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Chapter 8 • One Year Later

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O N E Y E A R L A T E R

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June 4th, 2019

The sky was black tranquility married to a poetry of stars. It was the softness that called body and brain to rest and let the heart go to its steady rhythm. Night came as a reward of sorts, a restfulness above to calm the soul. They had been sitting in traffic for over thirty minutes. The traffic snaked up the hill, two lines of steel and tire, each capable of over two hundred kilometres per hour and each averaging about five in their stop-start fashion. In each self contained world a radio told stories, sung or sold products to the citizens, some talked on phones or texted.

They stopped under a bridge. The sound of cars driving was all they could hear. Bruno stood outside, his back turned to the hood of the car while Isabel sat in the front passenger seat with her front door wide open. Bruno reached inside his blazer pocket and pulled out a cigar and Isabel held her phone in one hand, just waiting for a text to let them know that their target was on his way.

It's been two years since Isabel came to New York, reunited with her father and a year since she became an official member of the Aditori family. She was now apart of the business.

Some would say that she was not the same. That she had changed and turned cold, and she thirsted first revenge. She couldn't wait for the day when she would get Ferran in her hands. He was a dead man walking.

But as of right now, Isabel and Bruno were on a mission. They had to take care of someone who had been talking about Alessio, who was better known as JJ and the family that they were nothing more than weak fuckers. And JJ made Isabel remember that if there was someone out there saying, 'fuck JJ and his family' they were dogs.

Ping

Target set.

It was a text from Roscoe, and Isabel locked her phone quickly and tucked it away. Bruno looked over his shoulder at Isabel and watched as she got out of the car and closed the door. "Come," she said to him and the two walked away from the car and down an alleyway.

"Should we off this guy?" Bruno asked.

"No," Isabel answered. "Alessio said all we have to do is beat him up real bad."

Bruno frowned. "Why?"

"So he lives knowing to never talk shit about the family or Alessio ever again."

Just as they reached the end of the alleyway, they heard someone one answering their phone. A man dressed in a red and black tracksuit with a white top underneath his vest and his sleeves rolled up was talking to someone.

"...Yeah, I just finished...no, I'm off work tomorrow...yeah, my boss gave me the day off..."

The man felt the sudden pressure of being watched. He felt as though he was targeted, so he quickly ended the phone call. "I'll see you tomorrow," he said, and then hang up. He tucked his phone in his pocket and hesitated to turn around. He was worried to see what or who was standing behind him.

And just then, Isabel and Bruno grabbed him by the arms. The man gasped and fear danced on his face and in his eyes. "Don't make a sound," warned Bruno, and the man nodded. Bruno watched him for a moment before he looked at Isabel and motioned with his head.

They entered a graveyard. Roscoe and Isabel sighed from exhaustion. Digging graves was not as easy as they thought would be.

"Phew!" Roscoe exhaled as he closed his eyes for a second before opening them. Roscoe had light brown eyes, almost like honey. He had a fair complexion and curly, light brown hair. He was one of Isabel's close friends.

"Well, well," said Bruno. "Looks like there's nobody home in this one."

"Nah," Roscoe shook his head. "He's down there. Maybe he could use some company."

Isabel threw her shovel to the side and took a few deep breaths with her hands on her hips. "Right," she managed to say. "Dance along."

The man dropped to his knees and held onto Isabel's left leg for dear life while he cried and begged for his life to be spared. Isabel rolled her eyes before she nudged him away from her. "PLEASE!! I HAVEN'T DONE ANYTHING WRONG!!"

Isabel kneed down in front of the man and looked deeply into his eyes. "Nate, there have been people who said someone has been talking shit about JJ and the Aditori family," her voice was so calm and smoothing that it made it sound all the more terrifying.

Isabel watched as Nate's face turned pale even though there wasn't much light in the graveyard. The man sealed hard and didn't under a single word. "So what do we do with a piece of shit like that?" She asked him. "He's a fucking dog." The silence that lingered in the air after those words left her lips sent a shiver down Nate's spine.

Isabel scoffed coldly at the man, before she stood up and went to stand behind him and pushed him into the pit.

"No. Please!" Nate pleaded in a shaky tone. "I won't do it again!! I swear!!!"

"Oh, we know you ain't gonna do it again," said Bruno, as Isabel and Roscoe started to shovel some of the dirt from the side back into the pit. Bruno kneeled down and took one last puff from his cigar before he blew the smoke in the Nate's face and then held the cigar to the man's cheek, burning him. The man yelled in pain, his face became red and his eyes shut tightly. Bruno dropped the cigar just as he stood up straight and took the shovel from Isabel.

"Jeez, you should have learnt how to respect," said Roscoe. "Now it's too late."

The man opened his eyes. They were glossy and red as tears ran down his face. Bruno held his shovel up and swung at the man, knocking him out cold. "Goodnight, sweetheart," he said.

"Come on," said Isabel. "That's enough."

Bruno and Roscoe dropped the shovels, and the three of them walked back to the car.

••••

The moon hung high up in the cloudless sky, and the warm, night breeze blew the curtains that had open windows. The men outside all stood around, some talking and some still like statues. Bruno parked the car to the side, turned the engine off and stepped out from the vehicle.

Entering the house, immediately the three made their way to the study where they found JJ sitting behind his desk, talking to a woman dressed in a shirt, light pink dress, black high heels and a black bomber jacket. She a light, caramel complexion, brown eyes and long brown hair. This was Frenchie, JJ's bodyguard. She was one of the strongest and respectful amongst the family.

The two stopped talking and turned to the three who had entered the room. Alessio and Frenchie acknowledged the new comers with short nods and intense eye contact. Alessio reached inside his wooden box and grabbed himself a cigar and lit it up.

"Well," he began. "Is it done?"

Isabel and Roscoe collapsed on the sofa, while Bruno helped himself to the whiskey. "Ey, don't worry" said Bruno. "He won't be shit-mouthin' anymore."

Alessio held their gaze for a moment while nodding his head faintly, before he reached inside one of the draws in his desk and placed three envelopes down. Roscoe and Isabel smiled at each other, quickly got to their feet and took an envelope each.

"Pleasure doing business with you, sir" Roscoe smiled, as he tucked his reward away inside his blazer.

"Do you have anything else for us to do?" Isabel asked, as she tucked her reward inside the back pocket of her jeans. Alessio shook his head in response.

"Alright," Isabel saluted, before she turned to leave and Roscoe followed while Bruno stayed behind.


Laughter and chatter was heard coming faintly from the kitchen as Isabe and Roscoe were approaching, and it only grew louder and louder as they entered.

The kitchen was packed with men and women. Some sat at the table, some stood around and some walked in and out from the back door. It was like a movie scene from the 40's.

"Really? It's like that?"

"Yeah, it's like that—"

"Wow! Wow!" Isabel said, as she went to stand between the Neffrati Bothers and Daniel (aka Danny) who was the one providing the guns to the family. "What's with all the southing?"

"New pieces for Bruno," Jamel said, and that sparked Isabel's interest. Bruno never wanted anyone having the same pieces as him. And if someone did have the same pieces as him it was an all out war.

She turned to Danny and smiled. "Danny," she chimed. "You know I always had a great respect for—"

Danny chuckled at the girl and shook his head. "I'm sorry Isabel," he said. "But Bruno has instructed me not to show anyone. These were specially made for him."

Isabel sighed as she narrowed her eyes to the silver briefcase behind Danny, before she turned to the twins. "Come on," she said. "They're probably not even good anyway"

A woman dressed in all black with short, raven hair, brown eyes and blood red lips entered the kitchen. This was Satine, and she was not only a hitman, but also an occasional bodyguard and was tasked to keep a close eye on some of Alessio's enemies. She would find out their weaknesses, their strengths, motives, goals— everything she could hence why she had been away for a few weeks.

But before all of that, Satine was an eighteen year old Beauty School Dropout. And at the age of nineteen she came to know that her father owned to someone by the name of Alessio 'JJ' Aditori. With no money to pay back, and her father worrying of what would happen to his daughter if he did not pay back the money he owned, Satine joined Alessio's ranks as payment.

During Isabel's return from hiding, Satine took her under her wing as did Dora Knoll. They helped her with coping with the loss of Antonio, but also distracted her with training. And like and Isabel, who lost her mother just like Satine there was a difference between the two because Isabel was never tasked to bury a body without any knowledge that the body she was burying was her own mother.

"Well, well, well" Isabel said. "Look who decided to drop by." Satine smiled as she approached Isabel and hugged her tightly. "When did you get back?" Isabel asked.

"An hour ago," Satine replied. "Is your father here? I have to give him intel."

Isabel nodded. "Yes, he's in his study with Frenchie and Bruno."

Satine nodded and turned to leave the kitchen just as another woman with fair skin, red lips and short, raven hair that was combed entered. This was Elisa, another hitman. Elisa was one of many people Isabel loved pushing off the edge until they would break and loose control and Isabel would laugh to the point of tears.

"Hey!" Isabel chimed as Elisa poured herself a glass of whisky. She was already red in the face so someone or something triggered her. "How does it feel being worst cop ever, eh?"

Elisa's lips barely touched the brim of the glass. She looked at Isabel and lowered her drink. She ran into Nicholas upon her entering the house and her job was not easy, so she was a bomb just waiting to go off. "Shut up!" she exploded. "Your mother buys you megablocks instead of legos." Isabel, for the first time didn't laugh or speak. The look and tone Elisa gave her told her that she was one lucky not having a bullet planted into her skull.

An hour or so passed, Isabel sat at the table with Elisa, Satine, Michael and David while some of the others stood around either drinking whiskey or something that wasn’t or was alcohol mixed.

Just then, a tall, well-built and handsome man walked into the kitchen through the back door. He had light, but dark brown hair, a fair compliment and hazel eyes with a cut on his right brown. And he wore black pants with a black shirt and red suspenders. This was Mason ‘Trigger’ Knoll, also a hitman and Elisa’s boyfriend. The two were beyond perfect and compatible with each other that it made people believe love was not real if they ever parted from each other.

“Hi honey,” Elisa smiled with sarcasm in her tone. “Did you miss me?”

Mason held back his smile, but smirked. “With every bullet so far.”

Elisa laughed, shaking her head. “Well, maybe you need a bigger gun sweetheart. Not that I don't love your itty bitty one.” Mason fought the urge not to laugh or smile. Seeing Elisa always brightened up his day no matter how bad it was. He looked at Elisa and held his middle finger up at her, making her laugh even more.

“I’m going to die alone,” Michael muttered under his breath, and Satine laughed.

“Ooh,” Mason’s attention was caught by the shinny briefcase, sitting on the counter behind Danny, and he knew exactly what was inside that briefcase and who it belonged to.

“Danny,” he sang, as he wrapped an arm around the man. “How have you been my man?”

Danny chuckled. “Good,” he replied. “And yourself, Mason?”

“Spectacular. Never better,” Mason smiled. “Say, are those the new Pieces for Bruno?”

Danny nodded. “That they are.”

Mason also nodded, as he thought about how he could use his words the right way. “Can I have a peak?” He whispered, and Danny replied with only shaking his head but Mason wasn’t going to give up just that easy. “Oh, come on,” he said. “He’s not here. He won’t even know.” But Danny only shook his head once again as his answer.

Mason shrug his shoulders and sighed. “Oh well, worth the try.”

“HEY!”

Mason almost fell, as though he was pushed by an invisible force. He turned around and found himself face to face with a very red Bruno. Bruno didn’t waste a single second and nudged Mason to the side with such force that he bumped into a few people who caught him from hitting the floor.

“Dimmi che nessuno li ha visti,” said Bruno, as he approached Danny.

(Tell me nobody has seen them)

Before Danny had the chance to speak, Bruno began to thrown a tantrum in Italian. His hand shot in the air and back down to his sides as he spoke of how no one could be trusted, that everyone wanted to copy his weapons, how there was no respect shown.

Mason ran a hand through his hair and looked at Bruno. “Are you fucking crazy, man? You sound insane. Do you realize that? You should be medicated.”

Bruno stopped his rant in Italian and turned to Mason. “Fuck you, Mason” he said, as he approached Mason until they were face to face. “I know you touched my drum set, and I wanna hear that dirty little mouth admit it!”

Mason didn’t raise a finger to push Bruno back away from him because he knew it’d set him off even more and a fight would break out. “You get out of my face,” he said. “Or I’m gonna roundhouse your ass.”

Bruno, like a child didn’t give up just like that. He felt he had to have the final word no matter what. “You swear on your mum’s life you didn't touch it then?!”

Mason, with frustration shook his head. “I don't have to swear to shit!”

Bruno snapped his fingers and stepped back. “AHA!” He exclaimed. “You see that! That's 'cause you fucking— why can’t some people be respectful towards others? Is that so much to ask?”

Mason rubbed his forehead. “Isabel, get your cousin away from me or I’ll knock his teeth out.”

Isabel held her hands up. “Wow, don’t get me involved” she said. “I’m tired of saving his ass all the time.”

Laughed broke from the people standing around, all but Bruno who stared at Isabel with a disappointing expression on his face. “Nice,” he said. “Real nice, cousin. Thanks.”

“You’re most welcome, cousin.”

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