[The Underground]

This is only a rough draft of something I’ve been working on. I still have a lot of editing and re-writing to do. I’m proud that I wrote something vs nothing. (I was inspired by an organized crime book I read).

From a safe distance, I observed a number of people entering the cathedral to say their final goodbyes to Uncle Mickey. The official report stated it was a heart attack that claimed him, but that had to be a lie. He was probably killed for helping me, which was something that tore me apart beyond recognition. I told the stubborn, old man that this could be the possible outcome, but he didn’t care. In all likelihood, his killer could be among the mourners; it was hard to believe I ever considered these people my family.

I didn’t realize a tear escaped me until I felt it roll down my face, leaving behind a cool streak that tickled against my skin as a gentle breeze made contact.

“It’ll be okay, Mia. I promise.” Jillian reached over to take hold of my hand in an attempt to offer reassurance.

I appreciated the sentiment, but the promise was going to be broken one way or another. Nothing was ever okay. I hoped I was wrong, though I knew better. The Morelli family wanted me dead. Five years in hiding wasn’t going to change that.

I glanced over at Jillian as I felt my eyes stinging with hot tears, silently praying to whatever God is out there that I was wrong.

“Why don’t you stay here,” she pulled down the passenger sun visor to reveal the mirror, “touch up your makeup, and I’ll meet you inside.”

I didn’t want her to go. There was a chance this could go sideways, but the purpose of bringing her was to find out if I was being lied to by a supposed ally. Her going ahead first was the window of opportunity I needed, that couldn’t be passed up.

After swallowing down my nerves and hesitation, I nodded in agreement.

Jillian smiled. “After the service, I’m gonna take you out for some drinks. We’ll meet some yummy guys and have fun. My treat!”

I grabbed her wrist as she opened her car door to leave. “Wait, Jill.”

“Yeah?”

I remained frozen. My lips parted, but there were no words forming.

“Do you want me to choose a spot for us to sit somewhere in the back away from everyone else?”

I nodded while attempting to ignore the pounding anxiety deep within my chest. “Thank you…”

“Thank me later when we’re knee deep in alcohol and men,” she winked as she exited the car.

The closer she approached the church, the more nauseous I began to feel. Sour saliva began to build up in my mouth.

Please, please, please, please, I whispered. Please let me be wrong.

As she walked the steps toward the arched, wooden doors, I noticed Big Lenny exiting as his bushy brows tightly pulled together above the sunglasses that were always too small for his face. Clearly, he was pissed about something.

Suddenly there was a loud bang echoing through the semi-busy street of mourners and bystanders. I looked around in a panic to see where the noise came from, but that didn’t matter the second I witnessed Jillian tumble down the steps she had just climbed. Her body slammed onto the sidewalk with blood already staining the concrete beneath her.

Her deep auburn red hair messily draped over her face after the fall; people either darted off in opposite directions or began to swarm around panicked and concerned, checking to see if she was alive.

I knew she wasn’t. That was the sound of a bullet and it was meant for me. I had to move fast before someone noticed that the lifeless body wasn’t mine.

No amount of rationalizing the situation could make up for the guilt that consumed me. I had begun to see Jillian as a real friend; instead I led her to my fate.

As approaching sirens echoed in the distance, I took that as indication to get the hell out of Valdren while I still had the chance or her death would’ve been for nothing.

I pressed the power button and the car turned on with ease. Thankfully the smart key fob was in the cup holder of the center console. In an instant I climbed over the console to enter the driver seat as casually as it could.  It took everything in my control to not speed off and draw attention to myself.

I pulled out of the parallel spot and I began driving in the opposite direction of the church. Police vehicles and ambulances sped passed me while my bloodshot hazel eyes stole glances of the chaotic scene in the rearview.

At least I knew there was one less person out there I couldn’t trust, even though the way I found out was repulsive.

Only two people I trusted remained. The downside was Mason wanted nothing to do with me. At least Yvette helped out when she could. I understood Mason’s standpoint, but with his skill set, he’s the only one that could help keep me breathing in order to take down the Morelli’s for good. But trying to get him to help me was out of the question.

When I drove a safe enough distance away from Valdren city, I pulled the car over to the side of the highway road.

There was tightness in my chest growing harsher by the second and my knuckles became whiter the harder I gripped the steering wheel. I let out a scream that was hidden in the void of what remained of my soul. Releasing the scream was only temporary relief which was more than I deserved.

Once I collected myself to the best of my ability, I reached into the backseat to grab my purse and took out my burner to call the only person I knew I could.

“Word is already spreading through the underground about the funeral. You okay?”

I sighed as tears began to blur my vision, “I wanted to be wrong, Evie. ”

“I know, but you have to remember that most people forget about loyalty when the money’s right.”

Her words froze me. She had a point. “And what would be the right price for you?”

“Don’t be a dumbass, Amelia. No amount of money would be enough for me to turn you in. Plus, if I need to disappear you’re the only one I know who can make it happen flawlessly on paper. I’m not fucking that up.”

“Wow. Glad to know you’re a real friend.”

“What? You want me to start lying to you?”

I scoffed, “That’s beside the point!”

“Look, when it comes to the businesses we’re involved in, you need to watch your ass before someone rolls up on you. And just because everyone else wants you dead for the cash prize, doesn’t mean I don’t see your worth. Plus…I’d actually, sort of, miss you if somebody took you out.”

“That really didn’t help all that much.”

“That sounds like a personal problem.”

“Damn it, Yvette. Could you please stop being so blunt and just be my friend right now?”

I heard her frustrated sigh and immediately pictured her rolling her soft brown eyes. “I am being your friend right now by keeping it real with you. The last friend you had, knowingly, led you into a trap that could’ve killed you. If that’s the kind of friendship you want from me, just let me know.”

I rested my forehead against the steering wheel and blew out a breath of defeat, “I’m tired of running. I just want this to stop.”

“Then you know what you need to do.”

I shot back up in my seat, “Evie, you know I can’t.”

“If you want to live and take down Conrad Morelli, Mason is your last resort.”

“Mason won’t help me. Why should I bother asking?”

“Will you act like you want to fucking live? A girl died for you today because you looked alike, so be grateful. If you want your life back, and to make sure that girls’ death was for a reason, then Mason is your last shot.” Her aggravated tone wasn’t masked, “If you want to give up, go back to Valdren to face Conrad and see what he does with you.” I opened my mouth to respond, but she quickly cut me off. “Call me when you make a decision.”

I tossed the phone aside onto the passenger seat and pounded fists against the wheel repeatedly, causing the horn to honk each time contact was made. All I could think of was my life over the last five years and how lonely it had been, along with the uncertainty of who to trust. The constant need to look over my shoulder was exhausting, and now people, good people, were dead because of me. The bullshit had to end, but it wouldn’t without help.

After a few minutes of assaulting the car, I was breathless, but it helped to clear my thoughts to accept what it was I needed to do. I ignored the throbbing pains in my knuckles and grabbed my phone, the line rang longer than I anticipated. She was definitely punishing me.

“Did you finally decide to put on your big girl panties?”

I swallowed hard, struggling to slow my breathing, “Do you know where he is?”

I heard vigorous typing on the line, the distinctive sound of Yvette working her magic. “He’s in good ol’ Paris.”

“Paris means he’s probably doing a job, Evie.”

“Which also means you can drop in on him and ask for help without giving him a chance to say no.”

Second thoughts began to invade my mind and she was being too optimistic. “He’s going to say no, regardless of how I ask. I can feel it.”

“Don’t make me hang up on you, again.”

I groaned as I hit my head against the headrest, “Fine…I guess I’m heading to Paris.”

“Good. Now, what identity are you using this time? Abigail, Caroline or Juliette?”

“I’m thinking Caroline. I haven’t used that one in over a year.”

“Okay, Caroline Burke. I’ll send your itinerary in a few minutes.”

“Thank you, Evie… I mean that.”

She laughed softly, “No problem. Call me when you land and we’ll take it from there.”

“One more thing before you go. If he says n—”

“Au revoir, chienne!” Yvette shouted into the phone, cutting me off before she hung up, again.

Bitch.

 

 

 

 

Reverting back does not prevail

Yesterday was a rough one for me. I hadn’t slept well the night prior and my mood was beyond foul. My depression had returned with a vengeance. On top of that, work was full of annoying, trivial issues that wouldn’t have gotten to me on a normal day but I was experiencing unnecessary anger. I tried to keep myself focused on positive thoughts to ease the irritation that continued to build.

As the day carried on I was craving a cigarette badly. I couldn’t stand that familiar feeling of hovering gloom; my skin felt like it was crawling. The desperation for relief was real and I was determined to get that cigarette to help calm me down.

I felt the same the rest of the day until I made my way home.

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Credit: Ehimetalor Unuabona

I made a mental note as I drove by the bodega near my house that I could buy a loosey, since I only wanted one cigarette versus a pack. The downside was the price went up from $.50 to $1, per loosey. I was genuinely contemplating it.

Once I made it home and thought it over, I told myself to wait before walking to the bodega. I had cooking and cleaning to do, so with my mind made up, I opted to do those things before heading out. I was determined to get everything done in order to leave. That was the deal I made with myself.

After completing my tasks I immediately jumped into my workouts.

By the time I finished, I made my honey lavender tea and felt a hell of a lot better. It was the best I felt that entire day.

After taking my shower, I settled in and got into bed. It was then that I realized I never went out to get my cigarette. Instead of reverting back to my old habits of smoking to escape, I went along with my new, healthier methods and they prevailed.

I need to remember for future matters that just because I was feeling desperate to ease the frustration doesn’t mean I have to throw myself back into old practices. I am moving forward with healthier approaches that are clearly proving to be helpful. Why subject myself to going backward? That’s pretty thoughtless.

Today I can say I am almost two weeks cigarette free.

Oh, and I didn’t waste a dollar!

 

Buzzed Pillow Talk

We were both fairly buzzed as we lied in bed with our legs intertwined beneath the covers. We held hands and talked for a while, simply being happy, laughing and present with one another. Somehow we reached the topic of former lovers and past relationships. Paddy named off some of the females he was with, where it went wrong and he never shied away from his own mistakes that caused issues. (Another reason why I love that dork. He doesn’t make himself look like some perfect person. He knows he’s flawed and doesn’t hide it.) Some stories that were being shared were either hilarious or completely mind fucked me because I wasn’t expecting to hear how some situations unfolded.

(I wish I could share them here, but I didn’t ask him if I could discuss the encounters and/or horror stories on my site. I’ll ask him later and, if given permission, post the stories on a future post.)

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Credit: Becca Tapert

That being said, after our discussion, I began to think of something and I would like some opinions. Because we were both buzzed, him more so than me, should I have stopped him from telling me such personal stories? It may not be a big deal to some, but what if there was a reason why those stories weren’t shared when he was completely sober? I may be overthinking it too much because overthinking/analyzing is what I do regularly, but I’m genuinely curious to know what others would have done or not done.

 

Smoking, again. I hate it.

This morning I stared at my cigarette in disgust. I could already smell the scent that was going to be stained on my fingers. Barely half of it was gone before I tossed it away. I stopped to ask myself why I was smoking, again. I guess my brain just wanted to play stupid.

It was around thirteen that I had my first cigarette. It was gross, yet still I continued. After finishing the first one I had no intention of doing it again. Then a few weeks passed. It was a rough week and when I smoked that gross chemical stick I noticed that it had made me feel better.

I smoked on and off throughout high school and college. I would stop for a few years in between because it gets expensive and the smell becomes a problem.

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Credit: Patrick Brinksma

Lately things have been rough again and I found myself back at it. Buying packs and feeling like a fiend for another. People say, “go workout” or “find something else to do”. I have, and yet it still doesn’t feel like it helps that much.

Now it’s not just something to do when things are rough, it’s also a fucking addiction. I find myself smoking when I don’t even want one.

Truthfully, I have no idea on how I should end this post. All I want to say is that I feel like such an asshole for even picking the habit back up and now I’m kicking myself because I regret it. I’ll stop again, eventually. But how long until I go back? A year? Three? Five? Fuck.

 

Our Diet Bet

My boyfriend Paddy* and I have been complaining for a while about how we want to drop some pounds. We’re both overweight, me more than him, and we’re sick of living unhealthily. I’ve been doing what I can to be better, but if I’m being honest with myself I haven’t been putting in 100 percent. After some serious discussions, we have finally decided to put our words into action, together. To make it more of a fun experience and an interesting way to adopt healthier habits, and help make them stick, we opted to have a wager.

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credit: Justyn Warner

After three months, the one who is closest to their personal goals first wins a cash prize and gets to choose the destination of our vacation. We still have to do our ‘before’ photos, take our measurements, have a weigh-in, then write out our goals. Once that’s all situated its game on.

 

All of my life I’ve been overweight. Sure I’ve had my moments where I would lose a significant amount of weight, but before I knew it the weight would pile back on. I was doing the work, yet I wasn’t being consistent with living a healthier lifestyle. I was only treating it as a temporary thing.

“I’ll do what I have to do now and eventually be able to incorporate x,y,z back into my diet.” Yes, I know, mistakes were made…

Sometimes people can incorporate things back into their lives and have the ability to control it. Due to having depression and anxiety, I am an emotional eater. I’m just someone that cannot incorporate junk back into my diet. It’s like an addiction, but with food. I need to keep the crap away.

I just love the fact I can do this lifestyle overhaul with my boyfriend and feel like I can stay consistent this time around. When we put our minds to something, we push each other to keep going. Living a healthier life is not only something we want, but something we need. It’s nice to have that non-judgmental support beside you blended with some playful competition. It feels so cliché to say, but he really is one of my best friends. I’m glad this is something else we can do to have fun together while improving ourselves in the process.

Side note: Making this post is something that will help us both remain accountable. If I don’t post an update about this in a while, someone please give me a swift kick to the butt to remind me to update you guys haha
* Paddy is not his actual name, it’s a nickname. He’s a fairly private guy, so I’m not going to put his name out there unless he wants me to.

When Eavesdropping Goes Wrong

I make it a point not to eavesdrop. Not only did my mother try to instill in me, “you need to mind your own business”, (even though she’s nosey AF), because it’s rude to listen in onto a conversation that has nothing to do with you, but you never know what you will hear. 

With that being said, a woman who works in my building was speaking on the phone incredibly loud and was clearly upset about something. I was trying to ignore her while I was in the back room heating up my breakfast because it has nothing to do with me. When I made it back to my desk I could hear her outside of my window. I barely lasted a minute before I was sucked in and listening to the one side of

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Credit: Seth Doyle

the conversation.

In my gut I knew I should have just ignored it, but this time curiosity got the better of me.

“I don’t have the video!” she yelled into the phone.

My brain went wild.

A video? What kind of video? Is it a naughty one? What’s on this video that someone is upset about and possibly trying to track down?

“I don’t have the video! I don’t want to know what’s on the video! All I know is my daughter isn’t on this video!”

*SOUNDS OF TIRES SCREECHING IN MY BRAIN* Woah. Wait. What?

Cars began driving through the parking lot and I couldn’t hear much else of what was being said.

She went back inside and went to whatever suite she works in, leaving me sitting at my desk with thoughts swirling chaotically through my mind.

Now I have questions, but I don’t think I want to know the answers either.

 

Lifestyle Overhaul

When I was working out three to five times a week, eating better, drinking my gallon of water a day, I was feeling better than I had in a long time. It wasn’t only because I was losing weight, I physically felt better. The lethargic feeling wasn’t as pronounced and my knees weren’t as sore.  With the simplest form of moving around, I felt lighter.

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Credit: Justyn Warner

Then I was hit with a mood drop.

My depression crept in like a predator scoping out their next meal after having starved for a while, then it went in for the kill. I lost the motivation and the appeal of being proactive regarding my ‘weight loss journey’. It caused me to become apathetic toward my goals and my health. I’ve been telling myself for the last of couple months that I should get myself into the gym and eating healthier, again, but I continued to wallow in my desolation. (Depression is a beast on its own and it can knock the strongest person right on their ass.)

I’ve decided that I am not calling this a weight loss journey anymore. This is a lifestyle overhaul. Health is not only important to my physical health, but from my own experience it had also helped improve my mental health.

Why did I discontinue something that had been so helpful before?

What I’ve asked myself and what helped me today is, do I want to allow this to continue having control over my life or do I want to take the reins back and get back on track? There comes a time when enough is enough.

I’ve finally hit that point.

This morning I drank a protein shake, started on my water, took my vitamins and I am already experiencing a positive change. Granted, I didn’t want to do it because I’m still experiencing some sort of the apathy, but I’m over feeling so defeated when I can actually do something about it.