Bound By Love

By: Cora Reilly

She sucked in a breath. I had no intention of marrying her off to someone else. No matter how much I despised her, she’d suffered enough under my father’s rule.

“You can have the yacht but I won’t come back to New York,” she said quietly.

“For all I care you can move to Italy, Nina. I don’t miss you, trust me.” Before I hung up, I added. “And have someone clean every inch of the yacht. I don’t want to find any traces of your fucking anywhere, understood?”

She gasped, but I didn’t wait for her reply.

After the call with Nina, I was in need of that fucking vacation but first I’d have to survive a meeting with the Underbosses of the Famiglia, two of whom were my uncles, and two the husbands of my aunts. I headed out of my office and to the very last door in the back of the Sphere.

I stepped inside. Everyone was already gathered around the oval wooden table. Matteo’s expression didn’t bode well. It was good I joined them or he’d soon have killed someone.

The men got up, even Matteo, because he knew how to keep up appearances even if he never treated me like a Capo when we were alone—but Uncle Gottardo took his sweet-ass time rising from his chair, probably his way of showing me that he didn’t respect me.

I indicated for them to sit back down as I let my gaze wander over them. There was Uncle Ermano, my father’s youngest brother, who was Underboss of Atlanta, and my uncle Gottardo who ruled over Washington DC in my name. Across from them sat Uncle Durant, who ruled over Pittsburgh and was the husband of my aunt Crimella, and next to him sat Uncle Felix, husband of Aunt Egidia and Underboss of Baltimore. The Underbosses who ruled over Charleston, Norfolk, Boston and Philadelphia weren’t related to me, at least not close enough to be considered family. All the men were in their late forties to late sixties, except for Matteo and me. My uncles thought I was too young to be Capo. They didn’t say it outright but I knew it from the looks they shared, from the occasional challenging comment.

“There’s a lot for us to discuss. I know this is only our second meeting and you have to get used to my way of dealing with things, but I’m sure we can control the Russian threat if we work together as one.”

“In your father’s time, the Bratva would have never dared to attack the Vitiello mansion. They showed respect,” Gottardo said. His eyes held contempt. He still hated me for having crushed his son’s throat six years ago, but my cousin got what he deserved for trying to kill Matteo and me to improve his position. If it had been up to me, Gottardo would have shared his fate. I still doubted Gottardo hadn’t been involved in any of this. Father had believed his claims of innocence for whatever inexplicable reasons, but I distrusted the man. If I had to make a bloody statement to establish myself as Capo, I’d start with him.

“My father got hit in the head by a Bratva bullet. How’s that showing respect?” I asked in a deadly voice as I stepped to the front of the table. I didn’t sit down, wanting them to crane back their fucking necks to look up at me. Let them see who ruled over the city now, who ruled over them. I didn’t give a fuck if they were happy that I was Capo at only twenty-three. I’d kill every fucker in the room if it meant I stayed in power.

Matteo shot me a grin. He’d taken out his knife when Gottardo had spoken and was now twirling it around in his hands, his feet propped up on the table. He definitely would appreciate a bloody statement.

Gottardo and my other uncles slanted him nervous glances. They would have never become Underbosses if it weren’t for my father. The other men who’d earned that position, they were the ones I needed to convince of my capability, because they held their soldiers’ respect.

“You need to send them another message,” Gottardo said sharply.

I walked around and stopped beside his chair. He made a move to stand up but I shoved him back down. “I sent them Vitali in bite-sized pieces, a letter of warning attached to his cut-off dick. I think they got the message. Question is if you got the message that I’m your Capo, Gottardo.” He had to crane his neck all the way back to meet my gaze. Then it flitted over to Ermano beside him for help, then over to my other uncles. Neither of them made a move to come to his aid.

“You’d do good to respect your elders. Perhaps the others are too cowardly to say it out loud, but you shouldn’t have become Capo. You may be strong and cruel, but you are too young,” he muttered, trying to salvage his pride.

Matteo lowered his feet from the table, the grin slipping off.

“And who, pray tell, should have become Capo in my stead? You, Uncle?” I said in a low voice. “After all, your family tried to stop me from becoming Capo once before, and your son paid with a crushed throat for the betrayal.”

Gottardo jumped up and this time I let him. He only reached my nose, so if he thought he could impress me like that, he was a fucking fool. “He would have been a better Capo than you. I would be a better Capo. You, like your father, aren’t fit for the honor.”

“Now, Gottardo, you are talking bullshit and you know it,” Durant muttered, eyes flitting nervously between Matteo and me.