Truths & Chains – Chapter Nine


Vito awoke to the sound of his brother coughing. Tito let out a nearly rattling breath, lowering himself to the bed again.

“Are you all right?” Bo asked.

“Yeah, Chief, I’m good,” Tito promised, his voice rough. “Where are we?”

“You’ve been relocated to a private base. Jamal used to call them secret government bases to scare people, but I’ve been informed that’s untrue,” Bo said.

Vito snorted. “Sounds like Jamal.”

A little smile tugged at one corner of Bo’s mouth. “Yes, it sure does.” He cleared his throat. “You were sedated when the police officer uncuffed you. You were sleeping, and though I didn’t want to wake you, I was worried your mobster-esque reflexes would kick in the moment he touched the cuff.”

“Probably a good call,” Tito said quietly. “So… I’m free?”

“Yes. You managed to get a picture of your shooter. I took it to the detective working the case, and their forensic analyst confirmed the man on your phone was not the air marshall aboard the flight.”

Vito’s brow furrowed. “So what now? With the air marshal shit?”

“Well, we need to find the man who should’ve been on that plane. I imagine he’s either trapped, dead, or has fled the money with quite a lot of money in his pocket,” Bo said.

“Which do you think is more likely?” Tito asked.

“Once I identify our shooter, I’ll be sure to let you know. The more likely option depends on which kind of person the shooter is.” Bo looked down at his laptop. “He didn’t match any records in the system. No arrests and apparently no driver’s license.”

“So you’ll do some fancy shit and ID him?” Vito asked.

“It’s a little more complicated than that in this case. I’ve already run his photo through an algorithm that matches faces from across all social media platforms, but unless there’s a new platform I don’t have filtered in, then he isn’t on social media, either.”

“It’s like he was raised for this shit.”

Bo stopped typing and lifted his head. “That’s… not a terrible theory.”

“It’s not?” the twins asked in near unison.

The blonde shook his head. “When Leo Cassata was kidnapped, he was raised with the intention of being the perfect soldier, the perfect killer. He was trained to kill as soon as he could hold a knife, a gun. He was desensitized to the horror of murder as soon as he had the capacity to understand what he was being exposed to. He was hidden away when other people came to visit the man who took him to make sure no one else in the world would ever be able to identify him by recognition. He was practically a ghost, and in the time he was under that bastard’s ‘care’, he was unstoppable. There’s always the possibility that bastard wasn’t the only one with that sort of plan.”

Tito shook his head. “Christ. Imagine a generation of soldiers who can’t be identified by anyone outside of the family they work for.”

“Jesus,” Vito whispered.

“Now, remember, I’m not saying that’s the case. I’m only saying it’s not a horrible theory.” Bo pointed at the twins. “For the record, this is why I refuse to propose theories to my detectives. You all treat it like it’s fact just because it was spoken.”

Vito snorted. “God, such a buzzkill.”

“I’d hope you’re too sober for that.”

Vito cleared his throat rather than responding. It hadn’t been terribly long ago that Bo had strong-armed him into sobriety, claiming that his drunk and high states made him dangerous, irrational, and a liability. Bo wasn’t exactly wrong, but how the hell was Vito supposed to hang out with his friends if he was the only one forbidden from alcohol and pot?

Sobriety hadn’t lasted long, to say the least, and Tito kept his mouth shut on the issue. Vito appreciated it, though he’d never say it aloud.

“What’s our next step, then?” Tito asked.

“I continue trying to identify him. That step doesn’t change, regardless of the theories we have laid out. After another hour of trying… we’ll reassess.” Bo looked down as his phone rang. “Well, I suppose we’ll put the hour on hold.” He set his laptop aside and stood up. “I’m stepping outside. “Don’t cause any trouble.”

Vito held up his hands in defense.

Bo nodded once and pressed his phone to his ear. “Hello, love. How’re you surviving the distance?” he asked as he walked out of the room.

Once Vito heard the door close, he shifted in his seat. “Thanks for not telling him I’m not exactly sober anymore.”

“I don’t like that you aren’t,” Tito said, his eyes closed. “But so long as you don’t put us in direct danger because of it, you’re allowed to… party.”

“Yeah. You should afford yourself the same lack of restrictions sometime.”

Tito let out a long breath that almost sounded like a sigh, though it lacked the usual volume of one. “I’m not you, Vi. You like to party. I don’t. You like having a lot of friends. I don’t.”

“That’s because you only have one friend, and her name is Lillian.”

“I have friends outside of Lil.”

“Her friends don’t count.”

“I’m friends with Jensen.”

Vito snorted. “Bo’s husband, Jensen? No, you aren’t. You’ve got nothing in common with the guy. You don’t even like the same sports he does.”

Tito opened his eyes for a moment before turning his head to the other side, away from Vito.

Vito frowned, his brow furrowing. “Ti, I’m just fuckin’ with you. Pulling your leg. Joking. I don’t give a shit how many friends you have. All of mine start their stories with, ‘Dude, you shoulda been there last night!’ even when I was totally there. My friends are so stellar that they don’t even remember if I was at their house or not. Your friends do remember. For people like you? Quality of quantity.”

“People… like me?” Tito turned his head toward him again. “Nuns?”

“No, like, introverts or whatever. You don’t have to be surrounded by people all the time to feel… full.”

“Full,” Tito echoed. He offered a smile. “Vi, I haven’t felt ‘full’ in a long time.”

Neither had Vito, but things were getting a little too touchy feely, and Vito absolutely did not do touchy feely. “I’m hungry. I can get us some snacks. You want snacks?”

Tito let out a breath. “I’m good. You go get yourself a snack, Vi. I’m just gonna get back to my nap.”

Vito nodded, patting his brother on the arm as he stood up. “Sure thing, man. Enjoy your nap.”

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9 thoughts on “Truths & Chains – Chapter Nine

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