saint Louis, but he always kept a legitimate front from which to operate. La Grange Enterprises was his umbrella corporation, that housed a myriad of ventures. The above board holdings worked to funnel the money from the below deck schemes. It didn’t hurt that my brother also schmoozed several of the city’s politicians, some of which were in hock to him! But this latest deal? Damn my brother had fallen fast and hard for, of all things, a socialite and I couldn’t wait to finally meet her. If this kept up, maybe she’d be the one that could finally make his ass go legit and keep it that way. I could only hope.

As we pulled into the underground parking of La Grange Enterprises, I felt another familiar stirring brought on by thoughts of a different sort—thoughts of her that had me glad to be home. Rileigh was here. Reconnecting with the woman that had stole my heart with more than her dance moves was at the top of my to do list. If I played my hand right, my brother wouldn’t be the only La Grange to find love. A reunion with Rileigh was long overdue and this time I was all in.