Contains bad words and sex-y scenarios. Mature (18+) audiences only.
Read Episode 4 here.
“Has it been confirmed that it’s his child?” Helmine Wagner asked.
Anna, who used to be Helmine’s most skilled soldier, was sitting across from her, in the middle of her study, with bandages distorting the stretch of the black shirt the woman wore.
Another one of Helmine’s soldiers had been killed by the woman she heard was not only Giorgio’s child’s mother, but also his wife. The news had come as a surprise to her considering Giorgio had been trained out of close relationships. Anything resembling love or affection should have been virtually impossible for him to feel or show. They didn’t have any information on this deadly black woman, but that would change.
“I took the sample,” Anna said, periodically gripping her chest to soothe the wound the black woman had etched there. “We should know shortly.”
Helmine sat straighter in a high-back chair that matched Anna’s. “You’ve seen the baby. Does he look like Giorgio?”
“It’s difficult to tell because he’s of mixed blood.” Anna scrunched her nose.
“What’s wrong?” Helmine asked, although she already knew.
“The black woman—”
“Killed one of my best men.”
“Helmine, this isn’t what Otto would have wanted.”
Helmine sneered. She’d created Otto Wagner, one of the most powerful businessmen in the world. A man who, when she met him, had been a boy with stupid, dismal dreams about being a carpenter in Europe.
She gave him decades as both his wife and business partner, but she never gave him what he wanted most—a houseful of beautiful, intelligent, and obedient children. Even before they’d married, she’d had no intention of doing so.
To prevent it, she’d had her fallopian tubes severed, a surgery her own mother had performed. A woman who would have been the greatest surgeon in the world if the world had been kind to her.
Fucking Otto was never something she desired, but she’d done her wifely duties. However, she could never fathom ruining her body and mind, and threatening her freedom and future for the sake of producing her useless late husband’s heir.
They both had come from good genetic stock with her fair hair and eyes like a Mediterranean coast and his darker features. Stupid, but handsome was how her mother had described him when they’d both decided, when she was fifteen, she would wed Otto and turn him into the magnate society wouldn’t have allowed her to be. At least, not back then.
When they found his body, it didn’t surprise her, and she found she didn’t care. What had surprised her was that it was determined it wasn’t Auserwahlte who’d killed him. It was Malachi, the baby born crippled who’d tried his entire life to change Otto’s mind about him. The baby who would have been eliminated if it wasn’t for the fact that he’d been born a twin. Malachi had even saved Otto’s life after her husband was nearly slaughtered by the beautiful child Otto had promised her would be hers to keep.
“My husband is dead, Anna,” Helmine reminded.
“Know your history.” She spat on the ground near Anna’s feet, her saliva frothing on the expensive area rug. “You think your Einsteins and your Tolstoys are geniuses? Ask their wives. While their husbands were getting drunk and scratching their asses, the wives were the ones making magic.”
Anna’s face blanched. Before apologies began stumbling from her mouth, the door to the study opened. A young man appeared in the entryway and peered around Anna’s body to meet Helmine’s eyes.
Helmine beamed. “Good. The child’s paternity has been confirmed.”
Sophia Bayeux came stumbling into the room, shoving the man to the side as she pushed through the entryway. Blood dripped from a wound in her upper arm. She had her father’s face, Otto’s face, and was the only girl they’d kept from the births that had taken place in Russia.
Otto had taken to the dark-haired child with eyes as large and round as a Reichsmark. Though he never admitted it, Helmine knew it was because he fell for Sophia’s mother.
She kept the girl around because Sophia was skilled and hungry, always wanting to prove herself to a father who’d been taken with her regardless. They had the same heart, Sophia and Otto—tainted and selfish. There was only one person in the world they feared. Sophia because Otto had revered Giorgio and Otto because he’d been afraid his weakness for his “blessed” son would lead to his end.
“I saw him,” Sophia said, her breaths coming in short. “I saw Giorgio.”
Helmine pushed up, batting away Anna’s assistance to help her nearly one-hundred-year-old body to her feet. “He let you go?”
Sophia shook her head. “I escaped.”
A smile spread across Helmine’s face. “Sophia, a hungry lion does not release its prey. Stupid girl, he has tricked you.”
Helmine motioned for Anna to step forward to examine the cut. Anna retrieved a tweezer from her clothing, slipped a pair of glasses onto her nose, and leaned close to the gash.
“Who told you to seek him out?” Helmine asked, studying Anna as she worked.
Sophia tilted her chin, proud. “I went on my own.”
“You sought him out and you came back injured.”
“I was doing reconnaissance,” Sophia argued. “I’ll kill him for what he did to my father.” Her gaze briefly shot to Anna’s covered chest. “And I’ll kill his so-called son’s mother for what he did to Anna.”
“The paternity has been established,” Helmine revealed.
“I don’t care. I’m still going to kill that bitch. I don’t know what Vater saw in him—”
“He was beautiful, wasn’t he?” Helmine took a few steps back, eyes still on them. “The most gorgeous child to have ever been born. All that dark hair, eyes both clear and dark. Otto knew it just like I know—Giorgio is perfect. Your mother was a whore from Bayeux, France. His mother was one of the loveliest and deadliest women in Pozza, Italy.”
“Got it.” Anna held up a small device. “The Beast is tracking her.”
Sophia’s eyes narrowed and a growl tore from her throat. “I swear, on my life, I’m going to kill Giorgio Pozza.”
Helmine turned away from the girl. She wanted to strangle her. She wished she could strangle her but at her age, the effort would be futile. Anna would step in and peel her hands from Sophia’s neck. Sophia would then plot a revenge that she would, most likely, be able to carry out. The end of her life was coming anyhow, but she wouldn’t die before she held that baby. Not before she saw the boy she’d wanted since his birth but Otto had stolen and hid from her.
“We’re going to have to move sooner than we planned,” she told Anna. “Tonight.”
“We don’t know where they are,” Anna argued.
“Get a team together anyhow. Use his wife and child. He’ll come from hiding.”
Sophia yanked her arm away from Anna’s hold. “And what if he comes without the child?”
“Then we threaten his wife.” Helmine’s voice lowered to a rasp. “Under no circumstances do you hurt him or that baby. The wife, I think I like her from what I’ve heard, but don’t think twice about killing her if she tries to get in the way of us taking her child.”
* * *
Giorgio tugged Mo closer into his side when he felt her try to move away. He couldn’t sleep and even after making love to her twice more, seeing Aleksi, and then eating with Tayler, Gage, and Grey . . . he was still tense. On edge. The old compulsions had returned, like poison in his blood.
“You’re twitching.” Mo reached for his busy hand that had been moving for what felt like hours. “What’s going on, babe?”
“You want to leave bed?” he asked, drawing her close enough to smell the sweet scent of her hair, and for her curls to brush his chest the way he liked.
“No, I was going to get the baby.”
The sound of Aleksi’s crying came through, all of a sudden, like his ears had been switched back on. Aleksi was in a crib in their room and still, he hadn’t heard his own flesh and blood calling for him.
“Sleep, Bez.” He planted a kiss on top of her head. “I will calm him.”
She brushed a kiss along his jaw. “I used to be terrified of your voice. Now, I can’t get enough of it. And the minute Aleksi hears it, he calms right down. He loves you, you know?”
For that statement alone, he wanted to fuck her, but their baby was crying.
He, regretfully, eased away from her smooth, warm body. “Sleep, Bez.”
She stretched forward, planted a loud smack against his lips, and then buried herself back under the covers.
Giorgio walked over to Aleksi’s crib and lifted the small bundle into his arms. “Tell me, what is wrong, Little Pozza.”
Just like Mo said, the crying stopped, and he wondered if she was right. If his son loved him.
She loved him, and it was something he still couldn’t believe. Without a doubt, he loved them. It didn’t matter that he found he still didn’t fully understand the emotions she made him feel—happiness, laughter, frustration—but he knew that he needed her. He needed her in his life and by his side. He needed her warmth and her eyelashes, her brown skin and her painted toes, the sound of her voice and the way she said his name.
Need, for him, was love. At least, the start of how he was beginning to understand it.
He sat in the far corner of the room and turned on a lamp to see Aleksi’s face better. His heart swelled when, after squinting from the influx of light, Aleksi searched until their gazes connected and then rewarded him with the biggest smile.
“I have made mistake,” Giorgio said, staring into his son’s face. “I start family in middle of war, but mistake is not you, rybka. Is not our Bez, your mother and my wife. Mistake is war. We are in agreement, yes?”
Aleksi kicked his legs, blowing bubbles between his lips.
“Yes. Very good.” Giorgio grinned. “Your father, you will still him love after he kill?”
A smile tugged at the corner of Aleksi’s mouth.
“He will,” Mo said from the darkness. “Just like I do.”
“I said sleep, Bez.”
“I was trying to, but I can’t sleep when you’re talking all sweet to the baby.”
Giorgio’s phone went off. Mo reached across the bed, grabbed it, and held it up to her ear. “Hey, Julien,” she greeted. “Why are you up this late?”
Her face fell. Her head bobbed as she cleared tears from her throat. Giorgio stood, walked over and handed her Aleksi, and then took the phone from her hand.
“What is it?”
Julien sighed. “It’s Mo and Ari’s parents. They were attacked at their home in Australia.”
He liked her parents. They liked him. They never wanted him to touch knives again, but he liked them.
“They are dead?” Giorgio asked.
“No, but they’re pretty badly injured. Ari and I are heading out there tonight.”
“Okay.” He handed the phone back to Mo and walked straight to the closet to change.
He felt her watching him while she received updates on her parents. When he was finished, he went back to her.
“You won’t get me not to join you on this,” she said.
He nodded. “Da, we are in agreement. We are going back to our home. Tonight. They will be there.”
“Good.” Mo glanced down at their son. “I’m ready for this to be over.”
* * *
“You brought the baby. Good.”
Mo looked up from the bundle she was rocking in her arms at the same redheaded intruder from the other night. “I just want this to stop,” she said, her voice soft.
The woman nodded. “I understand. My name is Anna. And, you are Moana. Our people met your parents.”
Mo released what, on the outside, looked like a shuddering sigh but inside, she was fuming. “Yes. I know. That’s why I came back here. I knew you’d be here. I’d like a compromise.”
“The baby.” Anna pointed at the bundle. “That’s the only compromise.”
“He’s my only child. Please, anything else.”
Anna stepped forward. “I won’t leave without that bundle you’ve swaddled in your arms, Moana.”
Mo puffed up her chest and then released another sigh. “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” She drew back the blanket on the bundle in her arms to reveal a pump-action shotgun. “As you wish, Anna.”
Mo and Giorgio are from the book, “Angels and Assassins: The Dark Knight.”