Bound By Vengeance(11)

By: Cora Reilly

“Brando, you’ve barely touched your dinner. Don’t you like the roastbeef?” Mother asked. She’d spent two hours in the kitchen to prepare our Sunday feast. On every other day of the week our cook was responsible for the cooking.

Father jumped in his chair. His widened bloodshot eyes found Mother, then they registered Talia and me. Unease settled in the pit of my stomach. I’d never seen him like that. Father was calm and analytic. Little could get a rise out of him. But since the party at the Falcone’s, he’d seemed somewhat stressed.

“I’m not hungry,” Father said before his gaze returned to his cell phone.

I glanced at the pouch straining over his belt. Father loved to eat, and he never let Mother’s roastbeef go to waste.

The screen of his phone flashed with a message and Father’s face drained of color. I set down my fork, no longer hungry. But I didn’t get the chance for another questioning look at Mother because Father shot to his feet. His chair toppled over and crashed to the hard-wood floor. Mother rose as well but Talia and I were frozen to our seats. What was going on?

“Brando, what--”

Father rushed off before Mother could finish her sentence. Mother followed after him and after a moment I got to my feet. Talia was still glued to her chair. She blinked up at me. My eyes darted to the door, torn between running after our parents to find out what was going on and following the rules. We weren’t supposed to get up from the dining table without permission. I didn’t like that rule but I’d always followed it. Dinners were the only time our family ever got the chance to really spend quality time together, after all.

The door to the dining room flew open again and Father was back, two guns in his hands. He set one down, only to pull out his phone and press it against his ear. I stared at the weapon on our table. I knew what Father was doing for a living, what he was. I’d known for as long as I could remember, even if Mother, Talia and I lived a fairly normal life. Even if you tried to be blind to the truth, it sometimes smacked you in the face without invitation. But so far Father had tried to keep up the illusion of normalcy around us. It hadn’t exactly been difficult for him because until a few months ago Talia and I had both attended an all-girls boarding school and only been home on the weekends and during the holidays. And soon I’d leave for college and Talia would return to school. I’d never seen him openly display a gun. I’d never seen a gun this close at all. Father was involved in organized crime, but many people who dealt with gambling were in Las Vegas; I wasn’t even sure what exactly he was doing, except that he managed most of the Camorra’s casinos.

Mother came into the dining room, looking completely out of it, but Father didn’t glance her way. “When will you be here?” Father hissed into the phone. He nodded after a moment. “We’ll be ready then. Hurry.”

Finally he turned to us. He was trying to look calm, but failing miserably. “Talia, Cara, please pack a bag. Only things you’ll absolutely need to get by for a few days.”

Mother had become a salt pillar.

“We’re going on vacation?” Talia asked with the hope and naiveté I wished for myself.

Father always humored us if we said something silly. Not today. “Don’t be ridiculous, Talia,” he barked. She jumped in her chair, obviously taken aback by the harsh tone.

“Are we in trouble?” I asked carefully.

“I don’t have time to discuss the details with you. All you need to know right now is that we don’t have much time, so please grab a few things.”

The phone flashed with a message. Father’s shoulders sacked with relief. He rushed out of the dining room. This time all three of us followed him into the entrance hall of the house. Father opened the door and several men I’d never seen before entered. They looked rugged; ill-fitting jeans, leather jackets, sneakers.

They looked like the kind of guys I wouldn’t want to meet in the dark – or at all. Their calculating eyes slid over me. They were the kind of men that made you cross the street to avoid them.

I had to stop myself from wrapping my arms protectively around my chest. If Father had invited them in, they couldn’t be dangerous.