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Brutal Prince: Chapter 6


I’m sitting on the back deck, watching the hired staff clean up the last remnants of trash and supplies from the party. They’ve been working all night. My mother insisted that it all be cleaned up immediately, so none of our neighbors would have to see a hint of disarray on our grounds on their way to work in the morning.

My sisters went to bed already—Nessa flushed and happy from the excitement of the evening, Riona pouting because I refused to tell her where our father disappeared to.

My mother is still awake, supervising the clean-up efforts, though not actually touching anything herself.

When my father’s armored car pulls into the drive, she abandons the workers and joins us back in the office. I feel like I’ve spent too many hours in here lately. And I don’t like the look on my father’s face.

“So?” I say at once. “What was the agreement?”

I’m expecting him to say that we came to some kind of financial agreement or handshake deal—maybe they’ll give us support with the Italian vote in the Alderman election, and we’ll promise them whatever permits or zoning they want on their next construction project.

So when my father explains the actual deal, I stare at him like he just sprouted two heads.

“You will marry Aida Gallo in two weeks,” he says.

“That little brat?” I explode. “No fucking way.”

“It’s already settled.”

My mother steps forward, looking alarmed. She lays her hand on my father’s arm.

“Fergus,” she says in a low tone. “Is this wise? We’ll be tied to the Gallos in perpetuity.”

“That’s exactly the point,” my father says.

“They’re filthy fucking gangsters!” I spit out. “We can’t have their name associated with ours. Especially not with the election coming up.”

“The election will be the first benefit of this alliance,” my father says, taking off his glasses and cleaning them with the handkerchief he keeps in his breast pocket. “Your success is by no means assured when you’re facing off against La Spata. The Gallos hold the key to the Italian vote. If you’re married to Aida when the ballot goes out, every single one of them in this district will vote for you. They’ll abandon La Spata without hesitation.”

“I don’t need her to win!” I snarl.

“Don’t be so sure,” my father says. “You’re too confident, Callum. Arrogant, even. If the vote happened today, the results might be a coin toss. You should always secure your victory ahead of time, given the opportunity.”

“Fine,” I say, trying to maintain my temper. “But what about after this month? Do you honestly expect me to stay married to her forever?”

“Yes, I do,” my father says seriously. “The Gallos are Catholic, the same as us. You’ll marry her, you’ll be faithful to her, and you’ll father children with her.”

I shake my head in disbelief. “Mother, surely you have something to say about this.”

She looks back and forth between my father’s face and mine. Then she tucks a lock of smooth blonde hair behind her ear and sighs.

“If the deal was struck, we will abide by it.”

I should have known. She always sides with father.

Still, I sputter, “What?! You can’t—”

She cuts me off with a glance.

“Callum, it’s time for you to become the man you profess to be. I’ve watched you play around with these girls you date—models and socialites. You seem to deliberately pick the most shallow and empty-headed girls.”

I scowl, folding my arms across my chest. It never mattered who I dated, as long as they looked good on my arm and didn’t embarrass me at parties. Since I never wanted anything serious, it made sense to find girls who were just looking for fun, the same as me.

“I didn’t know I was supposed to be finding a broodmare,” I say sarcastically. “I thought you’d want me to find the right girl and fall in love, like a normal person.”

“Is that what you think we did?” my mother says quietly.

I pause. I actually have no idea how my parents met. I never asked them.

“That’s right,” my mother says. “Fergus and I had an ‘arranged marriage,’ if you want to call it that. More accurately, our parents, who were older and wiser than us, and who knew us better than we knew ourselves, arranged the match. Because they knew we would be good partners for one another, and because it was an alliance that benefited both of our families. There were challenges, at first.”

A significant look passes between my parents. A little ruefulness and amusement from both of them.

“But in the end, our match is what made us the people we are today,” my father says.

This is fucking bananas. I’ve never heard this before.

“That’s completely different!” I tell them. “You were from the same culture, the same background. The Gallos are mobsters. They’re old school, in the worst sense of the word.”

“That’s part of the value they’ll provide,” my father says bluntly. “As we’ve grown in wealth and influence, we’ve lost our edge. You’re my only son. Your mother lost both her brothers. There are precious few men on my side of the family. In pure muscle, we only have what we pay for. You can never be sure of the loyalty of hired guns—there’s always someone willing to pay more. Since Zajac took over, the Braterstwo are becoming a serious threat to us, something we can’t necessarily deal with on our own. The Italians have the same problem. With our two families aligned, the Butcher won’t dare strike at either of us.”

“Great,” I say. “But who’s going to protect me from my betrothed? That girl is a wild animal. Can you imagine her as a politician’s wife? I doubt she even knows how to walk in heels.”

“Then you’ll teach her,” my mother says.

“I don’t know how to walk in heels, either,” I say sarcastically. “How exactly am I supposed to teach her to be a lady, mother?”

“She’s young and malleable,” my father says. “You’ll train her, mold her into what she needs to be in order to stand by your side and support your career.”

Young and malleable?

I really don’t think my father got a good look at this girl.

Young she may be, but she’s about as malleable as cast iron.

“What an exciting challenge,” I say through gritted teeth. “I can’t wait to get started.”

“Good,” my father says. “You’ll have your chance at your engagement party next week.”

Engagement party?” This is a fucking joke. I just found out about this five minutes ago, and apparently, they’re already planning the public announcement.

“You’ll have to agree on your cover story with Aida,” my mother says. “Something like, ‘You started dating casually starting about eighteen months ago. It got serious last fall. You’d planned to wait until after the election to marry but decided you just couldn’t wait anymore.’”

“Maybe you’d better just write the press release for me, mother. Do my wedding vows, too, while you’re at it.”

“Don’t be disrespectful,” my father snaps.

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” I tell him.

I doubt the same can be said of my future bride. In fact, that might be the one silver lining of this fucking maelstrom—watching my parents have to deal with the little hellcat they’re bringing into this family.


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