“Do you know why I call you Beatrice? Because she was the source of all of Dante Alighieri’s longing and desires. The perfect thing he always wanted and knew he could never, ever have.” -Toughest Deal
Look at my babies! This beautiful piece was done by Lemonade Doodles (on Instagram) and I am OBSESSED with it. I can’t even with that shirt grab.
To celebrate this lovely bit of art, and because my January feels like its been a complete cluster fuck, here is a tasty Chapter one of ‘Deepest Cut.’
Leo had been having panic attacks for as long as he could remember. When he was a boy and felt the telltale tingle at the back of his neck, he would find a small, dark space until he calmed down. His family was none the wiser, which was a good thing because if there was something the Colleonis didn’t tolerate, that was weakness. Especially one that couldn’t be trained or beaten out of them.
These days, there were only three things that calmed Leo down and helped him refocus—hacking, killing, or kissing Dante Hill. Right now, with his brothers pointing guns at the warehouse and his mother standing in Kon’s warehouse like she owned it, Leo was utterly fucked.
He couldn’t breathe. His chest was too tight. The lights of the warehouse were swirling around him. He could hear people talking, but nothing was sinking in.
Gabriella Colleoni had finally come for him, and the Edgeworths were going to die because of him.
Leo was numb as Dante moved him behind his broad bulk, shielding him from Gabriella’s piercing golden gaze. Silas shifted to flank them in case of an attack.
“You shot Leo and threw him away. He’s my son now,” Silas said, and Leo’s entire world shifted.
They are protecting me, Leo realized in awe. Even Altun was getting in between him and Gabriella. As touched as he was, Leo knew that his mother would never forget the insult.
Leo needed the world to stop spinning. He lightly touched the back of Dante’s shirt and instantly felt grounded.
He had no right to touch Dante. Not when he had been planning on leaving the Edgeworths and Dante later that night. Leo had wanted one more dinner with them, but his mother had to wreck it, and that was exactly why he had intended to leave.
“We need to talk about Serapis,” Gabriella said. She was at the head of the table like she was in charge. Leo doubted she realized how many alphas were in the room and that none of them tolerated being bossed about. Athena was watching Gabriella like she was about to attack at the first sign of any sudden movement.
“And what is it that you think you know about Serapis?” Altun asked with an amused expression she liked to use when she thought the other person was an idiot.
“Will you all please sit down? If nothing else, we can be civil,” Gabriella replied.
They sat reluctantly. Dante positioned himself beside Leo, his body still angled a little to stay between him and Gabriella. The protective gesture made Leo’s chest constrict. He didn’t need protecting. Dante knew Leo could take care of himself. He was still doing it though because that was who Dante was.
Under the table, Dante’s pinkie finger reached over and hooked around Leo’s. The slight contact, the comfort in the gesture, made Leo’s head clear, and the panic finally receded. He grabbed his beer from the table and had a mouthful to wash away the bitter bile in the back of his throat.
“Spit it out, Gabriella. We don’t have all night, and my dinner is going cold,” Athena said, crossing her arms.
“The Colleonis have worked for Serapis for a long time,” Gabriella replied. She didn’t even have the decency to be embarrassed about it.
“No shit. We found your name in Dee’s organizer, so we know you’re the Aurora’s lapdog,” Silas said and leaned back in his chair. “I don’t see what your shady dealings have to do with coming in here and trying to take Leo.”
Gabriella’s golden eyes narrowed. “Because Serapis has turned on us, and I believe it’s because my son has been helping you take down his compatriots. If Leo returns with me, Serapis will back off.”
“And what proof do you have that Serapis has turned on you?” Kon asked.
“The businesses are being attacked,” Leo said softly. “That’s what Dario said in Prague. That someone is stealing money. I told him I would look into it.”
“You can do that from the safety of our home,” Gabriella said. “We must stop this argument between us and come together again for the good of the family.”
“You mean for the good of your bank account?” Leo replied, anger creeping through his words. “This isn’t about me. It’s about your bottom line.”
Gabriella’s lips pursed together. “We can argue about this later when we don’t have an audience, Leonardo.”
“When we go home? I am home.”
Gabriella laughed coldly. “You think these mercenaries will be loyal to you? They are but a shadow of what the Colleonis are. You found a cheap substitute for us here. Nothing more.”
“Wow. Is she always like this?” Dante asked Leo with a lazy grin.
“Pretty much,” Leo replied.
“I’m beginning to see why you left.”
Gabriella turned to Dante with a look of disgust on her face. “You have no right to judge me. You are a bed warmer, a pleasant distraction for my son while he’s running from his duties. Nothing more.”
Dante laughed. “His duty to marry some chick he doesn’t want to? Hate to be the one to break it to you, Ms. Colleoni, but Leo likes dick. Lots and lots of dick.”
Leo cast his eyes to heaven and prayed to be struck by lightning.
“I think we are venturing off the subject,” Altun interrupted. “Gabriella, you’re in my city, and I’m not in the mood to let you come in and start demanding things. Leo is a free man and can return with you if he wants to. You are welcome to leave now if you have nothing more to tell us about Serapis.”
Gabriella dragged her death stare away from Dante. “It’s a warning, not information. Stop going after him or he’s going to retaliate against all of us. No petty revenge for past slights is worth the hell he will bring to all of our doors.”
“Our fight with the Aurora has nothing to do with you, and you’re in no position to tell us to do anything,” Athena said, her voice turning ice cold. “Now, get the fuck out of my house.”
“I thought you would be smarter than this, Leonardo. You have marked all these people for the sake of your pride. I hope it’s worth it,” Gabriella said, rising to her feet.
Silas turned to Iz. “I could be mistaken, Bella, but did she just threaten us?”
Flames sparked in Iz’s eyes. “It certainly sounded like it, babe.”
Gabriella laughed. “Oh, it’s not me you will have to worry about. It’s…” She paused and placed a finger to her ear. She switched to Italian. “Dario? Repeat that for me?”
“Leo? What’s happening?” Kon asked.
“I don’t know.”
The glass of whiskey fell from Altun’s hand, and light danced under her skin.
“Talk to me, love,” Julian said, placing a hand on her shoulder.
“Magic…” Altun turned to Athena. “Swords. Now. Guns are going to be useless.”
Athena and Silas moved without question. They were all on their feet, going on guard.
Leo opened the camera feed on his phone. Figures were moving out of the dark alleys around the warehouse.
“These men better not belong to you, Mother,” Leo said coldly.
Gabriella rounded on him. “This has nothing to do with me.”
“Tell your sons to retreat here, Gabriella. Now,” Altun instructed. She accepted a saber from Silas. “Zombie rules, children. Take the head or the heart. If you see a sigil mark on anyone, try to destroy it.”
“Altun, what the fuck is going on?” Dante demanded.
“We are about to be attacked by the gūl.”Altun drew her saber. “Serapis is here.”
Yes…we are starting with a BANG. I’m working on my final read through of this book and I frickin love it.
In other writing news, I have started a SUPER SECRET project. My ADHD is still on its bullshit with only wanting to create secret things, so I’ll tell you more when I know how it’s going to turn out. Rest assured, I am working on something, and as usual you will get a new release every 2-3 months.
I hope your year started well! My brain is still in November somewhere lol.