Page 32 of Mafia Sinner

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“You’ve made your offer. Here’s my counter offer. You back off. You pay the right price for each shipment. The price we agreed before. I let you live.”

He coughs like he’s choking on something. “You would threaten me? When I come to a meeting in good faith?”

“You had your men torture me yesterday. I won’t forget that in a hurry.”

He coughs again, swallowing hard. “I tell you what I will do. I will give you a few days to think about it. What is it, Monday today? Call me on Friday and we’ll talk further. I think a coupleof days will make you change your mind.”

“I’m not changing my mind.”

“We will see.” He gets to his feet. “It would all have been so much easier if you had signed the contract I sent over.”

I walk out without another word. My men are waiting for me outside. The Mexicans glare at us as we climb into our cars. Igor waits until we’re a half mile from the lake house before asking how it went.

“He wants that ten percent,” I tell him. “But it’s a distraction, I can tell. He wants the empire and me dead. Just trying to work out how to do it without getting himself killed.”

“Maybe you should give it to him.”

I growl. “Are you serious?”

“Come on. It’s ten percent to put this to bed. No more fighting. Back to making money. Why not?”

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this. Would you have suggested this to my father?”

Igor shrugs. “Look where he is. Six feet under. You want the same for you?”

“I’ll say to you what I said to Diego. Back off or I’ll snap your spine with my bare hands.”

“Just an idea. What do you think he’ll do now?”

“Told me to get back to him on Friday. Keep a close eye on things in case he makes a move between now and then.”

“Where will you be?”

“At the cabin with Mila. Get a crew together while I’m gone. We may need to take out Diego.”

“How do we keep the lines to the factories without his connections?”

“We take over the factories ourselves. Bring it all in house.”

“We’d be stretched pretty thin, guarding the compounds in Juarez would take a lot of men.”

“What’s the alternative? I give him ten and next week he wants twenty. By the end of the month I’ve got moths in my wallet and he’s got everything. That’s not happening. Be prepared.”

“I’ll have everything ready for when you give the word. Oh, and congratulations on the pregnancy.”

The cabin’s quiet when I get up there. Smoke rises from the chimney, drifting off into clear blue skies. The trees rustle in the light breeze as I climb out of my car.

I could get used to being up here, away from everything, bringing up our child in the country, away from all the bullshit of the city.

I open the trunk and bring out the flowers I picked up. I head up the mossy path that leads to the steps. They creak under my weight as I climb to the door and push it open. “Mila?”

No answer. I smell something in the air. Iron. My heart thuds. “Mila?”

The smell is coming from the kitchen. I walk in and find Mrs. Aldova slumped over the stove. A pan of soup is on its side. She was dishing it up when they shot her.

I spin around, running through the rest of the place, calling out for Mila. She’s not here. What there is instead is a note neatly folded, propped up on the hearth. I look at it from a distance for a while. No wires. No traps. A message, not a bomb.

I unfold the note.