My name is Kai Okamoto. I deal drugs. Trade escapism for cold, hard cash.
Born to a British mother and a Japanese father, I grew up poor, hungry, and alone. Hiding from the monsters at our door. The debt collectors.
I’ve worked hard to escape my past. I’m not that frightened little boy anymore. I’m wealthy, secure, and sure of myself. At least I was, until I met Lily.
Lily is a good girl. The kind of girl I should stay away from. I should, but I can’t.
I hate lying to her, but if she finds out who I am, what I do. I won’t see her for dust.
He rolls the filter paper between his fingers. I glance at my dog, Duke, who is sitting on the floor at my side. Duke is watching him more intently than I am. I stroke my dog’s head to let him know everything is okay. For now. His right ear twitches but he doesn’t take his eyes off the guy who has now lit the joint. The smell of grass hits my nostrils as he exhales and passes the joint to me. I take a deep draw and hold it in my lungs before exhaling through my nose. I don’t do drugs. Thing is, buyers want to know they are getting the real deal, so I’m expected to share a joint with them before they buy. I take another puff and hand it back to him. He’s new to me. I don’t like dealing with people I don’t know, makes me edgy, but one of my regulars put the word in for him, so here he sits in my living room. He leans forward. Duke stiffens. I slide my fingers into his collar. “Sit back. You’re making my dog nervous.” He sits back. “You should get him trained.”
“He is trained.” Trained to attack anyone who threatens us. Trained to tell me when anyone gets near to our door. “Do you want the gear or not?”
“It’s alright but I’ve had better.”
“Bullshit. It’s the best you’ll get in this area.” I let go of Duke’s collar. “We’re done. You’ve wasted enough of my time.” He holds up his palms. “No, no. You’re right, it’s good stuff it’s just that I’m a bit tight at the moment.”
“What?” He shrugs. “I’m a bit short of cash this week.”
“Not my problem.” Someone is going to get a piece of my mind for recommending this a-hole to me.
“Can you knock a couple of quid off the price? It’ll be worth your while; I’ll be a regular customer.” Just what I need, a regular customer who won’t pay my prices. “I don’t give discounts.” I get to my feet and Duke stands beside me. “We’re done.”
“Okay, it was worth a try.” He pulls some notes out of his wallet and holds them out to me. “I’ll just tell my girlfriend that we’ll need to spend less on food this week.”
“Put your money away, get up, and get out.”
“It’s okay, I’ll pay.” He’s still holding out his cash. I step towards him. Duke follows. “We’re done here. Leave.” Following him to the door, I close and bolt it behind him. I clench and unclench my fists as I stomp back to the living room. Asshole. Pretending he’s poor when he’s wearing designer clothes and buying grass. Trying to do me out of money that’s mine. I know what it’s like to be poor and he isn’t it. I doubt he’s ever come home from school hungry and found no food in the house. I bet he never had to hide from debt collectors like me and Mum did. Seventeen years later and I can still remember how scared I would get when she heard the knock on the door and would tell me to shush and we’d have to hide beneath the window in case they looked in and saw us. At the time, I didn’t know who I was hiding from. I thought it was someone who was trying to hurt us. Shaking my head, I attempt to clear my negative thoughts. I don’t have to let shit like that affect me anymore. We’ll never be poor again. I’ve seen to that. Still, I’ve lost out on a sale and it irks me that I’ve lost out on money, and the fucker got a free joint. I close my eyes and draw in a deep breath.Enough Kai, just let it go. Mum’s sitting at the kitchen table, she looks up as I enter. “Is there a problem? I heard you telling that boy to leave.” I turn on the tap and fill a glass with water. “He wasn’t a boy, he’s was a man.”
“You all look young to me.” I stare out of the window at our back yard. The rain bounces off our iron garden table. “He didn’t want to pay my prices. It’s no problem; I’ve got plenty of other buyers.” I down my glass of water. “He’s not someone I want as a customer anyway.”
“Will he cause you any trouble?”
“He’s a chancer, not an idiot. If he messes with me, word will get around and there won’t be a dealer in the area who will sell to him.”
“Maybe it’s time you gave this up. You could get a regular job.” Closing my eyes, I let out a breath and turn to face her. “And what, work more hours than I do now, for minimum wage so we just scrape by? If we’re lucky.”
“You have a good brain. You don’t need to settle for a minimum wage job.” Not wanting to snap at her, I stare at the ceiling while I get my temper under control. I fix my gaze on her. “You’re right, I am smart. Smart enough to know there are people with degrees doing minimum wage jobs. Who do you think they’re going to hire? Someone who went to university and got a degree? Or someone like me, who left school at sixteen?” She shrugs. “You could get a degree.”
“I don’t want one and I don’t need one. I’m happy doing what I’m doing, and it pays bloody well.” I notice she’s turning her cigarette pack over and over in her hand. “Why don’t you have a smoke? It’ll calm you down.”
“I’ve run out.” She opens the pack to show me it’s empty.
“You should have told me before you ran out. I’ll go buy you a pack.” Slipping my arms into my coat, I pull up my hood. Luckily, the shop isn’t far because the rain is chucking it down.
Michelle Abbott lives in the UK and hates describing herself in 3rd person.
She loves to write new adult romance about heroes who begin as the underdog and are protective of their girl.
She's an avid reader of romance, is addicted to coffee and loves wine and chocolate, so yeah, not the most healthy eating and drinking habits :-) She spends way too much time online when she should be writing. She collects teddy bears and occasionally knits a couple of rows on a sweater she started years ago, which she may eventually finish in time to wear for her funeral :-)