Authors: Cristina Grenier
Tags: #mob romance
Grace nodded, rubbing her stinging wrists even as Vicente lowered his gaze to the tape that bound her legs together. Of course, to do so, his eyes had to traverse the entire length of her body, which had a galvanizing effect on the rest of
body, to say the least. Silently, the man thanked the Lord he had chosen to wear a relatively loose pair of slacks that day.
Once he had done away with her leg restraints as well, he tossed her one of his damask silk shirts in a neutral grey color. “Here.” She scrabbled to catch it before the garment dropped off the side of the bed. “Put that on.” His gaze swept over her form one last time, and he told himself that it was derision and not indulgence, that drove the gesture. “I’m sure you’re cold.”
Grace’s cheeks flushed as she slid from the bed, hugging the shirt to her chest. The girl hurried to the bathroom with a surprising amount of grace for someone who hadn’t used their legs in almost twelve hours, and the moment she disappeared, Vicente sat in the edge of the bed to wait for her, his expression sour.
Thirty six hours.
Thirty six hours until they returned to Italy and he could perhaps ask Giorgio to give her to someone else for safekeeping.
Though Vicente thought her bathroom break might have earned him a good five minutes to himself, he was surprised when she reappeared in less than four to the sound of rushing water. She had shed her flimsy dress and visibly scrubbed her face clean of the makeup she’d been wearing the previous night.
The result was a small slip of a woman, dressed in a shirt that came almost down to her knees, her skin fresh and glowing, hair damp from the water she had used. The sight of Grace in his shirt, Vicente had to admit to himself, was little better than her in the dress. He could imagine peeling the garment from her to get to the soft skin beneath, and that most certainly hadn’t been his aim.
He had to get away from her.
Turning, he made to leave the room without a word, only to be stopped in his tracks by her soft summons. “Wait!”
Curling dexterous fingers into fists, Vicente took a deep breath to calm himself before turning back to her. He couldn’t imagine his expression was very inviting – to the point where Grace took a tentative step back beneath his gaze. “I’m sorry…I’m just…Am I going to be in this room all day? Alone?”
“You would prefer me and the gun?” Vicente thought he was long past threatening innocents, but at this juncture, he was willing to do anything to get away from the young woman. He didn’t want to risk a mistake that could cost him more than he’d ever be willing to pay. When he touched the Glock at his waist a sharp gasp of fright escaped Grace.
But she did not back down.
“Look, I know I’m a prisoner for…however long it takes my father to make his decision; but please don’t leave me in here. I’ll go stir crazy. I’d prefer…not to be alone with my own thoughts right now.” Grace lowered her gaze, twisting French-tipped fingers together as she looked away from him in embarrassment.
Vicente couldn’t help but arch a brow in surprise. “What could be so horrible to haunt you to the point that you seek the company of a man who kidnapped you? Who could do…literally anything to you, and you’d be completely helpless?” A very visible shiver travelled down the young woman’s spine at his thinly veiled threat.
“You have...” She swallowed thickly, “No idea what you’ve done, and what it means for me.”
Vicente just stared at her dejected form, at a loss for what to say. He was used to women demanding that they be treated like royalty, or trying to walk all over him as they knew he couldn’t harm them until Giorgio got what he demanded, but this was completely new to him.
Grace looked absolutely miserable.
She stared at her feet, twisting her hands together nervously as she waited for him to judge her – to refuse her what she asked. The rebuttal was on the tip of his tongue. It was much,
too dangerous to have this woman anywhere near him.
But her cryptic answer left him inexplicably curious. He knew nothing of this woman, her problems, or her relationship with her father, and usually these issues were things he’d steer well clear of. He was nothing but an extension of Giorgio Acconci’s power, and as such, empathy was an emotion extremely ill-suited to his station.
But still, it nagged. At the corner of his consciousness, picking away at his composure, his conscience bothered him on the subject of Grace Trellis.
Scowling, Vicente merely gestured to her. “Come on, then. And no tricks.”
He left the room in a huff of frustration, making towards the kitchen to pour himself an early morning brandy. He usually wasn’t as much of a drinker as his stepfather, but for the current situation, he’d make an exception.
It was a full minute before the young woman padded after him, through the expansive living room to seat herself at the island of the gleaming kitchenette. Even as Vicente promised himself he’d resolutely ignore her, he watched her like a hawk – the way her eyes darted over every sealed window and door – the hope that glimmered when she found a gun in pieces on the countertop before her.
Vicente, on the other hand, worried little about her escape. Grace Trellis wouldn’t know what to do with the pieces of a Beretta if they bit her in the ass, and anything else she could possibly use to aid in her escape was well hidden. Perhaps sensing this herself, the young woman’s eyes dropped to the counter, where she drew small circles as he busied himself with ice and two glasses.
He poured a brandy for himself, and for her as well, hoping the drink would send her to sleep. When he slid the glass across the counter to her, however, she made a face. “Isn’t it a bit early to be drinking?”
The look he shot her would have frozen the Mediterranean and immediately, she shut her mouth and took the drink, each small sip she took making her shudder at the smooth burn of the alcohol. He stared at her, and she stared at the counter – thus beginning the great waiting game.
Thirty five hours..
Grace kept expecting to wake up – she truly did. Half of the time she didn’t know if she was in a dream or a nightmare. Her surroundings were comfortable enough, but the men guarding her weren’t very happy about the position they’d been placed in, that was for sure.
When the blonde and his partner came back from their business to find her sitting at the opposite end of the couch from her captor, their surprised expressions said it all. The blonde let loose a stream of Italian to the man she’d spent all day trying not to stare at, leaving her completely lost, looking on in utter confusion.
While they argued, however, the smallest of them – the dark-haired man who’d spent the day in the company of his blonde companion – watched her like a hawk. They weren’t allowing her a single moment’s reprieve – not unless she was in the small extra bedroom, by herself, consumed with wonderings on how they would kill her.
After all, there really could be no other alternative.
Grace wasn’t sure whether or not her kidnappers had contacted her father in any attempt to get the ransom yet, but there wasn’t any question of whether or not he would pay.
He wouldn’t. And then she would meet her untimely death in whatever fashion they saw fit.
The notion kept her from sleeping her second night of captivity – though there was also something else that threatened her REM cycle: she knew that her kidnapper was in the room right next to her. He’d gone in after locking her into her bedroom – she’d heard him – and now all she could imagine was his long, toned form lying in the bed as he stared up at the ceiling, drifting off to sleep.
It was inordinate, how goddamn attracted she was to him. Of course, she didn’t want to go out with a single man Emily introduced her to, but one look into her Italian kidnapper’s eyes and she wanted to melt into a messy puddle on the floor. That sharp jaw sprinkled with dark stubble – the clean, heavenly scent of him…the fall of raven hair that framed his face, pulled back when he felt the need…he was an utterly breathtaking man.
And he was willing to kill her at a moment’s notice.
Grace remembered the glint of the ridiculously sharp knife he’d wielded in dexterous fingers to undo her bonds and she shuddered. She didn’t doubt for a moment that the man knew what he was doing – so why was she so insistent on spending time with him? It was more likely than not that she’d annoy him into putting a few slugs into her head.
Today had literally been one of the most awkward days of her life. She had sat in the same room as her kidnapper all day without saying a word to him. He’d given her half a sandwich at lunchtime, and some pasta at dinner, but apart from that, they’d barely interacted.
He seemed…angry. Angry that he was forced to tolerate her presence. It wasn’t as if she had
to get kidnapped and the man was acting as if he could barely stand to be around her.
She supposed she shouldn’t be surprised. When they’d picked her up, she’d looked a mess and she was sure washing her face had hardly improved her appearance. While her father seemed to constantly expound upon her beauty – at least, when it suited him - Grace knew how plain she really was… especially without makeup and dressed in a shirt three times too big for her.
However, the shirt
smell like the man who haunted her waking moments and heated her blood. She supposed there were worse things.
Curling up on her side, Grace closed her eyes, hoping she could sleep. Before they had retired earlier, all three men in the suite had seemed distinctly uneasy. She hoped it wasn’t because they were planning on doing away with her in the immediate future. The prospect was literally one of the most terrifying she could contemplate, and though her heart raced when she brought it to the forefront of her mind, Grace promised herself she wouldn’t cry.
She had already done that – copiously and at length – the previous night. She had taken that opportunity to pour out all the helplessness, frustration, and desolation she felt at her current situation. The purge had been good for her - cleared her head and her mind of some of the terror that had been assaulting it, and now, she vowed to herself that she would try to live one day at a time.
After all, who knew how many she had left?
The next morning, Grace discovered she’d been right about something brewing in the suite. However, it wasn’t her impending execution. The moment she was woken, she was tossed a bag of new clothes and told she had five minutes to get dressed. While she had no problem with that, it was on the tip of her tongue to protest when they bound her again – this time with zip ties, before parading her out into the living room to sit and wait.
They were packing.
Every hair on the young woman’s body stood on edge as she watched them place guns carefully into lined bags, fill Prada suitcases with their personal belonging and bustle around the suite, making ready for departure.
They were leaving.
Which probably meant that she was going with them. But going where, exactly? Not that she thought her father would rally to find her anywhere she went, but outside Boston? Whatever small chance she might have had of her father actually paying for her release would lessen significantly if she were taken away.
It took the three men less than an hour to get ready before her captor came to stand over her, his unique, masculine scent wafting over her. She received no warning before a black cloth bag covered her head and had to bite back a cry of surprise.
“No screaming.” By this time, the warning was very familiar to her. And, not for the first time, she contemplated if disobeying might earn her freedom. More than likely, it would only bring about some sort of punishment.
In any event, she had no idea when would be the most opportune time to cry out. She’d been blinded, and was very shortly stuffed into some kind of cramped container that could very well be soundproofed for all she knew. As she was carried for what seemed like a good ten minutes, Grace tried not to contemplate what might happen if they dropped the case she was shut in into the ocean, or a nearby river. She would suffocate, and no one would know where to find her body.
The thought was enough to keep her quiet until, unexpectedly, she was released from the tight confines to the sound of air rushing overhead and revving engines.
Grace’s heart stuttered in her chest as she was firmly led across a stretch of asphalt before being handed up a steep set of stairs. The next thing she knew, she thudded down on a surprisingly plush leather before the bag was whipped from her head, allowing her a breath of fresh air. As soon as her eyes adjusted to the brightness, they widened in shock.
She was on a plane – and not only a plane, a private jet.
Her kidnapper, along with his companions, was helping a slender pilot load their luggage onto the plane just outside the doorway, and Grace was treated to a vision of the Boston airport, her panic threatening to choke her.
Where the hell were they taking her?
She rose to try and get better look at where they were parked on the tarmac, the plane shifted slightly beneath her, jostling her back onto the sofa. It took perhaps ten minutes for everything to be loaded into the plane’s underbelly before the three Italians boarded, one after the other. Her head whirling with the speed with which things progressed, she tried to breathe as the blonde man snapped the seatbelt across her lap and took his own seat.