Our adventure wasn’t over. After the nightclub, he took me to a candy factory. I quirked an eyebrow as I studied the impending structure. “Did you bring me here to meet Willy Wonka?”
“I fired him last week. I don’t tolerate snorting on the job.”
I feigned a gasp, “Did you-- Did notorious crime boss Enzo Corretti make yet another joke? You’re on a roll this week, huh, Bossman?”
“Yes, sir,” I saluted.
With one last glare, he made for the factory. Stepping in there was like walking into a sauna. Heat poured out every crevice from the several massive steel machines spurting out candy. My eyes bug out in childish wonder as he escorts me through a dentist’s nightmare. Men and women kept on working as we walked by, adamant about getting the wrapped candy out into the waiting vans.
When I was sure no one was looking, I took a handful and shoved it into my jeans pocket, cackling like an evil genius on the inside. I sped up to catch up with him and his men. We stepped into the backroom where stairs led down into the basement.
It seems that’s where he intended to lead me because he offered to help me get down but I walked past his outstretched hand, helping myself. But that turned out to be a poor life choice because on my fifth step I tripped and almost rolled down the stairs. I caught myself before anything drastic happened but I still felt Enzo’s smug eyes on the back of my neck. I threw him a middle finger over my shoulder and made it to the landing with my legs still intact.
As soon as I stepped into the room, it took a second for my eyes to adjust to the brightness of it. Lights shone down over metal rolling tables where glass tubes filled with mixtures and powders sat out in the open.
I recognized the place almost instantly. A meth lab at its finest.
I coughed. “Jesus! Could’ve warned a girl,” I grumble batting the assaulting scents of ammonia and ether away.
Several men in coats, like the workers upstairs, didn’t bother looking up. But a man sitting reclined, eyes closed, mouth open in the far corner of the room, jumped up when one of the men kicked him awake. “Who the fuck-- Oh, Mr. Corretti,” the man scrambled up, adjusting himself shamelessly. He was probably in his early forties, pot-belly, salt and pepper goatee, and grease stains all over his white shirt. “I wasn’t expecting you?”
“I wasn’t aware I’m supposed to report to you?” Enzo said, his tone dripping with mild disinterest.
The man bowed his head, “Of course not, Sir.” He looked back up and if the red in his eyes were any indicator, he was high as a fucking kite. “Is there a problem, Sir? If there’s something up with the books again, I promise Malachai came by and sorted everything up. I assure you the man was dealt with--”
“I don’t need a rundown of my business, Cisco. I have sober and competent people for that,” Enzo cut him off. “Where’s the Mexican?”
Cisco’s shoulders relaxed slightly, satisfied that someone else had warranted the Bossman’s visit. “Right, this way.” He scrambled to a steel doorway, the only door in this box of a room.
If I had to imagine what a dungeon looked like, this would be it. Cold, windowless walls, thick enough to not carry screams of pain and prayer outside. The pungent scent of blood and piss was almost unbearable. I squeeze my nostrils together and breathe through my mouth, but it was so strong I could taste it. Blanching, I dropped my hand and found something else to occupy my attention.
Sitting on a metal chair, with his hands and feet tied with plastic straps, was a Latin Man. He was maybe a couple of years older than me. Lean build and narrow-faced. He was unconscious when we filed into the room, but from what I can tell he didn’t look too good.
He looked as if an airplane used his face as a runway, then a train maybe.
Both his eyes were swollen, dry blood made a path down his mouth to his chin. Bruises on his temple and jaw were turning an unhealthy shade of yellow. The rest of him didn’t look much better
I stood a couple of paces behind Enzo as his men line the room. Enzo looked at one of them. “Wake him up,” he ordered.
When the man stepped forward, I was taken aback by who he was. Luca. Emilia’s mystery man. I hadn’t realized he’d ridden with us.
Damn, I need to be more observant.
He picked up a bucket of water bedside’s the unconscious man and poured it on him.
The man jumped awake.
He squinted up at us through his wounded eyes, then slumped back in his chair with a defeated sigh, he said in Spanish, “¿Qué deseas? ¿Viniste a torturarme más?” Come to torture me some more?
Enzo saw past him as he called to me with a lazy wave.
I stride towards him. “You rang?”
He gave one of his men a look and they scrambled out of the room to do whatever that look meant. “Now for the reason you’re here,” he addressed me.
“Oh? And here I thought you just wanted my company.”
“If I was in the mood for something dry and crass, I would’ve talked to a wall.”
My mouth hung open in offense, “You little pr-”
“Here you go, Sir,” The sudden appearance of his henchman, sporting a metal chair caused me to draw up short. He rests the chair directly in front of the Mexican and went back to his position around the room. Enzo patted the chair, “Sit,” he ordered me.
“No. Not until you tell me why I’m here.”
I couldn’t see his eyes through the dark shades but I’m guessing he was glaring at me since my skin prickled with awareness. “Our friend here is Mexican and doesn’t speak a lick of English. I need a translator. So here you are.”
“And you just assume that because I’m Latina I speak Spanish,” I say folding my arms. “Not all Latinas speak Spanish you know.”
“Of course I do. I’m Latina.” I turn to the Mexican guy, ignoring Enzo’s mutterings of a crazy woman.
I wince at the up-close picture I got of his face. ”I’m sorry man but they fucked you up,” I told him in Spanish as I sat down.
"Fuck you,” he spat, not appreciating my honesty.
I put up my hands in surrender. ”Hey, I’m not here because I want to be. I’m just like you... just not tied up and less bloody, I guess."
He scoffed, ”No you’re not. You’re a disgrace to all Mexicans, working for this evil Gringo.”
"Again, not by choice," I reminded him. “Just answer some questions and we’ll both be on our way.”
"Go to hell,” he cursed and I purse my lip in irritation. I figured he wasn’t going to make this easy.
I look up at Enzo, “He’s not cooperating.”
Enzo nodded. He gave Luca one look and the next minute, Luca whipped out his knife and in one smooth motion drove it into the man’s thigh. He screamed. A high-pitched squeal that had me cringing.
Damn, I didn’t know he had it in him.
He cried as Luca went back in his position. “See if he’s a little more recessive,” Enzo said. I tried not to look at the blood oozing out of his leg and dripping onto the already stained floor. I gritted my teeth when I realize some had gotten on my shoe. Great. This was Louis Vuitton!
"What’s your name?" I ask him.
His chest rose and fell in hard, uneven breaths. It was a while before he sputtered out, ”Miguel. Miguel Garcia."
I didn’t bother translating that. “What do you want me to ask him?” I asked Enzo.
“I want to know who sent him to shoot up my construction site?”
My eyebrows jumped. This is the first time I’m hearing of this. “Was there any damage?” I asked.
“Millions of dollars in machinery and some of my workers were injured. Forcing me to hold back the construction of my building a few more years.” Oh, that’s why he’s so cranky today.
I whistled in surprise. “Damn, do you know why?”
“I will if you’d fucking ask him,” he snapped.
I rolled my eyes.
“Who sent you?” I asked Miguel. His eyes went from mines to Enzo’s and I believe he was trying to decide if he should talk or not. I sigh, “Look, man. If you don’t talk now, they’ll just kill you and get another bastard to give them what they want. Just tell them and you might walk free. Do yourself a favor.”
His eyes displayed his internal struggle until finally he sighed and opened his mouth. “I work for the Los Torros Cartel.”
I blinked, caught off guard.
The Los Toros Cartel was a puny cartel driven on drugs and underground betting in Mexico. They were small and untrained. They tend to stay under the radar of Mafias and bigger Cartels. They kept to themselves mostly but for them to outright declare war on one of the biggest Mafia families in the world, someone like the Corretti’s, it’s suicide. Why would they risk it?
Enzo seemed to be considering the same thing.
“Why?” I asked Miguel.
Miguel sneered up at Enzo. “We are fucking tired of the Correttis doing whatever they want to us. Why don’t you asked him why he just cut our electricity, our water, and stopped all shipment into our neighborhoods, huh?”
I translated it for Enzo and he just shrugged. “The Falcons lived around that neighborhood, they pissed me off so I wanted to teach them a lesson. I forgot the Los Toros even existed really.”
I give him a ‘are you serious’ look.′
“Ask him where the Los Toros got the resources.”
Good question. Even after Enzo did all of this, they would be at a loss. No way would they have the tools or the men to pull something like that off. Someone must be sponsoring them.
“Who’s sponsoring you?” I asked him.
“I don’t know, I’m just a call boy. That’s for the Don to know.” I translate it to Enzo while Miguel’s eyes rake me over. “You’re really hot...”
I smile. ”Thanks. Your face is busted, but I’m sure under all that blood and discoloration, you’re hot too."
He chuckled and Enzo’s narrowed eyes flickered between us two. ”Why does a nice girl like you work for a man like him? He is the devil...”
I shrug and decide to tell him the truth. “I have no choice.”
“Ah, entonces eres como yo. Good,” He smirked. ”Maybe after all this, we can go out for coffee sometime."
I laugh. ”You think you can handle that."
"Baby, you don’t know half of the things I’m capable of.” He winked.
“Dylan!” I jump and turn to my simmering boss. “Stop flirting with him.”
“How do you even know I’m flirting?”
“You’re blushing that’s how.” His jaw ticks and he looked like he was about to smash his fist into something... or someone, by the looks of the lasers he was shooting Miguel’s way. “Just ask him the fucking question!”
“Fine, Jesus! Who’s the new Don?”
Miguel grinned. “He goes by the name Don X and he’s going to kill all of you motherfuckers.”
Enzo’s mask barely flickered. I looked up at him expectantly. “That all I need,” He stated.
He nodded at Luca and before I knew what was going on there was a Bang!
And then I’m covered in Miguel’s blood.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
I was fuming when they escorted me out. My dress was ruined and I had brain guts in my hair.
“You could’ve fucking warned me, you asshole!” I snapped as he held open the car door for me.
He smirked, “And miss the look on your face. Why would I?”
“You ba--” Then my brain caught up with what he said-- no, in what language he said it-- and my jaw dropped. “You speak Spanish!”
“Very well too,” he taunted. I wanted to hit him, hard. Preferably in his dick.
“Then why did you let me translate for you if you understood every word.”
“Didn’t you grow up in the Los Toros neighborhood?” He asked in English.
I nodded hesitantly, unsure why this mattered.
“I wanted to clear up something and I did,” he said ominously with one last look he slid into the car and I’m left there with my head reeling. Then I got it. By letting me translate, he was seeing whether I would withhold information from him in favor of the Cartel. He wanted to know if I was somehow working with them. If he can trust me... and it worked.
I shook my head, amused. That sly bastard.
But there was one question that kept rapping against my head. What would he do to me if I was working with them?
I looked down at my dress covered with blood and I gulped.