A dangerous proposal
In Nico, the first book in the Ruin & Revenge series by New York Times bestselling author Sarah Castille, Las Vegas Mafia boss, Nico Toscani, is used to getting what he wants, whether it is having the City of Sin under his rule or a beautiful woman in his bed. But when he meets his match in the gorgeous, headstrong Mia Cordano, the daughter of a rival crime lord, all bets are off. . .
Sexy computer hacker, Mia, struggles to break free of her ruthless father’s Mafia ties…but she can’t resist the powerful and seductive Nico, who will stop at nothing to possess her. With their families locked in a brutal war for control of the city, Mia and Nico enter into a forbidden game. Will they surrender to the passion that burns between them—and risk tearing apart their families? Or will Nico be forced to betray the only woman who sets his blood on fire?
“Is this everything?” Tony thumbed through the envelope. “This is half of what you brought us last month.” He shared a glance with Charlie Nails and smirked. “I thought you fancied yourself an old- style mobster. In the old days, the casinos were a license to print money. This is hardly enough to pay our staff.”
Nico steeled himself to show an outer calm as he raged inside. “That’s just the casino money.” He reached into the pocket of his double- breasted suit jacket, and pulled out a second envelope. “This is from the other businesses and the pay up from my crew.”
Santo’s eyes narrowed when Nico tossed the second envelope on the table. Although not a clever man, like Nico’s father had been, Santo had a sixth sense for when he was being ripped off. “Is that everything?”
No, of course it wasn’t everything. Despite the risk, Nico had several businesses on the side, including a nice little condo racket in which the main condo developers in the city exclusively hired interior designers controlled by Nico’s associates, giving Nico a share of every condo development. His connection with the steelworkers’ union had also given him a line into the rapidly developing construction of new casinos from a wave of foreign billionaires looking for a place to park their money.
Unlike his uncle, who had taken the family into the drug trade against Cosa Nostra rules, Nico was all about real estate. The online scams and Internet fraud that many of his associates claimed were the new wave of business were of no interest to him, nor were any rackets where he had to enforce his will through vio lence. Although he would mete out punishment if it was due, attracting the attention of the police and FBI was not the way he wanted to do business. Nico liked to talk to the people he did business with, he liked to make connections, and his casino was the perfect place to wine and dine potential partners before comping them a few evenings in the high- stakes room, and taking even more of their money.
“That’s it.” Nico moved to leave and Santo held up a hand.
“Since you’re here and you are family, I want you to be the first to know. Tony’s getting married.”
Tony Crackers married? What kind of woman would agree to marry a man with a reputation for brutal violence?
“Congratulations, cugino.” He shook his Tony’s hand. “Who’s the lucky woman?”
“Mia Cordano.” Tony gave him a sly smile. “I heard you were with her the other night. I didn’t know you were so close to the Toscanis.”
Nico understood the implied threat, but he didn’t address it because he was still trying to process the information. Political marriages were very common in the upper level of the Mafi a, but usually the women involved in the arranged marriages were of a type— docile, submissive, fully indoctrinated in the Cosa Nostra culture, and willing to help the family through an alliance that would benefit both sides. He couldn’t see an assertive, intelligent, sophisticated businesswoman like Mia Cordano marrying a violent, uneducated criminal like Tony Crackers unless she was forced to do it— and although some women were pressured by the families into marriages, how did one force a woman who so expertly wielded a knife?
“Vito hired her to do cyber- security work for the casino.”
Santo sucked on his cigar, blew a ring of smoke. “You should keep better track of what your employees are doing, especially when we are involved in a faida with her family of your making.”
“You don’t support the faida?” Nico scowled. “What man of honor would not want to avenge his brother after he was shot in the back by a coward who didn’t even have permission from the New York bosses for the hit?”
“Don’t disrespect your uncle,” Charlie Nails warned. “He has his reasons for doing what he does and they are not your concern.”
Nico shot him a scathing look. Aside from some minor gambling and loan sharking, Charlie Nails, a lawyer, ran a legitimate law firm and helped the family out with legal issues as well as liaising with important “bought” figures such as politicians or judges. He had been a trusted and close friend of Nico’s father, but Nico had no tolerance for a man who would sell his loyalty to the highest bidder.
Santo raised a hand to silence Charlie Nails. “He should know that his actions have led to this marriage. Don Cordano has eyes on his daughter. When he found out she had been seen with you, Nico, he called me with concerns about her safety. He accused us of disregarding the rules regarding the sanctity of women and children in the faida.”
“That’s bullshit and you know it. She was there for business. Her safety was never in question.”
Santo waved a dismissive hand. “Both sides have lost many soldiers in this senseless war. Don Cordano fears for the life of his son, Dante, as I fear for the life of my Tony. We shared our concerns and discussed a truce. As a show of good faith, he offered one of his daughters in marriage to the Toscani family. It was not an opportunity I was prepared to pass up. The Cordanos have a solid foothold in the drug trade. Marriage will bring us together. Don Cordano thinks to gain strength through the union, but Dante is weak, not worthy to lead. Once Dante and the don are out of the way, Tony will have a claim to lead by marriage and he will take over as boss. Together, he and I will push aside the other Cosa Nostra families and take control of the city.”
Nico pulled his pen from his pocket and spun it around his thumb as he struggled to hide his anger. His father had intended to pass the pen down to Nico when he became a made man, just as his father had done for him.
But he hadn’t lived to see the day. Nico had only started carrying the pen after he was made, and he intended to pass it on to his son.
“My father has not yet been avenged,” he spat out. “And what of all the soldiers and capos who will lose their lives? You dragged this family into the drug trade against Cosa Nostra rules. Everything my father tried to do for the family, you have undone. But this . . . betrayal of the other Cosa Nostra families, a full- out war for control of the city . . . How many will be left standing at the end?”
Charlie Nails, quiet until that moment, ran a hand through his silvery hair. “I have to agree, Santo. Not just because of Nico’s father, Maximo, but because our involvement with the drug trade has already brought us to the attention of the FBI. When Maximo was boss, we were able to fly under the radar. If we expand our drug operation, and the bodies start to pile up, they are going to come down hard on us. Even if our men don’t get whacked in the civil war you propose, they’ll wind up in jail.”
“Cazzo!” Even more volatile than usual, Tony reached for the weapon holstered at his side, and Santo held up a hand.
“Stand down. Charlie Nails is old and slow, and Nico is maybe upset that you have stolen his woman. But he understands that this is a sacrifice that must be made for la famiglia.”
Nico’s stomach tightened at the thought of his crazy cousin married to Mia, the girl he’d once held, trembling in his arms, who had become a beautiful woman who stirred a longing in him he had long thought dead. Did her father, Don Cordano, understand the risk? The danger she was in? “Did she agree to this?”
Copyright © 2016 by Sarah Castille and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.
A gritty, cunning, duplicitous game of power, control, and revenge. Sarah Castille brought in the big guns as she delivers a deliciously sexy and raw mafia romance in Nico.
"He was the most dangerous of predators. Beautiful on the outside. Deadly within.”
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