At least until she speaks, until she asks the questions I don’t want her to, we can pretend, but Z being here will impede on that.
“You missed a meeting.” He finally speaks up, and that has me lifting my gaze to meet his.
“Alaric. I handled it. But I shouldn’t have to. While you’re here playing house, you have forgotten what’s important.”
Anger rises inside me like a dormant volcano ready to erupt. “And what is that, Z?”
“Your clients. Your business. Taking down the organization. Bringing people to their knees.”
“Not that I need to answer to you, but that is exactly what I’m doing.”
“It looks like you’re pussy whipped,” he mumbles under his breath, low enough that he doesn’t think I can hear. But he’s underestimated me. I hear everything. Know everything. I might as well be a fucking god.
Before he can even fathom what I’m doing, I have him in a headlock.
“I understand what this means to you, so that is why, this one time, I will give you a pass. But know, I’m not weak for making this choice. Question my authority again, and I will kill you. No matter our past, I will snap your neck.”
I remove my hands from his body and step back. Z lowers his head.
“I’m sorry I overstepped.” He looks defeated as the words leave his mouth.
I nod. “Was there anything else you needed before you leave the island?”
“Boss,” he says.
“Boss. So you remember your place after all.” I narrow my eyes at him, and at least he has the decency to appear remorseful for speaking out of turn. “Speak. Tell me what you wanted to say.”
“Can we discuss Matteo?”
“What about him?” Striding over to the side table, I grab a glass and the decanter of scotch, lifting it up to Z. To most people, it would seem I’m indecisive, but Z knows me. I said my piece and now we move on. Business as usual. I don’t hold grudges; they are beneath me.
When he nods, I pour us two glasses and then take a seat in a chair in the corner of the room. Z grabs the one I prepared for him and then accompanies me.
“What’s going on?” I ask as I lift the glass to my mouth and take a drink.
This is news to me. Not that I should be surprised, though. There is always a war brewing within the mafia.
I set the glass down and lean forward. “How so?”
“From what I hear, he and his cousins are at war over who will take over the new territory they took from the Irish.”
“War is good.”
“Have you crunched the number?”
“Maxwell says if they go to war, with the guns Matteo will need from Alaric, we are looking at bringing in a fuck ton of money.”
“How much are we talking?”
“Fifty million, give or take.”
“War is inevitable, and it always pays to be on the right side. Matteo runs the East Coast. If he expands into the Midwest, is there any chance his cousin will win?”
“Good.” I lean back in my chair and bring the glass up to my mouth. “Any other business you want to discuss, or can we now enjoy this hundred-year-old scotch?”
His eyes dart to the bottle of Glenlivet on the console across the room. I’m usually a cognac drinker, but Z prefers scotch, and seeing as I only minutes ago had him in a headlock, this is my peace offering.
With war on the horizon for one of my clients, I can’t stay on the island that much longer. The time is coming to finally come clean and tell her the truth.
The only problem will be convincing her it’s in her best interest to stay, even if I’m not here.
But something tells me when I do finally give her the choice, she will make the wrong decision.
It’s been a day since Z came, and I can no longer pretend. His visit brought reality home. His hatred for me seemed deep rooted, and I have to believe it’s connected to why I’m here. I tried my hardest to stay in my little bubble with Cyrus a little longer, but things are different now.
I need to know what is going on and he needs to tell me.
My head has been buried in the sand long enough, but I need to break free and find out the truth, even if that truth hurts me.
With my mind made up, I stand from where I’m kneeling over the freshly potted plants and go in search of him.
I find him where I always find him.
He’s in his office. Or what I assume is an office. I’m not sure how much work he gets done when he’s here. Maybe he did in the beginning when he locked me in my room.
My stomach tightens at the memory, but then the muscles loosen as I remember that even then, even when he was the devil, he still never harmed me.