Home > Bayonet Scars #1 - Ride

Bayonet Scars #1 - Ride
Author: J.C. Emery

J.C. Emery - Bayonet Scars #1 - Ride

Ride (Bayonet Scars #1)
J.C. Emery

romance/new adult/erotica


Chapter 1

A woman's place in public is to sit beside her husband,

be silent, and be sure her hat is on straight.

- Bess Truman

THE ROOM IS packed full of Italians to the point where I think the walls might explode. This many Armani suits and Versace dresses in one house can only mean one thing around here: somebody is dead.

Across the room, my best friend, Adriana Thomas stands, looking as bored as I feel. I catch her attention, and with a head nod and eyebrow arch she knows exactly what I’m looking at. She puts her hand over her mouth and giggles, making me giggle, too. It’s so ridiculous. Sidled up to the dessert table is my Aunt Gloria. She has one of Uncle Emilio's giant cannolis in her mouth, the cream filling all over her face, not even noticing the mess she's made of herself. Uncle Emilio will not be pleased if he catches sight of this. He's been trying to calm Aunt Gloria's appetite for years.

My father's hand, wrapped around my forearm, tightens, and I remember that I’m supposed to be paying attention to the conversation before me. I turn back to my father, Carlo Mancuso, and smile apologetically. I'd forgotten my place for a moment there. Across from my father stands one of his soldiers, Leonardo Scavo, who—as always—keeps his dark brown eyes on me. A blush forms on my cheeks and I look away, smiling. Leo’s just barely twenty-three and is quickly rising in the ranks on his way to becoming a Capo. He’s smart, good-looking, and my father trusts him, which meant he has some serious earning power. I try to remind myself that I could do much worse than Leo Scavo.

"Alexandra!" Aunt Gloria shouts from across the room, wiping her face clean of cannoli and striding toward me. Ever since my mother died a few years ago, Aunt Gloria has taken it upon herself to teach me how to be a woman in this world. I smile despite my grouchy mood. If Aunt Gloria thinks something is wrong she’ll never let me hear the end of it until she knows exactly what’s up.

It’s not that I don't like my aunt; it’s more like she makes me uncomfortable in public. She’s so loud and always shouting about something or other, which embarrasses Uncle Emilio to no end. It’s not a secret that if Gloria wasn't Joseph Mancuso's daughter—and Carlo Mancuso's baby sister—Emilio Vescovi never would have married her, nor would he continue to parade her around in public. The woman is a drunk half the time. But she’s also the closest thing to a mother that I have.

My father releases my arm and allows Gloria to slide in between us. I'll give her one thing, she knows me well. She knows how much I hate being dragged around by my father like I’m some sort of prized show dog. And because she grew up in this lifestyle, she also knows I don't have the ability to do anything about it. I lean over, kissing her cheek. She returns the kiss and wipes the smeared lipstick off my cheek.

"Carlo." She greets my father with an enormous smile. She kisses his cheek and he kisses her forehead, as is tradition in the family. My mother explained it to me once—a kiss on the cheek is a sign of respect, which is why Uncle Emilio, my father's underboss, always kisses my father's cheek in greeting before a sit down—not that I'm supposed to know that. A kiss on the forehead is a promise of protection.

"Have you been good to my girl?" she asks. My father locks his jaw in frustration. Gloria, while oblivious, is disrespecting my father—or at least that's the way he sees it. Despite being born into the family and having married a family man, Gloria never really watches her tongue. Somehow, she gets away with it. If I were to try it, my mouth would be swollen for a week.

"Ask her yourself, Gloria. She's standing right next to you," he says, swirling the single malt scotch in his cognac snifter before knocking it back. Gloria looks to me, but says nothing. Loud and abrasive, sure, but even she knows her limits. Asking my father if he's been good to me suggests that he is incapable of caring for me, that she doesn't trust his judgment. If there's one thing you never question in this family, it's the boss's judgment. It doesn't matter if he's your brother or not, and it's really unwise to do so in a room full of his men.

In an effort to ease the tension, I ask my father if he wants me to get him some more scotch. Without even looking at me, he shoves his glass in my direction and focuses his attention on Leo.

"Let's talk, Son," my father says, clapping Leo on the back and leading him toward his office. My breath catches. A few heads turn suddenly, surprised to hear his declaration to Leo. Calling him "Son" publicly is my father making him a promise, a promise for my hand. I look at the ground, refusing to meet anyone's eyes as I make my way to the wet bar in the game room and remind myself—again—that I actually kind of like Leo.

Adriana beelines from her place next to her mother and catches up to me just as I turn the corner into the empty game room. She whisper-shouts, “What the hell was that?”

I look around to make sure we’re alone and say, “You know what that was. Daddy Dearest pretty much just sold me to the highest bidder.”

“I can’t believe this shit. I’m so sorry,” she says, giving my back a gentle rub. I try to shake it off, but it’s difficult. “I thought you were going to talk to him?”

“I did talk to him. He gave me some bullshit about making sure I’m taken care of, making sure I’m not being used, et cetera.”

“At least Leo’s hot,” she says, giving me a wicked smile.

“Yeah, he is.”

“Well, I’m here all summer. We need to hang out before you get so wrapped up in Scavo dick that you forget all about your best girl.”

“Sure thing,” I say and wave her comment off, watching as she shuffles back to her mother’s side. Best friend or not, I kind of want to slap her right now. She has no idea how lucky she is. For graduation last year, she got a new BMW to take with her to Vassar. I got a trip to see my nonna in Cusio, Italy, where she spent three months trying to train me to be the perfect house wife. I don’t know why she bothered. Her efforts at turning me into the perfect Principessa kind of failed.

Watching the door to my father's office from my place in front of the wet bar, I wonder what my father has to talk to Leo about that is so important they had to have a meeting in the middle of Sal's wake. Business is never to be discussed during a wake, but that kind of respect is rarely reserved for rats like Sal. Nobody talks about it because Sal was a Capo and that would be disrespectful to him and his widow, Caterina, but the bullet-hole in the center of his throat tells everybody the truth: Sal talked.

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