Merciless Saints: Chapter 22

WINTER

The air is loaded with tension as we descend the plane. Damien’s on guard, and it makes me scan our surroundings vigilantly as I follow him to an armored SUV.

He opens the door and shoves me inside. When he climbs in behind me, I shoot him a scowl. “You don’t have to push me around.”

“Don’t start,” he growls at me, his eyes constantly searching our surroundings for any threat.

Alexei and Demitri climb into the front, and as soon as Alexei starts the engine and pulls away, Damien relaxes a little.

His jaw is still clenched, though. I reach up and brush my fingers over his jaw, and it has him leaning into my palm. He places his hand over the back of mine, and our eyes meet.

Damien stares at me for a moment, and then he yanks me closer to him. His arms wrap tightly around me, and I feel his harsh breaths against my neck.

“I’m going to be okay,” I try to reassure him.

“I shouldn’t have brought you,” he growls. “God, what was I thinking?”

I wrap my arms around his neck and press my mouth to his ear. “You’ve seen what I can do. Don’t doubt me now. I’ll hold my own as good as any man.”

He nods as he takes a deep breath. “Just don’t leave my side. No matter what happens.”

“I won’t. I’ll stick to you like glue,” I assure him.

He pulls a little back, and his eyes dart over my face, then he whispers, “Ya lyublyu tebya.”

I shake my head, not understanding a word. Still, it’s damn hot hearing him speak Russian.

He presses a kiss to my mouth then breathes against my lips, “I love you.”

I smile against him as the words settle warmly in my heart. “I love you, too.”

Damien kisses me as if he’s trying to taste the words on my tongue until Alexei grumbles, “Come on. Not in the back seat. It’s all I see when I look in the rearview mirror.”

I let out a chuckle as Damien pulls away from me until I see the bewildered look in his eyes.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.

“Nothing.” The word is short, and it feels as if it instantly creates a distance between us.

I’ve never seen Damien like this, and worry begins to spin a web around my heart.

Does he regret telling me he loves me?

I have to keep the question to myself while we drive to the Cotroni’s villa. When Alexei steers us onto the safety of the Cotroni’s grounds with the other men following behind us, Damien seems to relax a little bit.

He opens the door and pulls me out of the car. The second I’m out, he tugs me right against his side, his eyes scanning everywhere again.

Alexei takes the lead with Demitri a step behind him, and then we follow with the other men bringing up the rear.

The front door opens, and Luca smiles welcoming at us. “Good to see you had a safe trip. Come in,” The head of the Mafia greets us.

Luca shakes the men’s hand then turns to me, and it instantly makes Damien tense up. His grip on my hand tightens into a crushing hold as Luca takes hold of my shoulders, kissing me on both my cheeks.

“Sorry for your losses, mi cara.”

“Thank you,” I murmur, flexing my fingers in Damien’s hold so he’ll ease up.

When we step into the villa, I tug at Damien’s hand, whispering, “You’re hurting me.”

His grip on me loosens slightly as we follow Luca to a room where the weapons are waiting for us.

Alexei and Demitri immediately begin to inspect our shipment. Damien tugs me closer to a crate, and it has me saying, “You can let go. I won’t disappear.”

He lets out a low growl as his hand finally frees mine. I give him a questioning look, and stepping closer so only he will hear me, I ask, “What’s going on with you?”

Damien shoots me a dark glare before taking a submachine gun from the crate. He inspects it, checking the clip.

Letting out a sigh, I pick up a Coharie CA-415 with a shortened barrel. It’s the American-made version of the Heckler & Koch HK416, so I think I’ll be most comfortable using it.

“A gift,” Luca says, gesturing to a pile of backpacks. “To take extra ammunition. My scout reports no out-of-the-ordinary activity at Blanco’s villa, but one can never be too prepared. Right?”

“Right,” Alexei chuckles. “Thank you.”

I walk away from Damien and grab two bags. When I turn around, he’s right behind me, a murderous expression tightening his features.

“This is becoming absurd,” I mutter as I shove a bag against his chest. I take my own and begin to load my selection of weapons and ammo while my temper flares to life.

 


 

DAMIEN

 

As soon as we have what we’ll need for the attack, I shrug the backpack over my shoulder and grab hold of Winter. I pull her behind me as I walk to Luca.

“Where’s the restroom?” I ask him.

“Down the hall, first door on the right.”

I nod at him as I leave the group and drag Winter to the restroom. I shove her inside, and as soon as I shut the door behind us, she snaps, “What the hell, Damien?”

I try to breathe through the fear clawing at my heart. The emotion is foreign and overwhelming.

What was I thinking? God. If something happens to her, I’ll never forgive myself.

Winter inches closer to me, and I shake my head. She reaches up and framing my jaw with her palms, she says, “Talk to me. What’s going on?”

“I can’t focus with you here,” I admit the words I never thought would cross my lips. It’s the one thing I could always pride myself on. Having focus. Going in, getting the job done, and getting out.

Understanding settles in her eyes. “Remember the laser game?”

I nod.

“No one shot me.”

“That was a fucking game,” I growl.

“At the hanger. That wasn’t a game. I killed three men and didn’t get myself shot, and I was beside myself. I’m focused now. You need to believe in my abilities, Damien.”

My eyes dart over the woman who’s reduced me to a worrying mess.

She’s small.

She’s fast.

Winter can handle a gun.

She doesn’t miss a target.

My breaths slow down, and the worry retreats slightly.

Taking hold of Winter, I pull her against my chest and hold her tightly. “I can’t lose you.”

“You won’t,” she murmurs.

I pull back and stare down at her.

So this is love? Worrying every second of every day that I might lose her? Threatening every man that dares to look at her? Fighting her into submission? Fearing the day I won’t be there to protect her?

“I don’t want to love you so much,” I admit.

Winter frowns at me.

“It’s driving me insane.”

She lifts herself on her toes and presses a tender kiss to my mouth.

“That’s not helping at all,” I grumble at her.

She lets out a soft burst of laughter as she presses another kiss to my lips, then she murmurs, “Isn’t that what obsession is? It drives us insane for each other, so we’re willing to do the unthinkable for the other person.”

I lift my hand to her face and brush my fingers over her soft skin. “I’ll burn the world down for you if that’s what it takes to keep you safe.”

A beautiful smile lifts her lips. “I’m obsessed with you too, Damien.”

“Don’t leave my side again. I can’t think straight if you’re not next to me.”

She nods quickly. “I won’t. I promise.”

I stare deep into her eyes, and seeing the love she feels for me, calms the storm in my chest.

“Are you ready?” Winter asks.

I nod and kiss her one more time before we leave the restroom.

We return to the group, and Demitri comes to stand next to me. “Should I worry?”

I shake my head as I meet my brother’s eyes. “I’m ready.”

Demitri hands us earpieces. “So we can communicate.”

We each take one and place it in our ears, and then we shake Luca’s hand. As we leave, he mutters, “Good luck.”

With our weapons, we take two SUVs, splitting into groups. I climb in behind the steering wheel and start the engine. As I follow after Demitri, Winter murmurs, “This is it.” Excitement flushes her cheeks. “I get to watch them all die.”

I place my hand on her thigh and give it a squeeze before returning it to the steering wheel.

Under the cover of darkness, we reach the road where we have to split up.

Demitri’s voice comes over the earpiece, “Let one of the men stay with the car and keep a lookout for reinforcements or the police. Be safe.”

“You too,” I murmur, and then I turn up the road that will take us to the back of the villa.

I park the car a couple of meters from the house, and getting out, I scan the area for any kind of threat. I sling the submachine gun over my shoulder and keep the Heckler and Koch in my hand as I walk around the car. Winter shrugs on her backpack, also holding her gun ready for use.

“Sergei, stay with the car,” I order.

He nods and climbs in behind the steering wheel.

I take a deep breath, and then I lead my group toward the wall. I use one of the men to hoist myself up the wall and then reach down for Winter. Her fingers fold around mine, and I pull her quickly up. I wait for her to climb over and then jump after her. We land in crouching positions and wait for the other two to join us.

“Sensors,” Yuri whispers, gesturing to the beams scattered over the yard.

“We have to crawl,” I mutter.

It takes longer than I had hoped it would as we slowly inch our way toward the back of the villa. Lights shine from rooms, and it gives us a clear view of the men guarding the house.

“Are you ready?” Demitri asks.

“Not yet,” I breathe. “Two minutes.”

When we pass under the last beam, I whisper, “Ready.”

“Breach!” Demitri instructs, and the four of us jump to our feet, and with exact precision, we attack.

As a guard turns in our direction, I open fire, and then all hell breaks loose at the front of the house as Demitri and Alexei enter with their men.

Winter stays by my side, and with every step I take, she matches it. Yuri takes out a guard on the balcony while Winter gets one as he comes rushing out of the house.

“Good,” I murmur as I set my sights on another guard, taking him down with a shot to the head.

“Four down,” I notify Demitri. Their gunfire sounds through the house as we enter through a sliding door.

“Blyad’,” Alexei curses. “I got the son. He pissed himself.”

“Vince?” Winter asks as we move through a living room.

“Yes.”

He must’ve left St. Monarch’s after the assassination of Winter’s family.

“Don’t kill Antonio. He’s mine,” she growls.

As we turn down a hallway, we’re met with more guards, but not the amount we anticipated. Seems the Blancos weren’t expecting Winter to retaliate but to go into hiding again.

We open fire, and I take them down as quickly as I can. My heart pounds in my chest every time a gun is raised in Winter’s direction. 

Suddenly, Antonio Blanco comes out of a room, holding a woman as a shield. Winter immediately starts shooting. The woman takes four bullets before Antonio shoves her toward us, making a run down some stairs.

“Coward,” I hiss as we reach the woman.

She’s gasping for air, but then Winter crouches next to her, whispering darkly, “A mother for a mother.” Winter rises to her feet then puts a bullet in the woman’s head.

“Moving to a lower level,” I advise Demitri.

“Coming your way,” he replies.

Cautiously, I descend the stairs, not knowing what we’ll be met with.

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