My life is on the line and I truly don’t know what’s coming next. Will I ever see her again? Will she ever know how I truly feel? What I truly want for the both of us?
I considered sending her a text, but then I realized I still hadn’t even gotten her phone number yet. What would I even say? If something happens to me tonight, it’d be better for her to just think I disappeared, rather than know the truth.
All eyes turn to me as I take my place in the family’s formation. There are whispers, but I only care about one man’s voice...
Still, it’s not the first voice I hear.
“Where’s Santino?” barks Luca.
I can barely contain the sneer from forming on my face. If I wasn’t forced to check my weapons in the lobby, I may very well have shot the spoiled brat where he stands and gone out in a blaze of glory rather than whatever waits for me on the other side of this meeting.
“Six-feet under,” I grumble. I turn my gaze to Gianni Barone. I’ve never lied to him about a job before, and I’m sure he knows it. But this Santino business isn’t about what Gianni might think, it’s about what the Russians will think.
“Do you have proof?” Luca whines, but I ignore him.
Gianni shifts in his big black chair. The countless books behind him are filled with near infinite wisdom and knowledge; I can only hope that the man who owns them contains half as much insight.
“He’s dead?” asks the boss.
I nod. “I made sure of it.”
“And the body?”
“He was being protected,” I explain. “It was all I could do just to get to him.”
The head mafioso sits up in his chair and trains his black eyes on my soul. “Protected?” he asks.
“I don’t know.”
Luca huffs and I don’t even bother to hold back my aggravation this time. I turn my attention entirely to the chubby spoiled brat and glare at him with the heat of a thousand suns. Rage fills up my soul and I have to dig my fingernails deep into my palms just to keep myself from jumping across the room and strangling the young fool.
Slowly, and with great effort, I turn my attention back to the godfather. “There were construction workers. I don’t want to point fingers, but I could have sworn I heard them speaking—”
Before I can finish my sentence, the office’s big oak doors push open behind me with a commanding creak. All attention turns to the entrance. Gianni’s secretary, a little old Italian lady named Madolina stands her ground and clears her throat. Her message is directed to only one man, but it’s for all of us.
“The Volkov’s are here, sir.”
Shit. They’re early.
It only takes a second for everything to fall apart.
The Russians come in, shake hands, and are cordial enough that, when Gianni points tow
ards me and says that I have given him my word that Santino Costa is dead—and that he believes me—Vadim Volkov, the head of the Volkov Bratva, simply nods and says that if my word is good enough for Gianni then it’s good enough for him as well.
I almost feel pride at the exchange. Am I finally important enough to be believed? To be truly accepted?
I’m still in physical pain, but my heartache suddenly doesn’t feel so serious anymore. I’m going to see Nia again, and with the peace that this historic partnership between the two major crime families will bring to the city, I might finally even be able to take a little break. More time spent with Nia means more time spent in heaven—a place I never thought I’d end up.
I stand tall as the two families talk, daydreaming about my future. Anything seems possible now; I’m almost free...