Chapters 1 to 25 sent to paid readers and updated on Patreon.
“Now, Rosaria, c’ mon, we are all here for you,” Laura soothed Aunt Rosaria.
“What will I do, Laura? What is left for me?” Rosaria cried, “I will never forgive Ambrose.”
Alexander sighed and walked away from the living area. He walked down to the basement. His father had built one in his home because you never know what business may come up. It was equipped with all the tools needed for extracting information.
All the men were standing around the gift box containing Maximus’ head. His father looked sombre.
“Anything?” Dean asked, “how is the atmosphere upstairs?”
“Bleak. Aunt Rosaria is distraught,” Alex whispered, “it is not good.”
“Poor Rose,” Tommaso whispered, “I can’t see my little Rose like this. Damn!”
“What I can’t seem to understand are the intentions behind this brutal attack? What kind of situation did Maximus get himself into that warranted such cruelty?” Riccardo asked.
“What is even more important is Ambrose’s reason behind killing his Uncle.” Alessio stepped forward. “He clearly threatened our institution by murdering one of our own.”
“Uncle, why are you blaming Ambrose?” Alexander snapped. Alessio needed just a simple excuse to threaten him and Ambrose.
“Because of the letter! Dear Parents, this is just the beginning. You read the words yourself, Alex.”
“It could’ve been someone else. We cannot believe every little thing someone is saying.”
“This is Maximus’ head, not a silly little letter trying to scare us. Your brother is the culprit here!”
“Alessio is right, Alexander. It is Ambrose. Maybe, after all these years of silently letting the anger simmering in him, he has finally decided to react. But I did not for once think that he would take it to this level. We have left him alone, in peace and this is how he repays us,” Tommaso snarled, “we all know the shame of being ousted from the mafia but to retaliate in this fashion is not acceptable.”
“Why would Ambrose do this? Ask yourself, Dad. Did Ambrose ever strike as the kind of man capable of attacking his own family members?”
“Ambrose didn’t strike me as the kind of man to betray his family, but he still did. Honestly, Alex, I expect the worst from him.”
“You are wrong, Dad. I know Ambrose, and I know he will not do anything of this sort.”
“Your trust in your brother will get you killed,” Tommaso snapped, “we must retaliate.”
“I am the Capo of this organisation; I make the decisions here. We will look further into this matter; I will follow a proper course of an investigation. I will work closely with Lucius, look into all the intel we have and then come upon a decision.”
Tommaso bristled but didn’t respond. He walked out of the basement, followed by Alessio and other elderly members. Dylan, Riccardo and Derek walked to him.
“That was a wise decision,” Dylan said, “the emotions are running high, it is not the best time to retaliate.”
“I warded them off at this moment, but what if it was Ambrose?”
“Ambrose would never do anything of this sort,” Riccardo said.
“But then why did Maximus go for meeting Ambrose. My father had declared a complete abdication and boycott of Ambrose from the mafia. Everyone agreed to it, then why did Maximus go? And what if he has been there many times before?”
“I like how you are formulating the possibilities,” Derek said, “but this was the first time in sixteen years that Maximus went to meet Ambrose. I mean at least that’s what my associate said.”
“Are you sure?” Alex asked.
“I mean, yes. Maximus has been to Seattle a couple of times, increasingly so in the last three years but this was the first time he met Ambrose,”
“Does your associate know what exactly has Maximus been doing on those meetings?”
“Nothing, he usually goes for attending Ballet recitals or some orchestra performance,”
“Since when did he take a fancy towards the performing arts?” Alex asked.
Alex gave the severed head another look before following the boys out of the basement.
The living room was similar to how it was before, only there were fewer members now. Only the closest family members. Dylan and Derek left, promising to meet for a conference on the matter in a few days.
“This is shit,” Riccardo whispered.
“What is shit?”
“Alfonsi! Since when did he get so informative?”
“To be honest, he has always been like this. You always expect the worst from him but well… at the end he is the brightest student in the class.”
“I don’t want to stay here,”
“We will have to organise the funeral, Lucius is good for nothing, and well, Aunt Rosaria isn’t up for it.”
“We can’t have a funeral with just the head,” Alex hissed, “we have to find the rest of the body.”
“Finding a body, that’s what we have been reduced to,” Riccardo said, “can’t we send some associates to do this?”
“Of course, we are going to be sending in the associates. Anyways, I have to leave this shithole, I can’t be around them! I know its sad and all but Aunt’s cries are grating on my nerves. I will just say goodbye to everyone and leave.”
Alex walked to his mother, tapping her on the shoulder.
“What is it, Alex?”
“Mum, I am leaving. I will be in the office early, investigating the case.”
“Can’t you stay here tonight?”
“No, Mum. But I have already discussed the security with Boris. Associates have lined up around the property, and the security cameras are under strict surveillance. Everything is going to be fine,”
Laura bit her but nodded.
Alex walked towards the main door, nodding at his father and Uncle Dean.
“Leaving so soon,”
Alex closed the door behind him and saw Nicholas holding a giant trash bag.
“The party is over,” Alex said before walking to him and opening the lid of the trash can, “there you go.”
“That is very gentlemanly,” Nicholas grinned before putting the trash in, “there my job here is done too.”
“That was one party,”
“I am just grateful to have not seen the severed head. I am sorry about your Uncle by the way,”
“It is not a pleasant sight, but I am used to it all,”
“That is sad,”
“It is, isn’t it? Tell me, what is it like to go through your entire life without seeing gore or severed body parts?”
Nicholas looked into Alexander’s eyes and smiled.
“Why don’t I show you?”
“So, this is your apartment,” Alexander said, looking around the studio apartment in Brooklyn.
“Yes,” Nicholas said, “my humble abode.”
Alexander walked to the canvases laying against the walls. Nicholas’ work ranged from abstract to beautiful scenic paintings. But each work was deep and poignant, there was an emotion reflecting from each and every work. Alexander picked one of the paintings and stared at it. It was black and white. Tall and daunting trees on either side of the road and a woman walking on it with a little child in her arms. She was wearing a torn outfit but had kept the little boy covered with a blanket.
“This is beautiful,” Alex whispered, “and tear-jerking.”
“It is one of my very first paintings,”
“Something says that it comes from personal experience,”
Alex and Nicholas stared at each other. A moment passed between the two, Nicholas leaned in and gently pecked Alex on the lips. He moved away, but Alex pulled Nicholas to him and deepened the kiss. Soon enough the clothes came off, and Nicholas pushed Alex on the bed.
“God, I have been thinking about you since you kicked me out of your house,” Nicholas grinned.
“Me too, now shut up!” Alex smashed his lips with Nicholas’ again and flipped the glorious creature on the bed. “I am always on top.”
“Is that what you say to your fiancée?” Nicholas muttered.
“How do you know I have a fiancée?”
Alex stared at the gold ring on his hand, cursed under his breath. He removed and placed the ring on the nightstand but not before picking a condom. He ripped it open and wore it across his length. Nicholas helped him with the lubricant, and soon Alex was entering him slowly.
Nicholas groaned. Alex began to move in and out, slowly increasing his speed.
The sound of slapping of skin bounced off the walls. They were merciless and ruthless. Alex’s hands grazed the deep scars on Nicholas’ body, his mind starting to question while the grunts escaped his mouth.
A groan escaped Alex’s lips, and he flopped down beside Nicholas. Their breaths were laboured, and Alex struggled to form basic words. It was glorious. Better than before. Alex didn’t understand but maybe because it didn’t feel as empty as before.
Nicholas’ body was covered with a sheen of sweat, he looked like a Norse God.
“You are Russian or Scandinavian?”
“Russian, born there bred here,”
“You have Scandinavian looks, with your pale blonde hair and sharp features,”
“I take after my father, he is Scandinavian,”
“What do your parents do?”
“My mother is a housewife and father a business executive.”
“Have you always lived here in New York?”
“No, I was brought up in Idaho,” Nicholas said, “my father kicked me out after he found out about my… orientation.”
“I get you, I have not come out of the closet yet. I wonder what my father will do to me once he gets to know,”
“I don’t think it will be that bad, your parents love you very much. I saw it tonight.”
“They love me until I am perfect. But once they get to know who I really am? That day I might just end up like my Uncle Maximus,”
“There must be someone who would get you, someone you could tell this to,”
“I can, but I choose not to. I promised my father to not keep any relation with my brother.”
“That’s cold, I think you should approach your brother. What if he is missing you?”
“I don’t think so. All these years and he never once tried to call me or connect with me. I was struggling with so much. My identity as the Capo of Valentine Syndicate, my identity as the perfect son and fiancé and then my real identity as a homosexual restaurateur. I craved someone to take care of me, but I was left alone… all alone.”
Nicholas didn’t say anything.
“I am upset with Ambrose,” Alex found himself saying, “not for his betrayal to the Cosa Nostra but to me. He failed me as an older brother. And for that, I am never going to forgive him.
“Maybe you should think about your brother’s perspective. What if he has a reason?”
“What reason could be more important than his own brother?”
Nicholas didn’t say anything. He kept his head on Alex’s chest.
“I am sorry, I didn’t mean to bore you with my sob story,”
“Hey!” Nicholas admonished, “sharing your feelings is not a sob story. I think it is good that you are talking about it.”
“It does feel good,” Alex admitted, “sometimes it gets lonely.”
“Well, now you’re not lonely. Anytime you feel that ways, you can just call me. You know where I work,”
Alex grinned and looked down at me.
“I wouldn’t have slept with you if I knew you were working in my club,” Alex sighed.
“Well, technically, I wasn’t working there. I only got the job yesterday, but yes, now I am definitely sleeping with my employer,”
“I like how scandalous this is,”
“Oh, trust me. I like it too, so do I get to kick you out now? To level the field,”
“You are kicking your Boss out? That could get you fired,”
“I think I will take my chances,” Nicholas shrugged.
“You little whore,” Alexander kissed him and got up from the bed. He put his ring on and walked out of the studio apartment.
After a very long time, there was a genuine smile on his face.