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Cruel Saints: Chapter 3


The Past – 20 Years Old.

Pristinely dressed in an Armani three-piece suit, I look at my reflection in the mirror. I have my father’s features. A sharp bone structure with the usual Italian dark hair and eyes.

I take after my father in every way, which has made us closer than most fathers and sons. Much closer. I’m not just Luca Cotroni’s heir but his confidant and only friend. With my father being the head of the Mafia, friends are not a luxury we can afford. It makes the bond of blood between us sacred and unbreakable.

“You ready?” Father asks as he walks into my suite.

A grin tugs at the corner of my mouth as I turn to face him. “I am.”

His gaze sweeps over me, and then he gives me a proud smile. “Today, you will take your rightful place next to me.” I watch as he pulls a gun from behind his back, and my eyes lock on the personalized Glock in his hand. “I had it made for you,” my father says as he holds it out to me.

Lifting my hand, my fingers wrap around the handle that’s engraved with our family name. Cotroni.

“Thank you,” I murmur as I accept my first gun. It means things will change now. I’ll no longer live the guarded life I’ve grown accustomed to. I’ll now stand by my father’s side during business deals. I’ll attend meetings between all the families. I’ll work with our allies, and I’ll come face to face with our rivals.

The weight of the Cotroni name bears down on my shoulders. It’s time to become the man my father’s groomed me to be all my life.

His eyes lock with mine, and then he asks again, “Are you ready?”

I know what he’s asking. Am I ready to make people fear me the same way they fear him? Am I ready to kill? Am I ready to rule the Mafia with a merciless hand?

“Yes,” I answer, lifting my chin with surety and confidence.

My father places his hand on my shoulder, his eyes holding mine with a severe look. “You give no second chances. There’s no place for mercy in our world. Show no weakness and fear. Never hesitate or second guess yourself. Be sure. Be cruel. You have to make them fear you. That’s where our power lies.”

I nod, memorizing his words.

He pulls me into a hug, his arms wrapping around me like steel bands. “Above all, trust no one. It will only lead to your death.”

As I pull back, I say, “But you trust me.”

He lets out a chuckle. “You’re part of me. Blood of my blood. Famiglia. I’m talking about everyone else.”

Nodding, I glance down at the gun in my hand. “Thank you. It’s beautiful.”

He pats my shoulder then says, “Let’s go. It’s time for you to take your rightful place in the family.”

Nerves spin my gut as I tuck the gun into the back of my pants. I adjust my jacket and leave the suite with my father. In silence, we walk down the hallway, and once we descent the stairs, my gaze goes over the men gathering below.

My eyes stop on Alexei Koslov, the best assassin the underworld has ever produced. Next to him stands his custodian, Demitri Vetrov. Together the two men are unkillable.

Thank God they are our allies.

Glancing at the other men, I notice Valentino Tino Lucas. Although he’s from a rival family, we’re civil. Tino might be tyrannical, but he knows better than to challenge us for the seat of power in the Mafia.

Nick Cabello represents the Cabello family. They’ve only begun dealing in arms the last decade, unlike our family, that’s been at the head of the Mafia for four generations.

The thought makes me well aware of the legacy that will rest upon my shoulders. I’ll have to make these men fear me or die trying. There’s no other option.

I notice three families from the Bratva are present, but I begin to frown when I see a new face. An Asian man whose eyes are narrowed on my father.

My father stops on the fifth step, and I come to a standstill next to him. “Today, Lucian takes his place as my right-hand man. After he has attended St. Monarch’s he will take over as the head of the Mafia.”

I lift my chin with pride, then my father says, “We need to deal with unpleasant business before we can celebrate.”

I glance at my father as he turns his attention to me. “What do we do with people who steal from us?”

“Kill them,” I answer without hesitation because there’s no place for mercy in our world.

Alexei shoves the Asian man closer and then forces him down on his knees.

“Mr. Chen thought he could get away with hiding profits from us,” Father explains, and then he gestures from me to Mr. Chen. “Alexei was kind enough to hunt him down. Issue the punishment.”

Pin prickles spread out over my scalp as my eyes snap back to my father’s.

He wants me to kill?

There’s no warmth in my father’s gaze, which is dark with wrath.

Fuck, this is it. This is where I have to prove myself.

My eyes go back to Mr. Chen. I know better than to ask questions as I slowly reach for the gun at my back. I’ve seen my father kill many times before, so I know what to do. My fingers wrap around the handle, and I hold the Glock, so the barrel faces down.

I can’t refuse or show any weakness because it will bring unforgivable shame to the Cotroni name.

This is it, Lucian.

I have to kill the thief and take my rightful place, making my father proud. I don’t dare question my father’s judgment.

I take the last five steps down and stop in front of Mr. Chen. My fingers flex around the engraved handle of my Glock as my heartbeat begins to speed up.

You can do it.

You have to.

No mercy.

I lift my arm and train the barrel on the man’s head. For a moment, I glance up, and my eyes meet Alexei’s. The most feared man after my father. Deadly. Merciless. He’s not much older than me. Probably in his late twenties. Yet he’s made a name for himself people cower before.

I have to do the same.

As I lower my eyes to Mr. Chen, I swallow hard, and my muscles tighten. A burning sensation spreads through my stomach at the thought of taking another man’s life.

You have to.


I suck in a deep breath, and my finger curls around the trigger. Mr. Chen glares up at me, and then he spits on my shoes. That’s all it takes for me to pull the trigger.

I watch as his head snaps back from the force, and then his body slumps to the side.

Breathe in.

I haven’t spoken a word to the man.

Breathe out.

Yet I took his life.

The thought shudders through me, and it sinks deep into my bones, branding me a murderer. I expect to feel guilt, but instead, there’s a rush of power.

“Good,” Alexei says, but I can’t tear my eyes away from the lifeless body.

I killed. For the first time, I took a life that didn’t belong to me.

I feel my father’s hand fall on my shoulder, and then he gives me a squeeze. “You’ve made me proud, my son.”

I nod as I step away from the body and closer to my father. My breaths begin to speed up, and then Alexei chuckles. “Now we drink. He needs it.”

The other men chuckle as my father steers me around the body, which the staff will take care of. We walk into the living room, and I take the tumbler of bourbon a server offers me.

I throw my head back, downing the amber liquid, and it draws another round of chuckles from the men.

My father pats my back, then says, “Next time, don’t take so long to kill.”

Next time.

This was my first kill, and it will be far from the last.

My gaze sweeps over the men celebrating my ascent to the top of the Mafia. Most of their smiles are forced, their eyes sizing me up.

It makes me lift my chin, and then I remember to tuck my gun away behind my back. I help myself to another drink, and then I watch. I memorize every dark glance, every lingering grimace.

I keep my head held high under the pressure. Half the men in this room are as old as my father. I know they won’t be happy taking orders from me.

I’ll just have to make them.

The thought has the corner of my mouth curving up in a daring smirk, and I pray to the almighty they see my father’s blood pulsing beneath my skin.

Now it’s kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled. Fear or be feared.

I, Lucian Cotroni, will never bend the knee. I will not cower. I will take my rightful place, and God help the man who tries to oppose me.


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