Damage:an Arranged Marriage Mafia Romance

By: Natasha Knight

Rafa nods.

“It’s a fucking ghost town. Are you sure?”

“I’m not sure but it’s the first clue we have. I’ve sent men from Taormina. It’ll be faster for them to get there.”

I stop. “Your father’s men?” Francesco Catalano is my uncle. His wife, my aunt, was my mother’s sister.

“Your uncle’s men,” Rafa states. “I figured this was more important than your feud.”

I grit my teeth.

“Get the jet ready.”

“Being fueled as we speak. Let’s go.”

I nod, stopping in the study to pick up my revolver and tucking it into its shoulder holster.

“Where’s your weapon?” I ask Rafa.

“In the car. I’ll drive. I’m faster than your guys.”

“Take this,” I tell him, tossing him a pistol. “I’ll drive.”

We step outside where Rafa’s SUV is waiting. I notice the deep, long dent on the passenger side, the white paint marring the shiny black of the SUV.

“You think you’re in any condition to drive?” Rafa asks as I bypass his SUV and climb into the driver’s side of the Bugatti.

“My car is faster.” I tip my head toward his, noticing a similar dent and scrapes of paint on the driver’s side. “And judging from the damage on your vehicle, I’d say I’m the best choice. Are you coming or not?”

His brows furrow together but he climbs into the passenger seat and not a moment later, tires scrape gravel, sending up a dust storm as I speed to the gates, exit the property and make it to the small airstrip where my jet is housed in just under fifteen minutes.

The captain and small crew await, and we board. They must know this impromptu trip is not a social one. No one talks or even greets me apart from a nod from the captain as Rafa and I board. A few moments later, we’re in the air.

“What was your tip?” I finally ask.

“My father has friends in the area. Two nights ago, there was talk at a bar about a girl. One of his informants followed the men and noted unusual activity.”

“And he just decided to tell us now even though I’m guessing he knew of Gabriela’s disappearance two nights ago?”

“He wanted to be sure, Stefan.”

I’m not sure I believe it, but I know Rafa. His relationship with my uncle, Francesco, is not an easy one. And it drives me insane that he still seeks the old man’s approval.

“What was the unusual activity?”

“Two vans. Blacked out windows. Looked like they carried a bundle inside and they’ve had the building guarded ever since.”

“A bundle.” Christ. I suck in a tight breath.

“She’ll be okay, Stefan. If they wanted her dead, they wouldn’t have gone through the trouble they did.”

I nod.

It’s less than an hour before we’re climbing back out of the plane at Calabria’s regional airport where Rafa has arranged a car for us. Well, his father has.

I try to shove all thoughts of my uncle out of my mind. I need to focus.

Rafa and I ride in the same vehicle. It’s just over an hour as we approach Pentedattilo. I haven’t been here in over twenty years but seeing the cliff town brings back memories.

My mother had a special fondness for places like this. Abandoned. Old. So much in Italy is old I’m not sure why it fascinated her to the degree it did. Pentedattilo is a ghost town now, with few inhabitants. But the tourists still come piling in.

“Get around them,” I snap, sliding my window down to yell at them to get the fuck out of the way.

The driver honks his horn, and someone gives us the finger. I’m tempted to shoot it off.

Rafa puts a hand on my shoulder. “She’ll be okay, Stef. We’re almost there.”

I turn to look at him, see he’s got his phone out. He’s tracking the locations of the men his father sent.

I try to relax, forcing myself to breathe a deep breath in.

The tourists thin out as we climb deeper into the town. I’m grateful for the stifling heat keeping the throngs away.

The four SUVs behind us follow along.

“How many men does my uncle have up there?” I ask, trying to decide if it’s better to go on foot.

“A dozen sharpshooters.” He turns his phone toward me, and I see the red dots situated in buildings surrounding the one we suspect Gabriela is in.

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