Chapter Eleven: Hotel Ambush
“Ren, get your ass up!”
Ren’s eyes popped open. Sofia was screaming obscenities in Italian, making it hard for him to concentrate on what was going on. He could feel Aurora against his body, his arm over her. He had apparently rolled over in his sleep and taken her into his arms. A loud, pop, pop, pop, sounded from the hall.
Ren jumped to his feet just as Aurora woke and stared at him.
“Get the princess and get out of here!” Sofia hollered.
“Come on, Aurora,” Ren whispered as he slid his pants on.
“What’s happening?” Aurora asked as she slid out of bed.
“Take her out, the fire escape!” Nicola hollered as he fired his gun at the door.
Aurora looked at the door with her eyes open wide as they heard a loud thud on the other side of the door. He had shot someone.
“Go,” Sofia said as she looked at Aurora.
Ren moved around the bed without pulling a shirt on and grabbed her hand.
She had a hard time pulling herself out the window in her nightshirt, but she managed with Ren’s help. A bullet hit the wall beside her head, and she screamed.
“Shit!” Ren cursed as he yanked her against him. “This won’t work,” he grumbled.
Aurora whimpered in his arms as he steadied his breathing.
“Back inside,” he whispered into her ear.
Aurora nodded, then ducked back into the hotel.
“What the hell, Ren?” Sofia asked as she turned to watch them re-enter the room.
“They’re back there too,” Ren said as he went for his shirt and pulled it over his head.
“Damn it, we can’t hold them back for much longer,” Nicola said with an angry growl.
“Then we don’t hold them back, we fight our way through them,” Sofia said as she turned to Aurora. “Are you ready, princess?”
“I can’t move very well in this,” Aurora said as she tugged on her nightshirt.
Sofia opened Aurora’s bag and tossed her a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. “Quickly,” she said as she watched Aurora.
Aurora’s cheeks burned when she realized they meant for her to change here, in front of them.
“I’ll stand here,” Ren said as he stepped in front of her to block her from the others. “Hurry,” he whispered as he watched her.
Aurora quickly pulled her nightshirt off, then pulled her t-shirt and shorts on. Once she was dressed, Ren moved to the side.
“We go, now,” Paolo said as he lifted Aurora’s bag over his shoulder.
“You lead Paolo, Ren, you stay with Aurora, Nicola, and I will have your backs,” Sofia said as she lifted the bag of guns and tossed it over her shoulder.
Ren lifted his bag up and tossed it over his shoulder, then took hold of Aurora’s hand. “Ready?” He asked as he looked down at her.
Aurora took a deep breath. “I guess as ready as I’ll ever be.”
Ren chuckled, “you’ve got this, you’re a Romano,” he said as he kissed her cheek.
She nodded, then turned and watched Paolo open the door.
“Clear,” Paolo said as he looked out into the hall. He leaned down and dragged the body away from the door, then headed down the hall.
Ren followed behind Paolo with Aurora.
Aurora saw the gun in Ren’s other hand and whimpered. This was all, too real.
Paolo stopped dead in his tracks as two men came around the corner, guns ready.
“Down,” Ren said as he pulled Aurora down and fired his gun at the two men, while Paolo pushed them against the wall and fired.
The two men fell to the floor of the hall, their guns firing at the ceiling.
“Hurry,” Paolo said as he pulled on Ren’s shirt.
“Down!” Sofia hollered as she turned and fired on the men who had come up behind them.
Ren and Aurora hunkered down as they followed Paolo. Sofia and Nicola continued firing on the men behind them as they walked backward.
“Elevator,” Paolo said when he saw the elevator.
“Shit, me!” Nicola hollered as he fell to the floor.
Ren turned and shot the man who had come from their side.
“They are determined, I will give them that,” Sofia grunted as she helped Nicola to his feet.
“Inside,” Paolo said when the elevator doors opened.
They made it into the elevator and sighed with annoyance and a bit of relief.
“Don’t let her out of your sight,” Sofia said as she reloaded her guns then looked at Ren.
Ren nodded, “never planned to,” he said as he held a shivering Aurora against him.
“Here we go, ladies and gentlemen,” Nicola said when the elevator dinged.
“You good?” Sofia asked as she looked up at him.
Nicola grinned, “you can’t keep me down, babe.”
Sofia laughed, knowing full well he’s not a man who was kept down easily, or for long.
Sofia left the elevator first. She had both her arms out with the guns in her hands as she spun around in a circle. “Clear!” She called to the others.
Ren and Aurora left the elevator together, after Paolo.
Aurora looked around the hotel entrance. It was eerily quiet.
“Down!” Sofia hollered when she spotted a few men behind the counter, coming to their feet.
Ren pulled Aurora down and covered her with his body.
“Head for the entrance,” Nicola said as he gave Ren a shove.
Ren stayed hunkered over and ran across the entrance, Aurora, at his side.
Sofia flipped over Nicola’s back as she fired at the men, who were now firing at Ren and Aurora. Nicola fired at a man who came through a door, with a large rifle in his hands.
“Stay with them,” Sofia said as she looked at Paolo.
Paolo nodded, then shot a man who was running after Ren and Aurora, then followed the two out the door.
“How did they find us?” Ren asked Paolo as he came out the door.
“Don’t know,” Paolo said with a shrug.
“Who was the person you had met with last night?” Aurora asked as she looked at Ren, then at Paolo.
“He couldn’t have…” Ren stopped talking. “Could he?”
“Shit me, I don’t know,” Paolo said as he looked down the street, “I will get van.”
“Be careful,” Aurora said.
Paulo looked at her with a smile, then turned to Ren. “Keep her safe,” he said as he pointed at Aurora.
Ren nodded, and they watched him slip into the shadows.
Aurora cringed at the sound of gunfire coming from inside the hotel. Ren pulled her into his arms as he moved away from the entrance and leaned against the wall. He looked around them, to make sure no one was out there, waiting to shoot at them.
“Ren,” Aurora cried.
“Andrà tutto bene (everything will be fine),” Ren said as he kissed her forehead.
Aurora looked up at him as a memory flashed through her mind. She was three, and in her father’s arms as he had said those same words to her. Their house burning in front of them…
“Aurora?” Ren asked as he watched her face.
She shook her head. “I’m sorry, flashback.”
They turned when they heard the sound of a vehicle. Paolo pulled the van up to the curb and looked at them from the driver’s side window.
Ren quickly moved to the van with Aurora at his side. He pulled the back door open and helped Aurora in, then pulled himself inside.
“Are we waiting for them?” Aurora asked as she stared at the hotel.
“Of course,” Paolo said as he rolled up his window.
Aurora watched as Sofia and Nicola ran through the entrance door, both of them still firing behind them as they ran.
“Go, go, go!” Sofia hollered as she and Nicola jumped into the back and closed the door.
“Are you okay?” Aurora asked as she stared at the pair.
Sofia grinned, “of course, Piccolo (little one).”
“How the hell did they find us? I know I used cash,” Nicola said as he pulled his shirt over his head.
Aurora sucked in a breath when she saw the hole in his shoulder.
Nicola looked up at her with a smile. “I have had worse, princess.”
“Why do you guys call me that?” She asked as she looked between the two who seemed to be a couple.
“Because to us, you are a princess,” Sofia said with a smile, “you are the princess of the Romano Dynasty.”
“What does that entail?” Aurora asked, confused.
The four in the van with her smiled at her.
Do they plan to tell me or just keep grinning like wild hyenas?
“Your father can explain…” Ren started to say, then stopped when he saw the look on her face.
“I’m getting tired of that excuse of not wanting to tell me anything. I told you, my father is dead.”
Sofia looked from Aurora to Ren then back again.
“No, Piccolo, your father is very much alive.”
Aurora stared at Sofia. Now she’s in on this facade? Wait, no, she has been talking as though my father is alive from the start. Hadn’t she said that my father had sent them to help? She looked at Ren. And so, had Ren, maybe, he is alive?
“Aurora?” Ren whispered as he watched the emotions play over her face.
“But why?” Aurora asked, almost crying.
“They had to protect you, Piccolo,” Sofia said as she watched Aurora.
“From the man, my father…” Aurora looked at Ren then at the others in the van. “Is my father part of the mafia or something?”
The three assassins laughed and shook their heads as Ren sat back and grinned like a lunatic.
What is wrong with these people? Aurora thought as she waited for the laughter to die down.
“No, Piccolo. He is not in the mafia. But he is a wealthy and powerful man. He had to come to America when he was a teenager to escape another family that wanted his family business and money. He worked hard to keep his family business and made even more money, here in the States.
“Then he met your mother, and you and she became more important to him than anything in the world. Knowing what true love is, he found himself helping others escape circumstances they find themselves in. Including Luigi Trevisani’s wife,” Sofia said as she smiled at Aurora.
“So, my father is a hero?” Aurora asked, genially curious about the man.
The others chuckled as they smiled at her.
“In the eyes of those he has helped, si,” Sofia said with a happy look on her face.
“He helped you,” Aurora said as she studied the woman’s face.
Sofia nodded, “when I was fifteen, my father kicked me out of the house. I was fending for myself on the streets. I had pickpocketed the wrong person’s pocket…which had also turned out to be the right person because Dom took me in, and he and your mother helped me get my act together. I owe my life to both of them.”
“You weren’t born in the US, though,” Aurora said as she studied the woman.
“What gave me away?” Sofia asked with a grin.
“Your accent is too thick,” Aurora said as she watched the woman.
Sofia grinned, “your father had come to Italy when I was fifteen, that is where he had found me. Or I had found his pocket,” she said with a laugh. “It took him a few months to get the paperwork straight, but he finally got me to America. I think his biggest problem was finding my parents and getting their permission to be my guardian. But it all worked out.”
“She also throws it on thick because someone told her that accents are sexy,” Nicola said with a shake of his head.
Sofia slapped Nicola on the shoulder. “Hush.”
“Wait, guardian. Does that make you my sister?” Aurora asked with huge eyes.
Sofia chuckled. “foster sister, si.”
Aurora couldn’t help but stare at the woman. She has a sister she never knew about, and her father is alive. Her mother has a lot of explaining to do…but hadn’t she done it like they said, to protect her? Yes, she can’t blame her mother…but should she blame her father? Why hadn’t he come for them sooner?
“Your brain is working too hard with little sleep,” Sofia said as she pulled Aurora against her side, “sleep, Piccolo.”
“You know, I’m not so little anymore,” Aurora said with a yawn.
“I know, but you will always be Piccolo to me,” Sofia whispered as she kissed her forehead.
Aurora sighed with a smile. She has a sister, and her father is alive, and they’re going there now. Her mother and brother are safe, and she’s in love… Her eyes popped open. Oh no.
“Dormire (sleep),” Sofia said when she saw Aurora’s eyes open.
Aurora nodded as she closed her eyes again.
But how will she do that when she just realized she’s in love. With the man her father had sent to protect her.
Not capture her heart and hold it for ransom.