J O H N
John arrived at Impero promptly. Back when John had first started out, back in New York City, Alessandro had hired him for a job. And John got the job done. They had a mutual respect for one another.
He received dirty looks from some of Alessandro’s guys, but he was shown inside by the bouncer and led to a private room, a room he had been in before. He remembered it, all of it. Everything that he had done. Everything that made him so soulless. It was in this club where he sold his soul to the devil.
“John,” a familiar dominant voice announced as the domineering figure of Alessandro entered the room, clad in a pitch-black suit and steam-pressed black shirt. John never had any doubt that the man lived up to his reputation.
Alessandro was said to have no heart, only a head for the business and for power. He was a stone-cold fucker, and John could appreciate that. He was feared himself in his field. Alessandro was a prominent figure in New York City, one of the most thriving crime hubs in the world. He possessed all that power and yet John recognized the look in his eyes that told him Alessandro wanted so much more. The greed of men was something that fascinated John.
“Alessandro.” They were on a first name basis, which was unusual. Alessandro was a man in power, thus many called him boss or De Luca. There were very few who called him Alessandro to his face. And yet, what John had done for Alessandro over a decade ago had established such a relationship.
“I appreciate you coming here on such short notice,” Alessandro began. John knew that the niceties were bullshit. If John hadn’t come at the drop of a hat, there would be a bounty on his head, most likely. And there would be plenty willing to collect and put a bullet between his eyes. He was a man that ruled himself. Those who employed him were his clients, not his boss. And Alessandro, despite how powerful he was, was still merely a client, and it was still within John’s rights to decline the job, even though he would have to escape the deadly consequences of that decision.
“Who do you want me to find?”
“My daughter.” This admittance surprised John, even though he showed no shock on his face. He had heard of Alessandro’s daughter, but back then, she was just a child. Over a decade later, she must be twenty years old by now. A young adult. Somehow managing to escape a father who practically controlled the city. How did that happen? “Her name is Marcella. She ran away last night. She’s my daughter so you bring her back here alive.”
John just nodded to all he information he was being given about Marcella. She sounded like a princess, a mafia princess, spoiled by her rich daddy. Which was why the fact she had alluded Alessandro and his men troubled him. She was young, and not experienced enough to outsmart his guys. But John was smarter than his guys. He would be able to find her, for sure.
This was an important job. He had established a rapport with Alessandro that got him endless jobs. Alessandro had passed his contact to several people and that was how his network flourished. He owed Alessandro his livelihood, and his sister’s life too.
The information he had on Marcella was incredibly rich and excessive. Of course, her father knew everything there was to know about her. This girl would be back home within the week.
“I wouldn’t underestimate my daughter, John. Marcella has grown up around all of this shit. She knows more than you would think. She’s far more experienced in this world than her age suggests. You better get her back here, John. She’s family.” John nodded once again, understanding the importance of family.
“Why did she run?” John asked. He knew that was a personal question, but it was something he needed the answer to. He needed to understand her. He needed to know how motivated she was at running or whether she would just give in peacefully.
“I don’t know. I give her everything. Perhaps I’m a little more protective than she would have liked. Marcella craves freedom.”
John wasn’t sure what to think with that answer. Perhaps she was a drama queen, a girl who made rash decisions and impulsively decided to run away because her father put a guard on her, and she was sick of that. If that were the case, she would be an easy bounty. If it weren’t, he didn’t know how he would approach this challenge. And she would indeed be a challenge.
At twenty years old, he could imagine wanting a bit more freedom, but hopefully she would give up peacefully. If she figured out John couldn’t do much to force her back home as it wasn’t an alive or dead deal, she could easily use that. He hoped she wouldn’t come to that realization.
“I believe she has left the city,” Alessandro stated. John was more than curious about the girl. It was a challenge in itself to escape the city with Alessandro after her. How she managed that, it intrigued him a lot. “I trust you’ll get the job done?”
“Of course. I’ll find your daughter.”
And with that, John left and started the hunt. The news that Marcella had left the city set him back a bit, only because she could be anywhere in the neighboring cities. First, he would go to a guy named Milo Caldwell. He was, according to Alessandro, Marcella’s best and only friend, but they hadn’t spoken in two years. That, in itself, was a thin lead. What kind of young girl had one singular friend? And then she cut all contact with him after a fight. She must be incredibly isolated. But his first stop was Caldwell’s, nevertheless.
He knew she wouldn’t be there now, but Caldwell might know where she could have gone or a friend she could be staying with. John was told that Caldwell wouldn’t exactly be forthcoming on information about his ex-friend. There was still loyalty. Alessandro’s men could have tortured him, but they doubted finding anything there with a friend Marcella had no contact with in two years. The girl didn’t even have a phone or any way to communicate with anyone. Who could she be staying with?
John bashed on the door with no decorum. He knew Caldwell was home and he wouldn’t leave without speaking to him. John would have to ask questions under a pretense. Caldwell wouldn’t tell him anything if he knew John was working for Alessandro.
Once the door swung open, he was met with a short but attractive guy, thin lips pressed together paired with his narrowing eyes creating an irritated expression. Perhaps at the abuse his door took from John.
“Who are you?” he questioned.
“Where’s Mari? Did she come by here?”
“Who are you?” His interest peaked at the mention of his friend and John knew he needed to tread carefully to make his story believable and get the answers that he needed.
“I was supposed to meet her just outside the city, but she never showed up. Do you know what happened to her?” John acted distressed, as if he were incredibly anxious at the thought of something happening to this girl.
“She’s not here. Why would she tell you my address? We’re not even friends anymore.”
John intuitively knew that was a lie. He was the human hound. He could sniff out people and lies. And this guy was lying. So, they staged their fight. They must have. She would have had no contact with him after it to make up without Alessandro knowing. This was all planned. That gave him a lot of information on her mindset and her motives. She’d been planning to run away for two years at least, and Milo Caldwell was somewhat in on it. But he couldn’t know her recent movements. There had been no contact between the two. But John knew Caldwell could give him something.
Or maybe not the man himself. Maybe his phone or laptop. Of course, Marcella left no trace of planning an escape because she didn’t have anything. So, she must have acquired help from her friend. And plans would be with Caldwell.
“She told me that you’re her only other ally. That you just pretended to not be for her dad.” Caldwell’s eyes narrowed at John, assessing his face for the truth. It was understandable, and if Caldwell were smart, he would slam the door in John’s face. But then again, this guy couldn’t be too smart if he were stupid enough to get involved with the mafia and a mafia princess. “She also told me she left something in your apartment the last time she was here, two years ago.” Caldwell scoffed in disbelief. John was kicking himself that he couldn’t come up with a more believable story, but this lead was so thin that he just needed to get inside and copy his hard drive. John wasn’t tech-savvy, but he had contacts for that. A friend had created a thumb drive with a code that allowed him to hack into a computer’s hard drive and copy it.
“What was it?”
“I was hoping you could tell me.” He was gripping at straws now, that much was evident, so he decided to give up the lie. Immediately. And rather abruptly, his forehead pummeled into Caldwell’s, slamming him to the ground.
There Caldwell laid, knocked out in the doorway of his apartment.
Swiftly, John got to work, locating Caldwell’s computer, getting the information he needed, dragging Caldwell’s body back into the apartment and leaving no trace that he was even there. He wasn’t sure if Caldwell would figure out John had copied his drive, but if he did, he would try to contact Marcella. Thus, John also bugged his phone.
This was too easy.