Sorry, Printsessa. Freedom isn’t in the cards for you. You’re mine now.”
I came for revenge.
The Tacone Family wiped out the Chicago mafiya.
My bratva. My family.
So I captured their little sister.
Now that I have her, I don’t want to let her go.
I’d rather keep her forever—my captive bride.
They’ll pay a dowry instead of ransom.
At the end of the day, the girl and the fortune will be mine.
Because I’ll never relinquish their queen of clubs.
Note: This steamy stand-alone romance is the sixth in USA Today best-selling author Renee Rose's Vegas Underground series. No cheating, no cliffhangers.
No fucking way. Just when I thought I was the least lucky bastard on this continent, I catch a break.
I’ve been staking out the Bellissimo and Nico Tacone for two months now.
The Tacones took down my entire cell. Junior Tacone and his brothers destroyed the Chicago operation while I was back in Moscow dealing with my mother’s affairs. Granted, Ivan, my idiot second, planned to take them all out and forever end their reign of influence in the Windy City. But he failed. And six of my men were found dead in an Italian cafe.
Victor put Ivan in charge of setting up the street business, but he was too small-minded and power-hungry to make it into much. And when I was sent to join the cell, he saw me as a threat to his autonomy. I had set up a meet with Junior to get the Tacone family involved in my laundering scheme—to diversify interests—but Ivan fucked everything up. When my mother died and I had to fly home to Moscow, he used my absence to try to eliminate the Italians and take the Chicago underworld for himself.
He underestimated Junior Tacone. Six of our guys ready and waiting with guns, and Junior single-handedly shot them all dead.
I’m not heartbroken over the loss of the Chicago business. I’m more concerned with the big money operations of the bratva. I’m the guy who manages our laundering accounts. But killing all the men in my cell? Unacceptable. And Victor, our pakhan, ordered me to exact revenge, so I’m here to do exactly that.
The Tacones may have done the brotherhood a favor by taking Ivan out, but they still owe me.
Victor would go for blood. Kill everyone Junior Tacone loves. That’s the way he operates. But I’m not that guy. Yes, I was raised in the violence and death of the organization, but I’m the money man.
And the Tacones have money. Plenty of it.
But it’s not coming from their Chicago operation. As far as I can tell, they’d begun shutting down most of their loan sharking on the streets in the past few years, and completely closed shop since I’ve been back.
So I came to Vegas. Where they own one of the most lucrative casinos in the country. And I’ve been watching the two Tacones who run it, trying to figure out what my play will be. I was thinking about taking one of their women. Simple ransom. Both men are clearly devoted to their wives—girlfriends—whatever.
And things just got much easier for me. Two limos rolled up this afternoon carrying the entire Tacone family—the three brothers from Chicago, a girlfriend, a mother, and a beautiful young sister in her early twenties.
I got a gossipy cocktail waitress to tell me everything she knows. I found out they’re here for Junior Tacone’s wedding—a spur of the moment kind of thing. The entire top floors of the casino have been closed off for the celebration. Rumor has it Stefano, the youngest brother, might marry his fiancée at the same time.
But I don’t give a shit about their marital status.
All I care about is one Tacone.
The lovely Alessia—baby sister to all five multi-millionaire brothers. I’d been trying to figure out which female to take—which brother would be most willing to pay for his woman. Now it’s easy. Grab the one they all care about.
And I don’t mean the mother.
Of course my decision to take Alessia over the old lady has everything to do with her model-perfect body, mile-long legs, and fucking gorgeous face. If I’m going to hole up with a Tacone female, it might as well be one who’s worth looking at.
All I have to do is knock out one of the waiters before he brings the food up to the wedding celebration and take his uniform and his place.
My brother Junior is the biggest stronzo.
Actually, all five of my brothers are assholes, but Junior’s the worst. He informed us this morning that he and his pregnant girlfriend were going to elope in Vegas.
Which meant we all had to fly to Vegas to see it.
Although, honestly, I wouldn’t have missed this moment for the world. Even if traveling means a lot of work keeping my mother happy and my blood sugar under control. And it makes it harder to hide the fatigue caused by my kidney condition from my ever-watchful family. They don’t know about it and that’s how I’m going to keep it for as long as possible.
We’re up in one of the Bellissimo’s top floors, in a reception area with wall to wall windows overlooking Vegas. There’s a Catholic priest here to marry them. And the event turned into a surprise double wedding.
Stefano, my only easy-going brother—which doesn’t mean he isn’t just as lethal as the rest of them—popped the question to his girlfriend Corey this morning and they decided to make it a two-fer.
“Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us,” I murmur and cross myself in unison with the rest of the attendees and the priest.
I can’t believe Junior’s remarrying. Well, it’s not the remarrying part that shocks me. It’s the happiness that radiates from him now as he stands facing Desiree, his tough-as-nails bride. He holds both her hands in his, gazing at her like she’s his whole world. Beside him stands her young son. Watching Junior’s quiet bond with him brings me to tears. Junior lost his preschool daughter in a tragic accident years back and shut down completely. I never thought he’d open his heart to love again. Now he’s not only got a baby on the way, but he’s doing the stepdad thing.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” my mom whispers tearily, squeezing my hand.
“Absolutely perfect,” I agree, crying right along with my mother.
Nico’s pregnant wife Sondra went all out on the decor. The hall must have ten thousand dollars worth of flowers. The pillars and real grape vines draping over the trellises make it feel like we’re back in the old country.
Tasteful and extravagant, yet also low-key, the ceremony fits both couples. Only forty or so family members fill the place. It’s made all the sweeter by the two pregnant bellies—Sondra and Desiree are both expecting.
I’m so thrilled to be an aunt. Children are my passion—I got my degree in early childhood education, even though I’ll probably never be allowed to work. Not by my family. Not by whatever husband my family chooses for me.
It stings knowing I’ll never have any of this—the love, the impromptu elopement, a family.
The expectation was always for me, as the Family princess, to endure a huge virginal church wedding to some Made man of my father or brothers’ choosing. No staring into the eyes of a man who loves me. It would be an arranged marriage all the way.
I used to fervently wish for a love match. Back when I thought I’d actually marry and have children of my own. I was overjoyed when Nico got away with marrying a woman of his own choosing instead of the bride he had been promised to from the time he was ten.
I’ve been allowed some freedoms I never thought I’d get.
They let me go to college. I had to campaign for years just to get Junior to consider it, but in the end, he relented. The diabetes almost kept them from letting me go, though. They see me as fragile. Mamma didn’t want me out of her sight. My brothers didn’t think I could handle myself.
They wanted me to stay where they could protect me—in either Chicago or Las Vegas.
But in the end we all compromised. They sent me to university in the Old Country where I could be watched over by La Famiglia. The Sicilians. And my brother Stefano was there part of the time, too, to keep a very close eye on me.
I’m always guarded like a princess in a convent. Which doesn’t mean I didn’t sneak in a few experiences. I stole kisses with a nice Italian boy who took my V-card in the most respectful way possible. But when he found out I was part of the Family, he couldn’t run fast enough. Which was just as well, because I wouldn’t want him to be hurt.
I was just looking to live a little before it’s too late.
Because what my family doesn’t know is that I’m in stage three kidney failure as a result of the diabetes. I’ve been told having children would kill me.
So the love match and babies of my own isn’t ever going to happen.
In fact, if I don’t take care of myself, I may not live to see twenty-five.
I return to the Bellissimo with a plan and everything I need to execute it: A syringe filled with tranquilizer. Rope to tie her wrists and ankles. Tape for her mouth. Mikhail—Mika, as we call him— my twelve-year-old accomplice and the only living member of the Chicago bratva, to drive the getaway car.
I get off the elevator wearing the crisp Bellissimo waiter’s uniform, pushing the cart I plan to carry the girl out in.
I leave the cart just outside the door and stand in the doorway, scanning the room. I keep my head down and my tattooed fingers clasped behind my back. If the Chicago-based Tacone brothers recognize me, I’ll be a dead man before I can take a breath. Not that I care. If I were overly-worried about living long, I wouldn’t be here. Ironically, it’s my carelessness with life that always makes me come out on top.
I take risks. I’m never ruled by fear. I saw the way the bratva worked early on and figured out how to come out on top. I made myself indispensable. Not through violence, although I’ve had my fair share, but through knowledge.
I learned how to hack. How to launder. I learned to speak English, German and French. That’s how I won control of all of the bratva’s money. How I amassed a fortune. How I survived countless attacks against me. If the shit with the treacherous Sabina hadn’t gone down, I’d still be on top there instead of lying low in America.
I make a mental note of every weapon-bulge in the room—at least twenty-four. Every man there is carrying a piece—even the grooms. Instead of fear, the familiar buzz of adrenaline sets my skin tingling.
A surreptitious scan of the room and I find the mafia princess. The one I will use to bring every Tacone to his knees.
The one who will learn a little humility at my hands.
I should hate my enemy’s sister—should consider her an enemy too, but it’s hard to hate any creature so beautiful. And it’s not her fault she was born into a ruthless family.
The Italians keep their females pure. The women never participate in business. Never see blood or death.
Hell, the girl may even still be a virgin. Blyat, now my dick’s hard. Now is not the time to get a stiffie over the woman I plan to drug and tie up. Except I’m a sick motherfucker, because that thought only gets me harder.
She’s wearing a hot pink halter dress that frames and presents her youthful breasts in the most mouthwatering way. The matching pink shoes and purse probably cost a grand alone.
Fortune’s smiling on me, because Alessia breaks from the group and heads for the door, like she’s going to the restroom.
I move swiftly, pushing my cart into the hallway behind her, palming the syringe. I remove the false top of the cart, revealing the empty bottom, which is actually one of the Bellissimo’s rolling laundry carts.
I wait until she emerges from the restroom—alone, thank fuck—and jump her from behind. If she were a man, I would just knock her out with my fist, like I did the waiter downstairs. But I can’t bring myself to hit a woman, no matter how easy and effective that might be.
I catch her vanilla and roses scent as I cover her mouth and jab the hypodermic needle into her neck. She struggles against me as the drug moves through her veins. It will take at least a minute to take effect.
“Shh, printsessa,” I murmur in her ear, keeping my grip across her arms and over her mouth, iron-tight. “Relax and you won’t get hurt.” My accent sounds thicker than usual. Probably because my cock just got thicker at the feel of her soft ass wriggling against it. “Easy, zaika. Go to sleep.”
Her intoxicating floral aroma fills my nostrils as I breathe into her neck, waiting. Finally, she goes limp, her supple body sagging in my arms.
I swoop an arm under her knees and drop her into the cart, then put the top back on, arranging the tablecloth over everything. Twenty-nine seconds later I’m in the elevator. One of the Tacones’ men gets on with me. I keep my face blank, but formal.
The guy doesn’t look at me. I palm the knife in my pocket, ready to use it if I have to.
Finally, the guy gets off on a lower floor and a few other people get on—tourists. Nobodies. I hit the door close button and continue downstairs to the lower level.
I text Mika, On my way. I try to use English with him, so he’ll learn to read and write it.
In position, he texts back in Russian. I shouldn’t involve the kid in this shit. Hell, I shouldn’t have even brought him here from Chicago. But what else was I do with him? I came back from my mother’s funeral in Moscow to find six of the brotherhood dead and everyone else gone. Everyone except Mika.
He’d been living alone in the apartment building we occupied, somehow surviving. Probably a greater kindness would’ve been to give him to the American social care system. But I couldn’t do it. He may be an annoyance, but he’s one of ours, and we take care of our own. And he’s working hard to prove himself useful.
In the lower level corridor, I strip off the waiter suit and put on a maintenance staff button down shirt, pull the catering top off the cart and roll it out, like I’m taking out dirty laundry. I wipe my prints from her purse and toss it in the trash.
Mika pulls around to the door and stops with a jerk. Yes, I let a twelve-year-old drive my car. I didn’t even have to teach him—he already knew how. And he’s damn good at it.
“Open the trunk,” I mutter to him in Russian and he complies as I push the cart right up to the back of my black Jetta. I pick up the drugged Tacone princess and drop her into the trunk, then slam it shut.
Twenty-three seconds and we’re out of there.
Mission accomplished. I now have all the leverage I will need against the Tacone pricks.
USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR RENEE ROSE is a naughty wordsmith who writes kinky BDSM novels. Named Eroticon USA's Next Top Erotic Author in 2013, she has also won The Romance Reviews Best Historical Romance, and Spanking Romance Reviews' Best Sci-fi, Paranormal, Historical, Erotic, Ageplay and favorite couple and author. She's hit #1 on Amazon in multiple categories in the U.S. and U.K., is often found on the list of Amazon's Top Author list. She also pens BDSM stories under the name Darling Adams.