Why Me?

Ty, just another skateboarding high school junior, was minding her own legal business when she gets stuck in the middle of a mafia fight with guns, knives, and potato launchers, while only armed with her trusty skateboard. What does she do? Runs for her life only to get captured and asked (read: commanded) to marry one of the three sons of the don. And then people want to kill her. Obviously.

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9. Chapter Nine

Dante returned to the dining hall fidgeting with the grey tie his father had insisted he wear though he wanted nothing more than to rip off the stuffy suit and use the silver and amber cufflinks as target practice. His only form of comfort was the semi-automatic he had hidden in the inside of his suit jacket.

He scanned the room, recognizing most of the important guests, especially the ones he knew to be wary of. He spotted Luca standing undisturbed in a corner fiddling with some mechanism of some sort, completely ignoring the people around him, off in his own little world of the mechanics of weaponry.

After a few moments of drifting along the sidelines, Dante felt eyes on him and held a groan. He recognized that lustful gaze anywhere and unfortunately the bright green eyes that they came from. He knew he was attractive and that a lot of man-lovers desired his attention; be it for his looks, money, power or all of the above. Doesn't mean it's any less annoying.

"Dante!" he heard though he wished he could ignore it. Steeling himself for the encounter, he turned around with a stoic expression, posture lazy yet still slightly on edge and hands in his pockets.

A gorgeous eighteen year old strutted up to him, batting her artificially exemplified lashes that made her bright green eyes pop out attractively. Her long black hair was curled, dropping in ringlets down her back with a few tendrils falling over her bare, olive shoulders. She wore a rather revealing but still somehow appropriate black dress with no visible straps that hugged her thin frame and emphasized her curves. Her painted lips curved into a coquettish smile, "Dante, I've been looking all over for you."

Dante didn't even spare her a fake smile or any form of emotion, simply nodding and asked, "Is there something you need, Adreana?" If it were up to him, he would have ignored her completely, but Adreana Castella was not someone he was to make an enemy of. Her father was a close business associate of his father's and they had known one another since his father had gotten hold of the business. It didn't mean he enjoyed her company. He did try once (and more often than not wished he never did) in what he intended to be a no-strings-attached kind of way, but it seemed Adreana didn't get the message.

Adreana pouted and slid her hands around Dante's arm, travelling up and around his neck until she was pressed against him. She purred, "I was bored. But now..." She trailed a hand over his chest and played with the top button of his dress shirt, looking up at him with a half-lidded, hungry gaze.

Dante grabbed her wrist and pulled away, stoically asking, "Where's your—Where's your friend. The one with brown hair?" He wanted to say lapdog, minion, servant and other titles of equal standing, but none would sit well with her and he could not cause a scene with the current company.

Adreana hid her disappointment and frustration at being rejected yet again and shrugged elegantly, "I don't know. I lost her when we arrived." She showed absolutely no signs of even bothering to go look, determined to stick to Dante like a ravenous leech.

How do I get rid of her? Better question yet, what the hell was I thinking when I slept with her? Dante causally glanced towards the dining table that they had moved to the back of the room for setting up the buffet. He saw Ty's friends chattering and gawking amongst themselves, being as conspicuous as possible. He frowned slightly when he noticed the pack was missing their alpha-female. Not bothering to look at Adreana, he excused himself, "Scusi, but I needto check on something."

Adreana opened her mouth to stop him, but Dante slipped away and retreated from the dining room once again. He walked down the empty hallway until the beginning of the staircase and furrowed his brow. Where are Carlos and the stronza? It can't take this long to get into a damn dress, he thought, retracing his steps back to the dining room. Roberto would have his head if he ditched the party.

X

Ty stood by the entrance of the dining room and scanned the area for her friends, grimacing when she only saw strangers in formal wear and a few of Roberto's men who she recognized by their black stud ear piercings. She got on her tiptoes and framed her eyes with her hands, ignoring the judging looks she received due to her apparel. Jeez, what's wrong with basketball shorts and a hoodie with rolled up sleeves?

She perked up when she saw Fred's distinguishable red curls next to a quick glimpse of Grant punching either Jimmy or Henry. She guessed Henry since the brunet was a little taller than Grant. Just as Ty began to make a move towards them, she crashed into a sturdy chest.

"Shit, sorry," Ty automatically stepped backwards and looked up to see a pair of pale, bottle green eyes. She quickly gave the new stranger a quick once-over, slightly miffed at the apparent good-looking gene that was passed through mafias. The person before her was a guy about her age but a few inches taller. He was dressed in a clean-cut classic tuxedo that was almost the same rich black as his wavy hair that fell to just below his piercing-free ears. All the black on him made his remarkably pale skin and thin, pinkish lips stand out.

"No, it's my fault, I wasn't paying attention," the vampire look-alike smiled down at her. He had an accent of some sort, it was faint but Ty still caught it though she didn't know where it came from. His gaze drifted down her form and she could feel his scrutiny.

Ty peeked over his shoulder and visibly deflated, groaning, "Dammit, I lost him!"

The well-dressed stranger looked briefly in the direction Ty had before asking, "Is there a problem?"

Ty sighed, "Eh, sort of, kind of? I don't even know. I kind of got separated from my friends and there are surprisingly a lot of people here."

The stranger hummed and held out his right hand. Ty looked at the long, pale digits quizzically and he elaborated, "Would you allow me to help you look for your friends?"

Since he was invited, he's probably part of the mafia. He's also super polite and gentleman-y. Ty eyed him suspiciously, "I'm fine. They're pretty easy to spot."

"Oh but I insist." His smile widened fractionally and he continued with a seductive undertone "I never caught your name, I'm Vladimir Pellegrino." He was still holding his hand out, palm faced up and he leaned in towards Ty.

"Insist somewhere else and what you can catch is the next bus away from me," she testily replied, annoyed by his persistence, and began backing away a little. She backed up right into another body, stumbling and falling. She tried to windmill her arms to keep balance but strong hands held her upper arms to catch and then steady her, but they didn't let go when she was firmly on her feet again.

Ty turned her head and her eyes widened at seeing Dante staring at Vladimir, his amber eyes cold and sharp while his jaw was clenched tightly in restrained aggravation.

"Vladimir," he greeted coldly.

Vladimir straightened himself up, retracting his rejected hand and smirked, "Dante, it's been a while."

They said nothing after, just sized the other up. Ty felt Dante's body tense, his fingers digging into her skin through the thick fabric of Fred's hoodie. She squirmed and winced, "Oww, Jesus cornflakes, you're gonna break my arms. Let go, dick."

Both the boys snapped out of their stare-until-one-combusts-into-oblivion war, the winner undecided, and flickered their gaze to Ty. Dante let go and pushed her away with a grimace, "Where's Carlos and why aren't you changed?"

Ty turned to face him with Vladimir at an angle and huffed, "He went to get dressed and I am not wearing the dress your old man picked out. I don't wear dresses and even big bad creepers like you aren't gonna make me."

Vladimir raised a brow, "You know this lovely lady, Dante?"

"I'm not lovely, nor a lady."

"She's not a lady and definitely not lovely."

Ty and Dante looked at each other in surprise before Ty caught sight of a set of could-be twins and ducked past Dante in their direction. She only stopped to stick her tongue out at them and use a finger to pull down on the skin below her eye to make a face, and then quickly ran towards her friends before she could lose them again.

Vladimir and Dante watched her disappear in the crowd, losing sight of her rather quickly and a little surprised by her small parting gift.

Vladimir laughed though there was little humor in his tone, "She is quite something. How did she end up with you and your brothers?"

"None of your business, Pellegrino," Dante hissed and walked away before he did something that he would not regret but would make life very difficult. Vladimir and him had been enemies from day one. The Italian-Russian just rubbed Dante the wrong way, but as with Adreana and her little sidekick, their fathers were business partners and Dante could not do anything that would cause trouble between them. I need to control myself. Bellini's up to something and we can't afford more enemies.

X

Ty shifted her way through the many strangers until she finally latched onto the shoulders of a familiar redhead, pulling him into a chokehold/hug.

"I wanna go back to Red's!" she whined, nestling her head in the crook where Fred's neck met his shoulder. She momentarily remembered a certain closet-gay and quickly did a quick survey of the room to see if he had returned, only to turn up with zilch.

The gang was all accounted for now and they laughed at her behaviour. Fred reached an arm across his chest to pat her head awkwardly in what he tried to make as a soothing gesture, "Don't worry, Ty, we'll leave soon. Tomorrow's Wednesday meaning we have school. That's always an excuse."

Ty released him and grinned happily, "You're right! C'mon we gotta find Roberto Stubborn Old Rich Dick Rizzo and leave as soon as possible!"

"That's it!" Grant abruptly exclaimed. "Rizzo...I knew the name seemed familiar. These guys aren't your everyday organized criminals."

"Buzz, what're you going on about? Explain it to us more simple-minded beings, would'ya?" Jimmy asked, the others nodding in agreement.

Grant looked warily around and only continued after dragging the crew to a secluded corner and was certain that they were ignored, "Roberto Rizzo is the head of Rizzo Incorporated, one of the biggest, most successful businesses in the country! I'd bet that most of this mansion is bought with legal money from his business and it explains why the police are not hunting him and the rest of his group down."

The gang gaped in disbelief at Grant's epiphany. Out of them all, Grant was the most aware of current affairs so they usually took his words to heart and he only brought up those tidbits of information if it related to or affected the gang in anyway.

"So...I'm totally fucked?" Ty slumped in despair. She had been desperate enough to think that maybe, even marginally, that the (more or less) justice system would be on her side if things got too out of hand. But now, the reality of her unbelievable situation was crashing down on her. Well it's not like I could be so happy-go-lucky forever, but fuck.

The boys shared looks, their gazes softening as they huddled around Ty, giving her their warmth and physical support in the form of hair ruffling and shoulder hugging.

"Hey, we're here for you, remember? We're a pack of wolves, just human more or less," Henry teased softly, flicking Ty's nose and pulling away quickly before she could bite his fingers.

"Right," Ty smiled gratefully, "Let's go then."

They only took a few steps when yet another body crashed into Ty, halting their progress.

"Crap, sorry, this is the third damn time in the past ten minutes! You okay?" Ty helped steady the person, since this time Ty wasn't the one to be thrown back from the collision.

She was short, only coming to Ty's shoulder and seemed to be about half of Ty's total weight. The girl before them was pretty much a stick with some curves that the boys admittedly took a few seconds to appreciate. She was dressed in a short, pale blue dress that only had one sleeve, leaving her left shoulder bare. Her light brown locks were left loose down her back in quiet waves with a small bejeweled barrette holding her hair in place out of her baby blue eyes. She eyed the gang and wrinkled her nose in disgust, "How did you get in?"

"Um, what?" Jimmy finally responded for the gang as they just stared blankly at the little brunette in blue.

She rolled her eyes and took a step back, grimacing as if someone had just shoved plate of horse crap to her face, "I said, how did you get in here? This is a private party."

Fred raised a brow while the others tried to refrain from laughing. She's a typical rich bitch, they all thought in unison.

"We were invited," Drew answered, putting on the charmingly derisive grin he reserved for dealing with annoying girls. It was something he didn't usually have to do when Ty was around, just one of the perks of having a best friend who was a pretty attractive girl and people assumed you were dating. Although he would admit that there was a drawback when he was actually trying to get a girl or keep a girlfriend.

The girl snorted in disbelief but she did let her eyes roam the boys with slight appreciation, particularly Grant and Henry. She'd have preferred Drew for his looks, but he was dressed too raggedly for her taste. "Oh really? I don't believe you," she haughtily replied, as if her opinion mattered to the gang.

"Well we didn't ask you to, ya prissy little biatch," Ty quipped. "Now, if you'll kindly get your half-starved, plastic ass out of the way, we need to find Roberto to tell him we're leaving and possibly ask for a ride back."

The girl gaped in shock, her face flushing from anger and embarrassment, "H-y-you, why would Mr. Rizzo do anything for you lowly—"

"Ms. Montgomery, it would do you best to not insult Ms. Jackson and her friends," a stern voice cut in. The teenagers all looked up in surprise to see Lorenzo who had also spruced up for the occasion. His strawberry locks were gelled back neatly and his navy suit was spotless, but he still had the signature black stud in his ear.

The girl was about to argue but Lorenzo cut her off, "Ms. Jackson and her friends are special guests tonight, personally invited by Roberto and his sons. Also, I believe I saw Ms. Castella by the far window just a few moments ago."

The girl looked at him in disbelief but did not even try to go against the infinitely stronger and imposing man. She simply narrowed her eyes at Ty and company before holding her head up high and strutting away to where Lorenzo had suggested she go.

When she was out of sight, Lorenzo sighed, "I apologize for that, bambina. Tina Montgomery is a close friend of another guest who is the daughter of one of Roberto's close business partners."

Ty snorted, "Tina? All the more reason to hate her guts already."

Lorenzo raised a brow in question that Drew answered, "Not very fond of the name 'Tina'."

Still not quite in the loop, Lorenzo looked at Ty, more so at her apparel and frowned, "Did no one take you upstairs to give you the clothes?"

Ty tensed briefly before scolding herself for being affected so easily and replied with a slight edge in her tone, "Carlos showed it to me, but I don't wear dresses. Especially clothes from that designer."

"But wouldn't you wear clothes from that designer a lot? Heather Jackson is your—"

"If you finish that sentence, I don't care if you're secretly Chuck Norris or fucking Satan himself, I'll murder you where you stand," Ty threatened, her muscles going taut with immediate fury. Then realization struck and she glared accusingly, "You knew...you fucking know exactly who I am, don't you? And I bet Roberto does too and the three dicks. Getting that dress by that specific person...thought you were so fucking clever, huh? So you also gonna start calling me that stupid name? Well, you know what? Fuck you, fuck Roberto, fuck his plan to make me his stupid nuora or whatever, fuck this party, fuck my curiosity, just...fuck every damn thing!"

Without another word and still fuming, Ty pushed past Lorenzo and stomped right out the doors, oblivious to the many shocked looks she and the gang received. Her fists were capped with white knuckles, her nails biting into her skin, creating dark red crescents along the underside of her palms. All she could see was blurred red as she furiously rubbed her eyes, refusing to shed a single angry tear as she stormed out of the Rizzo estate. I will not cry. I will not cry. I will notcry.

X

"Oh shit," Drew muttered, watching Ty storm off. He moved to go after her, like the rest of the gang, but Lorenzo stopped them by stepping in the way.

"What just happened?" he questioned, not showing any sign of letting them go without some kind of answer.

They boys looked past Lorenzo and grimaced when they saw that they had lost sight of their quick-tempered, non-biological little (even though she was oldest) sister. They debated silently amongst each other before coming to an agreement.

"Exactly how much do you guys know?" Grant asked, gauging how much they could keep hidden for Ty's sake. He looked around, finally realized that they had attracted a lot of unwanted attention, and added, "And can we talk somewhere else?"

Lorenzo followed Grant's line of sight and caught Roberto's gaze. He was frowning and was about to come over, but Lorenzo faintly shook his head, silently telling his boss and friend that he'd take care of it and report later. Years of working together made it possible for Roberto to understand the message and he turned his attention to his suspicious guests, redirecting their attention from Lorenzo and the boys as they made their escape from the dining room.

Once outside, Lorenzo led them to a neighboring room, one that resembled the one Ty had woken up in the first time she was brought to the Rizzo mansion. He offered them a seat, but the boys refused, opting to stand by the door, ready to bolt after Ty the moment they could.

Mentally calculating how much he could divulge to the teenagers, Lorenzo revealed, "The only ones who have extra information on Ty are me and Roberto. He didn't want anyone else, including his sons to have inside knowledge on her, expecting them to learn more about her by more...usual means. We obviously have the information anyone with Internet access has. Her name is Tyler Jackson, daughter to leading fashion designer Heather Jackson and Speeding Motors' CEO John Jackson. The reason for being named as a boy is unknown, but she goes by Tina. She is rarely seen with her parents in large social events due to – now remember this is what the search results said – her parents not wanting her to be surrounded by paparazzi and live a normal life, which is also why she doesn't attend a high-class private school."

The boys snorted at the supposed facts and Lorenzo patiently waited for them to comment and hopefully correct.

"First off," Henry started, "Half of that was complete and utter bullcrap filtered and sourced by the Jackson family to preserve their desired image. The only people who call her Tina are her parents and other people who think they are close to her and her biological family. She absolutely despises that name and if you ever call her that, she will not hesitate to decapitate you with the nearest bluntest object."

"Secondly," Jimmy carried on, "She doesn't go to some snob school because she doesn't want to. Ty's made sure to make herself the least desirable student possible by getting expelled in the first two hours she attended any and every private school her parents shoved her into. They soon gave up and refused to spend any more hush money and let her go to good ol' Brick Road with us."

"And finally," Drew concluded, "Since that was just a quick Google search on her, what's the more in depth mafia shit you guys have on her? And possibly us?"

Lorenzo raised a brow in silent praise at the boys' quick, to the point responses. He mentally jotted down the notes and continued, "Our more private sources came out with nothing too unusual or of serious interest. The only thing that raised questions was a supposed maternal grandfather. A permanent restraining order that has been in effect for the past eleven years and counting was also discovered."

The boys' eyes widened slightly though they realized that that particular information would have been discovered by the Rizzos if they were as powerful and influential as they apparently were.

"Look," Drew sent a quick glance to the others, "That's not for us to tell you, just know that Ty will flip her shit if it is ever mentioned. What just happened when you mentioned her mother is nothing compared to how she'll react if you speak of that."

"Shit!" Fred exclaimed. He face-palmed himself and explained, "The anniversary's coming up, that's why she's been extra touchy and blew up so easily. How the hell did we forget?"

The gang shared a look of realization and worry for their missing friend, immediately heading for the door. Their minds quickly shifted into gear, thinking where Ty would have run off to in her fit. There weren't that many places, but one definitely had a higher likelihood than the others: the skate park.

Everyone had already begun to race down the hall, Grant being the only one to take a moment to calm down and face Lorenzo, "Look man, that's really all we can tell you and for some stupid reason we kind of trust you and your boss dude not to hurt her. But right now we really need to go and find her before she does something stupider than normal. I'm sure you already know what anniversary Red mentioned so I guess we'll be seeing you lot around until you lose interest in our Ty. Good night, sir."

Lorenzo simply nodded and Grant quickly chased after the others through the long hallways of the mansion. Lorenzo didn't stay long in the room, closing the doors to quickly face a very stoic Roberto. But having known Roberto for years, Lorenzo could tell that his old friend was a bit apprehensive about what had happened.

"It seems your desired nuora has a few skeletons in her closet," Lorenzo said, walking back towards the dining room.

"Don't we all, compagno?" Roberto answered humorlessly. They both knew they'd be having a thorough discussion on the happenings of the night when there were no possible eavesdroppers in the household.

X

Carlos adjusted the dark blue tie around his neck, hating formal attire just like the rest of the members of the Rizzo group, but because this party was for his father's 'legitimate' business, they had to dress and behave accordingly since most of the people in attendance had no inkling of the underground side of the Rizzo family. He stopped short when he heard feet thumping down the hall, increasing in volume till Ty's friends came charging towards and then past him without any sort of acknowledgment.

He was half tempted to grab Fred's arm and 'accidentally' use too much force, just as an excuse to touch him without arousing suspicion under the pretense of wanting to know where they were running off to, which would have been partially true anyhow. He refrained from doing so and just watched them make a sharp turn down the corridor towards the exit of the house. "What did I miss in ten minutes?" he wondered aloud.

"Don't ask me, I was just about to ask you if you knew anything."

Carlos turned to see Luca in the middle of the process of trying to remove his tie. He scowled at the piece of cloth and tugged sharply, only further tightening the item around his neck.

"Oh, hold on," Carlos rolled his eyes at his younger brother. Luca pouted, but stood still as Carlos helped him remove the emerald silk without cutting off his breathing.

"God I hate these things," Luca muttered. "I can never figure out how they work."

Carlos raised a brow, "You can figure out how any machine works but can't figure out a simple tie?"

Luca narrowed his eyes slightly and scoffed, "Machines and clothing are completely different things, Carlos. Anyway, our little fidanzata ran away in a fit and I'm guess that's where her gang are off to as well."

Carlos frowned, "She left? Cos'è successo?"

Luca shrugged and began to make his way past Carlos towards the staircase that led to their rooms. Just as he was about to begin climbing up, Carlos called out, "Where're you going,fratellino?"

"I'm bored and have a potato launcher to fix. The last one got damaged and malfunctioned slightly in the fight with Bellini's men that Ty witnessed. Besides, no one will notice if I'm gone; they only care about you and Dante since one of you two are going to inherit either of the family businesses. Buona notte, fratellone," Luca waved slightly with a forced smile and quickly ran up the stairs, taking two at a time and getting out of sight before Carlos could get a word in.

Carlos look up and swallowed his words, sighing before turning towards the dining hall to face the rest of the evening. He was half tempted to go after Luca, but it was only recently that the brothers had been acting as brothers. Before, Carlos wouldn't have thought twice about his youngest brother's strange behaviour mainly because he wouldn't have noticed the behaviour was strange in the first place. They were all just so completely isolated from each other's lives despite seeing the other every day that any attempt – accidental or not – to try and fix it was unnatural and they just didn't know how to react. But it seemed like things were starting to change, if they hadn't already.

X

"Are you alone?"

"No, I'm taking this call among every member of the Rizzo group on speaker phone. Of course I'm alone, dimwit!"

The man on the other side of the line held his tongue, though he desperately wanted to lash out at the brat he was speaking with, "Watch who you are talking to, child. Why am I not speaking to your father instead?"

"My father is busy at the moment, talking with the senior Rizzo himself right now. And you would do well to remember who saved your wretched ass from a complete downfall as well as who decided to team up."

"Why you little—"

"Shut up. I called because of some news that is of interest to both of us for our plans."

Now the man on the other line was interested. He waited for the continuation with quickly deteriorating patience.

"It seems the Rizzo brothers have a fiancée."

"How is that useful to us? If some little bitch is going to distract you from our plans..."

"She's something, that's for sure and I wouldn't mind having her as a my pet when this is over, but back to the actual point which I'll have to explain in simpler terms since you seem unable to understand. We can use her. She's just some teenaged girl, no connections to some family that I know of. It will be easy to use her to manipulate those blasted Rizzos. She seems to be rather important to them."

"Oooh, for a brat, you're pretty smart. I like the way you think, kid," the man's smirk was audible over the secured phone line.

"Oh I know. Just wait for my orders and we'll have Roberto Rizzo and the rest of the Rizzo family under our thumbs, Maurice."

___

Italian Lingo:

Stronza - bitch

Scusi - excuse me/pardon me

Bambina - child/little girl

Nuora - daughter-in-law

Compango - companion (I tried to look for something along the lines of 'old friend')

Fidanzata - fiancée

Cos'è successo? - what happened?

Fratellino - little brother

Buona notte, fratellone - good night, big brother

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