Falling Down

By: Anne Mercier

Prologue


Lucy

Our flight's delayed which isn't a surprise. Thank God for iPhones and headsets or I'd have to endure the incessant chatter of Regina Russo. Yeah, that's my mom. The chatterbox who is now talking my brother's ear off. The difference between Joey and me is he likes to talk as much as my mom. I'd much rather enjoy solitude.

Sera and I are listening to a random playlist on Spotify. She chose the Today's Top Hits playlist which is okay, but I'm not into a lot of the rap-type music whereas Sera loves it. It beats out listening to Regina any day.

Sera taps my shoulder and I pull one earbud out.

"Stuck in Chicago, of all places."

"Could be worse. We could be stuck in Kansas."

"Or Texas."

"Truth. Let's go get something to drink and see if maybe they have some decent magazines with His Sexiness in the gift shop."

Sera snorts. "His Sexiness."

"What? He is."

"He's alright. His brother's seriously hot too."

"Oh yeah. Mom, we'll be right back."

"Don't be too long. I have a feeling we're going to be up in the air soon."

"We won't."

We head through the concourse of Chicago's O'Hare International airport. Tons of people are traveling today. I wonder if it's like this every day or if Thursdays are busier than most.

"Ugh," Sera says. "If I get bumped one more time I'm going to throat punch someone, I swear. It's so rude. I mean, how hard is to walk around someone instead of into them?"

"Swap," I say, tugging her to the right so she can walk along the wall.

I'm not a fan of being bumped into, but I don't have a hair-trigger temper like Sera. Let me tell you a little about Serafina Manzini. Her mom, Marina, was my dad's sister. She was a Russo. Tommy Manzini married a Russo which caused some major feuding. Mr. Manzini refused to get involved in his brother's "family business." Who could blame him? Who wants to get involved with the freaking Chicago mafia? Hell to the no thank you. Well, his brother didn't take too kindly to being told no and after multiple threats and multiple "fuck you's" from Sera's dad, they killed Sera's parents execution style. When the hit was carried out Sera was on vacation with us which is the only reason she's still alive. Now, she's protected under my family as our grandpa Giovanni and my uncle Emilio are involved in the "Family business". We aren't directly involved in any of that crap. My grandpa respects my dad's decision to go legit and raise us outside the rules of the mafia which I am thankful for every day--though we will never be one-hundred percent outside. That's just not possible. I've seen my cousins Nico and Bella both with guns tucked in the waistband of their pants and I've been told they can hit moving targets better than some of their most seasoned veterans. Bella can't participate, being a girl and all, but that doesn't stop her from trying. Not something I'd want to participate in. This was going to be the life for Sera had her uncle succeeded.

Oh, and just so you know, my grandpa "took care of" those who killed Sera's family. I shouldn't be happy about that as revenge doesn't solve anything, but now those thugs won't be able to do that to anyone else. Go gramps! (He'd have a fit if I ever called him gramps to his face.)

Now, you're probably wondering what that has to do with Sera's temper. Well, before her family was killed, Sera was bubbly and fun. She was always positive but with the loss of her family, she's become bitter, angry, and, at times, hostile. She just has no patience for anyone's bullshit anymore--her words, not mine. So, you can imagine after she's been bumped into five or six times how she'd react. It wouldn't be pretty. It'd range from yelling and swearing to possibly punching someone in the face and, as she mentioned, throat punching someone. Well, let's just say it would have been ugly.

"Oh! Starbucks!"

"Hell yeah," Sera says following behind me.

"What do you want? My treat."

"Caramel macchiato, Venti, triple shot."

I raise my eyebrows. "You're going to be hyped on the plane."

"All the better for playing Candy Crush."

"Oh my God. You and that dumb game."

She flips her long brown hair over her shoulder. "Whatever. You only think it's dumb because you can't get past level 96."

"Suck it."

"If you had something to suck…" She breaks off with a shrug and a smirk as we step up to the counter to order.

I order Sera's large cup of caffeine and for myself I order an Americano with vanilla syrup, extra sweet, with two creams.

As we wait for our order there's a commotion in the center seating area near the flight boards.

"Huh, I wonder which celeb is flying today," Sera questions.

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