The Don’s Money Man
The Don’s Money Man (Mafia Mate #3) is now available on Amazon for $0.99 US or in the Kindle Unlimited library to borrow as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription!
Amazon US: Click here. Amazon UK: Click here. Amazon Canada: Click here. ABOUT MAFIA MATE
Work hard. Keep quiet. No infighting. No leaving. No poaching the women.
Jimmy Savaggio made these five rules for his street gang when he was a teenager. Along the way, he met Danny, Max, Mario and Margot. Together, they turned that posse into a conglomerate of mafia crews and corporate sharks. But now, the rules are being broken, one by one, by Jimmy himself and then by his underbosses, too. Nothing is sacred now, except the spouses they find and keep.
ABOUT THE DON’S MONEY MAN
Max was eager for the chance to get away from the office. He could work from anywhere, after all. His assignment? Check up on one of the prospective employees the corporation was considering as a new hire. He’d seen her during the interviews and hadn’t been able to forget. Now, with Jimmy suspicious of the woman’s intentions and his colleague and friend Mario suddenly missing, Max seizes his chance to get his second look. Even if he isn’t actually leaving the state, the opportunity to try out his investigative skills in the field, instead of digitally, is too good to pass up. But what he learns about Gylden Treherder changes everything.
Copyright 2018 by Elle Q. Sabine. All Rights Reserved.
Max raised a brow and leaned back in his chair, studying his friend. Danny seemed disgusted as he entered the room and tossed three file folders onto the conference table. Jimmy and Margot came in after him. Like Danny, Jimmy scowled. Even Margot frowned.
“Where the fuck is Mario?” Jimmy asked.
Max shrugged, hiding his growing worry. “Haven’t seen him since your wedding,” he returned. “Thought you sent him off on some errand to Rosalia’s cousins in the City. We waiting for him?”
Jimmy frowned but answered the second question only. “Fuck no, I’ve got shit to do.” He pointed at the file folders.
“Those for me?” Max asked, reaching for them.
“Yeah, your copy,” Danny groused. “Top three candidates for the two positions we have open for Rosalia and Lucia’s personal assistants.” Rosalia was Jimmy’s new wife. Besides being married to the don of the upper New York crime family, Rosalia had just started working as an analyst in the family’s legally-operating corporation, and Max had already decided she was fucking brilliant. In fact, Max thought that if she had been taught to hack in her younger years, she could do his job. Lucia was another matter entirely. She was not much past her own teenage years and preparing to marry Danny in a week at a Christmas Eve ceremony. Max didn’t know her well, but what he did know is that she wanted a college education and an art restoration business, while Danny wanted to make babies. Thus, she was starting classes in late January at Queen’s University in Kingston, on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario. Max had already convinced the university to accept her. Donations were higher education’s version of bribery, and Max knew all about that.
Max flipped open all three folders in front of him, studying the head shots on the inside of each folder. “Can’t decide?” he asked.
Jimmy snorted. “It’s not that. Cara Ravello is Rosalia’s choice. She looks to be clean but her mother is Corsican, with possible links to the Italians based on last name. Worse, her father left federal drug enforcement when he married her mother, which is a fucking red flag. I’m leaning toward anyone else just based on those risk factors. The second is Charis Silvera, Lucia’s first choice, who is just graduating from Spelman in Atlanta with a near perfect transcript and a degree in history. She’s barely twenty-one, started at seventeen and finished a semester early. She’s Canadian, though, and happy to spend her days at Queen’s with Lucia, but there are immigration and work visa issues, especially if she’s crossing the border every day.”
“Sounds like something we could manage,” Max suggested, not committing.
“Anything you could do to ease the bureaucracy would be appreciated,” Danny said. He pointed at the third girl. Max had seen this girl when she’d interviewed, but not until she was on her way out. Her round face was framed by bouncy golden ringlets. She was buxom with rolling full hips and a rump that would fill his hands. She’d been disappointed, sad, her discouragement apparent on the video feed as she left the building. Max admitted to himself that he’d gone back through the footage and watched her escape. No one had touched her or otherwise upset her, at least not after she’d left the interview room.
“Gylden Treherder. Her father was a Swedish entrepreneur, but not a very good one. Parents immigrated to New York thirty years ago and she came along two years after. A few years later, they divorced and her mother raised her, primarily in Niagara Falls, where the woman still lives. Her father was only peripherally involved. After losing a great deal of capital that came from her mother’s family, Treherder spent years working to promote that failed wind farm up by Henderson Bay. In the aftermath, he ended up owning the land. He died three years ago from a heart attack, soon after the mess resulting from the bankruptcy was settled. Gylden owns the island now.”
Max raised his brows. He knew the failed project. “She trying to change the county’s mind?” he asked.
“Don’t think so.” Danny frowned at the photo. “What made your instincts prick?” he asked Jimmy.
“Just the land is worth a fucking fortune,” Jimmy said. “So why the hell is she applying for a PA job here? And we’re not the only ones looking at her mostly empty resume. She’s applied at the university and several other places, mostly for jobs to which she is unsuited. She has a bachelor’s degree from Cornell in botany, which is apparently the best botany program in America, but she’s never worked in the business world. She’s not a shopper, not a finance whiz. Not a hacker, either, as far as we can tell. She worked in a hardware store nursery in Sackets Harbor for a year or so, but now she’s waiting tables at one of the bars we own on Henderson Harbor, near the marina. She says it’s how she heard of the job.”
Max bit his lip, studying the photo. “What you want me to do exactly?”
“I want a sensible, clear explanation before I put her in close contact with my Rosalia,” Jimmy said. “And we’re going to keep looking at applicants while you do. I’ll hold off on any offers until you report, as long as it doesn’t take too long to work out.”
Max knew he could find out every detail of this woman’s life without leaving his office. But he had a strange desire to see her again, to watch her hips as she moved, to look into her eyes and see if he could find a smile hidden there. “I’ll probably head up her direction myself after I start my research,” he said. “But you can reach me by phone any time.”
Jimmy snorted. “Whatever you need. I know you can do your job from a fucking island in the South Pacific with a satellite phone if you want to. I just prefer to see you occasionally and make certain you are spending less than sixteen hours a day in front of a damned screen.”
Max raised a brow, but it was true. Managing Jimmy’s money, his financial security, and his online businesses did not require Max’s personal presence. He did prefer to stay close to oversee the accountants and the executives that oversaw and collected from the number of small businesses that existed under the umbrella of the corporation, but he’d been easily distracted and distanced this week, ever since he’d seen the woman named Gylden Treherder. He needed to get out in public and remember why he preferred his own damned company.
At six that evening, he was at the end of a dark bar, a frothy ale in the glass in front of him. The place was practically deserted, and he had the entire half of the bar at his end to himself. He hadn’t sighted Gylden yet, but courtesy of the corporation’s ownership of the place, he knew she was scheduled to work. Jamie Saint-Richard, the burly bartender who managed the place and was a made member of the family, smacked down Max’s change and frowned at him. “We made a profit last month, I know we did.”
Max grinned. “I’m checking up on another interest, Jamie. The bar’s doing fine. If it wasn’t, I’d have Enzo and the rest of my crew in here tonight, finding out what problem we didn’t know about.”
Jamie cocked a brow. “Only problem I got is keeping the patrons’ hands off my waitress’s ass.”
Max frowned. “Gylden Treherder?” he asked, unable to resist.
Jamie nodded, leaning on the bar, his eyes on Max. “Either her or my wife, or both of them at the same damn time. Told her this was no place for a fine woman like her but she needs the tips.” He shrugged. “Told her the boss was looking for somebody and it paid better. I hear she had an interview.”
Max considered. “She did,” he affirmed. He sipped from his drink and returned it to the bar. It was always wise to trade. He wondered what trade Jamie wanted. “Can’t see why she’d want the job, though.” He drew his wallet from the inside of his jacket and set a tip down on the bar – an overly-generous tip.
To his surprise, Jamie didn’t pick up the cash immediately. Instead, he murmured, “The family’s been good to me. Real good, Max. But Gylden’s a woman. She gonna be safe with all of you?”
Max bristled. He had never mistreated a woman – never. But could he realistically guarantee her safety – physical, emotional and mental – when she would spend the majority of her time with Rosalia and Jimmy? And who was she to Jamie? He narrowed his eyes. “She yours?” he asked succinctly.
“Nah,” Jamie denied. “My Emma is enough of a woman for any man, and she’d cut my dick off if I even looked elsewhere. But Gylden’s a good one, she is, and friends with my sister. Kind to my mum. She’s in enough trouble without getting men involved. I don’t want to see her hurt.”
On the far side of the room, a door opened from the back. Max looked up, and the subject of their conversation rushed through, the blond ringlets bouncing around her head. Max knew the effect was caused by the light spilling out from the brightly lit corridor behind her, but Gylden seemed to glow. The light shone from her hair and glinted off her cheeks. Peachy, Max thought, then kicked himself for the sentimental idiocy.
She was dressed in unremarkable dockside bar clothes. Jamie’s bar and grill was a local spot that catered to those who made their living on the lake. Neither Jamie nor his employees would have passed muster in the nightclubs near the yacht club and resort even a half-mile away, but no one in this joint would expect Gylden to wear anything other than sensible thick-soled black nursing shoes, black jeans, and a Christmas t-shirt fitted over her large breasts that read Baby, it’s cold outside. She also had on a plain black half-apron that did nothing to conceal the luscious curve of her ass as she turned away from them and signed in at the waitress station at the far end of bar.
Max’s hands clenched. He couldn’t help imagining approaching her from behind and cupping that derriere, squeezing it as she squealed.
She would squeal. He felt sure she would.
Then she turned and looked at Jamie and smiled.
Max’s world fell apart around him. On the one hand, he recognized the rage and jealousy surging in his gut. Jamie should not be the recipient of her smiles. That sunshine ought to be his. On the other hand, he couldn’t help being grateful to the man for pointing this woman in the direction of the corporation, thus setting her in Max’s path. Max reminded himself that Jamie was a solid member of the family. If Jamie didn’t have the bar, he’d have been a good capo in Max’s branch of the family. He’d come to Oswego Corp when his father had died and the bar, mired in debt, had become Jamie’s. The family and the corporation had helped him save it.
Max shook his head, clearing it enough to hear Jamie. Gylden had sauntered toward them and he’d fucking missed it, so blinded by his own stupidity. She was closer than she’d ever been, and so beautiful he actually felt tears in the corner of his eyes. “Only scheduled you and Emma tonight, Gylden,” he heard Jamie say. “She should be here soon.”
“She’s in the back changing and chatting up Graybeard,” Gylden replied easily, in no way afraid of her boss. It took Max a full ten seconds to remember that Emma was the woman Jamie had claimed. “He was grumping about the quality of the catch for the dinner menu, and she was trying to get him to consider a different supplier.”
Jamie grinned at Gylden’s nickname for the gruff and bearded cook who ruled Jamie’s kitchen. “She’s been holding out that lure for a few days now. He’ll bite and come around to my way of thinking sooner than later, I’m thinking.”
“No doubt,” Gylden returned drily.
“You want dinner, Max?” Jamie asked suddenly, turning to him. As he did, Gylden’s attention shifted, too.
Max stiffened. He did want dinner, and Gylden’s attention, but he realized this was not the time nor place for it. He wanted all of Gylden’s time, wanted to study her bright blue eyes and her rosy cheeks, vivid with life. And he definitely wanted all of her smiles. He nodded but couldn’t speak, trying to clear his throat. Luckily, Gylden didn’t notice. She simply handed him a menu and rattled off the special of the day.
“That,” Max said, not even looking at the other options.
“I’ll put it in immediately,” she said, and glided away.
Her presence on the open floor of the bar and restaurant put any conversation about her circumstances aside. Instead, Max watched her, soaking in the cheerfulness she exuded as she flitted around, taking orders and delivering meals. After the first drink, he stuck to water, not wanting anything to impair his thinking.
After he finished his trout almondine with green beans and mashed sweet potatoes, Gylden brought him a plate of red velvet cake truffles dipped in white chocolate and sprinkled with green sugar sprinkles. “Jamie says your dinner is on the house,” she told him, tipping her head and eyeing him curiously.
He got the feeling Jamie didn’t give away too many meals. Neither did he want to reveal his purpose in eating the longest dinner known to mankind. He made a dismissive grunt. “I’m paying for it anyway,” he told her, remembering Jamie’s comment that she worked there because she needed the tips. This was a weeknight – a Wednesday – and the business slow. “Want to bring me a bill?”
Gylden shrugged. “He already voided it but I can write it up again,” she said.
“Please do,” Max murmured. If she’d noticed him watching her, it didn’t concern her. She was calm, not nervous or flirtatious but he’d been careful to remain circumspect and not touch her or otherwise try to engage her. After she turned away, he pulled out his phone and checked his email, downloading the first report from his investigative team that had arrived a few minutes earlier. It wasn’t conclusive. She had a healthy bank balance and the mortgage-free property. On the other hand, she had very little income, and that was easily linked to her job at the bar. She lived in a tiny studio apartment above the marina where she rented a slip for her boat, which could qualify as an antique in the relatively short shelf life of personal lake-going vessels. She owned one older-model hybrid Prius that did not qualify as winter-weather-ready in this lake-driven snow-heavy climate. She also had credit card debt – not ugly, yet, but she hadn’t used the ready cash on hand to pay it off, which meant …
He put down a solid hundred-dollar bill for the meal and a two-hundred percent tip, then slipped out of the room before Gylden could try and give him change.
At midnight, when she left the bar in that silver death trap, his black Escalade was waiting. Max had already briefed Vito, his driver and guard, who pulled out fifty yards behind her without being prompted, headlights off.
She pulled into the marina without incident. From the passenger seat on the far side of the street, Max watched as she climbed the exterior stairs. He didn’t like that – they could be icy and she could fall, and no one would know. But she made it safely to her front door, which was at least lit by a yellowed porch light.
Beside him, Vito sighed. “We stayin’, boss?” he asked.
Max frowned. The whole building was a security nightmare, he thought. Gylden was the only one on the property. His second report detailed the fact that she paid her rent and slip fees by cleaning the marina and doing odd jobs for the owners. The marina wasn’t a corporation property, not even partially, like Jamie’s bar. But it was a small business on friendly terms with the family. A number of the local men had slips in the marina, and the property was owned by an older couple who had moved out of the tiny apartment on the second floor and into a single-story home two miles away when the stairs had gotten too difficult for them to manage. The elderly Mr. and Mrs. Wilder still spent their days in the little marina office, however. Max made a mental reminder to put the property on his list of possible acquisitions, when the Wilders wanted to sell.
The men his crew had interviewed reported they liked this particular marina because it did not have security cameras to record their comings and goings. While Max appreciated that consideration, he didn’t like it for Gylden’s sake.
He grunted. “Call for a crew to take over. If we notify them now, they can be here for a full shift in a few hours.”
“Uh huh,” Vito nodded. He leaned back in his seat and picked up his coffee. “You just let me know when I’m to drive on, sir.”
Max narrowed his eyes and stared at his driver. Other than Jimmy, Danny and Mario, his closest friends, Max had few intimates who were familiar with the details of his personal life and interests or who would mouth off in front of him. Those few included Vito, Arabella – the dragon who ruled his office and business affairs – and Dante, who ran his personal life. “What do you mean by that?” he asked.
“All I’m sayin’ is that there’s somethin’ in the air. Two weeks ago it was Don Savaggio practically kidnapping the signora and keeping her locked up in his basement. Last week it was Mister Cuba, spiriting that little girl who might as well be jailbait away to his house in the country and keepin’ her there for good. Now we got you actin’ like a stalker mother hen. Sir.”
“Throwing the honorific around at the end definitely made that assessment more tactful,” Max mocked, avoiding the obvious parallels that Vito pointed out. He hadn’t taken over Gylden’s life.
Vito put the driver seat back and relaxed. “We ain’t goin’ nowhere until you fall asleep in that seat and I take matters into my own hands, sir. Not even for a cool five hundred would you let me drive away from that sorry-ass excuse for a front door. Even the new boss lady could kick that piece of shit in.”
Max inwardly cursed.
Vito was right, they weren’t fucking going anywhere .