Coercion (The Cassano Series Book 3) (3 page)

BOOK: Coercion (The Cassano Series Book 3)
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Simon

 

I find my brother working in his office at Caged, one of the nightclubs inside Submission. Zev runs it, along with overseeing the Royal lounge.

“What’s up, bro?” I ask.

“Nothing,” he says in a clipped tone without looking up from his laptop. It’s not going to be a good night if he’s already in a foul mood.

“Are you upset Adrian is still gone?”

“No, why would I be concerned about that?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because he’s our fucking brother, and we should look out for each other. He’s hurting, man.”

Zev shakes his head but still doesn’t take his eyes off the screen. Sitting in a chair across from his desk, I put my feet in one I’ve dragged over. “I have some news,” I say with a goofy-ass grin. “Sadie and I are dating exclusively.”

“Shit, your turn to get burned, huh?” Zev pulls his bottom lip between his fingers as he clicks away on his mouse.

“You’re the fucker that told me to go after her,” I say with some attitude.

“I did say that, didn’t I? It was a moment of weakness when I found out she was Sonny’s daughter.”

“Well, we’re dating, and I expect you to be nice to her when she’s around instead of the asshole you’re being right now.”

Zev looks up finally and shakes his head again.

“You’re the second person to call me that this evening.”

“Who else had the privilege of witnessing your chipper disposition?”

“Blanca. I was a royal dick to her.” Zev rubs his hands down his face and leans back in his chair. “I owe her an apology, but you know that’s not my style. You were right about her and Adrian. She is in love with him.”

“I’ve been telling you.”

“Well, our sexcapades are over.”

“That bad, huh?”

“Would you fuck a woman who’s in love with your brother?”

“Good point.”

Chapter Four

Adrian

 

It’s day seven since my eyes were blessed with the sight of Victoria, and the pain hasn’t eased one damn bit.

After thinking on it, I realized Boone was right. It’s too risky for me to visit my spec ops guys at their locations. They’re dispersed, first of all. A handful are in Mexico and the others in Texas.

Second, there is a chance that showing my face where they’re at could blow their covers in the communities they reside.

So, they’re all gradually arriving here today. It’s how we typically do things, and I know better than to screw with that.

I only suggested it because I desired to be reckless. Maybe it would make me feel something other than the pain of missing Victoria.

Losing my fucking mind on a compound of drug dealers with an AR-15 sounded pretty damn appealing, but I knew that would only declare me dead. I might feel dead inside, but leaving this earth isn’t the answer for me or my family.

I’m lounging by the pool when Gardiner and Paris show up. Hell, I’d have to look at their file to tell you their first names.

Gardiner is a former Navy Seal, and Paris a former Ranger. Like the other guys on the team, you would think they possess supernatural abilities. Each have perfected a skill that seems unmatchable.

Gardiner’s marksmanship range is inhuman. He’s about six feet five with fire red hair and is as pasty looking as they come, whereas Paris is Hispanic and about five feet six. His small stature shouldn’t fool anyone into thinking he’s less tough. He’s stealth as fuck.

“Ace, the boss man,” he says as he comes toward me with a toothy grin shining against his dark skin. I stand, and we exchange a handshake that turns more into a bro hug.

It was all formal when we started this journey, but that has changed over the last several years. Well, less so with Gardiner. He’s the most respectable one of the bunch.

“Sir,” he says with an outward hand. I shake it and take in the sight of his desert fatigue pants and white t-shirt. Paris is in black athletic shorts and a bright yellow tank.

Regardless of their attire, when I see them, I’m taken back to that hellhole of a desert I had to call home years ago.

Come to think of it, I’m surprised I even like this damn place, but it’s my escape from the corporate world since you can’t spy another building in any direction as you peer out.

I point to the pool house. “Grab a cold one from the fridge in there and have a seat.”

“Sure thing, boss. Need another?” Paris asks.

Holding up my bottle, I see it’s empty and nod at him. Beer is not my drink of choice, but grocery runs are few and far between out here. I didn’t exactly give Boone a heads-up I was coming.

“Grab me one, too,” Gardiner says.

“Anything exciting happening, man?” I ask him.

“No, and I’m getting pretty bored. We need some shit to go down. I’m pissed we can’t get in with Larios, but Dominic relayed there’s no way yet. Larios’s men don’t trust him enough, which isn’t good after this long.”

“Dude, tell him about your señorita,” Paris says as he returns and hands out our beers.

“Shut up, man.” Gardiner removes his ball cap and runs a hand over his matted down hair.

“I can’t imagine the babies they’re going to make. It’s a roll of the dice whether they’ll come out all ginger or tanned,” Paris adds.

“Shut the fuck up.” Gardiner is smiling as he flicks the metal lid off his bottle at Paris.

“So, you met someone?” I ask. I guess I forget that these men want a life outside of this job. They have a lot of down time as they wait for specific orders, so relationships are bound to happen.

“Yeah, I have, and Paris won’t stop giving me shit over it.”

“Ace,” Paris says this with a hand out and a long pause after, so I know a detailed explanation is coming. “She’s nothing like you would picture. She’s a firecracker, much like the flame on his head, and she’s Hispanic. Stands about as tall as his waist, and she’s already got two hellion boys, yet he wants to procreate with her.”

“See what I have to deal with on the daily,” Gardiner says before he runs a hand down his face. “And you’re one to talk. You stand about to my waist, too. Just the right height to suck my dick.”

I can’t help but chuckle over that one. It’s as if Paris doesn’t even hear him as he takes a winded breath.

“She’s wearing the pants, Ace. Mr. Uptight here done got him a new sergeant.”

“Maybe she’s that fucking good, if you know what I mean,” I say with another chuckle.

Gardiner points to me. “Exactly, and she cooks and cleans up after me. Paris here might get the pussy sampler weekly, but they leave his ass to fend for himself.”

“Alright, alright, point made.” Paris nods his head. I don’t know how he’s so stealth when he can’t sit still or keep his mouth shut for five seconds. He’s a funny guy.

I look up and see Lamar, Tipton and Chip headed our way. “Hey, I hear there’s a party up in here,” Tipton says with a grin.

He’s another former Seal and has a personality more like Paris than Gardiner. Chip and Lamar are much quieter than any of them.

They tend to sit back and take it all in, and unless they give you a laugh or smile, you never quite know what they’re thinking.

Tipton and Chip are country boys Boone recruited through a friend. Lamar, however, was in my unit and is still good friends with Reggie.

“When is Kasper getting here?” Tipton asks.

“Boone picked him up from the airport. They should be here shortly,” I answer.

Paris pulls off his tank top. “Did you hear about Chip here? He’s another pussy-whipped one.”

“You have one woman, too?” I ask Chip.

“From what I hear he’s got him some sweet, young ass there in El Paso.”

Tipton smiles and takes a seat around the table we’re sitting at. His shades come off since we’re covered by an umbrella. He and Chip are tight, so I’m sure he’s got something to say about this.

“Tell them how young we’re talking here, Chip.”

“Like is her entertainment center brand spankin’ new?” Paris asks.

“She’s twenty-one.” Chip’s face turns crimson as he gets his words out.

“And your old ass is thirty-two,” Tipton adds.

Paris throws his head back in laughter. “Damn, her entertainment center is taking eight track tapes.”

Chip holds his hands out, his face beet red.

“Hey now, my dick is no USB, but it’s at least at CD status.”

We’re all chuckling now. I point again to the pool house.

“Guys, there are beers in the fridge.”

The sun is setting as Tipton whistles and looks opposite of my finger. That’s when I notice all my teams’ eyes have shifted in the direction of my home.

There stands Victoria. I suck in a breath. She’s tantalizing in black short shorts and a silky, light blue blouse unbuttoned too far.

Her heels are taller than what she normally wears, and I love how her look has changed since I met her. It means her confidence has lifted. Her dark hair is up in the back, and pieces have fallen around her face.

Dammit, get it together, Ace.

“Victoria, what the fuck are you doing here?”

“That’s my greeting after I fly to Tucson and ride out to …,” Victoria glances around at the desert surrounding the property, “out to southern Uganda?”

The guys’ laughter doesn’t go unnoticed.

“I don’t know how you got here, but you need to turn around and march your ass right back to the airport.”

“Uh, we should go inside,” Chip says.

My arm stretches out in front of him as he starts to rise.

“No, stay. Ms. Hart is leaving.”

“You can forget that right now.” Her arms cross and eyebrows lift.

“I picked her up, Adrian,” Boone announces after stepping around the corner of the house, carrying a suitcase. He’s accompanied by Kasper, the last of the guys I was expecting.

“Yeah, we’re going inside,” Chip interjects. Chairs make screeching sounds as the men rise from their seats to leave Victoria and me alone.

“Why the hell did you go get her?” I ask, yelling it across the yard.

“Frankly, I don’t like your new attitude, and your brother Theo thought she could change it. Sorry, man, but I was all for rounding up someone who could get this corn cob out of your ass.”

I glare at Boone. I will deal with him later.

“Leave us alone.”

“Sure thing, boss,” he says with a smirk before he follows the rest of the guys into the house.

My gaze shifts back to the goddess standing before me.

“Victoria, what are you doing here?”

“I should have listened to you. Heard what you had to say.” She nervously shifts her weight from one heel to the other.

“No, you shouldn’t have.”

Looking at me with a puzzled expression, she strides closer. Her heels click against the blue and yellow mosaic tiles that line the perimeter of the pool.

The closer she gets, the better I can admire her physical beauty. Her legs are toned and skin flawless.

“I don’t understand, and I didn’t come this far only to leave clueless, so you’re going to have to enlighten me.” Her tone drips with irritation.

“The less you know, the safer you will be. It took us being apart for me to realize the danger I was putting you in.”

“You’re seriously telling this to me, a damn cop?”

I scowl up at her as she stands only a few feet away from me. I still can’t believe she’s here.

“I’m telling this to the woman I love who I will keep safe at any cost. I might not be able to control what you do on your job, but I sure as hell have a say in this.”

“You can think again,” she spouts. “I know almost everything. Theo filled me in, and I thought I would get a different welcome than the one I’m receiving.”

“My brother shouldn’t have told you shit.”

Victoria takes a chair and places it in front of me. Taking a seat, she stretches out her shapely legs and gives me a sardonic smile.

“If you don’t hear me out, I’m going to nail Noah Sanders all by myself. The FBI won’t even need to intervene. Did you know he had a stripper murdered? The one that died the night I was pistol-whipped.”

Recalling how distraught I was that day over Victoria being injured, I blink a few times and grip the arms of my chair.

“That’s right; Noah Sanders is responsible for having me beat. And if you think for a second that I’m going to sit back and play tea party while the FBI and Cassano brothers bust this asshole, then you don’t know me as well as I thought you did.”

I grab the front of my hair with both hands.

“Why do you have to be so goddamn bullheaded?”

“Remember? You fell in love with this stubborn-ass girl, so what’s it going to be? Are we doing this together or apart?”

“You’re not cornering me. Go back home, and for once, follow the oath you took to be a cop. Stay out of trouble, and let me and the FBI handle this.”

Victoria exhales a loud breath and rises from her chair. In seconds, she’s kneeling at my feet. “Adrian, I know about your relationship with Reggie and your military time. I know Agatha is your twin. The only thing Theo wouldn’t tell me about was my father, Sonny.

“He told me the whole story about the FBI’s involvement, too, so please, let me in.” She reaches her arms out to put them around me, but I pull them back down. I feel my wall crumbling as I touch her and stare into her pleading green pools of desperation.

“I can’t let you get more involved. It isn’t right.”

“It’s too late. Theo told me you would’ve stopped all the illegal activity for me if you could. That speaks volumes. We committed our love to each other, so we need to get through this together, and I’m sorry I lost sight of that.”

“I can’t risk something happening to you.”

“You chose me, Adrian. You chose our love and a life with me over justice and vindication. Let me love and serve you back. Let me help get you out of this mess, so we can live the life we’ve dreamt about.”

My head shakes an adamant no, but my heart doesn’t even believe it as I hold onto her hands. Pulling free from me, she stands.

“Dammit, you can’t run from your heart, so you might as well listen to it!” Her hands are balled into fists at her side, reminding me of when she threw the rock at the truck in Red Rock Canyon. Victoria swiftly unbuttons her blouse.

“Fuck me, Adrian. Fuck me like it’s your only chance!”

Her shorts are unbuttoned next before she yanks them down. As she steps out of them and kicks off her heels, I look toward the house.

“Put your damn clothes back on, Victoria.”

“Bind me like you do so well. Tie me up like you’re terrified I might get away!”

My fallen angel stands before me in a blue satin bra and panties. Tears are filling her eyes as she fights for what she wants.

“Adrian, love me in a way I could never doubt.” Her voice is softer now. “Don’t push me away a second longer. Please, I love you, and I’m sorry I didn’t listen.”

BOOK: Coercion (The Cassano Series Book 3)
11.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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