Black Wings & Stolen Things: Chapter 5

EMERIC

Saturdays at Tartarus are always packed from wall to wall and alive with music and gyrating bodies. Originally, when I converted the old bank into a club, I thought it would be a good business to run my empire’s dirty money through. On paper, the club is above board and is just another one of New York’s top nightclubs. I pay accountants and bookkeepers out the ass to make sure that it stays that way. My own nephew, Callan, is currently putting his fancy private school education and forensic accounting degree to work by keeping our accounts looking squeaky clean.

Of course, my club is anything but clean. It’s full of depravity and salacious acts. Most of said acts take place in the secret basement level. That level is where the real fun happens. Where I’d usually be spending my night, but since my attention and cock were ensnared by a certain princess a month ago, I haven’t stepped foot in the basement.

Haven’t so much as looked at another woman. The only action my poor lonely dick is getting these days is from my own fist, and let me tell you, sad shower hand jobs just don’t hit the spot like a tight pussy does. The problem is, there’s only one pussy I’m interested in having and I’m still biding my time before I finally make my move.

I wonder how Niall will react to me taking his daughter. Will he be angry because I’ve yet again humiliated the man, or because he genuinely cares about what happens to his child? My money is on the former.

For the past fifteen years, I’ve been watching Niall Moran’s empire slowly crumble. It’s been an entertaining and satisfying sight to behold. Watching all my competitors try and fail to contend with me has been one of my greatest joys. My climb to the top was bloody and difficult, but worth it. I’m now untouchable and sitting pretty on my throne.

Instead of spending my weekends in the basement level like I usually do, I’m locked away in my office. Something I’ve found myself doing a lot over the past four weeks. I’m surprised I’m not having withdrawals from the debauchery that takes place down there. The knowledge that I have something more satisfying coming has kept me at ease. For her, the wait will be worth it.

I stare at the four walls of my office and sigh. By normal standards, it’s a nice office. Really fucking nice. Three walls have been painted black and are decorated in the black-and-white macabre artwork I’ve picked up over the years. The fourth wall is almost entirely made up of large arched windows. They’re original to the bank’s architecture. The building itself dates back to the 1780s, and when I bought it a decade ago, I made sure to keep many of its original details.

When my older brother, Astor, decided the organized crime life wasn’t for him and abdicated his position as boss of the family, I didn’t quite realize how much of my time would be spent sitting in this very office. I spend too much of my days sitting at this desk, talking to illiterate cocksuckers on the phone. Or worse, schmoozing politicians so they’ll keep the law off my dick when I need them to. You know, quid pro quo or whatever.

If I’m chained to this room for too long without getting my hands bloody, I’ll start to get bored, and it’s never a good thing when I’m bored. That’s when I get into trouble or someone ends up dead… sometimes both. I’m like a puppy. Without proper enrichment, I start to destroy things.

Nova knocks once on the closed door before he pushes into the room.

“If I don’t get out of this office, I’m going to lose my mind.”

“I think it’s safe to say that’s already happened, boss.”

Ha. Hilarious,” I lean back in my chair and steeple my hands over my solid abdomen. “Are you sure there’s nothing that needs my attention tonight? I need something to liven shit up around here.”

Nova sits his brick shithouse of a body into one of the leather wingback chairs across from my desk and passes me the iPad in his tattooed hand. “Then you’re in luck. There’s someone here that wants to speak to you.”

I look down at the screen, at the black-and-white security footage from a room I know well. It’s the same room that Rocco and many just like Rocco took their final breaths in. It too is located on the basement level.

See, I told you all the fun happens down there.

A man in a dark hooded sweatshirt sits in the lone metal chair. His arms are crossed against his chest and his long legs are stretched out in front of him. Unlike many of the other unfortunate souls that find themselves in that room, the man is calm.

Between the camera angle and the hood, I can’t make out his face. “Who is it?”

Nova runs a hand over his light brown beard. “When I saw him on the cameras standing at the back entrance, I sent two of the boys to go grab him. He came here unarmed. I asked him what he was doing here, but he said he’d only speak with you. No idea what he’s thinking showing up here. His people will be madder than hell if they find out.”

I’m already standing from my desk and heading toward the door before he finishes talking. Having no idea how this is going to go, I wisely leave my black jacket over the back of my chair. There’s no reason to ruin yet another suit if I don’t have to, right?


“NOT MANY ARE brave enough to seek me out, let alone ask to privately speak with me,” I tell the hooded man as I enter the soundproof room. He doesn’t flinch or faulter as his head lifts and his eyes meet mine. I know this man. Not personally, but I know who employs him and that’s enough information for me to know that he should not be here. “Well, shit… I did not see this one coming. You are a brave one. You do know that you’re risking your fucking neck by being here, correct?”

“Yes,” he answers simply with a single nod.

I let out a low whistle as I lean against the concrete cinder block wall. My ankles cross while I continue to take in the man before me. “Your owner will be beyond pissed if he finds out you’re off your leash, which tells me whatever you have to tell me will be worth my time.” My hands motion for him to start speaking. “Well, come on then, don’t leave me in suspense for too long. Edging has never been my kink.”

He pushes the hood off his buzzed head. “They’ve found her a husband.”

And he’s lost me. “Found who a husband?”

“Rionach.”

This has me standing from my spot against the wall, my spine snapping straight and my hands balling into tight fists. Usually, I’m better at keeping my reactions to a minimum. Letting your enemy know how you feel about a situation puts you at an immediate disadvantage. It’s best to keep them guessing. By my physical reaction to hearing her name, I’ve already shown my hand.

I force my body to relax, for my hands to fall limply at my sides. “And you’re bringing me this information because?”

“Because I watched the security tapes from the charity gala, Banes. I saw you up on that roof with her and I saw how you looked at her in the lobby before the Italian moved in on you.”

A protective surge rushes through me at the thought that someone else could have seen those tapes. That they could have seen my princess up on the roof, letting herself burn for those short, stolen moments.

Still keeping that air of false calm around me, my shoulders shrug. Soon everyone will know that Rionach Moran is mine, but not yet. Not until the time is right. This information, if it’s true, is certainly going to be adjusting my current timetable, though.

“I still don’t see how her being married off has anything to do with me.” It has everything to do with me.

“Niall has chosen Bogdan Koslov as her groom.” He shifts in his chair, the first sign of nerves since I walked in here. Normally, seeing my enemy anxious would make me grin, but the name Koslov has sucked the air out of my lungs and turned my vision a bloody shade of red. “I remember rumors from a while back that you have history with the Koslov family.”

History is putting it mildly. Igor Koslov, Bogdan’s father, was an associate and friend of my father’s. For most of my childhood, Igor was an unwanted and permanent fixture in my life. At the age of twelve, he started to play an even more prominent role in my life. That ended when I turned fifteen. A lot ended when I turned fifteen. Those three years with him construct memories I prefer to keep locked deep inside my twisted mind.

But I’m not about to tell this man that. Only Astor knows the full truth about my time with Igor, and I want to keep it that way. “I know who Igor is, yes,” is the only confirmation I grant.

“Then you know why she can’t marry Bogdan. He…” The man’s head shakes, visibly unnerved. “Bogdan makes Igor look like a bloody saint. The things he’s done to people—to women. I saw the pictures of the dead prostitute who angered him. He skinned her. Some think she was alive when he did it. Rionach cannot be wed to that man.”

It’s not a secret that Bogdan Koslov is one sick puppy. The skinned prostitute is just the icing on that fucked-up cake. Nothing about his behavior is a surprise to me given who he was raised by. The kid never stood a chance against Igor’s influence. The fact that Niall Moran is willing to marry his only daughter off to that family shows how little he cares about his child.

“What is Niall getting in exchange for the union?”

“Money. A lot of money and an alliance. Both the Koslovs and Morans have been struggling to remain in power ever since…” he trails off, giving me a look.

“Since I’ve started tearing down their empires,” I finish for him.

He nods. “They think by forming an alliance they will be able to help each other reestablish their ranks.”

I would have lost a lot of money if I’d ever bet on whether the Irish and Russian syndicates would team up. That’s a pairing I never saw coming.

“Why are you telling me this?”

His jaw, which is mostly covered by a well-groomed beard, twitches as he ponders his answer. “I care about the lass.”

My brows knit together. “You care about her? What? You’ve got a schoolyard crush on the girl?”

He actually seems offended I would say such a thing. “What? No, I don’t have a… crush. Jesus Christ.” His hand scrubs his face. “No one in that fucking house gives a single shite about that girl. This engagement proves that. Someone needs to care. Someone needs to save her from this, and if that person has to be me, then to hell with the consequences.”

Green eyes, the color of freshly cut grass, meet mine and I swear I can see pleading in those depths. I examine his face, really taking in all his features like somehow, they will give me the answer as to why he’s willing to risk his neck for the girl. I refocus on his eyes after a moment. That green color… interesting.

Feeling a bit more clarity about this man’s motives, I return to my spot against the wall. “If you want to save her, why would you come to me? Safety and I don’t typically play well together.”

He leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “As I said, I saw the security footage. More importantly, I saw your face. How you looked at Rionach… have you ever looked at a woman like that?”

No. I haven’t. “So, what? You think I should just steal her away?” He doesn’t need to know I’m already planning on doing just that. “You think she’d be safer with me?”

A solemn, almost resigned look crosses his face. It’s as if he can’t believe he’s really here asking me this himself. “You don’t mutilate women.”

He’s right. I don’t. There’re not many lines I won’t skip happily across, but that’s one of them. I even stopped dealing in flesh when I took over the business. My father’s preferred method of income was trafficking women. I think he favored it because he enjoyed sampling the merchandise.

“You’re the lesser of two evils. At least with you, I know she’ll live because no one fucks with a Banes.”

Brayden Kennedy doesn’t know how fucking true those words are. My last name will be a bulletproof vest wrapped tightly around her. Once mine, she’ll be untouchable.

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