Madame Moll is only ten days away from being released. Kris and I had such a great time writing the conclusion to Mac and Melina's story. If you haven't already be sure to add Madame Moll to your Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36292194-madame-moll
Madame Moll (Gun Moll, 3) is live on pre-order!
Releasing November 20th!
Amazon US: www.amazon.com/dp/B0776H1WHB
Amazon UK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0776H1WHB
Amazon CA: www.amazon.ca/dp/B0776H1WHB
Amazon AUS: www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0776H1WHB
Releasing November 20th!
Amazon US: www.amazon.com/dp/B0776H1WHB
Amazon UK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0776H1WHB
Amazon CA: www.amazon.ca/dp/B0776H1WHB
Amazon AUS: www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0776H1WHB
Very few things were held sacred to those who lived inside the suffocating world of Mafiosi. There were still certain things that would never be touched in such a way that it might hurt the foundation upon which la famiglia rested its most core values. Those values were handled with the utmost care, treated with the respect one might give their mother, and never did a made man abuse those traditions.
Mac Maccari took comfort in knowing all of this, if only because it guaranteed him and his wife, Melina, a few moments of peace.
Events like babies being born and lives being started were not simply passing moments in time to la famiglia. Rather, they were cornerstones that were always celebrated and protected amongst the men that made up Cosa Nostra. Because they were the family. It was not just one man, but every man and their wives and children. Their world and culture did not sit well with people outside of their circles, so they only truly had one another to fall back on when the time called for it.
It was important—no one, no matter how much they might dislike another made man, would step in to ruin one of those events for someone else.
So yeah, Mac was grateful that despite the uproar that was currently rocking the very ground upon which Cosa Nostra had been built, there were still some things that would always be left untouched.
One of those things happened to be his wife … and her pregnancy.
Her very beautiful pregnancy.
Mac smiled to himself, glancing to the side to find his wife sitting in the passenger seat of his Challenger, her hands resting on her thirty-six week swell. It wouldn’t be long now, and their baby boy would be making his way into the world, ready to cause hell, probably.
After all, the baby was his son.
“What are you snickering about over there?” Melina asked.
Her head turned in his direction, but she couldn’t see him. She hadn’t been pleased when he’d shown her the black silk sash and asked if she would let him take her for a surprise, but Melina played along. She usually did, even if she did put up a fuss first.
“Thinking, doll,” Mac admitted.
Melina’s full lips curved into a soft grin, like she just knew what was in his head. “You’re awfully proud of the fact you’re having a boy, aren’t you?”
“Would have been just as pleased had the baby been a girl.”
“But,” Mac interjected, reaching over to place his hand on the crown of his wife’s stomach, “I’ll have some backup, at least for a little while.”
“A little while? What is that supposed to mean?”
Mac chuckled deeply. “What do you think it means?”
While his statement was joking in nature, the suggestive undertone was still as clear as day. His wife certainly hadn’t missed it if the way her cheeks pinked were any indication.
“God, Mac, you can at least wait until this one is out of my damn body before you start talking about more kids.”
“That’s debatable,” he murmured.
Melina just sighed, shaking her head but still smiling.
She could act coy all she wanted, but Mac knew the truth. His wife was as stubborn as a mule, but so was he. The two of them were like peas in a pod, and she threw just as much at him as he tossed at her.
It made their marriage interesting.
And he so loved his wife.
“I’m just saying. A little friend might be nice for the baby,” Mac suggested.
Melina scoffed. “Stop it.”
“Like I said, at least wait until after this one is out of my body.”
“Fine,” Mac muttered, “since you want to be that way about it.”
Melina smirked. He swore if that sash hadn’t been covering her eyes from him, he would have seen she was rolling her damn eyes. She was not so coy that he couldn’t see right through her act. Despite her loud and repeated protests from the very start of their relationship that she absolutely in no way would become the Susie Homemaker sort of wife, Melina was certainly enjoying the perks of being at home more often with the only responsibilities being to take care of her pregnant self and stay happy.
Of course, she still had The Dollhouse to run, and she did.
Thankfully, Melina had knocked down her time from several hours a day to two or three times a week. Mac knew there was no way on fucking earth that he would be able to convince his wife to hand the business over to him, so that she could focus on her pregnancy and the baby when he was finally out into the world. Somehow, they were just going to have to figure it all out and make it work.
Melina was nothing if not a fighter and a survivor.
Surely they could figure out something as simple as this.
“Timothy,” Melina suddenly said.
Mac knew exactly what his wife was saying because they had been playing this game for months now. “No, it doesn’t have …”
“Did you honestly just reject a baby name because it doesn’t have pizzazz?” Melina snorted indelicately. “We’re not in the Dirty Thirties, Mac.”
Melina couldn’t have sounded more patronizing if she had tried.
Mac only laughed. “Well, it’s true. It’s not very noteworthy of a name. It’s a fine name, doll, just not what I want.”
“Why don’t we just go with your name?”
“Because my name isn’t actually my name,” Mac explained, probably for the fifth time since they had begun the process many months earlier of trying to pick a name for their baby boy. “My name is James, not Mac.”
“We could start the tradition of using Mac instead of James,” Melina suggested.
“Mac isn’t really Italian, doll.”
Melina conceded to his point. “And you’re a definite no on James.”
Mac scowled, thankful his wife couldn’t see it. “Yeah, that’s a big, fat fucking no.”
“He’s going to be born nameless.”
“So what if he is? Maybe he will, maybe he won’t.”
“We don’t have a name.”
“Stop panicking,” Mac said, reaching over to place his hand on his wife’s thigh, and stroke her skin with his thumb. “We’ll find a name.”
“You’re too picky.”
“Doll, I love you. You know that, right?”
“Of course,” Melina said.
“You’re making it hard right now.”
Melina wacked him hard in the arm. Even though she couldn’t actually see him, she still had a pretty damn good aim. “Watch it, Mac.”
“We’ll pick a name,” he assured.
She still didn’t look convinced, but she didn’t argue.
Mac figured they didn’t have a name for their baby already because he wasn’t born yet. How could Mac possibly say yes to a name when he hadn’t even gotten to lay eyes on his child in the flesh? Seeing the baby moving around on a gray and black screen was not enough for him. He wanted to know his baby first—see his little face and learn his features.
Then, and only then, Mac would pick a name.
A name that fit.
A name that was right.
“Are you going to tell me where we’re going?” Melina asked.
“I’m getting a little car sick.”
“Liar, you just want to peek.”
Melina pouted at having been caught in her lie, and Mac squeezed her thigh in response. He still loved her pouts. It still made him hotter than ever.
Really, her whole pregnancy had done that for him. Something about his wife growing with their child, glowing and beautiful, just did it for him. That was the best way he could explain it, really.
Mac had no shame.
And he’d take his wife whenever, wherever.
As long as Melina was willing.
“Almost there,” he assured.
Melina made a disgruntled noise under her breath. “Better be worth it. I had to cancel my appointment at the spa today.”
“You’ll be there tomorrow instead.” Mac cupped his wife’s cheek, keeping his eyes on the road at the same time. The last thing he wanted to do was get them into an accident. “And Vic will be able to go with you; she’ll keep you company and tell off the masseuse when they don’t listen to what you want.”
Melina smiled at that, especially the mention of her sister-in-law. “Vic is good for that.”
“Good for annoying the hell out of me.”
His statement had come out too low for his wife to hear, but it wasn’t any less true. Victoria Maccari was an adult, sure, but she was still Mac’s little sister. He tried to look out for her as much as he could, but sometimes she made it hard. He was pretty fucking sure she did that shit on purpose, too.
“Nothing,” Mac said. “And we’re here—no don’t take that off yet, doll.”
Melina huffed, her hands lowering from the sash and resting back on her swollen stomach. Mac parked the car in the paved driveway, thankful someone had thought far enough ahead to leave a clear and open spot for him to drive straight into. This had all been a little last minute. He’d tried his hardest to make sure everything was done on time, and in doing so, managed to get things done a little early for his wife.
Melina didn’t know.
It was the perfect chance for Mac to give her one of his surprises.
“Sit tight,” he told her.
Melina’s mouth opened to speak, but Mac was already getting out of the car, slamming the door behind him. Just as fast, he jogged around the car, coming up to her side and waving to the people waiting on the front steps.
Mac opened Melina’s door, and took her hands in his. “I’m going to help you out of the car, doll.”
“If you would just let me take this off, then—”
“The answer is still no.”
Melina’s lips pressed together in a thin line, her silent displeasure clear. While she didn’t mind indulging his games and surprises, he wasn’t shocked that she didn’t have a lot of patience for it right then. Being heavily pregnant and tired because she wasn’t sleeping well, Mac really didn’t blame his wife.
But he wanted to make her smile.
He wanted to see her happy.
She would only be pissed for a few more seconds, he knew, and then it would all be gone.
“Careful,” Mac said as Melina got out of the car, still holding tightly to his hands. Once he had her standing right in the middle of the driveway where he wanted her, where she would be able to get a clear view of her finished surprise that she had waited months for, Mac let his wife go. “Okay, doll, take it off.”
Melina didn’t need to be told again. She pulled the sash from her face to let it hang loosely around her neck. It took her all of ten seconds to blink at the large Victorian-style home staring back at her to realize what she was seeing. Mac saw the realization dawn. People standing on the front steps, ready to welcome her into their home for the first time since building it had officially finished a couple of weeks before.
She had been here before, of course. They had both made their way out to the plot of land they owned to check up on the build and how it was going. But over the last couple of months, Melina hadn’t wanted to make the drive because it was a good thirty minutes from their current apartment. Thirty minutes out and thirty minutes back just to check on how things were going was tiring, so he had used that to his advantage, telling her some things had come up that put the build a little bit behind.
Not by much, he had promised, but a month at the most.
Melina never questioned him.
The last two weeks had been a bit of a rush to decorate and style the inside, to make sure the rooms were painted with the colors Melina had picked when the contractor first made the plans on the blueprints for them to look over.
She had purchased furniture over the last several months, keeping it locked away in storage until they were ready to fill their home with it. Mac had gotten a few of the guys from his crew to help move the furniture in and place it where it needed to go.
If Melina wanted any changes, they could do it easily enough.
“Oh, my God,” Melina whispered. “It’s done?”
Mac nodded, coming up behind his wife to wrap an arm around her waist. His hand rested on her stomach, and he felt the gentle prods of his baby as he kissed his wife’s cheek. “It’s been done for a couple of weeks.”
“It looks amazing.”
“Wait until you see the inside.”
Melina wiped at her eyes, and smiled sweetly. “Okay, the blind folding and driving was worth it.”
He grinned, smug as fuck. “Thought you might say that. Now …”
Mac pointed at the people waiting on their front steps. His mother, sister, a couple of Melina’s friends she had made, and some of his guys. “Time to have a house warming party, doll. I think we’ve earned it, don’t you?”
Melina’s laughter was a balm to his soul. “Yeah, I think we did.”
As she walked forward, ready to greet and thank the people waiting, Mac stayed a little bit behind, enjoying the scene. After all, this wasn’t so much for him as it was for her. All too soon, their baby boy would make his presence known to the world, and things like house warming parties and time to spend eating good food and laughing with family and friends would have to take a back seat for them both.
At least for a little while.
He wanted Melina to have some fun before that.
She deserved it.
All over again, Mac was reminded how grateful he was that there were still things that were untouchable to la famiglia. While the family was important, and their crime family was struggling between the official attention from the Feds and the police, his budding family was something else entirely.
Sacred, he knew.
These moments were not to be sullied by problems of made men.
No one would dare do that to him or his wife.
He would get back to the grind tomorrow, get his guys back on the street, and hope to hell another street war didn’t break out with another Capo’s crew. With no boss heading their family at the moment, petty feuds had become all too common.
No one really trusted anyone.
Today would not be dirtied with any of that.
He was grateful.
Mac stepped into the warehouse, letting the creaky, heavy door close behind him. The audible click of the door latching stopped the murmuring conversations happening between the young and older gentlemen of his crew. There was a misinterpretation that all the men in a crew were young guys picked up off the street because they were easy to manipulate—that couldn’t be less true.
If anything, young guys were harder to handle. The older crew members had been in the game long enough to know better than to stir the pot of shit or do something that might earn them a bullet, while the young guys were more likely to push against whatever authority stood in their way of getting what they wanted. Older guys usually liked where they were and the position they had, so they didn’t have much interest in getting higher in the family. Younger guys always wanted to be more—get more.
It was one of the benefits of being a younger Capo like Mac was. He supposed he related to the younger guys in his crew which meant they didn’t mind shutting up and listening to him. Not that the situation was always the case—it wasn’t—but almost always was better than nothing.
Mac had a fuck lot less problems with the guys in his crew than other Capos had with their crews.
He wasn’t about to complain.
“Skip,” came a collective greeting from twenty different voices as Mac stepped out from the entrance.
He waved a hand in greeting and leaned against the wall. “Any news for me?”
His gaze skipped over familiar faces, checking for any sign of a lie as several “nopes” rang out from most of the men. He didn’t want to have to look for lies at all, or think that maybe, possibly, one of his guys might not be telling him the truth. Too much police and FBI attention left Mac more paranoid than he usually would be.
No Capo wanted to wake up one day to find out his crew had a rat.
A rat meant jail time, especially if it happened to be close.
“Anyone get pulled in for another talk?” Mac asked.
“Just Enric,” said one of the older guys sitting off in the corner with a cigarette hanging from his lips. “But he isn’t in the mood to talk today—never is lately.”
The guy nodded in the direction of the office Mac used to do work when he wanted privacy from the rest of the crew as they did their work.
Mac would deal with Enric later. He was all too aware it wasn’t Enric Pivetti’s fault the officials wouldn’t leave him alone. The bastards had his father locked up, and he’d been the recipient of several bullets to the back months ago when he’d been acting as a guard for Mac’s wife. No one was looking at Enric like he was talking to police for his own gain because everybody knew he didn’t have a choice.
Still, Enric was hiding himself away.
For more reasons than the obvious, Mac knew.
Right now, though, Mac had to deal with his crew. Morale was low because business was shit. Working was damn near impossible when every job was like sticking your hand in a roaring fire pit. With so much official attention on them, even the smallest job was dangerous and carried great risk.
But no work meant no money.
Money was the reason these men were here.
“All right, listen up,” Mac said, his tone rising to get all of the men’s attention on him. He really hadn’t needed to bother, as they all looked to him when he started speaking, anyway. They were good that way—he figured it was a check on his good side, too. “I know everything has been slower than death lately. We don’t have a lot of cash flow coming in. I’m working to fix that.”
“How so, Skip?”
Mac smiled. “Different ways, but what I want to focus on first is making sure all of you are safe when you go out to do a job. That starts with the other crews, so I’m going to work on that and making some peace. As for money, I have another idea other than the usual deliveries, boosts, or heists that take a lot of attention and might be too dangerous for you all right now.”
He could tell he had his guys’ attention.
Money was on the table, after all.
“I have money to be collected all over the city—some rackets, a few loans that are owed, and bookies’ payments that come in pretty regularly depending on the game the night before. Even some of the businesses that still pay for their place, so to speak, come in on a weekly basis. It’s not a lot—not what you usually make, but it’s something.”
Mac shrugged, adding, “And something is better than nothing.”
A few murmurs—some confirmative, some grumbling—passed between the guys. Mac let them have their moment, and when they all quieted, he spoke again.
“You can take fifty percent of whatever you pick up for me and deliver without issues. No violence to get the payments, and definitely no bodies. These aren’t those sorts of payments, all right? So that we don’t have guys acting like petty bitches, I’ll be the one to divvy up who picks up what and when.” Mac chuckled, saying, “It’ll change from week to week to make it as fair as possible, but this is the best I can do for now to make sure you’re all looking at decent cash to get you through whatever fucking spell this is and however long it might last.”
Because that, Mac didn’t have an answer for.
He didn’t know how long any of this was going to last, and he didn’t want his guys to suffer because of it. With no boss running the family and taking payments from his Capos, Mac wouldn’t need to explain the drop in cash. He could afford to lose some income for the benefit of his crew.
Other Capos wouldn’t do or say the same thing. Others would probably be too concerned about keeping up their lifestyle and banking more money as the dry spell went on.
Mac knew better.
When all of this was said and done, his crew would still be there waiting to get back to work. His guys would still be loyal and honorable to him. All because he took care of them when they needed him to.
That was what a good Capo did.
“But for today,” Mac continued, “just relax. Go chill. And stay the fuck out of trouble, huh?”
“Got it, Skip,” came the confirmative, collective reply.
Mac waited the guys out, leaning against the wall, as one by one they passed him to leave. He could tell they were a bit lighter on their shoulders with his promise of making sure they would be looked after, so that gave him a sense of relief. Once the warehouse was empty but for a few familiar faces, one being his longtime friend, Bobby, Mac headed for the office.
The guys were handled.
One thing checked off his list.
Now, he could deal with Enric.
Mac quickly slipped into the office, letting the door close behind him. He turned the blinds on the window, hiding the inside of the office from the few men who had remained behind. Enric sat behind the desk, his back turned to Mac, and tossed a small red ball against the wall. The rhythmic smack of the ball as it bounced off the wall and hit Enric’s skin came in perfectly timed intervals, and the guy never once turned to greet his Capo.
Not even after Mac said his name.
“Enric,” Mac said a second time, slightly louder.
The ball kept moving.
Enric stayed just like he was.
Mac didn’t let his frustration take over because he knew Enric Pivetti had a great deal more to be frustrated over than he did in the grand scheme of things.
“Heard you got pulled in by the cops,” Mac said.
Enric shrugged. “Nothing big—the usual “do you remember anything” spiel.”
“Nothing new, then?”
“Nope.” Enric laughed. “I did go see Dad a couple of days ago.”
Now, that was interesting to Mac.
Nobody had heard anything from the boss or his underboss since both men had been locked away. Some of the Capos in the family surmised that Luca and Enzo were being refused phone calls because of their statuses and the influence they could have on their men with a single order. Mac didn’t know if any of that was true, but even getting some word or kind of order from the boss was better than the silence they were getting now.
“And?” Mac asked.
“Neeya is moving out, I guess,” Enric said quietly. “I’ve never been close with his wife—my choice, not hers. He wanted me to head over there, see if she needed any help or if the girls needed something. He said not to bother her too much. She’s allowed to do whatever the fuck she wants to do.”
Mac took a few seconds to digest that information. “Wait, you mean she’s moving out of their mansion?”
“Selling everything she can.”
Holy fucking shit.
The boss’s wife was leaving him?
That didn’t sound right.
Mac had seen Neeya and Luca Pivetti in more than enough situations to know they were a power couple to strive to be. Nothing and no one was going to separate them, and that was fucking admirable.
Except … had something done that?
Mac wasn’t sure.
“Thought maybe you and Melina could take me over,” Enric said, spinning slowly to face Mac. “You know, the city bus only goes so far and whatnot.”
Mac’s gaze darted down to the seat Enric was sitting in—his wheelchair that had been a constant since he was released. Slight spinal cord damage and two surgeries later, Enric had some feeling in his legs. He also had little muscle and nerve control, but his four-times-a-week physical therapy would get him walking again.
He needed to put in the work, though.
Mac figured that was half of Enric’s problem.
And he hadn’t found a reason to do the work, yet.
He would, someday.
“Yeah, we can get you over there to see your sisters,” Mac assured.
Enric nodded. “Dad wanted one other thing, too.”
“He wants a meeting with you after you get this handled.”
Now, Enric really had his attention.