CROW (Boston Underworld Book 1)

By: A. Zavarelli

But as everyone knows, the Irish are known for their fighting spirit, and they didn’t give up so easily. Back then, everybody was fighting for a piece of the pie. Alliances were formed and turf wars waged. Turns out, not a lot has changed over time. The corruption is better hidden, but the alliances still breathe. Sure, the gangs have had their rise and falls. The Italians, the Irish, the Russians… they’ve all been burnt to the ground and resurrected more times than I can count. That’s the thing about organized crime, it never really goes away. When one powerhouse falls, there will always be other players ready to step up and take the reins. They all want to run this town.

It’s a carefully balanced act. They each have their alliances, their territories. You don’t step on my toes, I won’t step on yours. In modern day Boston, there are still many players in the game. Big and small fish. But it’s the Russians and the Irish that make up one of the powerhouses now. You see, the Irish learned a thing or two from history. While the lone wolf act was cool back in the day, it also wasn’t smart. The Italians had an entire hierarchy that worked for a reason. You’ve got my back, I’ve got yours. La familia isn’t just for show. You mess with one guy, you mess with the whole damn family.

And that’s exactly how things work in the MacKenna Syndicate. Direct descendants of the Bedford Row Bandits, they come out of the womb with bloodlust stamped in their DNA. Except, unlike their predecessors, they’ve evolved to the times. They have bosses and underbosses and captains just like every other modern organized crime syndicate. And they also have cops, senators, judges and a long list of others on their payroll. Oh and one other thing. An iron-clad agreement with one of the biggest factions of the Russian bratva in this city.

My point with all of this? You don’t want to fuck with this crew.

And yet, that’s exactly what I plan to do. I’m about to walk straight into the seedy underbelly of one of the city’s largest criminal organizations and poke my nose where it doesn’t belong.

If it were anyone else, I might be able to sit back and pretend someone else gave a fuck. But it’s not anyone else, it’s Talia. She’s been by my side since I met her in foster care nine years ago. There’s a bond between orphans that just can’t be replicated. Sharing that experience of having nobody else in the world to rely on. Talia and I came to rely on each other. Until the state separated us and sent her somewhere else.

When she told me that her new foster dad was molesting her, I promptly went over there and smashed his nuts in with a baseball bat. After that, things got a lot sketchier. It wasn’t easy being a couple young kids on the streets of South Boston. But just like my grandpappy did when he arrived here, we found others like us and formed a union      . Us against the world.

The state tracked us down eventually, and we ended up in a group home together, but it was touch and go for a few years there. Thanks to Scarlett and a few other kind souls, I never once had to sell my body. I am however an excellent lock picker and made more than a few bucks in some back alley fights. Talia, though… she didn’t have the same durability as I did. She was soft and sensitive and still believed the world to be a good place. It only made it that much more important for me to protect her.

And during our years on the streets, I did. But when we got older and moved into our first apartment together, things changed. As it turns out, there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities for girls like us. Talia wanted to get a job to pull her fair share of the rent, and for her that meant dabbling in underground clubs. Then she started hanging out with bad men, letting them use her.

I didn’t know how to stop her downward spiral. We weren’t kids anymore, and Talia had a whole host of problems I didn’t know how to fix. Before I even got a chance to try, she went missing. Right after she got a job working for the Irish.

Coincidence? I don’t believe in them.

Maybe the Irish are responsible for her, maybe they aren’t. Either way, this is what I know. I know that the Russians hang out in their club. And I know that one of those Russians took a very strong interest in her.

I couldn’t get a name out of her. She thought I was too jaded and was just trying to rain on her parade with my warnings. I didn’t want to be right. God knows I never wanted to be right.

Now the only thing I can do is find out who he is. That’s what I keep telling myself as I glance in the mirror and take a deep breath. My fingers sweep over the heart-shaped pendant resting between my collar bones before I remove it completely and hold it in the palm of my hand.

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