• 8 •
That was his name.
Leaning against his chest, I couldn’t help but repeat his name in my head.
Vincenzo. Vincenzo. Vincenzo.
I fought the sudden urge to say his name out loud. How would his name taste in my mouth? Would my tongue roll at ‘Enzo’?
His abs tightened under my body, just as though he could hear my most innermost, deepest, darkest thoughts.
My lip twitched and I levelly breathed deeply around the knife still punctured in my throat. Eyes narrowing in at Axel, I probed him in my mind, dissecting each of his movements in the past, around me. Was he a part of Caleb’s plan too? To ‘hand’ me over to the common enemy as a peace offering?
Judging by the subdued curiosity in his gaze, he had no idea. But if I had learned anything in the past fifteen minutes, it was to not keep my expectations high.
I could feel Caleb stare a hole down the side of my face. Ignoring it, I mentally counted the weapons I still had on me. Two more knives down my heels, and a pistol tucked in my thigh-holster.
Vincenzo’s hold tightened around me, pressing me even closer into him, no doubt thinking that I was about to escape.
I would, but only after I got some more answers from him. Let him think that he has won. For now. Besides, I was too busy fighting my own raging demons to show him his place.
“So, this is your leverage?” My lips tilted down disdainfully, as my eyes swept two of my men and two of Vincenzo’s guards behind. “I’ve got to say, it’s kind of pathetic.” On second thought, I added, “No hard feelings.” Dishonesty bled in my voice.
Vincenzo wasn’t having any of it.
“Tell me you won’t as much as blink if I order my men to skin yours.” His voice wasn’t above a murmur. It was throaty, it was smooth. And the next second, it was a harsh whisper. Brittle and unforgiving.
Everything about him screamed ‘predator’ and I had no doubt, none at all, that a predator like him had no time to hand out empty threats.
“Tell me,” His lips caressed the lobe of my ear, drawing out a tremor in my jaw, “That you won’t hesitate seeing the skin ripped off clean, or messily, depending on my mood, from between their bone marrows.” His lips brushing against my ear was a total one-eighty from his words. “Tell me, Xena.”
I knew I had to play it cautious now. One wrong move of mine, and two more bodies would join the ground, making the grand total of seven dead bodies.
And let me tell you, cleaning up of seven dead bodies wasn’t easy. Wiping every touch clean from the body, and of course, carving my signature X took some effort.
“Vincenzo,” I smiled. “There are casualties in every war. Its unavoidable. But let’s not bore ourselves with that quite yet.” I could feel a headache come through. Today turned out to be quite a shit show. “Instead, why don’t we discuss more… pressing matters like why the fuck did you send those men after me? Why do you want me dead so bad?” The last part sounded more like an accusation, instead of my arrogance.
One of his loonies spoke up, the one with the hippy goggles. “Everybody wants you dead.”
I rose a satirical brow. “Way to make someone feel loved.”
No one dared to entertain my humour. My lip turned up, slightly.
But of course, someone had to ruin it all. All the planning I was doing in my head.
His voice turned deeper as he switched to his home tongue. There was a certain roughness in his accent, that shouldn’t have elicited a response from me. It did.
Although the irritation came back with full force when the two minions replied with identical ‘Si, Capo,’ and started dragging Axel and Caleb away.
“Hey, asshole, where the fuck are—“
The air escaped me in a rush as Vincenzo’s hand gripped my hair, tugging harshly, as he tilted my face to meet his. My cold glare met his perfectly controlled face. “Do not make the mistake of disrespecting me again, diavola. I promise you that you would not like the repercussions.”
My eyes flared in anger. I may not know much Italian, but I knew my favourite word.
He then continued our previous conversation, without letting go of my hair. “You have no idea of the whispers and threats that are surrounding you, do you?”
I hated how he made me feel naive and fucking inexperienced with one dismissive look of his. “What rumours?”
A hint of a smile overtook his face, almost pleased. Dark amusement played at his face, making me see red. “That’s what I thought.”
I wanted to punch the arrogant smirk right off his face.
Twisting and putting my body weight on him, I freed a hand, without looking away from his searing gaze. He didn’t put a fight.
“So, here I am, in the flesh.” I motioned to myself. “Why aren’t you killing me? Why the threats and why the leverage?”
He didn’t falter. “Because I finally found a use for you.”
Was this some kind of a sick joke? Did he really think he could send his men to kill me, and when that plan backfired, he could corner me against the wall, manhandle my fucking hair and then tell me he needed my help?
“Wow. I feel so useful.” I looked at him flatly. “Over my dead fucking body will I ever help you.”
He ran his tongue across his teeth, eyes narrowed in contemplation. Standing so close to him, I could see every hue in his grey eyes. The specks of stormy grey merged in black darkness, only to come alight by the amused twinkle glaring down at me. It was the aftershave that made me delirious.
“It can be arranged.”
What were we talking about again?
“Your dead body.” He raised an expectant brow. “It can be arranged.”
I could taste the resentment on my tongue. He won’t talk. Not like this. I’ll have to be… a little creative.
Taking a relatively huge step back, I held in my amusement when he did what I predicted he would. He cornered me against the wall, pushing me against it.
My back dug against the stone wall, yet not a complaint left me. I may be the one pinned against the wall, but the power was in my hands this time.
He leaned his head closer to mine, his eyes holding me captive. Then gently, as if I were made of glass, traced my cheek, causing goosebumps to arise on my skin.
I exhaled sharply when his thumb rested on my chin. “Why are you here?”
“Why can’t I be here?” He couter-attacked.
“Allow me to rephrase, stronzo,” I held in a breath as his other hand tightened on my scalp. A warning, maybe? Too bad I was never one to adhere to them. Spoiled bitch? Sue me.
“What is the Cosa Nostra doing on my land?” My darkened eyes searched his for an answer.
What the hell was he playing at?
Nevertheless, I wasn't one to back down. Freeing my hands easily, my fingers traced his tailored shirt, watching how his eyes dropped down to my lips.
A smug smirk rested at my lip and I would be lying if him staring at my lips didn't do things to me. Taking his daydreaming state as an advantage, I shifted us roughly, with him against the wall.
Too shocked to speak, he angled his face lower to mine, our breathing collectively harsh in the cold night. His hooded eyes were filled with an unquenchable desire, and I was sure my eyes mirrored his.
My left hand callously grabbed both of his wrists and neatly pinned them above his head.
He smirked darkly, watching me move.
He was making it way too easy for me. But I didn't care.
My right hand hovered in the air, making him crave for my touch. His Adams apple bobbed as he stared down at me, almost hungrily, eyes as dark as pits of coals.
My fingertips grazed his jaw, running my fingers down the dried blood. I didn’t know where it came from. And neither did I want to know.
So. Fucking. Hot.
"Now here's what going to happen," I murmured lowly, biting his ear. Cold metal played against my skin, making me shiver in impatience.
His eyes widened by a fraction, but I caught it.
I watched the slow realisation sink into him.
I watched his jaw clench when he realised what had happened.
Cold fury entrapped his striking features, as he looked at me unflinching.
The Capo was at gunpoint. And the gun belonged to me.