Page 95 of Ruined Kingdom

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Soldiers take Vittoria to Naples a few hours later after she’s reassured a very anxious Emma that she’ll be back. I’ve also reassured her that I’ll check on Emma once more before heading to the Naples house. My brother and I meet with Bruno in Amalfi. I’m not taking a chance on any spies in my house.

The meeting takes more of the day than I like. Bastian and I fly by helicopter to the Ravello house as soon as it’s over to make sure Mom is all right and let her know we’ll be gone. She gets anxious when she doesn’t see us every few days unless she knows in advance. But when we have an aerial view of the house as we approach to land, I’m surprised to find three large black SUVs lined up along the drive.

“Who the fuck is that?” Bastian asks.

I dig my phone out of my pocket to check for texts I may have missed telling me someone was here, but I don’t see anything. The chopper lands, and we climb out, keeping low until we clear the blades and dialing the number Jarno gave me for the soldier he was leaving in charge. I can’t remember his name. I trust Jarno. Have since day one. Since bringing our mother here, I’ve left him to manage security until we get a team in place. Finding trustworthy soldiers has proven harder than it should. We are a family divided, maybe not openly or at least not completely so. But my uncle has quite some support. People who believe he should be head of the family, not me.

“Mr. Caballero,” comes the voice on the other end.

“Who is at the house?” I ask as we approach the back entrance. The chopper’s blades are loud as it takes off behind me.

“No fucking way,” Bastian says, reaching for the pistol in his shoulder holster. I see him at the same time as the soldier answers.

“Sonny Caballero sir. Your uncle.”

“I know who he is.” I disconnect and set a hand over my brother’s arm.

“Put it away.”

“What the fuck is he doing here?”

“Bastian. He’s with our mother,” I say, tucking the phone into my pocket as Sonny stands up from his place on the terrace where he was seated beside my mother. Francesca is standing off by the door, looking displeased. I’m guessing she didn’t send a message to let us know Sonny was here because she couldn’t. Because this house is a secret location. No one knows about it apart from the handful of soldiers, Jarno, and Bruno.

“Well, well, both of my nephews. Isn’t this my lucky day,” Sonny says, beaming. “I was hoping to run into you as I visited with Nora.”

“Uncle,” I say. He stands about two inches taller than usual and looks very pleased with himself.

Bastian goes immediately to my mother’s side and draws her away.

“I must admit, it’s a secluded, out-of-the-way place, isn’t it?” Sonny asks.

“What are you doing here?” Bastian asks and I can hear the effort it’s taking him to keep his voice calm for mom’s sake.

“I’m so glad you’re both here,” my mother says, coming to take my hand and look me over, nodding in approval while still holding Bastian’s hand. “Are you boys hungry?”

“No, Mom, thanks.” I try to smile at her, to keep from upsetting her.

“How about you, Bastian? You’re a bottomless pit.”

“Not now, Mom.”

I turn to my uncle, but before I can say anything, my mother speaks.

“Isn’t it a nice surprise to see Sonny?”

“It is nice,” I say because Bastian won’t. “I didn’t realize you knew Mom was in Italy.”

“Imagine my surprise to hear my sister was just a few hours’ drive from me. I couldn’t not come. I hope no one minds that I turned up unannounced.”

“Of course not, Sonny. Don’t be silly. We’re all family.” Mom says and looks at me, then beyond me into the distance. “I hope Hannah and your father get back soon. The weather looks like it’s changing.”

I glance at the sky. Darker clouds have rolled in. Rain is expected.

Sonny watches me as I smile at mom. “Francesca, why don’t you and mom get us something to eat. I could do with a bite after all.”

She nods, and the look in her eyes is trying to convey a message. I’ll talk to her later. Find out exactly what happened. I notice Emma and the nanny are nowhere to be seen. I wonder if they’re upstairs. It would be better if they remained hidden from view.

Tags: Natasha Knight Romance