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Afon: The Dudnik Circle Book 3 by Esther E. Schmidt (1)

Chapter 01

In a killer mood.



Immense strength is coursing through my veins. There’s a need deep within me to tear this fucking mansion in front of me apart. All because she’s close. I can fucking feel it, and it’s not just a gut feeling either. I’ve been on her trail for a few days now, slowly closing in; but she’s always one step ahead of me. It has taken me months to get this close to catching up to her. Yegor texted me a little over an hour ago with some intel that made it possible for me to pinpoint her exact location.

Who am I talking about? Andreana Datano. That’s who. Although everyone calls her Andy. She’s Buca Di Volpe. That’s right…a headpiece of the Italian-fucking-mob. She runs it along with her brother Ricca. Both are as ruthless as they are skilled. Ripples of their past have carved them with darkness, withholding any beauty life has to offer. And yet it’s her inner charm and strength that shines right fucking at me.

She’s fucking perfect. A predator in full glory that’s trained to handle anything, and she’s been hunting for a while now. She’s one who takes vengeance to a higher level. Except Yegor’s information told me that Marco’s men grabbed her. Somehow I doubt that she’d slip up like that, even though I know she’s been captured once before by Marco. And fuck…before that? When she was barely eighteen?

I can’t even replay the shit her brother told me that happened to her in the past and I’m sure I don’t have all the damn details she went through either. She…my heart gallops in a tearing rhythm that rings up a new wave of fury. Born into the mob means blood is always around; flowing through veins with respect or decorating the fucking pavement for all to see. No one understands this better than I do, for I live that exact life. Yet I’m dead set to add a bonus to enrich her life; Andy needs to be safe and cherished. By me.

Ever since I laid eyes on her that first time, I felt the connection scorching my skin. Not your normal introduction of shaking hands or anything. Fuck no, we exchanged a show and tell of our scars. Andy almost bared her fine tits to me to show me where a large knife sliced her from side to side.

I showed her the one I carry on my skin as well as mentally. It’s spread from left to right across my throat. I almost fucking died when the head of a rival gang cut me open in front of my boss to make a statement. He isn’t alive to gloat because that’s what happens when you mess with me and mine. You might get a single shot to strike once, but you gotta damn well make it a good one, because if you don’t? This fucking world won’t be big enough to keep you alive.

Didn’t you get the hint yet? I’m always hungry for a taste of retribution with the need to purge. I’ve drowned in my own blood and welcomed the taste until it fueled me to revive. I’m Afon Nikolin, third in command of The Dudnik Circle. The Russian Mob, in case you need a label.

I just explained that my woman was Italian mob, right? Most keep in their own circle to prevent even more conflicts between gangs. Hell, there’s enough struggle between rival families. So add two different gangs with their own traditions, rules…it doesn’t bid well to mix Russian and Italian gangs. Yeah, I don’t fucking care one single bit.

Love is blind, right? Or so romantics say. I’m by no means a romantic fucker and my eyes were wide open when I got hit. Love, lust, adoration, call it what you want but I damn well knew she was my woman right then and there.

And I say my woman, but that’s also something she doesn’t know yet. I have a signed contract, written in black and white that she’s mine. I haven’t been able to tell her straight to her face because she’s been gone for months. Andy went into hiding to let herself heal because she escaped from Marco when he took her with him as a hostage. She jumped out of a truck while tied up, I might add.

Fucking hell, she had several injuries, but the worst was a shattered shoulder which required hours and fucking hours of operating to reconstruct. Ricca gave me the title of fiancé at the hospital so I could see her and get the information firsthand on how she was doing. Andy spent some time in the hospital, and afterward she needed time to regain strength in her shoulder. But she vanished barely three days after she was taken to the hospital.

Ricca was livid, but Andy texted her brother to let him know she checked herself into a private clinic and she needed time to herself. Except we damn well knew she was planning revenge…to kill Marco without our interference.

Ricca was there when I met his sister and even then, gave me friendly advice about her because he’s the only one who knows the type of person she is. She doesn’t let anyone close. When she ran I staked my claim; Andy’s mine, and I’m dead set on finding her and bringing her home safe. Maybe that’s what made the decision easy for Ricca to whip out a contract; because in his eyes I was qualified enough to handle her.

In the Italian mob, it’s a tradition for the fathers, or the head of the family, to search for a suitable partner to give a woman’s hand in marriage to strengthen a connection or make a profitable one. The reason for a marriage in their circle is always to gain something from the union; hell, some are even arranged by the syndicate.

Yeah. I have a signed fucking contract and I might be a scumbag to gloat, but I’m not the only sonofabitch here since Ricca’s signature is on there too. A contract where Andy is promised to me. My wife. And screwed up as it is…I’m actually looking forward to telling her that little piece of information. E-fucking-nough said. I need to keep my head in the game.

We’ve got a visual on the mansion her cell phone pinpointed. Why didn’t I use that nifty technology until now? Because she picked up a new burner and no one knew it, except for Yegor’s wife, and my boss Tarzan. Some kind of girl code, only spilling the info when shit hit the fan. I’m not complaining though, they reached out when Andy needed it. Hence the reason I have a visual on her now, that’s what matters.

“Are you seeing this?” Jakov whispers from my right.

The corner of my mouth twitches. Oh, I’m seeing it alright. My woman. In her damn element. I should have known I didn’t need to worry but I had to see it with my own eyes. And damn, what a magnificent sight.

The house we’re inching closer to has two large floor-to-ceiling windows. All the lights are blazing in the living room while Andy is gracefully in the midst of it all, moving around, smooth as silk on a summer’s breeze, handling a knuckle knife in each hand.

Reaching down, I have to adjust myself because I need to focus and not be hard as fuck from just the sight of her. Don’t judge, I haven’t seen her in months and to be confronted with seeing her in action turns me on.

“Aw, fuck...get a grip already and not on your junk, man,” Jakov mutters.

Ignoring him, and my junk, I move in and get ready to slide into the living room.

“Hold up, Capo. You don’t wanna disturb her when she’s like this,” Vinci interrupts and with that he’s annoying the fuck out of me.

“I ain’t a fucking Capo, Vinci,” I growl low. A fucking Captain? No way. That’s passed from father to son in their Italian gang.

I’m Russian. Although my father had Welsh forefathers, hence my name, but I’ve got no fucking Italian blood, nor am I part of his damn Italian gang. Ricca sent Vinci with me, along with two others for backup. Jakov is part of the Dudnik Circle and has been my friend for years, I needed him with me. Hell, I didn’t even have to ask him when I headed out, he was just right there next to me.

With my gaze set on my woman, I assess my surroundings. Dead silence greets me. Well, except for the rough breathing of Andy. Her hands are down, still gripping the knives in a way that leaves her knuckles white. Slowly my gaze travels up and now that I see her up close…anger rises within me.

Even when she’s covered with blood and wearing a tank top, I see her collarbones protruding. She’s lost a lot of weight since I last saw her and dammit, how long exactly was that? A few weeks, mere fucking months? Fucking hell. With her fierce appearance she looks invincible, and yet I can see right through her and know what’s going on inside her. The fatigue and the neglect of taking care of herself is staring right at me.

Andy’s eyes flash toward me and I can tell she’s not seeing me. She’s seeing someone that’s still alive and needs to be killed. Hence the reason Vinci warned me; when she’s in a killer mood she’s not herself. Vinci’s forgetting one crucial thing. For years I’ve been second in command where my boss was a woman. One who was deadlier than any top of the line assassin. She used to get like this from time to time, and guess who was her sparring partner when she trained? Right. A slow smile spreads my face as my mind opens up, screaming ‘bring it’.