I'm Nothing (The Family Book 2), page 4
Pushing past the older woman, he made his way toward the office. He didn’t wait. His life, past and present, seemed to meld into one in that moment. In the past, he was the one who caused the women to scream, and now he wanted the chance to protect.
Tonio slammed into the office, and what he saw sent him into a rage. Lucien fucking West was in the stages of getting his pants down, and Zara’s were already wrapped around her ankles. She was fighting, screaming, begging to get away, but he wouldn’t let her.
Moving forward, Tonio banded his arm around Lucien’s neck, and dragged him back, slamming him into the wall.
“What the fuck?” Lucien tried to fight back, but he was no match for Tonio. From years of being his father’s pet dog, Tonio had learned to fight better than the rest. He knew how to fight dirty, and how not to hold back.
Slamming Lucien into the ground, Tonio started to kick him.
“Tonio, stop,” Zara said.
He glanced over to her, and that was all the distraction Lucien needed, rolling away from him. Pulling out his second gun, Tonio trained it on Lucien.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” Lucien asked.
“I could ask you the same question.”
“I’m collecting a debt. This has nothing to do with The Family.”
“It does now.”
Lucien snorted. “This girl is nothing to you.”
“She belongs to me. You were going to rape her, sell her to your little buddies? What were you going to do, Lucien?”
“The girl’s in a lot of debt, and it’s going to take her a great deal to get out of it.”
Tonio nodded. “How much?”
Lucien gave a figure that had Zara gasping. Clearly Lucien thought he was an idiot. “I’ve put two bullets in your goons outside. I’m not above putting one in you.”
“You know The Family doesn’t like you,” Lucien said.
“Do I look like I give a fuck? They got a problem with the way we do business, they come to me.”
“Are you paying her debt?” Lucien asked.
“Yeah, I am. Get the fuck out of here, now!”
“I’m not leaving without my money.”
Tonio was tired, and he was pissed. He fired his gun, and a bullet went into Lucien’s foot. “You’ll get your money when I say!” Moving toward the man, Tonio dragged him out of the room and threw him at his goons. “I suggest you all get out of here, and now!”
Opening the door, Tonio nodded at them. All of them were screaming and crying out in pain.
He waited until they left the shop, Lucien giving one final threat that it wasn’t over. Tonio rolled his eyes. It was over.
Moving back toward the office, he found Zara sitting on the floor. Her jeans were now up her thighs, but she looked as pale as a ghost.
He knelt in front of her, keeping his hands by his sides. Placing his gun beside him, he held a hand up showing her he meant no harm.
“Why did you do that?”
“Did you want me to let him rape you? Lucien would have, and I guarantee your debt would have still been intact.”
She shook her head, and he saw she was also shaking, which tore him apart.
“Shit, are you okay?”
Tonio moved closer to her, and even as she tensed, he pulled her into his arms. “It’s okay.”
“Are they going to come after you?” she asked, resting her head against his chest.
Tears were falling down her cheeks, but she wasn’t sobbing or losing her shit. It was kind of surreal to be holding her. She smelled nice. Like pizza with an underlying vanilla tone.
“They can try and come after me. I’ve got my friends to have my back.”
“What were you doing here?” she asked.
“I came for some pizza, and some company.” He stroked her hair, and as the minutes went by, Zara started to relax against him. “Did you borrow the money from him?”
“No. I’m trying to repay the debt that my dad started.”
“For this place?”
“Yeah. See what I mean about my future? This place is dead, but my father kept on wanting to keep it going. I hate pizza.”
“You can’t stay here alone.”
“What do you mean?”
“Lucien is going to be pissed.”
“You shot him.”
“I know, but when he’s all nicely fixed up, he’s going to come after you, and after your mother. You’re going to have to move in with me.”
She gasped, looking up at him. “That’s insane.”
“You don’t know me.”
“No, I don’t, but I just saved your life, and your dignity. Let me help you?”
Tonio thought about it. Why did he want to save Zara? She didn’t owe him anything, nor did he have anything with her. “Let’s just say I’ve got a lot of making up to do, and I don’t want you to get hurt. Let me help.”
“I’ve got my mom.”
“She can come, too. I’ve got a place for her to stay. She’s not staying in my apartment.”
“But I am.”
“Tell me, do you want to be around your mother?”
Zara bit her lip then shook her head. “No.”
“Then you can stay with me, and I’ll make sure your mother is taken care of.”
Later that night, Zara stared around at Tonio’s living room at three very large, fierce looking men who appeared to be ready to commit murder. Tonio, Jake, Donnie, and Luiz were scary as hell during high school, but now, yeah, she was crapping her pants.
“Lucien works for us?” Luiz asked.
“Yep. He’s a West who deals with loan sharks. He’s the face, and sends men out to collect money. We have a drop off every Friday where we collect.” Donnie frowned. “What was the debt?”
She didn’t like him looking at her. These men were all dangerous. “Erm, my dad borrowed money. I’ve got the details here.” She reached out, grabbing a stack full of papers. “It’s all explained there.”
Donnie grabbed the paperwork and started to look through it.
“Fuck, this is not how we handle shit,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“Your father borrowed over fifty thousand. This just isn’t it though. We monitor the money, and Lucien actually documented a smaller loan, and he’s been pocketing the rest of the money that you’ve been paying him. What the fuck did your father need that kind of money for?”
“He lost the house, and he had to redecorate the whole of the pizza shop.”
“Fifty thousand is a lot. This kind of cash flow is not what we’re into,” Donnie said. “Cleaning money?”
“No. Lucien handles small loans. Anything between a thousand and ten to keep people afloat. This kind of money requires someone of a higher rank to sign off on,” Tonio said. “This looks like some sort of money-laundering, too. Was the agreement different than you thought?”
“No. Lucien told me all my dad had to do was make weekly payments, and that within five years it would be paid. My dad told me to continue with it.”
“Something doesn’t add up. Have you always had that pizza shop?” Luiz asked.
“Yeah, my dad had it for over twenty years.”
“Do you think it has something to do with the location?” Tonio asked.
What? Zara looked at all the men, wondering what the hell they were talking about.
“There’s a massage parlor next door, and about two blocks, there’s a nightclub,” Jake said. “It’s ideal to not only clean money, but it also means that Lucien can make a great deal on the side without The Family knowing about it.”
“Do you think Lucien’s going rogue?” Luiz asked.
“He could be,” Donnie said.
“He said The Family were not happy with our leadership. Maybe they’re
“How could they overthrow from a little pizza place?” Jake asked.
Donnie smirked. “Because it’s not just the pizza place. They’re cleaning money there, or they did. I want to know everything about the parlor and the night club.”
“You’ve got it,” Tonio said.
“I know the parlor shop does more than give out free massages,” Zara said. “We’ve had a lot of male customers talking about their massages. It’s not for therapy. It’s a front for a sex shop.”
Late at night people were not careful about what they said, or who they said it in front of. Zara had been sickened by what they had talked about.
“How do you know?”
“Because people ordering food talk, and when they’re all happy, they talk loud. I heard them. I can’t believe I just paid fifty bucks for anal. They even have a chart on spitting or swallowing.” She wrinkled her nose. “It’s gross.”
“A chart?” Tonio asked.
“You know, like a menu of what they are willing to do for how much. From what I remember, swallowing costs extra.” Zara now shuddered. It was crude, and she’d hated that the parlor was next door. She’d never seen any of the women there.
“Do you think it’s a front?” Luiz asked.
“Selling women?” Donnie asked. “Could be. We took out many of their businesses, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t more.”
“What about if it’s something else? Laundering money, cleaning it? People get a nice massage, look the other way,” Tonio said.
“We’re constantly finding how dirty our parents were, I’d say it’s possible. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lucien didn’t take advantage of the situation,” Luiz said.
“Does your father know anything?” Donnie asked, turning toward Jake.
Zara watched as the blond one shrugged.
“I can find out.”
“See what you can do. I want to know everything.”
She tensed up as Donnie turned toward her. “Why did Lucien attack you?”
Her cheeks heated. “I’d rather not—”
“I wasn’t asking.”
“Donnie, enough. Imagine if it was Paige.”
“We’re being attacked left, right, and fucking center. This piece of shit thinks he can start hurting people, take our money, and think we’re not getting away with it. Killing our parents caused an uproar, and if we don’t get a handle on it, we’re the ones that are going to six feet under. You got it?”
The two friends stared at each other, and as the seconds passed, Zara couldn’t handle the tension.
“He wanted my virginity.”
All four men turned toward her, looking confused.
“Lucien. He said I was too ugly to sell, but he’d never popped a cherry. He was willing to wipe the slate clean if he could pop it. I refused. I was grossed out. He was old enough to be my dad, and it was so gross. He lost his temper, and that’s when he started to attack me, saying he’d take it anyway.” She shuddered, wrapping her arms around her waist. Just saying the words didn’t help her at all. Speaking it out load made it all the more real.
“I never liked Lucien,” Luiz said. “He was a spineless bastard.”
“Well he’s now got a hole in his foot. If there’s backlash, he’s part of it, and he won’t stop either,” Tonio said.
“It looks like we know what we’re doing for the next couple of weeks.” Donnie turned to look at Tonio. “Do you think you can handle it?”
“Yeah, why not?”
“You’ve been locking yourself away with your father’s computer.”
“I can handle it. You’ve got nothing to worry about.”
Donnie glanced over at her. “I take it you get the drill?”
“Drill? What drill?”
“You talk, you say anything to anybody, and we kill you.”
“Yeah, it’s not going to happen.” She zipped her lips.
She watched as each man walked out of Tonio’s apartment. Rubbing her arms, she turned to the large window and stared out over the city. This was the kind of luxury she had only ever dreamed about. Crime clearly did pay.
“Your mom has settled in. She knows to keep her mouth shut as well.”
“I imagine so. Tonight wasn’t the first time Lucien has paid a visit. When my father was alive, I remember him being there as well.” She rubbed at her arms, not turning to face him.
“You don’t have to be scared.”
“I don’t?” She turned to look at him then. “I witnessed you beat a man, and nearly shoot him.”
“But I didn’t kill him, which is actually an improvement for me.” His hands were inside his pockets, and he looked so relaxed, so calm.
“Thank you,” she said.
“For saving me. I can’t think of a worse thing to happen to a woman, and you stopped it. I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t come for me.”
His stomach growled. “Yeah, I didn’t get that food. Don’t worry, I have noodles, which helps all stomachs.”
She chuckled. “So, the whole mafia thing is real.”
“I did tell you.”
“Well, being told it, and seeing it with my own eyes is a little scary.”
“Scary? I’m passed being scared.”
“Do you feel anything?”
“I felt rage earlier. Does that count?”
“It does.” She took a seat at his kitchen counter, watching him as he grabbed several packs of noodles from his stash. She’d never seen so many packets outside of a supermarket. “Earlier you said you had a lot to make up for. What did you mean?”
He sighed. “Why is it that when I’m with you I feel comfortable enough to talk about all my secrets?”
“You know I’m a virgin.”
“Yeah, you see, it’s not the same.”
“I guess not.”
Tonio rested his hands on the counter, and he stared across at her. “Being the son of one of the heads of the mafia doesn’t allow you to have a life of innocence.”
“You’ve done bad things?”
“I’ve done things that stop me looking in the mirror. If you knew half of what I did, you wouldn’t even want to be in the same room as me.”
Zara frowned. “Then why help me?”
“If you’ve done so many bad things, why did you help me? You could have just left me alone. From what I heard, Lucien was supposed to be working for you. Why not let me rot?”
“I thought you’d be happy with my help?”
“I am. I’m just not used to it.”
He nodded, and she felt bad.
“Would you like me to cook for you?”
“I can handle noodles. It’s the easiest thing in the world to cook.”
“I can think of something easier, but I’m going to stay completely silent, and pretend that I do not exist.”
“That sounds like a good plan. So, you’re a virgin, huh?” he asked.
“I take it you’re not.”
“I lost that card many years ago, probably long before I was actually ready for it.”
“I doubt that. I thought men were supposed to be hound dogs, and more than ready to lose that card.”
“We are supposed to be, but it doesn’t actually mean that we are.”
She watched him do the mundane task of filling up a saucepan with water, and she thought about it.
“I’m too plain for anyone to have sex with. It’s what Lucien was right about. I’m the plain one that usually ends up being friends with the guys. You don’t even have to lie about it. I know it’s the truth. I accepted it long ago.” She laughed, recalling her father. “My dad once said that there was going to be a guy out there who’d find me the most beautiful woman in the world. It’s nice what parents would say, huh?”
“My dad always told me I was nothing. I wonder if he still thought that when I was killing him?”
Wow, he wins the most dep
“This is your room. I’m just across the hall,” Tonio said.
“You’ve got your own bathroom, and if you need anything, I have stuff in the kitchen.”
“Those noodles were nice. You can’t deny that.”
“No, I can’t deny that.” She entered the bedroom, and Tonio made to walk away. “I really appreciate everything you’ve done for me.”
He leaned against the doorframe, folding his arms across his chest. Tonio stared at her, wondering what was going on in that head of hers. She was thinner than he recalled her being at high school. The stress of her life had clearly eaten away at her. He’d found his high school yearbook, and the moment he saw her, the memories of copying from her came flooding back.
“I don’t even think you know what’s going to happen to your life now.”
“What do you mean?”
“You can’t go back to the pizza place. Well, you can, but you’re not going to go back alone. You’re going to have protection. You can keep running the shop but until we know what is going on, you’re going to have a guard on you. We’re also going to need to question your mother. We need to know everything.”
“What are you saying?”
“I saved you tonight, but there is no out from this. You’ll have a target on your head if we let you go.”
“Is that why you said I belonged to you?”
“Yeah. I claimed you as my own. I don’t expect anything from you.”
“As your girlfriend?” she asked.
“I’m going to let you get some rest. It has been a long night.” He left her alone, and entered his own room. Closing the door, he went to the desk that had his father’s laptop on it. He was too wired to actually go to sleep, so, removing his shirt, he started working on hacking his father’s files. His father was in to some deep illegal shit. The more he uncovered, the more he was sickened by it.
He wasn’t the only one they used to film fighting and fucking. If he’d had his friends working on this, he’d have gotten it done by now. Tonio didn’t want any of them to know. Once they knew, it would make everything more real. He already had his nightmares to keep him up.
SAM CRESCENT SERIES:
Other author's books:
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