“Boss, I think you'd better come and see this.”

Anthony Sorrell frowned at the urgent undertones of his head of security.  Chosen for his position because of his virtual lack of emotion, the man had only displayed such feeling twice before that Sorrell could recall.  “What is it?”

The guard did not respond.  Instead he led the mob boss down the hallway to a seldom-used bedroom where a knot of black-clad, grim-faced young men stood watch.

Anthony Sorrell gave his security chief a questioning glance before stepping into the bedroom.  The men gathered about the king-sized bed parted, allowing the mobster his first glimpse of what lay there.

The lifeless body of Paulie Ovindoli had been laid lovingly upon the pristine white comforter.  Bloodied and broken, the young man had been beaten until he died.  Death, no doubt, had been a welcome end to the pain and torture.  It was the kind of death given to stool pigeons and double-crossers.  Paulie had been neither.

Each man within the room knew the probable circumstances of the bodyguard's death.  Such beatings were the norm of their trade.  Still, a swelling of anger and outrage emanated from them at the insult to their friend and fellow employee.

Anthony Sorrell stared down dispassionately at the broken body of his personal guard.  Even in death, the young man's earnest expression was unchanged.  He whispered a prayer for Paulie's soul, crossed himself and turned away.

“Handle the arrangements,” Sorrell quietly instructed his second-in-command, a man named Marco Sant' Omero.  His voice, barely a whisper, seemed as loud as thunder in the silence of the room.  “Nothing but the best for him.”

“Of course, Boss.”  Neither Marco nor his men moved.  It was as though they awaited some kind of sign from their pensive leader.

“What about the others?” Sorrell finally asked.

“Shot once in the head.  Each of them.  And the limo was cut apart like a side of beef.”

After several moments had passed, the mob boss turned back and cast one last look upon his young guard.  His gaze swept across the face of every man in the room.

“Mike Corbin's death was business.  But now…” Anthony Sorrell murmured with a chilling smile upon his face, “now, it has become personal.”


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