Defying Her Mafioso(9)

By: Terri Anne Browning


Her eyes were turned to her now free hand, her lips slightly parted as if she was panting. I counted the erratic beats of her heart from the pulse at the base of her throat. Seeing how easily I could get her to respond only made my need for her twice as bad.

“You should go now,” I told her when she just stood there, as if frozen in place. “I’m sure you have lots of shopping to do.”

Her head snapped up, her eyes narrowed in a mixture of hurt and anger, and I reminded myself that I wanted her to be pissed with me. Her hating me was easier to deal with. It made it easier to walk away.

Liar.

It wasn’t easier for me. Not even a little. Yet for her, it was simple. She didn’t speak as she walked down to the car and let Desi help her into the back seat. She sat, and kept her eyes trained straight ahead. Desi shut the door and I was able to pull my gaze from her.

“Keep them safe,” I commanded. Keep her safe, was what I meant but would never say aloud.

The men climbed into the car and I watched until it had disappeared through the gates before going back into the house. Only then did I let thoughts of Volkov reenter my mind. As I went past Vito’s men on my way to his office, they paused to let me pass, keeping even more distance between themselves and me than they normally would have.

I had that effect on most of the men I worked with—and even more that I didn’t. From the age of seventeen I’d been one of Vito’s soldiers. I’d followed my father’s lead into the Cosa Nostra, but it hadn’t been the fact that I was Benito Donati’s son that had made men start to fear me back then. Benito was Vito’s consigliere, sure, but I’d proven myself over and over again, not just to Vito, but his caporegimes as well, that I was worthy of being one of his soldiers.

Now I was a capo with my own men to command, but more often than not I was a soldier, carrying out orders that Vito only ever trusted me with. I could never wash away the blood that now stained my hands and it was one of the reasons I knew Scarlett would be better off with someone else.

Fuck. I wanted to put my fist through something when that reminder flashed through my head.

I entered the office without pausing to knock. Instead, I walked in, crossed to where Adrian Volkov was standing casually by the window, and grabbed him by the collar. Slamming him up against the wall, I got in his face, my rage vibrating through my entire body. “You ever look at her like that again and I will send your sister your head giftwrapped with your entrails.”

The only reaction Volkov gave of anger was his eyes narrowing. “Is she yours?”

I didn’t answer. Scarlett was mine, but I could never claim her. To do so would be like putting a neon target on her back. My enemies were dying to find a weakness in me, so I would never let them know that Scarlett was my only one. Even if that weren’t such a huge risk, she deserved better than a man with so much blood on his hands. Volkov had just as much, if not more.

I would kill him before I let him touch her.

“Easy, Ciro.” Cristiano put his hand on my shoulder and gave it a hard squeeze. “Volkov knows to stay away from Victoria.”

Victoria.

Fuck that shit. I didn’t give two fucks about Victoria. It was Scarlett I would gut him for.

Releasing him, I straightened my tie and stepped back, making my face go completely blank. It was time to get to work. I’d deal with Volkov later.

The Russian fixed his suit jacket, his face just as impassive as my own. “Back to business?” Vito gave a single nod. “As I was saying, I have eyes on the entire Santino family. All except for Carlo Jr. He’s a ghost as of yesterday.”

That wasn’t news to me. The Santino family was a West Coast based Casa Nostra that wanted to set up shop in New York. They didn’t have the connections or the money to take over Vito’s territory, but that hadn’t stopped them from trying. Jr had tried to marry into the Morgan family, which held about as much political pull in some circles as the Kennedys did. With their help he could have set up camp in Connecticut and slowly made his name known in New York.

Jr’s plans were now shattered, which was one of the reasons I hadn’t gotten any sleep and was now running on fumes.

“So we have no idea if that bastard is still in the area or if he’s gone back to California.” Cristiano thrust his hands into his pants pockets and glared out the window Volkov was still standing by.

“He’s not in California,” I assured him. “The Angel’s Halo MC has eyes on the Santino compound. If Jr had shown up I would’ve known by now.”

“You’re so sure of that?” Volkov lifted a bored eyebrow at me. “Aren’t the MC looking for Jr too?”