Sempre redemption, p.25
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       Sempre: Redemption, p.25

         Part #2 of Forever series by J. M. Darhower
 
Page 25

 

  “I know, but he’s falling apart. ”

  “There’s nothing more I can do,” Corrado insisted. “And quite frankly, your meddling is only hurting him more. ”

  “He’s my nephew, Corrado. I’m asking you to help him. ”

  “I am. ” He shook his head. Their definitions of help were vastly different. “I’m helping him the only way I know how. ”

  “By forsaking him?”

  “By making him stand on his own two feet. ”

  “But he’s not. ” She hesitated as if she weren’t sure what to say. “There’s something going on with him. I don’t know what it is, but it’s not right. ”

  “Becoming one of us,” Corrado said quietly.

  “No, it’s more than that. ” She sighed with frustration. “It’s hard to explain. I don’t like the people he’s involved with. Why can’t he work with you personally?”

  Corrado let out an abrupt, bitter laugh. “Have you forgotten what I do, Celia? Do you need me to remind you?”

  He could tell she tried to fight it, but a look of disgust briefly passed over her face. It twisted his stomach with guilt, having to strike her that way.

  “The stealing is a lot safer than the rest,” Corrado continued. “And the kids he’s working with are harmless . . . relatively speaking. You don’t have to agree with me, or even like it, but I hope you’d at least respect it. Respect me. ”

  “I do. ”

  “Then drop it,” he said. “I’m doing all I can. ”

  Celia said nothing. Her lack of response told Corrado he had won that round, but he knew there would be more battles. More requests, more denials, more conflicts. His wife was just as determined as he was stubborn.

  “I’m starving,” he said, hoping to change the subject as he headed for the kitchen. He had been busy all night and hadn’t had time to eat. “Can you make me something?”

  Celia scoffed. “I’m going back to bed. If you want to eat, I’m sure you can help yourself. You’ve never relied on anyone else before, remember, so why start now?”

  18

  We have a problem. ”

  Corrado shook his head as he stood by the window of his lawyer’s office. “Don’t tell me that. I came here because you said you had good news. ”

  “I do,” Mr. Borza said. “Well, I did, but it seems petty now in comparison. ”

  Sighing, Corrado turned to him, not in the mood for guessing games. This case was proving to be harder than his others to shake. “Just be out with it. ”

  “We got your arrest record thrown out since it would bias the jury. All previous trials resulted in not guilty verdicts or dropped charges. ”

  “That’s good,” Corrado said. “It’s progress. ”

  “Yes,” Mr. Borza agreed. “The prosecution’s barred from mentioning any of it. Your criminal record, on the other hand, is still in, but it’s squeaky clean. ”

  “I know,” Corrado said. “What else?”

  “The judge ruled the wiretaps at the club weren’t covered by the warrant, so those tapes are inadmissible. I’m still working on the ones from your home. The crime scene photographs were thrown out, since they would unfairly incite the jury. Being guilty under RICO is a far cry from being a cold-blooded murderer. ”

  Not as far of a cry as the man thought. “Anything else?”

  “Tommy DiMica and Alfredo Millano are both off the witness list. Seems Tommy recanted his story and now says he doesn’t even know you, and Alfredo was assaulted a few days ago in his jail cell. He’s alive, but in no condition to testify. ”

  Corrado nodded. He knew those things already. Tommy and Alfredo were both former La Cosa Nostra, and men who turned against the oath had to pay the price.

  “So what’s the problem?” Corrado asked. “Seems their case is falling apart. ”

  “The problem is there’s a new name on the list. ”

  Mr. Borza picked up a piece of paper and held it out to him. Corrado took it and scanned the list, the name at the bottom jumping off the page:

  Vincenzo Roman DeMarco

  Corrado said nothing as he stared at it, forcing himself not to react.

  “It’s possible they’re planning to subpoena him and he’ll just plead the fifth,” Mr. Borza continued.

  “Or he’s testifying against me to save his own ass. ”

  “A plea bargain,” Mr. Borza said. “I’m not certain, since I’m not on his case anymore. I’ll request a deposition, of course, but in the meantime I’ll see what I can do about getting this to go away permanently. ”

  Corrado looked away from the paper and handed it back to the lawyer. “No. ”

  “No?”

  “Let me handle it,” Corrado said, turning to the window once more. “I’d rather you not breathe a word about it to anyone. ”

  * * *

  The loud shrieking echoed through the room. Haven reached beside the bed, slapping the alarm clock to silence it. She was exhausted, her body weary, and entirely too comfortable wrapped in the comforter for her to even consider getting up. A strange buzzing noise met her ears but she did her best to block it out, not caring enough to investigate. She assumed it came from upstairs in Kelsey’s apartment, and if that was the case, she probably didn’t want to know what it was.

  It stopped eventually and silence overtook the room. The moment she finally slipped back to sleep, a succession of bangs jolted her awake. Groaning, she hauled herself out of bed.

  “Wake up!” The thick door muffled Kelsey’s voice. “I know you aren’t still in bed! Do you see the time? Up, up, up! Rise and shine!”

  “Calm down,” she yelled, her voice scratchy. “I’m awake!”

  “You better be!”

  Kelsey obnoxiously pounded a few more times even though she knew Haven was on her way. Sighing, she unlocked the door and pulled it open, immediately having a coffee cup thrust in her face.

  “Here,” Kelsey said. “It’s probably cold now since you took so long. ”

  Haven rolled her eyes, knowing she had bought it right down the street. “Thank you,” she said, bringing it to her lips and taking a sip. The hot liquid made her tongue tingle as it burned, but she drank it eagerly anyway.

  “You’re welcome. ” Kelsey stepped past her into the apartment, watching her with a peculiar look on her face. “From the look of you, though, you probably need about ten more of them. Did you get any sleep last night, honey?”

  “Some,” she said, shrugging as she continued to drink her coffee—straight black, just as she preferred. It was the opposite of the one in Kelsey’s hand, which she ordered every morning like clockwork on the way to school—venti soy chai latte, four pumps, no foam, extra hot. Haven had no clue what any of that meant.

  “Some. ” She echoed the word, her expression telling Haven she didn’t believe it. A smile crept on to her lips after a second, a sinister twinkle in her eye. “Did you have company last night? A guy, maybe?”

  “Of course not!” Haven said quickly, looking at her with disbelief as the blush rose onto her cheeks. “I would never do . . . that. ”

  “Pity,” Kelsey joked. “You could use a good fuck to loosen you up. ”

  “Kelsey!”

  The two girls had easily become what most people would consider best friends, despite the fact that they were polar opposites in nearly everything. Kelsey grew up lavishly, never having to clean or even wear the same outfit twice. She had had the type of childhood where she asked for a pony and actually got it, whereas Haven had been doomed to sleep in the same grungy stables as one.

  Kelsey loved going to crowded parties and got her news from trashy gossip magazines. Haven preferred staying home and losing herself in books. But still, something about her put Haven at ease. She reminded Haven of the life she had left behind, the one that part of her still yearned to belong to . . . the life she had nearly built with Carmine.

  It still hurt her to think about, a burn in her chest constantl
y reminding Haven that a part of her soul had been torn away. It was a piece he had taken with him, one that would always be wherever he was.

  Most days she could think of Carmine fondly, remembering things they had done together and everything he had said, but it wasn’t always that way. There were still times when she questioned if she would ever smile again, worried the pain would one day swallow her whole.

  “Hey!”

  Haven glanced at her friend as she waved her hand in front of her face. “Huh?”

  “Haven’t you been listening to me? Jesus, girl, get yourself together. We have a long day ahead of us. You can’t space out on me. ” Kelsey looked around. “Where’s your phone? I tried calling you on my way here but you didn’t answer. ”

  “Really?” she asked, unable to recall hearing the phone ring. “Where were you, anyway? You aren’t a morning person. Usually I have to drag you out of bed. ”

  “Oh, I just got home,” Kelsey said. “Stayed at Derrick’s last night. We—”

  Haven held her hand up to stop her. “Enough said. ”

  “Jealous wench. ” Kelsey scrunched her nose as she surveyed Haven. “Find your phone, and get dressed while you’re at it. There’s no way I’m going anywhere with you looking like that. ”

  Rolling her eyes, Haven headed for the bedroom. “Always so bossy. ”

  “One of the many reasons you love me,” she yelled.

  Haven took sips of her coffee as she headed into her bedroom, spotting the black phone laying on the bed. Three missed calls lit up the screen, the first two from Kelsey, and she froze when her eyes fell upon number three. She stared at the name as her heart pounded forcefully, the blood furiously rushing through her veins.

  Corrado Moretti

  “You don’t have any liquor?” Kelsey hollered through the door. “What are you, a nun?”

  Haven set her phone down, laughing, as she walked to the dresser. She dressed quickly, pulling her hair up to get it off her neck.

  “Never mind,” Kelsey yelled. “I’ll get some upstairs!”

  Haven shook her head and glanced at the clock, seeing it was a few minutes before ten. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she grabbed her phone again. Her hand shook nervously as she scrolled through her contacts, stopping when she reached Corrado’s number.

  It rang a few times before she heard the click. “Hello?”

  Haven breathed a sigh of relief at the soft, feminine voice. “Hello, Celia. ”

  “Haven!” she gasped. “It’s been a while!”

  “I know. ” She immediately felt guilty. “I’ve been . . . busy. ”

  “No need to make excuses, kiddo. I just worry about you. ”

  “I know you do, but I promise I’m fine,” she said. “Is Corrado there? He called this morning. ”

  “Did he?” she asked, surprised. “He stepped out earlier, said he had some things to take care of. ”

 
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