T W E N T Y - S I X
Vengeance is in my heart, death in my hand, Blood and revenge are hammering in my head. ~ William Shakespeare
“He is useless now,” I heard my father muttering as he stood over the dead body on the floor; the thick crimson blood slowly crawled towards his Amadeo Testoni loafers.
It was the third dead man in twenty-hours, and my sister was still in the wind. And so was Lorenzo—the man I had trusted once. At one time, in a drunken conversation, I convinced Viktor that maybe Lorenzo wasn’t a wrong choice for Sammy, but even under the intoxicated haze, Viktor wanted to kill him.
I only wish he would have done that.
Lorenzo grew up closer to our family and, it was his dedication and loyalty that qualified him to be one of our closest men. But it wasn’t good enough for him, I guess, and with Sammy’s involvement, he started to dream big.
The poisonous ambition slowly morphed into greed that ultimately destroyed his loyalty.
How the fuck could we miss that? How, in the name of hell, could we overlook the hunger in his eyes and let our sister down?
“He changed three cars and took the longest route, but all these fucking places are shadow zones where he swapped the vehicles. There is no way we could track him!” Viktor sneered, kicking the dead body.
His anger seemed completely out of place. “Why didn’t you tell me that Lorenzo was asking for the control of port authorities?” I asked Viktor instead.
“If you had your fucking mind in the business than rather than somewhere else, I would have,” he snapped at me, causing my rage to erupt.
“Don’t you dare put everything on me when it was your fault, too!” I barked, charging towards him.
“I did everything in my power I could, Dominic!”
“ENOUGH, BOTH OF YOU!” My father screamed at us like he used to do when we were young and fight over trivial issues. Except it wasn’t trivial anymore.
I was too blind with red, hot fury, coursing through my veins to filter the statement or to even back-off. “Just like you did everything to save Stefan, and yet, he died on your watch!” I hurled back in a fit of rage but immediately regretted the words.
It was too late. Viktor froze on the spot, and the burning fire in his eyes turned into guilt and then into voidness.
“Listen to me, boys, and listen carefully,” our father snarled, wedged between us. “You better put your worthless heads together and get my princess home. Your mother loved you both, and I loved that woman. But I swear by her grave, that if you idiots keep this up, I will whip the skin off your backs!”
Dad’s threat did nothing for us but to back off. We didn’t need him to intimidate us enough to look for Sammy; we would have done that anyway, but it was our misplaced rage that created all the fuss.
Viktor and I felt invalid and angry. We were humming with rage from within, but the whole fucking world wanted us to be headstrong and confident like we were made from steel and iron.
For the fucking love of God, she was our only sister! However, it was useless to drill that into the heads of others.
Throwing one quick look at Viktor, I stormed out of the room. When I was finally alone and away from everyone else did I scream like a maniac, punching the wall again and again until my knuckles were bloody and the pain numbed my thoughts.
I was about to walk out of the basement when a piercing scream drifted out of the adjacent room. It struck me that the guy I caught yesterday, who was in constant touch with Lorenzo past six months, was being interrogated by Aurora.
It was past fifteen hours of his capture, and he still hasn’t given anything important. Not a good sign at all, I mentally shook my head and stalked towards the room.
“I believe he doesn’t want a very long life,” I commented, leaning against the doorway.
The man in the chair grinned, flashing his bloodied teeth. “This little cunt of yours is no good.” He then turned his head towards Aurora. “Maybe if you show me those big tits, I would tell you what you want to know.”
In two long and quick strides, I was in front of the fucker, and my fist slammed against his jaw. And before he could even recover, another blow in his face broke his nose.
“Feeling better now?” I hissed.
“Fuck you and that bitch of a sister of yours.” He spat down at my feet, missing his mark by an inch as I stepped back.
I glanced up at Aurora’s smirking face, who gave me the knowing nod and disappeared out of the room. It was she returned within moments, the man tied to the chair, Brian, began to struggle frantically against his bonds.
“Ah! Now I have got your attention.” I smiled.
“Let him go,” Brian hissed through pain and desperation like I thought he would.
“Him?” I asked dramatically, pointing towards the guy Aurora was busy tying to another chair. He, too, struggled, but I knew the drunken asshole was no match for Aurora’s strength. “I would gladly let your brother go if you tell me where Lorenzo has kept my sister. The deal is simple: your brother’s life in exchange for the information I need.”
Brian’s distraught eyes swayed between his brother’s way and mine, trying to grasp the gravity of his situation.“I told you, I have no idea,” he screamed as if it would sound like a truthful statement. “He doesn’t tell me about his plans.” “I told you, I have no idea,” he screamed as if it would sound like a truthful statement. “He doesn’t tell me about his plans.”
I kept my eyes trained on him for several long seconds. “Please, you have to believe me. Please!”
The begging on and on until Aurora snapped. “That’s it. I am done playing.”
“You shouldn’t have pissed her off,” I smirked, backing off to lean against the wall and watch the drama unfold.
Aurora fished out a plastic bag from the back pocket of her jeans, pulled it over Brian’s brother’s head and fastened it with a zip tie around his neck, leaving only a minute gap to let him breathe.
“You have five seconds,”Aurora snarled, yanking the head of her captive. “Talk, or I will strangle your brother right in front of you. And once he dies, I will bring in that sister of yours from the shady rehab you have sent her to and kill her too. And I won’t stop until I kill every motherfucking person that matters to you.”
“No, no, wait. I already told you that I don’t know anything. Please, please!” He almost sounded like a dying dog, but there wasn’t enough fear in his eyes to convince us otherwise.
“I don’t think he is taking you seriously, Aurora,” I added fuel to the fire, looking down at Brian. “Do you think she is bluffing?”
“Bluffing, my ass!” Aurora pulled at the end of the zip tie, cutting off the air supply as the guy began to thrash and gasp for oxygen.
In all my years of interrogation, I have learned that you could expose a man to unimaginable pain, peel off his skin—layer by layer—and then also he wouldn’t utter a single word because some people are immune to physical pain. That’s when mind over matter comes into play. No one is strong enough to endure the pain and suffering of their beloved, especially their blood.
Ordinarily, we would not bother resorting to such extremes, but this wasn’t ordinary. My only sister’s life was hanging by a thread, and I wouldn’t mind going on a death spree for her.
“Okay, okay! I will tell you. Please, please! I will talk…please.” He frantically
When Aurora got a slight nod from my end, she snapped the zip tie and let the guy breathe for the time being.
“I…I don’t know the location…but it’s out of Chicago.” I began to approach him when his voice went from begging to pleading for mercy. “But I know someone who can give you the information. Please, please…you have to believe me…please. I swear I have no idea where Lorenzo is…”
Grabbing a fistful of his hair, I tipped back his head painfully. “Who? And where the hell do I find him?”
“He…he is the one who contacted Lorenzo first and set up a meeting with the cartel. He has a hideout near Irving Park and…and…”
“Who?” I demanded impatiently.
“His name is…Dante Moretti.”
Confusion clouded my mind as I have never come across this name. I looked at Aurora, and she had the same puzzled expression as mine.
Letting go of his head, I told him darkly, “For your brother’s sake, I hope you are not lying to me, Brian, because there won’t be another second chance for you.”
“I am sorry. Please explain to me, Dad, how, in the name of motherfucking Christ, a dead man woke up from his grave and decided to come after us?” Viktor asked our father, with his calm and controlled voice, but he looked like he was about to explode.
A series of new information was flung towards us as we—Viktor, Marco, Aurora, and I—listened with a dumbstruck intellect.
Dante died in a fire that killed his entire family. There was some issue of a faulty wire or something where he was hiding at that time…I don’t know. But it killed his wife, Sophia, and the servants and a few bodyguards, too. Every corpse burned beyond recognition,” Dad explained.
None of this made sense. “Wait,” I interjected with a raised palm. “You said Dante Moretti was one of the richest men in Chicago back then. And you think a man of wealth would have faulty fucking wires in this house?”
“And dead bodies burnt beyond recognition?” Viktor cut in, impatient as ever. “How difficult it is to understand that he faked his death?”
“Goddamn it, Viktor!” Angrily, Dad banged his fist on the table. “I couldn’t do anything because there was nothing left for me to do!”
Nothing left to do? Was he kidding us? He was Alessandro fucking Romano! He once managed to order the hit to take out three US Senators and made their deaths look like filthy accidents. So, I didn’t believe him, neither did anyone else in the room.
Everyone in the room exchanged glances because we all sensed that there was something more to it.
“Mr. Romano,”Aurora braved, making her way towards Dad. “If we are going to capture this man, Dante Moretti, we need to know everything that is to know about him. His sources, connections, the link with Lorenzo...everything. He is also the man who has information about Sammy. So we can’t kill him until we get her back home.”
It was the name of my sister that stole the color from Dad’s face as the strong man began to crumble at his helplessness. He loved Sammy… perhaps, more than us. She was the apple of his eye.
“I had an inkling about Dante’s death, but the reason I let it slide was because of Ralph,” he revealed; his eyes involuntarily moved towards Marco and went on explaining. “He was going to take her away and kill Dante anyway, but the accident took place. With Sophia gone, Ralph was inconsolable. It took him years to recover the loss of that woman. It was when he found Marco that he started becoming responsible, and I couldn’t bring myself to open his old wounds. He was happy being a father, so I let him be.”
And that was not the end of the story. Dad went on and on answering the questions the best he could, while the rest of the people busied themselves, pulling out every little detail about this clown called Dante Moretti.
Within an hour, we managed to pull out the account of every man he has ever been in contact with, the detailed surveillance of his present hideout, and a full-proof plan to capture him alive. distraught
“The last time I used a stun grenade, I was fourteen.” Marco grimaced, stuffing the explosives around his armor, and then helped Aurora with it.
“As much as I want to kill the motherfucker, I can’t until I get Sammy back,”Aurora mumbled. “Let’s stick to kiddie bombs for the time being.”
I have never doubted my capabilities before this day. One mistake, and we could lose Sammy forever. It felt like someone blindfolded and shoved us towards a minefield where an explosive could hit off with one wrong step. So every step had to be right.
With a heavy mind and constricted chest, I checked the mags one last time. Suddenly, a hand crept up from behind and gave my shoulder a gentle squeeze. Looking over, I saw it was Aurora.
She gave a soft, encouraging smile, but I knew that she was barely keeping it together. With five murders in the span of twenty-hours, Aurora was as miserable as us. “Your crazy-ass sister owes me one hell of a girls’ night, and I am going to hold her to that. We are going to bring her home, Dominic, and then I am going after every fucking son of a bitch who is responsible for this,” she vowed.
I believed her. With a slow nod and a loud exhale, I pledged a vow of mine. “And I would start with Lorenzo.”