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Authors: A.M. Madden

Stone Walls (33 page)

BOOK: Stone Walls
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“We are sorry to interrupt your normally scheduled programming for this breaking news. I am Steve Carson, reporting live from the scene in Long Beach, New York. The FBI has confirmed that mob boss, Mr. Victor Politto Jr., has been critically shot and rushed to
North Shore LIJ Medical
. Three others have been killed at the scene. Among the other victims is Ms. Gabriella Volante.”

An old mug shot of Angelo Volante is shown. Instead of a photo of Ella, one of a much younger Regina Volante is also flashed on the screen.

“Ms. Volante is the daughter of the late Angelo Volante, the infamous head of the Volante Crime Family. This morning, Ms. Volante died of her injuries at
St. Luke’s Roosevelt
Hospital in lower Manhattan. Mr. Politto remains in critical condition at
North Shore
. The other victims are New York City police officers. Their identities have not yet been released, pending family notification. We will continue to update you on further developments as they are revealed. Now back to your…”

I click the TV off, nausea rises as I sit and stare at the darkened screen.

That fucker is still living, still breathing. He was shot four fucking times. Farley said it doesn’t look good, yet he’s still breathing.

Farley updated me an hour ago.

“Politto was there to retrieve the flash drive and then kill Gabriella.”

“A flash drive that doesn’t exist. How the fuck did he find her?”

Farley removes a picture from his pocket. “Recognize him?”

“It’s the fuck-face receptionist from the gym.”

“Frank isn’t as dumb as he let on. Nole Travitt has a healthy coke addiction. He took pictures as you were escorting Smyth out of the gym. He sent them to Frank to warn him. Frank immediately recognized Gabriella in one of the pictures. He also thought there was something very familiar about you. It wasn’t long before he found out you were David Stone’s son. Through his lawyer, he got word to Politto that Smyth knew Gabriella’s whereabouts all along. He said Smyth was planning to barter her whereabouts for control of the drug ring out of Manhattan and all its profits. Of course, that wasn’t true.”

“Why would Politto believe him?”

Farley waits a pause before adding, “Frank told his uncle you were the lead cop in Smyth’s investigation and that your only agenda was to arrest anyone involved with the Politto name. He said you were in charge of keeping Gabriella safe in an undisclosed location because she recognized Smyth at the gym. Politto had no idea he was walking into an FBI operation. He bit the bait Frank dangled and followed you right to her. Frank was betting on Politto arriving, killing Gabriella and killing you. He was also banking on us killing Politto at the scene. Frank believed he would then enter the WITSEC program, never having to worry his uncle would find him. Smyth would be left to take all the blame. The minute you walked out of the building, Politto made his move.”

I can’t believe what I’m hearing.

“Does Frank know Ella and I are together?”

“No. He knows you are a cop, and she is a witness.”

“And if Politto survives? What happens to Frank then?”

“Frank’s fucked. The WITSEC offer is off the table. He just added conspiracy charges to the mountain of charges he’s already fighting.”

I force my brain to try and look at all these facts with my cop hat on. I can’t do it. I can’t go back to thinking like a cop, at least not in this situation. I’m useless as a cop right now. “I need to file for a leave.”

He nods, shoving his hands in his pockets. “I’ll ensure it gets approved, full pay.”

His immediate approval rubs me the wrong way. “Bribe?”

“Ben, we did everything we could to keep her safe. You know we did.” He shakes his head and says, “Our downfall was Frank Politto.”

A sarcastic huff is all I can manage. I guess we all have them, downfalls.

Mine was Ella Parker…and I was hers.

“You’re all set?” she asked one last time.

“Yep, I’m good. I’ll call you when I get there.”

Beth nodded as she flashed me a big fake smile. “This is going to be great for you, Ben. We’ll be there for graduation. Don’t worry about us. We’ll be just fine. Right, Jon?”

Jonathan shrugged, but his frown, his folded arms, and his eyes told me he wasn’t buying it. At fourteen, he became a tall, lanky, hormonal teenager. That’s all he was, a teenager, a kid who was still far from being a man. My heart squeezed painfully from the guilt I had over leaving him. So many times I almost canceled my flight, called the Academy, and retracted my application. So many times Beth talked me out of it.

“I could stay here. I could be a great cop, right here.”

“No.” She held my arms, turning me slightly so I could look down at her face. “Ben, you need to do this. Jonathan will understand that once he is older. Until then, he has an aunt who will spoil the hell out of him.” She looked at Jon and asked, “Tell him. You’re playing us to get that new game system you’ve been asking for. Just like he did to get that damn dog.”

A slow smile spreads across his face.

“See?” she said. “We’re good. This little stinker knows I’ll be driving him right to Best Buy.”

“You call me every day, okay?” I instructed him. “If I can’t talk, I’ll call you back when I can. I need you to take care of Aunt Beth and Buster.”

“I will. I promise. When you become a cop, can you drive me around in your cop car?”

“Sure, dude. I’ll even let you hit the siren.”

He swung his arms around my torso, gripping me tightly. “I’ll miss you, Ben.”

“I know, dude. Me, too.” I tried to swallow past the lump in my throat as best I could.

Beth reached out and squeezed his shoulder. “Come on, Jon. We have a Play Station to go buy.”

They walked away, Jon turned back every few seconds to give me another wave. Watching them intensified the pain in my heart.

There was only one thing I could do. Follow my plans, become a cop, and avenge my family’s misfortune by causing Politto’s demise.

All I wanted was to cause Politto’s demise. I shake my head at the irony. Not being a religious man, I feel hypocritical to be suddenly praying so much, especially since my prayers are for God to take that fucker’s life once and for all.

“Hey,” Rob says as he enters the room, looking no better than I do. Andrea follows closely behind.

“Hey, guys.”

Andrea sits beside me, taking my hand. She knows it all, every bit of it. Rob sat her down and told her everything. She understood why we couldn’t tell her sooner. Even now, she shouldn’t know details, but Rob didn’t give a fuck. She deserved to know about her best friend.

“Why haven’t you changed? I brought you clean clothes yesterday.” When I shrug, she adds, “You look awful.”

“Thanks.”

“Have you eaten?”

“No.”

“I should ask when have you eaten last?”

“Can’t remember.” I scrub my hand over my face. Exhaustion is no longer what I feel. That ended days ago. It’s been replaced with a void.

“It’s all over the news. Every channel. I can’t stand watching it anymore.”

I know Andrea is trying to help, but she’s not helping. To avoid hurting her feelings, I just nod in agreement.

She looks around the room. “This is nicer than the last one.”

“Yeah.”

She squeezes the hand that she’s still holding. “I’m sorry. You probably want me to shut up. I just…” She sighs before adding, “I miss her so much. And I don’t know how to help you.”

I smile ruefully and give her hand a returning squeeze. “Barbie, your job is to take care of Ken. He’s looking pretty bad these days.”

We both look at Rob, and he flips me off. She laughs at her fiancé before hugging me tightly. “You’re looking pretty bad yourself. I’m used to having two studs in my life.”

“I’ll schedule an appointment at the salon tomorrow.”

“Shut up,” she swats at my chest. “Do you want me to go get something for you? Anything?”

“Yeah, a real cup of coffee would be great.”

“Okay. I saw a
Starbucks
a block away. I’ll be back.”

After a hug for me and a chaste kiss for Rob, she leaves us alone. Rob stays silent. That’s the difference between men and women. We know words aren’t always the solution. Sometimes silence is required. This is one of those times.

“Officer Stone?”

Her voice wakes me from a dreamless sleep. I immediately straighten in the uncomfortable chair. Aches wrack my body, both inside and out. There isn’t a part of me that doesn’t ache.

“Yes,” I acknowledge, running a hand through my hair in an attempt to look presentable. I’m not sure why I’m bothering. The days of growth on my chin, my dirty T-shirt, and the dark circles under my eyes give me away.

“He’ll be in to see you in a few minutes.”

“Thank you.”

A few minutes are actually a few seconds when he enters the room immediately after she exits. “Officer Stone.”

“Yes.”

“She’s stable.”

All the air in my lungs comes out in a whoosh. “She’s okay? She’s going to be okay?”

“She’s going to live. We still don’t know if she’ll gain use of her leg. It’s not going to be easy on her. But, yes, the clot has been treated, and her blood levels are back to normal.”

“How did this happen?”

“She’s had three surgeries in three days in two hospitals in two different states. Besides the stress that alone could cause
,
deep vein thrombosis is very common in surgeries of the thigh or calf. Normally, the patient would be given a thrombolytic to thin their blood in order to avoid possible clotting. Recipients of blood transfusions, and in Ms…Um, Ms. Parker’s case, she was not a qualified candidate because the effects would cause further complications to her organs, forcing them to work harder when they are already compromised.”

“When can I see her?”

“She’s in recovery. As soon as she’s back in her room, a nurse will come get you.”

“Thank you.”

He nods, leaving me alone to resume my praying. It’s been one thing after another. She came out of yet another surgery for her leg, and she crashed while in recovery from a clot.

After Farley’s press conference detailing the Politto situation, Gabriella Volante was officially put to rest. Ella was then airlifted to
Jersey Shore Medical Center
and admitted as Ella Parker. Her surgeon is the only person here who knows her true identity, and he was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

I know that Farley keeps telling me it’s over. Gabriella Volante is dead and buried with a death certificate and a grave marker to prove it. Ella is safe and will never have to worry about her true identity. I also know Farley says that Politto will not see the light of day. If he recovers, he will spend the rest of his days in solitary confinement. I know Farley says Frank and Smyth will also be locked away…and I desperately want to believe him.

“Officer Stone, you can see her now.”

I follow the nurse to her room in Critical Care. Every time I go in there, I still can’t get used to seeing her that way. She looks so small in her bed. It’s been three days. It’s been an eternity to not be able to look into her gorgeous eyes, or hear her beautiful voice. I so desperately want her to sit up and argue with me. To tell me that I’m wrong, or that I’m a stubborn prick, or that she loves me.

Talk to her, the nurses say. Let her know you’re here.

I do. Each time I sit with her, when I sleep in the chair beside her bed with my hand clinging to hers, I say it over and over. I tell her I love her and that I need her to wake up. I ask her if she regrets meeting me. I beg her not to leave me. I promise her we’ll go away, far, far, away. I even admit I’ll quit calling her Spidey if she’ll just come back to me.

BOOK: Stone Walls
11.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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