tagRomanceBroken Promises

Broken Promises


I return to the romance category with this story that just had to come out of me. It was too hard to hold it in any longer. I hope you like it. Let me know what you felt in the comments below. Good, bad or (hopefully not) ugly.

There is a lot of build-up and story leading to the sex. I hope you like the journey and not just the destination.

A massive vote of thanks to my editor, KatieTay, and my beta reader, Privates1stClass, for ensuring the story ends up miles better than the first draft.

DISCLAIMER -- All characters and events described are fictional. Similarities to any people or events is purely coincidental. All sexual activity takes place between people above the age of 18. There is a fair amount of violence and bloodshed ahead.

"Midway upon the journey of our life

I found myself within a forest dark,

For the straightforward pathway had been lost."

― Inferno, Canto 1, Dante Alighieri

* *


"I'm sorry."

"Sorry? Did you fucking say sorry? This is the fifth time you're late on this instalment."

The man grabbed Roy by the front of his shirt and brought him closer. He had a gleam in his cold, blue eyes.

"Listen, Saviano. The old man might be lenient with your payments, but I'm not. What do you think we are, a fucking charity? Do you have any idea who you took money from?"

He spat at Roy who looked down.

"Daddy, I need help with-"

A cold horror went through Roy as he turned his head towards the door. A ten year old girl stood in the doorway with a book in her hand and looked terrified at the scene playing out in front of her.

"I'll be right with you, sweetie."

He turned his gaze back on the man holding his shirt.

"Please. Not in front of my children. Let me take her back to her room and I'll come back, I swear."

"You listen to me, old man," he hissed. "If you don't have the money by this weekend, I'll come back, but not to talk."

As if emphasizing his point, he took out a Smith & Wesson and aimed it at the door where the little girl stood. Roy turned his head to see the little girl paralysed with fear as she stared down the metallic barrel of the gun. His heart jumped to his throat.

"I'll start with the kids."

* *

The dawning sun crept in through the window of the Saviano household. The kids were trying their best to postpone getting up. They squirmed and softly whined, desperate to eke out a few more precious minutes of sleep. The window was open just enough that the warmth of the sun bathed the bed and the light shone straight into their eyes.

Undeterred, they squinted and dug in. Five more minutes of sleep. Definitely. Surely.

A man sat at the edge of the bed. He looked at the bright sun outside the window. It did not seem to matter to him that he had spent the whole night staring out of that very window.

His face was plain, a forgettable unshaven generic Italian American Bronx face you could easily replace with the guy who sat in the subway next to you and buried himself in the newspaper. He looked considerably older than he was. Bits of his hair had greyed and worried creases went from temple to temple.

His sleepless night was writ large on his face. Dark circles showed around his eyes. His face had generally sunk back into the bones of his skull. It was like a grotesque mask of someone who used to be much happier.

A war raged behind his kind blue eyes. Two fundamentally opposing forces fought for superiority. It was as if he had awoken from a long sleep and the only way out of his reality was an impossible choice.

"Dad, we'll miss the bus."

"Right," he said, snapping out of his trance-like state. The fatigue and lack of rest weighed on him as he went to the cupboard and retrieved two sets of clothes. The kids dutifully took their places in the bathroom sink and went to work with their toothbrushes.

Roy Saviano had a decision to make, but first he had to drop his children off at school. He knew the routine well enough by now to do it on autopilot. Even as his mind stayed firmly on his decision, his hands went through the motions of helping his children get dressed.

Button by button. Then down on one knee to tie their shoelaces. Once he was satisfied with both sets of laces, he stood back and checked for anything missing.

Much easier when it was a two person job.

Joe and Donna occasionally protested they were old enough to get dressed on their own. At the ages of eight and ten respectively, they felt grown up enough to take this responsibility. In truth, they hoped it would put their father's mind at ease.

But Roy Saviano had none of it. Especially not today. Every moment where he could feel his children close to him was special.

All the while, they discussed about school. Donna was thinking of signing up for her age group's soccer team. Joe, on the other hand, was having trouble with an older student who had taken to bullying him regularly.

He even walked them the couple of blocks to where the school bus would pick them up. It certainly diminished their cool quotient among their peers, but Roy could not be removed from their side with a crane.

The trio waved at their friends and neighbours. The Bronx was more like a small town than a borough of a bigger city. The Savianos knew everyone in a three block radius and everyone knew them back. They walked past the bodega and Roy bought a fresh pack of cigarettes. His habit had bothered Sofia to no end.

They stopped at the line of other kids waiting for the bus. Some of them grinned and giggled, undoubtedly amused that Joe and Donna's Dad had come to drop them off at the bus stop. They themselves whined, their cred taking a serious hit in front of their classmates.

"Let's hear it once again -- if the denominators are the same..."

"We add the numerators," groaned Donna. "I remember, Dad. Don't worry. I got this."

"You had better, because you'll be teaching fractions to your little brother next year."

The bus came by and Roy pulled the ultimate uncool Dad move by helping his kids onto the bus. He knew the ribbing and teasing would start as soon as the bus was past the next intersection, but he did not care. He needed to touch them one last time before they left for school. To hold them and know they were okay.

The walk back felt almost twice as long. Roy knew he had work to do. He had to get ready himself and he had a restaurant to open. But those were the farthest thoughts from his mind.

He stood in front of the entrance to his restaurant. It was an old brick and mortar building adjoining his house. It had been part of his family for three generations. His great grandfather had opened Saviano's. He had stood behind the kitchen counter as a boy and learned to roll gnocchi with his fingers and had understood how fine pasta had to be cut for it to be linguini and it to be spaghetti under the stern eye of his father.

There was a veritable deluge of memories within that place. The fun, the laughter, the constant ringing of the bell to let everybody know yet another customer had come in to sample the best mozzarella-drenched pizza this side of the Harlem river.

Roy looked up at the awning covering his entrance. The "S" in Saviano's had been ripped and fluttered in the wind. The fabric, covered in dirt and grime, looked like it had not been cleaned in months.

The interiors were not very different. Most surfaces had a layer of dust on them. There was a time when if either Roy or his staff saw a speck of dust, it was gone in an instant. Not any more. No one took pride in the ambience. No one cared any longer how the place looked.

No one cared. Period.

"Forgive me, Sofia," said Roy, holding back bitter tears. He knew what he needed to do. He knew what his wife would have thought of it.

"She would have understood. It's for the kids."

* *

Finally, Roy turned the sign from Open to Closed on the restaurant entrance. He walked to Jeremy, the maitre'd.

"How many customers did we make?"

"Including the ones that came in and left immediately, I would say four."

A sinking feeling took root in Roy's stomach. He was all too familiar with his current situation, but hearing about felt like a fresh punch to his gut every time.

"I didn't see Rachel today. Is she all right?"

"She is," Jeremy said. "I had to let her go last week. She wanted to stay on, but with her new kid, we just couldn't pay her enough. She's already picked up a waitress gig at Emiliano's over in Queens. It's closer to where her husband stays, and it'll pay enough for her and the baby."

Roy nodded morosely. The rush of customers had now reduced to a trickle, a mere fraction of what Saviano's boasted as recently as three years ago.

"Just to be clear, I'm staying till the end," said Jeremy, running his fingers over his bare scalp. "Old man Saviano gave me this job when I had nothing but a wife and three kids. I'm not quitting on it."

"You don't have to stay here if you can get paid more elsewhere."

"I know," said Roy. "Don't worry about me. My boy just got a job as a fixed income trader at Goldman Sachs. He keeps sending me money every month. What else am I going to do with my free time?"

"How long can we stay open?"

Jeremy pursed his lips while he did some very unpleasant arithmetic in his mind.

"Three more weeks. A month at absolute best."

Roy nodded. He had known this day would come sooner rather than later. He peeked inside the register to see only a few layers of notes at the bottom.

"Jeremy, can you close up and put the money in the safe? I have somewhere to be."

"You got it, boss. If you're going to her grave, can you put some flowers on my behalf? Sofia was always nice to me."

"I'm not going to her grave," said Roy as he walked out of the front door.

* *

"Next stop 59th and Lexington. 59th and Lexington."

The voice on the speaker jolted Roy out of his trance. He was standing near the exit with the rest of the carriage full of people glued to their phones. He negotiated his way to the door.

The train came to a halt and the door slid open. The mass of humanity exiting the compartment together carried him forward. Once outside, he checked his phone to see his destination was just a five minute walk from the station.

Five minutes was all the time he had to back out.

He got lost in the throng as he climbed the stairs to ground level. Sirens, car alarms and the sounds of irate drivers intermixed with the pedestrians talking all around him. He stood at the edge of the intersection waiting for the crossing light to turn green.

Maybe a drunk driver can make sure I don't get to the other side.

Alas, there was no such luck for Roy. He stood in front of the address he wanted. It was a high end apartment complex. Little squares of light lit up the front of the building all the way to the roof. It was only when he walked in to the lobby that he could feel the difference.

There were several muscular people inside. Some in uniform, but some in plain clothes as well. Their eyes were riveted on the door so they could see who came in and out. Roy had no doubt most of them had concealed weapons. It was definitely more than the usual three bored rent-a-cops that other complexes of this size had.

He walked to the main set of elevators and saw a small information kiosk.

"Penthouse suite."

The diminutive man looked at him with unholy dread at those two words.

"I beg your pardon, Sir, but do you want to go the Penthouse suite?"


"Is the resident expecting you?"

"No, but she knows me from way back."

"I'm sorry," he said, not at all apologetic. "I'll have to call ahead and ask. What is your name?"

"Tell her Roy Saviano is here."

The man dutifully repeated the name into the intercom and waited for a few minutes. Roy noticed how the fingers on his free hand kept strumming the desk. Finally, he put the phone down and turned to him.

"Come with me, Sir. The penthouse suite has a private elevator a little further down the hall."

Roy followed the man past the main lobby. They went through a door on the far side into a smaller room with a single elevator entrance guarded by two people. This time, their guns were visibly strapped to them.

"He's a guest of Ms Tatiana. I called up to confirm."

The men looked at each other and nodded. One of them frisked him quickly and efficiently. When he was satisfied, his colleague swiped his keycard and the elevator doors opened.

"Get in," he said in a heavily accented voice. "The Penthouse is on the fortieth storey."

Roy complied and the doors closed again. He watched the LED counter tick upwards. The closer the numbers came to forty, the more he knew he was in way over his head. A tempest of thoughts raged inside him as to what he should say.

A musical ding indicated he was out of time. All at once, his brow became sweaty and his breathing became shallow. His legs trembled so much, he held the handrail for support. His vision blurred and only fuzzy shapes were visible on the other side of the doors sliding open.

"I'll start with the kids."

That's all it took. His first panic attack in months was no match for that one line which played from memory. The feeling he had in the moment after first hearing this line was an order of magnitude more powerful. He took a deep breath and steadied himself before walking out.

* *

The penthouse suite looked larger than it was. The walls were pure white and ornately decorated leading to the main sitting area. Roy could see a pool where the hall extended out onto the roof. Chandeliers and other colourful fixtures gave the place a vivid dreamlike feel.

A tall muscular man grabbed him by the arm and led him to a corner of the sitting area. There were many colleagues of his standing around. All eyes were transfixed on him as he was shepherded towards a large sofa.

Sitting there, her slender legs crossed and glass of Scotch in hand, was Tatiana K. For a few seconds, Roy simply stared. Beyond the obvious similarities to Sofia, Tatiana had a unique allure. Her attention was entirely on her drink and yet she looked assured and in control. She put the glass down and looked at her visitor.

"Check him for bugs."

One of the adjacent men came with a radio frequency detector wand and began running it over Roy's torso and back. He carefully moved it along one outstretched arm, then the other, before moving it to his waist.

"If you've got a wire, Roy, I swear I will cut whichever part of you it is attached to myself."

The words and the tone were threatening, but Tatiana herself was not. She mainly seemed curious more than anything else. The man finished his examination and nodded to Tatiana.

"Come. Have a seat. We haven't met in ages."

Roy breathed a sigh of relief and sat down next to her on the sofa. She beckoned someone over to pour out a glass of whiskey for him.

"I believe the last time I saw you was when your son was born. I wanted to see the baby, but your wife made it very clear I was not welcome. If memory serves me right, her exact words were 'Go to Hell'."

He did not say anything. He politely waved off the glass brought towards him. He had to remain clear-headed for what was coming next.

"Normally when someone talks to me like that, I have their tongue cut and ripped out. Fortunately, I did have a soft spot for my sister and I let it slide. Since then, I've been respectful of her wishes and kept my distance from her family. I even watched her funeral from a distance and only went to pay my respects once everybody had cleared out."

She took another sip from her glass. Her piercing gaze bore right through him.

"You live all alone here?" he asked.

"If you're lonely when you're alone," she said, raising her glass. "You're in bad company."

Evidently, she still had a thing for Sartre.

"So, what reminded you of me after so many years, Roy Saviano?"

"I need your help."

The four words certainly got her attention. She swept the mass of brown hair off her face and tucked it to one side before studying her guest up close.

"Go on."

"After Sofia died," he said, still finding it hard to force out the words. "I lost most of myself. I lost interest in the restaurant, in anything. I gambled and drank and watched as Saviano's sank further and further. I just didn't care any longer. We were on the verge of bankruptcy within a year."

"Uh huh," said Tatiana, her voice entirely devoid of emotion.

"I was desperate for money, but no bank was willing to help out. So desperate in fact, I turned to Frank Lombardini."

She almost choked on her drink. She put it down and broke into fits of laughter.

"Are you serious?" she squeezed out between laughs. "You, the most strait-laced guy in the world, went to Frank Lombardini for money."

"Like I said, I was desperate."

"Let me guess, it's time for repayment and you don't quite have that much."

"Sums it up," Roy sighed. "I need some money, Tatiana. I don't have enough to keep the place open next month, let alone pay Frank. His boys came around yesterday and told me I was out of time."

"So that's why you're here. You need my money to pay back what you owe the mafia."

Roy nodded. Tatiana smiled at him as she got up and walked to the edge of the room with her glass in hand. Her tall, slender frame was accentuated by the figure hugging dress. Her brown hair came down past her left shoulder and her blue eyes had all the warmth of a freezer.

"How did you get here?" she asked suddenly.

"The 5."

"Here," she said, holding out a few notes. "At least take an Uber back home. It doesn't make a good impression when my associates have to come and go by the 5 Train."

Robotically, he took the money from her.

"I'm afraid that's all the money I can give you, Roy. The people whose money it is are very particular about how I use it."

"Please-" he started, only to be cut off by her hand.

"It may not feel like it right now, but I'm doing you a favour. Believe me, you're much better off being indebted to the Italians than to us. The first instalment of ours you miss, we'll blow up Saviano's just to make a point."

"I'm begging you," said Roy, getting on his knees and grovelling in deference. "For Sofia. Please help me. You're the only one I can turn to."

"Andriy, Ilya," she snapped. Two nearby men hurried over and lifted Roy to his feet. His hands were still clasped in pleading.

"You have some nerve, Roy," she growled at him, holding her glass in one hand. "Your wife told me on no uncertain terms never to contact her or her family again and you come to me expecting a hand out. No, Roy, not any more. There was a time when I would have given you anything you wanted, but that was when we were stupid fucking teenagers."

Her tone did not waver. Even as she spoke, she showed no outward sign of being angry.

"I suggest you take that money and take a cab home now."


Before Roy could finish the sentence, her firm backhand connected with his nose. He coughed and tasted the metallic taste of a trickle of blood down to his lips.

"I'm warning you, Roy. You can either leave by the door or through the balcony. It's a long way down."

The two men who grabbed him were already halfway to the door. They had him by his shoulders, rendering any kicking and screaming on his part futile.

"Tatiana, they threatened the kids. They pointed a gun at Donna last night."


The two men stopped abruptly. Tatiana put her glass down and walked over to Roy, her eyes looming large over his terrified face.

"What exactly did they say about the kids?"

"The guy who came around... he said that if I did not pay them by this weekend, they would start with the kids. He pointed his gun at Donna."

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