Chapter 1: One Murky Evening Saturday 1st September 1948.
The day had been warm and sunny, with a welcomed brightness brought to the city. As the sun set, the temperature rapidly dropped, the cloudy sky brought with it a fine drizzly mist. The dreary weather would be unlikely to put people off from their usual weekend activities and escapades. Regardless, there was still an uneasiness in the air to those who were looking hard enough. Or was that merely just a touch of paranoia?
The Fox's Den was open as usual, with Saturday being its busiest night. Although he wasn't there yet himself, Vinnie has asked Monte, Fortuna and Giovanni to meet him there that evening. Apparently he wanted to toast another anniversary to the end of the war, but he would no doubt be more interested in discussing future business ventures than celebrating past victories.
The Emerald Irish Pub was open and just about filled with friends of the Sullivans. Conor was working behind the bar, serving both the customers and himself. He usually started his evenings there before heading off out to other clubs and venues.
The Whistler Jazz Club was a classy establishment and one that was considered neutral territory. The ageing manager was friendly with all, and there was a natural understanding between him and the gang bosses that the place would remain untouched. Both Sinead and Dylan would be performing with the band that evening.
Chicago Police Department was relatively quiet for the poor souls who were working on a Saturday evening. Other than the standard criminals and thugs causing slight bother, there was nothing big to report. Good. Everyone could enjoy their evening...
Another boring day in the CPD, as usually usual. Benny was behind a fine oak desk reviewing some of the evidence from a recent case that may be traced back to Vinnie and his posse of reckless thugs ruining the good streets of Chicago. You see, Benny worked in the Organised Crime department of the CPD's detective branch. It was his job to put mobsters like Vinnie behind cold iron bars, even if the evidence is too minimal to allow for a warranted investigation.
Ben always looked for a pattern between each crime. A detective's job here is to investigate the photos, the reports, and the minuet details that could be spared as resources. Other than staring blankly at a select few photographs, Benny had little to do that day. Sure, he could go over and bother Jon a bit for a bit of a laugh but that was getting too old now. Maybe later he'll check in at a local club to see if Dylan was gonna be up on the stage tonight. Maybe.
Benno reached for the draw to his desk. The contents within would be his Webley Mk VI, his Victoria Cross medal, and a couple books detailing the standard procedures that aught to be carried out in every investigation. Ben really had nothing to do.
Fortuna was strangely relaxed as she sat at the bar counter, her long legs and feet -showing off those spit-shine suave, black stiletto heels- were crossed as she leaned back on her stool, absentmindedly swirling a martini in one hand while the other rested on her lap. One could easily tell that her clothing was finely-made and quite expensive, immediately identifying her as a woman of high status.
Yes, Lady Luck did indeed look relaxed. Please notice the keyword: Look. But, of course, being the great hitwoman she was, not many could sense the emotions clouding her mind. She was growing a bit impatient. Her eyes flash towards the entrance for less than a second before looking back at the drink in her hand.
The Emerald Pub was starting to fill with energy as more customers began showing up. When one particular man, Jimmy, entered and headed towards the bar, a few sets of eyes fixed on him but nobody spoke up. With Conor grabbing some bottles from the cellar, Jimmy headed towards the red-headed barmaid and ordered a beer.
"Come on, Jimmy. You know I'm not allowed to serve you," the barmaid, Cassie, berated him and refused to take his money.
"You're pulling my leg," Jimmy said, in his strong Irish accent. "That was last week. Now get me a bloody beer."
Before Cassie had chance to respond, Conor returned to her side and pulled a comically confused face. "Didn't I bar this daft eejit last week?" he asked everyone, to which some replied with a confirming "yes". "You must think I'm gone in the head," he said grinning to Jimmy. He then turned to Cassie and chuckled. "Get Jimmy his drink," he told her. He then walked around the bar and stood next to Jimmy, towering the other man a fair bit.
"Thank you, Conor," Jimmy said, awkwardly returning the man's wide grin. "You know I didn't mean what I said about your sister. I was drunk," he explained. "She a beautiful girl and I would never look at her wrong or anything."
"I know you wouldn't, because I'll rip your eyes out if you do," Conor replied, laughing and smiling as he spoke. He watched as Cassie was pouring a pint for Jimmy and in the blink of an eye the smile left his face completely. "So, when I said you were barred, I can only assume you forgot." Before the other man had chance to respond, Conor grabbed the back of Jimmy's neck and slammed his forehead down hard against the wooden bar. He then took a step back and watched as the stunned man struggled to remain standing. "Would you look at that. You got barred again," he said, laughing at his own bad joke. "Now don't you fucking forget it. You're not allowed in this pub again." Conor motioned for a couple of his friends to throw the man out on the street. He then turned back to Cassie and reached out to accept the drink she was holding. "If Jimmy doesn't want it..." he trailed off and began drinking the beer.
Angel pushed open the doors, allowing the sounds of Chicago to flood the room; briefly disturbing the atmosphere. He allowed the door to close behind him as he looked over to the bar. Taking his hat off, he pressed it to his chest as he smiled down to Fortuna; offering her a nod of acknowledgement. He moved his hat to the hat rack, placing it on one of the many arms.
Angel strolled down to the bar, sitting directly next to Fortuna. He looked at the barmaid, giving her a smirk. "London Fog, please. Salt the edges and keep the lemon on the side." He slid a couple of bills across the bar to the barmaid. Angel then looked back at Fortuna. "Happy anniversary." He said, his smile reappearing.
“Ah damn. Danel! Martzel!” The two lanky men came quickly in from the back room. “Quit playing cards and do your jobs..” A few individuals gladly ushered themselves in. “What will it be tonight, Wilbert? Ok that Milwaukee ale and a lager for Greg.” She quickly went to work, hands flying at the taps and filling her hands with beer mugs for the table. Danel and Martzel went around, talking to the customers while also keeping an eye on the people inside. “Whiskey tonight, Toni? There you go.” As people came in, she made sure she all gav them either a short hello or a bit of small talk here and there. In reality, she was nervous about Vinnie. She had a bad feeling about tonight but she couldn’t put her finger on it. Then Angel walked in, and she was immediately able to put her finger on it.
Maite didn’t like Angel. He was grabby with Martzel’s wife, Jona, who helped Maite, wanted to pick fights with Danel and Martzel, and he was always making fancy drinks. Maite was more of a whiskey-beer-wine, simple drinks, kind of girl. “You know I have a name, Angel.” She began fixing his drink, and asked Jona to cover some of the other orders.
Maite also realized she didn’t see the Suited Man yet. She really did enjoy his company. She found him increasingly interesting. He had been coming since late June and she still didn’t know his name. Danel didn’t like him, but only because he thought he had the sweets for her.
Ander had volunteered to watch Terese that night, leaving only Danel and Martzel to man the floor. Literally. Usually the three of them made sure no one caused trouble, and if they did, there was the aptly named Blood Alley where they would beat them senseless, cover them in cheap alcohol, and leave them by the side of the road a few blocks down. But tonight he couldn’t. The bar had to, legally, be clean as a whistle. Nothing shady could go on while the Boss Romano was in the building. They’d just have to throw guys out like other bars did.
It was mostly for Maite that he did this. He himself was skeptical of Vinnie. Even though he was friends with his father, and treated them like family, they weren’t connected by blood or marriage, and Danel was always acutely aware of that when he was around Romanos. They were nice enough, laughed with him, had a beer or something harder with him. But he never had doubts that Ander or Martzel wouldn’t have his back. When someone isn’t family...you just can’t know.
And yet, Maite trusted Vinnie. She had a good sense of trusting the right people, and Danel accepted that. Besides, he wasn’t the brains of the operation. She was. She was the etxekoandre, the lady of the house. And her word was law.
Fortuna gave a slight nod of acknowledgement at his greeting. "To you as well." She responded, lips upturning into a seemingly pleasant smile. To most, at least.
Bringing her martini up to her wine-red painted lips, Fortuna finished the rest of her drink with a last few sips. Placing the empty glass onto the counter, she didn't bother with requesting for another round of liquor. She wasn't one to drink very often, anyway, even if it was for a celebration of some sort.
Angel, grasped the cocktail, half-looking at Maite. "Right, sorry, Madison." Angel said, clearly forgetting her name. He took a sip of the cocktail, grinning ear to ear. He then looked directly at Maite with a look of astonishment. "For a woman with a broad taste in alcohol, you sure mix a mean cocktail." He let out a chuckle, ignoring her unimpressed glare. Angel sighed, resting the glass on the table. He locked his gaze with Fortuna. "You look lovely tonight, Miss Stella. I know it's because of the occasion, but i'd like to think it's because i'm here." He let out another chuckle, reassuring his grip on his cocktail.
Monte Romano didn't particularly like the Azarolas bar, but nonetheless his father has asked him to head there, so regardless he attended what he assumed was a meeting of some sort. He pulled up to the bar in an sleek Lincoln Continental, getting out and straightening his cuffs and collar, running a hand through perfectly styled hair, as if it'd make him look any more rugged. No, Monte was a perfectionist, from white teeth and clean suits to clean kills. Though most couldn't tell he was a killer from his looks, those who knew him knew better. Monte preferred not to get his hands dirty but certainly knew how to do it right when he did. This, of course, was the upside to being the eldest son of a powerful gangster. Cracking his neck, Monte checked the guns hidden in his suit jacket quickly, striding into the bar with a confident swagger. He smiled at all the ladies, and as he made his way through the bar he shook hands and socialized, easing himself into the minds of several bargoers. He knew the façade was useless to some, who knew who he was, and liked or hated him. Well, like was subjective. Not many liked his cocky arrogance and ambitiousness, but he had gained respect. He wasn't just a pampered rich boy after all. Sitting on a barstool, Monte ordered a strong drink, rotating to face the whole bar scene while lighting a cigarette. He couldn't remember if they allowed it, but who cared anyway. They wouldn't kick him out. He watched with mild interest the interactions of people, arching a perfectly trimmed eyebrow at some interesting encounters. While a social man himself, he hadn't just learned to read people as well as he did from speaking. Hours spent silently sitting unnoticed in bars like these had given an edge over other people that few others could say they wielded. By a single crease at the corner of someone's mouth, he could tell they were sad, mad, happy. After just a few minutes watching, Monte turned back towards the bar, curiosity spent, and lost himself in a couple more drinks. It was always like his father to arrive fashionably late. Monte admired the man, but he held several qualities that the Romano son held distain for. This, however, he'd never made known, as since he was young he'd respected his father and his father's will. His head had always danced with dreams of taking over the Romano family gang and making his father proud.
Monte took another long drag of his cigarette before standing, having decided to immerse himself into the bar life. As he walked, a little trail of cigarette smoke danced around the legs of strangers before dispersing.
Vinnie had been at the church for the last hour, speaking with Father John Schofield in private. He'd known the priest for quite a few years and had been thanking him for his support when he first returned from the war. It was always good to have an impartial and honest man to speak with. It wasn't a confessional, as Vinnie wouldn't be so foolish, but he did often share personal experiences and thoughts with the religious man. It also happened that it paid well to have a person of his fine reputation on side.
As the two men walked along the street towards the Azarolas bar, Vinnie checked his watch and was glad to see he was right on time. It may seem to the others that he was late, but on this occasion, he'd given them a different time to meet to ensure they weren't late. It would likely be a surprise for everyone to see Vinnie enter the bar with the priest next to him, but they'd know not to question his motives in public. They walked straight to the bar, where Maite was serving. "Maite, darling," he said, flashing a warm smile in his niece's direction, "Father Schofield's drinks are on me," he said. He didn't hand her any cash, but she'd know not to ask for any. Vinnie then looked around the priest ordered a glass of gin. He was looking for someone specific and he soon found the man sat alone at a table in the corner. "Ricky is here," Vinnie told the priest and led him towards the solitary man. "Ricky, this is Father Schofield. I was telling him you're hoping to have your wedding in his church and needed to ask him some questions." Vinnie moved closer to the priest so he could mutter the next words. "He doesn't have a clue where to start. You could be here a while," he remarked, with a smirk. He would then leave the two men to discuss the wedding so he could join his family.
Vinnie sat at the bar with Fortuna and Angel, expecting Monte would join them. He looked at his watch to see it had just gone 8pm. "I'm glad you could all make it on time," he greeted them. "How is everything going? Is there anything I should know?" he calmly asked, lighting a cigar before ordering a glass of whiskey.
Meanwhile, quite a few blocks from the Azarolas bar, a married couple were walking down the street when they heard two gunshots sound. In the distance, they saw a man collapse on the floor as a shadowed figure ran from the scene. It was difficult to see much in the hazy mist. As they approached the victim of the shooting, they saw a fire breaking out in the bakery he'd emerged from.
It wasn't long before the CPD received a call reporting a man had been murdered, with two bullets to the head and the bakery was on fire. @Axel The Englishman @Trignome - it's your choice if Jonathan is working or out drinking!
21…22…23… The lieutenant’s shoe bumped into the wall. He let out a hiss of frustration, made a sharp turn, and walked towards his desk.
It was almost nightfall, and outside the lights of Chicago gradually came on through the haze like thousands of lighthouse beacons directing the city traffic below. If he listened closely, Jon could hear the horns of impatient motorists and pedestrians passing each other on the sidwalk like ships sailing blindly by, paying no attention to anyone but perhaps the ones walking right beside them. Somewhere further down the street from the CPD, a bar fight had broken out and the commotion of broken bones and furniture only added to the rising sounds of evening activities; Chicago came alive at night, shaking off her gray day appearances to don a dress of heady smoke, wine, and seductively dimmed streetlights.
Of course, Jon wasn't listening to any of this. He always kept the windows and blinds closed, preferring to light his office with two standing lights by the bookshelf and an old desk lamp that became scorching hot only seconds after it’s switch was flipped. Right now, he was pacing between the three points of light and reading through the preliminary report from an officer who just called in a murder. He was calling for more men to help maintain public order and mark out the scene of the crime. Apparently, a building at the scene had also caught fire.
Jon left his office as soon as he finished skimming through the report. He walked to the end of the hallway that led from the private offices to the open-room workspace of the homicide division. “Brier and Jameston…” Jon was giving directions before he’d turned the corner. He stopped as soon as he stepped into the large room. Everyone was gone, save for a few straggling officers who ducked down at their desks as soon as they saw who’d come in. Jon called again, impatiently. “Brier? Jameston?”
Someone shouted, “they’re out.”
“Those two shouldn’t have any outstanding cases this evening. What are they doing out?”
“You should check that with Brier, lieutenant.”
“Yes, of course, and I need to send him to a scene. Where is he and Jameston?”
Jon heard someone laughing from further in the room. He ignored it, frowning as he walked up to the nearest vacant desk and closed a manilla folder for a case that the desk’s occupant still hadn’t written a report for. 8/19 was printed in large black block numbers on the front, blotted out by a light brown half-ring that emphasized the date as if to confirm: Yes, nobody paid attention to this. The coffee stain itself was already discolored and looked like it might have come from a pot brewed the day the case was actually given to the officer, whose name was…“Brier, of course," Jon sighed under his breath.
It suddenly occurred to him that the irresponsible man in question was accustomed to playing truant, since the officer so carelessly left current case files strewn openly on his desk and wasn’t present at the station when he should have been on-duty for the evening. Was it because it was Saturday? Jon dismissed the thought immediately. A sensible man couldn’t possibly rest with work unfinished. Which made every man but himself insane, and Jon was very familiar with insanity. He had to deal with Detective Benny on the daily.
The lieutenant’s eyes sparked open. Ah, of course he could dispatch the detective to the scene. Even if Benny insisted he only be delegated cases involving the Romanos, the CPD received way too many reports to allow its top detective to sit alone in his office and mope about “an infestation of city scum” and “the end of the civilized world as we know it”. But as he returned to the hallway that led back to his office, Jon found his frown deepening into a grimace. He’d given the day off to Brigsby because the man had a performance at the Whistler Jazz Club this evening, which Jon had also promised he would attend. It was one of the big duets and band accompaniments the senior detective did with that nice girl…Sinead was her name. Jon blinked, surprised that his feet had already carried him in front of Benny’s office. He cursed his overly efficient walking habits.
He rapped on the closed door twice. “Detective, I need you out this evening.”
Jon waited a few moments. He thought he heard a noise from within the room. “It's a murder.” Jon paused to pick his next words carefully. “It might be a lead on the Romanos.” What he said wasn’t technically a lie; half the killings in Chicago could be traced back to the Romanos. Only, the CPD still hadn’t found a way to do that. The lieutenant kneaded his face with a hand, trying to rub out any unpleasantness in his expression. The last thing he wanted was to start a fight with his favorite detective, as they ran around snooping for clues on a Saturday night. He still had so much paperwork to do.
“Of course, Vinnie. Jona.” She called over to her cousin in law and began speaking quickly in french. “The holy man’s drinks won’t need pay.” Returning to English, she began to pour Vinnie’s whiskey. “Nothing much. I reserved the back room so you all can have a private drink together.” She gave him a genuine smile as she handed him the drink. Vinnie showing up was a breath of fresh air for Maite, cooling her head to not snap at Angel for forgetting her name. Danny was patrolling like a wild dog around a dying bull. He always got so serious when the bar was open. All the regulars knew what would happen to someone who tried to mess with them. It was the drifters and the fancy bar-hoppers you needed to watch out for. And yet, it was still a bar, not a war-ground. "Would you like something special for the occasion?" @Misty Gray
Fortuna rolled her eyes, seemingly unimpressed by Angel's attempt at flirting with her, though the amused undertone of her smile said otherwise.
"You never stop, do you?" She questioned in a rhetorical manner.
It was soon after she uttered those words that Vinnie sat at the bar with the two of them, asking them a pair of, what most would assume to be, straightforward questions. Fortuna then adopted a thinking pose, rhythmically tapping her chin with her index finger as her gaze wandered up to the ceiling, as if it held all the answers she was looking for.
"Well," She drawled out after a brief moment of silence. "There were a few... complications in the partnership agreement contract the Duilios sent us."
Bento took notice of the Liuetenant standing in the doorway to his office. Not too much of a surprise that another murder took place. They seem to be out of control, here in Chicago. And it seems most definitely to be the fine handiwork of Vinnie Romano once again. All Benny needs to do now is to head over to the crime scene and checkout the evidence to see if there are any links between the victim and the mobster.
Reaching for his gun and medal, the Detective placed both of these objects on his person - his Webley in it's holster and his medal upon his chest. "Alright, Lieutenant. I'll see what I can pick up that'll probably end up missing from the evidence locker later." He started. Benny had begun to notice evidence on certain cases disappearing from the CPD, likely as a result of a couple briberies being dished to some dirty cops to halt some investigations. Here's hoping Jon ain't involved.
"Don't suppose you'd like to join me on this find evening out, ey?"
When Maite said she'd reserved the private room and handed him the whiskey, he gratefully smiled. "You're a good girl," he told her, but made a point of glancing towards Danel who was keeping his distance, as usual. "We can head into the room later. It would be rude of me to leave the priest out after inviting him here." Vinnie was often difficult to read and predict, so who really knew why Father Schofield's enjoyment mattered? "I don't need anything special. This is all quite enough, for now."
Vinnie then diverted his attention to Fortuna and listened as she answered his question. "Complications? What kind of complications?" he abruptly asked. He hated complications and there were enough of those going around at the moment.
The Whistler Jazz Club...
Sinead stood at the bar, having a glass of water before it was time to go on stage. She'd already done some warm-ups, but that drummer of theirs was late again. Feeling the new high heeled shoes already begin to hurt her feet, she perched up on one of the bar stools. Her eyes then fixed on the vaguely familiar man who came to the bar and ordered a beer. She knew exactly why he was here. "You know, you could be doing more with your life than babysitting your boss' daughter," she spoke up.
"Me and my friend, we like jazz," the Irish man remarked. "If we weren't here, it would be your father, and I already know he wouldn't approve of that short dress you're wearing."
"He's not here, though, is he? And who the Hell are you? The Fashion Police?!" she asked, with a mocking laugh. "Perhaps you should both run along back to my daddy, if you care so much about my dress."
"No, we're good here, Sinead. Besides, I have no issue with your dress," he replied, smirking. Seeing her irritation, he took his drink and returned to his table where his friend was waiting.
Sinead finished her drink and forced herself to push the altercation to the back of her mind. The last thing she needed was those two idiots making her mess up her singing. Seeing the drummer had now arrived, she joined the group behind the stage curtain. She would seek out her friend, Dylan, and give him a friendly hug. "Are you good?" she cheerfully asked him.
Alexandra Romano had been waitressing in the diner for the last 6 hours and the end of her shift was nearly here. She had made plans to go out tonight, possibly heading straight from work since both her father and brother were at a meeting in the Azarolas bar and she knew that it would be late one, so she shouldn't get caught.
"Yeah I'm nearly finished, thankfully" She said with a grin as she took away Carl's plate. Carl was a regular and always came in at the same time to buy the same thing; Apple pie and coffee. She enjoyed the old man's company and Alex had some interesting and amusing conversations with him. He was by-far Alex's favourite customer and person to talk to.
Alex grinned she took off her apron, putting it below the counter where they go, waiting for her next day of work. "Bye girls" she called with a wave as she walked out into the street. Alex started walking aimlessly as she decided where to go and what to do. She was lost in thought when she heard gun shots not to far off in the distance. Her heart jumped to her throat and before she realised what she was doing, she was running towards the sound. With the business her family ran, the sound of a gun shot always meant trouble, so she was scared it was someone she knew. When she arrived on the scene, she saw that the bakery had been set on fire and stood a bit taken back while she looked at the scene unfolding in front off her. The cops had already got there and so she couldn't get too close to the scene to see the victim, she also realised a Romano being seen so close to a scene of a murder would raise suspicions so she turned away and began walking down some side streets in the opposite direction of the Azarola bar.
As she came back onto a main street, she heard loud music and loud talking, she smirked as she looked up taking in the name of the Emerald Irish bar. As she was walking in the direction of the bar, she watched a man get thrown out and smirked to herself as she slowed her walk down, looking inside the bar she caught sight of Conor Sullivan standing at the bar, she looked him over with a smile but when her looked out the door she lowered her head quickly and kept walking. She stopped outside the joining building of the bar and rooted through her bag to pull out her cigarettes, placing one to her lips as she lit it. Alex didnt really know much about Conor except for her dads descriptions which weren't very nice, but that was expected with the Romano's and the Sullivan's being rival gangs, so she didnt know if he'd even be worth trouble but she knew that he was very easy on the eye and sometimes she'd walk this way just for a peak, it was foolish and she was putting herself in danger but she didnt see it that way.
Alex leaned against the wall as she took another puff of her cigarette, she was still abit shaken and worried after the murder and fire and didnt know if she should just head home now or go to her dad and brother to find out what had happened or if it had anything to do with them.
"There isn't enough assurance in the contract: Too many loopholes and disadvantages that can be used against us." Fortuna answered smoothly, not at all unsettled by Vinnie's sudden inquiry. "It's basically giving the Duilios a ticket to betray the company."
Fortuna smiled as she finished her explanation, though it wasn't one portraying joy or happiness like most others would. Rather, one could say that it was a mockery of a genuine one as it held little to no feeling behind it. If one could take a look into her mind, you would see the dark, foreboding emotions clouding her thoughts. After all, it was insulting if the Duilios thought for even a second that they wouldn't be able to see through such deceit because their consigliere was a woman.
Lloyd Castellano - Romano Family Lloyd Castellano sat in dark corner booth in the bar, opposite where Vinnie sat with several people, including Lloyd's best friend Monte. He'd already drank several beers and was starting to feel a little buzzed.In his left hand a half spent cigarette smoked, in his right his first glass of gin. Lloyd was no stranger to Azarolas, frequenting it often for the atmosphere and alcohol, but mostly the alcohol. He'd seen Monte when he entered, his friend snakelike as usual, weaving between people, a trail of smoke following him like a tail. Now as his friend talked to his father, Lloyd could see the snake coiled. He smirked, taking a puff of his cigarette and slowly exhaling, shrouding his bar corner in smoke. Looking around he saw several familiar faces, spotting Danel and grinning, throwing up his drink as a salute and downing it. Burping, Lloyd stood, swooping his hat from the bench seat and placing it atop his head, and walking into the midst of people. Perhaps tonight would be the lucky night that a woman would succumb to his charms, though Lloyd didn't much care if it happened or not. He was a lazy gangster anyway, preferring to sit at home or the bar and smoke or drink than go out and make something for himself. That said, he was always eager to do tasks for Vinnie or any other high ranking gang member, as he took pride and joy in his abilities. There was not a speck of remorse in his soul for any stealing or killing he'd ever done. In his eyes, it was necessary. As he too wove through the assembled crowd, he made small talk, putting more effort into talking to women than men. Every so often he'd give someone a flirtatious wink. His deep, smooth voice was soothing, and several women clearly showed interest. Lloyd, however, wasn't interested. Like gambling, he was more interesting in the game than the catch, though a good catch would be worth it. Finding himself alone at the other side of the bar, Lloyd pinched his dying cigarette between his fingers, ash fluttering to the floor. He took a seat at another empty booth, kicking up his feet on the bench and leaning back, pulling a deck of cards from his pocket and absentmindedly shuffling them with one hand.
Danel gave Lloyd a stern nod, and headed over to him. “I see you are enjoying yourself. Feet off the bench please. This isn’t a barn.” He smiled before sliding into the booth, giving himself a break. His feet were aching slightly from his uninterrupted pacing of the bar. He took out a cigarette and lit it, puffing a small cloud into the air. Leaning back, he tapped the table anxiously. “Maite wants me to talk to Vinnie...Look, she is looking at me in that way she does when she wants me to do something.” He pointed over to his sister, smiling. She indeed was, cocking her head over to Vinnie, who was enjoying a whiskey. “I’ll talk to you later, Lloyd. If I don’t, she’ll have my head.” His smile vanished as he got up and made his way over. Danny’s stomach was flipping figure eights as he sidled up to the bar. “What is it, Maite.” He began speaking quietly in Basque.
“Just say something to him. Hello. Anything!” She was whispering violently. “I swear to god, Danny.” He stuck his tongue out at her before turning and clearing his throat.
“Evening, Vinnie. Drink to your liking?” He put on an easy-going smile, trying to appear relaxed but he was fairly sure Vinnie could see right through that.
Angel made an incoherent murmur, spinning around to Vinnie and Fortuna. He raised his finger to the pair, attempting to swallow the fiery alcohol as quickly as he could.
"If I may, Miss Stella." He moved his gaze to Vinnie. "The Duilios are trying to get their hands as deep in our pockets as they can without getting caught. Miss Stella is putting it lightly. What they're purposing is borderline theft. I've read the contract several times; made sure I was drunk the third time, so I could get a different perspective, and have come to the same conclusion. I did some research, talked to some of their business partners," Angel scooted closer to Vinnie, his voice getting quieter and his hand motions getting more exaggerated. "The Duilios are prone to backstabbing. These men have no honor or respect, and they're trying to make a fool out of us."
The door to the detective’s office opened soon. Benny stepped out as he finished tucking his gun into its holster.
“No, I don’t think that’s going to happen.” Jon shook his head and corrected himself. “I mean yes, I will be going with you to the scene. But no, I will ensure that the evidence for this case remains untampered with.”
The lieutenant was surprised that detective Benny seemed so willing to work with him on the case. He assumed they were still on mutual non-speaking terms after the incident at the Fox’s Den last Tuesday, when Jon was sure the security personnel was going to throw them through the front window of the bar. Which reminded him; he still had to apologize to Maite about the broken booth table. Should he buy her flowers, or was that too on the nose? Maybe he would just put in a request for reimbursement of property damage, and have the CPD replace the broken furniture. A new table was more practical than a handful of dead plants, after all.
Seeing the detective’s gun reminded him of another matter. As the two men walked through the lobby on the first floor, the lieutenant turned to the detective with a diplomatic smile. “Also, I’ve received several internal reports of your interrogation of members in the homicide division. If you have any concerns regarding the integrity of your colleagues, you should file a proper complaint for review.” Jon didn’t want to completely dismiss the detective’s suspicions. He was aware of the continuous tampering of case evidence, but it was likely that someone in forensics was involved and Jon did not want to point Benny in the direction of the labs. The damage that the detective could do with only his bare hands was…concerning.
Vinnie listened to Fortuna as she explained the situation with the Duilios. His face remained cool and gave away nothing as to what he was feeling. He was about to respond when Angel spoke up to give his input on the situation. He was glad to hear the two were working together on this one and using their heads. When Angel moved closer and continued to speak, Vinnie gave a single but firm nod. He was processing the information and thinking of possible courses of action.
Then Danel addressed Vinnie and it would seem like the other two would never receive a response. "Evening, Danel. The drink is just right," he assured him, with a faint smile. He could tell how difficult this was for Danel, but he appreciated that he'd still made the effort. After all Vinnie had done for the Azaraolas and how long they'd known each other, he thought the young man would be comfortable around him by now. There was still time. "Thank you for asking. Now, you have a good night," he told him, before diverting his attention back to Fortuna, Angel and Monte.
"So, what do you want to do about the Duilios?" he asked. They might think they'd misheard, but Vinnie was asking them for their ideas. He took a couple of drags on his cigar, waiting to see what they had in mind. Were something to happen to him, he needed to know the business would be in good hands.
Conor downed the rest of the pint Jimmy hadn't wanted, able to knock back quite a few drinks before they even started to take effect on him. As he placed the glass down on the bar, he glanced towards the door and saw Vinnie's daughter looking towards him from out on the street. He couldn't help but notice the smile on Alex's face and he smirked to himself. He knew what he was about to do wasn't the best idea; not if Vinnie found out, but that rarely bothered him. Besides, there was nothing wrong with talking to a nice young lady. "Cassie, Harry, the pub is in your hands," he said, excusing himself. "So please don't burn it down!" he joked.
When he stepped outside, he saw Alex out of the corner of his eye. He looked in the opposite direction to see Jimmy stumbling away and turning the corner. Good, he'd got the message. He then scanned the area to see just a few random people walking by, but nobody he should be concerned about. He then brought his attention back to Alex and approached her. "Well, aren't you a plucky one..." he remarked, standing opposite the petite young woman. "Didn't your father ever tell you not to hang around these parts?" he asked, but the grin on his face showed he didn't much care. "What are you up to on this dreary evening?" he asked, genuinely interested.
"Arrange a meeting with them to discuss better terms." Fortuna immediately suggested, entwining her fingers together as she rested her hands on her lap, sitting just a little bit straighter than before. "If the leaders of two opposing groups meet each other face-to-face, that means both parties have acknowledged the other's strength and reputation. Some bosses tend to look down on others to the point that they didn't think they are worthy to 'grace their presence with'." The sarcasm in her voice was almost palpable as she said this.
"I frankly don't care if their opinion is their own." She continued where she left off, a coldness emanating from her form as a honeyed smile marred her features. "They are deliberately insulting us by saying that we are not worthy of their time--for anybody with pride in their own company, it would be a low blow for them."
"And to make it even much worse," Sharp black orbs that could seemingly look into your soul were alerted and narrowed to a scary degree of danger, though her smile hasn't wavered even one. "They decided to send a shitty piece of paper to close the deal."
Angel leaned back on the stool. It wasn't the first time Vinnie asked for his input. He shifted his eyes to the alcoholic beverages displayed behind the bar. His gaze fixed on a bottle of Canadian Whiskey, resting just above the Victoria Vat. "Oh, Crown Royal. That's a good choice." Angel thought to himself.
His teeth began to sink into his nail on the back of his thumb, refocusing himself. He began to speak, his eyes, however, still fixed on the display case. "Well, I personally wanna tie Louie Duilios' neck to the back of a Chevrolet and give him a tour of Chicago. In practice, however, that may scare away potential associates. Miss Stella might be right, renegotiating terms is probably the way to go. They seemed pretty hard-set on that contract, though. If they wanna' keep pushing for their original request, I can always introduce them to a friend close to my heart, a couple inches to the left to be precise." He was referring to the Smith and Wesson, resting comfortably in his shoulder holster. He shifted his gaze to Vinnie, his smile reappearing behind his nail. "But," His smile faded as he sat up and fixed his posture, "In all seriousness, renegotiating is probably our best bet"