Broken Queen

Page 21

He ignores my question and asks another. “You signed away control of your fucking finances? Are you that stupid?”
“I had no choice. Not when you left me in Italy to fend for myself. Did you even try to send anyone after me?”
His right eye twitches. It’s an infinitesimal movement, but I’ve learned to watch my brother closely over the years, and I know what this means. He’s angry because he feels himself losing control. He got that look with dad often when it came to finances or the business.
“You shouldn’t have gone. I told you that.”
“Our father’s last wish was that he be buried in Italian soil where his roots are. It was his dream to go back home one day, you know that.”
“I don’t think he dreamt of going in a fucking box. What did you sign exactly? We can get you out of it, get the marriage annulled. They’re holding you against your will. It’s not the fucking dark ages, for fuck’s sake.”
“I don’t care about the money.”
His eyebrows disappear into his receding hairline. Dad had a full head of hair. He clearly did not pass that gene down to my bother.
“You’d better learn to care if you’d like to see Emma again. I’m taking guardianship of her.”
“You’re not. You can’t. You’re not even blood.”
“Ah! Your eyes are opening. Finally. Your mother was unfaithful, Vittoria.” He spits the word unfaithful. “And she was punished.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m trying to help you.”
“This is you helping me?”
“Were you in on the kidnapping? There is video footage. In fact, that one there”—he gestures beyond the glass wall—“will be arrested…” He pauses, checks his watch. “In about three minutes.”
“What?” Panic has me turning to look at Bastian and Amadeo, who, although in conversation with Bruno, are watching us intently.
He grins, cocks his head, and looks me over as if seeing me for the first time. “There is video footage of him kidnapping Emma and the idiot nanny. Of his men knocking that shrink out. Do you even know who the fuck you’ve gotten yourself tangled up with, Vittoria?”
“You can’t have him arrested.” I need to warn Bastian, but Lucien grabs my arm.
“What did you sign?”
“Let me go. Do you even care why we’re here? That our father is dead?”
He seems surprised by the question. Like it’s an odd thing to ask. The elevator dings, and I half turn.
“There they are,” Lucien says, tugging me close as Bastian and Amadeo’s attention turns to the elevator. “You didn’t know him like I did, Vittoria. Our father was a cruel man. You don’t know the things he did. What he was capable of.”
“He wasn’t like that.”
“Do you ever wonder about his reaction when your mom was killed? How he didn’t really seem all that surprised or upset. Well, I mean, he was surprised that little Emma made it, I guess. But don’t you wonder?”
“Get off me!”
“Ah.” He smiles, holds me tight but turns me so we watch together as a dozen men in SWAT gear rush in with their weapons ready and have the few soldiers Amadeo and Bastian brought on the ground in minutes. They slam Bastian against one wall and Amadeo against another.
“Stop!” I call out, trying to free myself of my brother but unable. I watch powerlessly. I can’t hear a sound through the solid glass wall. Amadeo fights for his brother, Bruno is held back, the soldiers kept down while Brady and the other lawyers stand back and watch as if they knew all along. Bastian is handcuffed and forced toward the elevator by two men as two others hold Amadeo back.
Lucien tugs me toward him, making me face him. “You know people are killed in custody all the time. Accidents happen more often than you’d think.” He laughs a strange laugh, something that sends a chill down my spine. An image slices through my skull, a shudder of memory, of sight and sound. That laugh. That terrible laugh.
My knees buckle, and I grab the back of the chair nearest me. I remember when Amadeo asked me what seems like a lifetime ago if I was afraid of my brother. I’d told him I wasn’t. But it wasn’t true, not really. I always knew our father would protect me from Lucien. But it’s not that I wasn’t afraid of Lucien.
“Let go of her!”