The vehicle comes to a stop, and I’m roughly jerked out. Luca’s strong musk cologne fills my nose. I kept him away from Laurel for a reason. Glad I can still trust most of my instincts.
“Well done, Luca! I didn’t think you could pull it off,” I hear Daddy Soritz shout.
Luca must be close because I hear him mutter, “Not so loud,” but when Soritz nears, Luca replies loudly, “Only doing my job, sir.”
There’s a slap on the back and then an order. “Take him away and give him a good reward.”
I wonder when Luca will realize that his payment is a bullet in the brain. No one wants a faithless rat in their organization. This act of betrayal isn’t going to win Kimberly’s hand in marriage. Besides, even if Soritz would give Kimberly to Luca, she wouldn’t have him. He’s good enough to fuck on the side, but you don’t marry the help.
Bright sunlight stabs my eyes when Soritz attempts to pull the hood off my head. He’s short, so it gets caught, and I have to jerk the rough black material off the rest of the way. I peer down at him in irritation.
“What’s the point of this?”
Soritz beams. “Come inside and you’ll see.”
I don’t have much choice at this point since my hands are tied and I’ve got four men surrounding me. Inside, there will be more opportunities to break free, so I follow Soritz into the concrete and glass structure he currently calls home.
Halfway up the paved path, I hear a gunshot. That damned fool.
“Couldn’t keep him around, you understand. Once a traitor, always a traitor. And for money? I’m sure you took good care of him.”
So Soritz doesn’t know. I don’t bother to correct him. What’s the point now? I didn’t refuse his offer of Kimberly before because she wasn’t a virgin. It was because I didn’t like Soritz, and I didn’t want her. Tying yourself to one person for the rest of your life requires a certain level of commitment that I didn’t think I could give to anyone before Laurel. I thought it was also a weakness. I was very wrong. If I thought I could be ruthless before, that was nothing compared to the hell I’d unleash if anyone so much as touched her.
Inside the house, someone cuts my ties. I guess Soritz wants to pretend we’re civilized or he thinks there’s enough security in this house to keep me under control. That’d be stupid of him. I take a seat in the chair across from him.
“If you wanted to make a deal, Soritz, you should have called me up. You didn’t need to go to these lengths.”
Soritz harrumphs and tugs on the bottom of his sweater. “You should have bought me a meal at our last dinner and maybe I wouldn’t have gone to these lengths.”
“I’m not marrying Kimberly. Or Sophia or your youngest. Luca should’ve told you that and saved you this trouble.”
“I don’t think you understand your situation here, Santino.” He snaps his fingers, and a gun appears at my temple. What a fool. “This is the marriage contract. Before I was going to give you a gift, but now, you’ll pay me for the privilege. I’ll take the new city block you’re building as compensation.” Another flunky lays a contract and a pen in front of me. “I want you to know that in return, I’ve taken care of the dry cleaner for you. Consider it a wedding gift.”
“You would have killed him regardless.”
“Sure, but now it’s doing double duty. Two birds one stone.” Soritz cackles.
I consider the room. There are five guards inside and four outside. All of them are armed, but only one has the gun to my head, and that gun has a magazine of eleven bullets. Enough for everyone, including Soritz, if I want.
My hand shoots up and knocks the gun out of the guard’s grip. I catch it as it falls. In one motion, I’m out of the chair and have the guard in front of me. Someone shoots and the guard takes one and then another bullet. I take out the two men standing and the one on the other side of the door. The men outside rush toward the entryway. The guard at the front ducks behind a marble pillar and shoots at me. My human shield takes the brunt until I find my own protection behind a similar pillar.
“Soritz,” I shout, “call off your men before it gets messier than it already is.”
“Fuck you, Santino!”
A few chips of marble fly by my face as bullets pummel the pillar. I peak around and take out the shooter. Out of the corner of my eye, I glimpse something moving down a hall perpendicular to me. I shoot at it and hear a grunt and then a fall. I’m down to four bullets. I duck and roll across to the man I just shot and pilfer his gun. A quick check of the magazine reveals eight bullets. Definitely enough to get me out of here.