“Do the same thing for both the Yakuza and the Irish. Try the Italians as well. If nothing comes of them knowing it was my money that was lost, see if we can set up a meet. Do not come off as a beggar, Simon. Let them know we expect answers to the questions we have.”

“Matthew, I don’t think we can afford a war on those fronts,” he says as he looks at me. He isn’t afraid to use my birth name with me, but he knows to only do it when he has to.

“There won’t be one. Right now, I want more information on what exactly happened to the money and the drugs that it bought.”

“And the Irish?”

“Let’s see what happens there. I’m not going over to Ohio to start a war with those fucks when I have two other ones on my front here. I want you to keep a watch out, though. If they have problems, we might be able to work our way into some new territory.”

Simon nods his head and then heads out of the office, shutting the door behind him.

Turning away from my desk, I look out the corner office window to the sprawling city below me.

The Irish will play up the dumb card, then more than likely tell me to fuck off in a polite way.

The Yakuza, if they do have the money, will tell me it’s my loss their gain. I can’t see either giving back what’s mine.

My left hand lifts and I stare at the emerald pinky ring I am wearing. It’s the only thing I have left of my father that I haven’t changed. When the stroke took his body and the ability to function away from him, I took over the day to day operations of all his enterprises.

He’d more than likely go to war over all of this.

He was a complete fucking fool with how he ran his businesses. He truly thought he could run them the old school way forever—always hiding in the shadows of one shady business or another.

I couldn’t deal with his small frame of mind. He wanted to keep all of his people controlled, he would never allow us the chance to branch out, to do new and better things.

We were fucking stuck in the dark ages of thought and freedom.

What a stupid fuck. Putting the pillow to his face ended so many exasperating headaches.

I brought us into the dawn of a new age. We dropped all the shackles that held us back for far too long. I introduced so many things to our operations that a lot of the old men feared me out of ignorance. Those fucks are all dead and buried now, and so will be any asshole that tries to get in my way.

Out of all the plain, stupid ones, Father had one brilliant idea—he sent me to school to get an education in business. My education allowed me to see new and better ways to operate. It gave me the knowledge of how to remain a criminal but get away with it. Fuck, all corporations operate in the gray and black at one time or other, they just don’t admit it.

The best thing I ever did was put a retainer on the top legal defense law firms in the nation. I have no desire to ever spend any time in jail much less prison. So, going to war and killing a bunch of turds doesn’t exactly appeal to me right now.

Smirking, I remember one of my business lectures talking about mergers, takeovers and hostile takeovers.

Turning back to my desk, I dial Simon’s cell phone.

“Lucifer, what’s going on?”

“Have someone consider all the properties and businesses we can find that are run by the Italians and the Japanese. I want as much information as we can get on them.”

“Yes, sir.”

Disconnecting the call, I look down at the photo on my desk. I took it from the collection Lilith had at her home. It has her and the children all smiling in the photo, looking so happy.

No prison time for me, it would ruin my plans with her. If anyone or anything try to come between me and her, they will die a very violent death.

Government or gang thug, makes no difference to me.

12

Lily

I wake up to the first rays of the morning light streaming through the curtains and Lucifer bending over me, kissing me on the cheek.

“The nanny will be arriving later this morning,” he says softly, his minty breath cool against the spot he just kissed.

I blink sleepily up at him, reluctantly leaving my dreams where I was warm, safe, and happy.

All at once awareness hits me and I remember where I am.

I remember what happened last night. What we did.

He held me in his arms and I must have cried myself to sleep.

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