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Family Ties (Morelli Family #4)
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Sweet as sin, like the cupcakes she slings at the Morelli bakery. Her sweetness and killer looks are what reeled me in, but her unexpected vulnerability really sealed my fate. I don’t care if there’s a war brewing between our families. I don’t care if I have to go through her evil dictator of a brother. I will break down Francesca Morelli’s walls, I will make her mine, and I’ll keep her—no matter the cost.
If good men exist, I’ve certainly never met one—until the day my brother’s rival sauntered into my bakery. Raised around manipulation and unimaginable dysfunction, I know better than to invest in dishonest, dangerous men. I also know Salvatore is exactly that type of man—only, it turns out he isn’t. After years spent living in a shell, Salvatore opens me back up. He’s sexy and sincere, making well-intended promises he’ll never be able to keep. Even knowing he’ll ultimately break my heart, I can’t resist falling for him.
But tensions are rising between our families, and whichever side wins, I know our love won’t make it out alive. Salvatore may be a man accustomed to getting what he wants, but as much as I wish otherwise, I’m the one thing he can never really have.
*** THIS IS NOT A STANDALONE. This is book four, and read alone it will be confusing and weird. Also, you have to be as invested in the Morellis as you will be after books 1-3 in order to care about the Morelli madness accompanying this love story. DO NOT READ THIS BOOK FIRST, IT WILL BE A BAD TIME. ***
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“Jesus, Adrian, maybe you should’ve bought me a drink first.”
As I stand braced against Morelli’s Escalade, his guard dog pats me down. I say this to him like it’s a joke, and it mostly is, but I’ve never seen the guy with a woman, and his dedication to Mateo Morelli does raise certain questions.
“You’re not my type.” Adrian pops back up, stone-faced. He turns me around and holds out his hand expectantly.
“I already gave you my gun,” I remind him, quirking a dark eyebrow.
Oh, right. I’ve heard of his stupid phone thing. Sighing, I dig my phone out of my pocket and hand it over. He pops out the SIM card and battery, then opens the door for me.
Morelli’s such a paranoid motherfucker.
I guess I shouldn’t complain. I requested a private audience somewhere we wouldn’t be seen, and he accommodated me. Given the level of his mistrust, I didn’t even expect this much. Once his guy clears me, he opens the car door and gestures for me to climb inside. Mateo is in the car with Alec Morelli in the driver’s seat, and now his scarred-up guard dog to keep an eye on things. Adrian slid in the back with us instead of the passenger seat, probably ‘cause he doesn’t trust me. I think of the picture in my pocket and wish I would’ve pulled it out before I got in. Reaching for anything around these guys is probably not a great idea.
“Thanks for meeting me,” I tell Mateo, since I know how much he hates having his presence requested.
Nodding once, he says, “You said it was important.”
“It’s about Delmonico.”
His brow furrows in confusion, my first indication that our information is bad. He doesn’t look guarded, he doesn’t look like he’s hiding anything; he just looks like he doesn’t know why the hell I would ask about one of his guys.
“What about him?”
“I know this is toeing the line of our arrangement, but did he hire a crew to do a freelance op a few months back? Tito Suarez, Lane Palinkas, a few little guys? They would’ve been, uh… transporting girls.”
He shakes his head, still frowning. “No.”
“No way something like that could’ve happened and you wouldn’t know?”
At that, he smiles, looking legitimately amused. “No.”
I nod, going to reach for my picture, but Adrian pulls a gun on me before I can even speak. Raising my hands to indicate I’m harmless, I say, “I have a picture—mind if I grab it?”
“Slow,” Adrian says, still with his gun trained on me.
Man, these fucking guys. I slowly reach into my pocket and draw out Willow’s picture. I offer it to Mateo, watching for any sign of recognition as he looks at it.
“Who’s this?” he asks, glancing up at me.
“Her name’s Willow, she’s—well, technically my half-sister. My father’s bastard.”
“Okay. And why are you showing me her picture?”
“Because we got information that you orchestrated her kidnapping to strike out at my father.”
“Kidnapping?” His gaze flickers back to the picture. Now there’s recognition. “That’s where I’ve seen her face. That was in the news,” he says, handing me back the photo and meeting my gaze. “My operations don’t make the news, Salvatore.”
“It wasn’t you?”
He shakes his head. “Wasn’t me.”
“And you’re positive it wasn’t Delmonico?”
Indicating the photo in my hand, he says, “Whatever happened to your sister, I had nothing to do with it. None of my people had anything to do with it.”
Adrian reaches out and grabs the picture from me, looking down at it. “Did you get her back?”
I nod, watching his face for recognition, but after a brief glimpse, he gives it back. “Yeah, she’s okay now. Problem is, the guys involved are dropping like flies. No one can find Tito, but my hunch is he’s behind it.”
“Who would hire Tito to head an operation?” Adrian asks, raising an eyebrow.
“Someone who doesn’t want it to succeed,” Mateo replies. “Was your sister harmed?”
I nod jerkily. “Yeah. Nothing she won’t recover from, though.”
“Everyone’s dead but Tito?” Adrian reviews.
“Almost everyone. Her boyfriend was on the crew, but Willow’s protecting him.”
“Wait, what?” Mateo asks, frowning.
“It was a fucked up situation. He wasn’t really on the crew, but Tito hired him even though he knew…” I shake my head, since it’s too convoluted to explain briefly. “Anyway, Tito and Ethan are the only ones left, and Tito’s the only one who might know anything.”
Mateo nods. “We’ll keep an eye out. I’ll get in touch if we see him.”
“Might want to tell your sister’s boyfriend to watch his back,” Adrian advises.
I raise a questioning eyebrow.
“Everyone else is dead,” Adrian points out. “If he’s not involved, he’s probably next.”
I shrug, tucking the picture back into my pocket. “She can do better anyway.”
Meet me at the bakery.
I don’t recognize the number, and I don’t know what bakery the person is talking about. Scowling at my cell, I type back, “Who is this?”