Taken by the Italian Mafia(6)

By: Sadie Black

"To the left," he instructed, "up near the wall and on the side with the dumpster."

Without a word, Tyrone obeyed. The massive brute had gone from annoying to compliant in only a few seconds. Rocco wondered if the man was plotting something.

Rocco followed, the soles of his shoes ringing out loud against the metal grated staircase. With the alley empty, he had no qualms about removing his gun from inside of his jacket, finger on the trigger and ready to shoot. The safety was long ago removed. No living Lombardo was amateur enough with guns to not trust a live one, even when concealed. Rocco had been handling handguns since he was seven.

"Now that we're alone, can you tell me what the fuck this is all about?" Tyrone asked. Near the corner between the back wall and the wall of the club, he turned to look at Rocco. The moon was bright, but the high walls of the surrounding businesses blocked out most of the light. Rocco's eyes were still adjusting, but he knew that Tyrone was no better off. So far, so good.

"I'm here to deliver a message from the Don, Vittore Lombardo." Often, dropping Vittore's name was enough to make a point. When it came to the Black Mafia, however, Rocco enjoyed reminding them of just who his father was. There was no other Don of New York City. Every one of those thugs deserved to be reminded at every chance.

"He's sorry to hear of your cousin's passing, and even sorrier yet that his invitation to the funeral was lost in the mail. Regardless, he wishes to send your family his condolences in this time of grieving. And he wants to remind you that the best kind of life insurance is—"

Beneath the moonlight, Rocco saw a shift in the glint of Tyrone's eyes. They gave away Tyrone's intentions before he even moved a muscle. As the thug reached back with lightning speed to unholster a concealed weapon, Rocco lifted his gun with frightening accuracy. Before Tyrone had a chance to draw his weapon, Rocco fired off a single shot. The bullet exploded from the muzzle of his gun and tore through the space between them to bury itself in Tyrone's skull. The caliber wasn't high enough that the bullet exited the back of his skull. That was the way Rocco preferred it. With a ricochet, the brain was damaged more severely. In the few rare cases where a target survived a head shot, the brain damage left them in a vegetative state. Vegetables did not talk.

"—not to fucking mess with the Lombardos, you dumb-ass. Shit."

No deaths were supposed to happen, but Tyrone's choices didn't stick to the plan. As blood pooled beneath the body, Rocco glanced over his shoulder and towards the street. The gun was silenced, but in New York, someone was bound to recognize the muted snap of a gunshot in the night. He had precious little time to get the fuck out before someone strung two and two together and busted him. Rocco's ride was waiting at the end of the alley, and if he wanted to make it out unseen, he would need to hoof it. The creak of rusted out hinges ruined everything.

Rocco turned, finger still snug with the trigger, but arm now at his side. On the metal platform, a black garbage bag clutched in hand, stood the bartender he kept running into. She was looking at him with a far off, dreamy expression on her face, like she walked into a nightmare.

Everything was not going to be fine after all.

* * *

Chapter Three


The door into the employees only area of The Avenue opened into a long hall that led to several doors. There was the employee room, Liam's office, and a couple other doors that were always locked no matter what the occasion.

Only a few steps into the hall, Whitney heard Liam's voice carrying from a distance. From the way he spoke and then stopped, then spoke again, she pieced together that he was having a conversation. Curiosity getting the best of her, Whitney put her plans to head to the kitchen to drop off the dirty glasses on hold, and headed down the hall towards Liam's office. To her surprise, the door had been left open.

"—you think?"

As she approached, Liam's words grew clearer, and Whitney picked up on another voice. Soft spoken, sweet, and unmistakably feminine. Whitney pieced together who it was at once. Just behind the door of Liam's office was the girl Cassandra had seen earlier that evening.

"I think it looks like a great place," the young woman replied. "I just received my bartending certification, and I'm eager to get some real world experience to go with it. Somewhere fast paced is definitely going to be a good fit for me. I think The Avenue would be an incredible match."

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