There are two things I am very confused about; the first is, why did I not think to call the police after all that just happened? The second, why did I let this unbelievably handsome stranger drive me home? I sit on the passenger side looking out the window, and am scooted as far up against the door, trying to avoid him as much as possible.
“Are you scared of me?” he asks me, interrupting me from my thoughts.
As I hear him speaking, all I can focus on is his velvet voice, so smooth, and with a mysteriousness that beckons me, yet at the same time it fills me with a strange kind of fear. There is no way that I will let this man make me feel frightened at all. I scoot away from the window and speak with a boldness that can’t be mistaken for weakness.
“Why? Is there a reason that I should be scared?” I turn my head over, and look at him, I can’t make eye contact obviously because he is driving, but I at least want to show him that I would if I could, I see the hint of a smile forming on his lips. For some odd reason I find myself wanting to one up him on everything.
“Me, scary? No.” I detect sarcasm in his voice, which slightly worries me, I look out the window making sure we are still heading in the direction of my house. Fortunately, I see the same houses and stores I have passed by since I was a kid.
“For not being scared, you sure do look paranoid,” he says in a mocking tone, and a smirk of amusement touches his face, just slightly.
“Just being cautious, you’re a stranger after all. You do know where we are going? Right?” I don’t remember giving him my address.
“We are following your friend.” I look ahead to see the familiar, “This girl drives trucks,” bumper sticker on the back of her Ford F 150.
“You could have asked me for the address, you didn’t have to follow her.” He shrugs.
“Does it matter?” I shrug back, and continue looking out the window watching the trees, and street lights disappear. Nothing ever happens to me, the adrenaline still coursing through me is making my hands shake.
I know that sounds kind of crazy, I am not exactly happy that tonight happened. Just glad it was something different for a change. Don’t get me wrong, the memory of the old man ripping my shirt open, and staring at me with his black beady eyes haunts me. Who knows what would have happened if Marcellus didn’t intervene, I should probably be a lot more grateful to him.
“I just want you to know how much I appreciate what you have done for me. I don’t know how I could ever repay you.” I angle my head toward him and look at him intensely, hoping he can see me through his peripheral vision. I want him to know that there is no sarcasm, or joke behind what I have said to him.
“I did what any real man would do, do not thank me.” As he said this the car came to a stop, we have arrived at my house a lot faster than expected. Alley is sitting on the bench in front of the house, waiting patiently with her arms crossed, trying to keep warm. I look back over at him, and this time we lock eyes, eye contact is all it takes for me to realize how stupid attracted I am to him.
But instead of flirting like I want to, I decide to only further my seriousness on how grateful I am for his heroic deed.
“I am sorry Marcelllus, but I am going to thank you. You saved me, and for that I am indebted to you.” He quickly responds with a more cold, detached tone. You can almost see the velvet, smoothness to his voice turn into ice.
“Trust me, you do not want to be indebted to me,” he did not look away from me, he is making sure his golden brown eyes are dead locked on mine, he terrifies me with how hard his eyes were.
“Why do you say that like you are dangerous?” I ask darringly. He finally looks away, keeping his face stone cold.
“It is time for you to go home Jamie,” he says clenching his hands on the steering wheel, it wasn’t a question.
And as if on instant a pair of headlights pulls up directly in front of us. The car door opens to the vehicle just as quickly as it came, my brother stumbles out of it. And the car drives quickly, out of plain sight, as Josh starts limping slowly to the front door.
“Good bye Marcellus,” I say quickly.
“Jamie-” I pull the door handle, and run to my brother before Marcellus can finish. Alley runs to the other side of him, each of us going to a side to help him to the door. I can still hear the familiar quiet rumble of Marcellus’s car behind us. I look back curious as to why he is still sitting there. I can see a light being held to his ear. He seems to just be talking on the phone, it looks like it anyway. I turn my attention back to my brother as we finally get him into the house and lay him down on the sofa. I flick on the lights so I can get a better look at him, and I stifle a gasp.
“Josh! Oh my god! Who has done this to you?” His nose has blood pouring from it, made earlier look like a walk in the park. One eye is swollen shut, his teeth are stained with blood, I lift his shirt, and find bruises all over his ribs.
“We need to get you to a hospital! Now!” I go to get up, but he grabs my arm stopping me.
“No!” He says sternly, but with a grunt from moving to fast.
“Please Jamie, just listen to me for once in your life. Trust me, I am fine, just let me go to bed.” I look over at Alley. She is in just as much shock as I am. How much different was I really going for tonight?
“What happened to you?” I ask Josh.
“Got into a fight, that’s all you need to know.” I’m not even going to press the matter further. He’s not going to tell me anything.
I close my eyes trying to justify respecting his wishes, I am supposed to protect him, I am the only thing he has in life to guide him. I always knew that there would come a time that he would stop listening to me. When he was a little boy he was attached to my hip, I was his mother, the closest thing he had to one. But as he got older he realized the absence of his real mother, he started to become aware of our mother’s disdain for us, especially Josh.
He always received the worst, I’m pretty sure he resents me for that.
He started to see what was actually going on around him, and not just see it, but understand it. When you live a life like we have, it’s as if when you are a kid everything is perfect. You are oblivious to anything bad that might be happening to you.
Through a child’s eyes, everything is beautiful, but when you get older, the reality crashes down on you at full force. And the reality for us is that we are alone in the world. We only ever had each other, and Eliza, but even then there was a limit to what she could give us.
Eliza loves us, and she did everything in her power to shield us from what she could. But not having a mother, or a father is a lot more damaging than what people might think. You could receive all the love in the world from everyone around you, but if you don’t have the bond, and the affection of the people that created you, there will always be a void that can never be filled. At least, that’s what I have come to realize. That was the harshest reality, not knowing if we would ever truly know what love is. We would always be searching for something we may never find.
I open my eyes, coming out of my deep thoughts, and look at Josh like only a brother would be able to understand.
“I don’t know why I’m agreeing to this, but let me get some ice for your eye, and we will help you get to bed.” There is nothing to say, and I’m too tired to fight tonight, too much has happened.
I lay on the couch awake, with Alley at the end hunched over the arm with the blanket we shared draped over her, fast asleep. It is dark, I just stare at the TV wide-eyed not really paying attention to some old black and white episode of the Twilight Zone.
The episode I am watching is pretty interesting. Every time these two young children jump into their backyard pool, they escape to some alternate universe where it is a paradise for children. Sometimes I wish I could escape into a different world, and leave all this behind, never to look back. But dreams like that are silly, and childish, I know better than to dream at all anymore.
It is insane what distracts me from sleep, which is much needed considering everything that happened in the past twelve hours. It wasn’t almost possibly being raped, or coming home to my little brother beaten to a bloody pulp, or even the fact that I practically kicked my mom out. On the contrary, it’s the tall, dark, and captivating, beautiful man that wouldn’t let my mind rest. I keep seeing his remarkable lightly, natural tanned face. The strong outline of his cheekbones, and the way his muscles had hugged his dress shirt. I close my eyes and try to remember the beautiful golden brown color of his eyes. Just the way that man presented himself, with such grace, and confidence, but at the same time, deterrent.
He acts as if there is nothing in the world that would frighten him, his kindness to me did not go unnoticed. There is no denying that he did everything in his power to show me without so many words that he was much more. It was like he was begging to be unmasked behind those stone-cold features, and I am honestly dying to be the one to do it.
Taking interest in someone like this is so unlike me, I have never laid awake at night thinking of any man. I have had my flings, and I am no virgin but dating wasn’t an option. There is no one that I really wanted that bad either, I always thought something was wrong with me.
I blink twice snapping myself out of it, reminding myself that I will probably never see Marcellus again. He looks like someone important, of course someone like me would be infatuated with someone like him. We come from two completely different worlds, I could never belong. He wouldn’t even consider someone like me. That immediately shut my brain off, and I became practical Jamie again, remembering my rightful place in the world.
“Her name is Jamie Stone. I want to know why, when, where and how one of our cars was anywhere near this girl’s house. Got it?”
I growled in the phone still sitting out in front of Jamie’s house, I’m debating on whether I should go in and make sure everything is okay. It’s none of my business whether she's okay or not.
I mean, I really have to fight the urge to go in and make it my business, I don’t know why I feel such fierce protectiveness over someone that I don’t even know. What I need to do is drive far away from here.
“Inteso Capo.” I threw my phone down into the seat and slam on the gas hoping this means I am going to leave whatever silly endeavor this is behind.
I have been in Dayton, Ohio for two days, and it feels like trouble is brewing already. I’ve always hated this country, and especially this state, and this particular city in this state. As soon as I stepped off my flight I could smell the stench in the air. I don’t know what it is but as soon as you reach this city you can feel the dread, and misery radiating off of not just the people but the buildings, the sidewalk, and even streetlights. It’s like there is an imprint of everything that has gone wrong in every particular spot throughout history. The best way I would describe Dayton is it has stage four cancer, and the chemo treatments are not working.
I pull into a gated long black driveway that leads to our home away from home. The men outside just wave me through as the gates open. I guess when I say ours I mean the families. We bought a home in the backcountry of Huber Heights because we will be here for a while this time. Just until some matters get solved, hopefully I will be able to get back to Italy soon. My father sent me here in his stead, said I needed to start taking more responsibility, that I needed a “change of scenery.”
Damon, one of our under bosses here in America had reported several times in the last year that our weapon and drug shipment protocols are failing, we are continuously being robbed by a small and insignificant gang here in Dayton that doesn’t like the idea of being ruled by Italians.
They are very new but they don’t act new, the men are very well trained, and have managed to steal millions of dollars of merchandise in the last year. They are becoming a huge problem, and taking away money that needs to be earned. They call themselves, “The Street Diamonds.” Stupid name if you ask me… Dayton is a dying city but when it comes to drugs, and illegal weapons the market is booming. So it’s important that we keep this city under lock and key. I’m just here to remind them who has the key.
As I exit my car I took a good once over at the old Victorian style mansion, it has three large white columns standing tall in front of the double door entry. The doors are black, which I feel suits me quite well. It’s like the color, and the largeness of the door radiates my authority, and the fear that needed to be reached to anyone that entered. The house is very large, it has to have at least ten bedrooms. I probably won’t even find time to look at them all. It made sense to have a large home like this for meetings, gatherings, events that I might need to host, and of course the accommodation for the men that I hand chosen to come with me from Italy.
The driveway ends into a small circle leading to the five car garage which is detached from the house. There are two very large windows on each side of the front entrance but are covered with silky white curtains hiding what was on the inside. As I am about to walk inside someone came running up behind me.
“Capo, sei necessario al piano di sotto.” Boss you are needed down stairs. I turn around and look at him bewildered by his demand at me. Obviously these associates don’t remember proper etiquette, I glare at him with an expression of rage.
“Mi hai appena richiesto?” Are you demanding me? He immediately looks down and realizes his mistake.
“Signore, mi scuso, solo che stanno dicendo che e’ urgente, mi sono dimeticado.” Sir, I apologize they are saying it’s urgent, I forgot myself. He still did not dare to look up at me, I have killed people for less. I stood in silence for a couple more minutes towering over him, making him sweat. Then I took my leave without even saying a word, I don’t feel like finding a replacement for him.
I walk into the foyer with white marble clacking against my heels and the beautiful spiral staircase that wound all the way to the top, Clara, my maid took my coat, while at the same time lingering her stare at me a little too long. It disgusts me when women drool like that, especially American women. I walk immediately to a door located on the wall of the staircase, push in the code, and the door clicks. I walk down the stairs rolling up my sleeves, making sure my footsteps are heard. The basement has several different uses. I rarely ever hold enemies in my own home, but if it’s a special case they come here. And if they do come here, it’s because I want them to be. There are only a few cells that I had built when I moved in here. The basement wasn’t as large as I wanted it to be but this house is only temporary.
The cells face each other in a room separated from this one. When you first walk into the basement there is a small bar with a few stools, a pool table, and the normal stuff you would find in a man’s basement. Besides the very large meeting table sitting on the other side of the room where we will gather, Damon greets me first.
“È bello vederti Marcel. Ho alcune questioni di cui ho bisogno di discutere.” It’s good to see you Marcel, I have some matters that I need to discuss. He says as he took my hands and shook them.
“Your Italian is horrible, please speak English Damon. And next time you summon me as if I am your dog, I will put a bullet in your head,” I say as I walk away from him. I look over at all my men standing around the table waiting for me to sit down. I stand in front of my chair fixing my collar, looking down at them all, smelling their fear. There is Angelo who sits to the right of me, always, he is my friend, the only one that can get away with speaking to me without formality.
We grew up together, my father raised him, so he’s more a brother to me. If there is anyone I know would die for me it would be him, and I for him as well. Then on the left of me is Luca, also a friend but not quite as close, but someone I trust as well. His father is the under boss in New York, I also grew up with him, he is the head of my security. Which I don’t want but am forced to have by my father. Then there are my other friends, and my most trusted men, Alessandro, and Mario. As soon as Damon sluggishly walks up to his chair, I sit, then everyone else follows taking their seat.
“First things first, I want to know why I was rushed down here like a dog.” There is a long silence, I wait for Damon to start running his mouth first.
“Another shipment of weapons have been intercepted…” Damon responds with frustration, his ego must hurt.
“How do you keep letting this happen? Idioti!” Idiots! I yell standing up, with my hands on the table bending as far over it as possible, looking at him directly in the eyes.
“I double my men, they double theirs, I change locations, they find us, I even made a deal with the police to help us get them out of our territory but they keep coming no matter how many we take out!” He exclaims.
“Ratti!” Rats! Angelo says looking at me, I look back at him knowing he has to be right. And there has to be more than one for them to be able to gather Intel so quickly. I sit back down in my seat and make direct eye contact with Damon. Silence fills the room for a good minute. There is nothing I hate more than disloyalty. I finally break the silence.
“It’s 5 am, I haven’t slept, but when I wake up I am going to plan to oversee the next shipments and I am going to personally handle them myself with the help of just my men. For now…”
“You can’t, it’s too risky! I can’t allow you to do that,” Luca said surprisingly in English. I turn to him with a death glare.
“E da quando ti do un cazzo di quello che mi lascerai fare a Luca.” And since when do I give a fuck about what you will let me do Luca. He didn’t say anything because he knew there was no stopping me. I turn my attention back to Damon.
“And you, in the meantime if I were you, I would start interrogating every single one of your men because if you can’t find every fucking person who is responsible for trying to fuck with my money then you will be held accountable, and it will be your blood, make no mistake, I can and will replace you in a heartbeat.” Damon sat there, beads of sweat falling down his forehead. He could barely formulate the words, “Under… stood,” not even looking me in the eye like the coward he is.
“And let this be known to all of you! I don’t care what bitches you fuck, or what you do in your personal time at all, but we can’t afford any distractions, I need you all focused, and 100 percent invested. If I don’t kill you for not being focused, someone else will. Remember why we are here. Riunione aggiornata!” Meeting adjourned!
Everyone got up and took their leave, I start to get up but Stefano stops me. Stefano handles all my computer savvy stuff, he is young but is good at what he does. There has been nothing he can’t do so far, nothing he can’t find out, no one is safe when it comes to hiding their secrets when I have Stefano.
“Capo, I have the info on the girl and you are never going to believe this.” My eyes narrowed.
“Her brother is working for us!”
Chapter SevenMarcellusI walk up to the ba