The Handler eyes his boss carefully. Initially, he thought that the request might have been some sort of twisted joke - the boss certainly has a reputation for those - but the sadness so clearly painted on Donnie Adduci's face dispelled the notion.
"You sure you want to do this yourself?" the Handler asks. "We have people already on their way."
Donnie sighs. He does not like to be second-guessed. Under normal circumstances, he'd probably put out his Dominican cigar on the Handler's arm. These are not normal circumstances.
"Yes, I'm sure. I should do it."
"You haven't cleaned up in a while." The Handler adds more respect to his tone, noticing too-late Donnie's subtle ire with the previous question.
Donnie probably should let the others take care of the mess, but this is far more personal than any other mess Donnie can recall at the moment. Far more personal than any of his people could possibly realize.
"Doesn't matter. They were mine. It's my fault."
"What do you mean?" There's alarm in the Handler's tone now. Something's definitely off. Whatever it is, Donnie's not singing.
"Just get me a car, will you?"
Jonathan Pino Ferrari eyes the woman sitting next to him. He feels insulted that Donnie gave him a partner - outside of his first three assignments, Jonathan's always worked alone - and even more so that the partner is female. There was a moment that he thought it was a joke. When that proved not to be the case, he surmised that he was expected to train her. The woman - Gemma Bianci - is, however, already a reputable killer. Jonathan couldn't fathom why they were put together. As he sits next to her in a brand new black Chevrolet Impala, he still can't.
He also can't shake the fact that she's... strangely magnetic. Ever the gentleman, he quickly resigns himself to the situation and, finally seeing opportunity, tries to break the ice.
"How'd you get into killing?" It seems a natural thing to ask, though its awkwardness makes even Jonathan cringe as he hears his voice speak it.
There's a moment of silence, barely broken by the almost inaudible separation of wet lips. "That's kind of a personal question, isn't it?" She doesn't turn to look at him.
"It was meant to be." Jonathan pulls out a pack of cigarettes from his jacket pocket - both killers are dressed in Armani - and tears the plastic wrap, placing it in the cup holder in the driver's door. Before he can tap a cigarette out for himself, she fingernails one out and hands it to him. It is not a gesture of friendship, merely the result of being trained to seduce marks. Jonathan recognizes the professionalism behind it and allows a smirk.
"You want the long version or the short version?" she asks.
"I want the however-much-time-we-have version," he replies, lighting the smoke.
Gemma was once the girlfriend of Gabriel Adduci, the son of deceased mob boss Alfonso Adduci, Donnie's brother. She was 19, just starting her junior year at Seton Hall. Gabriel was 22, a fresh baccalaureate, though there were questions as to whether or not he truly earned his degree in economics. She didn't care. Gabriel had the look of a movie star and the money, to boot. He bought her expensive things and all of her friends were jealous. Things were great.
Until she graduated and Gabriel asked her to move in with him.
She'd heard the stories of mob kids. Spoiled brats, usually, and not fans of not getting their way. She wanted to apply to graduate school. Gabriel objected. The arguments came to a head and, finally, she threatened to leave him. But instead of having asserted her independence, she provoked Gabriel's wrath and he struck her.
"You leave me when I say you leave me," Gabriel informed her.
For the next two years she dealt with the abuse, afraid that Gabriel would follow-through with his myriad of threats.
One day, he'd come home drunk and wanted to fuck. At first she was going to allow him to masturbate with her body - as she referred to it, for the love was long gone - but it was clear that Gabriel had recently fucked another woman... maybe more than one, and Gemma refused. Not more than a second passed from her screaming, "Not a chance in Hell," to the butt of his Colt Super .38 connecting with her jaw. The blow drew blood and spun her around onto the bed. He spread her legs apart and pulled her towards him, intent on ripping her sweats and panties off. But he made one mistake. He placed the .38 on the corner of the bed.
Not thinking - indeed, not even sure how to fire a pistol - she grabbed it, turned over kicking, shoved it into his belly and pulled the trigger. Gabriel, mainly from shock, backhanded her across the face. While trying to cover her head from further blows, she instinctively pulled the trigger again, blowing out her left ear drum. She couldn't hear a thing.
But then, there was nothing to hear. The second bullet entered Gabriel's nose, traveled into his brain, deflected off the top of his skull, and exited his head from just above the left ear. The sight froze her. She couldn't even bring herself to resist when some enforcers showed up to apprehend her.
It was then she finally met Donnie Adduci. Everyone around the situation thought Donnie would kill her right then and there, but Donnie instead got her medical attention. He told her she was going to be all right.
Donnie, in fact, hated Gabriel. Hated the thought of Gabriel advancing through the ranks. Gabriel was an out of control punk in his eyes. In everyone's, really, but he was Alfonso's kid and, as such, had to be looked after. But Donnie didn't care. Both Gabriel and his brother, Michael, would eventually cause trouble for the Family. Donnie was convinced of this.
So he made Gemma a deal. Kill Michael, too, and all would be forgotten. She didn't think she could at first, but Michael resembled Gabriel in appearance - quite closely - and that made it easier. That was the day after her 24th birthday. Eight years ago. She's been killing ever since. And, outside of her assignments, hasn't allowed a man to so much as hold her hand.
"Damn," is all Jonathan can bring himself to say.
"Yeah, Lifetime movie stuff, isn't it?"
Jonathan laughs. She turns her head further away from him and he sees her purse her lips, then frown, in her vague reflection in the car window. He can tell there's still a lot of femininity inside of Gemma, and he's glad for it. Nobody should have to shut off their identity completely. Psychological survival or not. He should know.
*Continued in Killing Softly, Part II
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