Authors: Anne Mercier
I tilt my head and grin. “I like things hard.”
He chuckles and I pull him down for a kiss.
“I love you, Cage.”
“I love you, my Fee. Now tell me what has our little Coley upset.”
“You were right,” I tell Cage.
He nods, his expression grim and angry. “So I was. I was hoping I wasn’t.”
“How do you think it happened?” I ask.
“I’m not sure, but we’ll find out in due time.”
I sigh. “What do we do now?”
“Watch, wait, and listen,” Cage tells me while texting on his phone.
“Who do we tell and not tell?” I ask.
“We tell no one. None of the guys are going to fuck her. She’s made herself look like every other groupie out there. They aren’t going to do anything with her since she’s traveling with us.”
“Ah, yeah. What are we going to do to protect Lucy?” This is what I’m worried about most. If anything happens to those babies, it will destroy her, and if anything happens to her, it will destroy me.
“I won’t let it happen, Fee,” Cage says, pulling me into a hug.
My husband, he knows me so well. I wrap my arms around him and breathe in the scent of pine that soothes me. “I know.”
His arms envelop me, holding me close as he clutches me tightly to him. Then he sighs.
“What’s wrong?” I ask, running my hands up and down his back.
“You shouldn’t be part of this. It will always be like this. I wish there was a way to keep you out of it,” he murmurs, resting his cheek atop my head.
“For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in good times and in bad. Do I need to go on?” I ask.
“Cage. I will give you up for nothing and no one. I’m done running and hiding—and not just from you. From all of it. I will stand by your side and support you, whatever needs to be done. You know this so stop thinking about the ‘what ifs’.” I look up into those eyes that see every single emotion inside of me and my heart sighs.
He rests his forehead against mine. “Fee. You undo me.”
“And I’ll never stop. We do this together because whether you like it or not, I’m a part of this. It’s an equal opportunity Famiglia,” I tease.
The side of his mouth twitches. “So it would seem. It also seems like we’re not the only Family who’s made these changes.”
I nod. I sat in on the meeting between Cage and Gampy Gio, Damian and Ernesto. Not only have the Manzinis begun to allow women to participate in the Family business, but so have the Donahues and Tierneys. I’m not sure why it’s taken us so long. The Cartels have been permitting women to take part in the business—not that we’re on the same level as Cartels, but still.
“Cousin Bella’s ready to go.”
Cage nods. “She’s been waiting. I’d have pulled her in sooner if I could. She can shoot better than everyone but Ernesto and Damian.”
I scoff. “She can’t shoot better than me. And I’d like to see her match me with knife throwing.” I’m a little affronted he said it like that, even though I know his next sentence is going to be—
“Fee, I didn’t mean it like that. I was referring to those away from us. You’re a better shot than her by a mile, and knife throwing?” he smirks.
“I know. I just wanted to hear you say it.”
“What now, Batman?”
“I need to relay this to Gio, Damian, and Ernesto. We’ll need to put someone on Lucy who she won’t suspect is guarding her.”
I know just the right person. “Liam.”
Cage lifts a brow. “Why Liam?”
“As much as I hate lying to my sister, we could use the excuse Kane wants him to look after Lucy just in case something happens with the babies,” I tell him and he nods.
“That’ll work. We have to make sure Coley doesn’t get too close to this. She’s going to want to so she can help protect Lucy and the babies,” Cage reminds me.
“I know. She’s the little sister we never had and she’s fierce like us.”
“That she is, and here she comes now.”
I turn to see Coley walking out of the bus.
“She looks a little pale, don’t you think?” I ask Cage.
“A bit, yes. I’ll have Kane check her over but I think she’s probably not been eating properly.”
“Hmm. Probably. I bet she skipped breakfast again,” I guess.
“Stop talking about me, and yes, I skipped breakfast but I have a multigrain bar in my pocket. See?” she tells us, pulling out the bar to show us.
“It’s not enough,” Cage scolds. “You wait right here.”
He walks away toward the bus and I raise a brow at Coley.
“Oooh, you did it now. You pissed off Batman.”
She grins. “He’s not really mad.”
“I beg to differ. He’s seriously upset because you should be taking care of yourself better than this. We don’t need you getting sick because you’re not eating, on top of everything else you have going on,” I scold.
Coley huffs. “Geez.”
“Don’t you ‘geez’ me, little girl. Do I need to have someone following you around making sure you eat?” I give her a glare—the one that works very well in interrogation.
“Fine. I promise to eat better, okay?”
“Lose the ‘tude. It doesn’t look good on you.”
“What’s your problem?” she asks.
“I don’t have a problem. I care about you, Nicole, and I want to keep you healthy and safe. That’s all,” I tell her, then pull her in for a hug.
“Ugh,” she protests but wraps her arms around me as well.
“Here he comes. Oh, that looks gross,” I say when I see the protein drink he’s carrying.
“I love those!” she tells me, already licking her lips.
“What is wrong with you? Who actually
those?” I shudder.
“Me. These are chocolaty goodness.” She reaches for the cup Cage hands her then takes a huge gulp. I shudder in disgust. She makes a pleasurable sound.
“Do you know what he puts in those?” I ask. Cage smirks.
Coley nods. “It’s all the stuff you need without having to eat all the food to get the nutrients. Imagine being on chemo, so sick your eyeballs hurt, and when you move your nausea overwhelms you.”
I’m starting to feel like an asshole.
“Then you get this cold, chocolaty drink that not only tastes better than some of the shit they give you in the hospital, but it’s cold against your hot, dry throat. Chemo is some seriously nasty shit. No lie,” she says, taking another drink then heading inside the building.
“Well, damn,” I mutter, blinking back tears.
“Yeah,” is all Cage says as he pulls me into his arms. We stand that way for a few minutes before I notice Ben leaning against the wall, his head hanging down. This is a Ben I’ve never seen before. This Ben is sad and unhappy. This Ben is denying himself the chance to turn that around for himself. I sigh. But, like me, Ben has to figure things out for himself. He and I are too much alike and I feel his pain. I truly do. And while I sympathize with him, I also want to walk up to him and smack him upside the head. He’s wasting time that could be spent making memories. He and I are some stubborn asses.
“He’ll figure it out,” Cage tells me softly, rubbing my back.
I’m not surprised he knew what I was sighing about. “Yeah, I know, but will it be too late?”
“No one has those answers, Fee.”
I sigh again. “He’s in love with her.”
“And she’s in love with him. Give him time to figure out that he’s miserable without her and that, lately, the only thing that makes him smile is her.”
I look up at Cage. “Is that what you did?”
“No. But you did and, like Coley is doing with Ben, I gave you your space and didn’t push.”
“And it worked,” I tell him, grinning.
“Not so much.”
“What?” I ask, confused.
“You ran away and left me no choice but to go after you and take what we both knew was mine from the beginning,” Cage tells me with a smirk.
I nod, remembering. “That night on the beach was so hot.” I’m getting warm just thinking about it.
“We’ll have to do that again sometime.”
“After this tour, Fee. We’ll get away for a while. Just you and me. No phones. No interruptions. Just me and my beautiful wife making love over and over until we fall asleep from exhaustion.”
“And then start over again,” I whisper against his lips.
“And again, and again, and again,” he tells me, then kisses me hungrily, pulling me tight against him, so tight it’s as if he can’t get close enough. I can feel his erection against my belly and my body fills with want and need.
I look up into his nearly black eyes and tell him, “Soon.”
He nods, kisses my forehead, then slaps my ass before walking away with a grin on his face.
Holy smokes I love that man.
and wait for the call to connect.
“Tell me,” he says.
“It’s just as we thought,” I tell him, extremely unhappy at being right this time. Sometimes I’d really like to get it wrong when I figure out people have a fucked up agenda.
“How do you know?”
“Nicole overheard her. Misty was on the phone talking about trying to get close to the guys, close enough to fuck them.”
Gio grunts. “Likely trying to get knocked up and cash in on that.”
“My thoughts exactly.”
He grunts again. “Continue.”
“She mentioned the Manzinis, money, and getting close to Lucy,” I growl. “That pisses me off more than anything. Using Lucy, who’s been nothing but nice to this bitch.”
“Mmm. She’ll get hers, as you know.”
Oh, I know. She’ll get hers and a little extra if Sera has any say.
“Does Serafina know?”
“She does. She’s the one who brought Nicole to me.”
“And she wants blood.”
Gio chuckles. “Of course she does. Anyone who messes with Lucy will be on the wrong end of Serafina’s gun.”
I sigh. “That’s the truth. I just wish things would die down.”
“They will. Remember, she was inside before we remedied the situation with Carina, though I wouldn’t doubt for a second if she learned of the Manzinis from that piranha,” Gio tells me.
“It’s possible.” I think about it for a few seconds. “Shit. It’s likely.”
“It is. She’ll be dealt with when the time is right.”
“By my wife.”
“Yes, by Serafina. Are you all right with her being part of this?”
I know what he’s asking, if I’m okay with Sera being in as deep as I am. “Honestly? No, but there’s no avoiding it. She’s not one to sit back and not take part in protecting her family. Not anymore.”
“No, not anymore. I’ve thought of opening things up for Bella as well.”
Bella is Ernesto’s daughter and just as lethal as Sera. She was raised in la Famiglia just as my Fee was.
“Now she’ll get to ‘play with the boys’ as she says,” I reply, my agreement written in that statement.
Gio chuckles again. “So she will, and she’ll knock more than one on their ass, as well.”
I laugh. “I look forward to seeing that.”
“As do I.”
There’s a comfortable silence for a few minutes and I know Gio is thinking of Lucy, Misty, Nicole, and this whole fucked up mess the Manzinis have brought to us.
He takes a breath. “Here’s what we’re going to do.”
I grin. I’m looking forward to this too.