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guns, money, and blood are all currency here.
the small-time supper club she performs at night after night. She
wants to see her name in lights—and maybe even on the silver
screen. And her brother Nick, an ambitious Mafia capo determined
to be the next underworld prince, promises to use the spoils of his
new liquor deal to make it happen.
and Johnny Torrio, Mia’s future has never looked brighter, and she
turns a blind eye to Nick’s criminal activities and morally
bankrupt ways…until it all catches up with them.
He lifted his brows. “Yeah, kid?”
She studied his face. He waited patiently for her to speak, but she could read the lines of stress etched into his forehead, making him appear older than his twenty-five years. She swallowed the urge to demand answers about Annette. Though he was being a rotten cad, he’d had enough to deal with tonight. Besides, he’d just killed a man—three, actually—to keep her safe.
Her nagging could wait.
“Thank you,” she said finally. “For saving me.”
He flashed her favorite crooked smile, the one that highlighted the dimple in his left cheek, the other half of their shared set. He slung an arm around her shoulders, tugging her in close, and pecked the top of her head.
“I’m your big brother,” he said. “I’m always gonna look out for you, even when you’re ninety. ’Cause you’ll still be helpless.”
“You won’t even be around that long, anyhow,” Mia shot back, grateful for his teasing.
“Oh, I’ll always be around,” he said, and rubbed his knuckles over the top of her scalp. She yelped and ducked under his arm, then jabbed him in the side.
“Ow,” he complained, rubbing his ribs. “Who taught you to throw a jab like that?”
“My big brother,” she said with a smile. “He’s pretty tough, so you better watch out.”
Nick grinned and tossed his arm around her again as he led her down the back stairs and outside. She tried to ignore the smears of blood on the wall.
He drove her back to her suite at the Lexington Hotel in his shiny yellow Cadillac, then made a valet stand by his car while he escorted her inside the hotel and then to her room.
“Lock up tight,” he insisted, wagging a finger at her. “I mean it. You don’t open for nobody. You hear me? I’m gonna send some guards over a little later. They’ll make sure nobody else bothers you.”
“Nick, I’m fine,” Mia said. “Truly. I’m just gonna have a drink and go to bed.”
“No more drinks,” he said sternly. “In case something happens, you need to be clearheaded. Keep that knife close by. It’s time you had a pistol.”
“No,” she said in horror. “You off your nut?”
“I’m serious. I can’t be everywhere all the time. You’re tough, I know you are. But until I can get you a full-time bodyguard—”
“Oh, cut the baloney!”
Nick sighed, and she knew he realized he was going to lose this fight, at least for tonight. He held up a hand in surrender. “Fine. But I’m still sending over guards. I’ll be by tomorrow afternoon, all right, kid? I’ll take you to rehearsal myself. Try not to leave the room. Just send for whatever you need.”
She would leave if she wanted, but she wouldn’t tell him so. “Fine. Are you going straight home now?”
He shook his head, the stress lines creasing his forehead again. “Gotta go back to the club and try to smooth things over with Sal. Lotta good that’ll do, but he’s the boss.”
“Don’t be too late,” Mia warned. “You know how Gloria worries.”
“I know. I won’t. Get some sleep, kid.” He turned to go.
“Nick,” Mia called, and he glanced back at her. “Will it be dangerous for you now?”
He looked at the floor for a beat. When he lifted his gaze, his old easy smile was there. “It’s always dangerous being me, surùzza. Don’t worry.” He turned around and walked off down the hall, whistling “Everybody Loves My Baby.”
Mia shut the door, his jaunty whistle echoing in her ears. He’d done his best to put her mind at ease, but even despite that effort, Mia had still noticed how the cockiness of his smile hadn’t quite reached his eyes.
attempting to be “cool” during high school and college.
Spoiler alert: she was unsuccessful at fooling anyone. After this
dark period, she returned to the light, embracing her bookish nature
and penchant for action and horror films, bloody survivalist video
games (she’s looking at you, Resident Evil and Call of Duty)
interspersed with the occasional sweeping fantasy adventure RPG
(Final Fantasy, anyone?). Along the way, she developed her knack for
storytelling, which began when she was a mere child-person many moons ago.
spy thrillers, military-esque suspense, and historical crime. A
native of Lincoln, Nebraska, she is by proxy a Huskers fan (GO BIG
RED!), as UNL is her undergraduate alma mater, and moonlights as an
obligatory Blue Jays fan due to completing her graduate MFA studies
at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.
exposed to the cruel light of day yet again, she can be found romping
with her two Pomeranians, serving her overlord cat, hanging with her
husband, battling it out with the undead or practicing a new kind of
magery on her PlayStation, or simply huddled in a dark corner
somewhere with just enough light to read a favorite book. Other
interests include baking, cooking, and blogging about new restaurants.
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