A/N: This is a brand new chapter three! If you haven’t read the rewritten first two chapters, you can start at chapter one by clicking here 🙂
It was well after two in the morning when Vito’s phone buzzed on the floor of Jenna’s bedroom floor. Or was it Jolene? Hell if he knew.
“Do you have to answer that?”
Vito shook his head, pulling his attention back to the woman’s face. “Not unless they call back. Then I should make sure it’s not work.”
“This late in the morning? Or… early, I guess.”
Vito smiled. “No rest for the wicked.” He kissed J…enna before sitting up on his knees, hands falling to the button of his jeans.
His phone rang again.
Vito threw his head back with a groan. “Sorry, give me a sec to check it?”
“Mmhmm.” She propped herself up on an elbow, vaguely waving a hand toward the door. “Feel free to take it in the hall. I’ll be here.”
“Fuckin’ hope so, babe. Back in a few.” Vito climbed off the bed and grabbed his jeans from the floor. He dug his phone from his pocket. Carmine. “Back in a few,” he repeated. He walked out into the hall and answered the call as he closed the bedroom door. “Hey, Bossman.”
“I’m sorry, Vito, but you’re going to be cutting your evening a little short.”
“What’s goin’ on?”
“We don’t know how true it is, but with the kid on the way, uh… Well, we wanna play it safe. We need you and Tito back at the house so we can talk about it.”
“Can it wait? Like… I dunno, an hour? Half an hour?”
“You can get laid another night, Vito. This isn’t just about the safety of my family. It’s about the safety of every single soldier under the Lucchese name. Get your head out of your dick and get your ass home.”
Vito cleared his throat. “Yes, sir. I’ll, uh… I’ll call Ti and have him come pick me up. We’ll see you in a bit.”
Vito yanked open the passenger door of Tito’s car and slid into the seat. Tito held out a coffee cup. “Thanks,” Vito grumbled.
“Do you know anything about this thing?”
“No. He wouldn’t tell me much over the phone. He just said you’d probably be calling me for a ride,” Tito said. He shifted into drive and pulled away from the curb. “He sounded worried, though. He’s normally pretty calm, level-headed. But I barely even had a second to answer the phone before he told me this was about his family, about their safety. He’s got me a little worried, I’ll be honest with you.”
Vito had been a little worried too. He wouldn’t have folded so easily on trying to work out a time-sensitive compromise if he hadn’t been.
“You know how Carmine is. Family man. He’s like JP. Just gotta be safe. He’s just being overly cautious. Like Bo is.”
“The last time we thought that about Bo, he and Jensen took a hell of a beating on our behalf.”
“I mean, this is a little different. This shit with Carmine is out of the blue. We already had a gang boss in captivity when Bo and Jensen were attacked.” Vito took a sip of his coffee, slashing his free hand through the air. “Carmine just gets worried and over-reacts to shit. Bo says we’re products of our past, and that’s why Carmine always jumps the gun. Product of his past with Venetia.”
“Sorry, have my ears stopped working, or did you just repeat something Bo told you?”
Vito snorted. “What? I like Bo. I listen when he talks. Mostly.”
“I’m actually kind of surprised. Bo’s kinda the exact opposite of all of yout, uh… vibes.”
“Yeah, but he doesn’t shit on me for most of them. Most of the time. I don’t get that from a lot of people that aren’t the soldiers I hang out with, you know?”
Tito nodded. “From people who aren’t already exactly like you.”
“Pretty much.” Vito cleared his throat. “Do you think this thing with Carmine will take long?”
“I think if it was going to be super quick and easy, he wouldn’t have made you ditch your fling of the night.” Tito glanced over at him. “So, yeah, I think it will take long. And no, I don’t think you’ll have time to go back to a bar and get laid tonight. But I do think you’ll survive.”
Tito snorted, but the little smile on his face faded quickly, even for him.
“Something wrong?” Vito asked. “Or do I even wanna know?”
“Nothing you need to worry yourself about, man. I’m like Carmine. A worrier.”
“Not enough of one that you ever let me see it.”
Tito chuckled, shaking his head. “No, you just don’t pay enough attention to see it.”
Vito’s brow furrowed as he turned to look out the window. Tito seemed to get more and more cryptic with every day that passed, like he was speaking in riddles or some shit. Vito had never been great with emotions, especially the ones belonging to his brother, and Tito was more than aware of that. Surely he didn’t expect that to change now?
“You know I’m not great with feelings and shit,” Vito mumbled.
“I know. I’m not asking you to be. I’m just saying that when I am worried, you normally don’t see it because you aren’t looking for it, not because I hide it. I don’t expect that to change. I’m not complaining about it. I’m just… saying it,” Tito said.
“So… you don’t wanna talk about whatever’s got you frowning?”
Tito shook his head. “Nah, I’m good. Why? You got something you wanna talk about?”
Vito scoffed. “As if.”
“I figured. Just making sure. Doin’ my job.” Tito cleared his throat. “Speaking of doing my job, if this safety issue with Carmine is serious enough, we’re going to have Bo hanging around a little closer than usual. Which means you need to go back to not drinking and not getting high.”
“I only really do it at night. Bo ain’t gonna be hanging around us at night.”
“Vi, I’m serious. You’re supposed to be sober, and Bo’s not going to be happy if he finds out that order’s being disobeyed every damn night.”
“If he finds out, and he ain’t gonna find out. I like drinking a bit of beer and smoking a bit of pot. It’s not a crime, and if it was, we do way worse than that, like, all the time.”
“The difference being that the murders we commit are at the order of our boss. You getting wasted and high are you directly disobeying said boss.”
“Bo’s an alcoholic, y’know.”
“Was. He’s recovered. Recovering. Whatever the hell they like to call it. Whatever it is, he doesn’t drink anymore. You know that.”
“Point is… Bo knows how this shit goes. He doesn’t drink anymore because he’s got a husband and kids. I drink because I’m killing people for a living. He’ll get over it.”
Tito lifted a hand from the wheel long enough to scratch the side of his head. “Ever thought about… not killing people for a living?”
“I like what I do.”
“If it makes you drink—”
“Jesus Christ, Ti. Don’t fuckin’ read into it. I drink because the other soldiers drink and I don’t wanna be thrown out of the group. I like playin’ poker and runnin’ bets. If I’m a sober celibate, I can’t do that shit. You know that better than anyone, yeah?”
Tito’s fingers tightened around the wheel briefly. “How much did you drink tonight? Before you and what’s her name left the bar?”
“Two? No, maybe four. I dunno. What are you, my mom?”
“Just deciding if it’s worth it to fight with you or not.”
Vito rolled his head back against the seat, gaze shifting over to Tito. “And? Is it?”
“Why? Scared you’ll lose?”
Tito shook his head. “ ‘Cause you aren’t gonna remember a single word I say.”
“Jesus fuck, you reek,” Carmine said as Vito walked into his office.
“I tried to sober him up in the car, but there’s only so much I can do about the flamethrower breath,” Tito said.
Vito chuckled, shoving his brother to the side before dropping into one of the chairs in front of Carmine’s desk. “Where’s Venetia?”
“In bed. She’s not aware of this issue just yet, and for now, I want to keep it that way. I won’t have rumors stressing her or the baby out,” Carmine said. He lifted his blue eyes to Tito’s face. “How drunk is he?”
“Drunk enough that I’ll be running all of this by him in the morning,” Tito said.
Carmine sighed. He sank into his desk chair, fingers buried in his dark hair. “I can’t believe you two are the most trustworthy fuckers we have in this family.” He lifted his head. “No offense, Ti.”
“None taken.” Tito cleared his throat, laying a hand on Vito’s shoulder. “What’s going on, Carmine?”
“It’s nothing but a rumor right now, but we need to take it seriously until we can either prove it true or false.”
“Of course. We’ll take it as seriously as we possibly can.” Tito sat down beside his brother, the hand on Vito’s arm a constant reminder for him to keep his mouth shut. Vito was used to that, didn’t even find it offensive anymore. It kept him from saying anything stupid in either of the languages Carmine understood, and it kept him his job.
“There have been rumors for quite some time that someone wants to take you guys down. Or, take one of you down. The theory is that if one of you falls, the other ceases to function. But recently, the rumors have, uh… elevated a bit. Shifted.”
“Shifted to what?” Tito asked.
“It’s no longer just someone. It’s someone in our family.”
“Jesus.” Tito leaned back in his seat, hand falling from Vito’s arm. “What’s the plan?”
“We could kill ‘em all,” Vito said. “Line ‘em all and shoot ‘em all, Valentine’s Massacre style.”
Carmine pointed a finger at him. “You keep your mouth shut. I don’t like being reminded about the fucked up shit that goes on up there in that head of yours.”
Vito slashed a hand through the air, but he listened. For now. If the situation called for his thoughts, he’d be sure to let them be known.
“For now, I think the best course of action is to play it safe. We keep this between us three, and we keep our heads on a swivel. Vito, you’re in with basically every scumbag in this family, one way or another. Keep an ear out. At some point, you’ve gotta hear something.”
“Fuck’s that s’posed to mean?” Vito asked.
“I called them scumbags, not you. You aren’t scum just because you like drinking or betting. Relax. You heard me, didn’t you?”
Tito laid a hand on Vito’s chest. “I’ll run it by him after he’s showered and rested. Sober.”
Carmine nodded. “Sounds good.” He drew in a long breath, blew it out slowly. “I’d like to talk to Bo about getting some guards put on you two. This family can’t lose you.”
“No guards,” Vito said.
Because I’m in the closet. Because no one needs to know how often I go home with a man or take one to a hotel. Because that’s my fucking secret. Because that’s my fucking business. “Because Ti and I know how to kick ass on our own. We don’t need anyone babysittin’ us.”
Carmine stared at him for a moment before sighing and turning to Tito. “Ti?”
Tito rubbed the back of his neck. “For now… I think we’ll be okay. We can just spend more of our time out of the house stuck together. We can keep each other safe, and Bo can put his guards on the people we care about that can’t keep themselves safe. Or… the people we care about that don’t know. Because if someone wants to hurt us, the way to weaken our guard is start hurting the people we love.”
“I can get behind that,” Carmine said. “I’ll call Bo at a more reasonable time and get some names to him. Who do you want guards on?”
“Mom and Dad, first and foremost. Jamal and Gabby.” A pause. A long pause. “Umm… Lillian.”
Vito groaned, sinking into his chair. “No one but me knows about her and your non-romance shit with her.”
“I am not going to put her at risk because she doesn’t know I murder people for a fucking living. I’m not you. I can’t do that to someone I care about,” Tito said.
Vito snorted. “Don’t get emotionally attached to every person you fuck and there won’t be a problem.”
“That’s enough outta you,” Carmine said. “Don’t make me call Bo and tattle on your drinking habits.”
Vito cleared his throat, straightening himself out in his chair. Despite what he’d said in the car, he knew Bo wouldn’t be pleased with his drinking. There was a chance he’d let the smoking slip through the cracks, but Vito leaned even heavier on alcohol now than he had before Bo took it away from him.
“I’ll talk to Bo about the guards. Lillian will have one, Tito. I promise,” Carmine said.
“Thank you,” Tito said quietly. “That is, Boss?”
“Yeah. Get some sleep. We’ll see what Bo has to say tomorrow.” Carmine pushed himself to his feet, pointing at Vito with his free hand. “Make sure this one doesn’t go yappin’ to any of the other soldiers.”
“I will. I’ll guard his room tonight, make sure he stays inside until he’s sober and has been walked through everything again.” Tito rose to his feet and grabbed Vito’s upper arm. “Come on. Let’s get you to bed, Vi.”
Vito pushed himself up and followed Tito out of the office. Once they were in Vito’s room, he leaned back against the door, watching Tito dig through his pile of floor clothes. “Why don’t you ever bitch me out for the way I talk to you?”
“Because it’s not worth it, and I have enough to deal with without worrying about snapping on you,” Tito said.
“I just offered up Lillian as sacrifice just because you aren’t actually dating her.”
Tito sighed, all dramatic and shit. “That’s a bit of an over-exaggeration. You’re an asshole, yeah, but you didn’t say we should throw her in a volcano so the gods line up in our favor.” Tito threw a shirt and a pair of sweatpants to Vito. “Take a shower and get changed. You’re gonna get some sleep after that, and then we’ll walk through this in the morning. When you’re sober and when Carmine isn’t so stressed out. Sound good?”
“Sure, dude.” Vito pushed himself away from the door. “Thanks for takin’ care of me, Ti. You know I’m thankful for that.”
“I know.” Tito patted his shoulder. “I’ll be here when you get out.”
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