'So you're leaving us, boss?'
Eugene studied me, his black eyes darting around as he shifted uneasily. I sighed as I slid the whiskey glass towards him, watching as he threw it down his throat with incredible speed. Sometimes I wondered how this man was still alive; if he wasn't drinking he was smoking. He always seemed to be angry, which is what made him a brilliant executioner I guess.
'You've got Carl. He will take over from me. You'll be fine.' I tried to reassure him, and he nodded thoughtfully.
'So you're gonna leave, just like that? What's the Don say?'
I lifted my eyes to his then as Mark and Teddy glanced at each other nervously. I knew that Eugene would be the nosey bastard he always had been, but he was right to ask.
Just not respectful.
I decided not to dignify it with an answer, my glare telling him to shut the fuck up. I rubbed my chin as I stood up, nodding at Carl who sat on the chair in the corner of the room smoking, watching me intently. He had wanted my job for as long as I could remember, so I knew he was more than happy with the cards he was being dealt. Unfortunately for the others, he had even less tolerance than me. He nodded back at me as I left the room, knowing my next conversation wouldn't be a pleasant one. The Don was informally known as Paul Gasio, a man with such charm that he could smooth talk a man into swallowing his own tongue. I'm not kidding, he fucking had once. I guess the alternative was too much. I waited outside his room for about twenty minutes, until a man walked out with soulless eyes. People came to ask the Don for favours of all kinds, and many were in debt to him. He called me in with a deep Italian accent which had thickened from a recent visit to Sicily.
'Leonardo. Sit down.'
I sat on the hard leather chair, my eyes meeting his as he studied me carefully. He looked like you would expect him to- slicked black hair, a thin moustache on his tanned face. His eyes were dark, and his tone intrigued.
'I hear you are going to be a father soon. There no greater gift than children Leonardo. I have four boys. They keep me young.'
He smiled as he lit a cigar, leaning back on his chair as he waited.
'Indeed I will be. That is why I am here.' I cleared my throat as I braced myself for the questions, but he waved his hand dismissively.
'You came to me in a strange way. You had avenged a fellow family, and I respected that. You work hard, follow commands and execute them seamlessly. Yet you want to be a picket fence guy no? You want to be at the football games, the charity cookie sales.' He raised his eyebrow at me and I remained very still.
'Carl is in your shoes already. That doesn't concern me. Everyone is replaceable.' He said simply as I waited for him to finish. He took a drag on his cigar as he gazed at me, exhaling the thick smoke slowly. 'But you did go into witness protection did you not? Given a different name to that your mother gave you?'
I nodded, dread causing the knot in my stomach to tighten as he dragged on his cigar again, studying me as he did. His long fingers tapped on the desk as he considered his next words, and I refused to break eye contact with him.
'I did. Because I was innocent, I didn't hurt that girl at all.' I stated, the facts tumbling out of my mouth.
'No, that is true. You avenged her. I respect that as I said earlier.' He repeated slowly. 'However the fact remains, people don't just leave the family, you understand? If they do, it's because they are fucking useless or they leave in a body bag. We have too many secrets to be fucking letting people work out notice periods.' He chucked softly as I felt my jaw clench.
'So your gonna kill me?' I demanded, my anger evident in my voice. I should have felt ice cold fear at this exact moment, but I didn't. However when he narrowed his eyes at me I lost all sense of bravado.
'Don't be fucking stupid kid. Don't ever raise your voice to me again. Capiche?'
'I didn't mean to offend you.'
He nodded, watching me carefully.
'I've considered this prior to you coming in here today. You're a good kid, and we all like you. You can be with your family. But let me tell you if you ever leak anything about our business, Leonardo, you will not have a family, or a heart to love them with.' I nodded slowly, keeping my anger in check. He was threatening my family, but this was business. 'So go. As you know you are no longer under my protection, certain people may wish to... seek you out. Always watch your back. Oh, and leave your gun on the way out. You can go now.'
I stood, offering my hand out to him as he shook it, not taking his eyes from me.
'I'd leave this city as soon as you can. People are like fucking vultures. God bless.'
He turned away from me, the conversation clearly over. I didn't know if he meant it, but there was only one way to find out.
Make it out of New York alive.