“Come closer. I won’t bite,” Vinnie tells me with a smirk.
Taking a deep breath, I make my way to him, my heels clicking on the hardwood floor, the sound echoing around the room. When I get right up in front of Vinnie, he removes his arms from the back of the pew and folds them in his lap.
“I must say, you are more stunning in person than you are in magazines, Paige McCarty.”
The sound of my name on his lips gives me chills. He practically purrs and it makes me want to vomit.
“Take off your shirt.”
His sudden command catches me off guard and my eyes go wide. “Excuse me?”
Vinnie gets up from the pew; his large body makes the wood creak loudly.
“Forgive me if that seemed a little forward. Sometimes I forget my manners. Would you please remove your shirt?”
I’ve quickly gone from nervous and scared to pissed off. Who the hell does he think he is?
“I’m not having sex with you.”
Vinnie throws back his head and laughs at my statement. “As appealing as that sounds, this isn’t about sex. I need to make sure you aren’t wearing a wire.”
Suddenly, my not-so-bright idea in the car ride over of removing the wire doesn’t seem so stupid anymore. Even though Ted assured me that Vinnie probably wouldn’t check me for a wire, I didn’t want to take that chance. As soon as I pulled into the parking lot, I whispered a quick “I’m sorry” into the mic before ripping it out of my bra and tossing it onto the front seat.
“Giovanni, I think our guest needs a little encouragement.”
Giovanni is next to me in an instant with the barrel of his gun pressing into the side of my head.
“Yep, I think that should do it,” I mutter. My hands nervously reach up and begin undoing the first few buttons of my shirt.
Vinnie steps closer and raises his eyebrows. “May I?”
When I don’t immediately reply, Giovanni pushes the gun harder against my temple.
Trying not to wince, I smile. “Oh, by all means.”
Vinnie grabs onto the seam of my shirt and with a flick of his wrists, rips it the rest of the way open, buttons scattering across the floor as he stares lecherously at me.
I’m sure he can feel my heart beating out of my chest as he runs his sweaty palms over my skin and his fingers trace the edge of my bra.
“She’s clean,” Vinnie says to Giovanni.
He finally lowers the gun from my head and I can breathe again.
“What the hell are you doing?! Stop touching her!”
Melanie’s screech from behind me makes me jerk in surprise. Even though I can’t stand her, I’m relieved at her timing.
Vinnie sighs and drops his hands from me. “Kitten, I thought I told you to stay in the back with our friend.”
Melanie stalks over to us, shooting an angry glare in my direction. I really hope this is her being a good actress, and she hasn’t changed her mind about helping us. If Vinnie wasn’t still standing so close to me, I’d whisper, “Don’t drop the soap,” just to remind her.
“I got bored back there, baby. And that guy won’t stop crying. It’s annoying.”
That must be Andy she’s talking about. At least I know he’s still alive.
Melanie sidles up to Vinnie and wraps her arms around his abundant waist.
“I still have a little more business to attend to out here. Go in the back and make sure our friend is comfortable,” Vinnie tells her, never taking his eyes off of me.
Melanie looks back and forth between us, and I can see her anger start to escalate.
“You just want me out of the way so you can make your move on her. You think she’s prettier than me, don’t you?” Melanie complains.
She moves away from Vinnie and crosses her arms in front of her in a huff. Vinnie sighs and finally turns away from me. I take that opportunity to pull my shirt back together to cover myself as best I can now that the buttons are all gone.
“Kitten, you’re being silly. Go in the back like a good girl and I’ll take you shopping later.”
Melanie’s eyes light up at the mention of shopping and now I’m convinced she’s forgotten all about our agreement. She’s going to screw me for a new Coach purse.
“I don’t want to leave you alone with her. I don’t trust her. She’s going to be all over you as soon as I leave.”
Ugh, as if.
“You are trying my patience, Kitten. Get your ass in the back, NOW.”
Gone is the guy with the polite act, and in his place is the Mob boss. His jaw clenches as he glares at Melanie, and I watch him squeeze his hands into fists by his side.
“I don’t have to do what you say! You’re not the boss of me!” Melanie shouts.
Awww, shit. Not a wise move there, Melanie.
Vinnie quickly advances on her and his meaty hand is around her neck in an instant. She lets out a whimper of fear as he drags her face closer to his.
“I kept you around because you give the best head out of all the women I’ve had, but now that mouth is going to get you in trouble,” Vinnie threatens quietly. “Giovanni, get rid of her.”
Vinnie shoves Melanie away and she stumbles, falling to the ground. She tries to scramble away from Giovanni, but he quickly reaches down and yanks her up by her hair.
“NO! Don’t do this! You can’t kill me! If you kill me, the police will be all over your ass!” Melanie screams as Giovanni starts to drag her away.
Vinnie immediately goes from slightly mad to all-out pissed off. His lip curls up menacingly and his face turns beet red.
“What the fuck are you talking about?” Vinnie demands as Giovanni clenches Melanie’s hair tighter and she lets out a yelp of pain.
“I overheard all of your conversations when you thought I was sleeping. I took notes. I made lists of all the people’s names that you admitted to killing when they didn’t give you the money you owed them,” Melanie rambles. “If you kill me, those notes go immediately to the police, and you will be ruined!”
I can tell Vinnie doesn’t believe her. His anger slowly disappears and he smiles. “You’re bluffing. Giovanni, I think two bullets to the head will suffice.”
Giovanni starts to drag Melanie away again, but she starts screaming.
“BRIAN CRANDALL, KEVIN BROSKY, ERIC RITCHIE, DAVE KEENER, FRANK ROBERTS!”
Giovanni halts and stares nervously at Vinnie. “What the hell, boss?”
Vinnie laughs and shakes his head at Melanie. “A few notes on a piece of paper from a whore won’t stand up in a court of law. Nice try, Kitten. You have no solid proof that I had those men executed for outstanding IOUs.”
If I was smart, I would turn and run out of here right now as fast as I can. Screw Andy.
“You just gave us all the proof we need. Tell him, Paige.” Melanie nods her head in my direction with a confident smile.
Yep, should have run.
Vinnie whips his head around to me, and he’s no longer staring at me like he wants to bang me. This look is all about murder.
I should have told Matt how I felt about him when we said good-bye. I wish I had called my mother and told her that I love her even though she’s a pain in my ass. Before I have time to react, Vinnie’s fist shoots out and connects with my cheek. The force of the blow sends me to the ground and I land hard on my elbow. Pain shoots up my arm and my cheek throbs like it’s on fire.
The sound of a gun discharging echoes through the church and I flinch from the noise.
“You touch my daughter one more time and I will blow out your kneecaps, you good-for-nothing!”
It looks like the Virgin Mary really is answering my prayers. Too bad seeing my mom again wasn’t the best one for her to start with.
Looking up from my spot on the ground, I see my mother dressed in her Sunday best, her giant revolver held steady in her hand as she points it right at Vinnie after her warning shot into the ceiling.
Oh, my God, this is not happening right now.
“MOM! What are you doing? Get the hell out of here!”
My warning falls on deaf ears as she confidently walks farther into the church, her gun held high.
“It’s okay. I’ve got it all under control,” she tells me with a calm smile.
I glance over at Giovanni. He’s frantically moving his gun back and forth between me and my mother, not sure what the hell is going on.
Join the club.
“Are you insane?! You can’t take out a Mob boss by yourself!”
Vinnie laughs and slides his hands in the pockets of his suit and walks toward my mother. I push myself off of the ground quickly and try to stop him.
“Please. She doesn’t know any better. Leave my mother alone.”
“Oh, don’t worry, Paige. I think it’s sweet your mother came here to try and save the day. How are you doing today, Mrs. McCarty?” Vinnie asks her with a pleasant smile.
My mother raises her eyebrow at Vinnie and lowers the gun so it’s aimed between his legs. “It’s MISS McCarty, you old coot.”
A shot rings out and the sound is deafening in the large, empty church. Vinnie lets out an uncharacteristically high-pitched scream, clutches his thigh, and drops to the ground.
I stare in shock at Vinnie sobbing and writhing in pain on the floor, blood pouring out between his fingers.
“Oh, my God. You shot him,” I whisper in awe.
My mother blows imaginary smoke from the end of the gun barrel like they did in Wild West shows. “I was aiming for his manhood, though. I’m gonna need some more practice at the shooting range.”
Our attention moves away from Vinnie bleeding out on the floor to a commotion on the other side of the room. I forgot about Melanie and Giovanni. He must have lost his concentration when his boss got shot, and Melanie was able to get in a good punch to his face. His lip is bleeding and he’s cursing and shouting at Melanie as she kicks him repeatedly in the shins, her hands wrapped around his arm, struggling to keep his gun aimed at the ceiling.
I don’t like her, but I can’t just stand here and do nothing. I’m a private investigator, dammit!
Racing over to Melanie’s side, I jump on Giovanni’s back like a spider monkey. I grab onto chunks of his hair with both hands and pull as hard as I can. Giovanni immediately lets go of Melanie and instead of thanking me for helping her out, she turns and runs screaming out of the church.
Giovanni’s elbow connects with my ribs. The pain forces me to let go of his hair. His elbow jerks back again and hits the same spot, shoving me off of him roughly, and I fall to the ground and land right on my tailbone. The breath is knocked from my lungs, and Giovanni uses my momentary pause to catch my breath to pull his foot back and kick me right in the stomach.
I’m doubled over in pain when I hear a loud, banshee-like shout from behind him. I look up just in time to see my mother’s two friends Fran and Eunice hobble up to Giovanni and start beating the shit out of him with their purses.
“YOU SCOUNDREL! HOW DARE YOU HURT PAIGE!” Eunice shouts angrily as her black leather purse connects with Giovanni’s face.
“YOU’RE THE ONE WHO STOLE THE COMMUNION HOSTS FROM SAINT MICHAEL’S!” Fran adds, hitting Giovanni in the stomach with her cane.
Getting up from the floor, I watch in awe as Giovanni cowers from their purse-and-cane assault with his hands over his head.
“STOP HITTING ME! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!” Giovanni screams. His shouts are cut off when Eunice’s purse smacks him right in the mouth.
“Don’t swear at me, young man!” Fran bops him on the head with her cane.
The front doors to the church burst open then, and twenty men in uniform, with Ted leading the way, charge into the room with their guns aimed.
“GUNS DOWN! HANDS IN THE AIR!”
I automatically put my hands up so they don’t shoot me by accident, but Fran and Eunice don’t stop; they’re too busy teaching Giovanni a lesson, connecting with every single body part of his they can reach.
The men surround the circle of angry-old-lady chaos, not quite sure where to aim their weapons. Giovanni quickly tosses his gun away and it slides across the floor.
“I surrender! I surrender! Just get these crazy bitches away from me!” he yells.
“Your mouth needs to be washed out with soap, young man!” Fran informs him as she swings her purse around and it smacks into his eye.
“Ladies! Please put the purses down!” Ted orders.
“Do I have to put my gun down too? I’m holding a criminal in place over here,” my mother shouts from Vinnie’s side.
“Oh, my God,” Ted mutters. “Mrs. McCarty, please put your weapon on the ground.”
My mother raises her eyebrow at him.
“Don’t call her that. She just shot the last guy who called her ‘Mrs. McCarty,’” I warn him.
My mother gives Vinnie one last dirty look before putting her gun into her purse and walking over to us. Several officers surround Vinnie, slapping cuffs on him, while one calls in an ambulance on his shoulder radio.
The cops finally get a handle on Eunice and Fran and convince them that they can take it from here. The women stop swinging their purses and take a step back, straightening their short, gray permed hair and fixing their clothes.
“It took you boys long enough to get here. I called 911 an hour ago and told them we found out who was stealing the communion hosts from Saint Michael’s,” my mother complains to Ted.
“Mom, what in the world would possess you to come in here with your friends in the middle of a sting?”
She stares at me like I’m the one who’s lost her mind. “Paige. They stole Communion. The body of Christ. We just couldn’t let something like that go, so we took matters into our own hands when the police didn’t show after thirty minutes.”