Chapter 4

It was a little after lunch as Tessie and Tony roamed the snowy streets, just as the night before. Her eyes wandered from sign to sign, looking for a gift for Boss. Tony led her, occasionally nudging her to go inside. But none of the stores would have anything he would like. She knew those stores and she knew Boss better than anyone.

Finally she came across a little flower shop. Even in the bitter cold, it still remained open. "There." She said simply. Tony looked to her, puzzled at the store she picked. But, she pulled him inside. The clerk barely acknowledged them, but remained behind the counter.

"Interesting place you chose…" Tony said as he looked at all the flowers in the glass cases. "What are you going to do, send him flowers?" he joked. Tessie ignored him and he went back to looking at the flowers.

"How can I help you today?" The clerk asked as Tessie approached the counter. Tessie looked to him and smiled, nodding in slight acknowledgment to silently say she needed something. "And what can I get you today?"

"I need some roses and a wreath." Tessie said as her and the clerk's eyes met. "One red rose, one black rose, one white rose and one blue rose. The wreath needs yellow flowers." She specified the ones she needed.

"Of course, I'll go get those for you right away." The clerk said as he disappeared into the indoor greenhouse where the flowers were kept. Tessie waited patiently at the counter. Tony came and looked to her then leaned on the counter.

"This is no time for decorating the Christmas trees." Tony said flatly. "Why are you getting these? We are looking for Boss."

"But I am, because I'm preparing the grave for tomorrow." She replied. "The day Derek left this world and became part of my collection. The day I joined you all in this war." Tony stood, completely stunned.

The clerk returned with the requested flowers. Quickly Tessie paid and left with her flowers in hand. Tony followed behind. They walked in a dead silence, blistering cold winds against their faces. They walked until they reached the old rusted gates of the cemetery.

The silent walk continued. The duo passed row after row of snow covered graves until they reached one that was slightly larger than most of the others. Her tiny hands brushed the snow from the grave and felt the cold white marble. "Here lies Derek, beloved son and brother." Tessie read aloud. The snow covered up the last name of the grave, but she knew it belonged to him. "It's been so long…"

She could remember him, his dark eyes, greasy hair, and smug look upon his face. He looked so much like his father, it nearly made her sick. At that time, she thought nothing of him. He was probably just another guy in her way of getting into this business. He looked to her then to his father. The boss glared at the young girl.

"I will not allow this!" Boss yelled. "I will not have some weak, defenseless whore in this organization."

"I am not weak, and I am not some whore!" Tessie argued, fists clenching tightly. "You don't know the true potential of someone like me." She said with a hiss. Her eyes wandered from father to son. The dark haired boy looked to her, amused by her spunk.

"There is no point in arguing this matter. You are weak. Get over it. Now leave." Boss said. "This meeting is over." He got up and returned to his main office. Tessie growled and followed him.

"I will not go home. I will now be silent." She said in a low growl as she slammed her fists onto his desk. Though, she did not sit, she stood over him glaring down to him. "Let me prove myself. I will do whatever you say, and I will do it with no argument and no protest. I will do it so loyally. Whatever you say, and if I fail, I'll leave."

"You're persistent. I'll give you that." He said. "But, if you want in and prove yourself, then maybe we'll keep you." Boss said, intrigued by her attitude. It was almost as if she needed them for some strange reason.

"Tell me what I have to do!" The purple eyed girl ordered. Boss laughed and pushed her head down, forcing her to sit. A low growl rumbled in the back of throat.

"Calm down, girl." He said. "If you want in, then you have to kill one of us, but you can't just leave the body. I want a token to prove you killed them. Leave their corpse in the storage in the storage room below this office. After it's there, cut off a limb and bring it to me. From there, I will determine whether you will survive in this form of life." He said grimly, as if he had no hope for her in succeeding."You have until sundown tomorrow. To be in here, you have to be quick and you have to have force." Their eyes met and she nodded slowly in understanding.

"Then you better star writing up my contract." She said. She walked quietly to the outside halls, thought s on who to kill. Barely outside, the boy who resembled his father approached her.

"So, I heard you have a little task The Don wants you to do to get you in." he said, voice like that of a crow.

"Yeah, what of it?" Tessie bitterly said. The hatred of the boss directed at the boy only made him laugh. "I wouldn't be laughing. I am not afraid to kill you now, get it done so quickly and easily."

"Sassy. I like that." He replied. "Though I wouldn't be like that way to me." The boy laughed again and placed a hand on her head, leaning down on her as if she were an arm rest. "So tell me girly, heard you landed yourself in the slammer. How'd a pretty face like yours do that? Sell too many girl scout cookies?"

Tessie took his hand and forced it off her and pushed him away. "How I got in there is my business." She hissed.

"Geeze, calm down. No need to be so cold." He said defensively. "Do you have a name, or do I just call you girly?"

"You know my name. You've known my name all this time."

"You are no fun Altessa Black. No fun at all."

"I don't care if I am fun. This task is not a joking matter. I will kill someone, and I will show no mercy."

"Mm hm. Of course you will." He pat her head again. "Hell, I'll help because you're amusing and you'd make this entertaining."

"I don't need your charity." Altessa hissed, the anger in her heart making her blood boil.

"Not saying its charity. Just relax. I'll help, and for free too. But don't call it charity. Call it, 'Derek helping someone get into the mob'". He said, waving his hand in the air as if the spell it out for her. "And, you have no choice in this."

Altessa growled, but quieted in submission to his annoying worthless. "Now, you see, father wants to see how much of a risk you're willing to take. Take out one of the lower of us, it's not much of a thrill and you won't be taken much of an interest. Take out a higher member, you'll get a little more attention and you will start out like the rest, just a little rock bottom mobster girl. Now, you could take a real big risk kill one of his best members, Tony, the one who found you in jail. Taking him out would put you up with the big dogs. Or, you could take on the biggest risk?"

"And what's that? Killing his poodle?" Tessie asked as she folded her arms. She puffed out her chest slightly and stood tall, Derek only laughed.

"No. You take out his most prized and loved one here. You draw his own flesh and blood. You take me out." He said in a whisper.

"Oh really?" She asked. The thought of killing him lingered in her mind. Already she was planning his downfall; yet, he knew the place and plans better than any of the others. But, she wanted to be noticed. She yearned to get in on the strongest of the gangs.

"Yeah." He replied. He burst out laughing again as he wrapped an arm around her waist. "Though, I bet you couldn't kill me. Your heart is too big. And I bet the guilt would eat you alive. You show such a kindness, your conscience is too good." He laughed.

The anger in her heart swelled, she could barely hold it in. Yet, she forced a smile and an innocent giggle. "Yeah. You're right. I could never kill you." He pat her head once more, anger still rising. He smiled to her, a new thought coming into her head. She knew exactly what to do. "You know, I've reconsidered your offer. I'd love your help to get in. Maybe you could help me?"

"I'll put in a good word with the old man if that's what ya' want. Though, why don't you come into my office?" he said. Tessie nodded and followed him to his office. He led her inside and let her sit in his chair at his desk.

"Do you have scissors and some paper?" she asked.

"Of course. Interesting request at first." He said as he rummaged through his desk and got her what she had asked for. Tessie took it from him. She opened the blades of the scissors, staring at the shine of the blades.

"I wouldn't worry about it. Just making a little paper craft is all." She said. She ran a finger along the blades, drawing her own blood. "Sharp…So very sharp." She whispered as she began to fold the paper.

"Yeah. I should have warned you. Do you want a band-aid? You're bleeding pretty good." He said, trying to find her something to help her out with her new cut.

"No, I'm fine. Let it bleed." She said as she began to cut into the paper now. He watched her in silence as the white sheet was drowned in the red liquid. He was about to speak when she looked up in anger and stabbed the paper craft through the center.

"You ruined your art? Strange." He said in observation, leaning back in his own chair.

"It's not ruined." Tessie said as she removed the blades from the paper. "Fixed." She unfolded her creation, a chain of paper linked people. Their bodies were smothered in blood, and a deep hole in their chests. Derek looked to it, becoming more alert and cautious.

"That's um….an interesting craft you have there."

"Isn't it pretty?" she asked, eyes in a mad daze. "Don't you like it? I made it for you." A wide smile spread on her face as she approached him. She handed him the paper chain of bloody people. He looked to her and gently took it from her. He quietly uttered thanks, and then turned to put it away.

Though, it was to his own fault. Altessa thrust herself upon him, scissor blades in hand. She reached around him, trying to keep him quiet, but he screamed. She pressed the blades against the sides of his necks, his screams continuing as she pushed the tips of the blades in, blood gently dripping down his neck. "Thanks for the help." She whispered in her madness.

He struggled to get her off him without slicing his own neck from the blades. Though, it was too late. She forced the blades in, deeper and deeper. He gagged and choked, blood forcing its way through his mouth. It gushed from his neck, splattering onto the young black haired girl.

Soon enough, Derek was dead on the floor of a trap he never saw coming. Or, at least he was unconscious. As a precaution, Tessie rolled him onto his back and stabbed his heart, more blood spraying on her body. "I made that craft for you. So you can join them."

She gripped his hand and dragged his limp body across the floor. A trail of thick crimson blood followed her wherever they went. Tessie followed the bosses order and left his corpse in the storage room. But she still needed a token to prove it. Her eyes inspected the body and caught sight of his arms. They were strong, muscular and to her, beautiful. She grabbed the nearest blunt object and hammered at his arm, trying to sever it. Blood splashed more and more, staining her tiny body red. The beating continued until finally, the arm was off and hers.

"I've done it…I've finally done it!" she said quietly to herself. She held the arm against her chest, blood dripping down her body. With eyes wide in that strange insanity, she screamed out a maniacal laugh. She ran up to the office, knocking over and over again. Her breaths were heavy and with each breath, she let out a staggering laugh.

The boss opened the door, only to quickly slam it in her face. "Open up, open up!" The mad girl called in. "I've done the job you gave me." She said. The girl moved close to the eye hole of the door and stood on her tiptoes to try and look in. The madness in her eyes shone brighter than any star in the sky.

"I can see that." The head mobster said as he opened the door again. "You look like a bloody mess…and…I see you followed my orders exactly."

"I told you I would do it so loyally. So perfectly." She said coldly as she entered.

"Well, to that, I congratulate you. Though, I'll have to see the results. Tony!" he called out. Tony appeared from the main office. "Go see who she killed." He ordered. Tony nodded and disappeared into the halls. His eyes looked into Tessie's as he passed. Tony shuddered as he passed, scared of what he saw.

"You were not the innocent child I thought you were." The boss said. "Hope you did get rid of someone good."

"Oh, I killed someone worthwhile. Someone to get me noticed. And his arm is but the first of the fruit of my garden. This is merely the first flower in this garden of fear. Who knows what it will fill up with? It could be the arms of your own kin, or with the arms of your enemies." Tessie said, licking some of the blood from her lips.

The phone on the desk rang loudly. The mobster head strode swiftly over and answered the call. "And, who did she kill?...What? No. That's impossible. How could she have…?" He paused, unable to find the words.

"I killed him."She said flatly. "I did as you instructed me. You never said who I couldn't kill. So, I killed him." She said.

"You monster…" Boss said weakly, trying to hold back tears.

"But we made a deal, and if I am your enemy, your men will suffer greater than he did." She said with ice in her tone. In a deep pain and regret, he hung up, believing her twisted words and forming her binding contract. From that day, she would forever be bound to the Mafia's will.

Her thoughts were broken as Tony shoo her lightly. "Tessie, you ok?" he asked her. "You blanked out on me. What were you thinking about?"

"Just remembering Derek…" She replied. "Remembering the day I joined you. The day I took my first life from someone."

"It was a hard day for everyone." He replied. "But, it's good that you're coming back here to do this for Boss, and Derek too." Tony said. She smiled slightly and wrapped the yellow wreath around the grave.

"Yeah. I guess so…but you say it like he is still here...Do you believe in it?" she asked him curiously. She placed the delicate flowers around the grave.

"Well, I believe that when someone dies, they live in an eternal dream. And, depending on how they lived, they could live a wonderful happy dream, or an everlasting nightmare. I mean, I'm not sure." He said. She giggled her usual innocent laugh. "You think it's funny? What do you believe?" Her eyes turned to him and she smiled.

"I think when someone dies, their soul becomes what it once represented." She said. "Like if Boss were to die, he'd be something that's a leader. I mean, he's strong, intimidating yet he is caring for his family. When he is reborn again, he may be an alpha male wolf, or a lion or something like that." She stood on her feet, finished decorating. The roses were aligned in a line at the base of the gravestone.

"So, what do the roses mean? Or, the colors at least. I mean, those colors aren't very common to be places on a grave. And roses at that….Not that common." Tony asked as he held his arms open, knowing she wanted the comfort. She came over to him, his arms closing around her in a fatherly comfort.

"One rose red for the blood that I shed.

One rose black for the life he will never get back.

One rose white for I have shown him the light.

One rose blue for the life he'll have anew."

"What about the yellow?"

"Yellow…yellow is like the sun that starts the new day. Yellow is like a phoenix, the bird of fire that was reborn from the ashes. From its death, it rose again in that burst of yellow fire."

"So, it means resurrection."

"Rebirth in this world." She replied as she buried her face in his chest. "I know if he were to be reborn again, he would be somewhere close." Tony nodded a little bit, trying to understand her way of thinking.

They stood in silence for the longest time, staring at the flowered grave. "Let's get you home. It's getting late." Tony whispered softly. She nodded and held his hand as they walked out of the snow covered cemetery.