Educating the Capo Ch. 03bykiwiwolf©
Educating the Capo Ch. 3
A lot of people have asked me to continue this novel so here is the next chapter. I apologise for the long break in the story but I made the mistake of starting another story, The Real Estate Connection, and falling in love with the characters and plot of that story. I felt I owed it to you folks and myself to continue this work too... so here it is. Hope you enjoy it folks.
Carol rolled over and slid off the bed.
"I'm heading into town today baby. Maria is coming by to pick me up at about 10. Manny's going to come with us and I think he has another one of your multi talented guys shadowing us. We'll be okay honey." She saw the look on my face and hastened to reassure me.
"Carol this guy hasn't demonstrated a lot of restraint so far. I'm worried. I'm not trying to scare you but I have to admit I'm worried. No one seems to have any handle on where your ex psycho might be and that is the most worrying aspect of this. Christ with his resources he might be sitting at home in New Jersey directing operations and sending a hitman after us."
"No... he wouldn't send a hitman after us Glenn. This is a matter of honour for him; he's gonna want to do this himself. He has to be the one who pulls the trigger on his 'traitorous' ex. Nothing else is going to do. You have to realise Glenn that these guys live life to a totally different set of rules than us. To them honour is everything, but it's their version of honour. It is so warped and arcane that most people have trouble understanding it. The code of honour is centuries old and strictly enforced by the bosses." Carol paused and walked back to the bed.
"Glenn you have to remember that Robert is only a minor cog in a big wheel. He is way down in the pecking order but is hugely ambitious. He wants the top spot in the New Jersey organisation and he can see himself getting it. Unfortunately for him, when I took off it was a massive blow to his chances as well as his ego. Mafia wives are supposed to be obedient. They are supposed to be seen and not heard... trophies on the arms of their powerful macho husbands. The fact that Robert couldn't control me has probably been viewed as a sign of weakness on his part. He has to regain the respect of his men, his peers and his superiors. And the only way he is going to do that love, is by eliminating the problem... permanently. Now that you have helped me... no, that's wrong... now that you are involved with me, you are part of the problem. I'm sorry baby but until Robert is caught or killed we are inexorably linked."
"Inexorably? I keep forgetting that you are an English professor. Carol this just reinforces my worries. I know everything you said is true. I watch the Sopranos, and have the complete set of The Godfather movies on DVD. It only serves to make me more wary love. I know you can't stay locked up in here but I want you to promise me that you will take every possible precaution. Manny is good but you know these guys. He doesn't. If you feel at all twitchy let him know straight away. Don't go anywhere that he can't see you. That means no changing rooms. The bathroom is a necessity I suppose but take Maria with you. I am deadly serious about this Carol."
I stopped and looked deep into her eyes, my heart lurching in my chest as I saw the love there. It was time to stop mucking around and actually tell this woman how I felt about her.
"Carol I'm not sure how to say this but I'm just gonna say it. Carol I... "
The phone rang. I let it interrupt me. I could have ignored it and finished what I wanted to say but instead I stopped, rolled over, and picked up the offending instrument.
There was nothing but white noise on the other end of the line. Then I heard breathing. Slow and measured. There was no background noise that I could pick up. Just the inhale and exhale of the person on the other end. Then... click! The connection was broken. The whole thing had taken about 20 seconds... certainly no more than that. I had a bad feeling about my mystery caller. Slowly I lowered the phone back into its base unit and checked the caller ID screen. Private Caller. The ID was blocked by the caller. If the person on the other end had said something, or even disconnected as soon as I answered the phone, I wouldn't have been suspicious. The length of time they stayed on the line listening to the dead air that washed between us is what had my hackles raised. It was Taglioni. I was sure of it.
Carol moved closer to the bed.
"Was it him?" There was a note of resignation in her voice.
"A wrong number I think. The person on the other end was rabbiting on in some oriental language. Nothing to worry about."
She threw me a look loaded with doubt but seemed to accept my explanation. Leaning down she kissed me. A long lingering kiss full of passion and something deeper. It was time to tell her... but again I waited. Why couldn't I say it? Why couldn't I tell her I loved her?
"The shower calls then I'll grab you some breakfast. You stay there and conserve your energy lover. You're gonna need it when Jenny gets here. She is going to turn you upside down and inside out. You're gonna be under no illusion that you had a workout love."
Jenny was the physical therapist that Carol had found for me. She worked at the hospital but also took on private patients; she was Carol's gift to me to ensure my speedy recuperation. I was yet to meet this lady but Carol raved about her. Still the phone call played on my mind. And the question of why I couldn't tell Carol I loved her. I had some serious thinking to do. As Carol disappeared into the bathroom I lay back on the pillows and closed my eyes.
The smell of breakfast and the sound of Carol's voice shook me out of my slumber. She was dressed in a short silk kimono in black with a pink and white Heron print. Her hair was still wet from the shower; she looked absolutely stunning and again I wondered what was holding me back from saying the words I knew I meant.
"Okay we have grapefruit, toast, two poached eggs, sausages, and coffee. Everything a growing lad needs. I also took the liberty of grabbing the morning paper for you." Placing the breakfast tray down on the bed she slipped in beside me.
"I could get used to this," I gloated quietly. "I might have to keep you around for a while."
"Try getting rid of me smartass. And don't think you can get used to this kind of treatment buster... delivering breakfast in bed is a rarity for me. As a matter of fact you are the first. Now eat. In about 45 minutes you have your first session with Jenny."
The toast was burnt, the sausages were under done, and the eggs were like small yellow and white rocks but it was one of the best breakfasts I have ever eaten. I guess love can do really funny things to you, like alter your perspective on what is food and what are scraps. She actually made a more than reasonable coffee though so I guess everything balanced out.
After breakfast she bullied me into the shower and then helped me into an old pair of work out pants and a very ratty old t-shirt. I preferred to sweat in style.
Jenny arrived dead on time and my waking nightmare began with barely more than a hello for an introduction. At about 5'2" and about 95lbs dripping wet, Jenny came across as a little sweetheart. Who could have known that she was a direct descendant of the Marquis De Sade... well a devoted disciple at the very least? That little pocket dynamo turned me inside out and upside down and left me with aches and pains in places I didn't realise could possibly hurt. The worst part? She did it all with a smile and a lovely sweet demeanour. At the end of a torturous hour she left with a smile and a few hearty words of encouragement. Carol saw her to the door, and as I lay there on the mat in a sweaty self pitying heap, I could hear them chatting.
"She's quite a woman isn't she?" said Carol as she walked back into the room. "I have instructions to make you do the stretching exercises on a regular basis over the course of the day. How do you feel love?"
The best I could manage was a pitiful moan as I picked myself up and tried to salvage what was left of my dignity.
"Come on... I thought you were a big tough guy!" Her giggle goaded me into action and I manfully struggled to my feet.
"I'm as hard as nails!" I managed to croak as I staggered on rubbery legs to the bathroom. Her teasing laughter followed me all the way into the shower. Carol wandered in and chatted to me as she got ready for her trip to the mall with Maria. As the hot water soothed the aches and pains away, I listened to her talk and tried to get a handle on my reluctance to draw her closer by telling her I loved her. A mass of viable excuses rocketed through my mind but I discarded each and every one of them as I realised what I was doing. I wasn't going to let her in until I knew that I could protect her properly. I couldn't let her close until I knew that I wasn't going to lose her to the head case stalking us. As I dried off and listened to her happy chatter I told myself I was being stupid. I'd tell her over dinner tonight I decided.
Maria arrived with Manny just before 10.00. While Manny and I huddled in the library discussing work, the ladies barricaded themselves in the bedroom while Carol finished getting ready to go into town.
"Boss, I got a call from an old friend of ours yesterday. You remember Craig Miller from the Army? He went mercenary when he left the Army about 8 or 9 years ago. Big guy, pretty useful... a good leader?"
"Yeah I remember him. Hell of a good shot and a good man in a bar brawl. He saved my ass in a punch up in Panama one time. Hell I haven't heard from him in years. What was he after?"
"He retired from the mercenaries about a month ago and moved to Virginia to start a security firm and get started with civilian life. He's been there about a week and has just discovered that he has a contract on his ass. He's already been shot, had a couple of people killed at his place, and just found out that the person chasing his ass is a CIA operative who he believed was dead. All in all he's in deep shit. He wants to hire us to watch the homestead while he does a little hunting of his own."
I thought about it for a while. A trip to Virginia might help as far as keeping distance between Taglioni and us. The other side of the coin is that we would be trading one dangerous situation for another.
"I'll call him and discuss it more with him. What do you think Manny?" The question was a mere formality. There was no doubt in my mind that Craig would do the same if the shoe was on the other foot.
"He'd do it for us if we asked boss, but with the situation we're in at the moment..." He shrugged. "Anyway give Ronin a call and see what happens." Ronin was Craig's old nickname given to him because of his personal code of honour. When he left the Army and became a mercenary it just seemed to fit him better. A Ronin was a masterless Samurai from feudal Japan. They were warriors forced to wander the land hiring out their services to the highest bidder, living within their own personal code of honour. Craig fit the description perfectly. I knew he would never ask for help unless he really needed it and on top of that, he had a few useful contacts in the intelligence world himself. He may be able to help Carol and me with our current problem.
"Yeah I'll give him a call today. You're right... he'd do the same for us. Besides... there might be safety in numbers."
The talk turned to current jobs that we had on and we managed to get a lot of work done before Carol and Maria bounced in ready for their trip to the mall. Maria skipped over to Manny and flung her arms around his neck kissing him hard. It was fun to see the big guy flustered. He wasn't a big one for public displays of affection but I guess Maria was working on changing that. Carol parked herself in my lap and kissed me long and slow with a lot of promise for later on.
"Want me to pick you up anything baby... vitamins? Steroids? An oxygen tent for after your physiotherapy sessions?" Her innocent smile belied the evil heart pumping inside her very impressive breast.
"Be gone wench before I forget I'm a gentleman and spank that cute little ass of yours. Have fun and for god's sake be careful. Stick close to Manny okay?" With another kiss and a sensual wiggle of her lovely ass in my lap she was up and gone. Manny and Maria followed her at a more sedate pace. I guess she was excited at her first trip into the big bad wide world since the attack. It was a return to normality and a sign that Taglioni didn't have the hold on her that he thought he had. It was good to see her back to her happy self.
I worked through a bit more paperwork then wandered through to the kitchen. I took my time fixing a sandwich and grabbing a coffee before heading back through to the office to call Craig. The pro's and con's of getting involved ran through my mind as I picked up the phone and dialled the cell phone number that Manny had given me. Craig answered on the second ring.
"Glenn... how are you man? Long time buddy... long time." How the hell did he know it was me calling?
"Howzit Ronin? How's civilian life treating you? And how the hell did you know it was me calling?"
He laughed. "This is a brand new cell and there are only six other people who have the number. All of them are sitting in front of me and no one is making a call. It's just a simple matter of deduction really buddy. It was either you or Manny and I figured that you'd probably be intrigued enough by my call to want to call me yourself." He paused then said, "Ronin... Jesus I haven't heard that one in a while."
"Yeah it has been a while. I haven't seen you since you mustered out of Fort Bragg. Hell that seems like a lifetime ago. How was it south of the border buddy?"
"Hot and wet man... and busy. There is a lot of work down there if you want it and if you pick the right side. Go with the Cartel and you have a very limited life expectancy. How's business for you? I heard you have a security business now. I asked around and hear that you have a good rep. Want some work?"
There it was. Craig wasn't known for his subtlety and his jump to the point had reconfirmed that. I had to make a snap decision. It took no time at all.
"What do you need buddy? We can be there in a couple of days. I have a few things I have to sort out here. Got a major problem that you need to hear about before you make a decision about whether to hire us or not. Then you have to consider our outrageous charges. I charge like a wounded bull buddy."
"Don't worry about the cost man... I'm pretty sure that you guys would be worth both the dollars I'll be paying you." I laughed. "What's this problem man?"
I spent the next ten minute laying it out for him in detail. If we were going to be working together he needed to know everything. I even told him about Carol and how I felt about her.
"Okay, I may be able to help you out with Taglioni, Glenn. No promises man but I have a couple of friends in low places who owe me a favour or two. I've also got a tame Intel officer who may be able to come up with something. I'll ask some questions and let you know when I see you. As to your fee... no problems man. I've got a few pennies salted away so I should be able to afford your exorbitant bill. Look man, just get you and yours here and we'll take it from there. You can stay out at the house with us. There are plenty of rooms here and it'll give us a chance to catch up."
"Sounds good to me man. It's going to take me a few days to get clear here so plan on seeing me on Friday." I got Craig's email address and directions to his house then rang off. It would be interesting to see him. After nearly nine years there would be plenty to talk about. His offer of help with Taglioni was an interesting one too. If he could deliver, then Taglioni might not be a thorn in our sides for much longer. The parallels in our situations didn't escape me either. Both of us were in relatively new relationships, both of us had been wounded in attacks and both of us were in a world of shit. Yes; I thought that consolidating our forces might be the answer to all our problems.
The rest of the day passed without event and by the time everyone arrived back that evening, I was feeling almost human. Manny and Maria wouldn't be staying long as they were heading out for dinner but I asked them to stick around for a while until I explained what I had planned with Craig on the phone. We all went through to the lounge and parked our bodies on the couches. As I laid it out for them I watched Manny's grin get bigger and Carol's face grow longer. Finally she could bottle it up no more and blurted out what was on her mind.
"Honey there's been enough trouble and pain caused because of me. There is no way I want to expose anyone else to my ex's rage. Glenn these people could get hurt... then I'd feel worse than I do now." She looked close to tears.
"Carol, Craig isn't your average Joe Civilian. He is probably the most deadly man I know and he has some pretty handy friends too. He has contacts I could only dream of having and he's offered us the use of some of his intelligence gathering sources. He too is in trouble as I've explained and after talking to him I figure that getting together with him can only be good for all of us. We can help him and he can help us. Besides, going to Richmond is gonna give us a little breathing space; a bit of time where Taglioni won't know where we are. Now that can only be good for us can't it? Manny and I have both worked with Craig. We both know him and trust him... and honey... you know I'd never do anything to get you hurt. I love you too much for that."
Her eyes flew wide as the words slipped out before I could catch them. I guess it was a case of me intellectualising things too much. I should have trusted my instincts earlier. Carol threw herself at me as Maria laughed happily and clapped. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a huge grin split Manny's face as my lady covered my face with kisses. Finally Carol let me up for air and pushed me back to look deeply into my eyes.
"I love you too you big fool. Is that what you were trying to tell me this morning?" She grinned and turned to Maria. "Men are so repressed when it comes to emotions aren't they? Did Manny have this much trouble telling you he loves you, or is it just my man that's emotionally retarded?"
"I think it's a curse that all men must bear Carol. I had to beat it out of Manny." As embarrassed as I was at least the atmosphere had lightened. I grabbed Carol and dragged her down to my lips for a long kiss which shut her up for a while.
"Okay so it's settled then? We leave on Friday morning. Maria I need you and Carol to leave me and Manny alone for a few minutes... is that ok?" She gave me a long speculative look but smiled and left the room with Carol who was still grinning.
"Manny how would you feel if I asked Maria to join the company? It's about time we moved into the 21st century and got caught up in the IT revolution. We need a computer specialist and since she's been doing it for us on a freelance basis for a while I thought we should maybe formalise it. What do you think?" He gave it about a seconds thought then nodded decisively.
"Makes sense and yeah I think she'd love to take you up on it. Want me to ask her tonight, or do you want to ask her?"
"You ask her. Also see if she can come to Richmond with us on Friday. I'd like to be able to use her skills while we're there." We chatted for another couple of minutes then called the girls back in. Maria headed straight for Manny's lap and seconds later I had a warm Carol perched in mine. Manny and Maria were having a murmured conversation on the couch while Carol had returned to kissing the top layer of skin off my face. Moments later Maria coughed loudly and theatrically to get our attention.