You know how I love my dark and dangerous men. I have a brand new dark mafia romance out, one I think you’re going to love. Blade is a killer, his nickname given the method of kill and the scar on his face, but he has his limits. Once reached, he’s determined to find a new life, including redemption. However… Sometimes life takes a curious course, forcing a man with no conscience to revisit his values. Take a taste of…
“Look, you fucking asshole. I own you. If you dare think you’re going to get away with this, you don’t know me very well. Be prepared to meet your maker.” Diego’s left leg was twitching and as soon as the call ended, he tossed his cell phone, cursing in Spanish. “Puto gilipollas. Voy a matarlo.”
Fucking asshole. I’ll fucking kill him.The words were harsh, but no doubt truthful and on the mark. I almost never witnessed Diego losing his cool. That wasn’t his style. He was the man who could enjoy savoring a fine dinner, drinking a bottle of wine, and enjoying good conversation with his enemy, all before issuing a contract. And the poor dumb fucker would never know what hit him. The fact this individual bothered him so much meant everything I’d heard could be true.
I remained quiet, studying the buildings as we passed by. I actually loathed the limo rides but when the man wanted to make an entrance, I was always along for the ride, even against my advice. That had included tonight. After what Breaker had told me, I was more on edge than ever, prepared for an attack. Diego had more than one ‘situation’ as he liked to call them, one of the people he was trying to do business with reneging on his promise. For Diego? That was a punishable offense. My gut told me tonight would be interesting.
“Stop worrying, Erik,” Diego stated then yanked his drink from the holder, swirling the ice in a violent manner. I’d never seen him this angry.
“My job, sir.”
He chuckled and lifted his glass to his lips. I took the opportunity to glance in his direction, noticing the barrel of his favored Glock. He usually preferred not to carry, which meant he was also worried. “You’re about the only man in my family I can count on. I appreciate that. I really do.” He turned his head, glaring out the window. “Things may get a bit… messy in the next few days. I hope you can handle it.” Diego shook his head after saying the words. “An out of state asshole believes he is going to take a portion of my business. He will learn the hard way.”
“Nothing to worry about.” I had firepower with me: a Beretta in an ankle holster, and my Browning Hi-Power clipped inside my jacket. A blade wouldn’t do for tonight, not with the stakes this high. Nothing was going to interfere with Diego’s evening. Not on my watch. The man would always have enemies, groups of various gangs trying to take over. I’d heard certain rumors, other cartels hell bent on taking over Miami. That would be interesting to watch.
“Good man.” Diego exhaled, remaining quiet, but his leg continued to twitch. Even his own soldiers would say his actions were a sign of weakness. The man was cracking a little under the surface. Maybe the perfect time to escape.
Maybe the perfect time to get myself killed.
Avoiding making any noise, I glanced back out the window. We were only three blocks and one traffic light away. I wanted to get this night the hell over with.
“I won’t tolerate betrayal of any kind. None. I can’t have it for my organization.” Diego’s statement was clear. There was a rat in the family.
“I understand, sir. I feel the same.” I cringed just saying the words.
“I know you do. You’re like a son to me, Erik. You’d done very well for me. Very well indeed.”
I felt his cold stare, could almost hear what he was thinking. I own you. Sadly, the man did, and I’d accepted the role, even though I knew all those years ago what that would mean. “Thank you.”
“But the man who risks crossing me will pray for death.” Chuckling, he polished off his drink and adjusted his jacket before running both hands through his hair.
The man preened in front of anyone who would take notice. He also loved grandstanding to anyone who would listen. “Let me do a sweep.” There were dozens of people coming and going into the front of the Casablanca Casino, the area far too easy for one of Diego’s enemies to get a clean shot. We parked in back and only inches from the door. I climbed out, surveying the perimeter as I walked the area. I didn’t like the fact we didn’t have backup tonight, but given Diego’s penchant for the woman inside, he wasn’t prepared to give any additional fodder to the soldiers.
I snickered every time he came to see the blonde-haired actress, as if the entire city of Miami hadn’t figured out the infamous Diego Sanchez was having a torrid affair with her, including his wife. This was the way of things. When I was certain the alley was clean, I moved to the other side of the limo, opening the door. “Clear.”
Diego plastered on a smile and carefully stepped over the ugly cracks leading to the door. There were no paparazzi, no welcoming committee meeting him in a rat-infested back alley, but appearances were certainly everything. He offered no instructions and I said nothing else.
Both the driver and I were expected to wait.
And we did.
That is, until I heard the distinct sounds of a gun being fired, two shots only, muffled but distinct enough. I reacted, yanking out my gun and tossing open the door, racing inside. The weapon was locked and loaded, two additional ammo clips in my breast pocket. I knew every inch of the casino, every bathroom and every clandestine ‘special’ suite. I shoved my way past both employees and customers, taking long strides. I’d calculated the time it would take me to get to the suite prepared for El Hefe. Twelve seconds had passed. One second too long.
No one stood in my way or tried to stop me. Screams could be heard seconds before a single additional shot. Now, I was pissed. As people started running from every direction, heading for the exit, I powered through, seeing the coward aiming for another shot. Tuning out everything but the job at hand, I pulled the trigger. The man went down with a hard thud.
As I moved further inside the suite, I was able to see the blonde actress cowering in the corner, Diego comforting her, blood seeping through his crisp white linen jacket. There was also another girl still in the room, frozen, her eyes glued to the assassin. She was no doubt a dealer given her black and white attire. I had no time to deal with her. At least the shot had been clean, catching the asshole between the eyes.
“Oh!” the blonde screamed, clawing at Diego.
“I need to get you out of here.” I reacted, grabbing Diego and covering his body with mine.
“Don’t leave me!” the blonde demanded.
“Sorry, sweetheart,” Diego said absently, hissing under his breath.
The blonde shouted various obscenities as we left. We were in the limo and leaving the scene before we heard the first siren. No one would remember that Diego Sanchez had even been at the casino, including his lover. They knew better than to open their mouths.
* * *
I was aware that the hit had been placed on Diego and as expected, this wasn’t some random attack. The traitor had to know he was going to be at the casino, which narrowed the suspects down to three people. The actress. The owner of the casino. And myself. Even the limo driver had no advance knowledge. I stood outside Diego’s office, trying to keep my cool. Yet my thoughts shifted back to his statement regarding betrayal. El Hefecertainly enjoyed retaliation, especially for snakes in his operation. The only thing I knew for certain was that I had nothing to do with the hit.
Although the thought had crossed my mind on several occasions. I hated the man with a passion, loathed everything he stood for. One day, I’d see the light leaving his treacherous eyes. Fucking bastard. I resisted snarling from the thought, clenching my fist until my fingers ached from lack of oxygen.
There was no mistaking what was going on behind the double doors. One of the other three parties was being beaten to shit, no doubt by Breaker and one of the others. Whatever Diego did to the blonde, I would bet she’d have a difficult time getting work on the screen again. That is, unless the casino owner confessed.
When the doors were opened, I wasn’t surprised that the beaten and bloodied man was being carried out, his feet dragging and moans coming from his mangled mouth. The poor asshole had lasted longer than I’d thought he would. Guess I was next.
“Erik.” Diego’s voice was smooth, as if he didn’t have a care in the world.
I walked inside, giving Breaker a nod. My buddy had a smile on his face, as if he’d just won the lottery.
“Sir,” I said with respect as I moved into the center of the room. At this point, I had no idea what to expect, but clearly Diego remained shaken from the earlier incident. Maybe I was the only one who knew him so well. I even kept a file of sorts regarding the man’s weaknesses. Just in case…
“You both can leave,” Diego said to the others.
Breaker winked as he headed for the door, wiping blood from his face. The other soldier I didn’t know, and the man didn’t bother giving me a look. This was just another day at the office. When the doors were closed, I did everything I could to keep my cool.
Diego turned around slowly. There was no outward sign he’d been shot, the bullet coming dangerously close to his heart, but there was a nervous tic that seemed to take over his entire face. He narrowed his eyes as he closed the distance, gripping my shoulder. “You saved my life. I’m eternally grateful.”
“Doing my job, sir.”
He kept his grip firm, his eyes searching mine. Exhaling, he finally smiled. “I trust you implicitly, Erik, which is why I had the others leave. As you might imagine, the traitor has reared his ugly head. I have too much at stake to allow such behavior to continue.”
I knew better than to ask any questions. El Hefewould supply exactly what I needed to know. “Yes, sir.”
“To that end, I want to take care of something personally and I’m going to manage all the details privately. However, there is a piece of this I do need you to take care of. We can’t have any loose ends, not with certain other parties breathing down my neck.”
“What can I do for you?” My gut was churning, my instincts telling me this was a setup of some kind. Certain other parties. Whoever was challenging Diego must be extremely powerful, or at least well connected.
“I want to handle this eradication differently. I believe I have someone in this family who’s working with a particular colleague of mine. That doesn’t bode well for certain trades.” Diego chuckled. “I must flush out this wound before it festers. I’m certain you can understand.”
“Absolutely.” His trades were drugs. Heroin. Opioids. Some cocaine. He had the market from Virginia to the Keys, Cuba to South America, and even some of the Caribbean islands. At least for now.
“I have an envelope that I don’t want you to open until you leave not only my office but the entire property. Only then will you find out the details of a job I want you to perform.”
Diego was afraid there were eyes and ears. Interesting. In order for the traitor to breach the compound, he would have to be closely linked with Diego. My skin began to crawl. There was still a solid possibility that this was nothing more than a test of my loyalty. If he needed a fall guy, I was an obvious choice, no matter all I’d proved to him during the last seven and a half years. “When do you want this carried out?”
He smiled, releasing his hold and walking toward his desk. Taking his time, he pulled a cigar from his humidor, holding the clippers in his other hand. He allowed the cutting mechanism to slice the air twice before inserting the Cuban, slowly pressing down. The tip fell into the awaiting ashtray. He sucked on the end of the cigar before lighting, pulling in several puffs and holding the smoke. As he released, the billows creating perfect circle formations, he studied me. “Immediately, Erik. I can’t have my enemies learning that I’ve been compromised in any manner.”
What do you think? Tasty, eh? I hope you grab a copy and as always, FREE to read if you have a KU subscription.
He’s the kind of man other men fear, but I wasn’t afraid. I should have been.
I knew Erik Chenault was dangerous the moment I saw him. Everything about him should have warned me away, from the scar on his face to the fact that mobsters call him Blade. But I was drawn like a moth to a flame, and I ended up burnt… and blushing, sore, and thoroughly used.
Now he’s taken it upon himself to protect me from men like the ones we both tried to leave in our past. He’s going to make me his whether I like it or not… but I think I’m going to like it.