"You're telling that I have a f*cking cop in my organization?"
The hostess leading me to the table in the center of the room stumbled as she heard the loud, gruff voice.
"Sir," the hostess stammers and quickly exits the room.
"There you are, sweetheart."
I press my palms against my silk dress, pressing out the wrinkles, and listen to my father, Canyon Young, curse.
The restaurant's back room is the perfect setting for a mafia film with dim lighting and dark decor. However, this is my world: mafia. I force a smile as Father kisses my cheek and presses his palm on my upper back.
As I pull away, I stare at my father. He's a burly dude with a receding hairline and a menacing stare. Even when he grins, it looks like he's planning to kill you.
"Sweetheart, this is Dean," my father says as he points across the table at the older gentleman now standing.
"Dean, this is Reece."
I smile. This time it's a warm smile for a man I'd only heard about from Father. Dean nods at me and shakes my hand.
His large olive-skinned hand covers my brown-skinned one. I like his blonde--almost white hair and brown eyes because they don't fit him. To me, he looks Latino.
He doesn't look as though he'd kill anyone. However, he's the head of the "Salt" family. Father always joked that he had nothing to do with our mafia family's name. The "Sweet" family was created by Miles Sweet, who Father killed to take over the mafia business.
Dean created his mafia family and chose its name as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Sweet family. From my understanding, he needed Miles Sweet out of the way to create his mafia family.
"Here is your dinner, ma'am."
I watch the waitress place my favorite dish in front of me before serving Father and Dean. "Bring her a glass of water and some non-alcoholic champagne."
My hands ball into fists in my lap, as I enjoy the aroma of the ziti the waitress places in front of me.
As Father gives the waiter more instructions, I glare at him. If he notices, he doesn't show it. However, I open my mouth to speak, Father's phone sounds.
"Excuse me," Father says as he leaves the table.
Quickly, I tell the waiter, "make that orange juice and vodka instead of champagne."
Minutes pass as silence falls over the table.
"You remind me of my son," Dean says before sipping his drink.
I use my fork to push my food around the plate as I think of what to say, ‘tell me, Dean,’ I want to ask, ‘is your son really like me? Does your security team follow him? Do you think he's so precious that he can't—’
"You’re probably thinking who am I to give you advice. You’re right. I'm an old fool who takes people's money in exchange for protection from the boogieman," Dean says with a chuckle, then continues, "give Canyon some time to let go. You're, what nineteen--"
As I hold my head high, I tell him, "twenty-one."
He nods and flashes a tense smile. "Well, Canyon will realize soon that you're an adult."
"Tell me," I ask, "will I grow old waiting for him to realize this or what?"
Dean swipes at his phone's screen until he concludes his search. Then, he shows me a picture of the sexiest man I'd ever seen. I bite my bottom lip in an attempt to hide my interest.
His son has mysterious blue eyes, dusty blonde hair, and a lopsided grin.
I clear my throat and say, "he looks like some Hollywood star."
"Maybe that's where he is," Dean places his phone on the table and frowns, "well, to make a long story short, when he was born, I was young and not ready for fatherhood. By the time I was ready, we were estranged. I haven't talked to Joey in five years."
Father hurriedly returns to the table, looking flustered and pissed. He grabs his napkin and stares at Dean as he says, "now, tell me about some soon-to-be-dead informant in my organization?"
Neal stares at me in the rearview mirror, looking worried. He tugs at his bushy beard and shakes his head.
It's noon, and the bright sun peers into the car. Today, I'm dressed in jeans and a t-shirt instead of a dress. I fish my sunglasses out of my purse and comment, "Neal, I can visit Father any time I want."
"Reece," Neal says to me, "I don't have a good feeling about this. He doesn't like you visiting—"
"—Neal, when did Father start paying you to feel?"
I don't wait for an answer. Instead, I leave the car and rush into a two-story brick building. I search the outer office and Father's office.
I leave the office building and go to the warehouse behind the office building and adjacent parking lot.
As I open the front door, I hear muffled voices coming from a closed door in front of me. Slowly, I open the door and gasp.
Father stands in front of a bi-racial man, who is kneeling before him, sobbing. Three men and one woman stand around the sobbing man.
"I'm telling you, Mr. Young, I'm not a mole, cop, informant—nothing. I swear."
"Dennis," Father harshly says, "why does your name keep coming up when I ask about a rat in my organization?"
Dennis sobs, "I don't know, sir."
Father points the gun at his head. "Son, you're not giving me the answer I want to hear."
"I'm telling you the truth, sir."
My stomach cramps as I watch this scene. ‘Tell me, Father, how can you tell he's lying because I know he's telling the truth? I hear an innocent man begging for his life.’
I see Father's finger on the trigger and rush into the room, yelling, "Father, don't."
Father turns his attention to me, looking stunned. He quickly gives the gun to a man standing closest to him. It's the first time I've seen Father jittery. He says something to the man with the gun before grabbing my arm and pulling me out of the room.
He closes the door behind us.
"Am I supposed to meet you for lunch, sweetheart?"
"Father, you can't kill that man. He's innocent."
When Father starts speaking, I interrupt, "—He's telling the truth, Father."
"Go home, and we can discuss it then."
"Tell me, Father, you're not going to kill him."
Father pats my shoulder and gives me a fatherly stare as he replies, "I promise. Now, go home."
I back away as he leans forward to kiss my cheek. Then, as he opens the door, I tell him, "I'm going to take him with me."
I maneuver past Father.
I rush to the door.
Father yanks my arm.
“No,” I cry as I stare at the door.