Broken Queen

Page 4

“It looks like we were in time to stop that at least,” Bastian says.
I breathe a sigh. It’s been a long fucking day. Bastian and I clean her with wet, soapy cloths, and I slip one of my shirts on her.
“I’ll take her to your room,” I tell him when I see the state of the bed.
Bastian nods, and I lift Vittoria. She’s light and so fragile. The thought of those men with their hands on her fills me with a rage I’m not sure I’ll be able to control when I see them.
Once in Bastian’s room, he pulls the blankets on his bed back, and I lay her down. She doesn’t move as I cover her and turn to the door just as Jarno appears.
Bastian and I step out into the hallway and pull the door closed.
“Six of our men are dead,” Jarno says. “Bullet to the back of the head.”
I grit my jaw.
“The ones from the basement?” Bastian asks when I can’t because all I can see is the unconscious woman just beyond that door with my handprint burning red on her cheek.
“On their way to the ruined barn,” Jarno answers.
“We need more soldiers on-site here and at the Ravello house,” Bastian says.
“Already working on it with Bruno.”
“Good. Let us know when it’s done,” Bastian says.
“Where is my uncle?” I ask with a snarl.
“Positano. At the woman’s house,” Jarno says.
“Make sure he stays there. I don’t fucking care what it takes.”
It’s been a very long time since I’ve slept beside someone. Since I was a kid. The nightmares began soon after Hannah’s funeral. The visit by the Russos. Mom kept me with her when they came, which was so often it forced my father out of their bed. I wonder if that wasn’t another moment in the deterioration of our lives that I’m responsible for. But it would help. Mom would whisper to me that I was all right. That those men weren’t coming back.
By the time I was twelve, though, that stopped. I was too old to go running to Mommy with every nightmare. Sometimes I’d go to Amadeo’s room and sleep on the floor there. He made a game of it, acting like it was just a normal sleepover. He’d leave my sleeping bag in the corner so I never felt embarrassed or ashamed. Never felt like I was a pussy for having the nightmares or not being stronger like him.
Vittoria doesn’t sleep peacefully. At first, I think it’s the events of the evening causing the nightmares, but as I listen, I’m not sure. The drug mutes things, though, that I know. Her slurred words mean I only pick up bits and pieces, recognizingLucienandDaddy. Both of those only serve to anger me, but then I look at all the cuts and bruises and I soften, trying to wake her, at least nudge her out of the nightmare.
By morning, she’s quiet. It’s when I get a few hours of sleep myself and wake up just as Vittoria begins to stir. She rubs her eyes, rolling onto her side, her back to me. I know the moment she opens them and realizes she doesn’t know where she is because she stiffens.
“Morning, Dandelion.”
She sits up with a gasp, wincing at the pain. I’m guessing headache in addition to the bruises. Panic and confusion make her sapphire eyes go wide and wild, and I put up both hands, palms to her.
“You’re safe. I’m not going to hurt you.”
She glances at my bare shoulders and arms, then looks down at herself and sees she’s dressed. She takes in all the bandages, and I wonder what she remembers. Surely, she remembers. After a very long minute, she draws her knees to her chest and the blankets along with them, shuddering even though it’s warm.
“Where are they?” she asks without looking at me.
I lie with my elbow on my pillow, head in my hand watching her. “Away from here.”
That makes her look at me. Her eyes wander to my chest, down to the tattoo over my heart. She’s seen it before but didn’t have a chance to study it. It’s a set of heavily imbalanced scales. A heart on one dish, a skull in the other, and dandelions scattered throughout. The text underneath reads: I will carry out great vengeance on them and punish them in my wrath.
“Ezekiel. I don’t know the verse,” I say.