Home > The Predator(6)

The Predator(6)
Author: RuNyx

His eyes hardened even more, his tone frigid, his fingers flexing on her neck in warning. "Never make the mistake of thinking you know me. It might just prove to be your last."

Her heart beat in her chest like a wild animal running for life. Even though her chest heaved with something she so did not want to look at, Morana grit her teeth at the sheer audacity of the man, the sheer arrogance of him. Why did all men around her behave like nominees for Asshole of the Year?

Steeling her spine, she flashed her arm out before she could stop it, her leg hooking around his knee, classic self-defense training overtaking her senses for a moment. She tugged with her leg just as she pushed his weight with her arm, knocking him down on the hard ground, her triumph flaring at watching the brief surprise cross his face. Within a heartbeat, he was back on his feet again, in a lithe movement that would have awed her had he been anyone else. But she wasn't done.

Morana stepped into his personal space this time, her finger going to his hard pecs under the open collar black shirt, poking him once as she spoke, her head tilted back to keep their eyes locked, her voice colder than his had been.

"Never make the mistake of thinking you scare me. It will be your last."

His jaw clenched, his eyes trained on hers, the tension so thick between them she could have cut it with a butter knife. His stance remained icy. She felt fire flooding her veins as her chest heaved.

Another voice interrupted their tense moment.

"I must say, it is rare to find a person, let alone a woman, fearless of Tristan."

Morana turned on the spot, her eyes finding Dante Maroni standing a few feet away, his huge frame encased in a suit that was completely out of place at this construction site and rather belonged to the party she'd seen him in last week. His dark hair was perfectly styled, slicked back on his head, exposing high cheekbones models around the world would weep for. His jaw was shaven clean, two big silver rings adorning his right index finger and left middle finger. With a smooth smile on his face that Morana didn’t trust one bit, she observed the Mediterranean heritage obvious in the bronze of his skin, and could not deny that Dante Maroni was one beautiful man.

He came forward, extending his hand, flashing an easy smile Morana would bet her degree on was paid for every month.

"Dante Maroni," he spoke in a soft, polite tone by the way of introduction, taking her hand in his big, smooth ones, clasping it. His brown eyes betrayed his smile though. "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Ms. Vitalio. I rather wish it were under different circumstances."

"I rather wish it weren't at all," Morana shot back before she could help herself, years of enmity boiling in her blood, along with the knowledge that this man possibly had the drive and the power to destroy her. And that he'd possibly shot Jackson. She was pretty certain he was dead.

Dante Maroni flashed another smile, even as his dark eyes regarded her. "Fearless, as I said. It can be a dangerous thing."

She should get that tattooed on her forehead. Maybe she'd pay heed to it then.

Running out of patience, she looked around the area, noticing no other living soul in the vicinity. Okay. So, she was at an abandoned construction site with two reputed, super reputed, men of a mob family, who happened to be her family’s enemies and who had lured her out here for a reason. Not the safest place but they hadn't killed her. Yet. Had to count, right?

"Why am I here, Mr. Maroni?" she asked, exasperated and really wanting to make sense of everything. "And where is Jackson?"

"Dante, please," he corrected her with another smile. Tristan Caine stepped out from behind her and joined his blood brother at his side, his muscular arms crossed across his muscular chest, no hint of a smile anywhere on his face. A tattoo peeked out from under his sleeves.

She looked at the two men, both reputed, both ruthless, and saw the stark contrast between them. It wasn't anything she could pinpoint, except this intensity around Tristan Caine that the other man did not possess. The intensity with which he was watching her, with a handsome face devoid of all expression.

She broke away from the intensity, looking back at Dante. She could feel the intensity searing itself upon her skin where Tristan Caine’s eyes touched her. Dante's gaze was tame in comparison.

Focusing, she grit her teeth. "Dante."

The man sighed, her hand still clasped in his. "Jackson is dead."

Morana felt a twinge in her gut, but nothing more. She didn't know what that said about her as a person. She wanted to feel bad. But for some reason, she didn't.

She just nodded, not saying anything, not knowing what to say without exposing her own lack of reaction to the death of her ex-boyfriend.

Dante nodded, speaking, squeezing her hand while Tristan Caine stayed silent beside him, and simply watched them like a hawk.

"We needed to meet you without setting off any alarms," Dante began. "And the only way to do that was to have Jackson bring you out here."

"Why did you need to meet me?" Morana asked, studiously avoiding looking at the other, silent man.

Dante hesitated for a moment, and for the first time since the appearance of his blood brother, Tristan Caine spoke, in that rough, low tone.

"Because of the codes."

Her heart stilled, as she looked at him, raising her eyebrows. "Explain," she demanded.

Tristan Caine gazed back at her evenly, or as evenly as he could with those eyes that were constantly X-raying her. "You are under the impression that I have this drive of codes," he stated.

Morana felt her brows furrow. "I know you have them."

"Why?" Dante asked, making her turn towards him. Morana considered the two men for a second, confusion making her blink repeatedly, before speaking, addressing them both.

"When Jackson stole the codes from me," she began, her head swiveling between the two men. "I tracked his cell phone records and his movements since he met me. They traced back to you," she finished, gesturing towards Tristan Caine.

There was silence for a heartbeat before Dante spoke. "And you assumed Tristan hired Jackson to spy on you?"

Morana nodded, uncertainty taking hold. "I had no reason to believe otherwise."

"Except the fact that I didn't even know you existed," Tristan Caine chimed in a dry tone. Liar. Her eyes flew to his, narrowing, the memory of his recognition of her name sparking inside her. Oh, he'd known of her existence, alright. But he was lying for some reason.

His blue eyes challenged her openly to call him out on it, to dare and mention that she had been on Maroni property uninvited, in that bedroom, alone with him.

She turned back to Dante, her hands curling into fists and jaw clenching. "You're telling me you didn't hire Jackson?"

Dante nodded, his face serious. "We didn’t even know these codes even existed. They have a lot of power, and if they fall in the wrong hands, both our families are screwed. That’s why we flew out west to your city. Meeting you was important."

"And how did you come to know of the codes?"

Dante gestured to the man beside him. "Tristan told me about them after you called him last week, demanding its return. We felt we should pay you a visit under the circumstances."

She had called him? She looked at him, trying to ascertain exactly why he was hiding the truth from his blood brother. She found nothing.

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