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The Sweetest Oblivion: Chapter 18


“No one will ever kill me, they wouldn’t dare.”

—Carmine Galante

THERE WAS NO BETTER PLACE for me than at the heart of the Cosa Nostra. Like the last piece of a puzzle, my existence was a perfect fit.

No matter if I were a lawyer’s son, a doctor’s, or a janitor’s, I would have found my way on the wrong side of the law doing the one thing I loved to do: hustling.

I was Antonio Russo’s son, no one else’s, and for that reason I was damn good at what I did. My papà used to have a saying: Non ha il dolce a caro, chi provato non ha l’amaro. It was a way of telling me there was no room for regrets in this world, that a man had to taste the bitter before he could taste the sweet.

I’d heard it when I was seven, as I looked at the first dead man I’d ever seen: eyes open, blood pooling on the warehouse floor.

In my profession, regrets were easy to come by. They piled up, each one weakening a man’s resolve. I didn’t regret much, and up until recently I had only one that followed me around. I regretted fucking Gianna while she was still married to my father. Most recently, and more so than even that, I regretted signing the contract for Adriana.

I wanted her sister.

In my bed.

Against the wall.

On her knees.

I’d involuntarily gone over what it would take to get out of the contract, knew exactly what I would do. My family was known for breaking agreements—it was what got my papà killed, in fact. Not the best incentive, but I didn’t fear the Abellis. Didn’t fear anything at all, honestly, which would probably be the cause of my eventual demise.

I wanted Elena Abelli, and starting a feud just so I could have her was beginning to sound less and less like a bad idea every time she was near. But I wasn’t going to go through with the twisted plan my mind had created.

I wanted to fuck her.

I didn’t want to marry her.

My wife was only supposed to be a woman I could respect and who’d have my children. Not one I was so fascinated with I couldn’t think straight. In this life, I couldn’t afford the distraction. Didn’t want the attachment. And she’d fucked with my head already.

Though, as regrettable as it was, I couldn’t help but to be interested in everything that came out of the girl’s mouth. It was getting to the point she couldn’t make a move without my notice, no matter how much I tried to stop myself.

I didn’t know why she spoke so freely and obstinately with me, though it was probably because she now considered me to be a fucking brother. If only she knew that when she talked back to me, I wanted to cover her mouth with my palm, back her up against a wall, and then watch the shock in her soft brown eyes as I slid my hand beneath that tiny pink thong she was wearing. Fucking pink. For some reason when I saw that, my control shook hard.

If I’d started, I wouldn’t have stopped.

I would have fucked her up against an alley wall, and I had a tenacious feeling it wouldn’t have been enough. It was the Russo blood in me. It wanted what it wanted, and fuck everything else.

The alley door shut with a click behind me, pulling me from my thoughts. I buttoned my suit jacket and followed Elena down the hall, that silky black ponytail within arms’ reach. When she’d spun around in the alley, it hit me in the chest. I had to tell myself it wasn’t a fucking leash because after I grabbed it earlier, I now wanted to pull her around by it, straight to my bed whether she liked it or not.

The cut of her dress was low, baring smooth olive skin, while only thin strings crisscrossed her back. The black fabric hugged the curve of her ass, leaving nothing to the imagination but what it would look like bare.

Jesus, what I could do to that ass.

Not fucking helpful, Russo.

I forced my gaze away, and ignored the heat running straight to my dick.

Without another word to me, she entered the main room and headed toward her sister and nonna who appeared to be playing a game with crayons on a kid’s menu.

The atmosphere was light, the chatter friendly, which I should have been relieved to see—but frankly I would’ve welcomed a little animosity right now. I was worked up, my shoulders tense with pent-up sexual frustration.

Tony sat with his back toward me, laughing with his cousins. We’d yet to engage each other tonight. I knew we would have to get on eventually, and so I’d invited the idiot to come along. Right now, with this frustration chafing beneath my skin, I was glad I had.

I headed to the bar and sat next to Luca. I needed a drink. Just one, to take the edge off. The last time I’d gotten drunk was six years ago and I’d fucked my stepmother. Lesson learned.

Luca side-eyed me with an amused expression as he took a drink of his beer. He apparently knew I wanted Elena, just like every fucking other man in New York. It was more entertaining, I supposed, because I wasn’t quiet about disliking her before I’d even met her.

“Fuck off,” I gritted.

His chuckle was quiet.

A few moments later, I nursed my whiskey, vaguely listening to my cousin Lorenzo talk about the horse he’d bet too much money on.

“I’m telling you, the odds on this are good . . .” Lorenzo trailed off, staring at what had to be some girl behind my back. “Jesus Christ, I want to marry that woman.”

A wave of agitation ran through me because I knew who he spoke of, but I only swirled the whiskey in my glass before taking an annoyed sip.

I heard Elena laugh softly at something Tony had said behind me. I bit down on the liquor, swallowing. She was so loyal to her idiot of a brother—the one who’d almost gotten her killed. My teeth clenched.

I needed an outlet for this before it exploded.

It was either fighting or fucking. And since I knew the latter would be tainted right now by everything Elena Abelli, the former would have to do.

I slipped my phone out of my pocket.

Then I forwarded the photo of Jenny to Tony.

And waited.

Truthfully, I hadn’t had a girlfriend. She was more accurately a steady fuck, which was the closest thing to a girlfriend I’d had. I didn’t think Elena would give me as much sympathy if I’d said that, so I . . . fibbed, like the cheat I was. Tony had slept with Isabel, making sure I found out, and so out of mere principle I’d fucked Jenny. It was kind of embarrassing how easy it’d been.

I hadn’t spoken to Jenny for more than a year now. With her recent contact, I assumed Tony must not be able to get her off as well with his left hand as he could his right.

“Uh, Ace . . .”

I swirled my whiskey. “Let it happen.”

Okay, boss.” Lorenzo took a step back.

Luca shook his head and left his seat.

I shouldn’t have done it. I didn’t start shit in public. But I was afraid of what I would do if I didn’t. If I ran into Elena Abelli again tonight . . . I’d lose my goddamn mind.

A sudden wave of tension brushed my back before a dull pain exploded in the side of my head.

“Tony!” Celia gasped as the glass tumbler shattered and pinged as it hit the floor.

The room fell into silence.

I couldn’t help a corner of my lips from lifting.

Thank God that fucker was reckless.


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