Valentin rubbed his temple with one hand as he held his cigar in the next, trying to understand what Luka was explaining.
"Tell me again, Luka," Valentin mumbled in a calm, collected tone. "What happened to my cargo?"
Luka shifted his weight from one side to the next, knowing that when his boss asked the same question twice, he was only processing the information to later explode. Being the underboss had its perks. But this was definitely not one of them.
"The men. . . couldn't account for one of the submarines, sir. We believed it was ambushed on the way here."
"Find it!" Valentin drove his fists against the desk, sending it shaking along with Luka. Still, knowing he couldn't show any sign of weaknesses or fear, Luka stood his composure as always.
Since they were children, he has known Valentin, and he had always been a serious lad who was used to getting his way. Even without knowing that they would grow up to run the country's most established and feared organized crime business, people always relayed information to Luka, expecting him to tell Valentin. It was how they had always been. So, when Valentin took over years ago, the obvious choice for an underboss was Luka.
"I believe it was the Nemeci who did it," Luka said with his gaze on the window. "They are pushing for war."
"No war," Valentin mumbled as he pursed his lips. "That is what they want, and I have no intention of wasting resources and good men on cowards. Let the Sicilian Mafia deal with them. I have no interest."
The Nemeci was an uprising gang in Italy who only wanted to cause trouble for the established ones in the region. The Sicilian Mafia, keen allies with Valentin, were just as sick of their childish games. They had a tendency to take what was not theirs, and Valentin was certain that if their boss even tried to cross him, he would regret it.
"We'll get right on finding it, boss." Luka's voice was dismissive, showing that the conversation was over. With a swift flicker of his wrist, Valentin dismissed Luka, and he left without another word.
Valentin pinched the bridge of his nose as he pushed his chair back and stretched his legs. He stood by the window, appreciating the view of the city below him. His lips curled at the memory of the protest that had been going on for over two weeks. They really think they could stop him. He scoffed at the thought.
The police and government—especially the government—wouldn't dare try to confront him. He held so much power that he was basically the one running the country. Why? Because they knew that if anything happened to him, things would get ugly for Russia. So, to keep the peace, the police and government turned an eye from his operations.
Perhaps he could lessen the impact of his business a little, considering this big uproar from the people. No doubt his men in the Federal house will phone him soon.
Idiots, Valentin thought. They're all idiots. Still, he didn't mind losing a couple thousand rubles. It wouldn't be too bad, though he wished he didn't have to. Nonetheless, Valentin didn't feel sorry or penitent. In fact, he saw no flaw with how he operated. In his mind, people were simply far too whiny.
A firm knock sounded on his office door, and Valentin remained with his eyes fixated outside as he spoke.
The door squeaked open, and he expected to see Luka as he turned. But instead, he was met with one of his timid security guards. He raised an eyebrow at the young man, silently inviting him to explain his visit.
"There's a woman, sir, claiming that she is the. . ." the man trailed, sounding scared to continue.
"Talk guard," Valentin snapped, already growing annoyed at the young man.
"Claiming that she is the daughter of Enrique Nieto, sir," the young man finally said, not holding Valentin's gaze for more than two seconds.
At first, Valentin couldn't quite grasp what the lad had said. Perhaps she was another crazy woman? It wasn't the first time. Valentin couldn't understand why they chose it was necessary to bring such a matter to his attention. They all knew what type of information he prioritized and what should be dealt with without bothering him.
"Is she still here?" he asked, and the guard nodded.
"She is out by the gate, sir. They haven't let her in."
Valentin's jaw ticked as his eyes turned stone cold. "Then why is she still alive?"
The guard knew this question was coming. His co-workers had discussed it with him before forcing him to bother the boss. They knew the way he went about life. If someone trespasses without a good reason, they meet the dust.
But this woman confused them.
"She—she has proof," he told his boss, already flinching at the rage he knew would follow.
"Proof?" Valentin echoed. "What kind of proof?"
Carefully, the young man took his phone from his pocket with shaky hands and held it towards Valentin. With raised eyebrows, Valentin crossed the room towards his subordinate and yanked the device from his hand, peering at the image on the screen.
He recognized it instantly. It was the seal of the Trevoga that no one but the boss and underboss owned. How did she get it? Unless. . .
Valentin refused to believe she was telling the truth. He was twenty-one when the news of Enrique's downfall was known. His father, who was the underboss at the time, took charge of the Mafia after Enrique died. They waited for his heir to come, as Enrique spoke so highly of his replacement, though they never knew who it was. They didn't know that it was a woman either. Perhaps that was why she never showed up after her father died. Whoever she is—is obviously not the boss-type, or else she would've taken charge of the business when he died.
There were sometimes rumours that Enrique's child was with him when he occasionally returned to Russia, but he never allowed anyone to see her, not even Valentin's father, who was his underboss at the time.
No one knew who it was, and until now, Valentin wouldn't have known it was a woman. The thought slightly bothered him. Why was she here now? After all these years? She obviously enjoyed America as much as her father did since he was always there.
There was no way Valentin was going to let her overrule him no matter who the hell she was. When she didn't care to take up her duty, someone else did. Hence, it will remain that way.
Without a word, Valentin circled his table and leant back in his chair, curling one foot over his knee as he relit his cigar.
"Send her up," he simply said through a puff of smoke. The young man nodded without another word and bolted for the door.
In a way, Valentin was eager to meet this woman. He couldn't wait to see her running out of this place in fear when she finally met him.