Mad Mafia Love is one of Jamila's dark romance books and her first mafia romance novel. Interracial romance book lovers will find themselves turning the pages of this best-selling steamy romance novel desperate to read Book #2 and Book #3.
That's right. Mad Mafia Love is just the first book in a steamy, action packed interracial mafia romance trilogy.
I don't want to give away too much of the story, but suffice it to say, like many of my other books Mad Mafia Love was controversial.
I think some people just can't handle a strong black woman dealing with a sexy alpha male…
On the other hand, I believe black women can and should have FUN. Even if it means getting into a bit of danger.
Read the description below and decide for yourself.
Already intrigued? Get the book here: http://amzn.to/2sB0gbV
Eve never thought she'd fall for a guy in the mafia.
But Nico is persistent and refuses to take no for an answer.
He wants to make Eve his… No matter the cost.
She can't allow herself to fall in love with a guy like that.
But she does.
And her life changes forever.
This BWWM novel is an extra-steamy read so hot it might melt your Kindle.
Sound hot? Find it right here: http://amzn.to/2sB0gbV
Or… you can keep reading for the excerpt below.
Dark Romance Books Excerpt: Mad Mafia Love
America smelled like coffee, cigarettes and car exhaust. The country differed from Italy in all the worst ways. The highways rushed along, the cars were all shiny and tacky, unlike sleek Italian made vehicles. But there was no going back to Italy now. The sweet smell of the aging architecture and the damp smells of Venice would no longer remain a part of Nico’s daily fare.
If Nico so much as set foot in the old village, his father would know. He was in America for better or for worse. Nico didn’t want his father keeping tabs on him anymore. He knew he’d attracted a lot of attention with his recent stunt and Giuseppe would be angry. He didn’t take too kindly to betrayal. And from his perspective, Nico had betrayed him.
At least there were some positives in this country. Here, he would have some hope of becoming anonymous. Americans hit you with their rawness and their honesty too. Nico knew that finding loyal men in America would be far easier than it would have been in Italy. He couldn’t hope to stand up to his father in the country where his father had spent most of his life forging alliances and stoking fears.
Nico’s hands dipped into his pocket and he felt around for the tiny velvet satchel that held his freedom. That would keep his father from killing him. Nico was on his way to the safety deposit box — thirty miles out of the city in a random, quiet Massachusetts town — to deposit the satchel. He’d die before he told his father where he was hiding the tiny bag.
Nico thought about what had happened back in Italy, just days before he was supposed to touch down in the so-called land of the free with his twin brother. Nico had changed his flight at the last minute and managed to get a head start on Luca. The two were finally supposed to come to America and join Giuseppe, carrying out his dirty work in the land of consequences. Sensing Nico’s reluctance to leave what he had in Italy behind, his father had commanded the unthinkable. Nico was left without a choice.
And too many people were left without justice.
Nico’s twin brother could no longer harm him anymore. He’d carried out the unthinkable on the behalf of his father, and Nico had ensured that his twin brother would never hurt anyone again. Nico didn’t give a damn about his father’s wrath anymore. He’d spent his lifetime cowered n fear, always terrified to betray the family. But what did “family” mean after what his father had ordered and after what his twin brother had done?
Giuseppe had pushed too far and he’d made an enemy out of his son — the softer of the twin brothers. But he’d messed with the wrong one. Luca might have been more violent and more sadistic than his brother, but he lacked Nico’s precision and sense of justice. He underestimated the fact that Nico would retaliate.
Now, they were all paying for it. It had been a few days since Nico had thought of his twin brother.
(Tall Luca. Handsome Luca. Luca who pulled the legs off of living flies. Luca who laughed as he drove the knife into her belly.)
Luca had always made people uneasy, Nico made men want to fight for him. He was strong, suave and he had inherited all of Giuseppe’s good traits. (It seemed Luca had inherited all of Giuseppe’s worst traits.) Nico wasn’t going to let his father get away with what he’d done. And as it turned out, Giuseppe had made more than a few enemies since he first set foot in Boston in 1970. Nico was just biding his time.
He walked into the bank and greeted the sweet teller who had helped him the last time. Beth Curtis was a sweet New England blonde who was utterly charmed by the tall, handsome man with the heavy Italian accent. She thought Nico didn’t notice, but he did, and he used his charm to distract her from what he was doing here. The less she knew the better. The less she knew, the less danger her life would be in. As far as she knew, Nico was just another foreign businessman. And his name wasn’t Nico.
“Good afternoon Mister Ricardo,” Beth started.
“Good afternoon madam,” Nico said, taking Beth’s hand and kissing it.
She blushed. And then she looked down bashfully.
“I suppose you’d like to head to the box today?”
“Yes, I’d finally like to make a deposit.”
“And your drive down here was alright?”
Beth was flirting, Nico could tell. But that didn’t rid him of his paranoia. Giuseppe could have ears in all kinds of places. If this woman had any idea that he was from Boston proper, Nico would have cause to turn around and walk out of that bank, finding another city to make his deposit.
“There was an accident over on Main Street this morning,” Beth continued.
Nico relaxed his posture a bit.
“Ah. Yes. It was no trouble for me getting down here.”
“Didn’t catch any of the gory details?”
“I’m afraid not.”
“Alrighty. Well, let me get your key Mr. Ricardo.”
She wandered to the back. To Beth, Nico Riccardi was Nicholas Ricardo, Americanized and utterly mundane, in no way connected to one of the biggest mafia families in Boston. She had bought his story, believing without a doubt that he was an investment banker who had retired early in a small town. His forged documents raised no red flags and Nico was in the clear to make this final deposit and ensure his safety. Thank you Bill for the good quality documents.
While Giuseppe had friends here, Nico had even more. And he had plenty of men on his side who were tired of the tyranny. Like Nico, they wanted to be free.
Beth returned from behind the counter holding the key to safety deposit box #3991. Nico followed her down the hallway to the box. He could tell Beth was trying to walk the walk and put on a show for him. She’d come too close to asking him out a number of times. Beth wasn’t his type. She was Irish for one thing. Her hair was a strawberry blonde color that looked almost faded. Her skin was so pale it was almost see through and Beth was too skinny in all the wrong places.
Nico was a traditional Italian man. He loved his women with bronzed or dark skin. He craved a partner who had a little meat on her bones. Someone like her. The woman who wasn’t Beth. The woman who he’d left behind in Italy. The woman who he would never see again thanks to his father.
Beth tiptoed upwards and unlocked the box. An old Bible (printed in 1890), a solid gold rosary and now, the tiny velvet bag, lay in the safety deposit box.
“Yes, that’s it.”
“Going to tell me what’s in the bag?”
She was flirting again. Nico was still uninterested. But he observed her with amusement. She wrapped her wiry strawberry blonde hair around her finger and smiled at him with her overly perfect teeth. He could smell the fact that she smoked cigarettes on her breath. He usually didn’t mind (nearly every woman in Italy smoked) but today, he found evidence of the habit off-putting.
“No thank you ma’am,” Nico responded to her with a smile.
He could see Beth’s disappointment. She wanted in on the joke and she didn’t take too kindly to Nico’s rejection. He’d have to leave her with some hope. That would keep her well-behaved and quiet. Some hope that this handsome Italian man could really be interested in a girl like her would keep Beth Curtis right where he wanted her.
“I hope when I come into town again, I’ll be able to see your beautiful face once again.”
Beth smiled, failing to be casual about receiving a compliment like that.
“Wow… Well Mr. Ricardo, I hope to see you again soon.”
She locked the safety deposit box and led Nico to the front of the bank. She looked at him expectantly, hoping that he’d ask her on a date or do something more forward.
“Goodbye Beth,” Nico replied, taking Beth’s hand and planting a kiss on her hand.
Her face turned scarlet and Nico flashed her a wink. That would have to be enough for now. He walked out of the bank and got in his car, turning it towards Boston. He’d have to ditch this car as soon as he got back into the city. His buddy Paul was going to buy this one off of him and he’d turn up with a nice, respectable black sedan sure to fly under the radar. And it would be Italian made too. Thank goodness, Nico was tired of this clunky death trap.
Nico knew he wouldn’t be able to dodge his father for long. Giuseppe had many enemies, that was true, but he also had plenty of friends. Or whatever you called people who owed you favors. At least his father didn’t have his attack dog Luca by his side any longer. If
The drive back to Boston was long and boring. Nico tried the country music station, the news but eventually settled on classical music. Classical music always reminded him of Italy. But it also reminded him of her. Nico grit his teeth and tried to fight back tears. What his father had done was unacceptable. He’d taken away the one thing that Nico loved most on the planet. The one woman he had truly loved was gone.
Nico knew that was it for him. He’d never love again. In America, how could there be another woman like her? Women in America were more like Beth. They were plain. They were regular. They didn’t have the taste for adventure, the zest for life that a purebred Italian man like Nico was looking for. Nico’s hopes and dreams for the future had died along with her.
Hence this suicide mission. That’s why Nico found himself looking for problems with Giuseppe Riccardi of all the people on this godforsaken planet. His father was a dangerous man, but a man with nothing to lose is far more dangerous than Giuseppe realized. Without a care in the world except for his revenge, Nico was unstoppable.
When he got off the exit in Boston, he checked his rearview mirror. No one following. He hadn’t been able to leave his paranoia in Italy unfortunately. There was traffic down towards the city and Nico found himself itching for a drink.
He’d have to ditch this car first, then drink. Traffic oozed along at an irritating pace. Nico’s phone was ringing off the hook. Paul hated lateness. Nico hated being told what to do. Paul would just have to wait. He’d paid the guy well for his services, so he could stand to wait a few minutes.
Finally, he found himself pulling over to an old garage near Alewife station.
Nico parked his car and got out, scanning the place for Paul. His palms were sweaty. No sign of Paul meant that he could have been intercepted. How much more blood could Giuseppe get on his hands? Paul reached into his waistband, clutching the steel handle as he walked further into the garage.
“Hey hey hey buddy!” He heard Paul’s deep booming voice coming from the inside of the garage.
Nico’s hand darted away from the gun. Nothing to worry about. From the sound of it, Paul was his usual self.
“Buddy!” He said with a big, broad smile.
“You alright?” Paul shook his hand, a formal greeting compared to what Nico was accustomed to in Italy.
“Yes. I just need to get rid of this piece of shit.”
“Piece of shit, huh?”
Paul started walking towards Nico’s car, eyeing it up and down as he got close.
“This is some piece of shit,” Paul chuckled.
He didn’t understand quality cars the way Nico did. Loyal to American brands to a fault, Paul probably thought this car was just fine. At least that would make it easy to move. Nico needed to ditch every piece of evidence that could be traced back to his real identity now that he was here.
Paul reached into his pocket. Nico felt his heart jump again. Paul just pulled out a box of cigarettes.
“No thank you.”
Paul shoved the Marlboro into his mouth and lit up. The slimy scent of tobacco slithered into Nico’s nostrils against his will. He pursed his lips and waited for Paul to give his assessment.
“Well it’s in the condition you said it would be in.”
“I’m a man of my word.”
Paul chuckled and took in a long slow drag punctuated by a hacking cough.
“Well, perfect. All you need is twenty-thousand cash and the car will be yours.”
Nico opened up the trunk and pulled out a black duffel bag.
“You’ve got to be shitting me.”
“It was cash you wanted right?”
“Well, I figured you’d write me a fuckin’ check.”
Paul’s Boston accent appeared to be getting thicker as he was confronted with more money than he knew what to deal with.
“No time for checks.”
“What kind of bullshit are you up to buddy?”
“Bullshit that you shouldn’t worry about,” Nico said, flashing Paul a smile while his icy blue eyes bore into him, warning him against asking too many more questions.
“Great. The Audi’s out back.”
Paul knew better than to ask too many questions too. He didn’t have any specifics about what Nico was up to, but he was also too smart to ask.
Paul picked up the duffel bag and Nico dropped the keys to his old ride into Paul’s leathered palm. Paul dropped the duffel on the ground in the center of the garage and continued to lead Nico to his prize. Nico grinned from ear to ear when he saw the car, exactly as he’d ordered it. A brand new 2017 Audi A4. Sleek, black, Italian and just cheap enough that it would fly under the radar.
“She’s beautiful,” Nico said.
“Isn’t she? Nice fuckin’ car. Drives real nice.”
“Well, maybe you’ll get a chance to hold onto this one.”
“If you head back to old Italia?”
Nico smiled but didn’t reply. He didn’t think he’d be going back to Italy. He figured that he’d die here, right on American soil. It hurt to think about, but everything had hurt since she had died. There wasn’t a single moment of Nico’s life that wasn’t pure agony.
“Sure. Sure thing buddy.”
Paul fumbled around in his deep pockets and pulled out the keys.
“Well, why don’t I take her for a spin. I’ll drop by tomorrow if I have any issues.”
“I’ll remember this favor Paul.”
“T’was no problem buddy.”
Nico got into the driver’s seat. The smell of new leather intoxicated him instantly. He pushed the button to start the car. The engine was smooth, silent and sexy. Mmm. Maybe he’d sworn off women but he could love the hell out of a brand new car. Nico waved to Paul and eased the beauty out of the garage.
Nico’s buddy Paul was his “car guy” but Nico also had a guy who was renowned for making people disappear. He needed to be invisible in Boston. He knew if he walked down the wrong streets, walked into the wrong shops, he’d be vulnerable in an instant. Giuseppe would slit his throat and dump him into the harbor if he got the chance. Nico approached the park where he was supposed to meet up with Nolan. Nolan Lamb was a real scummy kind of guy, the kind of guy who made the back of your hairs stand up. He smiled at the wrong times, he stood too close to you and he was all around bad news.
But he was also loyal. Nico waited patiently in his new car, scanning his surroundings while he waited to see Nolan marked by his signature blue Red Sox cap. Nico relaxed as he realized he hadn’t been followed. Setting foot in the United States had driven him to perpetual agitation. Nolan was late. Of course. But it wasn’t too long before Nico saw the tall, strapping man sit down on a park bench and adjust his Red Sox cap. He sat patiently, waiting for Nico to appear.
Nico got out of his car; he didn’t allow Nolan to spot which car he’d come out of and he walked around the park out of sight until he approached Nolan from behind.
“Signor Lamb,” Nico greeted him.
Nolan knew who he was from his greeting and he turned around slowly.
“Nee-Ko,” He greeted him, stretching out the syllables in his thick Boston accent, rolling Nico’s name around his mouth.
“I assume you found a suitable place for me?”
Nolan nodded, “Sure did. It’s fuckin’ nice too.”
“Oh yeah. Townhouse near Cambridge. You’ll be invisible among all these Harvard fucks.”
“Cigarette?” Nolan continued.
“No thank you,” Nico replied.
Nolan pulled out his box of Camels and lit up.
“Here’s the address,” He said, fishing for an index card in his pocket.
The smell of tobacco on his breath was pungent. Nolan had a wound on his right hand that looked like he’d grabbed onto a knife. Nico mused that whoever had tried to stab the guy probably had very good reason.
“Yup,” Nolan replied, taking a long drag and then searching his deep pocket for a single bronzed key.
“What’s the security like on the place?”
“Heh. We’ve done a good job of it. Trust me. Some motherfucker would need to really want to get at you.”
“Plus, I got my wife to decorate the place. I know you said you wanted it furnished.”
“Thank you Nolan.”
He wondered how the hell someone like Nolan had ended up married in the first place. Nico imagined his wife was some poor Massachusetts girl who had never left Boston and settled for anyone who would put food on the table and babies in her belly. Nico knew her well enough to know his guess was probably accurate.
“No problem pal. You know I owe you one.”
Nico smiled. Nolan didn’t. Nolan did owe him one. Nolan’s inappropriate behavior had nearly landed him in a whole lot of trouble a few years ago. Without Nico, he’d be rotting in some state prison somewhere. Nico didn't do it because Nolan was a good guy, but because his wife was a decent woman and there was no way she’d be able to feed their kids on his own.
“I’ll check out the place then.”
“Sure thing,” Nolan said standing up, “Call me if there’s any trouble.”
Nico sat on the park bench and watched as Nolan walked away from him. Nolan was grinning as he walked to his old Chevy pick up and drove away. The money Nico had paid him to arrange all of this was probably going to make his wife a very happy woman. Once he was sure that Nolan had left and there would be no funny business, Nico returned to his car.
The fear of his father haunted him even when he knew he was safe.
The townhouse Nolan had arranged for him was in the middle of the apartments rented by college students. Nico wanted a nice place to live but he didn’t want to be distinguishable from the crowd. That meant dressing to blend in. Once he moved in, he’d hang his leather jacket up in the closet and stick to bootcut denim and white t-shirts. Blending in was never something that Nico was too good at.
He had Giuseppe’s striking face, the scar on his neck and of course, the shiny golden crucifix around his neck. He was markedly Italian and markedly Catholic in a city where that got you noticed. And he looked like a model too. That might have helped him remain anonymous in New York City, but in Boston, Nico looked almost too beautiful to be there — an obvious European transplant.
The car drove smoothly and he parked it behind the building. Nolan had paid careful attention to Nico’s criteria. Nico opened the townhouse door. It smelled like bleach. Nolan (or his wife) had clearly done a bang up job getting this together. The furniture possessed that Martha Stewart charm with blues and whites pulling together the decor of each room. Nico carried his bags into the house and locked the door behind him. He walked over to the alarm and read the instructions that Nolan had scribbled onto the back of the index card.
Nico set the alarm on. Once he was in the house, he planned to keep it on at all times for security. He could feel his level of paranoia turning him into his father. Nico unpacked his bags, neatly hanging his white t-shirts in the closet and folding his jeans. He placed his three pairs of shoes neatly beneath the white t-shirts and then sat on the bed once he was done.
He didn’t have much time before he was supposed to meet the boys — his loyal band of followers who had agreed Giuseppe should be unseated from his dictatorial throne over the local Italians. Nico had come all the way from Italy for his revenge on that motherfucker.
He unpacked his guns, stashing them around his house in the locations that Nolan had arranged. His townhouse had become a fortress in under an hour. Nico slipped a knife into the holster strapped around his calf and slipped a gun into his back waistband. In a sense, it felt good to be back in Boston.
In some ways, this city was just as much of his home as Italy was. Having to exist underground like this felt like an alternate reality. With her he had vowed to put all of this behind him. But Giuseppe had been persistent. If he couldn’t control Nico, he needed to destroy him. And as for Luca… Luca had been born with the same cruel streak as his father, but he would no longer be a problem.
That made Nico’s job much easier. He would have never been able to complete this mission if his twin brother were still alive.
Nico thought about their childhood and he wondered if somehow, he’d always known it would come to this. Luca and Nico had always been so incompatible. And the way their lives had turned out, it was as if there had been no other choice but for only one of them to survive. Based on how he’d grown up, Nico had always figured he would be the one to die first. Luca was cruel. He had always been cruel.
Nico wandered out of the house and set his alarm. The streets were filled with college students. Their oversized spectacles, flannel shirts and tight skinny jeans that both men and women alike wore created this androgynous crowd of intellectuals. Nico picked up on what he would need to fit in quickly. A leather messenger bag. Spectacles. No beard. A haircut. Blending into Cambridge wouldn’t prove too difficult. Everyone here was so homogenous, that Nico found it too easy to pick out the trends. Dressing like these younger folks would be easy.
In a way, Nico felt like he’d been robbed of the youth they all had. College had been out of the question for him. The Riccardis didn’t do college according to his father. All they needed to be educated on was how to serve the family and maintain the family wealth.
He walked to the bar. He fully intended for his new car to remain anonymous, even to the men that he trusted. If anyone went to report that Nico Riccardi was back in town, he wanted to leave them with nothing else but that simple useless fact. Before he went to the bar, Nico walked into Urban Outfitters and bought himself a large flannel shirt and a pair of fake spectacles. He ripped the tags off both and put them on the moment he left the store.
Nico had become Nicholas Ricardo to anyone else he met. His accent might be the only thing that gave him away. He hadn’t been in America long enough to tone it down the way he used to. Italian had given his voice a heavy, deep sound. It worked on the ladies but it wouldn’t do to maintain his anonymity.
The bar was a dive. The blue-collar clientele occupied all the seats, eyes glued to the Patriots game broadcasted on the television. Nico had never understood the fascination with American football. Nothing could get his heart rate up so easily after the life he’d lived — well, the life he’d been forced into. Nico nodded towards the bartender who pointed towards the back room.
Even in a dive like this, greasing palms could get you a VIP room. In this seedy side of Boston, Nico had dredged up men who had a bone to pick with his father. That hadn’t proved too difficult. Nico was glad to see that the men who he’d chosen had done his bidding. He commanded the same fear as Giuseppe. Good. Nico didn’t have the cruelty that his father had, but he knew how to command a room. He knew how to use fear and uncertainty to his advantage in order to get what he wanted. Valuable lessons from Papa Riccardi.
Nico entered the room and the men fell silent.
“Good evening gentlemen,” Nico said quietly.
The men grunted in response.
“What are you waiting for? Someone bring me a beer.”
Power. Nico resented it, but he knew how to wield it too.
Nico sat down at the head of the table while the men around it looked him up and down. Nico knew what this was. They were assessing his strength and calculating whether Nico was deserving of their respect. Nico hoped that no man would try to test him. While he didn’t enjoy cruelty, he was capable of doling out punishment if someone crossed him. This mission was serious enough to draw out a bad temper.
A local American-born Italian man named Tommy brought Nico the beer. He sipped the frothy dark ale with a hint of resentment that it wasn’t a full bodied dry wine.
“Thank you all for meeting with me today… I’d like to discuss a few business matters. Phones off and on the table,” Nico started.
Each fella turned their phone off and placed it face down on the table. Tommy stood behind Nico, making sure that there were no snakes amongst them. Nico had inherited his father’s paranoia, his father’s ability to inspire loyalty and his father’s charisma. What he hadn’t inherited was his father’s bloodlust.
If they were going to make money in Boston, he didn’t want to do it the way his father had. They weren’t here to incite violence, but to stop it. Nico needed to protect his community in a way his father hadn’t. His father gave Italians a bad name.
Nico began to speak. His voice emanated from his chest and Nico could feel every man in the room hanging onto his every word. First he needed money. Then he needed men. Then he would get his revenge on Giuseppe. Nico had been patient and this would require even more patience.
As he spoke, he looked at all the men in the room and analyzed each one. Tommy was a good right-hand man. Leo and Paul were the brawn. Their arms were sinewy, naturally strong and they knew their way around guns. Two eighteen year olds who worked down at the docks would make good ears — listening around the city for valuable tidbits about Giuseppe’s movements. There was only one person missing from the crowd.
After he had finished his first speech and the men started talking amongst themselves, Nico grabbed on Tommy’s shirt.
“Tommy,” He whispered, “Where is…”
Tommy interrupted before he could finish.
“The boy? He finished school fifteen minutes ago. He should be here by now.”
Nico nodded. He hated the idea of getting someone so young involved in this. But when he was his cousin’s age, he’d been involved in far worse. His father had given him a gun from the time he was old enough to know how to use it. Nico waited patiently for a few more moments, letting his men plan and discuss their next moves amongst themselves.
Trust. Trust meant they would do anything for him and he wouldn’t have to micro-manage their every move.
But the boy…
That was the final piece of the puzzle that Nico would need to ensure his plan successful. Just when he was about to send Tommy on a manhunt, the boy walked through the door. He dropped his backpack on the ground when he saw his cousin. Nico stood up and wrapped the boy in his arms.
“Buona sera cugino,” Nico whispered.
His cousin kissed his cheek and then pulled away, replying with a strong, “Buona sera.”
Nico eyed the boy up and down. The boy reminded him of himself at that age. He was skinny as a rail. And even if it was clear he was trying to hide it, Nico could smell the faintest whiff of tobacco on the boy’s clothing. Now that was more like Luca than Nico. The boy had blue eyes that possessed less intensity than Nico’s, but were a bright blue all the same. Instead of black, his hair was a dark brown color and cropped right above his shoulders.
Nico would have switched to Italian if he knew that not all the men in the room spoke it very well.
“How is my father, Domenico?”
Domenico paused, trying to find the necessary words in English to answer his cousin.
“Eh… He is… very… troubled.”
Nico smiled. That was the type of news he wanted to hear about his father, Giuseppe Riccardi. Giuseppe deserved all the trouble in the world and Nico was hell bent on bringing it to his doorstep.
“Does he know I’m back?”
Domenico shook his head, his long eyelashes fluttered as he spoke, “He suspects. But he does not know.”
Nico figured the boy’s English would get better with more time in school. He still stumbled over his words and marked himself as decidedly foreign. Nico remembered how lonely of an experience that had been. It had helped get the attention of girls in high school, but besides their fleeting interest, high school had been a lonely place. No child deserved to be bounced around like that. Childhood was supposed to be about stability.
Nico had known for a long time that bringing a child into the world would be foolish. Especially a child who was brought up in a life like this. There would be no hope of happiness. Nico could never be a father. But now, he had a chance to be a father figure to his significantly younger cousin.
“I don’t want to put you in danger Domenico.”
Nico reached into his pocket and he pulled out a gold watch. He wore its twin watch on his own wrist. Domenico stretched out his palm and Nico dropped the watch down. Domenico’s eyes roved over the watch and eventually he found the inscription and whispered it out loud.
“Yes,” Nico said, “Keep this safe. You might need this at some point.”
“My father is a dangerous man Domenico, as you already know.”
Domenico nodded again.
Of course he knew. Domenico’s real mother had died in childbirth. One of Nico’s other aunts had adopted him as her son. That was the only mother Domenico had ever known.
So Domenico hadn’t the faintest choice about the life he’d been born into. His father had been one of Giuseppe’s accountants. After refusing to commit an egregious crime, he’d been murdered. All of this had happened while the boy was young. Giuseppe figured Domenico was too young to understand what had happened.
With Domenico’s father out of the picture, and Domenico’s (adopted) mother too terrified to react, Giuseppe could do anything he wanted. He plucked the boy from his mother’s grasp, only allowing her to see the child when it suited him. Giuseppe had taken Domenico in, thinking that the boy would simply adjust to life without his father. Giuseppe had planted the seeds of betrayal in nearly every person he surrounded himself with. Nico planned to take advantage of that.
Nico pulled out a handgun from his back pocket.
“You know how to use this?”
“Now. I can’t give a child my gun Domenico. But if you can find one… Take it. You might need it.”
Domenico nodded again. Nico could feel the boy’s fear. He was too young to be involved in this — far too young. And he seemed like a good kid too. Nico hadn’t been so good when he was his age. He’d been a rebel. He’d fought anyone who’d crossed him and he caused trouble in school with his twin brother, Luca. Nico had done it to act out, as a cry for help. Luca had done it for the pleasure. Twins, but as different as night and day.
“Let’s review. In English. What is it I need from you?”
Domenico took his time, but this time, his English was more confident. He’d need the practice. Nico knew how hard it was to fit in with the students at school when you were so different.
“Listen to Giuseppe. Report to you. Stay out of trouble. Figure out his movements.”
“That’s right. Now I’ll need you to go home now so he doesn’t suspect anything.”
Nico kissed the boy on the cheek and wrapped him in a tight hug afterwards.
“I know you want a better life Domenico.”
“I want us both to live in a city where we are not afraid. Capisce?”
Domenico nodded, his mop of brown hair briefly falling into his eyes. Of course he understood. He was more scared than anyone in this room had ever been. And Tommy had a few toes cut off by Giuseppe’s men at one point. But Domenico was just a boy and he deserved to be kept safe.
The boy picked up his backpack and left the room. The men kept talking until Nico hushed them. He dismissed them for the day and then waited another thirty minutes for every single one of them to leave before he himself walked home. Trust was a tricky thing. And even if Nico trusted each one of the men in that room, he still needed his anonymity. Torture could make even the most loyal man turn into a squealing pig. Nico had seen that with his own two eyes.
He began to make his way home. As he walked home, Nico observed the students. He observed their mannerisms — all the things he would have to adopt so he wouldn’t stand out. Once he arrived home he locked his doors and alarmed his house. It was quiet here. And lonely. Nico thought about the woman that Giuseppe had separated him from. And how her laugh would have filled the house. How she would have played Mozart on the piano and sang old Italian hymns.
Nico bent his head as he sat in his lonely quiet living room. His fingers rubbed the contours of the golden crucifix that hung around his neck, and he prayed.
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