Chapter 52 : Madelyn
Chapter 52 : Madelyn
Sunday, August 15th, 2021
From Caleb: I just wanted to say thank you again for trusting me with all of that yesterday. I spoke with Alec and Xavier like you asked and they said that if you ever need to talk, no matter the time, you can come to any of us. I promise no one is mad, only grateful you were willing to share so much with us. I meant it when I told you you are our everything, and I just wanted to make sure you know that.
I woke up to this notification on my phone screen this morning, and I’ve been crying for the last ten minutes because of it.
Only this time, they weren’t tears of sadness.
This entire last week has been a true roller coaster of emotions for me, and yesterday was not something I took lightly.
The day with Caleb was everything to me, and even though I still have a lot of my mind because of the Mafia and all, I will never forget those few simple hours we spent in the park.
A lot of the things I told him were things I’ve never said out loud, and it was a massive step for me to overcome.
I was proud of myself for opening up about the thing I’ve intentionally spent years keeping inside, and when I woke up this morning, I felt different.
It’s stupid because I know I’m physically the same, but my steps feel lighter and I feel like I can breathe a little easier.
Caleb’s response to me was amazing in every way possible, and it solidified the fact for me that he was every part of life I’ve been wanting.
In combination with Xavier and Alec, these three men are making me feel things I don’t even know how to comprehend, but I live for it.
I suppose that’s the reality of this all.
Even if it absolutely terrifies me, at this point I don’t know how I’ve gone my entire life without them. Now that I do, I don’t plan on ever letting them go.
I spent a lot of time last night really thinking about our relationship, and the intense feelings that have evolved in such little time.
I knew my anger with them for lying wouldn’t just go away in the span of a few days, but I meant it when I said I forgave them and wanted to move on.
I wanted to enjoy every moment of this week, because I knew it was one that I was already looking forward to.
Not too long after Caleb’s first text was delivered, he also sent a schedule for this week and what nights I would be seeing the three of them.
Today I’m working, but I’m to see Alec tomorrow, Xavier the day after, and Caleb on Thursday. Saturday is the group scene, all days in which I’m now specifically looking forward to.
The excitement of seeing them again fills my body, and it’s surprisingly getting to the point where these three days each week I don’t see them is only making me wish we could have everyday.
Don’t get me wrong, I need my own space and time as much as anyone else does, but I wouldn’t exactly hate getting to wake up next to one or all of them regularly.
These men have me hooked so deep and I’m not sure if they even realize it.
Today will be good for me though.
I plan to do absolutely nothing at all until my shift, and that’s the beauty of it.
I slept in pretty late considering I had no plans, but I haven’t seen Jolene much recently, and honestly, I think a visit might be nice.
She truly has become a second mother to me, and plus, she makes the best damn coffee I’ve ever had.
I hadn’t realized how much I missed her until now, so even as my stomach rumbles for food, I end up getting dressed and leaving anyways.
With a clear head and relaxed muscles, I end up making my way slowly over to the Horizon in my piece of junk car.
I should start saving up to get a new one because I don’t trust this thing to get me far without the risk of crapping out on me anymore.
I put that in the back of my mind for now, soon pulling up to the cafe until I realize how little parking there is today.
Looks like there’s going to be a long walk for me.
I ended up parking quite a ways up the street before getting out of my car in dismissal and locking it.
Just seeing the entrance to the small coffee shop down the street has me beyond happy, and after a few minutes, I’m pushing open the glass door and breathing in a deep breath of the fresh smells.
I missed this place for sure.
It was beyond busy today and the line was long, but I managed to squeeze my way inside, adding myself to the end of the very long line.
So there I waited, my attention being snagged shortly after I heard Jolene’s familiar accent to my left.
With a fake smile on her face, I listened as she cursed someone out in Italian for spilling their drink all over the floor and not bothering to say anything until she damn near slipped in it.
She shouted a few muffled words I couldn’t make out from here, and seconds later, the man I recognized as Pablo was sweeping up the broken cup with a dust pan while Jolene fetched a mop for herself.
Smiling at the usual chaos here, it was like I had never stopped my daily visits for the last week.
I was getting closer to my turn in the line, but when Jolene came back from the storage closet, her eyes caught on me and instantly crinkled at the corners.
I didn’t have to think twice as I left the column of people, moving to say hi, but unable to as Jolene was already moving around the counter.
By the time I was there, she already had a bag of pastries in her hand and a steaming cup of coffee made to my liking.
“Let’s head upstairs where we can talk in quiet.” She says, putting a hand on my arm as she guides us away from the till and over to a narrow hallway.
I knew Jolene lived upstairs, but never once since meeting her have I been up there.
Come to think of it, it never really dawned on me that she actually lived here until now.
The floorboards creaked as it took the weight of each of our steps, small lights turning on as it sensed our motions moving upwards.
Before I knew it, Jolene was unlocking a door with her keys, and pushing until it swung open to a small space really meant to fit no more than two people.
I knew Jolene has been widowed for over two decades now, but when my eyes caught on a small cot in the corner of the room, I couldn’t help but think of Caleb.
Was this where he stayed when Jolene was the only refuge in his life?
I was so thankful she found him that day, because I don’t even want to think about what else might have happened if she hadn’t.
“Don’t mind the clutter, dear. Let’s sit over here, because I can see we have much to discuss.”
“How did you know?” I blinked, sensing that she’s a lot more like Alec than I thought.
“You have that look about you. And you haven’t come here in a few days, so I’m assuming things have been... a bit much?”
A bit was quite the understatement, but she was right.
“I guess I’ve just been a bit preoccupied lately,” I say, smiling in thanks when she passed me my coffee and opened the bag of sweets on the table between us.
Sitting down where her hand gestures, I lean back on the small but surprisingly really comfortable armchair now beneath me.
Jolene takes a seat on her own right across from me.
“Well that I know,” She grins with a knowing look that makes me flush, “They’re treating you well, I hope?”
There was a slight warning in her voice that she would go after any one of them if they were doing anything otherwise.
I allowed my amusement to show on my face as I said, “They’re everything I could have ever wanted.”
Jolene relaxed at that, leaning back in her chair, but not before grabbing a small cookie out of the paper bag.
“Good.” She settles, “If that ever changes, you be sure to let me know.”
I think we both knew damn well none of them would ever intentionally hurt me. In fact, half the time they act like they’re willing to jump in front of a bullet for me.
I nodded and took a sip of my coffee, sighing as the hot liquid coursed down my throat and warmed every inch of my body.
“Did Alec tell you about what happened this last week?” I ask, resting my cup on my thigh and keeping my hands wrapped around it.
Jolene lets out a small chuckle.
“That boy doesn’t talk to me much anymore, but yes, I know.”
I met her gaze as she looked over my face, trying to find any indication of fear in my mind.
Believe me when I say it’s most definitely there.
“How are you feeling about it all?” Jolene questions, brushing some crumbs off of her fingertips. Never once does her eyes leave mine.
“I don’t like it,” I admit honestly, crossing my leg over my other, “I don’t like that so many people I care about are in constant danger, and no offense to you, but I hate that the men I’m in a relationship with have to answer to Vincent.”
I had to make a valiant effort to suppress the goosebumps threatening to arise just at the thought of that horrible, malicious man.
“I hate that Alec and Xavier are both going to lead this entire thing one day too, because selfishly, I don’t know where that leaves me.”
These are a lot of things I wasn’t yet wanting to admit to my men, but Jolene showed no hostility or indifference towards me.
“It’s not selfish, dear, to want to have some normalcy in your life. God knows you more than anyone deserves some.”
I took in her words, but ultimately knew nothing would be simple anymore in pursuing a relationship with these men.
It was worth it, though.
Sometimes simple wasn’t meant to be, but even before I knew they were in the Mafia, our lack of simplicity was what kept things so intense and exhilarating all the time.
“I know there’s still so much I need to figure out, but I do know that Caleb, Xavier, and Alec are what I want.” I say with uttermost conviction.
Jolene knew it too.
“That’s good,” She nods, truly knowing that they were what made me happy, “But you don’t have to take this all on your own, you know? I’m willing to bet this whole thing has them just as uneasy about what the future holds.”
Unbelievably, I’d never even stopped to think about how this might be stressing them out as well.
I figured considering they already knew about these complications for so much longer than I have, they would’ve already had the time to come to terms with it.
Never once did I consider that the stress of this could be the cause for the dark circles under Caleb’s eyes yesterday or why Xavier would sometimes randomly hold me in the middle of the night when he thought I was sleeping.
Jolene was right. I wasn’t the only one worried about how the Mafia plays a role in our relationship now that things are getting serious.
God, I love this woman.
“Thank you,” I say, reaching over and squeezing her hand, “I think I really needed to hear that.”
She smiled as she returned my gesture, before grabbing the chair for stability as she stood up.
“I have a gift for you.” Jolene waved for me to follow her as she walked to the dresser by her bed, opening the bottom drawer and pulling out a box about the length of my wrist to elbow.
It was a plain brown colour, the lid taped to the bottom as she rose and grabbed both of my hands with her one.
Placing down the box, her silent nod towards it told me she wanted me to open it.
Helping her sit back down in her chair, even though she insisted she wasn’t that old, I resumed my previous position as I peeled away the sealing, wiggling the lid until it pulled loose.
Inside I found white paper packaging in which I gently removed, my eyes widening as I saw the object inside.
“I have a feeling you’re going to need it one day, and even if you don’t, I’m not taking any chances.” She interrupted.
Delicately wrapping my fingers around the hilt of the intricately designed dagger, I removed it from the box as well as the scabbard around the blade.
This weapon was a true piece of artwork, and left me in a state of absolute shock and admiration.
“This is beautiful,” I say, lifting my eyes from the blade to Jolene, “This must have cost you a fortune—”
“I’m not taking it back.” Jolene cuts me off yet again, smiling because she somehow discovered this was my favourite weapon to train with growing up and still is, “The blade is pre-sharpened and already ready to be made use of.”
I swallowed, glancing back down to the dagger.
“Do you really think I’m going to have to use it?” I ask, my eyes trailing over every refined detail.
“I think only a fool would walk around unarmed now that someone like Vincent Alcazar has their eyes set on you.”
My heart skipped a beat, “He’s watching me?” I asked, feeling my palms go cold in fear.
“He watches everybody, but especially you. He’s killed people for simply blinking at him the wrong way, yet you’re still breathing and unharmed. Ask yourself, what does Vincent have to gain by keeping a near stranger alive after doing things that are considered criminal offenses against the Don?”
An ice cold chill trickled down my spine at her words, hundreds of questions popping into my head.
“Do you know the answer to that?” I ask, brushing my finger along the sharp edge of the blade and tracing it with my mind.
“Not yet.” Jolene etches a small frown onto her face, “I fear it’s something only you will be able to figure out.”
So many questions and such little answers.
“I don’t know what to do,” I admit, even as I feel a sense of empowerment just by the thought of using this against someone like Vincent.
I’m glad Jolene thinks just as lowly of him as I.
“Coffee helps,” Jolene gestures to the slowly cooling cup beside me, “My advice to you is to keep your head sharp and think carefully about who you can trust. Everything will become clear soon, but remember that even the strongest of forces can wield the largest vulnerabilities.”
Her words struck me hard, the truth in them sinking deep and telling me more or less to keep my enemies closer.
I needed to keep three steps ahead of Vincent and be wary of who I let into my life.
Easy for me, apart from Hailey, Jolene, and my men, there were very few people I opened up to anymore.
“I will.” I promise her, knowing this entire conversation is not something I’m going to forget anytime soon, if ever.
I had a strong feeling that last week would not be my last encounter with Vincent Alcazar, but I’ve learned something recently that he doesn’t know.
I’m going to gain the upper hand, because his sexist ass won’t even see it coming until it’s too late to reverse my actions.
I smiled to myself as I heard Jolene call after me as I exited the cafe.
She no doubt saw the cash I’d left on the counter for the coffee and snacks, and was now on her way to hound me about my stubbornness.
I feel like so much of my life has been altered in the last seven days, but not this.
This was the same.
By the time Jolene’s much shorter legs had carried her to the door, I was already down the sidewalk and unlocking my car.
With my dagger hidden and tucked up the long sleeve of my shirt, I pulled on the door handle and slid into the driver’s seat, gently tossing the knife into the small black console.
Sighing to myself, I forced all of the questions from my brain temporarily, turning on the radio and starting up the engine.
Honestly, all I wanted to do right now was go home and watch Netflix for a few hours until I had to return to work and walk around in heels for the night.
Using my right hand, I twist and grab my seat belt, securing it over my body and listening as it clicked in place.
Not wasting another second, I checked to make sure the road was clear before pulling away from the curb and beginning a steady acceleration down the street.
Only ten minutes and I could get back into my sweats for the day.
That thought made for a fairly peaceful drive back, but when I heard the familiar sound of my phone ringing, I sighed as it interrupted the song I was listening to and reached back in search of my purse.
Making sure to keep my eyes on the road, my hand blindly sought out my phone in the backseat, but I tensed as my fingertips brushed against something that was neither the material of my purse nor the seats.
Flicking my eyes to the rear view mirror, my scream was stifled as a large black figure appeared in the backseat, revealing that I was anything but alone in this car.
Doing the only thing I could think to do, I slammed hard on the brake, silently praying the driver behind me wasn’t on their phone and hopefully paying attention.
My seat belt snapped tight to my body, keeping me in place for the most part, but the same couldn’t be said for whoever was in the back.
The hand that had previously moved to wrap around my mouth was jolted forwards, along with the rest of the masked person’s body.
My heart fumbled as I heard a series of loud honks come from those behind me, but their vehicles simply veered around me angrily.
That beats getting hit, at least.
Already finding myself prepared, as the body from the backseat flew forward through the gap between the two front seats, I took my hand and grabbed the neck of who is very clearly a man at closer glance.
Before he could recover from his shock, I pinned his head down and kept him still as I pulled off the thin black mask from his face.
But before the fabric was even all the way off, I stilled and tensed as the smell of cologne hit me.
That break was all he needed as he pushed himself up, slipping the rest of the cover off for me.
I could barely breathe as a pair of eyes so similar to mine stared back at me, brushing away the messy blonde strands that had fallen over my face.
After six months of hearing nothing from him, he’s actually here, in my car.
I’m stunned at how entirely different he looks from when I last saw him, but it’s those eyes. Only someone who knew him well would be able to recognize those eyes.
“Hey, kiddo.” He panted, no doubt slightly winded by the harsh impact of my brakes.
Releasing my hold on his neck in shock, I watch as my father sits up with a groan, painfully moving himself to the passenger’s seat beside me.
My mouth is practically agape in disbelief, but yet another honk draws me out of my daze.
I don’t take my eyes off of him as I begin to drive again, only stealing quick glances on the road to ensure I wasn’t going to crash into anything.
This was the first time I’ve heard his voice in months, and I can barely keep it together as I try to find a place to pull over but finding none.
“You’re here?” I bit back my sob of relief and anger and confusion.
He’s been gone for half a year, and now he’s back looking nearly unrecognizable and scaring the shit out of me in my own car.
Seems just like my father.
“I can’t stay for long, I’m afraid, but we need to talk.” My dad said, leaning down in his seat and keeping his eyes hidden from anyone around.
“What’s going on? You just left without even a note, and now—”
“I know, I know.” He said, sounding truly apologetic, but in a hurry, “I’m sorry for that, and I promise I’ll be able to explain everything soon, but I really need you to listen to what I’m about to tell you.”
I was admittedly a little scared right now, but I didn’t show it, or challenge what my father was asking right now.
With a nod, he continued.
“I need you to promise me you won’t tell a soul what I’m about to say, Mads. Not even those men you’re seeing.”
My grip tightens around the steering wheel in surprise he knows about them, but I shouldn’t be.
Vincent has his resources, my father has his own.
“Why not?” I ask, turning off of one road and onto another.
“Because there are some really bad people after me right now, and so many things can go wrong from me even risking to speak with you. The less people who know, the better.”
I knew I didn’t have time on my side right now, so instead of protesting or asking more questions, I simply gave a quick nod.
“Thank you,” He says, shifting his gloved hand and wincing slightly, ignoring my narrowing eyes at the action, “I’ve had a feud with an extremely powerful man dating all the way back to before you were even born. When I moved to Detroit with your mother, it was to keep under the radar and not because we were low on money. We had just barely gotten away from him and knew we had to stay as hidden as possible, especially with your mother so far along in her pregnancy with you.”
It has been years since my father has even acknowledged that my mother existed, let alone speak about her so many times.
This was very serious, but all I could do was sit and soak up everything I could.
“For years as this man grew stronger in public, I made sure we overpowered him every step of the way in silence. If anything bad ever happens to me, know that I have accounts set up for you with enough money to buy you a new life should you please.”
A new life?
Before I could open my mouth to speak, my father was pulling out a business card and pushing it into my hand.
“This is the number of someone who can help you with your finances should you feel the need to access what is both your birthright and what you deserve. I know I wasn’t the best parental figure, but you will always be taken care of, that much I can promise you.”
“Turn left up here,” My father said, indicating a narrow alleyway that most certainly didn’t look safe.
“I don’t understand—”
“I know, kiddo. I’m so sorry that I can’t stay for longer, but everything will make sense soon.”
“Dad?” I turn to him as I roll to a stop, panic pushing its way through my bones, “Stay. Talk to me, and we can figure this out together.”
I watched as my father leaned towards me, his hand moving to my cheek and brushing away the tear I didn’t know I’d shed.
“You’ve gotten so much stronger.” He says instead, his eyes flicking over my face as if trying to memorize it while he still could, “Stay with those men of yours. They love you, and they’ll be able to keep you safe when I can’t.”
I blinked in confusion and moved to undo my seat belt, but I wasn’t fast enough to stop him as my dad’s fingers slipped away from my cheek.
By the time my head snapped up in regret, he was already gone, blending into the darkness and off to somewhere unknown.
- End of Chapter 52 -
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