Mystery Book Excerpt: The Battle Rages On By Caesar Rondina
The Battle Rages On, the sequel to the murder mystery book Life Through a Mirror by Caesar Rondina, is based on author’s experiences as both a paramedic and professional firefighter.
The series starts as a romance mystery: Readers follow Allie and David as they try to piece their shattered lives back together.
The sequel captures the tangled web of Allie and David as they continue to have their past haunt them. Allie was charged and convicted of manslaughter and served ten years in prison. David lost his job as a criminal defense attorney and his ability to practice law due to his involvement with a crime family.
Will David and Allie go back to what they were? Will there be other options? Many times, people are forced into situations. It will take cunning as well as the ability to stick together to escape the web strung by the spiders in this second installment.
What follows is an excerpt from The Battle Rages On:
It was a Sunday morning. Allie, David, Molly, and Lou were having breakfast. Allie was experiencing false labor for the past few days. Her pregnancy was normal, and the baby was fine. She was due any day. Allie reached a point that she could not wait for this to be over. The baby’s room was finished and decorated. While everyone was getting ready for church, Allie started to experience contractions.
They felt the same as the previous times. She thought this was also false labor. Lately, everyone has been busy. The store expansion for Molly and Allie was a great success. In addition to the clothing store, they now offered hair styling, a day spa, massages, and more. Business could not be better. All the work involved with completing the expansion and starting up the Allie M. designer clothing line was tiring for Allie.
However, she refused to slow down. Allie was always moving in high gear. The contractions subsided, and the family left for church.
The people in town looked upon the church as a spiritual experience, but also a way to stay in touch. After the last mass each week, there was brunch. Everyone was welcome. The women in the parish would take weekly turns doing the cooking. Anyone who was also available would also pitch in to help.
It was a great way for the townspeople to spend time together. During mass, Allie’s contractions returned. This time they were different. They were much stronger, and her water broke. Allie was in excellent shape before her pregnancy and remained active throughout her pregnancy. She modified her exercise routine as her mobility changed.
She leaned over and said to David, “I think it’s time babe. My water broke.” As Allie got closer to her due date, they took an overnight bag with them everywhere they went. David leaned over to Lou to let him know. Of course, the expecting grandparents were much less calm than Allie and David.
Allie’s contractions were still far apart and were lasting 30 to 45 seconds. There was plenty of time to get her to the hospital since it was only ten minutes away. Lou, being the proud grandfather, interrupted mass and excused the family. Everyone wished them well as they left for the hospital.
There was no telling how long Allie would be in labor. Lou and Molly laughed. There was no way Allie or David could talk them into leaving.
With all that Allie and David had been through over the past months, the town was behind them and very supportive. They were equally excited for Allie and David. On the way to the hospital, David explained they should have taken two cars in the event Lou and Molly wanted to leave.
There was no telling how long Allie would be in labor. Lou and Molly laughed. There was no way Allie or David could talk them into leaving. Lou pulled up to the front of the hospital, and David went inside and explained the situation. A nurse came out with a wheelchair. Allie and David went inside as Molly and Lou followed. The valet attendant parked their car.
Once the nurse signed Allie in, they brought her directly to labor and delivery. The nurse had everyone except David wait outside the room while Allie change. The resident doctor came in to examine her. After letting the family in, he explained she still had some time to go. Allie elected to have an epidural when the time came. The staff notified her private doctor when she arrived. David asked Paulie to be the Godfather. He called him to let him know Allie would be having the baby.
Paulie was very excited to hear this news and told David he would be there tomorrow, and to call him if anything changed. About an hour later, there was a flower delivery to the room. They were from Paulie. Everyone was supportive of Allie during her labor. Allie would not let Molly leave her side. At one-point, Allie started to cry.
Allie felt bad that her mother disowned her many years back while she was in prison. She moved away and never had further contact with her. She never let Allie know where she relocated.
Part of Allie wished she could be there. Another part of her had no use for her. As Allie’s life changed, due to her anger towards her mother, she never missed her. Deep inside, she always hoped they could see one another one day, but she never tried to find her. Allie explained her tears to everyone.
Molly and Lou asked, “Allie, do you want us to try to find her and let her know?”
Allie replied, “No.”
Allie felt that if her mother cared enough about her, she would have tried to contact her by now. Allie’s case was all over the news. Finding her would not be difficult if someone wanted to. Allie explained to everyone, “You all are my family now.”
Lou wanted to change the subject. He laughed and asked, “Are you still naming this angel after me?”
At the same time, Allie and David both replied, “Are you kidding? He will be Louis David Romano.”
Lou could not hold back his tears of joy. Molly said, “Let’s get this show on the road. You have to start working on my granddaughter. You’re not getting off that easy.” Everyone laughed.
About three hours had passed. Molly and Lou were going to the cafeteria to get some food. As they stood up, the priest from church arrived with a huge plate of salads and sandwiches from the earlier brunch. David asked, “Father, are you planning on feeding an army?”
The priest replied, “This is from all the people in town, and they wanted to send their best wishes. Everyone wants to know how you are doing.”
He sat with them for a short time, and they said a prayer together. He blessed the family and left. Allie’s contractions were coming much closer now and lasting longer. Her private doctor came in and asked everyone to leave for a moment so she could examine Allie. By this time, Allie felt she was ready for the epidural. Her doctor agreed it was time.
Allie was now much closer to delivering. The doctor called for the team to administer the epidural. She wanted to know who Allie wanted to be in the room with her when she gave birth. Allie replied, “All my family please.”
The doctor told her that was fine. Everything was going well. The baby was in the correct position. Allie did well with the pain. Her doctor did not expect the epidural to slow the process down by much since she waited so long.
The team came in and administered the epidural. Allie felt more comfortable, but it still hurt. The doctor left and explained she would be back to check on her. She told Allie if anything changes, she was to push the call button immediately. The nurse was in often to check on her.
Soon the contractions got stronger. Allie started to feel as if she needed to push. “I think it’s time,” Allie said. As soon as she hit the call button, the doctor and nurse came right in. The doctor took one look and said, “Honey. It’s time to have this baby.” Molly and Lou stepped off to the side. David stayed right by Allie’s side, coaching her every step of the way.
The birthing process was well underway. With coaching and some pushing, her baby boy was born. It was a normal delivery. The baby was beautiful. David had to privilege to cut the cord then the doctor wrapped the baby and handed him to Allie.
After a moment passed, the nurse took him. They needed to clean and check him. When that process was completed, the family would get to spend time with the baby. Allie still had the remainder of the birthing process to complete.
It was around three o’clock in the morning. The baby weighed eight pounds and four ounces. The pediatrician checked the baby, and the nurses cleaned him. Allie and the family could hold him again. It was a joyful moment for everyone.
A day in Allie’s life she thought would never come. Her road was long and hard and filled with many obstacles. Everyone had an opportunity to hold the baby. The remainder of the birthing process went smoothly. Many of the town people lived outside of town, which encompassed a wide geographical area. The town used a call tree system for emergencies or special announcements. In no time, the entire town received the news that David and Allie had their baby.
As excited as Allie was, she was exhausted. It was time for the baby to go into the nursery, and Allie needed to get some rest. She tore more than expected and was uncomfortable. David wanted to stay the night with Allie. The nurse said that was fine and brought in a recliner and some blankets for David.
The owner of the hotel in town had already called Lou and told him to come over when he was ready. They had a room all set up for Lou and Molly so they would not have to drive all the way home. They wanted to stay, but the hospital would not allow that many people to sleep in the room. The room was not big enough, and Allie needed her rest. Molly and Lou left for the hotel.
It did not take long for Allie and David to fall asleep. David did not sleep in the recliner. He cuddled next to Allie in the bed to hold her, and they both fell asleep. When the nurse came in, she did not have the heart to wake them. Everyone knew the following day would bring many visitors, and Paulie was coming as well. After all, he was going to be the baby’s Godfather.
Allie became good friends with the daughter of another shop owner. Her name was Julie. She was Paulie’s sister. She planned to ask her to be the baby’s Godmother but never got around to it. She worked in the spa which Allie and Molly were now partners. She was their manager and well as a hair stylist. Allie and Julie were the same age. Julie just became engaged to a very nice man from town.
They planned to get together when Paulie came to town. Allie thought she would ask Julie at that time. Paulie did not come home to visit his family as often as he would like to, or should. It was early summer. The landscaping and driveway to the new house were completed. Everything fell into place nicely and as planned. Allie and David had their wedding coming up in two months.
Allie was the type that was able to lose weight quickly. She was not a big eater and worked out daily. She was not concerned about losing the extra weight before she had to slip into her wedding gown. Molly and Allie had had a small room in the back of the shop so Allie could bring the
baby to work each day rather than place him in daycare right away. Allie was anxious to get back to work.
Before Allie came to town, Molly worked in her shop with one part-time high school girl who worked after school and on weekends. With the new addition of the spa, the business grew rapidly gaining many new clients. Allie and Molly were busy designing their clothing line and buying for the shop. They increased their staff to five other employees plus a manager.
After Lou and Molly’s daughter died, Lou made the back parking lot at the complex very safe. It had a full-time security guard, a daycare center, and a playground for the children. Those who had children or worked in town were never far from their children. This was an ideal situation for anyone with children that worked in town.
Later that day Paulie arrived. His face lit up with joy upon seeing the baby that would soon be his Godson and brought many gifts. Paulie was also Italian. He followed the customs of his heritage. He and Julie came to visit Allie and the baby at the hospital. Allie could not wait until they all were together. She wanted to ask Julie to be the baby’s Godmother.
When Allie asked her, Julie was excited that Allie considered her and gladly accepted. Allie had many visitors that day. The family had spread the word asking people to wait for Allie to come home to visit so she could rest. After two days, Allie was able to take the baby home. Other people from the town came to visit, bringing food, and other items to the house.
Molly, Lou, and Julie were already planning the christening and party. The church hall would be perfect for this occasion. Anyone who wanted to come would be welcome. Lou would not need to cater the event. Everyone from town would cook and bring food. It was a town tradition. No matter how much this town grew, this area kept their traditions and heritage.
Paulie, Julie, and his family were over the house for dinner a couple of days after Allie came home from the hospital. Paulie told David before he left town he needed to speak with him. David told him of course. Paulie explained tonight was not the time or place. They made plans to meet the following day. At one time, Paulie and David were both associated with the same crime family.
In David’s case, they were clients of the law firm who employed him. Paulie was along for the ride. Not knowing what Paulie needed to discuss, he would never forget that Paulie was the lynchpin that saved his career. David would always feel like he owed Paulie.
As best friends, they always said, “We never owe one another, it’s what we do.” David was not going to try to imagine what this was all about, but he was sure it had something to do with Paulie’s involvement with the crime family. David already helped Vincent, the head of the family, once. That was what caused him to be disbarred. He decided not to think about it and enjoy the evening. He would find out soon enough.
David returned Ray’s call earlier, but it went to his voicemail. He apologized for the delay getting back to him and explained that Allie had the baby.
Earlier that day he received a voice message from Ray, the federal prosecutor who was involved with taking down the “Crew.” Ray wanted to let David know that all the information provided by the “Judge” would lead to many other arrests and convictions that could take down one of the largest drug trafficking rings on the east coast.
They were almost ready to put all this information together along with everyone’s findings. David returned Ray’s call earlier, but it went to his voicemail. He apologized for the delay getting back to him and explained that Allie had the baby. He did not hear back from Ray as of yet. David had a feeling that Ray’s call, and what Paulie needed to speak to him about, would be somehow related.
David, Allie, Russ, and Lou, agreed to work with Ray if needed when these other cases come up. After everyone left, Molly and Allie were cleaning up and checking on the baby. David told Lou about Paulie’s request. Lou was a bit concerned. He knew Paulie would only want to speak with David. Due to their history and involvement with these people, Lou wanted to be in the loop.
Lou said, “Son, you came back from hell, and turned it into heaven. Do not get caught up in this again. Let’s communicate on this.”
David replied, “Don’t worry dad. I did not come back from hell alone. You helped get me out of my mess and turn it into heaven. We are a family and a team. Nothing will ever jeopardize that again.”
David had plans to meet Paulie at eleven in the morning. When the “Judge” made the deal to roll over and enter the witness protection program, Ray knew it would take months to put all these cases and indictments together. The biggest challenge would be to make all these arrests at the same time. Confiscate all they could, and try to bundle it all together.
There were many players between drug trafficking, prostitution, and racketeering. If any of this got out, if even one boss were to get arrested before another, that would give the others time to cover their tracks. Ray was very fortunate that the raid on the barn produced many videotapes. These recording identified many people in compromising positions.
When the “Judge” made the deal to roll over and enter the witness protection program, Ray knew it would take months to put all these cases and indictments together.
Many of the recorded transactions included sexual acts for money and gambling. These facts placed many of these crime bosses right in the thick of it, including drugs and weapons. The “Judge,” he had the real dirt. The “Judge knew a great
deal about the organization. He knew how the money was laundered, where it went, and who received it. He also knew which holding and shell companies they used, and the bank account numbers. He knew who was involved in other unsolved murders, and where most of the records were kept. Tom, the sheriff and ringleader of the “Crew,” liked to brag and talk. It made him feel important.
Tom had all the dirt on these people. He looked at it as an insurance policy. Let’s call it protection. However, Tom was a minor player in a much bigger game. A game he did not know how to play. The fact that he liked to brag is what made him so vulnerable and easy to catch. Tom was a show-off. Being he was the town sheriff, he thought he was untouchable.
Everyone was amazed that due to one girl named Allie, who was trying to get her name cleared, resulted in all these other criminal activities that surfaced. With the help of David, his family, and Russell, this turned out to be one hell of a catch. Ray developed a task force solely for this.
He handpicked the agents who would be involved. He knew he would only get one chance to take them all down at the same time. He was still in the process of putting some missing pieces together. If successful, this would be the ticket to his political career and further aspirations. He was determined not to lose this opportunity.
The following morning, Ray returned David’s call. David thanked him for the flowers he sent to Allie as they began to talk. With everything that took place in the past, they had all become very close and good friends. At the time, Lou was in David’s office. They placed the call on speakerphone. After hearing the details of the baby, Ray started the conversation.
He explained that they had checked and rechecked all the investigative work. They had gone over everything many times. The best agents were working on these cases. Ray went on to explain that they had accumulated a great deal of evidence and testimony, including phone records, financials, and the videos. They also discovered the identity of the person from the blood discovered in the barn.
The “Judge,” along with the other evidence we had in place, helped to tie this all together. The “Judge” also informed us where to find the body of the murdered victim. They buried it a hole dug in the woods.
Ray said, “Dave, I am ready to take down the heads of three major crime families.”
David replied, “You know these people cover their tracks and often do things through others. Are you expecting more people to roll over?”
Ray admitted, “Yes. I am sure I will need a couple of people to become witnesses for the government. We will get them into the program. This way, we can tie up any loose ends. We may need additional information to prove direct contact and who gave the orders. I’m confident for reasons I can’t discuss, I can make that happen.”
David and Lou thought this was great news. Ray explained, “As we make this happen, you know I might need Allie to confirm some of the things she saw. If that is needed, I will certainly try to keep her out of it as much as I can, but it may be necessary.” “I know,” David replied. “We have spoken about this and knew this day might come. I appreciate that you will try to keep it to a minimum, especially now with the baby being here.”
Ray said, “I’ll do my best.” He went on to say, “It was a month or so before this would come together, and it would take months before all the trials would go to court.” David explained he would assist in any legal way he could.
Ray said, “I would love to have you in on this, but you’re not a federal employee. I appreciate your offer to help, and I am happy that I can discuss things with you.” Ray told them he would be in touch and let him know what was going on. David thanked him, and they ended their call.