Mafia Queen

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Chapter 4, Favorite Colors And Secret Places

We sit in silence, Jaxon and I.

Cross-legged on the floor, facing one another.

Finally away from those stone-cold people with no real compassion, I let my emotions run free.

Tears that didn’t and couldn’t fall during my father’s funeral are now streaming down my face like waterfalls. I hold my red blanket close to me, trying to find some warmth since I’m still drenched in cold rainwater.

Jaxon knows I don’t like people seeing me cry, including himself. But I don’t ask him to leave. And he doesn’t make a move to go. So in silent mutual agreement, we focus on things other than each other.

The cement floor is cool to the touch, my fingertips tracing invisible doodles on the solid gray. Dim light shines through a small circular window, the only window in the room.

We’re in one of the many attics in Crimson Base. Unlike the other probably unused attics, this one is slightly decorated and is used often by myself, and sometimes Jaxon. No dust, a few sparse pieces of matching furniture, and a shelf full of worn-out books.

I contemplate on adding a rug of some sort, if only to give the place more color and warmth. But I have to be careful not to bring any unwanted attention to this special place. Bringing furniture and decorations up here is risky and takes time.

But it’s worth it. This is my Quiet Place. My escape from everything.

My attention wanders to the huge bookshelf in the room. It’s a special part of my Quiet Place, filled with books that take me to other worlds. It takes up a whole wall.

There’s a hidden compartment behind the bookshelf, full of weapons and first-aid kits. In case of emergencies, of course. You can never be too careful in the mafia.

Only Jaxon and I know about it. Not just the hidden compartment, but this whole attic, too. Nobody but us ever go up here.

Wiping away my tears with my red blanket, I force myself to take a big breath. Holding onto my courage, I open my mouth to talk. I pray that my voice doesn’t crack from grief.

“Jaxon,” I murmur, finally turning my gaze to him. The light from the small window makes him look death-pale. I push away the thought.

Jaxon lifts his head up and stops playing with his simple metal-black bracelet. The last gift his mom gave him before she died.

He meets my eyes, studying me. Wondering what I’m going to say next.

“Talk to me, please. I need a distraction.” I ask, trying my best not to sound like I’m begging. Though I sound pretty close to it.

“Okay,” He replies, his dark eyebrows furrowing in deep-thought.

A moment passes, and he settles on a question. “What’s your favorite color?”

Jaxon’s question is so random and so unexpected that I actually giggle. The giggle turns into a chuckle until pretty soon I’m full-on laughing, hysterically. My nerves and emotions are so on edge and overwhelmed that now I’m losing it.

Jaxon must think I’m crazy.

He looks at me, completely confused, but smiles because I’m not crying anymore.

Finally, I calm down. Taking another big breath, I return to my non-hysterical self. For the most part anyway. Once and a while, a giggle or two makes it way out of my mouth.

“What was that all about?” Jaxon asks, amused.

“You’re so random,” I remark. To this, he sticks his tongue out at me. I do it right back.

I hesitate for a moment before adding, “Wow, that felt great. I felt like a kid again, for a moment. Thank you.”

“Of course,” Jaxon says slowly. His face is suddenly solemn, and his eyebrow furrows again. He’s thinking about something.

“What?” I ask, curious.

“Huh?”

“What are you thinking about?”

“Oh,” He says. “I was just wondering what your favorite color is. You never gave me an answer.”

I smile, but wonder if that was what he was actually thinking about. I doubt it. But I let it be, and answer his question.

“Red. Not crimson, like my last name, but red. Like a rose.” I explain.

“Huh, I thought it would be crimson.” He confesses.

“Well, you thought wrong.” I chirp back smugly.

He studies me again, as if he thought he knew what I was about, but not anymore.

“When you look at me like that, it makes me want to either kiss the life out of you or throw you out a window.” He states, as if he’s talking about the weather.

My heart speeds up and I pray that I’m not blushing. I’ve always thought of Jaxon as a brother, but now? I don’t know anymore. Quickly, I try to come up with a witty response.

“I do tend to do that to people. I guess it’s a talent.” I drawl.

Laughing, he looks away, focusing back on his bracelet.

My mind wanders to what I was trying to avoid thinking about - my father’s death. I just can’t believe a stroke took his life. Sure, he wasn’t exactly young, but he was made up of all muscle and ate healthy.

And was it a coincidence that he died right before I turn 18, which is in a week? Being 18 allows me to take my father’s place in the mafia if anything ever happens to him. But I’m not 18 yet, so a family member will have to take over instead of me.

I don’t think my father died of a stroke. I think his death was the product of a power-hungry family member wanting to take his place.

“Jaxon, something’s not right.” I blurt out before I can stop myself.

“Explain.” He commands.

I oblige. “Does it really make sense that my father, a healthy buff guy, died from a stroke? I know he was older, but still. And he dies right before I’m eligible to take his place. Coincidence? I think not.”

“I see what you’re saying, but are you sure you’re not just...I don’t know, in denial or something?” He says slowly, as if I’m a timid creature he’s afraid to scare away.

Well that’s not the response I wanted.

“Really? No, I know something is up. All of this can’t just be a coincidence. And no, I’m not just making conspiracy theories. I’m going to find out what really happened to my father, whether you help me or not.” I state stubbornly.

“Wait, Selena, please don’t do anything stupid.” He pleads, suddenly desperate.

“I can’t make any promises,” I say in response, standing up. I leave my blanket on the ground and leave my Quiet Place, not turning around once.

I’m going to get answers. I’ll do whatever it takes.

Someone tried to steal my birthright from me, and I’m going to find out who.

And I’m going to make them pay.


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