Chapter 17. Have We Met?
We walked into the study. All the boys were still here, and Carlos sat beside Luis on the couch. They looked at us warily. I wondered if they knew already.
“Spill it, Benny. We’re dying here,” Joey muttered. Joey shifted in his seat impatiently.
We all sat down except for Benny. Benny stood in between us and the desk. “You guys are probably going to freak—”
“Spit it out, Benny!” All of chorused.
“Okay, okay, but you need to know that I’m a hundred percent sure of this. . .” Benny trailed off.
We all leaned forward. Joey looked as if he were ready to strangle Benny; if we didn’t get the answer to the question. All of us had spent months wanting to know who sent the bomb. We were sure the Aryan brothers helped, but we were also convinced there was more to it.
“The council sent the bomb,” Benny said. “At least, one of them did, but if I had to guess they—”
“They were all in on it,” Abel finished Benny’s sentence.
Carlos looked the most skeptical out of all of us. “Benny, that’s ridiculous. It’s a huge accusation—”
“Sir, with all due respect, it isn’t an accusation. I said that I’m certain of this. I know that it sounds crazy, and I didn’t want to believe it either, but I’m not an idiot,” Benny said. He set his chin stubbornly.
“I believe him,” I said.
“You do?” Benny, Aria, and Carlos chorused. They all looked stunned by what I said.
Benny is the one I looked at as I responded, “Yes, I do.” My gaze locked with Carlos. “You weren’t here when things went down, and had you been; you probably wouldn’t be quite so dismissive of the idea. They were likely all involved in it. They hated the thought of Aria running things, and they wanted me to do it. The council nearly got what they wanted. If that isn’t motive, I don’t know what is.”
Everyone stared at me as they let what I said sink in. Carlos mashed his lips in a straight line. Aria sighed and ran a hand through her hair.
“They won’t get away with this,” Carlos said. His eyes grew vengeful.
“Agreed,” I said. My eyes flickered to Aria. Anger lingered in her eyes, but behind that anger was strength. “It wasn’t just Nicolas who had the insight. The council gave them the information they needed too. It makes the most sense. The council knew we were getting married and knew that I wasn’t home. It was their best opportunity to try and take you out,” I said.
“Those bastards,” Aria spat through her clenched teeth. She got up and walked around her desk. She sat down and pulled out a small address book. “They won’t get away with this. I want every last one of them.” Aria grabbed a pen and started to write down addresses.
“What are you proposing we do?” I asked.
“We have plenty of Propofol. We’ll use that to knock them out and bring them here. Once the anesthetic wears off, we will question them. They may be able to give us more insight about what the Aryan brothers are doing, and then we kill them,” Aria said.
“I’ll get the drugs,” Austin said and wiggled his eyebrows. Austin danced his way out of the study.
I chuckled at my brother’s enthusiasm. “So, who gets who?”
“Abel and Luis can get Antonio and Ray. Austin, Benny, and Joey can grab Juan and Pedro. You and I will get Alejandro and Fernando,” Aria said to me.
“What about me?” Carlos asked. “I can help. I want to help.”
“Dad, I want you to stay here and get the basement ready. I’m going to hang the son of a bitches from the ceiling,” Aria muttered darkly.
Austin came into the study and handed out the syringes full of Propofol.
“Pick a van, boys, any van,” Aria said and smirked.
“Keys are in the foyer,” I added. “Let’s get this done.”
Carlos headed for the basement, and the rest of us started for the foyer. We had several black vans that we used for jobs such as this.
We neared the city and drove in different directions. Aria and I decided that we would start with Alejandro. We pulled up not far from his house and climbed out of the van.
Aria kept a straight face and pulled her black hood over her head. We strolled across the street and up through the dark yard. The shadows danced across her face and somehow made her appear even more dangerous than she is, and when she’s this mad, she’s lethal.
The only light on in the house came from the kitchen window. Aria and I peeked in and saw Alejandro’s wife, Annette. Annette typically kept her hair up in a bun, but she looked like she was getting ready for bed. Her long black hair had silver highlights in it, and her wrinkled face looked tired. She had her long pink bathrobe on. Annette stood near the sink and sipped a glass of water.
I grabbed Aria’s arm and pulled her out of her daze. “If we’re going to do this, we have to do it now,” I whispered.
“He’s probably already in bed,” Aria whispered. “Let’s get him.”
Aria and I ran around to the front side of the house. Aria stopped below the roof of the porch and waited for me. I came up behind her, grabbed her hips, and threw her upward as hard as I could.
Aria grunted and grabbed the edge of the roof. Aria swung one leg up, hooked it onto the edge of the roof, and pulled herself the rest of the way up. Aria disappeared, and I waited for her to return.
Aria came back and looked down at me. She gave me a thumbs up. I took a deep breath and jumped onto the railing of the porch. I braced myself and leaped again. I used the strength of my arms to pull myself up.
Aria looked me over and smiled.
Why the hell is she looking at me like that? “What?” I whispered.
Aria shrugged one shoulder. “You look so damn sexy when you do that.” Her voice came out so casual that I would have believed she was joking if it weren’t for the look of lust in her eyes.
How the hell can she even think that way at a time like this, and more importantly, why does it turn me on. “Now is not the time for you to be saying things like that, bebita,” I whispered and chuckled.
Aria giggled and tip-toed across the roof of the porch. She stopped in front of the window. “We have to do this fast,” she whispered. Aria opened the window quietly and climbed into the bedroom. She pulled out the syringe from her pocket and neared the bed.
I followed her into the bedroom and neared the bed. Alejandro laid on his back, fast asleep.
Aria slowly climbed onto the bed and hovered over him. Without touching him, she stuck the needle into the side of his neck.
Alejandro’s eyes shot open.
Aria threw her hand over his mouth, and he squirmed beneath her. I waited to see if she needed help holding him down, but she didn’t.
Alejandro’s eyes drooped within seconds and finally closed. Aria climbed off of him. We pulled Alejandro out of bed and pulled him out the window. Aria grabbed his arms, and I grabbed his legs. We carried him to the edge of the porch roof and stopped.
We didn’t think this through — I thought hesitantly. Aria and I tilted our heads and shared a glance. I wonder if she’s thinking what I’m thinking. I looked at the ground and back to Aria and smirked at her. Aria pursed her lips and shrugged.
Aria and I started to swing Alejandro’s body back and forth. “One,” I mouthed.
“Two,” Aria mouthed and smiled.
“Three,” Aria and I whispered at the same time. We swung Alejandro’s body out and dropped him. We watched his body fall into the bushes that wrapped around the porch. The fall made a soft thump, but too quiet for anyone to hear but us.
Aria took my hand in hers, and we jumped off the roof together. I signaled Aria to go get the van, and she sprinted across the yard. I drug Alejandro’s body away from the house and down to the curve.
Aria pulled the van up and got out to help me load Alejandro into the van. As a precaution, we tied Alejandro up and blindfolded him. However, I strongly doubted he would wake up anytime soon.
We chose to do Alejandro first because we knew he wouldn’t be alone. Fernando, on the other hand, should be easy. Fernando’s kids didn’t live with him, and his wife died of cancer two years earlier.
The van rolled to a stop. We climbed out and snuck up to the house. Fernando’s house wasn’t big, and it wasn’t a two-story. I spotted Fernando in his recliner in his small living room.
Aria grabbed my arm and pulled me around the house. I opened a small bathroom window and helped Aria into it. I climbed in behind her.
Aria opened the bathroom door and peeked out it. Aria put her finger to her lips to hush me. We snuck out of the bathroom and down the hall. We stopped in the doorframe of the living room, but he wasn’t there.
Aria gestured toward the kitchen. We tip-toed into the kitchen and stopped.
Fernando stood in front of a window and saw our reflection. Fernando gasped and spun around. He grabbed a knife and threw it at us. The blade came at me, but I caught it.
“Is that the best you got?” I chuckled darkly. Aria and I stalked toward him. She went toward him, and I cornered him from the other direction with the knife still in my hand.
Fernando’s eyes widened. He grabbed a plate off the dish rack and threw it toward me. I dodged it smoothly, and it shattered against the wall behind me.
“I can’t tell you how great it is to be back, Fernando. The memory loss didn’t last long, and then I remembered the tracking numbers on the package. It didn’t take Benny long to figure out who sent it, of course,” Aria said softly. Her blue eyes darkened as she stalked closer to him.
Fernando swallowed hard. “I-I didn’t send that bomb. It wasn’t my idea.”
I tsked and pointed the knife toward him with a smile on my face. “But you went along with it, didn’t you?”
Fernando squeezed his eyes shut. “Please,” he begged.
“Didn’t you?” I shouted. Anger pumped through me, and I leaped forward. I grabbed a fistful of his hair and arched his head back. I brought the blade to his throat.
“Ace, don’t you do it!” Aria sneered.
I took in a deep breath and looked at Aria.
Aria stepped forward with the syringe in her hand. “Be patient,” Aria murmured to me.
“Then hurry up and do it,” I said through clenched teeth. As much as I didn’t want to, I threw the knife down onto the counter but kept ahold of Fernando.
Aria gave Fernando a devious smile and stuck the needle into the side of his neck. “Betrayal hurts, doesn’t it?” Aria murmured to Fernando.
Fernando’s eyes drooped, and his body slumped. I lowered him onto the floor as his eyes closed. Aria and I stared down at him for a long moment.
Aria’s eyes locked with mine. “I’ll get the van.”
“I will drag him out,” I said.
Aria pecked me on the lips and turned for the door. I pulled his body to the front of the house and down to the curve.
Aria and I loaded him into the van and tied him up just as we had done with Alejandro. I climbed into the driver’s seat, tore off my black gloves, and sped back to the mansion.
We successfully got all the council members. The boys and I hung them from the ceiling by their wrists with chains. We knew they would wake up soon.
Carlos stared at them with a disgusted expression. “I can’t believe any of this. I grew up with them. I knew they disagreed with Aria taking the chair, but I never thought they would try to overthrow and harm my daughter. This is by far the worst betrayal. . .” Carlos trailed off and looked at me. Carlos looked as if he might be sick to his stomach.
Andersen came up behind Carlos and rested a hand on his shoulder. “It’ll be over soon, brother,” Andersen said. “You don’t need to stay for this.”
“He’s right, Carlos,” Luis said.
“You’re wrong,” Carlos argued. “After everything that my family went through, including myself, I need to stay. I need to pay them back for the pain they caused and the lives that could have been taken or nearly did.” Carlos lit a cigar, and his nostrils flared. His hand gripped onto his glass of bourbon so tightly that I worried he might break the glass with his hand.
Andersen grabbed the bourbon off a table we sat up. He took Carlos’s glass and filled it back up for him.
“Thank you, John,” Carlos said.
Aria sat down on my lap. She grew more impatient with every second that passed. We all sat across from the council members in chairs and waited for them to wake up. We intended to deal with this like a family.
“Do you really believe they will tell us something?” Aria asked.
“They’re not wired the way we are, bebita. They’re the brains of the operation, not the muscle. They were great at helping make new relations and help with the financial parts, but physically they’re nothing. A bunch of cowards,” I said.
Alejandro groaned and stirred slightly.
“Besides, we’re about to find out,” I said and gestured across the room.
Aria climbed off my lap and approached them slowly. The rest of us followed after her. She locked eyes with Alejandro.
“Please,” Alejandro begged. “Have mercy. I didn’t do anything. I had no part of it. It was Pedro’s idea.”
Benny snickered. “We know who sent it.”
“You did,” Carlos said and nodded his head toward Alejandro.
The other men woke up and struggled in an attempt to break free, but we all knew they weren’t going anywhere.
“What is this about?” Ray asked.
“Well. . .” Austin trailed off. Austin swirled a small knife in his hand. “It might have something to do with, oh, I don’t know, a bomb, maybe?” Sarcasm seeped into Austin’s voice.
“Yeah, you know, that got delivered to Aria,” Abel added.
“Funny that any of you are even playing stupid. Surely, you must have known that we would figure it out,” I said.
“What I don’t understand is why you would stoop as low as working with the Aryan brothers? They killed Charles and pretended it was Carlos,” Luis said.
“Why should we care?” Juan spat.
“Juan!” Pedro shouted.
“No!” Juan shouted back at Pedro. “They’re going to kill us regardless of what we tell them. Don’t you get that? The more we tell them, the less it will hurt.” Juan looked back at us. “We planned the death of Charles with the Aryan brothers. We didn’t really want Carlos dead. We cared about Carlos, but we knew that if he weren’t around, Aria would take the chair, and we would be able to remove her. We intended to send Carlos back to you after Aria’s death, but she wouldn’t die.”
Aria pursed her lips and crossed her arms over her chest. “Well, that worked out great, didn’t it? Tell me gentlemen. . . was it worth dying for?”
“It might be,” Juan answered. “At least we won’t have to watch you fail.”
This pissed Aria off. Aria grabbed a knife off the table and threw it at Juan. The blade stuck out of his upper thigh, and he cried in pain.
“Bitch!” Juan screamed and cried in pain. His eyes watered, and he looked away. “They intend to put an end to all of you. We stopped working for them a couple of months ago when we realized their intention. They intended to take all of you out, including us.”
“You won’t survive them. They’re strong,” Antonio said.
“Have we met?” Aria scoffed.
It didn’t take us long after that. We killed all of them, one by one. We no longer had any use for them. They told us what they knew, and it wasn’t as much as we had hoped.
Austin and Abel stayed and cleaned up the mess. Their bodies would never be found. They would be burned until they were ash.
Aria and I went to our bedroom. We stripped down and climbed into the shower together.
Water droplets fell from her eyelashes and streaked down her face. Her eyes lingered on my face.
“What’s wrong, bebita?” I murmured.
“What’s not wrong, Ace?” Desperation clouded her eyes. She wanted me to tell her everything would be okay, but I couldn’t promise that. This battle with the Aryan brothers had gone on for a long time, and many times they got the best of us. They were strong, but I knew we were stronger. We would win the fight, but at what cost?
Aria wrapped her arms around my waist and buried her face into my chest. I sighed and wound my arms around her shoulders. I pressed my lips to the top of her head. I wanted to say something to make her feel better, but I didn’t know what to say. I was at a loss for words as much as her.
She pressed her soft lips to the left side of my chest, where I had her name tattooed in perfect cursive and Angel’s name just below hers.
An involuntary shiver rolled down my spine. My skin tingled where her lips lingered.
Aria looked up at me, and her eyes were filled with lust. “I don’t want to think about it anymore tonight. Make me forget about it,” Aria murmured. Her eyes pleaded with mine as she tangled her fingers into my wet hair.
The truth is, I wanted to forget about it as much as she did, and even if I didn’t, I could never tell her no when she pleaded with me like that. I caught her lips with mine and pushed her against the tiled wall of the shower. The water hit both of us and made our skin hotter. My tongue slipped into her mouth, and the taste of her tongue made me groan. Without another thought, I lifted Aria and thrusted inside of her.