“I’d rather get a picture of the situation before I involve anyone else. It’s crucial that I don’t look vulnerable in front of my men. I need to be in control at all times. I will handle this alone. Once I know more, I’ll call my soldiers. They’ll need to see what I do with traitors anyway.”
I swallowed. “Can you kill Antonio quickly? You can get the information you want from Raffaele.”
“Raffaele might get suspicious and disappear, or he might not know everything Antonio does. I’ll have to make sure I find out exactly who’s involved in this.”
I touched his arm. “What if you get shot?”
“I can handle myself. I’ve fought many battles in my life. I wouldn’t be Capo if I hadn’t.”
“I should come with you.”
“No,” Dante said immediately.
“What if Antonio doesn’t come out until he sees me in my car? If they have binoculars they’ll see it’s you behind the steering wheel. They’ll run off and we’ll never find out who’s behind this coup.”
Dante regarded me with respect. “I won’t risk your life.”
“I won’t get out of the car. It’s bullet proof, remember? I’ll be perfectly safe.”
“You want to be there when I handle Antonio?”
I hesitated. That was the last thing I wanted. “No,” I said honestly. “But there’s no other way. Once the situation is under control and you call your men, I’ll leave.”
For a long time, Dante and I stared at each other. “You shouldn’t risk your life for me. And it’s not only your life on the line.”
“Nothing will happen to me or our baby. I know you will protect us.”
Dante didn’t say anything. I wished he’d say he believed it was his baby, wished he’d take back the hurtful things he’d said. “Let’s go then.”
Dante hid on the backseat of the car while I drove. As we passed the gate, Enzo gave me a strange look but didn’t try to stop me. Dante had two guns strapped into his gun holder and another one in his hand. There were also knives in the legroom, and I had a gun in the glove compartment. Not that it would do me much good. I’d never handled a gun in my life.
My pulse picked up when I steered the car toward the deserted parking lot in front of the abandoned storage facility. “We’re almost there,” I said.
“When you’re in sight of Antonio, try not to speak to me unless it’s absolutely necessary. He can’t know you’re not alone.”
The meeting point came into sight. Antonio stood beside his car. From what I could make out, Frank wasn’t with him, but he wasn’t alone. My heart picked up its pace and my hands became clammy as I clutched the steering wheel tighter. There was a second car. Raffaele and two men I didn’t know were inside.
“Antonio isn’t alone,” I whispered, barely moving my lips.
“Three others. Raffaele, and two men I don’t recognize.”
Dante pulled out his phone and brought it to his ear. “Enzo, prepare the crew. I need to dispose of some rats. Take only the inner circle with you.” He quickly gave Enzo the address, then he hung up.
I slowed the car and forced a shaky smile onto my face when I came to a stop a few feet from where Antonio stood. He looked anxious and kept glancing toward Raffaele who was getting out the car, followed by the man from the backseat. Why had Antonio brought Raffaele to a meeting with me? Raffaele hated me. He’d father see me dead than see me at Antonio’s side.
What if Dante was right and Antonio wanted to get rid off me too? I didn’t want to believe it. I turned off the engine. After another look toward Raffaele, Antonio headed toward my car. I tensed but forced my face to give nothing away. When he’d almost reached me, his eyes settled on the backseat and he jerked to a stop. His gaze darted to me for the briefest moment before his lips opened, probably to shout a warning. It was too late Dante pushed open the door and pointed his gun at Antonio. My stomach shriveled with sadness and guilt when the first bullet hit Antonio in the stomach, the second went straight through his right hand, which had been about to pull his gun. Antonio dropped to the ground, clutching his middle, face contorted with pain.
I clawed at the steering wheel with all my might. Part of my brain screamed at me to grab the gun from the glove compartment to have some kind of protection, but the other, the louder part was just screaming. Screaming in anguish and horror and guilt.
Dante was shielded by the bulletproof car door as he fired his next shot. The bullet tore through the throat of the man who’d gotten out of the car after Raffaele.
Raffaele was trying to reach the safety of his own car, firing bullet after bullet in our direction but none of them could burst through our protective windows.
When Raffaele dove for the passenger door of his car, Dante stepped out from behind the door which had been shielding him. My heart pounded wildly in my chest as he squared his shoulders and aimed calmly. In quick succession Dante pulled the trigger, hitting Raffaele first in his left, then in his right kneecap. Raffaele dropped to the ground, face twisted in agony. The man behind the steering wheel of the car hit the gas, not even bothering to close his passenger door, as he tried to escape and save his own life. Three other cars, Dante’s reinforcement, were already heading our way at dizzying speed, but Dante didn’t let the enemy car get away. He aimed his gun at the tires and hit them one after the other, causing the man to lose control of the car, which started spinning and finally collided with the abandoned warehouse. Airbags shot open, filling the car and hiding the driver momentarily from view.
I released a harsh breath, now that silence fell over the area, and kept my eyes straight ahead. If I looked back, toward where Antonio was slowly bleeding to death, I’d lose it. He shouldn’t have come to me, shouldn’t have asked me to kill Dante. He should have known better. Now there was nothing I could do for him, except hope that Dante wouldn’t prolong his agony for too long. Tears blurred my vision and my knuckles were stark white and hurting from my grip on the steering wheel. From the corner of my eye, I could make out Raffaele. His legs useless, he was dragging himself forward with his arms, leaving behind a streak of blood on the dusty asphalt.