Chapter One

Mills Basin, New York

December 2009


Maronna.” Carlo turned around from where he stood steering the boat. “Make sure all the fucking evidence is gone, cause someone’s calling the heat for sure. This party just started.”

Tino laughed as Carlo pulled the boat up to the dock of the Mills Basin mansion their borgata used for entertaining on the outside, and as a cover for other nefarious reasons the rest of the time. An extremely affluent area of Brooklyn, it was also conveniently located on Jamaican Bay where boat front parking was a thing. No one would ask why they’d be out since midafternoon. Tino and Carlo didn’t look at all unusual pulling up to attend his sister’s birthday party in the 23-foot Yellowfin. 

Since it was her twentieth, the don gave Carina the Mills Basin house to use for the weekend. Big fucking mistake. The music vibrated over the water though it was past nine at night, and it would likely only get louder. Tino wasn’t sure if the place could last the next three days when his sister was in full-throttle party mode and it was obvious she went all out for this one.

People were everywhere, all over the balconies, and scattered on the lawn despite the cold. Others sat on the docks that were so full of boats Carlo was bitching about getting docked. Tino noticed most of the guests were wearing decorative, Mardi Gras type masks, giving the party a very forbidden, sexual feel that pulsated in the air even from their view on the water. There were smoke machines, sending the mist streaming out into the bay. The lighting on the balconies was done in deep reds, casting shadows everywhere, giving it a red-light district look. 

“What’s up with the masks? Fuck that. I can’t go in there. There’s no way. If Lola finds out I was at a party like this for three days, she’ll have my ass. Can you imagine what a scorned half-Dominican, half-Italiana would be capable of after that happened? I’m not even going to talk about the music. The old man would lose his fucking mind if he heard Carina singing about her milkshakelike she’s selling it.”

“But it does actually bring all the boys to the yard.” Tino held up his hand to the house as evidence. “It’s not false advertisement.”

The music was loud, quake the walls loud, but it was unlikely anyone would actually call the cops. More like the neighbors were just waiting for it to be over and fortunately the mansion was mostly private on a corner lot of the inlet, which was probably why the don bought it. 

The place was fucking huge too. 

Even bigger than the Don’s Bensonhurst mansion, and it was still overflowing with people. It looked like half of Brooklyn was there and a large chunk of Manhattan along with them because his sister was one of those people who collected admirers. 

She did throw a good party, and the entertainment was always top notch. The band she hooked up with a few months ago was multitalented in the best ways possible. The guitarist could rap and Carina was a versatile performer. Together they could perform just about anything, so they were great for parties. 

Especially her own. 

“I bet Nova’s hating life,” Tino snorted. “You know the don asked him to come and keep an eye on the place, like she’s gonna listen to him more than anyone else. Dark pope, my ass. I swear your father gets more clueless by the day.”

“Nova’s not the only one on the line with this place.” Carlo rolled his eyes. “The old man asked me to look after it too. It’s the most expensive property in the Borgata.” He held his hands up to the house. “What the fuck? It’s already over. It’ll be twenty grand in repairs. Easy.”

“Happy birthday to the princess.” Tino jumped over the edge of the boat onto the dock “Later.”

“Can you tell her to take it down three thousand notches?” Carlo called out in Italian with that huge Sicilian curve to it that was uniquely Carlo, since his mother was actually from Sicily. “We’re all going to fucking hear it on Monday if you don’t. You’re supposed to be keeping her in line. It’s literally part of your job. He pays you for that shit. You know there are drugs everywhere in that house. The heat shows up and she’s going to land in lockup.” Carlo sounded a little manic as Tino walked away and Carina started singing My Humps, since clearly her set had a theme. “At least have her pick different music! I’m serious, Tino! Someone’s telling the old man about this kinky shit and he’s going to freak the fuck out. She’s not allowed to sell it like that.”

Tino just held up his hand in acknowledgement, which felt pointless, but he humored Carlo. With the last name Moretti, Carlo should be the one turning it up, not keeping it down. All Cosa Nostra was notorious for enjoying the fruits of their labors and living it up. Why wouldn’t they if the job had them constantly living life on the fucking edge? Italians wrote the book on indulgence since back when Romans were rocking togas, but the Morettis in particular were known for it. 

That was their special contribution to organized crime. 

Each family had their own little corner of the underworld to keep the peace. Like the De Lucas with their big, scary, super intense loan sharking racket and their domination of Las Vegas that Nova was not so secretly jealous of. 

The Moretti’s had their hands in a few Atlantic City casinos, but it wasn’t their main source of income. They did a lot of old school union stuff too, and the old man had been favoring arms deals with the Russians, but this was their realgig since it seemed to come to them naturally. They had been building their rep since prohibition, and each Moretti generation managed to one up the other. Gambling would’ve probably been better than supplying half the country with weed and party candy, but it could always be worse. 

They could be the fucking Brambinos. 

And the point was, Tino was absolutely certain the old man knew what Carina was going to do when he let her have the Mills Basin mansion for her birthday. It was her birthright and so long as she made sure her party was the biggest, flashiest, most outrageously Siciliano party to ever hit Brooklyn, he was fine with it. 

The don had a sea of mafia muscle there to scare away anyone who thought they could somehow take advantage of Carina while she was enjoying turning twenty. 

The mansion was designed in a way that all the doors slid back to make the entrances on the ground floor and out from balconies wide open. There were heat lamps outside, making it even steamier, and the way they heated the chilly November air was jarring. 

“No guns.”

Tino stopped and looked down at the hand on his chest. Then he glanced back up at Gino Moretti and arched an eyebrow. 

“Sorry.” Gino jerked his hand back. “I didn’t notice it was you.”

They’d only gone to school together since they were both twelve and spent most holidays together, because the don always threw big parties to celebrate like most Morettis were apt to do.

Gino’s father also happened to be one of the lead guys in Tino’s father’s crew. Not that there was any love lost between Tino and his father—or his crew—but the relation made him more than just a Borgata brother. Gino was his second or third cousin. Tino could never keep up. Their grandfathers were brothers, which certainly made them blood. In their family, when Morettis multiplied like they did, it was easier to just think of them allas cousins and not worry about the fine details. 

Lately, Gino had been on Nova’s crew. 

Doing that top shelf muscle thing guys like him did. Not too smart, but with the right last name, he was a great one to shadow someone in the administration like Nova. 

And there was always something to keep him busy, like doing a really shitty job at manning the door. 

“You’re not looking at people’s faces?” Tino asked him in disbelief considering Gino was on Nova’s crew and one of the assholes responsible for keeping his brother safe. “You’re supposed to be paying attention, motherfucker.”

Gino shrugged. “It’s dark.”

“I’m keeping my guns.” Tino pushed past him, and then decided to give Gino a break and warn him, “Carlo’s behind me.”

“Thanks, man.” Gino smiled. “He’s always so fucking uptight.”

“Sure.” Tino patted his shoulder, since they were blood and all. Not that he hadn’t been highly fucked over by blood before, but Tino was in a good mood considering he was done with work and had an entire weekend to party his ass off with his girl that was somewhere in this mansion waiting to be found. “I got your back.”

Tino forgot about Gino a few seconds later. 

He found Brianna. 

How could he miss her? Even if the red lighting cast eerie shadows through the mist, and it was otherwise dark like Gino claimed, Tino couldn’t see anyone else but her. Especially since she was on stage, doing what she was born to do. 

Carina was front and center, microphone in hand, but Brianna was playing back up. Brianna had always been more of a dancer than a singer, but all the focus on theater in college forced Brianna to work on her voice if she wanted to or not. 

Truth was, he thought Brianna was doing an amazing job singing back up, not that Tino was biased or anything. His admiration had absolutely nothing to do with those mile-long legs or her glittering dancer high heels or the way she moved while she sang. It definitely wasn’t her skirt that was way too short, or her crop top that was so low cut it left him awe-struck while he watched her.

Okay, fine, Brianna didn’t have Carina’s voice that was still eerily beautiful, but she didn’t need itwhen she could grind like that.  

Tino should probably kill half the motherfuckers in here for eye fucking his girl while she performed. Instead he flopped down next to Nova, who was sitting on a couch. It was one of the few seats in the house that was currently standing room only for the party. Nova always got the good seats, one of the small benefits of being the don’s right-hand-man. Motherfuckers tripped over themselves to give Nova a seat. This one was all the more prime for being next to the outlet, which Nova utilized by charging his phone that he was currently staring at like the party wasn’t bring down the roof around him. 

“I’m gonna let her use me and abuse me in the best ways possible after she’s done with this set,” Tino confessed to his brother, not taking his gaze off the stage as he watched the way Brianna and Carina stood back to back, singing. Tino was so captivated he was able to mostly ignore his sister whose skirt was every bit as short as Brianna’s. “I’m serious. You have no idea the perverted shit I’m gonna do for her. I’m definitely eating her ass. Sweaty.”

“I get it.” Nova held up his hand. “Really, I got it, Valentino. You don’t have to paint a picture.”

“All night,” Tino went on and raised his eyebrows when his brother looked at him in annoyance. “I’m licking it sweaty all fucking night.”

Per favore.” Nova gave him a look of pleading. “I’ve been listening to this merda for two hours. I’m pretty sure she’s trying to sing every possible song about her tits and ass that exists in American pop culture. If I have to hear you talk about licking sweaty ass on top of it, I’ll off myself. I’m not kidding. This is my personal version of hell. Bubblegum pop princess up there and your twisted worship of Brianna that has never been right. There’s no way it can get worse.”

“It’s not twisted. I like it salty.” Tino was almost insulted. “I’m very Siciliano like that. So what?”

Nova dropped his face in his face in his hand just as Carina started singing, I Kissed a Girl. He did look miserable, but Tino refused to feel bad about it. 

“Why, you don’t like it? I know you do. Don’t fucking lie, Casanova. You like it dirty and salty like the rest of us,” Tino argued, because it wasn’t like Nova had room to give anyone shit about being twisted. “Admit you’ve eaten ass.”

“I’ll admit it,” Carlo said as he fell down next to Tino on the couch. “Every chance I get.”

“Sweaty?” Tino asked curiously. 

“Hell, yes,” Carlo agreed, his smile wide and bright under the red lights. “Is there any other way?”

Nova just rubbed his forehead rather than respond. He went back to looking at his phone, ignoring them like he’d been ignoring the stage. 

“What the fuck is she singing?” Carlo said when Nova never responded. “I thought the last one was bad.”

“She’s done more than kiss a girl,” Tino said with a laugh. “One time, she got loaded and told me—”

“Valentino, no,” Nova cut him off. 

Tino laughed. 

Nova looked back to him. “I wouldn’t be laughing that hard, stronzo. It’s your girlfriend she’s rubbing against while she’s singing it.”

Tino waved it off. “It wasn’t Bri. She did it with Sister Justina her senior year.”

“Did it?” Nova repeated because that obviously got his full attention. “Did what exactly?”

Tino shrugged again. “Let’s just say she was failing Algebra before that night.”

“I knew she didn’t fucking earn that A,” Nova barked at him like his sister’s fling with a nun was the least shocking part of the confession. “I knew that was bullshit.”

“Sister Justina is easily the finest teacher at St. Frances.” Carlo shook his head. “If I had her in high school, I would’ve spent a lot more time in math class.”

“Sister Justina is hot.” Nova looked back to the stage thoughtfully, clearly having some sort of internal war with himself. Then, he seemed to choke on the words when he asked Tino, “Who was on their knees?”

Carlo leaned in too, clearly trying to hear over the music. 

“You really think Carina got on her knees for an A in Algebra. Since when does she give a shit?” Tino reminded the two of them. “Come on. You know who was on their knees. You don’t even have to ask.”

“Well, okay.” Carlo sounded impressed. “Carina is definitely more boss than we’ll ever be.”

“Probably.” Nova sighed in annoyance. “She certainly doesn’t half ass shit.”

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