Authors: Cassia Leo
By Cassia Leo
KNOX: Volume Three
New York Times
bestselling author Cassia Leo comes a sinfully sexy and suspenseful new series.
What secrets lurk behind that killer smile?
Yes, I’m a killer.
But killing is easy when your only reason to live is the very thing you’d kill for.
I’ll do anything not to lose her again. Rebecca is
And then she’s not.
Taken by someone with his own score to settle. He knows I’ll stop at nothing to kill him. This is his invitation.
Well, I’ve got my tux and my fucking party hat on. Let’s dance.
I bought the rundown bistro in the Meatpacking District two years ago. I closed it down immediately, then I got a letter from “a concerned resident.” He was worried that I was devaluing the neighborhood by closing down a local favorite. People who concern themselves with stuff like property values and the historical richness of a rundown restaurant are the kind of people I envy.
They don’t worry about whether they’ll wake up in the morning with the muzzle of a silencer pressed against their forehead. They don’t look at every single person they know and wonder if — or when — that person will betray them. And they sure as fuck don’t worry that the person they care about most in this world will be killed today, and they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.
There are a million reasons I do the things I do. And those are just a few. Avenging my mother used to be the number one reason. Now it’s her.
Rebecca is gone. I’ll stop at nothing to get her back. And Lenny and Gino know that.
I snap my fingers at Billy as we enter the restaurant. “Dust off one of those tables and take it to the back. And three chairs. Hurry up!”
Bruno locks the door after Lenny and Gino enters behind me. Lenny looks around the dusty restaurant as if he’s entered a fucking haunted house.
“What are we doing here?” Gino asks nervously.
Gino’s a young kid from the old neighborhood. His father was close to Tony Angelo. Before his father accidentally fell off the Brooklyn Bridge onto a passing tour boat. I’ll admit, that was a rookie mistake on my part. But it happened a long time ago, before I knew how to make people talk.
“We’re just here to talk,” I say, flashing them a chummy smile. “Come on. Let’s go sit in the back where we can have a little more privacy.”
Gino and Lenny look at each other. They know they have no choice but to follow me. People don’t appreciate having their choices taken away. It triggers their animal instincts. That’s why you have to keep them calm. Don’t let them feel too threatened.
Billy has cleared a large area of the kitchen by pushing the stainless steel prep tables into the corner. The table and chairs he robbed from the front of the restaurant are now dust-free and standing coldly in the center of the kitchen.
“Have a seat, boys,” I direct them as I reach up to grab a few glasses off a shelf. “You want a glass of water?”
Lenny and Gino look at me like I’m crazy. They want me to get to the point.
“I asked you two if you want a fucking glass of water.”
“No,” they reply in unison.
I nod as I put back the dusty glass. Taking a seat in the third chair at the table, I lean back and smile at Lenny and Gino.
“Do you boys have any idea what I brought you here to talk about?”
They both shake their heads, but Lenny’s hiding something. He won’t look at me. I wait a moment for the rage to subside, then I continue.
“We’re here to talk about Rebecca Veneto. Do you all remember Rebecca? John’s little girl?”
Lenny’s eyes dart toward my face for a moment, then he looks down at the table again. “Yeah, I remember Rebecca. I … I ran into her the other day at the gym.”
“I know. What did you two talk about?”
“If you already know, then you probably know what we talked about.” I look Lenny in the eye for about two seconds before he continues. “All right. We talked about you.”
“Listen, Lenny. No need to get nervous and clam up. We’re just chatting. Okay?” He doesn’t nod so I nod for him. “Now, don’t make me ask you again. What did you and Rebecca talk about?”
“Nothing, we just —”
! That’s not the way you have a conversation, Lenny.”
The silence that follows is wet with their fear. They both stare at the table, trying not to let that fear show. They’re feeling cornered.
I chuckle and Gino’s shoulders jump at the sound. “Hey, we’re all friends here.” I can see Lenny cringing inwardly. “I know you all don’t know me, but you know my company is handling John Veneto’s security detail. And you know Rebecca was abducted last night, right?”
Gino’s eyes flit toward Lenny, but he doesn’t speak.
I smile at this. “Do you dress like that every day, Gino?”
He looks confused for a moment, then he looks down at the tattered brown T-shirt covering his round belly. “Uh… yeah. I guess.”
“You do realize you look like complete shit, don’t you?”
“What the fuck?”
“Have you ever stepped on a fucking treadmill? You know, one of those things you run on that makes you feel like you’re going nowhere? Do you know what a fucking treadmill is?”
The gun is out of my holster and the bullet is exploding through the back of his head before either of them know what’s happening. Gino’s body tips sideways toward Lenny, who’s eyes are wider than saucers as he jumps out of his chair.
“What the fuck did you do?” he shrieks in his awful whiny voice.
“Sit down, Lenny.”
“You fuckin’ killed him! What the fuck is wrong with you?”
I lock eyes with Bruno then nod toward Gino’s body, which is slumped across the chair Lenny just vacated. Bruno grabs Gino’s fat lump of a body off the chair and lays him on the dingy tile floor.
“I said sit down, Lenny.”
Lenny’s chest is heaving as he stares at Gino. Then he glances around the kitchen. Looking for an escape. But Bruno and Billy are blocking both exits. He looks at me and I nod at the chair for him to sit.
“I … I can’t sit there. It’s covered in blood.”
Billy leaves his station near the back door to wipe off the chair and Lenny begins eyeballing the exit.
“Don’t get any ideas, Lenny,” I warn him as Billy’s cleans up the blood. “Now sit.”
He shakes his head as he takes a seat again. “I don’t know where she is. I swear to God. I don’t know nothing.”
He’s going to start crying. I hate this part.
“Well, I suggest you go home and take some fucking ginkgo for your memory. Because I want you to go home and tell everyone who I am. I’m Knox Savage. And I will kill you and your wife if you don’t have some fucking information for me the next time I see you.” I stand from the chair and nod at Bruno. “Get him the fuck out of here.”
The guy sitting across from me in my office is an old friend of John’s. I agreed to see him as a favor. John Veneto was the only father figure I knew growing up in Bensonhurst. I don’t know if Rebecca knows that her father and my mother had an affair that lasted more than four years. If she does, she hasn’t mentioned it to me. And that’s not like her.
Rebecca wears her emotions like a winter coat. All wrapped up in a cozy, protective layer of anger and lust. It’s her standard operating procedure. I don’t mind. She’s beautiful when she lashes out at me.
I blink a few times as I realize Mario’s trying to get my attention. “So you said your brother-in-law is looking at how many years?”
Mario looks annoyed that I wasn’t paying attention. This fucker doesn’t know that I don’t give a shit about his brother-in-law or the number of years he’s going to be locked away. I’ve got more important stuff to worry about right now. But I can’t break cover.
“All right. I need you to break down the timeline of the case.” I push a pad of yellow paper across the glass desk. “Write it all down, starting from the date of his first crime to today. I need names of accomplices. Addresses if you have them. I need court dates. Names of lawyers and public defenders. I need everything. Write down as much as you can remember. I’ll be right back.”
I don’t normally leave people alone in my office. It’s an invitation for people to try to spy on me. But I need to clear my head. I need some fucking news or I’ll be useless to Mario. And I can’t stop being good at what I do. That’s how mistakes are made.
I step out of the office and head straight for the door to the stairwell. Hiding in a stairwell isn’t my usual coping method. Usually, when something’s bothering me, I’ll hit the gym or the shooting range. But this isn’t the kind of unease that can be worked off.
I’ve never felt more lost in my life. Rebecca has been gone for less than forty-eight hours and it’s rendered me almost completely useless. Maybe I wouldn’t feel so lost if I didn’t feel so responsible.
It happened right after she got that phone call from Lita’s mother in Poughkeepsie. A phone call I’m convinced she was forced to make. Because the first thing Rebecca wanted to do after that call ended was to go straight to the police station.
I tried to convince her not to go.
“You can’t go to the police station.” I grabbed her arm to stop her from storming out of the apartment. “I can’t go in there with you. You’ll be totally unprotected. Just wait a while. Wait for the police to contact you.”
“I can’t wait! My best friend has been kidnapped! Do you not understand? Every second counts.” She pauses for a moment as her face contorts with anger. “Did
“Is this part of your fucking vendetta? Did you take her?”
“You’re talking crazy now.”
I grip her arm tighter as she tries to free herself. I can’t let her go to the police station in this state. She’s liable to mention my name in a fit of rage.
“I’m talking crazy? You’re the one who — ”
I twirl her around and clap my hand over her mouth before she can say anything about Charlie. Her lips continue to move against the palm of my hand as she protests. Then I remember why we came to her apartment today: so she could take a pregnancy test.
I slowly remove my hand from her mouth and she attempts to stomp on my foot with her spiked heel. I move my foot away and she grunts in frustration when her heel comes down on the carpet.
Keeping my arms locked tightly around her waist, I lean in to whisper in her ear. “Baby, you have to keep your voice down. You can’t shout about stuff like that here.”
She let’s out a soft whimper and begins to sob. “I never wanted any of this to happen. I just wanted to help my dad.”
“I know, sweetheart. I know.” I spin her around and brush her tears away as I kiss her forehead. “You have to trust me. I’m going to find your friend.”
“But I need to talk to them. See if there’s any information I have that can help. We were supposed to meet for brunch today. They need to know that.”
I grit my teeth because I know I’m not going to convince her to stay away from the station today. She’s in law enforcement. She knows the first twenty-four hours in any abduction case are the most crucial. And she’s right that every second and every piece of information counts during that time. I have to let her go.
She was only at the station a few minutes before someone grabbed her in the elevator. They took her down to the sub level garage, stuffed her in the trunk of a police car, and sped off.