Bound By Vengeance(12)By: Cora Reilly
Father pulled out an envelope from the pocket in his jacket and held it out to one of the men. Talia’s arm brushed mine as she moved a bit closer. I wished I could give her the comfort she was obviously looking for but my own nerves were wrecked.
The man looked inside. “Where’s the rest?” he said in a heavy accent. Were those Russians? They’d looked slightly Slavic to me but I hadn’t considered the option of them actually being Russians. Father worked for the Camorra, and it was no secret that the Russians were the enemy. Weren’t we all committing treason by having those men inside our house? My head was spinning but I kept the questions to myself, from fear of making things worse.
“You’ll get it once my family and I are safe in New York. That was the deal, Wladimir,” Father said.
Talia slanted me a confused look but I didn’t dare take my eyes off what was going on. Why were we going to New York? And what had Father done that he needed Russians to protect him? He’d rarely spoken about business in our presence but whenever I’d overheard the occasional snippet about New York or Russians it hadn’t been positive.
Wladimir exchanged a look with his companions, then gave a quick nod. “That won’t be a problem. Tomorrow you’ll be in New York.”
Father turned to us. “What are you still doing here? I told you to pack your bags. Hurry.”
I hesitated but Mother grabbed Talia’s hand and led her toward the staircase. After a moment, I followed, but not without glancing over my shoulder again. The Russians were talking amongst each other. Father seemed to trust them, or at least trusted that they wanted the rest of the money badly enough to get us to New York. That reminded me. I caught up with Mother and Talia, then whispered. “Why New York? I thought we can’t go there because the ruling family there doesn’t get along with Father’s boss.”
Mother halted. “Where did you hear that?”
“I don’t know. Sometimes I overhear things. It’s the truth, though, right?”
“New York is a difficult topic. I haven’t been there in a very long time.”
There was longing in her voice. I opened my mouth to ask her about it when a bang sounded downstairs, then men were screaming.
“We need to hide,” Mother whispered as she dragged Talia toward the master bedroom. I was about to follow them when steps thundered up the staircase. I quickly pushed into the closest room, Talia’s, and hid in her overcrowded closet. There was a pile of discarded clothes on the floor and I used it to conceal myself even more. I could still see most of the room through the slits in the door, but with only the dim light from the corridor spilling in, it was difficult to make out much. I’d barely had time to crouch down and become still before the door was flung open. Someone staggered in. For a moment light hit the man’s face and I recognized him as one of the Russians. He was bleeding from a wound in his arm. He moved toward the window. Was he going to jump? He tried to push the window up but it got stuck because of his frantic movements.
I held my breath and buried myself deeper into the heap of clothes. Another man, much taller and more muscled than the first, stalked in and grabbed the Russian. Everything happened too fast to see much, but something seemed familiar about the second man. There was a short struggle. The Russian pulled a knife but he never got to use it. The other man grabbed him by the neck and twisted. I stifled a gasp as the Russian toppled over, collided with the door so it was pushed open all the way, and eventually dropped to the ground in a lifeless heap. Light now filled the entire center of the room. My eyes moved back up to the murderer. His back was turned to me. But I knew him. I had dreamt about him several times in the last couple of weeks since the party.
Growl, of course.
His black t-shirt stuck to his skin from sweat, and his arms were covered in tattoos. Without the suit and cool demeanor, this man was pure danger. Nothing controlled about him now. Everything about him screamed death. My heart pounded in my chest as I waited for him to turn around and discover me. Would he kill me as well?
He wouldn’t. He couldn’t. My family’s status still had to count for something, right?