Bo led the charge into the hospital, Vito and the blonde’s bodyguard following close behind. The bodyguard, Mekhi, ran most of the behind the scenes operations for Bo’s army. He handed out missions, gave assignments, and got shit done. Clearly, ‘getting shit done’ also applied to the phone calls he’d been making on the plane.
“He’s been moved to a private room at your request, sir,” Mekhi said. “Room three-oh-six on the third floor. There are two officers guarding him still, but I couldn’t pull quite enough weight to have them removed without… removing them.”
Bo nodded. “That’s fine. I won’t need them removed. If they don’t let us through, they’ll suffer the consequences of that call, end of story.”
Vito chose not to let, ‘That’s kinda hot,’ slip past his lips. Bo would inevitably find that inappropriate and annoying, and the last time he’d found something incredibly annoying, he had flipped Vito on his ass. Which had also been kinda hot, but Vito had kept that to himself too.
“Who are you?” the cop by the door asked the moment they reached it.
“Bo Austen-Taylor, Vito Minetti, Mekhi.”
“Doesn’t matter. His last name is none of your concern.”
The cop rolled his eyes. “Man, I’m just doing my job.”
“Your job is arresting the man who was shot in the chest instead of the man who fired the weapon? I’ve already done my research here, Officer. I know that wasn’t an air marshall, and I know the real air marshall is still nowhere to be found.”
The man cleared his throat. “I need to pat you down, then.”
Bo held out his arms. “Go ahead.” After the officer had patted him down a little more aggressively than Vito knew necessary, Bo nodded toward him. “You can pat him down if you need to, but my bodyguard is off limits. He’ll stay out in the hall.”
Vito held out his arms, eyes on the ceiling as the cop patted him down. He grunted as the man grabbed his ass. “You do that a second time and me being here with a cop won’t even be enough to save you.”
The cop chuckled, but as expected, he finished his little pat down without being too handsy. Though Bo stayed out in the hall for a chat, Vito pushed past the cop and headed straight for his brother. Vito grabbed Tito’s cuffed hand and leaned down to hug him, closing his eyes as Tito laid his free hand on his back.
“Good to see you, baby brother,” Tito whispered.
“Good to see you too.” Vito sniffled. “I’m so fuckin’ sorry I ignored your call the first two times.”
“Ah, that’s okay. I shoulda texted you. I know how you work.”
Vito shook his head. “I-I’m so sorry I was such a dick to you about Lillian. I’m so sorry.”
“Hey.” Tito pushed him back, hand moving to his cheek instead. “Don’t let anyone take away your dicklord personality. I’d worry you’d been kidnapped and replaced with an android or something if you started being too nice to me.”
“Yeah. You’re the dickish half of our set for a reason, Vi.”
Vito smiled. “I guess I am.”
“Of course.” Tito patted his cheek before dropping his hand back to his chest. “Bo’s out there givin’ ‘em hell, huh?”
“Think so. Think he’s trying to figure out who shot you.”
Tito nodded. “Yeah, me too.” He cleared his throat, turning his head toward his shoulder to cough. “I haven’t told JP yet. Asked Bo not to. I knew he’d come straight out here, and I don’t want him to see me like this.”
“He’s seen worse.” Tito jingled the chain of the handcuffs. “Cuffed. I don’t want him to see me until this damn thing’s off.”
“Yeah,” Vito whispered. He sat down on the edge of the hospital bed, clasping his hands in his lap. “How long you gonna be on that oxygen tube for?”
“I don’t know. Couple weeks. Couple months. We’ll see how things go with the whole, uh… healing process.”
“You’re a tough son of a bitch, Ti.”
Tito smiled, though it was far dimmer than usual. “Pitmans by heart, right?”
“Yeah. Pitmans by heart.” Vito held out a fist, which Tito lightly tapped his own against. “I shoulda been there with you.”
Tito shook his head. “If you’d been on that plane, one of us really would be arrested for a murder charge.”
Vito snorted. “True. Too many witnesses.” He laid a hand on his brother’s chest, swallowing as Tito pushed it over an inch. He felt the edges of a bandage beneath the thin material of Tito’s hospital gown. “God, I’m so sorry, Ti.”
“It’s not your fault. And for what it’s worth, I’m glad you weren’t there. You would’ve gotten yourself killed or taken out a couple innocents in your attempt to get to our fake air marshall.”
“Yeah. probably.” Vito raised a brow. “So you also think the guy’s a fake?”
“I recognized him. I don’t remember from where, but when I saw him on that plane, I knew I recognized him. I stood up to take a picture of him on my way to the bathroom. He shot me on my way past. He was there to grab me, wound me, kill me… I dunno. But he was there for me, regardless of the intention. Think he was freaked out at the idea that I might get his picture and send it to someone, so he tried to take me out before I could.”
“Did you manage to get the picture?”
Vito turned to look at Bo, who stood only a few feet away from the closed door.
“I don’t know, Boss. I-I tried, but I don’t know if my thumb hit the button before or after he shot me.”
“You did great regardless. You made it back here alive. That’s more than I could’ve asked of you,” Bo said, his voice soft. He sat down on the edge of the bed, laying a hand on Tito’s arm. “Do you know if your phone was collected from the plane?”
Tito nodded. “I held onto it, tight as I could. They took it from me and bagged it once we got to the hospital, but I don’t know if that was as evidence or as my personal belongings.”
“Okay, that’s good. I’ll find out.”
“I’m sorry about this, Bo. I-I know you have much better shit to deal with than me getting my ass shot.”
Bo shook his head, grabbing Tito’s hand. “Tito, when I took over for Jamal, I promised to help protect his family. That includes you and Vito. It always will.”
“Thanks, Chief,” Tito said quietly.
Bo gave his hand a squeeze before releasing it. He pushed himself to his feet, blue eyes lifting to Vito’s face. “Vi, I’m going to leave Mekhi here with you. No disrespect meant toward your temporary designated driver, but he doesn’t need to be involved in any of this. What happens here is between the three of us until I say otherwise. So to the both of you, do not answer any calls from anyone in the Lucchese family. They’ll eventually call me, and I will answer whatever questions they have. I only want facts relayed to them. Okay?”
Vito nodded. “No phone calls. You got it, Boss.”
“News of this is all over the, well, news. If your phone hasn’t already blown up with messages and calls from them, it will soon. Don’t answer their calls, but feel free to text them and let them know they can contact me if they want factual information about what we know so far. I don’t need them starting a war while I’m still trying to avoid one. Okay?”
Again, Vito nodded. “You got it. I’m not gonna cause any problems for you, dude, sir. Ti will make sure of that.”
“You know I will,” Tito agreed.
“Good. Mekhi will keep me posted, so feel free to let him know if you need to get a hold of me.” Bo pointed between the twins. “Both of you behave. Stay in the hospital, and that goes for both of you. Don’t provoke the guard, and that goes for Vito. And Tito, stay in the bed. Rest. I know that doesn’t come naturally, but you need it.”
Tito offered a smile and a thumbs-up. “Will do, Boss. I’ll keep the young one in check.”
Vito snorted, crossing his arms over his chest. Just this once, he’d give his brother a pass. ‘Shot in the lung, bed-ridden, and on oxygen’ seemed like the appropriate time to give someone a pass on a comment that would normally end up with at least a hard shove of the shoulder.
Bo gave the room one final once-over before walking out and closing the door behind him.
“So…” Vito cleared his throat. “What do we do now?”
Tito offered a shrug, laying a hand on his chest as he closed his eyes. “Now we wait.”
“I know, Vi.” Tito cleared his throat and drew in a long, nearly wheezing breath. Vito tried not to think about the sound too much. His brother was strong. He’d be fine. He was always fine. “If this turns out to be a threat on the Lucchese family, you have to promise me you’ll be careful, Vi. If that’s the case, the guy who shot me won’t be the only one out to get us. There will be more, most like many more. And I… I’m gonna be outta commission for a little bit, y’know? So you gotta promise me you’ll be careful.”
“I’ll be careful.” As lightly as Vito could, he punched his brother’s shoulder. “You gotta promise me you’ll be careful too.”
“Of course. Gotta stay alive to keep your ass up and about.” Tito stuck out his free hand, which Vito grasped tightly enough that his knuckles paled. “I’ll be okay, Vi. I need time to adjust to the way it feels to breathe right now and to this tube thing in my nose, but I’ll be okay. That’s what we do, right? Be okay. Keep fighting. Keep pushing.”
Vito nodded. “Go out kicking.”
A little smile tugged at one corner of Tito’s mouth. “Yeah, that’s right. Go out kickin’.”
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