Home > Stolen Heir(6)

Stolen Heir(6)
Author: Sophie Lark

Serena’s a classic California blonde. She’s got a lean, athletic frame, and somehow manages to maintain her tan even in the Midwest. She looks like she should be on a surfboard, not pointe shoes. But she’s good enough that she might move up to a demi-soloist position any day now.

She’s as competitive as they come in the studio, and a sweetheart outside of it. I don’t mind her seeing me like this. I know she won’t gossip to the other girls.

“Are you coming out with us tonight?” she says.

“Where are you going?”

“There’s a new club that just opened up. It’s called Jungle.”

I hesitate.

I’m not really supposed to go places like that. Especially not without telling my parents or my brother. But if I tell them, they won’t want me to go. Or they’ll send one of their bodyguards along to monitor me—somebody like Jack Du Pont, who will sit in the corner glowering at me, scaring away anybody who might ask me to dance. It’s embarrassing and it makes my friends feel weird.

“I don’t know. . .” I say.

“Oh, come on.” Serena squeezes my shoulders. “Marnie’s going, too. Come with us, have a drink, and you can be home by eleven.”

“Alright,” I say, feeling rebellious just by agreeing. “Let’s do it.”

“Yes!” Serena pumps her fist. “Okay, I better go back in before Madame Brodeur gives me shit. You gonna wait out here?”

“No,” I shake my head. “I’ll be at the cafe next door.”

“Perfect,” Serena says. “Order me a scone.”












I’m sitting in my office at the back of the club, marking down numbers in my ledger.

I’ve got two nightclubs running now, as well as three strip clubs. They’re all profitable in their own right, even this one that I only opened a few weeks ago. But that’s not their real purpose. It’s a way to wash money.

Any industry with plenty of cash payments is a good receptacle. Laundromats, used car dealerships, taxi services, restaurants . . . they all serve as a basket in which to dump legitimate profits, as well as the illegal money earned through drugs, guns, larceny, and women.

In the old days, you could open any empty storefront without even bothering to stock it with equipment. Al Capone had a storefront like that, right here in Chicago. His business card said “Used Furniture Dealer.” Now, forensic accounting has gotten a lot more sophisticated. You need an actual thriving business.

The end goal is to get your dirty money into the bank. You do it slow and steady, with daily deposits mixing dirty money and clean. It’s best if your illegal cash makes up only ten or fifteen percent of the total.

You’ve got to be careful, because banks are fucking rats. If they notice that your little pizza parlor is suddenly doing a million dollars in business, or if they see that your profits far exceed the checks you’re writing to distributors, they’re going to report you to the IRS.

But once the money is in the system, then you can send it anywhere you like. Offshore tax havens, large-scale real estate, brokerage accounts . . .

My assets are in the eight figures if you add them all together. But, looking at me, you’d never know it. I keep a low profile, and I force my men to do the same. You get lazy, sloppy, and flashy, and you draw the wrong kind of attention.

I run the Chicago Braterstwo now, with my brother Jonas. He’s my brother by covenant, not by blood. We’re the adopted sons of Tymon Zajac. I worked for Tymon for ten years. He taught me, trained me, and mentored me.

My biological father died in Warsaw. I don’t know where his gravestone sits. I don’t care. I’ll never set foot in Poland again. I don’t even like to think about it.

Tymon brought me here, to America. He told me we’d build an empire larger than the entire wealth of our homeland. I believed him. His dream became my dream. It gave me something to live for.

For a time, we thrived. We began to take over this city, block by block.

But we’re not the only gangsters in Chicago.

We found ourselves in conflict with the Colombians, the Russians, the Italians, and the Irish.

We crushed the Colombians, taking over their drug-running pipeline. That’s when the money really started flowing in, funding our other operations.

Then the DOJ did us a favor, cracking down on the arms trafficking run by the Russian Bratva.

Which left us free to attack the Italians, specifically the Gallo family. But Enzo Gallo wasn’t as old and complacent as we expected. His sons put three of our men in the ground, buried under the foundations of their high-rise on Oak Street.

Before we could strike back, the Gallos formed an unexpected alliance with the Griffins, Irish mafia royalty at the pinnacle of crime in Chicago. The Gallos married their only daughter to Callum, the Griffin’s only son.

It was extremely unexpected. Like an alliance between Israel and Palestine, or cats and dogs.

That was, perhaps, when Tymon made a mistake. He wasn’t a man prone to mistakes. But in that moment, he acted rashly.

When Aida Gallo and Callum Griffin came poking around one of our clubs, we drugged them and brought them back to an old slaughterhouse on the west side of the city.

It was an impulsive decision, not planned out. It was done on Tymon’s orders. Still, I blame myself for what happened.

I had an AR trained on them both. I should have gunned them down without hesitation, then and there.

Instead, they escaped down a drainage pipe.

It was a humiliating mistake. I knelt down in front of Tymon, expecting him to mete out punishment. In ten years, I had never failed him so badly.

He ordered the rest of the men out of the room.

I closed my eyes, thinking he would bring his machete down on the back of my neck. That is justice in our world.

Instead, I felt his hand resting on my shoulder—heavy, but without anger.

I looked up into his face.

In all the time I’d known Tymon, I had never seen him show hesitation or weakness. Suddenly, he looked tired. He was only fifty-eight years old, but had been through a dozen lifetimes of blood and toil and struggle.

“Mikolaj,” he said. “You are my son and my heir. I know you will never fail me again.”

I had long since lost the ability to feel anything like love. But I felt the fire of a loyalty stronger than love. Tymon spared my life twice. He would never need to do it a third time.

I felt reinvigorated. I planned to work with my father to crush the Italians and the Irish. To take our place once and for all as the rulers of the city.

Instead, a week later, Dante Gallo murdered Tymon. He gunned him down, leaving him to bleed out in the gutter.

I’ve yet to take my revenge. It shames me, every day that passes.

I have two factors to consider:

First, my men. The Griffins and the Gallos combined are a powerful force. They command the loyalty of dozens of Irish and Italian families. If I attack them directly, I can’t hope to succeed. Not yet, anyway.

Second, I want them to suffer. I could kill Callum or Dante. But what would that accomplish? I want to break the entire empire down. I want to drive the two families apart. Then pick off their members one by one.

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