Luca walked into the hotel meeting room at Hotel Astor, with a piercing pain in his shoulder. He was still meant to have his arm in a sling, Rose had been urging him to use it, but he didn’t want to look weak as Don Spinietta’s second at the meeting. All five families were called to attend the meeting. It was the new way of dealing with business between the familias, instead of creating plots to whack people they didn’t want to do business with any more or just generally when problems would arise.
No guns were allowed in the room, but they’d be fools if they didn’t bring something with them to protect themselves. Luca had a trusty blade lined on the inside of his suit and his suit was so finely pressed no one would be able to tell that he had a weapon hidden there. He would have brought some brass knuckles as well, but he opted for jewelling all his fingers with gold thick rings with different stylish embellishments. The Spinietta crime family, in its entirety, had congregated the day before so both Luca and Cristofano could feel their way through everyone’s composure. They both still believed the traitor was in their ranks, but the meeting they were at today would prove that to them.
Matteo Brenari had heard everything that was going on, the Bassano’s trying to influence Don Spinietta’s choice, the attempted murder on Luca, and he had suspected as well that there was a traitor in their midst as well. He pulled Luca aside after the meeting the previous day to clear the air between them. He hadn’t been on his best behaviour at Luca and Rose’s wedding, but he hadn’t been since he had arrived in Manhattan again.
Matteo had been happy to see his mother again, even his father but he had lost a friend in Birmingham at the hands of the Peaky Blinders, and he couldn’t forget it. He couldn’t go on. As soon as he sobered up, he had gone back to the juice just so he could forget that his friend was gone, and Luca, his own cousin had brought the murderer's sister into his own home and married her.
It was his older sister Angelina, that had brought Matteo back to his senses. She had only spoken to Rose once and Angelina prided her self on being a good judge of character. Rose had been kind to Angelina and Angelina was the type of person to pay it forward, even though they had seen each other for only brief moments after then, Angelina was always kind to her, and Rose was the same to her. Matteo had heard Angelina say it to him many times over in the moments he was sober, but when the wedding came he couldn’t hold it in. Matteo had gone around telling everyone and their mothers that Rose was a ‘gypsy’ woman and on some occasion, he had even told some people that Rose was a witch, though he didn’t even know if that was true or if he had made it up. Rose had always seemed shy when Matteo was near her, he never had a reason to be threatened but he couldn’t let it go.
Once Luca had given him a good telling to at the wedding and had left him with a bloodied nose, he closed himself off and only Angelina came to see him. She was his older sister, after all, she convinced him that it was time to let go, and he met Luca after the meeting. He cleared the air and Luca had even squeezed his shoulder with his good hand. Matteo had apologized for saying those things about Rose, but Luca said it would mean more to Rose if he said it to her himself. Matteo nodded and he planned to see her eventually.
The meeting with the five families had kept Rose on edge, and Luca knew that Rose would be worried about him as she stayed at home waiting for any news. Luca was sat on Don Spinietta’s right, running his good hand down the sides of his suit his knife was under. Luca took a quick gulp of rum that was placed on the round table in front of him as he scanned the men in the room.
The Galano’s were sitting next to him, Carlo Galano and his underboss Fabio Greco. In front of Luca and Don Spinietta, were the Bassano’s, Enrico Bassano and Gavino Piazza, they seemed calm but so was Luca, they’d be stupid to show to much emotion. Next to Don Spinietta were the Francone’s who Don Spinietta had contacted late into the evening last night. Luigi Francone and Massimo Donati had agreed to back Don Spinietta at the meeting and Luca had agreed to work with them in the liquor business once Cristofano stepped down. On the other end of the table, remaining ever neutral were the Marconi’s. Riccardo Marconi, the youngest boss in history, well in the history Luca knew of, was sat next to Sergio Valentini twenty years his senior. Riccardo Marconi was Aria Marconi’s younger brother.
Riccardo Marconi took the position of boss after his father died in a blood feud the Bassano’s had with the Marconi’s five years ago. Riccardo was twenty-two years old when he took the position. Most of New York saw Riccardo as King with no power, as his underboss Sergio Valentini called the shots. While most of New York expected the Valentini’s would try to whack Riccardo to take power, it never happened.
There was something unsettling about Riccardo as he sat at one end of the table. He looked slightly lifeless, the dark circles under his eyes, and the two “cat-scratches” on his left brow mirrored an actual scar on the other side of his forehead.
Luca had his fair share of scars, but Luca prided himself on his good looks and fashion sense, instead of how fearsome his scars made him. He didn’t need to look scary to be feared he thought, but Riccardo had been young when he had taken power and he needed all the edge he could get.
Spinietta started the meeting with regular formalities, thanking everyone for coming to Manhattan when they were called and so on. The bosses around the table all had opportunities to speak about their business, any faults, any plans, or any possible alliances between the bosses in the room or overseas.
Luca had an edge here. He had been in contact with Thomas Shelby consistently since he and Rose arrived in Manhattan and Tommy’s gin was proving successful at all the establishments Luca and Don Spinietta were managing in Manhattan. Their business was thriving and the other bosses knew it. Luca knew Don Francone would ask for a business alliance with the liquor overseas, like the alliance both he and Don Spinietta already had with the Galano’s.
The average folk looking for good juice didn’t want the bathtub juice brought in by bootleggers, they wanted the real thing and Marconi’s, Bassano’s, and Francone’s suppliers got their illegal juice from who knows where.
After everyone got their piece to say about business, Don Spinietta hit the Bassano’s with bad news.
“I’m cutting off your port activity on the Hudson River, Don Bassano. I’m losing money with your access, you can petition with Don Marconi to use East River,” Don Spinietta was calm, collected and looked every person he needed to in the eyes. Luca watched Riccardo almost smirk as East River was mentioned, East River was a mess thanks to the Irish, but it had been said that the Marconi’s were putting the Irish to rest in ways the families didn’t know yet.
“Hey, hey,” Don Enrico Bassano started, “let's not get too hasty here. If it’s clams you want, I got some for you. But I can’t go through East River, no chance. I don’t got insurance on my goods, and I sure fuckin’ know Don Marconi ain’t gonna provide that for me.” Enrico spoke as if Riccardo wasn’t in the room, but Riccardo was unfazed, as he lit a cigarette and placed it between his lips.
The room was already full of smoke from several cigars and cigarettes. Luca hadn’t bothered to light one himself, he only had one good hand and if anything happened he would be at a disadvantage with a cigar in his hand instead of quick access to the knife in his coat. Spinietta and Luca watched Don Bassano carefully. He hadn’t even tried to negotiate any terms, he shut down the idea of losing his ports on the Hudson River rather quick.
It was as if they were all in a staring competition and Enrico lost as he looked away from Don Spinietta with his nose up high, trying to save his pride against Manhattan.
“Hey, if this is about my proposition,” Only the Spinietta’s and the Bassano’s knew the proposition, to choose the Rossi’s instead of the Changretta’s. “Forget about it.” Enrico stood up slowly, and Gavino Piazza followed as well, trying to look as unthreatening as possible. “Leave my port, and I’ll take my proposition back.” Bassano knew well enough that it was out of his place to give his opinion on who should run Manhattan next and with how quick he was to take back the proposition both Luca and Cristofano now had confirmation that the proposal had never been important to Bassano, it was an inside job. It was someone in the family trying to mess up Manhattan’s stable structure.
Luca already had an idea who it was but he wasn’t going to act on it just yet. The meeting ended with several handshakes and no blood spilled. It was almost laughable to some of the bosses how business-like it had turned out, they were good at spilling blood, but they didn’t need to do that this day. And Luca was saving his bullets and knives for someone else anyway.
Luca got home an hour after the meeting at the Hotel Astor, he was still walking around Manhattan with his eyes peeled. He wasn’t about to get shot again and possibly die for real this time around. Tessa Tower was quiet when he got into the lobby area, the gold accents in the decor were dimmer when he would arrive home in the evening. It wasn’t very late either the sun was only setting, but he was ready to put his arm back in its sling and to have Rose near him.
He rode the elevator up to the top floor, he was trying to rub the pain away in his shoulder, his torso had healed considerably faster and didn’t bother him much anymore. But his shoulder still ached. When he exited the elevator he came to the familiar door with the number 331 above the peephole.
He opened the door after inserting a key. He pulled out the key as he stepped in, and shut the door behind him. He could hear her humming a song he didn’t know. Rose was walking out from the hall that led to their bedroom, she had a wooden spoon in her hand, and Luca could hear something sizzling from the kitchen.
“You’re home!” Rose smiled at him happily and placed a kiss on his lips. Luca returned the kiss eagerly, but Rose moved away quickly as she remembered she had something on the stove. “I’m so glad you came home early. I’m making dinner.” Rose started as she walked toward the kitchen.
Luca took off his suit jacket carefully not to hurt his shoulder as he walked into the living room and placed it on the top of the couch. He removed his cuff links on his own and placed them on the coffee table in front of the couches. He loosened his tie, and pulled it off completely, unbuttoning the top buttons of his white dress shirt. He ran his good hand over his face to remove the tiredness and then he ran it through his styled hair before he moved into the hallway and into the bedroom to grab the sling the doctor had given him. He couldn’t put it on properly by himself, so he took the sling to Rose in the kitchen. He nudged her silently as she worked over the stove. She didn’t say a word as she helped him put the sling on correctly. She understood why he chose not to use it, no matter how much she disagreed. She knew that he was still in pain, but she didn’t pester him anymore about not listening to the doctor's orders. She worried about him still.
“How’s the pain?” She looked at him through worried eyes, as her eyebrows knit together. The palm of her hand was against his cheek, her thumb rubbing lightly at his skin.
“It’s manageable,” he leaned into her touch, he had been craving it all day.
“How was the meeting? Did you figure out who was after you?” Rose turned away from him as she finished up the cooking.
“It’s not the Bassano’s.” Luca moved to the side and leaned against the counter. Rose looked at him quizzically.
“Who then?” She asked carefully as she turned off the burner.
“The Bassano’s wanted the Rossi’s to take Manhattan but not because it would be easy for them to control the Rossi’s if they did take Manhattan. Bassano was asked to propose the Rossi’s as next in line, someone in the family wanted Giovanni to take my place.”
“Someone in the familia?” Rose was moving the food around on the counter and putting her delicious Italian creation on two separate plates.
“Yeah, someone in the familia,” Luca watched Rose pick up both plates and move to the table in the kitchen instead of the dining room. The table in the dining room was too big for just two, so Luca appreciated the comfort of Rose wanting to sit closer to him by using the small circular table in the kitchen.
They ate in silence for a while before Rose spoke to him. “I don’t see Bianca as often anymore. Do you have her doing work? Or has she found something to do herself?” She peered up at Luca as she placed a slice of potato into her mouth.
“I haven’t given her anything to do in the last two weeks,” he looked at Rose curiously, as he set down his fork and used the back of his fingers to graze the skin at his jawline. He leaned back in his chair. He found it odd that Bianca hadn’t shown her face in a while, he knew how much Bianca enjoyed Rose’s company, but he tried not to dwell on it too much. “Did you see my mother today?” Luca asked as he continued to eat.
“Yes, I went looking for Bianca. But your mum told me she wasn’t home, so I spent the day with her. We took a walk and went to the department store, and we also had lunch together. I’m glad we can talk to each other now.” Luca quickly dropped his fork again to take Rose’s hands in his own. A big grin on his face.
“I knew she would like you if she gave you the chance. It’s hard not to like you.” He pulled her hand close and then left a kiss on her knuckles.
They finished dinner quietly as they both had things on their mind. Rose took the dishes from the table and washed them up as Luca moved to their bedroom to remove the rest of his clothes, and debated on whether he should take a bath or a shower.
Rose walked into the bedroom as Luca tried to pull off his sling again so he could remove the rest of his clothes. Rose helped him silently and helped him undress in the middle of their bedroom. He showered on his own as Rose got ready for bed as well.
As Luca finished washing up, he walked back into the bedroom with a towel around his waist and his hair still dripping. Rose was already dressed in her silk nightie, the one Luca had bought for her long ago, it was in a soft shade of blue and went down to about mid-thigh. Luca watched her as she moved through the room, moving her own clothes and his into a laundry hamper that she would have someone take to the cleaners. She was picking up the general mess that Luca usually left behind in the room.
His hair was still dripping down his neck as he walked up behind Rose and wrapped his good arm around her waist. Luca snaked his hand up her stomach and placed his hand on her breast and squeezed gently.
“Luca,” Rose laughed as her own hands came up to hold on to Luca’s arm. “I’m feeling sore, Love.” She still moaned lightly at his touch. She pulled away to turn around and look at him. He looked at her with a dazed expression, as he brought the back of his fingers to caress her cheeks.
“You’re going to be busy tomorrow,” Rose was looking at the sealed bullet wound on his shoulder and the nasty bruise that was fading to green on his chest. Rose frowned as she brought her hands to touch his chest. She kissed him there, her height came around to where his bruise was. “What will happen to the traitor?”
“The traitor will get what’s comin’ to’em,” his expression changed, he seemed slightly uncomfortable. He moved away from Rose to put some comfortable trousers on to sleep in, and Rose helped him dry his hair.
“Someone in the family will die, won’t they,” Rose asked gingerly.
“Traitors die around here, Rose.” Luca didn’t meet her eyes.
“Will you be the one to get rid of the traitor then?” Now she wasn’t meeting his eyes. She didn’t know if she was overstepping their boundaries or not, but she needed to know.
“If it comes down to it, yeah, I’ll be the one. Makes sense as they tried to have me killed.” Rose nodded in response. She knew that he would have to do it, if she had been back home in Birmingham and one of her brothers had had the same thing happen to them, they would want to get rid of the attempted murderer as well. She had to accept it, as much as she didn’t want to, because she lived in this world now, the world of the Cosa Nostra.
Luca spent the next morning with Don Spinietta and Hiram Fenacci trying to figure out the next course of action. They could now check off the Bassano’s from their list of suspects. Matteo had been struck out from the list two days prior, Anthony hadn’t been on the list, none of the Drago’s or their men were. Donnino had no reason to try to pick Luca off as he would be underboss as soon as Luca took Manhattan.
It only made sense now that the Bassano’s asked for Spinietta to use one of the Rossi’s not because they were easy to control, but because one of the Rossi’s wanted to take power from Luca. Cristofano and Luca were sitting in the apartment in Tessa Tower. They were in Luca’s office and Rose had left the apartment for the meeting, she had told Luca that she would try to get a hold of Bianca that day.
The office was full of cigar smoke and the window was cracked open as much as it was able to because Rose couldn’t handle the smell anymore.
Spinietta was sitting in Luca’s chair behind his dark-wood desk. Luca stood by the window, his cigar hanging from his lips as he adjusted his cufflinks.
“Luca, can you vouch for any of the Rossi’s?” Spinietta started.
“Just Lorenzo,” Luca started as he looked over to his cousin and lawyer, “1911, me, Lorenzo and Tony got pinched. Spent 6 months in jail together, he was a solid fella, loyal too.”
“Giovanni is too old to be this ambitious, Don Cristofano,” Hiram reasoned with the Don as Luca looked between them, he had one hand in his pocket, the one that belonged to his still-healing shoulder and the other pulled the cigar away from his mouth so he could release the smoke he had gathered in his mouth.
The Bassano’s wanted Giovanni as the next Don of Manhattan in their proposal but Giovanni wouldn’t last long, if he did become Don, his eldest son would soon take his place, Stefano.
“It’s Stefano then, that fuckin’ wise-guy. Fuck!” Luca lost his temper for a second and Cristofano slammed his fist against the table, but didn’t utter a word.
“What are you gonna do then, call’em Gimpy or whack’em?” Hiram crossed one leg over the other as he got comfortable in his chair.
“Whack’em,” Luca said dangerously. Hiram thought that Luca might have lost his edge after he married Rose, he had never seen him look so soft with a woman before, but the familiar dangerous look he had seen countless times before was invading Luca’s face and maybe he looked even more dangerous than usual.
“You need proof, Luca,” Hiram added, he looked to Don Spinietta for confirmation and when he saw no protests from him he continued. “You can’t be goin’ ‘round killin’ our own, like this.”
Luca knew he was right, but deep inside him, Luca knew it was Stefano. It was as clear as day to him now.
Anthony came to the apartment later in the afternoon when Rose got home. Rose had met him in the lobby and they both rode up the gold elevator together.
“How’s the honeymoon?” Tony grinned at her charmingly.
“It was wonderful actually, I’d never seen such a beautiful beach.” Rose smiled at him politely.
“There ain’t any beaches in England, then?” Anthony asked curiously as he smoothed his jacket down as they reached the 22nd floor.
“Oh, of course there are, Britain is an island,” Rose laughed, “It’s just I’d never had the opportunity to visit one before.”
“There’s a real nice beach nearby, Coney Island they’ve been callin' it, theyse just finished buildin’ it a few years back. But if you wanna get there you might need to give the Marconi’s a call since it’s in Brooklyn.” Tony scratched his eyebrow quickly before the elevator doors opened and brought them into the familiar room. Rose pulled out her key and opened the door as she spoke.
“The Marconi’s? Do we have to ask permission to go to Brooklyn? Why would we need to ask permission?”
“Hey, you know, with everythin’ that’s goin’ on.” Anthony waved his arms around hoping Rose would understand what he was insinuating so he wouldn’t have to explain himself. She nodded at him as she stepped inside the house. Rose could smell the nicotine as soon as she walked in. She had been fine with the smell all her life but now it gave her headaches, there was a strange warmth in the apartment that could only be explained by Luca having left the window open too long.
“You want something to drink, Tony?” Rose slipped her slippers on, and then placed her handbag and shawl onto the couch in the living room.
“Yeah, you have any gin?” Tony answered absently as he walked into the living room and sat down at the end of the couch closest to the large windows.
“You’re in luck,” Rose chimed as she moved toward the liquor cabinet. She poured Anthony a glass of Shelby Company Limited Gin and read out the label to him. “Distilled for the eradication of seemingly incurable sadness,” Tony snorted as he heard the quote.
“What a sad egg,” Rose brought the glass to Tony.
“It’s my brother’s gin. Imported from Birmingham.” Tony raised an eyebrow before he took a long gulp of gin.
“Tony,” Luca walked from out the hall to meet them in the living room.
“Hey Luca, I got somethin’ for you, real chin music.” Tony pointed his index finger to the ceiling wagging it around lazily.
“C’mon Tony, how sober are you?” Luca sat down next to him as Rose moved to pour herself and Luca a glass.
“I’m sober, don’t worry about that. Now that the supply comes in regularly it ain’t so bad. If I have a drink a day I can still work.”
“Goodness,” Rose answered worriedly. Tony didn’t seem like an alcoholic, but he was still rather dependent on alcohol. Rose handed Luca a glass as she took a sip of her own before she sat next to Luca on the couch.
“Alright, alright, what you here for Tony?” Luca had a funny grin as he watched his friend.
“Yeah, right–well, I was out with Guzzo this morning, ya’know doin’ rounds at the factories in Harlem and Guzzo was tellin’ me that one of Stefano’s high hat girls was runnin’ her trap about being the next Don’s wife.” Rose frowned as she noticed Luca tense next to her. It wouldn’t do his still-healing shoulder any good. Rose placed her hand on his back and rubbed gently. “Guzzo had his girl listen in on them and Guzzo’s girl was talkin’ ‘bout how she was at the wedding and how Rose was supposed to be the next Don’s wife. Guzzo says the girls got into a real catfight, youse should probably send compensation or something. Guzzo took three days off for his girl.” Tony scratched his brow again. “I don’t think Stefano’s talkin’ in his sleep.”
“No, ‘cause he tried to have me killed, Tony,” Luca wasn’t looking at anyone anymore. He was staring at the coffee table, figuring out his next move.
“Say the word and I’ll whack him for yah,” Tony was nodding animatedly as he clenched and unclenched his fist repeatedly.
“No, I got this, but you’re coming with me. Call Guzzo bring him too, Rose you’ll see Guzzo’s girl right?” Luca looked at her quickly.
“Of course, but I can’t say I remember her or her name.” Rose watched as a million thoughts raced behind Luca’s eyes.
“She wasn’t at the wedding, she made it up, but she still stood by the familia.” Luca rubbed his face with both hands for once.
“When you gonna whack’em?” Tony asked as he downed the rest of his gin.
Don Spinietta had heard the word over the phone. Luca had notified him that he was going to kill Stefano. Stefano was a made-member of the family and Luca needed permission to kill him, but it wasn’t hard to get that permission. Spinietta backed Luca in every way, that he needed. He gave Luca free rein again to take the men he needed to get the job done. He had done it when he let Luca take a handful of men to England.
Luca had Anthony, Charlie Guzzo, and Matteo on the mission, though he really only needed one person, even Donnino wanted in on the action so he came along as well. Charlie Guzzo confirmed the story word for word and came prepared for the situation at hand. They were driving in two separate motor cars towards Stefano’s apartment in Soho. It was well past midnight, maybe already one in the morning, but the time wasn’t what Luca was worried about.
The men stepped out of the cars and formed a circle to discuss the plan.
“Right, listen, me and Nino are goin’ up. Matteo, Tony, Guzzo, youse are the lookouts and backups. If we ain’t back in ten minutes, you come up, right?”
“Yeah, Boss,” Guzzo nodded, looking at Tony for confirmation.
“You got it,” Tony answered as Matteo gave a nod.
Luca and Donnino walked up the sidewalk looking dapper in their tailored suits made specifically for them by Donnino’s father. They looked far to sharp for people to suspect that they were about to murder someone. The apartment ground floor was unguarded and didn’t even have a lobby man like Tessa Tower did. They got in easily and took the elevator to the tenth floor. Luca was prepared. He had two handguns strapped to his holster underneath his suit jacket, but then he noticed that Donnino was carrying a long suitcase.
“What do you have?” Luca questioned.
“A present,” Donnino smirked, the scar on cheek crinkling. Donnino opened the suitcase and pulled out a Thompson submachine gun. Luca was never a fan of overkill and wasting bullets, but his blood had been boiling far too long now, that same rage he once felt when he was after the Shelby’s was resurfacing. Luca knew he was channeling the abrupt end of the vendetta he had with the Shelby’s now with Stefano, and there was guilt in his chest for Rose. But Stefano had to be dealt with, that was how the mafia worked.
Luca took the tommy gun from Donnino as they stepped out of the elevator. They looked for the correct door out of the handful that lined the hall. Donnino helped with the lock picking, he had been a master at it in their youth, when Luca and Nino would rob the barbershops and candy stores in Greenwich.
The lock was trickier than they both anticipated and Donnino was doing his best to not make any noise but still open the door. It took four minutes before he got it open, and they were running out of time before Matteo, Tony and Guzzo would come running into the apartment. Donnino walked in behind Luca, they didn’t turn on any lights, as it would alert Stefano that someone broke in, so they walked in the dark.
In the bedroom, they both heard breathing and heavy snoring. Luca nudged the door open harshly and with no words, no warnings, he began to fire a swift and unforgiving round of bullets at the people he suspected were fast asleep in their bed. Luca heard a woman wail, but the sound died out quickly as he moved the tommy gun erratically. Once Luca let go of the anger, and he was satisfied, Donnino turned the light on in the bedroom to see exactly what happened.
“Just makin’ sure we got the right guy,” Donnino said sheepishly and they did.
The sheets on the bed were covered in blood and Stefano was almost unrecognizable after being battered by bullets. The wail did come from a woman, a blond one they could tell by the number of yellow curls sprawled on the pillow and she was battered by bullets as well. From what Luca and Nino could tell, she was naked.
Donnino turned off the light and nudged Luca to go, they put the gun back into the case in the elevator and left Stefano Rossi, the traitor, dead with his girl in his own bed.