“Howie please just sit down, your pacing is making me sick.” His steps from the kitchen to the living room and back for the last four hours was driving me insane.
“Loriena it’s been two days and Johnathan hasn’t shown up to that damn warehouse. Something is up and I can’t sit here and wait. I’m going to call Alex and see if I can do anything to help find that rat bastard.” He ran off upstairs and I could hear his feet pound as he took them two at a time.
I couldn’t help but think about Alex. Maybe I should apologize to him. I shouldn’t let this argument ruin our relationship. Things always got tense when he and Howie handled business the hard way. It’s like I could feel the shift from them being my goofy brothers to lean, vicious killers. I don’t think they even noticed sometimes. That the anger and power were such natural feelings for them, they didn’t notice when they’d boil over. I wanted to talk to Alex but what the Hell should I even say?
Howie was gone in an hour after talking to Alex. He decided they could use him to help scout some of his lesser used warehouses and see what turned up. He kissed my forehead and tried not to run out of the door, he was always ready for a good fight and even impulsive. Sitting and being a good boy wasn’t in his DNA.
“Ah, good morning Loreina. How’d ya sleep last night, lass?” His accent was much thicker than Neil’s, it was full of air and the words seemed to wind in a beautiful spiral. It always made me smile. Genuinely. I had bumped around too loudly my first night here after the poker game settled down and he came down with his SW five hundred drawn and ready to go. Scared me to bits. But we chatted for a few minutes as he made me a warm glass of milk with a shot of Redbreast whiskey and boy, did that go down smooth. I was out like a light in no time.
“Much better, thank you. How did you sleep?” He grinned, but no to his eyes. I could see a glimmer of tiredness, but also something that those soul filled orbs hadn’t seen before.
“Just fine.” I knew he was on high alert too. The anticipation was killing us all. It was thick in the air like smoke from a chimney. Our conversation stayed casual and I snuggled down in the armchair with my coffee, eventually drifting off before the caffeine could be consumed. Shamus covered me with a shaw before heading out to the guest house. He decided the men could use a little company.
Howie received a text from Alex saying they had found Ronan in an alley half beaten. His smile grew as he realised where this would lead. Some good ol’ fashioned interrogation. Excessive force would be welcomed. He cracked his knuckles at a stop light before giving the gas a firm push towards home.
The warehouse where the guns came in to be processed was the perfect location for this little chat they’d planned for Ronan. He was the only one who had any access to the new business shell companies since the switch. He had to be the missing link to Johnathan’s location.
Howie arrived late to the party as he noted Alex’s truck along with Grey’s jeep parked to the side of the building.
“Brother! So glad you could make it!” His tone was light hearted with a sinister smile spread over his face, but his eyes held every scrap of anger he could muster. He held his arms out wide for a hug from Howie, which he gladly accepted. “I’d like you to meet our dear friend, Ronan!” Ronan sat tied to the wooden chair. His hands behind his back. Shoulders slumped forward, head hanging low. His legs were duct taped to the legs of the seat and his shoes had been removed along with his shirt.
“Holy shit Alex, you didn’t save any fun for me!” His tone was serious and a little taken back at the sight of the rat’s swollen eyes, blood stained pants, bruising to his ribs.
“No, no brother. I saved this man! We found him in an alley a few miles from town. I think Johnathan did this to him.” Howie put two and two together. He knew this bit well. To get in the guys head, that was more evil than inflicting physical pain. Anyone can survive a beating.
Alex tossed the duct tape to the side to begin. Gray and Howie stood to the side to watch the show. This was a real treat. The monster had arrived.
“You know, I think I remember you having handled some business for my sister while she was away recovering from surgery. Do you know what she had surgery for?” He didn’t answer. He just kept his head hanging, blood dripping from his lips. Alex didn’t like the silence. He grabbed a fist full of his hair and got close to his ear. The lethal whisper sent shivers, even down Howie’s back.
“Johnathan fucking shot her. Here, in her ribs.” he jabbed his loaded gun in the man’s right side that was starting to show signs of swelling. A cry left his lips and he gasped for air. “AH! So he can speak! Well then, how about you tell me why you stole one hundred thousand dollars from my family’s account. Don’t leave out a single detail. Keep in mind, I already know the answer.” Ronan slowly raised his head and spat out blood away from their direction. Again he was silent and hid his eyes from Alex. Howie stepped forward and delivered a strong blow to the man’s stomach. He pushed the chair to lean back on two legs and held him only by his hair. Tears sprung from Ronan’s eyes and a wail that could be heard for miles ripped through the empty warehouse.
“If I were you, I wouldn’t take advantage of our patience any longer. Answer the Goddamn question my brother has asked you, you slime snorting dick.”
“Johnathan w-wanted to track her el-electronics. He-he had the b-best in the field do it.” Alex raised a hand in victory.
“There’s some progress! I need a name Ro-Ro! Can you do that for me?” Ronan took a ragged breath and his eyes drifted behind his eyelids. Alex saw this and grabbed a bottle of water, dumping it on his head. “Wakey wakey! Come on now. We’re almost done here.”
“Thompson. Logan Thompson.” Ronan turned pale with relief. He let out a long breath he had been holding. “That’s all I know, I swear.” Alex nodded and patted his shoulder.
“You did well Ronan.” he took a step to the side and drew his gun, one bullet was all he received to his head. Lights out.
“Howie, get our tech guy on this Logan Thompson shit. I need a Goddamn drink.” Alex returned the gun to his hip and walked out, the biggest, coldest man Howie had ever seen. So calm and back to normal. It had been years since he had watched his brother kill. But when he did, it was always exact and without any remorse.
Alex got home and headed straight for a shower. He reeked of sin. He stayed in for a long time trying to sort out his emotions and those he lacked. Trying to turn off the monster for his family. Angelina finished up feeding baby Daniel as he left the bathroom in a towel. His blank eyes fell on his wife who held their son and he let a long sigh leave his body. He rolled his shoulders and stretched out he kink in his neck.
“Hello beautiful.” He kissed her lips softly but held her close, tucking her head under his chin. His hands ran up and down her back as if soothing her own monster. Daniel lay next to him cooing and suckling his pacifier. She pulled from his tight hold and placed a hand on either of his knees, she took in his eyes that were still a little heavy from his day. Even long, hot showers can’t wash away that kind of darkness.
“I won’t ask. But, how’s everyone?” He could see the concern in her eyes. His hand cupped her jaw and he brushed her bottom lip with his thumb. It quivered and threatened to unleash tears but he wrapped her tightly again. He wished he could tell her. So he whispered that all was well. Everyone was fine.
She searched his big eyes to see if there were anymore answers to where he had been. But she knew. She knew when he came home like this what had happened. You don’t marry the Mafia’s leader and not notice the blood on their clothing. How it could take days sometimes for them to fully swallow their emotions and be back to their joyful selves. That’s the wife’s role. To hold their hand in victory and defeat.
Alex hated keeping things from her, but she started asking too many questions when Loreina left. He couldn’t talk about Johnathan anymore without seeing red. So he hadn’t told her anything in days about the plan. He knew she noticed the eight additional men around the house and how her mother had come to stay out of the blue. He didn’t want her to be alone. Times like this, you have to keep your whole family close. It was bad enough he had to ship off Loreina. He didn’t want that for his love and child too.
“Are you hungry? I made pasta. There’s plenty left for you. Howie too...” She tried her best to fill the silence with normalcy he craved after he downed his double of whiskey. Alex let his hands trail down her neck and brushed her collar bone in comfort.
“I have more work to do. I’ll come to bed soon, though. I love you.”
Howie linked up with their tech guy, Joseph, and together they traced all her devices. But to their surprise, all the GPS features were still inactive and the security monitoring all showed no traces of anyone trying to track or hack her location.
“Howie I don’t know why they paid that man so much money. Her cell phone and laptop are both still secure with my programs. Her work computer shows no sign of any personal information, no device location programs are even installed on it. The software has been very effective at making sure that no one goes in or out without the use of heavily secure passwords. She will be fine til you and Alex can find that monkey. I also will make special sure to keep a personal eye on her monitoring. I will alert you the moment I see anything out of place.” Joseph left the office so Howie could get back to his other duties.
He knocked on Alex’s office door and opened it up, seeing he was on a video call, he stepped back out and figured it was he and Loreina reconciling. He smiled and did a little happy dance as he waited to inform his brother of the no news is good news.