Amore part 2, p.1
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       Amore - Part 2, p.1

           Bella Jewel
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Amore - Part 2


  ~*AMORE PART 2*~

  All rights reserved. This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any form without prior written permission of the publisher, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorized distribution, circulation or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s rights, and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly. Thank you for respecting the work of this author.

  AMORE PART 2

  Copyright © 2016 Bella Jewel

  AMORE is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places and events portrayed in this book either are from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, establishments, events, or location is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  As always, my heartfelt thanks to every single blogger, reader and author that has supported my journey. From reading my books, to sharing them, to raving about them, to being there for me. Thank you. My career would be nothing without any of you.

  A huge thanks to Kylie from Give Me Books for organizing my reveals and blitzes. You do such an amazing job. No matter how many times I use you, I am always blown away by how efficient you are. Nothing is ever a drama. Thank you for giving me so much support.

  A massive thanks to Kellie from Book Cover By Design for this epic cover. It’s absolutely beautiful, and I couldn’t have imagined anything better. You got what I wanted, down to a T. Thank you.

  To Lauren, my epic editor. You are the best thing since sliced bread, no lie. You seriously are the best person EVER to work with. You are quick and your notes always make me laugh. No one else could ever keep up with my writing pace, but you always nail it.

  A big, heartfelt thanks to Rose from Read By Rose for this amazing proofread. You came in at the last moment and helped me in incredible ways. You’re truly epic and I can’t wait to work with you again.

  And of course, to my admin, MJ, for ALWAYS keeping my page running beautifully. I couldn’t do it without you, girly. I love your teasers and your passion; thank you for taking the time out of your life to help this poor girl keep everything running.

  And, last but certainly not least, to my loyal readers. To each and every one of you that picks up my books and give me a chance. To the reviews you write, good or bad. To the time you take to make me a better person. You make this real for me; never stop giving such love and passion. You make our journey so amazing.

  DEDICATION

  To all the believers.

  Keep believing.

  PROLOGUE

  Cold sweat trickles down my forehead. My legs are up in stirrups. Mama stands beside me, clutching my hand. The lights blur my vision and my back aches. Everything in my body feels sore, tired, and worn out. I’m exhausted. I can’t stop. My eyes flick to my left. Mama is staring down at me, her mouth in a tight line, her eyes bloodshot. She’s tired, too.

  “Keep going, Julietta,” the midwife calls to me, her hands at the ready.

  “You’re going to be just fine,” Mama soothes, lifting her hand and rubbing a cool towel over my clammy forehead.

  “Push!” yells the stout middle-aged midwife.

  I bare down and push. Pain unlike anything I’ve ever felt in my entire life explodes through my body, clutching my mid-section like a vice. It hurts. It hurts so much. Probably as much as my numb and broken heart. I heave, spittle flying from my mouth. My screams echo through the room, but there is only one thought in my mind.

  Please.

  “Push,” she cries again.

  Please.

  God. Please.

  “We have a head.”

  Please.

  “One more big push.”

  Please.

  The sound of a crackling baby scream fills the room, strong and healthy.

  “Congratulations, Julietta. You have a baby . . .”

  Girl.

  Girl.

  Please.

  “Boy.”

  My chest feels like it explodes and tears rush down my face. Pain and fear unlike anything I’ve ever felt lodges in my heart.

  No. It can’t be.

  A tiny, dark-haired bundle is placed on my chest and I stare down, seeing Rafael’s features. All him. All Italian. I reach for him with trembling fingers. My mom is sobbing beside me. Recently I found out that I’m not who I thought I was, but instead someone with blood so much more powerful. With this baby’s father who he is, that means I’ll spend the next eighteen years of my life doing everything I can to protect this little baby.

  Because I just gave birth to the boy next in line to take over the Italian Mafia.

  And they will come for him.

  CHAPTER 1

  “Don’t let him in here,” I say, my voice emotionless and broken.

  My son sleeps beside me in a hard plastic crib. I can see through the sides. He’s wrapped in a plush blue blanket, dark hair popping out the top. He has so much hair. So much thick, Italian hair. Like his father. His father who doesn’t know about him. His father who stole my heart. His father who I have to plot against, not only for a monster, but for myself.

  Speaking of that monster . . . I look at my mother. “Don’t, Mama.”

  “You know I can’t stop him,” she says softly, her eyes sad and broken. Possibly more than mine.

  After all, this is her fault. She slept with the monster standing outside and produced me, then proceeded to lie to me my entire life about it. Now he’s using that against me. He’s using her mistake against me. And she’s letting it happen. Like she’s too afraid to defend herself to him. Like if she steps up and guards her daughter, her world will come crashing down.

  What about my world?

  My child’s world?

  “I need one more minute with my son,” I say, my voice icy, “before he comes in here and uses him in his sick and evil plan.”

  “He won’t hurt the baby. He might be a savage, but—”

  “Don’t,” I hiss.

  “Julietta, please.”

  Anger and hurt go to war in my chest and I hiss, “If you want to do something for me, Mama, you’re going to make him go the hell away and let me protect my son for a damned second longer!”

  She nods and her eyes glass over. I know I’m being a horrible person, I know that, but in the last nine months my life has been a living nightmare. Not only am I working with this man to destroy my son’s father, but I’m living with the lies I’ve been fed my entire life. If I had known that night in the club, all those months ago, that sleeping with Rafael Lencioni would ruin everything, I would have turned and run in the opposite direction.

  My mother leaves and I scoot up in my bed, sore from a long, drawn-out labor. I reach over and lift my tiny son from the crib. He squeaks, wiggling in his blanket. I bring him to my chest where he fits so perfectly. It’s like he was made to be there, like when God created him for me, he made him to fit my body as if we were puzzles pieces creating a beautiful picture. Is it like that for all mothers? My eyes burn as I stare down at him.

  Perfect.

  I haven’t given him a name yet. Mama has suggested many, all of them Italian, all of them fit for a leader. The very thought has my chest clenching. My baby doesn’t deserve this. Maybe I could run away and protect him forever, somewhere where those monsters can’t touch him. Deep down, I know that’ll never happen. They’ll always find us. I have no options.

  I’m trapped.

  A tear runs down my face and drips onto my son’s chubby little cheek. I know then what I’ll name him. It comes to m
e like a flash, racing through my head. I remember a boy I went to school with had the name, and apparently it means ‘strong warrior,’ which my son will need to be. He’ll need to be a warrior to get through what life is going to throw his way. Because of me. Because of my mistake.

  I stroke his hair. “Welcome to the world, Ajax.”

  The best part.

  It originates from Greece.

  Let’s see them get their knickers in a twist over that.

  ~*~*~*~

  “You will not name the child Ajax.”

  Riccardo storms up and down the length of my hospital bed, his fists clenched. I can’t believe Rafael trusts this man so heavily. So many times I’ve wanted to tell him that he’s being double-crossed by the man he thinks is most loyal, but if I do that, my life will end, my family’s life will end, and my son will be left in the hands of monsters. I love Rafael, but I love my son more.

  I glare at him. “You have controlled every part of my life for nine months. You do not get to control this.”

  “He’s Italian!”

  “Are you done?”

  His eyes flare to mine. I look like him. It wasn’t obvious at first, but the more I look at him, the more I see it. How peculiar is the irony, really? I was a mistress to the most powerful Italian this side of the state and that man was married to my sister. Only I didn’t know she was my sister.

  Seeing her face in my mind has my heart pounding.

  It’s my fault she’s dead. Mine.

  “Be very careful, Julietta,” Riccardo warns, his eyes hardening.

  “Or what?” I challenge.

  He steps forward, reaching down and curling a hand into my hair, tugging until I whimper. “Or I’ll make you wish you weren’t born. You want to protect your son? I’ll give you that protection. If you defy me, I’ll bring his world crashing down with yours.”

  “That’s your grandson,” I hiss.

  His face stays stony, unwavering. “He is nothing more than a pawn.”

  I flinch.

  “As are you,” he continues. “Now change his name.”

  “No,” I say defiantly. “His name is set in stone. I won’t be changing it.”

  He makes a low, growling sound in his throat. “The second the birth papers are processed, you’ll be putting in an appeal to have his name changed.”

  “No. I won’t.”

  He snaps his teeth at me and stands back, his eyes flicking to Ajax who sleeps in the crib, his little fists balled tightly up against his chest. He gives an ugly little smirk.

  “Rafael’s son. I never thought I’d see the day. He’s just like him, don’t you think?”

  The way he says that has my skin crawling. “I’ll do whatever you want, but you will not touch my son.”

  He laughs and glances back at me. “We had a deal. I’ll stick to that deal.”

  I swallow.

  I’d believe that.

  Except I trust this man as much as I trust an asteroid flinging towards Earth.

  CHAPTER 2

  “Hush little baby,” I sing softly, stroking my hand over Ajax’s head.

  He croaks and shifts in his fluffy blanket. I bring him closer to my chest. It doesn’t matter how near I get to him, it’s as if he’ll never truly be safe. I wish sometimes I could put him back inside me—at least there he was protected.

  A soft knock on the door has my head snapping up, and Celia waves gingerly through the window in the door. It’s my first week back in Chicago. She’s in the process of moving in with me make things easier, so for now I’m still alone.

  Before Ajax was born, I stayed away. That was how Riccardo wanted it. No risk of Rafael seeing me. I can only imagine how that would have gone down. Rafael isn’t the kind of man to stand back and just let something like that go unnoticed.

  “Hi,” she says softly, her eyes dropping to Ajax. “Gosh he’s adorable.”

  I stroke my son’s cheek. “Yeah, he is.”

  “How are you, honey?”

  I meet her eyes and hold them as she walks in and sits down beside me on the bed. “I’m terrified, Celia.”

  She’s the only person I can be real with. The only person. The rest I have my mask up for, the impenetrable mask that protects my heart and mostly, my soul.

  “You don’t have to do this.”

  “Tell me how,” I say, sliding Ajax into her arms when she reaches for him. I feel empty without him, but I trust her, and she loves him almost as much as I do. He’s the only comfort I have right now. The only thing that makes my miserable life feel good.

  “I don’t know, but there has to be a way.”

  “It’s the mafia. I can run, but there’ll be nowhere in the world I can hide. Riccardo will find me.”

  “Then shoot him.”

  I give her a look. “You think he’s the only one in on this? He’s probably anticipated just that and has a hit man ready to kill me or my son if something happens to him. These people don’t play nicely. They play dirty. Believe me when I say there is no escape.”

  “So you deal with Rafael and then you make a clean break.” Her eyes are hopeful, but I know her soul isn’t. She knows as well as I do that there is no way out of this.

  “Do you really think he’ll just let me go once he’s got what he wants?”

  She shrugs. “I don’t know, but we have to hang onto some faith.”

  I glance at Ajax. “He’s a Lencioni. Eventually, Rafael will find out.”

  Fear clouds her vision, the same fear I feel daily. “Not necessarily. And in the end, it won’t matter because if Riccardo gets what he wants, Rafael will be no more.”

  My heart slams into my chest at that thought, but I don’t show it. I school my features. That man doesn’t deserve a single ounce of my sympathy. If I break, if I give in, then I’ll be putting my son at risk and nothing, nothing at all is worth more to me than him. Still, the idea of something happening to Rafael hurts me. Irrationally so.

  “I’ll do what I have to do and pray there is a way out,” I say, running a hand through my hair.

  “What exactly does he want from you?”

  “He’s convinced Rafael was in love with me. He wants me to go back in so I can get inside information. He wants to take Rafael down.”

  “Why doesn’t he just kill him?” she asks, stroking Ajax’s hair.

  “It’d trace back to him, without a doubt. He’s being careful. He’s making sure no one gets suspicious by making Rafael out to be a shitty leader. Basically, he’s going to work to get him thrown out and then no doubt he’ll have him killed by an outside source.”

  “God, what a pig.”

  “Yep.” I nod. “He’s the worst kind. He actually thinks he’ll win this, and maybe he will. I don’t care, so long as my son is safe.”

  Her face contorts with fear. “Do you think he’ll come for Ajax because by blood rights, he’s the next leader?”

  I shake my head. “He knows I don’t want my son involved. I’ll do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen. I don’t think he’s worried. It’s one thing I’ve made very clear.”

  God. I hope he’s not worried. I couldn’t bear him making Ajax suffer because of the fear I’ll try and make him into the next leader. That’s the last thing I’d ever want for my son and I’ll go to the ends of the earth to keep him away from him. I can only hope and pray Riccardo believes me when I say that.

  “Julietta.” Riccardo’s bark travels down the hall of my small, two-bedroom apartment. I stiffen and Celia brings Ajax closer to her chest, turning and glaring at the doorway. Riccardo storms in, his face red, huffing with frustration. “I’ve been calling you. Why haven’t you answered?”

  I harden my voice. “I had a baby a week ago. I’m tired. My phone is off.”

  “Well turn it on!” his eyes flick to Celia. He says nothing but the glare he gives her is icy enough to freeze even the hardest person. “It’s time for you to make an appearance in Rafael’s life again.”

  My insides
scream.

  I keep my face neutral. “Fine.”

  He seems surprised that I didn’t argue further. He clearly doesn’t know me very well. “He’s going to be attending a charity event in some pathetic attempt to make himself look good. I can’t get you in there without suspicion, but I do know exactly what time he’s going to leave, and you’re just going to be walking past at the right time.”

  Lame.

  Maybe his lame plans will screw him.

  “Whatever, Riccardo.”

  “You do not give in easily. Rafael is a smart man, and he’ll get suspicious. You turn and run in the other direction if you must, or throw something at him. Anything. But do not give in too easily.”

  I grunt. “I was hardly going to throw myself into his arms on the sidewalk and beg him to take me back all the while groping his crotch.”

  He glares at me. “Tone it down.”

  “Whatever. Are you done?”

  “I’ll be sending all the information. Make sure you’re there, Julietta.”

  His eyes flicker to Ajax. The threat is there—the silent demand to do what he’s asking.

  He has me and he knows it.

  ~*~*~*~

  “Don’t look too desperate,” Riccardo snaps at me.

  I shift in the seat, staring out the window of the car as we drive towards the club where I’m going to see Rafael again for the first time in nine months. I’m trying to ignore my heart pounding, but the fact of the matter is, it is, and it will not stop. My entire body is on high alert, my nerves thrumming. How will I handle him? Will it be easy? Will I want him? Will I hate him? Will I just freeze up? How will my heart handle being away from Ajax?

  “Are you listening to me?” Riccardo barks.

  I flinch and glare at him. “I’m listening. Don’t act too desperate, but don’t act too cool. Act surprised. Be pissed. Whatever. I’m not going to screw this up and you know it.”

  His eyes flash with happiness. “Good. Call me after he’s gone and I’ll have a car escort you home. He’s scheduled to leave the event at exactly eight thirty, as he has a meeting. Make sure you’re there.”

 
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