Read Sweet One (Titan Book 8) Online

Authors: Cristin Harber

Sweet One (Titan Book 8) (9 page)

BOOK: Sweet One (Titan Book 8)
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“You’re sitting in the sand dunes with two mobsters waiting on what?”

“A pickup from a friendly.”

Her head dropped into her hand. “How long will you be gone?”

“I’m not going anywhere. Just them, and then I’m headed back to you.”

Oh… “Then what do we do? Where there’s one Gianori, there’s more.”

“My vote is to napalm their houses and car-bomb any survivors. Taste of their own medicine.” He paused. “I, however, was outvoted.”

She saw merit in Cash’s point of view but also voted for keeping him out of jail. “So?”

“The simple answer is I don’t know. Jared has someone special coming in for these two, then we talk. Yeah?”

She nodded even though he couldn’t see her.

“Nicola?”

“Yes.”

“I promise you: this is the last of it. Believe me?”

“Always.” She pressed the screen and tossed the phone on the counter then refolded the cloth but tossed it too. Her chest was tight, and her eyes closed as she dragged in a deep breath, praying that it would loosen the rigid hold that fear had on her throat.

The breathing didn’t work. Nicola smoothed her palms over her stomach. “Daddy said it’ll be okay. Everything will be fine.”

This was the first pang of mommy guilt. She was bringing a child into the world when there was a mob that for more than a decade had wanted to see her dead. If that wasn’t a selfish act, what was? Nicola shuffled to the master bedroom, tears streaming down her face as she rubbed her belly, promising their baby that everything would be fine, that Daddy would fix all and would be home soon, safe and sound.

Curling under the blankets, hands still on her belly, mommy guilt firmly in place, she began to drift to sleep while promising her child the world.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

 

There was nothing more beautiful than watching Nicola sleep. He’d thought that when he first got her back into his bed. But this was different. Before, the sight of her had been sexy as all fuck. Now, propped on her side, the blanket draped over her bulging stomach, that was… his world.

His phone buzzed, and Jared’s name appeared on screen. Cash answered as he headed into the hall. “Hey.”

“You’re on speaker. Parker, Roman, and Rocco.”

Hellos were grumbled.

Jared continued, “The brain trust has an idea and, well, yeah, shit. I think this might work.”

I think this might work
. Not exactly a strong endorsement. “Don’t blow me over with confidence, Boss Man.”

“Bianca Gianori—”


Bianca
? A girl?” Cash tried to picture a woman behind anything he knew in the Gianori world and couldn’t. Then he decided not taking the women into account would be his Achilles’ heel. Women were just as evil as men.

“Don’t be a sexist. Mobsters can be chicks,” Jared shot back.

“Fine.” Cash didn’t care.

“Back to the point.” Jared cleared his throat. “She’s actually not mobbed up but, rather, drugged out. Fell face-first into a pile of Colombia’s best. Both coke and cock.”

Cash raised his eyebrows. “So?”

“We make a deal. Bianca for Nicola. Titan finds this Bianca chick, assuming she’s still alive and attached to the pants of some cartel kingpin, and brings her home.”

“Exchange Bianca for Nicola?” Cash repeated.

“Yeah. They want their blood back. We get an agreement to walk away from Nicola. Forever.”

“Bianca will be on the first flight back to Colombia.”

“Or street corner for cocaine,” Roman added.

Jared grumbled. “We throw in for detox. Rehab. I don’t know.”

“They sleep on bags of money. They don’t need that,” Rocco said. “But… it likely goes against their grain.”

“Exactly,” Roman agreed. “They won’t detox her. Too risky.”

“What was your suggestion?” Jared asked Roman.

“I liked Cash’s car-bomb plan.”

“Christ.” Jared paused. “Let’s keep it legal. As legal as we can with these fuckers. No body counts, as best we can help it. Other ideas?”

“What are you going to do?” Cash asked. “Just go down and grab her? Fly her back to the States?”

“Basically,” Parker answered. “With some medical provisions so she doesn’t detox and die in flight. But yes.”

“Why did she leave in the first place? Hates her folks? Smart enough to hate all things Gianori?”

“Nope. She was a kept Gianori princess, from what we can tell. But now she has a cartel boyfriend that won’t let her come home and a liking for very,
very
good cocaine that comes right from the source.”

“Huh.” Cash rubbed his face. This wasn’t going to work, but he could—

“Hey,” Nicola said, leaning against the living-room wall.

“Guys, hang on a second.” He put the phone on mute. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“You didn’t; it was just time. So…” She looked pointedly at the phone.

“How much did you hear?”

“Enough to know that won’t work to clear my debt with the Gianori mob.”

His head dropped. “Yeah, I know.”

“It won’t work unless she wants to stay home, wants to get clean.”

“That’s a lot to bank your future on, Nicola.”

She nodded. “Put them on speaker.”

Cash swiped the screen. “Nic’s here.”

“Hey, Princess. Causing trouble, as always?” Jared laughed-slash-grumbled.

“You know it.”

“Alright,” Cash interrupted. “Nic has a good point, and that is unless this girl wants to get clean, staying home will never work. Gianori assholes won’t hold up their end of the deal.”

“Agree,” Parker’s voice carried through the line. “From what I’ve been able to dig up, she’s
tried
unsuccessfully to
vacation
on her own a few times in the last year. Each time, she never made it to the airport.”

“You’re thinking our coked-up mob girl is trying to go home?” Nicola asked.

“Yes,” Parker said. “But cartel boyfriend decides no.”

“Hmmm.” Nicola gave Cash a look. “If it was as easy as grabbing her and taking her home, why haven’t they done that?”

A collective grumble erupted from the other side of the phone line.

“Point of concern and contention,” Jared finally announced. “Probably our largest stumbling block to having the Gianoris agree to this. There’s likely a business partnership we do not know about that stands in the way of bringing one of their own home.”

Cash’s gut curled. Assholes. They would give up their children to make a dollar. So typical of what he knew of them, yet it still hurt. Why would Bianca even want to go home to that? Well, hell, because home was home, and sometimes a person couldn’t help who they loved.

Nicola was still eyeballing the shit out of him. He put the phone on mute. “What?”

“Go down there.”

The words were so unexpected he recoiled. “What?”

“Go.”

“To kidnap a drug-addicted chick?” Yeah, that sounded like hell. To grab a detoxing, struggling woman and drag her onto a plane.

“No. All you do is make the offer. Cash, you can sweet-talk anyone into anything.”

Not sure that’s a compliment or not
… “I’m benched.”

“Yeah, you just knocked two guys out.” She shook her head. “Never mind. That’s an awful idea.”

His cocky smile and a puffed-out chest came out of nowhere. Damn, he loved it when his wife complimented him.

“Ignore me,” she mumbled. “And unmute. Saying it out loud sounded different than it did in my head.”

“It’s my head that’s the issue.” He tapped his temple. “I’m in this for the long haul. Sweet-talk might not go well, and…” If a coked-out lunatic hit him in the head, he didn’t want to lose all of his marbles because of some Gianori piece of shit. They’d already fucked up so many pieces of his life.

“Unmute the phone.”

“But you’re onto something.” He had no idea if he wanted to debate this with everyone listening, but he needed to treat her as a teammate, not as his wife. The distinction killed him at times.

“I’m not,” she insisted. “I’m sorry I even planted the idea.”

Cash rubbed his brow. “This is the thing: if there’s one group of people I trust to keep me safe”—he motioned to the phone—“it’s them. I’m as good with words as with my weapon, and I
need
a job. I’m going nuts.”

Nicola’s jaw flexed as she shook her head. “Really. It was wrong of me to say anything. I don’t know what I was thinking. I
wasn’t
thinking. Okay?”

“I get on the plane and sweet-talk. That’s it. The guys do the heavy lifting.”

“She’s a cokehead, a cartel piece of arm candy, likely surrounded by bodyguards and volatile.” Nicola moved close and kissed the top of his head. “If something goes wrong, I will die alongside you. You get that, right?”

Cash took her hands in his. “They don’t have a better idea. If they did, you and I wouldn’t be tossing this BS back and forth.” He pressed his palm to her stomach. “I’ll be fine, and I’ll do what it takes to come home, no problem. But I can’t let this linger over us. Do you get that?”

Her eyes squeezed shut. “Cash…” She dropped her head back as he let both his hands rest on her stomach. “I shouldn’t have said anything.”

“If you didn’t, we wouldn’t have a plan.”

“We
don’t
.”

“Sweet girl,
we do
.”

Nicola brought her gaze back to him, blond hair falling forward. “Unmute the phone.” He did as she licked her lips and closed her eyes again. “Bring Cash to Bianca. He can talk an Eskimo into the AC business.”

The line was eerily quiet.

Nicola dropped her hands on top of his. “A few minutes with him, she’ll hop on the plane willingly, go to her family, enroll in detox and rehab, and then she will
stay
in the US.”

There was a grumbling of tentative approval.

Nic went in for the kill. “We have a good chance they’ll release their grudge against me. Getting Bianca home and clean would be a good deal for them. They’d take it.”

Her breaths were short, and he tugged her into his lap as unsteady nerves seemed to take hold of her. Cash could sense that everyone was working over the interesting offer of him as an asset. She was his number-one protector. If Nicola would put him on a job, then Jared had to consider it.

“Cash? You up to it?” Jared asked. “You smile and wink, do your magic, and if all goes well, Bianca Gianori gets on a plane, and you have a full military escort protecting you in case someone tries to stop that from happening. And if she balks, we grab her anyway, then you have a plane ride to talk sense into her. Plan A and B, rolled into one.”

They exchanged glances, and Nic gave him the thumbs-up.

“Yeah, we’re a go from here,” Cash said.

A few seconds of mumbling from the other side, and Jared responded the same. “Delta team’s coming in to escort Nicola to Titan HQ. Sugar will be here along with Beth and Parker. Cash, pack a go-bag, and Parker, tell him where we’ll pick him up. See you in South America.”

The screen blinked, showing that the call had ended.

Nicola laughed nervously. “Full Delta escort for me, huh?”

“How about that?” he grumbled, not wanting to leave her side. “But it will finally be over.”

“And that will be some kind of sweet relief.”

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

 

Bianca Gianori couldn’t have looked more out of place if she tried, Cash decided as he watched her sit in a bar in Colombia with her pale skin, deep Italian black hair, and dark circles that were painted underneath her sunken eyes. Exhaustion and malnourishment were evident even as expensive clothes hung on her shaky frame.

A coked-out cartel floozy. There were several of them in the room, making it apparent that whoever their cartel boyfriend was, he wasn’t smitten with a single one of them. He was a collector of people.
Sad…

Cash pulled up a bar stool next to the girl. She was twenty-three years old, but life had run her over, and a quick glance might’ve pegged her as being in her late thirties. “Heya, sunshine.”

Her head tilted, and an eager, lonely smile shone. “You’re an American.”

“How ’bout that?” He tugged his cowboy hat in a way that did something to women, and smiled halfway. “You are too?”

She nodded and toyed with a beer bottle, the label long since picked off. “Welcome to this crazy country.”

He made her laugh and smile, and it killed him because it was too easy. No one had spent a moment’s time to make this poor kid smile in so long. She was hungry for conversation and attention. Not even the sexual kind. “You need a friend.”

She paused, and her eyes dropped to her beer bottle.
That
was apparently her friend. Not that going home to Gianori was good, but it was better than this, and no one said she had to be a criminal if she went home to her family.

“I have to tell you something—what’s your name?”

She shrugged. “Bianca.”

“And you’re going to get upset, but I want you to remember how great it feels to have had a friend for the last few minutes.”

Warily, she inched back. “What?”

“My name is Cash.”

“Okay.”

“I know your family, and I’m here to help.”

She recoiled, almost sliding off the bar stool, but he wrapped one arm around her back while the other steadied her forearm on the bar.

“Take a deep breath. This is not a test. You are not in trouble. I am a safe place. A good person.”

Bianca blinked, her eyelashes going rapid fire.

“I’m going to take my hands off you now.
Don’t run
, sunshine. I have something to ask you.”

“Okay,” she whispered, voice shaking. She looked terrified.

“Is it fear of losing the drugs, or were you hurt when you tried to go home?”

The rapid blinking stopped, and her eyeballs nearly popped out of her head. “How, um, I…”

Cash reached into his pocket, pulling out a business card for Titan Group. “If you don’t take me up on what I’m about to offer, call this number, day or night, and you will have help.”

“Who are you?”

“I’m the American named Cash.” He flashed his smile and winked. “Walk out with me. We’re getting on a plane. Your parents are waiting for you, and there’s a way to get through the shakes, sweats, and pukes without having to deal with detox.”

BOOK: Sweet One (Titan Book 8)
12.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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