“You can’t stop this, old man,” I said.
“I can,” he answered, his anger rising. “And I will. Unless you do as I tell you.”
“And what do you want me to do, father?”
I stared at him, surprised. “Married? Are you joking?”
He sighed. “You’re too wild, Lucas. You’re running around as if you’re invincible. You need a family to soften you, to make you into a true businessman.”
I laughed out loud at the absurdity and the hypocrisy. “You’ve been single for years, father, and you think I need a wife?”
“Your mother passed, God bless her soul.” He paused, smiling. “But I’m not single any more.”
That gave me pause. “What are you talking about?”
“This has not been made public yet, but it will soon. Do you remember Camilla?”
I nodded. “Of course. That two-bit reality TV star you were banging.”
The anger returned. “She’s your stepmother now, and you’ll respect her.”
I gaped, not sure whether I wanted to laugh or yell. How could the old man be so fucking stupid? Camilla Taylor was a notorious party girl and socialite, despite being a mother and in her forties. Despite her being twenty years younger than my father, she had also already inherited one fortunate and had completely spent it all on expensive clothes, houses, and cars.
She was a gold digger. Everyone knew that. Everyone except my father, apparently.
“Now that I am married, you will be too,” he continued. “If you wish to inherit my position, you will be married soon.”
I stood up, shaking my head in disgust. “I can’t believe you’d fall for a vapid gold digger like Camilla Taylor.”
He pounded a fist on his desk. “Do not speak of her that way again, Lucas. Do you hear me?”
“I hear only the blustering of a dried-up old man.”
“You will get married!” he yelled after me as I left his office. “You will settle down or get cut out!”
As I walked through the halls of our family estate on the affluent outskirts of Chicago, his words kept ringing in my ears.
The old fool wanted me to get married. He thought marriage could settle me down, but he was wrong.
I didn’t care about marriage. I took the women I wanted and moved on, always a new one. I’d never met a woman that could slow me down for a single second.
I simply possessed what I wanted. I couldn’t imagine tying myself down with marriage.
And yet, the old man still was in charge of the Family, as much as I hated to admit it. One day he’d be too old and infirm to do much, but he was still respected enough to keep control.
A wicked idea came into my head, and I could feel myself already beginning to smile.
If father wanted me to get married, then I’d get married. That was his only order, wasn’t it? All I needed was a marriage certificate and I will have done as he asked and bought myself some time.
What is marriage, anyway, but an empty promise made to some woman that only wanted your money?
Not even marriage could slow me down. I was Lucas Barone, heir to the Barone Crime Family.
As I booked my flight to Vegas, I laughed.
I’d find my wife. I’d take her and make her mine, and then I’d take control of the Family.
Vegas was the perfect place to find her.
I climbed out of the limo and looked at the line in front of my favorite club. It was exclusive and tough to get into, but the bouncers all knew me. Plus, they were good about letting in attractive women, exactly the sort of thing I was looking for.
Time to find a wife, I thought. I gave a nod to my second in command and he grinned back.
“See you inside, Vince.”
I didn’t need a bodyguard or anything like that, but I liked Vince. He had been with me for a long time and was basically my number two. It was good to have people around, especially loyal and armed people.
I walked toward the entrance and the bouncer nodded to me.
“Mister Barone,” he said.
“Jimmy.” I flashed him a smile. “Talented in there tonight?”
He grinned hugely. “Very talented. You’ll be pleased.”
I slipped him a twenty as I walked past.
Once inside, I let the beat wash over me.
I didn’t love clubs. I didn’t like the crowds, the assholes, the vapid girls, the annoying staff. But there was nowhere in the world better for picking up the sort of empty-headed club girl that I needed.
I quickly went into the VIP area and got a drink. It was quieter but still packed. I wondered briefly if they were lowering their standards, but it didn’t matter. I wasn’t like all the other rich, spoiled assholes around me. I worked for what I had. Even if my father weren’t the boss of the Family, I’d still be hustling on the streets. I had a better mind and a stronger arm than any other goon out there.