Broken Queen

Page 3

I cup her face with both hands, brushing her hair back. “Vittoria. I promise you no one will hurt you again. I swear it.” I say it with a ferocity that burns in my gut as she struggles to focus. “Close your eyes and sleep. We need to get you cleaned up. It’s better this way. Trust me.”
She makes a sound, still fighting the drug, but it won’t take long to do its work, and within moments, she’s still.
“Jesus.” Bastian sets the syringe aside and pushes his hand through his hair. He exhales, tension evident on his face. “I’m going to fucking kill those men.”
He paces the room, processing, expression grave every time it lands on the now-unconscious Vittoria.
I turn back to her. She’s bruised and cut, and it’s my fault. I left her unprotected. I thought I was in control, but I was not, and she paid the price for my failure.
Were we in time? Or did they hurt her more deeply and take the thing that would break her?
“I told her she had my protection,” I say.
Bastian presses a hand to my shoulder. “Ourprotection, brother.”
I think of Hannah. Hannah at the mercy of Lucien Russo.
A girl at the mercy of a man.
I brush hair from Vittoria’s forehead, my fingers coming away bloody.
A woman at the mercy of a dozen men.
“Go wash the blood off your hands, Amadeo,” Bastian tells me.
I don’t move. I don’t want to leave her.
“I’ll be with her. Go.”
I go into the bathroom and close the door behind me. After stripping off and trashing my ruined shirt, I wash my hands, which are sticky with blood up to my elbows. A glance at my reflection tells me I’d better wash my face, too, and I do, then look at myself.
This was Sonny. I have no doubt. But our soldiers betrayed us. Men who are supposedly loyal to my brother and me. How many more traitors lie within?
I dry my hands and face. There’s more blood to wash off, but I’ll do it after I’m done cleaning her. I return to the bedroom to find Bastian looking her over, already having started.
She’s cut up badly at her hands and knees, her feet. Her forehead where they must have pushed her face down. Shards are stuck to her stomach, thighs and chest, too, but those don’t look as bad.
“They’re mostly shallow. It looks worse than it is,” Bastian says as we get to work picking the glass out with tweezers and depositing the shards into a bowl.
“That’s not the damage I’m worried about,” I say.
“We were in time,” he says without looking at me.
“You don’t know that.” Silence settles between us. “She was under my protection.”
“Ourprotection. And in case you’ve forgotten, we’re at war, brother. Have been since the day grandfather died. Hell, since Geno Russo walked into our kitchen when we were just kids. This is a reminder. She’ll be fine. She’s strong like a fucking dandelion. They will sprout up after the earth is razed to rubble.”
It’s quiet for a long time, and I can’t help looking at Vittoria’s face as she sleeps. I hope it’s a dreamless sleep. I remember the nightmare she’d had the night I’d watched her. She’d fought so hard that I could see it in the muted movements of her body.
“Let’s roll her over.”
We roll her gently onto her stomach but don’t find much glass here. A few cuts but the worst are the bruises in the shape of fingers digging into her hips.
“I’m going to fucking kill them with my bare hands,” Bastian says.
“You’re going to have to get in line.”
Once she’s on her back again, Bastian pulls her legs apart. I am relieved not to see any bruising, blood, or anything that might suggest they’d gotten as far as that. But we won’t know for sure until she wakes up.