The phone kept ringing and ringing like crazy all morning. On my day off. When I was sleeping in and enjoying 24 hours all to myself. Whoever was calling me, had a death wish. No one disturbed me on Sunday and there always was a person to call in case of an emergency. Fucking...
"The world better be ending, otherwise I'll end you!" I growled at the person on the other end of the line without even bothering to check the ID. I exclusively cherished my personal time and positively hated when I was being stripped of it.
"Oh, Gianna!" I heard my uncle chuckling wholeheartedly at my antics. My mind went into overdrive, listing various reasons for his unusual call. It didn't make sense as I was supposed to have dinner at his house tonight. What could be that urgent and too difficult for him to handle that he needed my help? "You are just lovely on Sunday mornings!"
"Yeah, so is my bed. So what's going on? Is there a problem?" I asked a bit impatiently. Whatever there was, I'd prefer dealing with it as soon as possible so I could go back to my Sunday routine.
"No, sweet girl. Just a rather urgent matter I need your opinion on." His tone was easygoing and light, making me release the air I never realised I was holding. At least it wasn't anything bad. "A friend of mine, The Capo of the Lombardi familia in Chicago is having a serious problem that he seems unable to deal with... in your area of expertise." There it was! Fucking perfect! "I'd very much appreciate it if you went and gave him a hand." He said gently and knew I wouldn't be able to say no. The old man knew I had a soft spot for him.
"What do I have to do?" I sighed and went out of bed, straight for the kitchen for some much needed coffee.
"Find a mole, get the Feds and the DEA off his back as now they are investigating him due to the leak." Shit! Shit! Shit! This could take months, depending how big their organisation was! Fuuuuuck!
"Can't I do it from home? It's pretty much the same work, they'll only have to send me some details and I'll be good to go." I tried bargaining as I lit up a cigarette and took the first sweet drag.
"He'd like having you there so you won't be... distracted with other activities and do the job as quick as possible." I knew what that pause in his sentence meant. The other man was worried I'll steal and take advantage of the information I come across. Little did he know that I didn't give a single fuck about anyone's browse history or affair. Yet, it was to be expected. He was Capo, he had his people to protect and all the info that went with them. And trusting a stranger in our world was unheard of.
I was screwed! So much for my lovely Sunday! "I'll be at your house in an hour. I'll say my goodbyes to Chiara and auntie and I'll be on my way. Do you need anything from me? To debrief you or...?"
"No, Gianna. I have all the information I need on your affairs and I'll pass them on to Andrea until you get back." That was good to hear. At least I knew I'll come back to the same order I left.
"Alright, uncle." I said and nodded, taking a sip from my coffee. "I have to go now. There is a ton of things to arrange and I'm planning on being in Chicago in 4 hours so I gotta be quick."
"Okay. I'll call him again to confirm when you arrive here."
"Okay, uncle. I'll see you in an hour."
"Make a list of potential residencies in Boston. Limited access, security, something high, preferably not outside the city and no mansions. Something convenient with a garage and a possibility for buying." I rambled while I was finishing my coffee. Jesus, I so wished not to go. "List rentals, too. Just in case."
"Alright. Anything else?"
"Remind me to call Miss Portman once I'm on the road and if I've forgotten any tech before I'm out of the house."
And with that I went packing. Forty minutes later I had three bags ready by the door. One filled with two laptops, a tablet, a spare phone, cables and all the gadgets I needed. The second full of clothes for a few days, two pairs of shoes and essentials such as a towel, toiletries, some makeup and a few perfumes. The rest I'd most likely order online once I find a place to stay. And the third, which was a small sack, I filled with knives and a few smaller guns. The rest of the possibly necessary weapons were loaded in my car.
I was showered and dressed in ten minutes and proceeded to load my bags - the one with the weapons in a hidden compartment and the rest in the trunk.
"Friday, lock up." I said as I reversed out of my driveway. Not long after I was at my uncle's house.
Felippe Mordanni greeted me himself at the door. Tall and still pretty strong, he didn't look his age at all. His dark brown hair had barely began greying and his skin had a young glow to it still. The only thing betraying him were the deep wrinkles of laughter around his eyes and mouth. "All black again?" He joked. "Don't you think your usual attire would be a bit out of place at Lombardi's?"
"I'm unapologetic about preferring to drive in convenience and not in heels and a cocktail dress." I mused sarcastically at his remark about my favourite outfit of skinny jeans, skin tight top, leather jacket and boots.
"What am I to do with you? I haven't seen such stubbornness as yours in years!" He laughed and I gave him a lopsided smile. "Let's go to my office."
He sat behind his desk in his huge office I've been in so many times since I was little. I loved the soft scent of cigars that lingered in the air and the cosy atmosphere to it.
"Gianna," He began seriously, his face suddenly filled with worry. "I want you to be careful. The Lombardi's are cold hearted bastards and I want you to be safe. If it weren't for me owning a favour to that old snake of a Capo they have, I wouldn't have sent you. But I can't refuse him. Especially now that word has gone out that I have you."
"I know uncle, it's alright." I answered quietly and I saw his face form into one of sadness and worry.
"Just stay under the radar, do your job and come home. That's all I ask of you. You... you don't know him like I do. He is sick, paranoid and merciless. One step in the wrong direction would be enough for him to act out. Be careful."
"I always am, uncle." I answered sternly, taking his advice into consideration. If he were right, then this little trip would be worse than I expected.
"Alright, bella. Now let's call him." On the third ring the phone's speaker boomed in the room with a cold stern voice that gave me chills.
"I called to confirm that I'll send the person to you today." My uncle answered in the same voice.
"Very well. I'll send my plane for them then." My uncle looked at me and I just shook my head.
"They'd be coming on their own."
"Then give me the number of the flight. I'll send a party to pick them up."
"They'd be driving there. Just send me your coordinates and they'll deal with the rest."
"I do not like this, Felippe. I don't like having one of the most valuable assets to the Italian mafia driving through half the country for a whole day!" He seethed, sounding very much like a snake. My uncle sighed quietly and began massaging his temples. I checked the time - 10:30 a.m., meaning I'd be there in two hours tops if I left in half an hour. I quickly scribbled a note and passed it to Felippe.
"You'll have them at your door in three hours at most!" My uncle seethed back. "Just send the coordinates!" A long pause followed. I would have thought he hung up if it wasn't for the phone for me to see he was still on the line.
"Whatever little games you're playing," The other man spoke sinisterly. "I'll know, Felippe. Don't try to cross me or I'll bring hell upon you." The call ended.
Silence fell between me and my uncle, the reality of the situation making me dive deep in my thoughts, contemplating a strategy to get out of there alive and in one piece. The situation was getting trickier and trickier but I couldn't figure out a whole plan until I've arrived and accessed it for myself. I hated working things out as I was going but it was my only option.
"Uncle?" I asked quietly, snapping him out of his thoughts. "I'll go see Chiara." He just nodded absentmindedly.
An overwhelming wave of deep remorse, sadness and anger crashed into me the moment I stepped in the white room on the second floor. There, Chiara was sitting in front of her vanity, staring blankly into her reflection. Her face was the same, beautiful and delicate but her eyes were empty, absent of their glow of happiness and joy, yet full of so much darkness. I felt an almost unbearable urge to cry. My poor cousin, my sister... so broken... beyond repair. I mourned for her every day. I avenged her in the worst possible ways, yet it wasn't enough. Nothing will ever be enough. And her delicate soul deserved nothing that came her way and turned her into this shell of a person she was before.
"Amore?" I spoke gently. Her eyes lit up as they focused on me in the mirror and ran into my arms. She sobbed like a little girl against my neck as I rubbed her back soothingly, barely holding my own tears.
"Please don't go, Gia." She pleaded, her voice broken and shaky. "I won't be able to deal without you."
"Shhh, bella. It will only be for a little while. I'll be back before you know it. And you can call me anytime. It will be like I was never gone." I cooed. She looked up at me with her huge moss-green eyes, her beautiful chestnut-brown hair a mess and her lovely face red and puffy.
"Please, Gia." She whispered and another set of tears ran down her cheeks, her delicate lips trembling. I wiped her face and held it in my hands, smiling the most reassuring smile I could muster, but I was sure it wasn't fooling her. It was hard for me, too. She was the reason I never wanted to leave.
"I have to, amore. You know I don't want to. But I must. For you, for auntie, for uncle, for all of us. This Capo isn't someone whom you can deny."
"Promise me you'll take care of yourself. Promise me you'll come back. I need you, Gia." Chiara sobbed in my neck once more.
"I'll go to the end of the world for you, Chiara. I'll come back and we'll go somewhere far away... somewhere sunny and warm, just you and me and we'll have the best vacation of our lives. Okay?" I whispered and felt her nod. She squeezed me hard, like a child not wanting to let go of her mom on the first day of school. And I squeezed back, savouring the moment.
We stayed like that for a few minutes before we let go and said our goodbyes. I promised her she could visit, depending on how long I had to stay and if it were safe for her and to call at least once every day.
With a heavy heart I climbed in my car and headed to Chicago. I knew I was walking into a lion's layer but had no idea what was to come and how I'll be getting out of it. The only thing on my mind was the person that held my heart in their tiny, delicate hands. The person I made a promise to come back, one I intended to keep.