Chapter 1


Angelo Rizzo; 34. Vittoria – Tori Romano; 23.

“Mark my words,” Giorgio says. “By the end of the year, I’ll be one of the bosses.”

I almost let out a snort. Listening to my stepbrother go on and on about how important he is in the Cosa Nostra is ridiculous.

He wishes.

Giorgio is…well, he’s a narcissistic asshole. There’s no other way to put it. Everyone knows there are only five bosses in the Cosa Nostra – Rizzo, Torrisi, Vitale, La Rosa, and Falco. The five families run New York, and no one dares go against them.

Giorgio is all talk, and one day, it will get him killed.

A girl can hope.

Instantly, I’m hit with a wave of guilt for wishing my stepbrother dead.

Forgive me, Father.

Since my father and stepmother died in a car accident seven years ago, Giorgio took over Papà’s place in the Cosa Nostra. It went straight to Giorgio’s head, and he’s become downright unbearable to live with.

My aunt on Mamma’s side of the family asked Giorgio to let me live with them, but he wouldn’t hear of it. Sadly, my mamma died of pneumonia when I was three years old, and my aunt, uncle, and cousin are the only family I have left.

I was only sixteen, but Giorgio’s word was law in our family, so no one dared go against him. Now I’m twenty-three and still stuck with the bastard.

I suspect he’s only holding onto me to get my share of the inheritance that will pay out when I turn twenty-five.

He’s already blown through more than half of his share, wasting it on gambling, alcohol, and women.

Giorgio was the perfect stepson to my father. Papà even adopted Giorgio as his own, so I can’t blame Papà for leaving him in charge of our

finances. Even I was shocked when I learned what a vile person Giorgio really is.

Cettina, Giorgio’s mother, and Papà got married two years after Mamma died. I was five, and Giorgio was thirteen, so we grew up as brother and sister.

But overnight, he changed into a different person. One that’s violent, selfish, and greedy.

I don’t know what I’ll do when I turn twenty-five in two years, but Giorgio won’t get a dime from me. I’m hoping I can cash in my inheritance and run to somewhere he won’t be able to find me.

Clearing my throat, I murmur, “Excuse me. I’m going to the restroom.”

Giorgio’s eyes are on a beautiful woman who just came in, and he doesn’t pay me any attention as I get up from my chair.

Walking to the back of the restaurant, I glance around the establishment. The place is packed, and even though I’ve grown up around these people, they all feel like strangers.

Every Friday we have lunch at Piccola Sicilia. The restaurant belongs to Angelo Rizzo, and I’ve only seen him a few times. It’s never long enough to get a good look at him.

Not that I want to. The five heads of the Cosa Nostra terrify the living crap out of me. They’re known for being brutal when it comes to business.

Growing up in the Cosa Nostra, I’ve learned to fear the five families like the rest of the Sicilians who call New York their home.

Even Giorgio is shit scared of them. He talks big in front of me, but when he has to speak to one of Angelo Rizzo’s men, he’s pathetically humble.

Whenever he’s forced to eat a slice of humble pie, I’m the one who suffers. The last time Big Ricky scolded Giorgio for being late for work, Giorgio broke two of my ribs.

He seldom leaves marks on my face because he loves to parade me in front of the single men in the Cosa Nostra. I know he plans to marry me off to one of them, but he’s holding out for my inheritance.

The only solace I can find in the crappy situation is that Giorgio can’t force me to marry him. We live in a tight-knit Sicilian community who would disapprove if he tried to marry me. After all, we were raised as brother and sister. It’s my only saving grace and also the reason he hasn’t

looked at me in a sexual way. To Giorgio, the only thing that matters is getting his grubby hands on my inheritance.

I slip into the restroom, and after relieving myself, I wash my hands and touch up my lipstick. My eyes flit over the light peach summer dress I’m wearing, making sure the fabric isn’t stuck in my underwear. It happened to Aida when we were fourteen, and I almost died of second-hand embarrassment for my cousin. Since then, I always check my clothes to ensure nothing is out of place.

My gaze locks on my reflection in the mirror, and I lift my chin.

Just two more years of this hell, then you can run away and create a new life for yourself.

As I step out of the restroom to return to the table, an office door opens to my right. Not thinking, I glance in the direction of the sound, and instantly, I’m doused in ice.

I have a clear view of Angelo Rizzo, who’s gripping a man by his neck. I can’t hear what’s being said, but as Big Ricky comes out of the office, I see Angelo slam a knife into the man’s throat.

Mother of God.

The squeak escaping me has Big Ricky’s eyes snapping in my direction.


My heart instantly hammers against my ribs, and I quickly dart to the left. I know it’s stupid of me to run, but my flight or fight instinct kicks in, and flight always wins.

I don’t even reach the end of the hallway before being grabbed by the arm and hauled back to the office.


“I didn’t see anything,” I plead. Big Ricky ignores me, which has me begging, “I won’t tell anyone. Please.”

I’m shoved into the office and stumble forward. My eyes lock on Mr. Rizzo, who’s wiping the blood from the knife, and the sight brings me to a dead stop.

His head is lowered, and focused on cleaning every crimson drop from the blade, he orders with a low and threatening tone, “Remove the body.”

With wide eyes, I watch as the man’s body is dragged out of a side door by Tiny, who doesn’t even break a sweat. Then again, he’s a mountain of a man. The trail of blood smeared on the tiled floor almost makes me gag.

Father, I’ve been a good girl. I’ve never dated and kept myself pure for marriage. I attend church every Sunday. Please get me out of this mess. You owe me.

Slowly, Mr. Rizzo lifts his head, and when his hazel eyes lock on me, shivers of fear rush through my body.


Just one look from Angelo Rizzo and my mouth goes bone dry. I swallow hard on the lump of panic in my throat.

His eyes crawl from my head to the sandals on my feet before they flick to Big Ricky.

“She saw what happened,” Big Ricky explains.

I quickly shake my head, and my voice quivers as I plead, “I won’t tell anyone. I promise.”

Mr. Rizzo lifts his hand, and while his thumb scratches his bottom lip, his eyes lock on me once more.

The brutality in his gaze delivers a punch to my stomach.

Father, I don’t want to die. Get me out of this mess, and I’ll do anything you want.

Tiny comes back into the office, and without taking his eyes off me, Mr.

Rizzo hands the murder weapon to him.

“She’s Romano’s sister,” Big Ricky informs his boss.

If my heart beats any faster, I’m going to pass out.

Mr. Rizzo lifts an eyebrow. “Vittoria.”

He knows my name?

Of course, he does. I’m pretty sure nothing happens in his territory without him knowing.

Mr. Rizzo takes a deep breath while slowly stalking closer to me. “I haven’t seen you since your father’s funeral.”

The urge to back away overwhelms me, but by the grace of God, I manage to stand still.

When he stops mere inches from me, I have to tilt my head back to look up at him.

If I weren’t so freaking terrified, I’d take the time to admire the man’s attractiveness. His black hair is in stark contrast with his hazel eyes. There are tiny golden flecks that make it look like flames are burning in his

brown-green irises. I know he’s in his early thirties and still unmarried because he’s too busy ruling over his territory with an iron fist.

When Tiny stands close behind Mr. Rizzo, I realize they're the same height. Easily two and a half heads taller than me.

Where Tiny is all bulging muscles and brute strength, Mr. Rizzo’s body is firmer, giving me the impression of stealth and death cloaked in an expensive suit.

Tiny has a round face, whereas Mr. Rizzo has a sharp jaw.

My eyes keep flitting between the two men while I’m overly conscious of Big Ricky behind me.

Mr. Rizzo’s eyes remain locked on my face, and when I can’t stand the pressure anymore, I whimper, “I won’t tell anyone what I saw.”

A frown line appears between his eyebrows, and his words are soft and dangerous as he murmurs, “I know.”

What does that mean? Am I free to go, or is he going to kill me? GOD!

When Mr. Rizzo suddenly lifts his hand to my face, I cringe back and let out a frightened sound. I pinch my eyes shut, and fisting my hands at my sides, I try to brace for the punch.

My skin stretches tightly over my cheekbones and jaw, and I clench my teeth.

Seconds pass, and when I feel something tug at my hair, my eyes fly open.

Mr. Rizzo’s gaze watches me closely while he wraps a curl of my hair around his forefinger.

Confused by what he’s doing, I startle again when Giorgio’s voice booms outside the office. “For fuck sake. Tori, get your ass out of the restroom!”

I hear Big Ricky move, then the hinges of the office door squeak, and he says, “Your sister is with Mr. Rizzo.”

“What?” Giorgio gasps.

I hear more movement behind me, but my eyes remain on the biggest threat in the office. Angelo Rizzo.

“What did you do?” Giorgio hisses at me.

A frown forms on Mr. Rizzo’s forehead, and as he lets go of the curl, I nervously brush my hand over my hair while quickly taking a step away

from the terrifying man.

Needing to explain myself, I ramble, “As I came out of the restroom, the office door opened. It drew my attention, and I accidentally saw Mr. Rizzo…ah…do something. I didn’t mean to look. It just happened.” My hand flies to my chest, and covering my racing heart, I swear, “I won’t tell anyone.”

Mr. Rizzo’s eyes flick to Big Ricky. “Escort Miss Romano to a table and get her a cup of coffee while I speak with her brother.”


Not sure I heard right, I ask, “I get to leave?”

Mr. Rizzo’s penetrating gaze returns to me. “For now.”

Intense relief washes through me as I quickly exit the office with Big Ricky.

I cautiously glance at Big Ricky, who’s not much taller than me. “I’m really sorry.”

With the corner of his mouth lifting slightly, he nods. “It’s okay, bellissima.” He leads me to a table and nods at the chair. “You can wait here while Mr. Rizzo talks to your brother.”

“Stepbrother,” I correct him. Big Ricky looks the least threatening of the bunch, which gives me the courage to ask, “How much trouble am I in?”

He shakes his head. “As long as you keep quiet, you’ll be fine.”

More relief floods me, and with hope filling my heart, I ask, “Really?”

He nods again before gesturing for a server to come closer. “Bring a cup of coffee for Miss. Romano.”

When the server leaves, Big Ricky looks at me again. “Stay right here.”

I nod and watch as he walks toward a table where three men are enjoying lunch.

Letting out a breath, I slump in the chair while wiping my palm over my forehead.

Dear God. That was intense.

I stare at the table as the terrifying past few minutes replay in my mind.

Crap, I’m going to be in so much trouble with Giorgio.

A heavy feeling settles over my shoulders, and I glance at the hallway again.

I can’t believe I just came face-to-face with Angelo Rizzo.

God, the man is intense.

And handsome. And freaking scary.

Now that I’m no longer in the direct line of fire, I realize just how attractive Angelo Rizzo is. I understand why Aida, my cousin, was so infatuated with the man when I saw her a couple of months ago at a family gathering.

He might be one of the most attractive men I’ve ever seen, but it doesn’t take away from how terrifying he is. If anything, it adds to it.

Father, it’s me again. Thanks for saving my butt.

My thoughts turn to the murder I witnessed, and it brings all the fear back.

Growing up in the Cosa Nostra, you'd think I’d be used to crime and corruption, but that’s not the case for me. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing someone die.

Just two more years, then you can make a clean break from Giorgio and this world.

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