Drucilla was never so happy than now to see her papa. As whiskey burned down her throat and blood dripped down her face, she couldn’t help the strange tingling it all sent down her spine. Sure, she was bruised and broken, but she was alive. And unlike most girls her age, she knew deep down she would rather wear bloodstains than jewelry.
Blood wet her lips, traced the line of her neck, and stained the cotton shirt her mother had just washed the day before. As a woman, the scene would be terrifying, horrifying even! But as a man! As a man she looked heroic in a way, someone who did something for her people.
A chuckle fell from her lips as she lifted whiskey to them again. What was this silliness she was thinking? If her brothers in arms knew she was a woman, they’d scold her and coddle her for her actions. She would be trapped with guards thanks to who her papa was and stuck in terrible dresses. Worse yet she may have to give in and marry someone later on!
Dru shuttered, his good eye opening at the sound of people coming in. The noise rose as his brothers spoke in various tones, though the name ‘Adamo’ passed everyone’s mouth leaving a bitter aftertaste. Taking a third swallow from the glass, he heard his own father’s voice speak up, telling someone about what had happened.
A stiff neck rotated his head a moment, his auburn hair messy and matted hung low on his forehead. From his position he could now see several important people speaking with his father. Though he had never interacted with the two men, he knew a little about them. One was old school and honor bound while the other enjoyed the fight and the kill.
Both were good looking men in their own way. One was roguish looking with deep eyes and a weary face, the other was suit and tie. Looking at them, it was amazingly hard to imagine that one was a cold-blooded killer while the other was a man of heart. At least from Dru's perspective.
Alas, what did he really know though about the two men. Neither of them ever really interacted with Dru on a personal base, so he wasn’t on their radar as anything but ‘Spada’s son’, however the third power player coming in from behind them…
[i ‘heh she came all the way here? Was it to see me?’]
Dru watched as that shapely figure moved in his direction, as though making a beeline for him through everything. She was a dangerous woman, but she was his friend sharing his secrets too. One might think they were dating, if not for the professional tone the woman took with him. But the small smile on Feli’s face was enough to ensure Dru that his friend was worried about his current state. He watched her leave him for a moment to gather things from the bar.
When she came back, he could only give her a frightening smile as he pushed himself from the table.
His body swayed a moment – from blood loss or whiskey, he would never tell – but he managed to get his feet back under him. [+mediumturquoise “I can walk amore,”] he mumbled as he leaned into Feli’s left side, lips briefly brushing the girl capo’s hair.
Getting himself as straight as he could, Dru groaned and motioned for Feli to get a move on. He wasn’t sure how long he could remain standing with the pain coming from his ribs. He needed them wrapped so they would set right and he needed a hot bath.
A brother from the bar gave a whistle and called out to their capo in a cheerful way to make sure Dru got a good sponge bath. Though it was said in jest, Dru couldn’t hep but give the man what seemed to be a fierce and frightening smile.
[+mediumturquoise “The Capo always takes good care of me,”] Dru purred, winking at Feli with his good eye before throwing his arm over her should to help him walk with her. Quieter now, he leaned to Feli’s ear.
[+mediumturquoise "Che compito potresti avere per me tesoro ... È meglio non indossare un cazzo di vestito."] Drucilla grumbled in a more feminine Italian voice, unworried as Feli knew she was a woman.
Christopher noticed the look of surprise on Giovanni's face and he couldn't help but feel a small sense of pride. He was used to the other members, and Italian members of the public, being shocked that he could speak Italian. Most Americans were too ignorant to learn any language other than English and so there was a stereotype, but, he liked that he wasn't one of them. He nodded his head at the plan formed and he grinned to himself slightly as he pictured what he would do to Giuseppe. It boiled his blood to think of that coward of a man, he would take great pleasure in giving the shop owner exactly what he had deserved.
Felicia was only really half listening to the other Capo's conversation. She wasn't going to be involved in the dealing of associates and the Mafia's territory. No, she had been tasked to tear the Adamo family from the inside out. She was to gather information, gain their trust and make them believe that she was one of them. All the while informing the Russo's of their rivals plans. It would be a tricky task. She would have to analyse her every move, her every word and, at the first sight of trouble, she would have to leave. No one but the Underboss and the other Capo's knew what she was doing, it would be better that way. Some of the Soldiers weren't exactly quiet and could accidentally leak sensitive information.
Seeing as he had no choice in the matter, Christopher didn't bother to answer the question of him driving and instead just got his keys out at the ready.
Soon enough, the three of them were walking into Ratner's. The familiar smell of stale beer greeted them at the door, Christopher did the same as Giovanni, walking around the place and gathering a small group to take with him. As well as visiting current associates, and the scumbags, he intended to try and persuade more to join. They needed the power and partnership right now, plus it would mean one less associate for the Adamo's to snatch. That name... That cursed name sparked so much hate when spoken. There wasn't a member of the Russo family that hadn't been affected by the rival gang and it showed. Each one of them had a grudge, and each were itching to teach the bastards a lesson.
Meanwhile, Felicia headed straight to Dru. Her task did not require a group of men nor did it require brute strength, no, it need brains, charisma and an uncanny ability to lie without being caught. This was why she thought of Dru, or rather Druscilla. The associate lived her life as though she were a boy, but, the moment Felicia had laid eyes on her, she knew what she was hiding. To her, it was obvious and she could not understand how Dru was able to fool so many. But, she supposed that others either were ignorant to the obvious details or simply just did not care enough. Either way, in public, she spoke to Druscilla as if she were a man, however when it was just the two of them, she would speak to the other as a fellow woman.
They were quite the unlikely friends, an associate who gender-bended as a man and a mother filling in her dead boyfriend's role as Capo. When Felicia first joined the Russo's, she had intended to only establish professional relationships. It wasn't due to the idea that she thought she was better than everyone else, as some members thought of her, but rather that if they died, they would be another loss for her to mourn. She had lost her family, apart from her sister, she had lost the man that she had loved and she had lost her child. She just couldn't take any more pain. But, as fate would have it, Feli and Dru ended up spending a lot of time together and had silently established themselves as friends.
They did not talk about their personal lives much, and there was plenty of information that Felicia had not told the other, but they did trust each other. That was the another reason why she was asking the associate to help her. She knew that the other woman would have her back when needed.
[#483D8B "How about we get you cleaned up? Its not good sitting in your own blood... Plus, I have a task that I think you might be interested in."] Felicia stated, looking down at Dru. Despite her mannerisms and tone being professional, a soft smile played at her lips. She didn't wait for an answer as she walked to the bar and asked for some rubbing alcohol, some bandages, ice and a hand towel. She was given all of the item and then cocked her head to the bathroom for Dru to follow. [#483D8B "Can you walk?"]
As they waited in the shop, Christopher had to keep his hands in his pockets. When they had stepped in, he wanted to tear the place apart, his anger boiling inside of him as he was reminded of how Giuseppe seemed to react to kindness. He was fiercely loyal to the Russo's and would do anything for his Don, he could never repay his debt after everything that had been done for him. That and the fact he found excitement in destruction, it was like a thrill and he felt his truest self when creating chaos. He'd never admit it, but, he even liked killing. Especially to the one's that deserved it, unfortunately he could not kill Giuseppe, even if he could make it look like an accident, he was on orders to not kill.
After a moment or two, he just couldn't stand around and wait for the owner to come in, so, he walked to the front and began to talk to the clerk about where the man was. It was ironic that Gregorio would walk in at that minute. Christopher saw the fear in the man's eyes and in an instant, the Adamo's were ordered to attack, allowing the Shop Owner to slip away.
By the time Giovanni told him to go, the Capo was already after him. He had to fight through a couple of the Adamo members, but they were nothing as he swung the hilt of his gun to the back of their heads, knocking them unconscious. Gregorio didn't get that far, the man was probably in his mid-fifties and of a short stature. When Christopher caught up to him, he yanked him by the collar of his shirt and then slammed him against the wall.
The Shop Owner tried to beg, to be given a second chance, to be able to apologise, but, the American man had already made up his mind as his fist connected to the others nose, after that it was to both sides of his jaw before meeting his nose again. Then, he punched him in the stomach before throwing him to the ground and proceeded to kick him in the stomach and the ribs. Giuseppe pleaded for Christopher to stop as he groaned, cried and spat blood. But, his voice fell on deaf ears.
The Capo was just considering smashing Gregorio's brains out on the concrete wall when he snapped out of his trance. There was blood on his clothes, his hair a mess and an unnerving calmness about him. He stomped down onto the mans left hand, hearing a bone chilling crunch. That was when he finally decided to speak. He crouched down and looked Giuseppe dead in the eyes. [#FF4500 "Avevo grandi aspettative per te, amico mio. Dimostrami di nuovo di sbagliato e faremo molto più di un semplice pestaggio." ]
He stood back up and after fixing his shirt, he rejoined the others with a happy grin and even a small spring in his step.
Some of the upper members of the Russo family disagreed with Christopher's trigger happy ways and found his enjoyment in violence distasteful and it was probably why he wouldn't get much higher than the rank of a Capo. But, his methods worked and with fast and easy results, no one really complained and if any of the foot soldiers had a problem with it then they were too scared to say anything about it.
He soon found himself in some fresh, clean clothes that did not have a speck of red anywhere. He looked just as new as he had that morning, save for the cut under his eye. He always did love coming to these types of restaurants, not the ones that claimed to be Italian, but the real ones. It gave him an insight and an understanding to the people that he worked with, that and the food always tasted great.
He sat with Giovanni and took the menu with a thank you. He found the words of Signora Moretti amusing until she had began to practically offer her daughter them. He practically hid behind his menu at that, though it was still quite funny and he felt sorry for the poor waitress he had to endure numbers being handed to her.
Giovanni was pleasantly surprised that the other capo was fluent in Italian, it allowed him to be more comfortable; the third capo jumped in relatively easily, and he nodded at both their suggestions. He took a moment to think, mapping a decent route that would save them the most time in his head. Giovanni talked with the two of them equally, screwing the lid back on his flask as he did so before putting it away.
[#0089c7 "Andiamo prima da Ratner's, poi a Giuseppe's, prendere alcuni ragazzi e dare loro una lezione sulla lealtà. Possiamo andare a Moretti's dopo..." [i ]] Not having to focus on translating into American English was so much easier for Giovanni, the only reason he and his family even moved to America was because the Don asked him to. Vincent must have wanted to bring people from Sicily to help the Family as his health deteriorated. Then to Christopher, [#0089c7 "Guiderai?" [i ]]
The Italian didn't really give Christopher an option to refuse, Giovanni did not drive as he was still adjusting to the different laws and saw no issue with sharing a vehicle in these dangerous times.
[center [b ~*~*~]]
Ratner's was decently vague on the outside save for the large block lettering declaring its name across the front windows, the owner stood with the bartender, watching everyone like a hawk, Giovanni and the others would go through one of the many back entrances to not raise suspicion. The inside was much more interesting than the outside, the Back Room bar was filled with light and life. Booths lined with red cushions seated around oaken tables, the room was scattered with tables and chairs, with the bar taps stocked and the soft glow of yellow bulbs allowed for a very warm and welcoming atmosphere.
The large section of bottles lining the back of the bar was a welcomed sight, but Giovanni was there on family matters, he started going around to each member of the family, those soldiers and began forming a crew to take with him. He hardly had to even [i mention] the name Adamo and several associates were jumping at the chance to enact revenge on those louts. He got to a table with an older man with a beat up kid sitting opposite him, the boy was nursing several cuts and bruises, looking like he lost a fight with a Sicilian wolf.
[#0089c7 "Cos'è successo qua?" [i ]] He didn't really need an answer to know who messed with the lad, for the hundredth time today Giovanni heard the name 'Adamo', it made him grit his teeth in seething anger. The Capo spoke mostly with the scarred man who needed no introduction, Spada was respected and declared one of the most loyal men to the Padrino. He listened to the man intently, giving the boy another once-over glance; from what he heard the fight was bad on both sides but Giovanni was nodding with small approval as he heard how the youth handled it.
[#0089c7 "The men you fought, could you describe them?"] Giovanni asked Dru, knowing the others could be potential targets as the boy was roughed up pretty bad, Giovanni wouldn't ask them to join in a scuffle, but they could use his information. They would spend maybe an hour here at Ratner's, let the lad catch his breath, maybe having a few drinks while the capos would talk to the owner.
By the time they got to Giuseppe’s it was around noon, so it wasn't very troublesome to act like they were shopping for a new suit. Except they had to be expected, right? The Sicilian was on high alert as he 'faked' looking around the store; he kept an eye out for signals from his partners, lightly touching the gun that he got as a gift. On the way over he made sure to load the gun, he was not hoping for a shoot-out but he'd be prepared for one. When everyone was in ideal positions, one of their men flipped the sign to closed and locked the front door, Giovanni let Christopher take the lead in asking the clerk for Giuseppe.
When Gregorio came out of a back room he froze in place upon seeing them, the color draining from his face in realization, the Adamo thugs made themselves known as Gregorio ordered them to attack. They rushed the Russo members and that was what Giovanni was waiting for, Giuseppe fled during the attack to the back of the store, intent on using the Adamo gangsters as distraction.
[#0089c7 "Axton, dopo di lui. [i ]] Giovanni called out right before getting into a brawl with one of the brutes, guns weren't something to bring out in midday-that was how the polizia got involved, but he'd repay the Adamo for every blow and then some. Giovanni was trusting Christopher enough to bring Giuseppe down-no doubt fighting several men on their own-as they'd fight the other soldiers. The capo took and gave a few hits, punching the man in front of him and pushed him with a shoulder to the gut, Giovanni shoved the grunt into a floor-length mirror, causing it to shatter upon impact.
Broken shards crunched under foot as Giovanni began slugging the downed Adamo into unconsciousness, he knew the others were handling themselves just as well when they outnumbered the goons the Adamo's left to cover the store. He felt the stinging of a cut above his brow, his right eye watering and swelling shut from the nasty hook he received. He hoped the other capo managed to grab Giuseppe before he could get away, he'd like to break a few fingers or send him to the Butcher for his disloyalty.
You never came back from the Butcher though.
When everyone subdued the Adamo grunts, Giovanni ordered the men dragged to the back so they could finish dealing with Giuseppe. They'd probably send a couple cleaners to take care of the thugs, extracting valuable information would be a decent distraction. Giovanni let Christopher have his fun with the owner, loosen him up to their way of negotiation before they posed the offer of rejoining the Family network. Everyone made mistakes, this one could just be deadly, let Gregorio mull on that if he valued his life.
[center [b ~*~*~]]
It was safe to say that the Russo family left Giuseppe’s Suits and Socks a little worse for wear but victorious in their goal to regain lost territory. It was one out of a hard dozen or so but it was worth it. Not only did they get their point across to Giuseppe but it was also a stark reminder to the surrounding businesses just who the Russo's were. The same point was then [b inflicted] on the Adamo soldiers, they would show Gregorio some leniency but none could be seen for the opposing made men. Perhaps it was the main reason Christopher was assigned to work with Giovanni, the other capo had a certain skill that Giovanni lacked. Giovanni's skills were more suited to firearms, smuggling and dealing in the black market with business intelligence than the darker aspects of the Family. The Russo Family owned New York completely and no new upstarting family was going to change that. The thing was coercion took a while, and it was getting late into the evening by the time they settled with the man and the Adamo gangsters.
Giovanni felt pretty confident by the time they swung into the Moretti owned restaurant called Giardino d'Italia, he was sporting a sharp shiner and several cuts and bruises but he handled himself fairly well and the Adamo gangsters were terrible fighters. [i 'Just like the old days back home.'] Even though they were roughed up, nobody really batted an eye at their appearance, either out of respect or fear, everyone in the restaurant kept their heads down. He gave a wincing smile to the hostess, passing the menus around as he ordered a coffee.
The ruckus in the restaurant had his attention, a short old lady was stubbornly standing her ground with their waitress, when Signora Moretti came to their table Giovanni could not help but note the similarities between his mother and Moretti. The pestering was still the same, anyways.
A beautiful woman clamped her lips around the hand-rolled cigarette she just placed to her mouth to keep herself from screaming. A loud shriek wouldn’t bring anything good down on her head, not behind Ratners of all places anyways. Her lace gloved hands trembled instead as she timidly reached out to poke the slumped and bloody figure leaning against the wall of the establishment.
Head down, chin to chest, Dru had been leaning weakly against the building for what seemed like days now. Besides blood stains and sweat, the poor cotton knickers had also soaked up the grime of the alleyway ground causing a chill in the nether regions. On what could have been a delicate face at one time, blood was now crusted and bruises had taken over the left eye, cheek bones, and lower jaw. Not to mention a nasty bruise on the right side of pinkish-red full lips, a split upper lip, and various scrapes.
To put it nicely, Dru appeared to be like some homeless miscreant. If not for leaning against Ratners, an establishment owned strictly by the Russo Family, the poor flapper probably would have screamed for the police. As it was, she hadn’t uttered even a squeak of a sound and was gently shaking Dru’s shoulder with a trembling hand.
[+mediumturquoise “Ti spavento? Eh eh non esserlo, la sono Famigilia.”]
The words came out gritty, a scratchy laugh and coughing followed after. The woman watched as the seemingly young man groaned and tried to stand, his short almost petite body fell back against the brick wall for support. Luck was on the beat and bruised side that the flapper was Italian and understood the man had said he was in the Russo Family. Only a crazy person would come to Ratners and claim to be in the family.
“Stay there, I’ll get someone.”
The flapper rushed back into the establishment, her cigarette having fallen from her lips when she spoke to the beat up young man outside. As she funneled back through the secret door into the speakeasy, her eyes ran wild over the various Russo men relaxing for the evening. Of course Russo men were trained to be observant, so when someone saw the worried look on the flapper’s face, several men got up to help her.
“What’s wrong Roxy,” a large built man put his hand on her shoulder to steady her, his eyes noticing the red stains on her white lace glove.
Roxy’s voice shook as she stared at the men who had come to help, “A-a man in the alley,” she squeaked out.
Before the girl could finish men were rushing out through the door to deal with whomever was out there. Seconds later a man rushed right back in and headed directly to a far dark corner where a scarred up man who looked to have seen rough times sat. This man was Nicolao Spada, a man also known as Don Russo’s Sword. He was an enforcer and an executioner.
“Spada…”The man before him licked his lips. “È tuo figlio, è Dru.”
The man stiffened in the corner, his face changing from the calm nothingness it had been to rage as he rose from the table. The men who had left coming back in carrying Dru between two of them.
Drucilla used all the effort she could to lift her head, she had been told her papa was inside. As both Spada’s eyes connected, well eye in Drucilla’s case, a glass of whiskey shattered on the floor.
[+mediumturquoise “Dovresti vedere gli altri uomini papà. eh eh cazzo Adamo,”]
This set Drucilla into another coughing fit as she tried to laugh the pain off, refusing to be weak. Blood droplets sprayed from her lips, the metallic copper taste coating her tongue letting her know something was very broken inside. The men on either side of her sat her down gently in at her papa’s table and men all over the speakeasy started slamming glasses on the bar and raising a fuss, the name Adamo passing from mouth to mouth.
Nicolao was a proud Italian man. The child in front of him was not born from his loins or from his blood, but he loved that child very much. The child had always been a fighter and when he took her in, he had continued to raise her as one.
When he had first brought up the idea of adopting a child to his wife, she had been acceptable to the idea – but they were Italians. Adoption in America was hard. So he bought a child instead. A boy, he had thought at the time. A child he had watched survive the streets of skid row and one of full Italian blood just like himself. He was proud of this child and had grown to love him.
So when his wife had discovered the boy he had brought home was really a girl, Nicolao had done the only thing he could have done.
[i [b ‘Non sei una ragazza, bambino. Tu sei mio figlio. Un giorno potresti non essere mio figlio, ma la figlia di qualcuno. Fino a quel giorno ti comporterai come un uomo, sarai un uomo.’] ]
Drucilla reemembered the words her papa had told her. She had accepted them, already weary of what being a woman could mean for her in life having lived in the red light district. She would never let that become her. She would never become the woman who gave birth to her.
[b “Dru, stai bene?”] Nicolao asked his son.
Having relxed a little in the chair, Dru let his head fall back and his one good eye close. [+mediumturquoise “Rotto, malconcio e assetato.”]
Nicolao saw someone cleaning up the broken glass that was originally his then lifted his eyes to the barkeep. [b “Porta mio figlio del whisky.”]
The barkeep nodded and quickly poured a glass for the beaten member of the Russo Family. Meanwhile Nicolao nodded to some of the less aggrivated men in the room who took off from the speakeasy to inform the higher ups that his son had been in a brutal fight with Adamo men.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/tU8rr6x.jpg]]
[#8f0600 [b [i "Ehi, idiota! Stai mettendo troppo condimento sul pollo!"] You're gonna dry the chicken out and it won't cook properly!"]] Adalina exclaimed from the kitchen as she was helping to prepare a couple of dishes while one of the cooks was on break. She was used to working whatever place needed to be filled. She would have fired some of these people a long time ago and hired in better workers, but not everyone knows how to make true Italian dishes, and not all waitresses knew what they were doing.
[#125613 [b [i "Non iniziare a dirmi come fare il mio lavoro, Adalina! Solo perché la signora Moretti è tua Madre, non ti rende il mio capo!"] ]] Said the cook next to her. She growled and cursed at him, thankful that the dinner rush hadn't started yet so that it allowed her to cook while the cooks prepped up for the night what the lunch had depleted. She debated taking a swing at the man with the skillet in her hand. [#125613 [b [i "Cucino da prima che tu nascessi, penso che saprei come condire un pollo!"] ]]
[#8f0600 [b [i "Prima di tutto, sono cresciuto con le ricette della mia mamma, quindi non puoi dirmi come preparare quei piatti! Questa è la mia storia familiare! Non sapresti come condire un pollo se ti venisse in mente indossando un abito da sera! Ora fallo bene o puoi pulire la cucina alla chiusura stasera invece!"] ("First of all, I grew up on my Mama's recipes, so you cannot tell me how to make those dishes! That is my family history! You wouldn't know how to season a chicken if it came to you wearing an evening gown! Now do it right or you can clean the kitchen at closing tonight instead!"]] This caused the man to grumble on and curse in Italian under his breath as they continued on. Anyone that didn't understand Italian and would hear the shouts from the kitchen would possibly think the ordeal to be either funny or disturbing.
Adalina finished with the dishes needed and left the kitchen to the cooks as the other came back - late - from his break. She grumbled to herself about needing better help around here. She wasn't sure why her mother put up with these fools and why they wouldn't see her as the boss when she basically ran the place as it was while her mother was sick. She sighed and washed her hands and headed to the front as she dried her hands on an apron and then tossed it into the hamper and slipped on her waitresses apron that she'd left in the office under lock and key since it still held the envelope from Serafina in its pocket. She unbound her wild raven curls from the leather tie and let it fall around her face from under one of her usual head scarfs, causing her large hoop earrings to jingle their charms slightly.
She spoke with one of the waitresses - the wife to the incompetent cook - about his mouth and rude attitude. The woman could only apologize and shrug saying he was that way when she married him. Adalina tried to figure out what made the woman say yes to [i that] proposal. She groaned before hearing the jingle of the chimes on their door. Looking up, Adalina took a moment and recognized those of the Russo gang. She didn't know them by name at all, but they'd been here a few times to speak with her mother as well as dine in. She told the girls that she'd handle their table and for the one to go tell her husband to make sure he took care in those dishes or she'd have his [i virilità] (manhood) for it.
She wrote a quick note about what had happened with the Adamos before and slipped it into the menu. It wasn't safe to speak about business like that in the public, especially since saying the wrong thing could get someone hurt. After tucking away the note, she moved to the door, placing a smile on her face, her many necklaces and bangles clicking together as she moved. Dressed in a long black skirt that held a wrapped around hip scarf that matched the one in her hair, a rose-colored, off the shoulder blouse cropped above her midsection, a black silk vest, and flats, she made her way to the people at the door and offered her usual sweet smile and she prayed they'd not heard the bickering in the kitchen just moments ago, she knew they understood Italian just fine.
[#8f0600 [b [i "Ciao! Bentornato al Giardino d'Italia. È da un po 'che non ci visiti. Sono Adalina Moretti e oggi sarò la tua cameriera. Il tuo solito tavolo è aperto, se mi segui ..."] ]] She led the Capos to a table where they could each sit with their backs to a wall and see all of the restaurant without turning their backs to them. The table had been there since the original owner had the place, and it was made very clear that the table was to be left open if at all possible in case any of the Russos came in. The others were seated at the tables surrounding that one. She sat a menu before them all, careful not to let the note slide out as she sat that menu in front of one of the Capos, then took their drink orders and left them to themselves to take some time in their order. As she was prepping the drinks, the door chimes jingled again and when she looked up, it was her mother. [#8f0600 [b [i "Mama!"]]] she cried out in aggravated surprise.
[#440085 [b [i "Ho detto che sarei tornato, e lo sono. Non iniziare a provare a castigarmi come un bambino. Sono una donna adulta e posso essere nel mio ristorante."] ]] the old woman called back as she made her way to the back with the register and the service stations. Adalina was seething as her Mama came to the register and leaned in to hug her. [#440085 [b "I came to do the books, as I said I would."]]
Adalina looked to her incredulously. The woman had been gone maybe four or five hours tops, just long enough for the lunch rush to subside and the dinner rush to start. She knew her Mama had done this on purpose. If she was here soon enough, the dinner rush would start and she'd feel obligated to help out when they got busy. [#8f0600 [b "Mama, you are not stupid, and neither am I. You know very well that it is too soon for you to be here to do the books. The books are done at closing [i AFTER] the dinner service. Stubborn old woman, you need to get back home and rest before the dinner service starts. You are absolutely NOT working tonight."]] The old woman scoffed at her daughter and shook her head before looking out over the patrons. It was then that Mama Moretti noticed the group that was settled into the Russo corner and she took on a serious face.
[#440085 [b [i "Perché non mi hai detto che erano qui?!"] ("Why did you not tell me they were here?!"]] she snapped at her and smacked her daughter in the back of the head causing her to yelp as she continued prepping drinks. Before she could answer the woman made her way out to the group, smiling at them all before stopping at the Capos' table. [#440085 [b "Welcome! Welcome! So glad to be seeing you all again. If you have any problems what so ever, please do let me know!"]] Adalina went out with a large trey setting drinks down in front of everyone as she grumbled to her mother about going home. [#440085 [b "Stop being rude... also... this is my daughter, Adalina. And gentlemen... she is not married or has children..."]] This was the old woman's way of saying her daughter was single and without the baggage of a previous. Adalina nearly spilled the tray of drinks but thankfully saved them as she hissed at her mother to be quiet. [#440085 [b [i "Adalina! Ti ho insegnato maniere migliori di così, e non dirmi di tornare a casa quando sono tua Madre. Qualcuno di questi gentiluomini sarebbe diventato un genero genero. Stai esaurendo il tempo prima di diventare troppo vecchio per sposarti!"] ]]
Adalina could only murmur apologies to them as she finished setting out drinks and took their orders for food. She could only blush when a few of the men would pass her a napkin with their phone numbers. She gave polite smiles while blushing deeply and put the napkins in her pocket and then escorted her mother from the tables and towards the back. After a while more of arguing, Adalina had won as the woman had grown tired. She hugged her mother and offered to walk the woman home, but she claimed she was fine and that no one would harm her on her way home. They lived several blocks from the restaurant but they'd made the walk every day several times for many years. Clara gave a wave to the Russo gang as she left and Adalina sighed and called out to the kitchen to get their butts in gear on the order, and called out what they needed then hung the ticket up for the cooks.
It was a slow day so the dinner service didn't get too busy, which left Adalina the ability to take care of the large group as they were served their meals and refills on bread and drinks. maybe a few hours had passed, and Adalina had not been able to find a moment to speak with the Capos of the Adamos. She knew they had gotten the note as it wasn't inside the menu when she picked them back up. She had just served a round of refills and more bread when the phone began to ring. None of the other girls could answer, so she excused herself to answer it.
[#8f0600 [b [i "Cia,] thank you for calling [i Giardino d'Italia] how can I help you?"]] She had been thinking someone was calling for a take out order as sometimes they do if they are willing to pick up the order as they didn't do delivery like the pizza places. There was a pause as a woman's voice asked for her. [#8f0600 [b [i "...sì]... this is Adalina Moretti...."]] The woman on the line went on to speak, causing Adalina's complexion to pale and her eyes to widen. She switched to Italian as she spoke up. She asked if her mother was alright and paused, whimpering when the answer was given.
She had to bite back tears as she stared into nothing, listening to the call. Her mother had fallen on her way home, stopped breathing. Someone had found her and called the ambulance, but she did not make it. They needed her to come to the hospital to identify her. She quickly spoke up in Italian with emotion cracking her voice that she didn't want to alarm the staff and that she would be there once the restaurant was closed to identify the body. She hung the phone up and took a couple of breaths before turning towards the register behind her. The dinner rush was only a couple more hours, and she would worry about clean up later, she would lock up right after service. The hospital was on the other side of town, and by then the busses would stop running, she'd need to get to the hospital as soon as was possible, and going on foot would take some time of its own.
The crack in between two curtains allowed a stream of sunlight to shine into the room and hit Felicia in the eyes, she squinted and shifted onto her side so that she wouldn’t be disturbed by the light anymore, however, just as she was considering going back to sleep, she remembered exactly where she was and she suddenly opened her brown orbs.
She glanced at the man beside her and was glad to see that he was still sleeping away. She shifted again to see if he would wake, but he didn’t even stir. So, she slowly climbed out of bed, careful to not disturb him, and she slipped on her clothes from the previous night. She didn’t put her shoes on just yet and she quietly crept about his apartment, looking for a study of sorts or even a safe, something that was used to store information.
The man that she had slept with was a part of the Adamo family, the Russo’s family current biggest rival. She had found out a couple of weeks back about him, but needed to make sure that she was perfectly placed to not seem suspicious. Her opportunity arose when he visited a bar, she had sat herself at the bar and he spotted her as soon as he walked in. He had ordered her a drink and they got to talking, she had laughed at all his jokes and flirted with him all night.
She tried to ask him about his work, but, he always diverted from the topic. So, after a couple of tries, she left the question be and instead suggested that they take their conversation back to his place. He didn’t think twice about agreeing and took her to his apartment. One thing lead to another and she ended up staying the night.
She took the opportunity to see if she could learn anything about the Adamo’s. She soon found a study and began to quickly look through all of his drawers, files, paperwork and books. She just needed something, anything to give the Russo’s an opportunity. Either this man didn’t keep the paperwork, or his position in the mafia was not as high as he had bragged. She sighed in annoyance and was just about to give up until she found a book of receipts, she flicked through and figured out that these receipts were evidence of the Adamo’s paying their associates.
Her eyes narrowed as they fell on a familiar name of ‘Giuseppe’s Suits and Socks’. It seemed that the coward who owned the shop had decided to change side and she couldn’t help but feel disgusted. The Don was sick and in his need, associates were leaving. “[#483D8B Bastardo].” (Bastard). She was thinking about taking the book until she heard a loud groan from down the hall. It seemed her friend had woken up. She swiftly put the book away and tidied things up to how they looked before. She exited the study and, luckily for her, he had gone to the bathroom. So, she moved and sat on his bed, waiting for him.
She was taken from her thoughts as she heard him whistle at her. She smirked and looked over at him.
“[b Now that is a sight I could get used to].” He said, grinning and studying her from his position in the doorway of the en suite. “[b Its a shame that you have to go, I could really do with a second round].”
She laughed softly before picking up her shoes and putting them on. “[#483D8B Unfortunately, I have to go mio amore, but you gave me your number and if I get lonely, I’ll give you a call].” She said walking over to him. He pulled her in for a deep kiss before letting her go. She smirked at him one last time before leaving. She travelled down the stairs and used the buildings phone to call a taxi. It soon arrived and she gave the driver the address of her sisters place. He noticed the bruises on her neck and the dress she was wearing and shook his head slightly before driving off.
The journey was spent in silence and she was thankful for it to have ended, she paid him before leaving the cab and walking up to her sisters home. She had known about the meeting in the Dons mansion and so asked if she could get changed and refreshed at her sisters. The woman was twenty seven years old and called Antonia, she was the one family that hadn’t disowned her and she was incredibly thankful of her. She entered the house, not bothering to knock, made herself known.
“[#483D8B Anyone home]?!” She called out and heard her sisters voice from the kitchen. She walked in and the closer she got, the more she could smell hot, buttery toast and cooking eggs. She entered in and found three children at the table, patiently waiting for their breakfast. There was a six year old, a five year old and a one year old. They looked over to her and their faces lit up.
“[b Zia Feli]!” (Auntie) The two oldest cried out, leaving their chairs and rushing over to hug her. She laughed and crouched down to their level to hug them properly. That was until the children noticed their mother scolding at her and they quickly went back to their seats.
She stood back up and smiled sadly at the one year old in the high chair. He smiled brightly at her and made grabby hands, insinuating he wanted to be picked up. Thats exactly what she did. She picked him up and rested him onto her hips and gave him a long hug. She almost didn’t want to let go, but she felt tears prick her eyes and so she slid him back into his seat. Antonia noticed this and gave her sister a hug.
“[b Your clothes are in my room, and I’d cover those marks if I were you].” She said softly and pulled away, giving a sympathetic look. Felicia nodded her head and wiped at her eyes before going up to her sisters room.
Antonia was a good woman who married a good man who was a very successful lawyer, they had plenty of money and it allowed Antonia to be a housewife and look after their children. She would always be in debt to her sister. Lovino was the name of the one year old and was actually her son. She had fell pregnant with him shortly after Alessandro, her late boyfriend, had proposed.
She remembered being so happy. Her parents hadn’t approved, she hadn’t cared, she was starting a family with the man that she loved. But then, Alessandro was shot. Right in the heart and Felicia was left to grieve the death of her boyfriend and give birth to Lovino. What made everything worse was her decision to take the position of Capo for the Russo’s. She didn’t want that life for Lovino, he was a child and he deserved to live a normal life, with two parents in a stable home. So, she gave him up to Antonia.
A year later and she knew that she had made the right decision. That didn’t make things any less easier and she cried whilst having a shower. Her sobs being muffled by the hot water hitting the floor. She didn’t feel any better after her shower, but she could at pretend. She covered her neck with heavy foundation and it faded the marks. She slipped into some high waisted trousers, a blouse and a pair of small heels. She pulled her hair back with her usual read headscarf, leaving out her blonde fringe. She said her goodbye to the family, called for a cab to go to the Don’s mansion. She arrived, paid the driver before going inside.
It seemed that she was a little late to the meeting, but the underboss excused her and she sat down with the other two men. She cognised the both of them. Giovanni de Luca, an Italian man, and Christoper Axton, an American man.
Both of them had been apart of the Russo family much longer than she had, but she did not let that intimidate her. It actually reminded her of her skill as a Capo and she listened as the Underboss spoke to them. She wasn’t surprised upon hearing the state of their Don. She knew it had been coming and hadn’t exactly been hopeful, she had stayed loyal though and that was what mattered.
Christopher listened carefully to everything the Underboss said and felt slightly disheartened at the news of their Don. It seemed like the man wouldn’t make it and he was left to wonder what would happen if the Don passed. He had glanced at Felicia when she walked in and silently sat down. He didn’t know her that well. She had only been a Capo for about a year and he hadn’t been given the chance to have a proper conversation with her. He had known her late boyfriend though, the two got along quite well. Despite what happened being a tragic tale, he couldn’t help but admire her a little. After the meeting, he walked off with Giovanni. He nodded his head at the questions asked.
“[#FF4500 Si, sono io e conosco l'italiano].” He answered. He may have been American, but, as soon as he had became a member of the Russo family, he had ensured to learn their language. He had gained a lot of respect in doing so. He listened to Giovanni’s suggestions, but, just as he was opening his mouth to speak, Felicia beat him to it.
“[#483D8B I suggest you check out Giuseppe’s Suits and Socks. I got hold of a receipt that showed there had been a lot of money paid to them from the Adamo’s].” She said, beginning to walk with them. She hadn’t bothered to tell the Underboss, the other woman had enough on her plate as it were.
“[#FF4500 How did you find that out?]” Christopher asked her, a confused look settling on his face. “[#FF4500 And do you know of any others?]”
“[#483D8B Went to a guys place last night, he’s a part of the Adamos and this morning I found a whole book full or receipts. I couldn’t get the book but I plan on seeing him again].” She replied.
Christopher nodded his head, and his confusion was replaced by one that showed he was impressed. He then looked back to Giovanni. “[#FF4500 We’ll have to visit them… Though, I do suggest that we go to that restaurant owned by Moretti. Haven’t been there in a while].”
Giovanni was called shortly after hanging up with his mother, the Underboss called all three caporegimes to be briefed on the latest developments going around the compound. Giovanni had been in America long enough to know who the other capos were, a man named Christopher and a woman-he never got the broad's name come to think of it. Most people thought that women were soft-hearted, but not these type of molls, they'd rip your heart out. Nobody was fooling Giovanni however, he knew they all had the capacity to be animals, America's people were just as rough and cold-blooded as Italy's.
[#0089c7 "Un lupo travestito da pecora." [i ]] Giovanni muttered to himself under his breath absentmindedly, losing himself in his evaluations and thoughts while he waited for the other capos to join them. The Underboss was another wolf in disguise, a woman by the name of Sophia Gallo, Giovanni did not talk with her much but he'd heard stories. Sophia was middle-aged, married with four children but it was [b very] clear that she was the one to wear the pants in the family. Her man worked as a dock supervisor, working long but highly honest shifts hauling cargo on the harbor.
Signora Gallo definitely knew the ins and outs of the family, currently holding the record for the longest interrogation session ever. It ended up looking more like a butcher shoppe at the end of it, but how she managed to keep the person alive and conscious for it all... She was efficiently calculated, a master of subterfuge and covert operations that required a more finesse touch. Since the Don was sick all their orders and inquiries went through her, with advice from the consigliere she acted as regent for their family. Sophia sat at her desk like a bank clerk clearly invested in several papers she was filling out and stuffing into envelopes to be delivered on behalf of the family business. Only when the others arrived, quite hastily, did the woman begin to speak filling the room with her crisp icy voice.
[#eb5f00 "Everyone sit. I'm very certain you've all heard about the new family moving in, this 'Adamo Family'. I've got twenty-seven letters on my desk here of complaints and calls for help from our local venue associates. Shops destroyed, property damages, burglaries, I even have one saying a couple of Adamo thugs broke several bones to get their point across with our more stoic friends."] She motioned to her relatively daunting pile of papers, she apparently was sent cries for help and bills asking for assistance in paying. Most importantly the people asked for protection, the Russo family were 'dirty' in a lot of ways, but Vincent Russo didn't always act in murder or brutality. Sometimes a guy needed an arm twisted to see their way of things, but it was never really fatal unless someone warranted lethal force. Shop owners and grocers weren't really the type to die for a few bucks.
[#eb5f00 "I've got even more letters here stating how businesses are changing to the Adamo's, they think they don't need us anymore. Now I hear I have two associates in the kitchen bleeding all over the place, what I want to know is what are we going to do about it?"] She paused as if expecting an answer but then continued, the Underboss pointed to both Giovanni and Christopher. [#eb5f00 "You and you, I'm sending you out on reconnaissance, take a few soldiers for a crew and cover the city. I want you to bring our businesses back to working order, station a few guards if you have to to watch over the places. These Adamo bastards will be ratted out like the vermin they are, and I want it done quickly. While you are out you get the layout of the streets, find out where they're lodging. I've enough to worry about..."] Sophia looked up at the ceiling, towards where the Don would be resting with an extremely worried look on her face. In a split second it was gone, then she turned to the third capo who apparently had quite a bit more to do than they did, was that a good or bad thing? Maybe the Underboss thought their investigations would be too time consuming to give additional tasks.
It wasn't very often Capos worked together, usually each of them would control a crew of soldiers, a gang of sorts under their command and they'd all work on several diverse tasks. The fact that Signora Gallo put two Capos together spelled big, big trouble; most likely Giovanni and Christopher would split duties, one would take businesses asking for protection, and the other would take the businesses that strayed from the Family. Remind them of what that decision actually means.
All four of them talked for a short while, well, some of them talked and the others, like Giovanni, just listened. The Underboss wanted to bolster their relationships with local businesses, while still trying to maintain their carefully laid boundaries and crush the opposing family who is holed up God-knows-where. It was simple in words, check in with long-standing establishments, give a little encouragement to stick around-take care of a few nagging things in the neighborhood maybe. Those that turned them down or betrayed them for the Adamos would be dealt with accordingly. You don't turn your back on this Family, not after everything Vincent Russo has done for them. Dropping the old man in his greatest hour of need...
They were still reminded to keep the Padrino's worsening condition under tight wraps, for now everyone outside just heard that the old man had fell down with a cold and fever. The Underboss told them what was really going on, it started off with a fever then coughing and gasping, the Don unable to get air, he started spitting up blood this morning as the coughing got worse. He was emaciated and enfeebled, tormented by nightmares of looming death. The entire upper floors of the manor were being sectioned off to stop any spread-the consigliere suggested Vincent take rest at one of his beach homes down in Florida, even Jersey, or vacation in Cuba-but he refused.
They were dismissed relatively quickly, the Underboss was still busy writing out letters to send to families with the Family's support. No doubt money and other means of protection would be filtering through the manor's doors. After they left Giovanni finally spoke to Christopher, they needed to work together to cover the most ground.
[#0089c7 "Axton, right? Giovanni De Luca."] Giovanni wasn't the best with a whole lot of names, but he knew faces fairly well. Giovanni also looked to be the older of the two, so he gave another introduction just in case one forgot like him. [#0089c7 "Tu parli Italiano? [i ] I was thinking about checking in with our most well known places first. Ratner's and the Union Club, a few ristoranti [i (restaurants)], we can go from there throughout the city."] It was still extremely early so the faster they got to each establishment the better their chances of getting ahead of the Adamo goons.
[#0089c7 "You have any preferenze [i (preferences)] or contacts you could use?"] Giovanni frequently lapsed into Italian, he hoped the other capo understood him at least. Patching the damages done by the Adamo family were going to take some time, they'd have to also keep their movements quiet, the last thing they'd need would be the polizia getting in between the two rival mobs. Giovanni walked with the other as they talked, he suggested visiting Ratner's first to gather some men and women for their crews, taking a few from the manor here as well would give them decent size gangs to get the jobs done.
Ratner's was also a very big hot spot of information, the speakeasy 'The Backroom Bar' was the main selling point of the establishment. This was the Prohibition after all, tell someone they couldn't have something and people go nuts. Speaking of the Prohibition, Giovanni felt them already-the dreaded shakes-the withdrawal from alcohol was incomparable; from his pocket he withdrew an engraved hip flask, took a swig of the hard liquor and then offered it to the other capo before they went outside. If they lost Ratner's it would be a very dangerous problem...
Christopher watched the crimson liquid of blood wash from his hands and down the drain, a small, satisfied smile at his lips as he was coming down from the high of his last kill. He hadn’t intended to be so violent, quite the contrary. It was supposed to have been a quick, easy kill with little mess. But, it had been some time since he last murdered someone and he got carried away leaving his victims face unrecognisable.
In his opinion, the bastard deserved what he got, after all, his victim had been spreading rumours about Russo and that had really gotten him riled up. He owed his everything to the man and wasn’t about to let some scum talk bad about him. Especially now as it looked like he was laying on his death bed. Christopher refused to think like that and had some hope in him that Vincent Russo would survive for another day. Not everyone had his optimism, especially not the associates that were dropping like flies. He was disgusted with their disloyalty and had even offered to show them how to respect. But, Russo himself told him not to. That was the only thing that was holding him.
He sighed and splashed his face with the water before running a wet hand through his brown hair. He then stripped himself of his shirt and he was glad that he had worn a black one as that too was covered with red splatters, he tossed that along with his trousers into a laundry basket before making his way into his room. He dressed himself in something more suitable for bed before retiring for the night.
He woke up with the rising sun and he slowly opened his tired, blue eyes and stretched his unused muscles. He got out of bed and decided to dress himself in a crisp, white shirt, black pair of trouser, a matching tie and suspenders. He combed through his hair before grabbing his wallet, a suit jacket and a flat cap before going outside to his car after putting some shoes on. He took a long drive to the other side of town to his favourite diner. He lived in a rather nice side of town owned by the Russo family, and although there were plenty of diners, cafes and bars in the area around his apartment, he preferred the one that he was going to. He had worked there before working for Vincent Russo and so, it was quite special to him. There was the added factor that he thought the food was much better.
Once there, he sat himself on cushioned stool at the counter and ordered his usual black coffee and bacon sandwich. Since it was early, the smell of coffee was still fresh and there was the faint hint of cleaning products in the air. There weren’t too many people either, a couple of businessmen who read large newspapers, a young couple that were sharing a high stack of fluffy pancakes and a few others.
The cook was happily singing as he went about preparing food and there was a calm atmosphere to the diner. Even Christopher, who had always enjoyed causing trouble, could appreciate the serenity and he chatted with the worker on the till. He had known the other man from the orphanage. He was called Eddy. It was quite funny how their situations had turned out. Eddy, when they were younger, had this dream of becoming rich and that he didn’t care how he got there. Where as Christopher was perfectly happy with the more simple things in life. They had gotten their job at the same time at the diner, but, it was soon clear that it was him who would be earning the most money.
Nevertheless, he stuck to his roots and he never saw himself above the others. Instead, whenever he looked in the mirror, he still saw the same orphan boy.
“[#FF4500 So Eddy, business good]?”
He asked the other, he liked to make sure that the diner was running smoothly. If they ever needed it, he would offer a deal for them with the Russo’s, but, as expected, Eddy nodded his head.
“[b Business is great as usual. But… I have been getting these guys that come in… They mostly stick to themselves. Apart from when they keep offering me this deal…]”
The last part of the sentence caught Chris’ attention.
“[#FF4500 What kind of deal? Like, co-ownership of the diner]?”
“[b Nah, like… They want the diner to be an associate of the Adamo’s. I told the boss, he says he doesn't want to get involved in gangs and to just say no. But, they’re getting real pushy and demanding].”
Christopher had his eyes locked on Eddy as the man spoke, it seemed the Adamo’s were growing with every conversation he heard about them. He found it disgusting that they were starting to make their move only when his boss was sick.
He was pulled from his thoughts as Eddy quickly nodded to an approaching man. He couldn’t help but narrow his eyes slightly as the man entered and he took a sip of his coffee, that had just been placed in front of him, allowing the bitter taste to distract him from speaking to the Adamo. But, as usual, he couldn’t help but listen in on the conversation between Eddy and the man. He took his order, but, his tone seemed to quickly change to rather threatening. He offered the deal that Eddy had already rejected and his childhood friend politely declined. This didn’t seem enough and the Adamo grabbed Eddy by the collar. However, he didn’t get to say another word as Christopher was off his seat and and delivering a blow to the mans jaw. He quickly let go of Eddy and stumbled to the side, as he was recovering from the shock, Chris took out his gun and pointed it at him. Its silver glinted in the light and the man turned to glare at him, holding his jaw.
“[#FF4500 Get out].”
He snapped and at first, the Adamo just stood there, glaring at him before eventually leaving. Christopher watched him leave before putting his gun away. Instead, he gout out his wallet and paid for his uneaten food and half full cup. He also handed Eddy a card that had his number on it.
“[#FF4500 I gotta go, but, if they come back and start threatening you again, call me. You might want to tell your boss about reconsidering working with a gang. The Russo’s are good, they’ll offer protection from dirt bags like that].”
He said to him, before giving a polite smile and walking out of the diner and to his car. He cursed under his breath, checking his watch as he sat down in the vehicle and decided he would make his way over to the manor.
He remembered being in complete awe the first time he saw that manor, it had looked so tall, so grand, so expensive and he remembered the excitement that had bubbled within his as he walked through those halls. He had practically tip toes around the place, scared that he would break something. Now, he was hardly affected by the sight and he was soon pulling up. By the time he had arrived, the grunts that had been attacked by the Adamo were all patched up. But still worse for wear.
“[#FF4500 Who done that then]?”
He asked feeling like he already knew the answer, and for the second time that morning, he heard the Adamo name.
“[#FF4500 We need to do something about them assholes… I heard they’ve been taking away associates, claiming our territory.]"
A harsh grunt bubbled out the youth’s mouth, blood spackle rolling down a more delicate looking chin as another fist connected with tender flesh. Already the skin surrounding the left eye was darkening, a fierce swelling soon to follow. Beyond that a busted lip, a scraped cheek, and maybe a broken rib on the right side. Yet the fighting youth could only think how Mamma was going to lecture to no end when she got a look at the torn shirt collar and bloodstains.
The sound of a laughter ringing in the ear and behind that a woman’s shameful sobbing filled the dank back alley. The smell of stale rain water from the night before mixed with city grime stung the nose and destroyed the appetite. There would be no one to come running in assistance to the current predicament. However none of this was new to the youngling whose back was against the redbrick walls of the tailor shop called Giuseppe’s Suits and Socks.
Despite what outsiders may think, this particular youth was rather accustomed to such delinquent behaviors as clobbering others with their bare hands. After all, Dru had grown up as a fledgling member of the oldest crime family in New York. Before that Dru had survived Skid Row. Taking licks and getting back up was a well learned experience.
Though thinking back on it now, as another fist found its mark on a human body, Dru was clearly disgusted with Gregorio Giuseppe no matter his reasons for traitorous choices. The Family would have protected him. Heck all, Dru’s papa was one of the old time enforcers known after his last name as the Russo Sword. All Gregorio or Pia had to do is let Dru know they were being messed with. But they hadn’t and it all ended up in an ambush with him as the living boxing practice bag.
Note to self, dames are too much hassle, the youth thought with an ironic inner monologue. Said dame’s current sobbing grating on Dru’s ears as he tried to use his smaller size to avoid the fist coming towards his face. A busted lip and swollen eye was one thing, but too many broken noses left an ugly face behind. He had some self-respect one could say. That or they would say he was a cheeky bastard who liked his own face.
Of course this specific beating was not something planned for the day. All Dru had planned to do was stop by the tailor store, a known associate of the Family, and see Pia Giuseppe, Gregorio Giuseppe’s daughter and his age mate. Ever since Nicolao Spada “adopted” Dru , he had integrated rather well with the different children of the Family – If only on the surface that is.
Casually strolling through the popular tailor shop while Dru waited for Pia to start her shift, two men came in through the back. The seemingly young man had decided not to worry about them too much, though he kept them in sight just as they kept him. When Pia finally came out, her face was flushed and hair was mussed as if she had been in a hurry to brush it. Dru noticed one of the men give her a cheeky grin, causing him to frown.
What had just possibly gone on between Pia and two strangers? Where was Mr. Giuseppe?
Hands in his pockets, Dru rounded to the counter where Pia had nervously began folding socks, a question in his eyes when he saw the slight bruising on the right side of Pia’s face. Turning his profile to keep the men in his line of sight, Dru reached out and gently grabbed Pia’s soft cream skinned wrist.
A small shriek came from Pia then before she yanked her wrist back and looked at Dru with terror on her face as if she didn’t recognize him at all. By the time she did come out of it, it was too late. The two men flanked Dru by then, already one had reached out laid a greasy fingered hand on his shoulder while the other shouted at Pia. It was then the strangers had decided to educate Dru on polite manners when it came to touching what one of the men, the one who no doubt left that mark on Pia’s face, ‘touching another man’s broad.’
So here Dru was, taking a licking courtesy of Gregorio Giuseppe’s cowardice. Everyone in the Family or connected to the Family knew something wasn’t right with the Don. Not everyone knew what was happening to Mr. Russo – hire ups kept that shit tightlipped – but the ripple effect of his absence in the community was glaringly obvious. This ripple effect allowed cowards like Gregorio to change sides at the first show of power.
As one last hit clipped the opposing force in the throat, Dru struggled to lean against the brick wall at his back. It was cold against his sweat soaked shirt, alley grime adding another touch of grit to his ragged yet devilish appearance. Using the one eye he could still see through, he fixed the father and daughter pair with a fierce glare.
[+mediumturquoise “Ho tirato fuori la tua spazzatura. Fallo da solo la prossima volta o nella sporcizia che hai scelto di aggrapparti.”]
Dru grunted in pain as he straightened to leave, giving a swift kick to the face of the man he just knocked out before spitting blood on the other man.
Sure, Dru had taken a beating and had been outnumbered by the two goons, but what else was new? There was always someone bigger than you, always someone stronger. Smirking through the pain of stretching an already split lip, Dru couldn’t help but laugh at himself as he collapsed outside Ratner’s backdoor alley. His last thought before his eyes fluttered shut was how funny it was for the Adamo goons to assume he was interested in Pia.
After all, this auburn-haired hazel eyed youth may look, dress, act, and speak like a typical male street thug and rightly so. However in reality all one needs to do to see the truth is throw on a Sunday dress and pearls. Then they would know that this seemingly boy brute is really just a young woman who can’t walk in heels and enjoys fist fights with altar boys.
[#8f0600 [b "Mama! I told you to stop expediting and get off your feet! You know what the doctor said! If you overdo it one more time, you won't be getting out of the hospital this time! We can't afford more medical bills!"]] Adalina called out to her mother who was trying to fill the position of one of their missing waitresses, carrying a large tray with a family order on it. Easily a dozen plates and bowls were on that tray.
[#440085 [b "You don't be telling me what to do in my own kitchen, Adalina Moretti! I am the owner here, and if I wish to serve my customers, I will!"]] And with that, the stubborn old Italian woman took the tray into the dining room to pass out the food to the table. Adalina groaned and called out to those in the kitchen to keep going while she would round up her mother again.
[#8f0600 [b "Ma...."]] She was polite around the customers, smiling and carrying on as she took the now empty tray from her mother and then secretly dragged her mother into the back office. [#8f0600 [b "The doc only promised that you could come back here if you took it easy.... not if you were serving [i Pizzagaina] and [i Cannoli] to the customers... I mean it... you need to take it easy, your heart cannot take anymore... Just because Ronda didn't show for her shift again, doesn't mean we cannot run the place while you rest..."]]
[#440085 [b [i "E mi conosci?] I get it, I get it... You no longer need your Mama, is that it? You think you can do all of this by yourself, and you no longer need me, you're all grown up. Just kick me to the floor and [i spazzami fuori dalla porta] ..."]] The old woman fell overdramatically into her chair as Adalina rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her midriff.
[#8f0600 [b "Mama, if the doctor sees you working, he will think you do not listen, then you will lose the discounts on your medicine he is given us. We cannot afford that medicine without it! [i Smetti di essere così drammatico, sai che ti amo e voglio solo vederti meglio.] "]] The woman sighed and nodded, but she hadn't given up the fight, not that Adalina ever thought that Clara Moretti was ever one to stop fighting. The old woman agreed that she would go and rest, but only if she was able to come back and do the books after the dinner rush was over. Adalina knew she would do it anyway, and sighed to agree. With that, her mother made her way back home and left Andalina to the restaurant.
The lunch rush came and went like normal. Eddie had to be cursed out for putting the wrong herbs in a dish - again. At least he'd stopped stealing the cooking wine, from here anyway. It was damned expensive to be allowed to have that stuff here with the prohibitions going on. If they got caught with someone on their staff drinking it, they would be shit down immediately. She wasn't about to let this little putz ruing her mother's dream. The door chimed and she looked up to see a woman dressed in an extremely short skirt, high heels, too much makeup, and far too many accessories.
[#8f0600 [b "Serafina... what do you want here?"]] she asked her sister as she met her at the door. She was waving to a man in a car and giggling like a teenager. Adalina just rolled her eyes.
[#00805e [b "Don't be like that Ada....is Mama here?"]] she asked checking her makeup in a compact that she pulled from her clutch.
[#8f0600 [b "No, [i per fortuna] (thankfully), so she doesn't have to see her eldest tarted up like some nightwalker."]]
[#00805e [b "[i Mi scusi?] I'm not the one who walks around with her stomach hanging out. At least I don't have to try so hard for attention and still has no man...."]]
[#8f0600 [b "I'm not the one showing my body off for money and all of New York... At least I have self-dignity, and my stomach doesn't look a spare tire from too much [i pasticcino] (pastry). Now... Mama has no money for you to borrow, she has medical bills that she needs to take care of so go take your Joe of the week and get out of here."]]
[#00805e [b "You know you've become a bitter old [i cagna] (bitch) long before you were even old. I can at least say I make money, you can't say anything except that you take care of Mama, which is why I am here..."]] she reached into her clutch and pulled out an envelope and thrust it into Adalina's chest. [#00805e [b "This is to help with Mama's bills... You may not like what I do at the club, but I make money doing it. If nothing else, use them for the bills and medicine..."]] Adalina hated using her sister's money as it was considered "dirty" money in her opinion, but then the Russo family helped with this place as well, and that could also be considered dirty money if someone thought about it. [#00805e [b "Now then, tell Mama I won't make it to dinner tomorrow night. I'm heading to Jersey for a gig with Jimmy. Won't be back until next weekend. [i Ciao, Ada!"]]] With that her sister was out the door and climbing into a nice car and speeding off. She raced out after her sister hissing like a snake in anger.
[#8f0600 [b [i "Vaffanculo, Serafina!] You conceited mother-- Oh!"]] She stopped as she noticed a few men had come up to the restaurant and were now staring at her as she was cursing in the middle of the sidewalk. She straightened her skirt and put the envelope in her apron pocket while trying to compose herself. [#8f0600 [b [i "Scusi...] Please, do come on in..."]] She set the men to a table and gave them menus before taking their drink orders. She then smiled and headed back to the kitchen where she started prepping the drinks. The guys were asking if they were Russo men, but she didn't think so. She'd seen most of them, even if she didn't know their names. These two weren't known faces.
She watched carefully as they were inspecting the place while they sat. Russo men knew this place well, even if it wasn't some five-star place, it was a taste of home for most of them. She wondered if these men were part of the Adamo family she'd heard rumors about and decided to play it cool. They'd not done anything yet, they were simply here for a meal.
She brought them their drinks and took their meal orders, calling out to the cooks and warning them about any funny business with the food. They were customers until she kicked them out the door for a good enough reason. She went about her time doing dishes, taking care of customers, helping cook, anywhere she was needed in the restaurant was what she did. Hostess, waitress, expediter, cook, busboy, dishwasher, janitor, maintenance. She refused to lean on someone else to do what she knew how to do especially when they couldn't afford to hire any more people. The Russon boys kept them in business, but they didn't come often.
Adalina was at the register handing out tips to a couple of waitresses who were headed home from their shifts while two more came in for the dinner haul. Once the girls left, the two men came up to her to pay for the meal and telling her to keep the change as a tip. It was quite a bit of money for a tip, and one leaned on the counter to smile at her in a way that had her skin crawling. She saw the guys in the door of the kitchen watching what was happening, but they knew better than to come out unless she really needed the help. One headed out to the car, while the one who leaned on the counter started talking to her about being too pretty for this place, and that if she was to be his girl and run this place for the Adamo family, she'd have more money than she knew what to do with.
Adalina smiled sweetly as her hand below the counter went for the bat that lay there for those that tried to rob the place. She lifted that bat and took a swing causing the man to duck and run for the door calling her a crazy [i cagna] and that she was going to regret this. She chased him out of her door as she called him every possible curse a woman could call a man, heaving her bat around like a mighty sword.
There was a light smoke filtering through the air of the dimly lit apartment, it was run down and broken throughout the years but the sole inhabitant did not mind its worn charms. It was just before the dawn, a slate gray sky was just starting to light with the sunrise over New York City. The man sat on the side of his bed, taking a drink of some old white lightning he had sitting on the nightstand before taking another drag of cigarette. Every morning was the same for Giovanni, like clockwork almost, he got up, had a cigarette, and a swallow of the hard stuff to chase off the shakes before he'd get dressed to start his day.
Giovanni De Luca was a man of few pleasures, some may turn their noses up at the way he lives, but everything suits him just fine-he lived through far worse back in the Old Country of Sicily. The man was still young, still boasting a head full of hair, a full beard and striking blue eyes that were typically abnormal for his heritage. One feature that always drew attention from strangers was the nasty scar he earned in service to his boss when he was just a youngster. A jagged cut from the corner of his left eye down his neck, would have bled him clean out if not for sharp thinking.
Another inhale of nicotine before it is put out and he goes to get dressed; Giovanni was a part of the Russo Family, as one of three Capos, and while he didn't do the grunt work anymore he still maintained his routine schedule of showing up way earlier than most. He liked to get to the compound when there was hardly a soul there to bother, it reminded him of his old home and he enjoyed reminiscing about simpler times. They were still hard times, but he understood them better, here, in America-Giovanni was still trying to find his footing, even after a couple of years.
He decided to take another swig of that horrible bathroom whiskey before leaving, they called it white lightning but it didn't taste as good as it sounded. Still, it did its job since the country had been dealing with the Prohibition for seven years and they probably would continue it for the foreseeable future. Giovanni then set out of his poor apartment and took a taxi to the Russo Manor, nestled securely in the upside of the city.
Giovanni could have a house up here, if he truly wanted, but he was never a flashy kind of guy-they were nice to look at sure, but what was the point of having a big house when it was just him? Maybe one day he'd find a decent moll and settle down, maybe a gal who didn't mind the way he did things. Yet he shook his head as he stared out the taxi window at all the big houses, he was sure his ma would like him to find a nice girl, bring her to dinner, make her a proper thing, y'know?
Giovanni had helped his mother get set up in sunny Florida, where he knew the sun would be good for her, just like back home. He got her a nice little place just outside a main city where she didn't need to hear no loud noises or people hollering and carrying on. He was very much like her in wanting to keep his quiet and solitude, though she was constantly telling him to visit-he just couldn't get the time to make the drive.
The taxi pulled into the gated grounds of the manor, as big as a fucking castle it was, money lavishly spent on hedge clippings, big gardens and a constant staff waiting to serve the master's desires. Too much for him if he was honest. The man paid the driver and went into the house without needing escorted in or granted access, they knew him well enough around here by now.
[#0089c7 "Hey, Frankie, how's the old man?"] Giovanni greeted one of the grunts with a nod of his head towards the upstairs. That's where the Don had taken to his rest, in his bedroom, only the upper echelons of the family could freely walk up those stairs. Giovanni was able to, being a boss, but he knew better than to just go snooping around all willy-nilly. The man named Frankie shook his head as Giovanni grabbed a cigarette from his cigarette tin, tapped it a few times on the case at put it to his lips.
[b "The doc says he's taken a very bad cough, worst he's seen by far, won't be long now he said."] Giovanni grunted as he lit his smoke, his sky blue eyes looked from Frankie to the stairs again before he nodded his head exhaling before sucking his teeth.
[#0089c7 "We all know the day will come, yeah? We just got to be ready for it."] Giovanni officially joined the family when he was about sixteen, but in actuality he had been running errands and messages for the Russo family since he was around eight years old. Would do so for some lira or maybe a nice hot meal when things got tough, he'd always wanted to be a boss, seeing them in their fancy suits with all the flare and pretty dames on their arms. That was wealth to him, that was going to be his ticket out of the slums, but as he got older those fascinations with the big cats died down and he'd rather go back to his free solitude. Back in the old country everything was about respect, if you didn't show it it was beat out of you and then beat back into you. It didn't take a genius to figure out the dos and don'ts of the Family.
America had a lot to say about respect, and Giovanni struggled when he first came off the boat, Americans were boisterous and overbearing, so they took some getting used to. Once you got past that however they were just as warm and caring about the next family, especially when falling on hard times.
[b "Oh, uh, Capo-before I forget, a package came for you from the Union Club. I think it's from that doll that's sweet on you."] Eh? A parcel? Frankie told him where they put it and Giovanni excused himself to go check it out. Upon opening the box he found a small case carefully wrapped in protective layers. The sender left a small note attached to the top of the case reading [i 'There’s no one—and I mean no one—who comes even close to you. Looks included. Be safe, mon cher.'] She signed it with a clear kiss outlined in red lipstick. When he opened the box he found a Beretta M1923, and it couldn't have been more than a few years old at this point.
It was a nice gun, he hefted it in his hand slightly before sliding it in the waistband of his trousers. He liked the small touch of giving him a nice Italian gun even though the dame was from France.
Suddenly the front door of the compound burst open and two men rushed inside, one leaning on the other heavily injured and fading fast. Giovanni hollered for someone to call the doctor, being who they were meant going to a hospital was out of the question. Someone comes in riddled with bullet holes and they call the cops, ask a lot of questions that didn't need answered. So the Don had a local practitioner on the payroll for moments like these, Giovanni helped the others carry the man to the kitchen table, knocking off bottles and plates, sending them crashing to the floor.
[#0089c7 "Who done this, eh? Cops?"] The other man had cuts and bruises, blood running down his face but he seemed better off than the fella on the table. The grunt shook his head, taking a moment to sit down, uttering only the word 'Adamo' and pulled out a bloodied calling card left by the assailants from their pocket. Whoever these Adamo goons were they were messing with the wrong Family; with the doc already on his way Giovanni would go to the Sottocapo, the Underboss. With the state the Don was in it would be the Sottocapo who would take over family matters.
This Adamo family had sent a clear message with the state of their men, but the Russo Family would send one right back.
[center [b ~*~*~]]
[#0089c7 "Alright, I got to go make a call, I'll check in with you later."] Giovanni had helped the doctor take care of their men, but around this time-ten in the morning to be exact-he always called his ma around the same time. Every day, like clockwork. He picked up the receiver and gave the operator the number, it would be long distance, but he had the dough for it. Walking with the corded phone to a more secluded spot so nobody would overhear him.
[+blue "Ciau, De Luca speaking."]
[#0089c7 "Mornin', Ma, it's Giovanni."] The sound of happiness that comes from the other line always made him smile. He could tell that she gripped the receiver with both hands and pressed it to her ear as if to hug him through the phone lines. Yet these calls always came with a bittersweet note, being so far away meant he couldn't go and see her whenever he pleased, sit down for Sunday dinner or take her out shopping for some new things. Giovanni knew the cold of New York would not suit his mother, so he never even tried in the first place.
[+blue "Gianni, when will you come visit?"] His mother asked, a sadness to her voice that broke his heart. She called him 'Gianni', a nickname from when he was a small child.
[#0089c7 "Soon, Ma. I promise, real soon. I've just been real busy with work is all."] It wasn't a total lie, the last trip he tried to go on he had to cancel when the harbor shipment almost went overboard. There was silence on the other end, making him check to see the line hadn't been disconnected accidentally.
[+blue "Armani would come visit his mother..."]
[#0089c7 "Eh? Not this again, Ma. Armani is nothing but a dewdropper, he does nothing but sleep all day!"] There was a sharp inhale on the other end, oh no, not the inhale-Giovanni could almost see his mother pursing her lips with her hands on her hips to scold him.
[+blue "Don't you talk about your brother that way, Giovanni Angelo De Luca! He's trying his best, looking for work is hard in the city."] Yeah, if by work you meant for him to laze about on someone's couch for hours on end, eating and drinking all their stuff from the fridge. His mother still believed that Giovanni worked as a construction supervisor, very demanding work and pays exceedingly well. Well enough to cover his actual occupation expenses, he had forged documents to back it up too, in case the Feds caught wind of him. [+blue "-And at least he has a girl to come home to after spending all day out looking for work. Trying to provide for her all this time. When was the last time you bothered to tell me about a girl or brought one home to your mother? When am I going to see my first-born settle down with a nice woman so I don't have to die without any grand-babies?"] How do their conversations always end up here? Always here?
[#0089c7 "Mama, d-don't worry about that, Gianni's been seeing a lovely dame, I-I just haven't had the chance to tell you about her."] A happy, approving noise comes over the phone and then she asks him to describe her. He gave some small details, enough to make her happy, but still she returned to wanting him to visit. Armani would make the time, Armani would cancel all his plans, Armani this, Armani that. In case one couldn't guess, Armani was the baby. [#0089c7 "Hey, how about I plan to come see you for Easter, huh? I could plan a couple of weeks, and then drive down to see you for a while."]
[+blue "N-No, the drive is too long. You take a plane."]
[#0089c7 "Ma, you know I hate flying, it makes me sick to my stomach. You want me to get all sick and queasy before spending time with you so I'm laying on your couch all day?"] Silence, he couldn't tell if it was a good kind or a bad kind, she asked him if he really was going to come this time. [#0089c7 "Of course, Mama, I'll always come home to you. -But Ma, I'm going to have to let you go, I've got a big shift ahead of me."] She didn't argue, called him her 'little Gianni' and they said their usual goodbyes. He really [i did] try to make it last time... He was sure he could make the visit this coming Easter though, that was surely enough time away to make plans.
He just didn't know if these new events would disturb said plans...
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