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Silent Vows: Chapter 43

Noemi

That was the last of it. I’d unboxed my things and found new homes for everything. I still felt a little strange filling someone else’s house with my things, but the apartment felt more like mine each day. Conner had even offered to bring in a decorator if I wanted to make any changes to the place. I didn’t think that was necessary, but I appreciated the offer. I was still considering converting one of the guest bedrooms into my own personal space. A place to read or do yoga that was all my own.

I was standing in the doorway, trying to envision the options when my phone began to ring. Like an idiot, my face split in a goofy grin when I saw Conner’s name on the screen.

“Hey,” I answered warmly.

“Hey, I wanted to let you know it’s happening.” His unexpectedly severe tone had me instantly on alert.

“What does that mean?” I knew he was talking about my father, but I needed more information.

“It means the Donatis looked deeper into your mom’s death and agreed that your father was behind it. We’ll meet with them and ensure your father can never hurt you or anyone else again.”

A tidal wave of relief rippled from my head to my toes.

They knew. My family finally knew the truth, and the burden was no longer on my shoulders. My uncle would make sure Dad was punished for his crimes.

“Thank you,” I whispered, tears pooling in my eyes.

“It’s not over yet,” Conner cautioned me. “What I need from you is to stay put while I handle this. All of us are coming together to pull this off, so I won’t have any men available to protect you.”

“I’m not going anywhere, but please call to update me when you can.”

“It may be a few hours, but I’ll be in touch.”

“Be careful, Conner.”

“Fuck, you’re sexy when you’re sweet.” His voice dropped an octave.

I grinned. “Focus.”

He grunted, then the line went dead. I chuckled, but the laughter quickly dissipated as the reality of the danger set in. Conner was going to plot with the Donatis to take down my father. Dad wasn’t as powerful as them, but he was experienced and had connections. He wouldn’t go down without a fight.

I wasn’t overly religious, but I closed my eyes and said a silent prayer that Conner and Sante would be okay.

Going back to the living room, I wondered what the hell I could do to distract myself. I’d planned to scavenge the fridge for lunch, but that wasn’t an option now. My stomach was entirely too disgruntled with nerves to eat. Deciding TV was my best bet, I curled up on the couch and began to scroll for a movie that might hold my attention.

Ten minutes into a murder mystery on Masterpiece Theater, my phone rang again. It was Sante calling from the burner I’d given him. All my senses pricked with alarm.

“Sante?” I answered, muting the TV at the same time.

“Em, I need to talk to you. Can you meet up with me?”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t. It needs to be in person?” I asked, hating the strain I heard in his voice.

“Fuck, I don’t know. I just really need to see you. You told me to talk to you if something was up.”

“What if you came here?” I asked reluctantly. I knew Conner wouldn’t be crazy about me inviting Sante to our home, but I knew my brother, and he was more distressed than I’d ever heard him sound.

“Yeah, I guess that works.”

I gave him the address before we ended the call, hoping it wasn’t a mistake. I didn’t think my brother would set me up, but I’d been wrong about my father in the past. People were unpredictable.

On the other hand, I liked knowing that if something went down today, my brother would be far from the action. Just to be safe, though, I retrieved the handgun Conner kept in his nightstand and put it in my purse. I’d make sure to keep it near me when my brother arrived, and I wouldn’t let him in if anyone came with him.

Confident with my precautions, I sat on the sofa in silence, chewing my nails to the quick until the front desk buzzed to notify me of my brother’s arrival. They confirmed he was alone, and I gave permission for them to send him up.

He looked terrible when he arrived. Shadows darkened his eyes, hinting at sleepless nights. Even his ordinarily curly hair was matted and dull. What made me most uneasy was how he avoided me when he entered. No hug. No eye contact. Sante was completely overcome by whatever he had to tell me.

“Thanks for seeing me,” he finally said, peering at me hesitantly.

“Of course. You’re always welcome here.” I placed a comforting hand on his arm. “Can you tell me what’s wrong?”

He took a deep breath, seeming to gather his courage. “I think something’s going down today.”

“Does it involve Conner?” I asked, assuming this had something to do with him meeting the Donatis. I kept pushing when he didn’t answer right away. “Please, Sante. If Conner is in danger, you need to tell me.”

“Dad knows he’s meeting with the Donatis. He thinks they’re conspiring against him. I don’t understand why, but it’s serious. I’ve never seen him like this.”

I felt the blood drain from my face.

“I think he’s planning something, but…” Sante continued.

“But what?”

“I just can’t see him doing it. Why would he risk the alliance like that?” My brother looked at me for understanding.

A calm sense of certainty settled in my bones, telling me it was time.

I lifted my chin and looked deep into my brother’s eyes. “I didn’t know how to tell you before. I wanted to, but the time never seemed right, and I was struggling with my own emotions. I quit talking because I knew that Dad was behind Mom’s death. He orchestrated the car crash to keep her quiet.”

Sante’s face contorted with shock and horror as I continued.

“Before the crash, Mom told me in the car that she found out Dad was putting a hit out on Uncle Agostino and was going to take over the family. That’s why we were on our way to see him that day—to warn him. Dad must have found out and sabotaged the breaks. I wasn’t supposed to be with her that day, but Dad assumed Mom told me everything when I survived the crash. That’s why he kept us apart all those months and didn’t let me out of his sight. He didn’t want me to try to escape with you or get word to the Donatis about what had happened.”

“Escape?” He shook his head. “What the hell are you talking about? None of this makes sense.”

I tried to reach for him, but he shrugged off my touch. “I know you have a different relationship with him than me, but if you try to set that aside and look at it objectively, you’d see the truth—the way he treated me after her death. The odd behavior. The secrets.”

I could see the uncertainty setting in. I was making progress. “If Dad knows about the meeting, is he planning to do something about it?”

Sante’s brows drew together worriedly when he finally looked at me again. “He didn’t tell me, exactly, but I overheard him talking once.”

“Sante, tell me, please.”

“I couldn’t figure out why he’d be talking to the Albanians, but now, I’m wondering if he hired them for this. Like mercenaries.”

My heart dropped all the way to my feet.

The Albanians had it out for the Irish. They’d jump at the chance to kill Conner. Sante had no idea of the catastrophic news he’d just unleashed.

“Oh God. Sante. We have to warn them.” I yanked my phone from my back pocket and dialed Conner’s number. The line rang, each unanswered tone sounding longer than the last. Once I was sent to voicemail, I tried Bishop with the same results.

Fuck! Fuckfuckfuck.

What was I supposed to do? What if the meeting was already in progress, and they had no idea that my father was coming for them?

Panic sandblasted my insides until I felt helplessly exposed.

Shit! What do we do?” I cried.

As though my meltdown had the opposite effect on Sante, his self-assurance and conviction seemed to grow by the second. Spine stiffening, he squared his shoulders. “I know where they’re at. The meeting shouldn’t have started yet.”

“I’m going with you,” I asserted, grabbing my purse.

“It’s too dangerous, Em.”

I glared at him. “There is no way I can sit here now. You have to take me with you.”

His lips thinned harshly. “If I do, you have to stay in the car. Period.”

“Fine.” I wasn’t crazy about it, but at least I wouldn’t be left behind. I’d told Conner I wouldn’t leave, but this was too important. He needed to know he was being set up. I just prayed that we weren’t too late.


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