Federico looked over the documents that had piled up on his desk throughout the last few days. Even being so far away from New York, he could feel the warm satisfaction of triumph spreading through his muscles. Vincenzo would be easy enough to manipulate as long as his shallow needs for women, wealth, and prestige were satisfied. Lazy as he was, he’d leave the real business dealings to Federico and Santo.
Federico now had all the power with the bullseye drawn on another’s forehead.
When his phone rang, a tingle of excitement drizzled down his spine. Had Domenico been caught? Federico had explicitly specified he wanted the man alive. Maybe he came willingly. Having him back under his thumb had Federico feeling giddy as if he were much younger.
With a wild cat as dangerous as Domenico Acerbi, the tamer needed to proceed with caution, but staying alive and in a position of power were prizes that could turn even the most vicious predator into a pussycat.
Federico wouldn’t even mind the hairy arms and the big body if he could fuck Domenico one more time. Getting a man like him to submit gave him so much more excitement than the soft boy in his bedroom could ever inspire.
He picked up the call from his son. “Is it done?”
“They’re dead,” came in a steady voice from Santo. His only son made Federico proud with how he’d grown into a fine man of honor.
He continued putting numbers on to a piece of paper, only to backtrack over what he just heard. “Both of them?” he asked.
“All three of them. They’re all dead,” Santo repeated, and only now the message began to sink in.
Federico leaned back in his chair, but it felt as if his stomach sank beyond its normal position, dropping lower as if Federico had swallowed a load of pebbles. His gaze darted to the corridor and the soft glow of light that told him Piero was in his bedroom.
“Shit,” Federico said, clutching at the armrest as the initial numbness turned into a red-hot explosion of fury. “That braindead fuck. How could he get himself killed. He had a dozen men to protect his ass!”
With Vincenzo gone, all of Federico’s plans needed to be moved, readjusted, which was tedious but could be dealt with. But Domenico escaping Federico’s grasp was more than he could handle.
“I burned down the house they were all in,” Santo said, pissing Federico off with his calm voice. Unbelievable. His own son had gone behind his back!
“Oh, I get it!” he hissed and broke the pen he was holding in his hand, wishing it was Santo’s finger instead. “You think you can handle it all.”
“I know I can.”
The arrogant motherfucker. “Good. We’ll see how you manage,” Federico said and hung up, worried his anger was too visible to Santo over the phone. He would deal with the insolent brat later.
He rubbed the smooth wooden surface of the desk and looked toward the open door again. Slowly, he rose from the chair and walked to Piero’s bedroom.
It was his house, but as his assistant, the boy had no right to live upstairs. Federico’s office space was like an apartment on its own and that was where he kept most of his private belongings.
After the betrayal of the previous assistant, Federico was vigilant about not giving Piero too much privacy, so his bedroom had no door.
As soon as Federico walked in, Piero sat up on the bed, attentive like a dog, his big dark eyes on Federico, long black hair slipping over his tan shoulders. And still he was not even a shadow of what Domenico had been at Piero’s age. Fragile and easy to break, the boy was no challenge at all.
“Get dressed,” said Federico, leaning against the empty doorframe. “Your best clothes.”
Piero glanced at him cautiously, but was already off the bed and following the order. “Are we going somewhere?”
Federico watched him put on the gray slacks. They were tailor-made, a waste for such a weak boy, who wouldn’t ever become a man, no matter how hard he tried. “Yes.”
Piero rushed with the shirt, and made a perfect knot on his tie before arranging the long hair into a bun at the back of his head. Federico had told him numerous times that he hated the style. But it was only fitting for this occasion.
“Where to?” Piero asked.
“Sit by your desk,” said Federico, approaching the boy with electricity touching the tips of his fingers. He was breathing deeper, calming down already.
Piero gave him an uncertain look, but moved to his desk and sat down. “Did I… do something?”
“No, nothing at all,” said Federico, but struck him across the face nevertheless. “That’s the problem. You’re like a meek piglet waiting for slaughter.”
Piero swallowed, and his hands clenched on the fabric of his pants, wrinkling the expensive material. “Sorry,” but the last syllable died in his throat when Federico grabbed it and squeezed. Piero’s eyes widened, but his hands only twitched, staying where they were. This display of blind obedience in the face of danger only fueled Federico’s anger.
Federico could feel his fingernails digging into the boy’s skin, but the whimper that pulled out of Piero brought him no satisfaction. Causing this boy pain was no pleasure. Nothing seemed to satisfy Federico anymore, and he now understood clearly that Piero could never be what he needed.
“All I get is insubordination and constant disappointment,” he hissed and grabbed Piero’s neck with his other hand as well.
Piero’s Adam’s apple moved against Federico’s palm. Finallyhis bony hands tore away from their place in his lap and clutched at Federico’s wrists, pushing them away to no effect.
Federico gasped, kicking open Piero’s thighs to be even closer. Even the pleading sounds coming from that abused throat had no real drive behind them.
How dare Acerbi leave like this, on his own terms? Or had he been burned alive, by Federico’s own son, no less?
Tears spilled down Piero’s cheeks as he desperately tried to draw a breath, his face going red. It gave Federico at least some consolation that despite his fifty-six years, he could still easily hold down a boy like Piero. The weak struggle was like rejuvenating juice injected straight into his veins.
“It was for me to decide if he lived or died!” Federico pushed harder at Piero’s throat, channeling his anger into a boy who would never be able to replace Domenico no matter how lovely his long black hair was.
Piero was fighting him for real now, but his smooth limbs couldn’t best Federico. Despite all the tremble in Piero’s body, the struggle came to an inevitable end, and Federico twisted his neck to make sure it was in fact the end of it.
Gasping for air, he stepped back, watching the limp body hanging off the chair with all limbs spread out like a spider drowned in hot coffee.
Federico’s pulse was slowly getting steadier, and he adjusted his tie.
He needed a new secretary.