Double Blind

By: Vanessa Waltz

“Can’t complain.”

I curl my arm around Adriana’s waist and catch a scent of her lavender shampoo. It acts like a balm for my mind and I squeeze her waist.

“I should go see him.”

Nicky nods and points me in the direction of the room.

Energy floods my veins as I walk towards the room, Adriana pinned to my side. I open the door and the sight of him lying on white sheets, tubes entering and exiting his body makes my legs stiffen in the doorway. He looks up at me through rheumatic eyes and is suddenly overcome with a coughing fit. For the first time, I see him as an old man. I don’t know why, but it makes my heart race. Even Adriana feels stiff in my arms when she looks at him.

His ashen face rolls to the side and cracks into a wide smile. “Vinny, my boy! Come in!”

I stride up to him and clutch his veined arm. My chest tightens as I look into his watery blue eyes and I don’t breathe until Adriana slides beside me. She reaches up and touches my shoulder, a small gesture that allows me to inhale again.

“I’m not so bad, Vince. It looks worse than it is. They’re discharging me today.”

“That’s great.”

His eyes slide over to my fiancée. “Nice to see you, Adriana.”

I wish I still held her hand, so I could squeeze it.

“Yeah. Glad you’re okay,” she says in a voice barren of emotion.

Jesus fucking Christ.

Her brown eyes are remorseless as she turns around when I pinch her arm roughly. “Go wait outside.”

I’ll deal with you later.

I wait until the sound of her heels clacking on the linoleum disappears. The door swings shut behind her, and Jack gives me a shrewd look.

“This war with the Rizzos—it can’t go on, Vince,” he says in a surprisingly clear voice.

My stomach clenches. “It’s safe to talk openly here?”

Jack presses a button on the side of his bed. The bed moans as it pushes up, so that Jack is sitting upright. “Yeah, it’s safe. Doctor-patient confidentiality. Cops can’t bug hospitals.”

Both of us have a good laugh at that.

Still smiling, my voice turns grim as I force myself to confront the situation at hand. “We need to have a sit-down with Tony. We don’t have the manpower to win this war. I think Tony knows that.”

My heart beats a violent tattoo against my chest.

Jack gives me a shrewd look. “He just tried to blow your head off. All of our heads, in fact. I want the cocksucker dead.”

Easier said than done. He’s the boss of the Rizzo family, for Christ’s sake.

I squeeze his shoulder. “I know. Believe me, I know. But we’re in no position to fight back. I think you should ask John in Montreal to help organize this sit-down.”

The Cravotta Crime Family boss in Montreal is friendly with Jack, and he might be able to secure a meeting with Tony. On the plus side, he’ll probably back us up if Tony decides to do something stupid.

He makes a sour face. “That French speaking fuck?”

“What? I thought you were on good terms with the Cravotta family.”

“Yeah, I guess so.” His mouth sets in a firm line. “There’s something else. I did some digging on your fiancée.”

Ah, shit.

My stomach twists. “Yeah?”

“Her father pissed off the Rizzos by agreeing to testify against Richie, who is missing.” His eyes burn into mine.

I don’t dare blink. No one knows about his death. Not yet. If they did—if the Rizzos found out I killed one of their made men, I’m fucked. I’m dead.

And I’m not just living for myself anymore.

My throat bulges and I swallow the painful lump. “So what?”

He looks at me like he wants to slap my face. “What the fuck were you thinking? Did you really think I wouldn’t find out?”

The energy rush to my head makes my hand slip on his bed. Oh, Fuck.

“No one else knows, Jack. I plan to keep it that way.”

“You better fucking hope they don’t find out, because if they do, there will be nothing stopping Tony from sanctioning a hit on you. I won’t go to war with the Rizzos just to save one captain.”

“What the fuck was I supposed to do, Jack? That asshole lured me to Adriana’s mother’s house to whack me. These fucking Rizzos fight dirty, and then Tony complains when I fight back? Fuck him.”

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