E I G H T
D O M I N I C
As a universal belief, our family was under the impression that marriage and honeymoon would do some good to my brother, but it turned out that Viktor was still the same asshole we knew and was forced-to-tolerate.
Therefore, the lovely honeymoon venue did nothing for him. Among other gifts, Mia and Viktor have been gifted a private island in Ireland—Mermaid Isle, something my mother long arranged for her would-be daughter-in-law. Mom was the only one who truly believed that her beloved elder son would find the love of his life, and I loved her too much to break the notion.
Now, well, the joke was on me because Viktor did manage to find the love of his life.
But his heart had nothing to do when it came to our business.
“Why Eugenio Ricci is still alive, then?” he asked over lunch, upon learning how the man in question—Eugenio Ricci—failed to account for three more casinos under his name. On top of that, there were rumors of him being involved with the Cartel.
The reason my father detested working with the Cartel was that they were lousy and reckless in every aspect.
We, The Romanos, have already rebuilt the business, making ourselves look like the finest, wealthiest family in the city, with an abundance of political power. Our control over the drug and the arms trade were solidified long before Viktor took over and with the plenty of cash flow from the clubs, chain of restaurants, casinos, the shares in the multi-national companies, we achieved all that we wanted to—money, power, and control of the city. Not exactly in that order.
Therefore, nothing in this city happened without our knowledge and approval, and for some ignorant reason, Eugenio Ricci seemed to have forgotten that when he was dealing with the Cartel behind our back.
“I require substantial information, and the exact amount he laundered,” I replied, motioning for the server to serve the next course. “So, I would know exactly how much I should torture him.”
“If you must torture him, Dominic, you might want to speed up your plan,” Mia said out of the blue, making both me and Viktor snap our gaze on her.
I didn’t know about Viktor, but I felt like I have been knocked flat on my ass.
“Huh?” That was all I could say.
She coolly looked up to me. “Ezio Ricci, the younger brother, as well as the wife, Cosima Ricci, wants Eugenio dead was quicker than you think.”
“Huh?” This time it was Viktor.
Her gaze traveled as she continued. “Ezio is having an affair with Cosima. Apparently, Eugenio can neither handle his business nor his wife.”
Sure, the news was something. But what shocked me more was the informant—the sweet, innocent girl my brother happened to marry. I believe my brother, too, was stupified enough to lose his voice, while I managed to formulate something.
“Mia, wait a second. How do you even know about it?”
“Listen to this,” she said and fished out her phone. She played a recorded conversation as the voices sounded pretty clear.
“...principessa, tu sei mia. Non mi importa del mio fratello stronzo. He will be dead as soon as the contract is finalized. And then, we won’t have to meet like this. Moreover, Eugenio is leaving for New York tomorrow so you can sleep in my room.” (Princess, you are mine. I don’t care about my asshole brother.)
“No, è il Mexico. He lied to you, but I heard him talking to someone over the phone in the bathroom. He thought I was sleeping.” (No, it’s Mexico)
“Are you sure about it?”
“Yes. Eugenio was pretty anxious; he was constantly talking about some kind of deal. Do you have any idea about it?”
“No. But I will find out soon.”
Mia took the phone and clicked on the pause button. “That was Cosima Ricci and Ezio.”
Viktor exchanged a stunned look with me, and I have to say this, that was the first time I literally saw my brother ashen. I would have savored the moment a bit more, but even I was equally speechless.
“How did you get this recording?” Viktor quizzed.
“Remember the party we held for the cause of ‘Charity for Homeless Women’ last week?” she asked, as I slowly recollected the event.
Mia was gracefully portraying the role of the ideal American wife of the prominent, powerful businessman of Chicago. Charity events, dinner parties, press releases—she was handling them with the help of a PR team. Although it wasn’t entirely true—our father, Alessandro Romano, had a massive role to play in transforming her.
“Cosima talks a lot,” she explained. “She was going on and on about Ezio, and I had an inkling. So when she was drunk enough to blabber non-stop about her twelve-carat emerald cut diamond ring, I bugged her phone, which was quite a cakewalk considering her password was: ezioricci.”
Amused, I looked at Viktor and realized that he clearly didn’t share my delightfulness at the situation.
“Do you have any idea what you have done? These women are the wives of shady businessmen and corrupt politicians. They are dangerous, to begin with.”
“More dangerous than us?” Mia retorted.
“Who taught you bugging phones in the first place?” Viktor asked, irritated.
Perhaps, my brother never imagined Mia in this way—sly and calculated, mirroring his inner self. He was so enthralled in her innocence that he couldn’t come to terms with this sudden promptness and failed to look at the larger picture, that she, on her part, was acting as the true queen of this empire.
And conducting herself as one, Mia nodded at the servants around the dining table as they quickly scampered away, closing the large wooden door behind them, and ensuring the privacy to three of us.
It was then Mia turned to Viktor with a pointed look. “What’s your point, Viktor? So, you are okay with me dressing pretty, painting portraits that are not even half as good as you so elegantly praise—”
“They are good—” Viktor interrupted but was quickly cut in.
“No, they are not!” Mia said decisively, condescending as a brilliant woman might. “Viktor, you promised me; you will let me be whatever I want to be, and I chose to be your wife. And I can’t be the wife of Viktor Romano and remain sheltered inside this manor. I have no intention to poke my nose in your business, but I am not going to act like a mannequin.”
The food lain before us was long forgotten by now.
“Can I say something?” I intervened slowly, glancing between them. “I think Mia is right.” Viktor kicked my leg under the table, hard, only to earn a fierce glare from his wife, as I continued, much against his liking. “The PR team wasn’t good enough, anyway. Since your marriage, and Mia taking over the workings of the Romano Foundation, it has done us more good than ever. But Mia,” I turned to her with a smile, “I really have to ask you this: how did you even manage to bug Cosima Ricci’s phone?”
Beaming proudly, she answered, “James taught me.”
Viktor slammed his fist on the table, clacking the cutlery, and muttered, “That damn punk-ass! I swear to God, someday I will—”
“You will leave the kid alone, Viktor!” Mia glared at him, as she was the only who could and evidently shut my brother.
Serious-part aside, it was becoming one of the brightest days of my life as I got to witness someone, as overpowering and stubborn as my brother, shutting him up effectively. Something Sammy and I longed to do for years.
At the moment, I missed my sister, Sammy. We could have grabbed a bucket of popcorn and watch my brother glare and then cower before Mia. It would have been a scene to remember!
“What?” Viktor snapped at me, directing his misguided wrath. “It’s not funny!”
Oh, it was funny, alright.
Unconsciously, I was grinning—not even smirking—sitting right at the table in front of them.
“I am done,” Mia said tersely, before rising and excusing herself from the table. My gaze followed her gait stomping out of the room and returned to Viktor’s since only both of us remained.
“Can you pass me the lamb?” I requested him. “It’s quite delicious.”
Viktor seethed absent-mindedly. “I can’t believe this...”
“Dad did this behind my back.”
“No, he didn’t,” I corrected him. “The chef skewered the lamb.”
“I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT YOUR STUPID LAMB!”
“That’s because you haven’t tasted it! Now pass me the goddamn lamb, Viktor!”
Instead, he angrily threw the napkin across the floor. I realized he wasn’t going to pass me the lamb, so I rose and helped myself.
“Did it ever occur to you that you’re a control freak?” I asked him, pouring myself a glass of red.
“Yes. And that’s how I usually function.”
“Yeah, well, that’s about to change. You are a married man now, and you have a wife whose rules you have to abide by.”
He snapped at me as if I had suggested to castrate him. “Those women, even though they are nothing but plastic and dumb, are a hell lot vindictive. And Mia is still sensitive about her past. I can’t help but get worried. I...” he stopped for a moment. “I can’t lose her, Dominic.”
Of all the conversations I had with Viktor in our lifetime, this was perhaps the most honest confession he made about himself. From his words, it was quite evident that it wasn’t a chauvinistic bastard speaking but a concerned, loving husband: a husband who loved his wife far more than he loved himself and the very thought of losing her unnerved him.
“I have said this to you before, and I am going to say this to you again, until and unless you get it through your thick skull: Mia is a lot stronger than you think. She is smart and patient, unlike you. And also, a quick learner. Mia is the best thing that happened to you, Viktor, so at least try to be the best man in her life.”
Viktor nodded thoughtfully, lost in himself, and I could tell that he was struggling a lot in coming to terms with the development. Eventually, we took our conversation to one of the closed rooms upstairs. Against my brother’s sour mood, I had to admit the recorded conversation between Cosima Ricci and Ezio was gold. There was no way the affair would come up on our radar. After we had listened to the recording a couple of times, skipping forward the portion where they both screamed like horny chimpanzees while having sex, Viktor and I came to a conclusion that there’s more to this than met the eye.
“So, what do we do? Kill Eugenio or wait for his brother to finish the job for us?” I asked, skimming through the casino’s accounts on the iPad.
“Put extensive surveillance on three of them—Eugenio, Ezio, and the woman.”
Viktor grabbed the iPad from my hand and pulled out a record. “Look at this. Cosima Ricci was Cosima Juárez before marriage.”
Smirking, I quoted an Italian proverb, “If the wife sins, the husband is not innocent.”
“Exactly,” said Viktor and continued. “According to sources, she inherits something around 35 million from insurance upon the death of her husband. An amount which is nothing to a woman who loves to brag about her twelve-carat diamond ring. Moreover—”
We were abruptly interrupted as the door of the room opened wide and in walked Mia, wearing an expression befitting of a woman scorned as Shakespeare had envisioned.
She marched closer to Viktor, outstretching her palm, and demanded, “I believe you have my phone. Give it to me.”
Viktor grabbed her hand, pulling her to himself, as she collided against him, and bound in his arms.
“Viktor—Ugh! Damn it...”
His smooth gaze shifted from Mia, who was wriggling to set herself free from his grip and gave me the exact I-need-alone-time-with-my wife-to-make-it-up-to-her look.
Grinning, and on cue, I rose from the chair. “I will let you kids settle the score.”
On my way out, I heard her confused voice. “What score? And you—” The interruption, I could only guess, was Viktor’s version of shutting her up with a long, hard kiss.
I was about to get inside the car when my phone vibrated, indicating a text message from someone I wasn’t expecting to hear from. Ever.
It read: ”How well do you know Sophia Bianco?”
Now, what in the name of colorful hell was this?
I have long planned to do a chapter like this where Mia is so much more than a damsel in distress for Viktor. Both on Inkitt and Wattpad, I saw a lot of you requesting for a chapter like this, and the reason I didn’t do a bonus scene was that there would some powerful scenes of her in this book.
Even though I intend to keep The Monster’s Nemesis as a standalone, if I happen to give references from TMA, I will make sure you guys don’t have a problem in following through.
Having said that let me know of your thoughts and feelings on the characters.
The next update will be on 20th July. Lots of love and hugs to you all! ❤️❤️❤️
P.S. The Italian translation were done by Google because I don’t speak that language. So, please feel free to correct me if you can.