Deep is Nick’s story. When I started the Paganos, I didn’t anticipate Nick becoming a lead, but he got my muse’s attention at the end of Touch, Book Two, and then really emerged in the last part of Rooted, Book Three. Because Nick is a leader of the Pagano Brothers organization, their head enforcer, his book is necessarily (and significantly) darker than the preceding books in this series. Though the Pagano Brothers business has been a feature in one way or another of all the books, Deep is the only of the series that I’d call an actual ‘mafia romance.’
As a teaser, I’m sharing the Prologue and Chapter 1, both in Nick’s POV. We see the female lead, Beverly, in Chapter 1, but she is not yet named.
There are SIGNIFICANT SPOILERS in this teaser for Rooted, so proceed at your own risk.
Deep will be released on Saturday, 20 December 2014. I’ll upload it for preorder on or about 3 December.
Nick Pagano stood in the center hallway of his Uncle Ben’s house on Greenback Hill and watched people coming in through the front door, a steady, seemingly endless stream of people—friends, family, business associates. They all came up and shook his hand, or hugged him, offering empty words, and then they all left him alone. He wanted to be alone, and he knew how to make that happen with nothing more than his posture.
He could hear the women congregating behind him, in his Aunt Angie’s kitchen, already doing what women seemed to do in these situations—in every situation, as far as he could tell: cooking. And yakking. Though he was making an effort not to hear their blather, words broke through his barrier occasionally—Right in his own yard; Betty found him; So much blood; Did you see Nick? At that, he doubled up the barrier. The last thing he needed in his head was a bunch of hens clucking about how angry he looked and what they thought he was going to do about what had happened.
About the murder of his father.
He was standing near the entrance to Aunt Angie’s prissy little sitting room. Peering around the corner, he saw his mother sitting on the sofa, with his Uncle Carlo and Adele, Uncle Carlo’s wife. She was resting quietly on her brother-in-law’s shoulder, pale and empty. She hadn’t cried, as far as Nick had seen. He wondered if she would.
He turned and saw his Uncle Ben, Don Beniamino Pagano, standing at the doorway to his study. He didn’t answer.
“Come, nephew. It’s time to talk.”
Nick walked down the hallway and followed Ben—his uncle, godfather, and don—into his study.
Like the rest of Uncle Ben’s house, the study was large and luxuriously appointed. As President and CEO of Pagano Brothers Shipping, and as majority or at least substantial shareholder in several other legitimate business ventures, Ben had ample cover for a comfortable lifestyle, and he’d married a woman who’d wanted to be pampered. Their home was one of the finest—if not, in fact, the finest—homes in Quiet Cove. And their competition for the slot was all on the same street.
Most of the home had been decorated with Aunt Angie in the lead, but this room, and the rooms of the cellar, were Ben’s domain. The study was done like an old school men’s club—heavy tufted-leather sofas and chairs with nailhead trim, dark walnut paneling and ceiling, dark walnut tables, a massive walnut desk in front of a floor-to-ceiling window that looked over the bluff and the ocean below. The effect was imposing, and Nick remembered, when he was younger, being intimidated simply to be called into the room.
When he was younger. Not anymore.
Uncle Ben sat in his deep, tall leather chair behind his wide, long desk. In the room with him were the officers of the other branch of the Pagano Brothers’ business. Fred Naldi, consigliere. Dominic Addario, capo. Giulio Nicci, another capo. Nick, the third capo. Nick’s father, Lorenzo “Lorrie” Pagano, Uncle Ben’s brother, had been underboss. But Lorrie was on a morgue slab now, his face blown off. The position of underboss was empty.
The heavy, maroon draperies were drawn over the window behind the desk, and all the table lamps were illuminated. It was long past dark, but still the closed drapes had the effect of making the large space seem oppressively close. The silence among the men assembled didn’t ease that impression.
Nick sat in an armchair facing his uncle’s desk across a long, low table. Fred and the other capos sat on the sofas. And they waited for Ben to speak.
His uncle was tired. His normally baggy eyes seemed doubly so on this terrible night, and they were rheumy and red-rimmed. Nick knew that his father and uncle had been close even by the standards of close-born brothers who’d worked side by side their whole lives. But it was more than losing Lorrie that made his uncle so weary. For nearly eighteen months, the Pagano Brothers had been embroiled in battle after battle to preserve their place in their world. The random months of truce only seemed to be dulling Ben’s edge more quickly, making him slower to respond each time the war fired up again.
Since Alvin Church had announced his offensive two autumns ago, by killing Fred’s nephew and nearly killing Nick’s cousins Luca and John, the Paganos had beaten back every attack. The effort had taken a toll in all parts of their world—family hurt, business impaired, scrutiny from every level of law—and Ben, who was closing fast on eighty, had grown tired and dull.
Nick saw it. He knew others did, too. And now his father, who had grown tired and dull himself, was dead because the Paganos could not shut down Alvin fucking Church and his bullshit band of associates.
Not could not. Would not. The Paganos were on the defensive, and had been since the first shot across their bow, because Ben and Lorrie had refused to fight the war they were in. They fought the war they thought it should have been. They thought they were ‘going to the mattresses’ with these sons of bitches. But this wasn’t a family war. This was a gutter war.
And now Nick’s father was dead. Shot on his own front lawn and left for Nick’s mother to find.
Uncle Ben cleared his throat and began speaking. At first, he didn’t look up; he stared at his hands, which were folded on the blotter in front of him.
“This is a dark, sad night. It should not be a night for business, and my home is not a place for business. I want to mourn my brother. I want to bring his wife comfort.” He looked up and scanned the faces of this part of his family. “But we have no choice. There is business that must be done. The loss of Lorrie is greater than family. He was my right hand for more than fifty years. Our business can’t run unless we fill the hole he left.”
Nick looked to his right and his left at the men ranked high enough in the borgata to be part of this discussion. Julie Nicci and Dom Addario had been capos for years. Decades. Both were old school, as his uncle was. Either of them would serve Don Pagano in the way he wanted—they would work to preserve the world the Pagano Brothers had built and strengthened all their lives.
Julie was the steadier of the two. Dom tended to fray along his edges and lose control of his temper; Nick had cleaned up his messes a few times. It should be Julie.
Actually, Nick thought, it should be him. This organization needed fresh blood. They needed someone who would see the world as it was. But he and his Uncle Ben had not been seeing eye to eye since Church had first raised his head. With every injury, every hit they took, every retaliation it was Nick’s job to deliver, every turn around this endless goddamn cycle, Nick became more infuriated and less reserved in showing it.
And Julie and Dom both hated Nick. They kept it buttoned up around the don, but Nick knew perfectly well that they saw him as a young turk who’d jumped to his position early because he was a Pagano.
That was bullshit, of course. Nick had earned his position in other people’s blood. For more than twenty years, he’d been the one who would do anything, handle any problem, clean up any mess, find anyone, get any answer, no matter what. He was up to his shoulders in blood.
Uncle Ben continued, “We don’t have the luxury to wait and mourn Lorrie decently before we open the books. I need a right hand, and I need it now.”
Julie and Dom both stirred in their seats, subconsciously jockeying for position, consciously preparing to hear the don say one of their names. Nick—who, by the nature of his job as enforcer, assassin, and interrogator, had become a student of all manner of communication—watched them closely.
“I need fresh eyes at my side. I need someone I can trust to see the future, because my own future grows short and dim. So I name Nick to succeed his father as underboss.”
The old man had perhaps at last seen reason. Too bad it had taken the loss of his blood brother to clear his eyes.
There were no shouts of outrage, no murmurs of protest. Tired though he might be, old though he was, Ben Pagano commanded respect. But Julie and Dom turned from him to Nick, and then they let their shock and displeasure show, in the slack set of their jaws and the deep creases in their brows. Fred quietly sat and took in the show.
Nick, for his part, ignored them all and simply nodded, focused on his uncle. “Thank you, Uncle. I’ll do my father proud. And you, as well. Of course.”
Ben nodded, too. “I know you will. We’ll celebrate when the time is better for it. For now, I give you a day to think before you offer a name to replace you as capo.”
“I don’t need a day, Uncle. I name Brian. Brian Notaro.”
That got the shouts of outrage and protest. Even Ben’s impressive, white eyebrows went up.
Julie said, “No! Don, I don’t agree. Brian is not capo material.”
Dom shouted, “He’s half-blooded! It’s an outrage even to offer his name.” He swiveled back to Nick. “Who do you think you are?”
Nick held his eyes and spoke calmly. “Your boss. I’m your boss now, Dom. Watch your tongue.”
Dom blinked. And then he shut up.
Julie, calmer, pushed again. “All respect, Don Pagano, to you and to Nicolo”—Nick smirked a little at the transparent attempt to show additional respect and connection by using his Italian name—“But Brian is not full-blooded. No one has risen higher than soldier without tracing his full history back to Italia. Brian is a good soldier, a real earner, but his mother is—what? Polack?”
Nick’s smirk grew at the word Italia. The full body of Julie’s personal experience in the country of Italy was his two-week honeymoon thirty years ago. Brian’s mother was a European blonde of one kind or another. Her maiden name was Polish, yes. But the point was irrelevant in Nick’s eyes, and he didn’t answer Julie’s question. He said nothing at all.
“Julie has a point, Nick,” Uncle Ben finally said. “Make your case.”
Julie and Dom both gaped at his uncle. Even unflappable Fred looked shocked. Nick, too, was surprised that his uncle had not simply shot him down. Now, he spoke. “Brian has been with us as long as I have. We were made together. He’s been my right hand. He knows my work better than anyone. He can step into the role I filled and not miss a beat. No one has my trust like Brian. He should have the trust of every man in this room. I don’t care where his mother’s family came from. His name is Notaro. He has blood ties. And he is ready to bathe in blood so you don’t have to. That’s what we do.”
“Not you anymore, Nick.” Uncle Ben’s voice was low. “As your father rose above, so now do you.”
Nick shook his head. “I’m sorry, Uncle. I want my father’s shooter. And I want Church. I’m rolling up my sleeves until Church is done. If I can’t do that and stand at your side, then maybe Julie is your better choice.”
Everybody turned back to Ben. He stared across the room at Nick, and for several moments during which the tension was literally audible, in the rustle of fabric over shifting bodies, in the rasp of deep breaths, and in the solid tick of the mantle clock, the room held and waited.
“There’s no one better to gain vengeance for your father. And you deserve that respect. But I want you at my side. Stand with me with your sleeves up until that work is done. But to name Brian capo is to change our world too much. Take the day, bring another name, or I will name someone myself.”
Julie and Dom relaxed on the sofa, somewhat mollified that one offense had not been topped by another. Nick, however, was not mollified. Brian was his best friend—more than that, in the borgata, he was worth ten of Julie and Dom. He was smart, he was steady, and he was loyal as hell. That he couldn’t rise above the rank of soldier because his mother was a blue-eyed blonde European mutt—that was old bullshit. The kind of old bullshit that was going to bring the Pagano Brothers down.
Someday, Nick would be don. When he was, real change would happen.
But now, he would mourn his father.
And then he would avenge him.
~ 1 ~
Nick woke and eased a slender arm off his chest. He stood and stretched, then went to his bureau and pulled out a pair of track pants. He stepped into them as he walked out to his kitchen. He could already smell the coffee his coffeemaker had started brewing ten or so minutes before.
As he reached up to get a mug out of the cupboard, he caught a look at his hand and pulled back. He still had blood around the edges of his nail beds. He’d washed, he’d thought thoroughly, several times since he’d been in a situation to get blood on his hands.
Standing there in his kitchen with his hand on the cupboard pull, he thought about his life in the hours since he’d had his hand in a man’s guts. The afternoon with his mother. A family party to send his cousin Carmen off to Maine with her man and their baby girl. And the night with Vanessa.
Nick used gloves when he did wetwork, of course, and he did what he could to minimize mess, but yesterday’s work had been particularly wet. The mess had been all over his hands and arms by the time he’d stripped out of his protective gear. It had been years, though, since he left a job like that with any trace of it lingering on him. He fucking hated for one side of his life to cross over into the other. Bringing another man’s blood into his mother’s house? Around his family? Into his own bed?
He closed the cupboard door and went to the sink to scrub his hands until they were red and shiny, digging deep around his cuticles until he was sure he was clean. No longer in the mood for coffee or breakfast, he went around the counter to the living room and grabbed his smokes from the table near the front door. Then he went out onto the balcony.
The day was still young, and so was spring, and the sky was heavy with clouds, so the sea breeze off the water was on the brisk side. Nick took a deep breath, letting the chill and the salt air clean out the gunk in his head. He let it out with a cough; he didn’t smoke nearly enough to hack up a lung every morning the way his father had, but he felt the effects occasionally.
Felt them, and ignored them. He lit a smoke now, needing the calm it brought, and looked out over the beach to watch the morning waves roll up and back. The ocean fascinated Nick—not like it did his cousins, though. They were all of them surfers and sailors and beach bums, constantly throwing some party or another on the sand, always out ‘getting wet,’ as they called it. Nick had never been into any of that. He was active in other ways.
He’d bought this seaside condo not because he wanted quick access to the beach so he could surf or dive or whatever. What he wanted was proximity to the power of the sea—the roar and crash of the surf, the vast miles to the horizon, the blow of storms at his windows. He stood on his balcony on a morning like this, with his head dark and his thoughts snarled, and felt an elemental kinship with the ocean. Maybe that was arrogant, maybe it was delusional; maybe it was just absurd. But it was nonetheless true.
The ocean was a place of darkness and mystery, full of predators and secrets, and infinitely deep.
He didn’t sail, but he had a cabin cruiser he took out frequently, sometimes even recreationally. More often, though, he had business to conduct out in the deep. That was what the ocean was to Nick: a place that swallowed secrets and fed beasts.
Movement on the sand broke his reverie, and he shifted his eyes from the horizon and the overcast sky down to the beach. A group of six—no, seven—people, all women but one, were arrayed on the flat sand near the tideline, standing on long, narrow mats in various colors. He hadn’t noticed them when he’d first come out, but he knew who, or at least what, they were—a yoga class organized by the condo committee. They’d started doing their thing on the beach the week before. A group of granola-eaters doing some kind of tantric voguing didn’t hold much interest for Nick, so he hadn’t done more before today than register their existence. But this morning, his mind was feeling mired and indolent, and he was slow to shift his attention away. He watched them for several minutes, his focus moving from one body to the next. A couple of the women were slender and lithe, moving their bodies with obvious ease and expertise. A couple were heavyset and struggling to follow the leader.
The women all seemed vaguely familiar; Nick was sure he’d seen them in or around the building, though he made a practice of not becoming overly involved or familiar with his neighbors. A civil nod when they passed in the hall or the lobby, that was all. Considering the work that he did, it was better to be mysterious and aloof. His father and Uncle Ben had not been pleased that he’d bought a condo instead of a free-standing house; they thought the privacy in his building insufficient. But Nick wanted a low-maintenance life, and he liked the contained space of the beachfront condo building, built just beyond the Quiet Cove town limit and outside the jurisdiction of the rigid zoning laws that insisted every building in town be three hundred years old or look like it was.
The unfamiliar man flailing on his mat drew Nick’s attention. What an oaf. Probably a new resident; there had been a couple of units on the market recently. Nick read him as there for no reason other than the hookup potential. Considering that he looked like a circus clown parody of yoga, Nick knew that potential was significantly less than the guy probably thought.
His attention finally moved to the leader, and her, Nick placed clearly. She lived across the hall from him, and her name was…Evelyn? Kimberly? Something old-fashioned like that. He only knew that much because she had insisted on introducing herself when she moved in a while back. A year ago, maybe. When they passed in the hall, she smiled brightly, and chirped, “Hi, Nick!” every time, needing, and getting, no encouragement from him.
She had a beautiful smile, though, one of those brilliant, toothpaste-commercial smiles that made her whole face glow and always seemed sincere. He’d grown to enjoy meeting her in the hallway, but they still hadn’t said more than ten distinct words to each other.
Before today, he wouldn’t have been able to describe anything more than her face, but now, with the beach between them, he took her in more completely. Her top was dark pink and low cut; he could see her cleavage clearly, despite the distance. She was heavier than he’d expected—no, heavy was the wrong word. Curvy, maybe that was right. She had hips and tits.
She said something to her group and then turned to face the water. Nick tended to like his women willowy, but something about what’s-her-old-fashioned-name’s ass in her snug black pants caught his interest enough that his cock stirred. Maybe it was the way she was stretched on her yellow mat, with her legs straight out at both sides. The woman was limber, definitely.
The door behind him slid open. “Baby, what are you doing out here?” His comare, Vanessa Morgan, stepped out, wearing his shirt from last night. Nick stubbed out his cigarette in the ashtray on the small round table at his side. He didn’t smoke inside his home or his SUV, and he rarely smoked around people.
“Nessa. Don’t call me ‘baby.’” Nick grabbed a fistful of his shirt and pulled her to him. She came easily and wrapped her long arms around his bare waist. Vanessa was willowy. Tall, blonde, and so slender his hands could meet around her waist, she was a model trying to break beyond the New England market and into the New York big time.
Nick didn’t tap random pussy like most of his guys did. He liked to have a woman. He thought of himself as a serial monogamist, even before he’d been named capo. Since then, though, it was minimum expectation; his uncle believed that members of the administration should be role models for the men who worked for them, and he believed that family stability was a role they should model. That Nick was forty-five and unmarried was cause enough for consternation; he’d damn well better at least have a regular woman on his arm.
The woman he was putting on his arm these days, and for the past few months, leaned her head on his chest. “Coffee’s ready. Do you want me to make you breakfast?”
Nick slid his hand over the soft silk of her long, gold hair. “No. I’ve got an early meeting. I’ll grab a slug of coffee on my way to the shower. You should get going.”
She kissed his nipple, and he closed his eyes, enjoying the sensation, but irritated that she was trying to distract him. “Can I shower with you?”
He set her away, gentle but firm. “Not today, Ness. I need some time to myself this morning.”
She pouted just long enough to strum his nerves, but then she nodded. “Okay. I’ll get moving. I have a call at ten, anyway.”
“I’ll call you later.” He caught her before she turned away, one hand around the back of her neck, and pulled her close again for a kiss. When her arms snaked up over his shoulders, he set her away again. “Have a good day.”
Though she was clearly unhappy with him, she muttered, “You, too,” and went back inside.
Nick stayed on the balcony until he heard the front door open and close. The time might be approaching to end things with Vanessa. He had no interest in more than this with her, or with any woman, and he could smell the need for more coming on her.
On the books and in reality, since his father’s death two months earlier, Nick was Chief Operating Officer at Pagano Brothers Shipping. About thirty hours of each week he spent doing that legitimate work. Off the books, and for most of the rest of his waking hours, his work was different but also the same. Replacing his father as underboss and Uncle Ben’s right hand, he oversaw the daily operations of the shipping company and every other Pagano Brothers interest.
Usually, he, Uncle Ben, and Fred met at lunch for their daily meeting; in the past few years, as he neared eighty, Ben had slowed down in the morning and didn’t, as a rule, get to the office before ten unless there was strong cause to be there earlier. Nick knew that the old man was coping with debilitating arthritis and preferred to keep his morning hours private, until the stiff weakness he felt after waking had eased and he could walk with his back and shoulders straight.
This morning, though, he’d wanted an earlier meeting. The previous day had been too full of blood family obligations for more than a quick ‘job’s done’ update, and he’d put Nick off when he’d said he had good intel. Now, he wanted a full briefing.
When Jimmy Lupo, his driver and bodyguard, knocked on his office door and leaned in to let him know it was time, Nick closed his laptop and went down the hall to Ben’s office.
Fred was already there, sitting in one of the red leather chairs in front of Ben’s desk. He stood when Nick came in.
“Morning, Nick. New suit? Sharp.”
In a habitual gesture that he always noticed himself doing but couldn’t seem to stop, Nick tugged lightly on the French cuff of his white shirt, bringing it out from the sleeve of his Armani suit coat—midnight blue, three button. It wasn’t a new suit, though, and it would have been difficult to tell if it were. All his suits were Armani, all of them midnight blue except his tuxedo. Some, like this one, were pinstriped. Though he didn’t always wear a tie, and wasn’t wearing one now, he dressed for business.
“No, Fred. Not new. But thanks. And good morning.” Before he sat in the other chair in front of the desk, he extended his hand across it and shook with the don. “Good morning, Uncle.”
“Nick. You left the party early last night.”
Nick loved his Uncle Carlo, and his cousins, too. He would certainly do everything he could to keep them safe—and he had. But he didn’t enjoy their company much. He felt a wide distance between him and them, between their family and his. They spoke of the family ‘on the other side of the pews’—meaning the Pagano Brothers—and he heard the word ‘wrong’ when they said ‘other.’ There was judgment in the distinction they made. He’d felt it as a child, and he felt it more keenly as an adult. They knew who he was in the organization, what he did, and they judged him. He didn’t care, but he felt it. So he stayed on the edges and watched.
He’d always felt isolated among his generation of the family. Uncle Ben’s girls, much closer to his own age, had been silly, frilly little princesses as children. They’d each left the Cove as soon as they’d graduated high school, going away to college and then marrying and leaving for good. Carlo Sr.’s children, though substantially younger than Nick, had at least been more fun, until they were old enough to make that distinction and see themselves as the better Paganos. His own siblings, an older sister and a younger brother, had both died in earliest infancy. While his cousins had all grown up in bustling, busy homes, Nick had grown up in a nearly empty house. He didn’t care, but it made him different. So he stayed on the edges.
And left parties early.
He answered his uncle as he sat. “Yes. Met up with Vanessa.”
“You should bring her more often. It’s good for family to see you with someone.”
Choosing to ignore that statement rather than be derailed into a conversation about his sliver of a personal life, Nick said, “Landers talked at length before we were done with him. He gave us Jackie Stone. If we can take Stone out of the equation, then that’s the last line between us and Church.”
In the past two months, Nick and his crew had located, secured, questioned, and disposed of seven men who had worked for Alvin Church or one of his affiliates in the collective of up-jumped street rats trying to take the Paganos down. Three drivers. Four shooters. The men who killed his father, and the men who shot up the funeral, killing three Pagano associates, nearly killing Nick’s cousin Carmen and her then-unborn daughter, and injuring five other people, three of whom were civilians. His interrogations of those seven men had brought him to Raymond Landers, one of Church’s affiliates, an aimless asshole who’d been little more than a pusher with a good corner two years earlier and had lately been strutting around Lower South Providence in a customized Benz and five-hundred dollar jeans. He’d soiled those jeans more than once before Nick and Brian were done with him. Now, that Benz had been chopped into anonymity, and Landers had, too.
Before he’d gone, though, he’d thrown out a nugget of intel that could finally break apart this band of assholes—he’d given them a way to flip or neutralize Church’s main ally.
“What do you mean, he gave us Jackie Stone?”
“Landers gave us the location of a big handoff with Stone and his supplier. We interrupt that, and we compromise the fuck out of Stone.”
Ben winced at Nick’s language but didn’t comment on it. “His supplier—you mean drugs. Out of where?”
“You know where, Uncle, and it’s no matter. I’m not suggesting we take on his business. I know your feelings, and I share them. I’m saying we disrupt it.”
At his side, Fred leaned forward, making his big belly rest on his legs. “It’s risky, Nick. A lot of our relationships with law are balanced on our agreement to stay clear of drugs. Even being anywhere near a drop like that could hurt us.”
Nick breathed deep and kept his eyes on the don. “Uncle. If we can get in the middle here, there’s a good chance that one of two things will happen—either the Colombians kill Stone for us, or Stone needs us to get out of trouble. The balance of Church’s power goes to hell either way. We could end this—end Church and end any question of who runs New England.”
Ben’s eyes moved from Nick’s, and he stared at a point between Nick and Fred for several seconds. When he spoke, he did so without shifting his focus to either man. “When’s Stone’s meet?”
“Ten days. Near Danbury.”
“That’s a long way from home. Not our neighborhood.”
“Take it to The Council. Ask for help from the Marconis. It’s in all the families’ interest to shut Church down. We’re already taking heat from the others for not getting control of it yet.”
At that, Ben’s eyes returned to Nick and blazed, but Nick was undeterred. “It’s true, Uncle. Eighteen months, Church has been biting at our ankles, and he’s done us real damage. Innocents are getting hurt. Our businesses are taking hits. My father is dead, and they shot up his funeral. The other families are watching, and they know that if Church wins, if he takes down the biggest family in The Council, it changes their games, too. The families have been at peace and allied for more than ten years. They are our friends. We need to ask for their help before they become our enemies.”
Nick could feel Fred’s tension, but he didn’t turn to him. He kept his eyes on his uncle. But Ben didn’t speak. When he sat back in his deep desk chair, his eyes still locked with Nick’s, Nick tried once more. “Uncle Ben. You have my love and deepest respect. Always. I know it hurts you to see that the world is not what it was. But I know you know I’m right. I know this is why you brought me to your side. Because I see. I’m telling you now what I see. We have to fight the war we’re in.”
At last, Ben nodded. With a heavy sigh that told Nick his uncle was finally beginning to crack under the pressure of the life he’d made, the don turned to his consigliere. “Fred. Make the calls. Ask to convene The Council.”
©2014 Susan Fanetti