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Danger's Heir
Author: Mari Carr

 

Danger’s Heir

 

 

She fell in love, got married…and it was all a lie.

They expected a mafia princess, but when Rodrigo meets the woman his father is forcing him to marry, he realizes Giada is much more than she seems. Smart and dangerous, she’s the kind of woman he could love…too bad everything he’s about to tell her is a lie.

Casson knows Rodrigo is in too deep. Rodrigo’s undercover mission as the heir to a powerful Camorra don should have ended long ago, but now he’s engaged to the daughter of another dangerous man, and it’s Casson’s job to pull him out.

There’s just one problem. Giada.

She’s nothing either man expected, and everything they want. The last thing they expect is for Giada to invite both of them to her bed.

As the wedding day looms closer, and enemies close in, the line between what's real and what's a lie becomes blurred, and Rodrigo and Casson have to decide if love is enough. And if they should tell her the truth.

Unfortunately, there’s someone else waiting in the wings to make sure they never say “I do.”

 

 

Prologue

 

 

It is with great pleasure that Signore and Signora Aristide Russo of Palermo announce the engagement of their beautiful niece, Giada Russo, to Rodrigo Capello. Rodrigo is the son of prominent businessman Armani Capello of Genoa. The happy couple will celebrate with family and friends at an engagement gala at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo in Lombardy. The wedding will be held on the Capello yacht at sunset in one month’s time. Formal invitations will be sent out closer to the date.

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

Rome wouldn’t burn again if he could help it.

Antonio Starabba slid into his desk chair with a sigh. He would have stifled the sigh if there’d been anyone else in the room besides his husband and wife. Karl was working, papers spread out on the low table in the center of the small seating area. Leila was occupied with something less casual. She was disassembling and reassembling a sniper rifle with alarming quickness.

Antonio wasn’t one for guns, but his wife was sexy in a very dangerous way while holding a large gun. No one but he and Karl ever got to see her with it, since on those occasions when she reactivated her expertise as a sniper, her targets never saw her.

“You don’t have to stay,” Antonio said in Italian. His spouses were now fluent in the language of Antonio’s home territory.

“Do you want us to leave?” Karl didn’t look up.

“Never.”

“Then we’ll stay for quiet moral support.”

“I’m not going to be quiet.” Leila smiled. “I’ll keep practicing. One of them might recognize the sound.”

“Is it a good idea to threaten the fleet admiral?” Now Karl did look up.

“I’m not threatening him.” There was a sinister clack as she popped a piece into place. “This is for those morons in Castile.”

Antonio grunted his agreement with that statement even as he turned on his computer. It would take a few minutes for the secure video chat to come online.

“How’s Milo?” Karl asked.

Asking about Milo Moretti wasn’t the subject jump it might have seemed. Milo’s wife was the flashpoint for their current crisis, through no fault of her own. Several months ago, Dr. Talya Maes had been kidnapped by the mafia. She’d been held prisoner alongside human trafficking victims, but she’d been taken to help the Camorra with a very different sort of crime. They’d wanted Talya to create a bioweapon. A drug that would turn people into caution-less super soldiers.

The entire Talya situation had been a mess from beginning to end. First, because despite the fact that Talya was a member of the Masters’ Admiralty, Europe’s oldest still-functioning secret society, no one had noticed she’d gone missing. The society was divided geographically into nine territories, whose borders were based on maps and empires far older than modern Europe. It just so happened that Talya had lived along one of the borders, which cut through modern-day Belgium, and each territory thought she was a member of the other.

Antonio had publicly expressed disapproval with the admirals of France and Germany for failing Talya, but secretly he felt sorry for them. Being the head of a territory wasn’t easy or fun. Antonio had never wanted to be a territory leader. Never wanted to be admiral of Rome, which encompassed Italy, all the coastline of the Adriatic Sea, and the major islands in the Mediterranean. However, that was exactly what he’d become after his father, the previous admiral, had been severely wounded in a bombing. Antonio had been named acting admiral while his father recovered, and eventually his father stepped down. Antonio had expected his father to resume the admiralship, but his long recovery, coupled with his pride at seeing Antonio holding the position of admiral, had pushed him to retire.

The position of admiral of Rome should have gone to his sister, Sophia. Instead, she was now living in England, both the territory and the modern-day country, and married to two good men, including England’s own admiral. She would have made a brilliant admiral if fate, and the previous fleet admiral, hadn’t intervened. But her leadership and skills hadn’t been wasted. When the current fleet admiral, Eric Ericsson, whom Antonio was about to meet with, had taken an unplanned, unsanctioned vacation, Sophia was the one he’d left in charge.

Sophia, who’d been taught to lead, negotiate, and manipulate since she could talk, was also the lead on building a relationship with the Americans, but that was a separate issue.

Talya Maes’ months of imprisonment by the Camorra ended when a Spanish member was also kidnapped, and one of Antonio’s security officers, Milo Moretti, helped orchestrate her rescue. Milo had seen Talya during that op and vowed to return to free her even before anyone knew that she was a member of the Masters’ Admiralty.

And if the rescue had been the end of Talya, Milo, and Henri’s story, Antonio wouldn’t be having this meeting.

His computer dinged, signaling that the meeting was connecting.

“Hold on, let me get back to the part that makes the scary noise,” Leila muttered, quickly disassembling the long rifle.

“You’re terrifying sometimes,” Karl murmured, still engrossed in his work.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, geliefde.”

Antonio smiled at his spouses but quickly blanked his expression as his camera turned on.

Three video windows appeared, including his own. In the first, two men sat side by side in a dim concrete room. From the intel Antonio had on Castile—the territory that contained modern-day Spain and Portugal—Antonio assumed they were calling from the bunker-like ops headquarters in the basement of one of the territory-owned buildings.

Admiral Santiago De Leon was older and, while fairly new in his position, he was a powerful admiral. The man beside him, Vicente Coval, was also powerful, but in a dark, deadly way that befit a security minister. Each territory was ruled by three people, with the admiral as the main power. However, an admiral could be overruled by his vice admiral and security minister. The trinity checks and balances system was meant to stop any one admiral from abusing their power, though as Hungary could attest, that didn’t always work.

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