Sempre redemption, p.74
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       Sempre: Redemption, p.74

         Part #2 of Forever series by J. M. Darhower
Page 74



  Carmine wasn’t sure what to do, torn between reacting and alerting Corrado, but he didn’t get much time to consider his options. The driver’s side door swung open and the guy climbed out, keeping his head down as he started down the block. Without even thinking Carmine followed him, dodging streetlights while trying to keep up with his pace. The man slowed when he neared Corrado’s house, staring at it peculiarly like he was trying to assess how to get inside. The living room light was on and Carmine could see shadows, Celia’s laughter faintly filtering out of a cracked window.

  The man ducked beside Corrado’s house and Carmine hesitated, taking a deep breath and clutching his gun before darting behind him. The invader had almost made it to their backyard when he heard Carmine’s footsteps. He swung around, alarmed by the presence, but it was already too late.

  Carmine slammed him into the side of the house, shoving his gun against his temple. “If you move, I’ll blow your fucking head off. ”

  He cursed and shook as Carmine patted him down, frantically pulling everything out of the guy’s pockets. He found a gun in his coat and made sure the safety was on before sticking it in his waistband.

  Grabbing the man’s wallet, Carmine flipped it open and yanked out his driver’s license. “Oisin Quinn. What kinda name is that?”

  “Don’t hurt me,” he begged. “I’m not looking for trouble!”

  “Bullshit,” Carmine spat. “You don’t lurk around this neighborhood with a gun if you aren’t looking for trouble. ”

  “I swear it’s a mistake!”

  “What is?”


  “What the fuck is this?” Carmine asked, pulling him away from the house and shoving him into the backyard. He stumbled but caught himself before he fell, and hesitated for a second before he took off sprinting through the yard.

  For a brief moment, Carmine remained frozen in utter disbelief. He had just let go of the guy. How fucking stupid could he be?

  Adrenaline kicked in again. Carmine aimed with his finger on the trigger, a hair away from pulling it, but lowered the gun and took off after him instead. Carmine managed to catch him, tackling him in the grass at the edge of the yard. Panicked, the man swung, trying to fight Carmine off, and his fist connected with the right side of his jaw. Pain ripped through his cheek, sending him over the edge.

  If he wanted a fight, Carmine was going to give him one.

  He pulled his arm back that clutched the gun, slamming him straight in the face with it. A lifetime worth of aggression came pounding from his fists, disappointment and anger, shame and heartbreak. Carmine didn’t know the man, but that mattered not—he took his pain out on him, battering him with pent-up hostility he needed to let go of.

  After he was beat down, Carmine pulled him across the yard and forced him on his knees right outside Corrado’s back door.

  “Stay there, motherfucker,” he spat, giving him a swift kick in the side out of frustration. His jaw ached and he was out of breath, blood splattered on his hands.

  “I’m certainly glad you decided not to shoot him. ”

  The voice caught Carmine off guard. He looked up, seeing Corrado standing motionless at the back door, watching them. “Fuck, how long have you been there?”

  “Long enough. ”

  “And you couldn’t help me?” he spat, annoyed that Corrado had just watched.

  “You seemed to have it handled,” he said. “Besides, it was quite entertaining. ”

  Carmine glared at him. “Entertaining? There’s nothing entertaining about this!”

  “I disagree. ”

  “Well, you’re wrong,” Carmine said, reaching into his waistband for the guy’s gun. He cursed yet again when he came up empty-handed and glanced around, realizing it had fallen out during their scuffle. He found it a few feet away and picked it up, handing it to Corrado when he stepped outside. “He could’ve killed me. ”

  Corrado laughed dryly. “You’re exaggerating. You had him, no problem. ”

  “You couldn’t have fucking known that. ”

  “Yes, I could. He didn’t do his homework if he parked in front of your house. ”

  “How do you . . . ?” Carmine stopped, narrowing his eyes when it struck him. “Wait, you knew he was there?”

  “Of course I did,” he replied. “He wasn’t sly, Carmine. Even you noticed him. ”

  “Son of a bitch,” he grumbled, aggravated. “I did all of that for nothing?”

  “I wouldn’t say it was for nothing,” Corrado replied, smiling with amusement. “Like I said, it was entertaining. ”

  Carmine shook his head as the guy knelt there, crying with his head down. “Who is this Oisin Quinn asshole, anyway?”

  “Is that his name?” Corrado asked as he took the guy’s driver’s license. “I’m assuming the Irish sent him. Is that right?”

  The guy whimpered. “Please! I’m sorry, just . . . please!”

  “Don’t beg,” Corrado said. “Tell me who sent you. ”

  “I don’t know,” he cried. “They paid me. ”

  “Who paid you?”

  “A guy, he said it would be easy!”

  Corrado squatted down beside the guy and grabbed him. Carmine could see signs of his anger boiling over and took a step back. One thing Corrado despised was being underestimated. “Do you know who I am?”

  “Yes. Well, no. I mean, they gave me your address, told me where I could find you tonight. They said it would be in-and-out. ”

  Carmine shook his head, stunned by the idiocy, although a part of him was undoubtedly on edge.

  “I hate to break it to you, but somebody wanted you dead,” Corrado told the guy. “They knew you wouldn’t walk away from this . . . from me. You don’t send a nobody after the head of La Cosa Nostra. I made you the moment you walked in the restaurant. ”

  Carmine’s brow furrowed as he tried to think back, looking for any sign that Corrado had been on edge. He ran through the night in his mind before their very last conversation struck Carmine. “Motherfucker, you knew this would happen!”

  Corrado smiled slightly, almost like he was proud. Jackass. Instead of replying, he waved his hand dismissively. “Go home, Carmine. I’ll finish this. ”

  He grumbled to himself and walked away, hearing the guy yell as he made his way around the house. His cries were cut off damn near instantly by a small pop, almost like the sound of a little snapping firecracker. A single shot with a silencer, he guessed. He definitely wasn’t hanging around to find out for sure.

  Jogging home, Carmine hoped like hell no one had seen him.

  The house was quiet, everything still. Heading into the kitchen, he washed his hands before tucking his gun back away for safekeeping. The empty vodka bottle still sat on the counter beside the sink, taunting Carmine. After what he had just gone through, he could have used a drink.

  You don’t need it, he told himself. You’re alive. You have your girl. There’s nothing more you need.

  He made his way upstairs, the bedroom door open, the bed nothing but a tangled mess of sheets and blankets—no Haven anywhere to be found. Quietly, he crept down the hall and saw a bit of light dancing on the wall from one of the spare rooms. He paused in the doorway, seeing her in front of her canvas with a small paintbrush in her hand. She wore a pair of Carmine’s black boxers and a plain white t-shirt. They hung loosely on her, practically swallowing her frame.

  She was working on the painting of the tree again, the marijuana leaf magically gone and blended into a stormy looking sky. He took a few steps closer, smiling at the sight of her working. “I’m surprised you’re awake. ”

  “Yeah, well, ADT called and woke me up,” Haven said. “Apparently someone went out the back door and forgot to disable to alarm. Lucky I could get to it before they alerted the police. ”

  “Oh, fuck. ” That would have been a disaster. “Sorry about that. ”

  “It’s okay,” she
responded. “I have your back. ”

  Carmine chuckled under his breath at her wording, her tone playful, but he knew without a doubt she meant what she said. She had his back. Anything he needed, any time he needed her, she would be right there and do whatever he asked. She wasn’t just his support system—his life vest as he drifted along a tumultuous river of turmoil—she was his everything. Without her, he would sink.

  Haven turned around, her brow furrowing as her eyes scanned Carmine. “What in the world were you out doing? You’re filthy!”

  He glanced down, seeing the dirt and grass stains covering his jeans. He shrugged as she laughed, reaching over to pluck a leaf from his unkempt hair. He realized how crazy he must have looked—barefoot and shirtless, covered in filth.

  “Just had some shit to take care of, tesoro. ”

  “Looks like you’ve been playing football. ”

  “I feel like I’ve been playing football,” he muttered, rubbing his jaw. “Either that or I had my ass kicked. ”

  “Is that where you go at night when you disappear? A secret underground fight club?”

  “Can’t say, tesoro. You know the rules,” he replied, laughing it off. “Anyway, the painting looks good. ”

  “Yeah, I figured out what it was missing,” she said, sticking her paintbrush into a container of water before pointing out the two shadowy figures clinging to the branches. “Us. ”

  Carmine smiled, wrapping his arms around her from behind. Leaning down, he kissed the nape of her neck. “Well, it’s perfect now. I know sometimes it’s hard seeing what’s right in front of you. I’ve personally fucked up a few times missing what should’ve been obvious. ”


  “Like what you said earlier, about needing someone around who understands you,” he replied. “Because you’re right—it is important. When I left you back in Durante, I thought I was leaving for that reason. I thought I was coming here to be with people like me, who live the same life I do, but I was wrong. These people don’t understand me. They can’t. They might know what I’ve been through, but they have no clue how it feels. How it feels to lose your mother to this shit and to be robbed of a childhood. How it feels to have to pay for everyone else’s mistakes. They don’t get it, but you . . . you do. You’re the only one who ever has. I thought we’d be okay apart, but I was sorely mistaken. I don’t need much, Haven, but I do need you. ”

  “I need you, too, you know,” she said. “You make me feel safe. ”

  He smiled, kissing the top of her head. Twenty minutes earlier he had practically stared down death, tackling a man who probably wouldn’t have hesitated to kill him, and yet she still felt safe with him. Despite everything, she trusted him. She believed in him. She loved him.

  And he loved her . . . more than anything in the world. She had given herself to him again, every barrier between them broken down. All of those unanswered questions, all of the worry, every single bit of it had been resolved the moment they came back together.

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