Six months have passed.
I could hear faint foot steps coming down the hallway, joined with silent whistles. I sat in the middle of the penthouse on the couch with my leg’s crossed. Michelle was in a chair beside the couch, tied up, and gagged. Keys jingled as they entered the lock and the door opened slowly.
“Honey, I’m home,” Evan said, carrying a few file folders. He walked in and looked right at me, dropping everything to the floor. “Lylie,” he added, slight hesitation and fear in his voice.
“’Ello big brother, did you miss me?” I said, moving bangs from my eyes. In which I had changed my hair, dyed it blond, and cut it, when I got to Bermuda.
“What are you doing here?” he asked looking at his wife in the chair.
“Well, I’ve been gone for the better part of the year, thought I’d return. I really missed the snow,” I smiled and blew a kiss to Michelle.
“I’m sure we can talk about this without anyone getting hurt—”
“That’s exactly what I was thinking, but, you see Evan, when I wanted to talk without violence, what did you do? You took the one thing I loved away from me, without even letting me say goodbye. So, I decided,”I stood, revealing my ever growing belly. “That I would let you look at the one you loved one last time before I killed her. An eye for an eye.”
“Lylie, you don’t have to do this!” Evan said, putting his hands up. Michelle’s faint screams escaped the rag I had shoved in her mouth. She moved around, trying to get loose. “She had nothing to do with this.”
“No, no she didn’t,” I cocked the gun that was in my hand. “But I figure this is the only actual thing you care about aside from yourself, and killing you would be too easy and not as satisfying.”
Michelle screamed as I raised the gun to her head. Evan yelled as well and started running toward us. I pulled the trigger, ending her muffled sorrows. Evan stopped in his tracks as he fell to his knees next to me. He remained motionless as I started taking the ropes off of her. Never leave evidence.
“You see Evan, all you had to do was be a good boy and none of this would have happened. All you had to do was forget about your partner, all the shit Gaelan was doing, and move on with your life. But no, right? You had to be the one with the last say. Well, now you do. You’re the last one to have had someone they love killed. Everyone else is gone by my hand. How does it feel?” Evan kept his eyes on Michelle as her body fell to the ground like a limp rug. “He’s put us through a lot hasn’t he. Taught us a lot too. ‘What goes around, comes around’ Evan, remember that.” I walked over Michelle’s lifeless body and crouched down in front of Evan. His breathing slowed, and tears started to form in his eyes. I smiled as we made eye contact. “Remember this moment, and remember that you drove me to this.” I put on my sunglasses and stood.
“You have no idea,” Evan whispered as I stepped over Michelle once again and put everything into a gym bag. I started making my way to the exit, looking over at Evan, he stated to yell and cry. I walked out of the penthouse, shut the door behind me, and walked down the hall to the elevator.
I had been gone for nearly six months. Tommy brought me to his friend’s plane and he flew me to Bermuda where I was met by Tommy’s wife Tabitha. All of it happened so fast and so abruptly, but I knew I’d be safe. Tabitha was so kind and generous, she helped me with everything I needed. She asked me if Tommy was safe, but I had no idea what to tell her. Most days, I’d walk along the beach and just think about everything and nothing all at the same time. I’d stand at the edge of the water as it went out and came in, my feet sinking into the sand, and just stare out at the horizon. Some days I wanted to get in the water and just swim, swim as far as my body would take me and then just stop. But I knew I couldn’t do it, not while I was pregnant with James’ child, the only thing of his I was able to keep.
I knew I shouldn’t have, but I tried to know everything there was to know about what was going on with the business. Jeffrey was my inner ear. It was my own way of still being a part of it. I knew that Evan intervened and all the trafficking was stopped, Francois was the leader now and he turned the entire business around, sticking to the pub and random little drug deals whenever money was getting low. The cops constantly went in and checked on the guys to make sure there was no more trafficking or weaponry or any such criminal activity. Of course, there was always the rat of a brother of mine to hide the drug deals. Even with the feds breathing down their necks, that didn’t stop them from trying to track me down.
A couple of months ago, as I was walking along the beach with Tabitha and Tommy’s youngest daughter Veronica, and their dog, Andy and some new guy knocked on the door asking if Tabitha had seen me. Of course, Tabitha had no idea what they were talking about, and tried to act calm. Veronica and I were making our way up the beach and to the house when I spotted Andy searching the bedrooms. I grabbed Veronica’s hand and pulled the dog with us. We hid in the neighbour’s garden, a large bush kept us unseen.
“What’s going on?” Veronica asked.
“Just a little trouble missy, everything will be all right,” I said and tried moving some leaves out of the way so I could see what was going on.
“Are they looking for you?” she asked and held her dog.
“’Fraid so love, I promise I won’t let anything happen to you or your family. You have my word of it,” I watched as the new guy grabbed Tabitha by her golden hair and drug her outside.
“Hey, Lylie, if you’re out there I just want you to remember who you wronged,” he took a knife out. Veronica winced and squeezed her dog close. The new guy put the knife to Tabitha’s throat and chuckled.
“Hey, that’s enough now! We were sent here to find her not to kill,” Andy said. “This so called initiation has gone on too long,” he walked back into the house. I couldn’t hear what the new guy was saying, but he whispered something to Tabitha, then grabbed her face and kissed her. He walked back inside laughing and knocking things over. I waited and listened for the sound of the motor bikes taking off before I stepped out of the bush. What initiation was he talking about? Was all of the running for nothing? Veronica ran over to her mother and started crying.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t think they—”
“I want you to leave, now! Just get out of here. You were planning on doing it anyway, what’s stopping you now? You have your research and your weapons. Just go,” Tabitha said holding Veronica close to her chest. I didn’t say anything, but walked into the house and started taking the things I needed. Jeffrey and I spoke to one another once a month and he would keep me informed about everything that was going on. I then decided to come up with a plan for whenI chose to go back and end everything, in the hopes of perhaps taking the throne while I did. All I had to do was eliminated everyone what was in my way.
I didn’t even say goodbye as I stepped out of the house that night. They were all at the table for dinner, I remember standing near the stairs in the dark, unseen, just watching them be a family. I touched my growing belly and smiled as I walked toward the door and left. Tabitha’s brother worked at the docks and I asked him to bring me back to the United States. He agreed, but asked no questions about it. I laid low in Vermont with Jeffrey’s sister until I was mentally and physically prepared to go back to New York and deal with the remainder of the demons.
My first target was Francois. He was the easiest, though the hardest emotionally, to kill. He was walking near the pub one night, must have been no later than four in the morning. I waited in the car in the alley nearby as I heard his ever famous drunken stagger toward his car. I opened my eyes and sat up, listening to classical music. I quietly opened my car door and got out.
“Eighty-nine bottles of beer on the wall, eighty-nine bottles of beer. I take one down and pass it around, eighty-eight bottles of beer on the wall. Oh, eighty-eight bottles of beer on the wall, eighty-eight bottles of beer. I take one down and pass it around, eighty-seven bottles of—” He stopped in his tracks, though stumbled from side to side. “Lylie?”
“Miss me?” I said and took the knife out from behind me. I lodged it right into his abdomen as he fell to the ground, slipping on ice, and holding me near him. I thrusted the knife deeper and deeper into his stomach. He tried to yell for help but, being as drunk as he was, nothing clear came out. Francois looked into my eyes as he took his last breath. I watched it exit his mouth and evaporate into thin air. I stood, breath leaving my mouth as would smoke from a cigarette, and nodded as Francois’ lifeless eyes looked up at me. He may have been like a father figure to me, but I was done being betrayed over and over again. I wanted to take a stand and become the ruler, but I chose to let him do it for me. It was now my turn to show everyone who was boss. The throne would finally be mine.
The elevator doors opened and I stepped out. Slush and salt decorated the sidewalks as I attempted to waddle my way to the car.
When I had first made it back to Brooklyn, I called Jeffrey, whom was also my inner ear about what was going on with the business. He gave me his car and a place to stay in Vermont, with his sister, until I was ready to fight the good fight and seek my revenge. Jeffrey had warned me many times that I should just let everything go, because what I had been through was enough, and I didn’t need anymore surprises in my state. I knew he was keeping something big from me. I needed to know what it was, only reason I even came back to Brooklyn was to find James’ killer. I wasn’t about to stop because of some warning.
What Jeffrey told me was that Alexi and Liam were still in jail for being accused of trafficking young women, that was fine by me. They were probably someone’s bitch by now, taking it in every inch, to silently cry themselves to sleep at night as their cell mate sleep soundly above them. Though, I didn’t care for them because they had nothing to do with James being killed. Next on my list was Andy.
Andy wasn’t home the night I planned on taking his life. So, I let myself in and made myself at home. His apartment was grungy, and had weights placed everywhere as though no matter what area he stood in the apartment, he’d be able to work out his muscles.
It was nearly dawn when Andy came home. As he entered the apartment, the stench of booze, weed, and sex, slapped me in the face. I sat in the dark, at his kitchen table, with a gun in hand. Andy walked into the kitchen and went straight for the fridge, chugging down a carton of milk. He burped so loud, it practically echoed in his empty apartment. When he closed the door to the fridge, he stood in front of it and leant his head back. I saw a slight grin appear.
“Took you long enough,” he said before turning his head to look at me.
“It needs to be done,” I said and stood, gun still pointed at him.
“I always knew you had it in you kiddo,” he said and put the carton on the counter. He stepped toward me and sat down at the table. “You passed.” Without letting him explain his last words, I pulled the trigger and watched as a small bead of blood, slowly trickled down his forehead. He caved and didn’t even put up a fight. I didn’t understand all these games they were playing, Gaelan had a way with words, but I always understood them. Though the game of phases, or an initiation, needed to be explained. I felt like the butt end of a joke.
I walked out of Andy’s apartment and into the hallway of odours, everyone’s cooking from the night prior, mended into one. Another check off the list, the next one was Christof, I knew it would be tough on me, but I had to do it.
As I made my way up the steps of his house to break my way in, the door opened and he stood there, shocked to see me.
“Lylie? What are you doing here?” he asked, angered. I wasn’t prepared for such an abrupt interruption in my initial plan, I was going to break in and wait for him, like I did with Andy, he wasn’t even supposed to be home. I just stood there and clenched the gun in my pocket. “Well?”
“Did you do it?” I asked, voice starting to crack.
“Did you kill him?” I looked up at Christof, my eyes sparking in the light. He stepped backward and offered me to go in. I wasn’t scared of him, so I entered. His house was filled with reminders of Russia and it was clear he missed it there. I walked straight to the kitchen, which was visible from the entrance. Christof followed me. “Well?” I mocked.
“I had nothing to do with it. Francois had just taken lead, he was in charge and I was to listen to his orders, but I couldn’t do that to you, so, I refuse. He make me his bitch, and I have to work at bar for the rest of time. I had nothing to do with it, I promise. Cross my heart,” Christof said. “There are things you need to understand first my dear. Things aren’t as they seem.” I missed his husky Russian accent. I never realized how deeply he cared for me. Christof put his hand to my stomach and smiled. “Is it boy or girl?”
“I’m not sure. I don’t want to know until it’s born,” I said and took the gun out of my pocket and placed it on the table.
“Tommy works with us now,” he said.
“It was all to prove you were able to take over,” he whispered. I looked down at Christof who had started to cry and recite something in Russian, it sounded like a prayer but I wasn’t too sure. There was something I was missing there. Was I right, and everything they put me through was fake? Killing James was just their way of getting me to show some balls and take a stand? Giving me my throne.
“I have to do this.”
“I know, I understand,” he said still holding my stomach. He kissed it then stood up and took off his shirt, revealing his tattoos that he got when he was with the Russians. When Gaelan had died, I figured Christof would bugger off since his debt to Gaelan was over with. But he stayed, being the loyal mutt he was. He dropped to the floor, with one hand still in his sleeve, and opened his arms looking up at the ceiling. I stood and cocked the gun holding it up. I wasn’t sure if I could do it. Francois was easier, he betrayed me, but what did Christof do? He wasn’t scared to go, it was clear. As I stood there and looked down on him, I just couldn’t do it. I lowered the gun.
“What do you mean things aren’t as they seem?” I asked. Christof opened his eyes and tears flowed down his cheeks.
“I can’t explain it to you now. You have to see it for yourself.”
“Give me two days. Two days and I’ll come see you,” I said and stormed out of his house. I knew I should have done it, I wanted to end all ties with Gaelan, but I couldn’t kill a man who never wronged me. Plus, he knew something that I didn’t, I had to know what it was. Next on the list, fuck with Evan’s life.
I got into my car and headed over to Stacy’s. Last on my list was to find a place to stay and relax until the baby comes, and if I am to get back into the business, with a more promising position, then so be it.
The car slid a little as I sped out of my spot and onto the road. It seemed like everyone around me was driving horribly. I didn’t know if it was because of the weather or because they all had to be some place and fast at that. How I missed being in the beautiful sun, the warm breeze, and the feeling of my feet in the sand. No worry on how many layers to put on, just a simple dress would do. I loved waking up in the mornings and just going for a quick swim before Tabitha and the girls woke up. Veronica was closer with me than Erin was. Erin was hitting eighteen and hated that she wasn’t the eldest in the house, aside from her mother, but Veronica always looked up to me for some reason. My life wasn’t spectacular or one would want to live, but it did feel nice to be wanted by someone again. They were always so kind with me, even when they knew that at any moment, people could storm into their home and kill them, just to get to me. They said they were used to things like that because of Tommy, but somehow, I had found that hard to believe. The fright in their eyes when the new guy and Andy came barging in, proved that. Although, me leaving them meant they would be safe.
The streets were covered in slush, seemed like the city did not care too much for cleaning it. Then again, as much as I hated it here because of all the horrid memories, I sure loved being in the place I felt the most comfortable. Lucky for me, the bridge to Brooklyn did not have that many cars on it and I wasn’t going to be stuck in traffic. All I wanted to do was lie in my own bed and sleep after months of residing on a cot in a tiny room. Yes, the view was gorgeous, but there was no place like home. No more running, no more looking over my shoulder, even more so, all I wanted was to take care of my baby and take my rightful place at the throne.
I slowly made my way up the drive. I stopped the car and just gazed upon the place, as much as I always wanted to run away, there would always be something dragging me back.
I stepped out of the car and made my way up the steps and rang the bell. The butler answered, whom we’ve had for over ten years, and looked at me, up and down. He clearly did not recognize me.
“Sorry, we are not a women’s shelter,” he said and started closing the door. I put my foot in the opening and pushed my way inside. Nothing had changed, everything was as it seemed. “Excuse me ma’am!”
“It’s Lylie,” I said and turned to him, taking off my sun glasses.
“Lylie? Oh my dear!” he hugged me and touched my face. “Your room is just as you left it. Are there things I need to grab?”
“Just a couple bags,” I said and handed him the keys to the car. I walked into the entrance and looked up at the chandelier that hung in the centre of it, hiding most of the large staircase. I looked around and smiled, I was happy to be home.
The dinning hall was always my favourite place to hangout, aside from the willow tree out back. As I walked into the dinning hall, in search for a moment of peace like I used to do, Christof, Tommy, the new guy, and some hooded fellow sat across from one another. I smiled once more as I stepped in. They all stood and watched as I walked to the head of the table where Gaelan used to sit. Christof nodded and took the chair out for me. I stood in front of it. It felt right, it was my rightful place in the business. Tommy, Christof, and the new guy sat down. The hooded fellow lifted his arm and moved the hood off his buzzed cut head. The man looked up at me and grinned. I felt my heart sink. It couldn’t be. James grinned at me and sat down. Was all of it some kind of dream? I held him, he was dead. I wasn’t able to say anything. I remained standing, putting my hands on the table, and looked down at him. I pushed my lips together as tears formed in my eyes.
“It was all to protect you little lady, to show you what it means to lead,” Tommy said. “All of this is yours now.”
Everything that happened to me was for nothing? I had to endure the pain and heartache of thinking James was dead as a way of protecting me. Anger burned up inside of me, but I still stood there and remained motionless. Was all of this a test?
“What?” I finally said. My head started spinning, I was way too overwhelmed. I put my hands on the table and looked over at Tommy.
“Gaelan never thought you had it in you to lead, what you’ve done. Everything you’ve been through, definitely proved us wrong,” Christof said. I looked back at James who was looking up at me. He mouthed the words I’m sorry as he put his hand on mine. In all honesty, I wasn’t even mad. I was somewhat relieved that he wasn’t gone and I wouldn’t have to live my life alone. I was relieved that, even though all of the madness I had to endure the last few months were for nothing, I was finally ruler and it was finally over. I knew I should have been more angry than I was, but how could I be. In the end, I got what I wanted. The throne.
I nodded my head and sat in the large chair behind me. Both hands on the table, I looked at each of the men next to me. They were all eager to hear what I had to say, to hear the next move on whatever they had planned. But I sat there, smiling, tears falling down my face. I sat there, at the head of the table, knowing that I would lead. Knowing that what I said was what they were to do.
I sat at the head of the table, in my throne, smiling.