If you've read Diversion, you witnessed the pivotal moment when Lucky met Victor. Ever wonder what Victor was thinking that night?
Another Saturday, another expected appearance at the club. At one time, getting the best table, having everyone rush to fulfill his every whim, had been thrilling. Now, the bowing and scraping grated on Victor’s nerves. Everyone wanted something from him: money, his clout, to bask in the glow of his accomplishments.
As far back as the family remembered there had been no poor Mangiardis, but if his dipshit of a nephew didn’t stop spending…
Victor sighed and adjusted his appearance in the mirror, running a hand through his dark waves. A few more gray stands now showed, which only made his hangers-on fawn all the more, telling him how distinguished he looked. He’d dressed simply tonight, jeans, a button-down shirt and his favorite loafers.
He’d taken his family’s modest fortune and made it grow. And if some of the family didn’t like his means, well, they never complained while enjoying the fruits of his labor.
Tonight, though, he would love to stay in, relax, listen to some music. Or maybe he could call…
No, Nestor had made his feelings known, and no amount of wanting would change his mind.
Victor barked a humorless laugh. Who’d believe the great Victor Mangiardi wanting something he couldn’t have?
What else could he do but live up to expectations and go out drinking and dancing? He took one last look in the mirror and headed downstairs. His butler looked up from the foyer. “Are you going out, sir?”
“Yes. Have Lyle bring the car around.”
Victor didn’t wait long until his 1963 Mercedes roaster purred like a large cat at the front entrance.
He drove himself to the club, knowing his entourage would catch up. He didn’t want them following too closely, they might scare off his admirer. Or rather, his car’s admirer.
A smile spread across Victor’s lips. There he was, the scruffy kid standing outside the chain link fence surrounding the club, with his torn jeans, faded hoodie, and undoubtedly worn tennis shoes. Occasionally Victor caught a glimpse of hay-colored hair. What color eyes did the boy have?
Night after night he watched Victor’s car, his attention not following Victor to the club, but staying on the car. Should Victor be hurt that the kid wanted the car more than him?
Would he do more than want?
Ten minutes until his bodyguards arrived. Now to see if he’d take the bait.
Victor bypassed the main area of the club, climbing the stairs to the VIP rooms. There, he watched through the cameras he’d had specially installed.
Two months. For two months he’d had his eye on this kid. Now to see if he at least provided a night of entertainment. Victor waved off a barely-clad waiter, who pooched his lips and sauntered off.
Victor had partaken of his gorgeous body, with its surgically enhanced six pack, face, and ass, highlighted hair and buffed nails, and most of all, his high-maintenance lifestyle. Such men surrounded Victor, circling like sharks. He didn’t want surgically enhanced, he didn’t want high maintenance, he wanted someone alive as he was, living for the game.
He watched the young man climb the fence at the back of the club and casually stroll to the front. To anyone watching he’d appear to have parked in the back.
About eight more minutes until Victor’s bodyguards usually arrived, though he’d warned them off tonight, telling them to be ready all the same.
Ah, the kid bypassed the security system and started the car in under two minutes. Nice skills there. He drove around the building, avoiding the bouncer stationed in front, and stopped the car twice while the visible security cameras swept over the parking lot. Too bad he’d not noticed the new cameras.
He headed north and Victor gave up the camera feed for a tracker. No need to have him tailed. Victor would be waiting for him when he got to his destination.
Now to make a phone call. “Ricky, pick me up,” he said, making his way out of the club, excitement rising. He’d not had such a challenge in ages. No telling what the night might bring.
Victor climbed into an unobtrusive F-150 truck.
“I don’t know why you let him take the car,” his second in command growled.
“Because I wanted to see what he’d do.” Victor buckled in and folded his arms over his chest. He owed no explanation to anyone. “Hit the Interstate. Head north.”
Ricky listened to some gawdawful something, which grated on Victor’s nerves. He turned the radio off. If only he were in his roadster, where even now the strains of Pachelbel’s Canon must be playing. Would his thief like the selection Victor chose for him, or change to something more in keeping with Ricky’s tastes?
Victor hoped for the former. It would be nice to find a touch of refinement in the country bumpkin who’d caught his attention. Occasionally he checked his iPad for the tracker, a smile playing on his lips.
His little thief was about to be so disappointed.
“How do you know where he’s going?” Ricky asked.
“He’s meeting a buyer.” Victor gave the address.
“How do you know this?”
Victor gave Ricky a wicked grin known to make enemies grovel. “I’m the buyer.”
“Boss?” Ricky did a double take. “You what?”
“I contracted him to steal my own car.” Victor sent a group text with the address and “Now.”
Ricky squealed tires turning into the parking lot of an abandoned building, cutting off the Mercedes’ escape. Here the game grew tricky. Would the thief destroy the car to get away, or did he, like Victor, appreciate fine craftsmanship?”
Victor never said a word as he climbed down from the truck. Two of his men wrestled the thief from the car. A string of curses split the air. The guy was small, only five five or five six, but he landed a few punches and got a few kicks in.
“Ahhh!” Eduardo screamed, gripping the side of his face. Had the kid bitten him? Oh, what spirit. Victor approved. He’d give Eduardo a bonus later to smooth over hurt feelings.
Eduardo recovered enough to slam his adversary to the ground.
“Stop!” Victor would rather destroy a priceless sculpture than hurt a work of art such as a dedicated thief.
Eduardo stepped back, allowing Victor to get closer. Ricky stood close by, weapon drawn. Oh, the theatrics! Like they’d need firepower to bring down one skinny punk.
Pulled onto his knees, head held back by a tight grip on his hair, left the guy no choice but to stare up at Victor. The kid couldn’t yet be twenty, and while not classically handsome, he possessed a rawness, a wild quality of someone who’d never be tamed.
Victor knew how he must appear, especially to anyone given to watching late night gangster B movies. Victor had been told more than once that he’d make the perfect Mafia don.
With dirty-blond hair, the kind of tan that came from living outdoors, and a rim of black under his nails, this had to be the farmer’s son turned mechanic Victor’d found out about through private sources. A few small-time car thefts, no drugs, and no violent crimes.
Victor crouched down for a better look, and to up the intimidation factor. Two of his men held the guy’s arms behind his back, yet still he struggled and fought. Not one to admit defeat, then. Even better. “If you had damaged my property, I wouldn’t have asked them to stop,” Victor said, in his best charming voice.
No answer. Not that Victor expected pleading, based on what he’d learned in the past two months.
“I’ve watched you, how carefully you planned your little adventure. You’re smart and resourceful. Few of my acquaintance would have bidden their time, waiting for the right moment to strike.” Impressive.
The man dropped his gaze to the ground.
Oh, no. This wouldn’t do. Victor brought their gazes back together, forcing the man’s head up with a finger beneath his chin. “Always remember this: you did not steal my car. I allowed you to take it. Never again will you get a second chance from me.”
The hissed warning earned a shiver. “How did you find me? No one followed.”
Victor stood and nodded to Eduardo, who stalked to the car, bent down on one knee, and returned with a small device in his hand. “Why follow when you led us right to you?”
His quarry didn’t need to know Victor had orchestrated this whole meeting by pretending to be a buyer. He’d suffered enough of a bruising to his ego already. Lucky. The young man had called himself Lucky.
He’d not been very lucky tonight.
Lucky groaned when he saw the tracker.
Still, as job interviews went, this had been one of the most successful. “Don’t be disappointed, for I’m quite awed by your skill. Though you fancy yourself a pro, you’re no more than a novice. I can teach you. In time, you’ll be untouchable. Come to work for me.”
Silence, giving time for the condemned to weigh his options. “And if I say
Victor chuckled, with less humor. He must keep up appearances for his men. “Then, my young friend, no one will ever find your body.”
Victor reclaimed his elegant car with a smile his men wouldn’t understand. He’d opened the door to the last long notes of Pachelbel’s Canon.
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