Home > Savage Hunter : A Dark Age Gap Mafia Romance

Savage Hunter : A Dark Age Gap Mafia Romance
Author: Kristen Luciani


Chapter One






I step off of the sleek, black Gulf Stream jet at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, slinging my leather duffel bag over my shoulder.

“Take only what you need,” my cousin Sergio had texted me only hours earlier. “Everything is ready for you out here.”


It could just as easily be nothing back home in Sicily, not that I was given much of a choice about returning.

Papa gave me pretty clear instructions.

And they didn’t include a return flight to Palermo.

He’s still pissed off at me, but not angry enough to slap a target on my back.

He knows if I set foot onto Sicilian soil, my head will be blown off before the other one can join it.

It’s why I’m here in Vegas.

To start a new life under the strict eye of my cousin, a life where I can learn the family business and protect our interests in America.

My uncle agreed to take me into the casino circuit as a favor to Papa.

I hate it already.

My jaw twitches as I slowly walk toward a blacked-out Bugatti stretch limousine. The back doors open, and two massive, dark-haired guys step out of either side. They have the same hulking build, same ice blue eyes, and they’re wearing matching scowls.

My spine stiffens.

Where the hell is Sergio?

These guys don’t look very friendly. Actually, that’s an understatement. They look damn menacing. But hey, we’re all criminals, so I guess the inner demon always glows bright, especially since they have a lot to lose by meeting me here.

Hell, we all have a lot to lose.

That’s why our families have formed the syndicate in the first place.

Red Ladro.

A Russian-Italian family consortium designed to control all levels of organized crime in all of the major gambling hubs in the United States.

It’s a pretty tall order, considering the many competitors we have to battle to claim that throne. And those competitors are equally ruthless and deadly.

Should make for a damn good and bloody fight.

But bloodshed always sweetens the taste of victory.

And you’ve gotta earn everything you take.

Papa is angling for a seat at the table so the message to me was loud and clear when I left Sicily.

Don’t fuck this up for us.

I grit my teeth and square my shoulders. The shorter of the two men, and that’s not saying much since they each look to be about seven-feet tall, steps aside and waves me into the back of the car once I dump my duffel bag into the trunk. I slide in to the backward-facing seat, my back stiff as they face me. The partition separating us from the driver goes up, firmly locked into place before anyone speaks.

The taller one sticks out his hand. “Alek Severinov,” he says in a deep voice. He nods toward the other guy. “This is my brother, Kazimir.”

“Call me Kaz,” he says.

I nod. “Okay, Kaz. I did the job I was asked to do. So what happens next? Where are you taking me?”

“I think you already know the dangers associated with this kind of operation,” Alek says. “And what’s at risk for all of us now since the families involved are also associates of the Red Ladro syndicate.”

“I think that since I’m the one who actually carried out the order, my life is the one hanging in the balance, yeah?” My tone is gruff, my throat tight. “It was my hand clutching the machete, my finger that pulled the trigger. So while this whole ‘all for one’ story is a nice one, let’s be real. They’re coming for me.”

“And that’s exactly why you’re in the back of our car right now. What you did confirmed your loyalty to us and to our organization, and we will make sure that you are protected while we figure out the best way to handle the situation.”

“How long is that supposed to take? And what am I supposed to do until then? Become a fucking slot jockey?” I snarl. “I’m not just gonna sit around on my ass, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I did this job because of my father. He’s the one who is so bent on being part of this whole syndicate. But what the hell am I getting, huh? Who’s gonna make sure my neck isn’t the next one chopped off?”

Alek and Kaz exchange a look.

“As you know, the other members of the syndicate, including your own uncle and cousins, will be coming out here in the next couple of weeks to discuss our newly formed partnership and how we will expand our reach beyond Las Vegas, and we will address this situation during that meeting,” Alek says. “What you did to Domenico Messina’s organization back east, executing a revenge plot against him for attacking one of our own, was a strong show of faith in our collective future. Messina will know, in no uncertain terms, that an assault on the Villani family is an assault on Red Ladro.”

“Can you at least tell me why the hell I was sent to do the hit? Was it really because of a battle over territories? Or is that just the bullshit my father was fed?”

“You don’t need details,” Kaz says.

“Says the guy who isn’t sporting a big-ass target on the back of his head,” I grumble.

“Listen, when your cousin Matteo recommended your family to join our syndicate, we backed his decision.” Alek narrows his blue eyes as the car makes a right turn into an ornate porte-cochère. “Don’t make me regret that choice. You’ll stay here for the next couple of days, laying low until we make sure you’re clear to move on to your next location. Do what you want in the hotel, but don’t even think about leaving.”

“Is there gonna be an orange jumpsuit waiting for me in my room, too? You know, to make it a little bit easier to track me.” I roll my eyes, catching a glimpse of a large lit sign for the Montepremi Casino and Spa out the darkened window.

“I think you know that you have plenty to lose by leaving, Zeno,” Alek says. “And I’m sure that Matteo and Sergio gave you the same message.” He presses his lips together. “Once we find Messina and confirm that he’s headed back to Sicily, you’ll be free to go.”

“And what, then? Are you going to keep him under surveillance for-fucking-ever?” I ask.

“Not forever. Just long enough to set up our plans and establish our networks. Once our barriers are up, he won’t be able to break through them.”

“No disrespect, Alek, but I’d rather not have a permanent crick in my neck from looking over my shoulder for the foreseeable future. How long will it take to set up these barriers?”

The car rolls to a stop in front of the hotel entrance.

Alek levels me with a stare. “As I said, lay low. Kaz will take things from here.” He gives me a quick nod and then gets out of the car when the driver pulls open his door.

I look at Kaz, lifting an eyebrow. “I wear a size medium,” I say in a scathing tone. “For the jumpsuit.”

He snickers and slides out of the car without waiting for the driver to open his door. Kaz claps me on the shoulder as we push past crowds of people loitering on the cobblestones. “Let me tell you a little something about Alek. He’s a little bit of a control freak.”

I snort. “Yeah, thanks, because I didn’t catch that,” I say sarcastically.

Kaz pulls me behind a column in the lobby. “Look, family means everything to Alek.” He claps me on the shoulder. “You guys are new to us, that’s all. He wants to make sure you can be trusted. We all do. That’s the only way this syndicate works.”

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