“Adventures are only interesting once you’ve lived to see the end of them. Before that, they are nothing but fear, and being too cold or too hot or too wet or too hungry, and getting hurt.”
What the hell was going on? One moment everything was going well, and now, I was escorting a brunette girl to our main headquarters in Zurich so she can meet my Grandfather. How did she penetrate our security and stole the necklace like it was nothing? She was even wearing it around her neck without a trace of fear in her dark brown eyes.
We arrived at the main hall where Lillian, Enzo, and a terrified Melissa were waiting for me with our guards surrounding them. I was grateful all the guests had already left, including my family. This was my mess, and I will be the one to clean it. I don’t want anyone giving me unneeded advice.
Lillian looked shocked when she saw the girl. She broke free from the bodyguards’ circle and came to stand in front of us.
“You! I spoke to you earlier, and you showed great interest in the necklace. I was stupid enough to explain to you, so you can go and steal it easily.” Lillian said, she was furious, and her face was getting redder with every passing second.
“Don’t you go giving yourself undeserved credit. I did all my homework before I came here and stole the necklace. I just liked chatting with you. Maybe we can become friends.” The girl said with a genuine smile on her face.
Lillian opened and closed her mouth several times like a fish out of the water. She was confused by the words said to her. The girl managed to insult and compliment her in one sentence.
“Where are you going?” Enzo asked breaking the awkward silence surrounding us.
“We are going to our headquarters in midtown. Take the girls home, and I will come back when this matter is solved.” I walked over to Melissa and hugged her, “It is okay, I am sorry you have to go through this, but it is over now.” I said as I looked into her light blue eyes.
I heard gagging noises and turned around to see the source of my problems with her hands around her mouth, and a disgusted look on her face.
“What’s wrong with you?” I snapped.
“I just hate lovey-dovey moments. So, can you please hurry? My heart can’t take all of that.” She said honestly to the point if I wasn’t aware of her schemes, I would have believed her. Great! I have a professional liar on my hands.
That’s it. I am done with this crap. I schooled my angry feelings and gave Melissa a tight smile.
“Goodnight, Melissa,” I said and waited until she nodded her head before I strode towards the girl and grabbed her arm. I started dragging her out of the hall and into the cool night air. I reached for my car keys when I felt her tugging on my arm.
“I won’t drive in your car.” She said when I looked at her.
“May I know why?” I asked sarcastically, this night proved to be more troublesome than my worst nightmares.
“I don’t like cars. I ride them in emergencies only.” She said seriously, and I can tell she was honest this time.
“And you think this is not an emergency? What do you want us to do? Walk to our destination?” I was exasperated at the moment.
She clasped my hand and started dragging me to an empty hallway behind the ball venue. I heard the click of a key and saw the light of a bike. I turned to her and asked with a raised eyebrow.
“You want us to ride this?”
“Yes, just clutch me tightly, and you will be safe, pretty boy.” She said with a shrug and a smirk on her face.
Before she could even move towards her bike, I snatched the keys from her hand. I looked at her with a smirk on my face as I threw her words back to her.
“Just clutch me tight, and you will be okay, pretty girl. But first, give me the necklace.” I said with my hand outstretched.
“No way in hell. The necklace is my guarantee of safety.” She said and touched the gems of the necklace.
“You are funny. Don’t you think I can kill you, and then unclasp the necklace from your neck? I will take it, and it is done.” I challenged her with my eyes to refute my statement.
She moved closer to me and looked me right in the eye. “You wouldn’t dare, would you?”
I sensed her hot breath fanning my face, and I felt a strange desire to draw her closer to me and kiss her full lips senseless. I shook my head to clear my mind from those irrational thoughts and said with a resolve I didn’t think I possessed at the moment.
“Let’s go. We don’t want to be late to the don.” I walked to her bike, and to say I was impressed would be an understatement, it was a new Ducati. This girl was something else, she was stirring my curiosity. She was a puzzle, and I will be damned to let her go unsolved. I took the helmet and threw it at her. She caught it midair and examined it as if it was a strange thing. She winked at me and threw the helmet back as if the object offended her greatly.
“I like air blowing through my hair. It is the feeling of freedom, you know.” She said and mounted the bike behind me.
It was a long time since I rode a bike, and I was happy doing it. No matter how fast my Ferrari can go, the feeling of driving a bike is something surreal. For a moment, I allowed myself to forget all my burdens and let go.
I felt the girl’s hands snake around my waist and clutch tightly. Surprisingly, her touch was soft and warm. In no time, I pulled the bike over, and together, we walked to the entrance.
I nodded at the two guards, and they opened the door for us. I knew the don was aware of what happened after the party ended, and he was likely waiting for us in his office. We took the elevator to the last floor. We walked to the end of the corridor and turned to the right. I knocked on the second door and waited for permission before we entered.
I was surprised when I saw my father sitting behind the desk. I was relieved and terrified at the same time. I knew he will be more rational than Grandpa, but at the same time, I didn’t want him to be disappointed in me. Every time I think I didn’t care anymore about his opinions, I find myself dreading his displeasure.
My father put down his reading glasses and mentioned for us to take a seat. He gave the girl sitting in front of his desk a thoughtful look.
“No camera footage, no gun using, but at the same time, you managed to knock out our guards, which means high fighting skills. You also have an impressive speed in executing your plans. There is one thing I don’t understand here, why didn’t you run before Ethan arrived at the safety room?” My father asked the question I was dying to know its answer.
“I was working to impress you, Mr. Damien Salviatti.” The girl said with an impassive look on her face.
“And may I know why?” My father was curious now, and he didn’t hide it.
“I want to be a part of your family. I want to work with you.” The girl said nonchalantly as if she was asking an everyday question.
My father chuckled and raised an eyebrow. It was rare for anyone to spike my father’s curiosity, and this girl managed to do it.
“Do you think that stealing a priceless necklace would grant you your wish?”
“No, sir. I knew there are two outcomes for my transgression. It is either you kill me on the spot, and I die pursuing my dreams, or I would convince you I am worthy enough to be one of you. I thought that breaking your security system and stealing something very precious to you would be my key to enter your fortress.” The girl spoke passionately about her dreams.
My father didn’t say anything. He reached for his phone and made a phone call. Moments later, a knock sounded on the door, and Jason our IT guy, entered the room. I gave him a little smile, and he nodded back. I liked the guy, he was intelligent and a badass in general. I realised how much I missed his company. Dad stood up from his desk and mentioned for Jason to take his place.
“What’s your name?” My father asked the girl, and I mentally face palmed. How can I forget to ask her about her name? I was an idiot.
“Nina Castillo.” The girl said simply.
Without any prompts, Jason started typing furiously on the keyboard, and we waited patiently for him to give us some information about Nina.
“There is nothing in our database, sir. I will....” Before Jason could complete his sentence, Nina interrupted him and said with a bored voice.
“If you think you will find any information about me on the regular web, then you are wrong, nerdy boy. I don’t want you to fault me with some Brazilian star or something. I suggest you search on the deep web.” Nina spoke sarcastically.
I bit my lip to stop myself from laughing out loud when I saw the fire lights up in Jason’s eyes. He slapped his palm on the desk and looked at Nina with a fierce glare.
“Look little girl, I don’t need you to show me how I can find information. I know my job very well, so please keep your mouth shut and watch me do my work.”
Nina looked like she was going to make another rude remark, but I gave her a shake of my head, and she settled down. I didn’t want my father to lose his patience and do something we will regret later.
“I found it!” Ten minutes later, Jason exclaimed from his seat. I and father moved behind him and read the information about Nina. She turned Twenty years last June. Her file was full of impressive achievements. I looked up at the girl who was looking bored out of her mind. She possessed a black belt in Karate and Judo. She had led several theft operations and was always successful. She had a knack for stealing jewelry and rare art pieces. According to the file, she was never caught by the authorities and didn’t have a legal record. I noticed the file didn’t mention any family members or academic information.
The next file Jason clicked contained Nina’s photos on the roof of different buildings executing assassinations against some known and powerful men. She was an accurate sniper who never missed her target.
I looked at my father and saw a thoughtful look on his face. I knew he was weighing the pros and cons of having this girl by our side. Surely the files we read didn’t associate her with any gang or mafia family, but that would never mean she wasn’t a member of one of our enemy families.
“Leave us alone.” My father said as he went to the window and stood with his back to us. I wanted to protest and demand I stay here since I was involved in this mess, but I knew Dad wouldn’t budge once he took a decision. I followed Jason out of the room and sat on one of the benches outside the office to wait for the outcome of this crazy night.
Sitting in front of Damien Salviatti was a farfetched fantasy of mine. The man was a legend in the mafia world, and I always wanted to meet him. When I started this mission, I never thought I would arrive at this point. I was sure they would kill me before I make a single dent in my plan, but here I am one step away from being a member of their family.
“You have an eventful life. At the age of Twenty, I see you have done jobs men older than you wouldn’t dare to do. May I know why did you choose this road?” He asked as he leaned against the edge of his desk.
“I am surviving, sir,” I said honestly, it was so easy to state facts. I was always a blunt person, and I didn’t like playing around and lying.
“Are you running from someone?”
“Are we having a heart to heart chat?” I shot back.
Tonight, I managed to make the stoic Damien Salviatti laugh twice. He looked at me with a smirk on his face.
“I really like your sense of humour, but a word of warning, not all of my family members will appreciate it.” Then he narrowed his eyes, and they turned a darker shade of blue. “I still don’t trust you, but I will give you a shot. You will undergo a series of tests, and I will see if you can pass them. We aren’t a gang that kills just for joy. We have plans to execute and enemies to eliminate. I hope you can understand that.”
“Yes, I know. It is one of the reasons I want to join your family, sir. I don’t want to continue my life as a rogue. I want to belong.” Surprisingly, I found myself telling the truth and not lying to the man. The prospect of being a member of the family was so appealing, and I already was looking forward to it.
“Good.” He said and went to open the door. He called Ethan back into the room, who took back his seat and waited for his father to speak.
“I decided to give Nina a chance. She is going on trial to become a part of our family.” Damien said with a calm voice.
“Good to know that. From her file, I think she will be a great asset to our organisation. If you don’t need me anymore, I will call Matteo to come and take me home.” Ethan said and started rising from his seat, but his father raised his hand and halted his movement.
“Not yet, in her trials, she is your responsibility. I will send you the missions I want her to do, and you will make sure nothing goes wrong.”
“What?” We said at the same time.
“I am busy at the moment, Father. I have a project to take care of. I don’t have time to babysit her.” Ethan said between gritted teeth.
“Huh! Babysitting! I don’t even need his help. I can operate on my own and manage to do my tasks without any problems. I am asking for a chance, give it to me, and I will prove myself to you.” I exclaimed from my seat. I never imagined being put under some boy’s protection or some crap like this.
Damien ignored our outburst and said in his frustrating calm voice. “Work out your differences. I don’t care when and how, but I want you as a team. Later, I will email you the missions you will execute. You are dismissed.”
I watched as Ethan clenched his fists so tightly, his knuckles turned white. He didn’t comment on his father’s words and started towards the door. I decided to follow him and think of something to get rid of my new boss later.
As I was going to open the door, which Ethan had closed rudely, I heard a throat clearing from behind.
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Damien asked with an arched eyebrow.
I racked my mind to understand what did he mean, but I came with nothing. I gave him a confused look, and he smirked while touching his neck.
Realisation hit me in the face, and I was thankful for the dim lights that covered the fact my cheeks were blushing furiously. I reached behind me and struggled to unclasp the necklace. I took it in my hand and put it carefully on his desk.
“Next time you want to prove yourself to anyone, don’t steal priceless Jewellery. It won’t always end with you having your head intact between your shoulders.” Damien said with an icy voice. I felt a shiver ran down my spine, and I swallowed hard. It was rare for anyone to instill fear inside me, but that man’s words were enough to let me know I was playing a very dangerous game.
I opened the door and found Ethan leaning against the wall with a grumpy look on his face. I just ignored him and started walking down the corridor. I heard his footsteps falling behind me. We walked in silence until he mounted my bike.
“You can go back to your apartment, and then I will drive to the hotel where I am staying,” I said as sat behind him.
“From now on, you will stay at my place.” He stated and turned on the engine.
“Come again. I am not staying at anyone’s place. I will go back to the hotel, and then, I will rent a place for me.” I said with resolve. I wanted him to know I was serious and wouldn’t budge.
Ethan turned around to look at me. He rubbed his temples and said tiredly. “Look, tonight were very long, thanks to you of course. All I want to do is lying on my bed and sleeping. If you want to argue with me, you can go back inside and pose all your problems to my father. I assure you, he will take care of them swiftly.”
“I am not asking anything. I just want to stay at my place. Is it a crime now?” I asked in frustration.
I didn’t expect him to grab my arm and flung me from my seat on the bike. He shook my shoulders so hard I thought my head would fall off. He narrowed his green eyes at me, and they were so scary in the dark night.
“You know, staying at your own place isn’t a crime. Do you know what the crime is? The crime is stealing a priceless necklace from its owners. The crime is blowing up the work of people and crushing their ball. The crime is standing here and arguing with me about things out of my control. You are the one who put yourself in this situation, so grow up and deal with it.” Ethan shouted in the silent night. I never thought he would lose his nerves on our first meeting. The poor man won’t last long in my company.
“I didn’t mean anything of that, but....” I tried to reason with him, but again, he cut me off and looked me in the eye. I noticed a prominent nerve pulsing in his forehead, and I knew he was at the end of his rope.
“I am done with you today. I will tell you this once, and I won’t repeat it again. So listen to me very carefully. He said you are my responsibility, and he meant it with every meaning of the word. I will supervise everything you do. You will live with me, and this is final. I don’t want to hear another word about this. When we receive the emails about the missions he wants you to do, we will organise our schedules according to them. Capiche?” He waited for my response. When I nodded my head, he mounted the bike again and waited for me to take my seat behind him to start driving.
I sighed in relief when he pulled my bike to a stop in front of an apartment complex. It was the first time I regretted not wearing my helmet. He drove with a speed I never knew my bike was able to reach. I ran after him to match his pace as he entered the building. He punched a number on the elevator, and it started it’s ascend to the last floor.
Ethan opened the door to a dark apartment. He reached over and turned on the lights. I took off my shoes and groaned when my feet hit the cold floor. They were sore from spending the night walking, fighting, and running in them. I followed Ethan to a room at the end of a small corridor.
“You can stay here. It will be your room from now on. Tomorrow, we can go and get your stuff from where you are staying.” He left me standing at the door with a puzzled look on my face. I breathed deeply to reign in my raising temper.
I slumped on the bed and moaned in pleasure when my sore muscles hit the soft mattress. I closed my eyes and replied today’s event. I was entering a new life and dealing with new people. It was a life or death situation, and I must play my cards right. Arianna was too young to fend for herself in this harsh world, and I will live for her. She was my reason for clutching life with all the strength I have within me.
I winced when I remembered my clutch, which I forgot in the ball venue. Now, I can’t call my boss until tomorrow when I will retrieve my emergency phone. I smiled in satisfaction. The bastard would be forced to wait for my call.
I squealed when a pile of clothes hit me in the chest. I opened my eyes and glared at Ethan.
“You could have at least warned me, you know. It is impolite to enter a girl’s room without knocking.” I said with sarcasm dripping from my voice.
“Maybe you can just thank me for the clothes and move on.” His voice matched mine in the amount of mockery it held, and he turned to go.
“Thank you,” I muttered as he closed the door leaving me alone. I shook my head and went to the bathroom. I needed a hot shower and a good night’s sleep.
I wore the pajama pants that were a bit tall on me with their matching top. I lied on the bed and closed my eyes, and in no time, I was out.
Ethan:” I don’t like your silence, start reacting!! Maybe your words will change my sour mood.”