I’ve fucked up. Big time.
The heavy sound of the boat engines carries through the air as I slip between two containers. There is no way I can find a way out, not with this many of his men here.
I wrap my arms around my body and lean on the metal. Hopefully, it will be over soon. I’m far enough away to stay hidden, especially in the darkness. Still close enough, I can just about work out what’s going on.
They all seem tense, which is making me on edge. I don’t really know if I want to witness the monster in action again. Yet, I can’t peel my eyes from him.
I lean forward, squinting, and my heart almost stops. My father.
He’s standing with his hands in his pockets, watching the boats arrive. What the hell? He didn’t even tell me or Mom he was home.
My eyes flick back to Frankie, who is next to the container closer to the docks. The way he commands his men, and the way they respect him, fascinates me.
I can hear shouting coming from the boat, I shuffle forwards to listen. That’s when the unmistakable sounds of females screaming rips through the air.
“Shit,” I hiss.
He’s trafficking women. With my father.
I fumble back, the fear taking over. This is a whole other level of dangerous. Gunshots start to ring out and the cries get louder. Squatting against the cold steel, I wish I could melt through it. If anyone sees me here, I’m as good as dead.
Squeezing my weapon, I shuffle forward to get a better view. Frankie didn’t strike me as the lowest of the low. A monster, yes. He seemed, I don’t know, classier than that. A sliver of nausea boils through me. I let myself be turned on by him.
Fighting back the bile rising in my throat, I watch as men from the second boat swarm in from all angles. Behind me there is shouting, shots firing. Even with the chaos, I can’t take my eyes off Frankie as he bolts towards my father.
I gasp as he shoots the guy next to my dad in the head and my heart is in my throat as my dad makes a run for it. I almost take a step forward and stop myself.
I shake my head. What the hell is going on? I thought my dad worked for Frankie. The next thing I know, my dad is thrown to the ground. Clamping my hand over my mouth, a guy runs at Frankie with a knife.
“No,” I whisper.
I can barely breathe.
Jumping Frankie from the back, a hulking brute wraps his arms around Frankie’s neck. Frankie grabs and slings him over his shoulder to land flat on the ground before pummeling the man in the head. The streetlamps reflect off the metal bands across Frankie’s knuckles. He straddles him, and lets loose, his fists slamming into the prostrate man, blood splattering all over his shirt.
I watch as my dad takes his opportunity to make a run for it towards the black SUVs at the entrance.
Another man runs in my direction, and I press myself into the shadows. Keller darts after him and catches him easily, swiping a knife along his throat and stabbing it through his jaw before tossing him to the ground like trash.
My heart almost beats out of my chest. There are bodies and blood everywhere.. These men are feral beasts, and Frankie is the leader of the pack. His deep voice calls out orders over the screams and gunfire.
The fighting behind me gets closer, and I tighten my grip on my gun. Another van speeds through the gates. I am so far out of my depth here.
Frankie spots the van and runs towards it. They stop only a few containers down from me. I bite down on my cheek; I can’t even risk them hearing me breathe.
“Jax, get these girls somewhere safe and hidden.” Frankie’s unmistakable voice sends my mind into a whirlwind.
This doesn’t make any sense.
Grayson trots behind him. “What the fuck is happening?”
Frankie runs a hand through his hair, smearing the blood that was sprayed across his face.
“Romano is sending a message. We need to get out of here!” He shouts the last word and balls his fists.
My mouth falls open.
The ringing in my ears almost drowns out Frankie’s voice. “G, get on the phone to Enzo. Send them to one of our safe houses.” His jaw clenches. “They’re all dead men.”
I swear my heart almost stops and tears threaten to erupt. My dad did this?
Jax leads the sobbing girls past my container, speaking in Russian to them in a soft voice. I keep deadly still, praying no one spots me in the shadows.
Footsteps crunch on the gravel. With every step, they get louder. I feel like I’m about to pass out.
“Did they hurt you?” Frankie’s husky voice asks. He’s far too close to me.
My hands tremble on my face.
I can’t make out her response.
“We will keep you safe, okay?”
The sickening realization dawns on me. He is saving them from my dad.
Chaos continues around them. Frankie, Grayson, and Jax lead the girls into an armored truck.
“Let’s finish them off and get out of here.”
A thump behind me makes me spin around, aiming my gun out in front. I have no clue who works for who. I keep my eyes set between the gap, where I saw a flash of movement.
Protect myself first. That’s what my dad always taught me.
A heavy leather jacket is followed by a scarred face. My eyes focus only on the hefty knife he’s waving. “Come here, whore,” he shouts with a heavy accent.
“Stop, or I’ll shoot,” I say loud enough for him to hear me. Hopefully, it doesn’t carry past the containers.
He hunches his shoulders and runs at me, blade extended.
So, I do just that, firing and hitting him in the chest. I back away as he charges forward. He lunges and I duck as he hits the side of the container.
I back out from the metal alley into plain sight. I fire again and hit him in the stomach. He doubles over, blood pours through his fingers clenching the wound as he grunts pain. My finger itches to pull the trigger again to finish him.
A gun goes off next to my ear. The back of my attacker’s head splatters and he drops to the ground.
I spin around, running straight into a chest. Looking up, Frankie’s familiar gray eyes lock onto mine.
He looks from the gun in my hand back to my face with a scowl. His jaw ticks and I swallow past the lump in my throat.
I’m in deep shit.
My heart races, knowing he’s going to kill me.
His fingers wrap around the wrist that’s holding my weapon.
“Are you hurt, dolcezza?”
I blink at him, registering his words.
He studies me as if looking for marks and blood. I shake my head. My hand starts to tremble, so he tightens his grip.
Weirdly, his piercing gaze makes me feel safe. His face is completely unreadable now. A shot fires and I jump. Frankie pushes us back between the containers. My back crashes against the metal and he cages me in with his grip still firmly on my wrist.
I should be petrified, yet for some reason, I’m not.