“Watch where you’re going, bitch!” A cabbie yells over to me with a thick New Yorkian accent. I repay his warm gesture with a more than enthusiastic gesture of my own. A stiff middle finger his way earns me several honks and a Starbucks cup thrown at my head.
I cross the street with the phone still between my shoulder and my ear as I fumble with the tie around my neck, ready to whip off the damn thing and just fall into bed already.
“—and I need you to pick up your dress at the store. Dylan? Dylan... Dylan! Are you even listening to me?!”
I cringed and quickly withdrew the phone from my ear to drown out the screeching. “Yes, Mary. I’m listening.”
“Oh really? Then what did I say just now?”
“Um... something about the... the wedding?”
I heard her sigh and then mumble something that sounded almost like a prayer. “Dylan, listen to me. I am getting married in three weeks. In said three weeks, a lot of shit has happened. Carla dropped wine on my fucking dress, the Cathedral where our parents got married is being torn down and I have no idea where we’re going to house the wedding at the last minute. And on top of that, Maggie ordered Turnips instead of the white roses I wanted. So sorry if I can’t take your bullshit right now... But if you don’t get that dress on time, Dylan. I am going to reach through this phone and strangle you. Do you understand?”
So stunned by her rabbling I almost jaywalked into a blind man. If it wasn’t for my quick reflexes I would’ve sent him falling into the five o’clock traffic. I mumble a quick apology then press the phone back against my cheek.
“Okay, Fine. I’m sorry. From now on, you’ve got all my attention.”
“Thank you. Now please, the store closes at five and I’ve asked them to hold onto the dress but they won’t for long. So get your ass there pronto.”
“Aye, aye Captain,” I say saluting the air. People started giving me strange looks so I gave them my award-winning serial killer smile, and they scampered away refusing to look at me. “And don’t worry about the other things either, sis. Good things have a way of working themselves out. Before you know it you’re married and after two months you have a bouncing baby boy on your hip.”
“Children take nine months to cook, dumbass.”
“Considering you and Marco fuck like hormonal rabbits, all that child would need is a month and some Gatorade, and he’d be sporting a six-pack and a beard.”
Marianna burst out laughing and somewhere in the background I hear her fiance, Marco grunt in amusement.
“Oh, shit, Dyl. I almost forgot,” she interjected, “I gotta go. Marco and I have a dance class we can’t be late for. I’ll talk to you later, okay? Don’t forget the dress. Love you, sis.”
“Love you,” I say and hang up, pocketing my phone.
I stop at a crosswalk and wait patiently for the light to turn red. I was right outside my apartment complex. A tall building with ten stories of wonderful Boston neighbours who would swear at a dog if he tilted his head the wrong way.
The complex didn’t only have lovely neighbours but it was walking distance from campus, a major plus for a semi-broke college student without her license and who didn’t need any more expenses on top of the food, rent and bills the bartending job I’m currently working at could barely afford me.
The traffic light was taking a century to change so I found myself humming along to a song I couldn’t remember the name of while letting my eyes travel the length of the street. My eyebrows furrowed when I noticed just outside the building was a line of 1... 2 ... 3... 4 black escalades.
I mean it’s not strange for expensive cars to power through this part of town. Actually, this street houses a lot of the biggest corporate names in the state. The odd thing is that they are all parked outside of my building.
My neighbours were far from the luxurious types who drove cars like that. Just last week I had to run a couple of kids off my stairwell who were trying to slip me some weed in a ziplock bag.
Suffice to say, the elites who could afford those cars won’t be caught dead conversing with one of us.
So why would four carloads of them be outside my complex and who have they come to see?
Maybe they ran out of places to park and thought my building was the safest bet.
Or maybe, it’s none of your business, Dylan. My conscience reminds me and for the first time, I listen to her. Putting up a mental wall between the odd cars and me.
I cross the road successively, managing to not get trampled by the animal kingdom that is Boston pedestrians.
Finally reaching the building, I run up the stairs bypassing the elevator completely. I had an irreprehensible fear of elevators since I was three. I can’t really pinpoint exactly when the phobia began or what triggered it but after twenty-two years of sweating and panting up apartments staircases, I’ve still never even spared the death trap a second glance.
Nearing my apartment, I dig through my purse for my keys.
Shit, don’t tell me I lost them again—
Finding them, I put them into the lock, and when I didn’t hear the distinguishable click, my eyebrows furrow in confusion.
I tried the knob.
It opens soundlessly and that’s when I grew suspicious.
Natalie wouldn’t be coming back from work until late at night and I’m pretty sure I locked this door before I left.
I opened the door wider peering down the white hall into my apartment. I saw nothing out of the ordinary. The place seemed quiet, lifeless. There was a tiny drawer beside the door and slowly, I opened it, feeling around for the secret compartment where I kept the pistol. Natalie didn’t know I had this. Shit, with the front I’ve tried to keep up all these years, I’m pretty sure no one even thinks I know what a gun is, much less how to use it.
With the pistol in my sure grip, a wave of strength had my shoulders relaxing.
I creep into the apartment, gun at shoulder level. I peer into the bathroom. Then the hall closet.
I finally enter the living room and that too was empty. It actually looked clean. The ratty old couch that was pushed up against the wall was crumb-free. The floor was swept and there were no potato chip wrappers on the floor from the night before. Just how I left it this morning.
I was about to call it quits and mentally scold myself for my paranoia when a crashing sound in the kitchen had my ears perking up and my shoulders tensing again. I flicked the hammer on the gun and barged into the kitchen.
Nothing could have prepared me for what I walked in on.
I was staring down seven gun barrels aimed at my head.
Dread welled up in my chest. There were eight men squished up in my small kitchen. But only one had my heart sinking to my foot.
The King of New York.
Without a doubt that is the man standing in my kitchen with a glass of water to his lips and a blank look in his green eyes.
His file said that he was handsome but Jesus Christ!
He was the type of man you’d see on the cover of magazines or on a Most Wanted poster with lipstick stains under his picture. He was dressed in a dark suit that covered what I’m sure would be nothing less than immaculance underneath. Dark curly hair, short on the sides and full at the top. A sharp jaw and green eyes reflected the danger, power and influence he exuded. He was everything my mother warned me to steer clear of and here he was, in my kitchen with glass shards at his feet, filling up my already matchbox of a kitchen with all of him.
His green eyes travelled up my body until they stopped on my breasts and then finally on my face. Despite the guns aimed between my eyes, it took all my willpower not to run and hide like I was dying to. Instead, I composed myself the best I could and give the Mob boss, what I hope was a stoic stare. “If I’d known we were having guests, I would’ve brought out my nice silverware,” I spit, pleased when my voice didn’t waver.
I knew they were coming— not the Famiglia specifically— but I knew someone was bound to pick up my trail and come find me.
I’m grateful Natalie isn’t here to get caught up in all of this, though.
I couldn’t live with myself if anything happened to her. She is the only family I have in New York and I just know she’s going to be in a complete wreck when she finds out I’d been taken... or worse, dead. The unfortunate truth of the matter is, I was either going to walk out of here with them or in a body bag. Because like the Angel of Death, once Enzo Corretti makes up his mind to come to find you, nothing and no one can stop him from collecting what he thinks is owed.
And I owe the Famiglia a shit ton.
“My apologies, cara mia,” Enzo’s voice was smooth, like silk just before it wraps around your neck and chokes the life out of you. “For coming unannounced. Under different circumstances I can assure you, we Italians are much more respectable.”
I scoff. “And which circumstance is that?”
A corner of his mouth lifts at my retort, yet the danger glinting in his eyes is no more amused.
Slowly the men lower their guns after his silent command but I don’t follow suit.
I’m not stupid. I’m in the wolves’ den and I’m the only one in wool.
He notices I have no intention of putting my gun down and he sighs in exasperation.
The Fucker have the balls to get annoyed when he broke into my house. The audacity of these Mob Bosses.
“I should remind you, Ms. Alvarez, you’re outnumbered severely. This could end in two ways; you lower your gun, be a good girl and give me what I want... or you go out my way. And I promise you, I don’t have a reputation of being gentle so don’t expect me to spare you any.”
I look around. I was surrounded, there were no exits. No way to run. This is where it ends.
I tap my index finger against my jaw, my grip tightening on the gun. “Then I’m sorry too, Mr Corretti.” His eyebrow arched, curiously. “I’m sorry you think I’m actually going out without a fight.”
Then I pull the trigger.