“I’m with Mikhail now. We’re waiting for Romano to bite. I don’t expect it will be long after George’s message. There was nothing useful on his phone, according to my team,” Enzo says over the phone.
“Keep me updated. I’ll have everything taken care of here so we can leave on the jet within the hour once we have the confirmation.”
“You got it. The time has nearly come, Frankie. Are you ready for this to be over?”
I run a hand over my face. Am I ready for my new future? I glance over to Zara and Rosa chatting by the door. Her smile makes my chest swell. To have my past dead and buried with Romano? Absolutely.
“Damn right, Enzo. Now, make it happen.”
I cut the call, heading towards the yard where we have gathered all of our men. It’s the safest place right now. While we go on our hunt for Romano, we have to be prepared for just about anything here in New York.
I have to protect our family.
I need to make sure our army is strong, that we have enough to out gun Romano. He’s had plenty of time to regroup and we are missing Keller, Kai, and a lot of other casualties along the way.
Although, looking at the way the grounds are overflowing with men, each one ready to kill for me, I’d say we have a pretty good chance if it comes to it.
We just have to wait for Mikhail and Enzo to come through.
“Can I speak to you?” Rosa asks and I stop, looking down into her shining blue eyes.
Zara and Luca stop by the doors.
“I’ll be out in a second,” I nod to Zara and she smiles back.
Both of them retreat, leaving me and Rosa.
“Everything okay, little thorn?”
She twiddles her thumbs nervously, which concerns me.
“We want to move back to New York, to be with our family again.”
I blow out a breath. “Of course. It’s where you both belong, Rosa.”
She looks down, holding back the tears, and I frown.
“What if something happens to Luca? I can’t go through that again, Uncle Frankie.”
I won’t let it. I refuse to bring this girl any more pain.
“Have you spoken to Luca about this?”
“He’s been through so much, Frankie. He needs his brother to get better. I’m worried he’s going to lose it if he doesn’t.”
I can imagine he’s struggling. Especially after they lost their mother so brutally. “He needs your strength. We will look out for him, Rosa. Never doubt that he is family.”
“Is he coming back into the business?” She twists her hands nervously.
I shrug. “We haven’t discussed it. He won’t be taking control back, if that’s what you’re asking. We all know that isn’t what he wants.”
For the first time in my life, I truly do understand Luca’s utter devotion to my niece. The way he was willing to give up everything in a heartbeat for her.
I know now, Zara is my person. There isn’t a single thing on this earth I wouldn’t do for her.
“If you kill Romano, does that mean it’s safe for us to be home?”
“Yes, Rosa. I’ll make sure it’s safe for you both to return.”
She wraps her arms around me and squeezes. I freeze for a second before relaxing and returning the hug and softly stroking her back.
“You know I don’t blame you, right?” She mutters against my shoulder.
I sigh. She might not, but I do.
“I shouldn’t have let that asshole return, Rosa. I should have known something was wrong. I should have been someone you could trust to confide in. I fucked up; I am responsible for a great deal of your pain. I’ll never forgive myself.”
Fuck, I should have taken her with me ten years ago. I should have been the uncle she needed.
I can’t change the past. If I did, the glowing woman before me wouldn’t be the Rosa she is right now.
She shakes her head against my chest and releases me, wiping her tears with her sleeve.
“No, you’re not. You helped save me. You kept me strong. You kept me from drinking when Luca was hurt. You’re making up for everything now by being who you are meant to be, their leader. Romano is the cause of my pain and Luca’s. I forgive you, Frankie. If that’s what you need to hear, but I didn’t blame you in the first place. My dad fucked up and Romano did, too. You hurt as much as I did.”
The knot of anger I hold for them tightens, knowing she needs this as much as I do. “I’ll make sure it fucking hurts him, don’t you worry.”
She laughs with a little hiccup.
“Come on.” I wrap my arm around her shoulder. “I am sorry, Rosa. For what it’s worth. If I could turn back time and change what happened, know that I would. All I can offer you is revenge.”
“Luca deserves his revenge too, Rosa. For you both. I’ll see you soon, okay?”
He might have handed control over to me. He made me their leader, but I understand his need for blood. Revenge for his brother, the only family he has left.
“I get it. You better come back this time. That, and I want my uncle Frankie back, my friend.” She looks up at me with a mischievous smile, just like she used to when she wanted ice cream after school.
“Hey, don’t I get an apology yet?” Grayson calls out behind me, throwing on a black t-shirt.
“You’ll be waiting a long time for that, G. The bullet hole I’ve got in my shoulder is good enough.”
He rolls his eyes at me and slams his hand over the wound with a tap. “You’re still dwelling on that?”
“Yes, and I will for as long as I see fit. Or you take a bullet for me.”
It’s completely plausible in our line of work.
Grayson gives me a lopsided grin and turns to Rosa. “Maddie’s got the kids settled while Sienna is at the hospital. She said she’s put on some film called Bridesmaids for you guys to watch?”
A smile erupts on Rosa’s face. Despite everything, she is happy.
The hundreds of men fall silent as me and Grayson step out onto the patio. I find Zara and pull her into my side. “You good, baby?”
“Now I am.” She snugs herself against me.
We form a line in front of the crowd, with Jax to my left and Luca and Grayson to my right.
“As you all know, everything we’ve worked for is falling into place. This is our opportunity to end this war and come home victorious. If we don’t, we’re fucked. I won’t lose any more of my family. We can’t. So I need you to fight for your lives, fight for your families, for our future. Because we will rule New York. I can’t do that without each and every single one of you.”
I can feel the nervous energy from them. Hell, I feel it in my core. I know as well as they do, it’s possible that we will come under attack after wiping out the commissioner. Romano will be desperate. I don’t know if I’ll be walking away from this.
I’ve come to terms with that.
One thing I am sure of is, if I go, I’m dragging that fucker down to hell with me.
“Now, I understand, this is the biggest ask I’ve had to make of you yet. I’m giving you all one chance to walk away. No questions asked. If you can’t fight for me, now is your only chance to leave with no repercussions.”
I feel Grayson’s glare on me, but I can’t have men who aren’t prepared to die for me on this task. It’s either all in or nothing. I’m trusting Grayson and Keller have only bought in the best, most bloodthirsty killers there are.
I cross my arms across my chest, the icy breeze blowing in my face as I look at the men before me.
I need their trust and loyalty.
Not a single person moves.
“You did a good fucking job here, G.” I turn to him.
He chuckles. “Never doubt me, you want an army? That’s what I’ll give you.”
I turn back to the sea of faces.
“Well, it looks like we have a fucking war to end. You’ll all be given your stations by Grayson, Jax, and Luca. Once this is over, the drinks are on me. Now let’s finish this, for Keller and Kai.”
They all cheer, the energy shifting from nerves to excitement.