Home > Ruthless People (Ruthless People #1)(7)

Ruthless People (Ruthless People #1)(7)
Author: J.J. McAvoy


“Welcome, Callahans, to the Giovanni Villa. Mr. Giovanni is already waiting and told me to skip the formalities for the time being. I shall escort you to his office.” The older man bowed as though he had come out of Downton fucking Abbey. I knew Declan would have a laugh about that later, but for now, we were working.

I nodded, not wanting to waste time with formalities either. We all knew why we were here, and there was no need to bullshit. Usually, my father walked ahead of us, but since I was point man today, I followed the old man inside first. The house was beautiful, rich, and very fucking Italian with vintage ceramic tiles, one too many statues, and the overwhelming scent of roses. It felt more like a museum to ancient Rome than a home.

Finally, the old man stopped and didn’t bother to knock before opening a door for us. Stepping in, for the first time in my twenty-seven years I was shocked. It didn’t show on my face, but internally, I was shocked.

“If it isn’t my favorite Irish crime family,” Orlando said, coughing and in a wheelchair. The man known as “Iron Hands” was gone. The Giovanni study was filled with ancient scrolls, floor-to-ceiling walls of books, with the exception of one large window, and nineteenth-century handcrafted furniture. However, nothing in here was more priceless than the sight of this old crippled man.

His hairless face broke out into a smirk. “Sedric, you trained them well. They didn’t even flinch.”

“I am insulted you are just figuring this out now,” my father said and with just a sidelong glance I could tell what he was thinking. He was as shocked as we were. He just hid it well.

In the mafia world, Orlando “Iron Hands” Giovanni was the stuff of legends. The things he had done could not be said out loud without making many people sick, or causing them to piss themselves in fear. He was one of the very few men my father respected, and in some way, dreaded. They both had a healthy fear of each other, but the man in front of me now looked like he hadn’t been in the same room with “Iron Hands” for years.

This explained why he wanted this merger finalized, I thought.

“Please, have a seat. The contract is on the desk,” he said to us.

I knew my family wouldn’t make a move. Only the Ceann na Conairte was able to sit down with the enemy, so I unbuttoned my jacket as the rest of them flanked the sides of my chair.

“We’ve already read the contract. We simply wish to see your daughter sign it,” I told him. In fact, I had read it so many damn times, I knew it line by fucking line.

“Read it again, she has already signed,” he said through a barking cough.

Tempted to lose my cool, I glared at Declan, telling him with my eyes to read it. He could read just as fast as I could, and I did not want Orlando see me bend to his games. I would play nice for now, but I was not above beating a man in a wheelchair.

“Liam,” Declan snapped, handing me back the paper.

It took me a moment to read over the two lines that had been changed.

“You’re kidding.” I snickered, handing it up to Neal and my father. “You are asking that she basically babysit how I run my company?”

Orlando’s brown eyes narrowed. The fact that he no longer had eyebrows only made him look more ill.

“We prefer the term empire,” he stated.

“Of course you do.” Fucking Italians and their empires. “Orlando—and I will call you Orlando, not out of disrespect, but because I know that by the end of tonight I will have a ring on your daughter’s finger—your daughter will want for nothing. She will be able to buy the sun twice over if she wanted. She will be taken care of and treated like every other Callahan woman, which is like bloody royalty. In my care, your empire will be treated with the same care and reverence.”

Orlando leered before crossing his weak arms. “Pretty words, boy. And I will call you boy because even if you were royalty, you would still never be good enough for my daughter. I did not ask her to babysit you. Melody is smart and will be more than useful. I have no doubt that the empire will be just fine. As your brother saw when he hacked our records.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Declan stiffen beside me. No one ever knew he hacked into their files. It was then that I realized we had been set up. Orlando wanted us to see how much we would lose if we didn’t give in.

“Orlando—”

“Don’t try to sweet-talk me. I’m Italian, we wrote the book on it. So take the deal or walk away. That’s my only offer. And in case you hadn’t noticed, I don’t have time to waste.”

The old motherfucker cut me off.

I slid my left hand down and felt the brass knuckles in the pocket of my pants. I wanted bash his face in. The vein at the side of my neck pulsed thickly, as it always did when I became bloodthirsty. My vision began to cloud over with rage. I knew, without a doubt, my father was waiting to see what I would do. Whatever choice I made, he would back me up here and bitch at me at home. I would not let anyone show me up, much less an old-timer halfway to his grave already. Not here, not now, and not ever. The room was silent as I stood up, walked over to his stocked bar, and poured myself a glass of brandy. He wanted to play hardball? So could I.

“How much does she even know about the company, excuse me, I mean the empire, as you people call it?” I asked him as I poured.

“Enough.”

Leering, I turned back to him. “Enough? That’s all you can give me? Orlando, meet me halfway here. You and I both know she may be smart, but no father would ever allow his little princess to see the things we see, or do the things we do.”

“She’s a quick learner. Considering the women you’ve been with, is that not enough?” He had a point.

Turning to my brother, I drank some more before leaning on Orlando’s desk. It would be mine soon enough.

“Neal, dear brother, what do you think?” I asked, taking Orlando’s the pen and point it at him.

“As long as she fulfills her other duties, why not? Anything she doesn’t know, you can teach her. It may help bind you both together.” I almost wanted to applaud him. I laughed at the thought.

Sometimes, Neal was just so wise.

“And Declan, dear cousin, what do you think about this rude, last-minute shift in the contract?”

Declan grinned. “Worse comes to worse, you have to waste five minutes explaining things to her. Plus, I kind of like the idea. Maybe if the women knew how hard it was to make a few million, they wouldn’t spend it so quickly.”

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