Ten years old
“WHO DID YOU fucking talk to?” my father demands.
“No one, John,” Uncle Marco snaps. “You know that—”
“I know what I’ve been told and what you are saying doesn’t add up!” He pokes his brother in the chest. “And you.” He points at my aunt who stands in the corner of the living room with her back against the window that overlooks their backyard. “You’ve been running your fucking mouth too much.”
Tears fill her brown eyes as she stares at my father. Her shoulders shake, and she bites her bottom lip, trying to swallow a sob.
John Bianchi puts the fear of God in you. Because he is god. As the Don—the ringleader of the Italian-American Mafia—he decides when your time is up and how you pay for your sins. He was born in New York, but he and my uncle moved to Las Vegas when my father was fourteen. Uncle Marco was twelve. The laws in Sin City were more fluid back then, so my father was able to get his hands dirtier. He likes life messy.
“Don’t talk to her like that!” Marco shoves my father.
“I’ll talk to the bitch however I fucking please!” He punches my uncle, knocking him to his knees.
Aunt Ava cries out as blood runs down his chin, but she doesn’t dare go to her husband. No, she stays in her corner, knowing damn well there’s nothing she can do. At this point, all she can hope is that my father spares her life.
“You son of a bitch,” Marco growls, wiping the blood off.
My father pulls the gun from the waistband of his dress slacks and points it down at his brother.
“John!” He throws up his hands, eyes so dark, they’re almost black, pleading with my father to spare his life. “Come on. We’ll figure this out. I swear it wasn’t me …”
My father pulls the trigger.
I jump, momentarily deafened by the sound except for the ringing in my ears. Ava cries out, falling to the floor. Bringing her knees to her chest, she openly sobs.
I look back at my uncle. He never did live up to the expectations of the Bianchi family. My father was born in the mafia, and he will die in it, but his younger brother always played a role. Marco has wanted out for years, and this was the only way he was going to get it. Putting a bullet in his head was John Bianchi’s way of sparing him. He could have made my uncle suffer.
He turns to face my aunt. “No!” she screams. “Please …” She shakes violently as tears run down her face, smearing the makeup she put on earlier. It’s their anniversary. We caught them on their way out to dinner to celebrate fifteen years of marriage.
“Strip,” my father orders.
“Please …!” She sobs, shaking her head.
“Remove your dress. Now!” he shouts.
Using the window for support, she slowly gets to her feet. With shaky hands, she undoes the hook that holds her dress around her neck. It falls down her chest, stomach, and hips before pooling around her black heels. Her frail body shakes as she covers her bare breasts with her arms.
My father smiles at her, obviously happy with what he sees. Or what he doesn’t see. A wire. Someone has been feeding information to the feds, and he suspects it’s her. But the things that have gotten back to my father were spot-on, so if she wasn’t the snitch, then her husband was.
He walks over to her, grips her auburn hair, and jerks her head back. Placing the gun under her chin, he shows no emotion as she closes her eyes and sobs uncontrollably. “You keep your goddamn mouth shut; do you understand me?”
She begins to nod, but he shoves her head back farther with the barrel of the gun.
“Fucking say it, Ava!” he growls in her face.
“Keep … my … mouth … shut,” she chokes out.
He releases her, and she cries out when he shoves her to the floor once again. Turning to face me, he places his gun back in his waistband. Coming over to me, he says, “Never let anyone stand in your way, son. Not even fucking blood. They’ll be the first to undercut you, and they should be the first to die for it.”
Twenty-two years old
The morning air is cool on my skin. The harsh wind whistling as it blows through the tall trees on this mountainside. The sun is just starting to rise on this glorious Friday. My heart pounds with adrenaline.
The sound of screaming is like music to my ears. A beacon of hope calling to me, letting me know I’m close to my destination. But as much as I like the sound, I don’t need it. I know where he is because I set the traps.
A week ago, my father called me to his home office in New York and ordered me to go hunting. But this isn’t the kind of hunt where you hang your kill on the wall as a trophy to impress others. No, this is the kind you let the wild animals feast on and then leave to rot once you’ve trapped your prey.