As I pulled into Marcus’s driveway, Theresa was pulling in at the same time. I turned off my ignition and hopped out of the car. “Mia!” Elle shouted as she jumped out of the passenger side of Theresa’s vehicle. She ran up to me and wrapped her tiny arms around my hip.
“Elle, how are you, honey?”
“I’m good! Did you come to see me?” She spread her lips into a huge grin.
Smiling, I leaned down and kissed her cheek, “Actually, I need to speak to your Uncle Marc. Is he around?”
“I believe you may have just missed him.” Theresa proclaimed as she approached us. I straightened to greet her. She pulled me into a hug. “How are you, sweetheart?”
“I’m good.” We untangled from our embrace. “Do you know where he might be? I thought he’d be here because it’s still so early.”
“Inventory.” At my puzzled expression, she continued. “The club. It’s that time of month for inventory. It’s done once a month.”
“Ah, so he’s there?”
“Yes. I just came back from the park with Elle. Would you like to have lunch with us while you wait for him?”
“Actually, I think I’ll just go to the club. I really need to speak with him.”
“Everything okay? With the two of you I mean?”
“Oh, yes, I just really need to talk to him.” I assured her.
“Okay. I’ll see you later?”
“Yes, of course.” I leaned in, hugged her and Elle good-bye, and entered my car. Pulling out of the driveway, I turned at the curb and zoomed toward the club.
As I pulled into the empty parking lot of Club21, I was concerned that I may have missed Marcus, because I didn’t spot his car. There was a huge truck on the side of the building backed up into an entrance, but I didn’t see anyone. Looking around before I exited my vehicle, I noticed the back door was wide open. He had to be there. Exiting my car, I made my way toward the door and poked my head in before going in. The hallway was quiet and empty. Shrugging my shoulders, I walked through the hall. Halfway through, I heard a noise coming from one of the side doors, a door that led to the basement. Because the truck on the side of the building led to the basement, it made sense that he was down there. I pulled the door open and walked down the stairs.
I looked around, confused at first, but then, everything started to register. It was a bust. All around the basement were at least twenty to thirty men with their guns drawn on each other. There were men in blue-and-yellow FBI jackets with their guns pointed at some men who I recognized from Marcus’s surprise party. They were all a part of the mob. I was sure of it. They had their guns pointed at the federal agents as well. My heart fought against my chest as my eyes scanned the room searching for Marcus. They landed on Vinnie, Marcus’s friend, who wore a badge around his neck and locked eyes with mine. “Mia, I want you to stay where you are. Do not move! Do you understand?”
My mind felt as if I nodded, but I wasn’t sure if I did. I was in complete shock. Swallowing the huge lump in my throat, I continued to scan the room. I saw more angry men all with guns who cursed and hissed at one other. The moment I realized who was standing beside me, he gripped me against his chest and pressed a gun against my head. “Lou, let her go now!” Vinnie yelled. Everything was happening so fast. My vision blurred as I tried to focus on something—anything. My heart thundered against my chest, my breathing increased, and sweat beaded along my skin.
Lou wrapped his arm around my neck as he pulled me in tighter. My arms reached up and tried to pull at his grip, but his hold was snug under my chin. I whimpered as he traced the tip of the gun down the side of my face and under my jawline. He pinned my head back into his shoulder. His lips grazed the outside of my ear as he harshly whispered, “Your man’s not around to save you, huh, princess?” Lou dug his nose in my ear and wildly sniffed in the scent of my shampoo. “I wonder if I should kill you now and make your death fast and easy like your brother’s.”
My knees buckled and I collapsed into him. My eyes burned as I fought to see past the tears. My nails dug into his hold, but I couldn’t pull him away. It was difficult to breathe as I gasped for air. Laughing, he secured his grip on me. “After I’m done with you, I’ll make sure we take care of Marky. I have plans for him, though. I’ll make sure he dies a slow, tortuous, and painful death.” He sneered in my ear.
I broke into uncontrollable sobs.
“Fuck!” Vinnie spat out. “Lou, let her go! You have nowhere to run. This whole place is surrounded.”
Lou snapped his head back up to Vinnie. Remembering where we were, he dragged me back with him until he reached the door. He kicked it opened and leaned in as far as he could. “We’ll see about that.” He pushed me away, turning my entire body to face him. A rush of relief washed through me at the loss of contact and I gulped in air.
With the basement stairway door opened, he leaned in and kept the gun pointed at me. I tried to swallow as he lowered the gun, gave a lopsided grin, and said, “Tell your brother I said, ‘Hi.’”
Before I could utter a word, he pulled the trigger, causing a loud noise to echo through the room. My entire body shattered as I felt the bullet bite through my chest. I was frozen. Everything around me stilled. I looked down, and my hand swiped along the burning wound with trembling hands. Dark red blood spread along my palm. A dizzy spell caught me, and as I tried to breathe in, my throat wheezed at the failed attempt. My body fell back as I heard the sounds of gunfire surround me. It all became faint.
I couldn’t breathe. My lungs felt as if someone were squeezing every single breath left inside of me. My eyes rolled back, and I focused on the ceiling. With each gasp of air I took in, my mind began to slowly recede. Images of those I loved faded in and out of my mind: my father, Michael, my mother, Jeremy, Megan, and my grandparents. The one I loved more than anything and was willing to give my last breath for, the one that I wanted nothing more than to see his face one last time—Marcus—his was the last image that crossed my mind.
Then I grew hungry—hungry for oxygen—anything to help stop the tortured pain that scorched through my lungs, as I fought for every breath.
Ice-covered, I couldn’t move. I blinked again to find out if what I saw the first time was real. And it was. Mia had entered the hallway from the back parking lot and had opened the doors to the basement where the bust had just taken place less than five minutes before. I felt my body grow pale as I saw her go down the stairs where it all was taking place.