"Wow Franco... you look like shit." I stood directly in front of him, my left hip popped out and my arms crossed over my chest.
The light overhead illuminated his broken and bruised face. He appeared to be in worse shape then when I left him a few days ago. His left eye was practically swollen shut. Dried lines of blood dripped from his cracked and split lips. Every inhale came with a wheeze and every exhale seemed to bring a certain agony that turned my lips upwards into a devilish smirk.
A small, nonchalant cough rose from behind me. I turned my core to look back to see every member of the family standing behind me. Adam's face was flat, almost uninterested but he lifted his two first fingers on his right hand towards me.
"You can thank me for that."
"Hmm." I almost grunted, satisfied. "Nice work."
I turned my attention back towards Franco whose eyes still remained towards the ground until I took a few steps towards him. The clicks of my heels echoing throughout the damp air. Only then did he look up at me past his eyelashes.
"Well look who the fucking... cat..." he coughed, letting the wheezing get the best of him. "Dragged in. The fucking king, and his fucking bitch. Looks like the rest of the gang is here too. What is this? A fucking family reunion? Come to watch your poor uncle Franco suffer a little?" A slight chuckle raised from his throat. "I should have fucking killed all of you ungrateful fuckers when I hate the goddamn chance."
"Listen to me Franco." My voice was soft as I squatted down to his eye level. As soon as my eyes made contact with his, my voice, my muscles grew hard. "That King..." I paused looking over my shoulder showing my profile to Adrian. "That King, gave me permission to do as a damn well please to you." My voice became even more harsh as the words escaped from the small slit between my clenched teeth. And yet, my voice remained whispered like what I needed to say was only meant for him. I stood up, planting my feet firmly on the ground. "And the only fucking bitch I see here is you. Because once I'm done with your ass Franco, you'll be my bitch. So I would think fucking wisely before you open your damn mouth without my consent." I sneered at him.
I could feel my body become possessed as the darkness coursed through my veins. The muscles on the side of my jaw continued to twitch causing an occasional sharp pain to flicker in the base of my rear molars. A new rage surfaced that I had never felt before. Images flashed through my mind of every way I wanted to torture his ass. And images flicked in my mind of pressing the cold barrel of my gun against his forehead and pulling the trigger. But him, of all people on this earth, deserved worse than a quick and painless death.
I tried to breath through the anger causing my nostrils to flare. I took a small step back for only a moment to compose myself.
The blood in my veins no longer coursed at lightyear speeds. My breathing had steadied.
"I'll only ask you this once, Franco." I grabbed the bottom of his jaw with my hand forcing him to tilt his head up at my face. "Where. The fuck. Is. Dominic?"
As expected there was no verbal reply. Only the sound of his demonic laugh could be heard, bouncing off the cinder block walls. His eyes remained dark, practically staring at me through slits. His bound hands gripped tighter on to the arms of the chair as he pulled against his restraints. It was becoming more evident the longer I stared into his eyes that he the only thought currently crossing his mind was the 101 ways he wanted to kill me.
I retracted my hand from his face causing his head to abruptly drop. I turned on the ball of my feet, my arms still crossed over my chest as I slowly walked back to the rest of the group. My eyes glanced at Adrian as he gave me a quick nod of approval that I was unconsciously searching for. The glimmer of his chocolate eyes brought me back to our conversation only a few minutes prior.
"Listen to me. I trust you." He had grabbed my forearm, pulling me backwards toppling on to his chest away from the steps leading to Franco. To say I was confused was an understatement.
"What? What are you talking about." I shook my head at him tilting my head up to stare at his towering figure.
"Down there, downstairs, I trust you. I'm letting you lead. You do what you think is right. Unless you need me, unless something goes wrong, I won't step in."
I gave him a small smile before rubbing my hand down his arm and turning back around. "Okay."
I throw him a small smile before turning my head towards Alex.
"Alex." I state his name firmly, pinning my eyes upon his face. "You feel up to doing me a favor?"
"For you, anything." His lips turn upward, parting them only slightly showing off his wicked smile.
"Why don't you show you're poor uncle how we handle non compliant behavior in this household."
I kept my back towards Franco but I turned my head over my shoulder glancing at the scene from the corner of my eyes. It was something I had never seen from Alex before, the dark side of him. He seemed to pull his back up straighter like an invisible string pulled his spine towards the ceiling. His broad back lengthening out, showing every muscle it contained.
I never had a chance to revel at him, at his build. Both brothers were similarly built to Adrian. Muscles rippled with the smallest of movements. Veins protrude on their forearms with bounding pulses. But where Adam and Adrian held the same weight, Alex was slightly slimmer. All three brothers held the same features. Where Amelia looked genetically similar to her siblings, she held a beauty unlike the rest. He long black hair flowed over one shoulder down to her waist in subtle wavy curls. Her face was bare, free of any makeup but the darkness of her eyelashes made it look otherwise. Her eyes were soft, kind and a lighter brown than the other three. I had seen a similar look cross over Alex's eyes at times, it was almost like a glimmer of innocents. But Adrian and Alex's eyes contained pools of pure black, hatred, an uninviting darkness.
This was the first time I had ever truly seen Alex like this. His face grew stern, cold. HIs lips drew into a flat, pursed line that occasionally twitched at the corners pulling into a sly, coldblooded smirk. It wasn't until I saw his knuckles wrapped in brass that I realized just how much of this life I really hadn't witnessed yet. The misconception stood in my mind that I had seen or at least heard most of what went on in the mafia. But the look on Alex's face, the seriousness that dripped off Adrian, the stoic nature of Adam made a shiver pass over my body. No one held looks like that without having experienced much worse than I could have ever possibly imagined. What I knew was only the tip of the iceberg and it was about to rip holes in my stabilized ship tearing apart life as I knew it.
My face turned forward once more the minute I heard the brass overlay on Alex's knuckles make contact with Franco. I wasn't aware as to where the blow landed, and most of the cells in my body really didn't give a shit. But I did know that it sounded excruciating painful.
A few more blows followed and then the sound of tiny drips hitting the floor.
"Fuuckkkkkk. I needed that." Alex's voice sounded harsh like he just took a hit of cocaine and curbed whatever cravings had pass through his mind. His smile was smuggle. His arms stretched past his back as he cracked his neck. The pain, the torture he just inflicted was an addiction. He began to walk past me placing a friendly hand on top of my shoulder signalling that he was done and that it was, once again, my turn. Only then did I turn myself back towards the man that sat in front of me.
Blood dripped from his nose, from his mouth and from a rather large laceration on his right cheek. Imprints of the brass knuckles were left on his chin, turning a bright shade of red and subtly changing to a light purple already bruising.
Satisfied was an understatement. I shouldn't have been satisfied at someone else's torture, but I was. Whatever darkness I let into my body long ago in this basement when the role was reverse had taken over full control, like a damn drug. The power that consumed me was intoxicating.
"Let's try this again Franco." I paused for only a moment, waiting for him to glance up at me. A deep laugh escaped as he spit blood from his mouth on to the cement floor. I could have swore the devil himself looked up at me as his eyes slowly shifted from the floor to my face.
"Is that all you got, bitch? Letting the guys do the dirty work for you. Fucking pathetic." His lips snarled at me.
I Ignored his statement. I stood my ground. The last thing I needed to do was let him get under my skin.
"Where is Dominic, Franco?"
"Like I would ever fucking tell you." His eyes shifted from me to the boys in the back. "Who's fucking next? Come on, give your uncle the best you got."
They waited patiently for my command as I continued to plant myself in front of Franco, my arms crossed over my stomach.
"Adam." I never shifted my stance. My eyes never peeled from Franco's face.
The one name was enough of a command for him. His strides were swift as he made his way to the metal cabinet. The contemplation of what object to pick only lasted a second as he briskly lifted the serrated knife into his clutch.
This time I wanted to witness everything that unfolded. I wanted to watch the life all but begin to drain from his eyes.
Adam's face turned ominous; darker than I had ever seen it before. Similar to Alex I had only ever seen Adam in one way, stoic, emotionless, flat and to the point, but always kind towards me. The power rushed through him, forcing the vein on the side of his neck to bulge.
His cuts were precise. The edge of the blade dragged deliberately slow down Franco's right arm creating a river of blood trickling to the floor. And then as quick as he started he just stopped, standing firmly glaring down upon Franco.
In a split second Adam stood over him. The next he was crouched over, the knife seemingly disappearing from sight. A grunt escaped Franco's mouth as the air for forced from his lungs followed by an agonizing motherfucker.
"Addi's not the only one that knows the anatomy of where to stab asshole." It came out like a growl. My sight came in line with the placement of Adam's hand. His knuckles turning white as his grip tightened on the handle of the knife.
He had meticulously jabbed the blade on the edge of Franco's abdomen; close enough to his internal organs, but far enough away to stray from life threatening damage. Adam's teeth snarled at the man before him, edging his face closer until there was only the smallest gap between their noses. Only then did I see his hand turn, twisting the blade deeper forcing a howl from Franco. Adam's free hand lifted to Franco's face, snatching each side of his face between his massive hand coercing him to keep eye contact with Adam.
"If you were as smart as you pretend to fucking be, I would answer her goddamn questions... uncle." He tossed Franco's face to the side, simultaneously ripping the blade from his flesh. He wiped the blood from the blade off on his pants and turned swiftly to take his place back behind me.
I calculated my next move before turning to the suitcase placed near the door, sitting unopened by Adrian's feet. I flipped the latches, taking out a small vial placing it between my forefinger and my thumb, holding it up in the light.
"Funny how one small vial can contain enough medication to take away all your pain, or at least most of it." I glanced at Franco. His face smug, the thoughts of murder spinning in his eyes. "If you won't answer my initial question, let me pose a new one to you. Answer it, you'll be rewarded. Deny it again and... well you know."
"What you'll sick your boytoy on me this time? Like I said before, fucking pathetic." His spit the words out at me.
"No this time, you'll have to deal with me. What the boys just did to you will seem like a fucking blessing compared to me." I paused giving him the opportunity to reply. This time there was no sly, sarcastic, angry remark from him; just silence. "If you won't tell me where Dominic is, then answer me this. What does he want with me?"
"Probably the same thing fuckhead over there wants..." His head motioned towards Adrian "... your pussy." The implication of his statement sent a fire through my body. Flames engulfed my body sending a heat wave starting from my feet and quickly reaching my head. In one second I lost my cool demeanor. The heel of my foot lifted in the air with one destination. It began digging itself into the previous wound I had inflicted on his thigh. The stiletto dug deep reopening the wound creating a flow of blood to splash on the floor. The pain forced a scream from Franco's mouth. His eyes squeezed shut, attempting to focus on his breathing through the pain. I latched onto his face, practically squishing his cheeks together.
"What. the fuck. Does he want with me?" My voice lowered an octave articulating each word.
"It was never you he was after." he laughed causing me to cringe.
"Where is he Franco?"
"Planning a war." It was stated as a matter of fact followed by another evil cackle.
I let his face go, my nails scratching his cheek in the process. I glanced over my shoulder at Adrian. Minutes ago he seemed uninterested in the situation developing before his eyes. Now, he stood erect, like he was all of a sudden put on guard sensing something wrong. His ear turned towards us like he didn't quite hear what Franco had said correctly.
"It was never you he was after, dumb bitch. You, ha, you were just the catalyst he needed to start the fucking war. You think all of this was by accident? You really fucking think I'm not where I've always wanted to be? This has been planned out for fucking years."
"What?" It came out unison between Adrian and I.
"The wheels are finally starting to click in place aren't they Addi. Do you really think Daniel would have let you just escape? You really think he wouldn't have tracked you down and dragged you back to hell where a bitch like you belongs? He wanted you to leave. He wanted you to think you were free. But he has been tracking your every movement the entire time. Me shooting Dom wasn't an accident. We knew you were fucking working that night. We knew what hospital you worked at. Thanks to Daniel we knew you couldn't fucking help yourself, attempting to save a seemingly innocent life. And Adrian is so fucking brainless that he never knew I was working with Dom for fucking years..."
"You fucking bastard." Adrian stepped up next to me, practically charging at Franco. My arm outstretched forcing him to fall back.
"...Of course I had to make it seem like I played for his team though taking you as prisoner and placing you right where we wanted you. Fuckhead here acts like a bad boy, he acts like he's heartless. But we knew he wouldn't be able to resist the damn damsel in distress. Falling as hard as he did for you, well now that was just a fucking perk. So, no, he doesn't want you. He wants to give Adrian everything he's ever wanted. Money, power, love. And then he wants to rip it away from him, piece by fucking pathetic piece." Disgust lingered in his eyes as he glared at Adrian. His eyes fell back onto me seconds after burning holes into Adrian's head.
"He's been so wrapped up falling in love with you he's been blinded. He's let his companies crumble, he's let his warehouses run unchecked, he's let his men run rampant without discipline. Really, you helped us Addi. You, you caused his power to falter, his money to dwindle. You helped us tear him down. He no longer holds the most power."
"You're lying." I stated not wanting to believe a word that he had spit out.
"Answer me this Adrian," he turned his focus to the man residing next to me. "When was the last time you ran your numbers, or even been to your warehouses? We've been stealing your merchandise from under your fucking nose and you never even batted an eye at it because your head has been so far up her ass you neglected your own shit."
A small laugh left Franco's lips. Adrian turned towards Adam commanding him to go. He didn't need an explanation of the command, Adam knew what he meant.
"Do yourself a favor Addi. Turn yourself over to Dom and Daniel."
I shook my head, like I was confused at his statement. "Why the hell would I do that?"
"Because if you don't, things will get unbelievably worse. The war has only just begun. He'll come for those that mean the most to you, and then for the people closest to Adrian, including you."
"What?" Panic rose in my stomach causing it to churn. My heart rate escalated. My pupils dilated. There was no way he knew that name. There was.... There was just... no, no, no, no.
"Who's Sofia?" I heard Alex speak up. Amelia and him had pushed themselves off the wall and were standing directly behind us. Rage flashed in both of their eyes at the realization that this ran deeper than any of us had ever anticipated.
"If I were you, I would check your mail." An evil smirk crossed Franco's face. Adrian wasted no time demanding Amelia up the stairs. "First Sofia and as soon as she's in a body bag, then it'll be Amelia, then Alex, Adam, your entire family, your entire crew. Then her. Give her up Adrian. Take the fucking blow. You've lost. It's just a matter of fucking time before he comes and rip your life to fucking shreads."
I didn't even realize what had happened. One minute I'm staring at Franco and the next my body is turned towards Adrian. His arm extended from his body, his gun in his hand with his finger tickling the trigger. I knew he had two sides to him, the one meant for me and the other meant for situations like this. However, I underestimated how truly dangerous that side of him was. Satan himself would quake under the look Adrian was giving Franco. The corner of his upper lip twitched towards his nose as the rage took over each facial muscle. His dress shirt was already well fitting before but now his muscles tugged at the seams. His breathing was rapid like a bull ready to charge. There was no doubt in my mind that he wouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger.
Franco seemed unphased. His face taunting Adrian, egging him on. He was practically begging him to pull the trigger.
"Adrian, give me the gun." My voice was calm. I lifted my hands up to his forearm attempting to push his arm gently back down to his side. "Adrian... listen to me. This is what he wants you to do. Adrian... give me the gun." He glanced down at me from the side of his eyes for only a second before letting out a sigh. His arm moved down towards his side as he placed the gun into my hands. He may have surrendered his chance to put Franco out of his misery but the rage never left his eyes.
And then I heard it. The ear piercing cackle that could have only come from Franco.
"Dear fucking lord, you are so unbelievably fucking pussy whipped. Letting your damn bitch force you to stand down. Be a fucking man Adrian."
The darkness, the monster buried within me surfaced in a matter of seconds. I placed the gun in my left hand and pointed it dead center at Franco's forehead.
"Oh please, you won't fucking shoot. You probably don-" He was cut off as I aimed at his right shoulder and pulled the trigger. A string of curse words vibrated the walls.
It was an odd feeling pulling the trigger; easier than it should have been. I held no emotion over it. It was only a simple touch of metal against my finger, a slight push back and then nothing but the sound of his screams. There was no feeling of guilt. There was nothing but the void of the darkness that continued to consume me.
"I probably don't what? Even know how to shoot a gun? Care to try that fucking statement again Franco?"
"You.... you... fucking... missed... bitch."
"Next time I won't"
I tucked the gun into my waistband by the small of my back and turned to leave him in the dark once more, bleeding out from his new wounds.