MAFIA

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Chapter 6 • October 10th, 2018

Isabel spent the following day after the hospital incident with Lazzeri and Bruno, practicing with the small gun that would be given to her. It was a 22 filled with soft-nosed bullets that made pinpricks going in and left insulting gaping holes when they exited from the human body. She found that it was accurate up to five of her steps away from a target. After that the bullets might go anywhere. The trigger was tight, but Lazzeri worked on this with some tools so that it pulled easier. And it was Bruno's idea to leave it noisy. They didn't want an innocent bystander misunderstanding the situation and interfering out of ignorant courage. The report of the gun would keep them away from Isabel.

Lazzeri kept instructing her during the training session. "Drop the gun as soon as you've finished using it. Just let your hand drop to your side and the gun slip out. Nobody will notice. Everybody will think you're still armed."

"They'll be staring at your face," said Bruno. "So walk out of the place very quickly, but don't run. Don't look anybody directly in the eye but don't look away from them either. Remember, they'll be scared of you, believe me."

Lazzeri chuckled as he took the gun from Isabel and reloaded it. "And as soon as you're outside, the twins will be in the car waiting for you" he said. "Get in and leave the rest to them. Now put this hat on and let's see how you look."

Bruno grabbed the hat from the table and clapped it Isabel's head. Lazzeri spoke, "It helps against identification, just in case. Mostly it gives witnesses an excuse to change their identification when we make them see the light. And Bella, don't worry about prints. The butt and trigger are fixed with special tape. Don't touch any other part of the gun, remember that."

Isabel nodded as she took the gun from Lazzeri. "Has Nicholas found out where Russo is taking me?" She asked.

Bruno and Lazzeri shrugged. "Not yet," said Lazzeri. "Russo is being very careful."

Bruno placed a hand on Isabel's shoulder and smiled down at her. "But don't worry about him harming you, cugina. The negotiator stays in our hands until you come back safe. If anything happens to you, the negotiator pays."

(Cousin)


"Nothing," said Anthony, as he entered the kitchen. "Not a hint. Absolutely nothing—even Russo's people don't know where the meeting's going to be held." It was 19:30pm and nobody knew where the meeting was going to take place only from where and the time Isabel was to be picked up.

Nicholas checked his watch. "They're gonna pick you up in front of Stumptown's joint in an hour and a half." Isabel nodded as she picked up her mug and took a sip.

Anthony walked over to where Isabel stood by the sink and poured himself a glass of water, before he turned to Nicholas with a small frown as he remembered something. "What about the negotiator?" He asked.

Lazzeri placed his beer bottle down on the table. "He's over at my place playin' pinochle with Bruno and a couple of my men," he said. "He's happy, they're lettin' him win. The negotiator keeps on playing cards until Bella comes back safe and sound."

"Why don't she just blast whoever's in the goddamn car?" Nicholas suggested.

"Too dangerous," said Vincenzi. "They'd be lookin' for that."

"Russo might not even be in the car, Nicholas!" Shouted Anthony.

The silence in the kitchen didn't last long, when the phone began to ring. Everyone stopped what the were doing and looked at each other as though they were shouting, 'go answer it' with their eyes.

Just as Nicholas was about to stand, Ariana entered the kitchen with the house phone in her hand. Everyone looked at her, eager to know who was on the line. "It's Bruno," she said, as she held the phone out towards Nicholas.

"Bruno," Nicholas spoke into the phone, as he held it to his ear.

"Get this down," said Bruno. "al di la Trattoria, Brooklyn."

"Alright," said Nicholas. "And keep that negotiator busy."

Bruno chuckled. "Oh, don't worry," he promised. "He's in good care."

"al di la Trattoria, Brooklyn" Nicholas announced to everyone, as he handed the phone back to Ariana. "Also," he continued. "One of my inside men said that a police captain's gotta be on call twenty-four hours a day. He signed out at that number between eight and ten. So anybody know this joint?"

Vincenzi nodded. "Yeah, sure, I do" he said. "It's perfect for us. A small family place, good food. Everyone minds their business. It's perfect." He turned to Lazzier and spoke directly to him. "Vito, they got an old-fashion' toilet — you know, the box and the chain-thing. We might be able to tape the gun behind it."

Lazzier modded as an idea stroke him. "Alright," he began. "Bella, you go to the restaurant, you eat, you talk for a while, you relax. You make them relax. Then you get up and you go to the ladies room—" he paused and rethought the plan before speaking again. "No, better still, you ask for permission to go. Then when you come back, you come out blastin', and don't take any chances — two shots in the head apiece. And leave fast! They'll be looking at your face— and remember, make sure you let the gun slip down from your side, got it?"


8:00pm. Isabel had been waiting outside on the sidewalk, her hands tucked in her the pockets of her jacket while she leaned against a streetlight.

Just as she looked around the street, a BMW pulled to a stop right in front of her. The car was polished clean, black and had tinted windows.

She leaned slightly forward, trying to adjust her eyes to see through the tinted windows, when one rolled down. Her heart felt to her stomach when the front door swung open. She looked around the street one last time before she sat in the front seat and closed the door.

The smell of cigarettes and man cologne filled her nostrils and she suddenly felt the urge to evacuate from the vehicle. The smell of cigarettes and the cologne were so strong that it felt almost like she was being chocked.

"Evening," greeted a familiar voice. "I'm glad you came, Isabel. I hope we can straighten everything out. I mean, this is terrible— it's not the way I wanted things to go at all. It should've never happened. None of it."

Isabel knew that showing these men the slightest hint that she was nervous she would only be feeding their egos. "We'll straighten everything out tonight," she said calmly as possible. "I don't want anyone— especially my father bothered any more."

Russo nodded. "He won't be, Isabel; I swear on my children he won't be. But you gotta keep an open mind."

"Ahh, she's a good kid." A man leaned forward from the shadows of the backseats. He tapped Isabel on the shoulder and offered his hand in a handshaking gesture. "I'm sorry about the other night," said Russell. "I'm getting too old for my job, too grouchy. I guess I'll have to retire pretty soon. Can't stand the aggravation, all day I get aggravation. You know how it is." Isabel forced a painful smile. She couldn't stand the police. Ever since she was a child. She took the man's hand and shook it.

"Alright," Russell said. "I gotta frisk you, so turn around uh— on your knees, facing me."

What is with this man? Isabel thought to herself as she took her hat off and turned around and got on her knees. "Ah," the police captain exhaled a small laugh. "Like I said, too grouchy." Russell bent over the front seat and began to run his hands down Isabel's form and she could tell that the man was enjoying himself. He made sure that every inch of his hands touched her body. That his fingers and palms were pressed up against her. She could hear him chuckling in a low tone that only she could hear, and it made her feel sick and disgusted.

The captain sat back down in his seat, his expression hard and straight. "She's clean," he said, and Isabel turned away from the two.

"Don't take this the wrong way, Isabel" said Russo. "The last time we met things went a little uh...south. We were expecting you to be armed this time— not that we want to hurt you." Isabel didn't speak. She knew if she opened her mouth curses would leave her lips. She only nodded and looked out to the road and fixed her hat.

They had been driving for a little while. The car was dead silent. Not one of the passengers spoke a single word to each other. Isabel watched as they drove by the shops and people, praying that the night would be over and done with. Just then, the car began to cross the Triborough bridge, and immediately she noticed the sign, 'Welcome To New Jersey.'

"We're going to Jersey?" She broke the silence.

Russo had been watching the girl in the front passenger seat since they picked her up. He sat silently for a few short seconds before speaking. "Maybe..." he said shortly, and shifted his eyes to Russell.

The driver narrowed his eyes to the review mirror, he's brown eyes caught the sight of a car tracing behind them. The sound of his foot hitting the pedal made Isabel move her eyes to the mileage and see the arrow moving as the car sped up and made a sharp U-turn, cutting off cars who sound their horns, as Russo's driver crossed over the road's divider into the other direction across the bridge.

Russo smiled. "Nice work, Alex" he praised the driver, as he patted him on the shoulder. A sense of pride possessed the driver at the compliment. He held his head up high and smirked as he looked into the review mirror.


The smell of mouthwatering food intoxicated her senses so much that she fought the urge not to close her eyes and smile at the thought of what she was going to order. But that all came to a stop when she remembered that she did not come here to eat.

The restaurant didn't have many customers. Only two people sat at a table, and Isabel began to wonder if they were Russo's men. She looked around the restaurant as they approached a table in the centre of the room. The floor was made from blue and white tiles, the walls were a yellow colour with white flowers and brown roots. Tables with white cloths and black chairs were queued around the restaurant like chess pieces. Three chandeliers dangled from the ceiling that lit up the room. There was also a bar in the restaurant with all types of drinks, liquors and beers. And opposite the bar, across the restaurant were three massive windows, looking out into the street.

A tall and dark man dressed in his waiter's uniform poured Isabel cock in a wineglass, before he walked over to Russo's side and opened a wine bottle for the two men.

"How's the Italian food in this restaurant?" Russell asked.

"Good," replied Russo. "Try the veal, it's the best in the city."

"I'll have it," the police captain said, as he tucked his napkin in his collar.

The two men exchanged a few words as Isabel pretend to search the menu, but really she was making sure her face and eyes held the right emotions, that she spoke and acted properly and hoped the gun was in place.

She shook her head behind the menu with her eyes closed for a second before she opened them again. And just then she heard Russo say, "I'm gonna speak Italian to Isabel."

"Go ahead," said the man as he picked up his knife and fork.

Isabel placed the menu down on the table and looked into Russo's dark eyes as she watched him lean forward. There was a short pause as they looked into each other's eyes almost as though they were searching for something.

"Me dispiace—"

(I'm sorry)

"Dimenticalo," she shook her head. She knew he was referring to the kidnapping.

(Forget about it)

Russo nodded. "Devi capire," he said. "Devi capire cosa è successo tra me e tuo padre è un affare, ho un grande rispetto per tuo padre." Isabel's eye watched Russo and the way he used his body language as he spoke. "Ma tuo padre pensa in un modo vecchio stile ... e non vuole capire che sono un uomo d'onore."

(You have to understand what happened between me and your father is a business matter, I have great respect for your father. But your father thinks in an old-fashioned way...and he doesn't want to understand that I'm a man of honour.)

"Nessun motivo per dirmi queste cose," she said. "Lo so già."

(No reason to tell me these things...I already know)

"Sai allora," Russo continued. "Devi sapere che ho aiutato la famiglia Xavier, penso che possiamo organizzarlo. Voglio la pace, quindi tagliamo tutte queste cazzate."

(You know then, you must know that I have helped the Xavier family, I think we can organize it. I want peace, so let's cut all this bullshit.)

"Ma tu suoni..." Isabel trailed off. She knew Italian very well, her mother had made sure that she spoke and understood both the Italian and Sicilian language just as she did english. But she wanted the captain to know what they were talking about as well and to do that she had to act as though she was struggling with the language a little bit.

(But you play...)

Russo looked at her with a a slight frown. "What?" He could see that she was having difficulties with getting the words out in Italian.

Isabel clicked her tongue softly, as she closed her eyes and then opened them again. "Come si dice," she mumbled to herself, but made sure that Russo could hear her as well.

(How do you say)

There was a short moment of silence as Russo watched the girl before she spoke through her teeth. "What I want," she said in English. "What's most important to me, is that I have a guarantee; no more attempts on my father's life or family."

"What guarantees could I give you, Isabel?" Russo asked. "I am the hunted one! I missed my chance. You think too much of me, kid. I'm not that clever. All I want, is a truce."

Silent fell over the table. Isabel could feel Russo's dark eyes on her as she looked down at the table cloth. If Russo ever wanted to read minds it was now. He wanted to hear her thoughts without her having to say anything.

"I have to go to the bathroom," Isabel said after a while. She looked at Russo and then turned to the captain. "Is that alright?" Russo's left eye twitched slightly as he looked at Isabel with a curios expression. He searched he face intently with his dark eyes.

The captain sliced a piece of the veal and nodded. "You gotta go, you gotta go" he said, before he brought the silver fork to his mouth.

And so Isabel didn't waste a single second. She pushed her chair back, the legs of the chair scrapped the floor and she stood up, but was stopped when Russo caught her wrist in a tight grip. Isabel looked down at the man, trying her very best to hide any sign of fear.

"I frisked her," said Russell. "She's clean."

Russo didn't like it. For no reason at all he didn't like it. He glanced at the man sitting at a table opposite them and raised his eyebrows toward the door of the bathroom. The man gave a slight nod that he had checked it, that there was nobody inside. He turned back to Isabel. "Don't take too long," he said, which sounded more like a warning.

The two men watched as the girl walked around the corner and then heard a door being pushed open. The captain chuckled and Russo looked at him. "Don't worry," said Russell, once Isabel was about to turn the corner. "I've frisked a thousand young punks."

The bathroom wasn't too large nor was it too small. The sinks had pink bars of soaps on in small white containers and on the pastel pink walls were mirrors on top of every sink. The lights in the bathroom weren't too bright, but a more beige tone. The tiles on the floor looked like a chessboard and the booths were all queued on the opposite side of the sinks. went into the booth.

Isabel entered the third bathroom stall and immediately her hand went to the box above the toilet. She felt her heart drop to her stomach and get knees go weak; the gun wasn't there.

Outside the bathroom, in the hear of the restaurant, Russell glanced toward the bathroom and shook his head with a small chuckle. "Women," he said, and Russo laughed at his comment.

Isabel's heart drummed in her chest and it was so loud in her head that it was all she could hear. She waved her hand around behind the box once again and her hand touched the small, blunt-nosed gun that was fastened with tape. She ripped the gun loose, remembering that Lazzeri had said not to worry about leaving prints on the tape. She shoved the gun into her waistband and untucked her jumper from the waistband of her jeans so it was covering the gun.

She exhaled a deep and heavy breath before she stepped out of the stall and washed her hands at the sink. She wiped her prints off the taps with the tissue. Then she left the toilet.

Russo glanced at Isabel as she emerged from the bathroom in alertness. Isabel gave a smile, and approached the two men and sat again. She remembered being told not to do this, to come out of the toilet and blaze away. But either out of some warning instinct or sheer funk she had not done so. She had felt that if she had made one swift move she would have been cut down. Now she felt safe and not scared because she was glad she was no longer standing on her legs. They had gone weak with trembling.

Russo was leaning toward her. Isabel, her stomach covered by the table, reached her hand under her jumper and listened intently. She could not understand a word the man was saying. It was literally gibberish to her. Her mind was filled with pounding blood that no word registered. Underneath the table her right hand moved to the gun tucked into her waistband and she drew it free.

At that moment the waiter came to take their order and Russo turned his head to speak to the waiter. Isabel pushes her chair back and shoved the gun almost against Russo's head. The man's coordination was so acute that he had already begun to fling himself away at Isabel's motion. But Isabel, younger, her reflexes sharper, pulled the trigger. The bullet caught Russo squarely between his eye and his ear and when it exited on the other side blasted out a huge gout of blood and skull fragments onto the petrified waiter's jacket. Instinctively Isabel knew that one bullet was enough. Russo had turned his head in that last moment and she had seen the light of life die in the man's eyes as clearly as a candle goes out.

Only one second had gone by as Isabel pivoted to bring the gun to bear on Russell. The police captain was staring at Russo with phlegmatic surprise, as if this had nothing to do with him. He did not seem to be aware of his own danger. His veal-covered fork was suspended in his hand and his eyes were just turning on Isabel. And the expression on his face, in his eyes, held such confident outrage, as if now he expected Isabel to surrender or to run away, that Isabel smiled at him as she pulled the trigger. This shot was bad, not mortal. It caught Russell in his thick bull-like throat and he started to choke loudly as if he had swallowed too large a bite of the veal. Then the air seemed to fill with a fine mist of sprayed blood as he coughed it out of his shattered lungs. Very coolly, very deliberately, Isabel fired the next shot through the top of the man's white-haired skull.

The air seemed to be full of pink mist. Isabel swung toward the man sitting against the wall. This man had not made a move. He seemed paralyzed. Now he carefully showed his hands on top of the table and looked away. The waiter was staggering back toward the kitchen, an expression of horror on his face, staring at Isabel in disbelief.

Russo was still in his chair, the side of his body propped up by the table. Russell, his heavy body pulling downward, had fallen off his chair onto the floor so hard that he knocked the table down with him.

Isabel let the gun slip out of his hand so that it bound off her body and made no noise. She saw that neither the man against the wall nor the waiter had noticed her dropping the gun. She strode the few steps toward the door and opened it.

Russo's car was parked at the curb still, but there was no sign of the driver. Isabel turned left and around the corner. Headlights flashed on and a battered sedan pulled up to her, the door swinging open and she jumped in and the car drove off.

Two men, no older than Nicholas sat in the two front seats. They both had short dark hair, green eyes and sun-kissed skin with tattoos on their necks and arms. These were the Neffrati Bothers.

"Did you do the job on Russo?" Asked Jamil, who sat in the front passenger seat.

Isabel sat in the back almost like she was in some sort of trace. "I saw their brains," she said, and that answered the question.

"Here is a change of clothes for you," said Jamel, as he threw a bag at Isabel over his shoulder. "You can change on the plane."

This caught Isabel's attention. "Plane?" She frowned.


The car came to a stop in front of a black privet jet. Jamel turned the engine off and stepped out of the car. Isabel followed. The wind blew her hat almost off when she stepped out from the car. The drive from the restaurant to the airport took them almost an hour and the twins received a few phone calls from Anthony asking what was taking them so long.

The door of the plane was opened and the lights were on, but she couldn't see if anyone was inside. She held the bag close to her chest and shivered as a fish of wind blew on her face. The sound of airplanes landing and taking off filled her head and ears that she was too busy looking around and didn't notice Anthony exiting the plane.

"We made it," said Jamel as he went to shake Anthony's hand, before he leaned against the hood of the car.

When Anthony saw Isabel, he noticed just how pale she looked and how plain her eyes were. He knew that this event was going to leave a mark on her which was why Nicholas didn't want her to go to the meeting. Sure, she shot a man to escape her kidnappers, but she done that without thinking. She just grabbed the nearest thing she could find. But this, this was more orchestrated and it was two men who she looked in the eyes and watched the life being sniffed out from them.

"What's going?" Isabel asked. "Why are we at an airport?"

Anthony looked at the girl in silence for a moment before speaking. "You have to leave."

Isabel blinked once, then twice. "Leave?" She asked, and Anthony nodded. "But— but why?"

"For your protection," Anthony answered. "But you'll be back— don't worry. But for now you need to leave. Think of it as a vacation." He reached inside his satchel and pulled out a large envelope. "Here," he said. "I have made arrangements for you along with a passport, your seaman's card since you'll have to switch jet's in England— and don't worry, you'll be with the same pilot. And I sent emissaries this morning by plane to Sicily to prepare a hiding place with the chief in the hill country."

Anthony handed Isabel the envelope, and Isabel held it against her chest with the bag that had her change of clothes in. She looked up at Anthony and spoke in a tone that made her sound like a little girl. "Do you know when I can come back?" She asked.

Anthony, feeling this heavy weight sit on his chest shook his head. He had no idea how long her 'vacation' would last, but he knew that it was going to be for a while. "I don't know, Isabel" he said, softly. "But it will be for a while— a year or more perhaps."

Isabel froze, and it wasn't from being cold. She was to be gone for a year, if not than more and right when she had just discovered that she had a family. How the Tower loved showing up in her path.

Isabel was just about to ask about Anthony ask about Ariana and everyone else, when the pilot pocked his head out from the entrance and announced that the jet was ready for take off.

Isabel looked at Anthony, and then at the twins who stood by the car and smiled at the three. "Thank you," she said. Jamel saluted her and Jamil winked at her.

Isabel turned on her heels to approach the plane, when Anthony told her to stop. "Wait," Isabel looked back at him with a small frown. Anthony reached his arms out and pulled Isabel into a tight hug. He may have only known her for a short amount of time, but he felt this brotherly responsibility to take care and be protective of her just like he was with Ariana.

Isabel smiled through she could feel her heart crying inside her. She buried her head in Anthony's chest. "Is this what big brothers do?" her voice came out muffled which made Anthony laugh as he rested his chin above her head. They stood like this for a moment before they broke apart. Anthony raised a hand and brushed the tears away from Isabel cheeks which she didn't even know she had.

"Thank you," she said. "For arranging everything."

Anthony smiled and hugged her one last time. "Take care," he said.

The door to the jet closed and Isabel was alone with the pilot. They had been in the air for a few minutes and she could see the lights of New York City burning like the fires of hell. She felt an enormous sense of relief. She was out of it now.

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