Stepping off the plane I couldn’t help but hope that this final meeting for a new shipper we can use is the one. I’ve met with Casing and Montique who are still not my choice and I’m tired and ready to be home. Meeting with businessmen gets tedious, especially after a few months.
Montique was in Rome and despite the desire to work with someone from the motherland, he and I didn’t click. He was a young man who wanted to peacock around me, showing his business and skills. The last thing I need is another partner who needs his ego stroked.
Next was Casing in the London port. He had potential, his business was growing which is a good sign that he takes work seriously and knows what he is doing. But at the moment we need a cargo partner who can hit the ground running and is in perfect understanding on how the mafia families work and who are the enemy players.
“Maximus Sorrentino, welcome.” A man spoke up from one of the SUVs that are awaiting me and my men.
Hearing the Irish accent, I glance over to see who I’m here to meet.
The short red-haired man stood in front of the middle SUV.
One reason I’m weary about using him is his close ties with the Irish mob, who are his second cousins. His cargo business is separate from the family business, but it has ties with them nonetheless, which must be kept in mind. It could be a perk because it means mutual respect on both sides and Shaw understands how to work with a mafia.
It could mean the Irish can watch us carefully. Or, it could work as insurance between the two mafia families. Neither Irish nor Italian will move against the other since we use the same cargo partner.
“Shaw, thank you for having us.” Reaching him I put my hand out to shake.
The Irish man motioned for the SUV and I got in before him, my other men getting inside the other SUVs with our luggage.
“My pleasure, Mr. Sorrentino.” Shaw said closing the car door, the SUV starting up and heading to Shaw’s compound.
“Please, call me Maximus.” I smile at Shaw who nods his head and leans back in his seat. “I can assume you know why I’m here to visit you?”
He nodded. “Aye, you are interested in my cargo business and to see if I have any information on Carnellio.”
I straightened in my seat. “You are well informed, we have been keeping our dealings with Carnellio quiet.”
Shaw shrugged. “He is business competitor, it’s my job to know what he is doing. When I heard you were on a trip wanting to stop by, it was an easy connection. I wouldn’t worry about Carnellio figuring it out, I have been in the business for a long time. That pup doesn’t know shit.”
Chuckling I nodded my head in agreement. “If you know that about Carnellio, what else do you know?”
The man beside me wiggled his jaw. “Someone is gunning for you, there are some rumblings I heard over at the family business. Don’t misunderstand me, we have nothing to do with any of it. We see you as good allies and business partners.”
“Appreciate the honesty Shaw.” I made a mental note to let Lorenzo know that people are hearing about our problems with Carnellio. It could mean that anyone who is an enemy of ours, may see this problem as a perfect opportunity to seek out others and attack. “Did those rumblings have a name?”
The Irish man waves his hand. “I won’t lie to you Maximus. And, no but if I hear something I’ll tell yah. How about I let you settle in, then we can get straight into what you need for a cargo partner.”
I nodded in agreement, I’m running on plane coffee. “Sounds good to me, would love to get right into business.”
The two of us began to chat about my trip from Europe, the car pulling up to Shaw’s compound twenty minutes later.
Stepping out I withheld my need to stretch, the constant traveling is making my body sore and tight.
“I shall get my paperwork in order; a maid will walk you up to where you will be staying.” Shaw and I bowed our heads at one an-other in respect.
A maid stepped up in front of me and motioned to follow which I did along with my men following their maids. I follow the maid up to my room on the top floor, thanking her when I arrive and am left alone to relax for a brief amount of time.
Hearing an alert, I take my phone out and walked to the window, looking out to the Canadian landscape. The sun had finally set allowing the full moon to be the only source of light over the terrain, the stars shining letting my mind drift back to my own star.
Placing my phone to my ear, I listen to my new voicemail.
“Hey Maximus its uh, its Stella. I know you are still in Italy or England on business and all but um if you could give me a call that would be great. There is something we need to talk about and I don’t even know how to begin. So just uh, please give me a call Maximus. It could be a positive thing.” Stella’s voice ended on my phone.
My brows furrowed at the tone of her voice, it didn’t sound like it usually did. Instead of bubbly, she sounded detached. I was about to call her back when there was a knock on the door and in walked Vinzo.
“Shaw invited us to dinner in thirty.” He said bowing his head.
Nodding to him I tucked away my phone. “Inform him I appreciate the offer, I’ll be right down. Just need to freshen up.” Noticing Vinzo’s hesitant facial expression, I raise my brow. “What?”
He cleared his throat. “I don’t want to over step, but is everything alright? You have seemed a bit…distracted?”
Clenching my jaw, I turn to be facing him completely. “Distracted? My sole attention on this trip has been at the task at hand. If I have seemed distracted it could be because I have a million different scenarios running in my head about each interview, how it would impact us, whether or not we are being spied on and if word will reach Carnellio about how we are going to replace him. I have been doing my job and I do it thoroughly.”
Vinzo cleared his throat again and shifted on his feet. “I meant no disrespect.”
“Yet you did. You have been with the family for years, have I ever left room to doubt my capabilities as the Underboss?” I crossed my arms to keep my anger behind my skin and not in Vinzo’s face.
“Never sir.” Vinzo straightened his back. “The men just have never seen you with a woman, lose your temper or leave a mission like you did during the night at Carnellio’s bar with that blonde woman.”
Rolling my eyes, I let out a grunt. “That mission was over and the blonde was my tailor. Also, if I saw any woman near Carnellio’s bar at that time of night I would get them out. Cazzo, you do something nice and people expect me to drop out of the Underboss position, leave the family vulnerable and run after a woman.”
The man grimaced, this conversation obviously something he didn’t want to have. “Only wanted to check in with you. I know the family comes first for you.”
“Enough of this conversation.” Taking off my jacket I draped it over a chair. “Have you heard anything from Sebastian about what Carnelliois doing?”
Vinzo shook his head, his large scars distorting the frown on his face. “No, but he isn’t alone often so he can’t check in. Last I heard he was settled within Carnellio’s circle, if anything goes down he will let us know.”
Noticing the frown get deeper I put my hand on his shoulder. “If he really is your cousin, I’m sure he will be fine undercover.”
Vinzo nodded and I put my hand down. “I know, it’s just he can’t check in regularly, he doesn’t have the privacy and can’t risk the exposure. Who knows what going on over there right now.”
He looked away and I could tell he was finished talking. Feeling drained myself, I needed a shower to wake up. “Is there anything else Vinzo?”
The man shook his head and bowed it. “No sir.”
When he turned to leave I called out for him to ensure I got my point across. “Vinzo. If any of the men think that I’m distracted by the blonde they saw me with, be sure to remind them of who I am and how I got my position.”
Vinzo bowed his head once more and left the room.
I unclenched my jaw but the anger that my attention to my duty was questioned left a bitter taste in my mouth. Since my brothers and I have taken over the family, we have always been committed, never giving ourselves indulgences to get in the way of our job.
I have bleed for this family and sacrifice much; my dedication should not be questioned.
I can see how the men would be confused and worried about me getting attached to a woman when we may be in the beginning of a war. But I have earned my position and would never risk my family by letting myself get distracted.
Walking over to my bag I take out a new suit for me to put on after I quickly shower for dinner tonight. Time to start to get to know Shaw and see if he would be a partner for us.
Taking my phone out of my pocket I put it on the desk and plug it in its charger. There’s nothing I wanted more than to call Stella back and see what is wrong.
To see if her feelings towards me, towards us, has changed.
But I can’t.
Not at the moment, not when I’m in the middle of important mafia business. It is the price of being second in command, you don’t have a personal life or indulgences when there is work to be done.
Every moment of this trip I have wanted to call Stella, to see how she is doing but all of my attention has to be on finding a new cargo shipper, who they are, how they run and to see if they have heard any rumblings on someone going against the family.
This trip means the security of the family, businesses, income and reputation.
There’s no room for error.
Carnellio has been quiet ever since we visited him on his turf. I should probably be grateful or happy and see it as a sign of submission from him but I don’t. Instead I have a feeling in my gut that tells me something is coming, that Carnellio won’t submit to us and whoever is trying to attack us could now be working completely with Carnellio.
To fight off the nagging feeling in my gut, I picked up my phone and sent a quick text to Stella. Hopefully she will understand that I didn’t have the time to call back and won’t take it personally.
Sorry I missed your call. Be home soon, I can talk then.
Hope you are well, miss you.
I hated that it was all I could send to her. But at the moment I need all my attention on Shaw and whether or not he could be a good partner or a new enemy.
Once I get this interview done with Shaw, I can go see her in person and talk about what was making her sound weird on the phone.