The stranger looks from them to me, his dark eyes flashing. He’s not intimidated at all by them. Not one bit.
“Now . . . who is this one?” he asks in a strong Spanish tongue.
“Don’t fucking worry about it. Put your fucking hands in the air,” Patanza spits, stepping closer, gun still aimed.
She yanks on my shoulder to drag me back behind her.
The other guard steps to my side, but he’s still focused on the man.
The stranger has wide shoulders and really brown skin. His eyes are a shade away from black. They are intense, almost scary. He’s much taller than Patanza and me, but he’s about the same height as the other guard and about the same build.
“Who let you in?” the other guard growls.
“Gatekeeper. He knows why I’m here. And so does Jefe.” The man steals another peek at me. “Where is he, anyway?”
“Right fucking here.” Draco’s voice rises behind me and I whip my head over to look. His eyebrows are drawn together as he glares at the man. There is a gun in his hand now. An all-black handgun.
“Jefe,” the man sings, so nonchalantly, like he doesn’t have guns pointed directly at his face.
“Where are my guns, Thiago?” Draco asks, stone-faced. No politeness. No greeting.
“Your guns?” Thiago chuckles, holding his hands out. “I told you where they were. Fucking stolen.”
“Stolen.” Draco steps around Patanza, eyeing him.
“They were taken, Jefe, and the people that took them let me go. I wouldn’t lie to you about that.”
“Oh, you’ve lied to me many, many times before, and because you are my cousin, I have given you many, many chances. I see giving you chances was clearly a mistake. My mistake. First my drugs, then the cargo from California, and now my guns?” Draco makes a repeated tsk-ing noise as he looks him over. “Too many excuses. Too many mistakes,” he hisses. “And I have to tell you, I am growing tired of mistakes around here.”
“The guns were taken. That’s all I can say. Some shit about territory.” Thiago shrugs carelessly. “I wasn’t about to get myself killed over one little shipment of guns.”
“This whole country is my territory, motherfucker! That’s no excuse!” Draco gets closer to his face, brows dipped, and his finger on the trigger. “You think that just because my mother tells me to keep you alive that I have to?” He scoffs, waving his gun. “You think you’re safe because you carry my blood in your veins? I’ve killed blood members and never had a fucking problem doing so. I’ve killed them and slept like a baby.” Draco lifts the barrel to Thiago’s head, pointing it at his temple. “Uncles, remember? The same man that fucked me over because he thought I didn’t know anything? And you’re foolish enough to follow right in his footsteps.”
Thiago says nothing. He only stares back, unafraid. His eyes are like charcoal; his skin a few shades darker than Draco’s. He’s fearless.
Draco’s finger wraps around the trigger, but he doesn’t pull. He’s close to doing it, and as he does, Patanza and the other guard steady their aim, ready to take him down, too, if need be.
“How long have you had the puta?” Thiago asks, in English, so I can fully comprehend.
Draco’s upper lip twitches.
He doesn’t hesitate on his next action.
He doesn’t shoot. But he does whack him across the head with the butt of the gun.
Thiago’s large body hits the floor with a heavy thud, and a sharp gasp flies through my lips.
“Take her up to my room,” Draco orders without looking back. Patanza makes no room for error. She puts the safety on her gun, tosses it over her shoulder by the strap, and then grabs my wrist, leading the way and trailing up the stairs.
I look back, wondering what Draco is going to do to him. Who the hell is he, anyway?
My heart is pounding so hard.
My palms are sweaty.
I see some of his guards dragging Thiago’s body, and I have a feeling he’s taking him to the cellar. Draco stands in the same place, finger on the trigger, jaw pulsing.
“Sit. Rest,” Patanza orders in her native tongue when we’ve made it to the bedroom.
She looks down, and it’s now when I realize my hands are shaking.
“No one will hurt you. Especially under my watch. If you are important to Jefe, you are important to me. It’s that simple.”
“I thought you didn’t like me,” I respond with an unsteady voice.
“Didn’t, but things are much clearer now. You’re not like the other girls. You never were like them. He knows you well. He admires you.”
I don’t know why I care to ask. “How many girls has he held captive here?”
“Just four, including you. But they don’t really count for being captive. Francesca was only bought because he needed to pay off a debt to some Americans and the people that had her no longer wanted her.” That explained how she knew English so well. “When she came, we all knew she was desperate. She caught Draco at a difficult time—took advantage of it. And the other girl . . . well, she was just stupid. She came here looking for trouble. She claimed she was lost so he kept her because he didn’t trust her to go back out to the world after seeing this place. She got one punishment from Draco and ran away again. She wasn’t tracked. He had some men look for her for about a week, and they found her. She was in an alley. Clothes torn. Throat sliced. She’d been raped and killed.”