Eyes blinking against the bitter January wind, Tank checked the street outside Freddy Noster’s cash drop then led Dom Bandini to the Audi. As he started the engine Dom raised his cell where Tank could see it and held the off button. Tank followed suit.
“Head over to Southside Park.”
Tank liked that. He had only body-guarded Dom for three months, but he appreciated the discipline in the Bandini organization and how it started with Dom’s father. New burner phones every week, important conversations outside. Nothing electronic, except a laptop that never moved more than six inches away from Freddy Noster’s elbow. Freddy was the organization’s accountant, and Tank figured he slept with that laptop.
Twenty minutes later Tank parked and shifted his Glock from his shoulder holster to his jacket pocket. He and Dom stepped into the blunt January wind and crossed to the edge of the Monongahela River. The surface was choppy, the orange vapor lights of the highway and warehouses on the far shore fractured on the river surface. Snowflakes whipped downriver toward Pittsburgh’s skyline.
“OK,” said Dom. “You know that restaurant we own in Bloomfield, the Italian place?”
“Yeah.” Tank’s eyes were drawn to the lights on the far shore.
“We been coming up short. Took a while for Freddy to notice. Then Connor, the guy who runs the place? He just got himself a BMW.”
They thought about that. Finally Tank said: “You want me to visit Connor? See what he has to say?”
“Exactly. Next Tuesday I gotta be in Youngstown. That would be the night.”
Annoyed, Tank squeezed the lump of his Glock. “You don’t need me in Youngstown?”
Dom snugged his collar tight. “Stevie is gonna cover me.”
Stevie was a twenty-year Bandini veteran and ran protection on the other side of the business, the part Tank hadn’t seen yet. He had more than fifteen years and eight inches of height on Tank, but Tank’s chest and width gave him the edge on weight. It was why he’d earned the nickname Tank in boot camp.
“Then that’s the night,” said Tank.
Their eyes met briefly, Dom’s still jumpy from the coke he liked to snort. Dom leaned toward him. “Nobody steals from us. After Tuesday night Connor is gone. How you make that happen is up to you. You good with that?”
“OK.” Dom nodded toward the car. “Let’s get ourselves some sleep.”
As they walked Tank flexed his fingers against the cold, his eyes roaming the path ahead. He was a long way from his two tours in Iraq, from those six years in the Army. Longer still from the Aunt and Uncle who had raised him after his parents died. All that seemed distant, like the lights on the far shore of the river. But he also knew that if he handled Connor right, he would finally have something in front of him.
Kathy, Dom’s girlfriend, looked up from her magazine as Tank and Dom entered Dom’s kitchen. A glass of white wine sat at her elbow, her long hair pulled back in a rough bun. Her smile was more than a bit crooked. “Wow. The dynamic duo.”
“Just bringing home the bacon,” said Dom. He lifted her chin and kissed her. Tank saw a looseness in Kathy’s brown eyes.
“You have no idea how much I like your bacon,” she said after the kiss, and laughed loudly.
Dom’s mouth tightened and he glanced at the wine glass. “Listen up. That meet we talked about? Tuesday night in Youngstown? We’re good. Let your guy know, OK?”
She drained her glass. “Yes sir.”
Dom looked at Tank. “You staying in?” Tank’s apartment was on the third floor.
“Need to check something. I’ll be back.” He stepped to the back door, armed the security system and closed the door behind him. Through the glass he watched Dom lean over and say something to Kathy, point at the wine glass, then head for the stairs. Once he was gone Kathy pulled a bottle of wine from the refrigerator, poured herself a solid half glass and drank it off, then followed him.
Tank thought about that as he crossed to the garage and slid behind the wheel of his pick-up truck. He liked Kathy, liked the way her high forehead and brown eyes made her good looking in an intelligent way. But mostly he liked how she carried herself. She was sure about things, as if she had a plan.