Ambrose's Muse

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AMBROSE VASILAKIS

I walked out of the crate, the brightness of the day making me squint my eyes. All the while I was inside, my heart, beat loudly. I prayed after a very long time. I hoped for everything to go well outside. I would either die or live. All my aspirations lay on Alexander. I relaxed a little when Victor had walked out before

me. Hadn’t heard any gunshots either.

My eyes went to my Mother. Her eyes were wide, and tears streamed down her cheeks. Her face had turned old, she had looked so young and youthful the last time I had seen her. Her posture was bent, and age seemed to have really taken its toll. Strange guilt erupted in my heart. I had not been here with my parents. Life was trying to push them down while I stayed

and lived an independent life back in Seattle. Never once did I try reaching out to them.

“Mother,” I whispered.

“Oh, my sweet boy.” My Mother staggered towards me, and I hugged her tight. “I am so sorry!”

“Mother, no. You don’t have to apologise. Please.”

“I pushed you away. I didn’t trust you and your intentions. I am sorry.”

I gulped back the sobs that wanted to erupt from my chest. I closed my eyes and willed to stop myself from bawling like an infant. My Mother’s body had grown frail from what it used to be before. There was something about seeing your parents getting old and weak. I was so used to seeing them as my protector, it was

painful and almost gut-wrenching. My eyes moved to my Father. He stood at a distance, looking at us. I walked to him.

Our eyes met, they were same. I was a carbon copy of Tommaso Valentine, and I was proud of it. My Father was a legend. The Italian Mafia reigned over the world because of him. Our legacy was because of Tommaso.

“My Son,” Father whispered, “do you find it in your heart to forgive…”

“You are not going to complete that sentence,” I managed to speak. Damn these fucking tears. “I will return back to Seattle if you do.”

“I don’t want that,” my Father grinned through his tears.

This was such a sentimental moment. Fuck. I didn’t know I had it in me to cry. Thank god, Bell wasn’t here. I had to maintain my image in front of her, at least.

“You are Ambrose Valentine again,” Tommaso whispered.

A grin slipped on my lips. Ambrose Valentine. I finally had my name back

.

“It’s been years since I heard that name,” I whispered, “thank you, Dad.”

“It was always yours. It was wrong of me to take it from you,”

“You did what the situation asked,” I said, “don’t be apologetic, Father. Please. A Capo should never apologise. You said so yourself.”

“Only when our decisions are right.”

“You always made the right decisions. Father, you didn’t know.”

I felt a hand on my arm, and I turned to my Mother. She pulled my Father and me closer and wrapped her hands around us. Alexander too joined in. It was cheesy and corny, but it felt so good being with my family after so long. I had craved this moment since so long. Sixteen years

later, I was finally getting my fill of it. I was never letting them go. Ever. And I was going to kill the man who created this distance between us.

Tsar’s death was close.

Seeing my family around me only strengthened my resolve. I was no longer the nervous wreck like before. I was stronger, and I was alert. My family was my strength. I was nothing without them. Along with

Bell, each and every person in this lot contributed to who I was. I lived to protect my people, my loved ones, and in this time of crisis, I wasn’t leaving them alone.

“I missed you guys so much,” I whispered.

My Mother looked up at me and shared her maternal smile I missed so much. I stepped back and looked at the three of them. My heart soared

with love. This was a poignant moment, and I knew it would be close to my heart for the rest of my life.

“Tsar,” my Father whispered, “I cannot believe he is back.”

“Do not worry, Tsar’s days are numbered. I will not let him wreak havoc in our lives any further. This is the endgame,” I whispered.

I stepped away from them and turned to Riccardo. I walked to my little

cousin, he looked morose, to put it lightly.

“What you are doing for this family and what you’ve already done, I will always be grateful for it. To go against your loved one for the larger good is a step very few take, Riccardo. I know how close you are to Alessio and let me tell you, your sacrifice will not go waste.”

“I learned from the best. Your sacrifice for our family is incomparable. What I did was just a small fraction of what you had to give up. I have missed you, Ambrose,” Riccardo whispered, “or should I say, Capo Valentine?”

I grinned and turned to Alexander.

“Well, Capo Alex has still not officially handed over his title to me. I think it is just Ambrose for now.”

Riccardo nodded.

“What do you plan on doing with Alessio?” Riccardo asked.

“Dad?” I turned to my Father.

“That crate looks to be a good home for Alessio, right?” Tommaso said.

Two guards grabbed Uncle Alessio’s arms and dragged him inside the crate.

“You think you can save yourself from Tsar, but you don’t even realise his strength!” Alessio snarled, “he will kill each one of you!”

The guards closed the door to the crate and turned towards us, Alessio’s voice drowned to an almost silence and I turned to the rest of the Mafia

families. Victor came and stood beside me.

“Tsar is in the city, and like the coward he is, the man is hiding. Fortunately for us, our strength and loyalty to one another will definitely weaken him. Each one of us here know how capable the man is. Siding with Tsar is a rather short term thinking, the man will use you and throw you away. Maximus Wagner was a victim to it. Tsar is a leech, he

has no force of his own. A fragile entity casting fear on us,” I snarled, “but there is one thing that he has. Money and lots of it. Tsar is getting funded from a various foreign government hell-bent on destroying the peace in our country.”

“If he is in touch with other countries, then he is probably invincible. The secret services of those countries will be supporting him,” Norman said.

“And we aren’t alone either, Norman. The FBI is working with us.”

Murmurs broke in the lot.

“You want us working with the FBI?” Dylan Kelly stepped forward.

“I do. You have a problem with that?” I asked.

“Of course, I do. They will try to put their noses in places, and I don’t want that,”

“They will not, you have my word. Till the time you are on the right side the FBI will not poke their noses in our business. Not only the FBI, even the CIA and other secret services will be working with us closely. They are far more efficient in finding the locations and other details of Tsar than we are,”

“I cannot believe this,” Kelly spat.

“Do you have any other solution?” I asked.

Dylan didn’t say anything.

“Tsar plans on blowing us up,” I whispered, “do you know that? And he is very much capable of doing so.”

That shut him up.

“Like I said, if you are not working with us, then you are simply signing your own death certificate. Walk out of here or work with us,” I said, “the choice is yours. And don’t worry, I wouldn’t get mad. Don’t be scared of me, but be scared of Tsar.”

“You want us to be scared of him?” Derek Alfonsi asked.

“I want you to be scared of him, but I don’t want that fear consuming you. I want it to make you more alert, I want that fear to bring out the best in you. I want it to motivate you to kill this man and his institution once and for all,” I snarled.

Derek Alfonsi looked thoroughly motivated.

“Riccardo, let’s take everyone inside and show them the proofs,”

The leader of the cartels walked inside along with their family members. Riccardo switched on the projector, and everyone stared at the screen with interest. All the videos and photographs featuring Tsar were shown with Alexander and I explaining the same. There was an energy in the air, one who convinced me further. We were going to get through it all. Unity was our strength.

“What do you want us to do?” Norman asked.

Before I could answer, Alexander’s phone rang. He had explained the concept of this place to me before. Only his phone worked, and no other device without his explicit permission. Alexander excused himself and walked away. I turned to Norman.

“We do not have any idea about the timelines or schedules by which Tsar is working. He is unpredictable. My guess is, there is someone who is supporting him. With Maximus Wagner dead, Tsar will have to find someone who can get his foot into our world. It is either that, or he is already on the brink of executing his plan. I am going for the latter. I have placed my own men amongst most of the Cartels, and none of them shows signs,” I explained, “the Wagners are

with us, and some of them are giving me information. It is not a lot, but we will have to work with it.”

“It is almost as if he is a phantom,”

“I wouldn’t argue with that,”

Norman sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“I want to say ‘let’s go for a drink’, but I don’t think we have time for that,” Norman said, “maybe we’ll have to reschedule.”

I grinned and nodded.

“How is Dina?” I asked.

“She is doing well, so are the kids. What about you? Last I heard the rumours, there is a lady in your life,”

“There is, but for now I have kept her away and safe from all of this. It is too risky for her to be here, especially when she is so naïve and unaware of it all.”

“I get that. I am lucky with Dina. She has been brought up in this environment, and there isn’t a lot that surprises her. But of course, having someone untainted with our world’s reality is akin to seeing an angel.”

“Bell’s an angel, through and through. There is no one sweeter and innocent than her and it just fills my heart with hope. I don’t think I would be here if Bell wouldn’t have motivated me.”

“Your brother’s fiance’s name is Bell too, right?”

I grinned it was sly and salacious.

“Not anymore.”

Norman’s brow shot up.

“You will never stop being a dog,” Norman grinned.

“Somethings are better unchanged.”

Norman shook his head. I turned to Alexander. He entered back with his face red and chest heaving.

“What is it, Alex?” I ran to him.

“It’s not good,” Alex mumbled.

“Tell me,”

Alexander looked me in the eye.

“It’s Bell.”

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