Eagle Elite Prequel
Rachel Van Dyken
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.
Copyright © 2015 RACHEL VAN DYKEN
Cover Art by P.S. Cover Design
Verb: Fill (someone) with great delight; charm. The process of putting someone under a spell. EG: The blue of her eyes enchanted him—and he was forever lost to her.
He was everything a girl could hope for — everything she could dream up. Men like Luca Alfero only existed in my wildest fantasies. His brother Frank was quiet, always quiet, but Luca? He could wake the sun, moon, and stars — he could breathe life into the very dead. – Joyce Alfero
IT WAS A DANGEROUS game. Then again, life was dangerous. I toyed with the straw in my coke, teasing it between my ruby red lips, once, twice. Finally. He looked. I glanced down, as if ashamed of my bold behavior when really it was the exact opposite – it was on purpose, everything I did had a purpose when it came to him.
For fifteen years I’d been after one thing and one thing only.
He’d always been polite, cool, almost indifferent… which only propelled me further into the mad obsession I had to steal his heart—make it beat for me and only me.
“Woman,” A gruff voice said next to me, “You may as well be wearing a damn sign.”
“Frank.” I breathed a sigh of relief. “I didn’t see you there.”
He let out a grunt and ordered a whiskey on the rocks. “Story of my life, eh doll?”
“Was there something you needed?” I touched the string of pearls clasped around my neck, unable to stop the nervous gesture, my eyes wanting so desperately to glance to the left to see if Luca was watching.
Frank tilted his head, his stormy blue eyes kept me captive. Women were obsessed with Frank almost as much as I was obsessed with Luca. He was rumored to be the heir to the Alfero crime family, even though Luca had always been more ruthless in his killings as if he truly enjoyed taking life from others. I shivered half in fear and half in delight. Danger had always fascinated me. And Luca… he was fascinating.
“I wonder,” Frank took a long sip of his drink and leaned back against the counter. His white shirtsleeves were pulled up over muscular forearms, he was a big man, a menacing man, then again most men I knew, were. “What you’ve got planned for him next?”
“Coy,” He smirked, “I like it, gives the idea that you have absolutely no idea that you’re playing with fire and forgot to bring a bucket of water.”
I rolled my eyes.
He leaned in, the scent of his musky cologne caused me to hitch my breath. “But here’s something you don’t know… my brother will never look at you the way you want him to if you do nothing but shoot him sexual looks and paint your lips red. He may want you from afar, but he doesn’t have what’s needed to take you.”
“And you do?”
He tilted his head back and laughed, his tan throat mocking me almost as much as his musical laughter. “Perhaps.”
I tried to fight the flare of desire that ran through me. Frank looked at me the way I wanted Luca to look at me—with desire. But the desire was easily squashed down when I realized what he was saying… pick him, pick a different option, because I was going to fail.
“I don’t want you.”
“Don’t you?” He stopped laughing, “Seems to me that the only thing you’ve got on your mind is this… snag a boss, snag him fast.”
Bristling with irritation I clenched my teeth to keep from saying something that would get me killed.
“That’s ridiculous.” I crossed my arms. “Luca being the possible boss has nothing to do with my attraction to him.”
“Then it’s his… what? Overly friendly demeanor?” As if on cue a fight broke out near the side of the bar. Luca’s fists when flying as they connected with a man’s jaw and then his ribs. I winced and looked away, blood made me nervous but the way that man fought for it—well it did things to a girl. “Like I said,” Frank lifted his empty glass, “You’ve got no chance in hell.”
“I’ll do you one better.” He leaned in, his lips curving into a seductive smile that had me feeling faint. “I’ll make a wager with you.”
“I don’t gamble.”
“You’re in deep with us and you don’t even realize it. Doll, you’re one mistake away from being a comare.” He sighed, “And of course you gamble, it’s in your blood to bet against the odds, isn’t it?”
Damn the man for being perceptive. And damn him for basically labeling me a mafia whore. He knew nothing about my reasons behind wanting Luca—absolutely nothing. And being told I was a whore did nothing to push me away from my plan—if anything it fanned the flames.
He moved in, his body encasing mine against the bar, the heat radiating from his skin like a scorching fire. “You earn a kiss from Luca, hell you earn any sort of emotional reaction from the man, and I’ll pay for your hospital bills.”
“W-what?” My knees knocked together as my entire body threatened to collapse against him. How the hell did he know I was in the hospital? That I needed treatments?
“You heard me.” He whispered, his lips curving into a menacing smile. “Get’s expensive doesn’t it?”
“I have no idea—“
“—stop.” He tilted my chin toward him, his breath was hot on my face. “You win his affection, I save your life.”
Tears blurred my line of vision. So he knew.
He knew how bad it was.
He knew I didn’t have money to pay.
He was calling up my marker and forcing my hand.
Damn mafia, damn Alefero’s.
“Fine,” I pushed against him, “And if I fail?”
“You marry me.”
“W-what?” I screeched loud enough for people standing next to us to pause and take notice. My heart was beating so erratically I was worried I was going to pass out. Marry him while I loved someone else?
Frank leaned in, his lips curving into a predatory smile, “I need a wife. You’ll do.”
“You’re a bastard.” I hissed.
“I’m your savior.” He bit his bottom lip, “It’s a win-win, a sure bet, a sure thing. What could possibly go wrong? Either you win his affection, his heart, and his money, or you win me, and I clear your debt. Forever.”
I was making a deal with the devil. I knew it in my soul, I was making the wrong choice, a bad choice, but he was offering me my very life, how could I say no to that? When I so desperately wanted to live.
My hand shook as I held it out, “You have a deal.”
He gripped it tightly within his then jerked me against his chest. “That’s not how we make deals, doll.”
His mouth crashed over mine. The feeling, while I wanted to say it was unpleasant, was anything but. Warmth seeped into my cold lifeless veins, my body came to life, and just when my tongue brushed against his, he pulled back. “Deal.”
Luca was a young man while Frank was fifteen years his senior… what Luca lacked in maturity Frank made
I KNEW SHE’D BEEN staring at me, how the hell could I not? There wasn’t a moment I wasn’t aware of her. Damn it, even during the one and only time I’d been with a woman in my entire life— the whole time, all I could imagine was Joyce’s lush red lips, her steel gray eyes and long brown hair. Granted, the woman had been a whore. A gift from the men to reward me for being one of the youngest to infiltrate the family in over a decade—something my older brother hadn’t even accomplished.
They gifted me with a whore.
But all I wanted was Joyce.
“You alright?” Paul asked.
“Course.” I took a slow drink of whiskey and glanced back at Joyce.
Just in time to see Frank pull her in for a kiss.
The glass shattered in my hand, falling in slow motion to the floor as my blood dripped onto the carpet right along with it.
“Whoa!” Paul slapped me on the shoulder, “Maybe you should cut back a bit.”
“Yeah.” Teeth clenched I excused myself and started walking towards the bar. “Maybe I will.” Or maybe I’d just slice my brother’s throat where he stood.
Frank was a cocky son of a bitch that had a heart of absolute stone. Figures he’d kiss my girl, the one girl I wanted more than anything in the world. The one girl I’d kept myself from because of my age and inability to provide for her. She deserved the world, the stars, the universe and those weren’t things within my capacity to give her.
Joyce didn’t come from wealth.
And I wanted that for her—more than anything. I wanted to shower her with jewels because that was the type of woman she was—she was perfection personified. All the men thought so. From the easy sway of her lips to her seductive laughter, she was every man’s dream. Mine especially. But blood stained my hands, blood that would ruin the fur she loved to be draped in, blood that would eventually decide if I lived or died---if I could provide the life she needed.
Damn it, she was mine! My fists clenched tightly at my sides.
“Ah, Luca.” Frank winked as I approached. “How’s business?”
He knew damn well how business was.
“Can’t complain.” Teeth still clenched I barely managed to keep my fists at my sides while his grin grew.
“Well,” he looked between me and Joyce, “I think I’m needed elsewhere and Joyce,” He lifted her hand to his lips leaving a lingering kiss across her knuckles. “You know exactly where to find me, if you need anything… at all.”
He walked away before I could shoot him.
I watched him disappear through the crowds. They parted for him, men adored him, women cheered him, the man was a giant pain in my ass and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I would forever be under his thumb, forever compared, forever found lacking.
“Luca?” Joyce’s sweet voice brought me back to the present. Her black wrap around dress hugged every curve on her body. Pearls dipped into her cleavage and good God, I wanted to get lost in that cleavage more than I wanted air. “It’s not what you think, Frank was just—“
“—Frank was just marking what isn’t his to mark. Taking what isn’t his to take, and dangling you in front of me like a damn trinket.” I swore violently then pulled her into my arms. “Let’s get out of here.”
“—I’m not a patient man Joyce, either you leave with me or you leave with him. Your choice, but I won’t be asking again. So be quick about it.”
Color bloomed across her cheeks. With a quick nod she grabbed her purse and tucked her arm under mine. “Where are we going?”
I smirked to myself and answered. “Love, we’re going to go everywhere and just when you think you can’t take it anymore.” I stopped and tugged her body against mine, my lips nipping her ear. “We’re going to do it again.”
Her gasp was all I needed.
It was my red flag.
The moment I knew that whatever she may have shared with him—was banished from her memory, and any remaining shreds of what his lips felt like against hers would be completely obliterated by the time I was finished with her. She was mine, she was going to be mine. Frank had the family, he had the money, damn him he was even going to be boss. So was it selfish for me to take something for myself?
No, not the way I saw it.
But things don’t always work out how we plan. And that night, the night I stole Joyce away from Frank, I became a pawn in a game I didn’t even know I was playing, one I would lose.
One I would regret for the rest of my life.
I felt his eyes on me as I opened the door to the casino. With one last look in his direction, I tilted my head.
You have to understand one thing about Luca. The man he was and the man he became, those are two very different people. He may have appeared cold and indifferent but as a lover? He was everything a woman could hope for. He was sensitive, complimentary, skilled, oh was he skilled. But most of all, I knew he loved me. But sometimes, love isn’t enough to save a person when they’re already doomed to fail. I’m ashamed to admit I had a part in his demise, though I didn’t know at the time, I played directly into the hands of the mafia, for reasons that were more important than our own love and infatuation. They needed him hard. And they were going to use me to get it .– Joyce Alfero
“HE’S SOFT.” ANGELO PUFFED on his cigar, his eyes trained on the door my brother had just exited.
Rock and hard place didn’t even begin to describe our current predicament. We wanted control over the Nicolasi family now that their boss was dead and the only way to do it was to either marry into the family and hopefully gain their trust, or implant one of our own men, one they loved, one they adored, one they trusted like a son.
He’d done small jobs here and there for the Nicolasi family as a way to prove his allegiance to the agreement made between all of us. The Nicolasi’s were only allowed to stay in the states as long as they kept their noses out of our business and played nice.
They wanted one of ours as a good faith deal.
We handed over Luca on a damn silver platter.
And we may as well have given them gold.
He killed with ease, he tortured like he enjoyed it and didn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve.
But the men and me? We knew the truth.
It was already wearing on him.
The late night drinking.
He was going to break and if we didn’t watch it, he’d break on their watch all before we could finish the plan.
What was needed? A distraction. A means to an end.
I hated using the woman I loved in that way… hated that I was pushing her into my brother’s arms almost as much as I hated that I’d be the one to take her from him.
She would grow to love me, I’d make sure of it.
But she’d hate me before that love took over.
And I wouldn’t blame her for it.
“It’s done.” I hissed under my breath. “He’s infatuated with her, he’s just a kid, doesn’t know which way is up when a pretty girl bats her eyes… it will work.”
Angelo let out a disgusted snort. “Yeah well, it better, or else it’s your head that rolls.”
He wasn’t in any state to threaten me. I could order him killed with the snap of my fingers.
But deep down I knew he was right.
If things went south it would be my head, my family that would take the fall. When had I turned into that guy? The one that used those he loved for personal gain? Then again it wasn’t personal as much as it was good business.
We’d both be bosses, m
Yet, guilt pinched me in the chest.
What use was money and power.
When you had no one to share it with?
“Keep us updated.” Angelo patted my back twice. “I want to see this done by the end of the week—I need to see proof he can do what it takes, he needs to do the hard thing, yes?”
“Yes.” I said smoothly, my stomach clenching with the thought of my twenty-one year old brother going through hell. “I’ll make it so.”
“See that you do.”
He left me, alone. I walked to the door, grabbed my coat and hat, then walked out into the chilly Chicago air.
“Take good care of him, Joyce.” I whispered, “He’s going to need those memories… by God he’s going to need them.”
The mafia consists of two things, blood and family. Outside of that, nothing else really matters. Both Frank and Luca lived by this rule and it was my greatest fear that they would die by it. I’d seen so much death in my short life and the more my own demise loomed near… I knew, I wanted to soak up every possible thing I could before I left my own humanity in that hospital room. – Joyce Alfero
IT WAS ON THE tip of my tongue to ask him, why now? Was his brother’s kiss so horrible to him, so detestable, that something finally snapped in that thick skull of his?
But I didn’t want to ruin the moment.
After all, I had no idea how many of those moments we would get, how many moments I would get.
I shivered, even though I wore a fur around my small body. That was one thing they never warned you about when you started treatments, how cold you always were and how you’d do anything to be warm again.
We walked the short distance to his walk up apartment.
It was conveniently located above a twenty-four seven Chinese takeout restaurant and I could only imagine how many sleepless nights he spent glaring at the neon sign that most likely hung right outside his apartment window.