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Cruel Saints: Chapter 18


Standing by the dining room table, I stare at all the cakes.

I’m going to die of a sugar overdose if Aunt Ursula forces me to take one more bite.

I look at Elena and ask, “Have you decided which one you want?”

She glances at me, then back at the selection. “They’re all pretty…”

“But?” I ask.

Aunt Ursula lets out a sigh. “They’re not right for the two of you.”

The pâtissier steps closer. “There’s a new trend you might like. A naked cake with lace buttercream. It won’t be too sweet.”

“I like the sound of that,” I mutter, drawing a chuckle from Aunt Ursula.

The pâtissier fiddles on a tablet, and then he shows the women a picture that instantly makes Elena smile. “It’s perfect.”

My lips curve up, and I walk closer. Placing my hands on Elena’s hips, I look at the cake from over her shoulder, and even I have to admit it’s beautiful. “Is that the one you want?” I ask.

She glances up at me. “Yes. I like how delicate it looks.”

“It’s settled then.” I press a kiss to her neck. “I have work to take care of.”

“Don’t be late for dinner,” Aunt Ursula calls after me as I leave the dining room.

“I won’t.” My lips curve up, thinking how pleasant things have actually been since Elena and I spoke yesterday. She seems to be warming up to the idea of marrying me, and it didn’t escape my notice that she didn’t tense up when I kissed her neck.

Walking out the front door, Franco and Matteo instantly flank me, and we head for the car. I get into the back seat, and once Franco starts the engine, I say, “The harbor. A shipment came in.”

“Yes, Sir.” Then he speaks into the microphone, “We’re on the move.”

I take my phone from my pocket and dial Alexei’s number. He and Demitri are chasing a lead, and I want to touch base with them.

Alexei answers, and I hear a grunt, then he says, “Koslov.”

“Please tell me you didn’t answer the phone while fucking,” I chuckle.

“Not the kind of fucking you’re thinking of,” he replies. “I’m getting some information from someone.”

Poor bastard.

“I take it you got a lead?” I ask as Franco steers the G Wagon out of the driveway.

“Fucking mercenaries. That’s who she has working for her.”

My eyebrows raise. “And?”

“You interrupted me. Let me finish, and I’ll let you know if he shared anything of value.”


We end the call, and tucking the phone back in the breast pocket of my jacket, I relax against the seat. Lifting my hand, I rub over the scruff on my jaw while I once again try to figure out who’s behind the attack.

Mercenaries. Freelance guns for hire who don’t live by any code.

Fuck, it can be anyone.

When we pull up to the harbor, there’s a police car. I let out a sigh. “Merda.” My motor brigade comes to a stop, and I shove the door open. Getting out, I walk to the police car, and when I reach the driver’s side, I let out a sigh of relief when I see it’s one of the detectives on our payroll.

“What are you doing here?” I ask.

He climbs out and gestures with a thumb at my shipment of incendiary grenades. “A call came in about suspicious activity.”

Our eyes lock as I ask, “And? Did you find anything?”

He shakes his head. “No.”


I watch as he climbs back into the car, and then he says, “Oh, by the way, congrats on the engagement.”

He must’ve read it in the newspapers. The Cotroni name is becoming a trending topic, and I don’t like it one bit.

I nod and watch as he starts the engine and drives off.

“Everything okay, boss?” Matteo asks.

“Yes. Let’s check the shipment and get out of here before a cop who’s not on our payroll comes sniffing.”

We get to work, and after I’ve made sure everything is there, the men start packing it into the aircon units we always use.

The whole process takes an hour, and then we can finally get out of here.

“Matteo,” I call after him before he can climb into the truck, “Make sure that shipment reaches its destination.”

“Yes, boss.”

I get into the G Wagon, and then Franco takes us home. As we turn into the driveway, my phone begins to ring. Seeing Alexei’s name, I grin. “I take it you’re done,” I answer the call.

“I am,” he chuckles. “Now I need a drink.”


“I only found out she’s Italian. The usual shit. Dark hair, dark eyes. Goes by the name of Umbria.”

“Fuck, that doesn’t help,” I mutter.

“I’ll keep digging,” Alexei says.


Franco brings the car to a stop as we end the call, and getting out, I let out a sigh. It really feels like I’m chasing a ghost.

When I walk back into the house, I find Elena and Aunt Ursula in the kitchen.

“Whatever you’re making smells nice,” I say as I walk to the side table to pour myself a bourbon.

“I’m showing Elena how to make beef and mortadella meatballs in tomato sauce,” Aunt Ursula answers.

Picking up my drink, I unbutton my jacket and take a seat on the couch. I savor the bourbon while I watch the women cook, and it instantly makes me relax.

Elena glances up every now and then, and around the fifth time our eyes connect, she begins to smile.

Slowly the corner of my mouth lifts, and for the next thirty minutes, I keep staring at her, drawing smiles from her.

By the time dinner is ready, I’m getting hot. Rising to my feet, I take off my jacket and drape it over the back of the couch. I unbutton my cuffs, and while I roll up my sleeves, I walk to the dining room.

I stop by the head of the table, and the sight of my father’s empty chair is a punch to the gut.

Aunt Ursula pats my back. “Sit down. He would’ve wanted it like that.”

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly as I pull the chair out.

When I take a seat, Elena places a plate in front of me. “Good luck. It’s my first time cooking.”

I let out a chuckle. “As long as you didn’t add poison.”

“Damn, I should’ve thought of that,” she teases me back as she sits down to my right.

When we’re all ready, I hold my hands out to Elena and my aunt, and then I say a quick prayer of thanks.

Picking up my utensils, I cut through a meatball, and when I take the bite, Elena watches me closely.

I chew slowly, savoring the richness, and then I begin to smile. “Relax. It’s good.”

A wide smile spreads over her face, and it has me staring at her while she begins eating.

“Of course, it’s good,” Aunt Ursula mutters. “I taught her.”

Letting out a chuckle, I take hold of my aunt’s hand and press a kiss to her fingers. “Thank you.”





It’s my wedding day, and I’m not as nervous as I thought I’d be.

My hands are still shaking, and I can’t stop sweating, but I thought when this day came, I’d be making a noose to hang myself with and not getting ready to walk down the aisle.

I take deep breaths as I stare at my reflection in the mirror.

The past week was nothing like I expected it would be. Every day I spent with Aunt Ursula, I got to know her a little better. Yesterday she asked me if I wanted her to move in with us, and I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I feel much better knowing she’s here. Just in case things start to go bad with Lucian.

Luckily there won’t be a honeymoon because Lucian can’t take off from work.

I take another deep breath when my thoughts turn to tonight.


My stomach clenches with nerves thinking tonight we’ll have to consummate the marriage. My heart begins to beat faster, and a cold sweat breaks out over my skin.

Lucian’s been nothing but nice to me this past week, and if I’m honest with myself, I’ll admit I’ve started to develop feelings for him.

But still… I’m not ready to have sex with him.

God, I’m not ready.

Aunt Ursula comes to stand behind me, and then the smile on her face fades. “What’s wrong, cara?”

I shake my head. “I’m just nervous.”

When I turn to face her, she takes hold of both my hands. “It’s normal to feel nervous.”

I nod, and then I almost lick my lips but remember the lipstick I’m wearing just in time.

“Is there something else you’re worried about?” she asks, her tone gentle.

My eyes dart up to her face before I lower them again. “It’s about tonight,” I admit.

“Oh… Ohhhh.” She pulls me to the bed, and once we’re sitting down, she says, “That’s normal too. I drank so much at my reception, and honestly, it helped.”

“You were married?” I ask.

Aunt Ursula nods, and then she pulls a face. “Biggest mistake of my life. Luca warned me, and I didn’t listen. He turned out to be an abusive bastard.”

“So you got divorced?”

She shakes her head. “No, I’m a widow. Luca took care of it for me.”

My lips part when I realize Lucian’s father killed Aunt Ursula’s husband. “Oh.”

“Still,” she shifts to face me better, “I’m sure Lucian will be gentle.”

Oh, God.

My cheeks go up in flames, and it has her frowning. “Are you a virgin, cara?”

Ohhh, God. I’m going to die of embarrassment.

I shake my head.

“Well, then you know what to expect,” Aunt Ursula sighs.

Yeah, I don’t think so.

There’s a knock at the door, and then Alexei peeks into the room. “Are you ready?”

“Yes, but we’ll wait another five minutes,” Aunt Ursula says. “Make my nephew sweat a little longer.”

Alexei lets out a chuckle then he shuts the door.

We really make Lucian wait another five minutes as we straighten out my dress, and then Aunt Ursula kisses both my cheeks. “Don’t forget to breathe, cara.”

I suck in some air and then let it out slowly.

“Are you ready?” she asks me.


I’m not sure.

Do I have a choice?

Instead of voicing my thoughts, I nod.

When we come down the stairs, and I see my father, my stomach drops.

Dante’s here?

Just as I think the question, Dante comes out of the guest restroom, and his eyes lock on me.

“Come, you’ve made us wait long enough,” my father barks.

“Hush, Tino,” Aunt Ursula chastises him. “If you have  a problem walking your daughter down the aisle, I’ll do it.”

Without a word, my father walks to me and holds out his arm. I place my hand in the crook of his arm and can’t help but think it’s the first time we’re touching in years.

And probably the last.

“Come, Mr. Capone. Surely you don’t intend on walking down the aisle with the bride,” Aunt Ursula snaps at Dante. He gives me a leering look before he follows after Aunt Ursula.

I tighten my grip on the small bouquet of St. Joseph lilies in my left hand. As we step out onto the veranda, Pachelbel’s Canon in D begins to play, and it all becomes too real.

I don’t know most of the people attending the wedding. As I look into the distance, my eyes lock on Lucian, where he’s standing in front of the fountain with the priest and Alexei by his side.

He looks so handsome in his tuxedo, he holds my attention until I’m halfway down the aisle. Then Dante catches my eye, and the cruel expression on his face makes me instantly cold. My gaze darts back to Lucian, and our eyes lock.

Please don’t hurt me.

His gaze snaps to Dante, then back to me, and as if he can read my thoughts, a soft smile forms around his full lips.

I won’t.

Reaching the front, my father gives my cheek an air kiss, and then he nods at Lucian before he leaves to go sit next to Dante.

Lucian’s eyes drift over me and then murmurs, “You look breathtaking.”

I try to smile, but it probably looks like a grimace.

The ceremony begins, and with every word the priest speaks, the shaking in my hands grows. By the time we’re done with candle lighting, my breaths are rushing from my lips.

God, I’m getting married.

This is it.

There’s no running away.

When it’s time for the vows, I feel faint.

I glance at the guests, and again my eyes connect with Dante’s. He looks like he’s going to pull a gun on us at any moment.

It could’ve been Dante standing in front of you.

Lucian reaches for my face, and placing his finger beneath my chin, he nudges me to look at him. When our eyes lock, all the guests disappear, even Dante, and then it’s only the two of us.

And our vows.

Lucian takes hold of my left hand and gives it an encouraging squeeze, then the priest says, “Lucian, repeat after me.”

The priest recites the vows, but all I hear is Lucian’s voice as he promises, “I, Lucian Cotroni, take thee, Elena Lucas, to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.”

“Elena, repeat after me.”

My lips part, and then I hear my own voice, and it sounds much stronger than I feel as I say my vows to Lucian.

Lucian’s fingers tighten around mine when I say, “Till death do us part.”

It will be the only way to escape now that we’ve said our vows and exchanged rings. I only half noticed the ring Lucian wore on his right hand is the one we used as a wedding ring for him.

“Lucian, do you take Elena Lucas as your wife?”

Lucian doesn’t hesitate. “I do.”

This is it.


“Elena, do you take Lucian Cotroni as your husband?”

My mouth dries, and I swallow hard. At least it’s not Dante. Seconds pass before I manage to say, “I do.”

“I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.”




Lucian lifts a hand to my cheek, and then he leans into me. His lips brush tenderly against mine, and it makes emotions rocket through me. Overwhelmed, I begin to blink to try and keep the tears at bay.

I feel Lucian’s breath on my lips as he pulls back, and then the priest says, “Mr. and Mrs. Cotroni.”

“Elena Cotroni,” Lucian murmurs, a satisfied grin spreading over his face. “My wife.”


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