We make our escape while the crowd continues to go wild. Bets are trying to be placed for my next fight, which isn’t even scheduled yet.
Killian rounds on me the moment the door is closed behind us. “What the fuck was that Cahira?” His hands are on my tank top, ripping it off my body. He’s not gentle. At least not until his eyes land on the bruise already forming on my ribs. Shit. I’m guessing two are broken, and a third is fractured. It’s not the first time it’s happened. But it feels like the worst. “He could have killed you. Why the fuck didn’t you dodge? You’re better than this.”
“Easy Kill.” Grady says, trying to defuse the tension. It doesn’t work. Killian takes a step away from me and whips the nearest chair against the wall. It’s wood and splinters apart like it was made of glass.
I get it. I do. Killian cares for me. Is protective of me. If the punch had been any harder, a rib bone could have punctured my lung, or a hit like that to the head could have meant lights out. Permanently.
“I didn’t do it on purpose Killian.” I say. There isn’t any reasoning with him when he’s like this, but still I try.
He spins around and pins me with a glare that would send grown men to their knees in submission. “Bullshit.” He stalks closer to me again. Stopping when his face is inches from mine. “You have a fucking death wish. I’ve respected your need for secrets in the past, but I’m done.” I open my mouth to retort. Before I can utter a word, he is continuing. “I want a fucking name. Someone hurt you. I’ll fucking kill them. Just give me a name.”
“No.” I mean for it to come out sounding stronger than it did. Clearing my throat and pulling my shoulders back, I start again. “It doesn’t matter Killian, it’s in the past. I’ve moved on.”
Grady surprises me by being the one to speak next. “No, you haven’t. You tried to bury that shit. Don’t even try to deny it. Killian and I can recognize it, cause we’ve done that shit too. But let me tell you, it never fucking works.”
“It’s working just fine for…” I was going to say me, but the word is cut off when the air freezes in my lungs. Killian has his hand pressing into my fresh bruise. The pain is blinding. Literally. I see stars swirling where his face should be.
“Like I said. Bullshit. You wanted the pain. You like the pain.” He says as he pulls his hand away and replaces it with an ice pack I don’t remember him grabbing.
My mind has been a mess all week. It’s this time of year. It’s a painful reminder of what I can never have. The pain in my ribs continues to throb. It’s has a direct line to my mouth, and I snap. “Yes. I like the pain. I love the pain. It’s the only thing that normally forces my mind to shut up.” I slump against the wall and drop to the ground. I bring my knees up as much as my ribs allow. I want to crawl into a ball and cry. I won’t. I can’t. I haven’t cried in years. “It’s not working anymore.”
Killian takes a seat to my right. Grady on my left. “You aren’t alone anymore. You don’t have to be scared of the shadows anymore. They can’t get to you with us.” I lean into Killian. Absorbing his words. They are the same ones he said to me when the nightmares used to wake me up in the dead of night, screaming.
“It’s not the shadows that still plague me. I know you’ll keep me safe from them. It’s the what-ifs. There is a constant stream of scenarios running through my head. Every variable of how my life might have been.”
“You never got closure.” Adds Grady. Understanding swims in his eyes.
I shake my head. No. I never did. There was a lot of things I never got.
Things that went unsaid.
SITTING AT MYcomputer in the corner of the Don’s office, I’m only partially listened to Massimo in the background grumbling about the female prisoner in the basement. The family has a strict no women or children are to be harmed policy.
Unfortunately the sentiment wasn't unanimously accepted among the ranks. In fact, the worst offender had been Santo. That bastard. We only recently learned of his deception. It seems every day we are discovering new ways he fucked with all of our lives. Controlling us like a puppet master, and we were completely oblivious.
I’m glad he’s dead. In fact, I want to bring him back to life just to kill him again. The asshole had been manipulating and double crossing us. He was stealing from the family. Using our territory as a hunting ground for the Cartel’s human trafficking ring.
His betrayal goes back decades. Twenty years ago he even ran the Don’s high school sweetheart, Violet, out of the city while she was unknowingly pregnant.
Once Santo had learned of the baby, he sent men after them both. He knew the child had claim to the throne. If the council ever found out, his plans would have been ruined. Funny enough, they were ruined by the very child he tried and failed to murder. Repeatedly.
It turns out the child was a girl. Elena. The Don only found out about her when she broke into the compound and snuck into his office. She hadn’t tripped a single alarm. Crazy woman had drawn a gun on her own father. Right before she kicked Luca’s ass. Well, nuts actually.
Her arrival and the Intel she brought with her set off a shit storm of problems. A necessary shit storm. Turns out she is even better with computers than me, and had a whole hard-drive full of evidence on Santo, as well as a handful of rats in our ranks. Men who only claimed to be loyal, but turned on us for a couple of zeros in their bank account.
We eliminated Santo, and as many of the rats as we could find. We know there are a few we’ve missed or have gone underground. It’s why Massimo kidnapped the woman in the basement. She’s been spotted all over town with our enemies. Many of whom have turned up dead days later. She’s either a black widow, or she’s working for someone. Until we know who, and if she’s a threat to us, Massimo will be keeping her.
With the return of Violet, and the discovery of Elena, the marriage contract Luca had with Milan was dissolved. Luca needed to marry the first-born daughter in order to take the throne. Elena wasn’t thrilled about the idea. She didn’t want to settle down. She had been on the run her entire life. The thought of staying in one place scared her. It’s why Luca keeps a pair of handcuffs in his pocket. She’s run once on him already. With the wedding tomorrow, he’s even more on edge.
“Let me take a crack at her.” Pipes in Elena.
Immediately Luca is on his feet. “No.” You can see his hand itching to grab his handcuffs.
“Why not? It makes sense. Massimo doesn’t want to hurt a woman. I’m a woman. I don’t mind hitting one.”