Copyright Amy L. Montz
“Two Mafia dons, a police investigation, a Jackson, and a guardian killer,” I said under my breath as I walked into my building. Bang-up move, Sanderson. Freaking bang-up move. I shifted the bags in my hands and fumbled for my mail key. Nothing but bills and a postcard from one of my former students, in England for the summer. I thumbed the corner of the postcard before I shifted the bags in my arms and headed for the stairs. “Hey Art,” I called as I opened the door. “Momma’s home.”
Artful ran up, his Kong caught in his mouth.
After I dumped my groceries on my counter, I went through the apartment, checking windows and my fire escape for some sign, any sign that someone had been in my apartment while I was out. There was nothing. The Mafia hadn’t come to clean, this new “guardian killer” hadn’t popped by to tape another note to my door, and there were no shady looking characters looming outside my fire escape, ready to leap in and scare me half to death.
All quiet on the Sanderson front. Too quiet. Eye of the hurricane quiet.
On cue, my cell phone rang.
A sharp laugh escaped my mouth before I slapped my hand over it. The cell phone rang again. No, I hadn’t imagined it. There really was something else wrong. The quiet lull was over. Back to the insane reality of my life. When I checked the caller id, it registered unknown caller. “Hello?”
“It’s me,” a deep unaccented voice said.
“Who the hell is me?” I asked as I put my keys on their hook, although I was pretty sure I knew. Everyone I had met had some form of an accent, except one man.
That man in question chuckled. “It’s Jackson. Look, I’m–”
“Who are you?” I asked as I walked to the kitchen. “Are you Mafia? Undercover cop? What?” I grabbed my mail and thumbed through it again with an absent motion, as if Jackson could see my carefree attitude, through the phone.
“That’s not important, love. What is important is that the Gasconis didn’t kill those Bineskis.”
“The Bineskis?” The mail slid out of my hand to land on the floor in a harmony of rustles and whooshes. “Are you telling me a third Mafia Family is after me?”
“You’re quite the popular skirt.” Jackson’s voice wasn’t amused, not really. Rather, the small trace of amusement seemed entirely for my benefit. “The cops know now that it wasn’t the Gasconis, so no need to call them.”
He was trying to keep me from freaking out. Somehow, this mysterious man of whom I knew nothing was trying to keep me calm. Maybe it was the only reason I didn’t hang up the phone right then. Maybe, just maybe, it was the reason I decided to let him tell me what he knew. “Look, who are the Bineskis?” I leaned down to pick up the mail scattered across the floor.
“A Family that doesn’t have any daughters in senior English at Divine Mother next year.”
“Oh God.” This time, I slid to the floor in a harmony of rustles and thumps. “So who did kill them?”
“That’s the interesting thing,” Jackson said. “No one knows as of yet.”
There had been a message on my door, a calling card informing me “you’re safe now.” Having taught English for several years, I knew that unfortunately, many people weren’t aware of the difference between “your” and “you’re.” I was pretty sure the correct grammar wasn’t from the awful travesty that was The Special’s or Bit’s command of the language. Not that I was judging them. Hell, I was from the South. I didn’t buy groceries; I made them. “And how do you know this insightful little tidbit?”
“I make it my business to know these things.”
“Uh huh. You are in the Mafia.” My arm slid up my table and my hand fumbled blind for my purse. “Did you kill them?”
“No, I didn’t. I don’t kill men execution style then bury them in a dumpster.”
My arm slid down, sans purse, and therefore sans cigarettes. “Oh God, how do you kill men?” I was surprised when Jackson started laughing. “That wasn’t meant to be a funny question.”
“Can’t help it, love. You’re entirely too charming for words.”
Great. Now the mysterious man following me around thought I was charming when I asked important questions, like his preferred method of murder. “You’re not in the Mafia?”
“I’m here to help you, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“Do you ever answer a question?” I asked. Artful pranced over to me and jumped in my lap. “Why are you watching out for me?”
“You’re a smart woman. You’ll figure it out soon enough.” Jackson paused a second, and when he spoke again, I could hear the smile in his voice. “It’s no fun if I just give you all the answers, don’t you think?”
I ran my fingers through Artful’s fur. “So you want to make this a game? I’ll figure it out.”
“I have every faith,” he said.
“So I’m thinking you’re not Mafia. Problem is, I don’t know whose team you’re… what the hell am I doing? Why am I even sitting here, chatting with you?”
“Because you find me charming, too, I’d bet.”
I snorted into the phone. So what if I found him charming. He was still scary stalker muscle. “And how the hell did you get this number?”
“You’re an odd skirt. You know that, right?”
“And you’re a probable Mafia thug who once read Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. A lot of people find that book too restricting to creativity, you know.”
He chuckled and I hated myself, just a little, for my responding smile. “Watch your back, love. Hate to see all that grammar go to waste.”
“Mmm hmm. I’m hanging up now.”
“Cross your Ts, dot your Is, and behave yourself.”
I sat on the floor, staring at the phone, until I remembered the many perishables in my bags and started unpacking them. So I had Jackson the mysterious something, the Gasconis, the Callaghans, and the cops. All seemed to want to protect me. At least, that’s what they said. But the note was the key to the guardian killer. I was sure of it.
I put the milk and cream in the fridge and started emptying the second bag. Was it Jackson? He’d get the grammar right, and he was in the game, but didn’t seem to be “guardian killer” material. Maybe I bought his explanation that he didn’t kill people execution style. In fact, his shadowing seemed familiar, somehow. It seemed almost… protective. But then, wasn’t that what the guardian killer was doing? Protecting me?
I put Jackson on the back burner for the moment. There were still the Gasconis to contend with. I bit my bottom lip and stared at the block of cheese in my hand. A note wasn’t their style. The hairy fairy godfather squad would be more likely to show up at my house, inform me of the situation, and offer to walk my dog. I threw the cheese in the crisper and started unloading the meat.
The Callaghans? Maybe. But was beating St. Agnes in test scores important enough to kill two men? Not likely. Unless the Callaghans and the Bineskis were already feuding, and it allowed the don to kill two birds with one stone, as it were.
I left a pack of chicken in the sink and began emptying the third bag. So that left the cops, and I didn’t have to grow up in an army of police officers to know that this wasn’t business as usual. But what if it wasn’t business at all?
I placed the fettuccine noodles and butter on the counter and rooted through my cabinets for blackening seasoning. Unless one of them went rogue, trying to protect someone. Or just went completely crazy. Either option would work.
The blackening seasoning was behind a large shaker of parsley and I dropped it on my red tile counters.
“What do you think, Artful?” I glanced down at my puppy. He had trailed after me as I roamed through the apartment, but now, he was sitting at my feet, gnawing on his Kong. “Do you even think there’s a guardian killer? Or is Momma completely insane and entirely too paranoid for words?”
Artful just rolled over and exposed his belly to me. After I knelt down to give him an energetic tummy scratch, I decided that we both needed a much-deserved nap. But when I lay down in my bed, Artful cuddled close to my hip, all I could see were the two photographs Dominic had shown me at the police station. Both of the faces were covered in blood, the eyes blank but still accusing. And as I finally, finally drifted off to sleep, their accusation turned to rage, and I didn’t fault them for it. Not at all.
I woke to knocking. I stumbled to the door and started to open it before I remembered that several Mafia Families may or may not want to kill me. I checked the peephole and saw Dominic. “Hey.” I swung the door open.
“Hey, yourself. Napping?”
“Mmm hmmm.” I rubbed my eyes and tried to focus, blinking as everything became just the tiniest bit fuzzy. I rubbed a little harder and my vision shifted back into place.
“I could use some of that myself,” Dominic said, closing the door behind him. “Jackson’s clean.” He walked into the kitchen and I trailed after him, trying to wake up and understand the conversation at hand. “Hey, you wouldn’t want to offer me a cup of coffee, would you?”
“Want a beer instead?”
He walked over and got the sugar down from my cabinet. “I can make it if you’re too tired.”
“I don’t mind.” I got the grounds out of the cabinet and tried to ignore the grumbling noises in my stomach. When the coffee was finished brewing, I poured us both a cup and we sat down at my table. “So what’s the deal with Jackson? Did you find out anything about him? From the card I gave you?” I was just about to tell him about Jackson’s phone call this afternoon when my mouth snapped shut.
“Yeah, we pulled him into the station today. He was actually impressed you gave me the card. Said it was smart thinking on your part. But his story pans out. Don’t worry.”
Why didn’t I want to tell Dominic about Jackson’s phone call? It could be a clue. A very big, neon blinking sign of a clue. “What’s his story?” I asked instead.
Dominic’s coffee cup froze two inches from his face before he put it down on the table. “He was at a baseball game.”
“Really?” I peered at him but couldn’t read anything shifty in his expression. Just his tone. When he nodded, I took a sip of coffee. “He doesn’t seem like the baseball type.”
“Why isn’t Jackson the baseball type?”
He was doing it again, turning my statements into questions and playing detective with me. Maybe that was why I didn’t want to tell him about the phone call. Maybe. “You, you’re the baseball type. Jackson? I’m saying either hockey or boxing.”
Dominic’s thumb tapped against the side of the cup in some unknown rhythm. “See, and he definitely strikes me as a baseball type. Your radar’s fuzzy tonight.”
Mental note: Dominic Reggianno is a terrible liar to women. I decided to take this as far as I could. “So, Dominic,” I paused to stand up and walk to the counter, “what exactly does Jackson do?”
“Do?” His chair screeched against the floor as he pushed it back. “Like, for fun?”
I bit back the smile on my face. Okay, so Dominic wasn’t as easy to play as I was beginning to suspect. “No. Like, do. He has to be in the game, doesn’t he? He’s not just following me around for his health.” I turned to face him, my hands gripping the counter behind me.
There was something in Dominic’s eyes. A little spark of something that knew exactly what I was doing. But he played along, all the same. “Well, he was at a game. That doesn’t mean he’s in a game.”
I cocked my head at the stove. “You tell me what Jackson does and I’ll cook dinner.”
“You will, huh?” A little smile curved on his lips and sent a tingle straight down my spine.
Yes, this is exactly what you should be doing when the Mafia’s chasing you, Sanderson. Flirt with the detective on your case. “Cross my heart.” I mimed the gesture.
Dominic sidled next to me and leaned against the counter with a deliberate movement. He nudged my left shoulder with his, gently, as if he were afraid to hurt the right shoulder clear on the other side of my body. “You are, perhaps, the nosiest, most suspicious woman I’ve ever met.”
The way he said it sounded like a great compliment, and I took it as such. “Why Detective Reggianno, you’ve been talking to my brothers again.” I laid my accent on thick.
He chuckled. “If I promise to find out what Jackson does, will you still make me dinner?”
The playful flirtation eased out of me. Dominic knew something about Jackson, something he wasn’t telling me. I was sure of it. So Dominic was hiding something, Jackson was in the game, and neither wanted to let me know about it. But Jackson didn’t look undercover cop to me. Mafia stool pigeon? Snitch? “It’s a deal. Besides, I owe you for two meals now. I figured I’d give you a taste of Louisiana in exchange for the taste of Chicago.”
“That’s the best offer I’ve heard all day.” He pulled away from the counter and turned towards it. “What’s for dinner?”
Of course, it all just meant that I was back to square one in the guardian killer situation. I stared at Dominic for a second before I walked to the refrigerator. There was no way Dominic was a cold-blooded guardian killer. I had always thought of myself as a pretty good judge of character. Of course, that was before my husband cheated on me, but still. “Blackened chicken alfredo, a March Sanderson specialty.” I opened the fridge and pulled out the pack of chicken breasts.
“How long will that take?” Dominic asked from behind me. Like my brothers, he thought that hovering near the food would make it cook quicker.
“About forty or so minutes.” I handed him the pack of chicken, which he stared at in silent appreciation. After the whole situation with my ex-husband and Maria, my brother Jason had sat me down and asked me if I had noticed anything strange when David and I were alone together. Anything that would have clued me to his infidelity.
“Can I help with anything?” Dominic asked as he placed the chicken on the counter.
I reached for my pots next. “Maybe. You want to help cook?” When I had told Jason that David hadn’t been home much lately, that he had been working a lot, Jason had just nodded and squeezed my hand. He told me that should have been my first clue.
“Sure.” Dominic poked the chicken with a finger to make sure it was thawed. “What do you need me to do?”
And then Jason told me my second clue should have been any weird everyday behavior on David’s part. God may be in the details, my brother had said. But clues are in the everyday. Keep your eyes peeled, Marchy. We don’t catch criminals. They give themselves away. I gave Dominic a smile. “You want to make the salad?”
“Point me towards sharp knives and vegetables.” He pushed the chicken away with relief. “Salad I can do.”
Actually, salad he couldn’t do. I finally just pulled away from the sauce and walked over to the other counter. “Honey, the lettuce goes on the bottom.”
Dominic rested his hands on the counter and glanced over at me. “I’m not cooking-incompetent.”
He was too damn adorable. Between the big brown eyes, the tousled hair, and the stereotypical male awkwardness in the kitchen, he was almost heartbreaking. “But lettuce is the foundation of the salad. It has to go on the bottom.”
He stared down at the salad bowl. “But you’re just going to mix it all up,” he said in a petulant tone. “What does it matter that the lettuce is on the top?”
I picked up the knife and hipped him out of the way. “Go, watch TV. I got it.”
“This is some kind of odd, woman thing, isn’t it?” he said.
“And this,” I pointed the knife towards the salad bowl, “is some kind of odd man thing. You prove yourself incompetent in the kitchen, and then that way you don’t have to help.”
“You sound like my sisters,” Dominic said, walking to the fridge to grab a beer. “The game’s on anyways.” Dominic settled on the couch next to Artful before he took a swig of his beer and clicked on the television. They sat on the couch together, watching the game, and Dominic would call out the score to me when I asked.
“Dinner’s ready,” I called thirty minutes later and Dominic ambled into the kitchen. I set down the salad bowl and some iced tea and we ate salad in silence for a few minutes.
“Can we just organize some kind of schedule?” Dominic stopped shoveling food into his mouth long enough to speak. “I’ll continue to take you out to dinner if you continue to cook for me. We can alternate and everything.”
Damn stomach flutters. This had to be a medical condition, honest to God. “Sure. I like to cook. Comes part and parcel with the liking to eat.”
“I like to eat, but I can really only boil water and make pancakes. That’s about it.”
“As the salad building proves.” I played with my fork. “Momma wouldn’t let her boy in the kitchen?”
He grabbed the pepper mill and cracked some on his salad. “I’d help her out and all. It’s just… I guess I’m not patient enough to cook, you know?” He glanced up at me and our eyes caught. It was becoming very warm in my cozy little kitchen. I must have forgotten to turn off the oven.
I tried to lighten the tone as much as was possible. “Well, I can understand that impatience thing.”
He helped himself to more salad. “Temper too, I bet.”
“Just remember Sanderson Hulk-smash. That doesn’t just go for pizza. It goes for temperamental electronics, cars…”
“My mother still has a strategically placed frame over a hole I punched in her kitchen wall… what was it, ten years ago?” He polished off his salad with a final large bite.
Now see, that was the kind of thing I wanted to hear. Not all this nonsense about my life being as tragic and insane as it always had. Not about large scary men following me around. More about the youthful indiscretions in his past. I pointed my fork at him. “So you tell me a story now. You’ve heard all my deepest and darkest–”
“Except Tiger Stadium.” He batted innocent eyes at me. “I don’t know that one.”
“To the grave, Reggianno,” I said. “And I don’t know any of your secrets.”
“Really? I thought your Jedi mind tricks revealed my entire life history.” He trailed his fork across his empty plate, the tines plowing three straight lines in the salad dressing. “Do you want to hear broken dish stories, broken bone stories, or broken heart stories?”
“One of each. That’s fair, isn’t it?” I cleared the table and served some pasta, settling down with an expectant look on my face.
He took a bite of pasta. “Schedule,” he said when he finished chewing. “We’re working out a schedule.”
Definitely second or third generation American. It was the repetition of key words that clued me in. “So tell me broken heart story first.”
“Well, when I was fourteen, I fell head over heels in love with one of my sisters’ best friends, Sabrina. She was absolutely gorgeous, with long blonde hair and hazel eyes, and in my stupidity, I was sure she was in love with me, too.” When I gave him a mock sympathetic look and passed him the butter, he spread some on his roll before he continued. “I was in those awkward teenaged years. I had grown about six inches that summer and weighed half of what I do now.”
I nodded. “Tall and awkward is never fun, but I’m sure you were just gorgeous. Androgynous, but gorgeous.”
He gave me a disbelieving look. “Right. Complete with those goofy long lashes and that girly hair. It wasn’t a pretty picture. But I saved up my allowance for six weeks and asked Sabrina on a date.”
“And?” I asked when he didn’t continue, although I knew exactly where this story was going. I had a history of my own, after all. A long, complicated, messy history of a tall and awkward teenager with too much red hair, hips that were a tad too wide, and too many brothers who knew half the boys in Baton Rouge.
“And she laughed at me, and told Angela, who told our mother, who made me go to confession for having impure thoughts about an older woman.” Dominic shifted in his seat, uncomfortable all of a sudden. If he had had his glasses on, he would have taken them immediately off. I was sure of it. He didn’t like being embarrassed in front of women.
Which only endeared him to me even more. I bit my lip and tried not to giggle over those youthful impure thoughts. “Did you even know what impure thoughts were?”
He ran a hand through his hair and shifted in his seat again, tucking his right leg under his left. “Oh, I knew exactly what impure thoughts she was talking about. That just made it worse when she made me apologize to Sabrina. And those were her exact words, mind you. ‘Nicky, apologize to Sabrina for having impure thoughts about her.’”
This time, I did laugh, and his responding look was something between embarrassed amusement and accusation. “I’m sorry,” I said when I could catch my breath. “But she made you apologize?”
Dominic just shook his head and focused his attention back to his plate. “See if I ever tell you anything again. You’re a traitor, kid. Pure and simple. I thought you would have been on my side.”
But his tone was teasing, and something clicked then, in the oddest way. I felt it, recognized the moment it happened and knew, sometime in the future I would be able to point to this dinner, sitting around my table in my cozy kitchen and say there. That’s when Dominic and I became comfortable around each other. That’s when he stopped being the friendly detective on my case, and became a friend.
I nudged his foot under the table. “Want to hear about the traumas of a first date in a house with five brothers?”
He perked up at this, peering up at me from beneath those thick lashes. “Tell me it’s horribly embarrassing and I’ll laugh my ass off at you.”
“I might even blush. How’s that?”
“That’s perfect.” He leaned back in his seat and gave me a conspiratorial grin. “What goes around comes around. Just remember that.”
“Gosh, it’s late.” I directed a pointed yawn in his direction. “No offense, but it’s way past my bedtime.”
Dominic glanced at his cell phone to check the time. “It’s not even midnight. Where’s your sense of fun and adventure?”
“It died sometime this afternoon after I chatted with several members of various Mafia Families.” I shifted on the couch to face him. My living room was cozy, too. The string lights over the fireplace were dim but cheery, and the game on the television had finally given way to an infomercial about the difficulty of peeling dozens of eggs at a time. “You’re stalling, Reggianno. You’re keeping something from me.”
He reached over to scratch Artful, who was sprawled between us on the couch. “Maybe I just like your apartment better than mine. Did you ever think of that?” He glanced up at me when he asked the question, as if gauging my physical response.
My immediate physical response was, of course, to flush pink. “I just think you like my dog. Admit it.”
He gave me a little smile and leaned against the arm of the couch. “Yeah, the Dodger’s not so bad. You kicking me out, kid?” As if on cue, he yawned, a full-body yawn that required stretching his arms high over his head and arching his back a little. When he settled back to a sitting position, exhaustion had stamped itself over his face.
“So understand that, when I say this, I expect visions of chastity to be dancing in that head of yours, but do you want to crash on the couch?” I paused for a second, staring down at my puppy as if he could tell me why in God’s name that popped out of my mouth. “I mean, chances are, you’ll get behind the wheel and fall asleep, getting into a tragic accident and somehow, I’ll blame myself for your…” my voice trailed off. I was babbling. I always babbled when I was nervous.
“That’s actually not a bad idea,” Dominic said. “You sure you don’t mind?”
I popped off the couch to put as much distance between it and myself as possible. “I’ll get some blankets, and I have some of my brother’s sweats around here if you want.”
“I want,” Dominic said behind me. Those two words were going to be my undoing.
I walked into my bedroom to get the sweats and immediately leaned against the wall to calm my heart rate. I was not a tramp. Just because I was offering him the loan of my couch did not mean I was asking a man I barely knew to spend the night. It just meant that I was… that I was doing a public service. Keeping a dangerous driver off the street. Didn’t I read somewhere that sleepy drivers were worse than drunk drivers?
With that reassuring and probably concocted story in my head, I pulled away from the wall, got some sweats and a t-shirt out of my closet, and brought them to Dominic. “There’s an unused toothbrush in the medicine cabinet, and clean towels in the closet. Help yourself.”
“You’re wonderful, thanks,” he said, and disappeared into the bathroom.
I wandered into the kitchen to clean the few dishes leftover from dessert and coffee. So tonight was an occasion marking the first night a man other than my husband slept over at my house. Maybe I should celebrate, light a candle, eat some chocolate, call Ava and dish about the gorgeous bedroom-eyed man sleeping on my couch.
The coffee cup in my hand slipped a bit and I caught it just before it clattered to the sink. The gorgeous bedroom-eyed detective sleeping on my couch. The detective who had stalled all night, helping me clean the kitchen, eating ice cream, watching an egg-peeler infomercial of all things. The detective who pulled me into the police station not eight hours before to tell me two men were gunned down today. Two men who were, quite possibly, killed to keep me “safe.”
I was a goddamn idiot.
I was standing at the bathroom door when Dominic walked out, toweling his wet hair with one hand and holding his dirty clothes in the other. He blinked at me. “Something wrong, kid? You want me to go home?”
“This is a ploy to give me protection tonight, isn’t it?” I said, pointing my finger at him.
He sighed and leaned against the door frame. My brother’s sweats fit him nicely. “Would you still be mad if I said I wasn’t lying about the dead tired part?”
I leaned against the wall and slid down to the floor. “It’s that bad.” I didn’t know which bad I was talking about, the need to give me protection or the fact that I was more than willing to invite Dominic over for a slumber party. Both seemed pretty bad to me.
He sat on the floor next to me. “It’s that bad,” he said, obviously taking the more business-like approach to the situation. “Did you call my cousin?”
“He’s coming by tomorrow morning to do the security stuff.” I ran my finger over the nail heads in my wooden floor, resisting the urge to climb on the windowsill and pull down my cigarettes. “So who am I in danger from this time?”
Dominic was quiet for a minute before he patted my hand and twined his fingers in mine. “The two men killed earlier today? They were from another Mafia Family. The Bineskis. We’re pretty sure they’re the ones who left the messages on your answering machine, but…”
Jackson had said they were Bineskis. He had also said the Gasconis didn’t kill them. Did that mean the Callaghans? But when I asked Dominic, he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, tell me.
I looked down at my hand in his, marveling over the contrast of our skin tones, his skin a golden tan, mine a creamy pale. There was another reason he was here, another reason he had decided to stay the night in order to make sure I was safe. But before I could ask about that, Dominic beat me to the punch.
He ran his free hand through his hair. “There’s something else I didn’t tell you.”
“Who else is dead?” I asked in a soft voice.
“Two Gasconis. Low level soldiers.” He ran his thumb along mine. “They weren’t found until this afternoon. At first we just thought the two were connected, part of the war, but then, when we checked prints…”
My hand clenched his tighter. “Does this have anything to do with the messages yesterday?”
“March,” Dominic began, and I pulled my hand away from his at his tone. He paused for a second, watching me for potential hysterics perhaps, but I didn’t comply. I wasn’t ready for hysterics. Not yet. I was ready for some solid information.
“Bobby wasn’t alone yesterday, was he?” My hand clenched and unclenched in my lap. “There were cops checking out my building. You found something. People were really watching me yesterday, from inside.”
Dominic rested his head against the wall at the same time he rested his arm on his raised knee. His limp hand twitched once before it relaxed in an open position. “I had some guys check your building, just in case. There’s an empty apartment on the third floor. The lock had been jimmied, so we figured that’s where they were hiding out, to watch you.”
I felt cold first, and then hot immediately after, and then clammy a second after that. Feverish, like I was coming down with the flu. “Any evidence?” My tone was casual, almost professional. March Sanderson could play with the big boys, yes indeed. She had twenty-seven years in a cop family to prove it.
“A coke can, couple of cigarette butts. Nothing drastic. No surveillance equipment or anything. But… but the thing is…” he paused long enough to make sure I was okay, given this new information. “The thing is, there were a few different prints. One matched one of the Bineskis killed yesterday, but another…” he ran a hand through his hair and then stared at his hand. “But another matched one of the Gasconis killed earlier.” His hand curled into a fist before it unfurled again. “So at some point yesterday, four guys from two different Families were watching you, and now all of them are dead.” He pulled something out of the pocket of his dress pants and handed it to me.
It was in a plastic bag, an evidence bag, and I knew what the note said before I even read it, but I read it, all the same: “You’re safe now.”