It’s a man. I see his black boots, though they’re cleaner than I expected. Thiago has his gun up, ready to fire it. The person steps to the right, looking around. I try and get a better look, but I can’t see him in all that black.
He takes several steps toward the tunnel, his back to us, and when Thiago realizes who he is, he lowers his gun. “Shit. Draco?”
The man spins around and when his familiar brown eyes flash on us, my heart swells up. It’s him! I nearly choke when he looks from Thiago to me. He looks me over, seeing that I haven’t been harmed, but then there are more steps.
They creak loudly, as if there is more than one set.
“What a lovely reunion!” Hernandez chimes when she takes the last step down. I shoot my gaze over to hers as six men follow her down, their guns aimed at us. “Like I said,” she murmurs. “Unharmed. Untouched. She is perfectly safe and so is your eager cousin. Though we did have to hurt him a little.” She shrugs. “We tried. He didn’t crack.”
Draco doesn’t pull his eyes away from me. They’re glued. He scans me thoroughly and then says, “Come here.”
I start to rush for him, but guns cock in an instant and I freeze. Draco grimaces at each guard and Hernandez lets out a dry laugh. “Don’t get so excited.” She walks past him, starting down the hallway. “We have business to handle first. Then you can get your prize.”
He looks over his shoulder, through the corner of his eye as he watches her descend the hallway. The guards surround us, one of them grabbing my arm. Another punches Thiago in the stomach before taking the gun and Draco’s voice thunders when he shouts, “Leave him the fuck alone!”
Thiago crumples to the ground, but holds his hand up, waving it. “It’s all good, Jefe.” I hear the laughter in his voice, and I know it pisses Draco off even more because he’s not taking it seriously.
Thiago is snatched up then, dragged back down the tunnel. The guard that’s squeezing my arm starts to drag me, but Draco steps forward, nostrils flaring as he says, “You better loosen your fucking grip, or I’ll chop your fucking hand off.”
The guard laughs in his face, shoving past him, but I feel his grip slack a little as we pass by. Draco follows, keeping close to me. The other four guards have their guns pointed at the back of his head, but he pays them no mind. All he can see is me.
We enter the room again, where Hernandez is standing in the middle of the bloody mess. “Ay dios, Thiago. Look at this shit,” she groans. “David was one of my best men. I thought surely he would take you down if you did something stupid.” She grins over her shoulder at Thiago, who grimaces back.
The guard drags me over to Hernandez and she immediately draws out a knife, gripping me by the elbow and holding the blade to my throat.
Draco tenses, rushing forward, eyes as hard as stone and jaw ticking, but a guard catches him, holding him back. He seethes hard, raging like a bull and shoving the guard’s arm away. “You hurt her and I swear I will fucking end you,” he growls in his native tongue.
“Aww Draco,” she coos. She places the flat end of the knife across my jawline. The blade is cold. Hard. “You look at her like . . . almost like you would never let anything happen to her. Like you’d rather die than be without her. And I get it. She’s beautiful. My God, is she beautiful. The way you stare at her—wow, you’ve never looked at me that way. I should be envious, huh?” She chuckles, a throaty one that makes the layer beneath my skin prickle.
He tries to charge again, but the guards hold him back, guns pressing into his temple and the back of his head now.
“Draco, trust me, I don’t want to kill her. I hate killing women—especially ones who are clearly strong, pretty, and smart. She is very smart. We got to know each other a little. She knows when and when not to speak. Doesn’t crack under pressure. She reminds me a lot of myself. I can see why you’re head over heels for her. But like I’ve told you so many times before, love is useless, and it can also get you killed. You see what happens when you let it in? You see what depths you will go just to help the ones you love? You risk your life and theirs, and if something happens, there is nothing you can do about it. You just have to live with it. And that sucks,” she sighs. “Which is why I don’t love anymore. And I guess I should thank you for giving up on me all those years ago. If you hadn’t, well, I wouldn’t be where I am now. On top of my own cartel, running these men, letting them know who the real boss of Mexico is.”