Excerpt | A Face to Die For by Andrea Kane
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York
Anthony slid behind the wheel of his Ford Taurus and started it up, cranking up the heat the instant the engine turned over. It was friggin’ freezing outside. Even in the five minutes it had taken him to walk the babysitter to her front door, the temperature outside felt like it had dropped ten degrees, and his car was an icebox.
Shivering, he zipped his parka up as far as it would go and gripped the steering wheel, maneuvering the car away from the curb. He’d finally shared an evening out with his wife. It should have eased the knot in his gut. After all, it had been the first time that he and Carla had left their infants with a sitter since the babies had been born a month ago. And Judy was the perfect babysitter—a good girl from a good family, one who studied rather than doing drugs and screwing horny guys.
Still, dinner had been strained.
Anthony had only picked at his manicotti, his favorite dish at Raimo’s. His mind was far away, and acid kept building up in his stomach.
Carla couldn’t stop worrying and talking about the babies. She’d checked her watch a dozen times, intermittently giving Anthony puzzled looks and asking if he was okay.
Each time she asked, he’d assure her that he was fine, just exhausted from work and midnight feedings.
As if to contradict his words, some new waiter had dropped a tray of dishes on the floor, and Anthony had nearly jumped out of his skin at the crash.
Carla rose, asking him to order her another drink and to get one for himself to calm his nerves. Giving in to her new-mother concerns, she went to the pay phone in the back to call Judy for an update. So far, so good, Judy had reported. But that didn’t totally erase Carla’s fretting. She tried her best to be bright and chatty, but the truth was that, as this point, she was ready to go. She’d fiddled with her napkin and sipped at her drink, making small talk and glancing at the door.
Getting the hell out of there had worked for Anthony. He was more than ready to be home with his family and not out in the open. He’d use his fatigue as an excuse. He had to continue keeping the inevitable from Carla, until he had no choice but to tell her. He’d soften the blow as best he could. But the important thing was that his family would be protected at all costs.
Now, the heat in his car roared to life, warming his body but doing nothing to extinguish his inner chill. He knew the rules. No transgression went unpunished.
Why the hell had he been so preoccupied with new fatherhood that he’d forgotten to make his collections from the designated list of construction foremen these past two weeks? That in itself was a huge black mark against him—one he’d be punished for. But the outcome of his stupidity opened the door to a far more lethal punishment. Someone else had been sent to handle his route, and his money. They would have collected and turned over twice the amount he’d been handing over. And that meant he’d better be able to explain the discrepancy—assuming he’d even be asked before he was killed.
Please God, let him have that chance. He was just on the verge of buying that gas station he’d been single-mindedly building his bank account for, just about to provide for his family’s future.
And now this.
With shaking hands, Anthony switched on the radio, gritting his teeth as Madonna’s voice blasted off the windows, followed by Michael Jackson’s. He turned the dial until finally the soothing tones of Frank Sinatra’s voice filled the car. Sinatra. Perfect. The Chairman of the Board’s crooning was just the right medicine to ease his clawing anxiety.
He reached his street and turned down the line of small brick row houses, all identical in their flat lines, gated fronts, and tiny gardens. There was a certain comfort and peace about the sameness of it all; it made it feel like a neighborhood.
Would he ever feel that sense of comfort and peace again?
He pulled into his narrow driveway and spotted Carla standing at the front door with a broad smile, giving him a thumbs-up. That meant the infants had come through their first babysitting experience with flying colors.
He forced himself to smile back, but even as he did, his gaze swept the area around the house to see if he was alone. It appeared so. Quickly, he turned off the car and then made the frigid dash to his house.
He couldn’t shut and lock the door behind him fast enough.
The soothing warmth from the heating system enveloped him when he stepped inside. Comfort in yet another form. He was home. Carla and the babies were safe. And for the moment, so was he.
With a wave of relief—however temporary—he let the tension in his body ease. He shrugged out of his jacket and hung it on the coatrack.
“You look happy,” he teased Carla. “What’s the final report?”
Carla’s eyes twinkled. “They were perfect. Judy said they’d only woken up once for their bottles and a diaper change. Now they’re sleeping like little angels.”
“Good.” Anthony looped an arm around his wife’s shoulders and led her toward the living room. “How about a nightcap before bed—to celebrate the success of our first night out?”
“That sounds wonderful.” Carla walked beside him, making a left into their comfortable living room.
They’d barely taken half a dozen steps when a tall masked man dressed in black rose from behind the large armchair, his .22 caliber pistol raised.
Anthony knew that voice only too well, and it elicited the chilling knowledge that there was no way out. No threats. Just death. “Welcome home.”
The man’s finger tightened around the trigger.
“No!” Carla screamed.
She threw herself in front of her husband just as the pistol fired.
The bullet pierced her skull, and with a shattering cry, she crumpled to the floor.
“Carla… no… Carla!” Anthony shouted. He dropped to his knees beside his wife’s lifeless body, grabbing her into his arms and openly weeping. “God forgive me. Oh, God forgive me.”
He looked up in dazed anguish, just as a second shot was fired.
The bullet struck Anthony between the eyes. His head jerked backward, and he fell over his wife, dead.
Upstairs, the babies started to cry.
The gunman shoved his pistol back in his waistband. He knew the mob code like he knew his own name. No women. No children. Omertà.
A woman lay dead before him, the taunting evidence of a fuckup.
He took the steps two at a time.
Tucked in their cribs, the babies were still crying as their parents’ killer entered the nursery and hovered over them.
Not even the nightlight could eradicate the darkness.
Excerpt from A Face to Die For by Andrea Kane. Copyright © 2017 by Andrea Kane. Reproduced with permission from Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC. All rights reserved.