His Queen: Chapter 6

NICOLI

“We have a problem.”

“Of course, we do,” I mutter as Maximo comes storming into my office. The light catches in the lines of his face, giving him a stern look.

I lean back in my seat and light a cigar. Whatever he’s about to tell me will probably kill me slowly on the inside, so I might as well add some nicotine and tar to the mix. Speed up the fucking process.

“I got an alert this morning flagging an internet search.” He sinks into the chair opposite me and scowls, digging his hand through his hair. “You’re not going to like it.”

“What is it?”

“It’s Mira.”

“Jesus. Is it the Carrington-Winslow wedding project she thinks I don’t know about? I still can’t believe she thinks she can do something without me knowing about it.”

“It’s not that.” He wipes the back of his hand across his nose. “She did a search on our parents this morning.”

My vision goes red around the edges, and my spine is rigid. “She what?”

“Yeah. Seems like my sister decided to do some research.”

“Did she find anything?”

“No. Of course not. Our IT team is constantly monitoring it, ensuring no trace of our parents and their murder anywhere.”

I take a drag from my cigar, and the smoke wafts out of my mouth with my relieved breath. “Why now? She’s never tried to research them—not that we know of. So, why the sudden curiosity?”

Maximo shakes his head, a crease forming between his eyebrows. “Beats me. But we need to put a stop to it. If she starts digging too deep, there’s no telling what she might find out.”

“It doesn’t make sense. Something set her off.”

“Maybe it’s the whole Nunzio Ferrero fiasco. She knows that family is responsible. Maybe everything that’s been going down lately triggered her into wanting to know exactly what happened.”

“No.” I shake my head, my jaw clenched as I imagine the consequences of Mira discovering the truth. “That’s not it. Mira’s never shown an interest in digging up the past.”

“So, what do we do?” Maximo leans forward, elbows on his knees. “We can’t just sit back and wait for her to uncover something. It’s too risky.”

“I’ll keep an eye on her,” I say, stubbing the cigar in the glass ashtray. “You just make sure our IT team stays on top of this. One slip-up and everything we’ve done to protect her from the truth will be for nothing.”

“You think she’ll remember when she digs deep enough?”

“Fuck knows. But I’m not chancing it. All it might take is one puzzle piece to slide into place, and her memory could come flooding back.” I stand from my seat and head toward the door. “I’ll talk to her. See if I can figure out what’s going on.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea? She might get suspicious.”

“If I don’t talk to her, it’ll be worse. Besides, do you think googling her parents and coming up with not a single result won’t make her suspicious? We need to know what she’s thinking before she digs too deep.”

Maximo nods in agreement.

“What could have prompted Mira to search for information now? Through all these years, she’s never shown an interest, saying she didn’t have to know anything about the past. That the present and future are all that matters.”

“You’re the one married to her. If anyone should know how her mind works, it’s you.”

“I’m not the one sharing a bloodline with her. You are.” I sit back down. “The only thing I’m sharing with her is my bed.”

“Dude,” Maximo raises a brow at me, “stop.”

“Oh, come on.” I roll my eyes. “Be glad I didn’t give you details about how her Pilates stretches come in handy when I’m—”

“I’ll shoot you,” he mutters.

“Come on,” I say, standing and buttoning my suit jacket. “Alexius wants to see all of us.”

“Yeah. I got the memo. What do you think that’s all about?”

I shrug. “Probably an update on all things Ferrero. Who knows what’s up in my brother’s ass this time.”

“I hate that we’re not doing anything.” Maximo stands. “I mean, I get why Alexius doesn’t want to make the first move. But we’re sitting ducks, waiting for Nunzio to fuck up before we can do anything. And that doesn’t sit well with me. We’re basically asking him to shoot us in the back.”

“That’s something you and I can agree on. Plus, it’s been weeks, and we haven’t heard a single fucking thing, which means they’re up to something.”

“Or they’re doing what we’re doing,” Maximo says as we walk out of my office. “Sitting around and waiting for us to make the first move.”

“I doubt it. Nunzio isn’t the patient type. I’m barely restraining myself from going to that goddamn club and planting lead in his skull.”

“That kind of reaction isn’t going to help us get anywhere.”

Maximo and I stop, turning to face Alexius, who has seemingly been walking behind us the entire time.

“Rash decisions often get you killed, and right now, this is a chess match,” he continues. “We need to plan our moves wisely.”

“Imagine if I had to show your restraint,” I say to him. “Then nothing around here would get done.”

Alexius smirks. “In your dreams, brother. Are Isaia and Caelian here yet?”

“I saw Isaia pull up earlier,” Maximo says. “But I haven’t seen Caelian.”

“You know where he is?” Alexius looks my way. “You?”

“I haven’t seen him since we bumped into him earlier.”

“Try his cell,” Alexius orders. “I’ll meet you in the Dark Sovereign room. I just need to say goodnight to Leandra and the twins. I suggest you say goodnight to your wife as well. It’s going to be a long night.”

I shift from one leg to the other. “She’s already in bed.”

“Oh.” He glances at his Rolex. “She feeling okay? It’s kinda early.”

“She’s fine.”

Alexius stares at me the way he always does when he’s trying to zero in on my thoughts, dissecting my brain, examining all sides of me, hoping he can read my secrets in the lines on my face or the curves of my lips.

“I said she’s fine,” I say with finality.

“A bit of trouble there in paradise, brother?”

“How about a bit of an ass-kicking if you don’t stay out of my personal business?”

Alexius snorts. “Fine. Call Caelian.”

I grab my phone while heading toward the conference room, dialing Caelian’s number. After several rings, it goes straight to voicemail. Frustrated, I try again but get the same result. My fingers fly across the screen, typing a text message detailing how Alexius will have his ass on a silver platter if he misses our meeting tonight.

Maximo and I walk into the Dark Sovereign chamber, warm light flowing through the room, touching the gold embroidered DS on Alexius’ chair with a regal shimmer. Isaia is already here, sitting on his leather chair, swirling the ice and amber liquid in his crystal glass. The room is still the same as the last time we were in here, only there’s a newly stocked tray full of specially selected bourbon and single malt on the sideboard.

“They say drinking alone is the first sign of being an alcoholic,” I tease, grabbing the bottle and pouring myself and Maximo a drink. The bourbon smells of honey, smoke, and black licorice.

Isaia grins then takes a sip. “I’m not alone, am I? You’re both here.”

“You seen Caelian?” I take my seat across from him.

“He texted me earlier saying he’ll be late tonight.”

“Fucker isn’t answering my calls,” I groan before swallowing a nice gulp of bourbon, loving how it burns and settles in my stomach.

“He’ll be here.” Isaia lights a cigarette, planting his elbows on the table. “Where’s Alexius?”

“On his way.”

The silence that follows is heavy with tension as we wait for Alexius and Caelian to arrive, the ice clinking against our glasses providing the only sound. There’s a sense of unease like something is brewing below the surface. Even the winter wind outside whistles with sinister intent, as if warning us of what’s to come. But it’s been that way ever since the night at Myth when I almost had the honor of having that Ferrero fucker’s blood on my hands. Even though the waters have been quiet since that night, everyone knows it’s only the calm before the storm, and once that storm hits, it will be a shit show.

Just as I take another sip of my drink, the door swings open and Alexius strides in, followed by the sound of Caelian’s voice. The room is illuminated with a variety of emotions as they both enter—anger, apprehension, and worry all prominent on their faces.

I’m about to crack a wise-ass joke about them appearing like they fought their way here from halfway around the world, but the weary cut on their faces stops me.

“Before you chew my ass about being late and not answering calls,” Caelian says in a low voice as he takes off his coat and sits at the table. “I got hold of some interesting information about this sex club Nunzio was trying to recruit our girls for.”

“What is it?” Maximo asks anxiously.

Caelian takes a deep breath, running his hand through his dark hair. “It’s not just any sex club. It’s a huge operation of trafficking women.”

I scoff. “We can’t exactly point fingers.”

“At least we’re taking women out of their shitty situations and giving them a choice,” Alexius retorts, blue eyes flashing. “Rehabilitation, or work for us.”

“It doesn’t stop there,” Caelian continues as Isaia slides a glass of bourbon his way across the table. “Thanks, man.”

I’m about two seconds away from choking the rest of the info out of him as I watch him take the world’s slowest sip and swallow. It’s like watching a sloth get off its tree for the first time.

Finally, after what feels like an eternity, Caelian sets his glass down and continues. “This club, like ours, it’s for elite customers only. The rich and famous with…specific tastes.”

Maximo sets his glass down. “Like?”

Caelian’s gaze cuts from Alexius’ to mine, and I’m pretty sure I’m spotting a little discomfort in my younger brother. “Primal hunts. Nunzio has an estate out of town. The grounds are huge. He has his own damn forest in his back yard. And he’s been recruiting girls specifically for the hunt.”

“I thought you said the fucker is trafficking women,” I say.

“He is. Nunzio has his sick-fucker clients, and then he has his real fucked-up clientele.” He shifts in his seat. “The kind who like their prey unwilling with a good helping of real fear. A prey who knows if you don’t run…you die.”

“Jesus.” Air rattles out of my lungs, and my cheeks burn like they’ve been slapped. “Is this for real?”

“I’m afraid so.”

“I know we’ve done our fair share of fucked-up shit, but hunting other humans like they’re animals, fucking them, and then killing them—”

“Not necessarily in that order, either,” Caelian rumbles.

My stomach churns as the reality of what Caelian just shared sinks in. The idea of people hunting other humans for pleasure and entertainment is beyond anything I could ever imagine.

Maximo’s voice breaks through the silence. “We have to put a stop to this.”

“How do you suggest we do that?” Alexius asks, his eyes narrowing as he weighs his options. “We don’t even know where this estate is.”

“Caelian does,” I state, staring right at him. “He said this estate has its own damn forest specifically for hunting games. How would you know that if you haven’t seen it for yourself?” I ask him.

Caution settles in his gaze as he looks at me. “I’ve…heard some things,” Caelian begins, his voice low. “But I haven’t seen it myself.”

“You expect us to believe that you just happened to hear about this specific estate and Nunzio’s twisted clients?”

Caelian looks at me for a beat, then throws back the rest of his bourbon with one large gulp, hissing as the alcohol burns his throat.

“How do you know about this, Caelian?” Alexius demands without an ounce of patience in his tone.

A long silence stretches throughout the room. All our attention is focused on Caelian, who glares at me from across the table. “Just like all of you, I have…specific tastes as well.”

“I knew out of the lot of us you were a special kind of fucked-up.”

“Fuck you, Nicoli.”

“I know you have a thing for chasing girls at the club, but I never thought you attended these…primal shitty games.”

“Please tell me you’re not a part of the clientele who ends up killing their prey,” Isaia chimes in.

“Of course not!” Caelian snaps. “All the games I’ve attended were with girls who play willingly. Women who share the same…taste.”

“So, you’ve been at one of Nunzio’s parties?” Alexius snuffs out his cigar and leans back in his chair.

“I didn’t know it was one of Nunzio’s parties. All anyone knew was that there’s a new host on the block and that the only way to get in is by invitation.”

“You got an invitation?” Alexius’ eyes widen. “Nunzio invited you?”

“I didn’t know it was him. Aren’t you listening?”

“I don’t know what’s worse,” I start. “The fact that you accepted an invitation without knowing who it’s from, or the fact that Nunzio knows enough about you to know that these primal games are something you’re into. Something none of us here knew.”

“And that means Nunzio is watching you.” Maximo scratches his fingers along his beard. “The fucker is watching all of us.”

“Maximo, we need eyes and ears everywhere. Call in every favor owed to us,” Alexius orders. “There is no way we’re allowing this son of a bitch to watch us like our lives are the motherfucking Truman Show. And no one leaves this house until I say otherwise.”

“What about Myth?” I ask. “It’s not like we can leave the family business without a Del Rossa presence.”

“Goddammit!” Alexius leaps from his chair, slamming his fist against the table, and I watch patiently as he takes a few deep inhales. “You and I, we’ll go the club at night, show our faces, then come straight home.”

“And Leandra will approve of this?”

“We don’t have a choice,” he states simply. “As you said, there has to be a Del Rossa presence. Caelian is already on their radar, and we need Isaia working with Maximo on upping our security.” Alexius straightens and fastens his suit jacket. “Until we figure out how Nunzio is getting fed information about us, you and I will be hosting Myth.”

“Great,” I spit out with sarcasm before stomping toward the door.

“Where are you going?”

“To put my balls on ice before I tell my wife about my whereabouts for the next two weeks.”


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