I’m so excited to share my latest creation with all of you! Mafia Heat: Vincenzo is available on all platforms for the special release price of $0.99!
This is the kick-off to what I hope is a fantastic series that you’ll all enjoy. It’s my wish that you fall in love with the Marchelli family.
© Ella Jade 2018
When you’re young, you build people up in your head. Your dreams are bigger than they have any right to be. I never knew my father, but that didn’t stop me from wishing and hoping. Believing he was this amazing person. A doctor, a lawyer, a senator. The time for childhood fantasies had passed. The adult I’d become needed answers. Now that I knew who he was, did I really want to know who that made me?
Anxiety rose in my core as I trekked along the dark, humid docks. The stench of stale water and raw heat assaulted my senses. It was late. Later than any woman should be out in this part of town alone. I’d gotten a tip that this was where I’d find him, so instead of thinking things through, I acted on impulse. I hadn’t even changed out of my dress and heels. I’d come straight from work on the other side of Manhattan. No one knew where I went. It didn’t matter. Once I explained who I was, everything would fall into place. I hope.
Glancing at the GPS on my phone, the directions said I was at my destination. I thought I’d find an office or a business entrance, but all I saw were boats and slips, and abandoned buildings. There was a set of large, double wooden doors a few feet from me. The address matched where my investigator told me I’d find him. An unsettled sensation coursed through me as I crept toward the doors. The closer I got, the more I realized I’d headed into this unprepared. My brain screamed for me to turn around as my heart rate thumped between my ears. I’d come this far despite my mother’s pleadings to drop it. Now that I had a name, I understood why she didn’t want me to pursue this. As I approached the wooden structure, I fisted my hand and knocked but the doors weren’t secure. One of them inched open, creaking as it gave me access to a large, stuffy, dark warehouse. Stepping inside, the temperature shifted ten degrees hotter. Breathing became difficult in such a stifling environment. I shut the door behind me, gripping my phone in my hand, using it as a flashlight as I took in the empty space. The room was dim and dingy, and smelled of tobacco. Someone had been here recently.
“Hello,” I called. “Is anyone–”
The sound of yelling in the distance halted my inquiry. Men argued on the second floor. The voices became louder as the conversation grew more heated.
“Did you think you were going to get away with it?” A gruff voice asked. “We have people everywhere.”
“No, of course not. I didn’t betray your family,” someone defended. “It’s not what you think.”
“My father doesn’t see it that way.”
“Please, let me explain.”
“There’s nothing to explain. You were warned not to screw this up. You can’t be trusted.”
“I can. I swear I know where–”
“Shut up!” The voices seemed to get closer, and then there was some sort of scuffle. Heavy feet moving above me. “Grab him.”
A door from the landing swung open as I backed away. When I tried to leave, a blaring noise, almost like a firecracker, went off, lighting up the space on the stairs. I took cover in the corner, crouching down by the door as the second shot rang out. There was a horrible thud, followed by several more shots. Whoever started at the top of the stairs was now lying at the bottom, twisted, contorted, and bleeding from his head and mouth. Only a few feet from me, he lay still, motionless… dead.
“Oh, God!” I whispered as two men hurried down the stairs. Acting on instinct, I backed out of the corner and flung open the door, running out as fast as I could.
“Who the hell was that?” one of them shouted.
“Get her!” the other screamed as they came barreling after me.
I took the first turn out of the warehouse and darted down the pier but I had no idea which way to go. Sprinting hard, I took a left, moving away from the water. My heart pounded and a jarring pain overtook my side but the adrenaline kept me going. Keep running! Keep running, Nadia! Why hadn’t I listened to my mother?
“There she is!” They were close behind me. “You go that way.”
Shit! They would know these docks. They would corner me. I kept going. Did I have a choice? If they caught me, my life would be over. What was I thinking coming here? I knew who Antonio Collandra was. What he was capable of. I’d seen his name in the papers and on TV. He was one of New York’s biggest crime bosses and I could be his illegitimate daughter.
The throbbing in my feet slowed me down but I spied a busy street a block ahead. All I had to do was get out in the open. If I could get into public, I’d have a better chance of slipping away. One street and I’d make it. I wouldn’t give up. I narrowly made it across the busy traffic, causing a car to swerve and slam on the brakes. The man chasing me jumped out of the way of the vehicle, momentarily distracted. Everything moved at a fast clip.
“What the fuck!” He pounded his fists on the hood while I disappeared into the hectic street. “Watch where you’re going!”
I continued to escape but I was certain he was still behind me. I couldn’t stop to find out but I didn’t have anything left. I couldn’t keep running. As I swiveled around the corner, I slammed into the hard chest of a man coming out of a cafe. He caught me in his strong arms as the two men crossed the street and came toward us.
“Are you okay?” His dark brown eyes held concern. “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you coming.”
“Please help me.” I panted. “I need your help.”
He glanced over my shoulder, his jaw tensed when he saw the two men heading in our direction.
“Please.” I trembled as I tried to catch my breath. I didn’t want to put this innocent man in harm’s way but what choice did I have? I saw no other way out of this.
“What’s your name?” He wrapped his arm around my waist and tugged me to his side.
“Nadia,” I whispered.
“I’ll handle this.” He was so confident but he had no idea what I’d witnessed. If he had, there was no way he would help me. “Franco,” the stranger, who I leaned against, said to one of the murderers.
Franco? He knew him?
“Vincenzo.” Franco stared at me as he spoke to the only person who could protect me now. “This doesn’t concern you.”
Crap! Did they work together? Was he going to hand me over to them? A wave of nausea rushed my system as my head began to spin. I latched onto the attractive stranger in the well-fitted dress shirt and matching blue tie. He held me tighter, offering me silent comfort.
“What can I do for you, Franco?” he asked.
“I need a word with her.” The killer pointed at me.
“Why?” Vincenzo asked. “Do you know one another?”
“Not exactly but I’m certain my father will be interested in her whereabouts this evening.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I tried to settle down, lying wasn’t one of my strongest qualities. “I’ve been with Vincenzo all night.” No one would believe that.
“Is that right?” Franco laughed. “Because you look like you just ran a marathon.”
“You heard the lady,” Vincenzo said. “She’s been with me all night.”
“What are you doing?” Franco snapped at him. “You know we don’t interfere in each other’s business.”
“Escorting my date home, so if you’ll excuse me, we’re leaving.” Vincenzo took my hand and guided me to the curb. His shiny, silver watch glistened under the street lights. “My driver is just up here.”
“Vincenzo,” Franco called after us. “You’re making a mistake.”
“Don’t threaten me because then my father won’t be pleased and we don’t want that.”
“We’ll see about that.” Franco mumbled something to the man who was with him, and then he nodded as they walked away.
A man got out of the driver’s seat and opened the back passenger door.
“Get in,” Vincenzo said.
Is he serious? “I’m not going anywhere with you.” I wiggled out of his hold and backed away.
I’d had enough for one night.