Merciless Saints: Chapter 26

WINTER

Going in search of Damien, I find him in my father’s office. A frown darkens his face as he stares at something on the laptop.

“What are you doing?” I ask as I move around the desk to see what he’s looking at.

“Checking the designated airport and surrounding areas of Sierra Leone for the next run,” he murmurs deep in thought.

I glance over the map, then ask, “When are we going?”

Damien glances at me, and I can see he’s still not happy with me going on the run. “Three days from now. I’ve made contact with the rebels this morning.”

“Your father always said there was something special about the diamonds in Sierra Leone,” Cillian suddenly says as he comes in. “They have a special light and coloring.” Cillian takes a seat, a flash of pain on his face from the movement. “We’re leaving in three days?”

“We?” I ask as I straighten up. “You’re in no shape to travel.”

“I’m fine,” he grumbles. “There’s no way I’m letting you face the RUF without me there.”

“RUF?” I ask.

“Radical Unified Front,” Damien mutters. “It’s what the rebels call themselves.”

“Cillian, you’re still recovering,” I state. “Sit this one out. I’ll have Damien, and we’re taking five men with us.”

“Sierra Leone is not like any country you’ve been to, poppet,” Cillian says. “It’s ravaged by war. “Issa Gbao, the leader of the RUF, will kill first, then ask questions. You can’t argue with him the way you argue with us. I’m going with. I can handle a weapon, and someone needs to keep you on a leash.”

Damien lets out a chuckle, and it has me narrowing my eyes at him before leveling Cillian with a scowl. “Don’t treat me like I’m a child,” I bite out. “I’ve bled for this business. I’m the Blood Princess. This is my legacy, and I will not let you and Damien keep me from taking my rightful place.”

Losing my temper, I stalk out of the office, knowing I’ll say something I’ll regret. I’m tired of being treated as a lessor.

I walk out of the house and keep going until I find myself nearing the family cemetery. My pace slows down until I stop in front of my father’s grave.

The anger keeps simmering in my chest as my gaze drifts over my loved ones’ final resting place.

“They think I’m weak.” I fist my hands at my sides as I try to slow my breathing down.

“I don’t think you’re weak,” Damien suddenly says behind me.

I swing around, directing a glare at him. “You make me feel weak. Cillian as well. Neither of you trust me.”

Damien shakes his head as he closes the distance between us. When he reaches for my neck, I pull away. His eyes snap to mine, and then his hand shoots out, and before I can move, his fingers wrap around my throat, and he yanks me to him.

His dark eyes penetrate mine as he growls, “I don’t think you’re weak, Princess. I just don’t want you anywhere near danger. It fucking puts the fear of God in me, and it’s an emotion I’m not comfortable with at all.”

“I can take care of myself. How many times must I prove myself to you?” I snap as I grab hold of his wrist. Damien’s eyes narrow on me. “You’ll never see me as an equal, will you?”

The thought stabs through my heart.

His expression turns to granite as his fingers flex around my throat. “I’m fucking trying, Winter. I agreed to you going with me. What more do you want?”

My breaths explode over my lips as I cry, “Your respect! Not just your love. Not only your controlling possessiveness. I just want you to respect me as the Blood Princess.” It feels like this fight’s been coming since we got married, and now I can’t stop the words from spilling from me. “I’m not just your wife. I’m a Mafia princess… a queen, and I demand to be treated as one. I killed Antonio Blanco. I fought for the Hemsley legacy. My family lies behind me.”

Damien lets go and takes a step away from me. His body is tense, and his stare deadly.

“I can’t have your fear crippling me,” I say as I take a step toward him. “You’re the strongest man I know, Damien. I need that strength behind me. We’re either a team or nothing.” 

His jaw clenches at my words, and for a long moment, he just stares at me. “Fine.”

I begin to frown. “Fine, what?”

“We’re a team,” he mutters.

My frown deepens. I expected him to lash out at me. “You agree with me?” I ask to make sure.

“Yes.”

“You’re not going to fuck me into submission?”

The corner of his mouth lifts into a sexy smirk. “Tonight, you will pay for the way you spoke to me, but right now, we have work to do.”

Surprised by his reaction, I ask, “You won’t fight me on this again?”

He lets out a silent chuckle. “We’ll fight again, but for this run, you win.”

“I’ll win every time,” I mutter as I begin to walk past him.

Damien’s arm falls around my shoulders, then he chuckles, “My little spitfire.”

“I’m an inferno,” I grumble, but I don’t pull away from him and instead wrap my arm around his lower back.

 


 

DAMIEN

 

As the plane comes to a standstill, my eyes snap between Winter and Cillian. “Let me do the talking.”

Getting up from the seats, I check Winter’s bulletproof vest before checking my own. “Recheck your weapons,” I mutter.

Holding the submachine gun against my stomach, with the barrel facing down, I walk to the exit, and opening the door, I descend the stairs. Winter’s right behind me, with Cillian and the men bringing up the rear.

As I step onto Sierra Leone ground, I hear vehicles, and then three jeeps appear from the bushes surrounding the airfield.

Each vehicle holds five men, all armed to the teeth. I take a deep breath. “Don’t bring the briefcase until I give the all-clear signal.”

I wait for the jeeps to come to a stop in a cloud of dust before I walk toward them.

One of the rebels jumps off and walks toward me, a merciless gleam in his eyes. I meet his gaze, and when we stop a couple of feet from each other, his eyes sweep over me with disgust. “Vetrov?” he spits my name out.

“Gbao,” I mutter, refusing to deal with anyone but the leader.

The rebel gestures toward the jeep with his AK47.

The leader jumps off a Jeep, and letting out a bark of laughter, he slowly walks toward me. “So this is the new head of the Hemsley family?” His tone is condescending. When he stops in front of me, he laughs again, “Or the guard dog?”

I don’t let him bait me, but instead, pin him with a deadly glare. “Did you bring the diamonds?” I get right to the point.

He nods, his eyes sharpening on me as he waves a hand in the air. “Money?”

“Diamonds first,” I growl.

Tension begins to run high as one of the rebels opens a tin containing the diamonds, and the rest of the rebels dismount the jeeps.

I hold up a hand, gesturing for Winter to come to me. The skin prickles on the back of my neck until she’s next to me, with Cillian on her other side.

The leader’s eyes rove over her, and then he smirks.

My heart falters as Winter moves forward. She lifts her chin, her eyes twin flames as she faces off with the rebels.

She holds her hand, palm up, and then Gbao nods.

The rebel drops a single diamond in her hand, and I watch the men closely while Winter performs the sandpaper test. Then she mutters, “I’ll choose the next one.” She takes another and checks it. “We’re good.”

My senses are on high alert, my skin prickling, and my breaths slow. “Bring the money.”

Cillian walks back to the plane and seconds later returns with the briefcase. He sets it down on the ground, and opening it, he steps back to Winter’s side.

Gbao eyes the money then makes a lazy gesture for one of his men to take it.

Silence fills the air as they hand the tin of diamonds to Winter, and neither group turn their back on the other as we slowly retreat to the plane.

Only when we’re on the aircraft, and I shut the door behind us, do my muscles begin to relax. I remain standing by the door, my weapon ready as we taxi down the dusty runway.

Gunfire erupts, then Cillian says, “They’re leaving. Just firing into the air. Nothing to worry about.”

When we take off from Sierra Leone soil, I walk to Winter and take the seat next to her. I set the weapon down and suck in a deep breath of air.

“That went much better than I expected,” Winter mutters as she inspects every diamond. “The way the two of you went on, I was expecting some fun.”

Cillian lets out a chuckle. “Only you’d call it boring.”

“Not every meeting will be that easy,” I grumble. Still, I’m proud of how Winter held her own. She didn’t bristle under pressure. Not that I expected her to.

“When will we do the drop?” she asks.

“Next month.”

“Will Alexei meet us in New York?” She closes the tin and hands it to Cillian, who places it in a briefcase.

“Yes.”

Winter’s eyes settle on my face, and then she smiles at me. “We should celebrate our first successful run.”

“A barbeque, a bonfire, and a pint of beer,” Cillian mutters.

It makes Winter chuckle. “Just like father did every time he got home.”

“Sounds good,” I agree, just relieved nothing went wrong. God, I hope it will get easier with time having Winter along on the runs because I know for a fact my wife won’t back down.

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