Double Blind

By: Vanessa Waltz

I don’t understand the hardness in his eyes. He looks at me like I’m a problem, like I’m making sloppy mistakes. I’m not.

“I love you, Vince, but it won’t matter to them. To them, you’ve violated the rules again.”

Fuck. I know he’s right.

His hand snakes through the bars and grabs my wrist. “You need to get rid of her mother.”


I yank my arm out of his grip. Is he fucking crazy?

“She’s not trustworthy. She has to go. Give her a couple months, she’ll be singing to the feds about you. About us.”

Just the thought of it fills me with dread. It would destroy her. No.

I move away from him as a dizzying spell overcomes my body. My chest feels way too tight. “No,” I manage to croak out. “I won’t fucking do it.”

But he’s right. I know he’s right.

“Did you think being in this business was going to be easy?”

Fuck off.

“It would devastate Adriana.”

“You swore to put this family above everything. Everyone. That includes your future wife and children. Do you know how many times—”

“I love her, Jack.” My voice shakes and I clear my throat to strengthen it. “Don’t make me do this.”

The boss’ gaze slides to his lap, and he adjusts the blankets on his legs. “I knew you getting with this broad would become a fuckin’ problem.”

My fists clench together as white-hot energy burns away my fear. I would like to reach in that hospital bed and strangle him. “She’s not a fucking problem. She’s going to be my wife.”

Jack can be such an asshole.

He heaves a sigh when he sees how I won’t back down. “Relax, kid. We’ll table the issue with her mother for now—”

“Thanks.” I look at him warily. Inwardly, I don’t quite trust that Jack means what he says. He’s a prudent man, and he’ll get rid of her if he wants to.

“But if we’re going to do this sit-down, you need to be prepared. Keep your fucking head down and do not cause a problem for me. Try to keep your temper under control, or this might end badly for you.”

I want to roll my eyes. “You don’t need to say that. I’m not a moron.”

“Yeah, well.”


* * *

I might die tonight.

It keeps running through my head in a soft whisper.

I expect it to happen. They’re reckless. They’ve already shot at us in a public restaurant surrounded by family. What the fuck do they care about rules? The only thing that gives me hope is that John will be there, mediating this meeting.

Still, why the fuck am I making it so easy for them?

Because it’s better to walk to your own death. To actually choose it, instead of it jumping out at you, striking you down like a lightning bolt.

Staring out into the city from my apartment makes me breathe easier. I look down at the quiet rumble of traffic, the haze rising over Central Park, and I feel removed from all of the politics within the families. Sometimes, when I feel guilty, I just stare out of this window and remind myself that we’re all a bunch of ants scurrying around. What will it matter to the universe if one of them is gone?

But I’m not floating in space. I’m a human being. I’m just as much of a slave as the rest of these poor bastards walking around this city, but at least I know who I am.

At least I accomplished that.

I never got to do all the things I wanted. Never saw Italy, never got married, or had kids.

My heart pounds a dreadful beat. I want all those things. I never realized how badly I wanted them until I met her. When there’s nothing between you and death but your intelligence or your guts, it’s easy. In the past, I would have gladly walked in the line of fire for Jack because we were part of the same family. This was my life.

Now she is.

Adriana sits at the small round table that she dragged near the windows, pouring over sheaves of paper almost spilling from the table.

I cannot deny the small sting of envy when I look down over her shoulder, at the notes strewn with mathematical symbols and phrases I’ll never understand. She’s so much smarter than I am. A part of me wonders what my life would be like if I had gone to college. What career would I have chosen?

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