Sempre redemption, p.21
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       Sempre: Redemption, p.21

         Part #2 of Forever series by J. M. Darhower
Page 21


  He grabbed his gun from the top of the kitchen cabinet where he stored it and slipped it into the waistband of his jeans before leaving the house. His brand new Mercedes was parked in the driveway, shining under the gleam of the streetlight. He had leased it a week before, the same night he had had the conversation with Sal.

  Carmine slid into the driver’s seat, taking a deep breath before starting the car. The drive through town was quick—too motherfucking quick—and he pulled up at the docks just a few minutes later. It was dark there, barely lit by moonlight, but he could make out the rows of white delivery trucks parked behind a flimsy chain-link fence. The gate was secured with a chain and lock, but there was no sign of any security beyond that.

  Carmine parked and surveyed the trucks, unsure of what to do or where to start. There had been no planning, no instructions, no explanations, but he knew without a doubt there were expectations. And if he didn’t deliver, he would be the one to pay.

  He climbed out of the car and started toward the gate when a car wildly whipped from behind a nearby building, sending gravel flying as it headed for him. The headlights were blacked out. Through the darkness, Carmine couldn’t see who was driving.

  Jumping back, his heart thumped violently against his rib cage as fear coursed through his body, fueled by strong adrenaline. He reached for his gun, terrified, as the car came to a sudden halt and the doors flew open. Two guys jumped out, one from the passenger seat and one from the back. The doors had barely closed again when the car was thrown into reverse, skidding backward before speeding away.

  It happened fast, mere seconds passing before the two guys approached. Carmine had his gun by his side, his finger hovering on the trigger, when a voice cut through the night. “DeMarco? That you?”

  Carmine loosened his grip on the gun, his shoulders relaxing a bit. “Remy?”

  Remy Tarullo stepped out of the shadows and into a sliver of moonlight. He was dressed all in black, a ski mask loosely sitting on his head. “Hey, man! Good to see you again! Mr. Moretti said they were gonna be sending you out, you know, having you join the crew. Told us to show you the ropes. ”

  Relief washed through Carmine, rinsing away his unnerving fear. He slipped his gun back away. “My uncle sent you?”

  “Yeah. He’s our Capo, you know . . . guess he’s yours now, too. ” Grinning, Remy slapped him on the back. “You aren’t nervous, are you?”

  “No, I just . . . ” He didn’t know what to say. He was nervous, but he couldn’t admit that. “. . . I figure it’s better to not go at it alone. ”

  “I get it,” Remy said, pulling out a pair of gloves from his back pocket and slipping them on. He pulled his mask down, covering his face, before reaching into his coat for an extra set of both. He tossed them to Carmine, who put them on as Remy’s friend did the same. “You don’t happen to have any bolt cutters in your car, do you?”

  “Uh, no,” Carmine said, slipping the ski mask over his face. He suddenly felt short of breath, suffocated by the thick material. “I didn’t realize I’d need any. ”

  Remy shook his head slightly. “You really did come unprepared. ”

  Understatement of the fucking year, Carmine thought. “Can’t say I’ve ever stolen anything. ”

  “No big deal,” Remy said. “You probably never had to, being a DeMarco and all. You even get to shadow the Boss all the time . . . man, you don’t know how many of us would kill for that chance. ”

  There was no hostility to Remy’s voice, but the words made Carmine’s hair bristle. He didn’t doubt there were people out there who would kill him if they thought it might get them closer to the top.

  Remy looked around briefly, as if searching for something, before pulling some small tools out of his back pocket. He jogged over to the fence, easily and methodically picking the single lock. He ripped the chain off before shoving the gate open, him and the other guy running inside. Carmine was right on their heels, dashing inside the lot behind them.

  “Split up,” Remy ordered, waving at the two of them. “Check those trucks and tell me what you find. Make it quick. ”

  The men scattered to different sides of the lot, gunshots cutting through the night air as they shot off the locks on the back of the trucks. Carmine followed their lead, pulling out his gun and aiming it. He winced when he fired his first shot, his hand shaking and throwing off his aim. He had to shoot it three times before he hit his mark, hearing shouts through the lot as the men shared their loot.

  Carmine flung open the back of his first truck, squinting in the darkness to read the boxes. “Uh, laptops. ”

  “Try the next one,” Remy ordered. “Too risky. A lot of them can be traced. ”

  Carmine moved on to the second truck, getting the back of it open with the first shot. “TVs. ”

  “Hot-wire it. ”

  Carmine blanched. He didn’t know the first thing about hot-wiring anything.

  The third man found a load of DVD players and broke a window to climb in the front of the truck. Remy looked over, seeing Carmine just standing there.

  “Come on,” he said, grabbing Carmine’s shirt and pulling him to the front of the truck. “Break the window and get in. ”

  Carmine did as he was told, having no time to argue. He smashed the glass and unlocked the door, climbing inside. Remy pulled a flat screwdriver from his back pocket, passing it through to him. “Carefully put it in the ignition and see if it’ll turn. ”

  The truck on the other side of the lot came to life a few seconds before Carmine’s did. Remy let out a laugh as the engine roared and shoved Carmine humorously. “See, man? Let me drive it to the spot. Follow us in your car. ”

  Wordlessly, Carmine jumped out of the truck and ran back to his car. He ripped the mask off, taking a deep breath to steady himself as the two trucks tore out of the lot. Carmine followed them into traffic, staying right on Remy’s bumper.

  Sirens blared in the distance. The trucks pulled off the main road as the flashing lights rapidly approached, weaving through traffic. Carmine was on edge, watching his rearview mirror as he pulled into the alley behind them. Three cop cars flew right by after a moment and kept going.

  Carmine exhaled sharply. Too fucking close.

  They drove down some back roads deep into the south side, coming to a stop at a large warehouse. They pulled the trucks inside, out of view, and Carmine parked his car behind them.

  “Woo!” Remy hollered, jumping out of the truck. His friend joined him, the two of them cheering and sharing fist bumps, before Remy turned to Carmine. “You feel that, man? That high?”

  Carmine nodded and smiled, although it was a lie. All he felt was nervous energy surging through him. He was on the verge of being sick.

  The three men spent the next hour watching the trucks being unloaded before taking their payment and driving away. The stolen trucks would be discarded at a chop shop, nothing going to waste. Every bit of it was salvaged and sold, melted down and concealed, so not a fragment of evidence remained.

  “What a rush,” Remy said, fidgeting excitedly in the passenger seat. “That’s what I live for. The violence I could do without, but the stealing . . . there’s nothing like it. There’s no way I’m gonna be able to sleep tonight. I mean, fuck! It was a close one! Just a minute later and we would’ve gotten caught. Ain’t that shit great?”

  Carmine found nothing great about it.

  “Let’s go get a drink,” he continued, not giving anyone else any time to speak. “I don’t know about you, but I need something hard after the night we just had. ”

  Finally something Carmine agreed with.

  * * *

  Luna Rossa was busy for a Friday night. Unlike the last time Carmine had been there, black sedans were merely sprinkled within the sea of other vehicles, cars and trucks of all types crammed into the lot. It looked almost like an entirely different place, loud hip-hop music blaring from the building.

e never been here,” Remy said. “Lived in Chicago my whole life, been involved in this shit for years, and until tonight I never stepped foot in this place. ”

  Carmine’s brow furrowed. “Why not?”

  “I don’t know,” he said. “Didn’t feel right just walking in. Guys like us only get invited here when we’ve done something to piss Mr. Moretti off. ”

  “I got invited by the Boss as soon as I moved here,” Carmine said. “Looked like a different place that night. It was old school. ”

  Remy laughed. “You know how the saying goes: When the cat’s away, the mice will play. ”

  The guard looked at them when they entered, his eyes narrowing as he scanned the three men, but he said nothing, merely tipping his head in greeting. They walked through the club, bass from the music vibrating the floor beneath their feet, sending energy spiking through Carmine’s body. He found it relaxing, the chaos and noise so loud he could hardly think.

  A booth in the back was empty. He slipped into it, barely having enough time to sit down when a woman stopped right in front of him. He looked up at her, their eyes connecting right away as her serious expression shifted with a smile. “DeMarco, right?”

  It took him a moment to place her face . . . the same waitress who had served him last time. “Uh, yeah. Hey. ”

  “You want your usual?” she asked. “Vodka?”

  He was stunned she remembered. “Yeah, sure. ”

  “And your friends?” She turned to them. “What can I get you fellas?”

  They rattled off their orders—scotch for Remy and a beer for the other guy. The waitress walked off, returning with their drinks in a matter of minutes, and Carmine downed his before she even had a chance to walk away. She let out a laugh, holding her finger up to silently tell him to wait, and retrieved the whole bottle of Grey Goose from behind the bar. “Anything else you need, just let me know. My name’s Eve. ”

  “Thank you, Eve,” Remy said, winking. “You can call me Adam. ”

  Carmine rolled his eyes as the girl laughed before walking away. “That was fucking terrible. ”

  “Hey, girls love that cheesy shit,” Remy said. “I know my girl does. ”

  “You have a girlfriend?” Carmine asked, pouring himself another shot.

  “Yeah, her name’s Vanessa. How about you?”

  Carmine downed his second shot. “No, no one. ”

  “Well, then. ” Remy took a swig of his scotch. “Lucky for you, Eve seems interested. ”

  Remy pointed with his glass and Carmine turned his head, spying the waitress leaning against the bar. Her eyes were focused directly on him.

  Sighing, Carmine turned back around and said nothing.

  The night wore on in a haze as the alcohol flowed freely to their table. They drank the hours away, laughing and yelling and carrying on. Girls came by their table, flirting and giggling, mooching off their drinks instead of buying their own. Carmine hardly noticed, too drunk to even care.

  Too drunk, in fact, to care about much of anything.

  It was after midnight when the atmosphere suddenly shifted. The thumping bass from the speakers abruptly cut off, and the chaos of the crowd dulled to a murmur. Carmine looked around, tensing as his uncle casually strolled through the club, his hands in his pockets. He headed to his office but stopped at the entrance to the hallway when Eve yelled his name. She said something to him, pointing directly at their booth, and Carmine blanched as he turned around. Fuck.

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