S I X
~ “A’ sottili cascano le brache—The cloak sometimes falls off a cunning man.” Italian Proverb ~
L I L L I A N A
Seducing Dominic was part of the plan. Feeling good about it wasn’t. My breath stuttered as I tried to translate the indescribable thoughts in my mind.
His power and dominance amplified within a millisecond to grasp and hold me down, to claim what was his.
A kiss is a mutual act.
But with Dominic, it was as if he was taking it, and I was the willing donor.
The taste of him lingered on my lips as I licked. It was borderline immature how I was basking on the residual moment of passion between us. My head swooned as the rapture slowly receded. No matter how much I denied - I had never been kissed the way Dominic kissed me.
Truthfully, I had never known a man who could kiss mimicking the passion of the moon for the night.
Days molded into weeks before I received the news of the grand Romano wedding that everyone was talking about, and media couldn’t get enough. Viktor Romano was marrying Mia - a woman who came out of nowhere, at least for the whole world. And those who were aware of her past never dared to breathe a word. After all, she was going to be the Queen of the Romano Empire and the wife of the most feared man in Chicago.
“He did what?” I almost yelled before Andrew squeezed my hand in warning. “Sorry. But what did you say?” I whisper-yelled this time.
With a man tailing me day and night, it was tough getting touched with Andrew expect for summoning him in the storeroom at the back of the cafe.
“You heard me,” he said. “Your father sent an informer to sniff around the Romano mansion and was caught.”
“Fuck!” I was seething. It was the stupidest move ever. “What the fuck was he thinking?”
“Dante is getting restless. He wanted some useful information, and that’s it. You refused to provide any, so he thought he could send the informer in disguise.”
“Really? And how that exactly worked for him?” I charged. I was so mad with Dante for ruining the plan I had been plotting for years.
“They have signal jammers installed all over the fucking place,” Andrew explained. “The frequency detector picked up the sound and traced it accurately before the idiot could step inside the mansion.”
“Of course it did. The place is a freaking fortress, I told you. Why do you think Dominic asked me to drop him at Sapphire instead of at the mansion?”
“Look, I know you are mad about this. But find a way to work with your father.” I had no idea why he was taking his side instead of mine.
“Then tell my father to let me deal with this shit. I am not putting my ass on the line for nothing. By the way, is that idiot dead?”
Andrew stared me for a moment, and I could easily guess the answer before he confirmed. “Marco Alessi.”
“FUCK!” This time I screeched with unrestrained rage.
One fucking wrong move would have me dead, just like my mother.
“Calm down,” he implored as if I was some brawling teenager in the middle of an outburst. “I don’t think Marco could extract any information. So far, there has been no retaliation.”
“Maybe because Viktor is busy fucking his wife! And once he’s done having his fill, how long before he acts on the information?”
“Do you want to back out?”
As if that was even an option or a choice.
I paced around the small space of the storeroom to calm myself down for a bit. “I have to be more careful in dealing with Dominic.”
Failure was a hard limit for me to admit. I couldn’t bring to accept the fact that my plan was nowhere near as it should have been with Dominic. He turned out to be as complicated as his elder brother.
“I think you are worrying too much. One week has passed since Viktor got married, and there has been no retaliation whatsoever. Even Dominic didn’t do anything suspicious. Your cover is still intact,” he assured.
The problem was: I didn’t do one fucking thing wrong, and things started rolling downhill. It wasn’t a good sign; it was disastrous.
I turned towards the door to leave before turning back last time. “Whatever happens from now, don’t pass on any information to Dante. If he wants to dig his grave, so be it.”
I watched him nod from my peripheral vision and went back to waitressing.
Dominic had the habit of annoying me with his presence but wanted nothing more right now for him to act like the horny bastard. He was taking way too long to respond, which got me thinking if my plan was going in the right direction or not.
It was a terrible pain to walk up the flight of stairs with injured ribs. Quite some time had transpired, but the pain seemed to lessen only a little in comparison.
It was more of a frustration than pain, I thought. To think that I had to pay someone to rough me up only to act like a damsel in fucking distress for the devil to play a hero, was a tragedy in itself.
In reality, it was the epitome of irony in my life.
On reaching the door, tiredness overwhelmed me, and I wanted nothing but a bed to crash down instantaneously. Stepping inside the apartment, the moment I closed the door behind me, a weird whiff of expensive cologne hit me.
On my part, the mistake was to confuse one devil with the other. Before I could make another move, I felt the barrel of a gun at my temple.
“Let’s not do anything stupid now.”
Funnily, the voice was coming from across the room, near the couch as my eyes followed. And there sat the man with a familiar pair of blue orbs, staring back at me with a predatory gaze. I wouldn’t have been so unnerved had it not been the first time in a room with him.
Sooner or later, I wanted an audience with him, but on my terms. Not the other way round, that too with a gun on my head.
“Who are you? What do you want?” I barely managed to quiver.
A dark, calculating smile flashed before he adjusted his stance on the couch. “I would have fallen for this act if you were a tad bit early in expressing your shock.” He paused for a bit of an effect. “You know who I am, Lilliana.”
I have to admit - the conviction did throw me off balance for a mighty couple of seconds before I collected my wits once again. Playing coy would only get me so far, I figured out that much.
His presence in my apartment only warrantied trouble for me if I didn’t play by his rules. So if he wanted a bone, I would throw him one.
I spared a side glance at the man holding the gun before turning to him. “Everyone in Chicago knows who you are.”
“As they should,” he added haughtily.
Cautiously, I addressed him this time. “What do you want, Mr. Viktor Romano?”
“Let’s sit and talk.”
I felt the nudge of the gun at my shoulder, urging me to walk over towards the couch. It wasn’t difficult to recognize the Marco Alessi who carried the reputation of a ‘Butcher’ in this city. Apprehensively, I sat down.
Marco lowered his gun and propped himself against a table by the door.
“It has come to my knowledge that you are quite well-acquainted with my brother,” he began, without beating around the bush.
“Unfortunately, yes,” I said with disdain and added, “might I add, he is a menace.”
Viktor chuckled a little. “Believe me; I am quite aware of that.”
“I am hoping we are not here to discuss your brother. What to do you want?” I repeated.
“A better question would be, what do you want?” he asked point blank as if he could read my intentions.
“What I want is for your family to stop harassing me. You and your brother think you can barge into my home at any time you feel like?”
He changed the subject altogether because he thought he could. “You are new to the city, Lilliana? How did you manage to recognize my brother on the day of the accident?” he inquired.
“Was it a crime to save your brother? I am beginning to think I should have left him on the road to die.”
Marco approached me in lightning speed, but Viktor stopped him with a lift of his finger. Then he glanced back at me, waiting to answer. “I am a journalism student. And media and news channels seem to love your family. Do you really have to ask?”
“Yet the news of my brother’s accident remained concealed.”
I winced on the seat as the sudden sharp pain shot through me.
“Are you still in pain?” Viktor asked out of the blue.
“The attack on you was unfortunate. I thoroughly condemn such acts of brutality on innocents, especially women. You were innocent, weren’t you, Lilliana?”
Sitting across this man, this monster, I realized he was so much more lethal than a man could ever comprehend. The veneer of civility he wore so immaculately couldn’t hide the ruthlessness in his voice.
“It might surprise you, Mr. Romano, that innocents are mostly subject to targets. Do you know why? Because cowards don’t have the b**s to fight fair.”
A slight twitch around his eyes flickered and vanished.
Viktor Romano should get one message loud and clear from this conversation: I was not his rebellious, spoilt sister or the meek wife he bedded at home or any other woman who’d cower before him.
“Did you see who attacked you?”
“No, they were wearing masks.”
This time, he smiled a little. “That’s the thing about cowards: they never reveal their name or identity. They prefer lurking around the shadows, wearing masks. They think they are clever enough to hide behind the facade of their creation.”
I gripped the seat of the couch unnecessarily tight. “Are we done here?”
“You saved my brother’s life, Lilliana. For that, I am grateful to you.”
“I would have done it for any stranger.” Not really.
“Allow me to return the favor,” he said and nodded at his enforcer.
The man pulled out a large steel box with a lock on it and placed on the table in front of me.
I looked at him, questioningly for some time. “What is this?”
“A gift,” he supplied scarcely. “You may want to open it.”
When I hesitated too long, he added, “I mean no harm to the woman who saved my brother’s life.”
Leaning forward a little with hesitation, I fumbled with the lock and yanked open the lid of the box.
To say I was shocked, would be an understatement.
A bloody, severed hand lay inside, pillowed in blocks of ice. I instantly recognized the Maori Tattoo. I’d probably admit this only once, but for the first time, I was afraid.
It was the hand of the man I had hired to rough me up, the local goon who didn’t show up to collect his payment. Now it made sense.
Fuck, how much did Viktor know by now?
Shutting the lid, I roared at him with all my might. “What kind of a sick joke is this?”
“I told you,” he calmly replied. “I condemn the attack on innocents. The man shouldn’t have attacked you so recklessly. Besides, I owed you a favor.”
Closing my eyes, I inhaled a sharp breath. “I told you that I hadn’t seen the attackers.”
“Singular,” Viktor said with finality. “You were attacked by one. Were you so scared that you didn’t realize there was only one person, not plural?”
I didn’t answer him for two reasons. One, I wanted him to win this round. Two, anything I’d say would backfire right now.
“Take this out of my sight.” Then I used the word I thought I would never use in front of Viktor Romano. “Please.”
Viktor seemed completely unfazed. He stood up and began to fix the button of his suit jacket. “I told you, it is a gift. In the future, you’d come to realize that I am not a very generous man in this regard.”
He strode towards the door but stopped midway and looked over his shoulders. “Remember one thing: this is Chicago, Lilliana. The city belongs to us. We are the judge, jury, and executioner.”
“A tyrant, you mean.”
“Sometimes democracy can be a little chaotic, too. Anyways, I am rarely wrong about certain predictions. I think we will have another chance of acquaintance, maybe under better circumstances.”
Now, this is the chapter where I want to know about your thoughts. To those of you who are not well acquainted with Viktor, you guys are in for a treat. This man is brutal to the power of infinity. And yes, you’d love him.
We all love the bad guys with a savage heart, don’t we? ;-)
Please vote and comment guys.
About the updates, I would keep them as regular as possible. <3