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.”
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.