As Cassie poured the champagne, there was a knock at the door. Knowing who it was she yelled, “It’s open!” Instead of Stephano, several armed bodyguards entered the building and immediately began a security sweep of the place. Turning over several tables, Cassie shouted, “Hey, no breaking stuff!” One of the goons smiled at her and proceeded to open the ladies restroom door and peeked inside for any ambushes. As they swept the entire room, they went back to the entrance and gave the all safe signal. Within seconds, Stephano appeared with a huge grin on his face, “Ad victorem ire spolia!” (To the victor go the spoils) he said feeling like Julius Cesar. With his coat draped on his shoulders, he looked like a great Roman conqueror as he slowly approached Cassie. Accepting the glass of champagne she offered, he declared, “It went smooth as silk. They didn’t even so much as talk shit to us, let alone put up a fight.”
“Good.” Cassie answered raising her glass.
As their champagne flutes clanked, Stephano asked, “Now it’s confession time, how did you know about the gas stations?”
Figuring it was time to come clean, she answered, “My father ran the gas stations, and when he died, my brother took them over. The Cosimos replaced him with a half-assed hood.”
“God, you’re ruthless.” Stephano said admiring her darker side.
“We’re not done yet, the Cosimos will be back and when they regroup, they’ll throw everything they got at us.”
“Don’t worry about it, I’ll handle the dog fights.” He said reassuring her. As he did, he made a gesture to one of his men who immediately left the room and returned with a large black, Hermes Birkin bag. Handing it to her, he said, “As per our agreement.” Looking inside, Cassie saw several stacks of cash neatly piled inside. “You remembered.” She said rather impressed by the $10,000 handbag.
“I remembered, I remember a lot of things.” He said caressing her cheek.
Smiling up at him, she asked, “What about Destiny?”
“She ain’t gotta know.”
“But she will, when I tell her. You know me, Stephano, I don’t play second to no one.”
“Stop bustin’ my balls, I’m doing the best I can here.”
“Alright, but I’ll only accept this for so long. I’m not a patient woman.”
“Yeah, I know,” he said in a murmur. As he leaned in to kiss her, a scuffle broke off, outside. The sounds of cursing and loud thuds could be heard as Amato and Jimmy fought their way into the room. With their guns drawn, they entered through the door as Stephano’s security team tried to pin them down. Waving his hand in the air, Stephano said, “Calm down everybody, what’s the matter here?” as though he didn’t know.
This was Stephano’s big moment and upon seeing him, Amato realized he was just a pawn in a bigger scheme. Infuriated, he seriously contemplated blowing Stephano’s head off right there and then. As his hands shook, Cassie immediately stood between the two men and said, “You can’t, you’ve come too far to blow this now. Let us do what we gotta do.” Bewildered Amato looked at her and asked, “You can’t be serious?” And though a broken heart broke, Cassie answered, “Do you want this to be over or not? With the Cosimos gone, we’ll both be free. No more running and no more hiding. I know it sounds like a dream, but we’re close now. Just let me go.”
Amato had to force his fingers to slowly unwrap themselves from the trigger. As he did, Stephano’s men backed off and rallied around their boss. Walking out the door, Cassie didn’t look back, and as Stephano followed her lead, he looked at Amato and adding insult to injury he mocked, “How did you think this was gonna end?”
Rachel Rueben is author of the bestselling YA novel Hag and The Eternal Bond Series both available on Wattpad. To keep up with Rachel, you can sign up for her frighteningly entertaining newsletter here.