“I know you got her. If she ain’t in this room, she’s around. She’s got to be. I know she’s your new fucking pet. I had pictures sent to me. You think you’re the only one with spies? Well, I got mine too. I have images of you fucking her so hard that I jacked off to ’em. Tawnia got it hard that night, but she loved it. She was lapping it up. Bitch was moaning, crying all over me, but damned if she didn’t come. She came hard. Screaming the whole time too.”
“Shut him up, Kai.” The spokeswoman’s nose lifted in disgust. “Who has he been working with since you cut ties?”
Kai didn’t turn to her, only raised an eyebrow. “Bruce?”
My father shut up before his eyes darted downward. “I ain’t been working with anybody. I’m doing my own thing.”
“I told you. Hard and long, or quick and painless. Your choice.”
Hatred radiated from my father’s face as he snarled back at him. “I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you everything, but you gotta promise me something. You kill my girl. Finish the job. I don’t want her to have anything of mine. Bitch doesn’t deserve it.” He tried to spit from the side of his mouth, but he couldn’t move his head enough. The spit landed on his arm, just missing Kai’s face.
Realizing that, his eyes bulged out. “Oh shit. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…” He stopped again, glaring once more. “No, fuck you. Fuck you, Bennett! I know you ain’t going to do shit. You ain’t going to promise anything. I’m not saying a wor—”
Kai’s hand moved in a flash toward my father’s side, and a gargle choked out of my father’s throat.
More blood came out of his mouth, and he spasmed.
Kai’s hand moved back, a knife in it. The tip was covered in dark blood.
He pressed the tip to my father’s leg to clean it off. “Now, I can start your slow death if that’s what you really want. Or, you can answer the fucking questions. Your choice.”
My dad gurgled again. “Goddamn you—”
“Do you want me to slit your throat here and now?” Kai slammed his hands down on my father’s shoulders, and a hoarse scream ripped from my father before he began sobbing.
I winced. Those sobs came from deep inside of him.
“Goddamn you. Goddamn,” my father choked out. Tears streamed down his face.
Kai stepped back, turning to me briefly before rotating back to the council. “Did you order the death of your wife?” he asked flatly.
My father frowned. “Yes.”
“Did you blackmail one of my security guards to kill your daughter while she was in my care?”
Kai paused. Then, “Are you in business with the Guaranno family?”
“What is going on?”
All of those protests were from the council. Two of the members shoved back their chairs, turning red-faced to the spokeswoman.
Not Kai. The spokeswoman.
One of the other women spoke clearly, “What’s the meaning of this? Jillian?”
The spokeswoman paled, her mouth gaping. “We—sit down. Everyone. Sit down.” She hit the table again with the base of her palm. “I said sit down!”
She seared Kai, half growling. “You better get to your goddamn point or I will—”
Kai spoke over her, calmly. “Bruce Bello, are you still in business with Jillian Guaranno?”
He stepped closer to the screen. His question was directed to my dad, but he wasn’t facing him. “Have you been in business with the Guaranno family for the last five years?”
But the spokeswoman was silent, a resigned shudder passing through her. Her head bent down.
“Jillian!” The same woman on the council pounded on the table with her knuckles. “What is going on here?”
But the rest of the council had fallen silent. They were listening for the rest.
“What was your business with the Guaranno family?”
My father hesitated, his side still bleeding. “Gun distribution.”
No reaction from the spokeswoman, but the others seemed to suck in a collective breath. The other woman murmured as she sat down, “Oh, Jill.”
“What were your instructions?” Kai asked.
“To undersell your product. I’d offer yours first at a higher price—higher than you wanted them sold—and if they did sell, I’d pocket the extra money. If they didn’t, I’d offer them the same gun at a cheaper price. Those always sold.”
“What else?” Kai grated out, staring down the spokeswoman.
As he did, a door in the back of the room on the screen opened, and I recognized some of the men going inside. One approached the table, moving silently. Only the members facing his direction saw him, and none gave it away. They looked at him, then looked away.
It was Tanner who came to stand directly behind the spokeswoman. He didn’t say or do anything. He was waiting, as we all were.
My father’s strained voice filled both rooms. “She had me shipping black market products too.”
“What?” This came from the elderly man in the council. But unlike the others, he didn’t ask questions. “You dirty fucking whore!” He shoved back his chair, his voice rising. “None of this was approved. We’re a council. You have to approve this shit. Underselling the Bennetts’ gun distribution, then what? Underselling my trade too? You’re going to die tonight, Guaranno. You’re going to die a horrible and slow death!”
“Mr. Bello,” Kai called for attention again. Still. So. Fucking. Calm. “Do you have anything else to share?”
But that was enough.
These were matters that directly impacted the council, and even though I didn’t know them, I knew what Kai had exposed was a lot. One family had gone against two others. Everyone knew what would happen next.
Kai motioned for the guards in our room, and they untied my father. They half-dragged him, half-walked him out the door, and I almost went with them. Was that the end? The big fucking finale?
It couldn’t be, but the door shut before I could go with them, and I felt Kai’s hand at my wrist. He tugged me back. He gave a reassuring pat to my arm and left me back in my spot.
I waited for the gunshot. Half wanting it, half knowing I would hate it.
It never came.
“Jillian.” Kai was speaking to the council again.
She lifted haunted and stricken eyes to him.
“Do you have anything to say?”
“Don’t kill my children. My grandchildren. Please.”
Kai asked the others, “Any objection to the execution of the Guaranno family?”
“What? No!” She was rising, her hand in the air. “I said no! No. Don’t do that. They’re innocents. They aren’t a part of this world. My granddaughter—”
While she’d been talking, one by one the council members held up their right hands. As soon as the last one was done, Kai nodded to Tanner.
Taking out a gun, he pressed the muzzle to the back of her head and—I turned away.
Jillian stopped protesting, and I heard a thump.
I held firm, my eyes tightly shut as I heard a soft sniffle. I couldn’t tell if it was in this room, if it was me, or if it was someone on the other side. The chair scraped against the floor, and I heard another hard thud followed by the sounds of a body being dragged across the floor.
A door opening.
A door closing.
A man coughed.
A second cleared his throat.
Kai still waited.
I couldn’t look. Maybe I should’ve, but why? Why see what I knew had happened?
The door opened and closed again. I didn’t hear footsteps, but I heard the chair moving again, the sounds of something wiping over the table, the floor. This went on for a minute before the door opened and closed one more time.
“None of the Guaranno children will be harmed,” Kai said. “The grandchildren either. Only Jillian, her two brothers, and the two eldest sons will be greenlit. They are the ones involved in their family’s business. I am within my rights as leader of the council to make this order, but are there any objections?”
No one objected.
Finally, the oldest man said, “You do what you need to. We will follow the Bennett family.”
“As of this moment, the Guaranno family is no longer a member of the council, but we need a ninth person to vote on this next matter so there can be a majority. I’d like to request my brother Tanner vote in her place.”
“We have a personal matter?” the third woman spoke, the one who had remained quiet throughout all of this.
Her face came into the light. She was in her mid-forties, with dark hair that hung down to her shoulders and pearl earrings. She wore a light sweater over a shimmering top, and her face had the slightest blush, matching her soft pink lips.
She didn’t seem angry or shocked, just aggravated. “I thought that was enough for the day.”
“One more, Rose.”
She nodded, leaning back in her seat. “Very well.” She looked to one of the other men, one with a full head of black hair and a rough glint in his eyes. “Richard, you okay with this?”
“Yeah. Yeah.” He nodded. “Get on with it.”
Kai turned to one of the guards in our room, and he opened the door.
The third prisoner was dragged inside and put in the chair, but he wasn’t strapped in like my father. There was little to no fight left in him.