Lawless:Mob Boss Book Three

By: Michelle St. James

He lit a match, held it to the newspaper, then stepped back as it spread to the kindling, and finally, the bigger pieces of wood.

She crossed the room, stood next to him and watched the firelight play across his face. “Tell me.”

He hesitated, then turned to look at her. He took her face in his hands, staring at her with something hungry and desperate in the moment before he lowered his lips to hers. She melted against him, forcing her mind to stay clear while he claimed her mouth with a mixture of tenderness and barely controlled desire. She was relieved when he didn’t lead her straight to bed. She needed to hear what he had to say — to know that everything she’d been through had been for a good reason — and she wouldn’t be able to think straight once he really started touching her.

He rubbed his thumb along her swollen lower lip, and she clenched her thighs together to stop the pulse of her body calling for him.

He turned away and headed for the liquor-topped cabinet. “Drink?”

“Please,” she said.

He poured whiskey into two glasses, crossed the room, and handed her one of them. “You might want to sit down.”

She wanted to snap at him. To tell him she wasn't the scared girl he’d once known. But she suddenly felt anything but strong, her guard slowly slipping in the presence of his strength.

She sat at one end of the couch and was glad when he took the other end. She didn’t need the distraction. Didn’t want to smell him, to feel the magnetic pull of her body to his.

He downed the drink in one swallow and ran one hand through his dark hair. “I knew Los Angeles wouldn’t be the end of it,” he finally said.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

He stared into the fire, now devouring the wood he’d stacked inside the grate. “Dante was just an instrument.”

“We already knew he wasn’t acting alone,” Angel said. At least ten men had defected from the Vitale family — and some from other families as well — in the months before Dante kidnapped David in an effort to take over the Syndicate’s New York territory.

“We knew there were followers, disciples of Dante who wanted to see the business return to its traditions,” Nico clarified. “We didn’t know someone else was orchestrating the movement.”

“Someone above Dante?” Angel asked.

Nico nodded. “After we got David out alive, I needed to be invisible for awhile to figure out what was really going on.”

“And did you?” she asked.

“I’m not sure.”

“Then why come back?” The question sounded more bitter than she intended. Happy wasn’t a strong enough word to describe how she felt now that she knew he was alive. But she’d gotten used to her grief, her bitterness. What was she supposed to do with all of that now?

He sighed. “I spent the last four months tracing the hierarchy above Dante, trying to figure out where the orders were coming from. Then Luca heard through the grapevine that a hit had been taken out on you.”

She sat up straighter, the liquor turning sour in her stomach. “On me?”

He nodded. “And David.”

“By who?”

He turned to look at her. “By the same person who wanted me dead back when we rescued David.”

She shook her head, running through a list of names in her mind before skidding to a stop on one of them. “Raneiro?”

“The one and only,” Nico said, his voice laced with ice.

“But…” She shook her head. “Why? I mean, I know he wasn’t convinced I could handle Boston when we kicked out Frank, but I’ve followed every rule to the letter. I’ve handed over the correct percentage of our profits to the Syndicate. I’ve escalated up line when the situation has called for it.”

“Except with your first round of… eliminations,” he said.

“Frank deserved to be kicked to the curb,” she said coldly. “And so did every single person who was kicked there with him.”

“I’m not disputing that,” he said. “I’m not even saying that’s why Ranerio came after you.”

“Then what?”

“Raneiro has no reason to believe you’re any different than me. It was no secret we were involved, and no secret that you were coming at the business with a different perspective than the men who’ve run it for generations. My vision for a new Syndicate hasn’t played out to his liking. He’s done. ”

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