Prologue: The Past
It has been about an hour and my father has not stopped screaming at us for being idiotic children of his. He was right to get mad and say that. I mean, my brother did dare me into standing at the edge of the highest building for five minutes because he knew my fear with heights. If I did it, I would finally get the brown leather jacket he’s grown to care about.
Stupid, dangerous bets was our thing to actually have fun. It just so happens that at this bet, I might’ve gotten too close to death than we all had liked. The ground I had stepped on was too slippery—neither of us knew that. Still, I wasn’t about to be a pussy and back out. I stood over the edge, almost vomiting onto the empty sidewalk when I accidentally looked down.
To be honest, I would have rather be vomiting at the edge rather than almost falling and being grabbed by my brother, having me dangle—I don’t even know—something feet in the air. All I know was screaming for him not to let me go and him screaming for Stefano and Francesco, our bodyguards, to help him carry me back. I ended up getting angry at him because he wouldn’t be screaming for their help if he hadn’t convinced me to lose them while we were betting.
I just thank the God that they managed to find us and grabbed my wrists, helping Carlo pull me back up.
And because they are bodyguards that my father has hired, they’re also tattletales. As soon as it happened, the second we got into the car, Francesco called Papa and ratted us out. Now, we’re in our father’s office, being yelled at like we were just called by the principal.
”Gesù Christo!” Papa curses, raking his hair with two of his hands. “You two are old enough not to risk your lives anymore. Carlo, do you realize that you almost killed your sorellina for that stupid bet you have created, yes? And you—” he turns to me, his face red from anger. “—you know damn well you’re afraid of heights and that’s how you chose to conquer it? By dangling yourself like an ornament at a Christmas tree?”
There was no doubt that even if my father was angry, he was still quite hilarious.
Carlo nods at him. He never fought my father back. As the successor, he was trained to be obedient and loyal. If he made wrongful decisions, he doesn’t have a say for what my father could do to him. Sometimes, I hated seeing him never defend himself. Even if it wasn’t his fault, he would take every jab my father would give to him.
“Papa,” He faces me again, narrowing his eyes in warning. He didn’t need to tell me to be careful about what I would say, I could easily see it. “It was stupid but it was my fault for agreeing to it. I am sorry we almost gave you a heart attack but we were just having fun. We never got to do it anymore.”
He was seething, ready to stomp on me. That’s the thing, my father and I were much alike—having the same temper and having the same aggressive nature. We always clashed over many things and got along with the little things. “Milana Laila Isabela—”
Our heads whip to the sound of my mother’s voice. She was dressed in black—shirt, blazer, slacks, and even her heels. Ivory Sandrova always carried herself highly and classy. She knew how to make an entrance and when she needed, I almost jump in excitement. Our father’s wrath always came into a halt in the presence of our mother, she was a Latina who had a patience of a nun and when angered, has the same attitude like Papa and I. Only, she’s much more vicious.
“We already concluded that it was a stupid bet,” Mama’s voice was soft, a thing she would always do when she’s trying to stop the fight from going bigger. “And I know you two well to know that you won’t stop doing reckless things. Just be more responsible and hopefully, your father will still have hair in his scalp by the time you two turn into full-grown adults.”
“Ivory—” Papa starts but he stops when he sees Mama’s palm facing him.
She then crosses her arms, hugging herself as she faces me with a disappointed look. “You’ve always been a troublemaker, Mila. Now you see how far it can go. You almost lost your life and if your brother hadn’t caught you, we’d be preparing your funeral.”
“I know, Mama,” I say in defeat. “I’m sorry.”
Mama nods to the door. “Don’t you two have somewhere to go? Go. No more shenanigans, comprende?”
Carlo and I speak in unison. ”Si, mama.”
We scurry out the door like rats caught in the light. Carlo lets me out first before he closes the door behind him and wrapping his arms around me.
I’m still for a while, taken aback by the gesture. Soon, I’m wrapping my arms around his back. “What’s this, Carlo? Were you actually afraid for me?”
“Of course I was, you asshole,” he slaps me lightly at the back. “Be sure to carry your knife with you when you go to Paradise.” Before I could even tell him to shut up and ask him how he knew, we pull away from one another, answering me with a smirk in his face. “Nadine has a crush on me, remember? Yesterday, you fell asleep in the car as we were dropping her off. She talks too much and spills too many information. She mentioned Paradise.”
Ugh. I’m going to kill that girl! She knew damn well that Carlo already has a girlfriend, Polly, and she’s still pursuing him like a lost puppy and telling all of their plans to him. “Listen, Carlo—”
He waves his hand dismissively. “Say no more, I have your back. Just remember the knife, okay? You know damn well Paradise is run by Lorenzo.”
Ah yes, Guiseppe Lorenzo, an evil, maniacal mafia boss that wanted my father’s head because he viewed that he stole my mother from him when they used to be together. Not only that, but he claims that my father stole from him in order to become a high-ranking mafia boss, like him. Even as I’m twenty years old and my brother is now twenty-three, he could never just let the grudge go.
It’s why we’ve been kept in false identities and we don’t have any record of our face being in the system. My high-school year book, pictures that friends has taken with me, and pictures that the college has of me—it’s all gone into dusts and no one even knows it.
Pulling the switchblade I keep at the back pocket of my pants, I smile at him. “Always have it.”
Nadine was already yelling and she hasn’t even drunk three shots of tequila yet. Just two. She was wearing a skimpy, nude dress that made sure to give an extra push to her small breasts and give out a cleavage. Her five-inch heels made her as tall as me even if I was only wearing three-inches. To be honest, the only thing I had against her was bigger boobs and taller height.
She had almond-shaped dark brown eyes that matched her long sleek hair, and placed a frame in her diamond shaped face. Her lips were thin and naturally red, her body was curvier than mine, and she definitely didn’t have freckles. I’ve always hated my how my hair is curly and if I don’t take care of it well, it’ll end up frizzy; and I definitely hated my freckles. But, she made me hate them less because she always envied them.
In her second shot, she was already tipsy. “Come on! Let’s go dance!”
My nose crinkles at the sight of the people at the dance floor. Grinding one another, openly groping, and even having to do a sexy dance towards the floor. I loved parties, don’t get me wrong. The occasional getting drunk part was the only thing I liked about it, and hooking up if ever I saw someone that peaked my eyes, of course.
Shaking my head, I lean over the bar. “Uh-uh. Go have fun. Find me when you’re ready to call a cab and go home!”
With little running steps, she giggles at me before leaving a slobbering kiss on my cheek, making me almost gag at her the stench of her mouth. “Damn, girl. You’re turning frisky in just two shots. Don’t take any more if you still want to find me, okay?”
“Okay!” She shouts out, waving her hand before disappearing somewhere.
Turning to my scotch, I pick up the glass and let the cool alcohol burn my throat. When my eyes glance up, I accidentally meet the bartender’s. He was staring at me intently with his blue eyes, grinning at me like the Cheshire cat in the Alice in Wonderland books my mom used to read to me when I was a kid.
Cute. I’ll bite.
I lean over, making sure to prop up my tits at the table as I pick my glass up, waving my finger. “Hi, can I get another one?”
He was about to approach me, the Black Label already in his hands when he stops, the second my glass leaves my hand.
Spinning the stool I was sitting at, I’m met with bright silver eyes. He was definitely taller than me, I could tell even if I was sitting. Maybe close to six-foot, or six-foot-two. That’s what I figured his height was. His height was nothing compared to his body. His shoulders are broad, the sleeves of his tucked dress shirt hugging his arms tightly to reveal the strong biceps, and his bulging pecks.
Don’t even get me started at his face. First of all, silver eyes. Next, his long nose, and pink lips that had Cupid’s bow shape in them. Dios mío, this man... I could lick him up all over. That would definitely happen if it weren’t for him stealing my favorite drink in the world.
He pushes the glasses to his nose, smelling the alcohol. “Scotch whisky, huh?” Damn, the man spoke with such huskiness, I think my panties could just drop. Not to mention that alluring Italian accent of his. “Are you even old enough to drink these kinds of stuff? Did you even check her ID, Dimitri?”
“I didn’t—” the bartender, Drimitri, stutters. “I’m sorry, Boss.”
My eyes narrow at him. Boss. He called him his boss and the Italian accent. No, this isn’t Guiseppe. That man is older than my father, the man in front of me can’t be more than twenty-four or twenty five. Which means...
I was standing right in front of the successor of the Lorenzo. The man who would inherit all of Guiseppe’s trains, and possibly, his enemies. Which means that the opportunity to kill him is already opening.
“Hmm. Boss, huh?” I pretend to giggle, making sure to keep his eyes on my own, never letting him see my hand slipping to my back as I stood and pretended to tumble. He caught me with one of his free hand, holding me by the arm. “Don’t you look to young to be a boss?”
The switchblade was in my pocket and I slightly thank myself that I decided to wear shorts instead of dress. If I did, I would have forgotten the knife in the first place.
His head turns to the voice behind him and I watch as a younger version of him walks towards us. The only difference between the two of them was this one was lean, slightly shorter than him, and had green eyes. I could tell immediately that this was the brother. Little brother from how he looked—maybe seventeen.
I place the switchblade back. I wasn’t going to win if ever I decided to attack his brother.
“Pops wants me to go back,” his eyes land on the glass in Silver Eyes’ hands, and then to my arm, and then to me. He tilts his head a little, pointing at me. “Who is this?”
“I’m—” I pretend to hiccup, pointing at nothing in the air. “Oh look, pretty lights.”
Silver Eyes pulls me closer, making sure that I was steady in his hand. Before I knew it, he switched his language to Italian. “An underage girl who decided to whore around in our club.”
My ears perk up at the word whore. Immediately, my façade falls and I jerk my arm away from him, standing all too well like the sober person I was. The two of them stare at me with wide eyes but I was only looking at Silver Eyes. He was captivating and I couldn’t help but be angry at myself to feel that way about him. Still, I hadn’t lost my self-respect and dignity. ”Stronzo. See, I can do it too, huh?”
They could only stare at me. Checkmate.
“Dimitri,” he doesn’t glance anywhere else. He only stares at me while he holds out the glass that still had a little bit of Scotch left. “Take it.” Dimitri almost leaps out of his side just to reach the glass and take it away. “Alessandro, get back to Pops. Afterwards, get back here to pick me up.”
I could see his brother’s, Alessandro, smirk as he tries to hide it by placing his hand over his mouth. “Got it.”
Once his brother leaves my sight, Silver Eyes moves closer to me. I maybe tall, five-foot-nine, tall but the way he still towered over me made me almost cower down to the ground. Almost. I am a Sandrova, after all and we do not back away from a fight.
In this case, from some incredibly handsome man that would probably be the cause of my family’s downfall.
“I see you know how to speak Italian,” the way his accent purrs out every word, I wouldn’t be too surprised if he has groups of people throwing themselves at him. “and you just pretended to be drunk. A normal twenty-year-old would pretend to be sober and wasn’t drinking the scotch. There’s something about you that’s not right.”
It was all too clear that he’s on to me. I know that.
“Just because you’re a giant who runs this place, doesn’t mean you get to treat me like shit. Calling me a puttana was a line you did not want to cross.” I spit, crossing my arms. I tell myself that I’m doing it to look closed-off or to look harsh but in reality, it was just an excuse to hug myself because I’m about to shit my pants if he figures out who I am. He takes a step forward and I flinch. “Step back if you don’t want to get kneed in the groin, stronzo.”
He doesn’t listen. Instead, of taking a single step, he takes several, enough to pin me on the wall of the club by grabbing me by the waist, never letting me go. “Such mouth you have, rosa.”
I don’t even notice his hand is on my ass until he slaps it. My hand raises to slap him. It never lands on him because he catches my wrist in his hands. Before I can use my other hand, he raises the hand he used to slap my ass, holding out my knife with my last name in it.
I would kill papa right now if I could. It was a stupid idea to give me a knife with my last name in it. You would think as the leader of a mafia, he’d be smart in giving presents.
“Sandrova, huh?” Silver Eyes grins wickedly. “My father’s looking for a leverage to get what is ours. I guess it is you, rosa, huh?”
“I will kill you,” I sneer. “Do not call me rose again.”
“No, I don’t think you will be able to kill me, rosa."
I know I should’ve kneed him or head-butted him. He should have tied me up and brought me back to their estate to be awaited trial that his father would judge. Instead, he never lets my wrist go, pulling me upstairs, a floor where only VIPs are supposed to be.
We took a room and just slept with one another.