The amount of power in the room would have terrified many a weak man, but not me. I thrived in situations like this.
I was more powerful than everyone in this room. I’d made my place in the world by taking what I wanted, when I wanted, and however I wanted. I had more money and influence than anyone else here in the club tonight and every single one of them knew it. They all gave me a wide berth for a very good reason. If they didn’t, they’d wind up at the bottom of the Hudson River.
A blonde waitress in a cute little black dress made her way to me, leaning down and giving me a pretty smile as she balanced a platter of drinks on her shoulder. I came here often enough that the owner of the club knew what I drank, and he had it sent to me as soon as I took a seat. The waitress slid a crystal glass full of the best whiskey they had in the joint. She leaned down in such a way that I had a rather enticing view of her ample cleavage and I smiled with enjoyment, letting my gaze linger just a little bit to make her beam with pleasure that I’d noticed. I’d seen her here before and she was very good at keeping my glass topped off. I returned her smile, letting her know that I appreciated her effort as well as the drink.
“Compliments of Richie Lozano,” she whispered, and I grinned knowingly in her direction. I slid her a hundred-dollar bill and waved her off so that I could pay attention to the rest of the people here. She nodded with understanding and went on her way. I glanced in her direction as she served some of the other men at the table, before moving on to serve the rest of the club. She had a tight little ass too and her dress only set it off.
I could appreciate a beautiful woman, but that’s not why I was here. Tonight, I wanted information. And I was going to get it.
Four of the five mafia families that ran New York City were here. The Bonannos, the Columbos, the Luccheses, and even the Gambino mafia families were all gathered tonight. There was no open hostility on the surface, but it was so incredibly palpable that it was hard to ignore. One wrong move and Bar Emporia would light up in a hailstorm of bullets. The back of my hand was casually lying against my thigh, one quick motion away from unholstering my own gun in case it proved necessary. Ever vigilant, I kept watch on everyone, knowing that this much tension could prove dangerous in less than a second.
Carefully, I turned my head as I gazed at everyone in the bar. I recognized a number of the major mafia family players, including Vincent Gambino and Nick Lucchese, both pretty high up in their respective chains of command. The families were spread out from one another, each in their own booths as they surveyed everyone else in the bar.
The families hadn’t met like this before. Ever.
Tonight, there was a reason though and an important one at that.
There was a woman. A single woman who could change the balance of power in the city if she was ever found. Her identity was a mystery, a bastard daughter of the Genovese family who had been hidden away and forgotten. For a long time, she’d been whispered about and many had doubted that she even existed at all, but I knew different. I’d known her mother.
My fingers tightened into a fist and I had to remind myself not to get lost in memories of the past. I had to remain focused on the meeting at hand. It would be dangerous to allow myself to get distracted and not just for me, but for my men too.
They surrounded my table like bodyguards, each of them leaning casually against their chairs or on a nearby wall, ever ready to strike at a moment’s notice. I’d known them all for a really long time. We had years of history and we stuck together. We protected each other, no matter what and tonight would be no different.
Dean caught my gaze and glanced over at the Luccheses. I followed his signal and casually turned in their direction, watching as their nervous whispering began to ascend the quiet chatter of the room. Matthew Lucchese finally slapped his hands noisily against the table and stood up, boldly making his way toward me. His expression was full of concern and I sat back, lifting my chin rather arrogantly as I appraised him. He was smart enough to nod in respect, but Eric stiffened anyway. He took a sidestep closer to me and placed his thumbs in his belt in a silent threat. Matthew disregarded him entirely and Eric grunted in annoyance.
“You should tell Nick that he doesn’t need to send his underboss to send a message to me. He should do it himself,” I began. The waitress returned with a box of freshly cut cigars. I chose one and lifted it with my fingers. She plucked a lighter from her pocket and lit it for me. I took a long drag before I turned back to Matthew, blowing the smoke from my lips in a haze that aimed right at his face before it rose up toward the ceiling. The scent of honey, coffee, and toasted almonds floated around me. I didn’t smoke often, but I could appreciate a good Cuban cigar from time to time.
Matthew dipped his head with feigned indifference, carefully ignoring the smoke that was making his eyes water like a little bitch.
“You know how he is, Silas,” the man answered, and I smirked. Matthew was right. Nick Lucchese was a bastard, and he knew it. He liked testing me and if ever given the chance, he’d be the one to put a bullet in my forehead without a second thought. I had more power, money, and influence than him and he knew it. He hated it, but he couldn’t do anything about it.
“What did Nick send you to tell me, Matthew?” I asked coolly.
“He wanted the meeting to officially begin,” he offered. I glanced around and the other kingpins were watching our interaction as well, waiting for me to say the word. As much as they all hated to admit it, every last person in this room would answer to me. They knew what happened to those who didn’t.
For the most part and as long as they didn’t encroach on my authority, I let them be. I didn’t get involved in their petty squabbling. Sometimes it was drugs or territory or even a woman. Tonight though, it was about a child that was born twenty-two years ago to a woman who had almost destroyed the Genovese family from the inside out.
Her name was Isabella and she’d been the kingpin’s wife. She had a child, but the baby hadn’t been the kingpin’s daughter. Isabella had an affair with his underboss, a crime that was so forbidden that both of them ended up dead as soon as their secret was discovered.
She’d given birth before she was killed though. A bastard daughter who would inherit an incredible amount of power if she was ever found.
For a long time, the daughter’s existence or lack thereof hadn’t mattered, but things have a way of changing unexpectedly. Vittorio Genovese and his new underboss had been found dead last night, hidden away in an alley as if they were just some forgotten trash. He’d never had any children. No heirs. He’d never named anyone to take his place either because he was a cocky son of a bitch who thought that he’d survive anything until he didn’t. Turns out that you can’t take a bullet point blank to the face and walk away with your life.
If this mythical daughter was ever found, the Genovese family would continue to hold their power in the city. If she wasn’t, however, they’d be torn apart by the other four families here. The men sitting in this room wanted to find her, but they didn’t intend to let her take her place as a mafia queen.
They planned on killing her.
I wasn’t going to let them.
Her mother had been like a sister to me. She’d gotten herself into a messy situation and I hadn’t been able to save her, but my life was different now than it had been back then. Now I’d be able to ensure that her daughter would survive.
I raised my drink and took a stand. I strode over to the round table in the back of the club and sat down. The four other kingpins followed my lead and took their places at the table. Nick glared back at me with a dark heated gaze. I ignored him, trying to rein in the impulse to roll my eyes at his petulant behavior. Sometimes it was like he was a fucking teenager with a stick up his ass.
“I called this meeting to discuss the existence of Isabella Genovese’s daughter. It is in all of our best interest to find and destroy her, before she takes over the family as queen,” I began, blatantly lying to all of them.
The four mafia lords looked at each other as if all of them had something to say and I preemptively cleared my throat. I took control immediately before they started arguing about what would happen next.
“We won’t discuss the breakup of Genovese territory and their assets tonight,” I added carefully, and Nick huffed in annoyance. He took a sip of his drink, gin by the looks of it. Or vodka. Or probably water like the little pussy he was. To his credit, he didn’t say anything more.
“Let’s open the discussion. What do we know?” I continued. “We’ll start with Leonardo Columbo, then move onto Vincent Gambino, Mike Bonanno, and finally Nick Lucchese. In that order.”
The four men nodded in approval, some more reluctantly than others. I took note of those who followed my lead. As expected, Nick didn’t. I sighed with blatant agitation. If he kept pushing me like this, I was going to have to remind him who was in charge.
“Leonardo, what do you know?” I said as I sat back. I wanted to hear everything. I didn’t want to wait any longer.
“Thank you, Silas,” the older man responded. He carried with him a rather distinguished aura. He’d been in power for nearly forty years and always conveyed himself with integrity in everything he did. Of the four kingpins at the table, he was the one I respected the most.
“I heard that Vittorio had sent her to a high school in Connecticut. It’s called Choate or something like that, but I haven’t heard anything about college or where she went after that,” Leonardo replied.
“I had heard the same,” Vincent piped up.
“There are whispers she could be in Rhode Island at one of the private colleges along the coast,” Mike said calmly. He was a little younger than Leonardo and just as respectful of me, but he was unpredictable in his decisions as a mafia boss. He was dangerous and one who I kept a close eye on often. Sometimes I had to remind him that he wasn’t as powerful as he thought. I wondered if I was going to have to tonight.
For a while, the men talked and casually traded rumors and information about the whereabouts of the Genovese daughter. They didn’t really know much at all, which didn’t surprise me and offered some measure of relief. Important though, they knew far less than I already did. I had been working on finding her for a long time and had wanted to ensure that they weren’t any closer than I was. It’s why I was here in the first place.
Her mother Isabella had been important to me. We’d grown up together in the same neighborhood. Her parents had been involved in the lower ranks of the Genovese family and she was left alone often. My parents took her in as if she were their own and she’d grown up to be a beautiful girl who was highly sought after, which included much more dangerous suitors than I’d wanted for her. The notorious kingpin Vittorio had set his eyes on her and as soon as she reached legal age, he claimed her as his wife. He wasn’t a good husband, however. He hit her. A lot. His underboss Tony knew it too.
She’d gotten involved with Tony. He’d known it was forbidden and he got her pregnant anyway. Knowing that she and her child wouldn’t be safe, she went on the run and before she escaped, she’d been able to send me a message. At that time, I worked for the CIA and despite every one of their resources at my disposal, I hadn’t been able to protect her. Vittorio discovered her secret and before she’d been able to contact me for a second time and tell me her baby’s name, the mafia kingpin had her killed.
I had been able to figure out a few things though.
I slide my hand over the interior pocket in my suit. Inside was Isabella’s journal. She’d been able to toss it out of the car before it collided with the eighteen-wheeler and no one else knew of its existence. It didn’t give away the baby’s name or even the names of the man and woman looking after her but using a coded entry at the end of the diary, I was able to deduce that Isabella had given birth in northern Vermont. It gave very few details about the baby, except for one defining factor that would help me find her. It told of a baby with a birthmark on the right side of her neck in the shape of a star. I also had access to both Isabella’s and Tony’s DNA profiles that were once collected as a part of the investigation into her death, but none of the mafia bosses knew that either.
I sipped on my whiskey and carefully scanned the perimeter of the room. The rest of the members of the various families were drinking amongst themselves. Some were getting drunker than others and I lifted a finger in a silent signal for Dean to stay on high alert in case anything went down while the bosses were talking. He was my right-hand man and I would trust him with my life no matter what happened. The rest of my team moved away from our starting point in order to listen and observe all that occurred while I was busy overseeing the kingpin’s table.
I’d convene with them all later to exchange intel so that we could come up with a plan moving forward.
Someone swore loudly at the table and broke my train of thought. I turned back to the bosses and quickly caught on to what was happening. It soon became obvious that Nick had said something to set the others off and I’d need to run some damage control. Fucking asshole.
“I bet you found her already and want to take her for yourself,” Nick sneered at Vincent.
“The fuck I did,” Vincent glared.
“Throwing accusations isn’t going to help,” I warned. “It’s clear that none of us know enough to find her. We have nothing but rumors, and we aren’t any closer to finding her than we were yesterday.”
“Silas is right,” Leonardo replied. “All we have is misinformation and gossip of this girl’s existence. She could be in Connecticut or Rhode Island still, so we should focus our searches there. We know her age and we have some idea of what she may look like based off of her mother’s appearance. Other than that, we have nothing else.”
Nick sat back with an exasperated sigh. It was more than clear that he was suspicious of the others and was just barely biting his tongue. Sooner or later, he was going to do something rash and get himself killed.
“Why don’t we do this? If anyone learns anything pertinent in the coming days, I shall meet with you. If it’s relevant, I’ll call another meeting here and we can all reconvene. Until then, let’s enjoy a few drinks and the musical act that Bar Emporia has prepared for us,” I said, cutting off the rest of the discussion before we all turned our guns on each other.
Leonardo nodded with his agreement, and the rest of the kingpins followed his lead. I stood up and made my way back to my table in the back corner, effectively ending the conversation for the night. The waitress served me another drink and I turned my head when the gentle beat of music began to pump over the speakers in the corner.
A woman walked out on stage wearing a purple silk shirt and a short skirt that showed off her long and incredibly toned legs. She was wearing a pair of black kitten heels.
She was gorgeous. Fucking goddamn perfection.
I gazed at her, taking note of the way her pretty blue eyes glimmered in the stage lights and the wavy dark brown locks that cascaded down her back. She looked out at the crowd with a certain confident energy that drew me in. Instead of staying at my table, I decided to make my way to my reserved seat in the front row. I strode purposely down the aisle as several others took their seats beside me.
When I finally sat down, I crossed one leg over the other and folded my hands in my lap. She walked to the mic in the center of the stage. She was so stunning that I couldn’t take my eyes off her, not even for a second.
I bet she would be even prettier down on her knees, naked and wet as she begged to please me with her mouth.
Her blue eyes sparkled with excitement as she looked out at the crowd. I knew just a few scant details about the arrangement she’d made with the club. I’d wanted to know everything about everyone who would be in attendance tonight. Per her contract, she had been paid quite well in exchange for her performance tonight.
I could see the tension in her muscles as she prepared herself to sing. Her fingers closed around the mic and she lifted it to her lips.
I couldn’t help but imagine those pretty lips around my cock. Perhaps I would pay a visit to her dressing room after the show was over.
“Welcome, New York! My name is Chloe Banks and I’m so excited to be here tonight,” she exclaimed. The audience applauded as expected, although it was more out of politeness than excitement, I gathered.
She started to sing, and the sound of her voice surrounded me. For a long time, I was enamored by it and focused on nothing but the lyrics and her soft serenading sounds. The more I listened to her beautiful voice, the more I wanted her. She was making my cock as hard as a fucking iron spike. My balls ached because of it.
I sipped my whiskey and then she brushed her hair over her shoulder and revealed the pale skin on her throat. I imagined kissing that pretty neck hard enough to leave a bruise, but I saw something else that halted my thought process immediately.
Fucking hell. That couldn’t be what it looked like.
She had a birthmark on her neck. It was the perfect shape of a star.
My mouth went dry and I stopped moving entirely.
For a long time, I stared at the mark, trying to convince myself I was seeing things and that the shape of it on her throat was just a product of my imagination. As she sang one song after the next, I came to the conclusion that it was very real. It wasn’t makeup because when she dragged her fingers down her neck, it didn’t smudge. It was the real thing. She bore the mark that Isabella’s journal had said to look for.
Without raising suspicion, I looked around and tried to determine if anyone else recognized her. All the men peered back at her with keen interest, but only in the way that a man looks at a beautiful woman up on a stage.
I’d found her.
Isabella’s daughter was here, unknowingly trapped in a den of vipers that wanted her dead, and I was the only one who knew who she was.
Now I knew her name.
Soon I would know everything else about her, and the moment that her eyes glanced in my direction I knew that I was going to make her mine.