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Providence

Chapter Text

 I

  

A fronte praecipitium, a tergo lupi

(A precipice in front, wolves behind)

- Adagia in Latine and English, Bartholomew Robertson

 

 

The party was in full swing. Important men, in their line of work at least, loitered the whole ceremonial hall with their female companions – wives, daughters, and sisters – any woman in their family respectable enough to be brought into an event like this. An abundant array of food lined up the sides of the room while countless footmen offered refreshments and liquors to the guests. Jaebum would bet his right kidney that every bit of food in the extravagant banquet was subjected to his mother’s strict recipe and endless taste tests before being allowed to be on the table. God forbid, his mother will never let a party hosted by their family serve food that had not been approved by her. It was the woman’s sole mission, Jaebum liked to think – to distract the world with their wealth and sheer elegance while his father did the actual work.

A numerous amount of people greeted him, of course, he had been expecting that. However, what he did not expect were the subtle propositions he kept on getting ever since he stepped foot into the room. It amused him at first but he quickly became suspicious. It was one thing for made men to flirt with one another, it was an entirely different case when associates and family members do so. He did not even know what this party was for, why every men and their families were gathered. It had to be something important for the Don to request a big scale event like this, considering the risks it brought to the famiglia.

Jaebum saw Jackson approach him. He was decked out in a two-piece navy suit that Jaebum was sure to cost three thousand dollars, minimum.

“Hey.” Jaebum greeted his brother and accepted the flute of champagne he offered. “Have you seen father already?”

Jackson shrugged and took a sip from his own glass of champagne. “Nah, but I saw Sooyeong’s father. You know, Park? And you wouldn’t believe it but he offered her to me.”

“Same thing happened to me. A lot of them, actually. What do you think is going on?” Jaebum had no inkling on what was happening. It seemed like everyone was trying to garner his favor and be on his good side. “What is this party for anyways? It’s risky gathering everyone here, not to mention also inviting their families. What does father want?”

“I don’t know, man. I saw mother when I got here and tried asking but she only said to enjoy the party.” Jackson said, halting a footman that carried a tray of pastries. He took a plate of macarons and moaned when the dessert easily melted in his mouth, “Damn, I can never get used to how good mom’s cooking is. She puts all those five-star restaurants to shame.”

That, Jaebum can agree. Im Hyejin is one hell of a woman. It was a trait one must absolutely possess – not the cooking talent but the strength – to stand beside the Don of the Im famiglia.

“I see Mark coming over.” Jackson said drily. Jaebum never understood the intricacy of his brother’s relationship with Mark but he noted that it must be something serious for Jackson to be affected this much just by the mere sight of the said man.

“Jaebum, Jackson.” Mark nodded towards them, “The Don requests all made men be in the back office within five minutes.”

“Did he say what for?” Jackson replied.

“No, and I didn’t ask. The Don’s word is absolute, anyways. We don’t need explanations.” Mark countered back.

Jaebum knew the two were talking in a different context, something personal, that he will never understand unless someone explained it to him. However, they did not have the time to be lounging around when five minutes was all that was given.

“Come on, guys. Continue whatever issue you have later. The Don called, the family comes first.”

 

 

“Is everyone here?” Im Seongwoo said. His authority can be felt with how the room was utterly silent. A pin dropping would undoubtedly be heard with the way everyone was holding their breaths in front of the Don.

Jaebum, no matter how many times he had been subjected to, will always be in awe at how his father commanded and brought men to their knees with just a handful of words. Even Jackson, for all his easy going personality, was standing still and mum.

“I suppose everyone is.” Seongwoo started, “You might be wondering why I called for everyone tonight, and in such a short notice at that. I don’t have to thank your presence because it is what your duty requires of you. Rule number one,” he turned towards Jaebum, “What is the first rule, Jaebum?”

It came automatically. He had memorized the rules and codes since he was a young boy, even before he was made. It was etched deeply into his soul, an extension of him. “Always being available for Cosa Nostra is a duty – even if your wife’s about to give birth.” Jaebum recited, accurate down to the last letter.

“So, is anyone missing? I won’t repeat myself.” Seongwoo stated. Too calm for Jaebum’s liking. Someone is going to die tonight.

A young capo, Jaebum remembered his name to be Yugyeom, spoke. “Han Taemin is not here.”

“What is your name, young man?” The Don asked.

“Kim Yugyeom, boss.” Yugyeom said and Jaebum had to give respect to the guy for not shitting in his pants.

“So, Yugyeom. Do you know why Han Taemin is not present?”

“No, boss. Our streets are beside each other and I saw him today. Just that, I don’t know why he’s absent.” Yugyeom answered.

A few seconds passed as the Don took a seat behind the massive oak table at the center of the room. “Very well, then.” He said, “Jackson, you know what to do.”

Jackson, surprised to be addressed with such a matter when Jaebum was in the same room, was about to protest but thought otherwise. Jaebum let out a relieved sigh, the Don might be their father but he would not tolerate any disrespect from anyone. In the famiglia, Im Seongwoo was boss; Jaebum and Jackson are just men of honor.

“I have an important matter to announce.” The Don said, “I am stepping down from being boss.”

Gasps were heard, then silence. Everyone seemed to be expecting the news in one way or the other, or else protests and complaints would have risen already. Still, majority of the members displayed various states of shock in their faces. One example was Jaebum.

He was surprised. Hell – that was an understatement. He did not see this coming, not at all. Jaebum knew his father was well beyond his years and had served the famiglia more than enough for the past thirty years. Im Seongwoo made an empire. But what of the consequences of stepping down? There were other famiglias who will take this chance and strike them down while they adjust to the new leadership, whoever that might be. The Ims might be the strongest one in the underground scene but this will throw them off their game. And that his father never once told Jackson and him any plans of retiring? Jaebum was pissed.

Yet, it made sense. All the propositions he got this evening – it all made sense, Jaebum realized. The others must have suspected this was going to happen and thought it was only reasonable that Jaebum succeed his father. Jaebum will be don. He panicked.

“You all know how this goes. The famiglia was never about the bloodline. It is about the trust we forge between us that makes us more united, more a family than what blood can offer.” Seongwoo said, “Anyone can be head of the family so long as he deserves it. The position for the boss is now open for nominations.”

No one uttered a word. Jackson glanced at Jaebum, as if asking if he wanted to be nominated but Jaebum gave a tiny shake of his head. He was not ready for the responsibility. He deemed he will never be.

Jaebum thought of his brother instead. Jackson was strong-willed, sly and a magnificent negotiator. He will fit the position better than him. Jaebum was contented at his current position of being underboss; he will work well with Jackson’s leadership. He opened his mouth to cast his nomination when a capo, someone with graying hair that he vaguely remembered to be one of his father’s closest friends, beat him to it.

“I nominate Im Jaebum as boss.”

Jaebum’s eyes widen in shock as he whipped his head towards his father, and he swore he saw a shadow of a smile at the corner of Seongwoo’s lips. Jackson beamed at him and spoke up, “I vote for Im Jaebum.”

To his horror, choruses of I vote for Im Jaebum flooded the room right after – Jaebum could not believe it. Not a single name other than his was mentioned. He felt his palm sweat and his heart rate picked up. This was happening all too quickly.

“Does anyone object of Im Jaebum?” His father asked and the crowd went silent. “Then, it’s closed. Im Jaebum is don of the famiglia.” He stood up and went to the side. He ushered Jaebum to take the center of the room and give his word.

Jaebum looked at the people inside the room. Around fifty men, all dangerous looking and now, his subordinates. It was surreal. He never thought that this day will come – that he will be in command of all what the name Im stood for. It was so much power.

“Thank you for giving me the honor of leading the family.” Jaebum gulped, “Now that I am don, the position of underboss is open. Any nominations?”

Jaebum was racked with worry. He has to have an underboss that he can work with or else, this empire – now his, will crumble down. He was aware that he had a severe temper and that he was, has ever been, easy to rile up. Jaebum needed someone who can match his personality and if necessary, punch him out of it. And Jaebum only had one man in mind. However, as don, he cannot cast a nomination. He can only hope that someone will put in Jackson’s name.

The heavens must have heard Jaebum’s plea as Mark’s voice resonated throughout the silent room. “I nominate Im Jackson as underboss.”

Jackson looked surprised to get nominated and by Mark at that. The crowd automatically broke out into hushed murmurs and Jaebum grew irritated when he heard someone let out a malicious comment against his brother. He took a deep breath. Decorum, it was what the mafia was all about.

“Silence.” He all but roared and the room went still – he can get used to this new sense of authority. “If you have something to say, raise your hand and say it out in the open like the fucking men that you are. Do not gossip like a whore.”

Someone from the back shouted. “Isn’t it going to be unfair if Jackson becomes the underboss? It’s going to be a family dynasty if that happens. And then what of us? I thought the famiglia is not about familial bloodlines.”

Jaebum’s blood started to boil. Were these going to be his men? Jaebum had to correct their attitude. “Is the votation done? Did I say Jackson is underboss? No, I did not. You couldn’t keep your mouth shut and assumed. You could’ve simply nominated another candidate instead of whispering like fucking idiots. It’s called an election for a reason.” Jaebum pinched the bridge of his nose. “Now, any another nominations?”

The same guy from the back said with a huff, “Kim Minseo.”

“Okay, Kim Minseo. Anyone else?” Jaebum pointedly looked at everyone and they all shook their head no. He continued, “So those in favor of Im Jackson, say aye.”

To Jaebum’s surprise, majority of the crowd said aye. He looked at Jackson who appeared to be tense and rigid as a rod.

Jaebum continued, “Those in favor of Kim Minseo, say aye.”

As he hoped, only a handful of people agreed. Jaebum nodded, “Im Jackson is underboss. If you have objections, it is the time to voice them out and state your reasons.” He dared them but no one uttered a word. “So it is final.”

Jaebum saw Jackson finally loosen up. He turned towards Jaebum and smiled curtly, and Jaebum knew that Jackson was dying to jump and scream out of joy but he could not – not with the other made men around. He had to put up a strong and respectable front; he had to start letting people know he was not all joke – that Im Jackson was just as formidable as his brother.

Jaebum coughed to get the attention of everyone in the room, “Let us work together to make the family stronger. Let them fear our name. Let us toast to this new beginning.”

 

 

Jaebum dismissed the crowd, told them to continue enjoying the night since the next day, business will resume. He slumped back on the chair, opting to remain in the room to collect his thoughts before facing everyone again – as their don. Jackson sat on the desk and on the other side of the room, his dad pulled up a cigarette from inside his coat pocket.

Jackson whistled, “Man, look at you. A fucking don?”

Jaebum glared, “Shut up.”

“Aw, man. Don’t be so hard on your underboss.” Jackson said, “Thanks for standing up for me, by the way. I know you almost lost your temper there.”

“They had no right to judge you.” Jaebum looked at Jackson, he hoped that the other could feel his sincerity. “You, me, everyone in this fucking business work to earn his keep. We’re not here just because we are Seongwoo’s sons.” He said adamantly. Jaebum will not let anyone think that of them. He and Jackson worked their asses off to deserve being made. They endured the same training, spilled their own blood and sweat in the process – no tears, tears are for the weak – just like everyone else did. They were proud Mafioso.

Jackson smiled gratefully at Jaebum. He might not be real blood brothers with Jaebum but the bond they share, it was more than that. They were strongly loyal to each other.

Seongwoo puffed out a smoke. “I have to hand it to you, son. That was amazing temper control you did there, considering it’s you.”

“I still can’t believe you didn’t say anything about this. You could’ve given us a warning.” Jaebum rolled his eyes.

“Yah, you may be the boss now but I am still your father. Do not roll your eyes at me.” Seongwoo scolded. “And what good would telling you do? It’s not as if it was certain you’ll be don.”

“The others seemed to know.” Jaebum mumbled.

Jackson piped up, “Yeah! I was propositioned a lot tonight, dad. Jaebum, too. What should we do about that?” Jaebum, not for the first time, envied the way his brother was always easy going and carefree.

Seongwoo tapped the ash out of his cigarette on the tray carefully perched on his leg, “I know you both understand how important marriage is in this life. The Commission will never acknowledge you as a true head of a family without a wife.”

Jaebum groaned. How could he forget about the Commission? He had been through enough meetings to acknowledge them as a great deal of pain in the ass. It was an organization the head of South Korea’s mafia families call themselves. The Ims, the Sons and the Bangs. He did not have any problem with the Sons. Son Hyunwoo was a pretty agreeable guy if not too soft for Jaebum’s liking. It helped that their territories were on opposite ends of the country with the Ims taking up the north and the Sons, south. Also, both their famiglias ran on Cosa Nostra rules – meaning, they almost have the same values and codes of honor. Both families were direct descendants of the Italian mafia, after all. It was the Bangs that Jaebum had a problem with. They did not have the same set of rules a Cosa Nostra family had and their leader, Bang Yongguk, just rubbed Jaebum the wrong way. Add to that the feud Jackson had with one of their capos and Jaebum was already thinking of stepping down from being don.

Jaebum stared at his father with all the seriousness he can muster and said, “You know I don’t plan on marrying.”

“And you also know that no one in the Commission, and by extension their familiglias, will accept you as boss. Unless you want to destabilize our own family and let them wage war, I suggest you do.” Seongwoo raised an eyebrow and although he was passive on the outside, the consternation in his tone as if threatening Jaebum did not go unheard. “Believe me, Yongguk will be pleased to run our streets bloody.”

Jaebum groaned again to which Jackson laughed, earning him a hard shove that caused him to fall off the desk. Jaebum relished in the small victory. “I don’t have anyone right now. Where would I even find a wife?”

“You know, Jaebum, if that’s your problem, I can introduce you to some. I know people.” Jackson wiggled his brows from the position he was at, on the floor. Jaebum scoffed, if any of the men outside saw Jackson sprawled on the floor, he had no doubts that they would retract their votes in a split second.

“I don’t want your leftovers, Jackson.” Jaebum said, then added for good measure, “Unless, it’s Mark of course. He’s pretty.”

Jackson, in an instant, looked absolutely livid. “Do not make that joke again, brother. I won’t hesitate to blow your fucking head off the next time you do.” He said, solemnly.

Seongwoo clicked his tongue and commented, “Jackson, in case you are forgetting, the don is to be respected at all times. Also, rule number eight: never resort to violence, or even threaten, in a dispute with a member or associate of your or another family.”

“Yeah, and I say rule number four: do not touch the wives or lovers of other men of honor.” Jackson countered, not at all derailed by Seongwoo’s chastising.

“Relax, relax. I was only joking, Jacks. I won’t do that to you.” Jaebum raised his hands up in surrender. “But really, lover? You’re that serious about Mark, huh?”

“Shut the fuck up.” Jackson released an agitated breath. “But back to you. I agree with father, you do need a wife.”

Seongwoo stood up from his chair and walked towards the desk Jaebum was sitting at. As he passed by Jackson, he kicked the boy who was sprawled comfortably on the marble floor, “Stand up. You’re making a fool out of yourself, son.”

He opened the top drawer, retrieved a brown envelope and handed it to Jaebum. “Here, read this.”

Jaebum was good with his gut feeling; his instincts has not betrayed him yet. That was why he was a dangerous man, especially in action. He was a monster, a beast that cannot be tamed and did not hesitate to pull the trigger. It was rarely that he got surprised, but tonight was trying to prove that wrong.

Jaebum expected the contents of the envelope to be a mission he needed to complete as soon as possible or a report about a misuse of their funds or, even, a write up involving the police force. He most definitely did not expect a photo, about the size of a bond paper, to come out of it with the name Park Jinyoung printed at the bottom. More documents fell out of the brown envelope – a thorough background check on the guy in the paper. Jaebum had no clue on what was going on, on what he was supposed to do with the guy. Was this a hit order?

Jaebum looked at his father, “Who is this?”

Jackson, upon hearing Jaebum’s query, perked up and went over to see what the fuss was all about. “Woah, who’s he? He’s cute.”

Seongwoo paced the room, “Park Jinyoung, Park Jintae’s youngest and only son. I suppose you know who Park is?” He gave a pointed look at his two sons.

“Of course.” Jaebum knew everyone who was important, even in the slightest. In their line of business, knowledge was what kept people alive. “He’s the gang leader who owns a property in the middle of our Seoul operations. Fucking shit wouldn’t accept any amount we offer to buy out his land. What about him?” Then Jaebum added, “What about his son? Do I have to take them out?”

Seongwoo let the cigarette he was holding drop to the ground and crushed it with the heel of his shoe, “Park finally let up. He agreed to give us Yeoui-do.”

Jaebum was skeptic. They had been pressing Park Jintae for years but the man never budged. They offered him ridiculous sums of money that will make anyone keel over at the mere sight, but he never wavered. What was it now that finally made him relent? “What’s the catch?”

Jaebum dropped his gaze back to the photo laying on the desk. The guy was beautiful. He was easily the most attractive guy Jaebum has seen. However, he has been in the business long enough to know that a pretty face could only get someone so far. He saw people – made, associates, family – who were good looking fall.

“He’s selling off his son.”

Jaebum let his father’s words sink in, read between the lines and connected the dots. Park Jintae gave up his turf for Jaebum to marry his son. He let out a loud laugh. Those rats really did not know the first thing about loyalty and family. “He did that? He really auctioned his son just to have a hand in our dealings? Why did you even agree? They aren’t important enough to bring into our family, dad.”

“The man might have been a pain in our asses for years but he isn’t stupid. His son is the same age as you and a virgin. He knows how profitable it is to be a part of our family, Jaebum.”

Jaebum dismissed the virginal status of the guy offered to him. Although being a virgin was a big deal in the mafia world, God forbid his father let him marry someone who has been touched, tainted, by someone else, it was not his top priority. This whole situation kept on getting more and more ridiculous by the second. “There must be something more than that for you to accept his offer.”

“He threatened to sell his property to Bang.” Seongwoo said with obvious contempt.

 Jackson cursed, “Fuck! The man is smart.”

Jaebum agreed. They cannot let Yongguk’s famiglia settle and thrive in the center of their property. It will only bring war especially that they were not in friendly terms with each other. He sighed, there was really no other way around this one. “I don’t have any say in this, do I?”

His father shrugged, “You’re the don now. You do what you have to do for the family.” Seongwoo headed for the door and before he left the room, he said, “Consider this my congratulatory gift to you. I always knew you’d follow in my foot steps, son. Now, do not disappoint me.”

 

 

Jaebum could still remember the moment he and Jackson earned their buttons – the moment they were made. It was not something a Mafioso could forget.

Jackson just turned seventeen, not long after Jaebum. It was luck that they were born in the same year, same month so they generally spent everything doing together – after Jackson got adopted into his family when they were barely six. Jaebum did not know the full details of what happened to Jackson and his biological family. He knew that Jackson was from Hongkong and that his father was a very trusted friend and business partner of Jaebum’s dad. He heard whispers from the other made men that Jackson’s father was a Triad member, China’s biggest syndicate, but he did not delve further. Jaebum presumed that if Jackson wanted him to know, he will be the one to tell him.

They clicked instantly when they found out that the only way to converse then was through English. But after Jackson learned Korean and Jaebum found his way around basic Mandarin, the two immediately became inseparable. Jaebum had never treated Jackson any less than he would treat a blood brother.

They just finished eleventh grade. School was finally out of the way, for the mean time, and that meant more time spent learning the ways of being mafia. Jaebum did not remember any point in his life where he was sheltered away from the way things are. Sure, his father did not talk about it at home since it was his mother's ultimate rule. No business during the weekends and no bringing it home. However, everywhere else he and his brother went, they were greeted with the truth about their identity. They grew up memorizing the Code of Honor alongside the periodic table of elements, learning the differences between a Glock and an Eagle while doing their mathematics homework. Their feet were already wet with the family business even before they were made. They were basically groomed to be made. It only made sense as they were sons of a Mafioso, after all – and of the Don at that. So Jaebum was fucking high off adrenaline when two weeks into their school break, his father called up a meeting with all the important made men and ordered for him and his brother to come along.

He and Jackson were ecstatic. The day had finally come. It was probably against the omertà that they knew what was about to happen. It was not supposed to be known when someone might be given their button. Heck, they knew a lot more of the business than what should a mere associate knew. But the brothers were sure there was no other reason as to why unmade men like them are invited to a famiglia meeting. It was all they dreamed of becoming.

Again, it was pure luck that Jaebum and Jackson were initiated simultaneously. An associate could only be made if a made man vouch for him when a seat became open. And that only happened when a made man died. You do not leave the mafia through will. The mafia claims you for life until death takes over. It must have been fate dealing its cards that exactly two Mafiosi died.

Jaebum and Jackson stood at one side of the room while all the made men were on the other side, staring at them like one would at a zoo animal behind bars except that Jaebum did not feel like one. No, Jaebum most definitely did not feel cornered – what he saw was something beautiful, out of the ordinary. He was about to enter a new world, full of exceptional people ready to risk their lives to help other men of honor, to vindicate them. What Jaebum felt was power. It was powerful beyond imagination. He stopped himself from glancing towards his brother and give him a grin. He was sure that Jackson was ready to shout, whoop or whatever it was he normally did to express himself.

The Don decided to precede the ceremony. A few other made men could have done it but the boss insisted that it was only fitting that he would be the one to hand his children to the family.

The room was deathly silent as Im Seongwoo gestured towards Jaebum and Jackson to step forward to the table in the middle where two sets of initiation paraphernalia laid – a knife, a gun and a picture of a holy saint.

Jaebum almost laughed and struggled to maintain a straight face when he saw who was on Jackson’s card – St. Vitus the patron saint of the dancers and performers. He saw his brother’s lips purse in dismay at the choice but Jaebum thought his father did a wonderful job. The saint was supposed to be a reflection of the inductee’s personality so that he might draw on his saint’s virtues and morals whenever doing the endeavors posed on him by the mafia. And that when a he dies, he would be guided along by his saint to eternal peace. So Jaebum thought that it was just fitting for Jackson to receive a saint as jovial and good-humored as him.

He, on the other hand, was surprised to see St. James as his. The man was not called “Son of Thunder” for no reason. James was known to be hot-headed and was prone to bouts of rage but it was also his temper that was his glory. He took his capacity for anger and allowed grace to transform it into energy for good. Jaebum was startled that his father thought of him like that.

The Don’s powerful voice snapped Jaebum out of his thoughts, “You were baptized when you were a baby, your parents did it. But now, this time, the Mafia will baptize you.”

Jaebum almost did not hear the Don when he told Jackson and him to pick up the knife on the table from the way his blood pounded hard in his ears. He picked up the dagger and did as what he was told – he cut the skin of his palm, making a gash across and he stared as blood seeps out from it. He then held the picture of his saint between his hands.

He knew what would come next. The Don brought out a match and lit the card he was holding. Jaebum let out a soft hiss escape his lips from the way the flame started licking the wound in his skin. The pain made him want to drop the picture but he knew that he could not. It was all part of the ritual. All that was left for him and Jackson to do was profess their loyalty.

“I swear to be loyal to Cosa Nostra. I enter alive and I will have to get out dead. May my flesh be burned like this sacred picture if I betray the oath.”

The Don’s voice resonated throughout the room in response, “This blood means that we are now one family. You live by the gun and the knife and you die by the gun and the knife.”

Jaebum held onto the picture until it was all ash. Beside him, he heard his brother exhale in relief. It was over. They did it. He was finally Mafioso.

 

 

Jackson disturbed Jaebum’s peace. He found that whenever he was having a hard time, he gets into the habit of replaying his initiation ritual. Jaebum guesses it to be a defense mechanism, a way to remind him that he wanted – wants – this life. He figured it was perfect time to seek help from his saint.

“You’ve been staring into the wall for some time now, brother.” Jackson stated, “Should I be worried?”

Jaebum took a deep breath, “Yeah, I was just thinking.”

“What, about this Park Jinyoung? You know you can’t back out from this one.” The usual mirth that was always laced in Jackson’s voice was gone. “You can’t.”

“I know. I just wish I didn’t have to.” Jaebum mentally cursed the Commission.

Jackson patted his brother’s head, “At least he’s pretty. It could have been worse.” Then he hopped down from the table, “But enough of that. We need to get started on business. Since you’re now the Don, and I, the underboss, we need to pick out our consigliere.”

Jaebum almost forgot about that. A consigliere was assigned to be the famiglia’s advisor – sometimes lawyer or doctor, whatever was needed at a specific moment. He had to be well-educated and knowledgeable about everything, and he was not to be directly involved in the business operations. He needed to be smart. And unlike the Don or the underboss, it was not open for election. The position was given to whoever the Don and the underboss chose.

“I say Mark. We should make Mark our consigliere.” Jackson said.

“Uhm, I don’t think so, Jackson.” Jaebum doubted, “That will make everything complicated, don’t you think so?”

“If you are talking about our relationship, you shouldn’t worry. I promise that it will not affect the famiglia. I swear on my life.”

Jaebum raised an eyebrow. For a made man to make a promise out of his life was the grandest display of faith. “Are you sure about this?”

“You know that Mark is the most capable guy in our family. No other made man is a better candidate. He graduated valedictorian at Harvard Law. He has a medical license. He’s well-connected and a great negotiator. He’s achieved so much despite being so young.” Jackson insisted, “Jaebum, no one is better than him to be our consigliere. You know this.”

Jaebum did know all of those. He was even convinced at one point that Mark was not entirely human. No one could have accomplished that much in such a short time without being part deity. He was a little saddened by the thought that had Mark’s parents did not involve themselves with the underground dealings, Mark would have had a decent life. Maybe he would be the nation’s greatest doctor, serving the poor and the needy. He could be someone the public adored and respected. He could be unmade and free from the life he and Jackson lived.

“Alright then. Do not make me regret this, brother.” Jaebum sighed, “Tell Mark Tuan that he is now consigliere to the Im famiglia.”

Jackson beamed and saluted Jaebum before he went out of the room, leaving Jaebum to the deafening silence. He leaned back into his chair and replayed the last hour – when he was still not the boss. However, there was no room to worry. He had to quickly adjust and adapt to his role. His eyes fell back on the large photo laying on the desk. Park Jinyoung, huh.

The world was now finally in his grasp. He just needed to do one thing to finalize it. Marry Park Jinyoung.