CROW (Boston Underworld Book 1)

By: A. Zavarelli

“If you think of anything else that might help the case, you can call this number,” she offers.

I take the card and crumple it in my fist as I give her an icy smile.

“Thanks for your time,” I tell her.

When I walk out the door and fling myself into a cab, I come to my own conclusions. Agent Cameron is wrong. And there on the creaky vinyl with a cabbie who smells like salami, I find a smile in the bleakness. Because whether she condones it or not, I think my idea might just work. In fact, I think it’s the brightest frigging idea I’ve had in six months.

Chapter One


The city of Boston is washed out, the sky a blanket of gray. An Irish goodbye for the grand-da I never had the chance to truly know.

One by one, the lads come forward to speak their final piece. Niall and Ronan remain by my side, quiet. Condolences are carried away on the Autumn breeze, faintly spoken, and seldom heard. My bones are heavy, clothing soaked, and all that remains is the crispness of an air that only comes after a storm.

Finally, they’ve gone.

 When my turn comes about and I stand over his coffin, words fail me, as they often do. Neither of us ever found the right thing to say to another when he was here on earth. What use would it be now?

The white lily in my hand wilts before my eyes. Apart from myself, Carrick was the last remaining Crow. His final wishes weigh heavy on my soul. The burden of making him proud. Carrying on his legacy and his bloodline. How could I deny a dying man his last hope, sputtered between bloody gasps?

It wasn’t false comfort. Every word I uttered to him in those final moments was a promise to him. I will do him proud. I will follow his footsteps to the gates of hell if necessary to keep my word to him. The man who raised me. The man who gave me everything.

 On the whisper of a Catholic prayer, the bloom falls onto the glossy wood surface and he’s lowered into the ground. Niall and I repeat the sign of the cross, reciting the code Carrick abided by for the last thirty years. The same code we all abide by.

“Family, loyalty, honor, and blood. Tis the only thing that’s true.”

Niall allows me one final moment and then bows his head.

“Come and take a walk with me.”

The cemetery is somber, cloyed with death and the accompanying grief. The grass beneath our shoes, littered with the dying of the Autumn leaves. I myself have no room in my heart for grief. My peace with death was made long ago. A man does not enter this life with expectations of immortality. Carrick would be honored to give his life for the syndicate. As would I.

 It will not do to dwell on it now. Later, there will be time for such things. For now, I dutifully follow Niall up the stone steps of St. Marcellina’s. The solid oak doors open without protest. Wooden pews line the aisle, the air laced with the scent of wine and repentance. At the end of the aisle, I kneel and recite a prayer for the departed.

I do not fancy myself a good man. Like any Catholic, the guilt of my sins often weighs heavy on my conscience. Little does it change who I am. As a small boy of eight my mammy told me I should not be like my father. So it stands to reason I’ve wanted this life ever since. My path was chosen, and I would do it again. Our outfit is ruled by loyalty and honor. Family. The thing I respect most. We don’t deal in society’s scheme of respectable business, but we still have morals. If an act of evil is to stain my soul, it will be for one of my own. We look out for each other. Protect each other. If hell is the price to pay for my sins on earth, then so be it.

This family is the only one I have left now.

After a while, Niall sits beside me and retrieves a flask from his suit jacket. There is no bother with formalities or religion on his part. The man gave up on God long ago. It was only out of respect for Carrick that he prayed today.

He holds the flask towards me, and I take a nip of the good stuff. Niall always has the good stuff. The alter becomes our focal point as silence remains. It’s a quality I appreciate in him. As a leader, Niall’s stoic nature instills more fear than any loud mouthed half-wit ever will.

He reaches into his pocket, and my grand-da’s Saint Anthony medal dangles from his leather glove.

“He’d have wanted ye to have this, son.”

Tracing the etched gold beneath my fingers, an ache I never knew grows inside of me. He could have chosen any Saint, but this is the one he settled on. Carrick never feared death, but rather losing his soul.

 “I know ye’re hurting, Lachlan,” Niall says. “Ye didn’t have near enough time with him.”

“No. I didn’t.”

Fifteen years wasn’t enough time to know a man like my grand-da. I don’t reckon it could be accomplished in fifty, stilted as our relationship was. A quiet man, he was. Strong and proud, but always quiet. Never knew much of being a father figure. Didn’t fancy himself one when I turned up on his doorstep at sixteen. He took me in anyway.

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