Tobias sat huddled on the stoop of the manse. Pops had been gone for what seemed to be an eternity, leaving nothing for him to buy anything with. Perhaps he had thought that the boy was with friends, but Tobias had no friends. He only had business associates.
Hungry, Toby began to worry.Panic set in when he saw Joey’s car appear at the end of the drive. Damn! Was there no way for him to be rid of the brute?
The car rolled up the drive and came to a stop in front of him. The window of the car was down and Joey leaned down enough to look out at him. “C’mon, boy. Git in.” When Toby hesitated, he frowned. “Don’ worry, boy. I ain’t gonna hurt you. Gonna take you so you c’n eat. git in.”
Toby did as he was told. The mobster wasn’t his pick of a savior, but it beat going hungry. “Why do you care?” He looked nervously over at the Italian. “I mean, I cause all sorts of trouble, make you mad at me, and you still wanna feed me. Why?”
Joey looked over at him. “I promised your pa I would see to your needs while he was gone. Besides. Alive, you are insurance that your pa will do what’s honorable. Dead, he has no reason to continue the charade he’s been playing. Also. You represent a possible investment yet to be made.”
He bowed his head. “I see.”
So that was it. He was insurance collateral to make sure Pops continued to play along with the front he was being forced to put on. Sort of something that the Mob could use to blackmail the old man with. He was now nothing more than a pawn.
Joey pulled up in front of the diner, George The Chili King. It was a relatively new diner which had just opened a few months before, but it had some of the best food. The coneys with chili were the best as were the chili fries. For once, Toby was glad that Joey had picked him up. What made it even better was the fact that the Italian allowed him to order a malt to finish with.
Joey smiled at the hop as she came to the table. “Gimme two more orders like that to go. the boy needs something for later.” She nodded and left for the kitchen. Joey looked over at Toby. “Good stuff, yah?”
Tobias nodded. “Yes, thank you.” the reply sounded foreign to him. He had never thanked anyone before.
The hop returned with a couple to-go bags with the orders in them and a cup caddie with two paper cups containing another two malts. She smiled. “Enjoy.”
Joey nodded and paid her for the three orders. Getting up, he motioned to Toby to follow. Toby obeyed and they left the diner. Getting back in Joey’s car, they pulled away and headed back in the direction of the manse.
The drive was a quiet one, but short. Pulling into the drive, Joey made sure they got as close to the door as possible. Parking, he got out and unlocked the manse for Toby, then turned to him. “If I were you, I would stay home tonight.”
Toby looked at him. “why?”
The Italian frowned. “Because you will have to lock up if you leave and I ain’t comin’ back to unlock the door again until tomorrow sometime. I don’t want to have to bail yer ass outta the hoosegow either. Unless ya want another beatin’.”
Toby shook his head. “No. I’ll stay home.”
Joey took the bags and cup caddie in and set them on the dining room table. “I would put these in the fridge if’n I were you. Unless you wanna git sick from bad food. tomorrow, I’ll git ya some Italian. Whatcha like? I’ll bring it in to you.”
Toby shrugged. “Lasagna and spaghetti.”
Joey smiled. “Then I’ll jus’ have the ol’ lady whip some up and bring to ya home style.”
Toby nodded. “Sounds good.”
He watched the Italian leave, then put two of the sacks in the ice box. the other two, he left on the table for later. He scratched his head. The Italian wasn’t all that bad. Made him want to join the Mob. But would they let him?
Joey smiled as he drove toward the little house he had been calling home for a year and a half. Donatella was a fine wife. She was also one hell of a good cook and mother. His children were the best as well. Unlike Tobias French, they were expected to behave and stay out of trouble. For all intents and purposes, they seemed to be devout Catholics who never veered from what was right.
His affiliation remained hidden from most. As far as Des Moines police, he was simply a business associate of Toffer French who had convinced the man to fix his broken company. And that was how he wanted it to remain until the act was no longer needed and French was out of the picture.
That day was coming soon if he wasn’t able to find the missing files. He had a feeling he wouldn’t. Something told him that those files were the reason Toffer’d had to go to DC. If that was the case, the Don would hand the company over to the bank and Toffer would–disappear.
No matter. It had been fun while it lasted. Still, he had another three years to find those missing files if he had to. After those three years, Toffer would be toast.
He emerged from his thoughts as he pulled into the drive. He would get Donatella to make a little spaghetti and some lasagna for the French boy. A pan of lasagna would last at least a week. A container of pre-made spaghetti could easily last most of a week, if portioned correctly. The boy could eat like a king for days.
He smiled as he entered his home. “I’m Home!”
His children ran from every shadow to hug him, his wife emerging from the kitchen behind them. “How was your day, Dear?”