Home > Danger's Heir(7)

Danger's Heir(7)
Author: Mari Carr

Tomorrow night, the engagement would be official. The newspaper announcement had been step one, the gala step two, where she would stand beside Rodrigo Capello and glad-hand members of both their families and some trusted associates. That would truly seal the deal.

Which meant tonight was her last—and first—chance to meet Rodrigo and figure out if she’d be able to deal with him. Handle him.

If he was like his father, Giada would break the engagement. Or have Rodrigo killed. Either option worked.

But first she had to actually get to Rodrigo. Her aunt and uncle had guards on her door to “protect” her. Really it was to stop her from doing exactly what she was about to do—go find Rodrigo. Her family was hoping that by not letting her meet him until the party, they’d stop her from killing this merger, which her uncle insisted they needed.

They didn’t need to merge with the Capellos. They needed to let her take over the business and execute her vision.

Her terrace suite was on the ground floor and had a small private garden and patio with a partial view of the lake.

Giada went to the front door, opening it.

The guards stationed there jumped, both turning to look at her. One saw her expression and paled. “Signora, please…”

Her lip curled. “Get me his room number so I can at least call him.”

“We can’t—”

“Do it, or I go over the garden wall and find him myself.”

The men shared a glance, then the first one who’d spoken sighed. “Room 212.”

“Thank you.” Giada started to close the door but stopped when she caught sight of a man in the hall. He was looking around, clearly puzzled, and held a bouquet of flowers in one hand.

He was good-looking, with dark hair and a short beard that looked like it would be scratchy in all the right ways. He had more bulky muscle on his shoulders and arms than was fashionable, though the cut of his shirt did a good job masking some of the bulk.

The guards followed her gaze, and one of them started for the man. She closed the door as the stranger asked her guard directions to a different room.

Giada wondered who he was coming to see and if it was anyone she knew. Between her family and the Capellos, they’d filled most of this hotel and a few around it, though not all the rooms, since the engagement party had been last minute, and the hotel had, with deep apologies, told them they couldn’t cancel every existing reservation.

Giada waited a few hours, eating a light dinner that was delivered to her room. Once the hotel began to quiet for the night, she changed into thick running pants that would protect her from pokey leaves, and a tight long-sleeve shirt. Pulling her short hair back from her face with a black headband, she filled the thigh pockets with a few essentials then headed out to the small garden, silent in her sneakers.

The wall around the garden wasn’t tall, and a small palm tree helped her climb. She slipped over the wall—she’d absolutely lied when she told the guards she wouldn’t go over the wall if they got her the room number—and then circled through the gardens and into the hotel lobby. She took the stairs, headed for room 212.

 

* * *

 

It took Casson an hour to winnow down the options from every room in the hotel to a handful of potential rooms on the second floor. For a moment, he’d thought he found Rodrigo’s room on the first floor when he saw the guards outside, but when he’d wandered closer, he heard a pissed-off woman’s voice. He hadn’t gotten close enough to hear her exact words.

Given the two guards, he suspected the occupant was Rodrigo’s intended bride.

He’d played the lost lover for a dangerously long time. Wandering the halls with flowers was just memorable enough that someone might eventually mention his presence in a way that alerted security.

During the time he had wandered with flowers, he’d watched people come and go from their rooms, listened at a few doors, and narrowed the options for which room was Rodrigo’s. Those narrowed further to one, when he watched a room-service waiter wheel a small table to the door of room 212 with a guard at his back. The guard checked under the domes, and under the tablecloth, before allowing the server to knock.

At the time, he figured room 212 had to house either Rodrigo or his father Armani. However, he’d found what he thought was Armani’s room on the top floor, in one of the named suites. A steady stream of visitors, all of whom looked nervous, and two guards acting as bouncers, were good signs that Armani Capello was holding court in that room.

Knowing his time was up, Casson had retreated, hiding in the linen closet—he’d picked the lock—down the hall from room 212. He waited until a second room-service waiter came, apparently bringing dessert, and the guard again checked the table and the dome. He watched the guard push the table into 212, leaving the server standing nervously in the hall. A moment later, both men left, and ten minutes after that Casson slipped out of the closet.

Bouquet in hand, he walked to the door, using the flowers to hide the device he used to bypass the key card lock on the door.

 

* * *

 

Rodrigo braced his hands on the balcony railing, looking out at the water. He was exhausted, weary to the bone, but this wasn’t the kind of tired he could fix with a good night’s sleep. He was in too deep, he knew that, but he’d passed the point where he could turn around and go home.

Home. He scoffed as he closed his eyes.

He didn’t even know where that was anymore. His last conversation with his aunt and uncle—no, the people who’d raised him—had ended badly, as he’d been overwhelmed by feelings of betrayal. They’d lied to him…his entire life.

Then he’d allowed the Masters’ Admiralty to blow up his past life, thrusting him out of obscurity and under the bright lights of public scrutiny, which meant his career as a security officer was over. His face was too well-known now and no shadow was dark enough to conceal who he was.

Of course, while the Masters’ Admiralty had merely scorched the surface of his previous life, he’d chosen to set fire to the rest, reducing everything he’d once known and been to a pile of ashes.

There was a very good chance the Masters’ Admiralty viewed his refusal to return after Talya’s rescue as proof that he was now committed to the Camorra.

No, he thought miserably. There was no going home. Home didn’t exist for him anymore.

He wandered back into the opulent suite, closing the door behind him, as he considered the second table of food that had just arrived. He wasn’t hungry.

A hand closed over his mouth as a hard object pressed to his spine.

Lips against his ear, his assailant spoke in Castellano. “Rodrigo Santiago, it’s time to come home.”

Rodrigo turned and Casson held up a hand, letting the light catch the ring he wore. It was a signet ring, but instead of a delicate flower or coat of arms, the embossed image was a tri-spiral, an ancient graphic, and one of the symbols of their society.

“Damn it,” Rodrigo breathed. “You’re here to pull me out.”

“Yes. Vicente sent me. I’m Casson Serrano.”

“I can’t leave.”

Casson sighed heavily. “You can. And please, make this easy for both of us.”

Caught up in their conversation, neither heard the whisper of air as someone opened the suite door with deliberate stealth.

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