Ambrose's Muse

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[13]

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[GORE AND VIOLENCE ALERT]

ALEXANDER VALENTINE

“The man is tied to a chair,” Riccardo whispered.

“Have you done any background checks?” Alexander asked.

“I did, there was nothing. We couldn’t trace the roots, the only thing that I can tell you about is that he is a Russian. Born and bred and came to the States a couple of years ago.”

“Well, I guess, he will have to tell us that information to us himself,” Alexander said and pushed the door open.

They were in the Valentine headquarters, and this was one of the many rooms fashioned for torturing purposes. It was more of a dungeon with its dingy stone walls and the dampness residing under it. Many had cracked just with the atmosphere that the room provided. Alexander hoped this man was one of those, he hated torturing. Alex could negotiate and argue and fight but with words. However, when it came to torturing with tools, he could do it, but he didn’t like to.

Alexander was soft. He wasn’t going to fight that claim. He never liked pain.

Riccardo pushed the door open, and Alexander braced himself for all eventualities. He walked inside, looking like the confident Don that he was. All the fears and doubts had been left outside, what remained was a dangerous Mob Boss who meant business. Alex’s purpose was to get the information out of this man through any way possible.

And he intended on getting that information out.

A chair was placed right in the middle of the room. The man sat tied to it, his wounds dressed.

“Looks like you’ve had a taste of the Valentine hospitality,” Alexander spat, taking a chair of his own and sitting right in front of the man.

The man’s head raised, his deep-set eyes staring right into Alex’s soul. His face was scarred, but he looked very young, as old as Alex himself. But at the same time this man looked like he had seen a lot, his mind seemed aged and the kind of evil that roots deep in your system.

“What is your name?” Alex asked.

The man didn’t answer.

“Do you understand English?” Alex asked, each word was slow and well-enunciated, maybe that would help him understand.

“I prefer being called ‘the man’,” the man whispered.

The man’s voice was deep and thick with an accent. Yes, he was definitely Russian or from one of the erstwhile USSR countries.

“C’ mon, we are calm, can we expect some cooperation from you? I promise, I will not hurt a hair on your head,” Alexander whispered.

“I don’t want you to be calm. I want you to do your worst,” the man spat, “I know what you’re here for. And I am not telling you anything except two things.”

Alex glared.

“First, you are going to die and second, very soon,”

“Aren’t you a smart mouth,” Alexander snickered, “also, tell your boss to not make such corny statements.”

The man looked taken aback.

“Let me see, you haven’t heard anyone talk about your boss like that? Yeah, I can see that. You must be an associate; they get so upset when someone says anything about their beloved boss.”

The man wanted to combust.

“Now, c’mon, tell me about this boss of yours,”

“He is going to kill you,”

“We all die someday, Man. It can be by the hands of your Bos4s or a ripe old age,” Alex whispered, “I prefer the former, so I say bring it on.”

“This is not a joke. He is coming to this city again, after so many years and we will severe your head and gift it to your poor parents. Just like Uncle Maximus’ was sent to you.”

Alex stilled, his eyes zeroing on this man. Riccardo’s breaths deepened. The malicious expression on the trapped associate’s face grew graver. There was no fear. He looked possessed by something.

“You see… he is returning, and when he does, you and your family will be nothing but dead bodies carpeting this city. What happened to Maximus is nothing, his body may be floating in the Pacific Ocean right now or Atlantic? I don’t know the exact location.”

“Who are you talking about?” Alexander snapped.

“I am talking about the one who was thrown out of this city years ago! But now he is back to avenge that humiliation!”

“I will kill you,” Alexander whispered.

The Man stared bleakly into his eyes.

“I was born to die,” he whispered, “you are doing me a favour.”

“Come, Alexander. I need to talk to you,” Riccardo insisted.

“I need to put a bullet to his head, Riccardo. Let me do that!”

“This is much more important!” Riccardo snapped.

Alexander turned around; he didn’t like the tone Riccardo had used. He was the Don for god sakes. The fury in Alexander’s eyes made Riccardo lower his own.

“I am sorry, I didn’t mean to use that tone, Capo,”

“Damn right,” Alexander snarled.

Alexander walked out, and Riccardo followed him.

“What is it?”

“I think it is not wise to kill that man, right now,” Riccardo whispered.

“Why?”

“He seems to know a lot; I have a feeling that we can crack him slowly. Every day, patiently, he can provide us with the information we need.”

“You are right. That man was prepared to die, he is prepared to be hurt, but what if we do the opposite… what if we just let him stay in there, absorbed and tangled in his own thoughts? He will start to question everything, and it will be easier for us to penetrate his mind,”

“Absolutely,”

“Thank you, Riccardo. That’s a great idea. Now, I want you to decrease the temperature of the room. By two degrees, cold enough to pee but not die, and keep surprising him. Keep playing games with his mind. And increase the security around these areas, no one should enter the dungeons with a proper ID check,”

“On it,” Riccardo whispered, “are you returning back to your condo, right now?”

“No, I am going to the club, it is the end of the month, and I have to go over the finances. I also have to renew the liquor license for the restaurants and try that new wine selection that has just arrived from our vineyards.”

“Oh yes, how is that going?”

Alexander had purchased a very premium vineyard six months ago; it was again a completely legal purchase. He wanted to have legitimate businesses; it was getting increasingly difficult to carry out illegal operations. They had to develop a portfolio of significant investments to look lucrative in the market.

It was something that Ambrose did as well.

If the wine did well, then it could bring as much as twenty million per quarter.

“It is a good thing that you are doing, Alexander. I know our fathers don’t understand, but I am really proud of the new direction that you are taking us into.”

“Thanks, man,”

“I mean it, you are also investing in the businesses our soldiers and associates are starting, really giving them business advice and stuff. That is what a real Capo is meant to do, and I am glad that you are doing that,”

“Shut it, will you? You will receive your twenty-five per cent, nothing more!”

“Bell’s a lucky gal is all I am saying!” Riccardo raised his hands in surrender and grinned.

Alexander shook his head and walked out of the dungeon. He sat in the car as Boris started it.

“Any news on your Uncle’s body,”

“I think we will have to bury him with only his head in the casket.”

“Damn, who did this to Maximus?”

“According to the note, my brother,”

“I don’t believe that,”

“Me neither but during the interrogation that man said something. Something that points towards Ambrose. Something that does not make me want to rule Ambrose out.”

“It cannot be Ambrose, he has too much love for the family. Even after the humiliation. I just cannot!” Boris mumbled.

“Trust me, Boris. But for the sake of the syndicate, I am not going to let Ambrose off the hook. I am sending an associate of mine…”

“Don’t, it is too risky!”

“I am not backing down because it’s too risky!” Alexander growled. “These are my people! How can get we afraid? I know I wasn’t meant to be Capo, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t take my duties seriously!”

“If I know Ambrose, then he would be very proud of you.”

“You forget what he did to this organisation,” Alexander whispered, “people lose their minds even just thinking about his betrayal.”

Boris didn’t say anything.

They parked in front of the car, and Alexander quickly stepped out. It was still eight in the evening, a few loners hung around the bar. Alex’s eyes zeroed on Nicholas, who very patiently cleaned all the glasses in front of him. Affection bloomed in Alex’s chest for him. There was an air of innocence around this man but a certain level of melancholy too.

Alex craved being with him. But he couldn’t. He belonged to Bell. The sweet little Bell with her chiming giggles and mischievous eyes and full rosy cheeks. Why couldn’t he be attracted to her? She was every man’s dreams, Riccardo had a massive crush on her, he would take Bell as his wife within a second.

But, Bell loved him. She loved Alexander Valentine.

“Get me a drink,” Alexander barked and walked to his office.

He pulled the important files and slammed on the table before pulling out his chair and bringing them to him. Alexander opened the folder, took a pen and began going through the reports. His eyes were like a hawk, spotting every mistake and circling them with red. Maybe they had to fire the accountant.

A knock on the door.

“Come in,” Alexander muttered and continued with his work.

A glass of whiskey was placed in front of Alex, and a moment later, he felt strong hands gently pressing his shoulders. Alexander turned around and stared at Nicholas.

“You looked tense,”

Alex didn’t say anything, he just got back to work. Nicholas continued to massage his shoulders.

“It has been a tense day,” Alex found himself saying, “let’s just say that things aren’t going the way I intended them.”

“Everyone experiences hiccups,”

“The last hiccup cost us, Uncle Maximus, I cannot afford another one,”

“I think you are too hard on yourself,” Nicholas whispered, “maybe you just need to step back and then look at the situation. A bigger picture is all we need.”

“My brother used to say that,” Alex said, “He was cool and collected all the time.”

“Well, then maybe you should try his method,”

“Do you know that he is the chief suspect? Ambrose could be behind my Uncle’s death. Everything points to him.”

“That is a terrible position to be in,”

“I know,”

“What do you want me to do for you?” Nicholas offered.

“Nothing, come, have a drink with me,”

Nicholas sat in front of Alexander.

“I like being with you,” Alexander whispered, “but I can’t,”

“Why not? Is it because of your family?”

“Yes, and my fiancée, she is the sweetest person. Wouldn’t even hurt a fly and look what I am doing to her. I just have to be a good husband to her for a couple of years.”

“Couple of years?”

“This is the mafia life, Nicholas. I will end up dead in a ditch somewhere,” Alex chuckled sardonically.

“Don’t say that you will live a very long life. You will have me with you celebrating your hundredth birthday,” Nicholas promised.

“You are too pure, Nicholas. That’s another reason why you shouldn’t be with me. I will corrupt you,”

“I really like you, Alexander. And I think if you really want, then we will for sure be together one day. Let us run away, to a faraway land and spend our lives there.”

“You talk of a dream I often see but breaks. I cannot leave, I cannot be Ambrose.”

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