Գլխավոր էջ Twisted Pride

Twisted Pride

5.0 / 4.5
How much do you like this book?
What’s the quality of the file?
Download the book for quality assessment
What’s the quality of the downloaded files?
Remo Falcone is beyond redemption.
As Capo of the Camorra he rules with a brutal hand over his territory – a territory the Chicago Outfit breached.
Now Remo is out for retribution.
A wedding is sacred, stealing a bride sacrilegious.
Serafina
is the niece of the Boss of the Outfit, and her hand has been promised
in marriage for years, but kidnapped in her wedding dress on her way to
church by Remo, Serafina quickly realizes that she can’t hope for
saving. Yet, even in the hands of the cruelest man she knows, she is
determined to cling to her pride, and Remo soon understands that the
woman at his mercy might not be as easy to break as he thought.
A ruthless man on a quest to destroy the Outfit by breaking someone they are supposed to protect.
A woman intent on bringing a monster to his knees.
Two families that will never be the same.
Հատոր:
3
Տարի:
2019
Լեզու:
english
Էջեր:
368
Սերիաներ:
The Camorra Chronicles
Ֆայլ:
EPUB, 478 KB
Ներբեռնել (epub, 478 KB)

Ձեզ կարող է հետաքրքրել Powered by Rec2Me

 

Հիմնական արտահայտություններ

 
4 comments
 
Library22
This was AWESOME!!!!!!!! All kinds of messed up thinking that i was expecting from Remo. And that little devil Nevio is just adorable! I hope Cora Reilly makes a new continuing series with the children of them all :)
15 June 2021 (16:20) 
marcey
AWESOME!!!!!!!! AWESOME!!!!!!!!
16 July 2021 (13:05) 
Rain Fall
Remo, wants his revenge on Dante Cavallaro for breaching into his territory. And he knows better then to directly attack him. He plans a kidnap of his niece, Serafina who will soon be married to her fiance, Danilo. On the wedding, the plan is executed successfully.
Remo is a monster, that his cruel past created, brutal and monstrous. Every men fears him. Serafina is a Mafia Princess, maybe not a ice princess that everybody expected her to be. Remo underestimated her. And he mercilessly falls into depths of the unknown emotions toward her, in his own game.
Serafina on the other hand, has to protect her honour, and her innocence from the monster waiting anxiously to devour it.

But she falls, falls for the monster, her captor!

But nobody would express their emotions. With so much at stack, it's a forbidden emotion for both of them.

But Serafina has to make a choice. Between her pride and love.
Who would she choose. Danilo or Remo? Man or Monster?

I had read Ravage by Tillie Cole, which is also a romance between a captive and the captor. And I was hoping this wouldn't turn out to be the same. I would hate it.

But Cora surprised me again. The story is so different from that one. Definitely unique and beautiful.

Completely unexpected plots await.
You will definitely fall in love with what is waiting for you in this book!

I would suggest to read Twisted emotions prior to reading this book for a better experience.
26 July 2021 (17:52) 
Starbliz1
Great read, i really enjoyed reading it
26 July 2021 (23:20) 

Կարող եք ակնարկ թողնել գրքի վերաբերյալ և կիսվել ձեր փորձով: Մյուս ընթերցողներին նույնպես հետաքրքիր կլինի իմանալ ձեր կարծիքը իրենց կարդացած գրքերի վերաբերյալ: Անկախ նրանից՝ ձեզ դուր է գալիս գիրքը, թե ոչ, եթե անկեղծորեն և մանրակրկիտ պատմեք դրա մասին, մարդիկ կկարողանան իրենց համար նոր գրքեր գտնել, որոնք կհետաքրքրեն իրենց:
1

Household Gods: The Religious Lives of the Adams Family

साल:
2019
भाषा:
english
फ़ाइल:
PDF, 20.60 MB
0 / 0
2

Anadolu’da Ölümün Tarihöncesi

भाषा:
turkish
फ़ाइल:
PDF, 7.88 MB
0 / 0
Copyright ©2019 Cora Reilly

All Rights Reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, businesses, events and places are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously.

Cover design by Romantic Book Affairs Designs

E-book design by Inktain Book Design





CONTENTS




Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Acknowledgements

About the Author





PROLOGUE





SERAFINA

All my life I had been taught to be honorable, to do what was expected of me. Today I went against it all.

Dark and tall, Remo appeared in the doorway, come to claim his prize. His eyes roamed over my naked body, and mine did the same.

He was cruel and twisted. Beyond redemption.

Brutal attractiveness, forbidden pleasure, promised pain. I should have been disgusted by him, but I wasn’t. Not by his body and not always by his nature.

I shut off the water in the shower, scared of what he wanted, completely terrified of what I wanted. This was his game of chess; he was the king and I was the trapped queen that the Outfit needed to protect. He moved me into position for his last move: the kill. Check.

He began unbuttoning his shirt then shrugged it off. He moved closer, stopping right before me. “You always watch me like something you want to touch but aren’t allowed to. Who’s holding you back, Angel?”





CHAPTER 1





SERAFINA

“I can’t believe you’re getting married in three days,” Samuel said, his feet propped up beside mine on the coffee table. If Mom s; aw she would strangle us.

“Me either,” I said quietly. At nineteen, I was already older than many other girls in our world when they entered the holy bond of matrimony, and I had been promised to Danilo for a long time. My fiancé was only twenty-one himself, so an earlier marriage wasn’t very desirable. I certainly didn’t mind. It had given me the time to finish school and stay home with Samuel for another year. He and I had never been separated for long, except for a few days when he had business to conduct for the Outfit.

Because of his father’s sickness, Danilo was still busy taking over Indianapolis. A later wedding would have been even better for him, but I was a woman and supposed to marry before my twentieth birthday. I eyed the engagement ring on my finger. A prominent diamond in the center, we had to widen the band over the years as my fingers grew. In three days Danilo would put a second ring on me.

Mom came in with my sister, Sofia, who upon spotting us ran in our direction and wedged herself on the sofa between me and Samuel.

Samuel rolled his blue eyes but wrapped an arm around our little sister as she pressed up against him with big puppy dog eyes, tousling her brown mane. She had taken after Dad and hadn’t inherited the blond hair of our mother like Samuel and I. “It’s unfair that you’re leaving right after Fina’s wedding. I thought you would have more time for me.”

I nudged her. “Hey.” I wasn’t really angry at her. I understood where she was coming from. Being eight years younger than us, she had always felt like a fifth wheel, since Samuel and I were twins.

Sofia gave me an embarrassed smile. “I’ll miss you too.”

“I’ll miss you too, ladybug.”

Mom cleared her throat, standing tall, her hands linked in front of her stomach. She was dressed in a fitted, elegant green dress. Her blue eyes lowered to our feet resting on the table. She tried to look stern, but the trembling of her mouth made it clear she was fighting a smile.

Samuel and I dropped our feet off the table at the same time.

“I thought I should warn you that Danilo just called. He’s coming over because he just arrived in town and is supposed to meet your father and uncle.”

Now I understood why Sofia, too, was dressed in a pretty summer dress. I didn’t even know my father was expecting him. I was leaving for Indianapolis tomorrow.

I jerked to my feet. “When?”

“Ten minutes.”

“Mom!” My eyes widened in horror. “How am I supposed to get ready with that much time?”

“You look fine,” Samuel drawled, smirking, his short blond hair purposefully in a disarray. He could pull off the disheveled look, but I definitely couldn’t.

I narrowed my eyes. “Oh shut up.” I ran out of the room, almost bumping into Dad. He stepped back, looking down at me with a questioning smile.

“I need to get ready!”

I didn’t have time to explain. He could ask Mom. I took the steps two at a time. The moment I stumbled into my bathroom and saw my reflection, I cringed. My God. My skin was flushed, and my hair curled wildly around my shoulders. My simple jeans and T-shirt didn’t scream poised future wife either. Damn it.

I quickly washed my face then grabbed a flat iron. My hair was naturally curly, but I always straightened it when people other than my family were around. This time I had five minutes to do it. I stormed back into my bedroom, tore through my wardrobe. Choosing the right dress for such an occasion would have taken at least one hour. Now I had one minute, if I still wanted time to put on makeup. I grabbed a pink dress I ordered online a while ago but never wore and slipped it on. I was immediately reminded why I hadn’t worn it before: it ended several inches above my knees, revealing more of my long legs than I usually displayed, especially when men were around. Danilo would be my husband in three days. It was only fair that he saw a bit more of what he was getting.

A nervous thrill took hold of my body, but I pushed it aside and quickly slipped on matching heels then hurried to my vanity. I didn’t have enough time to put much effort into my makeup. My skin was quite flawless, so I decided against foundation and only put some blush and mascara on before rushing out of my room and down the corridor toward the stairs.

I slowed my steps considerably when I heard Danilo, Samuel, and Dad in the foyer below. It wouldn’t be wise to appear as if I had rushed to get ready for any man, not even my fiancé.

They were shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries.

I had met Danilo a few times before. I’d been promised to him since I was fourteen and he sixteen, but this time felt more intimate. In only three days I would become his wife and share a bed with him. Danilo was very attractive and had much success with women, a ladies’ man, but to me he had always been a perfect gentleman. He wore a white dress shirt and black pants, his dark hair immaculate.

I took the first step, placing my foot on the creaky stair on purpose, one long leg extended, my head held high.

All eyes turned to me. Danilo’s gaze zeroed in on my exposed legs, then he quickly snapped his brown eyes up to meet my eyes, smiling. Dad and Samuel both looked briefly at my legs, but their reaction was less than thrilled. Dad was patient and loving with Mom and us kids, even Samuel, which made it easy to forget that he was Underboss of Minneapolis—and a feared one at that. I was quickly reminded just how scary he could be as he put his hand on Danilo’s shoulder, wearing a hard expression on his face.

“I’d like to give you something in my office, Danilo,” he said in a cold voice.

Danilo wasn’t impressed by my father’s mood change. He was going to be the youngest Underboss in the history of the Outfit, and he was practically already ruling over Indianapolis because his father was so sick. He gave a curt nod. “Of course,” he said calmly, appearing so much older than his years. Hardened, grown-up. More man than I felt woman. Danilo gave me another smile then followed my father.

I descended the remaining steps, and Samuel barred my way. “Go change.”

“Excuse me?”

He pointed at my legs. “You’re showing too much leg.”

I pointed at my arms and throat. “I’m also showing my neck and arms.” I lifted one leg. “And I have nice legs.”

Samuel stared down at my leg then up at my face with a frown. “Yeah, well, Danilo doesn’t need to know that.”

I snorted then quickly looked around, worried Danilo was close enough to overhear. “He will see more than my legs on our wedding night.” Involuntary heat blasted my cheeks.

Samuel’s expression darkened.

“Get out of my way,” I said, trying to pass him.

Samuel mirrored my move. “Go change, Fina. Now,” he ordered in a voice he probably reserved for business with other Made Men.

I couldn’t believe his nerve. Did he think I would obey him only because he was a Made Man? That hadn’t worked these last five years. I quickly reached for his stomach and pinched him hard, which wasn’t easy considering Samuel was all muscle.

He jerked in surprise. I used his momentary distraction to slip past him then made a show of swaying my hips as I headed into the living area. Samuel caught up with me. “You have an impossible temper.”

I smiled. “I have your temper.”

“I’m a man. Women are supposed to be docile.”

I rolled my eyes.

Samuel crossed his arms and leaned against the wall beside the window. “You always act like a well-behaved lady when others are around, but Danilo will get a nasty surprise once he realizes he didn’t get a lady but a fury.”

A flicker of worry flooded me. Samuel was right. Everyone outside my family knew me as the Ice Princess. Our family was notorious for being poised and controlled. The only people who really knew me were my parents, Sofia, and Samuel. Could I ever be myself around Danilo? Or would that put him off? Danilo was always controlled, which was probably why Uncle Dante and Dad had chosen him for my husband—and because he was the heir to one of the most important cities of the Outfit.

A knock sounded and I turned around to see Danilo step in.

His brown eyes met mine, and he gave me a small smile. Then his gaze moved on to Samuel leaning against the wall behind me. Danilo’s expression tightened the slightest bit. I risked a look over my shoulder and found my brother glaring at my fiancé as if he wanted to crush him to dust. I tried to catch Samuel’s gaze, but he was content killing Danilo with his eyes. I couldn’t believe him.

“Samuel,” I said in a forced, polite voice. “Why don’t you give Danilo and me a moment?”

Samuel tore his gaze away from my fiancé and smiled. “I’m already giving you a moment.”

“Alone.”

Samuel shook his head once, his smile darkening, eyes returning to Danilo. “It’s my responsibility to protect your honor.”

Heat rose to my cheeks. If Danilo hadn’t been in the room, I would have lunged at my brother and wrung his neck.

Danilo stepped up to me and kissed my hand, but his eyes were on my brother. Releasing my hand, he said, “I can assure you Serafina’s honor is perfectly safe in my company. I will wait until our wedding night to claim my rights ... when she is no longer your responsibility.” Danilo’s voice had dipped in a threatening way. He had never hinted to sex before, and I knew it was to provoke my brother. Power plays between two alphas.

Samuel rocked forward, away from the wall, his hand going to his knife. I turned and stepped up to my twin, placing my hand against his chest. “Samuel,” I said in a warning tone, digging my nails into his skin through the fabric of his shirt. “Danilo is my fiancé. Give us a moment.”

Samuel lowered his gaze to my face, and for once his expression didn’t soften. “No,” he said firmly. “And you won’t defy my command.”

I often forgot what Samuel was. He was my twin, my best friend, my confidant first, but for five years he’d been a Made Man, a killer, and he wouldn’t back down in front of another man, especially not someone he would have to meet as a fellow Underboss. If I pushed further, he would look weak, and he was supposed to take over as Underboss from Dad in a few years. Even though I hated doing it and had never done it before, I cast my eyes down as if I was submitting to him.

Danilo might be my fiancé, but Samuel would always be my blood, and I didn’t want him to look weak in front of anyone. “You are right,” I said obediently. “I’m sorry.”

Samuel touched my shoulder and squeezed lightly. “Danilo,” he said in a low voice. “My sister will leave now. I want a word alone with you.”

My blood boiling, I gave Danilo an apologetic smile before I left. Once outside, my smile fell and I stormed through the foyer, needing to vent. Where was Dad? I turned the corner and collided with someone. “Careful,” came a drawl I knew well, and two hands steadied me.

I looked up. “Uncle Dante,” I said with a smile then flushed because I’d barreled into him like a five-year-old throwing a tantrum. I smoothed my dress, trying to look poised. After all, my uncle was pure control. He had to be as Boss of the Outfit.

Dante tilted his head with a small smile. “Is something the matter? You look upset.”

My cheeks heated further. “Samuel embarrassed me in front of Danilo. He’s alone with him now. Having a word. Can you please check on them before Samuel ruins everything?”

Dante chuckled but he nodded. “Your brother wants to protect you. Where are they?”

“Living room,” I said.

He squeezed my shoulder before walking away. Anger was still simmering under my skin. I would make Samuel pay for it. I made my way upstairs and into his room. A few knives and weapons belonging in a museum decorated the walls, but apart from that it was practically furnished. In a week or two Samuel would move into his own apartment in Chicago and work directly under Dante for a couple of years before returning to Minneapolis and eventually taking over for Dad.

I sank down on his bed, waiting. With every second that passed, I became more nervous. I got up and paced the room. When I heard his steps, I stopped and hid behind the door, carefully slipping out of my heels. The door opened and Samuel stepped in. I jumped, trying to land on his back and wrap my arms around his neck like I’d often done in the past.

Samuel caught me, hoisted me over his shoulder despite my struggling, and threw me down on the bed. Then he actually held me down, tousling my hair and tickling me.

“Stop!” I screeched between laughter. “Sam, stop!”

He did stop but gave me a smug grin. “You can’t win against me.”

“I liked it better when you were a scrawny boy and not this killing machine,” I muttered.

Something dark passed over Samuel’s eyes, and I touched his chest and lightly shoved him, a distraction from whatever horrors he was remembering. “How badly did you embarrass me in front of Danilo?”

“I went over the details of your wedding night with him.”

I stared at Samuel in horror. “You didn’t.”

“I did.”

I sat up. “What did you say?”

“I told him he better treat you like a lady on your wedding night. No dominant shit or anything.”

My cheeks blazed with heat, and I hit his shoulder hard.

He frowned, rubbing the spot. “What?”

“What!? You embarrassed me in front of Danilo. How could you talk about something like that with him? My wedding night isn’t your business.” My entire face was burning from embarrassment and anger. I couldn’t believe him. He had always been protective of me, of course, but this took things too far.

Samuel grimaced. “Trust me, it wasn’t easy for me. I don’t like to think that my little sister is going to have sex.”

I hit him again. “You are only three minutes older. And you have been having sex for years now. Do you even know how many women you’ve slept with?”

He shrugged. “I’m a man.”

“Oh shut up,” I muttered. “How am I ever going to face Danilo after what you did?”

“If it was up to me, you’d become a nun,” Samuel said, and I lost it.

He had a way to drive me up the wall. I lunged at him again but like before it was futile. The last time I stood a chance fighting Samuel was more than five years ago. Samuel wrapped his arms around me from behind and held me in place.

“I think I’ll carry you downstairs like this. Danilo is still talking to Dante. I’m sure he’ll love to see his future wife this disheveled. Maybe he’ll decide against marrying you if he sees you’re not quite the obedient lady you want him to believe you are.”

“You wouldn’t dare!” I kicked my legs but Samuel carried me, lodged against his chest like I was a puppet.

Dad came in, his eyes moving from me pressed against Samuel to my twin gripping me tightly. He shook his head once. “I thought you’d stop the brawling once you got older.”

Samuel released me and I stumbled to my feet. He smoothed his clothes, righting his gun and knife holsters. “She started it.”

I gave him a look. Smoothing my hair and clothes, I cleared my throat. “He embarrassed me in front of Danilo, Dad.”

“I told Danilo I’d rip his balls off if he didn’t treat her right on their wedding night.”

I scowled at my twin. He hadn’t mentioned that detail to me.

Dad gave me a wistful smile, touching my cheek. “My little dove.” Then he moved to Samuel and clapped his shoulder. “You did good.”

I gave the two of them an incredulous look. Stifling my annoyance—and worse, my gratefulness for their protectiveness—I walked out of Samuel’s bedroom into my own. I sat down on the bed, suddenly overcome with sadness. I was leaving my family, my home, for a city I didn’t know, a husband I barely knew.

At the sound of an unfamiliar knock, I stood and walked toward my door, opening it.

Surprise washed over me when I saw Danilo’s tall form. I opened my door wider but didn’t ask him in. That would have been too forward. Instead, I stepped out into the corridor. “I can’t ask you in.”

Danilo gave me an understanding smile. “Of course not. In case you’re worried, your uncle knows that I’m up here.”

“Oh,” I said, overwhelmed by his presence and the memory of what Samuel had done.

“I wanted to say goodbye. I’m leaving in a few minutes,” he continued.

“I’m sorry,” I said with as much dignity as my burning face allowed.

Danilo smiled with a small frown. “What for?”

“For what my brother did. He shouldn’t have talked to you about ... about our wedding night.”

Danilo chuckled and moved closer to me, his spicy scent wrapping around me. He took my hand and kissed it. My stomach fluttered. “He wants to protect you. That’s honorable. I don’t blame him. A woman like you should be treated like a lady, and I will treat you that way on our wedding night and on every night that follows.”

He leaned forward and lightly kissed my cheek. His eyes made it clear that he wanted to do more than that. He stepped back, letting go of my hand. I swallowed.

“I’m looking forward to being married to you, Serafina.”

“Me too,” I said quietly.

With a last look at me, he turned around and left. My heart pounding in my chest, I returned to my room and plopped down on my bed. I wasn’t in love with Danilo, but I could imagine falling for him. That was a good start and better than many other girls in my world got.

A few minutes later, someone knocked again. This time I recognized the unabashed pounding of a fist against wood. “Come in,” I said.

I didn’t have to look up to know who it was. I recognized Samuel’s steps with my eyes closed. He sank down beside me. “Thank you for obeying me when Danilo was around,” Samuel said quietly. He took my hand.

“You need to appear strong. I didn’t want to make you look weak.” I looked up at him, tears gathering in my eyes.

His expression tightened. “You hated it.”

“Of course I did.”

Samuel looked away, glaring. “I hate the thought that you will have to obey Danilo or anyone for that matter.”

“I could do worse than Danilo. He’s a gentleman when he’s around me.”

Samuel laughed darkly. “He is as good as the Underboss of Indianapolis, Fina, and despite his age, he has his men under control. I’ve seen him in action. He is a Made Man like me and Dad. He expects obedience.”

I regarded him curiously. “You never expected obedience from me.”

“I wished for it,” he muttered jokingly then turned serious again. “You are my sister, not my wife. That’s different.”

“Will you expect obedience from your wife?”

Samuel frowned. “I don’t know. Maybe.”

“How do you treat the women you are with?” I’d never met any of them. Made Men took outsiders into their beds before marriage, and those women weren’t allowed into our homes.

Quickly and unexpectedly, Samuel’s face seemed to close off. “It doesn’t matter.” He stood. “And it doesn’t matter how Danilo is used to treating his whores. You are a mafia princess, my sister, and I swear by my honor that I will hunt him down if he doesn’t treat you like a lady.”

I smiled up at my twin. “My protector.”

Samuel smiled back. “Always.”





CHAPTER 2





REMO

“Are you ready? We’ve got a wedding to crash,” I said, grinning. Excitement sizzled under my skin, a low fire that burned brighter with every second I got closer to my goal.

Fabiano sighed, checking his gun and shoving it back into his holster. “As ready I as I’ll ever be for this insanity.”

“Genius and insanity are often interchangeable. Both have fueled the greatest events in human history.”

“I think you annoy me the most when you sound like Nino with your own brand of crazy,” Fabiano said. “I can’t believe I’m only a few miles from my father and can’t rip him to shreds.”

“You will get him. My plan will bring him to you eventually.”

“I don’t like the eventually part. I have a feeling this plan is about more than killing my father and punishing the Outfit.”

I leaned back against the car seat. “And what would that be?”

Fabiano met my gaze. “About you getting your hands on Dante’s niece for whatever insane reason.”

My mouth pulled into a dark smile. “You know exactly why I want her.”

Fabiano leaned back in his own seat, expression tightening. “I don’t think even you know exactly why you want her. But I do know the girl will pay for something she wasn’t responsible for.”

“She’s part of our world. Born and bred to be a mother to more Outfit bastards. Born and bred to obey like a mindless sheep. She was brought up to follow her shepherd without hesitation. He led her toward a pack of wolves. It’s his mistake, but she will be torn apart.”

Fabiano shook his head. “Fuck, Remo. You are a crazy fucker.”

I wrapped my fingers tightly around his forearm, over his Camorra tattoo—the blade and the eye. “You are one of us. We bleed and we die together. We maim and kill together. Don’t forget your oath.”

“I won’t,” he said simply.

I released him. My eyes moved to the front of the hotel where Serafina’s parents, Ines and Pietro Mione, had just walked out the door with a young dark-haired girl between them. Dressed in evening wear for the wedding of the year, Ines looked remarkably like her brother. Tall and blond and proud. So fucking proud and controlled.

“It won’t be long now,” I said, glancing down the street where the car with my two soldiers was waiting.

Fabiano put the keys in the ignition as we watched the Miones drive off. “Her twin will stay with her,” he said. “And then there’s the bodyguard.”

My eyes sought out the middle-aged guy behind the wheel of a Bentley limousine parked in the driveway of the hotel. A fucking flower arrangement on the hood. White flowers. I wanted to squash them under my boots.

“They’re making it too easy figuring out the car of the bride,” I said with a laugh.

“Because they don’t expect an attack. It’s never been done before. Funerals and weddings are sacred.”

“There have been bloody weddings before. They should know better.”

“But those weddings became bloody because the guests got into fights with each other. I don’t think anyone has ever attacked a wedding, especially the bride, on purpose. Honor forbids it.”

I chuckled. “We are the Camorra. We have our own set of rules, our own idea of honor.”

“I think they will realize that today,” he said tightly.

My eyes scanned the front of the hotel. Somewhere behind its windows, Serafina was getting ready for her wedding. She’d be groomed to perfection, an apparition in white. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her, stain the perfectly white fabric blood-red.

SERAFINA

“You don’t have to be scared, sweetheart,” Mom said quietly so Sofia wouldn’t hear her. My little sister was busy tugging at the pins keeping her hair in place on top of her head, grimacing.

“I’m not,” I said quickly, which was a lie. It wasn’t that I was overly scared of sleeping with Danilo, but I was nervous and worried about embarrassing myself. I didn’t like to be bad at things, and I would be bad given I had no experience.

She gave me a knowing look. “It’s okay to be nervous. But he’s a decent man. Dante always talks in glowing terms about Danilo.” Mom tried to sound casual but failed miserably. She stroked my hair like she used to do when I was little.

We both knew that there was a difference between being a decent man and a loyal soldier to the Outfit. Uncle Dante was probably basing his judgment of Danilo on the latter. Not that it mattered. Danilo had always been a gentleman, and he would be my husband in a few hours. It was my duty to submit to him, and I would do it.

My hairdresser took Mom’s place and began pinning up my blond hair, arranging pearls and strings of white gold in it. Mom noticed Sofia fighting with her hairdo and quickly moved over to her. “Stop it, Sofia. You’ve already untangled a few strands.”

Sofia dropped her hands with a resigned look. Then her blue eyes found mine. I smiled at her. Avoiding Mom’s tugging hands, she came to my side and peered up at me. “I can’t wait to be a bride.”

“First, you will finish school,” I teased her. She was only eleven and hadn’t been promised to anyone yet. For her weddings were about looking pretty and the chivalrous knight she would marry. I envied her the ignorance.

“Done,” the hairdresser announced and stepped back.

“Thank you,” I said. She nodded and quickly slipped out, giving us a moment.

The dress was absolutely stunning. I couldn’t stop admiring myself in the mirror, turning left and right. The pearls and silver embroidered threadwork caught the light beautifully, and the skirt was a dream consisting of several layers of the finest tulle. Mom shook her head, tears blurring her eyes.

“Don’t cry, Mom,” I warned her. “You’ll ruin your makeup. And if you start crying, I will cry too and then my makeup will be ruined as well.”

Mom nodded, blinking. “You are right, Fina.” She dabbed her eyes with the corner of a tissue. Mom wasn’t the emotional type. She was like her brother, my Uncle Dante. Sofia beamed up at me.

A knock sounded and Dad poked in his head. He froze and slowly stepped inside. He took me in without saying a word. I could see the emotion swimming in his eyes, but he would never show it openly. He came toward me and touched two fingers to my cheeks. “Dove, you’re the most beautiful bride I’ve ever seen.”

Mom raised her eyebrows in mock shock. Dad laughed and took her hand, kissing her knuckles. “You were, of course, a breathtaking bride, Ines.”

“What about me?” Sofia asked. “Maybe I will be even more beautiful?”

Dad lifted a finger. “I will keep you as my little daughter forever. No marriage for you.”

Sofia pouted and Dad shook his head. “We need to go to church now.” He kissed my cheek then took Sofia’s hand. The three of them walked out. Mom turned once more and gave me a proud smile.

Samuel appeared in the doorway, dressed in a black suit and blue tie. “You look dapper,” I told him and felt a wave of wistfulness. He would be hundreds of miles from me once I moved into Danilo’s villa in Indianapolis.

“And you look beautiful,” he said quietly, his eyes taking me in head to toe.

He pushed off the doorframe and moved toward me, his hands in his pockets. “It’ll be strange without you.”

“I’ll tell Sofia she needs to keep you on your toes.”

“It won’t be the same.”

“You will marry in a few years. And soon you’ll be even busier with mob business. You won’t even notice I’m gone.”

Samuel sighed then glanced down at his Rolex that Dad had given him for his initiation five years ago. “We need to go too. The ceremony is supposed to start in forty-five minutes. It’ll take at least thirty minutes to reach the church.”

The church was outside city limits. I wanted the celebration to take place in a renovated barn in the countryside, surrounded by forest, not in the city.

I nodded then checked my reflection once more before I took his outstretched hand. With linked arms we walked out of the suite and down into the hotel lobby. People kept glancing my way, and I had to admit I enjoyed their attention. The dress had cost a small fortune. It was only fair, since as many people as possible would see me in it. This wedding was the biggest social event in the Outfit in years.

Samuel opened the door of the black Bentley for me, and I slipped onto the backseat, trying to gather the skirt of my dress around me. Samuel closed the door and got in the front beside the driver, my bodyguard.

We pulled away and my stomach burst with butterflies. In less than one hour I’d be Danilo’s wife. It still seemed impossible. Soon, the tall buildings gave way to the occasional field and trees.

Samuel shifted in the front seat, pulling his gun.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

We sped up. Samuel glanced over his shoulder but not at me. I turned as well and saw a car close behind us with two men. Samuel took his phone out and lifted it to his ear. Before he could say anything, another car came from the side and collided with our trunk. We spun around. I cried out, gripping the seat as the belt bit into my skin.

“Down!” Samuel shouted. I unbuckled and threw myself forward, my arms over my head. We collided with something else then came to a stop. What was going on?

Samuel shoved open the door and began firing. My bodyguard followed him. The windows burst, and I screamed as shards of glass rained down on my skin. A man cried out, and my head flew up. “Samuel?” I screamed.

“Run, Fina!”

I pushed through the gap between the front seats and found Samuel leaning against the side of the car, blood spilling out over the hand he pressed to his side. I struggled out of the door and sank to the ground beside him, touching him. “Sam?”

He gave me a strained smile. “I’ll be fine. Run, Fina. They want you. Run.”

“Who wants me?” I blinked at him, uncomprehending. He fired at our attackers again. “Run!”

I bolted to my feet. If they wanted me, they’d follow me if I ran and leave Samuel alone. “Call reinforcement.”

I kicked off my heels and gripped my dress and began running as fast as I could. White petals from the destroyed flower arrangement stuck to my toes. Nobody shot at me. That meant they wanted me alive, and I knew that couldn’t be a good thing. I turned to the right, where a forest spread out in front of me. It was my only chance to lose them. My breath came in short gasps. I was fit and a good runner, but the heavy fabric of my dress slowed me down. Twigs tugged at the dress, tearing it, making me stumble.

Heavier steps sounded behind me. I didn’t dare look over my shoulder to see who was chasing me. The steps closed in on me. Oh God. This dress was making me too slow.

Had Samuel called reinforcement yet?

And then a worse thought banished my last. What if Samuel didn’t make it? I turned to the right, deciding to run back to the car. Another set of steps joined the first. Two pursuers.

Fear pounded in my veins, but I didn’t slow. A shadow appeared in the corner of my eye, and suddenly a tall shape came from my side. I screamed out a second before an arm slung around my waist. The force of it made me lose my balance, and I fell to the ground. A heavy body crushed mine. The air rushed out of my lungs and my vision turned black from the impact of landing hard on the forest floor.

I started kicking, thrashing, clawing and screamed at the top of my lungs. But a few layers of tulle covered my face and made movement difficult. If Dad and Dante had arrived with reinforcement, they needed to hear me to be able to find me.

A hand clamped down on my mouth, and I bit down.

“Fuck!”

The hand pulled back and the voice was distantly familiar, but I couldn’t place it in my panic. The tulle still obstructed my view. I made out two shapes above me. Tall. One dark, one blond.

“We need to hurry,” someone snarled. I shivered at the stark brutality of the voice.

A heavy weight settled on my hips, and two strong hands gripped my wrists, shoving them down on the ground. I tried bucking away, but a hand came toward my face. I tried to bite again, but I didn’t reach it. My range of motion was limited with my arms above my head. The tulle was removed from my face, and finally I could see my assailants. The man sitting on my hips had black hair and black eyes and a scar on his face. The look he gave me sent a wave of terror through my body.

I’d seen him before but wasn’t sure where. My eyes darted to the other man holding my hands down, and I froze. I knew the blond man and those blue eyes. Fabiano Scuderi, the boy I’d played with when I was younger. The boy who had run off and joined the Camorra.

Finally, it clicked. My gaze darted back to the black-haired man. Remo Falcone, Capo of the Camorra. I jerked violently, a new wave of panic giving me strength. I arched up but Remo didn’t budge.

“Calm down,” Fabiano said. One of his hands bled from where I’d bitten him. Calm down? Calm down? The Camorra was trying to kidnap me!

Opening my mouth, I tried to scream again. This time Remo covered my mouth before I got the chance to hurt him. “Give her the tranquilizer,” he ordered.

I shook my head frantically but something pricked the inside of my elbow and pierced my skin. My muscles became heavy, but I didn’t black out completely. I was released and Remo Falcone slid his hands under me, straightening up with me in his arms. My limbs hung limply down at my sides, but my eyes remained open and on my captor. His dark eyes settled on me briefly before he started running. Trees and sky rushed by as I peered up.

“Fina!” I heard Samuel in the distance.

“Sam,” I wheezed, barely a sound.

Then Dad. “Fina? Fina, where are you?”

More male voices rang out, coming to save me.

“Faster!” Fabiano shouted. “To the right!” Twigs snapped under foot. Remo breathed heavier, but his grip on me remained firm. We burst out of the forest and onto a street.

Suddenly, tires screeched and hope filled me, but it crashed when I was put inside a vehicle in the backseat, and Remo slipped in beside me.

“Drive!”

I stared up at the gray ceiling of the car, my breathing ragged.

“My, what a beautiful bride you are,” Remo said. I raised my eyes and met his, wishing I hadn’t because the twisted smile on his face burned through me like a thunderstorm of terror. Then I passed out.

REMO

Serafina passed out beside me. I regarded her closely. Now that she wasn’t thrashing or screaming, I could admire her like a bride deserved. Dots of blood splattered her dress like rubies and marred the creamy skin of her neckline. Pure perfection.

“We seem to have shaken them off,” Fabiano muttered.

My eyes were drawn to the back window, but nobody was following us for the moment. We had injured, not killed Serafina’s two companions, so part of the forces would waste time tending to their injuries.

“She is a nice piece of ass,” Simeone commented from behind the steering wheel.

I leaned forward. “And you will never look at her again unless you want me to rip your eyeballs out and shove them up your ass. One more fucking disrespectful word from you and your tongue will keep your eyeballs company, understood?”

Simeone gave a jerky nod.

Fabiano caught my gaze with a curious expression. I leaned back and returned my gaze to the woman curled up beside me on the seat. Her hair was pinned tightly to her head as if even that part of her needed to be tamed and under control, but one wayward strand had freed itself and curled wildly over her temple. I wrapped it around my finger. I couldn’t wait to find out how tame Serafina really was.



I carried a limp Serafina into the motel room and set her down on one of the two beds. Reaching for a twig that had tangled itself in her hair, I removed it before undoing her updo, letting her hair spill out on the pillow. I straightened.

Fabiano sighed. “Cavallaro will seek retribution.”

“He won’t attack us as long as we have her. She’s vulnerable and he knows he can’t get her out of Vegas alive.”

Fabiano nodded, his eyes moving to Serafina who lay limply on the bed, her face tilted to the side, her long elegant neck on display. My gaze lowered to the fine lace above the soft swell of her breast. A high-collared dress. Modest and elegant, nothing vulgar or overly sexy about Dante’s niece, and yet she would have brought many men to their knees. She looked like a fucking angel with her blond hair and pale skin, and the white dress only emphasized that impression. The epitome of innocence and purity. I had to bite back a laugh.

“What are you thinking?” Fabiano asked warily as he followed my gaze toward the bride.

“That they couldn’t have emphasized her innocence more if they’d tried.” I moved closer, my gaze trailing over her narrow hips. “I prefer the blood stains on her dress.”

“It was her wedding. Of course they would emphasize her purity. You know how it is. Girls in our circles are kept protected until they enter marriage. They must lose their innocence on their wedding night. Cavallaro and her fiancé will probably do anything to make sure she returns to them untouched. Danilo is Underboss. Her father is Underboss. Dante fucking Cavallaro is her uncle. No matter what you ask of them, they will deliver. If you ask them to hand over my father now, they will do it and we will be rid of her.”

I shook my head. “I won’t ask for anything yet. I won’t make it that easy for them. They attacked Las Vegas. They tried killing my brothers, tried killing you and me. They brought war into my city, and I will bring war into their midst. I will destroy them from the inside. I will break them.”

Fabiano frowned. “How?”

I regarded him. The hint of wariness in his voice was barely noticeable, but I knew him well. “By breaking someone they are supposed to protect. If there’s one thing I know, then it’s that even men like us rarely forgive themselves for letting people they are supposed to protect get hurt. Her family will go crazy with worry over her. Every day they’re going to wonder what’s happening to her. They’re going to imagine how she’s suffering. Her mother will blame her husband and brother. And they will blame themselves. Their guilt will spread like cancer among them. And I will fuel their worry. I will tear them apart.”

Fabiano lowered his gaze to Serafina, who started stirring slightly. The rip in her wedding dress shifted, exposing her long bare leg. She was wearing a white lace garter. Fabiano reached for the skirt of her dress and covered her leg. I tilted my head at him.

“She’s an innocent,” he said neutrally.

“She won’t return to them innocent,” I said darkly.

Fabiano met my gaze. “Hurting her won’t break the Outfit. They will come closer together to bring you down.”

“We will see,” I murmured. “Let’s call Nino and see which route to choose next.” Fabiano and I moved toward the desk and put the phone on loudspeaker.



We had just finished our call when Serafina moaned. We turned to her. She woke with a start, disoriented. She blinked slowly at the wall then up at the ceiling. Her movements were slow, sluggish. Her breathing picked up, and she looked down at her body, her hands feeling her ribs then lower, coming to rest on her abdomen—as if she thought we’d fucked her while she was passed out. I supposed it made sense. She would have been sore.

“If you keep touching yourself like that, I won’t be responsible for my actions.”

Her gaze darted to us, her body stiffening.

“We didn’t touch you while you were unconscious,” Fabiano told her.

Her eyes darted between him and me. It was obvious she wasn’t sure if she could believe him.

“You would know if Fabiano or I had fucked you, trust me, Serafina.”

She pressed her lips together, fear and disgust swirling in her blue eyes. She began squirming and wiggling as if she was trying to get off the bed but couldn’t control her body. Eventually she closed her eyes, her chest heaving, her fingers trembling against the blanket.

“She’s still drugged,” Fabiano said.

“I’ll get her a coke. Maybe the caffeine will sober her up. I don’t like her this weak and unresponsive. It’s no challenge.”

SERAFINA

I watched Remo leave the room and forced myself into a sitting position. “Fabiano,” I whispered.

He came closer and knelt before me. “Fina,” he said simply. Only my brother called me by that name, but Fabiano had always played with us when we were little and knew me by the nickname.

My mother hadn’t raised me to beg, but I was desperate. I touched his hand. “Please help me. You were part of the Outfit. You can’t allow this.”

He pulled his hand away, his eyes hard. “I am part of the Camorra.”

He stood and looked down at me without a hint of emotion.

“What will happen to me? What does your Capo want with me?” I asked hoarsely.

For a second his eyes softened, and that was the most terrifying answer he could have given me. “The Outfit attacked us on our own territory. Remo is out for retribution.”

Icy terror clawed at my insides. “But I have nothing to do with your business.”

“You don’t, but Dante is your uncle and your father and fiancé are high-ranking Outfit members.”

I looked down at my hands. My knuckles were chalk white from clutching the fabric of my dress. Then I noticed the red stains and quickly released the tulle. “So he’s going to make them pay by hurting me?” My voice broke. I cleared my throat, trying hard and failing to hold on to my composure.

“Remo didn’t divulge his plan to me,” he said, but I didn’t believe him for one second. “He might use you to bribe your uncle into handing over parts of his territory ... or his Consigliere.”

Uncle Dante would never give up part of his territory, not even for family, no matter how much my mother begged him to, nor would he hand over one of his men, his Consigliere. He couldn’t, not for one girl. I was lost.

My vision swam again and I slumped back down onto the mattress.

Through the fogginess I heard Remo’s voice. “Change of plans. Let her sleep the drugs out of her system while we drive. We’ve spent too much time at this place. Nino called again. He suggests we head out now. He sent our helicopter to pick us up in Kansas. He heard from Grigory that Cavallaro has called upon every soldier to search for his niece and we are still on the fringes of his territory.”

Dante was trying to save me. Dad and Danilo would be searching for me as well. And Samuel, my Samuel, would look for me. If we were still on Outfit territory not all hope was lost.





CHAPTER 3





SERAFINA

I woke in a car, curled into myself, half tangled in my dress. Fabiano was in the backseat beside me but didn’t look at me. Instead, he was checking the rear window. Another man sat in the front behind the wheel and beside him was Remo.

I wasn’t sure if they’d given me another tranquilizer or if my body had trouble fighting the effects of the first injection. I hadn’t eaten all day and hardly had anything to drink. A low moan slipped past my lips.

Fabiano and Remo both looked down at me. Remo’s dark eyes sent a shiver of fear down my spine, but Fabiano’s gaze didn’t offer any consolation either. I closed my eyes again, hating how vulnerable I felt.

I wasn’t sure how long we’d been driving, but the next time I woke we were in a helicopter. I struggled into a sitting position. The strip with hotels and casinos spread out below, and my stomach constricted as the helicopter started its descent over Las Vegas. I didn’t say a word to either Fabiano or Remo, and they didn’t talk to me either. The tension was still palpable in the helicopter, but they had escaped from the Outfit and now I was in Las Vegas. In Camorra territory. At their mercy.

The moment we landed, Fabiano helped me out of the helicopter while Remo talked to someone on the phone. I needed to wash my face and clear my head so I could think straight again. I had been in my wedding dress for almost twenty-four hours. I felt sticky and sluggish and exhausted. And underneath it all a terror I had trouble containing throbbed inside of me.

I was pushed into another car, and eventually we pulled up in front of a shabby strip club called the Sugar Trap.

Fabiano gripped my arm again as Remo went ahead without a single glance at me.

“Fabi,” I tried, but he tightened his hold. “I need to go to the bathroom and wash my face. I don’t feel good.”

He led me inside the deserted strip club toward the ladies’ room and followed me inside to wait at the washbasins. Remo had ignored me mostly, but I had a feeling that would change soon.

I went to the toilet, hating that I knew Fabiano could hear me. There was nothing I could have used as a weapon, and even if there were, how would that help me surrounded by Camorrista? I dropped my skirt when I was done, breathing deeply, trying to hide my emotions.

“Serafina,” came Fabiano’s warning voice. “Don’t make me get you out of there. You won’t like it.”

Straightening my shoulders, I came back out, feeling shaky from dehydration.

I bent over the washbasin and washed my face then drank a few gulps of water.

“You can have a coke from the bar,” Fabiano said. Before I could say anything, he gripped me by the arm and dragged me out. My bare feet ached. I must have cut them on the forest ground. My eyes flitted around the room. It wasn’t deserted anymore. As if drawn out by the commotion, several scantily clad women had gathered at the bar.

They avoided looking at me, and I realized I couldn’t hope for their help. Not a single person in Las Vegas would probably risk helping me.

“Coke,” Fabiano barked at a dark-skinned man behind the bar, who grabbed a bottle, opened it, and handed it to Fabiano. The man purposely wasn’t looking at me.

Good Lord. Where had they taken me? What kind of hellhole was Las Vegas?

“Drink,” Fabiano said, holding the bottle out for me. I took it and had a few long sips. The cold, sweet liquid seemed to revive my brain and body.

“Come.” Fabiano led me through a door and along a bare-walled corridor toward another door. When he opened it and stepped inside with me, my stomach revolted.

Inside were two unknown men, both of them Falcones, I assumed. All of them were tall, with hard expressions and this air of unbridled cruelty that they were famous for. One of them had gray eyes and looked older than the other guy. I tried to remember their names, but then my eyes met Remo’s and my mind turned blank.

The Camorra Capo had shed his shirt. There was a fresh wound on his left side that had been stitched up, but there was still blood around it. My pulse stuttered in my veins at the sight of his muscles and scars.

“Your twin almost got me there,” Remo said with a dark laugh. “But not enough to stop me from capturing his beloved sister.” He said beloved like it was something filthy, something worthless.

Fabiano released me and joined the other men, leaving me standing in the middle of the room like a piece of meat that needed inspecting. Dread settled in my bones because maybe that was exactly what I was to them. Meat.

Remo pointed at the gray-eyed man. “That’s my brother Nino.” Then he gestured at the younger man beside him. “And my brother Savio.”

Remo stalked closer, every muscle in his upper body taut, as if he was a predator about to pounce. I stood my ground. I wouldn’t give him an inch. I wouldn’t give him anything. Not my fear and not a single tear. He couldn’t force those from me. I didn’t kid myself thinking that I could stop him from taking anything else.

“Serafina Cavallaro.” My name was a caress on his lips as he slowly walked around me. He stopped close behind me so I couldn’t see him.

I suppressed a shiver. “Not Cavallaro. That’s my uncle’s name, not mine.”

Remo’s breath fanned over my neck. “In every regard that matters, you are a Cavallaro.”

I dug my nails into my palms. Nino’s gray eyes followed the movement without a flicker of emotion on his face. Fabiano perched on the desk, looking at the man behind me but not me. Savio regarded me with a mix of curiosity and calculation.

I didn’t say anything, only stared stubbornly ahead. Remo circled me and stopped in front of me. He was a tall man, and I wished for my heels. I wasn’t exactly small, but barefoot only the top of my head reached his chin. I lifted my head slightly, trying to appear taller.

Remo’s mouth twitched. “I hear you were supposed to marry your fiancé, Danilo Mancini, yesterday,” he said with a twisted grin. “So I robbed you of your wedding night.”

I remembered Mom’s consoling words. That Danilo would be good to me. That I didn’t have to be scared of him claiming his rights after our wedding. And Samuel’s words that he’d hunt down Danilo if he didn’t treat me like a lady.

As I stared up into the face of Remo Falcone, my worry of having sex with Danilo seemed ridiculous. The Camorra wouldn’t be good to me. The name of their Capo was spoken in hushed, terrified whispers even among women in the Outfit. And a terror unlike anything I’d ever encountered gripped me, but I forced it down. Pride was the only weapon I had, and I would hold on to it until the very end.

“I wonder if you let your fiancé have a taste before your wedding,” Remo murmured, his voice a low vibrato full of threat, his dark eyes raking over me.

Indignation filled me. How dare he suggest something like that? “Of course not,” I said coldly. “The first kiss of a honorable Outfit woman happens on her wedding day.”

His grin widened, wolf-like, and I realized my mistake. He’d led me into a trap. My own pride a weapon he used against me.

REMO

She held her head high in spite her mistake. Her long blond hair trailed down her back. Cool blue eyes assessed me like I wasn’t worth her attention. Perfect.

Highborn and about to take a deep fall.

“So proud and cold,” I said, trailing a finger down her cheek and throat. “Just like good ol’ Uncle Dante.” She turned her face away with a disgusted expression.

I laughed. “Oh yes, that stupid Outfit pride. I can’t wait to rid you of it.”

“I’ll take that pride to the grave with me,” she said haughtily.

I leaned even closer, my body lightly pressing up against hers. “Killing you is the last thing on my mind, believe me.” I let my eyes travel the length of her body. “There are far more entertaining things I can think of.”

Terror flashed over her face, only briefly, then it was gone. But I saw it. So death didn’t bother the girl, or so she thought, but the idea of being touched by me put a chink into that prideful exterior.

“So you have never kissed a man before,” I mused, leaning in so close that our lips were almost touching.

She stood her ground, but a slight tremor went through her body. She pressed her lips together, refusing an answer.

“This will be fun.”

“My family and fiancé will tear down Las Vegas if you hurt me.”

“Oh, I hope they do, so I can bathe in their blood,” I said. “But I doubt you’ll be worth their trouble once I’m done with you. Or will your fiancé settle for the leftovers of another man?”

She finally took a step back.

My smile pulled wider. Her eyes darted to something behind me. To someone. I followed her gaze to Fabiano. His eyes met mine, his expression hard and unrelenting, but I knew him inside out. He’d known Serafina as a child, had played with her. There was a hint of strain in his eyes, but he wouldn’t come to her aid, neither would Nino or Savio.

I turned back around to her. “Nobody will save you, so you better stop hoping for it.”

She narrowed her eyes at me. “I decide what to hope for. You might rule over Las Vegas and over these men, but you don’t rule over me, Remo Falcone.”

Never before had someone spat out my name like that, and it sent a fucking thrill through me.

“Oh, Serafina,” I said darkly. “That’s where you’re wrong, and I will prove it to you.”

“And I will prove you wrong.” Her blue eyes held mine, back in control, back to being her prideful self. But she had given me an opening earlier, had shown me a crack in her mask, and she couldn’t undo it. I knew how to get under her skin.

“As much as I enjoy chitchatting with you, I need to remember the purpose of why you are here. And that’s to pay back your uncle Dante.”

A flash of fear in those proud eyes. I let my gaze travel the length of her, over her torn and bloody wedding dress.

“We need to send your uncle a message, a nice video of you,” I murmured. I nodded toward Fabiano. “Take her into the basement. I’ll join you in a few minutes.” I wanted to see how he’d react.

Fabiano’s jaw tensed but he gave a terse nod. He grabbed Serafina’s wrist, and she tensed but didn’t fight him, not like she would have undoubtedly fought me. He began to tug her along. She didn’t beg him like I thought she would. Instead, she gave me another disgusted look. She thought she could defy me, thought she could hold on to her pride and anger. I would show her why I had become Capo of the Camorra.

“What are you going to do to her?” Savio asked, trying to sound unfazed, but he wasn’t like Nino and me. He had some humanity left in him.

“What I said. Let her speak a message to her Uncle Dante ... and record some additional material.”

“So you’re going to fuck her for the camera?” Savio asked.

I glanced at Nino, who watched me with narrowed eyes as if he, too, wasn’t sure about my motives. I smiled. “Don’t spoil my surprise. We’ll all watch the video together once it’s done.”

I gave them a nod and headed downstairs. The moment I entered the corridor in the basement, Fabiano stepped out of the last door and closed it. His eyes settled on me. He met me halfway and gripped my arm. I raised my eyebrows.

“Serafina’s virginity can be used as leverage against Dante and Danilo.”

I narrowed my eyes at him. “Thank you for your input, Fabiano. I am Capo. I’ve thought my plan through. Don’t worry.”

“Have you?” Fabiano muttered, and I brought us nose to nose.

“Careful. You’ve betrayed me for a woman once before. Do not make it a habit.”

Fabiano shook his head. “Fuck. I won’t betray you. I went to Indianapolis with you and kidnapped Serafina. I didn’t hunt down my father like I wanted to. I put her in your fucking cell for you. I am loyal, Remo.”

“Good,” I said, stepping back. “Serafina is my captive, and I decide what happens to her, understood?”

“Understood,” Fabiano said, gritting his teeth. “Can I go to Leona now?”

“Go. I’ll have Simeone watch her cell tonight.”

“He’s a fucking pervert, Remo.”

“He also knows I’ll cut his dick off if he goes against my orders. Now go have fun with your girl while I take care of mine.”





CHAPTER 4





SERAFINA

Fabiano dragged me down a flight of stairs into a basement.

“Fabi,” I said imploringly, tugging at his hold.

“Fabiano,” he growled, not even looking at me as he pulled me through another narrow bare corridor. He seemed furious.

Before I could utter another word, he opened a heavy door and stepped inside a room with me. My eyes darted around. A cell.

My stomach lurched when I saw the toilet and shower in one corner, but even worse when I took in the stained mattress on the floor across from them. Red and yellow stains. Terror gripped me hard, and suddenly I realized what was supposed to happen here.

My eyes flew up to a camera in the corner to my right then back to Fabiano. He was Enforcer of the Camorra, and while my parents had tried to shelter me, Samuel had been more forthcoming with information. I knew what Enforcers did, especially in Las Vegas.

Fabiano scanned my face and released me with a sigh. I stumbled back and almost lost my balance when my feet caught in my dress. “Will you ...?” I pressed out.

Fabiano shook his head. “Remo will handle you himself.”

I froze. “Fabiano,” I tried again. “You can’t allow that to happen. Don’t let him hurt me. Please.” The word tasted bitter in my mouth. Begging wasn’t something I had been taught, but this wasn’t a situation I had ever prepared for.

“Remo won’t ...” Fabiano trailed off and grimaced.

Pushing past my fear, I moved closer to Fabiano and gripped his arms. “If you are unwilling to help me, then at least tell me what I can do to stop Remo from hurting me. What does he want from me?”

Fabiano stepped back, so I had to release him. “Remo hates weakness. And in his eyes women are weak.”

“So I’m at the mercy of a man who hates women.”

“He hates weakness. But you are strong, Serafina.” He turned and left, closing the heavy door and locking me in.

I whirled around, my eyes scanning the surroundings for something I could use against Remo, but there was nothing, and he wasn’t a man who could be beaten in a fight. Strong? Was I strong? It didn’t feel that way right now. Fear pounded in my chest, in every fiber of my body.

My eyes darted to the mattress once more. Yesterday Danilo was supposed to claim me on satin sheets in the holy bond of matrimony. Today Remo would break me on a dirty mattress like a common whore.

I braced myself against the rough stone wall, fighting my rising panic. All my life I had been raised to be proud and noble, honorable and well-behaved, and it didn’t protect me.

The creak of the door made me tense, but I didn’t turn to see who had entered. I knew who it was, could feel his cruel eyes on me.

I peered up at the camera once more. Everything that happened would be recorded and sent to my uncle, fiancé, and father. And worse ... Samuel. I swallowed. They would see me at my worst. I wouldn’t let it come to that. I’d hold my head high no matter what happened.

“Are you ignoring me?” Remo asked from close behind me, and a small shiver shot down my spine.

“Does that ever work?” I said, wishing my voice came out stronger, but it was already a fight forcing those four words out of my tight throat.

“No,” Remo said. “I’m difficult to ignore.”

Impossible to ignore.

“Turn around,” Remo ordered.

I didn’t move, focusing on the gray stone in front of me. It wasn’t only an act of defiance. My legs refused to move. Fear kept me frozen, but Remo didn’t need to know that.

His hot breath ghosted over my neck, and I closed my eyes, wedging my lower lip between my teeth to stifle a sound. “Open disobedience?” he asked in a low voice. His palms pressed down on my shoulder blades, and I almost crumpled under their weight, even though he didn’t put much pressure behind the touch.

“On second thought,” he said gently. “This position works well too.”

The soft clink of a blade being unsheathed made me jump. Remo braced himself to both sides of me, a long dagger in one hand. His chest pressed up against my back. “I’ll give you a choice, Serafina. You can either get out of your dress by yourself or I’ll cut you out of it. What is it?”

I swallowed. I had expected another choice, one Vegas was famous for. A rush of relief filled me, but it was short-lived. I shifted my hand and covered the blade with my palm then curled my fingers around the cold steel.

“If you give me your knife, I’ll cut myself out of my dress,” I bit out.

Remo chuckled. A dark, joyless sound. “You want my knife?”

I nodded, and to my utter shock, Remo released the handle, and I held his dagger by the blade, the sharp edge cutting into my flesh. Remo stepped back, his warmth leaving my body. I stared at the deadly weapon in my hand. Slowly, drawing in a deep breath, I straightened and reached for the handle. I knew Remo hadn’t given me a fair chance. He was playing with me, trying to break my spirit by showing me that even a knife didn’t change the fact that I was at his mercy.

What he didn’t know was that Samuel and I had spent all our lives fighting with each other, like siblings always do, but when he’d become a Made Man, he started working with me on my fighting skills because he knew how our world treated women. He had tried to make me strong, and I was. I knew how to handle a knife, how to defeat an opponent. But I had never won against Samuel, and he was always careful not to hurt me. Remo was stronger than Samuel, and he would hurt me, would enjoy it. I could not beat Remo in a fight, not even when I had a knife and he didn’t.

Fabiano’s words flashed through my mind. Remo hates weakness. Even if I couldn’t beat Remo, I could show him I wasn’t weak.

“Maybe I should take my knife back since you don’t know what to do with it,” Remo said, almost disappointed. He stepped closer.

In a fluid motion, I turned around and jabbed at Remo while my other hand pulled up my dress. Remo blocked my attack by hitting my wrist. My years of training with Samuel prevented me from dropping the knife despite the sharp pain in my wrist.

A smile crossed Remo’s face, and I released my dress and rammed my fist into his abdomen while I slashed the knife at him once more. The blade grazed his arm and blood trickled down, but Remo didn’t even wince. His smile got wider as he took a step back, completely unfazed.

I lunged at him but got caught in my long skirt. I barreled into Remo and tried to land another deadlier cut. We fell and Remo landed on his back with me on top of him. I straddled him and stabbed at his stomach, but he gripped my wrist with a twisted grin on his face. I tried to force the knife down, but Remo didn’t budge. And then, suddenly, he showed me what it was like when he actually tried fighting back.

He bucked his hips, and before I could react, I landed on my back and Remo was on top of me. I struggled but he shoved my skirt up and knelt between my legs, moving closer until his pelvis thrust against me and I couldn’t use my legs to push him away. His fingers curled around my wrists and he pressed them into the mattress above my head, the knife still in my grasp and utterly useless. He had me pinned under his strong body, completely at his mercy, both of my hands fastened to the ground.

His dark eyes held excitement and a flicker of admiration. For a moment, I felt proud, but then my situation dawned on me. I was on my back, on a dirty mattress, under Remo. He had me where he wanted me from the start.

Fear overpowered my determination, and my body stiffened, my eyes darting to the disgusting mattress under me. I sucked in a deep breath, trying to keep my panic at bay. Remo regarded me intently. “Let go of the knife,” he murmured, and I did. I didn’t even hesitate.

Be strong.

I swallowed hard, reminding myself of the camera. I’d take my pride to the grave with me. “Just get it over with, Remo,” I said in disgust. “Rape me. I’m done playing your sick game. I’m not a chess piece.”

Remo’s dark eyes wandered over my face, my hair, my arms stretched out above my head. He leaned down, his cruel face coming closer. He stopped when our noses were almost brushing. His eyes weren’t black; they were the darkest brown I’d ever seen. He held my gaze, and I held his. I wouldn’t look away, no matter what he did. I wanted him to see me as I was. Not a weakness, not a pawn, but a human being.

“Not like this, Serafina,” he said. His voice was low and dark, mesmerizing, but it was his gaze that held me captive. “Not like a whore on a stained mattress.” He smiled, and it was worse than any glare or threat.

He brought his mouth down until his lips touched mine lightly, just barely, and yet a current shot through me. “I haven’t started playing, and you aren’t a mere chess piece. You are the queen.” He took the knife and straightened, releasing me in the process. He stood slowly, drawing up to his full height and staring down at me.

“And what are you in this game of chess?” I whispered harshly, still lying on the mattress.

“I’m the king.”

“You aren’t unbeatable.”

His eyes trailed over me until they returned to my face. “We’ll see.” He sheathed his knife. “Now get out of that dress. You won’t need it anymore.”

I sat up. “I won’t undress in front of you.”

Remo chuckled. “Oh this will be fun.” He waited, and I returned his gaze steadily. “The knife it is, then,” he said with a shrug.

“No,” I said firmly, struggling to my feet. I glared at him and reached behind myself, pulling down the zipper with an audible hiss. Never taking my eyes off him, I pulled at the fabric until it finally fell to the ground, a fluffy halo around my feet.

“White and golden like an angel,” Remo mused darkly as he took in every inch of me.

Even force of will couldn’t stop my cheeks from blazing with heat, being exposed like this in front of a man for the first time. Left in nothing but my white garter, white lace panties and a corset, goose bumps rippled across my skin at Remo’s scrutiny.

He bridged the distance between us, and I held my breath. He stopped close to me, dark eyes tracing my face, and he raised his hand, causing me to stiffen. The corner of his mouth twitched. Then his thumb brushed over my cheekbone. I drew back, away from the touch, which made him smile again.

“Virgin bashfulness, how endearing,” Remo said darkly, mocking me. “Don’t worry, Angel, I won’t tell anyone that I’m the first man who saw you like this.”

I glared at him, fighting tears of embarrassment and fury as he bent down, reaching for the dress. “Step back.” I quickly stepped out of the dress, and Remo straightened with the stained fabric wedged under his arm.

He regarded me. “You are a sight to behold. I bet Danilo would have had a boner from merely looking at you. I can only imagine what he feels now, knowing you are in my hands, knowing that he will never get what was promised.”

I shook my head. “Whatever you take, it’ll always be less than what he would have gotten, because I would have given myself to him willingly, body and soul, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You will have to settle for the consolation prize, Remo Falcone.”

Remo moved back slowly, a strange expression on his face. “You should take a shower, Serafina. I will have one of the whores bring you fresh clothes.” He turned and disappeared with a soft click of the door.

The air left my lungs in a whoosh. I wrapped my arms around myself, trembling, trying to keep it together. It had taken considerable effort standing up to Remo, and now everything fell off me in waves of emotion. I stiffened when I remembered the camera, but then I decided it didn’t matter. Remo knew I was terrified of him. My brave front wasn’t fooling him.

REMO

Serafina was everything I’d hoped for and so much more. A queen in my game of chess, indeed. Noble and proud like a queen and arrogant and spoiled like one too. She made me want to break her. Break those white wings. An angel in appearance but one with clipped wings, happy to be grounded, happy to never roam the sky. Content to become the beautiful tamed bird in Danilo’s gilded cage.

I emptied my scotch and hit the bar. Jerry refilled my glass. The whores had gathered at the other end of the bar as far away from me as possible. As usual.

“She’s so beautiful,” the whore who had brought Serafina clothes said to the others.

She was. Serafina was a masterpiece, almost too beautiful. Her golden hair and unblemished skin against the dirty mattress had felt like sacrilege, even to me, and I had committed almost every sin conceivable.

I drank another scotch, considering returning to the basement, to Serafina. Whatever you take, it’ll always be less than what he would have gotten. You will have to settle for the consolation prize.

Her words were an insistent pounding in the back of my head. And fuck, I knew she was right. Taking from Serafina what I wanted wouldn’t feel like a victory. There was no challenge in doing so. She was weaker and at my mercy. I could have her in every way by the morning and be done with it, but it would feel like a fucking defeat. It wasn’t what I wanted. Far from it. I had never settled for a consolation prize. I didn’t want less than what she would have given to Danilo. I wanted more. I wanted everything from her.

I slammed the glass down on the counter and turned to the nearest whore. “In my office. Now.”

She nodded and rushed off. I followed her, already painfully hard. Fucking hard since I’d seen Serafina in her underwear. Fucking desperate to bury myself in her pussy and rip her innocence from her. I always got what I wanted. I didn’t wait for anything. But if I wanted the ultimate triumph, I would have to try my hand at patience, and it would be the biggest challenge of my life.

The whore perched on my desk but got up when I entered. I unzipped my pants and shoved down my briefs. She knew her cue. We’d fucked before. I often chose her. She got down on her knees as I tangled my hand in her red hair and started fucking her mouth. She took all of me as I thrust into her, hitting the back of her throat, making her gag, but for once it did nothing to sate the burning hunger in my veins. I scowled down at her face, trying to imagine it was Serafina, but the whore regarded me with that fucking submissiveness, that disgusting reverence. No pride, no honor. They all got a choice and chose the easy way, never the hard painful one. They would never understand that nothing could be gained without pain. Weak. Disgusting.

I tightened my hold on her hair, causing her to wince, as I came down her throat. Stepping back, my dripping cock slid out of her mouth. She peered up at me, licking her lips like I had given her a fucking gift. My fingers itched to reach for my knife and slash her throat, relieve her of her pitiful existence.

She lowered her gaze.

“Get up,” I snarled, losing my patience. She scrambled to her feet. “Desk.”

She turned around and bent over the desk, sticking her ass out, then reached behind herself and pushed her skirt up, revealing her naked ass. She parted her legs and braced herself against the desk. No pride. No honor.

I stepped up behind her, pumping my cock, but I was already getting hard again. I reached for a condom, ripped it open with my teeth, and rolled it down my dick. Spitting down in my hand, I lubed my sheathed dick then pressed up against her asshole and began pushing into her. The whore’s knuckles turned white from her grip on the desk. When I was buried up to my balls in her ass, I leaned forward until my chest was flush with her back, and for the first time she tensed. I never got this close to her. I brought my mouth close to her ear as my fingers clamped down on her hips.

“Tell me, Eden,” I whispered harshly. She held her breath hearing me say her name. I never had before. They thought I didn’t know their names, but I knew every fucker I owned, soldier and whore. “Have you ever considered telling me to go fuck myself?”

“Of course not, Ma ...”

“What did you want to call me? Master?” I slammed into her once, making her gasp. “Tell me, Eden, am I your fucking master?”

She hesitated. She didn’t even know how to answer that fucking question, and it made me furious. “I’m not your fucking master,” I growled.

“Yes,” she agreed quickly.

I turned her face so she had to stare into my eyes. “Do you have a sliver of honor in that used up body of yours?” I asked gently.

She blinked.

My mouth pulled into a snarl. “No. Not one fucking ounce.” I gripped her neck and started thrusting into her. She winced and it made me raving mad. Still slamming into her, I muttered in her ear, “Do you ever wonder where Dinara is?”

She tensed under me, but I didn’t let up. “Have you thought of her at all?”

She let out a sob. She had no right to cry, no fucking right, because she wasn’t crying for her daughter but only for herself. A fucking disgrace of a mother. “Do you ever wonder if I do to your little girl what I do to you now?”

She didn’t say anything. I straightened and kept fucking her until I finally came. I stepped back, thrust the condom down on the ground, and cleaned myself with a towel that I kept handy before I pulled up my briefs and pants.

She turned, mascara smudged under her eyes, and I tossed the towel at her. “Clean yourself. And dispose of the fucking condom. It’s dripping my cum all over the floor.” She picked up the towel from the floor and wiped the floor first then cleaned herself. Dirty whore.

“Get out of my sight before I kill you,” I said.

She rushed past me, opened the door, and almost bumped into Savio, who stepped back with a disgusted expression. He cocked an eyebrow as he stepped in. “You’re still fucking that bitch? Why don’t you just kill her like she deserves?”

“She doesn’t deserve death. It would be too kind to kill her.” And I gave Grigory my word that the bitch would suffer.

Savio nodded. “Maybe. But I thought you’d be up virgin pussy, not this used up piece of trash.”

“I’m not in the mood for virgin pussy.”

Savio looked curious. “I imagine it’ll be really tight and kind of hot knowing you’re the first to be in there.”

“Never been with a fucking virgin, so I can’t fucking tell you. Is there a reason why you’re here disturbing my post-fuck-fury?

“What’s the difference between that and your pre-fuck-fury? Or your general mood for that matter?”

“You’re a fucking smart ass like Nino.”

Savio sauntered in and leaned his hip against the desk. “I thought I’d tell you Simeone went into the basement with a tray of food for your girl and didn’t come back up yet.”

I shoved past Savio, so fucking furious I had trouble not killing every single person in the fucking bar. I raced down the stairs when I heard Simeone’s cackling and spotted him in the doorway to Serafina’s cell, not inside of it. I slowed, knowing there was no rush. He wasn’t that stupid. Stupid enough, but not so stupid to try touching something that was mine.

“Get out, you disgusting pervert,” I heard Serafina’s voice.

“Shut up, whore. You aren’t in Chicago. Here you are nothing. I can’t wait to bury my cock in your cunt once Remo is done breaking you in.”

“I won’t shower in front of you. Get out!”

“Then I will call Remo and tell him to punish you.”

Oh ... so he would call me? Interesting. I stalked closer, not making a sound. Simeone’s back twitched like he was busy jerking off, which was probably the case.

My mouth pulled into a snarl, but I held back my anger.

More silence followed and I approached without making a sound. Simeone’s profile appeared in my view, leaning in the doorway with his hand clutching his ugly dick as he rubbed it furiously. I stopped a few steps from him, and there was Serafina in the shower, her back turned to him.

Simeone was practically salivating on the ground and jerking off, watching Serafina shower. She was a sight to behold, no argument. Her skin was pale like marble. Her ass two white orbs I wanted to sink my teeth into. There wasn’t a blemish on her body, not a single imperfection, so unlike my own. She had been protected all her life, kept safe from the dangers of this world, and here she was at my mercy.

“Turn around. I want to see your tits and cunt,” Simeone ordered, his hand moving faster on his cock.

Simeone was so wrapped up in watching her and wanking off, he didn’t notice me. “If you don’t turn around, I’ll call Remo.”

“I won’t turn around, you pig!” she hissed. “Then get Remo. I don’t care!”

“You little whore! I will turn you around myself.”

Simeone made a move as if to push off the doorway, when Serafina turned around, one arm wrapped protectively over her breasts, the other hand shielding her pussy. The water pouring down her face almost hid her tears. She gave Simeone the most disgusted look I’d ever seen, her head held high ... and then she spotted me.

“See, that wasn’t so difficult, was it?” Simeone rasped.

My lip curled. I pulled the knife from my holster, slid my fingers through the knuckle holder, relishing in the feel of the cold metal against my skin. She watched unmoving as I stepped up to Simeone. Her perfect proud lips wouldn’t utter a warning.

I wrapped my arm around his throat in a crushing grip and pressed my knife against his lower abdomen. He cried out in surprise and let go of his cock. “You were going to call me?” I asked.

His terror-widened eyes blinked up at me as his face turned red from the pressure of my grip. I loosened my hold so he could speak.

“Remo, I made sure she wasn’t messing around. It’s not how it looks.”

“Hmm. Did you know that no man has ever seen what you just saw?”

He shook his head frantically. I lifted my gaze to Serafina, who was watching with a frozen expression.

“You see, now you have seen something that I had no intention of sharing,” I explained in a pleasant voice. I slid the knife into his abdomen, only a couple of inches. He cried out, flailing in my grip. I held him fast, my eyes never leaving Serafina. Blood trickled down over my hand. His filthy blood.

Serafina dropped her arms to her side. I didn’t think she noticed. She stared at me in open horror. For once her prideful mask had slipped and revealed her true nature: a softhearted, breakable woman. And I took in the sight of her firm breasts and the golden curls at the apex of her thighs, perfectly trimmed into a triangle. For her wedding night. What a pity that poor Danilo would never get to see it. She was mine for the taking.

“Remo,” Simeone spluttered. “I won’t tell anyone what I saw. Please, I beg you.”

“I believe you,” I said mildly. “But you will remember.” I drove the knife deeper into his flesh, moving slow, letting him savor every inch of the blade. “Did you imagine how it would be to sink your filthy cock into her pussy?”

He gurgled.

The knife was buried to the hilt in his abdomen. “Did you imagine to bury yourself to the hilt inside her?” His eyes were bulging, his breathing labored.

I twisted the knife and he screamed again. Then I pulled it back out as slowly as it had gone in. His legs gave way, and I let him drop to the ground. He clutched his wound, crying like a coward. It would be another ten or fifteen minutes before he died. He’d wish it were less. “Remember what I told you about your eyeballs and tongue? Your cock will join them.”

I brought the knife down on his cock, and Serafina whirled around with a gasp.

SERAFINA

My hands were splayed out against the white tiles of the shower. I couldn’t breathe. Terror clogged my throat. Nothing in my upbringing had prepared me for this. Nothing could have. I was falling apart fast. Faster than I’d ever thought possible.

Pride and honor were the pillars of our world, the pillars of my upbringing. I needed to cling to them. He could take everything from me, but not that. Never that.

Simeone was screaming and I pressed my palms against my ears, trying to shut him out—to no avail.

Ice Princess no more.

My eyes were blurry from tears and water. But the image of Remo sinking his knife into a man with that twisted smile on his face was etched into my mind. How was I supposed to stay prideful? How was I supposed to hold my head high and not let him see my fear? Nothing had ever scared me more than Remo Falcone.

Monsters aren’t real, my mother had told me a long time ago when I was afraid to sleep in the dark and kept crawling into Samuel’s bed. I hadn’t believed her back then, and that was before meeting Remo.

The screaming stopped.

I shuddered and lowered my hands slowly. Something red caught my eyes. I looked down at the shower floor where red water was pooling around my feet. I blinked. And then it clicked. Floor-level shower. Remo bringing down the knife on the man’s ... My feet looked even paler against the red. My vision shifted and something broke apart in me. I was standing in someone’s blood.

I heard myself screaming and tried to get out of the blood but the ground was slippery. I twisted around, holding onto the shower walls. And then I saw the rest of the cell. The entire floor was covered in blood, and amidst it all stood Remo, tall and dark, knife still gleaming in his hand. His chest and arms were smeared with blood. Red. Red. Red. Everywhere.

I was still screaming and screaming until I couldn’t scream anymore because there was no air left in my lungs. And I could not breathe.

Remo sheathed his knife and stalked toward me.

I flailed, trying to get away from him, from the blood, from the sight of the dead man behind Remo.

My feet slipped on the floor, and I was falling. My knees sank into the blood, my hands followed.

Remo pulled me up, my body pressed against his, and the smell of blood filled my nose. I clutched at his shoulders for balance. And then I pulled one hand back and it came away red. And one glance down. Red. My skin. Red. Everything red.

My eyes found Remo’s blood covered body. Red. Red. Red.

I started struggling against his hold. I fought with all I had. “Please,” I gasped out. Remo lifted me in his arms, and I had no fight left in me. He carried me barefoot through the cell, stepping over the dead man. When had he got rid of his shoes?

A hysteric laugh bubbled up my throat, but it turned into a sob. This was too much.

Remo walked into another cell and set me down on the floor of the shower. I sank down, curling up on my side, unable to remain in a sitting position. My chest was heaving, but I wasn’t breathing. Through my foggy vision, I watched Remo getting out of his bloody clothes and coming toward me. Naked. I didn’t register more than that.

I closed my eyes.

He moved his arms under my knees and back and lifted me once more. Then cold water splashed down on me, and I sucked in a deep breath, my eyes shooting open. Remo shifted with me in his arms, leaning forward, his forehead pressed against the tiles as he looked down at me. His body shielded me from the cold water raining down on us, and his dark eyes held mine.

“It takes a while before the water gets warm down here,” he said calmly.

So calm. My eyes searched his face. Eerily calm. No sign that he had just killed a man in a barbaric way. I shuddered, my teeth chattering. Even when the water turned warm, my teeth kept clanking together, and they didn’t stop even when Remo stepped back out of the shower with me still in his arms.

Remo walked out of the cell and carried me through the corridor. Panic tore at my chest.

“Fuck,” someone said. A man.

“Get me a fucking blanket, Savio,” Remo growled.

He tightened his hold as he carried me upstairs. I closed my eyes, too shaken to put up a fight. Something soft and warm covered me, and then I was put down on warm leather.

“You can’t drive through the city naked. And there’s still blood on your body.”

“You can drive,” Remo said, and then his body eased in beside me.

“Where the fuck are we taking her?”

“Home.”

“Nino won’t like that one fucking bit. You know how protective he is of Kiara.”

“I don’t give a fuck. Now shut up and drive.”

I focused on breathing, focused on remembering what made me happy. Samuel. Mom. Dad. Sofia.



I wasn’t sure how much time had passed. The minutes seemed to blur together, when Remo picked me up again and eventually put me down on something soft. My eyes peeled open, heavy-lidded and burning from crying.

The first thing I registered was the bed I was lying on. Soft satin sheets, blood-red. A majestic canopy bed made from black wood, the posts twisting as if two branches had wound around another to form each. Heavy blood-red drapes hung from the canopy, blocking the bright sunlight streaming into the bedroom. I put my trembling hand flat against the smooth sheet, white against red, like in the shower. I shuddered and started hyperventilating again.

Remo appeared beside the bed and sank down, causing the mattress to dip under his weight. He was naked except for a knife holster, which was strapped to his chest. Muscles and scars and barely restrained strength.

I averted my eyes, my teeth beginning to chatter again. Remo reached over me. “Don’t,” I said weakly. Then firmer, “Don’t touch me.”

Remo’s dark eyes held mine with intent. He bent low until his face filled my vision. “After what you saw me do today, you still defy me? Don’t you think submitting to me will make things less painful for you?” His voice was soft, low, almost curious.

“Yes,” I whispered, and something shifted in his eyes ... was that disappointment? “But I’d rather take pain than submit to your will, Remo.”

He smiled darkly and reached over me again. Before I could react, he pulled a blanket over my body, covering my nakedness. My eyes widened.

“How can you know what you prefer if you’ve never experienced either? Neither pain...” he brushed his lips lightly across my mouth, not a kiss but a threat “...nor pleasure.”

A shiver traveled down my spine. My throat was dry, my limbs heavy.

“I want to show you both, Angel.” He paused, his dark eyes burning into me. “But I fear you’d rather kill yourself than give yourself to me.” He pulled his knife out and put it down beside me. “You should end your life, take the easy way out, because nobody will come to save you, and I won’t stop until I’ve broken you, body and soul.”

I believed him. How could I not with the intense determination and coldness in his dark eyes? I reached for the knife then pushed into a sitting position and pressed the blade against Remo’s throat. He didn’t flinch, only regarded me with unsettling eyes.

“I won’t ever kill myself. I won’t do that to my family. But you will never break me. I won’t let you.”

Remo tilted his head, again with a hint of curiosity. “If you want to kill me, do it now because you won’t get another chance, Angel.” My hand holding the knife shook. Remo didn’t take his eyes off me as he shifted closer to me, climbing up on one knee then the other until he leaned over me. I pressed harder and blood welled to the surface. My eyes focused on the red coating the blade against Remo’s skin.

Remo moved over me and drove the knife harder into his flesh. I yielded, fixated on the blood trickling down his throat, on its smell, its bright color.

Remo lowered himself on top of me, the knife between our throats, his body covering mine with only the blanket between us. He regarded me, dark eyes peeling away layer over layer of protective walls that I tried to put up.

Hysteria swirled in my chest, the memories of the basement clawing at the fringes of my mind. Remo curled his hand around mine and the handle then slowly pried my hands off it and took the knife from me. He dropped it to the bed beside us.

I could feel every inch of his strong, muscled body against mine, but my eyes couldn’t focus on anything but the blood on his skin, dripping from the cut I had inflicted. He pressed two fingers to my throat, feeling my erratic pulse. “Still in the grasp of panic, hmm?”

I swallowed. He pulled away and stood. Then he bent over me. “You are safe in your weakest moments, Angel. I don’t enjoy breaking the weak. I will break you when you are strong.”

He grabbed the knife and turned around, presenting his back to me. My eyes traced the tattoo of the kneeling fallen angel. Was that how Remo saw himself? A fallen angel with broken wings? A dark angel risen from Hell?

And what was I?

Before he left the room, he glanced over his shoulder at me. “Don’t try to run, Angel. There are more men like Simeone waiting to get their hands on you. I’d hate having to send them after you and hurt you.”

As if anyone could hurt me worse than Remo would.

I forced a smile. “We both know you’re lying. You won’t let anyone hurt me.”

Remo cocked one dark eyebrow. “I won’t?”

“You won’t because you want to be the one to break me, to make me scream.”

Remo’s mouth pulled into a smile that raised the little hairs on my skin.

A smile that would haunt me forever.

“Oh, I will make you scream, Angel. That I swear.”

Suppressing a shudder, I dug my nails into my palms and forced more words from my tight throat. “Don’t waste your time. Kill me now.”

“We all have to let part of ourselves die to rise up stronger. Now sleep tight. I’ll return later for a proper video message for your family.”

“Why did you even save me from Simeone? Why not let him start the torture you have in mind for me? Why bring me here to your mansion?”

Remo regarded me as if he, too, was wondering the same thing, and his silence told me that my guess had been right; this was indeed the Falcone mansion. It surprised me that he would risk bringing me into his family’s home.

“Like you said, I will be the one to make you scream and no one else.” He closed the door.

I shut my eyes and pulled the covers tighter around myself.

A power play. A twisted game of chess.

I wasn’t going to be a pawn or a queen, and Remo wouldn’t be the king.





CHAPTER 5





REMO

I grabbed sweatpants to put on before I headed downstairs into our gaming room, where Savio, Nino, and Adamo were sitting. Since Kiara had joined our family, my days of walking through the house naked when I pleased were fucking over. My brothers regarded me as if I was a bomb about to detonate.

I flashed them a smile.

Adamo shook his head but didn’t say anything. He didn’t try to hide his aversion toward me or his reluctance about becoming a Camorrista.

Nino rose slowly. “You shouldn’t have brought her here.”

I grabbed the pizza menu. “Savio, order pizza for us and an extra one for Serafina.”

Nino came around the sofa. My eyes flickered over the tension in his limbs. “Remo, take her somewhere else.”

“No,” I said. “She will stay here, under this roof, where I can keep a fucking eye on her.”

My brother stopped in front of me, a deep frown pulling his brows together. That was the equivalent of an angry outburst from him. “This situation might cause another one of Kiara’s episodes.”

“Kiara is your wife, not mine. Make sure she doesn’t see anything that she isn’t supposed to see. Where is she anyway?”

“In our wing. The moment Savio told me you were bringing Serafina, I told her to stay there.”

“See? No problem.” I moved past him toward the bar and grabbed a beer. Nino followed as Savio ordered pizza in the background.

“It is a huge problem. Your captive is upstairs, free to roam the place as she sees fit. She could walk around the house and cross Kiara.”

“I doubt Serafina will do that right now. She’s too shaken and probably taking a beauty sleep as we speak. She can’t escape from the premises, and one of you will have to guard her to make sure she doesn’t do something stupid.”

Nino assessed me. “I really hope you know what you’re doing. This is supposed to bring the Outfit down. Don’t forget that, Remo.”

My mouth pulled wide. “It will crush them. They will bleed out slowly, painfully, without ever feeling my blade. This will destroy them.”

Nino gave a nod because even if emotions were still hard to grasp for him, he knew the effect mind games had in a war.

“You disgust me,” Adamo muttered.

“Four days,” I reminded him.

He stood, jutting his chin out. “What if I say no?”

Savio shoved him. “You’d be a fucking disgrace, a traitor. What would you do? Where would you go?”

Adamo shoved him back. “I don’t give a fuck. Anything is better than becoming like you.”

I stalked toward him. He lifted his chin. “You say this because from the day of your birth you’ve been protected. You’ve never been subjected to true cruelty. You are a Falcone, Adamo, and one day you will be proud to be one.”

“I wish I wasn’t a Falcone. I wish you weren’t my brother.”

“Adamo,” Nino warned, looking at my face.

“Fuck you!” Adamo shouted and ran off upstairs.

“He’ll come around, eventually,” Nino drawled.

“How much time until the pizza arrives?” I asked Savio.

He exchanged a look with Nino before replying, “Twenty minutes.”

“Time for a phone call,” I said, nodding at Nino, who hesitated briefly but then took out his mobile and scrolled through it.

Nino handed me the phone with the number I didn’t recognize. “That’s Dante’s number if he hasn’t changed it from our last call years ago.”

“Good. Get some of Kiara’s clothes. A white nightgown if she has one.”

Nino frowned deeply but walked past me and disappeared into his wing.

“How are you going to keep her in check? Make sure she doesn’t try to run or kill herself?”

“She’s been sheltered all her life. She’s far from home, far from the men who’ve protected her. Freedom scares her more than captivity.”

Savio laughed. “You sound awfully sure of it.”

I grinned. Nino returned, looking as close to pissed as he ever did. He held the clothes out to me. Among them a silvery satin nightgown. Perfect. “Kiara suspects something’s the matter.”

I took the clothes, not bothering to comment, and walked past him toward my wing where I barged into Serafina’s room without knocking. My eyes wandered from the empty bed toward the wall behind it, where Serafina tried opening the window, which she couldn’t do without the necessary keys.

She whirled around, the blood-red sheets wrapped around her body, her blond hair a wild mane slithering down her shoulders. Her skin glowed so innocently white against the red of the covers. I wanted to run my tongue over it to see if it would taste as pure as she looked.

Not cowering in the bed as I’d expected but trying to escape. This little birdy seemed desperate to escape my cage, only to flutter right into Danilo’s. Her eyes and face held remnants of her earlier panic, but she tilted her chin upward and narrowed her eyes at me. Determined to play with the big boys.

I strolled into the room. Her shoulders pulled back, an act of defiance, but her hand flew up to press the sheet against her body, her fingers splayed out against the red, visibly shaking. My eyes never leaving her, I set the clothes down on the bed, catching the hint of her sweet scent. I’d caught it earlier, as if she’d been massaged with vanilla oil in preparation for her wedding night. My nostrils flared. “Trying to escape my cage, little bird?”

She tossed me a haughty look. “You’re awfully fond of creatures with wings.”

“I enjoy breaking them.”

Her lip curled, and still she managed to be perfectly beautiful. I could guess the images that ran through her mind, of me torturing tiny animals. That was for cowards, for men not capable of facing a worthy opponent. “I’m not that kind of psychopath.”

“What kind are you, then?”

I smiled. “You won’t be able to open the window. Don’t waste your energy trying to escape.”

“Did you have the locks installed specifically for me, or do you make a habit of locking women in your bedroom so you can rape and torture them for your personal entertainment?”

I stalked toward her, backed her against the windowsill then braced myself against the glass, glaring down at her. “No,” I said. “My father had them installed for my mother.”

Disgust flashed across Serafina’s face. “You Falcones are all monsters.”

I leaned down, breathing in her scent. “My father was a monster. I’m worse.”

Her pulse thudded in her veins. I could see her fear throbbing against the unblemished skin of her throat. I stepped back then nodded toward the clothes. “For you. Tomorrow morning you will wear the silver nightgown.”

Serafina walked toward the bed sideways to keep an eye on me then scowled at the heap on her bed.

I raised the phone to my ear and pressed the call button. After the second ring, Dante’s cold voice sounded. “Cavallaro.”

“Dante, good to hear your voice.”

Serafina’s head jerked toward me, and she sank down on the bed, her prideful mask cracking as her fingers curled into a fist, gripping the sheet.

Silence rang on the other end, and I smiled. I wished I could see Cavallaro’s expression as he was being faced with the consequences of his actions, and the realization that his niece would pay for his sins.

“Remo.”

I heard male voices in the background and a hysteric female one. Serafina’s mother. “I would like a word with you, Capo to Capo. From one man who had his territory breached to another. Two men of honor.”

“I’m a man of honor, Remo. I don’t know what you are, but honorable isn’t it.”

“Let’s agree to disagree on that.”

“Is Serafina alive?” he asked quietly.

I trailed my eyes over the glaring woman, clutching the red blankets around her naked body.

I heard a furious voice in the background. “I will break every fucking bone in your body!”

“Is that her twin?”

Pain flashed across her face, and she swallowed.

“Is she alive?” Dante repeated, his voice shaking with anger.

“What do you think?”

“She is, because alive she is worth more than dead.”

“Indeed. I don’t have to tell you that I will kill her in the most painful way I can think of if a single Outfit soldier breaches my territory to save her, and I can be very creative when it comes to inflicting pain.”

Even from a distance I could see her blood pounding furiously in her veins as she stared down at her fist.

“I want to speak to her.”

“Not yet.”

“Remo, you crossed a line, and you will pay for it.”

“Oh, I’m sure you think so.”

“What do you want?”

“It’s not time for that kind of conversation yet, Dante. I don’t think you are quite ready for it. Tomorrow morning we will have another date. Set up a camera. I want you, her brother, father, and fiancé in a room in front of that camera. Nino will give you instructions how to set everything up. I will set up a camera myself so we can see and hear each other.”

Serafina’s eyes met mine.

“Remo—” Dante’s voice held a warning, but I lowered the phone from my ear and ended the call.

Serafina stared at me, wide eyed. I moved closer, and she stiffened but otherwise didn’t show her fear, despite the exhaustion on her face. “Tomorrow we will start playing, Angel.”

I left, wanting her to ponder my words. Nino waited in the corridor as I closed the door. I raised my eyebrows in passing. “Pizza’s arrived?”

Nino followed close behind me then grabbed my shoulder. “What kind of video do you have in mind for tomorrow?”

I regarded him, trying to gauge his mood, but even now it was still difficult. “I’ll give her a choice.”

Nino shook his head once, almost disapproving. “This woman is innocent. She’s not a debtor. Not a whore who steals money. She hasn’t done anything.”

“Kiara changed you.”

“Not in this regard. We’ve never preyed on the innocent, Remo. We’ve never laid a hand on someone who didn’t deserve it, and this woman, this girl ... she did nothing to deserve that choice.”

I held his gaze. “You know me better than anyone else,” I murmured. “And yet here we stand.”

Nino tilted his head, gray eyes narrowing. “You’re playing a dangerous game. You don’t know your opponent well enough to be sure of her choice.”

“She will choose what they all do, Nino. She’s a woman. She’s been coddled all her life. She will take the easy way. I want to hear her say it in front of that fucking camera, want Dante hear his niece offer her fucking body to me, want them all to hear it, and she will.”



Downstairs, I grabbed one of the pizza boxes before I returned to the guest bedroom in my wing. This time, Serafina sat on the bed and didn’t look up when I entered. She held the silver nightgown in her hands. “What if I refuse to wear it?”

“You can wear your nightgown for the show or be naked. Your blood will look just as enticing against your white skin as it would against the nightgown.”

A small shiver rippled through her body, and she let the piece of clothing flutter to the ground at her bare feet.

I walked closer. “Here. You haven’t eaten in more than a day.” I set the pizza box down on the nightstand.

She eyed it suspiciously. I waited for her to shove it away, to try punishing me by starving herself, like my mother had always tried with our father. It hadn’t worked with him, and it wouldn’t work with me.

“I hope it’s poisoned,” she muttered then reached for a slice and took a big bite. She chewed then raised her eyes to mine. She swallowed almost defiantly. “Are you going to watch me eat?”

Maybe breaking her wings wouldn’t be as easy as I’d thought.



Early the next morning Fabiano came over. I was doing kicks against the punching bag in our game room, needing to release my pent up energy.

He leaned against the doorframe, assessing me for a couple of heartbeats.

“Say what you’ve got to say,” I growled and landed a hard kick.

“Jerry called me into the Sugar Trap a couple of hours ago so I could deal with the mess you created. I found Simeone with his cock stuffed into his mouth. I’m not sure I want to know what happened.”

I narrowed my eyes. “If you didn’t want to know, you wouldn’t be here.”

He pushed away from the doorframe and moved toward me. “Did he touch her?”

I stopped my kicks. “He didn’t. He thought he could watch Serafina showering.”

Fabiano evaluated my face. “Where is she?”

“In bed.”

His eyebrows rose. “In your bed?”

I didn’t say anything, but I met his eyes straight on.

He sighed. “So, you ...” He searched for the right word then gave up. “I thought you wanted to use her virginity as leverage against Cavallaro and her fiancé?”

I tried to gauge Fabiano’s feelings, but he was too good at masking them. If he put that kind of effort into hiding his feelings, he would only disapprove of me taking Serafina with force.

I stalked toward him. “Do you harbor feelings for her?”

He grimaced. “Really? I have Leona. I’m not interested in Fina.”

“But you don’t like the idea of me hurting her?”

“You are Capo. You do with her whatever you want, but no, I don’t like the idea of you punishing her for something the Outfit did.”

I respected Fabiano for his honesty. Most men were too cowardly to tell me the truth to my face. “Then you should leave now because I have a call set up with Dante and her family in two hours, and Serafina will play the leading role.”

He looked away, a muscle in his cheek twitching. “I should return to Leona.”

“You do that. Go to your girl. And I will go to mine.”

“She isn’t yours, Remo. She didn’t choose you. That’s a big difference,” Fabiano said before he turned and left. I returned to the punching bag and kicked it harder than before.

Serafina

Even the next morning, the pizza lay heavily in my stomach, but at least now my stomach was churning for an