Theirs to Claim | 18+

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Chapter 64 : Xavier

Chapter 64 : Xavier
Monday, August 23rd, 2021

“So, how are things going with the project?” Vincent asks me, and the smug look on his features makes me want to punch his face in.

I have done a damn good job of making sure that’s all my father believes Madelyn to be. A project.

To him, she was nothing to me—nothing more than a disposable pawn to exploit and then end when her death deems itself fit.

I hated this game I was playing, but it was one of the very few things I didn’t have a choice in.

Until my father is buried six feet under, everything would be a game with him.

It’s up to me to be the better player.

“She’s playing right into our cards like we planned.” I lied, plastering on a cruel smile as though this conversation was nothing more than entertainment for the evening.

What Vincent didn’t see was the way my fists had balled beneath the table in my lap, my nails digging so hard into my palms I could tell blood had been drawn.

I was too numb to feel it, though.

I forced myself into a state of nothing, because the alternative is snapping. If I kill my father now, I will only be unlocking a bottomless chest of more complications, ones in which I cannot afford.

“Well of course she is.” My father chuckles, plopping a grape into his mouth and grinning at how easy I was making this for him, “She may have a sharp tongue, but that doesn’t sway from the fact she’s still a brainless whore.”

Do. Not. React.

Xavier, do not fucking react.

I urged myself to think about the brightness of her smile, the green of her eyes, and the sound of her laugh. I went back to our memories of last night and how I think I needed to be held by her too afterwards.

Through my unwavering facade of cruelty, I let myself be consumed by the way her soft hands felt pressed against my chest and her lips against my mouth.

She was what grounded me, and I just needed to hold onto that for a little bit longer.

Madelyn would be back soon, and everything would be okay.

“As much as your presence is welcomed, I’m sure there’s more reason for it than stating obvious facts.” I prod, taking a long, slow sip of the whiskey filling my glass and savoring the smooth glide of it down my throat.

Vincent’s answering smile made my blood run cold, not liking the satisfied look on his face.

“Of course.” He says, tilting his head and swishing the dark colour of his own drink twice before placing it down excitedly.

Very little in this world scared me anymore, but I was terrified right now—so terrified I worried I might break.

“After years of searching, this mission finally has an end date.” Vincent shared the news I’ve wanted for the last five years of my life—the same news I now dread, “September 13th and your mother’s killer will be dead and the bitch will be yours to do with as you please.”

As long as I make it painful is what he doesn’t say.

“What do you know?” I question, needing to make a new plan. This was moving much too fast and three weeks was not enough to fix what is already ruined.

My father laughs gleefully, and I fear I was not being as convincing as I pretended to be, but when he suddenly stops and looks me dead in the eyes, I knew he was simply amused over his own cleverness and pride.

“In three weeks time, Marcus is throwing one last party for his recruits the day before he plans to make his move on us, Roman Ivankov by his side.”

My eyes snapped up in alarm at the second part, the name of the Russian Mafia leader in pair with Marcus Caddel.

“Roman joined forces with a small gang?” I ask, having personally met the brutal man and not believing for a second he would offer his help out of the kindness of his non-existent heart.

Vincent loved having this knowledge over me, but I needed to know what the fuck was going on and I was going to make it happen one way or another.

“He joined forces with a man who knows how to hide things and a daughter who can provide the family an heir.” He shrugged as though this wasn’t the worst possible thing he could have told me.

My blood ran ice, ice cold at the admission, so frozen and so impenetrable I couldn’t move from my seat.

“Are you suggesting that Madelyn is to be bred off and married to Lev in exchange for fucking money?” I say, realizing my mistake before it’s too late.

I showed I cared.

“My my.” Vincent’s grin spread like an uncontained fire, burning at my chest and all the way up to my throat, “Isn’t this exciting.”

He looked at me the same way he did when I was still a boy; he looked at me like I was weak.

“Tell me the plan and get out.” I growl, not bothering with the fake smiles and crude words anymore. If he didn’t leave, the world would be seeing a new leader very soon and that was a title I refused to take on today.

Vincent made me wait in silence as he took a slow sip of his drink, an intentional act that made me see red.

He knew it and smirked in response. “Since everyone will be centralized at a designated point, it’ll only require someone to loop the camera footage for an hour, a person to retrieve the wife, and a third to grab Marcus.”

Caleb, Alec, me.

“And as for the others?” I dare ask, already fearing where this was going.

“Gas leak. A tragic accident if you ask me.” He shrugs as though he weren’t discussing murdering thousands of people.

I have no right to act innocent—I’ve killed more than I can remember to count—but innocents are going to die as a result of his plan. Children, families, waitresses and waiters just trying to do their job.

What he was planning was a massacre, and he wanted me to lead it.

“If we’re going to grab Marcus and his wife anyways, then why do we need Madelyn?” I challenge, needing to find a loophole. There’s always another way.

“This was your plan, boy. Or has your love for her made you as damn stupid as I feared?”

The bait.

Madelyn’s going to be the bait to not only plant doubt in Marcus’s recruits, but to lure her father straight into our hands.

Fuck.

“If the plans haven’t changed, then why are we having this conversation? The world knows she’s in our territory, her father will try to save her. Apart from a date being set, this isn’t anything new.”

I know my father, and for that reason, I know there’s something so much bigger to this than what he’s letting on.

When that stupid fucking smile of his reappears, I mentally brace myself for the information I’m about to get. This is what I’ve been waiting to hear, but instead of words, my father just reaches into his suit pocket.

He makes me wait as he slowly retracts his hand, a small black box being pulled out with it—one that I hate to admit terrifies me.

Popping the case open, he slides the smooth velvet across the table and into my hold.

“Being by your side makes the world think she’s some temporary fuck toy of yours. A ring however...” He grins, pausing dramatically, “Imagine the amount of media we’d get from one of the world’s wealthiest bachelors known for never seeing the same girl twice announcing his engagement after years of rejecting women.”

I’m going to be sick.

“No.” I snap, tossing the box back at him, “I’m not marrying anybody, and certainly not the daughter of the man who murdered my mother.”

When I marry Madelyn, it’s going to be with me on my knees worshiping the ground she fucking walks on, not one built up of lies and manipulation.

I know the day she finds out about her dad and our involvement in his disappearance is going to cause everything to blow up, but I will spend the rest of my miserable life begging her if that’s what it takes to get her back.

She’s my forever and I’m her always.

It doesn’t make sense, but none of this fucking does.

“So you’re telling me you’re fine having a woman who’s not of Italian descent married to the heir of our mafia? Publicly?”

Something’s not adding up here, and I can tell there’s more to this. But of course there is. It wouldn’t be Vincent if everything wasn’t so damn cryptic.

“Obviously not. You’ll propose in public, walk her around with a ring on her finger for a bit and then take care of the problem once Marcus is in our hold.”

I was supposed to play with her heart just to stab a knife into it until the life faded from her eyes. The image of that caused something to change inside of me—something I knew my father noticed.

I turned cold.

My anger and terror and sadness all numbed into an expression I’ve mastered over the years of growing up in this life.

If I were to be the one to drag Madelyn to death’s door, then I would become death itself to keep her from passing through.

I will become everything I’ve feared myself capable of becoming if it meant keeping Madelyn safe, even if that meant destroying myself in the process.

“And if I refuse?” I raise an eyebrow, my voice being forced into a state of cruelty and dominance.

It was one Vincent met eye to eye with, clearly infuriated that I would even dare say no. It meant all of his years of conditioning me broke, all by the thing he hated most: love.

“I’m invoking your first oath of two in exchange for your friend’s life.” My father stood, the ring being forgotten on the table. I rose with him, refusing to let even physical stance put him above me.

I knew what his words meant, and I didn’t fucking care.

When Caleb pulled a gun on Vincent last week to protect our girl, he committed an act of treason in the eyes of the Mafia.

If it weren’t for my deal, he would be dead and Madelyn would’ve been close behind, bait or not.

“You’ll propose to that girl, and you will do it in public. If you go against your word, not even our blood will be able to save you.”

Because he would kill me himself.

I understood what he was saying perfectly clear, but I was done being controlled by him. I will fight to keep Madelyn protected until I go to my grave, Alec and Caleb by my side.

“Your friends will be getting their own orders soon enough, and it’ll do you all good to not push me on this.” Vincent says as he walks to the front door, myself following but done speaking to him.

A smirk was still worn on his face, smugness in his stance, but what today made me remember was that my father underestimated me.

He believes me to be weak and fearful, and while I may be scared, I am anything but powerless.

My fear for Madelyn’s life is what will keep her alive, even if I won’t be a part of it.

Leaning against the wall and watching as Vincent’s hand opens the door, he moves halfway outside before turning back to me.

“You will take the girl to that little coffee shop she visits everyday and propose to her there on the 12th where plenty of people can see.” He demands, but once again, I don’t respond. I don’t even offer a nod.

I know this irks him, and I take great pride in that knowledge.

He physically doesn’t falter, though, maintaining that fake grin of his until it turns into something real—something lethal.

“You don’t seem as enthusiastic as I am, but that’s okay.” Vincent says lowly, his tone not matching his words, “Maybe your gift will excite you for the real thing.”

He stepped away at that, and I didn’t waste a second before slamming the door in his face.

Like a fucking engagement ring makes me happy.

It was a death sentence, one in which I still couldn’t find a way out of.

Angrily walking down the hall and to the living room, my head snaps towards the unannounced opening of the elevator doors when the chime greets me shortly after.

Nobody stood where my eyes traveled, but in a blink, recognition crossed my face and panic gripped at my heart.

Madelyn.

Running over to the unconscious woman on the elevator floor, her blonde wavy hair splays across her back over the same clothes she left in yesterday.

I can’t breathe as I crash to my knees beside her body, realizing the pool of blood around her head a second before I see a face I don’t recognize.

Despite the same hair and attire, the person before me does not have the light dusting of freckles across her cheeks or the cupid’s bow shape of Madelyn’s lips.

Maybe your gift will excite you for the real thing.

I had assumed he was talking about the engagement ring he left behind, but this was so much worse.

I was given the illusion of Madelyn’s death by a bullet wound to the head, only the point was made through someone completely different.

This woman was likely an innocent, caught in the middle of my father’s “lessons” and paid the price with her life.

I was shaking as I remained kneeled on the ground and couldn’t move until I heard the sound of footsteps coming from behind me.

Alec and Caleb just got home, and I was about to fucking explode.


- End of Chapter 64 -

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