The little office in the news station, always quieter than the hustle and bustle of the rest of the newsroom, remained a getaway of sorts for Elias Payne. A getaway where he could sit down and research for hours without having to take a break to run downtown and grab coffee for everyone or scramble to gather all the information he could on a breaking story before the news broke into whatever show was airing at the time.
He’d finally made the jump to investigative journalism. He’d worked his ass off for the position, and as long as he carried out his first story with an interesting, ground-breaking scope, he’d continue to hold it.
Thankfully, Vito Minetti was an interesting subject to research. Identified as one of two prime suspects for the Horror Twins murders, there was quite a bit to go through for a story featuring him. Elias’s angle was simple: prove once and for all that Tito and Vito Minetti were, indeed, the Horror Twins, a set of mafia enforcer soldiers who had wreaked murderous havoc in damn near every state across the country.
Elias had spent the last two weeks researching both Minetti men before focusing his sights on Vito specifically. In the state of California, Vito was present for every single Horror Twins murder there’d ever been. Tito, on the other hand, hadn’t been. He’d been there for a large number of them, but certainly not every single one. It made the case for Vito stronger, and proving that only one of the twins was present for a nice chunk of the homicides proved Vito even had a higher body count than the other half of the Horror Twins.
It was an investigation Elias had been looking forward to for years, one he had always kept to himself in hopes he’d still be able to deep dive into it once he got a shot at investigative journalism. And now he finally had his shot.
Elias lifted his head at the knock on his door. “Yeah?”
His boss, an older white man named John, opened the door and stepped into his office. “Hey. Just checking in on the Minetti research.”
“Perfect. There was something I wanted to talk to you about.” Elias sorted through the papers on his desk before grabbing his notepad. He pushed himself to his feet and walked over to John. “So I’ve gone through and cross-referenced every single one of the Horror Twins murders in California with when Tito and Vito were in the state. Vito was present in the state for every single one. Tito wasn’t. He’s been there for around eighty-five percent of them. I’d like to focus my investigation specifically on Vito.” Elias tapped a finger to his notepad. “He has the higher body count. Christ, we could luck out and prove that, not only is the bastard one of the Horror Twins, he’s both of them..”
“Well… two generally is better than one.” John smiled. “Go for it, kid. Focus in on Vito.”
“Thank you.” Elias cleared his throat, taking a small step back. “I do have another… thing to run past you.”
“All right. I’m listening.”
“Vito actively visits several bars here in Kansas. I want to know if it’s… completely idiotic or not to go to one of those bars, wait for him to show up, and… get close to him.”
“Many investigative journalists ‘befriend’ the people they’re investigating. Through email, texts, letters, in-person. If you think it’s your next step, do it. I support you in that decision.” John jabbed a crooked, calloused finger into Elias’s chest. “Vito Minetti eliminates problems. While you’re befriending the man, don’t become a problem for him. I can help you out of a lot of bad situations, kid, but I can’t make a mafia hit on your head go away.”
Elias nodded. “I’ll be careful. Thank you.”
“Sure thing. You keep me posted, all right? You’re doing great.”
“I will. And thank you.” Elias smiled. “Again.”
John chuckled. “You’re welcome. I’m heading out for lunch. You wanna come with, or are you gonna hole yourself up in here for the day?”
“I brought salad, don’t worry. Enjoy your lunch, man.”
The older man nodded. “I’ll do what I can. Don’t get too lost in the numbers and research. Remember to actually eat the food you brought. Don’t lose yourself long enough to starve.”
“Appreciate the concern. I’ll do what I can,” Elias echoed. John saluted him and walked out of the room, closing the door behind him. Elias sat back down behind his desk. He’d always considered himself an intrepid journalist, but investigating Vito Minetti of all people took it to a whole new level. If what the public knew about the Minetti Horror Twins could be applied to Vito without a shadow of a doubt–and Elias was pretty damn sure it could–then this was the most dangerous thing he’d ever done.
Elias had chosen Drake’s Place as his bar for the night. Though there was a good chance Vito would settle into one of the other bars for the night, but if he sat at Drake’s for enough nights in a row, Vito was bound to walk into the bar at least once. By all accounts, Vito was an alcoholic drug abuser. A recipe for danger and disaster, of course, but a guarantee that he wouldn’t suddenly stop going to bars.
All Elias had to do was wait.
Counting that very Tuesday, Elias had spent four nights at Drake’s Place. That Tuesday, of course, was different than the nights before. That night, Vito Minetti walked into the bar.
Vito was a tall, muscular beast of a man. An Italian-born mobster with a jaw carved straight from stone, it was no wonder the man was known to be a playboy of a bachelor. His long, black hair was down, pushed back from his forehead with a bandana. Elias found himself almost disappointed that the man looked that good in his black v-neck and a dark pair of jeans roughly shoved into his riding boots.
Monsters had no right being that damn good-looking.
Vito ordered a drink at the counter and, beer in hand, headed down to the pool table. Elias took a sip of his beer, watching Vito’s every move. It didn’t take long for him to rack up the balls on the table. It also didn’t take long for a woman to approach him, a hand on his back as he lined up his shot.
Elias wished he knew what the two were saying, but he figured he could about imagine. There was a good chance she was talking about how big his muscles were, and there was an even better chance he was telling her he had another muscle to show her.
It seemed bluntly tragic enough to be one of the man’s pick-up lines. There was no way in hell his playboy reputation came from anything more than his looks. He didn’t exactly look like the flattery type.
Letting out a breath, Elias leaned back in the booth. He’d wait to approach Vito until after the woman stopped clinging to him, if she ever did. Until then, it was going to be a long night.
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