F I F T E E N
Every bone in my body knew how wrong I was to go by her words. She was the fucking storm who could pose trouble for my family, yet I found it impossible to stay away from Lilliana.
I felt the walls slowly closing in on me. It was trapping me into itself, and I, like a fool, was walking towards it.
As I drove back home and marched straight into Viktor’s office, it was uncanny at first for I have hardly seen my brother like this—sipping wine, his legs resting on the table as he leaned back against the chair.
His eyes trained on the computer screen, but knowing Viktor, he must have heard me walking into the office.
He didn’t just bother to look up.
“If that’s porn you are watching, at least lock the door,” I commented.
He finally raised his gaze, lazily, as he took a sip of the red. And somehow, it wasn’t a good sign.
One might think that I was over-reacting, but I wasn’t. Viktor was too primitive to drink wine. He always preferred scotch, sometimes over water. And since he was drinking wine, it meant he was losing his sanity over something.
“I am taking the evening off.” He shrugged. “How’s your day?”
I ignored the question, simply because he knew—or at least he guessed—where I was and what I did. So, it was pointless to answer. “What are you watching?” I asked, instead.
Viktor smiled and turned the computer screen towards me. “This is what I am watching.”
Squinting my eyes, I looked closer, and it confirmed my suspicions.
It was the footage from the camera placed inside her cell. Paying people enough didn’t assure Viktor that he insisted on having the live footage—twenty-hour-seven, and instances like these made me realize a sadist was sleeping inside the head of my brother.
The nuthouse was one thing; the high dosage drugs were another. Within a month, Gemma lost every bit of sanity she had.
When Mia declared of her intentions that she doesn’t want to see Gemma bleed or get debased, Viktor thought it would be poetic justice to have Gemma get hooked on pure grade cocaine—the best kind available in the Chicago black market.
Looking at the screen, I grimaced before turning it away. It was some useless footage of Gemma punching the walls in utter madness.
“Almost nine months have gone, Viktor,” I said softly. “How long are you going to hold on to your revenge fantasy?”
“As long as it takes,” he mumbled, pouring himself another glass.
“You, holding on to that bitterness, will affect Mia too. She has moved on, or at least, trying. Do you honestly want to ruin that for her?”
Viktor’s muscles stiffened, his fingers tightened around the glass, and I was sure that it would crack anytime under pressure. “Every time I close my eyes,” he hissed. “All I see is Mia—crying and bleeding. Had this woman—”
He stopped at once when the door opened and in walked Marco, his gaze bouncing between us. “Am I interrupting anything, ladies?”
“Go, fuck off!” I snickered, while Viktor turned off the screen.
“Who shoved a stick up your ass? That would-be snoopy, Miss Journalist?”
Before I could get to him, Viktor interrupted. “Both of you, bitch in your own time.” His eyes turned to mine, all business-like. “Do we have anything on her, by the way?”
I shook my head impassively. “Nothing. She’s jerking me around.”
“And jerking you off,” Marco mumbled, as he took a seat beside me.
“At least I have someone,” I quipped, glaring back. As if my seething frustration wasn’t good enough that I had to deal with this.
“Please stop,” Viktor sighed loudly. “Find out how we are getting duped by a woman. I have a bad feeling that this will go south too quickly.”
I leaned in, rubbing my temples. “Lilliana has no gang affiliations, no rap sheet, not even a fucking parking ticket, which is understandable because she doesn’t own a car. We have absolutely nothing on her.”
In our world, if anyone appears too clean, meant that the person has more dirt than anyone else.
“There’s one full-proof way to find out,” Marco drawled his words, and it gave me a weird, uncomfortable twinge in my stomach.
“What?” I asked, too quickly. Too desperately perhaps.
His eyes flickered onto me, studying me for a second and then bounced back to Viktor’s. “Say the word, Viktor, and I will bring Lilliana in. Let Aurora take a shot at her. I am sure she would come up with something.”
I slapped the table hard, toppling something metal on it. “No! Hell fucking no!” Desperation clouded my mind to the extent that my emotions were spilling out of control, and I realized the two pair of scrutinizing gaze was already on me.
“You will spook her, and we won’t know the end game that she is planning. The effect can be catastrophic for us,” I tried to amend a little.
“Are you falling for her or something?” Marco asked, his gaze narrowed.
Fuck! This whole situation was going from bad to mother-fucking-worst—real soon.
“Who the hell do you think I am?” I snorted. “Besides, that girl has nothing extraordinary to offer than any women I have been with.”
I needed to utter the words more to convince myself than anyone else in the room. The ironic truth was—I knew Lilliana was lying, I figured she was playing for her advantage, but I refused to hand her over to Aurora.
Aurora would rip her apart, and then make her bleed in the worst possible ways to extract anything out of her. And I didn’t know if I had it in my gut to let it happen to her.
As absurd and irrational as it sounds, I felt that Lilliana might have been an innocent out of this.
Dammit! Of all the crazy-ass things I have done so far, I was probably going to hell for this—I thought.
“Nothing extraordinary?” Marco laughed. “What are you looking for—two heads? I will tell you something, even if she had two heads, you still got one dick, brother.”
I groaned. “You are one horny bastard, aren’t you?”
Breaking our fun, Viktor interjected slowly. “Okay. Let’s hold off Marco’s plan for some time, but you got to give me something, Dominic. She appeared out of nowhere when you were half-dead on the road, then her meeting with Gemma—all these cannot be mere coincidences.”
He was telling me things I already knew and had no fucking no clue what to make of it.
I acquiesced. “I need a connection. I will find it—give me some time to reverse-work this situation.”
Before he could nod, there was a knock on the door—a really weak knock.
Viktor’s brows pulled together as he glanced between us and then looked at the door. “Enter.”
I expected some meek servant, walking in with a tray of food or something, but the scenario was entirely different.
It was James—the little, punk-ass, genius computer geek my brother hired. He was a nice, useful kid until he opened his mouth.
“Yo, bossman,” he entered, with a bright grin on his face and a laptop in his hand. “I have news for you.”
Like I said until he opened his mouth.
No one—I repeat, no one—has ever greeted my brother with a ’yo’.
Marco eyed him head-to-toe, slowly taking in his five-foot-four structure. From his head full of afro curls to his neon snickers—this kiddo, James, was a delight. Of all the time I had spent with him, there wasn’t a dull moment that I could recall.
James was crazy about three things—Xbox, Computers, and Selena Gomez.
And since he was working for us, Viktor made sure to provide him with everything he needed and wanted—except for his last wish on the list.
Once Marco amused himself with James, his eyes shifted behind him and froze. Aurora. Their gazes locked for a second, and something unsettling passed before she ripped it off and came to stand beside me.
“You found anything on her?” Viktor asked, encouraged by his enthusiasm.
“That brunette chick? Nah!” he dismissed.
Aurora quickly chipped in. “But I think we found a connection.”
Our, mostly mine, interest piqued. Anything on Lilliana was as crucial as it got.
“I am listening,” Viktor said, leaning in to rest his forearms on the table with utmost attentiveness.
“This goes way back when Vitellos were operating,” Aurora explained. “When he was busy poking his nose in your business, one of Vitello’s armoury was ripped off. It had military-grade assault riffles worth one million and above street value. The rip off was as clean as possible, which means, someone on the inside had given them the information. The twist is, the rifles never showed up on the black market. Now they can’t vanish into thin air, right?”
“What about Chicago PD? Maybe someone tipped them off about the armory?” Marco offered.
“No,” she dismissed and continued. “I checked with my informer. The rifles never inventoried with the police department. But these were the similar ones used when Dominic was attacked, which gave us the impression that Vitello was behind the scene.”
My brows furrowed. “We already know all this, Aurora. Are there any new developments?”
Aurora looked over to Marco. “You said, according to your informers, they found a guy sniffing around two days before the armory rip-off? Male, Hispanic, late-twenties?”
“Yes,” Marco replied. “But there’s no camera footage or plate number. So, we don’t have a name or a face to identify with.”
“Exactly, but I had a feeling that, if Lilliana had anything to do with Dominic’s attack, she has to know this guy. So, I asked James to look for every male, Hispanic, late-twenties guy in her class, that cafe she works, and her building. Unfortunately, we came up with nothing. But James has a lead, though.”
Our eyes turned to the kid who placed the laptop before Viktor. “There was 911 call made about a suspected burglary when someone tried to climb down from the fire exit. The police arrested and booked the guy who matches the exact description—late twenties male, Hispanic.”
“You got to be fucking kidding me!” I mumbled.
“Yo, that’s not all, homie. I gotta picture for you too,” James told Viktor and clicked something on the laptop. “Here. Name’s Andrew.”
Viktor took a good look and turned the screen towards us. This guy—Andrew—matched the description but I haven’t ever seen him around Lilliana. Not that he would be anywhere within my line of sight, but I had people following Lilliana for days, tracing her movements. I didn’t think they had ever come across him either.
“Any idea about him?” Viktor quizzed. “Did you see him on the day of the attack?”
As far as I remembered, I was busy dodging the firepower. I grimaced and shook my head slowly. “No. Never see him before.”
Marco leaned forward, his gaze narrowed. “This is the camera footage of Chicago PD,” he sounded a little surprised and impressed as he asked James. “You hacked into their server?”
James gave a casual shrug. “It ain’t nothing.”
Somewhere a thought crossed my mind. “If the police booked this guy, someone must have bailed him out.”
“That’s where it gets fishy,” Aurora answered. “There was no official record of Andrew’s arrest. An hour after his arrest, Andrew walked out like a free fucking bird. My contact in the Ivory Tower told me that someone big made a call.”
Viktor clapped his hands. “Perfect! He is our guy,” he told us. “ID Andrew—I want every detail about him. Gang involvement, drugs, cartel, business associate or politician—he has to have a connection.”
I sighed loudly. “Fucking finally, we have something!”
“Good one, kiddo,” Viktor told James, who was proudly puffing his chest. There was something about Viktor’s approval he loved the most, as if like an old brother.
“Yo. Sugar helped me a lot,” he jerked his chin towards Aurora, smiling, and all-giddy. He winked her way, “She is a hot, too.”
“What did you just call her?” Marco rumbled out at him, gripping his forearm.
This asshole and his possessiveness over Aurora. “Here we go,” I muttered under my breath.
It was downright funny to watch Marco losing his shit, and James was, as ever, a delight.
He scowled at Marco distastefully, wriggling in his vice-like grip. “What I call her ain’t your business, old man! You ain’t her daddy.”
Within a second, Marco was on his feet while the chair toppled over behind him. He hoisted the kid by the collar against the wall and turned to Viktor. “Who is this leprechaun again? And if I break his legs, he can still work for you, right?”
“Put the kid down, Marco, for fuck’s sake!” Aurora hissed.
I think Viktor was about to say something, when James, taking the opportunity, kicked Marco hard where it hurts the most. And, boy! I haven’t seen Marco wince for a long time.
Immediately, there were gasps and sighs in the air.
James, somehow in his idiot mind, took this as a win. He went ahead and tried to punch Marco on his face—except Marco blocked his tiny fist in a jiffy.
I slowly shook my head, making a cross on myself. “May God have mercy on his poor soul.”
The protective walls are closing in around Dominic and Lilliana, and it’s only a matter of time before the Pandora’s Box would be laid open before them.
The next update will be on Thursday (3rd October).