“DID YOU TALK TO HER?” Adriano asks as we descend the stairs to the front door of the Syndicate’s headquarters.
“Not since Thursday.” I’m tired as hell and want to go home without any business interrupting my quiet time. I haven’t spoken to or seen Fallon in two days. Two days that have crawled by agonizingly slowly.
Following our former hacker, Danny Mancuso’s ex-girlfriend, Fallon Michaels, seven months ago led to my falling in love with her. We seemed to have it all for a few blissful months, except in those months, I never disclosed that I was the underboss of the Chicago Syndicate, which rules the drug traffic in Chicago’s underworld, with James as my Capo crimine – the boss, who’s the only one ranked above me – and Adriano as my head Capo – a captain who’s ranked immediately below me and works as my back-up, making Adriano officially more important and valuable than the other Capi of the Chicago Syndicate.
At that critical moment when I thought I had to reveal everything to her because she caught me in my lies and became increasingly suspicious, she was kidnapped by one of my soldiers and taken to the house – our headquarters – that Adriano and I are now exiting. For six distressing days, I watched and lived out the destruction of our relationship while I worked to help her, and she fought me every step of the way.
However, she lied as well; her boss, Alex, blackmailed her into obtaining incriminating information on me, yet she never told me. I discovered that she knew for two weeks that I was part of the Syndicate, another thing she hid from me, and she never confided in me that she was in trouble. Fortunately, she didn’t help Alex because she never got the chance. Alex conveniently died of a heroin overdose because no one interferes with my life.
Ultimately, one fateful night wrecked our already splintered love, and now the pieces of two broken people remain. Well, I am broken; I can only guess how she’s doing because she’s been ignoring me since I took her home last Thursday.
Adriano and I went to the garage this afternoon to make sure Damian’s and my car were fixed properly – no trace of the damage Camilla and Fallon caused when they tried to escape the house last Wednesday – and then we drove my car and Damian’s convertible back to our headquarters. After Damian picked up his car, I retrieved a few items from my private room.
“What are you doing tonight?” Adriano probes when I open the front door and greet the guard with a discreet chin lift before walking to my black Italian car in the driveway.
“I’m going home, and I was hoping you could cover for me if any urgent business comes up. I’m forwarding my calls to you.”
“Fine. Get some rest—”
A loud blast from behind jolts us forward. Heat spreads across my back, and I’m propelled through the air and land harshly as my shoulders connect with the gravel driveway and the back of my head bangs against the ground. For a moment, everything shuts down – my vision goes black and it’s silent, until I feel masses of debris dropping on top of me, prompting me to quickly roll over and cover my head with my arms.
“Adriano?!” I shout while smoke surrounds me, making me cough, and a few more pieces of wreckage fall on my legs.
He doesn’t answer, and I don’t see him as the smoke begins to fade. That worries me since he was right behind me when something inside that house detonated. As I sit up, my eyes widen when I see that the right side of the house has been blown up, and the living room is missing an entire outer wall. I look toward the perimeter for any unusual movement, and as I turn my head, I spot Adriano lying face down in the gravel near my car.
Fuck! He was thrown much farther than I was.
I leap up, which isn’t easy with every muscle in my body hurting like hell, and run to him. Flipping him over, I bring my ear close to his nose to make sure he’s breathing. Thankfully, he is! But he’s knocked out cold, and a nasty cut on his head is bleeding profusely. And my blood is also dripping on him. The stitches in my ear – from Thursday’s shooting in the Parish of the Blessed – must have ripped. Looks like we both need medical attention.
Fishing out my phone from my pocket, I call my boss, James. “We’re compromised. I need you and the doctor at the house. Now.”
“Capito.” Understood. “On my way,” James confirms.
The doctor, Marc Calderone, who’s James’s brother, arrives within twenty minutes, and we haul Adriano inside the house. He stirs and wakes up just as I brush debris off the couch, and we lay him down.
Adriano blinks and grimaces when he tries to sit up straight. “The fuck happened?”
“Lie down.” The doctor guides him back down on the couch. “Let me check your head injury.”
Adriano’s gaze shoots to mine. “Are you okay?”
I nod and walk over to where the hole has been blasted in the wall. The enormous gape in the dirty ground right by the hedge looks to be where the bomb was planted. Assessing the damage, I’m saddened to find the body of one of our organization’s prospects. I jump through the open space and stride to his remains. His body is twisted in an awkward position, and his eyes are still hauntingly open, so I crouch before him and close his eyelids before returning inside the house.
“He probably has a mild concussion, and I need to stitch his cut. Yours too.” Doc signals to my ear.
“We need to get out of this house first because I don’t know if any more devices have been planted or what part of the foundation might be damaged. Adriano, can you walk?”
Adriano stands and sways slightly, but the doctor and I steady him on each side, and we move to my car as quickly as possible.
“Get in the front, Adriano. We leave immediately.” I help him into his seat and then tell Marc, “Follow me, Doc.”
THAT EVENING MY BOSS, James, and Consigliere Salvatore, the Syndicate’s counselor and lawyer, meet Adriano and me at my penthouse where the doctor has stitched us up and provided us with some pain medicine.
As we stand around my black granite-top kitchen island, I look at their weary faces.
“Any ideas who did this?” James inquires.
While twisting his gold lighter between his fingers, Adriano answers, “Leggia could’ve set this up before James killed him in the parish last Thursday? We should check with Biagio, the New York Syndicate’s new boss.”
“I’ll set up a meet with Biagio,” Consigliere Salvatore offers while sliding onto the bar stool.
James looks me in the eye. “I don’t like this. This is the first time our headquarters has been targeted. It could’ve been Leggia’s doing, but I have my doubts.”
“So do I,” I agree.
“I want you two to get some rest for a couple of days,” James orders and points to Adriano and me. “And we don’t meet in public for a couple of weeks.”
We nod in agreement and part ways. Everyone back to his own life. James will be welcomed by his wife, Alessa. Salvatore’s Julia waits for him. Adriano will be happy with a random hook-up. And I’m alone. Without her.
As much as I want to, I can’t resist reaching out, so I text and call her a few times during the weekend, but not one word from Fallon.