Nic crept up to the window and peered in. He held up four fingers. Dom pulled the slider on his gun back. I copied him, my fingers warm with adrenalin as they slid against the cool metal.
Nic glanced over his shoulder, one hand already pressed against the door. Dom was looking at his phone, counting under his breath. Paulie was obviously coming up the opposite stairs.
Nic gestured to a puddle of darkness behind the stairs. ‘Hide until we call you.’
Something flared inside me – need, anger, excitement?
‘Let me come in,’ I whispered. ‘Don’t leave me out here.’
Nic shook his head, his attention already disengaging from me. ‘You’re not ready for this part yet.’
Before I could protest, or even figure out whether I truly wanted to protest, the boys raised their guns, swung the door open and started shooting. And then my feet were moving too, carrying me through the gap in the door as it shut after them, and propelling me towards the gunfire, my own weapon raised.
Nic fired first, and Eric Cain went down, his body collapsing on to the table and sending glasses smashing to the ground. Everyone started roaring, and the long, narrow room exploded into chaos. I zeroed in on Libero as he rolled backwards, away from Dom’s aim, and flipped a table between them. Paulie appeared from nowhere and dispatched the first buyer with two quick shots in the back. The second buyer shot at Nic, but missed – narrowly. I stumbled backwards, crouching behind the bar and trying to aim at someone – at Eric’s floundering form, at the table Libero was now using for a shield. But everyone just kept moving.
I wasn’t used to moving targets.
The second buyer went down, his body convulsing as a fresh wound gushed blood down his neck. His leg twitched and then stopped. The first buyer was out, too. Nic finished Eric Cain, his back between us as the final shot rang out, and then … then there was only Libero Marino, crouching like a scared rat on the other side of an upturned table.
It had all happened so quickly. A flash. And now three people were dead. My pulse was roaring in my eardrums. I stood up from behind the bar, where shards of glass and spilt whisky lay in pools. I ignored the bodies, fought the urge to turn and study them. To stare death in the face and feel it spread inside me like ice. My adrenalin put one foot in front of the other, carrying me towards Nic and Dom. Libero’s gun was empty. He flung it at us as we converged on him – three angels of death. It landed with a hollow click at my feet. I kicked it away.
Paulie disappeared downstairs again, already getting to work on making the mess disappear.
The table was blocking Libero up to the neck, but there was no way out for him, and he knew it. He didn’t even look afraid. He did, however, look like Sara. Those wide eyes. Dimples, too, I noticed at close range, but only because he was frowning so severely and his facial hair was patchier than it had been in the photo.
‘Stand up, Libero,’ Nic commanded. His gun was pointed directly at Libero’s forehead. A threat, only. The killing shot was mine.
‘Fuck yourself, Falcone!’ Libero cut his eyes to me, hatred twisting his mouth. ‘You traitorous bitch. Killing your own family in cold blood.’
‘Watch your mouth, Marino.’ Dom fired off a warning shot and it lodged in the wooden table between them. Libero didn’t even flinch. He didn’t look away from me.
‘Are you proud of yourself?’ he said, his voice falling deadly quiet. ‘Vince Marino’s daughter, a coward and a turncoat. You’ll suffer when my family gets their hands on you. When my mother shows up she’ll gut you and then Zola will cut you into little pieces and listen to you scream yourself unconscious.’
When my mother shows up. What the hell did that mean? I shook the paranoia away. He was just trying to psyche me out, to get in my head. Nic and Dom weren’t reacting to it, so I took my cue from them. I stared at Libero, trying to work myself up to what I had to do. His hatred was definitely helping.
Dom ripped the table away and flung it against the bar. Libero fell forwards on to his hands, spluttering. Blood was running down his left side and staining his T-shirt. He had already been shot. The colour was draining from his face, his black goatee appearing stark against his white pallor.
Dom and Nic stepped back to either side of me, and I was conscious suddenly of what I had to do, of what they were waiting for. This was it. The time had come.
I raised my gun.
Libero laughed, and with it came another trickle of blood, painting his lips crimson. He spat it at my feet. ‘They gave their plaything a gun.’ He spat again, and this time it reached my shoe. I kept my gaze forward, focused on his leering grin, using all that hatred to fuel my own.
‘Yes,’ I said, barely recognizing my own voice as I curled my lip at him. ‘They gave me a gun.’
Libero returned my twisted smile. ‘Which one are you sleeping with, turncoat? Which one have you whored yourself out to? All the honour and dignity in your blood and you debase yourself like this. You disgust me.’
My composure faltered, his words breaking through my defences. ‘Shut up!’ I snapped. ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about!’
‘Sophie,’ Nic urged from somewhere over my shoulder. ‘Just do it. End him.’
‘End me!’ Libero shouted. ‘End me the way you ended your own mother! No wonder she didn’t want to live in this world any more. No wonder she ran into those flames. Away from you!’
My finger was on the trigger. The world had fallen still. It was just me, Libero Marino and all that malevolent hatred spewing from his lips, wrapping around me, taunting me. ‘Shut your mouth,’ I said.