For Cesare

By: Soraya Naomi

CHAPTER 1




Cesare – present day





I MAKE MY WAY THROUGH the crowd in this palatial white mansion on the outskirts of East Hampton Village to greet my boss in the back of the sunken living room. The entire crew is here, including all the high ranking members of the New York Syndicate: Michael, the boss; me, the underboss; Luciano, the counselor; and the captains.

Everyone’s in attendance with either his spouse or a date for the announcement of Michael’s wedding. My date is trailing behind me.

“Michael,” I greet him, standing near the fireplace, and stop next to him.

“We’re waiting for Joey,” Michael says, buttoning up his expensive, tailored suit, with his slender, blonde fiancée, Rachel, standing beside him.

Suddenly, a prickling awareness raises the hairs on the back of my neck, and I turn my head to Joey as he approaches us.

Behind him is his companion, and my blood turns ice-cold when I recognize the beauty in a skin tight blue dress with black hair just as dark as mine and ashy-grey eyes.

What the fuck is Kinsey doing here?

She’s the last person I ever expected to see again. And she’s also the one person who’s never escaped my memory. But as underboss of the New York Syndicate, I must retain my composure.

She’s looking around and smiling, and then her eyes widen as they land on me.

I cock my head to her, and she freezes.

It’s been five long years since I’ve seen her, and her presence affects me still. Time is suspended while emotions rage inside me. I grit my teeth, going to Joey and her. Holding my self-control is impossible as I’m reunited with my best and oldest friend. The girl I’ve known since I was twelve. The woman I’ve cursed as much as I’ve loved her.

Kinsey steps behind Joey while he’s in conversation with another man, and I grab her arm, towering over her with my six feet of height. “What the hell are you doing here?”

She tries to break free but sways on her legs and slurs, “Get your hands off me!”

Is she drunk?

After releasing her arm, I hiss, “You don’t belong here—”

My rant is interrupted by a loud bang. Then shots ring out, and mayhem ensues. Ducking down, I snatch my Smith & Wesson from the back waistband of my pants where it’s hidden underneath my suit jacket. And I pull Kinsey down with me, shielding her with my body while pushing her to hide behind the white leather sofa. People scream and dodge behind furniture while uninvited men barge inside Michael’s house, smoke and glass bursting around us as they recklessly spray the room with gunfire. Kinsey is hunched down beneath me, vibrating in shock, as I cock my gun, peek over the couch, and fire. But shooting is proving to be difficult with our own people running around.

“Cesare?!” I hear a man calling me.

I turn my head to the hall, and one of our soldiers slides an automatic weapon across the floor. Hurriedly, I snatch it up and fire a round.

He then gives our other members new weapons, and bullets fly free while everything around us is in chaos. Smoke drifts before my eyes, and I keep covering Kinsey.

Abruptly, I hear a loud roar and crane my neck to see Michael, kneeling and pressing his hand on his fiancée’s chest that’s covered in blood while my captains kill two men.

“You stay here!” I order Kinsey.

She lifts her head and nods unsteadily.

Inching around the couch, I shoot two more attackers while spotting many dead bodies.

“Stop! We’ve got them!” One of my captains shouts as the last shot rings out.

Keeping my gun aimed, I rise while checking left and right. Blood covers the windows and floor tiles. Other members continue to target their weapons as we peruse the room.

“Go check the other areas of the house,” I order four captains.

Then I hurry to Michael, who’s sitting quietly on the floor with a dead Rachel in his lap.

My gaze flies to the couch where Joey is now with Kinsey. Focusing is proving to be difficult when I want to smash him for touching her face. But I have more important matters at hand.

“Michael...” I crouch down, just as he explodes, his features set in a hard line.

“What the fuck happened?! Who were they? Lock this fucking place right now. No one leaves!” He rises and lifts Rachel onto the couch. “Look what they did! Are any of the attackers alive? I want one alive. Everyone to the living room!”