I was nervous. This was the day.
We were already at Giovanni’s vacation house by the beach, deep in the woods.
The beauty of Giovanni’s vacation house was breath-taking, my mouth had hung open at the sight. With stone and concrete structures, multiple arches, columns and multiple balconies, it looked imperial…rich… traditional. The building had three floors respective to the ground floor and on the slabbed roof sat a helipad to aid in a quick getaway if things went south.
The children were situated all over the area in masks and suit with weapons. My stomach had not settled since last night. I could already feel everything going wrong and I hated it.
We had trained them to the best of their ability but was it enough? Would they survive, if a fight arose?
My head was pulsing and I felt nauseous. My hands had long started to tremble and I was breaking out in sweat. An overreaction, maybe but you wouldn’t understand unless you were in my position. I may have grown-up in the gang life but I was not exposed to it.
Death, killing…it scared me…
The sound of tires crunching against the gravel met my ears and I knew that they were here. This was it.
The cool sea breeze blew against my face, cooling me and I looked out at the rough glistening waters. The ocean was beautiful, free to wash at whatever shore it pleased and a force to be reckoned with. I had never experienced what it was like to play and frolic in its waters or even feel the sand under my feet. It was something my mom promised me while living in Florida but we never really had the time or chance…
My hands tightened on the iron railings as footsteps entered the back patio. Her voice pierced the air and I stiffened turning to stare at Elia.
“Get into position, brat and do not fuck this up,” she hissed sitting at the patio table and I clenched my fists before standing behind her, a gun in hand.
Giovanni, his sons and three men walked towards us, Giovanni at the front and his sons at the rear. The men were tall, dark and handsome. They all had dark hair and wore suits. The man at the front in a dark blue suit was to one to catch my attention, his blue-green eyes similar to Diana’s. He was her father. The Mafia Boss. The leader.
My eyes went to Vanni who was looking straight at me, his gaze showing something rather than indifference. I looked away, strengthening my detached expression, refusing to think about that now.
Elia looked towards them with a smirk and the leader eyed her with deep hatred.
She sat lazily in stylish jumper, her hair in a ponytail while I was in a well-tailored pantsuit. Giovanni was in a black suit, similar to Roberto while Vanni wore a grey suit with a vest rather than a jacket.
Giovanni took a seat next to Elia, placing a kiss on her lips before looking up at the man with a raised brow. Elia smiled at the leader coyly, tilting her head and a playful look in her eyes as the Ferrez brothers came to stand beside me.
“Take a seat Silvestre,” Giovanni smirked and the man took a seat opposite them, his two henchmen staring daggers at Elia.
“Anything to drink?” Giovanni asked and he declined.
“Fine. Shaneil, get Elia and I a drink from the kitchen,” Giovanni said, gesturing to me and I nodded before making my way to the kitchen, collecting their drinks.
My heart pounding as PJ who stood behind the marble counter gave me a shaky smile.
Everything will be fine, she mouthed and I nodded before heading to the patio.
“Cristiano, so good to see you again,” Elia smiled, taking a sip of the mimosa that I had handed her. “How is Indiana? Dead I presume?”
The men on either side of Cristiano made a move but Cristiano held up his hand, indicating for them. By that time however, Roberto, Vanni and I were aiming our guns at them.
My heart was having a field day in my chest, the threat of a shoot-out hanging in the air. I didn’t want to but if it came to me or them, I would pull this trigger.
Both men returned to their posts, grunting under their breath and we lowered our guns, eying them warily. To this Giovanni who takes a sip of his liquor.
Fucking unbothered devil.
“I’m here for my daughter not for small talk. I have no reason to want to be in your presence any longer than I have to,” Cristiano said with a tilt of his head, regarding Giovanni with a hard gaze. “Let’s get this out of the way.”
Elia looked at her lover and Giovanni nodded, saying instructing Vanni to get the contract in Spanish, causing Elia to pout. Vanni left without a word before returning minutes later with a large envelope in his hands, handing it to his father.
Putting down his drink, Giovanni sat up straight pushing the envelope towards the man.
“It’s quite simple, Silvestre. I want more than just access to your area. I want a partnership.”
His words caused Cristiano Silvestre to pause gazing at him with a dark look.
“You have a lot of balls Ferrez,” he stated, eyes on the contract. “You expect me, to sign over half my father’s business to you when I have no proof that my daughter is actually here.”
Diana. From the look in her father’s eyes I could see that he cared a lot for her. I almost smiled at least she had a father that cared.
“She is here in the vicinity and you will have her once you sign that contract,” Giovanni stated pushing a pen towards him.
“I’d be an idiot to trust you, Ferrez. Your bitch did shoot the mother of my child in the head.”
His voice was cold and Elia had the nerve to giggle at his words. It was as if she wanted this to end in a bloodbath.
“Guilty as charged,” she chuckled before leaning forward with a pout. “… I only did that because you were Charles’ and that whore’s bastard child and you needed to suffer as they made me. I took her from you just like your whore of a mother took him from me but whereas she took him emotionally, I took her physically so in away less painfully.”
Then she shrugged, fucking shrugged at the angered Mafia Leader.
“Enough, Elia,” Giovanni said waving his hand dismissively at her before looking at Cristiano. “You will get your daughter once the papers are signed.”
“I will not sign anything until I know where my daughter is and I want proof that she is indeed alive,” he dropped the papers to the desk watching Giovanni, wanting to know what his next move would be.
“You know I can kill her with just one call,” Giovanni threatened.
“…and you know that if you kill her, everyone here dies. I have nothing else to live for if she’s gone Ferrez and I will take you all to hell with me,” I say my voice strong leaving no room for doubt. They don’t know that Ana is alive so my partial bluff won’t be underestimated. “Now, either you show me proof or I assume you’ve fucked me over and return the favour.”
The patio went quiet, the waves crashing against the shore louder than before.
They observed each other and my mouth went dry. Cristiano’s words held promise, he was a man scorned with one person to live for, and he would take us down with him if hoodwinked. That had my hands shaking. I nearly jumped when a hand grabbed mine and I slyly looked over at Vanni who squeezed my hand in comfort, glancing at me for mere seconds…but it was enough for me to see the message in his gaze.
“Necesito hablar con el nina. Su padre quiere hablar con ella,” Giovanni said knocking me back to the discussion as he placed a phone down on the table.
The man conversed with his daughter and my heart ached as I listened to them, his love was evident.
I craved that with my own father but I would never be able to have it. He killed my mother that was something I couldn’t forgive. How could I ever try to form a relationship with the person who took the person I loved the most from me? It peeved me enough that I looked like him… I just couldn’t.
“Yes be Nala’s brave cub,” Cristiano replied to his daughter with softness in his voice.
“Okay Da-” the call cut as Giovanni pressed a button and he handed the phone to Roberto before looking at Cristiano expectantly.
“You have your proof, now sign,” Giovanni quipped. “Adonis if my memory serves me right is a legal lawyer and over the years, Elia has also gotten her degree and the others serve as witnesses. Now sign the paper and get reunite with su hija.”
Cristiano handed the papers to the taller man with dark brown eyes and he started to read it. Elia looked around, boredom etched in her features. The look on Giovanni’s face made my stomach clench a bad feeling over taking me once more. Something was going on that I didn’t know about. The way Roberto glanced down at his phone with a tilt of his lips confirmed this feeling. I could make out silhouettes in a room from the video feed on the screen, the date and time on the recording matching this present moment.
I felt Vanni’s fingers grab my hand before rubbing themselves soothingly against my palm. I was trembling…I was nervous…out of the loop… What was Giovanni going to pull? The question had my mind running wild in fear for every child here, for Vanni, myself and Diana.
She already lost one parent…
“That’s a lot of rules Ferrez. Scared of me, are you?” Cristiano taunted and I noticed I had once again zoned out.
“It’s a precaution. You can never trust anyone in this business plus hand this has been a partnership on friendlier terms… I still wouldn’t trust you. Now sign the papers or are you trying to buy time?”
“Now why would you think that?” Cristiano asked Giovanni placing the papers on the desk and clicking the pen. “I have no reason to scheme; after all, you are a fair business partner aren’t you?”
Giovanni narrowed his eyes at him, his aura changing and my gut clenched. Giovanni was fine when he was joking or teasing but once he became serious that was when he was lethal.
“Make the right choice Silvestre. I am not one to take deceit lightly…” he stated slowly, his face hard and cold, his jaw ticking.
Roberto chuckled lowly beside me and I whipped my head towards him, gazing at the screen.
An explosion went off to our left miles away from the mansion, catching everyone off guard. My ear rang at the loud sound, everything making sense now. Roberto was watching Silvestre’s men try to infiltrate the warehouse Diana was originally to be held in. They hoodwinked them, knowing they would try to fuck Giovanni over.
A split second after the explosion dies down, everyone was on their feet with our guns drawn, all except Giovanni who stood coolly fixing his suit. His blue eyes locked with Cristiano Silvestre.
“I see you’ve made your choice, Silvestre. I hope it was worth it,” Giovanni smirked and then everything went wrong.
Glass shattered as an explosion rocked the mansion, throwing us off our feet. We jumped, taking cover as pieces of glass, broken boards and other debris fall onto the patio. Vanni had shoved me to the ground, my chest to the floor, his body protecting me from the explosion. Roberto and his parents were crouched to the ground, Elia and Giovanni under the table.
The floors shook and my ears were pulsing, my heartbeat drowning out the sound around me. Vanni’s weight was crushing me but it was the only thing keeping me safe…as he had always done.
“¡Salga antes de que el humo se disipe!”
The command was disorientated but I heard it nonetheless and so did Vanni as he pushed himself off me before pulling me to my feet. He pulled me along with him, stumbling over my feet. The others were in front of us, Giovanni’s men walking out to the area we were vacating.
Giovanni grunted in pain as a shot landed in his arm and Elia grabbled him in hysterics pulling him into the house. Vanni and Roberto returned fire, Vanni pushing me towards his parents. We started to run towards cover, my feet moving on their own accord.
“Fuck!” Roberto yelled out before Elia cried, both getting shot.
We stumbled into the living area, Elia holding her leg bloodied leg and Roberto soon entered his hand bloodied.
Gunshots continued to go off and my head pulsed as I saw my peers rushing towards the fight with guns. Vanni rushed in as his father hissed orders at the children to cover them, more of them joining the fight. Roberto and Giovanni helped Elia to walk, yelling about the helipad and Vanni rushed towards me, cupping my cheek as tears trailed down my cheek.
“No, no…” I whimpered as I eyed my friends heading to their possible deaths. My knees went weak but Vanni didn’t allow me to fall or stop as my body and mind was begging me to.
“¡Deja a la perra y vámonos!” I heard Roberto yell but Vanni fired back his own colourful words before pulling me along.
“We have to leave, DD. I need you to stay alive!” he hissed as he pulled me up the stairs and down the hall, his family out of sight having rushed away when I started to freak out.
“What about them?!” I cried, hating how my voice weakened and as wobbly as my legs. “What about the children about to be killed for your father’s wickedness!”
He didn’t reply before taking my gun from my clenched hand, picking me up bridal style, and rushing to catch up with his family. I cried and protested but never stopped him. He carried me all the way to the third floor the sound of a helicopter surrounding us.
“Stop it, DD!” Vanni yelled over the wind as I tried to fight my way downstairs.
My back was against the wall and we were metres away from the door to the helipad. He had taken me through a shorter route than what Giovanni had shown me prior before placing me to my feet as he became winded. Now, with my footing I was trying to return to the fight and help my friends.
“I can’t leave them to die!” I cried as I tried to break away from him.
He sandwiched me between him and the wall, grabbing my hands. I fought him, not wanting to run while my friends died…their innocent lives being taken.
“Vanni, please let me go!”
“I can’t let you go! I can’t let you die!” he replied heatedly and I paused, tears rushing to my cheeks. “I love you too much to let you die!”
I was frozen in place, his words sinking in. His burrow was furrowed in anger, his lips pulled into a thin line and his blue eyes burning with anger and fear. I must have looked like a gaping fish.
Vanni said he loved me… He—he loves me. More tears came to my eyes… my chest restricting and my heart pounding… The wind rushed around us and the sound of bullets echoed but my stupid mind was stuck on what he had said.
“Grab the kid and let’s go!” I heard Elia yell, drawing my attention.
“No stop!” Diana cried and my heart dropped.
“We have to stop them Vanni! They can’t take her or everyone dies!” I pushed Vanni from in front of me, grabbing my gun from his waistband and I rushed towards the door, not missing the hurt expression on his face.
I didn’t say it back but this was not the time.
Vanni followed me and we pulled to an abrupt stop as we spotted two men staring at the lifting helicopter. They turned abruptly and we raised our guns, coming face to face with m-my father?
“Shaneil. Don’t do this,” he whispered and it was almost inaudible over the wind.
I stared at him, my hand shaking and a battle raging inside of me…
Here in front of me was the man that killed my mother. He was my father…a murder but the look in his eyes it said differently. He looked scared, desperate and worried… the affection in his eyes as he stared at me, it was making my head spin in confusion.
“Don’t trust him DD. He’s a murder,” Vanni stated, not taking his eyes off Cristiano who he aimed his gun at and I noticed his eye twitching.
My gaze moved to Cristiano who had a look of desperation as he stared at Vanni. He wanted to get his daughter and we were keeping him away from her. The look soon turned dangerous and I opened my mouth to warn Vanni but my father piped up.
“I didn’t ki-”
The sound of gunshots silences his next words and both Vanni and Cristiano were thrown back as their bullets find their mark.
Vanni! my heart screamed as I ran towards him only to be tackled by my father.
We hit the floor and I cried out, pushing and kicking at him, our guns thrown to the side during his tackle.
“Shaneil, stop!” he yelled as I kneed him in the stomach, the hit not enough to get him off me.
“Let me go!” I yelled as I head-butted him, pushing him off me though disorientated.
He rolled to the side groaning and I turned to my side crawling towards Vanni. The helicopter and Cristiano were long gone, Vanni lying on the ground in a pool of his own blood.
A sane person would go for the gun but at this moment, I wasn’t sane. My mind was a typhoon of thoughts, sharp pain radiating across my chest as I stared at his unmoving body. My tears burned my cheek, my head feeling as if someone was banging it with a baseball bat.
When I reached him, my heart cried out in pain. He wasn’t moving.
“Vanni!” I cried as I touched his face. No response.
“Vanni!” I sobbed, smacking his cheek. “Wake up, please!”
He didn’t move. He—
“No! Wake up!” I yelled as the pain intensified. “I didn’t tell you how I feel. Y-You c-can’t die!”
I draped myself over him, the blood from his chest staining my suit but I couldn’t give a fuck! I wanted him back!
“I love you…” I whimpered against his chest, sobs racking my chest. “Please wake u—”
“Shaneil…” his voice reached my ears and my anger erupted.
Grabbing the gun from Vanni’s hand, I spun around and shot him in the arm. He dropped back in shock and I jumped to my feet, firing another shot. This one missed due to the tears obstructing my vision.
“You’re the reason he died! You and that man!” I yelled pulling the trigger again but he rolled missing the shot.
“Shaneil, stop! I’m your father!”
“You killed my mother!” I yelled reeling in pain. “Now, you killed my Vanni!”
He looked shocked by my outburst and I saw confusion in his gaze but I didn’t ponder as I lined up my next shot. Wiping furiously at my tears, I refused to miss this time.
“I didn’t ki—”
I gasped as something hit my arm. I dropped the gun looking at my arm, noting the tranquilizer dart in it. I looked around, confused and my heart dropped as I stared at the woman that shot me.
I stumbled as the tranquilizer kicked in but before I could fall, she caught me.
She lowered us to the ground, caressing my face with tearful emerald green eyes and I started to hiccup, my cheeks wet. Her familiar warmth surrounded me and I was transported back to the days she would lull me to bed, singing our bedtime song to me.
“Shaneil, my baby.”
Her hair was salt and peppered, her face older but not wrinkly. She had a joyful, wholesome look in her eyes and as she said my name, my whole being relaxed.
“GET THE CAR READY! HE NEEDS MEDICAL ATTENTION!” a woman yelled in the distance but my mind started to shut down, my eyes following suit until I surrendered to darkness.