Inside the modern, white, glass mansion a father and a daughter sit on the balcony of the living room, playing a competitive game of chess. Occasionally throwing teasing words at their competition across the porch table.
“Ah-ha!” The girl says triumphantly, leaning back into the cushioned lawn chair. “Checkmate, and you lose.” She stretched out the ‘o’ for extra emphasis, sticking her tongue out.
Her father groaned good naturally, “I never should have taught you so well.”
The girl laughs, throwing her head back, making her long blonde ponytail swish back and forth. The father’s eyes crinkle with a smile at being able to make his second eldest daughter laugh. Though he would never admit it aloud, she was his favorite.
“Re-match?” The girl asks sweetly, already planning her moves.
“No, I swear if I have to lose to you again, I won’t survive the night.” Her father laughed. The daughter smiled and laughed along with him, unaware of how sickly ironic that statement was.
After picking up the game, they each sat back in their lawn chairs, looking out at the lawn below them. The tiny lights in the rose beds along the side of the house lit up a distance of the yard, but not far enough to see to the dark woods at the edge of their wide, rolling, green lawn. The stars above their head twinkled and sparkle, like glitter against the dark backdrop of the sky. To add to the peace of it all, the sprinklers kick on down below them in the yard, making a soft hissing noise.
The daughter picks a glass of wine up off the table, taking a sip.
“Lavinia,” Her father begins. “You’re sixteen, not twenty-one.” He chastised her, though there wasn’t very much emphasis to the light scolding.
Lavinia shrugs, taking another sip. “You don’t actually care.”
Her father grumbled but without much conviction, “Just don’t tell your mother.”
“Mamá probably cares less.” Lavinia said, laughing.
Teegan shook his head, “That’s probable. We must be horrible parents.” He said, placing his hand over his heart, acting with faux penitent.
Lavinia shot a grin at him, glad that it was only her and her father. Her mother and sisters had gone to their beach house for the week, but Lavinia had decided to stay with her father, just in case an inspection came up. She couldn’t bear to miss the action.
“Vinnie,” Teegan starts, glancing over at his daughter who was watching a young deer cross the lawn into the woods.
“Hmm?” Lavinia asks, tearing her eyes from the animal. “Yes?” She asks again, looking into her fathers face, so different from hers, but also similar in discrete ways.
Teegan let out a heavy sigh, knowing his daughter would fight after he said his part. “I am going out of town on an assignment.”
He paused letting the words sink into her mind, and he watched her process them.
“Okay, so when do we leave?” Lavinia asks, misunderstanding what was trying to be conveyed.
“No, Vinnie. I’m going with Tonner, just Tonner.” Her father informed her.
Lavinia turned to her father, her blue eyes as clear as ice, narrowing at him. “And why can’t I go? I’m sixteen, and plenty capable.”
“Vinnie, I’m going to be in the Lucchese family.” Teegan finally enlightened upon her.
The silence settles over them like a blanket. Anything associated with the Lucchese family was known to be ruinous. Teegan and Angelo had hated each other for years and years. Teegan was Angelo’s most hated FBI agent, and Angelo was Teegan’s main target for his task forces.
Lavinia looks at her father from across the square table, tears brimming in her eyes, but ones that she would never let fall. “You're not going to come back. Why does he send you on trips like these? He is a horrible president, I wish he weren’t my godfather.” Her quiet voice said, breaking as she tried so hard not to let the precipitation in her eyes slip down her cheeks. She furiously wiped the heel of her hand under her eyes.
“Vinnie, look at me.” Teegan says, turning toward his daughter. She turns her big blue eyes toward his. “I promise to you that Angelo won’t hurt me. Angelo he’s… He’s arrogant to a fault. He underestimates my abilities, and this isn’t like last time. I swear I will come home.” A soft smile is poised on Teegan’s lips, his misty bluish-grey eyes bore into Lavinia’s trying to convey to her all the things he doesn’t say out loud.
“You didn’t come home last time though. It took you months.” Lavinia says, melancholy written across all her sweet features, her lower lip quivering.
“Last time was different, last time I wasn’t prepared. I’ll have Tonner to guard my back this time. Angelo won’t take me. I promise Vinnie, this won’t go as it did last time.”
Lavinia still looked unconvinced, but she gave a halfhearted nod, and held out her pinky finger.
“Isn’t sixteen a little old for pinky promises?” Teegan asked, giving the pinkie she held out across the table an amused look.
“No, I don’t believe it is.” Lavinia said, her voice lined with anxiety.
Teegan looked up at her, realizing how much weight this promise held. He nodded, then brought his pinky down to Lavinia’s and linked them, making a broken promise.
“I swear to you Lavinia, I will come back.” Teegan told her, holding onto her hand and giving her a light smile. His eyes search hers for just a flicker of faith in his ability to keep good on his promise. After a few moments he sees it in her icy eyes, and her watery smile.
“I believe you.” Lavinia says, meaning every word of it.
“Good. Now let’s-” Teegan was cut off by heavy footsteps coming up the stairs, from inside the house.
Neither daughter nor father would have thought this strange under normal circumstances, but all the guards had been let go for the night, and no one from the bureau was supposed to come visit them for the next few days.
Teegan and Lavinia glance at each other. Teegan’s handsome and young looking face creases in worry, and Lavinia’s eyes widen in concern. The footsteps became heavier and louder, directly outside the living room now.
Teegan looked at Lavinia and hurriedly gave her instructions, “Vinnie, go around the back. Run out to the pool house and stay there, understand? I will come get you when everything is secure.”
“No, I’m not leaving you.” Lavinia argued, with ferocity.
“Lavinia for God’s sake, just do as I say!” Teegan snapped, his voice beginning to raise.
It was then that Lavinia saw the uncertainty and grave expression upon her father’s face, and she realized just how much gravity this situation held. Even Teegan didn’t know what would happen after this night.
Lavinia gets up from her chair slowly. Then she stands stock still for a millisecond, afraid to leave her father should it be the last time she sees him with light in his eyes. Lavinia wraps her arms tightly around his midriff, hugging his soft Boston Red Sox’s t-shirt, and laying her head on his chest listening to his heartbeat.
Teegan’s strong muscular arms wrap around her back, and he places his head on top of her’s murmuring comforting words. Then he pushes her off him gently, taking her face in his large hands and placing a kiss on her forehead.
“I love you, my darling Vinnie.” Teegan tells his daughter quietly.
“I love you too, Daddy.” Lavinia says, snot and tears running down her face. There was an air of trepidation around them, they both knew something was going to go wrong tonight.
“Tell your mother and sisters that I love them as well. Now go.” Teegan gave her a push toward the marble balcony stairs, leading down to the lawn.
Lavinia paused before turning around, “Dad I-” She was cut off by someone inside the living room, beginning to speak. It was a deep, male voice that addressed her father. She tried to see through the glass french doors into the living room from the balcony, but her father shoved her toward the stairs.
Stumbling down a few steps, Lavinia looked up to see her father making a swishing motion with his hand behind his back, instructing her to leave. Then he plastered a passive smirk on his face, and strode into the living room, into death's open arms.
Lavinia turned from the balcony, and raced down the stairs, with the only thought in her mind of getting to the pool house. Teegan’s voice was playing over and over again in her head.
Jumping off the last marble step, she slid on the wet grass, but continued running. She took a turn around the side of the mansion, trampling over her mother’s roses… and ran straight into a hard surface.
“Well hello bellezza (beauty). Where are you going in such a hurry?” A deep man’s voice asked her. All while his arms snake around Lavinia’s waist, keeping her in place with no room to run.
“I-I…” Lavinia tries desperately to think of something plausible to reply with. She tries to grab a knife from her lightweight sweatshirt pocket, but then realizing with dread she forgot to grab one this morning.
Stupid. That was a stupid move. Always carry a weapon. Her mind tells her.
“I-I am the groundskeeper’s granddaughter.” She felt bad for throwing Kay under the bus, but then Lavinia figured that she would understand if Kay knew her position she was in at the moment.
The man chuckled. “I don’t think you are. Ace and Angelo have all the people employed here being watched, and none of them are near this estate. I suggest you don’t lie again.” He tightened his grip on Lavinia’s arm, glaring at her for a moment, before cognization appeared on his face, followed by a wicked smirk.
“You're Foreman’s la figlia (daughter). The one who always goes with him. Lavinia Paris.” He had a malicious smile on his face, one that promised nothing good would come to her.
Lavinia looked up into her captors eyes. She knew she had to go back to Teegan if it was Angelo up in that house, even if it meant taking any means to get there.
The man, or boy as he looked only to be into his late teenage years, had dusty blonde hair, a similar color to her father’s. His eyes were a deep dull blue, almost as piercing as hers, but not quite as intriguing. And the biggest feature that he was trying to keep hidden was the remorse he felt for taking part in what was to happen to the Foreman family. Though the remorse was what Lavinia caught, oversee able to anyone who wasn’t trained to read emotions. His remorse… Lavinia didn’t know what the remorse was for, but she would learn soon enough.
“Please.” Lavinia began, her voice quiet and pleading. “Please, let me go.” She allowed a single tear to fall down her cheek, widening her eyes adding to her despaired look.
The man gripped her arm a bit tighter, before letting go of it completely. “You never saw me here, got it signora?”
Lavinia nods her head vigorously, keeping her eyes on the blonde boy, as she walks backward away from him. When she is twenty feet from him, she spins around and sprints up in the direction of the pool house.
But instead of going to the pool house, Lavinia turns left and heads for the patio under the back deck. She quietly opens the sliding glass door, then walks with soundless steps across the carpeted basement, and past the bar to the stairs.
Still walking with silent feet, Lavinia takes the winder stairs two at a time, jumping any step that might squeak. When she comes to the top of the staircase, at the end of the hall in the first level, she checks to make sure that none of the Lucchesse’s sordid guards are milling around.
Upon seeing no one, she rushes down the hallway and up the glass stairs to the upstairs level. Then running down the hallway lined with family pictures, and rushing into the living room without thinking.
She stops dead in her tracks. There are five different guards standing in a half circle around her father with their backs to Lavinia. Her father is tied to an armchair, which was dragged into the middle of the room. Teegan has multiple cuts and bruises on his once handsome face and some of his fingers were missing. The horrendous sight made Lavinia’s blood boil, and it only added to her rage when she saw Angelo Lucchese standing in front of Teegan with a bloody switchblade in his hand. Lavinia noticed that standing directly beside Angelo, was a boy who looked like his clone.
Ace, Lavinia realized. She had heard stories about Ace, how he was to be the heir to the mafia empire. He was Angelo’s oldest son, apparently the younger son had been a disappointment, from the snippets of conversations Lavinia had caught.
Lavinia stupidly realized that she was in perfect view for anyone who wanted to simply look over their shoulder, and spot her standing behind them. So she dropped to her hands and knees and crawled behind the Kelston corner couch, wiggling between the walls until she came to the other side of the sofa, and glanced out behind it, now to the side of her father and his band of torturers.
Lavinia peaked out from behind the couch trying to be discreet, but obviously not succeeding because a dark eyed stranger spotted her. Due to her ineptness she didn’t notice when the watchful eyes of the dark haired boy caught a small glimpse of her icy blue eyes and her head of blonde hair.
Why the boy didn’t alert his father immediately of the presence of the small girl, he didn’t know. All the boy knew was that he didn’t want his father to find the girl, because of an unknown incentive.
Lavinia watched from behind the couch as her father was beaten and interrogated by the demented Angelo Lucchese.
“You see, I have more spies in the FBI than out. And you thought your incarico (plan), would go off without a hitch didn’t you?” Angelo sneered at him, bringing his blade down to Teegan’s right hand and oh so carelessly swiping it across his finger. Teegan yelled out in pain, and Lavinia had to shut her eyes tight to keep from replaying what had just happened in her head.
“Where’s your precious daughter, Lavinia?” Angelo continued, purposely taunting Teegan. “My son appointed this brilliant, young trafficker, Marco is his name, who I’m sure would be very interested in her.”
Lavinia had to grit her teeth, and ball her hands into fists to keep from jumping out from behind the couch and strangling Angelo with her small bare hands. She glanced over at Ace, wondering if he was born nefarious, or if it was acquired from growing up with Angelo as a father.
Eventually Angelo gets bored with putting Teegan through immeasurable amounts of pain, because he pulls out a shotgun from inside his black suit jacket.
Lavinia watches in horror, her heart racing and trying impossibly to find a solution or a way to stop Angelo. When she finds nothing, she sits back and closes her eyes, shoving her hands over her ears. She realizes that her father knew this was to happen, that he wasn’t going to survive the night. The tears begin flowing down her face, before he is even dead. If only she had grabbed a gun from the basement cabinet. How could she be so stupid?
Since Lavinia is locked in a place far from the miserable events happening in her own home, she doesn’t notice that Angelo hands the gun to his eldest son, waiting for Ace to pull the trigger.
At the last moment she decides to whip around the edge of the couch, just quickly enough to see the bullet as it penetrates through her father’s skull, but not quick enough to see the murderer.
She falls down behind the couch, laying on her side. She is either too shocked to be able to make any noise, or she is too terrified with the mafia twenty feet from her. It was probably a mix of both.
Once the corrupt mafia leaves, she lets the tears run down her face, every drop a stream of emotions. Her father had broken his promise, except this time he wasn’t kidnapped and held hostage, he was eradicated. He would never apologize for his broken promise, or laugh with her again. He was gone forever, and Lavinia couldn’t help the endless amounts of hate she felt for everyone in the house that night.
Both Lavinia and Ace lost something that night. For Ace it was his innocence, killing his first human being, watching the light leave Teegan’s eyes as he pulled the trigger. For Lavinia it was the one person she held most dear in the world, and the good she used to be able to find in anyone.
For both of them, the world became obsolete and bleak after each of their horrid twists of fate. Ace became an emotionless leader, and Lavinia became an isolated girl who took everything that reminded her of her once beloved father, and tried her hardest to forget it.
Neither Ace nor Lavinia had ever even considered their paths crossing again, but after six years, more would change than anybody could have ever predicted.