Dante: The Giving
I rejected this over and over. I don’t want a woman in our place. I don’t want a woman to come into our lives. I know, though, that people will have questions even without us telling people that they are only giving us Emmi because they see her as a burden. I look at my brothers; the last woman who was close to us was our sister. That ended awfully. We failed her. We didn’t see the enemies in disguise who used her. Maybe if we had done, she would still be here?
“So, the plan is, one of us speaks to Jamie, one her mum, and then we all speak to her. I don’t want to drag her out if she is screaming.” Zane looks at me.
“Or we just walk out and leave her there.” It’s the easiest, least stressful option.
“Let’s say we do, then what? They find someone else to make a deal with and give her up to? At least here we can protect her,” Bear says.
“Protect her? Like we did Adelia? If you still think we are capable of protecting any woman after we fucked up with Adelia, you have some serious issues.” I glare at them. I’m not in the mood for a party.
“We failed Adelia, but it wasn’t all on us. We were children, Dante, barely eighteen. Things in life happen. If you and Zane keep letting that hold you back, nothing will change.”
I stare at Gunner. “Don’t you fucking dare! It was me who found her. I just don’t think we should do this. If it was Adelia, I would be fighting to stop it!” I wouldn’t accept it.
“It isn’t, though, and Emmi has no one fighting for her. Instead, her mum and brother don’t want her. They are pushing her away because she is seen as a burden.” Bear looks at me, waiting for… what? Me to see things their way?
“Enough! Nothing you say will change my mind, she is a burden, and if we take her, we’re carrying it. Then we have to try to protect her.”
“What if it was Adelia? If Dad was still alive, and he was calling the shots, then what, Dante? If Dad was giving her away and if the city refused, he would just find someone else to dump her on. Would you want them to agree? Wouldn’t you want them to take her and protect her?”
“It isn’t Adelia! Stop, enough, or I get out and leave you three to do it alone.” I’m going, even though I disagree. I am going to show a united family front. We’re far from united. Since Adelia, since our dad passing, nothing has been the same, and slowly we are all falling down. We’re barely a family anymore. No one else speaks. Nothing they say will change my mind; nothing will make this feel alright.
The party seems to be going well, although there have been no signs of Emmi or her mother. Maybe that’s a good thing, and they will have changed their minds? Agreed to keep her here.
“She looks amazing.” I turn to see Bear staring, my eyes following his gaze and stopping when I see her. She does look amazing, stunning actually. What the hell am I doing? Shaking my head, I turn my gaze from her and walk around the party.
She knows we don’t want her. She knows I don’t want her in our place. To carry that weight of knowledge around with her won’t be good. She should stay at home, refuse, but then we’d have to take Jamie. People will be there, they will see if she refuses, and I don’t want Jamie in my city.
I find myself surrounded by people, mainly talking business, which I’m fine with. I have avoided this city; the person who hurt Adelia had come from here.
“I need you to keep our little lamb occupied.”
Turning, I look at Bear. “I don’t need to do anything. One of you can.” They don’t need me.
“I’m about to talk to her mum. Zane and Gunner are talking to Jamie, no idea what about. I told her to wait for me, so right now she is.”
“Don’t expect me to woo her, Bear. If anything, I will make her refuse to come.” I turn and walk over to where she is waiting.
“Hi, Dante.” She looks at me with a smile.
She doesn’t look the same. At the house, she had fire in her eyes, fight and drive. That has all burned out now. “I’m to watch over you.”
She laughs. “I don’t need a babysitter.”
“You do. The fact you tried to escape, get into fights, and everything else proves you do. You don’t behave.” She is crazy if she doesn’t believe she needs to be babysat.
“I did those things to become free. Not to be a child or cause trouble. Go socialise, Dante, get a few more deals before you go home.” She turns to walk away, but I reach out and stop her.
“You’re staying right here, sugar. I don’t fancy a crazy chase tonight. Just stand here with me until one of my brothers is finished.” There will be too much drama if I let her go and she escapes.
“If you’re forcing me to do this, then at least dance.”
I snigger at her comment. That isn’t happening.
“Come on, don’t just laugh. Dance, keep me occupied, or I will find something else to keep me busy.” Is she threatening me?
I laugh louder. “Go ahead, have fun then.” I walk away, but keep my eyes on her, though. At least this way, I am not near her, making her want to run. I don’t want to fight with my brothers, and she is one thing we will fight over.
“Dante.” Turning, I look at the guy, and he begins talking, trying to listen while I keep glancing to where Emmi is stood alone. She clearly had no plan for if I refused and walked away as she hasn’t moved or spoken to anyone.
I glance at the guy, annoyed. “Look, no business. Ask tomorrow.” I don’t even know what he asked. My eyes go back to where Emmi was to find the spot empty. I step away from the guy and begin looking around. Where the hell did she go? I move through the crowds of people, feeling annoyed. Why couldn’t she have just behaved? I come to a halt when I see her, my eyes widening. Was everything a lie? She said she could never get near a guy, yet right now, she is dancing and kissing one without anyone stepping in.
I move towards her. The guy isn’t one I have seen before. Does he not realise what this party is? Jealously swarms within me as I stop before them, Emmi looking up at me with a mischievous smile.
“Who the fuck are you?” I turn my eyes to the man, irritation growing within me.
“This is Mark. Apparently, he is new to the city, only just arrived, right? He was sent from my dad's brother apparently as he needed work.” I watch as Emmi licks her lips, smiling at him, my eyes going down to where his arm is wrapped around her waist.
“Take your hand off her.” I look at him, waiting, watching as he laughs.
“Are you her partner or something? She said she was single.” His hand stays resting on her hip.
“No, but you have no rights to touch her, so hands-off.” Who the hell is this guy? My vision shifts slightly, and I shake my head, barely hearing his words.
“I have rights to touch. She isn’t fighting-”
I pin his body against the wall as my hand wraps around his neck, my other hand grabbing my gun and pushing it against his head. Maybe I should have let him finish talking? I can hear Emmi screaming at me, but the words don’t register.
“Unless you see her as worth dying for, you won’t even fucking look at her. Go on, I dare you. Touch her. Is she worth the risk?” I growl at him, pushing the gun against him harder. The feel of a hand on my shoulder does nothing to awaken me.
“Dante. Look at me. Don’t spill blood here. This is meant to be a respectful party.” Unfortunately for him, Zane’s words help.
“He deserves it! He deserves to die. What he did was wrong.” I pull the hammer down on the gun, getting ready to shoot.
“It isn’t him, Dante. Wake the hell up and look where you are and who it is. It isn’t him, Dante. He didn’t know Adelia, look.” I turn and see Zane reaching for the gun, then look back at the guy and wordlessly release his neck, leaving him sweating and shaking in front of me. As I step away from him, I realise everyone is staring at me.
“What the hell? You almost broke his neck!” Emmi pushes in front of me. “Why would you do that!”
“Why wouldn’t I? What I said was true. If a guy doesn’t see you as worthy to die for, then he doesn’t deserve you.” I need to leave. It was a bad idea coming here, being in this city. This is precisely why I didn’t want her anywhere near us, I didn’t want to meet her, and I wanted her gone.
“Let’s get a drink. Gunner keep Emmi busy and escort her around the party to say her goodbyes. We leave in an hour.” I feel Zane and Bear pull me away before handing me a glass. “Look, an hour, then we can leave. Have a drink, and relax, Dante.”
I don’t bother replying. I just sit there and drink, waiting for the time to pass until I can escape, but it won’t be an escape because she is coming with us. The events of tonight will happen again and again because now I have to look after her. So, I will stay out the way, just for a bit. A few days or so until she is settled until I am entirely sure I can walk around the house and see her without doing or saying anything wrong. Which won’t take long.
Emmi: New Home
The party started great, right up until Dante tried shooting an innocent guy. He looked crazed and said things that made no sense, but Gunner told me not to ask and to just forget it.
It was like he was gone. I saw it in Dante’s eyes. He wasn’t there, he was somewhere else, and it took Zane getting involved to make him wake up.
We left the party, and I left like a lady, walking out without screaming and crying. But I refused to say goodbye to my brother or mum. I refused to say goodbye to anyone. They had all controlled me in some ways, or helped my family control me.
I left for a new life, one living with the Wolversons and if they think they can lock me up like my family did, they’re wrong. I will get my freedom. In one way or another, I will get freedom.
Zane: Welcoming Her Home
We walk through the door, and Dante instantly disappears. I don’t blame him. Even with almost a lifetime to get ready for this, it seems to have happened so quickly.
“Right, we had your room sorted, Emmi.” I smile at her and lead the way. Once there, I open the door and step inside. She follows but stays quiet. “Shopping tomorrow, you will need clothes and things.” I look at her, but she simply nods. I should leave, give her space. So, I turn, walk out, and close the door.
“She good?” Bear smiles at me.
“Define good? She’s alive, but right now, she looks like she could cry, kill us all, and go on a crazy rampage.” I laugh and sit down.
“Right, well, Paul is in the city. He ran from their side. They let him past the checkpoint. I’m guessing he has no idea anyone knows about the plan, and Jamie sent out a search party for the debt he owed,” Gunner explains.
“Which means he thinks he’s safe over here until we get asked to grab him. Any idea where he is?”
I turn at the sound of Dante’s voice and see him walking towards us.
“Apparently in the underground. Poker, I am guessing rushing to win to pay them off.” Gunner smiles at Dante.
“Right, well, let's go pay him a visit.” Dante stands waiting for us.
“We can’t leave her here alone.” Bear looks towards the hall where Emmi is. He’s right. We can’t.
“Look, guys on the door, two in here. She will be fine, and she can’t get out. Let’s go before he moves, and we lose him.” Dante walks to the door. I guess we’re all going. Although that is maybe a good thing. Dante looks like he wants blood, and while Paul’s death is guaranteed, Dante needs watching.
“Should we tell her we’re leaving?” I look at them, I’m not sure if we should just disappear, and leave her not knowing where we are.
“No, she doesn’t need to know we’re out. If she comes out and asks, they can tell her.” Dante points to the two guys stood by the door.
“Fine, tell her we will be back later if she asks. Don’t let her out and watch her if she moves out of her room.” I glance towards Emmi’s room as the others leave. It feels wrong leaving her, but she clearly needs space. So, I walk out to join my brothers in the car. Dante’s driving.
“So, do we talk or just act?” Gunner grins.
“Talk first, Gunner.” I laugh while shaking my head. I will stay calm. There is a difference between us all. Gunner likes to make people bleed. For him, pain is pleasure, and death is more pleasure. Dante is the smart one, but he leads us. Bear likes to gamble and often plays for people’s lives. Of course, they never win. He wins, and they die anyway. I’m the calm one, the one who seals the deals. Yet, I am the one feared the most because while I am quiet and calm, I snap, and when I do, I am relentless. The beating from Dante, the playing to save their life with Bear, or the slow, painful death from Gunner is nothing compared to when I lose it.
We walk into the underground club we own. Most of this city we own, and the places we don’t we still hold power over. Nothing happens without our say so. People know they keep the city’s secrets. No one dares speak about what happens here. The police know us, so they won’t touch us. Why? Because it is us lining their pockets and paying for them. Without us, the police wouldn’t even have power over those petty criminals, never mind the bigger ones.
“Zane!” I hear the high squeal and smile at Rose.
“Hey Rose, we’re looking for Paul. Have you seen him?” My brothers begin to do a sweep of the place.
“He’s through the back. Apparently, small money isn’t his plan today, although his debt now is up to 40k. He’s on a losing streak.” She grins up at me.
So, Bear won’t be happy. This is his place, and debt isn’t a joke. Many play with nothing and agree they pay back what they spent when they win, plus give us half of what is left over. The fact Paul has hit 40k says he is panicking. Just how much does he owe to the Solace City Queen? I point towards the door and watch as my brothers walk towards it.
“Keep the music up, Rose. He may get loud.” I wink at her and walk towards the door, watching as men flood out from the room. As I step in, I can see they have worked quick. Paul is already tied to the chair, Gunner’s eyes fixed on him as he plays with the dagger.
“So here is how it will work, Paul. You answer honestly and you won’t get hurt,” Dante says as he sits opposite him. He won’t get hurt then, but after he has answered our questions, sure he will.
“I know! Okay, I’m just having a run of bad luck. Come on, Bear, you know I’m good. I have never not paid a debt I owed to you. I will win the 40k back.”
Bear smiles. He had no idea. “Well, I guess that is more questions, Paul. Now, let’s talk about Emmi Solace.” Bear leans forward, and I watch as Paul freezes. He honestly didn’t realise we knew.
“You remember the deal our family made with theirs, right?” Dante looks at him, waiting.
“Yeah, she is yours. Everyone knows she’s yours.” A bead of sweat drips down his brow.
“You had a plan, didn’t you? To get back at both cities. What is it?” Dante leans closer.
“No plan, that was years ago. There is no plan!” It’s clear he’s lying.
Maybe he knows Emmi wouldn’t have told anyone? To be fair, she hadn’t. It was Ethan. I watch as Dante nods to Gunner, he steps forward, and Bear holds Paul’s hand against the table. Gunner’s smile widens as he plays with the knife.
“Wrong answer. What was your plan?” Dante asks again. “This time, if you lie, he gets to stab you anywhere he wants.”
I sit back and watch. There is no deal to be made here. I won’t be needed. I am just here in case my brothers want me or to calm Dante if he looks like he needs to fight.
“There was no fucking plan!” Paul screams. “Whatever she said isn’t true. She’s a lying bitch!”
I feel my body tense. Ten… nine… eight… Counting back from ten, I block everything out, trying to calm myself. Then, when I open my eyes, I see Paul crying, Gunner pulling the blade out of his shoulder. He deserved it, purely for calling her a lying bitch.
“It wasn’t her who told us, actually. So, try again. What was the plan? Keep getting it wrong, and this will go on for hours,” Dante warns him.
“Fine. Emmi was to pay forty grand. Then I would have flown her out of the country, and we’d both escape together. We were fucking, you know that, right? She is well used.”
Shit. I close my eyes, pacing the room once again, counting. Paul’s screams are not as easily ignored as before. I count down from twenty; ten didn’t do shit! Then I can look at him again. I still feel on edge, so close to snapping.
“Step out, Zane,” Dante looks over at me, and I shake my head.
“I’m good.” I am, I am fine. Dante keeps asking questions, and while Paul answers them, he adds small bits on, and each word just pushes me closer to the door of death, his fucking death! He has stab wounds across his body, two fingers missing, and still, somehow, he can keep talking shit. Emmi didn’t touch him. She didn’t let him touch her. We know nothing happened, I hope. Or she lied. But why would she lie?
“Once more, and I’m giving Gunner permission to take you to his playroom to play until you can’t breathe or bleed anymore.” Dante punches Paul in the face. “Now why? Why Emmi? Why try to start a war between the two cities?”
At last, he explains what his plan was. He wanted the Solace Queen to think we kidnapped her daughter and killed her, but he missed the part where the Queen didn’t care about Emmi.
“You know if I had to choose? Damn, I think Emmi would win over Adelia.” We all tense and glare at him. What the fuck? I step forward. “Adelia was sweet as hell in bed, but Emmi is wild! She is a Wolverson, Emmi, that is. Adelia, well, she may have been born one, but she lacked something, that crazy bit. She would fuck a guy and move on. It was too easy to pay a guy from Solace City to make her love him, just to rip out her heart and make her wish she was dead.” I hear a scream as everything goes black. My body convulses with rage and sadness. It was him! He set it up. He made Adelia take her own fucking life. I keep hearing the screaming through the unliftable fog, until I feel someone pulling against me.
I growl and push against Bear, but they are all gripping me and holding me back. Why? He deserves to die.
“Zane! He’s fucking dead! Open your eyes!”
Open my eyes? “They are open!” I can see Bear’s face in front of mine, stopping me from seeing the little fucking weasel.
“We mean mentally. You killed him, overkilled him, and that’s crazy coming from me,” Gunner chuckles, and I feel myself relax slightly.
“I think by the second stomp on his head, he was dead. Took all three of us to pull you off his body.” Bear steps back.
“I said to leave.” Dante looks at me. “I could see you were losing it.”
“I had to watch you three. I’m good. I’m fine.” I’m not. I could keep going, just keep jumping on his body until there is nothing left. Adelia… He used her. He was the one who sent that snake into her life and left her with no choice but to kill herself.
“Let’s get home. He’s dead. You just took Gunner’s play toy away from him. He was meant to stay alive until Gunner had fun and finished him.” Bear laughs.
“You’re all going to act like he didn’t say shit?” Are they fucking crazy?
“Adelia is dead. The guy who made her feel like that was killed. Now the guy who set it up is. He had his plan the first time, and it failed to make both cities go to war. His second plan just got him killed. Home. I think we could all do with a drink, don’t you, brother?” Dante looks at me and somehow, he is calm.
He is the one who should be screaming and kicking Paul’s head in. He is the one who found Adelia dead. He is the one who has struggled to move past it. Yet, he is calm for me. I know that’s the only reason why. I nod and let Bear walk me out as Dante tells someone to clean up what is left of Paul. They weren’t lying, his neck is busted, and his head is flatter than round. I lost it, what with him talking about Emmi like that. Even if she did sleep with him, it was wrong. Him talking about Adelia just added to my fuel.
No one speaks as Dante drives us home. I am covered in blood.
“He screamed, you know?” I turn and look at Gunner, confused. “When you flew for him, he screamed and apologised. He realised at that moment what he had caused. People may fear me because I like to torture them slowly, but you…they fear you because you’re the Angel of Death when you flip.”
He’s surprisingly happy, considering I just killed his play toy. We walk into the house, and I sit down at the table. Dante hands me a glass. My knuckles tingle a bit; I feel like I broke one.
“We do clear up tomorrow. Find out who Paul was involved with or close to. Make sure they’re all clean. Anyone we suspect was involved is dead. Maybe find a replacement toy for Gunner,” Dante suggests with a laugh.
“What happened?” We turn to where Emmi is stood. Did she sleep with Paul and is just lying? “You killed him already? You’ve only known for twenty-four hours, and you already hunted him down and killed him?” She looks at us in shock.
“It was a quick death. Far less than he deserved. Be thankful Zane flipped because otherwise, he would still be alive right now with knives sticking out of him.” Gunner laughs. He is over the fact I killed Paul.
“Trust me, sugar. If you heard what he was saying, you would have killed him,” Dante explains.
I sit quietly, wiping the blood from my hands to find where I am bleeding from. I know I am from somewhere; it’s dripping onto the floor.
“Okay, well, you can tell me what was said while I clean him.” I glance up to see her pointing at me.
Laughing, I shake my head. “No need.” She can’t touch me right now.
“Yes, there is a need. Do you guys have a first aid kit?”
Gunner bursts out laughing.
“What? Why is me asking that so funny?”
“Because, little kitten, there is one in nearly every room.” He moves and grabs one, throwing it at her. She looks between us confused. She won’t understand why we have them all over the house now, but she will in a few weeks. Gunner is crazy.