Chapter 12 - A Deadly Interlude
I can still feel it.
The linger of her lips.
The plump softness.
It hauntingly captivates me, grasps my attention.
Fingers clutch the cold metal tightly, securing the semi-automatic with both hands as I look out the heavily tinted window of the passenger seat.
It’s almost impossible to make anything out.
The sound of loud chewing scatters my thoughts, interrupted by someone in the backseat who’s smacking their gum rather loudly.
It’s known that tension and irritation don’t mix well, and that’s exactly what this kid is bringing on.
My mother’s younger cousin who part Irish from her father’s side is Fionn’s mother, Fionn is my second cousin. When his mother and father got homesick and left back to dublin, Fionn chose to stay. Though he isn’t fully Italian, the crew made an exception for him. We see him as part of the family, despite how badly he gets on everyone’s nerves.
Though only eighteen, he’s one hell of a fighter, especially with his fists.
All that pent up anger he’s gotten from his father’s side comes in handy once in a while.
Use what little you’re given.
“It was like some fucken game,” Fionn says with a thick Irish accent, I can hear the spinning of a cylinder. “Oi, load a larger bullet into a chamber, then pull the trigger while aiming it at your own head — wait and see if you blow your fucken brains out.”
“Fionn that’s bullshit,” Angelo, who’s sitting in the driver’s seat cuts in, “you can’t wait for anything because your brains will already be all over the fucken walls.”
Fionn laughs and I can already see his smile without having to look at him. He has a distinctive boyish grin, dimples and all. A future womanizer for sure in that one. “Ah, but you can if you use my way,” he counters and with that drags in a few others into the conversation.
Fionn has been talking about the probability of Russian Roulette the past thirty minutes, how there’s a chance you could possibly rig the game.
But to be quite frank I don’t give a shit about any of that when the only thing on my mind is — her.
She’s dangerously distracting.
The images of our kiss threatens to resurface and I can’t have that tonight.
It takes an extreme amount of willpower to withhold myself from lashing out because of my own self annoyance.
“Alright you bunch of fuckers,” speaking over the six of my cousins, “Enough with that crap, we’ve got a job to do so let’s get this shit done. The faster the better.”
If it were up to me I would be at home. Instead, I’m stuck out here as back up for Antonio Valentino and his people.
Now being that the Valentinos’ and the Romanos’ will soon be family, it’s our job to make sure that our new family is taken care of or else the truce will break and everything that we have worked so hard for will come crumbling down.
Why are we out here? It’s simple. The Valentinos’ and Riccardos’ are accusing the Petrovs’ of being the ones to explode their shipments at the docks yesterday night.
Whether it’s true or not is to be reveled tonight.
A few of our imported goods were also in the wreckage but we got lucky that we didn’t transfer much over to that lot. It was replaceable.
However, I doubt it was the Russians and I know Cherry’s father does as well. The Petrovs’ aren’t worried about starting a war with the Irish. No, they have other issues to worry about amongst their own.
At least that’s what I heard.
“Boys, tonight we go as back up, nothing else.” I turn around in my seat to look at the three in the first row and the other two in the second row of the lengthy black SUV. “That means no fucken fighting.” Pointing my finger at all of them. “Don’t antagonize anyone,” raising my voice. “Don’t start any problem or engage unless you have to.”
“What about if someone talks to us first?” Andreas says with playful smirk.
I hate when he does that shit.
“Non sono dell’umore per i giochi,” saying with all seriousness.”Non dire nulla finché non è necessario.”
(I’m not in the mood for games. Don’t say anything until it’s necessary.)
“Come vuoi, boss.” Andreas lets go of the gun in his lap and raises his hands in the air in an act of comical surrender.
(As you want, boss.)
What a wiseguy.
Gabriele, a cousin who’s older by one year and is sitting the furthest away props an elbow on one of the headrests of the middle seat and leans forward. “Well what if one of the Valentinos asks us something, or those fucken Ricardos-”
“Then you fucken say nothing back!” I shout and Angelo flinches slightly to the left. “They know the rules and so do we.”
Dissatisfaction morphs upon Gabriele’s face but I couldn’t care less.
A job is a job and I won’t have anyone waste their breaths.
“The rest of the crew will already be there,” continuing with the plan. “Our job is to stay back and away from sight. If things go bad and one of those fuckers take a hit on Bianchi, Enzo, or Cherry’s father then-”
“Cherry’s father eh?” Gio interrupts with his quiet words. “So close already to a Valentinos’?”
It’s a taunt but not one with ease.
“Shut your fucking mouth!” Unfortunately for him he happens to be sitting right in arms length which makes it easy for me to move forward and grab his collar. “Quello che faccio è per la famiglia!” words spew out with anger. “Until you’ve bargained such a thing I don’t want to hear shit.” Letting him go with a shove I pull back and turn around to face the front again. “Now if any of you have anything else to say, say it now.”
(What I do is for the family.)
But a blanket of quietness falls over the atmosphere.
“C’mon Alessio.” Fionn tries to lighten the mood with the tone of his voice, gently. “Gio didn’t mean it that way.”
“I don’t give a shit,” sighing out. “When we get there, which will be any second, you follow my orders and only mine unless it’s my father. Got it?”
Mumbles of agreement follow after my speech just as we come to a stop in front of a empty factory building that’s still in its progress of construction.
Opening the car door I swing the strap of the gun over my shoulder and grab another that’s tossed to me by Lorenzo, the only cousin who hasn’t said a word tonight, as usual.
His silence is his only personality trait at this point.
It’s as if speaking is a disease to him.
Placing that gun over my shoulder as well, I take the lead and begin to make my way into the building with the rest of the men on my trail.
Eyes scan over all corners of the building.
Seeking for anything out of the ordinary.
When we pass through the entrance and round the corner we see the other few dozen men from our crew who stand quietly behind and my father who’s speaking to Enzo Riccardo and his men.
Enzo is no one of importance in our world.
Just another businessman who’s fallen down the wrong hole.
My father doesn’t have as big of an issue when it comes to helping the Riccardos’ and their situation, only because they’re Sicilian, though it’s still an issue to help anyone out that isn’t the family.
Our priorities lie with our blood... and now the the Valentinos’ which I know some still aren’t happy about.
None of that matters, our families will soon merge so all of this going back and forth won’t change the outcome of the deal that’s been already been established.
“Figlio mio, vieni qui,” my father hand extends towards me as he walks away from the Riccardos’ and places it on my shoulder. “Hai tutto sotto controllo?
(my son, come here. do you have everything under control?)
“Sempre,” replying under my breath, watching as the Riccardos’ disperse and walk ahead of us Romanos’. “Mi prenderò cura di esso.”
(Always. I will take care of it.)
“Rendimi fiero, Alessio.” He lifts his head and gives my shoulder a squeeze that would make anyone else cringe from the pressure.
(Make me proud, Alessio.)
When my father and I take our first couple of steps in the direction of the Riccardos’ the rest of the crew follow behind, their feet unanchoring themselves and striding after.
Once we make it to the back entrance of the building, that’s still missing its doors and glass windows, we split. My father alone continues walking out the back entrance while the rest of us hold back inside of the building.
We need to place ourselves in good positions where we can see both Dons and Enzo who stand no more than sixty yards away.
Not trusting the Riccardos’ or Valentinos’ to be around to hear out the orders that are meant for my men, I wait for them to leave first, allowing them claim their spots around the site. “Tommaso,” I look to my third cousin who is the same age as Gio, “take Davide, Giuseppe, Antonio, and Federico to the left wing of this building, third floor. Vai, ora.”
As soon as they hear me out they’re already on the move with Tommaso as their lead.
“Edoardo,” speaking to my cousin whose green eyes are hidden behind the puff of smoke that’s coming from his cigar. He’s too young to be here, just seventeen. Hair pitch black and skin bronze like father. “Sei pronto per essere un uomo?” His posture rises, nodding quickly. “Good. Marco, Samuele, Diego and Luca take the third floor right wing. Edoardo, you and Christian will manage the center of the third floor, are you up for that?”
(Are you ready to be a man?)
“Sì, lo sono,” Edoardo responds and he’s already ahead of the other cousins who are on their way to the third floor.
“Pietro,” I groan out and wipe a hand over my face. “Assicurati che Edoardo non gli spari il piede, or anything for that matter. I don’t want him pulling a trigger just yet.”
(Make sure Edward doesn’t shoot off his own foot.)
Pietro gives out a small chuckle and the dimples on his cheeks deepen. “Don’t worry about him, I got it.” Leaving me to the few who stand left.
“Simone, Nicolo’, Filippo, Michele, Emanuele, Jacopo e Marco. Andate tutti al secondo piano. Three take the left and the other three take the right.” I wave my hand for them to leave.
(Simone, Nicolo’, Filippo, Michele, Emanuele, Jacopo and Marco. You all go to the second floor.)
Shuffling and voices can be heard from outside and I swiftly turn around. To my relief it’s just Cherry’s father who’s coming to stand with Enzo and my father.
Heavily exhaling I go on. “Giacomo, Vincenzo, and Salvatore stand center second floor but split if you need to.” I only say this because I already know the second floor is overflowing with either the Riccardos’ or Valentinos’.
It’s makes a good spot and range for the guns I saw them carrying.
“Giovanni and Stefano, go back to the front entrance where we came from and stand guard behind the pillars. I don’t want any surprises. Manuel, Daniele, Gioele, and Thomas, you all will take the right wing of this floor while Giulio, Samuel and Nicola, will take the left.” I point out to the layout, “do what you got to do but I need you to find a good spot where you can also take center if those fuckers can’t hold their own.” Their response is in unison as they disperse and I’m left with Fionn, Angelo, Gio, Andreas, Lorenzo, and Gabriele.
The same idiots that were all with me in the car.
It’s like I can’t catch a break.
“And us?” Fionn lifts his hands and looks around. “Don’t we get a place.”
“I’ll place you in hell,” sarcastically mumbling as I take off one strap from across my shoulder. “You sound as if you could fit in with the Valentinos’ if you wanted.” Referring to his accent. “You’ll all be staying down here, we’re going to be up front by the back exit.”
“Our eyes are on those four out there tonight, specialmente Andrik.” Looking around I see a few Riccardos’ and Valentinos’ who are still on the first floor. They linger in their own positions, away from us.
The few of Valentinos’ give us the side eye.
Their silent hatred speaks volumes.
None of us want to be in the same room but we all do what we must for our own.
Taking the gun that Angelo gave to me earlier, I bend down on one knee and use the other for stability when loading up the semi-automatic up.
The long range sniper rifle is meant to be propped up but it’ll have to make good in my own hands.
A click sparks and smell of tobacco infiltrates my nose.
“You don’t think they did it do you, Alessio?” Gio says with a cigarette in his mouth, adjusting his own gun. “The um — Russians, I’ve been hearing around that Andrik can’t keep his own people in line lately. I mean,” he pauses to blow out the smoke and clear his throat, “the boss, lord, don, whatever you want to call him, I don’t think he or the brotherhood had the time to blow up all that shit.”
“I don’t,” telling him while meeting his gaze.
Gio is an exact replica of his father, he has hard features. Bone straight black hair that falls slightly over his forehead, accentuating the depths of his dark brown eyes. His nose holds a small crook from all the fights he used to get in as a teenager and because of that he carries a few scars. A scar that stands out in particular is the one that runs down the end of his left eyebrow and stops at the high of his cheekbones.
“I don’t think it was them, but we can’t go off of our feelings. We need all the facts first,” simply stating as I stand back up and walk over to the back entrance with the rest following behind.
The six of us split, three on both sides of the back exit door frame.
It’s dark out, leaving me to rely on my hearing because the only source of light seems to be conveniently hidden behind the clouds.
Squinting hard, I see the outline of a person approaching from the distance.
It must Andrik, coming alone as agreed upon.
But we know better, we know he’s not alone. Somewhere outside of this building he has his own men who to have come along as back up.
Andrik stops in front of the three and I assume they are beginning the conversation.
It’s almost inaudible.
And we stand deathly still.
My vision is everywhere. Searching, waiting for the worst to come but nothing does.
The exchange seems to be going on decently. If it wasn’t we would know by now because a move would have been already made — or maybe they’re just playing their cards well.
Feeling as if I can relax for a second, I let out a low sigh of relief and allow the tension from my body roll off of me.
However, that feeling is soon cut short when the crack of a bullet sounds off into the night.
One single shot.
It echoes throughout the acre of the land.
Angelo who stands beside me moves closer. “Alessio,” he harshly whispers, “that didn’t come from inside this building or those four men standing outside.”