Noah knocked loudly and heard Ton call out.
“Hold your horses!”
“So what brings you here?”
Ton moved aside and let Noah into the house. He told Noah to sit down.
Ton grabbed some beers from the fridge and handed one to Noah. Noah studied Ton’s face, and Ton looked at him too.
Jake was right about Ton. Noah had never seen him this way. Ton used to have an easy smile that reached his eyes. Now he looked worn out, as though he had just given up. Ton had always been large. That’s why they called him Ton. However, before he had had a lot of solid muscle. Now he was just flabby and overweight. Noah decided not to beat around the bush.
“My dealership is doing great, and Harley has given me the green light on an idea of mine. I need you to work on it with me. I want you to move to Santa Fe. Fly back with me tomorrow. I need someone I can trust, and that has always been you, Ton.”
Ton pulled out his cell and Noah heard the conversation. No way was he going to let Ton fight tonight. He stayed a while longer, and Ton wanted to hear all about Noah and his family. Ton was finally smiling as he listened.
Noah told him that he’d be back later to go with Ton to the fight. Ton told Noah that he didn’t belong in that type of place anymore, but Noah told him emphatically that he was going with him. Then Noah went back to Bronson’s for a conversation with Sharlee that he knew was going to be very difficult.
It dawned on Sharlee what Noah planned to do.
Sharlee looked at him. She knew that if she begged him not to do it, reminding him of his responsibility to her and their children, he wouldn’t fight. But if he didn’t help Ton and something happened to Ton, then Noah would never forgive himself. She had hoped that this side of Noah’s life had been left in the past, but his sense of loyalty, his bravery were some of the qualities that made her love him. She had known and accepted who he was from the very beginning and did not have the right to force him to change.
“Babe, I feel the same way.”
“You’d better come back to me. You’d better come back to Skylar and Logan.”
“I always will!”
“Do we have time for another Brewski before we hit the road?”
Ton started to go the fridge.
Noah decked him! He hated sucker punching Ton, but Noah knew that if he even suggested to Ton that he fight in his place, Ton would be outraged and refuse. So Noah had decided not to even try to reason with him.
Noah opened Ton’s wallet looking for the hidden compartment where he knew that Ton always kept a spare token that would allow a guest acceptance into his gang’s area. He was surprised to find pictures of himself, Sharlee and the children. He put his hand on Ton’s shoulder affectionately.
Ton was still stunned and Noah quickly tied him up and gagged him. Noah left Ton’s place and headed for the subway.
When the fight began, Terrell quickly swung his leg at Noah with a roundhouse kick. Noah evaded it but was impressed with Terrell’s speed. He caught his breath, thinking to himself that this fight was not going to be easy to win, but he was determined to win.
Noah swung his leg in a kick, and Terrell dropped low. Noah had anticipated that Terrell would go low and still landed his foot against the side of Terrell’s head. Terrell was stunned but was only down momentarily. They quickly traded blows landing heavy punches on each other.
“Hey! I thought this was gonna be a fair fight! Two against one ain’t happening!”
Terrell stood up. Aldo told Freddie and Dean to leave the ring.
“What do you mean?”
Aldo sighed. Buster was right. He called out to the ref.
Noah could see Aldo’s anger and resentment, knowing that things had not gone as Aldo intended. He had not wanted to release Ton. That was why he had selected Terrell for the fight. Now he would have to do it or risk losing face with his gang.
“Best fight I had in years!”
“Yeah, same here!”
“Sure. Heard about the fight and knew things would probably go sideways. Owed ya for get’n me in with Luis at his club. Now that they really believe I’ve gone straight, my family includes me for family dinners and get togethers. My Bro and Pops call me just to jaw all the time again. My Mom says she’s proud of me. So, we’re square now.”
“You and Sharlee still—.”
“We just had another baby, a little boy this time.”
“She’ll always be blazing to me, but yeah, she’s still blazing. Dean, man, I appreciate what you did tonight. Next time I’m in town, maybe we can get a couple of Brewskis and catch up, but you still better stay away from Sharlee.”
Noah went to change and clean up in the locker room before heading to the subway. He called the airline and booked a ticket for Ton for that night. He also changed his own tickets for the same flight leaving Bridgeport that night. He didn’t trust Taglianni to keep his word and wanted to get Ton out of Bridgeport as soon as possible. He called Sharlee to tell her that the fight was over and asked her to pack and be ready to leave when he got back to Bronson’s.
When he arrived at Ton’s and untied him, Ton took one look at him and instead of berating him, grabbed what he’d already packed and left the house with Noah. On the way to Bronson’s home, Noah explained what had happened.
Sharlee had brought his carrier on with them and intended to put him in it after he was asleep.
Sky exclaimed loudly. “No, Mommy! I want Daddy!”
“It’s okay, Babe. I can get her.”
Noah reached for Sky and groaned in pain. He had to immediately sit back in his seat before he could try again.
“How bout you keep your old Uncle Ton company for a while. I’m feel’n lonely over here.”
She smiled at him.
Ton helped her to get comfortable in his lap and before long she was asleep. He smiled down at her, feeling hopeful for the first time in years and happy to be able to spend time with Noah and his family.
“Mom is going to take Ton and the kids to our house to get Ton settled and put the babies to bed. You and I are going to the hospital. Daddy is meeting us there and letting us in through a private entrance. He’s already made arrangements for you to be examined and treated. There is no sense in arguing. You’re going!”
Noah saw the set of her jaw and knew that she was determined. Besides, he knew that he needed to go.
After Noah had been examined, the doctor wanted him to stay for a few hours of observation, but that he’d probably be released sometime during the next morning if there were no complications. Sharlee called her mother to check on the kids and to let her and Ton know how Noah was doing.
“The doctor said that he has a fractured rib, a bruised kidney and a concussion. Daddy told him that it was dangerous to fly without treatment and that he’s lucky he didn’t have a lung puncture.”
Noah hated being in the hospital. He was ready to go home, but he knew that Sharlee would worry if he didn’t follow the doctors instructions. He finally relaxed as he realized that Ton was free of the gang and would be living here in Santa Fe. He intended to do everything he could to make the adjustment to living here easy for Ton.
When they arrived at the house, Alissa had just put breakfast on the table. She’d put Skylar’s bib on and was about to put Sky into her booster seat when Skylar saw her Daddy and went running happily to him.
“See, we’re all home safe and sound.”
Noah couldn’t help but laugh.
“Have you decided who you’re going to assign to work with Ton?”
Noah was going to institute a mobile repair truck for his business. Ton and another repairman would go to the customer, instead of requiring the customer to come to the shop for repairs. He believed that some customers would find that type of service a great convenience and would be willing to pay a bit more for it. If it worked out well at Noah’s dealership, then Harley would begin rolling out the plan at other locations.
He believed that Ton would enjoy that type of job, but he also knew that Ton might have a problem with the paperwork and computer usage that would be involved. That would have to be the responsibility of the other repairman assigned to work with Ton.
Noah looked at her and then said jokingly. “I knew there was a good reason why I keep you around! That’s a great idea. For the first few months, I’ll go out with him. Then I can see for myself what things need to be tweaked in the program.”
“This way when you do assign someone else to work with Ton, Ton will feel more comfortable because he’ll already know what to do.”
“This sure is some place!”
“Yeah, we really like it.”
“Thanks, man. That means a lot.”
Noah explained to Ton about the repair position, and Ton was looking forward to starting.
Noah didn’t tell Ton, but he remembered conversations with Ton about his dream place. Ton wanted a little place near the water. A quiet place where he could fish or just sit and look out over the water. Noah intended to get that type of place for him.
Noah frowned but didn’t respond.
“I mean it, Boy. You can’t save everybody, and you can’t take chances like that anymore. You have greater responsibilities now. You have a wife and two kids counting on you to be there for them. That sweet baby girl of yours would be devastated if anything happened to you. It goes without say’n that Sharlee and Logan would be too. You have to leave that life behind now.”
Noah knew that Ton was right. He couldn’t take chances like that anymore, but he still wasn’t sorry that he’d done it for Ton.
The other scenes have been added now. Thank you for your patience, and thanks for reading! 🙂