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His (A Bad Boy Mafia Romance)

By:Penelope Bloom

I step into the Jets’ locker room like I own the place. Hell, I might as well. Players and coaching staff glance up at me and quickly look away. They should all know better than to take a loan from me by now. They’ve seen the broken fingers, black eyes, and the limps that follow missed payments. But the bank doesn’t exactly hand out forty grand loans in cash and on short notice. So they keep coming to me, week after week, day after day. And me? I keep getting paid.

I find who I’m looking for at the back of the room. He’s getting his shoulder worked on by one of the athletic trainers. Ronnie White. The highest paid player on the team and the NFL’s favorite new playboy. He also owes me close to 150 G’s, and he knows it. When he sees me, he does a double take, stopping his conversation mid-sentence.

I don’t need to glare at him, drag my finger across my throat, or flash the piece tucked into my waistband. None of that gangster shit you see in movies. That would be bad for business. No, I just keep moving through the locker room while I turn my head and wink at him. He swallows hard, wide eyes watching me as I step into the hallway outside.

Fuck, I love what I do. The Jets play in less than an hour and I still need to bring Ronnie in for a firm reminder before he hits the field. I’ve got other shit on my mind tonight, though. I look at the text for what must be the 10th time in the last thirty minutes. Caught a ten-footer. It’s from Jimmy, my right-hand man. The text is code. It means he’s got someone with information on my little brother’s killers. I’m surprised he still remembers the code. It has been nearly a year since we set it up, and I haven’t heard shit since.

I move through the underbelly of MetLife stadium quickly, feeling pissed that I had to waste time detouring to keep Ronnie in check when I just want to be going after what really matters: the fuckers who killed Jackie.

Almost everyone knows to stay out of my way, and the ones who don’t quickly get yanked back by those who do. If they’re fish, I’m the shark, and nobody wants to draw my attention. The cops leave me alone because I pad their pockets. The coaches know not to get on my bad side because I have half their players by the fuckin’ balls. The administration stays out of my way because I’ve got more dirt on them than I know what to do with. Basically, I’m untouchable as long as I keep the feds away—those fuckers don’t know how to take a bribe.

I find the administrative hallway that stadium officials and coaches use for player meetings or schmoozing. It’s my unofficial office, and when I’m in the building, everyone knows to clear the fuck out. So I’m not surprised when I open the double doors to the hallway and find no staff mulling around. I enter the small film room near the front of the hallway where a small door leads out to the field. Inside, I see Jimmy, Frankie, and my two newest soldiers, Dino and Vito. They all surround a fat Italian man in his forties who is tied to a chair. He looks a little scuffed up already but largely untouched.

“This the fish?” I ask.

Jimmy nods. He’s got an underbite like a bulldog but is otherwise unremarkable with thin eyebrows, plain features, and a habit of wearing clothes that are a few sizes too big for him. We call him Fingers because he wears his sleeves so long that you can only see the tips of his fingers hanging out of the sleeves. I can actually see his knuckles tonight, which is an improvement for him.

“Who is he?” I ask, moving to get a better look at the man. Everyone clears out of my way, careful not to draw my quick temper.

Frankie answers. “Tony Anastasio. One of their capos.” Frankie is my older brother. He’s a meathead and has an ever hotter temper than me. Pops never explicitly said so, but when he passes, control of the family is skipping Frankie and coming to me. We all know Frankie doesn’t have the brains to run the operation, Frankie included, but it hasn’t stopped him from holding a grudge.

I move to Tony, who squints up at me. “You know who I am?”

He has the nerve to grin at me, so I punch him three times in the face, putting my whole body into each swing. His head whips to the side, snapping back just in time for me to knock it away again like a fuckin’ punching bag. The sound is meaty, not like what you hear in movies. He winces, swears, and slowly turns to meet my eyes again. No grin this time.

Jimmy strolls forward, pulling the slack out of his pants and kneeling so he’s eye to eye with Tony. “You may not know us, but we know you. Here’s a little friendly advice. Take a good look at the guy using you as a punching bag. Know who that is?”

Tony looks toward me, unsure.

“That, my friend, is the top capo for the Citrione family. Remember Jackie Citrione from a few years back?”