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Brutal Prince: Chapter 4


I don’t know what I was thinking, jumping in after that watch.

The moment I hit the water—still fucking freezing, barely warmed up at all by the early summer weather—the cold is like a slap to the face, waking me up.

I’m so desperate that I keep diving down, eyes open, searching for a glint of gold in the black water.

Of course, there’s nothing to see, nothing at all. The water under the pier is choppy, full of sand and pollutants. Even at midday the sun would hardly penetrate. At night, it might as well be motor oil.

My suit constricts my arms and legs, my dress shoes weighing me down all the more. If I wasn’t a strong swimmer, I might be in serious trouble. The waves are trying to smash me against the pilings, the pillars sharp with muscles and barnacles.

I have to swim away from the pier before I can stroke back to shore. All of that takes enough time that Jack is pretty much freaking out by the time I drag myself up on the sand—filthy, soaking, and angrier than I’ve ever been in my life.

That fucking BITCH!

I never knew much about the youngest Gallo. Her father keeps her out of the spotlight, and she’s not involved in the family business as far as I know.

At first glance, when we approached her and her brother on the pier, I almost felt guilty. She looked young, barely older than Nessa. And she’s beautiful, which shouldn’t have had any impact on my resolve, but it did. She’s got light-brown skin, dark hair, and narrow gray eyes, slightly tilted up at the outer corners. She stiffened up as soon as we approached, noticing us even before Sebastian did.

I felt a twinge of guilt threatening them, seeing how Sebastian tried to step in front of her to protect her. That’s what I would do for my sisters, in the same position.

But seeing the girl’s height and dark hair, I remembered my glimpse of the person fleeing the library, and I began to suspect that it was her that set the fire.

Then she stepped forward and started yelling at me, with the temperament and vocabulary of a sea-hardened sailor, and I was certain she was the one who broke into our house.

Then, instead of handing over the watch, she flung it over the railing like a fucking psychopath. And I realized that pretty face disguised the soul of a demon. That girl is pure evil, the worst of the whole family. She deserves whatever she gets.

The question is, what am I going to do about it?

Right now, I want to murder every last one of them.

But I can’t afford that kind of bloodbath right before the election.

So, I guess I’ll just have to do the next best thing—bankrupt the bastards.

They tried to burn my house down—I’m going to burn down the tower they’re building over on Oak Street.

That will be the appetizer. The main meal will be wiping out every restaurant and nightclub under their control as well.

Fantasies of the hellfire I’m going to reign down on their heads is the only thing keeping me warm while I stomp down the street in my soggy dress shoes and sopping wet suit.

Jack jogs along next to me, embarrassed that he let a kid and his little sister get the best of us. He can tell I’m in a murderous mood, so he doesn’t want to say anything to make it worse. I notice that he’s got a bloody nose himself, and a cut over his right eyebrow. Pretty humiliating for someone who won a UFC championship a couple of years back.

My shoes make a disgusting squelching sound.

My custom suit smells like a dying starfish.


I’ve got to change clothes before I literally lose my mind.

I head back to the house, where the party is beginning to wind down. I’ve missed the singer, not that I cared, except to see the look of joy on Nessa’s face. Just another cock up in this shit-show of a night.

I’ve barely stepped foot through the door when I’m met by my furious-looking father.

“Where the fuck have you been?” he snarls. “Why didn’t you tell me there were Gallos at our party?”

He looks down at my clothes, dripping dirty lake water on the spotless tiles of the entryway.

“And why are you wet?” he says flatly.

“We had a dust-up down at the pier, but I’m handling it,” I tell him through gritted teeth.

“Unacceptable,” he says. “Get in my office. Tell me everything.”

I’m itching to get back out there and wreak fiery vengeance on those greasy guidos, but I march in the office to give him a report. He’s not pleased by a single word of it.

“What the fuck were you thinking?” he shouts, so close to my face that his saliva hits my cheek. “Why are you starting a gang war in the middle of your campaign?”

“They started it!” I yell back. “They tried to burn our fucking house down. They stole grandfather’s watch and threw it in the lake! What do you want me to do, bake them a fucking cake?”

“Lower your voice,” my father hisses at me. “People will hear you.”

As if he wasn’t just yelling at me twice as loud.

I take a deep breath, trying to control the anger threatening to spiral out of control.

“I told you,” I say, quiet and strangled. “I. Will. Handle. This.”

“Absolutely not,” my father says, shaking his head. “You’ve already proven your incompetence. Crippling the youngest son? You’ve lost your mind. You know he’s some star athlete? You might as well have killed him.”

“Next time I will,” I seethe.

“You’re done,” he says, shaking his head.

“That’s not your decision!”

He shoves me hard in the chest.

It spikes my adrenaline all the more. I respect my father. He may look like a professor, but he’s killed men with his bare hands. I’ve seen him do it.

But he’s not the only one in the room who can break bones. I’m not the obedient son I once was. We’re eye to eye these days.

“As long as I’m head of this family, you’ll do what I say,” my father says.

There are so many things I’d like to say to that. But I swallow them down. Just barely.

“And what do you propose . . . father?” I mutter.

“This is getting out of control,” my father says. “I’m going to call Enzo Gallo.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me!”

“Shut your mouth,” he snaps. “You’ve done enough damage. I’ll see what I can do to repair this before both our families end up dead in the street.”

I can’t believe this. After they spat in our face in our very own house, he wants to call them up and negotiate. It’s insane. It’s cowardly.

My father can see the mutiny in my eyes.

“Give me your phone,” he says. He waits, hand outstretched, until I give it to him. It was in my pocket when I jumped in the lake, so it’s useless anyway.

“I’m going to contact Enzo Gallo,” he repeats. “You will stay here until I send for you. You won’t speak to anyone. You won’t call anyone. You won’t step foot outside this house. Do you understand me?”

“You’re grounding me?” I scoff. “I’m a grown man, father. Don’t be ridiculous.”

He takes off his glasses so his pale blue eyes can bore all the way into my soul.

“You are my eldest child and my only son, Callum,” he says. “But I promise you, if you disobey me, I will cut you out, root and branch. I have no use for you if you can’t be trusted. I will strike you down like Icarus if your ambition outstrips your orders. Do you understand?”

Every cell of my body wants to tell him to take his fucking money, and his connections, and his so-called genius and shove it right up his ass.

But this man is my father. My family is everything to me—without them, I’d be a ship without rudder or sail. I’m nothing if I’m not a Griffin.

So I have to nod my head, submitting to his orders.

Inside I’m still boiling, the heat and pressure building.

I don’t know when or how. But if something doesn’t change between us soon, I’m going to explode.


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