( click each name to read the confession )
After Aldo left, Sonny didn't do anything for a long time. The intercom buzzed a couple of times, but the secretaries gave up trying after that. He didn't even get up to turn on the lights, so by the end he was sitting alone in the dark, staring at the wall he couldn't make out anymore instead of the city view behind him. The gun in the top drawer went into his pocket before he went upstairs.
The shower was running, a gym bag sitting on the floor of the bedroom. Sonny sat down and waited. It took a while, he didn't really notice how long, and then finally Vinnie came out naked and rubbing his hair dry: a couple of old scars, something that looked like a knife cut just above the hip, black hair down to his groin, thick cock hanging loose. All that heavy muscle, big thighs, and only a little spare fat softening up the waist. Not much of a tan on him.
He was a beautiful animal to look at, Vincenzo. Sonny had enjoyed looking at him from the first day, just for the pleasure of it. It wasn't like looking at a woman, wanting her for sex; he'd never considered making a move. Maybe if they were boys together—but they were men, and he wouldn't have insulted Vinnie that way, asked Vinnie to bend over for him, to get on his knees, like that was the best use for a man like him. Even if sometimes he'd caught Vinnie looking back. That would only have made the insult worse, if he'd taken advantage of a real feeling, real passion, to bring Vinnie to him and then use him like a puttana. It couldn't be equal between them in bed; Vinnie was his right hand, his best man, consiglieri and triggerman in one, as close to him as anybody, but Sonny still couldn't bend over for him. Only one man could wear the crown.
Funny how he'd never figured that Vinnie might want a crown for himself, one of these days. Sonny had been planning to give him one, the best one he could: Brooklyn, Vinnie's own home turf, pried out of Patrice's cold, dead hands. But Sonny hadn't actually thought Vinnie wanted it all that bad, not for itself. Vinnie didn't seem to want things; he liked them, but he never asked. But it was going to be like everything else he'd given Vinnie, another message loud and clear that Sonny appreciated him the way he deserved, loved him the way he deserved.
Except Vinnie didn't deserve any of it, not love, not respect; he'd sold out to a bottom-feeding snake of a pezzonovante for thirty pieces of silver, and stupidly: if Vinnie wasn't whacked three seconds after Sonny went down, Pat the Cat was a baboon. That was what Vinnie had given it up for, a gunshot to the head, and if that's what he wanted, Sonny was going to be the one to make him bend over for it, not fucking Patrice.
"Jesus!" Vinnie lifted his head out of the towel and jerked, seeing him. "Sonny, what the hell." He paused. "Something wrong?"
He sounded just like always. "Nah," Sonny said. "Just been thinking about some things."
"Yeah?" Vinnie said. He lowered the towel and started to wrap it around his waist.
Sonny said, "Don't."
Vinnie stopped and stared at him, towel hanging from his hands.
Sonny smiled a little. "Back from the gym, huh? You been working out?"
"Yeah," Vinnie said. He cleared his throat, said it again. "Yeah."
"Looking good," Sonny said softly, low and caressing, and he could see Vinnie's chest shudder and rise. "Put it down."
Vinnie dropped his eyes to the towel bunched up in his hands, the look on his face like he'd forgotten what to do with it.
Sonny got up and walked around him, his beautiful sleek maneater, and put his hand on Vinnie's hip to move him a little into the better light. The muscles on Vinnie's back were all knotted up. But Vinnie wasn't going to say no to this. No; Vinnie wasn't going to risk getting kicked out, not now; he needed to stay in tight if he was going to be any use to his new owner.
Sonny reached around and took the towel out of Vinnie's hands, tossed it away. He put his hands on Vinnie's shoulders, spread wide so he could taste all that tension under the skin, savor it. He slid them down slow to Vinnie's hips and watched sweat beads pop along Vinnie's spine, roll down into the hollow of his back. Vinnie was still as a rock, except his skin was shivering under Sonny's fingers. Yeah, Vinnie knew. Vinnie knew he was going down.
"Yeah, Terranova," Sonny said, softly, taunting. "I'm going to fuck you. I'm going to fuck you until you can't see straight—" and Vinnie turned on him so fast Sonny didn't even have time to set himself; he nearly fell over. Vinnie was on him, yanking him back and forth like he was trying to shake Sonny's head off, and then Sonny's shirt was getting stripped away—stuck halfway down his arms.
Sonny had to drag his arms loose to let the jacket and the shirt fall to the ground, thump when the gun hit the carpet. He jerked at his own belt, getting the goddamn pants off, and Vinnie was making like a fucking octopus in heat, everywhere at once; Vinnie was hard—Jesus fucking Christ, Vinnie was hard.
Vinnie was hauling him down on the bed, practically rubbing up against him, saying, "Fuck, Sonny, please," like he was on his knees begging for his life, the goddamn lying bastard; except how could Vinnie be lying with this, with his body, with the way his voice was cracking, like he needed this more than air.
Sonny wanted to shake him, wanted to beat the shit out of him, the lies; instead he kissed Vinnie's mouth, like maybe if he got in deep enough he'd be able to taste the truth, get through the lies, pound them out of him, and Sonny shoved Vinnie's legs open and got into him, sweet and hot and tight, this much true even if nothing else was, the way Vinnie gave it up to him, his eyes blurry and his mouth gone, saying nothing but yes, saying yes to him over and over, giving it up like there was nothing to hold back, asking for it like he'd asked for nothing else, like this was what he'd really wanted and Sonny had to give it to him.
And after, when Vinnie pushed him on his back and asked for that, Sonny gave it to him, too; all the strength gone out of him, and he couldn't find a way to say no, not to anything Vinnie wanted.
The bed was a mess. Vinnie was lying next to him, still giving off heat. He had an arm thrown up over his face, covering his eyes; not a real man, just some hustling two-bit hood Sonny had scraped up off the street, too greedy to know when to quit. Barely worth fucking; not even close to worth dying for. Sonny's jacket was still lying in a heap on the floor next to the bed. He could get up, get the gun out, put two shots in Vinnie's head and leave him cooling off in his own blood.
Or maybe he would just go downstairs to his office and blow himself away, for being such a dumb fuck that he could fall for this, that he could be lying here next to a man who'd sold him out, a man who'd betrayed him like Judas, and wanting him anyway. Believing in him anyway; like faith.
Sonny closed his eyes. He could hear Vinnie breathing, maybe could even hear his heart pumping, if that wasn't just his own. If Vinnie lied to him now, he thought he would know. It might kill him, might burst his veins and tear its way out of his chest, but at least he'd know.
He took a breath. "Why didn't you tell me about the hit?"
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Vinnie went from the meeting with Frank straight to the gym, to pound on the heavy bag for hours until his knuckles were aching inside the gloves, his shoulders sore and tender. Three days and it would be over; three days and no more lies. Patrice would go down; and that scumbag Mahoney who hugged Sonny and called him a godson and then walked around the block to sell him out. Aldo Baglia and his smirky mouth, crawling under Sonny's wing to get in close enough to stab him in the back.
Sonny was the only one who'd walk away. A year or two in some cushy white-collar joint, maybe as little as six months if he plea-bargained smart, and then he'd be out with everybody else left behind rotting for twenty-to-life. Vinnie would never see Sonny again outside a courtroom, ten lawyers between them, but he could give Sonny that, pull him up to higher ground while the flood swept everyone else away, all the liars he'd trusted.
The bag rocked on its chain, creaking.
It was getting dark out when Vinnie left. He didn't want to go back to the hotel. He didn't want to sleep in the bed Sonny had given him, eat the food Sonny had paid for. He stopped at a diner, still sweaty, layer of grime on his skin, sitting at the counter hunched over his coffee and burger, eating like an assembly line: french fry to ketchup to mouth until the plate was empty.
In the penthouse, he dumped the bag next to his bed and got into the shower, turned it up hot and let it pound on the top of his head, water streaming down until his hair was a dripping curtain around his face. He didn't know how long he was in there, just that he still didn't feel clean when he got out.
He left the wet towels and his dirty clothes on the floor and walked out of the steam to finish rubbing down his hair enough he could sleep on it without soaking the pillow. He just wanted to crawl into bed naked and stay there for three days and three nights, wake up with everything done and then go back to bed and sleep some more, until he could convince himself he'd been dreaming the last six months.
He put down the towel and jerked back; Sonny was sitting across from him, in the armchair next to the window, lamp next to him turned on. "What the hell, Sonny," he said, heart pounding, and then he noticed Sonny looked strange, almost gray, like the spark that lived under his skin had died down; his shirt was hanging open and limp at the collar. "You all right?" He felt stupid asking; like he wasn't about to make sure Sonny wasn't all right. Except he meant it anyway.
"Yeah, fine," Sonny said. "Don't do that."
It took him a second to get what Sonny was talking about. He'd been about to put the towel around his waist.
"Put it down," Sonny said, and why the fuck now, why the fuck now after everything, Theresa Baglia in the wings about to make her grand entrance, McPike on the other side getting ready to do the same, the curtain ten minutes away from coming down between them.
Vinnie's neck felt like someone had put screws in and tightened them all the way. He couldn't get enough air and he couldn't do this; his head was going around and around in circles looking for a way out, except he wasn't even trying to get away, just standing there waiting for it like he was on fucking display while Sonny prowled around him, eyes hot on Vinnie's skin, and fuck, Vinnie had been wrong; that spark wasn't out, it was just burning deeper down, Sonny leaving a haze of danger practically crackling in the air between them.
Sonny reached around and took the towel out of his hands, tossed it; Vinnie didn't move. He didn't move when Sonny's hands settled deliberately on him, callused and hard and careful, and slid down to his hips, thumbs stroking his flanks, his breath on Vinnie's back.
"I'm going to fuck you," Sonny said it like a curse and it sounded like a promise, and Vinnie turned around and grabbed Sonny's shirt and wrestled it open, snapping the buttons loose if they wouldn't come open, nearly dragging Sonny off his feet. He shoved down Sonny's jacket and shirt; they hit the floor hard, heavy, but Sonny was already working on his belt buckle and his pants. They were on each other, all over, Sonny's hands on his hips, pulling him close, and Sonny made a noise like someone was cutting him open when Vinnie's cock shoved against him, and they were on the bed.
It wasn't even fucking; they were trying to get into each other's skin, breathe each other's breath, sweat on his tongue and Sonny's hand on his hip working him. Sonny was kissing him suddenly, fierce and brutal, and Vinnie sobbed once into his mouth; he couldn't do this, he couldn't, he was going to go right out of his fucking mind. He couldn't, and he did, reached out and grabbed hold of the headboard and gave it up, gave up everything, spread his legs for Sonny to fuck him and said yes, said please, said goddamn fucking please to Sonny banging him so hard the bed was putting dents in the wall, plaster dust coming down on his face.
"Fuck," Sonny said. Vinnie dragged his hand across his face and it came away white and gritty, plaster clumped up with sweat. His guts were tied up in knots and his dick still hard, Sonny braced over him and coming down slow, head hanging between his shoulders, and Vinnie shoved him over and got onto him, crazy with it, pushed his legs apart and went at him. Sonny didn't say anything, but he put his hand on the back of Vinnie's neck and it was shaking.
And then it was over, Vinnie thought it was over. They were lying next to each other in the wrecked bed with the sheet tangled around their legs, wrapped three times over like a shroud. The room was quiet and close. Then Sonny drew a breath like he was going to war, and asked him about the hit.
It didn't feel like a surprise, only inevitability, like watching the last of the cliff crumbling away under your fingers when you had nowhere left to stand.
"I'm a federal agent," Vinnie said. He opened his hands and fell.
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