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Chapter 49 : Madelyn

Chapter 49 : Madelyn
Monday, August 9th, 2021

While I didn’t know what to expect when coming here, nothing could have prepared me for the way my heart physically ached at the sight of my men.

Dressed from head to toe in black and dark red, they looked amazing in the perfectly tailored suits I’m assuming Xavier’s father forced them to wear.

Three gazes hold on me as looks of surprise and sadness are thrown my way.

I could feel their eyes as if it were their hands touching my body, but I refused to let any emotion show on my part.

I wouldn’t give Vincent the satisfaction.

Despite his unnervingly luring smile, he’s not fooling anybody that he’s anything more than a conniving snake.

Ignoring the men’s pained looks and Vincent’s one of amusement, I walked over to the table of untouched food and empty plates, despite it being close to eight o’clock.

“My my,” Vincent says with a tone that makes my blood boil, but I force my expression into neutrality, “I hope you didn’t dress so nice for our sake, though I’ll admit you sure know how to—”

“Don’t worry, I didn’t.” I flash him a sickly sweet smile, trying to contain the bile rising in my throat.

Asshole.

Xavier had risen in his seat at his father’s words, but I didn’t need him to defend me, and I sure as hell didn’t need Vincent thinking I couldn’t hold my ground.

So that’s what I did as I held his stare, moving to sit down in the only other place at the table with a plate.

“Pardon you?” He says, his body entirely calm, though I could feel the disbelief radiating off of him.

“I got this dress a few weeks ago for myself is all I mean,” I continued to hold his gaze as I pulled out the chair beside him and took a seat, “Though I suppose you did give me an excuse to wear it. I’m assuming your offer of dinner still stands?”

It took every ounce of control and sheer will within me to not fold under his stare, and surprisingly, he was the one to break away first.

I knew I was taking a huge gamble talking to him like this, and I saw that in the tense yet prepared states of the three men across from me.

It looked as though they were readying to leap across the table in between Vincent and myself as Xavier’s father remained deadly silent for a moment’s breath.

Then, he burst out laughing as if my presence alone was the most entertaining thing he’s seen all year.

I haven’t yet looked directly at any of my men, but I could see the lethal glint in their eyes, even from Caleb who’s barely said a word today.

The loud display of amusement echoed throughout the house, similarly to the way it did this morning as well.

Nothing stopped the goosebumps from rising on my arms as Vincent turned his head back to me.

For a second, I feared my disgust of him was shown too clearly on my face, but I only found him watching me with a tilted head and a smile formed across his mouth.

“I know why you’re here, and for the singular reason you’ve got the balls to speak to me like that knowing damn well who I am, I’ll let you steal these men away early.”

I picked up on the slight warning in his voice, though, proving that I had indeed offended him and dented his precious male ego.

Good.

I saw through the corner of my eye all three men rise from their seats without another thought, looking at me in a silent plea to follow them.

They were the whole reason I came here, but I also hadn’t eaten once today and was absolutely starving.

Reaching into the woven basket filled with buns, I grabbed a buttered dinner roll and took it with me as I stood, my dress falling gently against my ankles and ever so slightly across the floor.

Alec offered his hand out to me as I moved around the table, but I didn’t take it, brushing past him and telling myself I shouldn’t feel bad about the hurt that crossed his features by my action.

I can’t touch any one of them though, because it was either this or crying, and I really didn’t want to cry again.

So, instead, I chose to keep my hands busy by pulling off a piece of the bread before lifting it to my watering mouth.

Thankfully, not another word from Vincent was spoken as I walked out, following a stone cold Xavier down the hall.

The second that monster of a man was out of sight, I finally felt my muscles loosen up slightly and a steady breath to fall past my lips.

This was debatably worse, though, because now I was alone with the very people all I wanted to do was hold but couldn’t bring myself to do so.

It soon didn’t matter, however.

Before I knew it, Caleb and Alec had moved to my side, Xavier leading us down the hallway and opening the same door to the room we signed our contract in.

I couldn’t tell whether or not that was an intentional move on his part, but it still caused my eyes to shut for just a second, pretending that none of this was real and I could go back to the teasing, happy way things were this morning.

Unfortunately, reality soon reared its demanding head, my feet carrying me to the long table and turning so I could sit on it.

My dress neatly tucked beneath my body, my hands wrapping around the edge of the wood and bracing them on either side of my legs.

My heart pounded as the following footsteps sounded.

Caleb was the last inside and was also the one to close the office door, his blue eyes on me the entire time.

I finally allowed myself to look at them, but I didn’t like what I saw.

Things were very much off between us and the unspoken words hanging in the air left nothing but nervousness and sadness to fill me.

I watched as Alec moved to take a step towards me, but I instinctively held up a hand.

I couldn’t let him—any of them touch me.

Alec instantly stopped at the gesture, his arms folding around each other as he instead leaned beside the doorway.

Caleb ended up on his left, Xavier on his right.

“I don’t want an apology, I want an explanation.” I say with a surprisingly steady voice, but even as a tear threatens to fall against my cheek, all I want is to be held by them.

“Of course,” Caleb nods, pain flashing across his features, “Anything.”

They leave the ball in my court, even though I can tell there are a million things they want to say.

But now that we’re all here, I don’t even know where to begin.

“What does this all mean?” I ask, knowing that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but no part of this does, “What are you involved in?”

It took everything inside of me to keep from crying as my voice broke slightly at the end.

I saw Alec’s eyes ever so quickly shoot to Xavier before returning to me.

I knew this was a conversation they hoped to never have, but I wasn’t leaving here until I got the answers I sought.

“Xavier and I are the sons of two of three leaders that make up the Italian-American Mafia.” Alec began with a small sigh, the pounding in my heart increasing, “Caleb was hired as an associate within a few months of meeting us.”

Caleb didn’t grow up in this, then.

“I know... I know we’re not in any place to make demands, princess, but we need your word that you’re not going to say anything that we’re about to tell you. It could put you in more danger than you realize if—”

“I won’t say anything.” I interrupt, my knuckles nearly going white around the table at the use of his pet name for me.

Not out of anger, but from sadness.

It was something I had a feeling they noticed, because their moods only seemed to drop even more.

“There are so many things we’ve done— we do in this kind of profession, and I don’t even know where to start.” Alec continued, loosening his tie around his neck.

My eyes followed the movement, nearly becoming distracted by it.

“Like what? Drug and human trafficking?” I list off two of the first things I could think of, not bothering to hide the snappiness of my tone.

At my words, I saw all three men shift in some way as if I had offended them.

“Not people.” Xavier’s dark eyebrows narrowed, distaste clear in his expression, “We would never do that nor allow it to happen under our own roof.”

“But you would for drugs?” I say, raising my chin a little as if bracing myself for any reaction to come from them.

I didn’t miss their careful choice in words.

“It’s good money and something we’ve all grown up around.” Alec answered, his jaw flexing slightly as his arms recross over themselves.

“And what about the police? They just look away?”

“Or we don’t get caught.” Caleb says, his eyes still focused on me, “Tell me, darling, what exactly bothers you so much about this that has you looking at us this way?”

His question caught me off guard, my legs crossing and my back straightening.

“You’ve been well aware throughout our entire relationship our hands are dirty, and I’m willing to bet yours aren’t so clean yourself.”

I felt Alec and Xavier’s gazes on me, but I didn’t turn an inch away from Caleb.

“Maybe not, but at least I didn’t lie about it.” I counter, frustration beginning to bubble up inside of me.

All of them seemed to sense it too.

It was stupid of me to think they would simply comply for my sake, even if there was partial truth to his words.

“You knew we were involved in something more than just nightclubs and hotel strains.” Alec said, my head snapping to him, “You even witnessed some of our darkness firsthand, yet only a few weeks later I had you under me, more than willing and even more wanting.”

“If memory serves right, it was you who were under me, Alec.” I snapped, surprising myself and fighting down a flush at my own words.

The smirk that appeared caused me to see red as I hopped off of the table, my heels clicking against the floor when I stood.

“I came for answers, and you’re just dancing around them.” I say, walking to the door where Xavier was currently leaned against. “Move, I’m leaving.”

I watched as a dark pair of eyes glanced down at me, a hint of amusement, anger and regret swirling within them.

“No.” He simply says, clearly trying to spark this frustration pooling within me, though I can’t figure out why.

“Move.” I repeat, taking another tentative step towards him.

A ghost of a smile passes across his features, but he only shrugs, bending slowly at the waist as black locks of hair fall alongside his face.

My heartbeat stutters as Xavier moves until he’s eye to eye with me, his warm breath fanning across my cheeks.

“Make me.”

I internally falter at two simple words, because I realize what these three infuriating men are trying to achieve by poking me when they should be answering my questions.

This entire day has caused me to show a different version of myself, one I didn’t even know I still had in me until Vincent and his stupid, self-righteous personality walked out of that elevator.

They wanted to awaken it.

“Answer my questions.” I demanded, speaking so close my lips nearly brushed Xavier’s as I spoke.

The corners of his mouth tugged upwards slightly, and I snapped.

My hand raised, aiming for Xavier’s cheek as the last shred of my patience broke.

I had mentally braced myself for the expected sting of his hard jaw, but it never came, only a strong hand wrapping around my wrist and tugging me backwards into a hard chest.

Xavier hadn’t even flinched, though I knew he saw my strike coming.

I couldn’t even stop to care about that as I was suddenly in Caleb’s grasp, the long skirt of my dress providing no help in keeping me steady on my own.

Soon, two large arms curled around my body, one on my waist and the other holding my neck still with sure fingers.

“What are you—”

“What about we do question for a question again like at the wedding?” Alec says, moving off of the wall and going to sit down on the table, right where I was only seconds ago.

Xavier follows, pinning me with his dark eyes.

“You’re the lying assholes.” I argue, willing my core not to tighten as Caleb’s thumb traces the side of my throat, “Either talk or let me go, but you’re the ones who kept things from me.”

Fuck, it was hard to remain cold when they were looking at me like this.

“And you haven’t kept anything from us, princess?” Alec challenged, causing my eyes to narrow in confusion.

“What, you really didn’t think I’d notice the $5,000 donation sent to Rush just a week after you’d received and protested keeping the exact same amount we gave you?”

I stilled at his words.

Shit.

“Let me give you a hint, darling. Nobody donates to us anonymously, not when it’s well known they could get people like us with power on their good side.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” I deny, even though it’s a transparent lie, “I just view this as you trying to change the subject from talking about who you really are.”

The second part was more than truthful.

“In case you’re wondering and remember what we told you would happen if you sent it back, we’ve already set aside $10,000 into a separate account for you. But yes, let’s change the topic.”

I don’t even get the chance to protest before they’re moving on to something else.

To my surprise, however, Caleb lets me go in the process, my body instantly missing his touch as he steps away.

Not that I’d ever admit it, though.

Xavier notices my confusion as he says, “You’re free to leave if you wish, but I think we all know you have questions that only we can answer.”

Things suddenly fell quiet as I remembered why I came here.

I can’t believe that for a second I felt good again being held and teasing with them.

Could things ever go back to normal with us after learning this?

I was surprisingly thankful for their distraction only a moment ago, because now, that returning feeling of wanting to cry and break down washes over me all over again.

“I don’t even know where to start,” I admit, having so many questions yet I’m left speechless at the same time.

Caleb ends up choosing just to start talking.

“I was nineteen when I joined the mafia.” He began, moving around my body so he could pull out a chair for me to sit on, himself taking a seat right beside me, “I got in trouble with the wrong crowd and ended up owing them more money than I could ever imagine being able to make at the time.”

I stayed silent and listened, even though my thoughts instantly traveled to the fact of how young he was.

“I know you’re aware that it was Jolene who took me in, but what you don’t know is that when she found me, it was because I had collapsed right outside of her Cafe from not eating for the previous three days in a row.”

My heart squeezed and tears pricked my eyes as Caleb looked down at his hands.

“Jolene took care of me— offered me a place to sleep and made sure I was well fed. She never charged me a penny for her kindness, only asking for a strong set of hands around the Horizon when assistance was needed.”

A small smile appeared on my face at that, because it sounded exactly like something she’d both do and say.

“It took me more than three weeks before I started to feel like an actual human again, but that day I had feared was impossible eventually came. And then, exactly a month after Jolene took me in, I was visited by two men.”

I knew Xavier and Alec were hurting just as much for their friend as I was, remaining still and allowing him the time to gather his words.

“Alec and his father had come to make me an offer on Jolene’s behalf, saying they would take care of my money problem if I agreed to take on a single project for them. To this day, neither of us know how Alec’s father learned just how advanced my skills with computers exceeded, but it was an opportunity and it was one I took.”

My eyes glanced at Alec for only a split second, catching the undoubtedly strong emotions whirling through his head.

“I took the job, disabling every single camera and audio scanner in a building fit to hold thousands of people that day. I didn’t ask why they needed it done and they never offered an explanation. The day after my work had succeeded, the men demanding money from me suddenly went silent as Alec was sent that night to deal with them.” There was a small, hesitant pause before Caleb continued, “They were dead before they even knew he was there.”

I stiffened at those final words, Alec showing no denial or shame as Xavier’s returning stare only confirmed it.

I couldn’t bring myself to do anything but breathe as all of this new information sunk in with me, causing an uneasy discomfort in my stomach to brew.

“Truthfully, I thought the deal meant they’d pay off my debts. I was utterly horrified when I learned just how wrong I was, but even when I ran, they found me within the hour. A lot of things happened in between, but one thing soon led to another which led to me being recruited under Xavier’s branch of command.”

There was nothing I could think of to say, my words failing me entirely as I struggled on how to react to this information.

I ached for what Caleb must have gone through to get to the point of being desperate enough to knowingly sell himself to the Mafia.

I raged at how things couldn’t just be simple for him— for us.

But mostly, I just wanted to hug him.

“I’m really sorry you had to go through all of that alone,” I said sincerely, but I only got an appreciative nod and small smile from Caleb.

I wished there was more I could offer to ease the clear pain in his eyes, but I know first hand that sometimes even the prettiest of words can’t heal the unrelenting scars of the past.

“My story was very different, but I too had my own experiences that brought me to this point.” Alec then said, drawing my thumping heart to him, “We all did.”

Unlike Caleb, Alec looked right in my eyes as he spoke, remaining completely still on the table.

“I grew up in this lifestyle—was born into it even, but the rules and laws in our line of business were very different back when I was a child. I attended some preppy private school until I was sixteen, spending every moment training and fighting to prepare for the unforgiving promise of that birthday.”

I hadn’t even noticed I’d bit my cheek until the soft pain shot signals to my head.

“You see, sixteen is the age of initiation where future recruits are tested in an arena full of onlookers, each person even more curious than the last to see a good show put on as if we’re nothing more than entertainment.”

I didn’t miss the sharp bite of hatred lacing his tone as he spoke.

“Each year is different; Xavier’s was combat and survival skills, though mine was a test of the mind. I had gotten ten minutes to solve ten riddles, each one harder than the last. If the time was up and you still hadn’t submitted all your answers, you were shot on sight.”

A slight wince must have made its way onto my face because I saw Alec’s expression soften afterwards, still looking at me and likely trying to gauge my reactions as he gave whatever comfort I would allow.

It wasn’t much.

“I was one of three people left standing out of just under two hundred. Xavier was one of seven.”

I was shaking at this point, and I had to sit on my hands to stop them from drawing too much attention.

They were sixteen.

They were fucking sixteen and sent into an arena to be slaughtered for what... Entertainment?

“That was only the mark of the beginning for us. The same day we’d been covered in the blood of our competition, we returned home to parties and congratulations on our successes.”

Alec practically spat out that last word.

“For most it would end there, but Xavier and I weren’t just any new recruits. We were sons of the Composing Three and were expected nothing less than the uttermost cruelty and calculation. And we did our role in exceeding all of those expectations as if it were as easy as breathing.”

A chill made its way down my spine, leaving more questions and thoughts in its path.

They were no longer hiding who they were, and I didn’t know what to think about it.

They were indeed cruel and ruthless and hard, but whether they know it or not, they were also traumatized, and hurting, and simply them.

“We’re not good people, sweetheart, but we are yours.”

I watched as Xavier rose from the table, his whole height towering over me now, even though he was still a short distance away from me.

He walked over to my side and smoothly crouched down, holding his palms face up in front of me.

“Give me your hands, Madelyn.”

Swallowing, I couldn’t say no at his request.

Moving them out from under me, I hated the way they shook still, even as Xavier took them into his calloused hands and held them tight.

“Are you scared of us?” He looked up at me, his fingers brushing against mine.

With a deep inhale, I said, “Yes.”

I could only sit there as he stared up, Alec and Caleb watching me intently from the side as well.

I didn’t want to see what was passing through their eyes, though, at my words.

“Do you think we’d ever hurt you?” Xavier then asked, but I immediately shook my head no.

“I’m scared of what you’re capable of and the power you hold,” I admit, closing my eyes as my thoughts become dizzying.

Everything hurts, but I know I need to say this, if not for them, then for myself.

“But most of all, Xavier, I’m scared that this is going to leave me damaged in a way that cuts deeper than any physical wound ever could.”

My eyes flicked to the deep scar slicing through his own forehead and eyebrow, knowing the mark of it wasn’t one that only showed across his skin.

“Tell us how we can make this work.” He said with the same hint of pleading I’d heard earlier this morning in their parking garage.

I could only drop my eyes to my lap, though, pathetically shrugging my shoulders in defeat.

I couldn’t think of an answer of what the future holds, so instead, I asked, “What happened to your mouth?”

A small cut and the slight swell of his bottom lip was something I only noticed with him this close, but the matching marks on Alec’s fists soon answered the question for me.

“I deserved it.” Xavier brushed it off, his tongue tracing the hurt skin.

It needed to be cleaned, but I couldn’t stop myself as my attention was suddenly captured by a memory from this morning.

“Are you engaged?” My head turned to Alec, silently cursing myself for not remembering this.

So much had been going through my mind today that I hadn’t even stopped to think about Vincent’s words until now.

Hurt flashed in Alec’s eyes as he said, “No, princess, I’m not. I wouldn’t do that to you.”

As relieved as I was, I was still angry about this whole thing.

“Oh, so you think dating behind my back is a line that shouldn’t be crossed, but you’re fine with lying about something as major as being in the Mafia?”

He couldn’t blame me for asking.

“We never should have lied to you, but in our defense it’s not just something you go around telling people you’ve just met.” Caleb says from my front, looking at me for the first time since he shared that small part of his history.

I understood that, but it didn’t prevent the sadness and confusion I was feeling now.

“That’s a weak defense and it’s one that doesn’t make a difference for me. I gave you every ounce of my trust, but yet this entire time you never gave me the same in return.”

I removed my hands from Xavier’s, missing the warmth, but needing that numbing coldness to return.

“That’s not true,” Xavier furrowed his eyebrows in a way that told me he did, in fact, trust me.

Did it matter now, though?

“Isn’t it?” I challenge, “The truth is that I know practically nothing about any of you, even less after today. I didn’t even know it was your birthday until your own prick of a father told me, Xavier.”

I saw him move to speak, but I couldn’t stop the words from pouring out of my mouth now.

“I mean, what exactly did you plan to gain from all of this? Why would you choose me when two out of three of you are heirs to leading this entire thing? Did you plan for me to be a part of that one day or did you just think I was temporary?”

“No, Madelyn... No.” Xavier said, remaining crouched at my feet, “You were never temporary. Ever. We don’t know what’s going to come of this, but what we do know is that you’re everything to us. You have been for a very long time, and soon it wasn’t lack of trust that kept us from telling you, but our selfishness.”

My breath hitched in my throat at his words.

“Because if we’re on the subject of truth, the fact that we’re selfish is as candor as statements come. We can’t lose you, Mads, we can’t. I know you’re hurt, and understandably so, but our actions had nothing to do with the fact of who you are as a person and everything to do with the fact that we’re selfish bastards who are never going to let you go.”

I had to raise my hand to my mouth to muffle my sob as I shattered.

It wasn’t pretty, but it was real.

I broke, and nothing at that point could have stopped the heavy tears that escaped me, rushing down my face and dripping onto the hands that now held it.

“I’m sorry, Madelyn.” Xavier said as he stood, moving his body in between the spread gap of my thighs, “I’m so fucking sorry.”

I could barely breathe as he angled me to look at him— forced me to see the pain and remorse and uttermost tenderness in his eyes.

“I’m sorry.” He repeated, kissing away a tear as I let him keep me in his embrace.

The two words soon became a quiet, devoting chant on his lips, Alec and Caleb soon walking to my side and holding me in their own way.

I still didn’t know where we stood or where my mind was at, but for now, all I wanted to do was let them touch me.

I just needed them.

_______

I don’t know how long we stayed in that large meeting room like this, but it came to a point where I simply had no tears left to cry.

For a little while, it was just us, the rest of the world and the issues that came with it fading away into nothingness.

Things had long gone quiet, but it was Xavier who later broke that quiet.

“I’ve never celebrated my birthday before, so I never saw a point in saying anything,” There was a very long pause before he continued, “I always wanted one as a child, but when my mother passed away, I think my dream of candles and presents died with her.”

Even though I was still really mad at him— at all of them, I reached out my hand and let my fingertips brush against his in silent comfort.

“Thank you for telling me.” I say quietly, my eyes sore from all of the tears I’ve cried today.

Those two words are all I can offer, my head pounding and my throat dry.

I was sad and angry and conflicted, but most of all, I was soon tired above all else.

There was still a lot for me to think about and even more things I needed to decide, but there was still a friend at home for me I needed to speak with first.

Caleb’s breathing was steady beside me as he held my hand, but I think he could sense that I was just about ready to leave.

I didn’t entirely want to, but I needed to.

Sitting here with them and pretending we had all the answers could only last for so long.

Though, it only made things even harder as I moved off of the table, all three men remaining there and looking at me in ways that made it near impossible to leave.

“Text me when he’s gone, okay?” I say, referring to Xavier’s father, “I don’t know when I’ll be ready to speak again, but I need some time and I’m going to take it.”

Something a lot like disappointment flashed through their eyes, but I also saw understanding mixing with it.

“Take however long you need, princess.” Alec nodded, his cut knuckles turning slightly white as he restrained himself from moving towards me, “We’ll be here.”

“Always.” Xavier added, promise lacing that single word and causing goosebumps to pepper my skin.

I wish he hadn’t of said that, and though I didn’t repeat it out loud, my response must have been clear on my face.

Always.

I didn’t say anything else as I walked backwards and reached out for the handle to this room.

My fingers reluctantly wrapped around the metal piece, twisting and opening the silent door as I was left to make the choice I didn’t want to.

Slipping outside, I left the three men behind as the latch clicked shut, driving so much more than just a physical wall between us.

The second that door closed, I felt myself tense once again, remembering that there was much greater evil roaming this house than the destructive secrets of our pasts.

Keeping my footsteps quiet, I walked down the narrow hallway and absently grabbed my purse hanging on the hook by the door.

This was the one I’d brought over three days ago when I came to see Xavier, and all it took was a quick look on my part to see that the men had gathered my belongings and placed them inside.

It was only a second later that I realized my waver in attention—no matter how short— had given Vincent the opening he’d been secretly waiting for.

“Trouble in paradise, my dear?” He smiled as he moved to lean against the wall by my head, though his expression didn’t come close to reaching his eyes.

I simply ignored him, grabbing my jacket and shrugging it on.

The sooner I could get out of here, the better.

I took a step to leave, but Vincent clicked his tongue at me, his head tilting to the side as if trying to understand something.

“Didn’t anyone ever tell you it’s rude to ignore people?” He asked, making the move to effectively block my path, “Though considering the good-for-nothing parental figures in your life, I don’t think I can even hold your ill manners against you.”

This is what Hailey warned me about, I reminded myself as near blinding rage boiled my blood.

I didn’t allow any form of reaction show on my face at Vincent’s words, even though I wanted to scream and tell him he knew nothing of my parents.

When I tried to step around him, he let me, only to wrap a large, unrelenting hand around my upper arm.

That was the final push for me as I rounded on him, praying that Hailey’s second promise about protection would remain true.

I couldn’t prevent myself as I pulled Vincent’s thumb backwards towards his wrist, his tight grip faltering when I didn’t stop there.

Even when his hand had loosened entirely, it wasn’t enough for me.

The mere sight of his face was enough to add fuel to the uncontrollable fire burning within me, my now free arm twisting and snapping his fingers back at an abnormal angle.

The cold bastard didn’t even scream as I enjoyed the crack of his bones beneath my fingertips, adding pressure until I knew at least three of his were broken.

I hadn’t even realized I was smiling until I stepped away, Vincent clutching his damaged hand in his other fist.

My feeling of satisfaction was short-lived, however, when his face copied mine.

“Oh, Madeline.” He hummed, purposely messing up my name just to tick me off, “I suppose I should thank you,” Vincent’s smile grew wider, “You see, you’ve just given me the perfect excuse for killing you, though I must admit you were good entertainment for today.”

A chilling tingle made its way down my spine at his words, my body sending off warning signals to my brain that I needed to run.

Where was Xavier and his guns when you needed them?

I only made it a single step back before Vincent drew a long, sharp knife from the inner pocket of his suit, making the move to lift it to my throat.

Just as the fear of death flickered within me, the sharp click of a revolver being cocked made both of us freeze on the spot.

Only once Vincent’s head reared to my right did I follow his gaze, my eyes widening at the sight of Caleb standing with a gun in hand, aiming directly at Xavier’s father.

Based on our conversation and the little information I already knew, I’d gathered that associates weren’t even allowed to speak without permission around higher ranks.

This was a very, very big deal.

I both saw and felt the pure rage Vincent experienced at Caleb’s disobedience, his knife now poised at the blond only a few feet away from us.

Xavier’s father stepped away from me and towards Caleb within the next second. He didn’t pause once, even as the remaining two men walked into the room, drawing their own weapons at the sight before them.

“Madelyn, go.” Alec’s voice was a demand as he spoke, his eyes scanning my body and analyzing from the silence alone what he’d missed.

But I couldn’t.

Not with this monster of a man pointing a knife at what’s mine.

Vincent never even saw me coming before I raised my elbow, slamming it down on a pressure point on his arm.

He wasn’t able to recover quickly enough as his hand spasmed open, the knife cluttering to the ground with a sharp ring.

I just barely had time to kick the knife over to my men before Vincent sprung, trying to attack me.

I don’t know if it was because I was a woman or because he really just didn’t know me as well as he let on, but he let his guard down as he aimed to grab my neck, though his movements were too sloppy to follow through.

All I had to do was turn to the side as he stumbled forward, losing his balance and gaining me just enough to leave.

I trusted that the three men standing together were more than capable of taking things from here as I quickly slipped out of their house.

“Quella puttana!” Was the last thing I heard Vincent scream, before I closed the door with a small, yet exhausted smirk on my face.

It seems as though Vincent clearly doesn’t know shit about my life.

I knew this, because despite him cursing at me in Italian, what he failed to learn during his snooping is that I’ve been near fluent from the time I was seventeen.

And while he may have just called me a whore, at least I wasn’t the one with three damaged fingers and an even more shattered ego.


- End of Chapter 49 -

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