chapter one


*** UNEDITED ***

I’ve lived my whole life never once feeling fear. Guilt, regret, sin—those are things I live with every day. I understand them. Those emotions lie under the surface of my skin slowly eating away at me, but they are familiar. I was raised by a man who strikes fear into most people who know him, or know of him, but the one thing he did drill into me was not to be scared of anything or anyone, not even him. And I never have—until now.

That’s right, motherfucker. It was your own blood that ordered the hit on your bitch and to take that bastard kid. Diaz’s words come back to me, pounding down on my chest as if hammering them into me will make them more real. 

My father knows about Bri and somehow knows I’m in love with her. If he didn’t believe that then there wouldn’t have been a reason to order Diaz to kill her. Like me, every decision he makes is calculated for his gain. He wants me under his thumb. He wants me following in his footsteps like Eric did by becoming a federal agent because his father was one, but unlike Eric’s dad, my father is on the wrong side of the law.

Vincent Acerbi also knows I have a son and I wouldn’t put it past him to have orchestrated that whole fucked-up bait and switch scheme. Bri said Chasity Carlisle’s uncle was the person that used her love for him to his advantage, persuading her to go along with the plan for me to impregnate her. 

Jesus, who thinks this shit up?

Even to my own ears it sounds farfetched, but it’s been proven to have happened. I’d bet my life that my father was a part of it. He was most likely the mastermind behind it. What better way to get me to do his bidding than if he was holding my child’s safety over my head. With the exception of the man responsible for creating me, I’ve never held back how much I love my family. It’s really my only downfall; not being able to turn off my emotions from those I care for the most.

Watching Bri sleeping in my bed, her body curved around Gabriel’s and knowing she is carry another son or a daughter in her belly is one of the greatest things in my life, but they are my weaknesses. They instill fear in my soul. If I look at it another way, the way she needs me to look at it, then they could also be my ultimate strength because one thing is for sure, I’ll be damned if anyone is going to come along and take them from me.

I pity a motherfucker that dares lay a hand on my family—again.

For them, I’ll commit any number of sins to ensure their safety and well-being.

Turning away from them, I reach across the nightstand, grabbing my cell phone and shoot E a quick text.

Me: We need to talk. 

Eric: I don’t talk to inebriated stupid fucks. Sorry, bro.

My best friend is about the only person that could get away with calling me a stupid fuck and not land on his ass because of it. In this case, he’s mostly right. I’m sober, but I was stupid when it came to walking away from Bri and my son. No matter how sure I was standing in that courtroom earlier today, I know now it would have never lasted. Not even the devil himself could keep me away from them.

After Eric found Gabriel crying in that warehouse office the day I shot that dirty cop and then chased down that piece of shit Diaz, my mind was made up. At that point there was nothing E could say to change my decision of giving up my parental rights to Gabe and handling him over to Bri, walking away from both of them. In my head, I didn’t see any other way to keep them safe and unscathed from my family’s baggage.

When Bri showed up with Gabriel a couple of hours ago all of my reasons and what I thought was best for them went to shit and doubt crept in. Suddenly, everything I never thought I wanted—a future with a wife and kids—was standing in front of me. All I had to do was reach out and take it. So, I did exactly that. I took back what was already mine.

That’s not to say I won’t have hell to pay because if I know Bri and I do, she’s not going to make earning her trust back easy.

Me: Be here in the morning. Bring that douchebag with you.

Shutting off my phone, I place it face down on the nightstand and then crawl back under the covers, scooting as close to them as I can get without disturbing them from their peaceful slumber. I’ll worry about my next move with my father and how I’m going to get him back in the States tomorrow. I’m too fucking tired of thinking and dwelling on how I’m going to end his reign.

It seems impossible, but whatever it takes, it has to be done.

Vincent Acerbi’s time on earth is going to come to an end one way or another. A life for life. He took from us what wasn’t his for the taking, and for that he will to pay.

That I promise, Bri.


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