Authors: Stacia Stone
© 2016 by Stacia Stone
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like a shot startles me awake. I automatically reach for the 9mm Glock that I always keep strapped to my thigh, even in bed. My hand wraps around the grip like it’s a fucking comfort animal.
I glare into the darkness of the bedroom, alert for any movement or sound. I’m prepared to blow a gigantic hole in whatever threat presents itself.
Nothing moves in the desaturated background. I relax into the silence and ease my finger off of the trigger. I don’t know what’s got me so jumpy lately, but it’s like dread and fear are growing in me like a sickness.
Get your shit together.
A loud snore shatters the silence. I turn to glare at the head full of lanky blonde hair draped over the pillow next to me.
Fucking broads. What did she say her name was? Grace or Faith, or something like that. Why is it the sluttiest girls always have names straight out of Sunday School? It’s like some sort of cosmic joke.
I shouldn’t have brought her home. I don’t make that a habit for a damned good reason. There’s nothing I hate more than clingy morning-afters and desperate pleas to
Vito says that I hate women, but that’s not it. I don’t hate them. I just don’t see much use for them. Not anymore.
But scantily-clad girls are like magnets for my dick, especially when I’m fresh off of a hit. All that adrenaline pumping and emotions running high is like the world’s best aphrodisiac. All I want is to drown myself in every vice — more smokes, more booze and more pussy.
And Sunday School over here could smell it on me like fucking pheromones. The minute I walked into Sonny’s Bar, she made a beeline straight toward me. Like all she wanted was the most dangerous man in the room.
And make no mistake. I am dangerous.
I kill people for a living. Not because the money is good or even because I’m one of the best, although I am. I do it because nothing makes me happier than knowing that someone’s existence is in my hands. And then using that power to snuff their existence out.
I get off on it. It’s better than sex, better than drugs, better than anything else I’ve ever experienced.
The girl in bed next to me makes a snuffling sound in her sleep that I find thoroughly disgusting. I like women better when they’re dressed up. When their makeup is done and they keep the nasty bodily shit to themselves.
I should have known better. Sonny’s is a notorious mafia hangout. Everyone knows the place is connected. Women attracted to bad men flock there in droves for their chance to get with someone in the life.
And this bitch had been no different, sidling up to where I sat at the bar. I sipped on the glass of Glenmorangie straight-up that always caps off a job well done, while she rubbed against me like a cat. Until I finally gave her some of the attention she seemed to want so desperately.
Maybe that’s my problem. The desperation oozes off these chicks like stale perfume. The way their eyes follow me around the room. The over-eager smiles that warp their faces when they manage to catch my eye. All because they know I’m a made guy.
I can’t fucking stand it.
This one grabbed my thigh and literally tried to drag me out of there. I could barely even finish my drink. She was so cock-hungry that it’s probably a diagnosable medical condition. She wore a short skirt that barely covered the lower curve of her ass and a low-cut top in some garish color. Her tits practically spilled out onto the bar.
No one’s ever said that I don’t have a type.
How can I get her out of my apartment and avoid dealing with any emotional bullshit? I could always pull my gun on her, that would get her ass moving pretty quickly.
Although she’s hot enough that I might consider another go if she begs me nicely enough. Tits are big enough to be distracting. She has a nicely-rounded ass. And her waist slopes gently between the two, which are my only real requirements. Her face is nothing to write a poem about, if I’m remembering right, but that doesn't matter much. I can’t tell well enough from my current angle. But I don’t remember a meth mouth, jacked-up skin or obvious features of inbreeding. That shit plagues too many of the chicks hanging around Sonny’s.
Yeah, I’d let her beg.
If these bar skanks had any idea what I really wanted to do to them — the urges that I drown in work and expensive whiskey — they’d run screaming for the hills.
Instead, I let them hang around for one night — or less as the case may be — and change them out like I switch out my socks. After a while, the women all kind of blend together. Blonde, brunette, redhead, there all the same with their clothes off. And why bother sticking with one when I can sample them all like a kid at Baskin-Robbins.
And there’s way more than thirty-one flavors.
I’m about to roll over and wake up Sunday School with either my dick or a quick trip to the door. The burner phone in my nightstand drawer starts to ring and vibrate loudly against the wood.
I immediately feel the cold tendril of dread, that had only just dissipated, curl its way down my spine. This phone is only for work and emergencies. The boss is the only one who has it and he wouldn’t be calling me for another job this soon after the last one.
I grab it before it can ring again and wake up the girl next to me. The finger that hits the talk button trembles only slightly.
“Leo? It’s Mickey.”
I relax a fraction, though my heart still beats a little too hard in my chest. “How the hell did you get this number?”
“I’m using Don Vito’s phone—"
“For Mickey’s sake, I hope this is a real emergency. Otherwise, Vito is going to rip the guy a new asshole. “It’s three in the morning. What the fuck do you want, Mickey?”
“It’s the boss. He’s in the hospital.”
I leap out of bed like I’ve been shocked by lightning, although this didn’t feel much different. “Say that again. Slowly.”
“He collapsed at the club a few hours ago, stopped breathing for a little bit and everything. Paramedics took him to City General. I’m here waiting for news.”
Clothes are scattered on the floor, some mine and some not. I pull on a pair of wrinkled slacks, temporarily unconcerned with how I looked. Most of the time, I wouldn’t be caught dead in anything but a pressed suit.
“I’m on my way. You call me the minute you hear any news or if anything changes.”
“You got it, Leo. Of course.”
I grab the thin polyester dress that’s draped over a chair and toss it on the bed.
“Get up,” I say harshly.
The blonde lifts her head slowly from the pillow. She gives me a come-hither smile the minute her eyes open. She obviously thinks the tousled, bedhead look is sexy but all it does is piss me off.
“Good morning to you too, baby,” she practically purrs.
“You need to leave. Now.”
She gathers the sheets up to her chest as she sits up, looking confused and a little angry. “Are you serious?”
“Deadly. I’ve got a place to be and I need you not here.”
“Well, you’re a real asshole, aren’t you?”
“You have no idea, sweetheart. Get up.”
The broad makes no move to rise from the bed and a pout descends over her features. “I know you had a good time last night. Don’t you have time for one more go?”
Her purse peeks out from underneath the bed. I grab it by the strap and toss it in her general direction. “This time you’re spending running your mouth, you should be using to get dressed. Unless you want me to toss you out on your naked ass.”
“Once was enough, sweetheart. Get moving.”
It takes more time than I have to bundle her into her clothes and get her out the apartment. She protests the entire way from my bed to the front door. As if yelling expletives and insulting the size of my dick is the best way to convince me to let her stay.
Broads who don’t listen make me angrier than almost anything else I can imagine.
* * *
fucking hate hospitals
It’s mostly the smell. As if there’s enough industrial cleaner in the world to cover the stench of sick and dying.
Bleach and blood. You think I’d be more used to it.
Mickey meets me at the door of the ICU. His squirrelly face is twitchier than normal. It seems like his whole body quivers with suppressed energy as he walks toward me.
He starts talking before I can even greet him.
“It’s a fucking heart attack, man. Took the boss down out of nowhere. One minute he’s got some dancer grinding on his lap and the next minute he’s on the floor holding onto his chest.”
“What do the doctors say?”
“The one’s been talking to me like I’m some fucking
who don’t know nothing. Says it’s too early to say.”
My hands clench into involuntary fists at my sides. I want to hit something, or someone. “Is he awake?”
“Sort of. They’ve got him all doped up with painkillers. He’s not making much sense.”
“Who else is here?”
“Just the guys who were there when it happened. I didn’t know who else to call.”
I glance around the waiting room. A couple of our guys hold up one wall, looking like all they want to do is shoot something.
If only this was the sort of the problem that violence could fix.
Mickey looks nervously at me and then down at the floor. I realize belatedly that he’s worried about whether he did right. He's waiting for me to acknowledge or reprimand him.
I realize what it means that the boss is out of commission.
“You did good, Mickey,” I say. “Go sit down somewhere. Take a load off.”
It didn’t seem real until this moment. I’d been able to rationalize on the ride over, convince myself that it isn’t as bad as it seems. On some level, I still don’t believe it. The boss can’t be dying. It isn’t possible.
Don Vito Matarrazzo is larger than life. He's built like a tanker truck with a temper hotter than the fiery pits of hell. He runs the Jersey branch of the mafia like it’s still 1920, facing down every obstacle with guns blazing.
He’s also the closest thing to a father that I’ve got.
He took a chance on a snub-nosed foster kid when I was picking pockets for dollar bills and holding up corner stores with a squirt gun painted black. I’d been a petty juvenile delinquent in the making and he rescued me before I ended up in juvie. Then he gave me a purpose.
Vito turned me into the man that I am today, for better or for worse. I don’t want to imagine living in a world with a hole where he used to be.
Shaking off the maudlin feelings, I decide to do what I always do — find some real answers and crack skulls if necessary to get them.
I make a beeline for the nurse’s station. A bored woman with gray hair pecks onto a keyboard with her index fingers, one letter at a time.
“Can I help you?” She asks so languidly that I wonder if she got high before coming in for her shift.
“I need some information on the condition of Vito Matarrazo. Where’s his doctor.”
“Are you family?”
“Sure.” Close enough, I think.
She hunts for a key and presses a few letters, agonizingly slowly. I have to resist the urge to strangle her with my bare hands.
“I’m sorry, but we limit visitors to two in the intensive care units.”
“Who’s back there now?” I try to bend over the computer, but she waves me back with an austere look.
“I’m sorry, sir.”
I give her my trademark devastating smile. I know the effect that I have on women and I’m not ashamed to say that I use it to my full advantage. “I get you’re just trying to do your job, but my uncle could be dying right now. Can’t you help me out here?”
The woman melts just like I knew she would. That's assuming there’s anything capable of going liquid left in those granny panties of hers. “Oh, alright. Just don’t tell anyone. He’s in Bay 4.”
She hands me a pass. I nearly snatch out of her hand in my haste to get to Vito’s room. “Thank you.”
I force myself to calmly walk down the hallway. Even now, I’m concerned with how I might look to anyone watching. Hitmen don’t go running through hospitals like hysterical women.
The sound of hysterical wailing hits me when I’m still three rooms away. Shadows move behind the curtain covered glass of the enclosure. I turn the corner just to be met with a scene out of a Lifetime drama.
“Jesus Christ, woman.”
Cecile Matarazzo lays prostrate over her father’s too still form. She shrieks like a banshee and pulls at the sheets.
“Lay off, will you.” I move forward to get her off of him, more gently than I really want to. I immediately regret the decision when her tear-stained face turns to me. Thin arms covered in IV tracks wrap around my neck.
“It’s my Papa,” she bawls directly in my ear. “Not my Papa.”
I pry her arms from around me and press them back to her sides. If it wasn’t for her tear-streaked face, I’d be convinced that Cecile was just putting on a show. I do believe that she’s legitimately sad. Sad that the man she’s been treating like an ATM machine for her entire life might not be around for any more convenient withdrawals.