Bound By LoveBy: Cora Reilly
I gave Gottardo my coldest smile. “That sounds a lot like breach of oath to me. I am your Capo.”
“I never made an oath to follow you.”
Ermano grabbed his brother and tried to pull him back down, but Gottardo resisted. “Shut up, Gottardo, for God’s sake. What’s gotten into you?”
“No,” he spat out. “First Salvatore, now him. I won’t follow the orders of someone who could be my son. If it wasn’t for his father, he wouldn’t be Capo. He inherited the title but he’s not worthy.”
“If we weren’t family, I’d have cut your tongue out by now,” Matteo said as he came up behind me.
I wanted to kill Gottardo on the spot, wanted to crush his throat like I’d done with his fucking son. I was one hundred percent sure that he’d sent his son to kill me all those years ago.
I looked at each of my Underbosses. “How fast can you summon your Captains and their soldiers for a meeting?”
Mansueto, Underboss of Philadelphia, stood, supporting his weight with his cane. Since his second heart attack three months ago, he’d become a shadow of the man I’d known. His family was loyal to the bone. If he died, it would lead to more trouble. Philadelphia was important, and his son Cassio was only four years older than me. “Tonight. Tomorrow morning at the latest.”
The other men nodded their agreement, everyone except for Gottardo, who was watching me with suspicion, and Ermano who said: “It takes at least fifteen hours to drive up here from Atlanta. And I don’t know if we can fly everyone over that quickly. Tomorrow morning would be better if you intend to involve the soldiers as well.”
Matteo shot me a questioning look but I faced off with Gottardo. “Then tomorrow morning. Call everyone. Tomorrow I’ll have every Made Man of the Famiglia make their oath to me.”
Gottardo sneered. “What makes you think they will do it? Perhaps they want someone else to be Capo.”
I nodded. “I will allow whoever deems himself more worthy to challenge me. You can contest against me. If you get the support of the majority of the soldiers, I will step down.”
Matteo looked at me like I’d lost my fucking mind, but I knew this was the only way to force all the voices who doubted me because of my age to die down.
“Tomorrow at eleven in the abandoned Yonkers power plant,” I ordered. My men exchanged looks. That was where the last bloodbath in the history of the Famiglia had gone down, and the press called the place Gateway to Hell. I sent Gottardo a smirk. “Good luck, Uncle.”
I turned on my heel and left them to their shock. I was done with this fucking meeting. Until I had the full support of the Famiglia, it made no sense to discuss the Bratva.
Matteo jogged after me. “Luca, you are Capo. Why are you risking everything?”
“I’m not,” I said. “My men will pledge loyalty to me.”
Matteo stopped me with a hand on my shoulder. “You should have cut Uncle Gottardo’s throat. That would have quieted down the doubters as well. We’re not the fucking Senate or anything. We don’t vote our Capo, Luca.”
“I’m the youngest Capo in history and I need to silence all my enemies. This once I will give them the chance to speak up.”
“And you are sure you will still be Capo tomorrow?” Matteo asked quietly.
“The Famiglia needs strength. They need a brutal hand. My men know that.” And everyone knew there was no one who could deal out revenge with more brutality than I.
Matteo nodded, then squeezed my shoulder. “I hope you are right, because if not things will get bloody.”
I met his gaze. “I won’t ever bow down to anyone’s orders again. I will either rule over the East, or I will go down fighting.”
“I know. So if things don’t go as planned we’ll have to knife and shoot our way out. And we might both die, and I hate to say it, but I’d really loathe to die before I get the chance to fuck Gianna at least once.”
I shook my head. “Perhaps I’m saving you a lot of trouble if I get us killed.”
He smirked. “I like trouble,” he said, as if didn’t I know it. “Will you tell Aria about this?”
I paused. I had to figure out a way to keep her safe if things went downhill. There were many men in my ranks who would love to get their hands on her, and that was never going to happen. “No,” I said. “I don’t want her to worry about me.”
Something was off. I’d known it the moment Luca had come home last night, and my suspicions were confirmed the next morning as I watched him put on his gun and knife holsters. Two knives strapped to his front, two to his back with two knives below. Two more knives at his calves. Luca had asked me to get ready as well, but didn’t say why. He hadn’t been forthcoming with any kind of information, but something must have happened with his Underbosses yesterday for him to call a meeting of the entire Famiglia.
“Luca, I’m starting to get worried,” I said quietly as I brushed my hair then lowered the brush to my vanity in the bedroom.