Becoming the Hitman (Zanetti Famiglia #5) by Hayley Faiman

Prologue





RENZO





I watch the back of my father’s hand slice through the air and land on my mother’s cheek. She doesn’t even flinch, doesn’t fall to the side. Nothing. She stands there and continues to look him straight in the eye. She is the strongest person I know. Always has been.

“I will not relent,” she whispers, her tone stern and unwavering.

“You will do what I want. You are my wife. You obey me. Only me,” my father growls.

Lorenzo Pagano, Sr. is not a man to mess with. Even at my young age of twelve, I know that. My mother shakes her head.

“No, Lore. I will not do what you want. I will accept a lot from you, but not this. It is too much and you need to go down to church and confess, but only after you break it off with them both.”

He snorts, jerking his head, looking over to me with an ugly gnarly smile on his face.

“You do not want to threaten me. The boy,” he hisses, turning back to my mother.

“You leave Renzo out of this. This is between you and me, nobody else,” she snaps. “This is about your activities, Lore.”

I hold my breath, unsure of what my father is thinking when it comes to me. However, I do know what my mother means about his activities. She is talking about that woman he goes to see every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I don’t know her name, but he always gives me money for a gelato at the parlor down the street from her apartment.

I’m no fool. I’m twelve, I know about sex and I know that’s what he’s doing with her. She knows he’s married, but she doesn’t know that he sees another woman on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He usually gives me money for a cannoli down at the bakery when he goes to her.

My mother has just found out about Tuesday and Thursday. She’s tolerated Monday, Wednesday, and Friday because as she says, This is what Made Men do, Renzo. Judging by her anger about Tuesday and Thursday, they apparently don’t do that too.

“You make it uncomfortable for me and I’ll make your life the same. Do not test me,” my father barks.

My mother jerks her head at that, as though that hurts more than any slap he could deliver. She would know, he delivers them often.

“I don’t want this anymore. I don’t care who you are or who you work for. I want out.”

My father throws his head back in laughter. His entire body shakes, his shoulders too as he attempts to calm himself. Only when he’s wiping the tears from his eyes does he attempt to compose himself and look up at her.

I watch as he leans forward slightly, his gaze darker than I’ve ever seen it before. “You don’t get a say anymore. You made your choice when you became mine. It is for life.”

“No,” she rasps. “I will leave. We will leave.”

“Try to take my boy, see what happens,” he growls.

I don’t know why he cares so much. My dad slaps me around about as much as he slaps her around. He’s always making me feel like a burden. Always telling me to go away. I played baseball one year, but he never even came to a single game, so I quit. The same thing happened with basketball and again with wrestling.

My mother narrows her eyes at him, then she licks her lips. “Go to your women and leave us alone.” Her words come out on a whisper as tears fill her eyes.

My father turns around and starts to walk away. He stops right at the door and looks back over his shoulder at her. “You try to leave and I’ll find you. I’ll kill you and you know it.”

He slams the door behind him, and I look over to my mother. Her tears stream down her face and she shakes her head as she wipes them away just as quickly as they fall. She inhales a shaky breath, then lets out a sigh.

“Come on, I’ll make you some dinner.”

We don’t speak of what’s just happened. She makes me some of her best lasagna and I eat more than I should. I eat so much that I give myself a stomachache. She wraps her arms around me and together we walk over to the couch.

She lets me pick whatever movie I want to watch, and that’s how we spend our evening. We watch two movies, my choice, then I have to shower and go to bed. She doesn’t speak, not a single word.

The next morning my mother is dead. She swallowed a bunch of pills and my father found her in her bed, a note on his cold pillowcase. When he was calling a cleanup crew to take care of her, I stole the note.

I didn’t cry, not a single tear as I read it. I never cried, actually. She confessed her love for him, then said she knew he’d kill her and she wasn’t going to let him have that kind of power over her. She wrote to him that she hoped he’d take me to Italy one day to visit the village where she was born.