Friday! and another week gone already. I honestly can’t believe we’re nearly half through this year... I haven’t accomplished nearly enough writing...
As always, thank you for coming on this little journey with me. Your comments, reblogs, and interactions are greatly appreciated and cherished. These things keep your local writer writer-ing.
A group of men in perfectly pressed and tailored suits filed into the conference room. Near the back, the one who seemed most in charge unbuttoned his coat, taking a seat at the large, polished table. He looked at Katarina with a false smile, clearly here to schmooze rather than intimidate. Though, she was pretty sure option 2 was never off the table.
“Mr. Galindo,” she greeted, standing up just long enough to shake his hand.
“Ms. Kasun. It’s a pleasure to meet you in person finally,” he commented, his voice heavy with a practised timbre. It was clear that Miguel was a new, more polished generation of the Galindo cartel.
As Miguel settled in his chair once more, he made a dismissive gesture with his hand. Two of the large men in similarly expensive suits stepped out of the room. The youngest, hair braided and yellow-lensed glasses still on, stepped into the hall as well, intercepting the cup of coffee the receptionist had prepared. He took a sniff and a small sip before passing it to his boss.
Katarina watched the exchange quietly. It felt natural, but she also wouldn’t put it past Galindo to put on a little bit of show to remind her of his power. He was well respected and in a position of power.
She leaned forward a bit, resting her clasped hands on the table in front of her. Demonstration or not, she didn’t have time for all of his posturing. She had a dark and dangerous biker to meet later. At the local fun fair. Where he and his club were manning a dunk booth.
“I do appreciate you coming into the office. I know you’re quite busy. However, as I mentioned on the phone, I’m restructuring my business, and I am going to be unable to provide additional services for your corporation going forward,” Katarina said firmly,
“Ms. Kasun, I understand that the rise in material costs has led to… lower profits,” he mentioned, pausing before the word as though he was using a code. The smirk and tilt of his head were curated to make people feel like they were special, included in his own fair fortune. “I would be more than happy to compensate you appropriately for the specialty services you provide.”
With his words, the other man approached, passing Miguel a chequebook. He leaned forward a little bit, making sure Katarina saw the two silver pistols in his shoulder holster. She nearly smiled at the blatant bribe and intimidation tactics.
She reached across the table, plucking the pen from Miguel’s fingers. There was a slight flare to his nostrils that indicated he wasn’t used to being told no.
“I don’t want to waste your time,” she explained, laying the pen flat on the table beneath her palm. “There’s no number you can write that is going to change my mind,” Kat assured, smiling. She’d only seen Galindo Sr. once, but it was long enough to see how much Miguel looked just like his father. It made it a little harder to keep a pleasant expression on her face.
“If it’s personal, I can assure you that my organisation has a comfortable working relationship with the Mayans MC,” he added, showing his hand. Kat had expected him to research her so it wasn’t a surprising addition.
Katarina kept the smile on her face, not letting him see that it annoyed her to be presumed to be anything but professional regarding a business relationship.
“As I said earlier, I don’t want to waste your time,” she declared, standing up and gesturing to the door. “Roberto and Phoenix will be continuing with vehicle armaments, and I know he would be grateful to keep your business.”
Miguel tucked his chin gracefully, taking her cue. He stood up and rebuttoned his jacket, handing the chequebook back to his right hand.
“Out of curiosity, what will you be branching into?” Miguel asked, waiting for Katarina to walk around the table.
“I’ll be streamlining my operations into personal protection. There’s more room for innovation and growth there,” she explained, walking with him to the elevators. “When your son starts school, give me a call.”
“For a tiny flak jacket?” he questioned, clearly not taking her seriously.
“Of course not,” Kat grinned, shaking her head. “For a backpack reinforced with a backplate capable of blocking rifle rounds.”
Miguel’s teasing smile slipped. He wanted to be annoyed at the loss of a top technician, but even he realised she’d still be creating useful products. Plus, it would be common for a non-local to want to distance themselves from the cartel.
“Have a nice day,” she added, giving him a friendly wave as the lift doors opened.
Once Miguel and his entire group had left her floor, Katarina walked back to her office. She flopped into her desk chair, resting her head on her desk for a few minutes. It took a lot of energy to deal with someone hard like Galindo. Kat wasn’t easily intimidated, but it was still tiring to match his energy.
After a few more minutes, she sat up and rolled her neck from side to side. She still couldn’t decide if that had gone smoother or rougher than anticipated. Glad it was over, Kat grabbed her backpack and headed to the bathroom, swapping her dress for jeans and a cosy wool sweater.
Kat’s decision to stay in Santo Padre, and involved with Coco, had made her choice clear. She needed to separate her business from the cartel and prevent any risk of her work impeding Coco’s. It would keep both of them safer.
Coco had been surprisingly resistant when Kat first brought up her plan to stop working with the Galindos. It took a few days before she discovered that he felt like she was giving up yet another thing just to be with him, and he didn’t like the added pressure. After learning that, though, it barely took her any time to inundate him with facts, figures, and all other types of information about her new job plan. He could feel her excitement about this new project.
Outside the building, Kat heard a motorcycle arriving. Angel had made some modification to his exhaust, and it was now loud enough to rattle the windows on the glass building she worked in. She closed one eye as she listened for other bikes, barely able to make out the rumble of Coco’s softail over the exaggerated roar.
Kat jumped up from her desk, peering out the window, a grin spreading on her face as Coco shielded his eyes from the autumn sun so he could look up at her window. He couldn't see her, but he waved anyway.
After just another few seconds, Kat appeared in the parking lot. She tossed her discarded clothes into her trunk, grabbing her helmet before walking over to Coco and the Reyes brothers.
“You good, mi vida?” Coco asked, raising his chin as she stepped up beside him.
“All good,” she replied, a smile stretching on her face to mirror his. His question was about more than just the casual ‘how was work’ he usually asked when he picked her up, and Katarina was glad that they could finally move past all of the obstacles that had been in their path.
She started to wrap her arms around Coco, the distance between them closing until Angel made a loud noise of protest. Kat gently grasped Coco’s chin, bringing him in for a quick kiss.
“Could y’all get back to this shit after we raise a bunch of money at the carnival?” EZ asked, knowing Angel wouldn't ask half as nicely.
“I guess we could hit pause,” Katarina said sarcastically, still grinning. She tossed her leg over the back of Coco’s bike, clipping the chinstrap on her helmet.
“Hospital kids always gettin’ in the way,” Coco commented, shaking his head. Katarina slid her arms around his waist, sitting up extra straight so she could rest her chin on his shoulder for a second.
“We’ve got forever, y’know,” she murmured, pressing a kiss just behind his ear.
“Still sounds fucking crazy, but I got a weakness for crazy,” he replied, firing up his motorcycle.
Katarina relaxed her posture, snuggling up behind him for the ride to the fairgrounds. She definitely enjoyed being included in things, and felt entirely at peace being able to be in a relationship that wasn’t conducted entirely behind closed doors.
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