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Silent Vows: Chapter 44


Sante called Umberto once we were in the car. The man who had acted as my jailer wasn’t thrilled about Sante joining them but eventually conceded and gave instructions on where exactly to go. The meeting was happening at an old warehouse by the mafia-owned docks, but we’d needed to know where our father was hiding out in wait.

I could see why they chose the location. Aside from the abandoned nature of the warehouse, the entire area was piled with crates and equipment, not to mention cars parked everywhere. It appeared the dock workers used the lot for parking though it was far enough removed from the river to keep it isolated. So long as we didn’t encounter a shift change, the place was vacant.

We parked a ways out, not wanting to be seen.

Sante instructed me to duck down into the floorboards. “Stay here, understood?”

A part of me was proud of how mature he sounded, while another part wanted to insist I’d do what I damn well wanted. I wasn’t happy about being stuck yet again hiding in a car while a man I cared about went out into danger to protect me, but I wouldn’t help matters by arguing.

I didn’t follow him, but I did peak out the window enough to watch my brother slip away from the car. He walked to an old shed at the entrance to the lot—probably some sort of security checkpoint when the factory had been operational. Once Sante was close enough, Umberto exited the shed between them and the warehouse, keeping them hidden from the men inside.

The two talked, and even from a distance, their discussion looked heated. I suddenly regretted not discussing what Sante had planned. Was he confronting them about the truth?

Crap, I hate this so much!

My hands trembled, and a sticky nausea filled my belly. The feeling of impending chaos clawed at my skin with little barbed hooks.

My brother puffed out his chest as he flung an angry comment at Umberto, who responded by lifting a gun to Sante’s head.

This was it. This was what I’d been terrified about for months.

I couldn’t sit by and watch him get killed. I had to help him.

Grabbing the gun from my purse, I clicked off the safety and chambered a bullet before sneaking from the car. I left the door open so I didn’t make any extra noise and snuck up behind Umberto.

“Don’t move,” I ground out angrily, my gun pointed at him from a safe distance away. “Drop the gun.”

“What is it, princess? You want me to hold still or drop the gun? I can’t do both,” Umberto shot back at me with the unbothered swagger of a man who had completely dismissed me as a threat.

“Now, Umberto.” My father’s eerily calm voice touched my ears before he appeared on the other side of Sante. “Do you think sarcasm is really appropriate at this little family reunion of mine?” He was the epitome of cavalier nonchalance as he lifted a gun to Sante. “What will you do now, Noemi? You can only point a gun at one of us.”

I was in over my head. I knew it. He knew it. I had no freaking clue what I should do. Luckily, my father continued with his narcissistic banter, giving me precious seconds to think.

“I expected this from her, Sante. She’s headstrong like her mother. But you? I’d thought better of you.” He shrugged a shoulder as though discussing a restaurant’s wine selection. “I really don’t need either of you, so I suppose it’s no great loss.”

Before Dad could do or say any more, Sante lashed out at Umberto. He was a good size for his age but no match for a mature man. The gun went off in the struggle, taking me by surprise. It was so damn loud, my hands reflexively went to my ears, gun still clamped tight in my right fist.

The distraction gave Dad a chance to grab me and put his gun to my temple. “Stop right fucking now,” Dad hissed at Sante, then clamped his hand tight around my throat. “And you, drop the fucking gun.” His voice dripped with malice.

In a handful of heartbeats, we’d gone from a standoff to utter failure.

Umberto again had his gun pointed at Sante’s head, but Fausto Mancini was no longer amused this time. His darting eyes flashed with raving madness.

I did as he ordered, flinching at the sound of my gun clattering to the concrete.

“You’re going to fuck up everything. Just like your goddamn mother. I was days from owning the entire Moretti family when she had to try to be a hero.” He shook my neck, pressing the gun harder against my head. “This time, though, I won’t fail. I’ve made sure of it.”

“Put the gun down and let her go.” A new voice entered the fray, and I recognized that sound of cool indifference.

Keir and several others stepped out from nowhere, guns drawn. My heart pounded so ferociously that the beats echoed to my fingers and toes. With every passing second, our situation worsened. I was terrified we were headed for an all-out bloodbath.

My father laughed maniacally. “You think you can get one over on me? I’ve been at this longer than you’ve been alive.”

The Albanians. He drew his confidence from the knowledge that he’d hedged his bets by bringing in hired guns, and our guys had no idea.

I stared pleadingly at Keir, desperately wishing I could somehow warn him.

The words pressed against my lips, demanding to be released, but the gun at my temple effectively silenced me.

As if the fates knew there was only one way to make this situation worse, Renzo Donati and Conner appeared in our circle of destruction.

Conner’s eyes were a merciless black, every ounce of blue eclipsed by his wrath. “Let her go, Fausto, or this won’t end well for you.”

My father tugged us away from them. “You’re pathetic, all of you. You think I came here alone?” he whistled loudly through his teeth, summoning yet another cluster of armed bodies that emerged from behind cars and seemingly out of nowhere.

The Albanians were here, and they had us completely surrounded.


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