I spin myself around once more in the huge, brown leather seat; a thick grin is plastered across my lips as I look at the blurs of Eduardo’s office passing across my eyes. I must admit; I am thoroughly enjoying the look on Eduardo’s face. Pure irritation. Aggravation. And just a hint of anger.
I should be used to that look by now, considering that I piss him off on a daily basis. But there’s something amusing about it; no matter how many times I do it. Maybe it’s the thrill of seeing the great Eduardo Agostino; big boss of the biggest cult in the world, looking down at his right-hand man with that ready-to-throw-a-hissy-fit look… it’s a look that’s worth everything, especially since I know that he will never actually do something to me. I’m way too important to him for that.
Since the day I met him, it’s been a trill to anger him but at the end of the day, I know he sees me as his son. Even though I piss him off, he loves me… in his own twisted way. After all these years of being his right-hand man… his assistant… his son…
“Cazzo! Are you even listening to a word I’m saying?” Eduardo’s voice thunders across the room, shaking me out of my reverie and bringing me back to the present. His foot sinks down onto the base of the chair, stopping me in front of him. Once the chair comes to a halt, I come face to face with puffed up cheeks and eyes blazed with fire. Shit. I guess he really is serious about this newfound mission of his. I don’t think he’s ever been so serious about any other mission before. He doesn’t seem interested in games this time.
“Sai cosa fare?” He hisses through clenched teeth. My eyes stay on his, taking in his cognac-colored orbits, staring down at me with disgust across them.
I dramatically roll my eyes before looking back at him with a blank expression. “Yes, Eduardo. I listened. For the tenth time. I know exactly what I need to do.” He looks at me disapprovingly, waiting for a satisfactory answer.
When have I ever let you down, Agostino?
A jaded sigh leaves my lips as I look back up at him. “I’m getting on flight A357-980 to Charlotte Douglas International tomorrow morning at ten AM, then, after a 14-hour flight—including the time difference—I will then arrive in Charlotte around 6 PM. I’m getting one of the Devils’ cars in the alleyway behind Terminal F; then it’s only a twenty-minute drive to the center of Charlotte. I am staying at the Courtyard by Marriott Charlotte City Center and I do have Ramone’s residential, university, and work addresses. Once I’ve settled in, I will search for Dylan himself in the following days at one of those addresses and offer him the deal that you have on the table for him. See…” I throw my hands up in the air.
“I always listen to what you have to say, Capo.”
“And if Mister Ramone refuses my offer?” He replies, obviously indifferent to my comments.
“He will have twenty-four hours to change his mind, otherwise, I’ll kill him… and everyone that he loves.” I say blatantly. Eduardo smirks.
“Good, you listened,” he waves a hand, pointing a thick finger towards his office doors. “You’re dismissed.”
My eyes widen at his statement. “What? Just like that? Don’t I even get a goodbye drink?” I gape at him, wondering if he’s really going to dismiss me like I’m a child.
Eduardo raises a skeptical eye in my direction. After a long silence, he breathes out a sigh. I swear I can see a smile forming in the corner of his lips but with him, you can never count on it to see a full smile.
“You know where it is.” He speaks after a beat.
I grin and stand up from the chair. I calmly walk towards Eduardo’s desk and slide open the second drawer, pulling out— a, no doubt—damn expensive bottle of Puni Italian Malt Whiskey. Fuck. This whiskey is the best of the best. No wonder Eduardo collects them. I reach down and take two glasses from the drawer and pour a bit of whiskey into both glasses. I look up to meet the eyes of my maker and slide his glass across the pinewood table.
The glass skids across the table before abruptly coming to a stop by a manly hand. Eduardo smiles at me, a true fucking smile for once before we both take a well-deserved sip from the exquisitely aged whiskey.
“Do you really think that Dylan will agree to join us again?” I begin, speaking my thoughts of unease out loud. “Especially, after I heard what happened with Ashley, three years ago. I thought he left for good. It didn’t sound like he had any plans of rejoining.”
“He doesn’t have a choice in the matter,” Eduardo says after he takes another sip. “We’ve lost too many people in the past few months. That fuck-up in Portugal cost us most of our team. We need new recruits and I think Mister Ramone will be perfect for the role that I have prepared for him.”
“But he did kill Ashley… and from what I understood, he fucked up good while he was part of the Devils. Do you really want him back here? What if he does more harm than good?”
“I remember him well, Matteo. Ashley Paquet talked good things about him. He might have fucked up, but he has spunk… he has exactly what we need. He has been here before; he has the knowledge of being a Devil. He knows what it takes…”
Eduardo takes a breath. “That said, he does have a lot to make up for after what happened with Miss Paquet. She was just as valuable to the Devils before he killed her, he has to make amends for what he’s done. Plus, I think he’ll find my offer somewhat irrefutable.” Eduardo remarks with another smirk. “You know what they say, i vecchi cani non dimenticano i loro trucchi.”
“I won’t let you down, Eduardo.” I say and walk back to the leather chair, plopping myself into it.
Eduardo gives a smile, a true smile. Fucking hell. Since when does he have so many reasons to be so fucking happy? If I’m not mistaken, pride is written across his face. He believes in me.
“I don’t doubt it. You’ve always been my favorite.”
I playfully roll my eyes in response. “That’s only because you raised me. You see me as your son, not just some rookie to boss around and do your dirty work.”
“Watch it; you might recognize me as your father figure but above all else in this damn cult, I am still your boss. I can have you hung by your fingernails in less than two minutes if I so wish.”
I pretend to be offended. I throw my hand across my heart in a mocking disappointment. “Slow down there, Papà. You know I was only joking. And in any case, I have Devil blood in me, I don’t need to be bossed around to do something for the Devils. I do it willingly. The Devils are my family.”
I feel a pat on my back, well, more of a smack but hey, Italians are known for being physical.
“That’s my boy.”
We sit a few moments in silence, each of us finishing the remainder of whiskey in our glasses. I stare at my glass, not quite sure what to say to break the silence between me and Eduardo. I think we’ve said all that needs to be said before my departure.
Just as I look up, Eduardo’s cognac eyes meet mine.
“Do you ever think about how different your life could have been if you’d grown up with your real family?” He asks. His statement shocks me. We’ve never talked about stuff like this. Heart-to-heart conversations aren’t really a key part of who we are. Shoot and kill… now, that’s who we are.
I only manage to snort in response to his statement. “You mean if my real family hadn’t given me up like I’m some sick dog that they didn’t want anymore? I try my best not to think about those backstabbing pricks.”
“The thoughts must have crossed your mind.” I can’t quite decipher the root of Eduardo’s tone. What does he want me to say?
I stay silent for a while. The truth is I have thought about it. I have thought about how different my life would have been if I’d grown up with my real family. I have thought about my twin brother, the thought of him has consumed a part of my brain for a long time. I sometimes find myself wondering if we are even remotely the same. On the one hand, I don’t think we’re the same. We might have the same impulses but we grew up in completely different circumstances. He probably grew up with Rick and my mother who loved him unconditionally.
I imagine that he was always happy, he probably was a straight-A student his whole life, living the dream of being an only child. Whereas I, on the other hand, grew up with a gun in my left hand and a knife in the other.
Kill or be killed, Matteo…
The Devils are my family, always have been and always will be. They made me who I am today. Kill or be killed. The motto I’ve been carrying with me for years now. I don’t think that my brother will carry the same proverb under his arm. I know that I’m no fucking saint. I’ve killed countless people in my life, murdered, slaughtered, and assassinated… and I wouldn’t hesitate even a second to kill again. If it’s for the Devils, I’ll do it in an instant. I doubt that my brother will share the same frame of mind.
We’re not the fucking same. We don’t even deserve to be called brothers.
“I would have still ended up at the Devils. With or without my real father. I know that you were the one who demanded the whole ’a life for a life’ crap. But they still gave me up, without a second thought. I doubt that Rick, my mother or even my brother, whoever the hell they are, ever gave a damn about me.” I huff out in Eduardo’s direction.
“I for one, am glad I didn’t grow up amongst them.” I snicker, hoping that I’ve given him a satisfactory answer. I sure as hell won’t confess my true thoughts to him. He’ll probably kick me out.
“Yeah, well…” Eduardo’s voice sounds up again, drawing my attention back to reality. “You’re even better at this life than your real father. Rick Calaway was stupid enough to get caught in the act… and now he’s been paying for his mistakes behind bars.”
Once again, I let out a snort of laughter. “Asswipe.”
“Just do me a favor, Matteo. Don’t be a dumbass and get caught, and don’t be a dumber ass and get yourself killed.”
I put down my empty glass on the table and stand up from the seat. I hold my hand out to Eduardo and he clasps it, pulling me in for a hug. “I’ll be back before you know it. Diavoli insieme, ora e per sempre.”
Eduardo responds, chanting the same slogan back to me.
Devils together. Now and forever.
And just like that, we part ways. I head to my room to pack my things and leave Eduardo in his office, no doubt planning on what he’d like to do to Dylan when I bring his sorry-ass back to Catania.
After packing the last of my things, I fall down onto my bed to try and get a few hours’ worth of sleep before I depart on my mission to the United States of America.