Giovanni Detta stared at the gritty pictures of Gina, Jocelyn, and Mary Rossi: his selection of potential brides. He had less than a month to put a ring on one of their fingers. None of the girls were on social media, so he only had a handful of pictures they had been able to find within their limited timeframe. Considering the line of work their patriarch, Antonio Rossi, was in—laundering money for the mob, amongst other things—it made sense to not have their pictures
plastered all over the internet.
“I still can’t believe you agreed to this,” his brother Vincent said, from the couch on the other side of his desk.
Vince was a firm believer in variety being the spice of life. Co-owning an adult club, where he shared women with his business partner, had made him an even worse player than the born womanizer he already was. Vince couldn’t fathom the thought of being with one woman for the rest of your life. Or, per Antonio Rossi’s demand, for at least two years, in Gio’s case. But that was the deal. Stay married to one of the Rossi girls for that time, in exchange for Rossi Enterprises; an asset that was crucial in their plan to avenge the murder of their parents. Of course, with the way Rossi’s business was going, the old man didn’t have much choice but to entrust his legacy to Gio instead of a looming hostile takeover, but Gio couldn’t take the chance that this deal might go awry. Rossi might have come to him first, since he had been friends with his father, but in the end, business was business. If a better offer came along, he wouldn’t hesitate to pawn one of his granddaughters off to another man.
He leaned back in his chair. “Yeah, well, I did. So, help me pick a bride so we can move on.” Sharing his name with one of the Rossi girls was just a means to an end.
“I’m just saying, you’re only thirty, for Christ’s sake,” Vince continued.
“Far too young to get hitched to just one woman. You should be sowing your oats for at least another decade.”
“Says the king of sowing his oats all over the West Coast,” Jackson scoffed.
Vince flipped him off, earning a grin from their youngest brother, who sat on the corner of the desk.
“I have four weeks, tops, before a hostile takeover.” Which was the reason why he had to pick a bride in such a short timeframe. He looked at Jackson, the smart one. The lawyer with a brain, who never forgot a thing. “Talk to me, Jax.”
Jackson leaned over the desk and pointed at the first picture. “Meet Gina Rossi. Twenty-three. Currently working as an interior designer. Though, working might be a bit of an exaggeration. According to her tax returns, she only works a job or two a year. Spends most of her time spending Antonio’s money.”
He pointed to the second picture. The girl was wearing a leather jacket and jeans. Half her face was obscured by a baseball cap. “This is Jocelyn. Graduated top of her class. She wrote a thesis on software programming and—”
“Not that one,” Gio said, discarding the picture. He needed a wife who loved to spend her days shopping and visiting a salon. One that wouldn’t ask any questions and would leave him the fuck alone.
“Why not?” Jax smirked. “Don’t want a wife with brains?”
“What would she need a brain for?” Vince said with a wink.
“Damn, you two are misogynists. I already pity your brides.”
Vince snorted. “Don’t think I don’t know what that fancy word means, Harvard boy. I happen to love women, not hate them, so that word doesn’t apply to me.”
“We already have an annoying brainiac in the family, Jax. You’re more than enough.”
“Smart women are the worst,” Vince chimed in. “Also, the other two look prettier.”
Jackson gave them a disgusted look and pointed at the last picture. “Which brings us to the youngest, Mary. Twenty-year-old art major and, according to what intel I’ve been able to gather so far, as sweet and innocent as her name.”
The girl was pretty, Gio had to admit, but looked like she might break after one good fuck. Also, he didn’t do sweet; though, he knew looks could be deceiving. His current mistress looked like an angel too, but was a devil in bed. Just the way he liked it.
“What about the fourth granddaughter?” He had studied everyone with ties to their parents. For the past years, that had been his sole focus. That, and making sure his family stayed safe.
“Carmen is married, so I didn’t include a picture of her.”
“Married to whom?” Antonio Rossi wasn’t the kind of man to hand his granddaughters over to just any man. From what he remembered, he had practically raised his granddaughters on his own. Which meant that, as their semi-father, Antonio got a say in which son-in-law was an asset to his family. That explained why he’d come with this deal to Gio. He was lucky Gio had been eyeballing his company for a while; though, for different purposes than Rossi suspected.
Jackson made a derisive sound. “The poor girl is married to Franco ‘The Bull’ Caruso.”
“Fuck.” Vince shook his head. “If she’s married to that asshole, there’s probably not much left of her anyway.”
Gio knew there was some bad blood between Vince and the Caruso heir.
His brother might not be a saint, far from it, but he didn’t abuse women. Franco Caruso was known for his more sadistic tastes. Ever since half his family had gotten locked up, it was said he took it out on his women. Some men just didn’t want to face the reality that the glory days of the Italian mob were over. As with any business model, you had to stay flexible, adjust your plans to what the future might bring. Nowadays, that was going legit; at least, on the outside. With Franco’s father and brother murdered in jail, every day it became more apparent that he didn’t have what it took to lead what was left of the family business.
“Guess I can rule her out.”
“Which makes your choice easy,” Vince claimed.
If only it were that simple. Every decision he made had a purpose. Every chess piece on the board served one as well. He wanted the one the old man was closest to, which he would discover tonight, during dinner. Every man had a tell, and so would Antonio Rossi.
“Which one is Antonio’s favorite?”
“I don’t think he has one,” Jackson said, scrutinizing the pictures. “Antonio is pretty old-school, which probably means he prefers boys to girls as his heir. He has two sons, Petro and Marco, and one daughter, Gabriella. Petro, the oldest, is dead. He’s also Carmen and Jocelyn’s father. The other son, Marco, left for Europe after a hunting accident that blinded him in one eye. He’s a playboy, living the good life somewhere in Monaco. His daughter, the mother of Mary and Gina, lives in Southern France with her third husband. Antonio is desperate for a strong male heir, someone with the brains and brawn to handle his vast business that has taken a hit since the crisis. He could have just agreed to the amount you offered him, but I guess he wanted to leave Rossi Enterprises to his flesh and blood.”
Antonio Rossi had been the one to introduce their mother to their father. Obviously, his matchmaking days weren’t over.
As the oldest of four, Gio remembered their parents the best. Giacomo Detta, enforcer to a crime syndicate, had been a beast when it came to his job, but a traditional family man that had worshiped his wife. The second he stepped over the threshold of their house, the cold expression on his face disappeared and he became a doting husband. He’d told Gio once that agreeing to marry his mother was the best decision he’d ever made. According to him, when he’d first laid eyes on his future wife, he just knew. He was also convinced that every man worth his salt needed a strong woman. “Take care of your woman and she will take care of you,” had been his father’s credo. Protect and provide. Two words his father had lived by.
Sadly, however, he was dead now. No longer able to give him any life’s advice. Their beautiful mother would never dance with her sons on their wedding day. She would never hold a grandchild in her arms. No one had ever claimed the hit on Giacomo Detta, which was odd. Killing the enforcer of a crime boss was like cutting off his right arm. It was something to boast about, a rite of passage in those circles. Which was the reason they had never believed that their father had become a casualty in a family war. Especially not, since the same night, their mother was murdered as well.
Finding their parents’ murderer had always been their endgame. It had taken them over a decade to find the one responsible, and years to gather the means to make Oscar “The Knife” Bianchi pay. A year ago, Bianchi had been untouchable. But no more. They had slowly been chipping away at the bastard’s assets until he was close to hitting rock bottom.
Marrying a Rossi girl and taking control of Rossi Enterprises was the final step.
I like reading and writing about sassy women who can save themselves and alpha men with a heart of gold (sometimes). Yay to insta-lust, nay to insta-love.
If you're into romantic suspense, happily ever afters, and some steam (ok, sometimes a LOT of steam) try one of my books!