Blood doesn't betray blood ... or it shouldn't.
Those are the rules. But life doesn't always play by the rules, especially when you're a mob boss.
Tears and survival didn't mix. I'd learned that the hard way when I got kicked out of my mother's house at sixteen.
"There's something you're not telling me Dante. Why did your brother want to know what I'd overheard? What is he so eager to hide that he'd kill to do it? Specifically that he'd kill me to keep it quiet."
"Nothing that concerns you."
"The hell it doesn't! I've been beaten, choked and threatened with death. If my life is on the line for it, I should at least know what 'it' is. Level with me. Otherwise, I'll take my chances on saving my own neck."
"You'll do no such thing. And if you think you have any say in this matter Charlie, you are sadly mistaken. You'll do what I say, when I say, and how I say. Is that clear?"
The only man I ever hated more than Dante Grimaldi at that moment was the one who'd tried to rape me at sixteen, and turned my mother against me in the process.
The life – the mob life – it costs you in ways you couldn't even measure. I could forget about it for a few hours, if I forced myself to. Until something happens.
I stared down at the young woman collapsed in my arms, her head lolling heavily against my shoulder. Her hair was all over the place and her dress was askew, revealing way too much of her long legs and the soft skin of her shoulders. If anyone saw us in this position, they'd naturally assume the worst. Little would they know the reality was actually far more horrifying.
"My brother's not a f*****g ghost. Find him Matteo, or I'll find someone who can," I directed, hanging up the phone.
I knew damned well that if my go-to henchmen, Matteo and Leonardo, couldn't find my brother Stefan, chances were slim to none that anybody else could. And short of putting an actual bounty on his head, there was little I could do but wait – and hope the Colombians didn't find him before I did.
And waiting it out with Charlie underfoot was becoming the more dangerous option.
And even harder consequences.
Somewhere in the mix, I had to make a choice in order to realize my forever.