Stepping out of the car I reluctantly groan from the rippling pain of my gunshot wound that seemed to grow with every breath. Trying to put aside the pain I focused on my anger, letting that emotion block the feeling to help me walk up to the Sorrentino estate. My body began to move slow, sluggish as blood loss caught up with me.
My eye sight began to blur around the edges and voices sounded far away. Someone grabbed my left arm, placing it over their shoulder helping me keep walk through the front door. Glancing over to see who is responsible for keeping me upright I see Vinzo, his scared right half of his face next to mine as his body carried part of my weight.
Out of breath I make it through the door into the estate dreading the stairs I will have to take to get to my room.
“I got it.” I muttered heading up the stairs, pushing through the pain.
Vinzo snarled, his thick Italian accent being spoken. “Don’t be an idiot, your about to fall over from exhaustion, blood loss and pain.”
Annoyed I agreed and let him help me up the stairs, somehow making it to the top where we then headed down the hall towards my room. Every step sent waves of pain to my side, every breath seemed harder to make then the last.
Somehow through the torment we entered my room, my body dropping on my bed with a sharp intake of breath and a deep groan from a blinding flash of agony.
Vinzo looked at my side. “Tate should be here soon with the doc.”
Flashing him a smile I sent a wink. “Aw Vinzo, I didn’t know you cared so much. Maybe we can grab some dinner and a movie.”
Clicking with my tongue I wink seductively at Vinzo, the man rolled his eyes grumbling ‘fuck off’ in Italian leaning against the wall.
I didn’t have to wait long till my room’s door opened showing Tate strolling in eating an apple like this was an everyday occurrence. Well maybe not every day, maybe weekly or so? Behind him came our residential doctor, Doctor Amir who quickly came over dropping his medical bag beside me.
“You milking it?” Tate asked taking another bite of his apple with a smirk
Scowling at him, Doctor Amir took off my bandage and began to flush the wound. Keeping my attention on Tate I ignore the pain. “Have you picked up the others? We had to separate.”
Tate finished chewing his apple with a deep sigh. “Kiko and Alek are in the Hospital and Nate was dead by the time we got to the shipping crates. Don has closed down the area having men find out what the fuck happened.”
Twisting my neck, I heard it crack, my jaw snapping down when Doctor Amir began to poke the wound. “You’re lucky Maximus. The bullet went through, close to the edge of your side. I should be able to stich it together with no problem.”
Nodding I refused to look at the wound, not wanting to have my eyes see the damage and register more pain than I was already feeling. “Do your best Doctor. Has Lorenzo contacted Nate’s family?”
Vinzo passed me a bottle of rum but I waved it away. Pain is good, keeps the mind clear and right now I must think clearly to find out how this ambush happened and who the fuck could have done it. Plus, pain is a lesson. I should’ve been prepared for this, if I had been none of the men would be hurt let alone dead.
The crunch of an apple brought me back to the present, my jaw clenched tighter with the Doctor’s needle stitching me together. Tate chewed nodding. “Don took Romano to go tell his mother. I’m sure when he gets back the focus will be on what happened and catching the bastards.”
Vinzo scowled against the wall. “Who would attack during the day? Who would be ballsy enough to attach us at all.”
“Ballsy or stupid?” I mutter, the taste of iron in my mouth from thinking about the blood that will soon be spilled. “We will find them soon enough and the bastards will be praying for death.”
Tate and Vinzo both nodded their heads, their faces masked with anger for the death of one of our own. Justice and vengeance will be delivered for Nate. The taste in my mouth went bitter as the death of Nate settled on my mind. My job as underboss is to protect the family and I let one of us die today.
Focusing on the pain I shook the bitterness away, it does not do well to dwell on it.
“Send a new couch to ‘London Threads’ and give a good amount of payment to the owner, Stella, for my disturbance.” I tell Tate who leaned against the bed as the doctor began to wipe the wound over with disinfectant. “No touching or looking at her.”
Tate tried to hide his amusement at the last order but before I could order him to keep his opinions to himself the doors to my room were thrown open yet again. Within the doors stood my older brother, also the Don, Lorenzo who strolled in followed by my younger brother Romano.
Lorenzo has led the family for fourteen years taking over when he was twenty-one. During those years he brought the family away from the risky drug and gun businesses and into more stable, economic enterprises. I have been able to prove myself as his underboss twelve years ago when I was twenty-one with our brother Romano following in our footsteps. For many, the age we started ruling was too young, and I agree but we didn’t have a choice. War killed all the others and a Sorrentino has to lead the family.
“What the fuck happened?” Lorenzo growled looking at my stitches. “He going to be alright Doctor?”
The doctor nodded adding another stitch. “Yes, the bullet didn’t go deep so he will heal well. I’ll say it again, you are lucky. I will leave a bottle of antibiotics for you.”
Clenching my jaw, I didn’t feel lucky. With the final stich, new gauze was placed over my wound and Doctor Amir stood up.
“Thank you, Doctor, Vinzo has your payment outside the room. Enjoy the rest of your day but stay on call in case something else happens.” Lorenzo shook hands with the man before the Doctor walked out leaving Lorenzo to look at me for answers.
Tate moved to head out of the room making me call out to him. “Hey! No threatening her either! I’ll talk to her making sure she doesn’t say anything. Just remember what I said about touching or looking at her.”
“Her?” Lorenzo asked raising an unimpressed brow. “If he needs to threaten someone he should do it.”
Sighing I sat up, my face scrunching up to try and withhold the wince from the tenderness pulling my stitches. “It’s the woman who helped patch me up and get a phone. Nothing to worry about and I’ll handle any concerns she may have.”
Tate looked to Lorenzo who took a moment before he nodded, letting my statement be allowed. With that Tate left the room leaving me with Lorenzo and Romano who both were waiting for me to explain.
I moved to swing my legs off the bed so I could stand and go shower to wash this day off me. “They were waiting at the docks, no idea how they knew a shipment was coming in but they fucking did. Took fire, became an all-out shoot out. Told the men to get out of there before we all ended up six feet down and we were out of a shipment of guns. They didn’t know where the cargo was and I wasn’t going to lead them to it.”
Romano passed me a glass of whisky, this time I accepted the alcohol. “So, someone is close enough to betray our cargo schedule but not close enough to know where the exact location is.”
It wasn’t often we bought guns, rarely, making it worrisome that anyone would know our schedule. It was for our personal arsenal and close allies.
Lorenzo gave a small nod crossing his arms. “Betrayal in the family or business. I want a list of everyone who knows about our cargo location and time of arrival.”
“And once you get that list?” I asked taking a sip of the whiskey needing something for the throbbing on my side.
I hate pain meds, they make me groggy and, in the mafia, you can’t afford to have one day not alert. I may not be the Don but I am the underboss and brother of the most prominent Don in the world. We don’t get days off.
Lorenzo took a glass that Romano offered him, taking a slow sip thinking about our next step. “We do what we do. Tear him apart limb by limb and never give him the grace of death for at least a decade. No one betrays the family. Focus on healing, don’t need you tearing anything making you worse then you are.”
With that Lorenzo left the room to go to his office and plan. Sighing I started to head to the shower but stopped noticing Romano lingering. “You okay?”
Romano raised his brow. “Should be asking you that.”
Chuckling I leaned against the wall needing the support, my side felt like it was on fire and my body needs a day or two to get my blood back. “Aw are you worried about me little brother? You know I have been in more gun fights than you and I have been shot before.”
He shrugged, his face the way it always is. Blank. “You are the more emotional of us.”
Laughing I walked over for another glass of whiskey. “I don’t know if that says a lot Ro. Mafia emotions should have its own spectrum.”
“Just want to make sure, you did almost die.” He glanced away from me, looking out the window of my room.
Taking a sip of the alcohol I look over to him. “Don’t worry I won’t be leaving you alone with Lorenzo any time soon.”
Romano flipped me off. “Seriously.”
“Seriously I’m fine, stop over analysing everything. You’ll miss out on enjoying life.” Romano is the most controlled of us Sorrentino brothers. Lorenzo can be ruled by anger, me by protecting those I love and Romano by fear of losing those close to him. “Look, if you are worried I’m sure Lorenzo will have me take a session with the family shrink to make sure I am psychologically sound.”
“Good point.” He muttered. “Any idea how this happened?”
Sighing I shook my head, my hand gripping the glass tightly. “No. But I will find out.”
Romano nodded. “We always make good on our word to make those against us pay. I’ll leave you to shower.”
With him gone I walked into the bathroom, swallowing the rest of my drink. Blowing out a breath I turned on the shower letting it heat up. Walking in front of the mirror I looked at what the damage is.
My hand traced the stitches I now have, another scar I will be adding to the collection on my body. With my hand still on my new wound, my thoughts drifted back to the woman who placed the first bandage over my side.
Those innocent eyes of hers made me smile. Not because I was a man who was used to this life and found a need to poses anything gorgeous and innocent.
I’m not one of those men.
Instead I find her innocence, refreshing? She helped me despite the warning signs that she should have been running away from an unknown man with a gun wound. It’s not often you meet someone who helps you from the good of their heart and not for something in return.
Smiling I step into my shower, thoughts on seeing Stella again soon.