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Stolen Touches: Prologue

Salvatore

Seven years ago
A hammer comes down onto my hand, its metal head burying into flesh that’s already a swollen mess, and a fine spray of blood splatters across the table.
I wait until the worst of the pain recedes, then lift my chin and glare at the man looming above me.
“No.” I bite out.
Marcello, one of the capos, watches me for a couple of seconds before he throws a glance over his shoulder at the don who is leaning against the wall to the right. It’s dim in the room, no buzz or glare from the fluorescent tubes on the ceiling. The only illumination seeps from an old lamp on the corner of the table, but when the don lights his cigar, his face glows red from the flame as he nods.
Marcello turns back to me and tightens his hold around my wrist. “I think you should reconsider,” he sneers and brings the hammer down heavily onto my fingers once more.
Searing pain shoots up along the length of my arm, zinging through my shoulder and sending a lightning strike straight to the back of my head. The sensation takes hold in my brain, making a home for itself inside my skull. I clench my teeth in an effort to block it out.
“Fuck you, Marcello,” I rasp.
He laughs and shakes his head. “You really are something.”
Marcello sets the hammer down on the table and takes a gun from his holster. I assume he’ll simply shoot me in the head, but instead, he points the weapon at my leg. “I think I’ve fucked up your hand enough. You probably can’t feel it anymore. How about this?”
Two gunshots ring out, and I roar in agony as bullets tear through flesh and bone. Black spots blur my vision.
“Last chance, Salvatore,” he barks.
I take a deep breath, ignore the worthless bastard, and make direct eye contact with the don, who is still standing at the same spot in the dark corner. It’s too dark for me to see his eyes clearly, but with the lamp so close to my face, I’m sure he can see mine. My unharmed hand is tied to the arm of the chair, but I rotate my wrist enough to raise my middle finger at him, the rope chafing my skin.
“He won’t cave, Marcello,” the don says and turns to leave. “Just kill him and be done with it.”
Marcello waits until the door closes, then circles around the chair I’m tied to and leans down to whisper into my ear. “I’ve always hated your guts. I don’t know what the don was thinking when he let you take your father’s place two years ago. Making a twenty-four-year-old a capo, as though we’re running a fucking kindergarten or something.”
“I understand how that must unnerve you, Marcello.” I take a deep breath while the dark patches continue to cloud my vision. “Especially since I’ve made more money for the Family in my two years as a capo than you have after twenty in the same position.”
“I should leave you here to bleed out.” He spits on the floor and sends another bullet into my foot.
“That wouldn’t,” I choke out, “be wise.”
“Why not?”
“Because if I don’t die . . . you will.”
He laughs. “Yes, we shouldn’t risk it.”
Three rapid gunshots echo through the room, and I gasp as a sharp, burning pain explodes in my back. I manage one forced breath before everything fades to black.

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