Ninkita was kind enough to beta this one, also, and Ceceprincess (well, in her own way) and Mana Liz pre-read.
Here's my true Mobward. So, let's discuss before you start:
**This is not Mobward-lite. Expect death, destruction and illegal activity. The only lives I will assure are ExB.
**Don't expect instant love; they're nowhere in the vicinity.
**Edward is a pretentious asshole who likes nice things and likes to tell you about it. He'll stay that way until he values other things more.
**I make every effort for you to know the gist of the Italian when they speak it but not always in direct quote. I hope that it's clear enough not to distract you. I love Italian speaking Edward, yum! Translations come from Google, but not always the translator. I've found a list slang phrases, also.
**I'll be posting 3 chapters for the rest of this week, and it'll be after Thrice Betrothed is finished before I get back here. A month or so, most likely. I did add 1100 words to the end, though.
**If you can handle all that, then read on :)
The steady thrum of music reverberates through the walls as I sit at Rose's desk, sipping my Glenfiddich and going over the club's income statement. Midnight Sun is a completely legit enterprise that I like to dangle in front of the Feds. They spend so much of their focus here that the rest of Chicago is like a wide-open playground.
A tap sounds at the door. "Come in." Setting my whiskey aside, I lean back and prop my feet on the desk.
A svelte fake-blonde slips inside and closes the door behind her. With a lift of her perfectly sculpted brow, I know exactly what she thinks of my relaxed position, but she won't dare say the words.
I chuckle. "Rose, can I help you?"
Her eyes narrow but only slightly. She's not a fucking fool. "Do you have time for an audition?"
I tilt my head and shrug. "I suppose I could make the time." Standing, I stalk around to the front of the desk and stand before her, picking a piece of lint from her red suit. "This one better fucking measure up, though. I have no interest in littering Midnight Sun with the trash you paraded before me last time."
"Y-yes, sir," she stutters as she backs away and hurries out the door.
I laugh to myself as I retake my seat. I like Rose—as much as I like anyone outside the Outfit—but it's imperative that she know her place. And that's subservient to me. She has one job, and it's to run this fucking club to the letter of the law. Otherwise, she's another useless twit with great legs.
Midnight Sun sets the standard for young and hip while providing the most self-indulgent atmosphere possible. Our dancers are displayed throughout the main floor on raised platforms. Both male and female bodies twirl in sinuous displays, completely lost to their own beat. Our patrons come because it's the place to be, but they stay for an experience unlike any other.
It's for this reason that I'm the only person who can approve someone for the floor. Our dancers aren't the average fifty-dollar-fucks you get at low-ball joints spread throughout town. I consider them to be artists, sculpting an erotic free-flowing masterpiece that's constantly evolving before our patrons' eyes. Our ultraviolet lighting, just perfectly placed, in combination with the heavy beat from the music creates a heady ambience as the backdrop to their performances.
I grab my whiskey and kill it before settling back at the desk and opening the small laptop. Just as I've gotten logged on, a small knock sounds before the door pops open and Rose peeks her head around the corner.
Lifting my hand, I flick two fingers, giving her the go-ahead to enter. She straightens and struts into the room with a scantily clad woman trailing behind her. After only a glance, I lift a dubious brow at Rose, but instead of appearing concerned, she simply passes the jump drive over and holds my stare.
When she finally looks away, because let's face it, she fucking better, I curl my lip and push the drive into the USB, instantly uploading all the information for this prospective artist straight to my younger brother, Emmett. By the time this audition is over, he'll know everything about this girl, down to her favorite color of nail polish.
Taking my time, I pour a fresh glass of whiskey and rock back in my chair. "What's your name?"
"Edward, this is Iz—"
My glass smacks against the desk as precious caramel liquid sloshes over the rim. "Did I ask your name, Rosalie?" The ice-cold barb is delivered with a scolding stare before I flick my eyes back to scrutinize the dancer.
Her whole demeanor screams small and scared—slumped shoulders, eyes to the floor, wringing hands. My expectations decline rapidly, but I refuse to pass judgment prematurely. I've seen excellent artists in the past whose only confidence lies in their performance. In real life they're timid and sometimes even clumsy.
A dark thought enters my mind, and I start across the room, stopping first as I tower over Rose. "You're dismissed."
With an encouraging grip of the young woman's arm, Rose meets my eyes and lifts her chin before strutting from the room. Her confident behavior perplexes me in a way that only piques my curiosity. Intrigued, I focus back on the woman of the hour.
Taking one long stride, I stand head and shoulders above her. The tension in her frame is obvious, but it isn't fear that I sense. It's defiance, strong and potent, that rolls off her small form in waves.
I smirk to myself and speak in a low, commanding voice. "What is your name?"
A deep breath is drawn and expelled before her voice rings through the silent space. "Izzy Star," she says, her dark eyes snapping up to meet mine.
The fury that rages within them is dangerous. For her. It would cost her life if she were to unleash it.
I hold her stare, cold and unaffected. "I didn't ask your stage name. Midnight Sun doesn't operate the way in which you might be accustomed." I lift a brow, daring her to open her pursed lips.
Rage, pure and unadulterated, flashes in her eyes, and she has to look away to conceal it. Smart girl. Surely Rosalie warned her of the dangers I pose.
With a deep, satisfied chuckle, I stalk back to the desk without further interaction. Lifting the remote, I push a button and a podium lifts from the floor as music and lights create a mini-replica of the main dance space, three floors below.
The stage is set; her clock is ticking down.
Though her head is turned in my direction, the darkness prevents me from seeing the anger I feel in her stare. I wave her off. "Save your indignation. Audition or get out."
Patience isn't my strong suit, and just before mine snaps to smithereens, her body starts moving. She begins by stretching her neck back and around, a slow movement meant to tantalize, but I'm completely immune to petty tricks. She'll need to do much better than this.
Slipping the small silk coverlet from her shoulders, she's up on the platform in one sudden move that's perfectly timed with the music that pulsates from the speakers. Her body is toned and sinful, but they always are. You don't come to Midnight Sun looking for a position unless you have skill, it's an unspoken rule. My rule, but word gets out.
I chuckle at my own thoughts, and focus back on the woman poised against the center prop. Okay, it's a fucking pole, but I don't like the term nor the cheap implication, and no one dares to refute me, so a prop it is.
As the notes expand and fill the room, her body seems to absorb them. Fluid and elegant, she bursts into movement as if the music is emanating from her very pores. The sway of her hips, though something I've seen a thousand times, is mesmerizing, and her goddamn legs ... they go on forever.
My eyes rove over her, eager to drink in every slight fluctuation as the ultra-violet light makes her skin glow in the dark space. Methodically, she breaks through my every barrier as she caresses skin that I ache to feel under my fingertips. With every dip, swerve and undulation, she puts her art on full display, and I'm goddamn hypnotized.
My normally unresponsive cock has now swelled in my Armanis, and my lower lip is trapped between my teeth. "What the fuck?" I mumble to myself as I release the tender flesh and take several deep, even breaths. "Datti un contegno," I growl, needing to get ahold of myself.
I avert my eyes from the sinful display and clench my jaw. It pisses me off to have this reaction. I'm not some fucking fourteen-year-old virgin seeing a pair of tits for the first time.
I'm the fucking Underboss of the Chicago Outfit.
What's worse, I can't stop my eyes from slipping back to her tantalizing display. I slam my hands on the desk, but she doesn't react. On and on she continues taunting me with her allure, cementing my traitor eyes to her seductive movements.
When I'm on the brink of putting a bullet through her head, the music finally comes to a stop and the room brightens, breaking the spell. She's just an average artist again, and the relief settles in almost immediately—for all pertinent body parts.
The room is silent of everything except her small puffs as she works to regulate her breathing. I use the quiet minutes to compartmentalize whatever the fuck just happened. By the time I'm ready to address her, I've convinced myself that I just need to get laid.
With unchecked anger still simmering below the surface, I pin her with a lifted brow. "Your name?" I state in a tone that leaves no room to misinterpret the demand.
When she stays silent, I stand, my chair flying backward at least three feet, and stalk toward her. "Let's get one thing clear," I say as I move across the room to tower over her. "If you want to work for my club, you'll learn some fucking respect. So give me your name or get the fuck out."
"Bella," comes the small voice before dark, deep eyes rise to meet mine. "My name is Bella."
I lift a strand of her chestnut hair, marveling at the softness as it glides between my fingers "Well, Bella," I emphasize to be a smart ass. "You do know who I am, right?"
The defiance that flashes in her eyes causes my cock to twitch. Anger surges through me, and I wrap her hair in my fist. "You'd do well to keep that hidden. Your audition was flawless, but you'll lose more than a job if you disrespect me again." I take a deep breath, inhaling the musky scent that rolls from her body, and release her, turning to storm from the room.
As the slam of the door echoes behind me, Rosalie jumps from where she was leaned against the wall. "Edward, you scared me half to death," she screeches, her hand on her chest as she takes deep breaths.
I stop, my fingers automatically gripping the tousled mess atop my head. "Pay attention next time," I snap, and then I start pacing like a caged animal.
After several glorious beats of silence, a huff draws my attention to Rose. She's standing there with her arms crossed and her eyebrow hiked high.
"What!" I snarl as I struggle to get my irrational anger under control.
"Nothing," she answers easily as she brings her hand up to study her nails. "Is Izzy hired, or should I send her home?"
I almost growl at the fucking stage name. "Fine!" I huff and step closer, my face menacing. "But if she's a fuck up, it's on you." With a jab to her chest, I turn and storm to the waiting elevator, using my fingerprint to travel down to the lowest depths.
The ride is smooth and calming as I work to regain my composure. When the doors open, I stride out, following the narrow pathway that connects this building to my own. After using my fingerprint to unlock a titanium reinforced door, I inhale the scent of concrete and the faint trace of burnt rubber. My lips lift at the corners.
"Mr. Cullen." Demetri, the trusted guard of my most treasured possessions, seems nonplussed by my unexpected appearance. "Do you have a particular vehicle in mind?"
I smirk. He knows me so well. "I'm headed to the warehouse; surprise me." I shrug, and he retreats into the small cement room.
After removing my Armani jacket, I roll the sleeves of my white shirt to my elbows, intent on ignoring the incessant vibrations coming from my phone.
"Here you are, sir," Demetri says as he returns with a key ring. "A most appropriate vehicle for a night such as this."
I chuckle as I take the key to my Range Rover. "Thank you, Demetri. This will be perfect." I toss him my jacket. "Save that for when I return."
I start for the neat row of carefully selected vehicles. Each step I take soothes me more and more. Pride swells as I pass my first purchase; a fully custom 1969 GTO convertible. A pang of sadness flits through me when I see the yellow Porsche—a gift for Alice, who's sadly no longer able to enjoy it. My thighs ache to grip my unrestricted 1999 Suzuki Hayabusa GSXR 1300, and my hands itch with the need to shift all seven gears of my Lamborghini Aventador.
As I slip into the Rover, I smile at the plastic that covers the driver's seat and floorboard. Demetri's been with the family since I was a boy, and he's one of my most trusted, competent made men. It almost feels as if he should be doing more, but I nix that thought when I think of anyone else touching my babies.
Before I pull out, my eyes stray back to the Busa, and I promise myself that it'll get a ride later tonight. Right now, I need to work out some frustrations, and what better way than to make a rat squeak?
When I arrive at the dilapidated brick building nestled into a dark corner near Lake Michigan, there's not a soul in sight. The sky overhead is pitch black with no moon to shine on my wicked deeds. The door whines in protest as I push it open, and the smell of stale dust and mildew fills my lungs.
A shiver runs through me, but it's the fucking good kind. The quiver of anticipation you get right before opening the throttle, releasing so much power that you're not sure if you can handle it until the moment is upon you.
Quietly, I use my key ring flashlight to slip through the dark interior, my Salvatore Ferragamos not making a sound. When I hear a noise, I step around a corner and pull out my piece. Clumsy footsteps follow a wide beam from a flashlight. I jump out and tighten my forearm around the idiot's throat, my barrel up against his temple.
"Make one move and you're dead," I say in a low growl.
"Boss?" comes the reply, and I roll my eyes, loosening my arm and pushing the body away.
"Ya fucking idiot! Guardi dove va!" I snap, telling Aro to watch where he's going. "I thought you were in charge around here." I widen my arms to the ruined building around us. "I could've been anybody sneaking in!"
"Sorry, Boss. I was just going out for a smoke," he says with a shrug. "I wasn't expecting ya here."
I cock my gun and point it at him. "Well maybe you won't care if I take you out right now, then?"
His eyes widen so far I can see the whites glowing. Shaking his head rapidly, he falls at my feet and wraps his arms around my legs. "Don't kill me, Boss. I'll quit smoking, I swear."
I pinch the bridge of my nose and look upward, my patience already on a knife's edge. Aro is one of my Caporegimes, along with his brothers Marcus and Caius, and while he's good at running a crew, he absolutely has a fucking screw loose. While Marcus is cool and calm, and Cauis has a mean streak, Aro's neither. He goes about life as if he lives in another realm, completely wrapped up in his own head, but he's effective. His crew are my highest earners.
Not wanting to ice a Capo, I breathe deeply and let it roll off my shoulders before kicking my legs out of his grip and moving away. "Get the fuck up, and take me to the rat."
Instead of going to the basement like I expect, Aro leads me up four flights of stairs and into an old corner office. Two of his soldiers guard a pathetic form, zip-tied to a chair, naked, aside from his cheap tighty-whities.
My eyes narrow as they scrutinize the associate who flipped and sent one of Aro's soldiers up the river. The anger from earlier returns, seeping into my blood and soaring through my limbs. Pure adrenaline rushes through my muscles as they coil tight with barely repressed energy.
I walk over and kick the snitch in the shin. He reacts with a loud scream as he lifts his drooping head, but it's immediately obvious the second he realizes who's standing before him. His eyes almost pop out of his fucking head.
"Jacob Fucking Black," I say, kicking his shin again, just because I like hearing him yell. "You're one lucky motherfucker to get my personal attention. Sporco cazzo di ratto." At me calling him a dirty fucking rat, Aro erupts into a belly-shaking laugh.
I pin him with murderous eyes. "Sta 'zitto."
He does as I tell him and shuts the fuck up, while I focus back on Jacob. Usually an offense such as this would be dealt with solely by Aro, but tonight I have some misplaced anger to unleash. And who the fuck knows, maybe I can make him squeak before I whack him.
Cracking my knuckles, I reach down and pull a knife from my Zimmerili Cashmere socks and flick open the blade, a sinister smirk aimed at the traitor. My steps are slow and measured as I approach him, the fear in his eyes feeding the monster inside me.
I reach up and push the blade into his forehead, digging a crevice across it, reveling in the blood that pools and runs into his eyes. His body starts struggling, twisting and rocking, anything to escape the torture, but I haven't even fucking begun.
When his scream fills the silence, I turn to Aro. "Duct tape his mouth."
My Capo rubs his hands together swiftly. "I like yo style, man."
Even though I tolerate Aro's quirks, disrespect is unacceptable. I snatch him up by the front of his shirt. "Never call me man again," I grit, enunciating each word slowly. "I'm your fucking boss, and you'll do well not to forget it."
The fear that flashes in his eyes is unmistakable, as it should be. On a night like tonight, a comment like that could cost him his life. "Now get the fucking tape." I shove him away and turn back to the blood-covered man in the chair.
Pacing before him, I wait as Aro loops the tape around his head. "You know, Jacob," I start absently, "I might be willing to give you a chance to die quickly. You could talk now and skip the incessant torture you're about to endure."
He starts shaking his head rapidly, which is no surprise. It would've been a huge fucking letdown if he'd agreed so quickly. An almost sinister laugh bubbles inside me, the giddiness of what I'm about to do uncontainable.
Stepping closer, I push the knife against where his palm and thumb connect and meet his eyes as I press down. His muffled screams are the only sound as I rock the blade back and forth, severing his thumb completely and thumping it to the floor.
"Torch." It's the only word I utter, but this time, Aro snaps into motion, hurriedly lighting the butane flame and passing it over.
I move it around in front of the snitch's face, allowing him to hear the powerful roar of the fire before I point it at his bleeding appendage. His skin sizzles and shrivels as the smell of burning flesh fills the air. His agonizing screams are cloaked by duct tape, and the monster in me rejoices.
By the time I get to his fourth finger, his eyes plead with me to ask the question again. But I'm too far gone; the evil motherfucker that I keep contained has been released. Instead, I pull a sawed-off shotgun from the harness on my chest and push it against his knee, pulling the trigger.
The flesh explodes from the blow and blood splatters everywhere. Repulsed by the red specks that dot my white Brunello Cucinelli button up, I step back and take several deep breaths, the monster fading.
"Rimuovere il nastro adesivo," I order, and watch as Aro unwinds the tape, pulling it off with chunks of hair still attached.
The rat is barely conscious, so I kick him in the shin, right below the knee I just blew to hell. A scream fills the air, but his angry eyes snap to mine. "Just fucking kill me, Cullen."
"Not until you tell me what I want to know," I say calmly. "We can continue our games or you can die with a little dignity."
He has the audacity to laugh, but it sounds slightly deranged. "You call spilling my guts dignity?"
I walk over and lean down to look him in the eye. The smell of singed wood and burnt flesh fill my nose. "Dignity is returning to your roots, righting a wrong you committed. You ratted on someone in the family. You owe a debt. The least you could do is tell me how they got to ya."
"And you'll put a bullet in my head?" he asks, a spark of hope lighting his eyes.
I nod once. "I'll blow your fucking brains out."
"What do ya wanna know?"
I take a step back and start pacing. "How'd they get to ya, and what do they know?"
With a heavy groan, he says, "Special Agent Swan."
My brows lift at this interesting development. Special Agent Swan is the head of the Organized Crime unit here in Chicago, and his target has been painted on my family for decades. I didn't even think he worked the field anymore, much less to go after small-time associates and soldiers.
"One of his men had Tyler under surveillance and caught a couple of buys between us on film." He pauses to catch his breath, and I briefly consider Tyler, a soldier I grew up with, who's doing a dime now thanks to this snitch. "Instead of using it to go after Tyler, Agent Swan came at me. Ya gotta understand, he threatened my wife. So for the next buy, I wore a wire."
I bark an incredulous laugh. "And you never considered that the Outfit would come looking for retribution?"
"Agent Swan told me he had it under control. He swore I could go back to my life and no one would come after me," Jacob says between heavy pants, and the funny thing is, I actually believe him.
"That's it? He didn't want you to work for him, get more info?" I ask, already suspecting that Agent Swan has another motive, an angle I'm unable to see right now.
"That's it, I swear," he says. "Kill me. Please."
"Where's ya wife?" I ask instead.
He starts shaking his head rapidly. "Please, no. No. I only did it for her in the first place. Please."
I pull out a Glock from my waistband and aim it at his head. "Ci vediamo all'inferno," I say, telling him I'll see him in hell as I pull the trigger.
Gathering my weapons, I turn to Aro. "Get this sorted, then find his wife and offer our condolences."
Thank you for reading!
See you tomorrow :)