Vito: Just dropped Tito off at the airport for his girl’s night out. Any word on the dogs?
Bo: You know your brother doesn’t find that nearly as funny as you do?
Vito: You know you respond pretty damn fast for a guy who says he’s busy?
Vito tapped his thumb against the side of his phone, waiting. Bo didn’t even give him the courtesy of opening his message before ignoring him.
Vito: If you’re gonna ignore me, it’s common courtesy to at least leave me on read
Another impatient wait. Another refusal to open the text. Vito rolled his eyes and tried again.
Vito: I know he doesn’t think it’s funny. But I’m a dick, so I don’t know why I should pretend I ain’t
Bo: Because he’s the only brother you have, and he can only put up with so much before it’s too much. If you lose him, he’s not coming back. I don’t think you’d survive that.
Vito: I didn’t pop in to chat about my feelings, Tito’s feelings, or what life would be like without him. I want to know if you’re ready to make a move on the dog fights.
Bo: Sometimes, it would seem as though my politeness to you makes you forget who you are speaking to. Whether or not you like it, whether or not you realize it, I am your boss, Vito. And I could have you taken out as a threat at any point in time. The least you could do is give me the common courtesy of faking respect in our conversations.
Vito closed his eyes and tilted his head back against the headrest. He did respect Bo. Bo was one of the few people alive in the world that he’d ever respected. Christ, the man was the only person he’d ever come out to. But it didn’t mean he wanted to talk about Tito, or how he talked to Tito, or how he talked about Tito. They were brothers. It was just how Vito showed he loved the guy. Tito knew that, no matter what Bo thought.
Vito forced his eyes open and drew in a deep breath, slowly letting it back out as he typed up his first attempt at a response. After about the twelfth round of edits, he sent it through.
Vito: I DO respect you. I’m just y’know a bit of a cunt. A lot of a cunt. Being a dick is like my love language or whatever
Bo: It’s your defense mechanism, is what it is.
Vito: Fucking ‘defense mechanism’. What the hell do I have to be defensive about?
Bo: lol… Would you like me to start up a list?
Vito: ha ha
Vito: Fuck off
Vito: The dogs though. Where we at?
Bo: I have the majority of it ready to go. For all intents and purposes, it’s good to go now. But unless you can memorize the blueprint, place the explosives without alerting anyone or killing anyone, and then free the dogs before the explosives go off, it’s a two person job, if not three.
Vito raised an eyebrow and called Bo instead. The blonde picked up after the first ring. “Explosives?”
“Oh, yes, we are taking down that operation in its entirety. Each time we find a building they’re hosting a fight in, we’re taking the building down too. If they have to rebuild all of their rings, it’s going to take a hell of a lot longer for them to recover, and that gives enough time to get to Hernandez himself.”
“Ah, kill all the snake’s babies before you finally cut his head off,” Vito said. “I like it.”
“Well… more ‘draw the snake out so we can cut his head off’ but if it helps to see the buildings as snake babies, you’re free to imagine them as such.”
Vito snorted. “Works for me, dude. Sir.” He scratched at the scruff on his cheek and cleared his throat. “You know, I could plant the bombs.”
“You’ve never laid an explosive in your life. I don’t plan to let you start experimenting in a building full of dogs.”
Vito tilted his head to the side before nodding. “Yeah, that’s probably fair.” He cleared his throat. “So I gotta wait for Tito to get back from Lillian’s?”
“Unless you want to work with one of my soldiers instead. I believe Phoenix would be available today, but I’m not sure either of us would be comfortable with you running a mission like this with someone you’ve met, what… once?”
“Like, once and a half.” Vito let out a breath. “So we wait till Tito gets back. What am I supposed to do till then? Sit and stew?”
“Ideally, you’d find a hobby that doesn’t involve killing people so you can entertain yourself between jobs.”
“I have hobbies. They just don’t… give me the kind of buzz work does.”
“I still think you’d greatly benefit from a psychiatrist.”
“Shrinks are for—”
“I’d tread carefully on your choice of descriptor, Minetti.”
Vito glanced up before nodding. Bo had been seeing a quack for who the hell knew how long. He wasn’t exactly the poster boy for mental health though, regardless of how often he advocated for the shit. Still, Vito knew when to bite his tongue. Mostly. He settled for, “Shrinks aren’t for me. Spill all my thoughts and secrets to a stranger? Sober? Not happening.”
“Well, regardless,” Bo said after a moment, “I can’t have you taking people out left and right because you’re frustrated.” He cleared his throat. “As an aside, you are still sober, aren’t you?”
Vito’s gaze fell to his Bailey’s-spiked cup of coffee in the center console. “Totally.”
“No alcohol whatsoever? Marijuana counts against your sobriety, as well.”
“Nothing. I’m free and clear,” Vito said. “It just doesn’t, like, regulate me like it did when you first made me ease off everything.”
“Right. Well, we’ll figure something out. In the meantime, keep yourself occupied. I’m sure you still have Tinder on your phone.”
Vito snorted. “Yeah, that’s a good enough use of time for now. I’ll call you as soon as I know when Ti’s comin’ back.”
“Good, we’ll chat when he returns, then. If plans change before then, I’ll be in touch. Until then, keep your nose clean.”
“Do my best, Chief.”
Bo ended the call, and Vito pulled his phone from his ear to back out to his home screen. He swiped his thumb across the device and opened up Tinder. Sex wasn’t a cure all, but it was a temporary fix. For now, temporary would have to do.
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