Daniel considers it and then offers another plan. “The alternative would be using explosives. But the street is a good location and that’s a mess that’ll bring too much attention.”
“Hit them tomorrow night with the automatics. Pay off the cops for four hours and we’ll hit the Talvery line up north as a distraction with the RDX, my explosive of choice courtesy of the shit Talvery put us through. Set off the explosives there at the same time as the hit on Carlisle Street. Let them focus on the bombings while we destroy their front line.”
Daniel nods in agreement, relaxing into the chair, although his foot doesn’t stop tapping on the floor, giving away his anxiety.
“Who all is there?” I ask him as my own qualms creep up on me.
“What do you mean?”
“Of Talvery’s men, who…?” I pause to swallow thickly and ask my brother flat out, “Are any of them Aria’s family?”
“Her cousin, Brett, comes by the bakery in the morning. It looks like their usual meet-up spot. He’s been there every morning for the last three days, according to Jett. But at night, no. None of her blood. What she considers family is debatable though.”
“You would think Talvery would be going out full force against Romano,” I answer back instead of entertaining his thoughts on who Aria’s family is.
“He was until yesterday. He moved the men to Carlisle, to our border the night after the dinner.” He clarifies what night he’s referring to when I give him a questioning look. “The night she killed Stephan and Romano passed the message to him. Then, yesterday, something else changed.”
I close my eyes remembering that night, remembering the feeling of pride and lust I had for her growing that night she ended Stephan’s life. “When it was confirmed that we had Aria.”
“Yeah, that’s when he moved more of his men to our side.”
“So, now he’s coming after us?” I can’t help that I smirk, loving the challenge and the flow of adrenaline in my blood.
“There are equal numbers of men posted on the two borders. But if I were him, I’d be gunning for you.”
“He knows we let her kill Stephan.”
“Maybe that’s why it’s equal and why all his men aren’t raiding our turf?”
“A man with two enemies, both pointing guns at him, who knows what he’s thinking?”
Daniel’s tone turns morose. “I have to tell you something you aren’t going to like.”
“And to think… you’re interrupting this pleasant conversation …”
“Look who’s making jokes now.”
“Maybe I’m learning a thing from you.”
“What happened last night that led him to move more men closer to us?”
I ask my brother, “Is that what you have to tell me?” I tap the pen against the desk as I think about everything Romano told me about his plans to decimate them in only four days flat.
Daniel repositions himself and nods, but his eyes are full of worry. “Romano and Talvery know where the girls are.” He visibly swallows and adds, “They followed us.”
I only nod, not wanting to acknowledge that truth. “Are you sure?” I ask him, feeling the tension build in my shoulders.
“Yeah,” he answers with a tired voice, the fidgeting of his foot finally halting as he asks me, “What do we do with the women?”
“If she doesn’t come willingly… I want mine back in the cell when this is over with.”
Daniel’s expression hardens. His disappointment and anger even, are evident. I don’t care what I told her, what promises I’ve made or how fucked a position she’s put me in. I don’t care about any of it. The possessiveness stirs in my blood and I struggle to contain myself, so I settle on redirecting Daniel. “What you do with yours is up to you.”
“You can’t do that to her.” Daniel dares to tell me what I can do. “You can’t lock her up and expect her not to fight back.”
“You’re just pissed this is affecting you and Addison, and I’m sorry for that, but I’m not letting Aria walk away from me. I won’t allow it.” The last sentence is barely spoken through clenched teeth as my heart rate quickens and my hands form white-knuckled fists.
“Do you want a prisoner or a partner?” Daniel’s question catches me off guard.
“She’ll never see me as her partner. I will always be the enemy.” I speak the truth that fills me with dread. This war has to happen. I will kill her father. And she will never see me as anything but an enemy once it’s done.
“Not if you treat her as a partner.”
“I want someone who wants me back,” I confess to him. “I want her to want me back, and that will never happen once this week is done.”
“You’re so blinded by hate that you don’t see it,” Daniel tells me as if I’m a fool.