Authors: Cristina Grenier
Tags: #mob romance
Grace took a trembling breath. They knew her. Whoever was intent on taking her knew her
. Closing her eyes, she nodded in a minute gesture and, slowly, the knife was lowered. This time, her captor didn’t let go of her, holding her in place so he could bind her hands firmly with a measure of duct tape.
Now, his companions advanced on him from where they had blocked her way. The blonde one spoke as her captor knelt to bind Grace’s ankles together, still holding her hands tightly in his free hand; but the language wasn’t anything she could understand. Italian, maybe?
When she was bound so tightly she thought she might not be able to stand upright, she was afforded the further indignity of a strip of tape across her mouth. “For insurance,” her gray eyed attacker assured her as he plastered it across her lips. “Since you’ve proven yourself so terribly trustworthy.” Grace found herself flushing, though she knew she had absolutely no reason to be embarrassed.
They were kidnapping her! Yet, somehow, this gray-eyed Italian god of a man managed to make her feel as if she was the one in the wrong. The way he spoke to her was soft and admonishing – almost as if she was a small child. But there was no mistaking the cold ruthlessness in those steel-hued eyes of his.
When he bent to heft her over his shoulder, a small squeak of surprise escaped her before she fell completely silent. Then, her world was upside down, swinging almost nauseatingly as she was carried from the park and onto the very street upon which her car had been parked. They strode past her white Volvo to a black van four cars down.
Grace found herself placed inside on the back seat with surprising gentleness, seated upright instead of tossed in like a bag of potatoes, and though she was far from comfortable in her restraints, she found herself glad she wasn’t being thrown around carelessly. She had to take comfort in the little things now, as she was sure that she wouldn’t be alive for very much longer.
The thought was enough to make her want to scream in terror and desperation, but the tape over her mouth prevented such a thing. Were they taking her somewhere private to commit atrocities on her? To torture her for someone’s perverse pleasure before dumping her body in the nearest river to rot?
The young woman found herself slumping against the seat, lightheaded with fear as her mind raced through the various ways one could kill a woman of her size. Shooting, stabbing, strangulation…the more she thought, the harder it became to breathe until she finally slid down in the seat, granted blessed unconsciousness by the panic that consumed her.
Grace woke to a sharp, unpleasant odor that seemed to pierce its way into her nostrils and stab directly into the back of her brain. She jolted into consciousness so abruptly that she nearly lost her balance –not a hard feat considering that she was still bound hand and foot.
It took a moment for her to re-orient herself to the world around her, but once did, everything flooded back to her in a rush. She’d been on her way home from her father’s laughable excuse for a function, traipsing through the empty park…when she’d been taken.
A group of three men had come into the park – they’d surrounded her on all sides and the last thing she remembered was being loaded into an unmarked black van before the terrifying prospects in her immediate future had become too much for her.
Yet now, here she sat, still living and breathing.
Slowly, Grace took in her surroundings. She appeared to be in some sort of hotel room – high class and lavishly decorated. The wallpaper was scrolled in gold filigree, with gleaming mahogany furniture scattered around the space atop plush carpet. It was the kind of place her father would like, and she herself would never be able to afford.
But she wasn’t alone.
Standing near the dining table ten feet away was the blonde man she’d first caught sight of in the park – only he was no longer clad in black. He wore a white button up and slacks, his feet bare as he poured himself a drink from a decanter of whiskey.
Seated on a sofa next to him was his accomplice, dark haired and dark eyed, casually using a rag to clean the barrel of a Beretta which was currently pointed directly at her. Grace immediately jumped with a harsh cry of surprise that echoed throughout the room. No sooner had the single syllable left her mouth than a set of firm, slender fingers covered her lips, muffling the noise.
“Quiet. It’s not loaded.”
Grace looked up to find herself caught in the same slate gray gaze that had so arrested her in the park. The man before her had shed his dark clothes and was now clad in an impeccable forest colored sweater and dark jeans that hugged muscular legs. His hair had been pulled back into a short ponytail further exposing the roguish handsomeness of his face. The eyes that met hers held a fair amount of warning, but no overt cruelty that she could see.
So, while her first impulse in unknown company might have been to continue to scream her lungs out, a rational part of her knew better. After all, she had no idea where the ammo for that Beretta might be hiding. Taking a deep breath, Grace inhaled the sharp scent of cologne before nodding slowly. “I must ask you not to do anything idiotic. You are still bound,” His rich, accented tones were almost like music, flowing through her system. It took Grace a few seconds to remind herself that she was supposed to be frightened of this man – that he had kidnapped her! “But I have un-gagged you. Don’t make me regret it.”
Grace shook her head feverently, indicating that she would do no such thing. Then, without very much ceremony, his captor removed his hand, waiting a beat to make sure she would keep her word.
When she did, he settled down on the sofa upon which she lie, just shy of her feet. He watched her as he reached for his drink to toss it back in a single swallow.
Uncomfortable silence reigned in the room for a good minute or more until Grace could no longer bear it, the tension crawling over her skin. “What are you going to do with me?” Frightened of raising their ire, she spoke in little more than a whisper. “Why am I here?”
The gray-eyed man turned to face her, setting his empty rocks glass down on the exquisite table to take in her bound form from head to foot. In that moment, Grace was reminded that she was still wearing the entirely inappropriate silver dress she’d sported to her father’s get together. The skirt was much too short – something that hadn’t been helped by her brief attempt to escape – and she felt as if her breasts were nearly hanging out of the damn thing. Blushing darkly, she looked away, utterly embarrassed. They’d probably mistaken her for a streetwalker and decided to kidnap her just for shits and giggles.
It then occurred to her that men that could afford a room like this didn’t need to kidnap girls; they could more than afford to buy all they desired. But, if that was the case…why had she been taken? And more importantly, how the hell did they know her name?
“Ms. Trellis, please listen to me because I am only going to explain things once.” Her captor’s smooth voice washed over her once again. Reluctantly, she looked back at him and was relieved to find that he had stopped perusing her, his face set into a neutral expression. “You are here because your father owes a very important man a lot of money. Thus far, he’s declined to pay what he owes, so we’ve been forced to bring you into the picture.”
Grace’s eyes widened. Her father?
She should have fucking known. All the shady characters and cash Ignacio dealt with day in and day out, the copious amounts of people he dealt with as months turned into years – the
that he had never fully explained, even to those closest to him…
How much money was a lot of money? Though Grace didn’t have many dealings with her father these days, she knew enough to have seen that he always carried copious amounts of cash on his person. He paid for
in cash. How on earth was he suddenly so broke that he couldn’t pay off his debtors?
Or was he suddenly using cash to avoid them all? It made a bizarre kind of sense.
“How much,” She took a deep breath, “how much money are we talking about here?”
Sighing, her captor leaned back against the couch, straightening his sweater as he appeared to contemplate before answering her. “Somewhere in the neighborhood of five hundred thousand US dollars.”
Grace’s mouth dropped open in shock and horror. Half a million dollars!? How the hell did someone get into the hole for half a million dollars? Especially someone with the connections that her father had?
…did they think
had five hundred thousand dollars? She might have one tenth that in her combined bank accounts now. If her dad was in enough trouble that it had spilled over into extorting members of his family…was her mother alright? And how did they expect to get the money out of
? She didn’t have it!
Which was where her inevitable and probably very violent death came in.
“I don’t have five hundred thousand US dollars.” The words were out before she could stop them, her stomach twisting in anxiety as she tried to regulate her breathing. At her feet, the gray eyed man arched a brow and Grace’s heart dropped into her stomach. How could they possibly think that she had that much money? It was impossible!
“I think you mistake our intentions, Grace.” Her captor poured himself another drink before standing to loom over her so his fresh, spicy scent drifted over her. “We don’t expect you to pay. We expect your father to. Especially when he learns what will happen to you if he doesn’t.”
Grace stared at him, absolutely incredulous.
Despite the very obvious danger of her current situation, Grace found nervous, almost hysterical laughter rising to her lips. It bubbled up and out of her, startling even the young woman herself as it filled the room. Grace simply couldn’t help herself. Literally hours before this little encounter, she had stormed from her father’s high profile party because he didn’t mind his colleagues groping her like she was a whore. Now, someone expected him to pay half a million dollars for her?
This was a man who couldn’t even be bothered to get her a birthday card – to jump her car when they had lived in the same household. Whoever these people were, they didn’t know nearly as much about Ignacio Trellis as they thought they did.
Grace went on laughing, high and shrill, right up until the moment a very familiar glock was pressed, once again, against her forehead. Of course, the moment the incentive was right, she had no problem snapping her mouth shut as fear twisted its way through her gut. Her chest heaving in fright, she gazed up at her captor, who now held a gun directly between her eyes. “Please, Grace.” He repeated lowly, gray eyes gleaming. “A little quieter.”
She nodded once, even as she struggled with the desperation clawing at her ribcage. This wasn’t fair! Just because her father was in trouble with God knew what kind of huge big shot criminal, she had been kidnapped and was now forced to endure threats under extreme duress? A man who, while admittedly extremely attractive but obviously very violent, pressing a gun to her temple every other moment!?
She needed to calm down. She realized that the way she was reacting now was largely due to the stress she was currently under. She had to take a moment, assess the situation, and talk to her captor - make him aware of exactly how futile this situation was.
She drew a shuddering breath, trying to get past the cold metal against her forehead. “Look,” She tried softly, gazing from the man currently threatening her to the other two, both of whom had gone into high alert the moment she had started cackling like a maniac; though that, she had to admit, was a bit understandable.
The blonde had a hand on the gun at his waist while his darker haired companion had the clip to the Beretta in his opposite hand. “I don’t know what you’ve been told, but there is no way my father is going to pay
for me. This is all a big mistake, so please, just let me go.”
After a terse moment, the man above her reluctantly withdrew his gun from her temple before holstering it, gesturing to his comrades to do the same with their weapons. Leaning down to fix her with his intimidating gaze, he stared at her for long enough to make her squirm in discomfort before finally answering her plea. “For your sake, I hope you’re wrong.” Before she could protest, the man lifted her from the couch to carry her across the length of the hotel room to a door hidden behind an artfully placed changing screen. Beyond lay an elegantly decorated bedroom that seemed almost surreal in the current circumstances.
She was tossed onto the bed where she bounced briefly before coming to a rest on her side. “Not a word.” The warning made her shiver at its iciness before the door closed behind her, leaving the young woman alone and uncertain in the darkness.
Chapter Three: Distraction
Vicente lay awake, staring at the ceiling as he contemplated the words Grace Trellis had whispered to him before he’d put her away.
The young woman had to be completely overreacting. Of course, it had taken everything he had to pay attention to the words she’d spoken and not the lush body on the cusp of falling from the scant dress that contained it. Vicente didn’t know if he was more scandalized that she would attend an event with her father dressed so briefly, or that the sight of her in it was nearly enough to drive him to distraction.