Sempre redemption, p.33
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       Sempre: Redemption, p.33

         Part #2 of Forever series by J. M. Darhower
 
Page 33

 

  “Okay, then. ” Carmine started walking away. “I’ll see you later. ”

  “Carmine?” Vincent called out.

  Carmine looked back, seeing the serious expression on his face. “Yeah?”

  “I love you, son,” he said quietly, taking a drag from his cigarette. “I don’t think I’ve told you that since you were eight, but I do. ”

  “I love you, too,” Carmine replied, his father’s words putting him on edge. “Look, don’t go do anything stupid, okay?”

  Vincent chuckled. “I won’t do anything you wouldn’t do. ”

  “Yeah, well, that scares me, because I do some fucked-up shit. ”

  “Go. ” Vincent waved Carmine off. “You know you can’t be late when you’re called in. Don’t worry about me. ”

  “Whatever you say,” Carmine mumbled, heading for the car. “Bye, Dad. ”

  “Good-bye, son. ”

  23

  Carmine stood stoically on the long wooden dock one Sunday afternoon, dark sunglasses covering his eyes from the blazing sunshine. He was hesitating, telling himself he may have the wrong place, but the words The Federica etched on the side of the boat in front of him were a clear giveaway that he had the right one.

  Five minutes passed, maybe ten, as he stared at the yacht in silence, not wanting to go any farther. Last night’s alcohol still simmered in his bloodstream, the remnants of Molly lingering in his veins. The buzz had faded away, though, as the onset of a headache made itself be known. He had been up until almost sunrise, partying with Remy and the other guys in his crew. He had just gotten home and climbed into bed when Sal called, telling him to report in at exactly one o’clock.

  Business? Personal? Carmine wasn’t sure. What he did know, though, was he had no interest being there either way.

  A car pulled up behind him, parking in the grassy lot beside Carmine’s Mercedes. He turned, watching his uncle climb out and head toward him. Corrado wore a white V-neck shirt, khakis, and a pair of tan loafers. Carmine’s brow furrowed as he stared at the man’s shoes.

  “Something wrong?” Corrado asked, approaching him on the dock.

  “No. ” He shook his head. “I’ve never really seen you so casual before. ”

  “It’s Sunday,” he replied, shrugging as if that were a good explanation. “Celia is spending the afternoon with her mother so I thought I’d join Sal today. ”

  “Oh. ” Carmine looked away from him, his gaze turning back to the yacht. “What are we doing here, anyway?”

  Corrado didn’t answer. Instead, he walked away, stepping onto the yacht and plopping down in a vinyl chair. Carmine remained still for a moment before joining him, taking a shaky step onto the polished wooden deck. He held tightly onto the railing to stabilize himself, the yacht swaying lightly. He was about to take a seat beside his uncle when Sal surfaced from inside, dressed even more casually than Corrado. Hairy legs hung out from the bottom of a pair of plaid shorts, a white undershirt clinging tightly to his oversize stomach. For once, Carmine felt like he almost fit in wearing his jeans and t-shirt.

  “Principe!” Sal said excitedly, his eyes drifting from Carmine to Corrado. “Ah, Corrado! I’m glad you could join us, too! We’re just waiting for one more. ”

  Carmine eyed him anxiously. “Who?”

  Sal nodded toward shore as a black sedan pulled up. Coldness rushed through Carmine as if there were ice in his veins as the man stepped out. The scar on the side of his face gleamed in the sunlight like a bright, sinister warning sign pointing to danger ahead.

  Carmine’s headache kicked in full-force, the pounding blinding as he clenched his teeth together to stop from saying anything. Instead of reacting, he forced himself to sit down in the vacant chair beside his uncle.

  Carlo stepped onto the yacht, walking with determination, an aura of conceit enshrouding him. It was evident in his stride, and his smile, and his stance—the man believed he was invincible.

  “I hope I’m not late,” Carlo said.

  Carmine glanced at his watch: 1:13 P. M. They were all late, technically speaking.

  “No, no, of course not,” Sal said, smiling gleefully as he slapped Carlo on the back. “It’s just good to see you. ”

  They set sail a minute later, navigating out toward an unoccupied area where nothing surrounded them but the calm, dark waters of Lake Michigan. Carmine remained tense, every muscle in his body rigid, as the men grabbed fishing rods and cast them in the water. They lounged and shared laughs, steadily sipping alcohol.

  “So, we have a bit of a situation,” Salvatore said eventually, his nonchalance shifting to seriousness. “We have another traitor that needs dealt with. He can’t see it coming, and he’s going to trust few at this point. You understand the gravity of the situation?”

  “Of course,” Corrado responded at once. “The rats have to go. ”

  Salvatore turned to Carmine, his eyebrows raised inquisitively. Carmine nodded, unsure of why he was asking him, but he wasn’t going to question it. His job was simply to agree. “Yes, sir. ”

  “Good,” Sal said, pulling out a cigar and clipping off the end of it, “because I need Vincent taken out as soon as possible. ”

  Carmine’s blood ran cold, his heart stopping for a fraction of a second. Vincent? It couldn’t be so. He couldn’t mean his father.

  “It’s unfortunate, but we have sources saying he’s been feeding information to the Feds,” Sal continued as he lit his cigar, savoring the first puff. “His father, Antonio—God rest his soul—was one of the greatest Boss’s in the history of the organization. Vincent turning is a notion I wouldn’t suggest if I weren’t one-hundred percent sure. ”

  Salvatore paused, glancing at Corrado, and Carmine held his breath. He waited for his uncle to defend him, for him to talk Salvatore out of it, to make him see logic that Vincent DeMarco would never jeopardize his family.

  But the moment Corrado opened his mouth, Carmine’s hope disintegrated. “I’ll handle it. ”

  “He’ll expect you,” Salvatore warned. “He knows you’re the best. ”

  Corrado started to respond, but another voice silenced him. “What about the boy?” Carlo asked. “Why not him?”

  “Me?” Carmine asked incredulously. “I can’t—”

  “Can’t?” Sal countered, his eyes darkening. “Are you refusing?”

  “With all due respect, sir, Vincent has a lot of experience,” Corrado said. “Carmine’s still an amateur. ”

  “True, but he wouldn’t fire on his son, especially one who looks strikingly close to his wife. It would be like Maura dying all over again. No, Carlo’s right. Carmine’s perfect. ”

  Carmine stared at them with shock, not knowing how to react. The fact that Salvatore would use his mother’s memory to his advantage in his violent twisted game made him sick. There was no way he had just been ordered to murder his own father. It was unfathomable. “I’m supposed to kill my father?”

  “A traitor, Carmine,” Sal said sharply. “Your order is to eliminate the threat. It’s about time you’ve proven your loyalty, anyway. You should’ve been made to do it long ago, but I didn’t press the issue because of who you are. In fact, I’ve tolerated a lot I shouldn’t have because of your last name, but I won’t tolerate it any longer. Your grandfather would be rolling over in his grave right now. ”

  “He would,” Corrado chimed in. “Antonio would’ve never stood for this. ”

  “So do what’s expected of you,” Salvatore continued. “Earn some respect back for your bloodline. ”

  “But—”

  Salvatore shot Carmine a look of murderous rage, silencing him abruptly. The atmosphere shifted once more to nonchalance as Sal puffed on his cigar with ease, turning his focus back to his fishing rod.

  Two hours later the yacht docked again, and Carmine was the first one off the boat. He started down the dock in a stupor and heard Corrado follow, but he didn’t turn around. Seething, he headed
straight for his car when Corrado grabbed him.

  “Get off of me,” he spat, shrugging away from his uncle.

  “Relax,” Corrado said. “You did good. ”

  Carmine laughed bitterly. “You expect me to relax? Maybe you can kill your own fucking family with no remorse, but I can’t! How the hell could you agree with him? I thought you knew my father better than that!”

  “I clearly know Vincent better than you do,” he said. “You’re ignorant if you believe he didn’t know this would happen. ”

  “You’re saying he planned for this? What fucked-up world do you live in?”

  “The same one you live in,” Corrado said calmly, reaching into his pocket for his phone. “But it’s a moot point, because you won’t be killing anyone, Carmine. ”

  “That’s news to me, considering I was just ordered to. What am I supposed to do?”

  “You’re supposed to go home. ”

  Corrado turned away and got into his car, leaving without another word. Carmine headed home, pulling into the driveway a few minutes later. The house was warm, the air-conditioning still broken. Carmine grabbed the bottle of Grey Goose from the freezer before strolling to the living room, flopping down on the couch and kicking off his shoes.

  Time passed as he sat there staring at the floor, his frantic mind trying to sort through his options while he attempted to drown it all out with liquor. It surged through his body, but it didn’t extinguish the ache in his heart.

  Best-case scenario, Carmine thought, his father got away and he never saw him again. Worst-case scenario, he ended up dead, possibly at Carmine’s hands. Violence, mayhem, murder, bloodshed, fucking annihilation—he wondered if there was any way to avoid it anymore.

  Later he still sat hunched over, gripping his hair with the empty bottle of vodka at his feet. He was still lucid, hadn’t even come close to drinking enough to black out. He got up when the sun set, the house cooling off a tad bit and growing darker. The cool wooden floor felt good against his feet as he strolled toward the kitchen, his head throbbing as he scoured the cabinets for more alcohol. He grew aggravated when he found none, slamming a cabinet drawer angrily as he grabbed his phone. Scrolling through his numbers, he stopped at Remy.

  “Yeah?” Remy said, answering on the first ring. “What’s up?”

  “I need Molly. ”

  Remy’s laugh lit up the line. “I’ll be right over, man. ”

  * * *

  Molly became Carmine’s nightly companion.

  While she finally made him feel alive again, filling that void deep inside of his chest, she proved to be both a blessing and a curse. She gave him something to focus on, something to look forward to, but at the same time she lured him deeper into a vast pit of darkness. Because when Carmine was high, he couldn’t possibly be higher, but when he came down, when the drug wore off, leaving him to face life once more, he found himself much deeper than he had ever been before.

 
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