“Watch where you’re going, bitch!” A cabbie yells at me with a thick New York accent. I repaid his warm gesture with a more than enthusiastic gesture of my own. A stiff middle finger his way earned me several honks and a Starbucks cup thrown at my head.
“Asshole!” I crossed the road with the phone still between my shoulder and my ear as I loosened the noose—Fine, tie— around my neck.
I was exhausted, frustrated and I really needed to pee but thank god, I was nearing my apartment complex.
“—and I need you to pick up your dress at the store. Dylan? Dylan... Dylan! Are you even listening to me?!”
I flinched and quickly withdrew the phone from my ear, wincing at the frequency she just hit. “Damn, Mary. Yes, I’m listening.”
“Oh really? Then what did I say just now?”
“You asked me if I was listening and I said yes. Duh! Do you have selective amnesia or something, we just went over that?”
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 the sarcasm right now... But if you don’t get that dress on time, Dylan I am going to reach through this phone and throttle you. Do. You. Understand. Me?”
I was so stunned by her confession 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 mumbled a quick apology then pressed the phone against my cheek again.
“Okay, I’m sorry. As of now there will be no sarcasm involved in our conversations... till after the wedding. Happy.”
“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 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. “Don’t worry about the other things either, sis. Good things have a way of working themselves out. Before you know it you’re on the alter saying ‘I do.’ Fast forward 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 on her line I hear Marco yell, “Fuck you, Dyl.” He’d been eavesdropping on our conversation, no surprise there. I shake my head. “Oh, I gotta go. We have a dance class we can’t be late for. I’ll talk to you later, okay? Love you, sis.”
“Love you,” I say and hang up, pocketing my phone.
I stopped at a crosswalk and waited 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 near MIT. I only needed to walk one block to get to the institute and the tiny bar I worked at down the street, that paid for rent and Takis.
The traffic light was taking a century to change and 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 complex 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.
The residents on my complex aren’t very luxurious. In the caste system, they would be considered middle-class workers; the secretaries, the teachers, the nurses of society. An Elite wouldn’t be caught dead conversing with one of us if it’s not to order us to clean their shit.
So why would four carloads of them be outside my complex and who have they come to see?
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. 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 agai—
Finding them, I put it into the lock, and when I didn’t hear the distinguishable click sound, 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 was quiet. There was a tiny drawer beside the door and slowly, I opened it, feeling around for the secret compartment where I keep the pistol. Natalie didn’t know I had this. Shit, no one even thinks I know what a gun is, much less how to use it.
With the gun in my hand, a wave of reassurance and security had my shoulders relaxing, slightly. Only slightly because I was ready.
I creep into the apartment, gun at shoulder level. I peer into the bathroom... 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 like there usually were. 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 and my stomach twists into knots. 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 he was handsome but Jesus Christ!
He was the type of man you’d see on the cover of magazines under ‘The Most Eligible Bachelor’ 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.
His green eyes travelled up my body until they stopped on my breasts and then finally 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 mocked, pleased when my voice didn’t waver.
I knew they were coming--not the Corretti’s 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. I couldn’t live with anything happening to her.
She was my family and I knew it would completely wreck her when she finds out I’d been taken... or dead. Because I was either going to walk out of here with them or in a body bag and my stubborn ass wasn’t going to make it easy for them.
One of the men scoffed, probably Hulk to my right but I don’t look to him, my eyes are trained on the man pulling their strings. He decides whether I live or die and considering he has the reputation rivalling the devil... I’m dead.
“Drop your guns, men,” Enzo’s voice was smooth, like silk just before it wraps around your neck and chokes the life out of you. “You know better than to shoot the host. That’s just disrespectful.”
“So is showing up in her house unannounced, but that’s probably just a me thing.” His eyebrows lift at my retort and I’m unsure if he’s amused...? Angry...? He’s like a freaking robot.
Slowly the men lower their guns and 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, exasperatedly. Fucker had the balls to get annoyed when he broke into my house.
“I feel obligated to tell you, Ms Alvarez, you’re outnumbered severely. This could end in two ways; you lower your gun, be a good little 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. “Sorry I’m gonna have to choose... my way.”
Then I pull the trigger.