Christian Gallo Prologue
One of the favourite parts of a book for me to write is the Prologue. There's something about the snap shot of what happened in the past or what is to come that gets me so excited!
So I figured, with everyone waiting for the next instalment of The Unseen Underground, I'd share the Prologue to Christian's book with you!
Remember, each book can be read as a complete standalone
I pulled up to the elaborate gates in my old beat up truck. The engine chugged away, threatening to give in at any second. It was always a gamble on whether it would start or not, and luckily for me, tonight it had.
Other than my loud engine, the neigborhood filled with mansions was silent—so quiet you could almost hear the twinkle of the bright stars shining in the almost black night sky.
Even though I didn’t live in one of the mansions here, it felt more like home than where I actually belonged. As a kid, I was here every waking hour, preferring to be surrounded by people that cared rather than my own home.
Home was a loose term. All it was was a trailer that my ma had parked in someone’s driveway. This month it was her latest boyfriend, and although I knew it was temporary, at least we had electricity and running water thanks to him hooking us up. It was something we didn’t always have, so I never took it for granted.
But this place—the mansion that the scariest person in the state lived in—was more of a home than the trailer would ever be. At least here I didn’t have to sleep feet away from my ma thanks to the single wide space.
I hauled in a breath. It would only be a matter of time until I was out of there, but first I had to finish school. That was the one and only rule my ma had. She said that if she’d gotten her high school diploma, or even her GED, then she wouldn’t have been working the dead end job she’d been stuck in for my entire life. She was a hustler, a woman that did what she had to, consequences be damned.
Yet, she still hadn’t managed to get us out of that damn trailer. Sometimes a memory would flash in my mind, one where we had real walls and not a curtain in the middle of the room to separate the space. But it was so brief that it almost felt like a dream. And maybe it was. Maybe it was wishful thinking. Whatever it was, I was determined not to live the life she had.
I strummed my fingers on top of the steering wheel as I waited for the gates to open up, not able to get my ma off my mind. She’d walked into the trailer only minutes before I’d left to come here. When she’d asked where I was going, she’d done her usual shake of her head in disappointment, then crashed on the sofa thanks to her double shift.
She didn’t like the fact that my best friend’s dad was a Mafia boss, but that had never mattered to me. Lorenzo had been my best friend from the first time I met him in grade school. That day on the playground when we played catch was the start of what would be a lifelong friendship. And even now, at eighteen, we were inseparable.
So as the gates finally opened and I pulled through them and past the giant water feature, I didn’t think anything of it. It didn’t occur to me that it was strange for Lorenzo’s dad to request my presence in his office. Luca Beretta was a foreboding man, one who emanated more power in his pinky finger than anyone else I knew, but I was never scared of him. He demanded respect, and I gave it freely. Which was why I’d made it here within ten minutes.
I turned off my truck, wincing as I got out and compared it to the shiny cars lining the driveway. They were sleek, and so clean I could see my reflection in the paintwork.
Cracking my neck from side-to-side, I strolled toward the large wooden doors. I didn’t knock—I hadn’t since I was eleven and Rosa Beretta had told me not to. Voices drifted into the wide hallway as I stepped inside. I headed toward them, spotting Lorenzo waiting in the hallway outside of a room that we never ventured near.
“Lorenzo,” I greeted, lifting my chin. “What’s up?”
His nostrils flared as he kept his face turned toward the door of his father’s office. His eyes laser focused on the crack of space where someone had left it open. “Dad summoned me.” He said it so low, I could barely hear him. He was stuck inside a world of his own, but as I stopped next to him, his head snapped around, his eyes narrowing on me. “What are you doing here?”
I leaned on the wall and shoved my hands into the front pocket of my jeans, acting like it was no big deal that we were standing outside the Mafia Boss’ office. “Your dad called me.”
“Fuck,” Lorenzo spat, pushing his hand through his hair. It was longer than it normally was, but I knew it wouldn’t stay that way for long. Lorenzo was careful about everything, never letting his image slide or his face reflect what he was thinking. But when it was just him and I, I saw right through it.
The clench of his jaw and the tenseness of his body told me that he didn’t know his dad had called me.
“You should leave,” Lorenzo said, turning back to face the door. “While you still can.”
I shook my head. “Nah. I’m good.” Lorenzo growled low in his throat, but I didn’t let him get another word out. “He probably just wants to talk about colleges,” I continued. Both Lorenzo’s Ma and Dad had taken an interest in me from the moment we’d become friends. They were like a second set of parents.
“No. He doesn’t want to—“
“Boys?” a new voice called. “Come in.”
Lorenzo shot forward, blocking the doorway. “Christian,” he murmured, turning his head slightly so he could look into my eyes. “This is your last chance. If you don’t leave now, you’ll be trapped, just like I am.”
I felt like rolling my eyes. He was being dramatic, something that was unusual for him, but still, I didn’t think too much about it.
“Just go in,” I told him, huffing out a breath.
He stared at me for a few more seconds, searching my eyes for something. I frowned, and bumped his shoulder with mine, silently telling him to move it. His dad was waiting, and from the sound of the voice that called out to us, someone else was in there.
He finally gave in, and the door opened slowly, revealing Luca Beretta’s office. He was sitting behind a large desk, in a high wingback chair. Anyone else would have looked tiny in that chair, but he commanded it just like he did everyone else.
“Sit down, boys,” the same voice said again, and when I turned to look at it, I saw Lorenzo’s uncle Alonzo on a chair to the left.
“They won’t be boys much longer, Alonzo,” Luca murmured, the hint of accent still there even though he’d lived in this country for twenty years. “They’re men now.”
I pushed my shoulders back, feeling pride wash through me at his words. Luca was the only consistent male in my life.
“Father,” Lorenzo greeted, stalling a few feet away from his desk. His body was half turned toward his dad and half toward his uncle, almost as if he didn’t want to give either of them his full attention. “What is this about?”
Luca swirled the amber liquid in his crystal glass and tilted his head to the side, watching both of us. The tension built the longer he stayed silent, and I realized for the first time that maybe this really wasn’t about college. Maybe this was about something else…
The sound of the door clicking shut had me jolting, and I snapped my head around to see Lorenzo’s other uncle walk into the room. I’d seen them around the mansion plenty enough, but this Uncle—Antonio—was the scariest of all the men.
“This is about tradition,” Luca finally said, and I brought my attention back to him. “Tonight, you don’t only become men.” He paused, narrowing his eyes on each of us. “Tonight…you become soldiers.”