Cruel Saints: Chapter 20

LUCIAN

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.

I sure as fuck won’t be asking forgiveness for killing Dante.

I suck in a deep breath, and then I pull back so I can see what damage the motherfucker has done to Elena.

The moment I saw Leo on the floor, fear flooded me, unlike anything I’ve ever felt.

What I found when I rushed into the bedroom ripped the air from my lungs. All I saw was Elena’s discarded wedding dress. And then I heard the angry grunts coming from the bathroom, and it baptized my soul in fire and brimstone.

Seeing Dante on top of my wife, tearing at the meager clothes that covered her body, robbed me of my sanity. I couldn’t stop if I wanted to and I sure as fuck didn’t want to.

I’ve never killed a man with my bare hands until today. My only regret is that he didn’t suffer more.

My eyes scan over Elena’s delicate features, and the bruise forming on her cheek rips a growl from my chest. Her skin has split, and the sight of the thin trail of blood makes my body shudder violently with newborn rage.

Our eyes lock. Instead of trauma and fear, she looks at me with so much calm it makes the rage fade.

Elena moves her hands to my jaw, and then she surprises me by slowly leaning in and pressing a kiss to my mouth. “Thank you for keeping your promise,” she whispers against my lips.

“Are you okay?” I manage to ask, my voice rough with emotions.

She moves her hand to her cheek and touches the bruise with the pad of her finger, and then she nods. “I’m okay.”

I wrap my arms around her again and hold her tightly to my chest. Elena hides her face in the crook of my neck.

I lift a hand to the back of her head and curl myself around her.

God, if I hadn’t noticed something was off…

The shock begins to fade, and the adrenaline flows from my veins. I just hold her because I’m not ready to let go yet.

Just like before, it takes Elena a moment, and then she begins to cry. Delayed shock shudders through her. “Thank you,” she squeezes out. “Thank you, Lucian.”

I press a kiss to the side of her head and take a deep breath of her.

The door to our room opens, and Aunt Ursula comes rushing in. “Dio! What happened?”

“Dante attacked her,” I bite the foul words out through clenched teeth.

Aunt Ursula comes to place her hands on Elena’s shuddering shoulders, and then I lose my wife as she turns to my aunt.

“Dio. Dio,” Aunt Ursula keeps repeating when she sees Elena’s face. “Come, cara.”

I stand up and watch as Aunt Ursula takes Elena to the bathroom, and then I close my eyes. I take a couple of deep breaths before I walk out of the room to face Tino.

I hear him threatening Franco at the bottom of the stairs, and pulling my Glock from behind my back, I take the stairs down. I lift my arm and order, “Move, Franco. I’ve got this.”

With the barrel of my gun trained on Valentino Lucas’ forehead, I say, “You brought that piece of shit into my home.”

“You killed my right-hand man,” Tino spits at me, his face tight with rage.

“He attacked my wife.” My finger tightens around the trigger. “You’ve allowed that motherfucker to abuse Elena for years and expect me to do the same?”

“She’s my daughter to offer to whomever I want.”

Christ almighty, give me strength.

Unable to stop myself, I dart forward and slam the butt of the gun against Tino’s face.

“Lucian,” Aunt Ursula shouts behind me. “Stop!” I glare up at her as she rushes down the stairs. “You have guests.”

My eyes dart around the living room that’s filled with most of the guests. They’re all watching to see what I’ll do next.

“Whether we like it or not, Valentino Lucas is part of the la famiglia,” my aunt reminds me.

He’s done nothing to deserve death. Not in the eyes of our shared allies.

I take a step back, and my fingers flex around the Glock. Struggling to rein in my anger, I bite out, “Get the fuck out of my house.”

My eyes snap to Franco, and he immediately grabs hold of Tino’s arm to drag him out if he has to.

Tino rears back and spits at me, “You owe me for the loss of Dante.”

I close the distance between us until we’re face to face, my eyes boring into his. “I. Owe. You. Nothing.”

“You killed my man,” he hisses, refusing to back down.

Again my fingers flex around the weapon and holding my ground, my voice is deceivingly calm as I say, “I’m letting you walk out alive. There’s your fucking payment.”

We continue to stare, and I inject every bit of hatred I have for this man into my eyes and voice. “Leave while you can still walk out on your own two legs.”

The air grows unbearably tense, my body on high alert.

Tino is the first to take a step back. He gives me a glare, promising nothing good, and then he stalks out with Franco right behind him.

I let out a breath.

The war is just starting.

“What’s a wedding without a little drama,” Aunt Ursula laughs awkwardly. “Where’s the music?” She claps her hands. “Let’s continue to celebrate.” She ushers the guests back outside, and soon music fills the air again.

Franco comes back inside. “He’s gone.”

“Leo?” I think to ask.

“In surgery. I think he’ll pull through.”

“Good.” I tuck away the Glock behind my back and head up the stairs. “Have one of the men watch Tino. I don’t trust him.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Opening the door to our room, I find Elena sitting on the bed. She’s wearing a soft pink dress, and her curls cover the left side of her face.

I crouch in front of her and catch her eyes. “You don’t have to go back to the reception.”

Shaking her head, she stands up, and it has me rising to my feet.

“I want to go back.”

I lift a hand to her face and gently brush my palm over the silky strands hiding the bruise. “Are you sure?”

For the first time, Elena takes hold of my hand out of her own free will and links our fingers. “I’m sure. We still have to cut the cake, and I’d like to dance with my husband again.”

She’s so fucking calm it’s starting to worry me.

 


 

ELENA

 

Seeing the concern on Lucian’s face, I step closer to him. I place my free hand on his chest and smile up at him.

“I’m okay, Lucian. I feel nothing but relief.”

The concern still doesn’t fade from his eyes. Moving my hand up to his jaw, I stare deep into his eyes. “I’m okay.”

He covers my hand with his own and presses a kiss to my palm.

“Take me back to our wedding reception,” I say.

Lucian nods, but still, he doesn’t move.

“What?” I ask.

“I need a moment to calm down,” he admits.

I pull my hand free from his and wrapping my arms around his waist, I press my right cheek to his chest. He instantly envelops me in a hug and buries his face in my hair.

We just hold each other for a couple of minutes, and then Lucian moves and presses a kiss beneath my ear. “Do you trust me now?”

Do I?

Lucian saved me from Dante while we were at St. Monarch’s.

He came for me while his own life was in danger to make sure I was safe.

He stopped the arranged marriage between Dante and me and married me instead.

I lift my eyes to his.

He’ll tear the world apart if I’m hurt. He proved that to me tonight when he killed Dante. 

Lucian will protect me.

Like he’s done from the moment we met.

“I trust you,” the words flow over my lips.

Lucian might be a bad man, the villain in someone’s eyes, but to me, he’s the hero. He’s not a monster like I first thought but my guardian angel.

He’s cruel and unforgiving toward his enemies, but to me, he’s comfort and safety.

My breathing speeds up as a blissful feeling warms my heart. “I trust you, Lucian.”

The corner of his mouth lifts into a hot smirk, and then he closes the distance between us. He lowers his head, and when his breath fans over my lips, they part for him.

The kiss is tender, and then his tongue brushes against my bottom lip, making heat flood my abdomen.

Kissing Lucian is like drowning, only you don’t want to come up for air. I fill my lungs with his aftershave. I move my arms up, wrapping them around the back of his neck, and my fingers get lost in his hair.

His tongue finds mine, and together they taste, they explore, they memorize the feel of each other.

My stomach flutters, a kaleidoscope of butterflies taking flight as I fall hard and fast for this man who’s now my husband.

I fall in love for the first time in my life because it’s safe. It’s finally safe to open my heart – to the man who many have tried, but failed, to kill.

It’s as if Lucian is guarded by death itself, and he probably is with Alexei having his back.

Lucian ends the kiss, tenderly nipping at my lips, and when I open my eyes, all I see is affection reflecting from his gaze.

The nervousness returns, but this time it’s different. There’s no fear, only anticipation. It’s inexperienced and shy, making my cheeks warm.

My heart skips a beat at how handsome he is. He’s all man, cloaked in fierce strength, determination, and dominance.

Lucian brushes his fingers over my bruised cheek. “If you keep looking at me like that, we’re not going to make it out of this room,” he warns me.

A smile splits over my face, heat spreading up my neck. “We’ve left our guests alone long enough.”

Wanting to savor falling in love with him for a bit longer before we have to consummate the marriage, I walk to the door.

Lucian captures my hips with his hands before I step out of the room, and pressing his chest to my back, he says, “I’ll be patient until you’re ready. I don’t want you to worry about tonight, amore mio.”

My love.

My lips curve higher at hearing the term of endearment that’s much better than little bird.

“Thank you,” I whisper. “I just need a little time to get used to us as a couple.”

“I understand.” He gives my hips a squeeze and then nudges me forward.

When we step out onto the veranda, Aunt Ursula rushes to me. “There’s the lovely bride. Come, let’s get you a glass of champagne.”

She takes hold of my hand, and as I’m pulled away from Lucian, I glance over my shoulder at him. He smiles at us, and then he rolls up his sleeves as he walks to a group of men.

Aunt Ursula takes two flutes from a server’s platter and hands me one. “Drink, cara. You need it.”

I take a sip, and not wanting her to worry about me, I say, “I’m okay.”

She reaches a hand to my hair and brushes it away so she can see the left side of my face. “Tsk…”

I smile as she arranges the curls to cover the bruise again. “It will fade,” I try to reassure her.

We’re joined by three other women, and as the conversation turns to the latest fashion, I glance at Lucian.

The moment my eyes land on him, warmth spreads through me. I admire his broad shoulders and his strong arms.

I take a sip of the champagne to cool my insides, but then our eyes meet, and the corner of his mouth lifts.

My heart beats a little faster, and my lips curve up into a shy smile.

That’s your husband, Elena.

My smile widens, and happiness courses through me.

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