Bound By Vengeance(14)

By: Cora Reilly

Benedetto Falcone, Father’s boss and the head of the mafia in Las Vegas, was in our house and the look in his eyes turned my stomach to ice. That he was in our living room was a horrible sign. It could only mean that Father had messed up badly. And that Father was sweating profusely only confirmed my worries.

Somewhere in the house I could still hear the telltale sounds of a brutal fight. I shivered. The men gathered in this room all looked like they’d come for blood. The dead man in the corner and upstairs in Talia’s bedroom didn’t seem to be enough.

Heavy steps came down the staircase and a few moments later Growl stalked in. His hands and forearms were covered in blood. I wasn’t sure if it was his own but I doubted it.

Falcone looked his way. “All clear, Growl?” he asked with mild curiosity, as if he knew the answer already and I supposed he did. All the stories I’d heard in whispered voices flashed through my mind.

Growl was invincible.

The man in front of me tonight had little to do with the man I’d seen at Falcone’s party. Back then Growl had been in disguise. While other people had to put on masks, that suit and cleaned up appearance had been his, but beneath it the same monster had been lying in wake. Now there was no mistaking who or what he truly was. The best soldier in the rows of the Las Vegas Camorra, and a monster. That’s what people always said behind his back and now I saw it too. He was a fighting machine without emotions, a brutal hand of Benedetto Falcone.

“All clear,” Growl said in that deep rumble that was his voice. For the first time I could see the long scar around his throat. His vocal cords had been injured by the accident that had given him the long scar around his throat. Growl shouldn’t have survived a wound like that but somehow he had, and perhaps it had turned him into the monster he was now, or perhaps he’d only survived because he was a monster.

Falcone turned away from his soldier and Growl faded into the background. I wasn’t sure how he managed to do it; a man with his size and aura shouldn’t have been able to blend into his surroundings that easily, to make you forget he was even there. That was probably one of the skills that made him such a feared fighter.

Falcone stepped closer to Father, forcing him to tilt his head back.

“I hear you’ve been busy these last few months,” Falcone began in a pleasant drawl that made the hairs on the back of my neck rise. His grin was nasty and malicious. It promised punishment.

Father swallowed, but he didn’t say anything. Why wasn’t he saying anything?

“How much of my money have you kept for yourself, Brando?” Falcone asked, still in that horribly pleasant voice.

My stomach constricted. I couldn’t believe Father had stolen from his Boss. He wouldn’t have been that stupid. Everybody knew what happened to people who messed with Falcone.

Falcone’s smile widened and he gave a small nod toward one of his man, who immediately went outside and returned a few moments later, with Cosimo at his heels, as usual impeccably dressed. What was he doing here?

Perhaps he would vouch for Father.

But Father blanched at the sight of my future husband and I knew my hope was in vain. Father looked like he wanted to say something but he remained silent.

I tried to catch Cosimo’s eyes, but his gaze didn’t once seek me out. Why was he ignoring me? We were practically engaged; our engagement party was set for the New Year. Shouldn’t he take care of me?

He was looking at father with an expression that made my stomach turn. This was going to end badly.

“Why don’t you tell me again what you told me a few days ago?” Falcone said to Cosimo, never taking his eyes off Father.

“After we’d come to an agreement about the engagement to his daughter, Brando came to me and asked me if I wanted to earn some extra money. He told me about the deal he had with the Bratva, and that he was taking money from you.”

Father didn’t say anything. I wanted to shake him, wanted to make him deny Cosimo’s outrageous claims. With every second that he didn’t, my hopes for a merciful ending to this evening disappeared. I tried to catch Cosimo’s gaze again, still hoping, and when he finally looked my way, my heart sank. There was no emotion in his eyes. He would not be my knight in shining armor today.