Cruel Saints: Chapter 16

LUCIAN

I watch as Elena storms away from me, and when Leo follows after her, I turn my attention back to Tino.

It was my full intention to kill Dante, but I can’t afford another war right now. I know Elena sees it as a betrayal, but I’m not breaking my promise. I will kill Capone, just not today.

Tino looks smug. The fucker just secured an alliance with me. The thought that he’ll become my father-in-law makes my top lip curl with anger.

I gesture for Tino to join the other men, and as we walk toward the living room, I roll my shoulders to try and get rid of some of the tension.

Hopefully, Elena will see reason soon. It’s either me or Dante.

Alexei is the first to congratulate me, giving me a brotherly hug, and then the other men shake my hand.

“Good luck,” Yuri says with a chuckle. “I hear Italian women are feisty.”

It only sinks in then that Tino agreed. Elena and I are engaged. Within a week, she’ll be mine.

I smile at Yuri. “Thank you.”

With the congratulations out of the way, I get right to business. “The shipments will continue to move as planned,” I assure the men.

“When will the funeral be held?” Tino asks, and I don’t miss the smirk he tries to hide.

Fucker.

My hands curl into fists as I have to restrain myself to not beat him to death.

“Tomorrow. It will be intimate.”

“We can attend?” Marko Nicollaj asks. He’s the head of the Bratva, and I don’t dare refuse.

“Of course. I’d appreciate it.”

“Security?” Alexei asks.

My eyes lock with him, and for the hundredth time, I’m thankful for him. “Can you handle it?”

Alexei nods. “Consider it taken care of.”

Gratitude floods my chest, and I place my hand on his shoulder. “Thank you.”

“This threat? Any new leads?” Tino asks.

I let go of Alexei. “I spoke with a man yesterday. He had a Greek accent.”

Tino’s head snaps back, a dark frown forming on his forehead. “Greek? You sure?”

“I know a fucking Greek accent when I hear one,” I growl at Tino.

“Why would the Greeks want to move in on our territory?” he asks, clearly dumbfounded, and it lessens the suspicion I had about him being behind it all.

“I don’t know, but I plan to find out. I’ve asked for a meeting with Stathoulis.” Peter Stathoulis is the head of the Greek Mafia. Though we have a strained relationship, I don’t think he’s behind the attack. But I’m hoping he’ll be able to shine some light on who is.

We need to get to the bottom of this. Besides my life, billions of dollars are at stake.

Gesturing for a server to offer the men drinks, I turn my attention to Yuri. “Let’s take care of your order.”

I glance at Alexei, and he nods, receiving the silent message. As Yuri and I walk to the front door, Alexei and Demitri follow after us. We step out of the house and walk to where the truck is waiting.

I sweep my hand in the air, and it has Franco opening the doors to the trailer, then I gesture for Yuri to go ahead with the inspection.

I stand with Alexei and Demitri and watch as Yuri checks a couple of aircon units filled with weapons.

Seemingly happy, he nods. “Good.” I wait for him to talk with his righthand man, and once he joins us again, he says, “I’m glad to see your father managed to get the flash grenades. Thank you.”

“Of course.” I gesture for Yuri to walk.

As we head back to the house, Yuri takes care of the payment on his phone, then he chuckles. “You make me a poor man, Lucian.”

I let out a burst of laughter. “I doubt that’s possible.”

The truck’s engine starts, and glancing over my shoulder, I watch as two of Yuri’s men steer the metal beast down my driveway.

Thank God for the training my father gave me before I went to St. Monarch’s, or I’d be fucked right now.

The meeting lasts for another hour, and then the men depart. Tino hangs back, and once it’s just us and Alexei and Demitri, he says, “I trust you’ll plan the wedding?”

Fucking asshole. He won’t even give his only daughter a wedding.

“I’ll have my aunt take care of everything. You don’t have to worry about a damn thing.”

Tino doesn’t miss the aggression in my tone, and it makes the corner of his mouth curve up. “Soon, you’ll be my son-in-law,” he taunts me.

I take a deep breath so I don’t lose my patience, and then I meet Tino’s arrogant gaze with my own. “Don’t make the mistake of thinking it gives you power over me.”

“I wouldn’t dare,” he sneers. Without asking anything about Elena, he walks to the front door. “Good doing business with you.”

I watch him leave, then shake my head. “Some people make it hard not to kill them.”

Alexei lets out a chuckle.

Needing to check on Elena, I say, “Make yourselves at home.” Turning my attention to Franco, I ask, “Where is she?”

“Near the cliff,” he advises me.

I walk out onto the veranda and glance over the property as I make my way to the edge of the backyard. When I reach Leo, I nod at him. “Fall back.”

He moves away until he’s out of hearing distance, and then my eyes lock on Elena. She’s standing with her arms wrapped around her, just staring at the ocean.

“The meeting’s over,” I inform her.

She ignores me flat out, not taking her eyes off the horizon.

“You’re angry?” I ask.

She lets out a flabbergasted huff, and then she turns her head to pin me with a glare. “You think?”

I tilt my head. “I thought you’d be relieved. You don’t have to marry Dante.”

Elena turns to fully face me, fisting her hands. It actually looks like she wants to do me bodily harm. I’ve never seen her angry, and honestly, it’s refreshing.

“You lied to me,” she bites the words out.

“I did no such thing.”

She lets out an offended gasp. “You said you’d kill Dante! I opened up to you… for what?”

“First, I’m going to kill Dante, just not today. Second, you opened up to me because I care, and you have no one else who gives a shit about you.”

Slowly she shakes her head as if she’s struck with dumbfounded amazement by my words. “You know nothing about me. How the hell can you claim to care about me?”

  I take a step closer to her. “I know more than you think.”

“Like what? That I was held a captive by my own father? That Dante could do whatever he wanted to me?” She takes a shuddering breath. “That tells you nothing about me.”

I take another step closer, and it brings us within inches of each other. “It tells me you’re a little bird with broken wings, flailing while surrounded by predators.”

Elena’s features tighten, and then a breath rushes over her lips, her cheeks staining pink as her anger grows. “You think I’m weak?”  

When I lift a hand to reach for her, she slaps it away, and then she spits fire at me. “I’ve survived Dante for twenty-one years. I never gave up! Every time he beat me or forced himself on me, I got back up.”

Elena shakes her head at me, and then she begins to walk away.

“Do not walk away from me when we’re talking,” I snap at her.

She swings back at me. “Screw you, Lucian. You think you’re better than Dante? Than my father?” She stalks back to me, her eyes sparkling with rage, and God, she’s never looked more beautiful. “You’re the same as them. All I’ve ever wanted was my freedom, and you took it away from me. Don’t make the mistake of thinking I’ll be your wife. Ring or no ring. Vows or no vows. I’m nothing more than your prisoner.” A breath shudders out of her. “If you think I have broken wings, it’s because you’re the one who broke them when you arranged a marriage between us.”

Adjusting my cuff where it’s scratching at my wrist, it gives me a moment to focus on not losing my shit.

Then I lift my eyes to Elena’s, and I stare at her as I choose my words carefully.

 Slowly, I begin to stalk closer to her, and when I’m within reaching distance, my right hand shoots up, and I grab hold of her behind her head. Yanking her against me, my voice is low and threatening. “Do you want to go back to Dante?”

Elena only holds my stare, her lips sealed as her anger silently wars against mine.

“You asked me to stop the wedding between you and Capone, and I did. You asked me to kill him, and I will.” When I take a breath, it’s filled with Elena’s soft scent. “The world is filled with monsters, Elena. At least you get one who won’t rape and beat you. Count your fucking blessings.”

I watch as my words hit her, her infuriated breaths matching mine.

“I have shit to take care of, so you’ll just have to fucking deal with the fact that we’re engaged, and nothing on this godforsaken earth is going to change that.”

Done talking, I take hold of her hand and begin to drag her back to the house.

 


 

ELENA

 

Sitting in the back of the G Wagon, between Lucian and his aunt, I clamp my hands tightly together.

My anger simmers in my chest as I stare blankly ahead of me.

We’re on our way to the morgue. I have no idea why Lucian’s bringing me along.

Probably to make sure you don’t try to escape.

I roll my eyes at the thought because it’s ridiculous. I still don’t have any identification documents or money, so I’m stuck.

The fight with Lucian exhausted me, and after not getting any sleep last night, I feel drained.

I’ve never fought with anyone like that before. Dante would probably have killed me if I spoke to him like that.

Yet, Lucian remained calm. It was a deadly calm, but still, he didn’t lash out at me.

‘The world is filled with monsters, Elena. At least you get one who won’t rape and beat you. Count your fucking blessings.’

His words keep replaying in my mind. I’m not so sure I can believe them, though.

I mean, we’re going to get married. What will happen on our wedding night? Will our union be consummated in blood because I will not give my consent? I won’t agree to have sex with a man I don’t know. Least of all, one who’s taken me captive.

God, all I wanted was my freedom.

For a stupid moment, I actually thought Lucian could give it to me.

Stupid, Elena. You trusted the first person who showed you a glimmer of compassion. But it was all business for Lucian.

We stop outside a building, and I take a deep breath as we climb out of the car. Lucian grips hold of my hand, and when I try to pull away, he gives me a dark look filled with warning.

Alexei and Demitri join us from where they parked next to our vehicle. I don’t know where Carson is. It looks like he left after the meeting.

Surrounded by guards, we enter the building, and I’m instantly freezing.

A man comes to meet us. “Mr. Cotroni, we were expecting you. This way.”

My eyes begin to widen when I realize I’m not going to wait somewhere until Lucian’s done viewing the body of his father.

Before we enter a room, Aunt Ursula begins to softly sob. My heart instantly goes out to her. Lucian lets go of my hand and wraps an arm around his aunt. He presses a kiss to her temple, then murmurs, “Let’s say goodbye. Okay?”

She nods against his chest, and the interaction between them touches me deeply.

Lucian holds his aunt as they enter the room, and then Alexei places his hand on my lower back, softly nudging me to follow them.

I step inside, and my eyes instantly fall on the white sheet.

Oh, God.

Lucian lets go of his aunt, and then he steps closer to the table until he’s right next to it. He tilts his head and reaches for the sheet. I hold my breath as the white fabric is pulled back, and then emotion inundates me as Lucian takes a shuddering breath. “Papà,” he whispers, his voice drenched in sorrow.

Even though Lucian’s my enemy, and I didn’t know his father, compassion fills me.

Lucian places his hand over his tie, and then he leans forward and presses a kiss to his father’s forehead. “Ti voglio bene, Papà.” He murmurs something else I can’t make out and then straightens up.

I watch as Lucian closes his eyes, sorrow shadowing his face. He takes a couple of minutes, just staring at his father before he steps away so his aunt can say goodbye.

She falls over Mr. Cotroni’s chest and lets out a heartbreaking wail. Tears spring to my eyes, and I quickly blink them away. When I glance away from the tragic scene, my eyes collide with Lucian’s.

There’s no anger. Just need.

He closes the distance between us and wraps his arms around me. He needs comfort from me, and I push our differences aside.

Lucian buries his face in my hair, his body engulfing mine. For a moment, I hesitate, but then I lift my arms and wrap them around his waist.

“Thank you,” he whispers, his voice rough with grief.

I nod against his shoulder, and thinking it might help, I rub my hand over his broad back.

Standing in the morgue next to Lucian’s father’s body, we find a connection. Although our situations are different, we both know the bitter taste of loss.

Lucian is the first to pull back. He goes to his aunt, and taking hold of her shoulders, he pulls her away from the body. She weeps against Lucian’s chest, and he holds her tightly as if his strength is all that’s keeping her from sinking to the ground.

We leave the morgue, and I’m surprised when Alexei again places his hand on my lower back. It feels as if he’s offering me comfort.

While Lucian is focused on his aunt, Alexei leans a little down, and then he murmurs softly, “Lucian’s a good man. He’s doing what’s right. Don’t make his life hell for saving you.”

Frowning, my eyes dart up to Alexei’s, and then I see the warning, and it sends a shiver down my spine. “Always remember I have Lucian’s back.”

In other words, if I try to kill Lucian, Alexei will be there to take revenge.

I move away from Alexei, and he drops his hand. Before I can walk faster, he says, “Love him, and you’ll have my protection. You choose how your future will play out.”

I walk faster and catch up with Lucian and his aunt. Glancing over my shoulder, I give Alexei one last look. He smiles at me, and somehow it looks scarier than his usual grim expression.

Snapping my head forward, I place my hand on Aunt Ursula’s back, choosing to offer her comfort instead of worrying about Alexei.

Aunt Ursula’s hand searches for mine, and then she clasps my fingers tightly. The engagement ring digs into my skin, but I try to ignore the bite.

We all climb back in the G-Wagon, and when I’m seated between Lucian and his aunt, I reach out for Aunt Ursula’s hand. She instantly grabs hold of mine with both of hers and gives me a thankful look.

Lucian takes hold of my left hand, and as my head snaps to him, he places my palm on his thigh. My eyes dart to his face, but he’s staring out the window.

When I turn my attention back to Aunt Ursula, she gives me a trembling smile. “We’ve lost, and we’ve gained. Dorothy’s ring looks beautiful on your finger.”

“Dorothy?” I ask softly.

“My sister, Lucian’s mother. It was her engagement ring.”

Surprise flickers through me. Lucian gave me his mother’s ring? Having seen how close he is to his family, I know it must be of great sentimental value to him.

Just then, Lucian brushes his thumb over the ring on my finger, the touch a soft caress.

Slowly I glance at him, but he’s still staring out of the window. My eyes drop to where his hand is covering mine. I take in the veins snaking under his tanned skin. I feel the warmth coming from his palm and his thigh.

When there’s a fluttering in my stomach, I close my eyes. There’s a stab of disappointment in my heart because I know it’s only a matter of time before I won’t want to escape anymore.

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