Authors: Soraya Naomi
(Chicago Syndicate, #2)
By Soraya Naomi
Copyright © 2014 by Soraya Naomi
Published by Soraya Naomi
First digital edition published by Soraya Naomi. Book 2 of
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Bottom Cover Photo credit: David Niblack.
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Pitch black. Darkness.
This isn’t happening.
Hunched like a ball with my knees pulled up, I’m stuck in this scant place, crammed in here with the lid pressed against my back. Sweat seeps along the contours of my face as I try to turn my head slightly. I dig my teeth into my knees to keep from making a sound, but my own heavy, trembling breaths are deafening, feeding my fear.
Oh my god. NO
The blaring pain in my back is surpassed by the unbearable anguish I experience from hearing the constant blows and an incensed male voice. I shut my eyes tightly, and tears mingle with cold sweat as panic gnaws at my insides.
This isn’t real.
I hear Luca coughing and grunting in pain, and I can almost sense his suffering burning through my body while I have to listen to him being beaten, over and over again.
“You have to get in there and stay! Understand?” Luca begs and takes my face in both hands.
The tremor and panic in his tone increase my own anxiety. “No! What are you going to do?” I cry and clutch his dress shirt in a death grip.
“Fallon, goddammit. I can’t afford to worry about you too right now. I have to know that you’re safe. You have to promise me you won’t come out. You have got to fucking listen to me.”
Through the darkness, I can barely see his eyes, so I inch even closer, our noses are almost touching. As much as he’s tried to give me hope, I can hear in his despondent tone that there isn’t a way out for both of us. I nod my head up and down in disbelief of our current situation. We hug each other tightly, and Luca presses his lips to my forehead harshly.
He pulls back, cradling my face again and wiping away my tears with his thumbs. “Get in.”
Someone’s yelling, and I want to help Luca, but I’m afraid to leave this space, so I honor the last promise I made to the man I love while the life is being beaten out of him.
After what feels like hours, but is probably mere minutes, of shouting and fighting, the sudden stillness thunders my fear to unmeasurable heights.
“Did you talk to her?” Adriano asks as we descend the stairs to the front door of the Syndicate’s headquarters.
“Not since Thursday.” I’m tired as hell and want to go home without any business interrupting my quiet time. I haven’t spoken to Fallon or seen her in two days. Two days that have crawled by agonizingly slowly.
Following our former hacker, Danny Mancuso’s ex-girlfriend, Fallon Michaels, seven months ago led to me fall in love with her. We seemed to have it all for a few blissful months, except in those months, I never disclosed that I was the underboss of the Chicago Syndicate, which rules the drug traffic in Chicago’s underworld with James as my
– the boss, who’s the only one ranked above me – and Adriano as my
a captain who’s ranked immediately below me and works as my back-up, which makes Adriano officially more important and valuable than the other two
of the Chicago Syndicate.
At that critical moment when I thought I had to reveal everything to her because she caught me in my lies and became increasingly suspicious, she was kidnapped by one of my soldiers and taken to the house – our headquarters – that Adriano and I are now exiting. For six distressing days, I watched and lived out the destruction of our relationship while I worked to help her, and she fought me every step of the way.
However, she lied as well; her boss, Alex, blackmailed her into obtaining incriminating information on me, yet she never told me. I also discovered that she knew for three weeks that I was part of the Syndicate, another thing she hid from me, and she never confided in me when she was in trouble. Fortunately, she didn’t help Alex because she never got the chance. Alex
died of a heroin overdose because no one interferes with my life.
Ultimately, one fateful night wrecked our already splintered love, and now the pieces of two broken people remain. Well,
am broken; I can only guess how she’s doing because she’s been ignoring me since I took her home last Thursday.
Adriano and I went to the garage this afternoon to make sure Damian’s and my car were fixed properly – no trace of the damage Camilla and Fallon caused when they tried to escape the house last Wednesday – and then we drove my car and Damian’s BMW back to our headquarters. After Damian picked up his car, I retrieved a few items from my private room.
“What are you doing tonight?” Adriano probes when I open the front door and greet the guard with a discreet chin lift before walking to my Maserati in the driveway.
“I’m going home, and I was hoping you could cover for me if any urgent business comes up. I’m forwarding my calls to you.”
“Fine. Get some rest—”
A loud blast from behind jolts us forward. Heat spreads across my back and I’m propelled through the air and land harshly as my shoulders connect with the gravel driveway and the back of my head bangs against the ground. For a moment, everything shuts down – my vision goes black and it’s still, until I feel masses of debris falling on top of me, prompting me to quickly roll over and cover my head with my arms.
“Adriano?!” I shout while smoke surrounds me, making me cough, and a few more pieces of wreckage fall on my legs.
He doesn’t answer, and I don’t see him as the smoke begins to fade. That worries me since he was right behind me when something inside that house detonated. As I sit up slowly, my eyes widen when I see that the right side of the house has been blown up, and the living room is missing an entire outer wall. I look toward the perimeter for any unusual movement, and as I turn my head, I spot Adriano lying face down in the gravel near my car.
Fuck! He was thrown much farther than I was.
I try to get up quickly, which isn’t easy with every muscle in my body hurting like hell, and run to him. Flipping him over, I bring my ear close to his nose to make sure he’s breathing. Thankfully, he is! But he’s knocked out cold, and a nasty cut on his head is bleeding profusely. My blood is also dripping on him. The stitches in my ear – from Thursday’s shooting in the Parish of the Blessed – must have broken. Looks like we both need medical attention.
Fishing out my phone from my pocket, I call James. “We’re compromised. I need you and the doctor at the house. Now.”
.” Understood. “On my way,” James confirms.
The doctor arrives within twenty minutes, and we haul Adriano inside the house. He stirs and wakes up just as I brush debris off the couch, and we lay him down.
He blinks and grimaces when he tries to sit up straight. “The fuck happened?”
“Lie down.” The doctor guides him back down on the couch. “Let me check your head injury.”
Adriano’s eyes shoot to mine. “Are you okay?”
I nod and walk over to where the hole has been blasted in the wall. The enormous gape in the dirty ground right by the hedge looks to be where the bomb was planted. Assessing the damage, I’m saddened to find one of our organization’s prospects’ lifeless body. I jump through the open space and stride to his remains. His body is twisted in an awkward position, and his eyes are still hauntingly open, so I crouch before him and close his eyelids before returning inside the house.
“He probably has a mild concussion, and I need to stitch his cut. Yours too.” Doc signals to my ear.
“We need to get out of this house first because I don’t know if any more devices have been planted or what part of the foundation might be damaged. Adriano, can you walk?”
Adriano stands and sways slightly, but the doctor and I steady him on each side, and we move to my car as quickly as possible.
“Get in the front. We leave immediately.” I help Adriano slide into his seat. “Follow me, Doc.”
That evening James and Salvatore – my
, the Syndicate’s counselor and lawyer – meet Adriano and me at my penthouse where the doctor has stitched us up and provided us with some pain medicine.
As we stand around my black granite-top kitchen island, I look at their weary faces.
James inquires, “Any ideas who did this?”
While twisting his golden lighter between his fingers, Adriano answers, “Leggia maybe? We should check with Biagio,”
“I’ll set up a meet with Biagio,” Salvatore offers while sliding onto the barstool.
James looks me in the eye. “I don’t like this. This is the first time our headquarters has been targeted. It could’ve been Leggia’s doing, but I have my doubts.”
“So do I,” I agree.
“I want you two to get some rest for a couple of days,” James orders and points to Adriano and me. “And we don’t meet in public for a couple of weeks.”
We nod in agreement and part. Everyone back to their own life. James will be welcomed by his wife, Alessa. Salvatore’s Julia waits for him. Adriano will be happy with a random hook-up. And I’m alone. Without
As much as I want to, I can’t resist to reach out, so I text and call her a few times during the weekend, but not one word from Fallon.
It's funny how in an entire lifetime, there are a few moments that define your way of thinking. And how just one week can alter the entire course of a life is astonishingly sad. Those six days of constantly worrying what would happen to me had a profound impact on my reasoning skills. Those few days changed my way of thinking because every second of the day, I was occupied with keeping the fear at bay and my mind clear. It changed my life, and it changed the course of my life with it.