By Adyasha Acharya
A party with security detail is always dangerous. But a party without one is always worse. And it tells a lot about the host of the party. The world is a dangerous place after all. However, the man owning this property is even more.
I pick up a champagne flute from the tray the waiter holds out to me. “Miss Doherty,” he nods at me then disappears into the crowd.
Dammit! He still remembers me from my time in the Bradford mansion. It was a year ago. Time may have passed by but the memories are still here. Still fresh.
“I think you forgot something,” a velvety voice speaks into my ear. Gods, I wasn’t supposed to meet him in the first five minutes I’ve stepped foot into his property.
Victor holds out a black swan mask for me. His short cropped raven hair is the first thing that comes to my notice. Then his navy blue suit. I don’t want to look at his face but he does. And he always gets what he wants. “Look at me, Rebecca.”
I force my chin up to meet his midnight blue gaze. The time apart from him hurt but it hurts even more right at this moment.
Victor Bradford is the new boss of the Phoenix mafia after his elder brother Keegan died recently. Victor and I have history together. We were together for two years until he killed my brother.
He did it to save me, yes. But I still can’t get over it. His brother killed my father and I have no family left now because of the Bradford brothers. My brother had gone crazy for power so he had planned to kill me and take over our mafia empire. And my father loved my brother so much he did whatever Charles told him to.
I left this city and went to stay away with my aunt who lives in a small town in Greece. But here I am now, in front of Victor Bradford again. The man who killed my brother and didn’t stop me from leaving. I know he loves me but he loves his empire too.
“What brings you here, Rebecca?” he asks softly. This is a masquerade party so he ties a silver warrior mask around his face for tradition.
I sigh. I am already here so why not tell him the truth. “You.” For a moment, his eyes soften, the icy cold gaze gone.
“You were safe in Greece.” Of course he knew where I was. He could spend his time tracking me down but no text or call me.
“You aren’t safe here,” I counter. The crowd is busy but I wouldn’t risk having this conversation here. “I should come back later.”
He grips my arm and twists me around, pulling me to his chest. “No.” Victor glances around then returns his blue gaze to me. “Dance with me.”
I should say no. But a year away from the man you love only increases the yearning for him. “One dance.”
“Non poenitet,” he whispers to me. You won’t regret it.
The dance should be a normal dance but it isn’t. The closeness drives me crazy and it unnerves Victor too. The way his hand rests on my waist is just like old times and still new. The place and dance are the same. Us together, not so much.
His finger lifts up and brushes lightly against my cheek. I freeze. “I wish I could erase all that happened last year.”
“You can’t,” I mumble.
“And I won’t even. Charles got what he deserved.” Just like that, the mafia boss is back. “Keegan is dead.”
“I know.” Isn’t that one of the reasons why I am here? “How are you holding up?”
“I haven’t found Lester Birmingham yet.” So he knows that one of the Birmingham’s men had killed his brother. Lester runs illegal business unlike Victor’s Phoenix mafia and ours the Black Swans.
The music changes and Victor lets me go. “Rebecca,” he says softly.
“Stay the night. We need to talk.”
Two hours later, it’s just me, my gang and this beautiful woman; I have given my heart to. A year without her made me realize two things- my legacy isn’t the only thing important to me and that I should have not let her go.
“You should tell her,” Colin says from in front of me. I look at him. He is sitting like he owns this place, with his boots on my desk.
I slap his legs. “Get your feet off my desk.” I glare at my best friend and second-in-command. “And it isn’t easy. One year is a long time.”
Colin places his hands on my desk this time. “Look you might be the most powerful man in the city right now but you need Rebecca. You chose your family. And look where they have gotten you. Keegan is dead. You didn’t propose to Rebecca like you should have and you have used more bullets than any manufacturer could provide us with.”
“Get out!” I snap at him just as Rebecca walks in.
Yes, I have killed too many. However, all of them were either criminals or drug cartel members. The world is a better place without them in it.
Keegan was murdered one week ago and I’ve been worse hence after. I should’ve known he was one this path. “Rebecca,” Colin greets her. “It’s nice to see you after so long.”
“I just came to give Victor important information.” So, that’s it. She didn’t come here because she missed me. I can’t blame her. My family destroyed hers.”
“That’s a cover, I know.” Colin blows a whistle then leaves.
I get up from my chair, walk past the woman with blonde hair and green eyes and shut the door. Removing my blazer, I drop it on the couch in the corner. I unbutton the top of my shirt and roll up my sleeves. “So, you wanted to talk.”
“Yeah, I got a tip from my friend that Lester is going to launch an attack on your gang. You are the target.”
As much as I don’t want to doubt her, I still have to confirm the source. “Who’s the friend?”
“Timothy.” That bastard is accurate as hell. He used to work for both of us till Rebecca left. Now he works only for her.
“He hacked Lester’s private security head’s phone. I was suspecting him for being the reason behind your brother’s death.”
I rub my forehead then send a message to Colin to increase security. “Thank you.”
“I should go to the guest room,” Rebecca says though I know she wants me to stop her and say something.
“Wait.” I grab her by the wrist. “I am sorry for what happened to Charles. I don’t know what to say to make it better but you have to understand I did it because I love you.” Her eyes widen at that. “I still do. The three hundred and sixty five days haven’t changed that.”
“It is in the past now,” she says. “Just be careful.”
I nod shoving my hands in my pockets. She is leaving. I have to stop her before she leaves and we are back to square one. This is my only chance. “Do you still love me?”
She presses her lips together before answering, “Yes.” And that is all it takes for me to claim her mouth with mine.
Victor’s lips are a huge ocean in which I am drowning. And I don’t need saving from this. He is everywhere. I had missed his touch so much. Missed him so much.
“Don’t leave me this time,” he whispers into my hair.
“I won’t.” I trace my finger along his stubble. “Victor, I am sorry for leaving you.” His blue eyes capture me.
He pushes a strand of my hair behind my ear. “You came back for me.”
“You are in danger.”
“Come, I’ll show your something.” He tugs me towards his desk and opens his drawer. A blue velvet box lies there, untouched. “I was going to give this to you before the fight at the warehouse.” He opens it to show me a beautiful diamond ring. “Rebecca, will you-”
Victor puts the ring inside his pocket and removes his Beretta 92. It is the most popular gun in today’s era. And Victor is an expert shooter. He never misses.
He looks at the clutch I’m holding. “How did you get it past the detector?”
“It was Bentley outside.” Bentley’s Victor’s second most trusted man after Colin.
“Come on.” He opens the door and checks the hallway first then motions at me. Victor and I have had good combat experiences, alone and together. But this is a surprise attack. Victor’s men aren’t prepared. And Lester wants Victor dead.
There is a gush of wind and an assassin crashes through the window scattering glass shards everywhere.
Victor is ready though. He ducks the blow and elbow’s him, and then slams his head into the wall rendering him unconscious. After the assassin has fallen, he takes out his phone to call Colin.
I glance outside through the window to see several cars entering the gates. They are inside the property. A man in a suit climbs out. Lester.
“Victor, you need to leave!” I tell him. He is unprepared and this is his life at risk. “Lester has a lot more men than we can fight.”
Shots fire in the garden. “This is my home,” Victor grinds out. “I am not leaving. But you should, Rebecca.”
“I am not leaving you!” I hiss.
Two more assassins jump in through another window. One of them heads straight for me and I slam my clutch into his face. He gets startled and takes out his glock and shoots at me unsteadily.
“That’s not how you shoot, you know!” I sidestep and trip him. He falls flat in his face. I grab his head back and slam it on the carpet.
“Let’s go!” Victor and I race down the stairs. I am glad I wore a knee length for this occasion and not a gown.
I keep glancing at him wondering how he could risk his life for anyone else. But this is the Phoenix mafia, his family. I would have done the same too.
“Victor,” a voice drawls from downstairs. “I know you and your lady love are here.”
“He is baiting you,” I mumble stopping Victor. “You can’t just walk into the trap.”
“I know.” He runs his hand through his dishevelled hair. “Shit!”
“I have an idea,” I say. It is risky but it’ll work. “If we kill Lester, his men will stand down.”
Victor glares at Lester and the ten assassins in the foyer below. “Fine. Let’s do this.”
It is like the old times when Victor and I used to work together. Our families didn’t hate each other when we had first met. Things started to change when they realized we were working together.
He knows the drill. We just don’t fight, we strategize. That is more important when there is an enemy in front of you.
“Only ten,” Victor clucks his tongue. “Not good enough to beat us.” I roll my eyes. Always the more melodramatic person. “What do you say, Rebecca? Are you in?”
I smile at him. “You don’t have to ask.”
I remove my CZ 75 from my clutch and fire at the rope holding the chandelier. It drops down on two of the assassins. “Lester’s all yours.” I give Victor a quick kiss. “There is still much to talk.”
“And I have a question for you.”
He smiles before heading for the stairs and I bet the stars it is the best thing I have seen ever in my life.
Victor starts firing as he descends down the stairs. He kills four more assassins without even letting them understand what’s about to happen. That leaves me two because Colin shows up and takes care of the other two.
“It is just you and me, Lester,” Victor says, voice firm.
Lester glowers at him. “I’ll kill you like I killed your brother.” He himself did it?
He fires at Victor, his shot missing him by an inch. Victor didn’t move. He knew he wasn’t gonna get hit. Lester charges at him.
Victor greets him with a kick to his chest. But Lester hangs on. He punches Victor’s shoulder. I can’t interfere because this is Victor’s fight. Lester’s trick causes Victor’s pistol to drop to the floor. Victor then gets the upper hand and throws Lester on the floor.
He is about to knock him unconscious when Lester removes a small knife and stabs Victor in the arm.
“Victor!” I shout worried about him.
Blood gushes out from the fresh wound but Victor manages to hold on. “I’m fine,” he mutters. He punches Lester. Once. Twice. Lester falls back on the floor again, weak. “You should have known better than to challenge me.”
Then he picks up his Beretta and shoots him.
I rush over to Victor once the fight is over. Colin calls their doctor on phone. I remove a handkerchief from my clutch and tie it around his arm. When I glance up at him, he is intensely staring at me. “What?”
“I wanted to ask you something important before Lester barged in.”
“And what’s that?”
“Rebecca, I should have done this a long time ago.” He cradles my face with his other hand then goes down onto one knee. “Will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?”
“And I would have said the same thing I’ll say now- yes!”
Bio- Dr. Adyasha Acharya is a medical intern in Odisha, India. She has published two novels previously- “The Fearless Warriors” (2015) and “The Guardian” (2021), short stories titled “Nexus” , “The Psychics”, “The Dreamcatcher”, “The Mayhem City” in Short Story Me, “The Midnight Ritual” and pocket book “The Summer Weekend”.
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