Let’s Read The Word

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General Romance

Lucian Marcello is aware of the expectations following him as the oldest son of one of North America’s most infamous Cosa Nostra Dons. Family in his world is more than blood and sharing a last name. It’s the honor, respect, business, and the life. Being a Capo is just a stepping stone until it’s time for him to take on the role of underboss but a chance meeting with her could be the one thing he’d risk it all for. She is exactly what he didn’t know he was looking for. Jordyn Reese spends her time trying to stay under the radar of a man who wouldn’t think twice about killing her. Unwillingly affiliated with a dangerous MC gang, her life is dominated by the men surrounding her and her future rests solely in how useful she can be for them. The last thing she needs is some Mafioso gaining her more unwanted attention from the club. He is everything she should stay away from but can’t. Notoriously violent when it comes to getting what he wants, Lucian will stop at nothing to make the target on Jordyn’s back disappear. But sometimes the worst threats are the ones you can’t see until it’s too late. The truth behind Lucian’s history is about to take center stage in more ways than one, and it’ll either save him … or kill him. This world leaves everyone a little filthy.

Crouched low, eight-year-old Luciano Grovatti hoped no one passing by the dark alleyway could see his small form resting beside the restaurant dumpster. The roadway and sidewalk seemed busy tonight, but he risked it anyway. It was the best place to find food, even if it was dangerous. On more than one occasion, he’d heard shouts coming from inside the business. He always made sure to hightail it as quick as possible when that happened.

The alley smelled awful, like garbage and death. But it was warm, and the sloped roof above provided shelter from the wetness of spring in the city. It was also relatively warmer because of the heating vents blowing out a steady stream of hot air from inside the business.

Soon, he would turn nine.

This was not how he thought he would spend any birthdays.

How many birthdays had passed since he’d been on the streets, now?

Holding up his dirty hand, Luciano ticked off the seasons he’d watched come and go. Spring, fall, winter, and summer. They repeated twice by his count and memory. Two years, he thought. It was an awfully long time for a little boy to be on the streets of New York, slumming it in alleys to find food, and struggling with older squatters for a safe shelter to sleep.

Luciano knew no other way.

At least it was warm enough to keep the shivering at bay tonight.

“Are you hungry, child?”

The voice came from nowhere. It was dark and deep, that of a man. It was also vaguely familiar. He spoke in Italian, not English, though Luciano would have understood either language. Luciano’s eyes popped open to darkness, fear saturating his insides. Instantly his gaze swept the opening of the alleyway to see if someone slipped in and saw him when he let his guard drop down.

How stupid could he be?

Looking back over his shoulder, Luciano stared directly into the green eyes of a man who kneeled down to his level. Something warm smelling and sugary wafted under the spicy tones of the man’s cologne. In his clean, pressed suit, the man seemed almost regal to the dirty, tiny Luciano. Even his shoes shined in the dank alley.

Holding out a package, the man said, “Take it.”

Luciano hesitated. “No, thank you.”

“It won’t hurt you, I promise. It’s just cookies. Chocolate chip. Fresh from the oven. My favorite.”

Luciano still refused to take the package. Locked in a staring contest with the unknown man, the boy felt like he was being visually searched by the eyes looking him over. Carefully, a hand reached out and brushed the too long hair from Luciano’s forehead with a tenderness that frightened him.

Like a skittish mouse, Luciano moved back quickly, his spine slamming into the dumpster. The man frowned at the obvious display of fear. “I won’t hurt you, child. I could never hurt you.”

What did this man want from him?

“Your name?” the man asked in Italian.

Luciano whimpered. “Please don’t hurt me.”

“I said I wouldn’t. Your name, child.”


“Your surname?” he pressed gently. “Please, tell me the name given to you by your father.”

Luciano shook his head wildly. It was something he knew he should never tell, not to anyone. His mother had been adamant, his last name was not a safe thing to speak out loud. There were people who would hurt him just for knowing where he came from.

Sighing, the man rubbed at his forehead. “How long have you lived like this, then?”

Holding up his hand once more, Luciano held out two fingers.

The man flinched. “And your mother?”

“She told me to hide.”

“Of course she did.” The man stood, brushing off his pant legs. “You thought you were being careful, child, but my men have seen you digging around here more than once. I own this restaurant, you see. The only thing that stopped them from scaring you away was the fact they heard you muttering about in Italian. When they described you … I had to see for myself.”

See what?

Luciano couldn’t hold the man’s gaze any longer. It turned from seeking, to sadness and pity. “Please, sir, if I promise not to come back here, would you let me go?”


“W-what? Why?”

“I knew your father, child. He was my very best friend. He would be sorely disappointed in me if I let you continue on like this.”

Luciano forced himself to swallow the bad taste in his mouth. “My father?”

“My name is Antony. I was, like your father was, a caporegime. I am the boss, now. The boss, child. Do you understand what that means?”

Faint memories bubbled up to the surface. Words from men Luciano didn’t understand well enough, though he knew his father was one of them. La Cosa Nostra. The family. His mother, a goomah for his father.

Antony was speaking again, bringing the boy from his thoughts. “I knew of your mother, but I didn’t know about you until after. And for that, I am so sorry.”

“Momma?” Luciano managed to ask.

Antony gave a single nod in response, smiling tightly. “Would you like to sleep in a bed tonight, Luciano?”

“I …” Could he trust this Antony?

“I have two little boys of my own,” Antony continued, his tone growing softer. “Dante and Giovanni. Dante just turned eight. Gio is six, going on seven. I bet they would love to meet you, and have someone new to play with.”

“She told me to hide,” Luciano said quietly, needing the man to understand. “I shouldn’t.”

“You don’t have to hide anymore, okay? I made the men who hurt your madre and your padre go away. I am boss, remember?”

“Boss,” Luciano echoed.

“A bed?” Antony asked once more.


Antony’s smile grew to a brilliant grin. Then, two men slipped into the mouth of the alley, shadowing the bit of light the street afforded. One held a blanket, while the other simply stood silent and stoic with his arms crossed. With a snap of Antony’s fingers, the man with the blanket came further in and handled the article over. Antony used it to cover Luciano without a word.

“Want me to take him, Boss?”

“No,” Antony said firmly, barely glancing at the other man. “He will be raised as my son, now. I will take him.”

My son.

Before Luciano could say a word, he found himself picked up by Antony as if he didn’t weigh a thing. Instinctively, he wrapped his arms around the man’s neck and his legs around his waist. Antony let out a shaky breath in response, but said nothing about the smell lingering on the boy, or the dirtiness staining his pristine suit.

“From now on, we will call you Lucian. Lucian Marcello. Do you understand?”

Luciano nodded. “Sì.”

“Let’s go home, Lucian. My wife has waited a long time to meet you.”