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Tirone: Chapter 50

Jo

I hated blood. The smell. The taste. Just the look of it nauseated me. But when it was mine, it was such a relief. It meant no one else got hurt. I didn’t make anybody else bleed. I bet that was why red was my favorite color on my skin.

The whole world stopped, and my mind was empty. No more guilt or shame or pain. No more nothing. All I could see was black. Was I dead? Was that what dead felt like?

“Mom. Mammy, will I finally get to see you again?”

“It’s not your time, topolina.”

“Papà? Is that you?”

“Yes. Open your eyes, Jo. You’re safe now.”

I forced my heavy lids to open just a crack, the peaceful darkness I’d been resting in fading away. “Am I still alive?”

“Si, figlia mia. You got shot, but you survived.”

“No. Who shot me? Why am I the one alive? I remember hearing the bullets. There were so many.” Panic snapped my eyes open. Michele was sitting next to me on a bed—in a hospital again?—holding my hand. “Who died? Who died, papà?” I whimpered.

My other hand lifted between calloused palms. “I didn’t die, baby girl. I’m right here next to you.”

“Laius, thank God.” I inclined my head toward the direction of his voice, but a splitting pain attacked my skull. “Shit,” I moaned.

“Easy,” Laius said.

“No. Where’s Ty? I saw the two of you swooping down on me. Where’s he?” I rolled my eyes to swipe the room, but no one else was there. “No, no,” I sniffled, tears flowing down my face. “Where’s he? Where’s Ty? Did I kill him? I killed him, didn’t I? I killed Ty. I killed your son.” I broke. “He shouldn’t have tried to save me. Why did he try to save me?”

“Jo, Jo! He’s alive. He got out of surgery like you, and he’s in recovery.”

“You’re lying to me.”

“I swear on your life, his and Sammy’s, he’s alive. He reached you faster than I did, and he wrestled you for the gun. He headbutted you when you wouldn’t let go. The bullet came out and grazed your skull, but thank God, it didn’t touch your brain.”

I touched my head, feeling the bulky gauze and bandages. Great. I’ll have another scar on my skull.

“He was hit by a ricochet in the shoulder,” Laius continued. “They got it out, fixed the shoulder and checked if the headbutt and the other blows from the Larvins did any damage to his eyes. It’s not in the clear yet, but they’re optimistic.”

I blew out a sigh in relief. “Thank God. Are you okay?”

“Not a scratch.”

“For real?”

“For real.”

“Declan?” A lump rose to my throat at the name.

“Boiler, with the Mrs.”

Stunned, I glanced at Michele, who nodded in confirmation. Happy tears jumped to my eyes. “I can’t believe that nightmare is going to be over. I’m going to avenge my mother’s death, and I’d no longer live in fear.”

My father and my husband patted and squeezed my hands, sharing my joy.

“What about the Lanzas? Did your boss get what he wanted?”

“Unfortunately not. Enzio and Armando fled the scene when we arrived. They get to be a pain in our culi another day. But our war with them will come no matter what, especially after the fall of the Larvins. New York is calling.”

“How did you know where we were? The Larvins changed the meet, and they had captured Laius and the brothers. Who gave you the new location?” With a moan, I glanced back at Laius. “You kept telling me to wait for their arrival like you were certain they were coming. How did you know they were?”

“After I hung up with you, I called Michele like you subtly asked me to,” Laius said. “He tipped me about the lost burner. We figured it was either the Lanzas or the Larvins that had it. They must have been tracking you down when I refused to help but couldn’t get close enough because we were guarding you like hawks. When Michele realized they must have known by then you were connected, he anticipated the ambush.

“But you were already in their hands. There was nothing I could do but let you be the fucking bait and pretend we were going through with the plan.” His voice thickened. It took him a few seconds to regain control over his emotions.

“I’m sorry. I know I screwed up.”

“Because of me. I led you straight into their lair with how stubborn I fucking was.” He kissed my hand. “Anyway, we let the Larvins think they took us at the bayou, but what they didn’t know was, when we were fighting them, we put tiny trackers on them Michele had sent us. When those fuckers shoved us in the back of their cars, they took our guns and searched us for wires and trackers, but they didn’t bother to search themselves.”

“That’s genius.”

“Then the Bellomos were on their tail and, at the same time, raided their house to take that wench. Thank fuck they arrived just in time at the new meet before you… How could you do that, baby? Put a gun to your head?” His eyes and nose reddened with tears.

“You can’t do that,” Michele said, “for anyone.”

“What was I supposed to do? They were going to die. I couldn’t fight. I tried fighting before and lost my own mother. I’ve been living with this guilt and loss and shame for fifteen years. How could I let myself be responsible for another death in my family?”

“That’s not why you did it,” Laius rasped. “I told you to wait, but you said no more waiting.”

He was right. I didn’t decide to end my life because of the mob. Michele was coming, and I could have stalled until he arrived. “I’m tired of coming between the two of you. I’m tired of all the pain the three of us are causing each other. I’m tired of his hurting me and watching him hurt himself. I’m tired of watching you hurt him in return, and I’m tired of hurting you. This isn’t love even if it is beyond doubt what we feel. When it hurts this much, it has to end.”

“What are you telling me, Jo?”

“I want to see Ty. Can I see him?”

“I ain’t gonna stop you if that’s what you’re asking.”

I smiled faintly. “Thank you.”

“That doesn’t answer my question. What are you telling me, Jo?”

“I…I’d like a word with Michele alone, please.”

He exchanged a wary glance between us. Then his eyes fixed on mine. “You’re my wife, Jo. If you think for one second that I’ll let you go, think again.” He glared at Michele. “I don’t care who fucking raised you or who I have to hit or kill to keep you with me. Put that in your pretty, little head when you talk to your papà.” He stormed out.

Michele swore in Italian. “What do you see in that cazzone?”

“A lot.”

He rolled his eyes. “Topolina, don’t let him scare you into staying. You’ll always have a place in Chicago, and he can’t do a single thing to stop you from coming back with me. I’ll fucking kill him if he stands in your way.”

“Papà, you can’t kill him.”

Another eye roll. “Fine, but I’ll make sure he stays away…if that’s what you really want.”

My lips shivered, and tears pricked my eyes. “It’s not what I want, but it is what I have to do.”  


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