If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s being told what I should or shouldn’t do. I know he deserves respect because he led this familia before me, but enough is enough. I’m the leader now. I call the shots and deal with the aftermath. Not him.
“Do you have any idea the shit you have brought onto this familia? The deals I had in place that are now treading on cracked glass because of you?”
That’s all he fucking cares about. Those goddamn deals. The same ones that will no longer be in place if I have anything to say about it. So, in hindsight, I couldn’t give two shits if those deals go down the drain. It’s not like I wanted them anyway. I have another direction for this familia, and it’s not something that will keep our name in the damn dark ages.
Sighing, I pinch the bridge of my nose to stave off an impending headache. Ever since my father found out about the other night between Camille and me, it's all I hear. My father repeats himself over and over about how much of a screw-up I am, and I'm so tired of hearing it. I’m tired of dealing with his old ass when I don’t have to.
He's always been more worried about the bridges burned by our familia than he is over fixing situations on the home fronts. His connections. His people.
His. His. His.
None of this goddamn shit is his anymore. He left that in the past when he handed down the familia business to me. He took his part of the inheritance left by my grandfather and ran like a cowered with his tail tucked between his legs.
I know he has influence. There are people still part of this circuit that trust him as the head of this familia and not me, but Jesus Christ … enough is enough. He is nothing anymore. Not a goddamn thing to anyone and I’m sick and tired of his bullshit antics. Instead of worrying about the most important things, he worries about the shit that isn’t worth our time.
It was the same thing when our mother died. He didn’t even mourn the loss of her. He was out there, getting right back to his deals, putting his familia even more over their heads.
“Pop, we need to worry about everything that directly surrounds us. I couldn’t give two shits about the bridges burning right now because they’re not directly relevant to the situation. My only focus is the girl I’m being saddled with because of this familia. Were you even going to tell me who she was?” I ask, barely keeping my anger at bay.
“What are you talking about now?” he seethes, turning to face me.
It’s hard keeping my temper at bay when I know someone is knowingly dodging me. It’s even harder to keep it together when it’s my own father trying to give me the slip. I feel so much rage simmering just underneath the surface, it’s begging to unleash on someone.
“Don’t play dumb with me,” I growl, slapping my hand down on my desk. “You know exactly what I’m talking about. When were you going to tell me she wasn’t training to be a wife, but she’s been training since before she could walk how to kill a man?” Jumping up from my seat, I bellow with as much fury as I can, “When were you going to tell me that she was the connection all along—that she’s the Reap?”
“The only person here playing dumb is you if you let these contacts slip through your fingers,” he says, leveling me with a glare. “I didn’t spend a majority of my adult life solidifying these contacts just for you to piss them all away. You don’t deserve any of this, Mateo. You are here because I want you to be here. You better remember that.”
What the hell is he talking about? I’m only here because he wants me to be? What the holy hell does that even mean? I’m here because I’m the oldest and I’ve been training for this position since I could walk my diaper clad ass around the house.
“It’s as if you’re trying to piss me off, Pop. I. Don’t. Give. A. Shit. About. Your. Connections. What I want to know is why you solidified our marriage pact when you knew all along she was Reap!”
My father’s anger simmers just below the surface, as his eyes blaze back at mine. If he thinks I’m going to stand down from this, he’s sorely mistaken. I refuse to stand down to anyone, least of all him. He may be my father, and a former dom of this familia, but that’s it. That’s where it ends. He doesn’t give orders, and my men sure as shit doesn’t take them from him anymore.
A brief knock at the door breaks our connection as Adriano pushes the door open for my other brothers to enter the room. Running my hands through my hair, I bite back whatever curse tickling the end of my tongue as I take a seat once more behind my desk. Straightening my clothing, I clear my throat while attempting to quiet the thunderous beating of my heart.
I can honestly say there has never been a time when I was this upset with anyone. Yes, I get murderous at times when people don’t give me what I want when I want it. But, I can honestly say, this is the first time when a member of my familia has pushed me to the edge to take their life.
He may be my father, but the ties have been cut. He knowingly did this to me—to our familia. He thinks he’s slick, but I can see the exact game he’s trying to play. And I can tell you now, he won’t win.
“Hello, Lucio, my boy,” my father boasts, slapping him on the back with a sinister smile on his face.
“Oh, and what am I, chopped liver?” Gavino asks, stepping through the door.
“You’re chopped something,” my father whispers low.
He thinks no one can hear him, but I do. I would like to say that is a new thing when it comes to our father, but it’s not. He’s always been that way—even when we were little. Lucio got all of our father’s affections when he was there to give it to us, and Gavino, Giovanni, Vinny, and myself were left to pick up what was left. The only person who cared for us was our mother, and she’s been gone a really long time.
“Watch it,” I threaten, narrowing my eyes at him.
He may think he can get away with that shit here, but he has another thing coming. I refuse to have him degrade my brothers in front of me. He can call me all he likes, but I will not allow him to do that to Gavino—the one person who’s been through more than any of us.
“Okay, this is awkward,” Dom says, eyeballing all of us.
“Tell me about it,” Giovanni inserts, bumping his shoulder against Dom’s. “What did you need, boss?”
“This is—” my father starts, before I slash my hand, interrupting him.
“If you haven’t forgotten your place, it’s sitting down in a chair. Silently, I might add. The only reason you are here is because we need to get to the bottom of this situation and since you put all this into play almost two decades ago, we need to know your side of the story.”
“What might that be?” Dom asks.
“How far have we gotten with Marco and Carina? I know they’re connected somehow. I just need to know how.”
“Who the fuck is Marco?” my father asks, sitting straighter in his seat as he casts a glance over to Adriano who’s getting paler by the second. It’s apparent my father doesn’t know who he is, but it seems Adriano knows a great deal he hasn’t told his old friend.
“What do you know of Marco?”
Shaking his head, his eyes jump back to mine. I can see something hidden in his gaze, but I can’t quite make it out. Is it anger? Fear? Need for revenge? The onslaught of emotions is flicking over his features too fast for me to comprehend.
“I just heard about it through your father’s connections. You know, the ones you so loathe.”
“If I’m going to clear anything up, Adriano, I’ll need to know everything,” I reply, readying myself for the worst.
“You don’t want to go down this road, Mateo,” he retorts. “A past like that is better left buried.”