Cruel Saints: Chapter 7

ELENA

I’ve just climbed in the bath when I hear the door to my suite slam open.

“Where the fuck are you?” Dante snaps, and I hurry to climb out of the tub, making the water splash. My heartbeat speeds up with panic as I grab a towel so I can cover my body.

Dante just stalks into the bathroom, and it has me saying, “I’m taking a bath. Do you mind?”

He’s been crueler than ever since he caught me with Alfonso a month ago.

It feels like it only happened yesterday. I haven’t been able to sleep, and my weight has dropped from the trauma, which seems to only worsen as the days pass.

Dante’s lips pull up in a sneer. “I don’t mind at all.” Gesturing at the tub behind me, he says, “Bathe.”

What?

No.

“Leave,” I bite the word out as tremors begin to spread through my insides. I grip the towel tighter, and it catches Dante’s eye.

He darts forward, and grabbing hold of my neck, he shoves me backward until my calfs hit the side of the tub, and I fall into it. Water splashes over the edge as Dante’s vicious gaze rake over me.

“I said bathe yourself, Principessa!” He steps closer to the tub. “Or do you want me to bathe you?”

God, no.

Shame burns through me like hot coals, searing holes into my still traumatized psyche.

Not wanting Dante to touch me, I cling to the soaked towel with one hand while I draw my legs into the tub. With a trembling hand, I reach for my loofah.

“Drop the towel,” Dante instructs.

My eyes snap to him, and horror floods me when he begins to unbuckle his belt.

Please, no. Not again.

My chin quivers, and I start to shake my head.

“We can always take this to your bedroom where I’ll fuck you raw, Principessa. Drop the towel.”

A heavy darkness falls over me as I force my fingers to let go of the wet towel. Ashamed and feeling horribly exposed, I bite back the hopeless sob building in my throat.

“Wash yourself,” Dante orders again. “Start with your tits.”

God.

Oh, God.

Help me out of this nightmare.

I’m shaking so much I almost drop the body wash as I squirt some onto the loofah. I used to love the smell of it. But now, it will forever remind me of this day.

The bathroom used to be a safe place for me, but that all changes as the sounds of Dante stroking his dick fill the air.

A tear sneaks out of my left eye, and I quickly splash water on my face, not wanting him to see it.

“Your tits at so fucking perky,” he groans disgustingly.

I somehow manage to keep washing my body. I feel… dirty. I begin to scrub my skin harder as Dante’s strokes pick up pace, and then he orgasms, and it hits the side of my face and shoulder in spurts.

I cringe away from him as a strangled sob escapes.

I should feel relieved when he zips himself up, but I don’t.

“Soon, Principessa. Soon.” With the ominous words hanging heavy in the air, he finally leaves.

A sob rips achingly from my chest as I begin to wash his orgasm off of me. Frantically, I let out the water, and I scramble out of the tub. I dry myself as I rush into my room, and grabbing clothes from the closet, I pull them on as quickly as I can.

Only when I’m dressed do I give in to my despair, hoping the tears will be able to wash me clean.

I shoot up into a sitting position, my breaths exploding over my dry lips as the remnants of the nightmare of the past shudder through me.

It’s been happening more and more since I came to St. Monarch’s, wreaking havoc with my psyche and emotions.

My skin crawls, and I feel sick to my stomach as I climb out of bed. Needing to get out of the confined space of my room, I strip out of my shorts and camisole. I tug on a pair of sweatpants and a long sleeve shirt, along with comfy sneakers. After pulling a brush through my hair, I leave my private suite in a hurry.

The hallways are quiet, and I keep my eyes down as I walk as quickly as I can to the side doors.

I’ve already been at St. Monarch’s for almost two weeks, and the peace and quiet I find in the garden helps, but the nightmares keep ripping me out of the safety I feel here.

Once I’m outside, I don’t slow down, and I begin to jog, just needing to get to the fountain.

Reaching the secret garden, I sink down to my knees by the marble edging. My eyes lock on the statue’s face as I beg for mercy, “Please help me. Don’t make me go back to Dante. Save me from him. I don’t care how. Just save me from him. You can even take my life because I’d rather die than marry him. Please…” my voice grows strained as I force the last words out, “have mercy on me.”

Desperation mixes with the all-consuming shame Dante has imprinted on my soul over the past four years.

It’s just a statue, Elena. There’s no God to listen to your prayer.

Feeling trapped in this never-ending nightmare, I lower my eyes, and then all the blood drains from my face when I see Lucian sitting on the bench to the left of me.

He’s leaning forward, his forearms resting on his thighs and his hands clasped tightly together. Our eyes lock, and the grim expression on his face makes a chill sweep through me. Knowing he heard my prayer makes me wish the ground would swallow me whole.

After Lucian showed me how to shoot, I haven’t spoken to him again. Whenever we run into each other, he only nods his head at me. It suits me just fine because I still consider him a threat. Just because he gave a shooting lesson doesn’t mean I trust him.

I should get up and leave, but I’m unable to make myself move.

Lucian takes a deep breath before he says, “I can kill Capone, but that will start a war between our families.” Slowly, he rises to his feet, and then he walks toward me.

 Lucian stops next to me, and I have to tilt my head far back to meet his eyes. When he holds his hand out to me, I hesitate for a moment, not sure what to make of him.

“I can show you how to kill him,” he says the one thing I’ve desperately wanted to hear.

Could he be the answer to my prayer?

Cautiously, I place my hand in Lucian’s, and he pulls me up from the ground. When I’m standing in front of him, I ask, “Why would you help me?”

“When you kill Dante, and you take over from your father, I expect you to remember this moment. Your loyalty will belong to me.”

It’s a strategic move on his part. One I’m in no position to decline. I can use all the training I can get. I’ve seen him handle a gun, and I want to become just as good as him.

“When I take over from my father, my loyalty will belong to you,” I agree, knowing that day will never come. I won’t follow in my father’s footsteps, but Lucian seems to have forgotten I told him that when we first met.

Once I’ve killed Dante, I plan on disappearing and starting a new life somewhere else… somewhere safe. But that’s something Lucian doesn’t need to know.

His fingers linger on mine before he lets go of my hand. I see the questions brewing in his eyes, but instead of asking them, he murmurs, “Go sleep, little bird. We start tomorrow morning.”

Little bird? Instead of it sounding demeaning, it actually sounds as if Lucian might care. About me? How ludicrous. He knows nothing about me besides that I’m the daughter of Valentino Lucas.

I nod and begin to turn away from him, but then stop to ask, “What about your own training?”

The corner of Lucian’s mouth lifts slightly, and it makes him even more attractive. “I’m almost done.”

Needing to know how long I have, I ask, “When are you leaving?”

“If all goes well, I’ll leave in a month.” Lucian gestures for me to walk. “I’ll escort you back to your suite.”

It’s when he does things like this that it confuses me. I’ve spent the past two weeks trying to figure out why he showed me how to handle a gun.

Why does he help me the one second only to practically ignore me for days on end? Not that I mind being ignored. I prefer it.

If Lucian thinks he can get to my father through me, he’s going to be disappointed when he learns I mean nothing to my father.

We fall into step next to each other, and as the night swallows us, I become overly conscious of the man next to me. Power radiates in every step he takes. My hearing focuses on the rustle of his suit. The side of my body is hyper-aware of Lucian’s muscled frame.

Who is Lucian really? The dangerous man I’ve been warned to avoid at all costs or…

“When you return home, you’ll take over from your father, right?” I ask softly, filled with a weird need to get to know him.

“Yes.”

So he will be the head of the Mafia in four weeks.

“Yet you’re offering to help me,” I state.

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” he murmurs, and it has my eyes darting up to his face.

I’m sure he has many, but still, I ask, “Who’s your enemy?”

“Didn’t your father tell you?” Lucian’s gaze drops to mine.

“He doesn’t tell me anything.”

“Our families are being targeted. Our fathers are trying to find out who the new threat is,” he informs me.

“Oh.” So that was the new problem my father was referring to before he sent me here.

Lucian and I step into the castle, and the narrow hallway has his arm brushing against mine. I glance up at him again as something begins to niggle at the back of my mind. A frown forms on my forehead, trying to figure out what it is.

There’s no more conversation until we reach our suites. When I open mine, Lucian asks, “Didn’t you lock your door?”

“I forgot,” I admit. I was too upset from the nightmare to think straight.

Lucian moves past me, pushing my door open. I watch as he steps inside, and then my lips part as he checks all the rooms and possible hiding places.

A foreign sensation spreads through my chest as he comes to stand in front of me.

“Always lock your door. Just because we’re on neutral ground doesn’t mean we’re safe.”

I nod, and when Lucian passes by me, and crosses the hallway to get to his own door, I say, “Thank you.” He glances back at me, and it has me continuing, “For helping me and checking my suite.”

Lucian stares at me for a moment before he unlocks his door and steps into his own suite, then he murmurs, “Go inside, little bird. Be ready to train at six.”

“Okay,” Before I shut the door behind me, I add, “Good night, Lucian.”

Our eyes lock for a moment, and a foreign sensation flutters in my stomach. I close the door quickly and make sure to lock it. Staring at the dark wood, hope and attraction stir in my chest.  

Lucian Cotroni has the power to help me, but that doesn’t mean I can trust him.

Careful, Elena. Don’t fall for his charm just because he’s shown you kindness. He’s only helping you in exchange for your loyalty. It’s all business for him.

My heartbeat begins to speed up when it sinks in he’s going to show me how to kill Dante.

Yes, focus on that. It’s the only thing that matters.

 


 

LUCIAN

 

While I strip out of my suit, my thoughts return to the hopeless expression I saw on Elena’s face while she was praying.

I’m not going to lie, it was heartbreaking, to say the least, and that’s not an emotion I’m comfortable with. Seeing Elena so vulnerable… made the protectiveness I felt toward her when she first came to St. Monarch’s roar back to life.

I have to be careful, though. Thinking with my heart will only lead to my death. She’s still Valentino Lucas’ daughter, and it’s the only reason I’ve kept my distance from her since I showed her how to shoot a gun.

It’s been hard seeing her every day, and forcing myself to stay away from her has only made the attraction I feel toward her grow.

Naked, I walk to the bathroom and turn on the faucets in the shower. While I wash my body, I think about the offer I made Elena. If I help her, she will be bound to me by oath, and I’ll have her support. She’s desperate enough to promise me anything in return for protection.

Once I’m done showering and dressed in sweatpants, I check my phone. Not seeing any messages, I drop down on my bed and stretch out.

The sight of Elena kneeling by the fountain pops back into my mind. The raw desperation and fear, while Elena begged a statue to save her, reminds me of when we buried my mother. She died when I was eight, and I’ve never forgotten the sight of my father kneeling by her grave as he mourned her. She died of an aneurysm, and it was one hell of a shock to us. The one moment she was with us and the next she was gone. My mother was the love of his life, and my father never recovered from the loss.

I don’t know what kind of life Elena has lived, but something tells me it’s one she’ll never recover from. She could’ve been a fierce rival like the other women in the Mafia, but instead, her father turned her into a frightened little bird. 

There’s still fight in her, though. Not all is lost.

Careful, Lucian. You don’t want to make her strong enough to take you down.

That would be the stupidest way to go out in the history of the Mafia.

 


 

When I open my door at ten minutes to six, I’m surprised to find Elena waiting in front of her own.

There’s no trace of the restless night she had on her face, and dressed in a pair of black leggings and a t-shirt with her hair tied in a ponytail, she looks ready for training.

“Morning,” she says, a cautious expression in her eyes.

“Morning,” I mutter as my eyes drift over her petite body. Once again, it strikes me how beautiful she is with a body made for nights of wild sex.

“I need coffee, or I’ll kill someone,” I mutter as I begin to walk, and when Elena doesn’t follow, I order, “Come.”

She falls into step next to me, and when we walk into the dining room, Madame Keller looks up from where she’s enjoying her own coffee. A knowing smile spreads around her lips, and she greets us with a nod.

I take a seat at my usual table, and seconds later, a server brings my regular order. “Your espresso, Mr. Cotroni.” He turns his attention to Elena. “What would you like, Miss Lucas?”

“A café latte, please.”

While I enjoy my coffee, my eyes settle on Elena. She looks nervous again, as if last night didn’t happen between us. Setting my cup down, I ask, “Did you manage to sleep?”

Her eyes dart away from mine as she answers, “Yes.”

“You’re a bad liar,” I call her out, and it makes her look at me again.

We’re interrupted when the server brings the café latte, and I change the subject. “We’ll start with weapons training and then hand to hand combat.”

“Grandmaster Yeoh trains me at four every afternoon,” Elena mentions.

“I know.” Just because we haven’t talked doesn’t mean I didn’t watch her, and honestly, her fighting skills suck.

We finish our beverages in silence. When I get up, Sergei Aulov walks into the dining room. I’ve been meaning to talk to him. “Give me a moment,” I say to Elena, and then I walk in the Russian’s direction.

“I have some information,” Sergei says when I reach him. I asked him to sniff around for me about the new threat.

“What?”

Sergei takes a seat at his table, then he gestures for me to join him. After I sit down, he says, “Word is the threat is closer than you think. It’s someone in your circle.”

“Can you trust this word?”

Sergei nods. “As much as it’s possible to trust in our world.”

Fuck.

The Mafia only consists of three families. The Cotronis, the Lucas’, and the Cabellos. If Sergei’s source is right, then it’s either Lucas or Cabello.

Needing to speak with my father, I say, “Thanks, Sergei.”

When I rise to my feet, he mutters, “Be careful, Lucian. We’d hate to lose an ally.”

I nod, and pulling out my phone, I walk to where Elena is waiting by the doorway. “Go to the shooting range. I’ll meet you there.”

“Okay.” I wait for Elena to walk away before I head toward the main doors of St. Monarch’s. Stepping outside, I glance around before I take out my phone and dial my father’s number.

“Son? What’s wrong?” he asks because I don’t usually call him so early.

“I spoke with Sergei Aulov. He says the threat is closer to home than what we think. It’s either Cabello or Lucas.”

“I know. Nick Cabello has gone silent. Either he’s dead, or he’s behind the attack. I’ve asked Alexei to track him down.”

I glance back into St. Monarch’s. “Are you sure it’s not Tino?” I seriously don’t want to help Elena, only for her to cut my throat.

“I’m sure,” my father answers. “Don’t worry too much, Lucian. Enjoy your last month there.”

Easier said than done. “I’ll always worry about you.”

After we end the call, I take a deep breath before I walk back into the castle. On my way to the armory, my thoughts revolve around the looming threat and Elena.

I want to join my father, but he’s adamant we’re not in the same place right now. Which tells me we’re in more danger than my father is admitting to me.

And then there’s Elena. Honestly, the emotions she evokes in me are unwelcome, especially now when my head needs to be clear.

Walking into the armory, I choose the usual Glock I use and head into the shooting range.

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