As Frank tells me the best is yet to come, I munch, drink, balance, and believe him.
There’s a knock on the door and I sag with disappointment. You’ve got to be kidding me. Who shows up to a wake this late?
Wrapping the robe around my waist, I approach the door with a scowl on my face. It’s nearly ten. Come on.
I see a shadowy figure through the foggy glass of my front door, but Rodney knew a lot of night owls, so I don’t think twice as I open it up to greet the latecomer. I won’t invite him in, whoever it is.
An older man with salt and pepper hair stands at the door, expression neutral when I first arrive, but taking in my attire, he looks a little more interested.
Gross. He’s literally my father’s age. I assume. Mom never actually told me how old my dad was.
He has a big, long nose and bushy eyebrows that only old men can get away with.
Kindly ignoring the way his gray eyes rake over my body, I inform him, “Uh, thanks for stopping by to pay your respects, but the wake ended a couple hours ago, and my daughter’s already in bed, so… this isn’t a good time, but thanks.”
I nod at him, backing up to close the door, but a large man in a leather jacket and jeans suddenly appears, apparently having been backed up against my house, off to the side where I didn’t see him. His hammy arm stops the door before I can get it shut, and a shot of fear runs through me.
My gaze jumps to the older man; he’s not afraid.
The older man walks right into my house as his giant sidekick walks me backwards until I run into the closet door. I look up at him, swallowing, then look back to the older man.
“What is this?” I ask.
“Mrs. Gellar?” the old man asks, taking the hat from his head and holding it in his hand, in a mocking show of respect. “So sorry for your loss.”
Obviously that’s not sincere, so I don’t bother thanking him. His giant goon steps away from me, since I’m proving docile, and picks up a picture frame I have displayed on the end table by the stairs. Glancing at it a moment, he passes it to the old man.
The man takes it, his gaze landing on my sweet daughter’s chubby baby cheeks and he smiles—sort of. It doesn’t quite look like a smile, but I don’t know what else to call it.
“Cute kid,” he tells me, dropping the frame on the floor.
The glass doesn’t shatter, but I glance down and see it did crack, right down the middle of Lily’s face.
Swallowing, still with my back against the closet door, I ask, “What do you want?”
The older man’s bushy brows shoot up his forehead. “You don’t want to know who I am?”
“Fine, who are you?” I ask, not interested in a guessing game.
“Antonio Castellanos. You know who I am now?”
My stomach sinks, because I do. Of the two crime families who essentially own Chicago, I know little, but I do know the names of the bosses: Mateo Morelli, and Antonio Castellanos.
“Fuck,” I mutter.
Antonio smiles, looking at Giantman over here. “She’s fun. Isn’t she fun?”
His tone as dead as his eyes, Giantman looks at me and says, “So much fun.”
“I don’t like fun broads,” Antonio informs me. “But that’s okay. You’re not for me.”
“No shit,” I say, before I can help myself.
The old man looks like he’s going to respond, but then he pauses. “Are you listening to The Best is Yet to Come?” he asks, listening to the end of the song playing in the kitchen. “Your husband just died, you’re listening to this?”
“You knew him, right?” I say, rhetorically.
He shrugs. “I did. You’re right. Not a lot to miss. Surprised you know that though, on account you’re his woman.”
I can really only stare at him for that one.
“Anyway. I guess I don’t have to tell you, your husband was quite the gambler. Spending money all over town. Just happens, he owed me a lot of money when he died.”
Whatever amusement I’ve been able to maintain drains out of me now. I knew Rodney borrowed money to supplement his gambling habit when my paychecks ran out, but from Antonio fucking Castellanos?
“You know Mateo Morelli put the hit on him,” he adds, watching my face for a reaction.
I keep it completely blank as I reply, “I’ll have to send him a card; he saved me a lot of money.”
Regarding his large friend, Castellanos points to me and says, “Cold as ice, this one. Jesus Christ.” Then, back to me, he says, “I’ll be honest, honey, I liked you for your face and your tits, but I think you’re even more perfect than I expected.”