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His Queen

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How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand… there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep, that have taken hold. Losing the man you love can cause you to also lose yourself. How do you navigate a life that no longer feels like your own? How do you push through every day and pretend as if nothing happened? You stand tall, straighten your crown and move forward like the Queen you are. Part two of The Mafia Wars Series follows Bailey Underwood Albertine as she learns to live without Erik and the hole he left behind in her heart. With all the options laid out before her, which will she choose? Part two of The Mafia Wars Series.

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Chapter 1 - Desperation

This is Book Two of The Mafia Wars. I highly recommend reading the first book before starting this one. Enjoy.

At the last second, Bailey lifted the gun slightly, letting the bullet out of the chamber and it lodged itself into the wall. She had spared Erik’s life. For a brief moment, she looked at Erik on his knees in front of her. His eye meeting hers, his full of hope yet hers were emotionless. Then she walked away from the man she thought she had loved without a second glance.

“My daughter may not have the stomach for it, but I do,” Gregory said as he removed his gun from his holster. “You messed with the wrong family.” He aligned his gun with Erik’s forehead, meaning to finish what his daughter hadn’t.

“Wait! There’s an external hard drive in my back pocket. It has everything I collected on it.” Erik urged Gregory to take it. “I’ll give you everything I have.”

Tim, one of Gregory’s men, pulled the hard drive out of Erik’s pocket and inserted it into his laptop. After a few minutes of checking the info, he motioned for Gregory to take a look. “See that, right there.” He pointed at the screen.

Gregory scrunched his nose and impatiently looked at Tim. “The last timestamp was two months ago.”

“So?” Robert spat in anger.

Jake chuckled, surprised that he saw something his father didn’t. “So he could have brought Bailey, us, down a long time ago but he didn’t.” Jake couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Under all the lies and the deceit, was a man truly in love. Erik was protecting Bailey in his own screwed-up way. “If you already had all of the information then why are you here tonight?”

“I was taking all the information I could find so I could destroy it. That was the only way to keep my uncle from sending someone else for it. When I realized that he had also sent Henry in, I knew that if I was unsuccessful, then he would just send more people for the information.”

“Why? Why go to this length?” Gregory asked Erik.

“Because I love her,” Erik admitted with his head bowed, staring at the carpet beneath him.

Robert scoffed and this time it was his turn to cock his gun and point it at Erik. “You speak of love as if a Marino knows the meaning behind the word. Your entire family tree is full of dishonest, backwater cheaters. It seems that you hit every branch on the way down.”

Gregory studied the broken and bleeding man on the floor. There wasn't a hint of malice in his voice and his face showed nothing but the truth. His daughter had always been a good judge of character and must have seen something in him worth her time. Knowing this, he decided to take a chance.

Gregory pulled his friend behind him by the shoulder. “Then I will give you a chance to prove it. You work for me now and you will give me all the information I need to bring your uncles down.” Gregory motioned for his men. “Bring him to the mansion, give him a room and clean him up. Assign him a guard. He will not go anywhere without his guard… Oh, and keep him away from my daughter.”

“One moment!” Jake stopped them from taking Erik. He walked up to him, grabbed his arm, and held his hand up in the air. He grabbed a hold of one finger. ” I promised you that I would make you suffer when you hurt her...” He snapped his finger, breaking it with a sickening crack.

Erik muffled his scream, willing himself to not show weakness.

“I told you this day would come...” Jake continued and grabbed another finger, breaking it much like he did the first one. Erik still didn’t scream. “Had enough?” Jake asks but didn’t wait for a reply before he broke the little finger. This time, Erik let out a small cry. Jake roughly let his arm go, letting Erik clutch it to his chest.

Erik shakily stood up and allowed the guards to escort him out of the building. On the way, he looked around for Bailey but came up empty. Of course, she wouldn't stick around. He hung his head low while he was manhandled into the car in the building garage and then again at Bailey’s family home.

He was deposited in a bedroom with an attached bathroom. He quickly searched the bathroom for something to brace his broken fingers with, only finding some hair ties and cotton swabs. Erik carefully laid cotton swabs along his fingers and tied them in place with the hair ties.

He inspected his work but his fingers curled when he relaxed his muscles. The cotton swaps did not offer enough support so he started to search the bedroom instead. In the inner corner of the middle drawer of the desk, he found a couple of pencils. He broke them in half by bracing them against the floor and wall and then kicking them. He then used the hair ties to tie them to his broken fingers. This time, his fingers stayed straight when he relaxed them, offering enough support until he could find some replacement materials.

Somehow he doubted that Gregory would waste any actual medical supplies on him. He decided to wash his face before settling down in the big bed in the middle of the bedroom. The room was decorated in lush, heavy fabrics, ornate furniture, and over-the-top artwork. The place screamed ‘Too much money to know what to do with.’

His mind was too preoccupied to take in the scene around him when he was dragged inside. The grandeur of the Mansion with its marble details, statues, sheer white curtains, and silk sheets was all lost on him as he ponder his predicament.

As he sat there, still and lost, he couldn’t help but wonder if Bailey was close. Would he ever see her again? Would he get a chance to explain himself? His heart clenched in his chest at the thought that this might be the end of his happiness, the end of seeing his love again.

He didn't bother checking if the door was locked. It didn't matter if it was. Where would he go? Even if he managed to escape, he was compromised.

There was laughter in the distance that echoed off the walls of the wide halls and eventually settled in his room. It was a woman but it was not Bailey, he could never forget the sound of her laughter, and his heart clenched yet again. That’s when he decided that no matter where he goes from now, no matter what actions he must take, he will always protect her. He would always protect his Queen.

Antoine Marino was updating his brother on Erik’s failure.

“Riccardo! Your precious nephew has been caught and presumed dead.” Antoine had stormed into his brother’s office in anger and started yelling before the door had even shut on itself.

“Erik?” Riccardo asked, confused. He had a hard time taking in the news, the loss of his nephew shook his heart. Without thinking he showed a moment of weakness and his eyes teared up. The boy had been like a son to him in a house full of girls. He had raised him to be skillful, intelligent, determined, and brutal when need be. He had been tough on him, just like his father had been on him.

“What if he rated us out? They must know that he’s a Marino by now!” Antoine continued, paying no mind to his brother’s emotions.

“He wouldn’t.” Riccardo was sure he hadn’t raised a coward. Erik would stay loyal to his family until the end.

“Not even for a woman? One that he has feelings for?” Antoine pressed on.

“Who? The Underwood girl? She was a means to an end, that’s all. He would never choose her over his own family. NEVER!” Riccardo was furious at his brother for even suggesting his nephew was betraying them. “I want to know for sure. Double the spies, I want to know if he’s alive.”


“And if he is, you will personally get him out of there, Alive!” Riccardo ordered and dismissed him.

“I already told you everything that I know. I have no reason to lie to you.” Erik urged the three men in front of him. The beatings had stopped on day three of being a captive and had switched to a psychological nature. Robert took pleasure in reminding Erik of his lack of a family, of the love he lost, and updating him on Bailey’s new lovers. Erik didn’t want to listen, he didn’t want to believe that she would move on so fast but could he really blame her?

“You have plenty of reasons to lie.” Roberts sneered. “Marinos are not to be trusted.”

“Stark...” Erik corrected. His fingers were throbbing as he held them behind his back, out of sight. He had found some gauze and tongue depressors in the downstairs bathroom along with a few days worth of painkillers that were long gone.

“What?” Gregory asked while watching his brother taunt Erik.

“My name is Stark, not Marino.”

Gregory mulled it over for a moment, wondering if there was any point in pressing the issue further. He wanted to hate the man but he couldn’t. Regardless of his flaws, and the not-so-little matter of his family tree, Gregory could see the love Erik held for his daughter. It was evident in the way he spoke of her, and in the way, he would eagerly provide any information that could protect her. “Fine, Stark. It’s time for you to earn your keep. I have a job for you to do. Three of my men will accompany you to collect some overdue fees. You will not return until all the money has been collected.”

“I’m ready,” Erik promised.

“You will have to get your hands dirty on this job.”

“I understand. I’ll get it done.”

Jake chuckled. “Don’t be too eager.”

“I’ll do whatever it takes to prove myself to you, to all of you.”

“To what end?” Robert spas. Erik just looked at him, unwilling to admit what they all knew. “For my niece? If you haven’t realized it yet, she is off-limits. You are not to be in the same room as her, you will not look at her or breathe the same air as her. You are nothing but a bug that will get squashed if you step out of line.”

Erik didn’t respond but averted his eyes to the floor while Robert degraded him. “You will spend the rest of your life at the bottom of the totem pole and you know what they say... Shit runs downhill.” Robert smirked and then walked out of the room.

“I will earn her forgiveness, whatever it takes,” Erik told Gregory and Jake who both watched him intently.

“Forget it.” Jake calmly stated. “She will never forgive you.”

“I will still try.”

“You don’t get it, do you?” Jake asked a rhetorical question. “She loved you, I mean really LOVED you. No one has ever moved her as you did, you changed her, you made her break down the carefully placed walls she had built since she was a child. She would have done anything for you, given you to the world if you asked it of her, she would have died for you.”

Gregory stopped Jake and his outburst before he let his anger get the best of him. “My daughter is beautiful, is she not?” He calmly asked.

Erik nodded, wondering where he was going with this. “She’s intelligent, well-read, and one helluva businesswoman, no?” He continued.

Again, Erik nodded. “Yes, of course.”

“And she’s kind, generous, and despite my attempts to stop it, she is very funny, always has been. She’s the perfect woman and to top it off, she’s rich. She could choose any man in the world and she chose... you?”

“I like to think that it was my devilish charm...” Erik nervously chuckled.

“Perhaps, but I don’t see it.” Gregory chuckled as well. “But, that is in the past. Bailey will fulfill her duty to her family and has agreed to marry Jake.” He lied. He wanted to get a reaction out of him to see if he still had any fight left in him.

Erik was stunned. He didn’t know what to say, were they messing with him? Was this more of the torture that Robert had tried so hard to inflict on him?

Erik squared his shoulders and raised his chin. He couldn't let them see how broken he was. 'Fake it till you make', he repeated in his head until he believed it.

“In a few month time, she will be Mrs. Jake Blackwell and you will but nothing but a distant memory,” Jake smirked before signaling for his men to haul him back to his room.

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Sara: So far, everything seems to be well written and keeps my interest. I gave all high marks in hopes to encourage the writer to continue.

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