Page 45 of Ruined Kingdom

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Bastian walks into the study as I wrap up my call with Jarno. He’s in New York making arrangements to take the little girl.

“Bastian and I will fly over in a couple of days.”

Bastian rolls his eyes and pours himself a whiskey before topping mine off. He slides into the armchair across from mine.

“Yes, the nanny too. The kid’s five. She’ll keep her calm.” We hammer out a few more details and disconnect the call. I check my watch. “Took you a while. What did you do, tuck her in?”

Bastian snorts, taking a long sip of his whiskey. “I’m not sure about this, brother. She’s trouble.”

“You mean she’s rebellious.”

“That too.”

“We need her.”

“So you keep telling me.”

“What do you propose, Bastian? We gun Lucien Russo down on the street?”

“That’s a pleasing image.”

“But too good for him.” He sips. I know he agrees. “She under your skin?”

He considers this as he swirls the whiskey around in his glass. “Yeah, actually.”

“Nightmares back?”

“I don’t care about those.” But he drains his glass, telling me the opposite of what he says is true. I repour and study my younger brother. “I don’t want her coming between us. I don’t want you losing sight of what we want. What the point of this is.”

“No chance of that. What we did with her tonight? That’s the beginning. She belongs to us. Both of us.”

“Fucking her wasn’t the plan.”

“Well, the plan has evolved. From what I’ve seen, you’re not exactly nauseous at the prospect.”

“That’s the thing. I should be. We both should be, Amadeo. But we’re not. Hannah died alone and in pain. After suffering God knows what at Lucien Russo’s hands. I don’t want us to lose sight of that.”

Getting up, I go to him and place a hand on his shoulder. “We won’t. I swear it.”

He nods, but his face is in shadow. He’s not convinced. I can see that much. Bastian was so much younger than me when it happened. He carries the memory of it, the pain of it, differently.

“We need to see mom before we go to New York.”

“We will. We’ll make sure she’s okay. Make sure Francesca has everything she needs.”

“And tell her the story she needs to feed Sonny.”

I don’t like using my mother that way. She’s innocent, but Sonny takes advantage of her innocence, so I figure this is just me managing that situation. Damage control.

“Are you going to go through with it?” he asks.

“With what?”

“Marrying her.”

“You know I need to in order to have access to the company. It’s how their bylaws are written. No outsider can own any part of Russo Properties & Holdings. But if we’re married, I’m no longer an outsider.” Because bringing Lucien Russo down will happen slowly. From the inside out. We will strip him of every comfort in this life before ending it. It will leave Vittoria penniless too, but penniless is better than dead. And it’s not like I haven’t been upfront with her about what she is. Collateral. But I see this part bothers my brother. “It’s a piece of paper, brother. That’s all.”

Tags: Natasha Knight Romance