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Stolen Touches: Chapter 16


I spring up in the bed and blink away the sleep. Salvatore is standing in the doorway of my room, hair in disarray and shirt unbuttoned. It’s pitch dark outside.
“Dress,” he says, starting to button his shirt. “We need you on the eleventh floor.”
“What’s there?” I ask as I rush to turn on a lamp, then move to the closet to take out a pair of leggings and a T-shirt and pull them on.
“The infirmary. The Irish attacked my men while they were loading the drugs. They’ll be here in ten minutes.”
“You have an infirmary here? How many floors do you own?” I rush to the bathroom to brush my teeth.
“I own the building,” his answer reaches me.
When I return, Salvatore is still fumbling with the buttons. In the four minutes I’ve spent in the bathroom, he’s only managed to fasten the top two. I watch as he tries to do up the third, but it keeps slipping from between the fingers of his left hand, so he curses.
I walk over and shoo his hands out of the way. He stands still as a statue while I work my way down the row until the buttons are all done.
“There. All set,” I say and look up.
His eyes are fixed on mine for several long seconds. Then, he abruptly says, “Let’s go.”
When we exit the elevator on the floor below, I follow Salvatore through the door into a large room which has floor-to-ceiling white tiles. My jaw drops as I take in the sight. To the left, there are three gurneys with high-end medical equipment beside each. Toward the back, the space is separated by a glass wall with an operating table visible inside. The wall on the right is lined with large white shelves that are stocked with medical supplies.
I expected a small room with perhaps a cart holding bandages and similar first aid items, maybe an IV stand, not a miniature hospital. As I turn toward Salvatore, baffled by everything I’m seeing, the doors to a huge service elevator located on the opposite side of the room—different to the one Salvatore and I used—open, and a group of people, more than half of them covered in blood, file out.
“Where the fuck is Ilaria?” Salvatore barks at Nino, who is half dragging Alessandro as he exits the elevator. The big guy is holding his hand against his bleeding belly. A gunshot wound?
“I’m here,” A female voice announces from somewhere. I turn to see an elegant, tall woman in her late fifties coming out of the main elevator. Her perfectly coiffured hair is sandy-blonde. She’s wearing dark blue dress pants with a silky blouse and a white cashmere coat overtop. When she reaches us, she peruses me and sighs.
“I guess this is the wife. We’ll do the introductions later,” the woman says, taking off her coat. She heads to the sink to scrub her hands, then takes a plastic doctor’s gown from one of the drawers, snaps on a pair of gloves, and moves swiftly toward the group of wounded men.
“Who’s that?” I look at Salvatore and head to the sink to scrub my own hands.
“My mother,” he answers.
I stare at his back, stunned for a moment, as he walks away to join the group huddled around Alessandro. All I can do is blink rapidly as I shake my head a bit to recover from that little bombshell.
His mother?
I finish getting prepped and run toward the chaos at the other end of the room, where Salvatore’s mother is already instructing Nino to take Alessandro into the small operating room.


“Hold this.” Milene grabs my hand, pulling my palm over the bundled gauze compressed onto the wound in Carmelo’s shoulder. “Damn it, Tore. You need to press harder.”
Carmelo looks at her, then at me, his eyes wide. I ignore his gawking and watch as Milene moves to Filippo and pulls up his shirt to inspect the laceration across the side of his body.
“Superficial. Do you want me to sew you up, or do you want Ilaria to do it?” she asks.
Filippo looks at me, and I shake my head. I won’t have my wife touching any other man unless it’s absolutely necessary.
“Doc can do it, Mrs. Ajello,” Filippo says quickly.
“Okay, I’ll go see if they need me in the OR.”
She stops to check the IV next to Alessandro’s bed, goes to change her gloves and the sterile coat, then heads into the small room where Ilaria is trying to dig out the bullet from Pasquale’s thigh. They fumble with his wound for twenty more minutes. Milene bandages his leg while Ilaria throws her gloves in the trash, dons a new pair, and opens the sliding door.
“Next!” Ilaria yells, then looks at Carmelo. “Long time no see, Carmelo. What do you have for me today, hmm?”
It takes two more hours for Ilaria and Milene to take care of the wounded, and by the time everyone’s been treated, it’s already eight in the morning. Due to his stomach wound, Alessandro will have to stay in the infirmary for a few days. Carmelo’s and Pasquale’s injuries are less serious, so they will be released tomorrow. The other four men were sent home as soon as they’d been treated. Seven wounded in total. I can’t wait to get my hands on Fitzgerald.
The service elevator opens, and Nino walks out, followed by two of the nurses I have on the payroll for just these types of situations. They’ll keep watch over Alessandro, Carmelo, and Pasquale until tomorrow afternoon, when another pair will take over.
“Let’s go upstairs. I’ve told Ada to prepare us something to eat.” I pass Ilaria her coat. “You can sleep in one of the guest rooms, or I can have someone drop you off.
“No need. Cosimo will pick me up at nine. I want to check on Alessandro one more time before I go.”
“Does he need to be moved to a hospital?” I ask.
“No. He was lucky. The bullet didn’t damage any organs. I’ll drop by to check on him twice a day till Monday. He should be good to leave by then.”
I nod. “I’ll get Milene and we’ll go up.”
Ilaria looks at me as though she wants to say something but leaves without uttering a word. I turn around in search of my wife and find her changing Pasquale’s IV, chatting away as he looks at her like she’s an angel. It takes all of five seconds for me to reach her, scoop her into my arms, and carry her toward the elevator, signaling to one of the other nurses to take over.
“Tore? What are you doing?”
“I’m taking you home.”
“I was in the middle of a conversation.”
“I could see that,” I say and use my elbow to press the button for the twelfth floor. “You won’t be talking to my men unless necessary. Or any men, for that matter.”
“You heard me.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
The elevator chimes as we reach the top floor, and the doors slide open. I set Milene down, but instead of letting her exit, I press the stop button and take a step toward her, caging her within the cab by pressing my palms against the walls on either side of her head. “No talking to my men, Milene.”
“Jesus, what’s gotten into you all of a sudden?” She tries to slip free, but I grab her around her waist and pull her body to mine.
“Do. Not. Test me,” I whisper, placing my hand at the back of her head and pulling her face toward mine. “Because if I see anyone else looking at you the way Pasquale just did, I’ll end them.”
“For God’s sake, Salvatore. That’s absolutely . . .”
Pressing my mouth against hers, I swallow her words, and slide my left hand under her T-shirt. Milene gasps and stiffens for a second, but then her hands move around my neck, drawing me in.
My lips brush against hers before I pull back a hair’s breadth to look her in the eyes. “I will end him, Milene. Whoever it may be,” I say and slide my hands down the sides of her body to her thighs. I grip and lift her up, pressing her against the back wall. “Got it?”
Milene nods and wraps her legs around my waist, then moans when my hard cock presses against her sex. I don’t remember ever wanting a woman so madly that she occupies my every waking thought.
“Why is there a cat in your living room currently sharpening its claws on the Persian rug?” my mother says from somewhere behind me.
“We’re busy, Ilaria,” I say and keep attacking Milene’s lips.
“So I can see.”
Milene wriggles in my arms, so I let her down reluctantly and my eyes follow her as she exits the elevator and dashes across the hallway, past Ilaria, and into the penthouse. Damn that cat.
“You let her bring a cat here?” Ilaria asks.
I walk by her and head right toward the living area. “It’s not a cat. It’s the devil’s spawn. And, wasn’t Cosimo supposed to be meeting you?”
“He’s on his way,” Illaria replies.
Ada set the dining table for breakfast, so I pick a chair that gives me an unobstructed view of the living room. Milene stands in front of the bookshelf with her hands on her hips, trying to coax Kurt down from the top of it. It has something that looks like a piece of sausage in its mouth.
“How old is she?” Ilaria asks and takes a seat next to me.
“Young. She did good down there. Is she a medical student?”
The cat leaps off the shelf and scurries under the sofa. Milene twists, crouching to look under the furniture.
“A nurse.” I reach for my coffee and take a sip.
“Why did you marry her, Salvatore? Cosimo said it was because of some agreement with the Chicago Family, but we both know no one can make you do anything.”
“I’m not exactly sure, Ilaria.” I tilt my head, leering at Milene’s firm ass as she continues to peer beneath the sofa. “She’s completely screwed up my brain. I’ve started acting irrationally.”
“How so?”
“She went to see a friend a few days ago. Alone. I flipped. Yelled at Nino all the way from the office to the parking lot.”
“That doesn’t sound like you.”
“I know.”
Milene finally catches a hold of the cat and carries it into the kitchen.
“You eat there!” She points at the bowl in the corner.
The cat looks at her, jumps onto the counter, and then on top of the refrigerator, where it resumes chewing on the sausage. Milene throws her hands up into the air, leaves the cat sitting on the fridge, and comes over to take a seat next to me.
“So, you never told me your mom is a surgeon.” She takes a piece of pastry from the platter in the middle of the table. “That was amazing to watch, Mrs. Ajello. Are you the one who’s always patching up Tore’s men?”
My mother’s eyebrows shoot up on hearing the nickname.
“Salvatore has a general medical practitioner for everyday stuff. They only call me when there are serious wounds,” she says and casts a sideways glance in my direction. “I don’t mind, so long as the bullets I’m digging out are not from inside my son.”
“Yeah, I hear that happens quite often.” Milene stuffs the rest of her pastry into her mouth and gets up from the table. “I’m gonna crash. Do you need me in the office this afternoon?”
“No. I have a meeting with Arturo in an hour that’ll take most of the day,” I say.
“What about sleep? We’ve been up since two.”
“Are you inviting me to join you, cara?”
Her eyes widen before she scrunches her nose at me. “You know the answer to that question.” She turns to Ilaria. “It was nice meeting you, Mrs. Ajello. I hope the next time we see each other will be under less dramatic circumstances.”
The moment Milene is out of sight, my mother crosses her arms and fixes me with her gaze. “Cara?”
“Yes. Why?”
“I’ve never heard you use an endearment for anyone.”
“There is a first time for everything.”
Ilaria’s eyes narrow. “And the two of you are not sleeping together?”
“I don’t see how that is any of your concern.”
“So, you aren’t.
“No. Not yet.”
“You don’t do relationships, Salvatore. I very much doubt you know how to behave in one. As far as I know, you’ve only used women to fuck, so what’s so different about this girl? You two are already married. Why play roommates?”
“I’ve already taken away all of her choices in life,” I say. “When we do, eventually, sleep together, it’ll be because she’s decided to take that step.”
“What I saw happening in that elevator is not first base action.” She shakes her head. “The air around the two of you is practically buzzing with sexual energy. I have half a mind to lock you two in a room and leave.”
“She’s still mad at me.”
“For marrying her?”
“I don’t think the marriage itself bothers her that much. It’s everything else that goes with it.” I pour myself another coffee. “I made her resign from the hospital where she worked.”
“She didn’t want to leave the job?”
“No. Perhaps if the situation were different, we could have worked something out, but with the Irish on a killing spree, I can’t risk it.”
“So, you would have let her work if the Irish were out of the picture?”
“Maybe. If she’d agreed to transfer to gynecology or pediatrics. Somewhere with no adult male patients.”
“Are you telling me you’re jealous?”
“I’m not jealous.” I take a sip of coffee. “I just have an uncontrollable urge to kill any man who even looks at my wife.”
My mother watches me for a few seconds, then places her hands on the table and leans forward. “I truly hope this is a passing infatuation,” she says. “God help her, if you’re truly fixated.”
“That sounds ominous.”
“Because it is. You’ve always had issues connecting with people, ever since you were a child. She’s too young to handle someone like you.”
“Ilaria, please, you make it sound like I’m a psychopath.”
My mother sighs and shifts her gaze to something behind me. Her eyes remain glued to that spot for a couple of minutes, and she appears to be deep in thought.
“You’re my child, Salvatore. I love you the way you are,” she says, then looks directly into my eyes. “But we both know you’re not what most people consider normal. If I’m right, and if you do feel something for this girl, you’ll make her life very difficult. You know you become unreasonable when you fixate on something. You’ll need to either control yourself or explain certain things to her. Otherwise, she will eventually run.”
“What is it you think I’ll do?”
The phone in her coat pings.
“I wish I knew. Your brain is wired differently, son. Remember that.” She takes out the phone and looks at the screen. “Cosimo’s here. I’ll check on Alessandro, then I’ll be gone.”
“It’s interesting that you claim to hate Cosa Nostra, yet you’re in a relationship with one of my capos.”
“Of course I hate it. You almost died because of this fucking Family,” she barks, her mask of civility slipping a little. “I still don’t know how you survived. You have no idea what waiting in that hospital hall did to me, praying for the surgeon to come out and tell me you’d live.”
“I lived, Ilaria. And that was seven years ago.
“You did, barely, and not without consequences,” she snaps, looking down at my left leg, but quickly averting her eyes.
Losing part of my leg affected Ilaria more than me. She still hasn’t quite come to terms with it. I always make sure to wear my prosthesis when she’s around because the last few times she saw me without it, she left with tears forming in the corners of her eyes. She was fighting them back, but I saw all the same.
Ilaria takes her coat, giving my shoulder a squeeze. “Call me if you need to talk. I’ll drop by this evening to see how Alessandro is doing.”


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