The Delaneys and Me
  When Liam gets on the wrong side of the Delaney twins, their idea of punishment turns out to be rather more interesting than expected ...

The Delaneys and Me - Extract

It’s a truth universally acknowledged, particularly in this city, that you don’t mess with the Delaney twins. Ever. If you know what’s good for you. However, I’m not known for my caution under duress and this, therefore, is the story of how I did exactly that.

The Delaneys lived on the shady side of town. I don’t mean where the majority of the trees are. They’re not really park people. No, I mean on the shady side of the law. Here, if you wanted a dodgy deal, a hot gun or dirty money, the Delaneys were your first port of call. If you wanted to give an enemy a serious fright or get overdue money paid to you, the Delaneys were the people you see. Hell, if you even wanted to start a new business that was above board, you’d have to check with them first. Unless you wanted your windows smashed on your first week of trading and your potential customers never to show up, that is.

They were bad enemies to have then, but loyal friends. Which meant that, at the end of one particular sultry August night, when their beloved cousin Brandon dumped me publicly and in no uncertain terms, and when I’d expressed my opinion on that act equally publicly and in terms just as committed, I knew I was going to be in a damn sight of trouble.

Not that the Delaneys had any kind of reputation for gay-bashing at all. No, quite the opposite in fact. But when I’d poured a nearly full bottle of Dom Perignon from the next table over bloody Brandon’s head and told him and the whole of Luigi’s restaurant that I was going straight to the police with what I knew or guessed at about his more dubious activities, and see him buggered good and proper (yes, I really do talk like that when I’m angry – it’s my background, so I’m afraid you’ll have to bear with it), even I, in my understandable rage, could tell my prospects weren’t good.

All that next day therefore, I was waiting. Not that I wasn’t still angry, because I was. I thought Brandon and I had had something going. We’d been screwing for ten months, and serious about it for seven of those months. That was pretty long-term by my standards. Especially as my parents had been tight-lipped about me seeing him at all, because of the Delaney connection. They were pretty laid back about the gay aspects of it; my elder sister already had the grandchildren, thank God. But they’d been worried about me hobnobbing with dubious people, as they so succinctly put it. Naturally, at the time, I’d ignored their words of wisdom but now, after realising just quite what a little two-timing lying shit Brandon actually was, I wished I’d paid more attention.

I wished I didn’t have quite so much of a temper when wronged too, but it couldn’t be helped. So the day after I’d doused Brandon with the most expensive bottle of bubbly I could lay my hands on, I went to work. Like any other day. I worked in an art gallery, mainly number crunching and sending out boxes and boxes of marketing bumph. Not to mention helping to hang pictures and handing out wine glasses at numerous functions. The gallery owner – a no-nonsense elegant woman in her fifties called Melissa – knew her stuff and knew how to sweet-talk people into doing exactly what she wanted too. We were all terrified of her. When Melissa walked in, you straightened your back and doubled your efforts. And some. It was through her that I’d met Brandon – she and the Delaney twins seemed to have some kind of mutual understanding and they’d never bothered us. Now I wished she hadn’t been quite so pally with that gang after all.

So, I spent all morning packing boxes and calming down and then all afternoon worrying and glancing at the door every time it opened. Not that retribution would happen here of course. I wasn’t stupid. Melissa would never stomach it. Besides, the Delaneys weren’t old-time gangsters. Then again, neither were they to be messed with. Even though I’d never go to the police and didn’t know anything anyway, I’d said too much and in public for them to let it go. I briefly toyed with the idea of begging my boss for help and standing stark naked in the middle of Luigi’s with a huge sign on me that read: please forgive me. I’m sorry. I’ll never do it again. But, bearing in mind the fact that I’d never be allowed back in to the scene of the crime anyway, that one was probably a no-hoper.

With all that going through my head, I was pleased that the only one in work today was me. I wasn’t sure how I’d have coped with conversation, of any sort. Plus it didn’t give me much of a chance to miss bloody Brandon too much, the tosser.

6pm came way, way too quickly, and when I’d done all I could to elongate the time before my inevitable kicking – God, I hoped that whoever was tasked with my punishment wouldn’t be too mean and that I wouldn’t be in hospital too long – I finally locked up and started on the ten-minute walk for home. I was never any good with the concept of pain.

I clocked the bloke following me almost at once. Medium height, dark-haired and well-built. No doubt with muscles like rocks that he was soon going to put to good use. Oh God, this was it then, I thought. Prepare for the inevitable. Every step of the way I fully expected that he was going to leap on me, drag me into some dark corner of the city streets and beat the life out of me. Though I hoped he might leave me with the odd breath. Just to keep going.

It didn’t happen like that. Strangely. Still, he was probably just stretching out the tension until I was so terrified I’d be helping him to beat me up, but to be honest it was doing my head in, and by the time I got to the front door of my block of flats, I was shaking like Jackson Pollock after one whisky too many.

It was then that a strong hand descended onto my shoulder and swung me round.

“Okay, okay,” I began to say, or rather stammer. “It’s-It’s all my fault and I’m sorry. I’ll take my punishment, whatever way you want to dole it out. But please, I …”

But it wasn’t the man who’d been following me and I shut up at once. And swallowed. “Oh. Where’s …?”

“He’s not here right now, Liam,” the Delaney twin said. “It’s just you, me, and my brother.”

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