In The Shadows

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Ch. 4: The Family

Being treated like a princess of a mafia family had its cons. For one thing, you get to miss the people that always suffocated you. Back at Nightkiss, when it would finally get dark, I would go out of the only window at the room which is at the bathroom. It was small and there was always a mark on my stomach when I would be out halfway because of how tight it was. If it weren’t for my flexibility, I wouldn’t be able to get out.

It was dark and it didn’t matter if I couldn’t see while I walked through countless bugs, because all that mattered was that I get to see the stars. The beautiful lights that shined up at the sky—we used to watch them. Me, Caio, mom, and dad. Though it seemed ridiculous for a mafia family to be star gazing, we didn’t care. We loved doing it, matching up the stars into shapes that we could make them out to be.

We used to have a competition. The grandest things we could make out of the skies, we would win.

“How long have you been sneaking out?”

My eyes snapped to the left, noticing Sapphire standing there with her arms crossed. Being around assassins and having to be trained like one leaves you numb to any kind of surprise. It leaves you to be aware of your surroundings, even if you can’t see them.

“How long have you been watching me?”

“About two weeks,” she said as she laid down right beside me, our bodies inches away from one another. “Maybe three. I don’t know. You’re the new girl. Everybody has their eyes on you. Somebody’s got to protect you.”

“I can protect myself, you know,” I told her simply.

She sighed, not once glancing at me. “Just because you’re a Lorenzo doesn’t mean shit when it comes to a building filled with assassins. Sure, some are afraid of coming after you because of your background but there are definitely some who are either waiting for you to fail or for you to be alone so they could kill you and hide your body. No one would even know. We are experts in disposing bodies.”

As much as I hated it, she was right. I had no experience. Everyone sheltered me away from any horrors l could possibly see in that house. The basement where they tortured and extracted information from their enemies was off limits, the talk of work shouldn’t be said in front of me, and I had to basically go down on my knees and beg for my parents to let me off without driver and bodyguards following me since I started college and lived in the dorms.

So, I didn’t say anything for the purpose of not making myself look even stupider than I already was. I merely stared at the stars. “I just miss my family.”

“That’s why you had the option to let them think that you were dead.”

“Normal people would let it be if the case would go unsolved,” I explained, shaking my head. “but they would never stop figuring out who it was. It would eat them alive. It’s already doing that as I’m here without protection, to keep an eye on me. What do you think they’ll do if that happens?”

She shrugged, not because she didn’t know or she knew the answer to my question but because I knew she understood. More than people. It has only been two weeks since I left home and started training under Sapphire’s wing but we understood each other more than we had hoped or even liked.

We never let in on our feelings—as we should. It was always a rule in the Nightkiss to avoid attachments inside the organization and outside. An assassin could never be an assassin if they feel something. Assassins are supposed to be cold-hearted. Which is why, it has been hard for me to continue training.

But I have to.

This was for my family, to save them.

“If we’re being honest, I never wanted to lead my sister on about me being dead,” Sapphire said it so casually that I almost missed the sadness in them. Emotions was never her strongest suit—as everybody’s in this whole building. “I wanted someone to really find out who killed me if I was really dead for real. Now, all I’d have is a funeral with a group of assholes who never really cared for anyone anyway.”

My head turned to her. “I’ll do it.”

She met my eyes, our gazes never lingering away. “If this is pity—”

“No,” I cut her off before she could even think further. “I’ll do it. I’ll find out who killed you if you died, I’ll bring you back here when you go missing, and I’ll help you shoot the people that would torture you for information if it ever comes to that.”

The way her lips curved let me know that she was really satisfied with what I said. With a nod, she grabbed my hand and held it tight. “I’d do the same with you… Midnight.”

She was the one that gave me my code name. Midnight didn’t stand for my hair color. It stood for the night where we made a vow to have each other’s back. More so than ever. It stood as the night that people since then referred to us as sisters. We were family. I knew her secrets and she knew mine. She covered for me whenever I needed it and vice versa. I knew, deep down, I wouldn’t have survived training and being out on assignments if it weren’t for her.

“What the hell do you mean she’s dead?!”

“I mean—”

I snarled at the person at the other end of the line. “She’s not dead. Give me her last known signal and I’d go to her. I’ll find her and bring her back.”

“Her tracker went off. You know better than anyone that those things cannot be extracted and—”

“I don’t care!”

He sighed. “I warned you, Midnight. I warned you not to get close to anyone else. Now, no one is nearer to the target than you. Follow through what she failed to do while you let us find her body and give her an assassin’s burial. Do you understand?”

I was so close to ripping my hair out. The frustration was getting to me. Normally, I was cold, composed, and calculating not like this. “No! You can’t just—”

“I already have,” he calmly stated. “You’ve never failed an assignment, Midnight. I suppose you know what happens to those who do?”

My eyes closed. I knew exactly what would happen if I did. Those who survived after failing an assignment were killed. If you don’t get killed in the process of eliminating your target, not only does another assassin take care of that for you, but the Nightkiss makes sure that you get death too. Failure was never the option to them. One wrong move and you’re out.

But it never meant that I couldn’t try. One of the things that I learned from my parents were that I was supposed to keep my promises, to make sure that those I love would be avenged.

If she is dead, I promised her that I would do what I could.

And I never go back on my word.

“Fine,” I stated, breathing heavily. “Inform me when you find her body.”

Finishing, I hung up, clutching the phone in my hands tightly as I paced around the room. All I wanted to do was throw it, grab my gun, and go down to the firing range that the estate has.

You can’t. I told myself. Exposing myself would put them in danger.

If my family even gets an inkling that I know how to shoot myself, to use a knife, or even the most harmless thing and turn it into a weapon, everything will be over. Nightkiss would lose their shit and I would have to pay for the ultimate crime.

Not only would I die, but them too.

It was luck that they didn’t find out about Fletcher and Caio knowing but that was only because we took precautions. We never revealed anything that would remotely prove that they knew. If dad and mom find out—they’d lose their shit and they would expose themselves to all kinds of secret. I knew damn well that they could handle themselves but against assassins? They would never stand a chance against them.

A knock on my door made me hide my work phone in my pocket, crossing my arms as I yelled out for the person to enter. It was one of the maids, she was short, brunette, with bright hazel eyes, a soft smile on her face. She looked like she was by my age. Possibly a little younger.

“Miss,” she clasped her hands, the way she was pinching the skin on the back of her hand taught me that she was nervous to be near me. Her apron wasn’t crumpled, there were creases, and it was too clean. Either she was new or she just really likes downing that white apron in bleach. “Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzo called for you at the living room.”

“Alessia.”

Her hazel eyes widened. “Pardon?”

“You don’t have to call me Miss. It’s Alessia,” I gave her an assuring smile. Her pinching stopped. “and don’t be nervous around us. My family may be dangerous but we’re nice people. No one’s going to hurt you. You’re new, right?”

“How did you—”

“What’s your name?”

“Uh, Hennessy, Mi—Alessia.

“Like the Cognac?”

She nodded. “My dad was drunk when mom gave birth to me and they couldn’t think of a name. So, they named me after his favorite drink.”

So that means that she has an alcoholic dad and a mom that couldn’t give two shits to name the daughter she gave birth to.

Shaking my head, I sighed and grinned. “I like it. Anyway, you’re staying here, right?” Without waiting for another question as to how I knew, I walked out of the door, gesturing for her to follow me and continued, “So, I’m guessing you met Aunt Lina since she takes care hiring the maids and other helpers. She’s the nicest out of all of us, Uncle Ales is next, a little crazy sometimes, next is me, and then there’s dad. Mom has a little temper so best steer clear when she’s angry. The rest of the men, well, I suppose you already know?”

She nodded. “Mrs. Lina introduced me to your brother, cousins, and boyfriend.”

Ex-boyfriend,” I corrected her to which her eyes widened and the guilt look overtook her face. “Don’t worry about it. Aunt Lina likes to think Fletch and I would get back together.” As we passed several doors, I made sure to end our conversation, knowing that the living room was close. “If ever you need help, you can come to me, Hennessy, alright?”

Giving me another small nod, she beamed. “Thank you, Alessia.”

Winking at her, I turned and walked inside the living room, seeing each one of my family members seated on the couch while there were six men facing me with their backs, seated across from them.

Before I could even turn to those that my family want me to meet, I first noticed how Caio, Fletcher, and my cousins seemed. Their statures were rigid, eyes filled with blankness that showed no emotion whatsoever. But, despite that, I could see how they were disapproving of what was happening. However, the older part of our family was smiling at me and at the people they were sitting in front of.

They were wearing tailored suits and it was easy from the slight bulge on their waistband that they brought weapons.

Whoever these people were, they were trusted by everyone but possibly me meeting them led for the men to be disapproving of the whole situation.

Only one of them captured my attention.

The one in the middle, the tallest of them all. His golden eyes were shining from the light of the room, dirty blonde hair gelled back, strong nose, a stubble running across his defined jaw, his hollow cheeks, and his perfectly curved pink lips that were thin.

He was basically a Greek god. An Adonis.

Sapphire chuckled. “Yeah, I’ll see you soon. They put me on a new assignment so I might not be in contact for a few days.”

Groaning, I laid down on the motel bed. “Yeah? Who’s the unlucky bastard this time?”

“Big mafia leader. Big as your family, I would gather.”

“Roman Kozlov.”

“You know him?” It was my mother’s voice, making me realize that I told everyone I knew this person right in front of me.

Shaking my head, I shrugged and gave the most fakest yet seemingly genuine smile I could muster. “Everybody knows the name of the billionaire mogul, right?”

“I suppose they do,” he spoke, a thick, deep, rasp of Russian accent sending chills down my spine. His stature of six-five, good-looking face, and a body of a model made everything that came out of his lips smooth and velvety. “You are Alessia Lorenzo, yes?”

It was never easy to baffle me but when you’re standing in front of your target and they know your real name, it puts the assignment into a dumpster fire.

And turns everything into shit.

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